As foretold by the tea-leaf-reading seers at 9to5Mac, Apple has announced the iPad Pro; a 12.9-inch tablet aimed squarely at power users who hate laptops but still need one, sort of. Tim Cook held up the gigantic tablet on stage today and declared softly that iPads are also good for work. The iPad Pro will arrive in November in 32GB, 128GB, and 128GB + LTE options for $799, $949, and $1049, respectively.
Apple also announced a stylus and a keyboard for the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard, respectively. The Apple Pencil has several sensors that detect position, force, and tilt, and charges with a Lightning connector. The Apple Smart Keyboard is part case, part keyboard, and connects with what the company calls the Apple Smart Connector. The Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard are priced at $99 and $169, respectively.
The specs of the iPad Pro have been improved over last year's iPad Air 2 as well. Apple claims that the new A9X processor in the iPad Pro is 1.8 times faster than its predecessor with 2 times the memory bandwidth and storage performance. The body maintains the same rounded aluminum design as its predecessors, and will be available in silver, gold, and space grey colors.
This is the first time Apple has come to market with a first-party stylus and hardware keyboard for the iPad. Steve Jobs once famously said "if you see a stylus, they blew it," so why the change of heart? Since iOS 9's debut at WWDC this year, Apple has been positioning the iPad as a productivity device, perhaps in an attempt to boost flagging sales. Features like split-screen multitasking and Mac-like keyboard shortcuts, both features shown earlier this year, make perfect sense on a large, laptop-like iPad.
But the price of the 32GB iPad Pro and the Smart Keyboard comes to $968, which is awfully close to the price of the new MacBook. The questions is, will consumers flock to a speedy giant tablet or a slow but svelte laptop?