Apple has announced a new iPad Pro, adding a Magic Keyboard cover with trackpad, upgrading the processor, and building in a LiDAR Scanner camera for augmented reality. The new iPad Pro looks much the same as its predecessor from the front, but flip it over and there’s a square camera cluster much like that of the iPhone 11 Pro on the rear.
iPad Pro camera and LiDAR Scanner
That cluster is a little different to what’s on Apple’s smartphones, however. For a start, there’s a 12-megapixel wide camera which can be used to record 4K video. A new ultra-wide camera clocks in at 10-megapixels alongside it, and promises twice the field of view.
They’re accompanied by five microphones, which Apple claims are studio-quality. There’s four speaker audio still, too, which the iPad Pro adjusts according to the orientation at which it’s being held.
It’s the LiDAR Scanner that is most interesting, though. It’s effectively a depth-sensing camera, and can measure the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters (16 feet) away. It works both indoors and outdoors.
iPadOS gets new depth frameworks to deal with that data, and then combines it with data from the regular cameras and motion sensors. Computer vision algorithms for scene-understanding weigh in, and then that all gets fed to ARKit apps.
Those apps will automatically get much improved AR placement data, as well as improvements in motion capture and people occlusion. With a new Scene Geometry API, even more of the data can be used. Apple is demonstrating it all with an update to the Measure app, which is adding a Ruler View for more precise measurements.
Performance and Display
Apple isn’t giving up on the idea of the iPad Pro being a legitimate laptop replacement. The 2020 model is “faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops,” the company says, thanks to a new A12Z Bionic chip. It’s an eight-core CPU which works with Apple’s own Neural Engine.
Despite the performance increase, battery life is still rated for up to 10 hours. WiFi speed has been increased, too, and there’s now gigabit LTE that’s 60-percent faster than the optional cellular connection in the old iPad Pro.
As for the display, there’ll still be two sizes: 11-inch and 12.9-inch. Both have P3 wide color support and ProMotion that can adjust the display refresh rate up to 120 Hz. True Tone is onboard too, along with an anti-reflective coating.
Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Apple’s other big news for the iPad Pro is a new Magic Keyboard cover. That borrows the same switch technology as the company uses on its notebooks, with backlit keys that have 1mm travel, and a trackpad. It’ll help address the concerns of would-be iPad Pro users who aren’t willing to give up the familiar controls from their MacBook Pro before they transition to iPadOS.
iPadOS 13.4 – which will be released on March 24 – introduces trackpad support, with a new circular cursor to highlight UI elements, text fields, and apps. There are also gestures as on a MacBook, like swiping between apps, accessing the app switcher, and puling up the Dock, Control Center, and apps in Slide Over. Most third-party apps will automatically recognize it, Apple says, though there’ll be APIs for the more advanced features.
As well as the change in keyboard, the mechanism for holding it to the iPad Pro is new, too. That now has what Apple calls a floating design, with a stiffer hinge that can elevate the iPad Pro off the work surface. It should make for better ergonomics all round, as should the fact that it can be adjusted for viewing angle up to 130-degrees.
There’s USB-C pass-through charging support this time around, too, so that the USB-C port on the iPad Pro itself can be saved for peripherals.
2020 iPad Pro pricing and availability
The new iPad Pro goes up for sale today online, and will appear in stores – assuming they’re open – from next week. It’ll be offered in silver and space gray, and there’s now a new 128GB starter configuration, along with the usual 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB versions.
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 for the WiFi model and $949 for the WiFi + Cellular. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 for WiFi and $1,149 for WiFi + Cellular.
As for the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, that will go on sale in May. It’ll be priced at $299 for the 11-inch iPad Pro version, and $349 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro version. The second-generation Apple Pencil is $129, while there’ll also be a new Smart Keyboard Folio for $179 and $199 for the 11- and 12.9-inch tablets, respectively.