There are still a few things that hold back Apple’s iPad Pro from truly replacing a MacBook for creative professionals, and one of those is the availability of quality “Pro” software.
To be fair, the gap has been closing in recent years, with Adobe releasing Photoshop for iPad and having previewed Illustrator for iPad as well, but it’s been a slow road even among these apps, with Photoshop still being an anemic cousin to its full-fledged desktop counterpart, despite using the same code base. Of course, Adobe promises to improve it over time, but right now there are still a lot of things for which graphic designers and photographers will still need to turn back to their Macs.
This isn’t due to a lack of power, however, last the A12X/A12Z chip in Apple’s current crop of iPad Pro models runs circles around many desktop computers in performance benchmarks, but the reality is that the market for such apps is still relatively limited compared to their popularity on the desktop, plus developers like Adobe have to figure out an entirely new user interface paradigm to adapt apps to a touchscreen that have otherwise relied on keyboard and mouse interactions for years.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Apple has finally decided to implement proper mouse and trackpad support in iPadOS 13.4, since that could certainly help to make things easier for developers to adapt their sophisticated creative apps over to the tablet side, and it’s probably no coincidence that now that this is in place, Apple itself is finally planning to step up to the plate with its own Pro software.
Apple’s Pro Apps
While Apple of course hasn’t commented yet, we’ve been hearing a few murmurings lately that the Xcode development suite would be coming to the iPad Pro, and now fairly reliable leaker Jon Prosser has added his voice, suggesting that this not only includes Xcode but also Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X apps.
Prosser initially shared his thoughts last week on Xcode, but hedged a bit on the others, however yesterday he doubled-down with more certainty, noting that the is “100% confident” that all three are coming to the iPad Pro, although he doesn’t have a lot of specifics as to how or when yet, other than “within the near year or so.”
Adding Xcode to the iPad Pro would be a huge boon for iOS developers, who up until now have had to use a Mac to actually develop apps for the platform. Many have always felt it’s a bit ironic that you can’t actually use an iPad to develop apps for an iPad, but it’s also fair to say that until the recent advent of the more powerful iPad Pro models, it simply hasn’t been practical, or perhaps even possible.
In the case of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, however, this would for the first time bring real professional video and audio production capabilities to the iPad Pro. Of course, it’s unlikely to ever reach the level of what a Mac Pro can do, but it may be a great way to put together projects that are more complex than what iMovie and GarageBand are able to handle, as well as likely being able to round-trip projects between their Mac counterparts.
Again, however, details are pretty vague at this point, and as Prosser notes, it’s hard to say what the capabilities will be, or what kind of limitations there will be on the iPad Pro, but it’s a safe bet that since these are Apple’s own professional apps, it’s going to pull out all of the stops to make sure they can both show off exactly what the iPad Pro can do.