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Can the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil change the way we create?

If the Mac Pro is pinnacle of media production in Apple’s arsenal, then the iPad Pro has the potential to be the company’s most competent creative tool ever.

Since the original iPad we’ve seen developers leverage the tablet touchscreen in a number of unique ways – primarily as a digital canvas. As hardware has improved, the latency of touch inputs reduced and each subsequent iteration of iOS offering greater control to developers, applications have better aped the experience offered by physical media, but the Pro signifies a leap forward in this regard.

Microsoft’s Surface family has been trying in some small way to achieve that same goal – build a new digital platform for creativity, however developers and consumers haven’t as readily accepted the hardware, software or the device’s credibility as a creative tool.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil together

Apple has a far easier job when it comes to convincing consumers and considering iPad Pro isn’t even out yet, we’re already seeing plenty of buzz towards its abilities in that same space.

Naturally the expansive 12.9-inch, HD display helps the iPad Pro stand out against the majority of its rivals in the more conventional tablet space, but the Surface line and more productivity-centric 2-in-1s clearly inhabit similar territory to the Pro in many ways.

The Apple Pencil is where things get really interesting, with the company detailing the stylus’s abilities including its pressure, positional and tilt tracking – which adds a particularly useful extra dimension to the inputs graphic designers and artists might utilise.

Former Apple user interaction designer, Linda Dong makes a compelling case for the duo that is the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil; as a remedy to the shortcomings of digital illustration tools offered up by the likes of Wacom’s Cintiq products – presently the industry standard.

In a piece on Dong’s own website, the graphic designer goes against the grain by starting, “quite plainly the Cintiq sucks by comparison [to the iPad Pro/Apple Pencil].” The narrow form of the Apple Pencil makes it a more suitable drawing implement to wield for digital media and the iPad Pro serves as a self-contained device that is markedly more versatile, not to mention lighter than the Cintiq drawing surface.

A big part of the experience that the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro’s display offer is low latency. This is one of the biggest barriers to recreating the feel of drawing with physical media and serves as a massive strength to Apple’s new stylus, tablet tag team giving it the potential to draw creatives to the new platform.

Apple Pencil - latency

In addition, Dong’s research shows that the collective price of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil clocks in at $899 to $1179, depending on which internal storage option floats your boat. By comparison the equivalent Cintiq models start at $1000 and can cost anything up to $2000 overall.

Apple looks to be onto a winner with this new dynamic duo and based on hardware innovation alone, it has the potential to reshape an entire industry. The flip side is of course the limitations of iOS. Apple needs to ensure the creators of popular tools for graphic artists, animators, editors and colourists are on board with the Pro’s operating system and workflow in order to get the most from the hardware and help the device prove its worth to an industry already heavily invested in a notable rival.

Apple Pencil

It changed the way people listen to music, now it just needs to pull off a similar trick with the way people create. No pressure.

Read next: Why Apple’s new iPad Pro leaves the iPad Air 2 in the dust


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