Where are Apple’s iPad Pro Apps for Pros?

Apple just announced that iPad Pro is available for ordering Wednesday. I think it’s going to be a huge success, but I am a little concerned about one thing: Where are Apple’s pro apps?

Now I fully understand that the iPad Pro is, in many ways, “just another iPad” and thus will not likely have any apps that only run on the iPad Pro. And I understand that Apple wants to encourage third party developers to create apps of their own.

But for it to be successful, it certainly needs apps that take advantage of its hallmark features for professionals, such as Pencil and its new keyboard cover (a first for iPads and, I predict, will not be shared with smaller iPads).

But is Apple going to leave the pro apps to third parties like Microsoft and Adobe?

When Tim Cook announced the iPad Pro in Apple’s big September keynote, he brought Microsoft and Adobe onto the stage to demo their apps. This was all very fine and interesting, but there was nothing terribly exciting about either demo. And Apple is highlighting other third party apps now, such as Paper, Procreate, and UMake.

Microsoft Office takes advantage mostly of the keyboard, although Pencil can be used to add notes. And Adobe’s apps mostly take advantage of Pencil.

It does seem odd, though, that Apple would introduce such hallmark hardware features in a pro device and not have their own pro apps take advantage of them. The iPad Pro is Apple’s first pro iOS device, and surely Final Cut Pro X and an enhanced Photos app should appear on it within the next year.

Final Cut Pro was re-architected into Final Cut Pro X–much to many users’ chagrin–and iWork and the new Photos app were also re-architected recently. The iWork apps (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) recently had a point upgrade to take advantage of iOS 9, while the Photos app is largely unchanged since iOS 8.

There’s a big gap in Apple’s pro app lineup, with Aperture being retired along with iPhoto. iPhoto’s replacement is the Photos app, but there is no Aperture replacement yet. What better device to introduce a Photos Pro app than a giant-screened iPad Pro with a pressure sensitive Pencil?

Likewise with Final Cut Pro X. There’s no reason to make it iPad Pro-only, but it would certainly shine on an iPad Pro. This is similar to Macs: sure you can run Photoshop or FCP X on a MacBook Air, but they really shine on a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro. I discussed this at length in my post “There’s No Such Thing as an iPad App“.

So why would Apple release an iPad Pro without its own pro apps?

My feeling is that the iPad Pro is much like Apple TV: the hardware was ready before the software, and Apple is soft-pedaling both, mostly to developers and early adopters. (You could argue Apple does this with every new device, and I wouldn’t argue with you.)

What this means is that you can expect both Apple TV and iPad Pro to mature with new iOS versions as the year progresses. Perhaps Apple will have pro apps out before iOS 10 & tvOS 10 come out, but we may have to wait that long to see the fruits of Apple’s labor.


12 thoughts on “Where are Apple’s iPad Pro Apps for Pros?

  1. Thanks! This is something that I too have wondered about at length. I am sure that there will be a greater release in the next week and I too am still hoping that Apple developed some business apps as well.

    • Apple is working with IBM, of course, and we may see something out of that collaboration. But I think they need something that works generally, and is not so industry-specific as the IBM apps.

  2. melgross says:

    Apple has a bad habit of abandoning software after some time. I feel that this is true for iWork. Even though they redone the suit, I think most of us expected that by now, it would be fully competing with Office.

    But they seem to be more interested in during things down. I really don’t get it.

    • Yeah, not sure what they’re doing. Could be waiting for deeper integration with iCloud. Instead of a file system, iWork apps would just save to iCloud–perhaps with security around a single enterprise (a “vault” so to speak where employees could see each others’ work, but no one outside the company could).

      Bento could be reinvented to use iCloud in the same way, and made much more powerful.

      To compete with Office, iWork can’t just match it. It must be better somehow.

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  4. a person says:

    None of the serious pro media apps will be truly workable, until iOS gets turnkey local (non-cloud. without an internet connection) network storage. 128GB on-device simply isn’t enough storage for doing FCPX editing, or an Aperture scale photo library, and the idea of using the cloud as the extended storage is, well it’s like listening to people wealthy enough to live on home delivered meals talk about how pointless refrigerators and ovens are.

    • That’s a good point, and perhaps the fact that iPad Pro doesn’t come in 256, 512, and 1 TB versions like the Surface Pro suggests that Apple is thinking about this?

      What if the Smart Connector does more than just connect a keyboard? What if you could buy, say, a 1 TB module that you would keep between upgrades of your iPad, so you wouldn’t have to transfer all your data every time you upgrade?

      • a person says:

        I suspect the smart connector may not have the bandwidth, and physical connection is inelegant. Wifi can handle the connection, something like an update to the Airport basestation that allows any mass storage plugged into it to be available to both macs and iOS devices – people have talked forever about the need for Apple to do a home server.

        iOS really needs a reversal of the idea that data resides inside of applications, which was a bad design decision from the start, and is going that way with iCloud Drive, but that still needs an Internet connection to sync between your devices. iOS also needs a time machine / rollback function so that when your “pro” app developer releases an update that breaks something, you can go back to the previous version and keep working. Getting no work done for a week, while the developer goes through app review for an update to fix a bug they introduced is, from experience, not a “pro” way to work.

      • Yes, on further thought the smart connector is low bandwidth.

        Apple, like Adobe, Microsoft, Google, and, well, everyone else, wants your data in the cloud.

        For now, at least, iPad Pro is pro *for an iOS device*. I can see editing 4K clips, but probably not a motion picture.

        Apple does have a home server, it’s called Apple TV. 😃 Well, it’s a hub but not a data server.

  5. a person says:

    USB3 for lightning makes sense for importing images from a camera – 36-50mp DSLRs are a tad slow on the import via USB2, but I don’t think they’d ever want you using the device with a wire sticking out of it. The argument against a storage accessory will be that it’s not with you wherever you go, whereas the cloud is (except when you don’t have an unlimited cellular data connection handy).

    AppleTV would be a great home hub, except it has no external storage options. We can always live in hope of an Apple take on a Synology-type NAS device, but again, I think their long term vision is everybody has unlimited fast bandwidth, and noone needs a server in the house.

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