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.