iPad Pro $800

Tablet is still awkward for office work

Apple’s redesigned iPad Pro is sleeker and more powerful — not to mention pricier — but will still leave most professionals longing for a mouse or trackpad.

Spending a week with the laptop closed and working only on the iPad — sans mouse — was like learning to walk with your shoes tied together.

The tablet was powerful enough for word processing and editing photos with a finger, stylus and keyboard case. But it was near impossible to multi-task and sit with decent posture.

The new iPad, at $800 for the 11-inch version and $1,000 for the 12.9-inch, might be great for artists or people who have to work mostly standing up. A substitute for a work laptop, though, it is not.

IPads now outsell Macs and every other laptop on the market. They are great for watching video, playing games and reading. But that doesn’t mean people are creating with them, which means you can spend $330 for a 9.7-inch regular iPad and be happy.

Apple isn’t wrong to call the iPad the future. Ask any 2-year-old who already knows how to use one. It just has to figure out finger-first experience for a generation raised on doing work with a mouse and trackpad. The changes to the new iPad Pro attempt to narrow the gap with laptops by focusing on portability and power.

The $130 Apple Pencil stylus, available since the original, also joined in the makeover. An artist friend, who drew me a quick illustration on the new Pro with an app called Procreate, raved about its increased responsiveness.

A new kind of port on the iPad Pro can also drive a second screen. But you still have to control it on the screen unlike a laptop in a port.

The iPad Pro’s biggest problem is its software. In iOS 12, the iPad has some ability to make between two and four apps share the screen simultaneously, but not all apps play ball. For example, you can’t make Spotify split the screen with Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Getting apps into these sharing modes also requires finger yoga that’s a lot more work than moving around windows with a mouse.

Most of the best examples of professional finger and stylus-first are apps for artists who benefit the most from working on top of a screen. Too many other iPad apps are still compromises designed for very light work, instead of designed for the product.

And it needs a mouse.