iPad Pro

Unboxing the All-New 10.5-inch iPad Pro (2017)

It's not very often I get to unbox a shiny new Apple product — at least one on the expensive side of the spending spectrum. Much like the iPhone, opening an all-new iPad can be a little costly. Throw in the iPad Pro, and things get even more expensive. Being an Apple fan isn't cheap. And besides, who needs to eat for the next few weeks?

So, what's the unboxing experience like for this year's iPad Pro refresh? To put simply, it feels new. Despite recently unboxing the 9.7-inch iPad Pro last March, a lot has changed with the all-new 10.5-inch model. The overall form factor is obviously a little larger, but the weight surprisingly feels the same. And the bezel is now 50% thinner, making the design feel more premium than ever.

Where the 10.5-inch iPad Pro really shines is the addition of a 120Hz display, which displays frames twice as fast as last year's iPad Pro models. Apple calls this technology ProMotion, and rightfully so. The moment you witness the new display in person, you'll wonder how you ever got by with anything less.

Seriously, ProMotion is that good. It's the one feature that will continue to have me drool over how smooth everything plays out. Swipe between home screen pages and you'll see what I mean. Oh, and the best part? Both the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models feature ProMotion. So, whether you go big or small, there's no need to worry about missing out.

It's also worth noting that the ProMotion display has cut the response time of the Apple Pencil in half. Rather than a 40ms delay, the Apple Pencil now inputs at just 20ms. If numbers mean anything to you, that is one millisecond faster than the Surface Pen performs on the Surface Pro.

Source: Apple.com

While I haven't had the chance to put too much time into the new iPad Pro, I can say with confidence that upgrading from the 9.7-inch model is worth it. The screen size may be only about 20% larger, but the increase is noticeable to the point where you'll feel the difference. And similar to previous iPad Pro models, the audio is just as impressive. The four onboard speakers really amplify your listening experience, making the use of headphones less relevant.

Of course, I cannot forget to talk about performance. This is the fastest iPad that Apple has ever created, but that should go without saying. The A10X Fusion chip really excels, allowing the iPad Pro to shine when dealing with professional tasks — such as editing 4K video and rendering 3D models. Oh, and 4 GB of RAM doesn't hurt, either.

Needless to say, I am loving the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. It's the most impressive tablet I have used to date, and it's only going to get better with iOS 11. I plan on installing the public beta when it becomes available, so you can expect more coverage in the coming weeks.

Are you an iPad Pro user? If so, let me know how you're using yours.

Why I Believe the iPad is Still Relevant

Yesterday I published a video about one of my favorite devices to ever exist — the iPad. Forever revolutionizing the tablet market, the iPad unarguably changed the game. While it hasn't made quite the impact like the iPhone has been doing for nearly the past ten years, it's difficult to ignore the iPad and how far its come since launch in 2010.

But is the iPad still relevant today? Considering how large the displays on our phones have become, that's a valid question. It also doesn't help that tablet sales have been on a decline lately. So, what's the deal?

To answer my own question, yes — I do believe the iPad is still relevant. And you know what? If the iPad Pro is anything to go by, the iPad brand as a whole is not going anywhere any time soon. Allow me to explain.

Tablets are not phones

Let's get the obvious out of the way... Tablets and phones? They're not the same thing. Sure, the iPad may seem like an oversized iPhone, but that one characteristic alone enables users to do things on a much grander scale. In other words, a larger display means more possibilities.

This especially applies to any app that encourages creativity or productivity. For example, try composing a Pages document on your iPhone. The convenience is certainly there, but when you attempt the same task on your iPad, you immediately notice the difference.

Tablets and phones have a nice way of complementing one another, but they each deserve to stand on their own.

Businesses love the iPad

This is something I regret not mentioning in my video, but I'm glad viewer Ryan Wells brought it up. He's absolutely right, by the way. Businesses do love the iPad, particularly in retail. It's a lot easier to present information to a customer on a tablet than it is on a notebook, primarily thanks to its lightweight and portable design.

Retail is just one example of how businesses can use tablets to their advantage. The iPad is widely used in medical facilities for inputting patient data, photographers have the opportunity to conveniently showcase their portfolio to potential clients, and restaurants are even using it to present what's on the menu.

For the average consumer, it just works

One of the best things about the iPad is that it works exactly as intended. Unlike traditional computers, using an iPad makes sense to just about everyone. You typically don't have to worry about software updates, security is pretty tight, and there's an app for almost every task at hand. I say 'almost' for a reason.

We are not at the point yet where tablets can completely replace the need for notebooks, but for the average user, the iPad does enough.

And finally, the iPad Pro could be huge

Apple's take on the professional side of the tablet market began with the iPad Pro in September 2015. While it wasn't anything radically different from what we were already used to, it did introduce two new devices that are worth paying attention to — the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Combine these accessories with multitasking in iOS, and you've got yourself a different kind of iPad.

Considering all the Facebook advertising that Apple has been doing lately for the iPad Pro, I'm thinking this is the beginning of something huge. It gives me confidence in saying that Apple has a plan in the works. What that plan is, we'll have to wait and see. Perhaps we'll see something new at WWDC 2017.

I can only imagine what the iPad Pro will turn into just a few years from now. Anyone have a time machine I can borrow?

Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro Review

If there is one accessory that I can absolutely recommend for the iPad Pro, it has to be Apple's Smart Keyboard. While its price can be a bit on the steep side (save a few dollars on Amazon), I believe the cost is worth it. After all, Apple is touting the iPad Pro as a notebook replacement for some users, so a keyboard only seems necessary.

The build quality of the Smart Keyboard, as you can expect from most Apple products, is exceptional. Typing feels natural, despite the keys not having much travel, and it's designed well to the point where it's comfortable to use for extended periods of time.

You don't have to worry about getting dirt stuck in between the keys, either. Everything is woven together in a custom-fitted fabric, which is a big plus for those who like to keep their gadgets in pristine condition.

One of my favorite features of the Smart Keyboard is the ability to use shortcuts in iOS. Below are a few shortcuts that I use most often:

Command-H - Go to your iPad Pro's Home screen
Command-Tab - Switch apps instantly, similar to macOS
Command-T - Open a new tab in any compatible apps
Command-Space - Spotlight search while using any app

These shortcuts make using an iPad Pro more useful and much like a notebook, further proving the point that tablets can eventually become an everyday computer for most users. That day is still a ways off, but we're certainly getting closer.

And speaking of shortcuts, holding down the Command key in any compatible app displays an overlay of keyboard shortcuts that can be used. This is especially apparent in Apple's apps, like Safari and Pages.

Let's talk about the Smart Connector, a new technology that Apple is implementing into their "Pro" line of products. Because the Smart Keyboard uses the Smart Connector interface, this means that you never have to worry about Bluetooth pairing or even charging. Everything is handled by the iPad Pro, which is a huge convenience. This alone can save you a ton of time and frustration.

The Smart Keyboard also doubles as a case. Disconnecting the Smart Keyboard via the Smart Connector allows you to fold it into a case, thus protecting your iPad Pro from everyday wear and tear. While this functionality tends to skip my mind since I primarily work at a desk, it's certainly a nice bonus for those users who prefer to work while on the go.

But as great as the Smart Keyboard is, there are two areas I think Apple can improve in — the first being physical shortcut keys. Software shortcuts in iOS work great, but the lack of having shortcut keys for basic functions like volume and display brightness seems like a simple oversight to me. Instead, you are often having to rely on lifting your fingers from the Smart Keyboard itself andusing the controls on the iPad Pro.

Another setback is the lack of backlit keys. While this isn't personally a big deal to me, I have seen complaints from other Smart Keyboard users, and rightfully so.

If the above setbacks are important to you, then I suggest looking into Logitech's Create. It features physical shortcut keys and backlit keys, and for less than the price of what Apple is asking.

Overall, I have to say that I am enjoying the Smart Keyboard. In my opinion, it's a necessary accessory to truly experience what the iPad Pro has to offer — aside from the Apple Pencil, of course. Pricing starts at $149.

If you are interested in learning more about the Smart Keyboard, check out my video review below.

5 Killer Ways to Record Better Videos on Your iPad

No matter what anyone tries telling you, there is nothing wrong with using your iPad to record videos — especially if it means getting the right shot. The cameras in Apple's popular tablet line have certainly come a long way. Pair them with an extra large viewfinder and you've discovered a creator's paradise.

Of course, recording videos on your iPad may be useful and convenient, but that doesn't mean the process is as simple as tapping the record button. Okay, for most people it is, but wouldn't it be nice to stand out?

Below are five tips that I've picked up on over the years. They will not only help you dramatically improve the quality of your shots, but you'll also save some time in the process.

1. Get a steady shot

Recording stabilized video on an iPad is not always easy, but it's certainly possible. While not all iPads feature cinematic video stabilization (exclusive to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro), you can still achieve similar results if done right.

Firstly, let's get the most obvious method out of the way. When recording videos on your iPad, you need to hold your hands as steady as you possibly can. The slightest shift in motion will be noticeable, thus risking ruining your presentation.

It's important to keep calm and focus on getting the shot. If it helps, try propping yourself up against a wall. Doing so can dramatically cut down on the amount of camera shake that is present.

And secondly, it doesn't hurt to look into getting a tripod. Yes, that's correct. You can actually find a variety of tripods that are built specifically for iPad use. It may seem silly, but to serious creators, going this route could be the right choice.

After searching around on Amazon for a bit, I can recommend the following tripods, mounts and adapters : Kross 41-inch Lightweight Tripod | ChargerCity Vibration Free 360° Tripod Mount | Accmor Tripod Adapter

2. Lock the exposure and focus

A fantastic way of capturing video that appears consistent is to lock the camera's exposure and focus. This method works wonders and is incredibly easy to pull off on the iPad, as well as most iOS devices that feature a camera.

To do this, open the default Camera app and switch to the video recording mode. Tap and hold your finger on the subject you want to record. Holding for about two seconds will display a yellow box that enlarges and flashes. This confirms that you have successfully locked your camera's auto exposure and auto focus. You will also see "AE/AF LOCK" at the top of the screen.

Now that the exposure and focus are both locked, this means you can record a video without having to constantly adjust your camera's settings. This is especially useful if you are looking to record a time-lapse where getting a consistent shot is important.

3. Use an external microphone

Recording quality audio can often be overlooked when creating videos on an iPad. While it may not be as exciting as visually capturing what's in front of you, it's still critical that you put some thought into how you plan on recording your audio.

Because iPads don't feature a dedicated USB port, it's easy to assume that you cannot connect microphones of any kind. This could not be further from the truth, as Apple allows all kinds of accessories for users to experiment with.

Let's begin with the standard 3.5mm headphones jack. While this isn't my preferred method, this jack can be used to connect a variety of adapters to work with different types of microphones. For example, this adapter from Griffin enables the use of XLR microphones, which could prove to be quite useful for a specific demographic.

And then there is Apple's Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. This is probably the best option for most iPad users. Simply plug in the adapter to your iPad, connect any microphone that uses USB, and you're set. It's that easy.

Finally, let's talk about microphones that are designed specifically to make use of the Lightning port and nothing else. These are microphones that plug directly into the iPad and don't require any kind of extra adapters or cables. And let me just say, this is the route to take.

Look no further than the Shure MV88. Having recently purchased it for myself, I can say with confidence that this is my new go-to microphone for podcasting and recording audio in general. Not only is the quality incredible, but the compatible ShurePlus MOTIV app for iOS makes the recording experience a breeze.

Once the Shure MV88 is connected, you are presented with a variety of options to customize to your liking. From adjusting mic gain to enabling wind reduction, everything you will ever need is right there. And of course, exporting your recordings is just as easy.

The Shure MV88 is currently available on Amazon for $150.

4. Record time-lapses

If you are looking to improve the overall style of your videos, then you might want to record a time-lapse or two. This can be a nice way of further engaging your audience and creating something to be proud of.

Recording a time-lapse on your iPad is easy. Open the default Camera app and scroll through the different capture modes until you see "TIME-LAPSE" in the list. Once selected, be sure to lock your camera's exposure and focus. This ensures that the final video will remain consistent from beginning to end.

When everything is set up and ready to go, simply tap the record button. Your iPad will then begin to capture sequences of time for as long as you prefer. Assuming your iPad is okay to be left alone, this is your chance to walk away and attend to something else.

Once your iPad has had at least 10 minutes to capture its time-lapse, feel free to stop the recording and take a look at what was captured. Sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results. And if not, then try again. Mix up your scenery and try new ideas.

5. Edit in post-production

Once you are finished recording your video, you will want to import it into your favorite video editing application. If you're working on a Mac, I recommend using Final Cut Pro X. For iOS users, definitely check out iMovie. And finally, for any Windows uses reading this, I've heard good things about both Premier Pro and Vegas Pro.

Aside from the obvious splitting of clips and joining them together, your top priority for any video project should be adjusting its color grading and applying any kind of filters that work. How you go about this is completely up to you, so don't be afraid to experiment with different looks and see what works best.

Going back to a previous tip, it's important to not forget about audio. Some adjustments may be required, such as tinkering around with audio levels and adding noise cancellation — especially if any scenes were recorded in a noisy environment.

And finally, adding a soundtrack may help improve the style of your video. Of course, this can vary depending on what kind of video you are producing.

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While these tips apply to iPad users who are looking to create better videos, they can certainly help iPhone users as well. That's one of the many reasons why I enjoy Apple products so much. The creative experience is typically the same across the board.

Do you have tips that you would like to share with the Di Franco University community? Feel free to post them right below!

Video Editing on the iPad Pro

With the recent introduction of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple managed to fit inside of it a 4K-capable camera. Not only is this a first for the iPad line, but it opens up a ton of possibilities for its creative user base — myself included. Check out "Surprise Snow Storm" below for an example.

That video was entirely recorded and edited using only my iPad Pro. It truly is an amazing device that enables me to express my creativity. Drawing and painting with the Apple Pencil is one thing, but creating video content is an entirely different experience. And as someone who has been making YouTube videos since 2006, I feel right at home with Apple's newest tablet.

So, what is the video editing process like on the iPad Pro? Firstly, it's important to mention that the selection of video editing apps in the App Store is severely limited. There aren't many choices as of today, but thankfully iMovie ($4.99) is pretty much all you need when getting started. It's also developed internally at Apple, so you know it's guaranteed to be reliable.

Creating a new iMovie project is simple. Opening the app presents you with three options, but you'll want to tap "Projects" and then the large plus sign. Tap "Movie" and then choose your theme. I prefer "Simple" because it's a basic approach and not overly flashy. Once you select your theme, tap "Create" in the top right corner.

This is where things get interesting, especially if you are new to video editing. The user interface is fairly easy to understand, but if you need help, simply tap the question mark icon at the top of the screen. This displays a handful of hints that can help you quickly navigate and get the hang of how to use iMovie.

Once you take a few moments to familiarize yourself with what's available, you will want to begin dropping in your video clips. If it's not already selected, tap the "Video" icon in the media browser and find the clips you want to use.

Selecting a clip will present several options. For now, focus on simply using the icon that resembles an arrow pointing downwards. Tapping that automatically drops your clip into the timeline, which is where the majority of your work will reside. Continue to do this for each clip as your project grows.

Once all your clips are in place, you might want to consider improving the style of your project a bit. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. What I usually like to do is go for a clean presentation. Something that helps achieve this is by inserting cross dissolve transitions between clips. This simple approach can be quite effective and it really helps tie the project together.

To add clip transitions, tap the small line icon between the clips in your timeline and make your selection. iMovie currently gives you six to choose from: None, Theme, Dissolve, Slide, Wipe and Fade

Another way of dramatically improving your video is to add a soundtrack. Similar to selecting and dropping in clips, this can be achieved by once again accessing your media browser. Tap "Audio" and you are presented with all audio files that are on your iPad. Find something you like and drop it into your timeline.

Repositioning music files in your iMovie project can be very restrictive, but with sound effects you have complete freedom. Apple even provides a library of effects to have fun with. Of course, you are free to import your own.

Once you feel like your project is complete, you'll want to export it as a regular video file. Tap "Done" in the top left corner to go back to your project's main screen. In the bottom are three icons. Tap the middle icon to display your share options.

As you can see, you have plenty of choices. If you prefer to keep things simple, then tap "Save Video" in the bottom left and the video will be exported into your Photos app. Otherwise, you can upload your video to a variety of platforms. This includes YouTube, Facebook and even iCloud Drive.

Considering how well integrated everything is, editing with iMovie on the iPad Pro isn't bad at all. If anything, the experience is actually quite seamless. Sure, it's not the go-to solution for all editors, but going this route can certainly be convenient.

Finally, it's worth noting that iMovie is available on other iOS devices. I simply chose to use the 9.7-inch iPad Pro as an example for the fact that it includes a 4K camera. And as a creative, that just seals the deal for me.