Apple has announced its long-rumoured iPad Pro, a 12.9" device which owes more than a little credit to Microsoft's Surface tablet family - right down to the detachable keyboard-cum-cover and optional, expensive stylus.
Announced at an event late last night, the iPad Pro is Apple's answer to Microsoft's Surface Pro. Based around the same iOS operating system as others in the iPad family, the iPad Pro boasts a 12.9" 2,732x2,048 display, the company's latest 64-bit ARM-based A9X system-on-chip processor with M9 motion co-processor, and a choice of 32GB or 128GB storage capacities in Silver, Gold, and Space Grey finishes.
Where the similarities between the iPad Pro and Surface Pro begin is with the optional Smart Keyboard. Looking remarkably similar to the Type Cover available for the Surface family, the Smart Keyboard provides a protective cover for the display which folds down and transform into a Sinclair-style dead-flesh rubber keyboard. Describe disingenuously by the company as 'a keyboard like no other
,' the Smart Keyboard also features a kickstand-like folding region at the rear, duplicating a feature built in to the chassis of the rival Surface Pro.
Another embarrassingly familiar device from the company is the Apple Pencil, the announcement of which brought titters from the attending audience. A $99 accessory for the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil offers a highly-responsive scanning rate, pressure sensitivity, and two tilt sensors, with the promise of 12 hours of battery life per charge. The Microsoft Surface Pen, by contrast, costs $49.99, offers three dedicated buttons, 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, but lacks the tilt sensors of Apple's latest design.
Amusingly, some of the shine was taken off Apple's iPad Pro announcement thanks to a comic by Joel Watson published in 2012. In the Hijinks Ensue strip Surface Tension
, Watson pokes fun at the cold response to Microsoft's Surface launch with a remarkably accurate prediction. 'We put a damn keyboard right in the cover,
' a caricature of Steve Ballmer shouts at an unappreciative launch audience. 'In three years when Apple copies this, you cockwads will think it's genius!
At the same event, Apple announced a new iPhone 6S, an iPhone Upgrade Programme which allows subscribers to receive a phone upgrade every year, and a revised Apple TV featuring a new iOS-based platform dubbed tvOS - this time seeming to take its cue from Google and its Android TV platform, a dedicated OS for set-top boxes and media playback systems based on the Android mobile OS.
The iPad Pro will be available from November, with more information available on the official website