The Apple Ipad Pro 2020 includes a lidar scanner, which uses pulses of light to help the hardware better interpret depth and understand location and position. It’s supposed to be especially useful in augmented-reality apps. However, after using apps with AR features like Wayfair (to look at a virtual couch I won’t buy) and JigSpace (a learning app that showed me how the inside of a lock works), I’m not convinced these are the ultimate use cases for lidar on a consumer device.
I didn’t notice a difference between the way these apps ran on the 2018 iPad Pro and the new Apple Ipad Pro 2020 model. My WIRED colleague Brian Barrett may be on to something in thinking that lidar in iPad is ultimately a dry run for some kind of AR head-up display.
Delightful additional features of the new Apple Ipad Pro 2020 has to do with its software, not its hardware. The new iPad operating system—a variant on iOS that will run on iPads dating back to iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4—supports a track pad and a mouse. I used the new iPad with a $129 Apple Magic Trackpad.
The cursor appears as a bubble on the home screen and over media. And as a vertical line when scrolling through text. The same gestures that work on the iPad’s screen also work on the trackpad;
Swiping up with three fingers shows all of your open apps. And using two fingers to swipe to the side lets you pan across. Casual games and apps with endless thumbnail options. Like Netflix, were also a lot more enjoyable to use with a track pad.
This support of a trackpad and mouse pushes the iPad Pro even closer to “computer” territory. But that’s a debate for later. As much as I’ve used the iPad over the past five days. There were plenty of things I couldn’t test—like how the microphones flared in crowded, noisy environments. Or how well the ultrawide rear camera captured photos of sizeable groups of friends.
I didn’t sit and do work on it from a coffee shop. I couldn’t travel with the iPad on a train or airplane to give it an excellent lap test. Therefore, I quickly grew disinterested in AR apps within the confines of my small home.