Apple Announces New iPad Pro With A12Z Bionic Chip, Trackpad Support, Dual Camera, Augmented Reality Scanner, and Magic Keyboard Accessory

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In addition to a new MacBook Air and updated Mac Mini, Apple today has also announced a new iPad Pro powered by the A12Z Bionic chip and featuring a new dual-camera, a LiDAR scanner for Augmented Reality, and trackpad support.

According to Apple, , the new A12Z Bionic chip supports an eight-core GPU, enhanced thermal architecture, and tuned performance controllers that gives the new iPad Pro a performance boost:

The eight-core GPU in the A12Z Bionic, along with an enhanced thermal architecture and tuned performance controllers, gives iPad Pro the highest performance ever in an iPad. Combined with the eight-core CPU and the powerful Neural Engine, which enables next-generation apps, there’s no other chip that can offer the incredible performance found in the thin and light design of iPad Pro.

The new dual-camera system includes a 10 megapixel ultra-wide and 12 megapixel wide lens, a significant upgrade to the single 12-megapixel back camera of the previous generation iPad Pro.

The LiDAR Scanner on the new iPad Pro is used for depth sensing and enables Augmented Reality capabilities Apple says have never before been possible on any mobile device:

The LiDAR Scanner measures the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters away, works both indoors and outdoors, and operates at the photon level at nano-second speeds. New depth frameworks in iPadOS combine depth points measured by the LiDAR Scanner, data from both cameras and motion sensors, and is enhanced by computer vision algorithms on the A12Z Bionic for a more detailed understanding of a scene. The tight integration of these elements enables a whole new class of AR experiences on iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro is still available in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes, with an edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display and ProMotion technology. It now features five microphones which Apple describes as “studio-quality” and four-speaker audio that automatically adjusts to any orientation.

When iPadOS 13.4 is released, trackpad support will come to iPad, with Apple saying:

Rather than copying the experience from macOS, trackpad support has been completely reimagined for iPad. As users move their finger across the trackpad, the pointer elegantly transforms to highlight user interface elements. Multi-Touch gestures on the trackpad make it fast and easy to navigate the entire system without users ever lifting their hand.

Trackpad support in iPadOS is designed to work great with the apps customers use every day. From smoothly scrolling through web pages in Safari and photo libraries in Photos, to precisely editing text in Notes and quickly viewing and organizing your email in Mail, it’s a joy to use a trackpad with iPad. Most third-party apps work with no change at all, and developers can go even further with new APIs that let them deliver unique experiences in their apps. 

Our understanding is that Apple has made trackpad support accessible for a wide range of user needs. For VoiceOver users and Zoom users, this includes features like new Pointer Settings and pointer support so the pointer will stay focused for the user.

There's no indication that this goes as far as an iPadOS equivalent to the Trackpad commander available to VoiceOver users on macOS, but it's possible that something similar is planned for the future.

Apple today also introduced the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Featuring USB-C pass-through charging and what apple describes as a “floating design with smooth angle adjustment,” the Magic Keyboard has a backlit keyboard and trackpad. It will be available for purchase in May, priced at $299 for the model made for the 11-inch iPad Pro, and $349 for the 12.9-inch version.

There are also new Smart Keyboard Folio accessories out today, priced at $179.

Somewhat surprisingly, the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is backwards compatible with earlier iPad Pro models. Apple says you can use the Magic Keyboard with:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch 3rd and 4th generation
  • iPad Pro 11-inch 1st and 2nd generation

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is from $999. Pre-orders start today in 30 countries and regions and the devices will ship starting next week. Apple says that iPadOS 13.4 will be available from March 24.

Even though prices are the same as for the previous generation iPad Pro, Apple has doubled the starting configuration to include 128GB — up from the previous generation’s 64GB. Other configurations include 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB.

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Comments

Submitted by Pepper Fox on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

This is a very welcome improvement, especially the storage bumps. It's hard to imagine getting by with less than 128 and 256 gigs on a phone and laptop/desktop, respectively. With the iPad being poised as a laptop replacement, one could make the argument that it should be bumped to 256 as well. Next year, perhaps.

I'm excited about trackpad support. I hope that gets fleshed out into a full trackpad commander for Voiceover eventually. I'm also interested to see if that lidar sensor will be useful to Voiceover users in any way.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

I believe the 11 inch magic keyboard is going to be £299 and the 12.9 will be £349... Or so I've read. This is absolutely ridiculous considering the cost of the new MacBook Air which works out cheaper. It's really annoying to see apple's continued inconsistency in pricing. Fantastic that the power bumped MacBook Air has come down in price, but paying three hundred quid for a trackpad keyboard, the same price as some laptops, is just insane and unjustifiable. That's gone beyond premium into the territory of being utter nincompoops.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

You know with the issues with the virus where people are not going to be spending money for a while, Apple could just lower the price but Apple just want money from us.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, March 19, 2020

Hi, logitech is bringing out a keyboard with a similar spec for half the price but, to be honest, I've tried using the bridge keyboard on my pro 11 and it's not pleasant, makes the whole thing bulky, the keys are too cramped and it's got this unsatisfying turret of rubber bungs around the edgees ahtat means it doesn't shut properly. I'd say, for the best typing experience, chuck a full sized keyboard in your bag with trackpad... At least, this is the set up I'm going to look at next. The touch pad aspect of iPad OS 13.4 is a bit of a game changer for us I think, only if it's accessible though.

On the up side, it's going to hammer down the price of the one I've got, the iPad Pro 11, which is a powerhouse as it is. Great speaker set up and easily powerful enough to run anything a blind user might want, even for sighted users they'll be struggling to find an application to push its limits.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, March 19, 2020

I'm making the assumption that the iPad keyboard with trackpad is a case or screen cover for the iPad... Is that right? If so, is there still a full sized keyboard with a trackpad built in made by apple?

Thanks

Submitted by Eileen on Thursday, March 19, 2020

It's extremely hard to get excited about Apple making sure that the trackpad supports VoiceOver and Zoom, when there are longstanding issues for VoiceOver users with navigating and selecting text using a keyboard.

At a time when they are pushing people to using a keyboard with their iPads, Apple should be ashamed that it has failed to address these long, long, longstanding issues.

In the words of one podcaster I listen to, “that's a bad Apple!”

Submitted by Andy Lane on Thursday, March 19, 2020

This is the development I’ve been waiting for for about 5 years. The laser installed in this iPad is hopefully going to be used to create some truly life changing software for voiceover users. It is like a little laser scanner/rangefinder and once developers get their heads around using it effectively the potential is enormous. It now has the ability to see through the camera and build a 3D model of everything in front of you up to 5 meters away. A virtual guide dog is a very real possibility now. It will take some time to work out how to communicate instructions to the user efficiently but maybe through voice prompts, vibrations and or beeps and bongs it should be able to communicate so much useful information about what is in front of us and how to navigate. Maybe a virtual white stick is more realistic at this point but I’m sure it won’t stop at 5m range so will just get more and more capable as a navigation aid. Hopefully there is still enough of a functioning world in September that this makes it into the next iPhone which was obviously the plan.