Apple iPad Pro 12.9 Inch - unboxing and first impressions

Further to my previous article about Switching from a MacBook Pro to an iPad Pro, I took delivery of my iPad Pro, two keyboards and the Apple Pencil.

So, I unboxed everything and the hardware seems to be up to Apple’s usual standards. The iPad Pro is a beautiful device that also offers tactile satisfaction — it’s a nice thing hold and behold. There’s a surprising amount of screen space on it too. Sure, my 15 inch MacBook Pro is better in that respect but the iPad strikes a good balance between being an effective desktop replacement and a portable device.

If portability is your main priority, you’d probably be better off with a 10.5 inch iPad Pro. For me portability is important but it’s secondary to its utility as a full-time computer and the iPad will spend most of its time on my desk or coffee table. It’s the right size for me but might it not be for you.

As to the initial setup process, one useful thing I wasn’t aware of until I tried it was that the new iPad could read the settings from an iPhone that’s near it, so I used that facility to configure a lot of its settings from my iPhone. That saved some time. Otherwise it was just a matter of setting up things like Mail and going through the settings screen and configuring the iPad how I like it.

The only big disappointment with what I received from Apple is the length of the Lightning to USB cable used for charging the iPad. Apple distribute it with a stingy one metre cable and that’s next to useless unless you’re very, very close to a socket. I will be using it on a desk or coffee table for the most part and it’ll be permanently plugged in. My nearest socket is fairly close, behind the desk at floor level, but a one metre cable just isn’t long enough.

It’s not only that, though. I really do like Apple kit but sometimes they take the piss with their prices. Apple want an astonishing £35.00 for a 2 metre Lightning/USB cable and, unless they’re made from unicorn entrails, that’s a blatant rip-off. Amazon’s a good bet for a cheaper alternative.

iPad and accessories.
The iPad stuff I received.

I have one other minor criticism of the hardware I received. The Smart Keyboard is a great portable stand, keyboard and cover for the iPad but it could do with some backlighting. Despite 35 years of using a keyboard, I still hunt and peck around keyboards like a crow with nits and, whilst I know where most of the keys are by muscle memory (although I’m far from being a typist), I do sometimes need to see the keyboard for things like the dollar or the star, and it would be handy to have some backlighting. It’s a minor complaint though — over all it’s a clever little item.

I did also purchase a bluetooth Magic Keyboard but I haven’t unboxed that yet. I believe that has backlighting.

Anyway, on with some specific software-related things I encountered — and how I got around them — when replacing the working practices I used on my MacBook with the equivalents on my iPad Pro.


I use Microsoft Exchange via Office365 for my email. Back in the day, I used to get quite a lot of spam so I set up lots of Exchange distribution groups with email aliases. I often used one per vendor, so if I set up an online account with, say, Apple, I’d set up an email alias for and then register with Apple using that alias. This meant that if Apple subsequently started spamming me and I couldn’t extract myself from their email list, I could just delete the alias and be forevermore spam-free.

It was overkill, really, and spam protection is now much better in general, so this is kind of a legacy system I’m using here and I intend to reduce my email aliases significantly when I can be bothered. Nevertheless, it’s what I have now and you may have other needs for multiple distribution groups or even just want to send email from a different ‘From’ address on iOS. There is no easy way to configure multiple email addresses from the same Exchange account on iOS like there is on MacOS, but I created an ugly workaround and I describe it in my Adding Exchange Aliases on iOS 11+ article.

Jekyll and Maintaining This Site

This site is statically generated via Jekyll and I used to run a local copy of the software on MacOS. However, iOS can’t run Jekyll and I had to rethink how I did things (and find a new code editor). See my article on Reconfiguring Jekyll Process for iOS for more information.


I use Banktivity for recording all the money I spend on cakes and biscuits and, fortunately, there’s an iOS version of that. It keeps the accounts files synchronised between MacOS and iOS too if that’s of interest to you.

List and Projects

I use OmniFocus for my lists and what little project management I need to do these days, and OmniFocus has an iOS version so all is fine there.

That’s what I’ve been up to on the few days since I took delivery of all this new hardware. In terms of new things — things I couldn’t do at all on my MacBook — I’ve take my new Apple Pencil for a test drive in Notability. I’m loving it so far. Notability in conjunction with the Apple Pencil works really well and I can see that replacing my paper and pen notebooks for much of the time.

There will be more to do and my ultimate aim is to be able to go through most days without starting up my MacBook. Can I go completely iPad-only? I don’t know yet. I suspect I’ll be able to for most of the time but maybe not entirely. I’ll keep moving forward with this, though, and see where I am in a few weeks.