There’s finally a real compelling reason to buy an iPad Pro

An iPad Pro running iOS 11 and the new Photos app editing features.
Image: raymond wong/mashable

Apple’s biggest challenge with the iPad is convincing people who already own one to buy a newer version. I’ve been using my iPad Air 2 everyday since 2014 for reading news, checking Twitter, and watching videos, and I could probably keep using it until it stops working.

I don’t actually need a new iPad to continue doing any of these things, but I’ve finally found a compelling reason to get one: photo editing.

Apple is making photo editing way more simple in the new Photos app in iOS 11 and it’s the only way I want to do things now.

Photography used to be exclusive to people who actually knew how to work a camera and tinker with manual settings. Point-and-shoots democratized picture-taking, but smartphone cameras and the internet have truly made it accessible for all.

It’s estimated 14 trillion photos could be taken this year alone. That’s probably because photography is the purest form of expression because it’s visual there are no language barriers. A smiling or sad face is a universal image in every culture.

Photography is so important now that getting better photos is something everyone wants. Using a good camera to take photos is important, but more so is knowing how to edit your photos so that they convey what you want.

iOS 11 makes photo editing too easy

You used to need complicated programs like Photoshop or Lightroom in order to make tweaks to your photos, but not so anymore. Apps like Instagram, VSCO, and Snapseed have made photo editing as easy as tapping your screen a few times. But Apple’s upgraded Photos app in iOS 11 is somehow even better. It’s way more intuitive and versatile than any other photo editing app that I’ve used, and it’s easily one of the best reasons to buy or upgrade your iPad.

One of the huge upgrades to the Photos app is the editing it enables on Live Photos, or the 3-second “moving photos” Apple introduced on the iPhone 6S. I used to turn Live Photos off, but with iOS 11 you can now edit them with several new effects.

The first is called Loop and it creates a transition between the first 1.5 seconds and last 1.5 seconds of the Live Photo. The second is Bounce, which is a clone of Instagram’s Boomerang feature. And the last Live Photos effect is Long Exposure, which stabilizes the footage and stacks all of the parts with movement together to create long exposure. They’re all quite neat and you can see them in video I made below.

Additionally, you can finally, finally trim the Live Photo to just the part you want and edit the thumbnail (or most interesting frame) so that they’re click-worthy when you share them.

It’s good to see Apple not overwhelming people with a dozen effects, but focusing on ones people will actually use. I’m not usually one to get excited for effects or filters, but these are solid additions that gives me a reason to leave Live Photos mode on. Well, done, Apple.

But what really sells me on the new Photos is how easy it is to make adjustments to your pictures using just a few sliders all without needing another app.

Tapping the Edit button on a photo brings up a couple of tools, including an auto-enhance, crop, filters and image adjustments.

Auto-enhance sometimes works, so I usually try that first to see what results I get. But if you really want to make your photos pop, you’ll want to go in and make adjustments manually. Changes are as easy moving a Light slider up and down to brighten or darken things, and sliding the Color slider to saturate and desaturate colors.

And if you want to really make even more nuanced edits you can go into the menu of each of those two options to find additional sliders to make individual changes to things like exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, and more.

Advanced photographers who want even more control over edits should look into the recently updated Adobe Lightroom for iOS. In addition to Apple Pencil and 3D Touch support, it’s got nearly every feature from the desktop version, all accessible with touch controls. During one of Apple’s “Today at Apple” workshops, a photographer showed me how use smart tools like masks and brushes to punch up a photo in less than 30 seconds.

Photo editing is so straightforward with Photos that I actually chose to edit the photos in my “How fashion is saving Android Wear smartwatches” story using the beta version of iOS 11 on my iPad Air 2. I love my MacBook Pro, but it just made more sense to edit on iPad, and it was quicker, too.

macOS High Sierra’s Photos app is just as simple and great as iOS 11’s Photos app. On Mac, you do get more features, though.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

I haven’t even gotten to best part: iOS’s Photos app syncs to macOS High Sierra’s revamped Photos app via iCloud, which is even more powerful with even more advanced adjustment sliders, curve and level settings, and filters.

Giving the iPad Pro real purpose

The sliders in the Photos app makes editing photos stupid easy.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

The big iOS 11 update will be rolled out for free to anyone with an iPad Mini 2, 3, 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, will be available as a free software update for iPad mini 2, 3, 4 iPad Air and Air 2, new iPad, and all of the iPad Pros so you’ll get the new editing features for free. But the experience won’t be as good if you don’t get an iPad Pro.

On my three-year-old Air 2 and even on the new 9.7-inch iPad it takes a few seconds for some of the Live Photos editing and effects to load. My Air 2, of course, took longer since it’s got a older, slower chip. I can live with the brief loading times, but on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro (and I’d assume the 12.9-inch model, too), everything is instant.

Which is why I think it’s time for me to upgrade my Air 2. If you’re a photographer or just anyone who cares about good photos, an iPad Pro is a great device to have at your disposal.

If you’re a photographer or just anyone who cares about good photos, an iPad Pro is a great device to have at your disposal.

You don’t even need to transfer photos from your camera or iPhone to it. The cameras on the iPad Pro are now so good they’re the same ones as the iPhone 7’s you can truly shoot and edit great photos all on one device. Never mind that you’ll look goofy taking photos with an iPad. The iPad Pro’s got a camera for a reason, use it.

While Photos is the aha moment that’s nudging me to get an iPad Pro, iOS 11 also makes the tablet a better replacement for laptops. There’s enhanced multi-tasking, with Slide Over apps, a dock that’s accessible from any screen within any app, a Files app manager, and more including smarter markup tools and better Apple Pencil support.

The iPad Pro is finally proving its worth (sales are finally on the rise again, too) and the Photos app is what’s leading the way. A few months ago I dropped iOS’s Photos app for Google Photos. I’m putting iOS 11 back on my iPhone’s main home screen once iOS 11 arrives. I still wish Apple’s Photos had some better machine-learning and AI features like Google Photos does, but there’s enough room for both again. Welcome back, Apple Photos.

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