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Apple's impressive new iPad Pro has one problem

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Apple’s new iPad Pro 10.5-inch is an impressive tablet, but it still can’t run macOS programs.

Apple (AAPL) hosted the massive keynote for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. And among the onslaught of announcements, one stood out in particular: a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

A lot of the news was intended to prove the iPad Pro is every bit as capable as Microsoft’s (MSFT) own Surface Pro in terms of performance and capabilities. But Apple’s slate still has an Achilles’ heel that could ensure Microsoft’s offering is the better device: it can only run mobile iOS apps.

The iPad Pro vs Microsoft’s Surface

Apple made sure to give the 10.5-inch iPad Pro plenty of love on stage. That’s a huge change of pace from how the company debuted its most recent full-size iPad, which got a little more than a press release.

Apple executives spent a huge amount of time praising the new tablet for its power and capabilities, as well as its improved Apple Pencil input.

Noticeably, the slate has taken a number of features from Apple’s macOS software including the famous Apple Dock, which lets you save your favorite apps to the bottom of the screen to make them more easily accessible. You can also drag and drop apps from the dock to open them in split-screen mode.

Apple’s new iPad Pro looks like a powerhouse of performance.

The idea is clearly to make the iPad Pro look more like a device that can completely replace your laptop. And Apple’s stage demo certainly made the Pro appear capable. Heck, if you’re only interested in using iOS apps, the Pro will be the hardest working tablet out there.

But that’s also where it falls short. The Surface Pro’s biggest advantage over the iPad Pro is that it can run mobile apps (from Microsoft’s admittedly smaller app store), as well as full-on programs.

No matter how much more powerful the iPad Pro gets, it won’t be able to match the Surface Pro in terms of overall capabilities until it can also run macOS programs in addition to iOS apps.

Still, Apple does have more than 1.3 million apps specifically designed for the iPad including Microsoft Office, which means there are a plenty of software options out there. But if you’re looking for a desktop program, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

Stunning stylus

Apple also announced that the new iPad Pro sports a staggering 120Hz screen refresh rate. That means videos, scrolling through Safari and other apps will look incredibly smooth.

But the most interesting aspect of this upgrade is that the Apple Pencil’s latency will be reduced significantly. That should make using the stylus feel more like using a real pencil.

Apple says its new iPad Pro makes the Apple Pencil the best stylus around.

That looks like a direct shot at Microsoft’s improved Surface Pen, which the company said was the fastest stylus in the world just two weeks ago.

For users who are serious about using a stylus as part of their everyday tasks, this could be a major selling point. We’ll just have to wait to see how the two compare side-by-side before we can make any judgments one way or the other.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.