All Signs Point to “Pro”
In the past few months, two tablet manufacturers have announced and/or introduced a 12″ tablet; the 12″ Samsung Galaxy NotePro 12.2, and the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3. The Samsung is still a 16:10 tablet, whereas the Windows tablet is in 3:2.
Many musicians (professionals and conductors) are longing for a larger device than the iPad. Hugh Sung, with AirTurn, is very excited about the Samsung Note (he will probably purchase a Surface Pro 3 down the road as well).
For the musician, there are still compromises when you choose Android or Windows over the iPad. The main compromise is the lack of high quality apps for musicians on Android or Windows. Developers naturally go where the money is, and the money continues to primarily be on iOS. That said, there are now a few different options for PDF Sheet Music on Android (MobileSheets and Orpheus), and MusicReader on Windows. If you are looking for a fully-featured option like forScore or unrealBook on Android or Windows, you won't find it.
It has been fun to watch the development of some apps that exist both on iOS or Android, or may even be considered “Android First.” For example, NotateMe (a music notation via handwritten music app) was developed on both platforms at the same time. The pen input of the Samsung is going to be better than any stylus on the iPad, unless Apple authorizes a sanctioned stylus SDK (software development kit). Steve Jobs wanted no stylus for the iPad when it was released in 2010; but the impact of a smart stylus seems to add a great deal of benefit to a tablet. True, you can work on a tablet without a smart stylus; and the current batch of smart styluses for the iPad don't make a lot of sense because the apps they can be used in “smartly” is limited (to companies that use the SDK of that stylus).
I don't see myself running out to buy either the Samsung or Windows tablet. I may have to buy the next generation of Android tablet as my “hacked” HP TouchPad is feeling its age (and memory limitations). My Asus Windows Tablet allows me to do what I need to do on Windows. And my most-used apps are all iOS, many not available on any other platform.
What I see with the Samsung 12″ tablet and the Microsoft 12″ tablet is the hope that Apple will release a 12″ tablet of its own, soon. I would assume that it would be called the “iPad Pro,” just as there is a “MacBook Air” and a “MacBook Pro.” If 12″ is the “next big thing,” I am hoping that Apple will jump into those waters.
One way or another, this is the year for me to update to the next iPad (I think many owners of 4th Generation iPads chose to skip the iPad Air for one year, as I did). My hope is that an iPad Pro will be released at the same time as the next generation iPad Air.
What could a 12″ iPad bring to the table for musicians? First, a larger screen for reading music, even conductor's scores. Second, more real estate to work on apps that could use more working room, such as Notion, NotateMe, and even GarageBand. Third, the potential for a larger processor and more battery power, with the increased surface area of the device.
A lot of people still argue that iPad owners need a laptop and an iPad; the advances in iPad apps over the last year has really caused me to use my MacBook 95% less than I had to in the past. There are still some things my MacBook does better than my iPad; but my iPad's ability to do most of the things I need it to at a level where it is convenient to do has really grown. In particular, changes in forScore, NotateMe, and Notion have made many of my tasks easier (I will blog about this later–the topic of “App Smashing.”
All of that was a really long way of saying that the new 12″ tablets simply give me hope for a 12″ iPad from Apple–and I hope it comes soon!