Apple Unveils new iPad Pro – Is This the Ultimate Computer for Genealogy Uses?

According to today’s press release from Apple:

“Apple today announced its most advanced iPad Pro. Now with the A12Z Bionic central processor chip, the iPad Pro is faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops. The new iPad Pro adds an Ultra Wide camera, studio-quality microphones, and a breakthrough 3D LiDAR Scanner that delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities, opening up more pro workflows and supporting pro photo and video apps.

“The LiDAR Scanner, along with pro cameras, motion sensors, pro performance, pro audio, the stunning Liquid Retina display and powerful apps, extends the lead of iPad Pro as the world’s best device for augmented reality (AR).”

Also, later in the same press release:

“The new iPad Pro is available to order starting today on and in the Apple Store app in 30 countries and regions, including the US. iPad Pro will be available in stores starting next week.

“The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be available in silver and space gray finishes. A starting configuration of 128GB offers pro customers more room for their apps and content, along with 256 gigabyte, 512 gigabyte, and 1 terabyte configurations.

“The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $949 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $1,149 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model from”

Further details may be found in the full press release at

For many people, this new iPad Pro with its gorgeous 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display screen, a full hardware keyboard, a processor that is claimed to be “faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops,” and a built-in 3D LiDAR Scanner may be a replacement for traditional Windows laptops and desktop computers. With storage space (similar to an old-fashioned hard drive) of up to 1 terabyte, that should be enough for most genealogists! However, if you need even more storage space, it can easily be added via cloud-based storage or by plug-in external hard drives. In addition, the new built-in camera will produce better-looking images and videos than will most cell phone cameras. Finally, the five studio-quality microphones will also produce better audio than will most other computers for recording music, videos, and even podcasts.

Will the new iPad Pro be your choice for your next computer?

Of course, as with any computer, there are drawbacks. First of all, Apple has a well-deserved reputation for high prices of the company’s hardware devices. The new iPad Pro certainly is no exception with prices starting at $799 (US) for the 11-inch model and at $999 (US) for the 12.9-inch version. However, those prices include a Liquid Retina display screen that is sharper and easier to read than most other companies’ desktop and laptop computers.

In addition, most desktop and laptop computers typically do not include an internal 3D LiDAR Scanner at any price. The press release even mentions that the new scanner is so accurate that it can be used to measure a person’s height in the pictures as well as to calculate all sorts of other sizes and distances.

Purchasing a normal, powerful Windows laptop or desktop system and then adding the equivalent of a Liquid Retina display screen and a 3D LIDAR scanner (if you can find one), a 12-megapixel camera (with 4K video), along with pencil support, probably would end up with a similar or even higher price tag than that of the latest iPad. In addition, this is a battery-powered, lightweight computer that easily slips into a medium-sized purse, briefcase, or backpack.

I own the previous version of the new iPad Pro, and I can believe the new features described in today’s press release result in a computer that is well worth the price.

Note: Apple is also offering up to $240 for anyone who trades in an older iPad for the new model. While today’s newly-added features are highly desirable, I don’t think I will pay the price to replace my present iPad Pro with a new one.

If you are not familiar with iPads, I will point out that there are thousands of programs, usually called “apps,” available for the iPad. In addition, you can download all sorts of movies, ebooks, music, and more. Many of the apps are available free of charge. The selection even includes dozens of genealogy-related apps.

In addition, there are iPad apps for,,, and numerous other online genealogy sites. Just as if you were using a desktop computer, you can use these apps to access your online genealogy data. With many of them, you can retrieve and even update your genealogy data from the iPad, including pictures, videos, and more. This is a great tool to take to a family reunion and then take pictures or even record videos with audio of living people describing the events of their lives and what life used to be like in “the good old days.” You can add the images and videos to your online genealogy database and even share them with other relatives as you wish.

Like all other modern computers, once connected to the Internet via a wi-fi connection, the tiny iPad can surf the web, use Facebook, read and write email messages, read the news, and much more. When using my (older) iPad Pro with the add-on keyboard, I find that I can perform almost all the tasks on the iPad that I have traditionally performed on desktop and laptop Windows and Macintosh systems. I can write new articles for this newsletter, create and edit spreadsheets, and deliver in-person “PowerPoint” presentations (I did that a few weeks ago at the recent RootsTech conference by giving a presentation from my iPad Pro.) I have even built web pages on the iPad and then copied them to the and web sites. In addition, there are hundreds of games and other apps available.

Of course, “disk space” is essentially infinite these days, including on iPads and other battery-powered mobile computers. By using a safe and secure cloud-based file storage service, you can have as much storage space as you want. Most file storage services offer a limited amount of storage space free of charge. Additional space is always available, usually at modest prices. Purchasing additional storage space in the cloud may be cheaper than purchasing an external hard drive, and it’s certainly more convenient.

Data stored in the cloud is also available to all your computers, including iPad, Android, desktop, laptop, and even smartphones alike. Security is always under your control; you may share your files with others or not, as you please. For details, see Cloud Storage Security: How Secure is Your Data in The Cloud? at

I have been using iPads since the first one appeared ten years ago. As the power and capabilities of iPads have increased over the years, I find I am using my big desktop system less and less and am using the iPad (and sometimes a somewhat similar Android tablet computer) more and more.

When my aging desktop computer finally slows down or perhaps malfunctions some day, I will need to think long and hard about replacing it. I will be strongly tempted to save my money and not replace the desktop computer at all. Instead, I will use an iPad or a similar Android tablet computer as my primary computer. I already do that when traveling, so I see no need to use a different computer when at home.

Could you do the same? Yes. Doing so undoubtedly will require a change in your thinking and in your habits. However, using an iPad as your primary computer is a realistic option today, unlike a few years ago. Besides the increased power and space, replacing a desktop computer with an iPad could save you a lot of money when you realize you really don’t need two computers: one on the desk plus a highly portable tablet computer.

COMMENT: This article was written on my (older) iPad Pro, sent by email to this newsletter’s editor, updated by her on her desktop computer, sent back to me via email, converted by me to a new HTML web page article on my (older) iPad, and then uploaded to the web site here it sits on a Linux web server. No desktop or laptop system was used by me, although the newsletter’s editor used a Macintosh desktop system for editing.


Can we get the WiFi only version, and use it with a mobile phone hot-spot to enable it where there is no Wi-Fi? Would that connection be slower than a WiFi plus cellular iPad?


    —> Can we get the WiFi only version, and use it with a mobile phone hot-spot to enable it where there is no Wi-Fi? Would that connection be slower than a WiFi plus cellular iPad?

    Yes, and yes. All iPads will work on wi-fi and most iPads also have an OPTION to include a cellular modem.

    In all cases, using your cell phone as a hotspot will work although my experience with all cell phones used as wi-fi hotspots is that they typically are significantly slower than stand-alone or internal cellular modems. There might be some exceptions but that has been true of the 3 or 4 cell phones I have tethered and used as wi-fi hotspots over the years. I have always had faster results by using stand-alone cellular modems such as the NETGEAR 4G LTE Broadband Modem or something similar.


Wonderful offering in the new iPad Pro, but the limiting item for me and many (most?) genealogists might be the lack of genealogy software like FTM or RootsMagic.


Does the smaller version (11″) also come with a hardware keyboard? Or does it hook up with some kind of portable keyboard? Not having a hardware keyboard is my biggest problem with iPads. We have one that we never use for that reason.


    —> Does the smaller version (11″) also come with a hardware keyboard?

    Keyboards are available from Apple as a $179 option. External keyboards are also available from a number of third party vendors, usually at lower prices.

    I have an external keyboard on my older iPad and love it. The keyboard is what converts the iPad into an excellent substitute for a laptop computer.


    There are many good third-party lighted keyboard cases for iPads available on Amazon for about $50. We have one on our iPad and it works just fine and is actually quite attractive. They come in both padded cases or aluminum. We have a nice aluminum one in Rose Gold that in our opinion looks as nice as a laptop, with a window that lets the Apple logo show through. But of course I personally still prefer my vintage MacBookPro. But it makes for a nice iPad.


Can you install non-Apple programs on it? Can you create directories on it? Can you hookup non-Apple accessories, i.e., joysticks, stand alone scanners, external drives?


    —> Can you install non-Apple programs on it?

    No. In fact, you cannot even install Apple Macintosh programs on an iPad. You can only install programs designed for Apple iPad mobile devices which all run Apple’s iOS operating system. Specifically, that means that only programs written for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch computers may be used. Luckily, there are a dozen or more genealogy programs for those systems and most of them are available free of charge. However, they won’t be identical to your present Windows or Macintosh program.

    —> Can you create directories on it? Can you hookup non-Apple accessories, i.e., joysticks, stand alone scanners, external drives?

    I believe the answer is: “No, no, yes, and yes.” (smile)

    OK, let’s be a bit more specific.

    External disk drives may be used if (1.) the are external disk drives that are designed to plug in via a USB connection. (This includes most external hard drives as well as almost all flash drives) and (2.) you also purchase a USB-C to USB Adapter for $19 from Apple or from some third-party supplier. See for the details.

    I don’t believe any joysticks or stand-alone scanners will work on an iPad, however. It is possible that such devices exist but, if so, I am not aware of any that will work.

    —> Can you create directories on it?



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