Thoughts on iPad Pro, iOS 11 and the Future of Design

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Last week at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced a raft of product updates and enhancements, and shared their thoughts on product direction and great things to come.

From a Concepts perspective, we thought you might like to hear what interested us, how Apple’s latest developments continue to improve the Concepts design experience, and the potential impact they have on our product and vision. We’d also love to hear what excites you and what you’d like to see in your favorite design tool.

Eye-to-Eye with Apple

We were thrilled that Apple highlighted Concepts on stage as part of the iPad updates and was given a full screen call-out in the iOS-update press release. We’ve also been privileged with frequent worldwide App Store featuring, and inclusion of Concepts as a demo app on the iPad Pro at Apple Stores worldwide.

While this is probably more exciting to us than it is to you, our alignment to Apple’s vision of the iPad as a core platform and preferred mobile technology yields a couple important benefits for Concepts users.

1. We develop closely with the evolution of the iPad to give you the full power of cutting-edge mobile technology for concept development and design.

2. Concepts stays up-to-date, taking advantage of the iPad’s latest features to provide a design experience of the highest quality.

3. Worldwide adoption of Concepts as a mobile design platform ensures continued growth for development. We have a long list of features we want to bring you, and we appreciate your support that keeps us heading upward and outward.

The New iPad Pro

We’re already huge fans of the iPad Pro, and Apple’s latest updates promise to make a great design experience even better. If you’re considering or have already purchased a new iPad Pro, update to the latest Concepts version (4.5.2, coming in the next few days) to take full advantage of that new performance.

Processor and Memory Upgrades. The new A10X processor combined with increased memory capacity (4GB!) provides a nice bump in both rendering and drawing performance, especially for large, complex and highly detailed images. Despite the appearance, Concepts is vector based, so if you create images with a lot of strokes or use a lot of layers or objects, you’ll definitely appreciate the upgrade.

Screen Refresh. Apple’s move to a faster 120Hz screen refresh dramatically improves rendering while decreasing latency of the tip when drawing. With that industry-leading 20ms lag, the Apple Pencil provides a drawing experience in Concepts that is truly paper-like in its response.

As advertised, drawn lines track right at the tip regardless of stylus speed, with instantaneous image rendering at the edges when scrolling, with near-zero flicker or ghosting. What’s more, when coupled with the speed of Concepts’ 64-bit Fluid engine, on-screen drawing and rendering performance is equal to (or better than) Apple Notes.

Larger Screen Sizes. This one speaks for itself. The new 10.5” iPad Pro is beautiful, reducing the bezel width to yield a screen diagonal almost an inch longer than the previous generation, with a form factor that’s only fractionally larger in size.

iOS 11

Drag-and-Drop. This is the feature we’re most excited about. Lack of iOS native support has long been a major limiting factor in allowing apps to interact. With the new capabilities coming in iOS 11, we hope to elegantly address some of the community’s most requested features related to intra-app communication, content sharing, and simplified, paperless workflows.

For example, we’re already exploring how these changes can enable split view dragging of content between apps (e.g. from Safari to Concepts, from Concepts to Procreate or Instagram) to share images, objects or selections without a lengthy export.

Files access. While unlocking the iOS filesystem to make it browsable by end-users may seem like a pretty basic thing to do, it is actually a major design and philosophy change for Apple. Up to this point, Apple has restricted storage, retrieval, and viewing of underlying data to the creating app. This has driven many design decisions relating to both iOS app interfaces and the way data is protected and stored.

As with Drag-and-Drop, we’re deciding what makes the most sense for Concepts users and need your input. For example, functionality in the Gallery. How should file export and versioning function? Filesystems are inherently cluttered places, so isn’t the current approach that focuses on the content and app more preferable? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you would use a Concepts file system, now that you’ll have one.

Concepts and AR. From the land of future-tech, as Augmented Reality inches its way toward Reality…

Would you — and how would you — draw and design in an AR or VR environment? What tools and techniques would make your life easier? Do you envision a design experience like Tony Stark’s from the Iron Man movies, or like Hiro’s from Big Hero 6? What would it be like to build holographic landscapes with your clients as you walk a property, or envision new architectural structures on surveyed sites? These are just a few of the questions we’re asking as we seek to create your ultimate design tool.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on vision, usability and workflow with the new iPad Pro and iOS 11, which arrives this Fall. As always, your feedback directly influences our development decisions. Leave us a comment or several, contact us in-app via Ask Us Anything, or send an email to concepts@tophatch.com. Thanks for helping us make Concepts the design platform you want it to be!

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Clark Christensen is an Enterprise Architect, Strategist and Technology Consultant. He’s worked for 20+ years with public and private sector leaders to incorporate transformative technologies into elegant solutions that drive real, positive business results. When he isn’t online or on a plane, he’s climbing a mountain and inhaling the view.

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