Using USB-C on Apple’s new iPad Pro

“The USB-C port on the new iPad Pro is a big deal,” Alex Cranz writes for Gizmodo. “Besides charging the device and showing off Apple’s decision to take baby steps away from Lightning, it also allows the iPad to use the wide variety of USB-C dongles and doodads available.”

“My cheap USB-C hub with Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports worked perfectly when plugged in, but USB-C only hubs aren’t as common or as high quality as Thunderbolt 3 hubs,” Cranz writes. “Using a keyboard with the iPad Pro is wonderful—the Smart Keyboard case is just as expensive as a high-end USB-C keyboard, and not nearly as pleasant to type on. So when you’re sitting at a desk, or even lugging a full-sized keyboard to a coffee shop, that doesn’t feel quite as obnoxious as you’d expect, especially when you plug it into the iPad Pro and it just works.”

The new iPad Pro with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio offer take-anywhere power and versatility.
The new iPad Pro with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio offer take-anywhere power and versatility.

“The monitor is another matter. I plugged the iPad Pro into a 4K Dell monitor, and the image on the iPad immediately appeared on my monitor,” Cranz writes. “It’s not an extra monitor—it’s just a mirror. And that is annoying. While there are plenty of situations when it’s useful to mirror your smaller display on something larger, not including the option to use an extra display area seems like a missed opportunity.”

“Monitors and hubs don’t work well, and that’s disappointing,” Cranz writes. “But when the iPad Pro does do USB-C right, it’s pretty special and makes me wish Apple would finally, FINALLY, bring mouse support to its touch-based operating system.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you want a mouse, get a Mac.

We find that there are many older users longing to make iPad work like a laptop, because that’s what they know.

Take a look at a twelve-year-old who’s only really ever used an iPad for personal computing. It’s an eyeopener. It’s like looking into the future.

The answer isn’t to try to make the iPad into a MacBook. The answer is to provide all the tools possible in iOS for developers to make robust apps that can take advantage of the multi-touch paradigm. — MacDailyNews, May 16, 2017

In the meantime, while we wait for iOS and iOS developers to progress (it took personal computers 40 years to get to this point), we ask again: Who’d be in the market for a 12.9-inch device that’s a macOS-powered MacBook when docked with its keyboard/trackpad base and an iOS-powered iPad when undocked?

As we wrote in January: Here’s an idea: Apple could sell iPad Pros as they do now, and for those wanting a “Mac,” Apple could sell them the macOS-powered display-less keyboard/trackpad/cpu/RAM/SSD/battery base unit. Attach your iPad for the display and off you go, you Mac-headed truck driver! Plus, you get to use the iPad’s battery, too, extending battery life to provide a truly all-day battery for portable Mac users. Detach the display and you get your iOS-powered iPad back, same as always.

Too outside the box? We’d love to be able to take our 12-inch iPad Pro, mate it with this theoretical Mac base unit, and turn it into a portable Mac. Right now, we carry 12-inch iPad Pros and MacBooks in our backpacks. Guess what’s redundant? Right, the displays. We don’t need to carry two screens on the road. The iPad Pro’s screen would do just fine, thanks.”

Buy the Mac base on its own (for those who already have 12.9-inch iPad Pros) or buy it as part of a package (get a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro at a nice discount when you buy it with the Mac base). Imagine if Apple had unveiled this headless MacBook that you use with your iPad at their iPad event last fall. How many more 12-inch iPad Pro sales would such a product have generated? Enough to return iPad to unit sales growth, we bet. And, how many more Macs would have been sold, too?


  1. I find USB-C to be a pain in the ass. I bought an Ark-net adapter that converts USB-C to Lightning but it doesn’t work. Still looking for a solution to bypass USB-C. Other than that I love the new iPad Pro.

    1. The problem isn’t USB-C, it’s Apple’s implementation.

      It makes no sense to me why the same physical connection should be used for both Thunderbolt and slower USB. Willy nilly on poorly marked devices. That is plain stupid.

      But of course, most people were completely satisfied having separate ports for audio, video, data, and power. Those were simple “it just works” days. Plugging stuff into an Apple device today, no guarantee of anything working as desired. Control panels have not improved enough to help the users either.

      How many years has Apple sold iPads and it still hasn’t figured out how to let the user choose to use it with a Mac as EITHER second display OR input device?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!

      I agree with the majority sentiment here. Ives has been mailing it in, Cook is clueless, and the marketing gurus have all been coasting. The whole organization is rich, fat, dumb, happy. Nobody is working hard to deliver superior value for customers. Apple doesn’t even get the obvious stuff correct. They used to obsess over detail. Not anymore. Today it’s a fashion shoppe with inflated prices.

      1. ” Plugging stuff into an Apple device today, no guarantee of anything working as desired. ”

        That’s pretty much Pipeline’s Apple in a nutshell. Nothing much ever works.

    2. Sorry, I meant Ark-Tek, not Ark-Net. Mechanically it looks fine and, I just tried to connect it to an audio device and got nothing.

      I went to the Apple store and asked about this. They have all sorts of USB-C dongles but not one that gives you back a Lightning connector.

  2. I need the usb-c to be unrestricted to access external drives..
    That and not having a core user managable folder/file sys are the biggest handicaps.

    Give us ios-pro Apple and open up the port .

  3. Apple’s own fault for promoting the ipad as a laptop replacement. My Dell XPS can connect to a external monitor and either mirror or extend the display. It can do so many more things than an ipad because….hold your breath….it is a laptop. So Apple, drop the whole ‘What’s a computer thing” already and get off the ipad replaces a laptop bandwagon….Jeez…..

  4. My iPP works well with the Pencil, and they form an excellent duo for apps like Procreate.
    But no way does it replace my laptop, and I can’t see that day coming, not least because of the non-visual file storage.

    1. “non-visual file storage”
      Apple just doesn’t seem to understand the importance of cute little pictures of file folders. Pro’s NEED their adorable little tiny representations of a 100% logical construct!

  5. It seems the Apple ecosystem is fighting a resistance from within and among its devices lately. Wouldn’t it solve a lot of user’s woes if Apple would relent on just a couple of their stubborn points? For example, touch screen Macs, iOS mouse and trackpads, a bit more access to file level stuff, especially my data, in iOS, and ability to sync with my own network’s backup device instead of iCloud. I agreed with Apple’s prior argument against touch screen Macs because wasn’t ergonomic. However, they stepped in their own B.S. when they made a keyboard without a mouse or trackpad for their iPads! Not a darn bit different. Further, I personally wouldn’t use a touch screen Mac very often, but I would use it some, so why not let me? Nobody says it would be your only option because we know that didn’t work so well for the iPad for certain tasks, right? Stop force feeding iCloud everything on everybody! Stop being greedy. Every decision seems based on nothing but profitability under Cook’s reign and it is already appearing Greedy. The public will not support a greedy company, they will continue to pay premium prices for products that are worth what they cost. Multiple recent missteps give me pause. That my brand new 2018 MacBook Pro is already outdated due to Apple’s tone deaf rage inducing recent graphics card updates adds to my list of disappointments and concerns. OK, rant over.

  6. Personally, I would love to be able to hook up a mouse to the iPad. I already have a MacBook. But once in a while, I’d rather use the iPad for simple editing tasks. A mouse would be great. MDN’s take is ridiculous.

  7. Claiming that something like an iPad will replace regular computers is as silly as claiming we will never need any more hammers because it|s so natural to just use our hands.

    Putting your sweatty paws on the display to make things happen is a nice addition to – but not replacement for – regular computers.

    The need to use regular keyboards with an iPad is not because “we’re stuck in our ways” – it’s because if it works, don’t fix it.

    There were attempts at replacing the steering wheel in cars with a couple of joysticks. Everyone should understand why that was a bad idea.

  8. “we will never need any more hammers because itIs so natural to just use our hands”
    If you don’t have nails, have never seen or even know what a nail is, and will likely never use a nail, then thaving a hammer is overkill. They never needed a hammer in the first place. That’s over 90% of the public.

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