iPad Pro Design Tools

5 years ago from , Designer and Developer

I’m Intrigued by the new iPad Pro. I’m interested to know if anyone thinks these things will eventually replace the laptop for designers anytime soon?


  • Taylor PalmerTaylor Palmer, 5 years ago

    IMO: Not until you can connect a mouse.

    Fingers and styluses are great for gestures, but most UI design is about point/click precision.

    Love the iPad Pro and use it it for amateur illustration.

    2 points
  • Matt KMatt K, 5 years ago


    Affinity Designer and Photo prove that it's possible to build and sell desktop-caliber software on iOS, and the arrival of Photoshop next year will only accelerate the trend.

    As an experiment I designed and developed the majority of my website on an iPad Pro. It's surprisingly doable:

    • Working Copy for coding and Git version control
    • Affinity Designer and Graphic for vector graphics
    • Affinity Photo and Procreate for images
    • Bear Writer for writing.

    The only times I used my laptop were when I was already using it, rather than to work around any limitations of the iPad or its software.

    If Bohemian Coding ever release an iOS port of Sketch, I could use the iPad for everything except serious web development.

    2 points
  • dh .dh ., 5 years ago

    What apps are people using? I really like the paper app but it's limiting without the infinite canvas.

    2 points
    • Mike StevensonMike Stevenson, 5 years ago

      Same issue. Why cant they just add an infinite canvas? Any other good apps that have that?

      2 points
      • dh .dh ., 5 years ago

        I guess their target audience isn't necessarily designers. To remove the current format would make it difficult to be compatible with their other services. It would be awesome if concepts was more user friendly.

        0 points
        • Mike MurrayMike Murray, almost 4 years ago

          Hey @dh, I know this is an old post, but I'm building an iPad app that should be what you're looking for: a simple, infinite canvas, sketching app, built for UX designers. If you'd like to try it out, sign up for the private beta at IdeateApp.com

          0 points
  • John PJohn P, 5 years ago

    Fine if all you really do is illustration but would be hard to do any work that requires interacting with engineers without having ability to run unsigned software and access to a filesystem.

    2 points
  • Scott Liang, 5 years ago

    I've heard a lot of digital painters gush over Procreate. For some it can replace the Photoshop + Wacom tablet duo.

    I find the iPad Pro to still be quite far from a standalone UX/UI tool, but it's a wonderful companion device to my current workflow. In addition to the apps others have mentioned, some handy uses include:

    • Use as external display when on the go
    • Use as a replacement Wacom Cintiq with Astropad, great for the Pencil tool in Illustrator
    • Sketching ideas in Concepts (infinite canvas vector-based sketching app)
    • Binge watching Westworld


    2 points
    • BAKA .kidBAKA .kid, 5 years ago

      procreate is excellent, its one of the apps im using (mainly for colouring) the brushes built in are great, and you can add more in too! i also use clipstudio paint (which is the most full featured drawing app i have found, mainly for illustration, not so much painting)

      also love you last point - the screen makes for an amazing streaming device! haha

      0 points
  • BAKA .kidBAKA .kid, 5 years ago

    i use my ipad pro for 100% of my illustration, there are so many excellent tools, and the pencil makes it very easy to draw. That being said, i do need to use 2 or 3 apps to acheive what i want a lot of the time, as there isnt 1 perfect solution yet.

    As for the design side of things, i find Affinity design to be really good, but its no where near ready for print production ready work. most controls are too basic and while you can achieve a lot, i wouldnt use it for anything beyond a mockup, or i would get a design 75% of the way tehre and then need to switch to my mac to finish it off (which can be done in Designer on the desktop)

    I see a lot of potential, but with todays update meaning i would need to buy a new ipad pro and a new pencil, and ditch all the accessories i already have for my ipad pro, its not making me want to keep investing in it.

    2 points
    • Jamie Diamond, 5 years ago

      They're in-beta for Infinity Publisher (Indesign competitor) for desktop now, so I can't imagine an iOS version isn't too far behind.

      0 points
      • BAKA .kidBAKA .kid, 5 years ago

        Yeah i like it so far, and i hope it comes to the ipad pro, will be happy once i can ditch adobe for good.

        0 points
  • Manny Larios, 5 years ago

    Digital Designer with Front-End skills here:

    Anyone successfully use an iPad Pro for Web Dev.? I mostly use CodePen (unusable on touch devices) and Brackets for my code editor. I had the last gen iPad Pro and ended up selling it since it was mostly a coffee table item and couldn't justify keeping it for the price when I already have a Mac and iPhone. However, with tools like full-fledge Photoshop making their way to iOS, it might be time to re-purchase.

    1 point
    • Hamish TaplinHamish Taplin, 5 years ago

      I don't see what problems an iPad solves for these tasks? I'd stick to a laptop, they're just as portable and you'll have way less problems.

      2 points
      • Gaël PGaël P, 5 years ago

        A laptop is definitely not as portable as an iPad. I have taken my 12.9 iPad everywhere with me in the last year. I thought I would give up after the novelty wore out but didn't. It's better in meetings too, others have sketched on it spontaneously. BUT there's a big software problem, nobody has cracked how to do a productive app yet. With Comp and Paper53 being the closer IMO.

        0 points
        • Paul HermannPaul Hermann, 5 years ago

          I think especially with the MacBook Air and the smaller MacBook that the portability is at least - let's say - comparable. And without an external screen the performance is totally enough for UI design work.

          0 points
    • Matt KMatt K, 5 years ago

      Working Copy is excellent for version control and has a pretty good code editor built-in. I used it to develop my website. It's a Jekyll site hosted on Netlify, so all I need to do is push a commit and the site is automatically rebuilt and pushed live within a few seconds. It's a bit slower than running a local dev server but not by much.

      Coda has a good code editor, as well as excellent terminal and S/FTP capabilities. I use it regularly to maintain and update existing sites. As soon as they add version control support it'll become my primary web dev tool on the iPad.

      DraftCode provides a full PHP/MySQL environment, so it's possible to develop and run PHP CMS' like Wordpress locally.

      Pythonista provides a Python environment, so it's possible to run an interactive shell and develop locally with Flask and SQLite. I even managed to get Django working, though it wasn't possible to use PostgreSQL.

      ReScript provides a NodeJS runtime for all your Javascript needs.

      I really want a Ruby environment on iOS to develop Jekyll & Rails locally, but nothing seems to be out there yet.

      2 points
  • Brad McNallyBrad McNally, 5 years ago

    I think it could replace the laptop in a few years. Apple is updating UIKit to allow developers to port and share code between iOS and macOS. It seems like they eventually want it to be seamless.

    Here's what I use on my iPad


    • Affinity Designer
    • Affinity Photo


    • Procreate
    • Paper
    • Animatic


    • Shapr3D


    • Dropbox
    • Google Drive
    • iA Writer
    0 points
  • Sahand Nayebaziz, 5 years ago

    Self-promotion warning!

    I too was intrigued by the iPad Pro as a design tool and even the iPhone. I started an iOS app that could create / edit Sketch documents. I stopped working on it after taking a job, but I think I broke good ground on gestures and UI.

    This is a demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z42LjDcFUz0

    Honestly, I think there is no excuse for there not being a version of Sketch on the iPad. It's sad that to make any edit on a Sketch document, I have to get on my Mac. The gestures are not that hard to figure out. Considering how many design tools there are, and how pretty-well-defined the requirements are in this space, at least for an 80% of people tool, I'm surprised there is not a version of Sketch on the iPad. We need to move forward on that soon. Whoever does will make lots of $.

    0 points
    • Michael FMichael F, 5 years ago

      I think it's something to do with the precision and how the iPad handles input that makes it hard to replicate on an iPad... Figma devs have already covered why we don't see these kinda tools on tablets.. ultimately it boils down to needing a mouse.

      0 points
  • Myroslav Galavai, 5 years ago

    How about running Figma? I've heard it's not possible so far... is it true?

    0 points
  • Rico T., 5 years ago

    Is there any replacement for Sketch yet? I heard about Affinity's take on UI/UX, but is that good?

    0 points
    • Fernando Lins, 5 years ago

      Not really.. At this point the tools on the desktop version are a bit clunky and there is no support for plug-ins like Zeplin, GuideGuide and so on. They have some great ideas but the team is too small to keep up with the competition.

      1 point
  • Nick Orland, 5 years ago

    There is no doubt that, I'm already at 50-50% (MB vs iPad Pro).

    0 points
  • Dexter W, 5 years ago

    I use the iPad Pro for design sprints, studies, sketches etc. I do not use it at all for any UI design..there's no point because I would have to recreate it later anyways.

    0 points
    • Joshua Newton, 5 years ago

      What apps do you use for sketching/wireframing? :)

      0 points
      • Dexter W, 5 years ago

        Paper by 53 for UI sketching (it has a pen tool that automatically makes squares/circles/lines perfect) and Noteshelf 2 for keeping notes. Noteshelf 2 has the most accurate handwriting engine I've tried. Give them a try.

        1 point
  • Braylan GrayBraylan Gray, 5 years ago

    I use the iPad Pro and Affinity Photo for my photography. It's really useful.

    Sadly, I feel like I haven't really found a good UI design tool for iPad Pro that fits with my workflow.

    0 points