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The new M1 iPad Pro is incredibly powerful and can be used to create a podcast, but for this use-case, it's iPadOS and not the hardware preventing it from being the ultimate mobile audio workstation. Here's what you can do to work around it, and where you can't.
For the past three years I have been editing podcasts exclusively on an iPad Pro. Using the app Ferrite in conjunction with Apple Pencil makes editing shows with multiple guests, music, and sound effects a breeze. Upgrading from the 2018 11-inch iPad Pro brought noticeable improvements in both speed and display quality.
Photographers and video producers may benefit the most from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR display, but all content from movies to web browsing looks incredible. Any creators that work outdoors will notice the increased brightness on the latest model as well.
The M1 chip powering iPad Pro brings noticeable gains in speed and multitasking while editing podcasts. In a side-by-side comparison with the 2018 iPad Pro, the 2021 model exports MP3 files between two and three times faster.
On the previous model, attempting to multitask in Ferrite with side-by-side apps led to freezing, jitters, and audio capture problems. On the new M1 iPad Pro, we were able to play an open project with real-time compression and EQ while navigating a Safari web browser simultaneously with zero lag.
Every podcast starts with recording audio, and recording directly into Ferrite or GarageBand works with up to eight channels. USB microphones connected directly to iPad Pro and multi-channel audio interfaces will work, but if you need to record with a remote guest there are several roadblocks.
It's certainly not Thunderbolt or the Apple Silicon inside the iPad that's the problem — iPadOS only allows one app at a time to access audio devices connected via USB. Users can open Ferrite and Skype or FaceTime in side-by-side multitasking, but a warning will appear explaining that another app has demanded "exclusive access" to the audio device.
Apps such as Zoom and Skype may allow for cloud recording a call, but that quality is notably compressed compared to a raw, local recording. A workflow such as making a VOIP call and recording locally to the device should be a simple task for the new iPad Pro, but choices Apple has made and restrictions the company has applied prevents this.
Mobile creators who often transfer large files from an SD card or external SSD are also hindered by iPadOS. A lack of progress bars leave a user wondering how long a file transfer may take. There is also no background importing of files into apps like Adobe Lightroom, meaning users must keep the app in the foreground of the device to complete the task.
Given that the 2021 iPad Pro powered by M1 chip is technically on par with Apple's MacBook Pro, there's no reason from a hardware perspective that it can't support professional workflows like audio device settings and background import on iPadOS.
This doesn't mean we need macOS on iPad either. Apple could surely bring some of these professional features and utilities to iPadOS while still keeping it unique and separate from their desktop operating system.
Despite these hindrances, the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro brings significant improvements to the podcast editing workflow. MP3 exports are done in half the time, the iPad Pro has fluid multitasking with no freezing, and also has a display that looks great in any environment — making it a great choice for mobile creators. Just maybe not for podcasting with a remote host.
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