On Monday Apple introduced a new version of the iPad Pro, smaller than before but equipped with the same technology as its big sibling: Smart Connector to attach an external keyboard, A9 processor inside, Apple Pencil support. One comment from Apple VP Phil Schiller caught my ear, though – he explained that the smaller iPad Pro has a low-reflectance screen. Apple says that it’s 40 percent less reflective than the iPad Air 2, which Schiller said professionals really love.
It’s an interesting comment, because all Apple laptops all come with glossy screens — much to the chagrin of many tech professionals who rely on Mac laptops to do their work.
Apple used to offer matte and glossy screens as an option on MacBook Pros, but did away with the option a number of years ago. Since then, numerous complaints have been lodged on discussion forums, there have even been online petition drives, and editorials written, but Apple hasn’t relented. All Mac laptops ship with glossy screens. You might be able to add a matte screen protector (Moshi makes a nice one called the iVisor AG), but that’s about it.
Color and sharpness on Apple laptops – especially Retina display equipped models – is marvelous, and continues to improve. But glare is a huge problem. If you are trying to use your laptop in a brightly-lit environment, or if the sun is over your shoulder, the glare makes it awful to try to get work done. I’ve even read comments from photographers who say that if they’re using their Macs for live editing, they’ve learned to wear dark clothing to avoid reflecting off the glossy screen.
As far as I can tell, Apple did away with the option to simplify its product line, lower production costs, and probably because, quite frankly, the matte option was a niche option that a relatively small number of Mac users really wanted. Mac laptops continue to sell in droves. But some customers still complain loudly that they’d like the option. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro gives us hope that one day, Apple might change its mind again.