I wouldn’t be the first to compare the iPad as a definitively more powerful Wacom tablet, and I certainly won’t be the last (especially given their Cintiq line of LCD-based editing surfaces). It got me thinking, though, as to whether there are app-based solutions for the iPad that would accomplish the same thing, specifically any that would help with my Aperture photo-editing workflow. Fortunately, I stumbled across KeyPad Pro (by doppelthepom) which mostly does the trick.
KeyPad Pro effectively turns your iPad into a customizable shortcut console for a myriad of different applications, as long as you know the shortcut keys required. Like many of these types of apps, it requires a server on your main system (Mac or PC) that the app connects to over WiFi, and the connection is seamless. The app actually works exactly as you expect it would and the entire screen is customizable, as advertised. So far so good.
Unfortunately, the app does have a few limitations that really shows how powerful, and yet how unrefined the app really is. Firstly, the core KeyPad Pro app is completely bare bones. It doesn’t come with any templates to get you thinking about the system, effectively forcing you to either buy one of their $0.99 starter templates, build your own from scratch, or go through their relatively scant forums to find community-generated templates. For a $4.99 app, I was expecting that they would give the first commercial template for free, but alas, $5.98 later, I had a working Aperture hotkey set that seems to have everything I need.
A second pain point I encountered was the lack of intuitiveness with the UI itself, and the customization features in the app. It was a bit of a pain to figure out how the screen rotation works, and even more of a pain to move the hotkeys around so that it aligns correct with the other hotkeys. I’m sure future updates will solve this issue, but for now it is somewhat of an annoyance.
Lastly, the app can be greatly improved with more intuitive UI and documentation. For example, I think it’s possible to create a little button to allow for mouse control in the app. However, I simply haven’t had much luck finding the right video tutorial or documentation to help. Sadly, I’ll just have to spend more time digging and exploring the software.
KeyPad Pro has some massive potential. However, like any truly powerful platform (think Linux and Unix), it takes a lot of effort to create the framework and structure to make it usable for the average person (say, like OS X or iOS). I’m sure KeyPad Pro or a developer community will get there eventually, but for now, the rest of us can only sit back and wait until that day. Still, if you’ve got the time and inclination to create your own template, I’d definitely give this app a shot.
KeyPad Pro [iTunes - $4.99; $0.99 in-app add-ons]
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