iPad Pro Leather Cases - Behind the Brilliant New Folio Design
The latest in a series of interviews about the story behind the design of MacCase products.
For this interview, we are again speaking to MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro about the company's new iPad Pro Leather Cases, specifically the new Folios for the 12.9 and 9.7 Apple tablets.
JKD: You've been designing and MacCase has been making folio style cases for Apple iPads since day one. How has the introduction of the iPad Pro changed your thinking about Folio design?
MS: Wow, that's a good question. The original Folio I did was very successful. It was a design that brought many new customers to MacCase and most are still with us to this day. Our original leather iPad case really planted a flag at the top of the mountain.
You had all these high end, fashion brands, famous European design houses that came out with cases that were over $500. Some were very nice and some were real pretenders. Many people were paying big dollars for a big brand name slapped on a mediocre case design. Our Folio showed you could have world class quality, world class materials, world class design for a fraction of the price of those fashion brands.
With each successive introduction of a new iPad form factor, we updated and improved our Folio design. As Apple added new features, so did we. For the new iPad Pro leather cases, both the 12.9 and 9.7 Folios, we have added and updated more new features than in any previous version. We have also had to respond, literally in the last few weeks, to new ways customers are using their Apple tablets. Those changes have been integrated into the new Folios as well.
We're very excited about the new features and how well our tried and true features have translated over to the new designs.
JKD: What features do the new Pro specific models have? Give us the details.
MS: The biggest and most obvious one is the inclusion for a place for the Apple Pencil. Creating a place, a pocket or other idea, was extremely important to how I approached the new Folio design. I have been told by many customers that we have the single best solution for storing and transporting the Pencil. That was the type of feedback every designer wants to hear.
"Yeah, you know that new feature that you designed into your new case, well, I've looked at what everyone else has done, and your is the best."
This was heard repeatedly as I answered calls and emails from customers looking for information about our products. It really feels good, especially with all that has happened with this program.
So the integration of the Pencil pocket into the front cover is the feature highlight for me. It looks likes it's always been there and the inclusion adds a nice design detail to the overall aesthetic we have developed. Most importantly, it does the job it was designed to do, which is to provide the best protection for the Pencil.
JKD: Any others?
MS: We've expanded our SoundBoard feature from the initial single speaker, to the dual speakers for the Air and Mini to a quad system for the iPad Pro 12.9 and 9.7. This is a feature I'm not sure many customers are even aware exists. They just think it's the iPad that sounds so good ( laughing).
JKD: Can you elaborate?
MS: Yes, the new quad speaker system of the Pro model sounds great. But, when you put the tablet in a case, the cases tend to block or muffle the sound. Most people respond to this by cranking the volume to get the volume they wanted without the case being in the way.
With our iPad Pro leather cases, we use a very hard, smooth leather that doesn't absorb the sound waves. In fact, the hard, smooth surface does just the opposite. It bounces and amplifies the sound waves, projecting them out and away from the case.
The benefit of this is, say you like the volume 6 clicks above mute. You place your Pro in a case from brand "X" and the sound is muffled. So you have to boost the volume level to 8 or 9 clicks to get the same volume you were using without the case.
With our iPad Pro leather cases, you can actually drop the volume level a click or 2 and get the same level of volume that you had without the case. Lower volume level means less energy needed means longer battery life between charges. Yes, it a small thing, but in a premium, luxury and professional level case, it's those things that make a big difference.
Look at cars. Both Rolls Royce and Kia have an engine, 4 wheels, a place to sit, etc. Why is one $30K and another $300K? It's what Rolls Royce does with the engine, wheels, place to sit, etc. that makes it 100 times better.
LIke Rolls Royce, how we handle the details reflects our commitment do doing things better, smarter and more intelligently. Maybe with a bit more passion as well. I think our customers appreciate this about what we do. Not just with our iPad Pro leather cases, but all our designs try to do something different, smart with a palatable passion that is present in each stitch.
JKD: You mentioned a recent addition or adjustment to the Folio design. Can you tell us more about that?
MS: Once we started shipping the new 12.9 Folios, a few customers wrote back to tell us they loved the case but they could not access the controls and the notification screens in the horizontal position.
Our frame design allows for access to these areas that are just off the actual screen in the vertical or portrait position but, as we found out, not in the horizontal. This was something that had never come up before but we didn't waste a second reacting and implementing a solution.
Both the new 9.7 and the second production run of the 12.9 iPad Pro Folios will have additional indents in the center area of the frame to allow for access to the control and notification centers when in the horizontal position. I'm very proud of how quickly we were able to respond and implement these important changes.
My goal is to keep our Folios, and all our models really, at the forefront of design and functionality. We want to be the go to product for the professional iPad Pro user. Apple users are the most demanding customers and they are quick to let us know if there is a problem. I am happy to report we have been just as quick to respond.
Another thing I wanted to say about this is that, if you don't use the controls or notification center, especially in the horizontal position, you'll never miss not having the new indents. This seems to be the case for the majority of our 12.9 Folio customers.
But I did have one customer who told me he spends 80 of his user time in horizontal or landscape mode. So for him, not having access to those screens was a deal breaker.
JKD: So how did you resolve it?
MS: I sent him a photo of the second generation 12.9 Folio with the indents in the frame on full display and he loved it. Getting that kind of feedback for us it priceless. Our customers are great at letting me know when I've hit it out of the park or, like in this instance, just missed something. But again, it's how we responded that made all the difference.
JKD: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the new MacCase Premium Leather iPad Pro cases?
MS: I know a lot of folks have waited a long time for the Folios to arrive and it seems like just as many have been waiting for the other three models, our iPad Pro Flight Jacket, Sleeve and Briefcase to get here. The 3 new models are scheduled to ship at the end of this month. So they are coming. I just wanted to thank everyone again for their patience.
I am enjoying reading all the 5 stars reviews that have been coming in for the iPad Pro leather cases. If you have yet to leave yours, please come back and do so. We'd love to know what you think.
JKD: Thank you again for your time.
MS: It's always a pleasure Jody.