Apple is very adamant the iPad Pro can replace a computer. So, I decided to test the company’s claim and bought one to see if it could replace my computer.
Sorry Apple, you’re wrong.
I’ve been using iPhones and Macs for many years now, but the Apple product I’ve never purchased is the iPad. For my needs, I just never found it very useful. It seemed more like an oversized iPhone when it first came out and as Apple improved it, it still didn’t appeal enough for me to drop hundreds of dollars on a device mostly reserved for media consumption.
But with the iPad Pro and iOS 12, Apple introduced new features that promises to make the iPad more like a computer, and dare I say it, even replace it. Remember the “What’s a computer?” ad by Apple that got a lot of backlash due to its absurdity?
I never really bought in on the claim, yet I did contemplate whether I could replace my computer with an iPad Pro. After all, I am a writer so I don’t need an overly powerful computer to do my job. I mostly use Chrome and a few additional apps like Tweetbot, Slack and Spark. I have perfected my workflow on a MacBook Pro and I couldn’t help but wonder if the iPad Pro could come close to matching it.
So, I bit the bullet and purchased an iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard to see what it could do. To my surprise, I actually ended up liking the iPad Pro a lot, and yet, to my disappointment, it could not do the one thing I wanted it to do: replace my computer.
The biggest point of contention I ran into with the iPad is how the apps don’t offer the same features as they do with the Mac versions. Sure, you get apps for just about everything you can possibly use, but they often feel stripped down. You’d think the apps would work exactly the same, if not offer more functionality, but they don’t.
The WordPress app is nothing but a mobile interface with the bare minimum of capabilities; the TweetBot app cuts the columns I can view from five to two; and YouTube is missing key features the web version offers, such as keyboard controls.
Exacerbating the issue is that apps are limited by the iOS interface. With a computer, you can view an app or a window in any way you want to, be that stacked, split screen or in its own desktop. With the iPad it’s either the single screen or Apple’s split screen and slide over modes that still feel very rigid to me.
Adding to my frustration is how every service is divided into its own individual app. YouTube is its own app. Email is its own app. Docs is its own app. Everything is its own app. And while this at least delivers the platform functionality to the iPad, it’s a fragmented functionality. You end up getting spread out over a dozen different apps.
I have to jump in and out of these apps constantly, one by one. The always-present dock and Command-Tab shortcut on the keyboard makes it easier to navigate through each app, but it’s still a very narrow way to interact with them.
It’s also limiting how you can’t have multiple tabs of an app open. It’s one page for YouTube or one page for Docs and so forth. If you want to access another video or document, you’ll have to leave what you are doing.
Keyboard media controls and a headphone jack are two things I really wished the iPad Pro had. I also found cursor control without a trackpad cumbersome when using the Smart Keyboard. These are minor complaints rather than big issues, but they never went away.
For all the faults I found with the iPad Pro, I still very much enjoyed my experience with it. It’s a unique device that presents a lot of functionality in a lightweight frame that’s more comfortable to travel with than my MacBook Pro.
The Smart Keyboard is great, too. I made an effort to write notes and posts on the keyboard to get a good feel for it and I came away thoroughly impressed. The iPad Pro is what I want my laptop to feel and look like.
Apple is really close to replacing the computer with its tablet, and you can see how close the company is getting with the newest iPad Pro. Hopefully, with more tweaking to the software and hardware, Apple’s device will reach its true potential.
Until that happens, I’ll be waiting eagerly to replace my MacBook Pro.