I’m not an iPad user. I have a 4th generation iPad I won in a hackathon years ago but I’ve never actually used it… It lives its life as a test device for Secrets and, occasionally, as a canvas for my 3 year old son’s finger drawings.
I just bought this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro and I want to tell you why.
The original iPad
When Steve introduced the iPad back in 2010 he introduced a new device category. The iPad wasn’t a laptop, and it wasn’t a replacement for your iPhone… it sat somewhere in between. And to convince us there was space for this new category he said the iPad was “far better at some key things”.
These “things” were browsing, email, photos, video, music, games and eBooks. All use cases where you’re using the iPad to consume information. There’s a reason why Steve was demoing the iPad while sitting on a couch. That’s where Apple envisioned most people using it.
And while I can see why it could be more confortable to use an iPad for some of these tasks it never felt worth it for me.
The tipping point
Over the years the iPad started to learn new tricks: Split View, Slide Over, the Apple Pencil, File Providers and the Files app, the macOS-styled Dock, Drag & Drop between apps, etc. Clearly Apple was steering the iPad to be more of a productivity/creativity tool than a consumption tool.
The 2018 iPad Pro is a solid iteration on the iPad. With Face ID, a gorgeous “edge to edge” display, the redesigned Apple Pencil1, and an incredible update in CPU and GPU performance. “Faster than 92% of all portable PCs” and “delivers Xbox One X class graphics performance”, they said.
But what finally clicked for me was the chart comparing iPad sales vs notebook sales.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel. The iPad is not only a capable machine but it also has a user base that justifies investing in. By bringing the real Autocad and the real Photoshop to the iPad, Autodesk and Adobe seem to agree.
iPad vs Mac
Yes, I’ve read the many reviews praising the hardware and dissing on iOS as “not a laptop replacement”. And they’re right. The iPad Pro is not going to completely replace my iMac anytime soon. But I’m not expecting it to… after all I do spend a good portion of my time in Xcode.
And although I do agree with many of the limitations mentioned, such as not being able to run apps in the background2 or change default applications, there are also plenty of pain points that can and should be solved by the apps themselves not by iOS, and others that I’m sure Apple will be fixing soon, such as the ability to read from a USB-C connected drive3.
There’s this great analogy Steve used at D8 when asked about where the tablet was headed4:
When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm, but as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. … PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.
Trucks are still useful today. As will PCs be for the foreseeable future. And while the iPad is not a “car” yet, it’s getting closer and closer.
As a developer, I can no longer avoid the iPad. I have to start using it on a day to day basis. It may very well be the future of personal computing.
I know I’m not going to be writing code on it but I intend to do everything else with it: mail, research, notes, editing images, writing blog posts, etc. And by doing this I hope to:
- Get a better feel of how far are we from the “Post-PC” era. Only by actually trying to work on the iPad will I be able to feel all the pain points and road blocks that are still in place;
- Improve Secrets for iOS running on the iPad. I use Secrets on my iPhone everyday and I keep finding little things here and there to improve on, I can only imagine how many I’ll find running on the iPad
- Potentially find some opportunities to diversify my app portfolio.
Expect more posts about the iPad Pro in the future 🙂.
- This is what the Apple Pencil should have always been! [return]
- Apart from those in one of the blessed categories: audio, location, VOIP etc [return]
- I mean the Files app is already there… this is a no brainer. I would even attempt to create an app to do this myself if it wasn’t so likely that Apple will be adding this to iOS themselves. [return]
- Note how Apple sold the original iPad as consumption device but the vision for it to be so much more was already there. [return]