I’m going to start this, my first blog post, as I mean to go on I.e. no bullshit. So straight away I’m going to confess the iPad is not a laptop replacement. I still find myself reaching for trusty MacBook Pro over the iPad in some situations, despite the 7-year old machine being less powerful than the smaller tablet. However, when I purchased the iPad it was never supposed to replace my MBP (at least 100% anyway). It has it’s shortfalls yes, but it has grown so much since the original first few generations, which weren’t much more than an oversized novelty iPod. In the right hands, you can actually get some proper work done on it, rather than just making your
porn Netflix bigger. So don’t dismiss it for the bigger MacBook or Windows offerings just yet.
For starters, the iPad’s best feature and the reason I wanted one to begin with; portability. The iPad package comes in at around a third of the weight of my MBP. Sure, you lose some screen real estate and a full-size keyboard, but the ability to throw it in a bag and forget you’ve done so far outweighs these trade-offs. Combining the iPad with a proper laptopesque ‘case’ like the Brydge keyboard does forego a little of this portability, but the way it transforms your iPad into a proper work station; unlike the flimsy membrane solutions pitched by Apple and Co, is undeniably brilliant. With the keyboard attached, you have an infinitely adjustable screen angle, proper key presses from a nearly full-size keyboard and it doesn’t fall over every time you move it. On top of all of this, you can remove the iPad in a matter of seconds if you want your ultra lightweight tablet back.
The multitasking abilities that came with iOS 11 are a welcome addition, but still not perfect. My biggest complaint being you are limited to one ‘tab’ or ‘window’ per app. For example, you can’t open two Excel spreadsheets side by side, or even in separate full-screen windows, making any kind of data transfer or comparison you need to do between the two a near impossible task. It’s frustrating to not be able to do this, especially given the power they’ve squeezed into the iPad Pro’s in recent years they’re easily capable of handling heavier usage. This feature and many more are supposedly coming in iOS 13 later this year after the rather stale iOS 12 added only fixes and minor tweaks. Fingers crossed…
The dock is brilliant and the ability to call it up with a keyboard shortcut is a nice touch. Filling this with your most frequently used apps makes the split screen and slide over multitasking not only easy to use but fun. There’s an inexplicable joy to touching the screen and manipulating apps with your fingertips. On that point, the Apple Pencil is a must. Even for those less arty types like me, it’s definitely worth the hefty price tag. I use it constantly for it’s ultra-accurate touch input, something my comparatively chubby finger could never match. This is especially useful when you find yourself requesting desktop versions of websites or placing your cursor inside text or spreadsheet cells. It’s frustrating how most apps assume you want to start scribbling as soon as put pencil to iPad, but you quickly get used to which apps do this and most of the time you can disable this automatic drawing.
The biggest downfall I see with iPad is not the file management like most people claim. The combination of an app called ‘local storage’ which as the name suggests, gives you a local storage folder on your iPad to save files, coupled with iCloud Drive gives me ample management options. I can use either the local storage folder or my iCloud Drive Desktop as I would on my mac; a temporary holding pen for files before I put them away. The ability to create new folders, move files and more is spot on. I’m not sure what people think is really missing here.
My biggest gripe is it seems almost every application is still shy of features in comparison to the fully fledged desktop version. I’ll use Microsoft’s Excel again as an example. Despite having a subscription that unlocks all the features, some basics like conditional formatting are missing. Lightroom & Photoshop is another example of this half-arsed app creation. Using Lightroom on iPad you sacrifice niceties such as auto mask when using brush tools and essential features like the HSL tab. Adobe is working on a full version of Photoshop, but for now, we’re stuck with a handful of different apps that together do a fifth of what the desktop program can manage.
The iPads 10.5-inch Retina screen is nothing short of amazing. Thanks to the refresh rate, it’s buttery smooth and the pixel density is one of the main reasons as to why I’m so reluctant to pick up my non-retina MBP even for general web browsing. It’s just about bright enough in direct sunlight and indoors, especially with True Tone activated, it’s a gorgeous display to use.
In summary, I don’t understand why Apple is marketing this as a laptop replacement because in truth, for most people, it’s so much more than that. Although I only think when you combine the iPad with a ‘case’ like the Brydge Keyboard. It’s a brilliant device for content consumption and creation. The extra dimension the pencil introduces into the experience is excellent for Artists, handwriting notes or just for more accurate inputs. In a professional environment, it certainly has it’s place, but it’s not quite at the point where you can throw away your PC just yet.