If you’ve been following Apple’s ads as of late, you may have seen something like this;
This is part of Apple’s push to make the iPad Pro more viable as an alternative to a traditional computer. However, while I applaud Apple’s ambition, the sad truth is this.
The iPad Pro is actually an unsuitable replacement for a proper computer running a desktop OS
Now, I’m pretty sure some of you are going to throw torches and pitchforks at me for saying that, but let me explain one important detail.
I own an iPad Pro 12.9″ ever since January of last year and it has been my main computing device when I’m away from my laptop ever since, although my phone does provide nice backup.
Let’s be honest here. The iPad Pro is a good tablet. Actually, no. It’s a damn fine powerhouse with immense amounts of power and superb hardware. As a general purpose large tablet, both the 9.7-inch and larger 12.9-inch models do extremely well for general browsing, basic work, entertainment and gaming.
However, past iPads have also done that generally well, so the Pros are kinda like an iPad Air Plus in that regard. While Apple has pushed the idea of the Pros being a laptop-replacement since its reveal, even putting nifty additions such as keyboard shortcuts and even an Alt-Tab task switcher (which is extremely useful), it doesn’t change the fact that the reason why the iPad Pro can’t be a suitable replacement for a proper computer is iOS.
Now, before you get the wrong idea, it isn’t that iOS is bad. It’s more that the Pro runs an operating system designed for mobile devices, specifically ones running on an ARM architecture. iOS works very well on phones and smaller tablets. Sure, Android fanboys will nag at how it hasn’t changed much over the years and yes, Apple’s UI philosophy doesn’t scale as well on larger phones, but it is easy to use and also has a coherent, consistent design.
Sadly, iOS isn’t as shiny on a bigger canvas like an iPad Pro 12.9. While split-screen multitasking and a separate window for videos are wonderful, it doesn’t change the fact that this is an OS primarily designed for phones, just maximized for use on a larger display. It’s more limited in capability and also doesn’t offer as much flexibility. This isn’t a problem limited to iOS. Android on tablets also suffer from the same issue, maybe made even worse due to its much fewer numbers of apps specifically designed for tablets.
Basically, let’s put it this way. The iPad Pro is a fine general-purpose large tablet for entertainment, light work and browsing. However, a proper computer replacement it is not. Its software is just far too limiting for it to properly replace a proper computer, unless that computer happens to be a netbook. To be honest, Microsoft’s Surface Pro is not my first choice for a tablet, since it seems to be designed more as a laptop without a keyboard than an actual tablet. But if I wanted a laptop replacement, the Surface will be my first pick. The iPad Pro just feels more like it was designed to be a tablet than a laptop replacement. I applaud Apple’s ambitions, but I think an iPad-like device running macOS would make far more sense as a laptop-replacement.