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Your Move, iPad (beckyhansmeyer.com)
243 points by rcarmo on Nov 26, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 296 comments

These types of posts are popular on HN and generally suggest that people are bad at realizing when a product wasn't designed for them. It's a bit like complaining that a drill should have a flat back so you can also use it as a hammer. Sure, it might be technically possible, but not only will it never be as good as just using a hammer for the job, it would make the drilling functionality worse.

If you're trying to use your iPad as a Mac, you will always be disappointed and rightfully so. These are distinctly different form factors with different primary inputs, and they should focus on what they excel at.

Adding keyboard and trackpad support to iPadOS wasn't to help us developers move to an iPad, it was to help people whose only computer is an iPad fill in some missing gaps in their workflow.

However, if you're planning to attach a keyboard to your iPad most of the time, just get a MacBook Air instead. On the flip side, if you're getting an iPad Pro, you should really be planning to buy the Pencil with it to take advantage of its strengths. Otherwise, you are probably looking for a consumption device (iPad Air or iPad no-adjective), but then you shouldn't be surprised that it doesn't help you create.

I am actually genuinely curious of what is the use case for doing coding or advanced video editing on an ipad rather than a laptop. Like why do you need that level of mobility? To edit a movie on the toilet seat of a plane? I get the hacker toying mentality of "it would be cool if I could run Doom on my washing machine's LCD". But is there really a market for it?

Actually - the more I think about the question the more I realise that I don’t want an iPad to do laptop tasks - as a designer I want the interface connection that comes from Pencil + touch interface on my MacBook Pro...

This is the failure in vision of sidecar, of seeing windows from one device appear in the dock of another (mainly just Safari and Mail, practice), of cut/paste between devices.

Really you want to be able to casually use your iPad as a kind of input device to the Mac sometimes. Also to pick up a task you’re engaged in on one device and continue in another, back and forth. I started this comment on an iPad; as it has turned out to be more than one sentence I should be able to finish typing in the Mac (a much better experience), pressing “reply” on either device and continuing on.

To channnel Conways’s law: Apple’s flat yet strictly siloed corporate structure makes things like this almost impossible.

I spend so much of my personal time in my iPad that when I am doing personal research on my laptop, at least once a month I try to poke the screen with my finger (never happens at work, different context)

I’m still a little surprises as MBP having no touch interface. Another option would be if the touch pad and the touch bar were fused into one product, allowing a bit of pencil interaction

Microsoft fills the niche nicely for a full operating system with first-class pen and touch support.

Yep, with inferior pen support and slow devices.

I know a surprising number of non-tech people editing video for their youtube channel on their phone. Some of them have upgraded to an iPad (usually an older model to save money).

For coding ATM I agree it seems silly to me but apps like Codea are trying to make it possible and I suspect lots of kids have been given iPad not not general computers by their parents

Video and photo editing has certainly been pushed by Apple and its software partners as a use case for the iPad Pro, so we can leave it aside as its not enthusiasts and hackers asking for it in this case.

That leaves programming. And programming is possible on iPads in terms of writing code - even with detachable keyboards now, its only compiling it which is not possible due to Apple's restrictions. It seems fair to ask why.

But my question is: if you must attach a keyboard, aren’t you better off with a laptop? And if you don’t use a keyboard, is anyone really doing any meaningful coding on an ipad with touch only? And if so I’d be curious why?

It doesn't need to be as good as a laptop, it just needs to be good enough to avoid having to also bring along a laptop.

If you’re bringing a laptop presumably you can simply leave the iPad at home. IMO, laptop + phone covers most use cases for iPad + keyboard just fine.

Plenty things a laptop is not as nice for as the iPad. And even comfortably replacing it assumes your laptop is similar in size and weight than the iPad, which puts another constraint on your device choices.

I’ll just pack a Wacom tablet too so I can draw and write on my laptop and leave my iPad at home then?

For Windows you just need a laptop that supports the pen protocol. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/design/com...

For Apple you might need a Wacom tablet.

I used to have a Surface, it’s fine if you want to doodle occasionally but it really doesn’t measure up to an iPad for its overall tablet experience

There are better alternatives to an old Surface.

Sure, and the 2020 iPad Pro is better than the 2016 iPad Pro that I switched to initially. The problem on Windows’ side is the software. Unless Microsoft has found a way to get developers on board with their own modern UI paradigm, you get a good tablet experience maybe 10% of the time.

And their tablet friendly UI sucks even when Microsoft does it themselves. For example, the new disk manager, which is objectively worse in every way than the old one except for having big touch targets: https://mspoweruser.com/this-is-the-new-windows-10-modern-di...

Sorry for the late reply, but I'd say if you can attach a keyboard and do more of the tasks that a traditional laptop does, it can replace the traditional laptop. Then you have one device where you can pop off the keyboard when you are on the couch, and pop it back on when you are at a desk or need to do some typing.

Not my taste, I still prefer the traditional laptop form-factor, but Apple is actively pushing their (expensive) keyboards so its worth asking why not allow compiling of code.

In terms of video editing.. its not about portability, its about ease of use. A friend of mine edits videos on her iPad for 2 reasons. The first is that there seem to be more easy to use video editing apps there than on Windows, and she found one she liked (by testing them on her phone). The second is that the video editing performance is actually really good compared to what you can get with the same money in a Windows laptop + editing software. So getting an iPad mostly for video editing was an easy decision for her.

For me, I love the video editing part. Allows me to easily edit videos on trips to share with family and friends. Works much better than on a phone and requires a lot less hardware than a laptop.

A giant multi-billion dollar market for it already exists. There are several major apps used by world-class producers and famous creators.

Music and video production has rapidly adopted tablets not just because of the speed and mobility but also the accessibility and tactile nature of the experience. Not everyone needs to sit in front of a big workstation to get things done, and in fact much of the work that used to be done that way didn't have any other alternatives until now.

Programming is arguably harder to bring around because it requires a keyboard and screen real estate but most visual/design/creative work can easily be moved to iPad and opened up to many more people.

Perhaps the reason is as simple as, "this is what I own, and I'd like to use it."

I think the situation is almost the inverse of your question, actually. :) The article's author already does almost everything on their iPad; so the use case is as simple as "I want to move that one last thing (coding) off my laptop and onto my main machine (my iPad)".

I once had a programming assignment for a job interview. I was given a CSV format file sample and asked to submit a custom compression program. I went with creating a symbol dictionary for some fields, variable length encoding for some numerical fields, etc. I wrote it on my iPad using Pythonista mostly during my train journeys to and from my job at the time, with a bit at coffee shops during lunch.

> But is there really a market for it?

I think there was until the m1 air. My iPad pro is powerful and very portable. The only thing holding it back from being my complete on the go machine was lack of software around coding.

Now that the m1 air has come out, I will likely stop using the keyboard with my iPad, and just use the air on the go. The iPad will go back to my drawing and photo sorting/editing device.

There are still great use cases for an ipad. My two favorites are browsing the web or reading books from a bathtub and watching movies when travelling!

Do you use it in a zip-loc bag like bezos does with his kindle? I’ve wondered if that works.

No, the ipad doesn’t mind a few droplets of water. But you need a “book cover” like ipad case [1], that you can hold with one hand by sticking the finger between the ipad and the cover part of the case, so you hold it firmly with very little effort.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/JETech-Apple-10-2-Inch-Model-Genera...

FWIW, there are waterproof Kindles now.

While I can't run my programs on the iPad, Textastic + Working Copy + Blink (using mosh to connect to a VPS, or a work/home system if you have one to connect to) makes for a pretty pleasant coding experience so long as your code is not graphical in nature (none of mine is). I can run it on the VPS, or have a CI platform take care of running the tests and builds for me.

What was it that substantially changed from the old air and the m1 air?

Seems to me that most workflows that work on the m1 air worked on the old air but at a bit lower performance. I don't get what work you did on the ipad pro that could not have worked on the old air unless they required the pencil or touchscreen which the m1 air does not have anyway, right?

Not just a bit slower. My iPad Pro (and from I’ve seen now the new MBA) roll through programs like Lightroom. LR on my 2018 iPad Pro worked much better than LR on my 2017 MBP for example. Then there’s battery life which means not looking for a charger constantly throughout the day.

Lightroom is not supported on m1 macs.

It was literally shown running at the WWDC event, and the ARM version should come out in December. I expect it to perform more like the iPad version than the mbp version.

I don't understand - Adobe claims it's not supported and promised a version some time next year.

Why would it perform more like the ipad version? They are different apps.

What if you just want to use your computer while in bed or on the couch? It's so much more comfortable. Laptops are awkward and desktops just aren't made for it.

Here's another perspective - The ipad in my developer eyes is a powerful computer. It can do much more than just people use it mostly for - reading books and gaming. In fact, I'm using an iPad air right now and feel held back by the limitations of iOS imposed on me as a developer. I can't write code on an iPad (reliably). The machine itself is capable, so is the OS, but the narrow use cases Apple wants to portray it for gets in my way.

In fact, I was so frustrated, I was even looking at some alternatives. The only thing that gets closest to what I want is a Surface Go - a full fledged windows computer that can literally do everything I want (SSH, Coding, etc) I would switch instantly in a heart beat. But, the longer term consequences of an ecosystem switch pull me back. I'm invested in the Apple ecosystem heavily at this point and would much rather have something from Apple that also covers developers' use cases. I'm sure even Apple employees doing programming would like to see something like that. But, Apple needs to listen to make it happen. And they don't. Hence, such posts. At least, that's what I can infer.

P.S - I'm far from an Apple "fanboy". I'm a developer first and use whatever helps me achieve my end goal.

This isn't "another perspective". It's the exact perspective the GP is addressing. You're looking at the iPad product family and saying "I want to use this for things other than the intended purposes."

Yes, the hardware is there. But that's not relevant. Apple wanted a product that provides users with a mobile display--that's all iPads really are.

> In fact, I'm using an iPad air right now and feel held back by the limitations of iOS imposed on me as a developer.

There are no limitations imposed on you "as a developer". Apple didn't build a full-featured computer in iPad form and then said "Okay, now let's remove functionality to make it harder to code". Apple defined the needs of the product--a big screen and an easy touch-based interface--and built it. Sure, the hardware might able to do more, but it was never the intention for it to do more. It does exactly what it was designed to do.

The only limit imposed on you is the tools you're allowing yourself to use.

> Apple didn't build a full-featured computer in iPad form and then said "Okay, now let's remove functionality to make it harder to code".

But that is exactly what they did. (And they didn't even remove the functionality, they just outlawed it by policy.)

They explicitly built a computer, marketed it and sold it as a laptop-replacing computer and then got all upset when people tried to use it like a real computer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0P0FQ770dE and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI-iJcC9JUc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09_QxCcBEyU as examples

> Apple didn't build a full-featured computer

That's exactly opposite of what they did. Go watch the iPad announcement videos again. They're pitched as computer replacements. Especially the iPad pro. Hence the parent comment and hence the OP's post.

It’s a computer replacement for millions of people — just not people like you. That isn’t a bad thing.

Apple has methodically added features to move it up the stack in terms of complexity. It takes time to do that without sacrificing what makes an iPad an iPad.

>Apple wanted a product that provides users with a mobile display--that's all iPads really are.

Or that they can interface with primarily with touch/a pencil. The iPad arguably started out as you described (plus some gaming). But it definitely can be used by creatives who don't primarily input using a keyboard. (And I know writers who use iPads on the go; I've never been able to make it work for me that way.)

> But it definitely can be used by creatives who don't primarily input using a keyboard. (And I know writers who use iPads on the go; I've never been able to make it work for me that way.)

It can be used by them, sure. But the matter is whether they are the intended audience, and whether their needs are a target for the iPad teams at Apple.

For a comparison, I can use my typical-sized Nikon camera to record videos, but I shouldn't expect Nikon to make a headband mount for it so I can record while I'm biking. I'd buy a GoPro for that. And similarly, I won't expect GoPro to include the same levels of customization and settings as a traditional camera.

Look at iPad ads or just Apple's website. It's pretty obvious it's aimed at people using them for creating art, photo editing, etc. In fact, I'd say that Apple does not especially emphasize using them for passive content consumption.

I'm not much of an artist but apps like Procreate and GarageBand are very clearly in the iPad's sweet spot.

> In fact, I'd say that Apple does not especially emphasize using them for passive content consumption.

Though that might just be social desirability bias: they know damn well that people are going to watch netflix all day, and only a few people will create. But you make customers feel better when you appeal to the latter.

Exactly. There's always a layer of apprehension when buying an accessory device because you know it will always be beholden to either your other computer or some third party service for certain functions. If I needed to, I could use a Surface or even one of the old Bay Trail windows tablets to cut together and burn a DVD for one of my technically-inept relatives. Ipads can't. They couldn't even access generic flash drives until last year.

Any device that can't make its own reinstallation media feels like using a house of cards.

I actually get the desire for convergence between the tablet and laptop. After all, the hardware is basically capable of both roles, potentially ergonomics aside (I haven't encountered a removeable keyboard that really works like a laptop does which I often use on my lap).

At the same time, it may be worth observing that tablets took off when Apple basically threw out laptop compatibility and made tablets their own (well, phone-related) thing. So convergence would be interesting but I don't want them to de-optimize either the tablet or the laptop to do so. (Though I expect they'll get there at some point and have no doubt they're experimenting internally.)

>> I actually get the desire for convergence between the tablet and laptop. After all, the hardware is basically capable of both roles, potentially ergonomics aside.

This is why there are "two-in-one" laptops that have fully functional touchscreens that convert to tablet mode for both Windows and Chromebook operating systems.

>> Apple basically threw out laptop compatibility and made tablets their own (well, phone-related) thing.

Thus this article begging Apple to reconsider. Wouldn't it be awesome if the M1 Macbook Air had a fully functional tablet mode that let it act as an iPad Pro? :)

For whatever reason Apple does not think so. :(

> For whatever reason Apple does not think so. :(

I think it's coming... I assume it's more of a software challenge than a hardware challenge (i.e. the convergence of iOS and MacOS without it going the way of Windows Tablet Edition).

> I haven't encountered a removeable keyboard that really works like a laptop does which I often use on my lap

The magic keyboard works really well for this. It’s not perfect, but it’s so close that I can forgive the flaws.

For programming I keep meaning to get around to testing code server. It would require using another computer or server to actually run it, but since vscode is essentially a browser app anyway I think there’s a decent chance it might be usable for the few times I’ll want it (wanting to work somewhere other than my desk once in a while).

The iPad Air already does everything I bought it for so it’s not a major sticking point for me, but it would be interesting to see what the hardware was actually capable of as I think my use cases (reading, video, drawing/notes, midi, teams/other chat) are barely pushing it. However I think it would require Apple to open up the iOS ecosystem, which they seem pretty hell bent on not doing (for some reasons I agree with and a lot I don’t).

I agree mostly with your theory of iPad, but I believe it is Apple Product Marketing’s job to lay that out very clearly, if not explicitly, but they have not in my opinion. The messaging about “Pro” iPads makes the platform aspire to replace your Mac, but in practice I see iPad as a field computer for environments where a Mac is simply inappropriate.

> it is Apple Product Marketing’s job

Actually, Marketing's job is not that.

The job of marketing is to tell half the story, and that is the favorable half.

If marketing is selling a pickup truck, it should tell you that it can carry stuff in the bed, more than before and it will be easy for you to carry it.

They won't say people rarely carry stuff in the bed, that you should really rent a truck when moving a refrigerator or moving your house, and that a sedan is more practical.

They should not open their mouth, unless it is to say you are really a pickup truck person and your dreams are tied up in this pickup.

And Apple clearly pitches the iPad towards creative types, not just consumers, but mostly draw rather than code or otherwise type. (And they don't emphasize that you probably can't begin to draw like all the artists effortlessly doing so in their ads :-))

My experience as a pro artist is that it takes about five years of directed practice to go from “I like to draw” to “I draw well enough to make a living at it”, followed by another 5-10y to get to “I just sort of move my hand and Art happens without much thought because I have internalized a ton of stuff that I used to have to do on paper”.


This. The most underrated comment. :-)

I think you are conflating marketing and product marketing, which are different functions at Apple.

I think Apple does lay it out very clearly in their iPad marketing. They consistently show people doing two categories of work:

Creative, meant the way an ad agency uses the word: graphic design, video production, photo editing, desktop publishing, etc.

Office work: reading and writing emails, reviewing and editing and signing documents, messaging, etc.

I can’t remember any product marketing that even implies the iPad is a platform for coding. I think developers get hung up on the word “Pro,” thinking it refers to them. But in Apple’s world, “Pro” has covered a wide range of professions and often leans more toward the “creative arts” as listed above.

I remember hearing that Apple interally explicity will not go out of their way to avoid one product canabolizing another. If that happens, so be it.

Normally I would agree with this, but I think in this case Apple would have to do so little to make this a suitable enough device to the software development crowd, and without affecting how the device works for everyone else, that I wish they'd just do it.

All they'd need to do is allow sideloading. Even if they left all the other sometimes-problematic security aspects in place (like enforced sandboxing), it would be enough. People would find a way to do what they need to. I don't need it to be a full replacement for my Mac, but it sucks that I can't use this amazing, capable device to a bit of work on my sofa or on the train.

Of course, they'll never do it, because money. Even if 99% of apps stayed on the App Store, the highest earning 1% would be sure to leave.

But why would anyone want to develop on an iPad - on a sofa or anywhere? You will need a keyboard anyway, and by the time you've added that you may as well just get a MacBook Air and use the device emulation in Xcode instead of trying to run natively.

Sideloading will never happen - not because of money, but because it makes no sense to destroy the security model for 95% of users just because 5% of users want to run as root, or some nearly-but-not-quite approximation.

> But why would anyone want to develop on an iPad - on a sofa or anywhere? You will need a keyboard anyway, and by the time you've added that you may as well just get a MacBook Air and use the device emulation in Xcode instead of trying to run natively

Because then I wouldn't need to own a laptop. I prefer work on a desktop most of the time, and I already own an iPad Pro. It seems silly that I need to own a third device for what basically amounts to company policy. And the advantage the iPad has is that the keyboard is detachable. When I'm just browsing the internet or watching Netflix I can remove it and hold the device in my hands—something I can't do with a laptop.

> Sideloading will never happen - not because of money, but because it makes no sense to destroy the security model for 95% of users just because 5% of users want to run as root, or some nearly-but-not-quite approximation.

There's no reason it couldn't be buried in settings and approved on a per-developer basis. This is how it already works for enterprise apps: you install the app via a browser, but then you have to go to Settings to confirm you trust the distribution certificate used. The only change required would be to allow any developer cert rather than just those belonging to the enterprise programme. This is essentially exactly how notarised apps work on the Mac.

I tried this with a Surface, because I thought exactly the same thing - I can watch movies in bed without a keyboard, and add the keyboard to code, and the pen thing will be awesome, and so on.

My experience was that the imprefections in the experience were enough of a distraction so that I never got really deep into flow. I could do quick bug-fix sessions, sure, and write emails, and jot down ideas. But it absolutely did not replace a laptop. I eventually gave it to my girlfriend who loved it because she could do all those things, and then she got a tech job and had to get a proper laptop for all the same reasons.

> I could do quick bug-fix sessions, sure, and write emails, and jot down ideas. But it absolutely did not replace a laptop

Honestly that is basically what I want—a few hours here and there for when I can't be at a desk. I currently use a 16" MacBook Pro as my primary machine. I purchased it shortly before the pandemic, because I needed to use it both at home and in the office, and I didn't want to buy two machines.

Since COVID, my department has transferred to permanent remote working, so 99% of the time I'm at my desk. I would love to ditch the MacBook for a desktop machine and fill the remaining 1% with the iPad, even knowing the limitations of the form factor.

When more desktop Macs are updated with the Apple CPUs I'll probably look into the feasibility of VNC-ing into a machine at home from the iPad, but it just seems like a shame to squander all this potential.

good luck with it then :)

Ahh, yes; the old hacker credo:

"it wasn't designed for me, so I'll leave it."

I still feel a lot of people haven’t read the book About Face, on interaction design. The OP would have been unnecessary.

Different form factors have what they call different postures. It’s a lot less sovereign than a full desktop or laptop. It’s a lot more an auxiliary device, or leisure device. The Ipads sit alongside the spectrum, the pro is more sovereign, the budget ipad is more auxiliary.

What apple really needs to create and I believe has been positioning themselves to do so for a few years, is a surface like device that runs OSX in docked mode and iOS in undocked mode.

What good would that do for Apple? They’d rather you buy two separate devices.

The same with the “mid tower” Mac fever dreams from a decade ago - Apple have proven their intent and the market hasn’t punished their approach (in fact rewarded it).

Any wishes to the contrary are just that.

> However, if you're planning to attach a keyboard to your iPad most of the time, just get a MacBook Air instead. On the flip side, if you're getting an iPad Pro, you should really be planning to buy the Pencil with it to take advantage of its strengths.

Agreed, the big thing about the iPad Pro is the pencil and note taking/markup/doodling abilities. However even so chances are that someone has the keyboard attached most of the time and is still a heavy user of the pencil on iPad. Meaning that the iPad is the right form factor.

Extrapolating further, even if the Air supported pencil, the form factor would mean that using pencil on the upright screen would always be compromised. Then the added appeal of the iPad + Magic Keyboard is that it’s the perfect form factor for note taking/annotations/doodling /drawing and it has this powerful processor and keyboard when you need it to.

So to me, even if the Air and iPad Pro start to have overlapping features, the form factor difference alone gives them enough differentiation, both being useful.

Yup. It's well known what Apple's hardware strategy is.

They want each and every device do as much as it can, before moving up the chain.

The watch does everything you need it to do before you move to an iPhone. The iPhone does what you need it to do before moving to a iPad.

For most people the iPad does everything they need so there's no reason to move to a Macbook.

> generally suggest that people are bad at realizing when a product wasn't designed for them.

Ever has it been for Apple products. Either people are stupid for wanting the product, or the complainer wants the same product with three features removed, for half the price.

I don’t ever hear people talk about cars this way. I struggle to think of another product category that gets this level of consistent shade. Meanwhile my retirement is going to be quite a bit more comfortable from being an AAPL shareholder since OS X.

(I had serious bad experiences and resultant beef with 68k era Macs, and swore I’d never touch another one until they had a “real” operating system, which OS X was).

> It's a bit like complaining that a drill should have a flat back so you can also use it as a hammer. Sure, it might be technically possible, but not only will it never be as good as just using a hammer for the job, it would make the drilling functionality worse.

You might want to rethink your example!


A very good example actually. As a developer (in the construction sense) you wouldn't use a mountain climbing hand drill to build a house. You would have specialized electric drills, and standalone hammer (or several) since charging and weight isn't really an issue there.

That hand drill is exactly the equivalent of shoehorning any IDE onto an iPad, as in, doing the best within severe constraints.

No, this one of those “There are two kinds of people in the world”

“Those that have imagination and those that don’t“

I am really disappointed that Google or Microsoft haven’t don’t a better job with tablets. Apple needs more competition.

The laptop of the future is a better iPad.

Remember when Apple told us we didn’t need bigger iPhones? If it didn’t fit in one hand, you were essentially doing it wrong.

nit pick!

> (iPad Air or iPad no-adjective)

iPad Air (and iPad Pro) are so-called open form compound nouns of the noun+noun variety – nary an adjective in sight.

See https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/parts-of-speech/nouns/com... and https://www.ef.com/wwen/english-resources/english-grammar/co... for reference.

English rarely uses postnomial adjectives, the exception being archaic, Latinate, or poetic language: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpositive_adjective

From your first link:

"A compound noun is formed when two words are combined to make a completely new word. This means that the meaning of the new word must be significantly different than either of its parts individually."

iPad Air and iPad Pro are not significantly different than iPad individually. "Air" and "Pro" are modifying "iPad."

Also, I couldn't find anywhere Apple refers to these iPads in the plural, but they definitely call them "AirPods Pro," which points to postnominal adjective.

Hmm. The product is Airpods – Apple Airpods, not Apple Airpod. When you buy them you get a pair of Airpods, the same way you get a pair of shoes. I bet you people say "Airpods Pros" … and they do! https://www.google.com/search?q=%22airpods+pros%22 (By your logic, they shouldn't – by your logic the plural of Airpods Pro is juest Airpods Pro.

I guess iPad Air means iPad (Air variety) and iPad Pro means iPad (Professional variety). So it does seem that Air and Pro qualify or modify what an iPad is. Sort of like attorney general becomes attorneys general (here general is a postpositive adjective)


These kinds of compound nouns have what are called “postpositive” adjectives. The adjectives follow the nouns, as opposed to being in front, as they usually are. They include “account receivable,” “heir apparent,” and “professor emeritus.”


I don't believe the author was suggesting that the iPad become a Mac.

Steve Jobs drew an analogy to cars and trucks. iPads are like cars; smooth easy rides. Macs are like trucks; much more versatile but a bit trickier to use.

Nobody wants iPads to become trucks.

They just want to ride Lexuses, not Corollas.

AvE has something to say about your opinion of drill usage ;P


> you're planning to attach a keyboard to your iPad most of the time, just get a MacBook Air instead.


I shouldn’t have to buy two functionally equivalent pieces of hardware just to use two different operating systems.

At this point the hardware is the same damn thing. Disable touch input on macOS if you really want. But having to purchase and carry two pieces of virtually identical >$1000 hardware is absurd.

That’s an incredibly entitled viewpoint. The separation between OS and hardware is arbitrary - one where due to a historical trend but Apple isn’t obliged to provide that to you. Purchase accordingly.

Obviously. They’re free to sell what they want and I’m free to buy or not buy what I want. And complain about it on meaningless Internet forums.

But the fact remains that the difference in hardware is now negligible. A MacBook Air and iPad+Brydge are basically the same hardware in basically the same form factor. Except the iPad has more capabilities.

Is it entitled to not want to buy and travel with two different expensive things when one thing can obviously perform all tasks? You’re free to think that if you want. I’m not likely to change your mind.

Apple is stubborn. They will eventually cave. It’s just a matter of time. They should have flipped the switch 5 years ago. They’ll probably wait another 5 before making the correct decision.

I'd say it's entitled. Any travel at this point is purely entitled.

Feel free to complain about Apple. Are there other vendors doing better with a similar level of stability in their platform?

I think there was a time where folks inside Apple felt that the iPad was the future of computing, destined to overtake the laptop and eventually go beyond it.

These new Macs are tacit admission that the iPad isn’t the only future of computing and that a lot of folks do have a need for something like a laptop. Keyboards and touch pads (good ones) are simply better input devices for a lot of applications. Having a stiffer hinge that allows you to comfortably place the machine on your lap is a core feature. And being able to load apps from places other than the App Store isn’t optional for a lot of creative types who end up writing custom code for some part of their workflow.

There’s still a place for a more simplified walled garden approach (my mother loves her iPad as a primary computing device and it works great for her use cases), but I do think the iPad Pro will get phased out eventually in favor of a more streamlined iPad lineup.

I believe the future of the iPad is in the exact opposite direction - as a computer for the majority of needs of people for whom Personal Computers and the desktop metaphor never worked. A Pareto machine that covers 80% of functionality with 20% of the complexity.

Beefing it up towards something that is capable of serving as a development environment, as quite a few people wish for here, is fundamentally incompatible with that. Wanting a touch Mac is of course well and fine and understandable - but the iPad cannot become that without killing what makes it special in the first place.

Maybe there is a way to expose more power through iOS' user interface without adding noticeable complexity - but if there is, Apple has not found it yet. A good chunk of enhancements have either made things more complex — the "just stuff another button into the share sheet" school of thought seems prevalent — or led to features that are wholly invisible and undiscoverable.

Multitasking is a prime example: I end up using my girlfriends iPad Pro about once a week, and for the past year I have not managed to internalize how to reliably manage split screen modes and the like.

> Multitasking is a prime example: I end up using my girlfriends iPad Pro about once a week, and for the past year I have not managed to internalize how to reliably manage split screen modes and the like.

I'm still shocked that they haven't done anything to solve or improve this. I love the idea of side by side apps but it's always so hard to remember the voodoo needed to summon it. There's also the problem that I can never remember which apps don't support it.

Same here, I have owned iPads years and I still don't get split screen to work without some trial and error every time I use it. Obviously not that often, but wasn't Apple stuff supposed to be easy to use!?

I have the problem where I figure out how to do split screen but then I don't know how to get out of it. I eventually manage it but it's incredible that I avoid using a feature on an Apple device because the usability is horrendous...

I mean, you can have both. What you experience today could just be the default desktop. If you go to settings -> superradmode you’d be placed in osx and can then do your dev thing.

I do not believe you could - not without significant compromises, since both systems exhibit very different capabilities and security design considerations.

You'd still end up with either a more complex iOS, a severely restricted macOS or a split-brained, dual-booting machine which has trouble even freely sharing files between its boot modes.

None of the suggestions in the post would increase the complexity.

I like the way Apple redesigned the home screen experience this year: a LOT more features, but all are gradually discovered. App Library discovered when you "hide" an app. Togglable pages discovered when you tap on dots in wiggle mode. Widgets discovered via + in wiggle mode. Many people won't know about any of this, and that's fine.

Same with Pro apps and plugins, or side-loading. Gradually discovered complexity, and only if you need[0].

The post does not argue for introducing a Finder and a file system, or overlapping windows.

[0] - one possible downside would be if for App Store rules reasons some major apps would go for side-loading. Even if only Netflix decided to move away from the App Store and educate customers how to install via side-loading, it would suck for most people AND Apple. Probably the main reason why Apple will do anything in it's power to never allow this to happen.

> None of the suggestions in the post would increase the complexity.

Apart from maybe sideloading, I agree with you. It's not the list of suggestions I disagree with, it's the fundamental assumption of the article that iPads can and should become pro devices.

The needs of power users and non-power users are at odds with each other most of the time - so far, so obvious. Improving a product for one group usually comes at the expense of the other - this is pretty visible in iPadOS already, which arguably has become a lot more intimidating and less user friendly than, say, iOS 6.

I believe that trying to bridge that divide is ultimately futile, at least for the foreseeable future and barring some major breakthrough in human computing interfaces.

Apple should once and for all position iPads as a non-pro machines, to free iPadOS from these contradicting expectations and requirements. Beefing it up in ways the article suggests only deepens the problem.

In that light, I would consider the iPad Pro line to be a strategic mistake.

A "pro" tablet line should either have come with macOS, or not exist at all. I'm not even sure it should have been called iPad.

Certainly the "side loading" option would increase complexity, or it would make a large group of iPad users load applications, mess up their iPad or expose their data, and then complain to Apple. The iPad's strength is that it's hard to break its functionality.

We on this forum complain to Apple on a daily basis. Nothing ever happens. I don't see evidence that Apple's decision making is affected by what their users think. It took them three years to fix the keyboards even when they were objectively broken.

Apple doesn't want side loading because it would mess up their revenue stream. Not because they care about their customers. Look at the lengths they are going to avoid USB-C on the iPhone, a technology they pioneered, just to protect their revenue stream.

True, but the safety/stability is (IMO) a great selling point. Not for the people here, but for the non-technical crowd it's definitely a plus.

The new AS Macs can already run iPad apps natively. There's nothing to stop Apple simply releasing an iPad form factor AS Mac that ran the iPad UI as an application in tablet mode, but switches out of it back to the MacOS UI when you attach a keyboard case. No need for dual-boot.

I'm not suggesting this is a good idea, or that they will do it, but it should be trivially achievable at this point.

I don't see it replacing anything until it can do 100% of what a regular consumer needs.

I always hear these tech journalists or reviewers saying they mostly use an ipad now because it can do 99% of what they need to do. But for that remaining 1%, guess what? They still need to have a computer. So while I guess that means you could spend less on a computer, you still need one. Even if it's for that 1% of tasks.

I wish I could just use the iPad for its hardware - the screen could attach to my Mac OS and just display as a normal screen, and the CPU/RAM can be used when I'm running some code like compiling something large.

It seems a waste to have strong CPUs and great screens in 3 devices (phone, tablet, laptop) but they all must be used by themselves.

> the screen could attach to my Mac OS and just display as a normal screen.

See Sidecar - https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT210380

All what your saying makes sense, but OP is just saying look, professionals are looking for a high powered computer in the form factor of an iPad. If you look at it that way Apple can still make their simple tablet but have a Pro version for Pros. There is a whole market that would love to do work on "a portable iMac"

Again, I absolutely understand that desire. I am arguing that it's not possible to do that in iPadOS without making it unusable - or at least severely worse - for non-power users.

Come to think of it, the iPad Pro line was a bad strategic mistake.

> Adopt a landscape-first mindset. Rotate the Apple logo on the back and move the iPad’s front-facing camera on the side beneath the Apple Pencil charger to better reflect how most people actually use their iPad Pros.

Hell no! I've been using iPads since the first one, and I love them — if I wanted a laptop, I would use a laptop. An iPad is fantastic for reading documents or taking notes in vertical, that's a large part of its appeal. Don't try to reduce it to the common denominator.

I do agree the iPad should be less restrained: software has been holding this platform back for years now. It's an incredibly powerful computer that is only 6mm thick. Those of us who use it for things like audio production or 3d modeling realize how powerful it is, but it is being held back by Apple's obsessive control and neglect.

When you use the camera, do you use it in landscape or portrait? I find that anything I do in portrait I prefer doing on my phone, and everything I use the camera for on the ipad ends up in landscape, which makes the camera always at the wrong position.

I never use the back camera on the iPad :-) I would like the face unlock to work both in portrait and landscape, but otherwise the camera in the back might as well not exist.

Pretty much the only time I use the camera is if I'm using my iPad to take notes at a conference and I want to insert a picture of a slide. And even then it's awkward. Usually I just take pics of slides on my phone and insert them into a doc later if I'm energetic enough.

Fwiw the iPad pro face unlock works in any orientation

It depends on the subject more that on the device IMO.

I would not take a picture of a A4/paper document in landscape just because I use an iPad or a dslr.

> There’s no question that Apple has struggled to craft a cohesive, compelling narrative for the iPad... We know what it’s good for, and we can easily imagine what it could be good for, if only Apple would set it free.

I'm so utterly baffled by this sentiment. What is not already cohesive and compelling about the iPad? What does Apple need to "set free"? This sounds like it's supposed to be huge and inspiring, but then the author's wishlist is mundane stuff like "another port", "landscape first", "position widgets anywhere". Huh?

The iPad is already an amazing, cohesive, compelling machine. I use it daily for things like researching and annotating PDF's, playing games, recording professional-quality video, watching movies, doing shopping, videoconferencing, taking notes, etc.

> It’s simple: people love their iPads. They love them so much they wish they could do even more with them... it’s time for the iPad to reassert itself—to remind us once again who it’s for, and what makes it special.

Huh? The iPad doesn't need to "reaassert itself", it's doing fine. I guess the author mainly wants to run Final Cut on their iPad...? Which makes no sense to me because the screen honestly isn't large enough for an effective video editing interface.

Weird article.

This had me scratching my head: > Introduce Gatekeeper and app notarization for iOS. The process of side-loading apps should not be as simple as downloading them from the App Store

What does this mean? Side-loading by definition means not using the AppStore. Is it a poorly phrased version of ‘side-loading should be possible but should have hurdles to protect the unwary’?


> What does Apple need to "set free"?

Perhaps this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25215060.

I am an artist and loving using my iPad Pro, so I didn't have any doubt about its usefulness.

I'm kind of astonished realizing that most people think "Apple has struggled to craft a cohesive, compelling narrative for the iPad".

Yeah I’m no artist but I bought an iPad primarily as a reader + a notebook + a drawing device and it does those things really well. There’s a lot of criticism from devs but we just aren’t the target market for this device. The market seems to be university students, artists & creatives, a whole host of professions like architects/engineers/tradespeople who take it out in the field, and people looking to consume media.

For me, my criticism of the iPad and MacBook is now I have roughly the same hardware twice for different purposes.

My iPad Pro (12.9in) does iPad stuff great, and my 13 inch MacBook Air does MacBook stuff great.

But they both have roughly the same processor, power and form factor (once a keyboard is added). The only meaningful differences are that the iPad can undock from the keyboard, the iPad supports Pencil and the OS is different.

OSX running on iPad with the same processor as the Air would actually be great, considering the magic keyboard is so good.

If I could instantly change between OS's I wouldn't need to lug around both devices. Better still, if the OS could be designed to support both modes in an integrated way, it would knock everything else out of the water even more.

It's not really the same hardware. It's similar hardware but with significant variations in power budget, RAM and disk size, connectivity, and so on.

This matters because the iPad electronics have to fit behind the screen, while the MacBook electronics live under the keyboard.

To make a PadMac the entire Mac electronics would have to fit behind a thicker unclippable screen, and the keyboard would have to be slimmed down to compensate.

Or perhaps the screen would be accessible over WiFi or even Bluetooth - but that would also affect the power budget and would have other issues. (Is a removable screen as useful as an iPad? Mostly, no.)

Building reliable clip/unclip connections would be an interesting problem.

It could probably be done, and I would be surprised if it hasn't already been tried.

But it's certainly not a trivial engineering challenge, especially given power and cost constraints.

The hardware already exists - it's the iPad Pro 12.9 inch with a Magic Keyboard.

There is very little difference in hardware:

* RAM - 6GB (iPad) vs 8GB base (MacBook Air), although memory chips are tiny and Android phones have 12gb, so I do not see there being a significant limit here.

* Processor - Approximately the same (M1 is basically the A14).

* Connectivity - Both have WiFi only as base, iPad offers 4G.

* Disk size - 128 GB base with options up to 1TB (iPad) vs 256 gb Base with options up to 1 TB (MacBook Air)

* Battery - 10,000 mAh (iPad Pro), and I cannot find the battery of the latest Mac Air but previous models have had 5,500 mah.

So we aren't talking huge differences in spec. In fact it seems that the iPad can fit more in - probably because it doesn't need to include a keyboard which undoubtedly is responsible for a lot of the thickness.

> Building reliable clip/unclip connections would be an interesting problem.

Apple has already solved this for iPad - the Magic Keyboard is brilliant (although not cheap!). Additionally an iPad + Magic Keyboard is actually somewhat thicker than a Macbook pro, which highlights why the Macbook Air is probably thicker than the base iPad (rather than spec).

>Apple has already solved this for iPad - the Magic Keyboard is brilliant (although not cheap!).

It really doesn't work for my use case; admittedly my model is probably older. But when I use a laptop, especially when traveling, I grab it and move it around the room, work on my lap, etc. Unless a removable keyboard and screen are attached in a way that is virtually indistinguishable from a laptop, I'm not really interested.

> It really doesn't work for my use case; admittedly my model is probably older.

That might be one of the older 'smart keyboards' which didn't really work unless you were on a flat table, and the keys weren't brilliant

The new magic keyboard is much more self-supporting like a laptop - the only thing that makes it unsuitable sometimes is that it's quite top heavy, despite the base itself being pretty heavy to act as a counterweight.

The design of the new iPad has a "floating" arm just to try and move the centre of gravity forward from the base, as a traditional laptop hinge won't really work with the weight on top.

It sounds like it's better but I probably still wouldn't like it. I definitely know people who are more tolerant than I am about not just being able to grab a laptop and immediately use it in just about any position. In most circumstances, I'm happy enough to carry both when traveling.

Fair enough, the one thing it requires is that the base is kept on a reasonably flat incline (ie it’s fine on your lap if you are sitting, but not if you are reclining on a sofa with your knees up).

Each to their own. It works better for me personally, because usually if I’m in a position where the keyboard isn’t suitable, it’s better to rip the iPad out of the keyboard and use it as a tablet. It’s held on with magnets so it’s pretty satisfying to rip it off anyway

Apple will probably never do that. They are probably painfully aware than iPad Pro and Macbook Air feature set and use cases overlap but as long as they keep each of them sufficiently different,they can sell you a laptop and a tablet.

Why would they cannibalize their own products while they face no competition in the tablet market?

> Why would they cannibalize their own products while they face no competition in the tablet market?

Because if you have a better product that nobody can compete with you can raise your margin and solidify/expand your market position.

You are describing a strategy that normally leads to long term market loss - "Why should we stream movies to the TV? That would only be cannibalising our excellent DVD rental business".

> You are describing a strategy that normally leads to long term market loss

That's not the same thing. Your example is leaving aside an entire new market to protect an existing one. That would be shortsighted.

Here however there is no new market which Apple is missing. Pushing the iPad, a revenue leader in the high-end tablet segment, towards the Macbook Air, a revenue leader in the high-end ultraportable segment, would only make them compete. Unless you need to prevent a competitor from making inroad in one of these markets, that's just losing revenue.

As long as the iPad Pro seems to be a suffisent answer to the Surface line, Apple really has little reason to go further.

> Your example is leaving aside an entire new market to protect an existing one.

The new market is the combined tablet/laptop market, and you are leaving it aside to protect your existing separate tablet/laptop businesses with an inferior product to maintain sales.

Businesses can either protect their existing products that are "good enough", or they can be consumer-centric and keep pushing forwards to create the best products. The second strategy will usually beat the first in the long term.

Because people who used to buy Macbooks are starting to look at Microsoft Surfaces?

I don’t know if it’s most people, but it’s probably a lot of people on Hacker News.

A friend reminded me only a very small percentage of people in the world are programmers. It’s easy to forget that when almost everyone I work with daily is a programmer. The iPad is amazing in many ways, some of which are not meaningful or visible to people immersed in software development.

Maybe it's because I did a bit of embedded development (a long time ago mind you) - but I've never felt the urge to develop software on every device I own. Developing software for devices - absolutely, but on every device - definitely not.

And, while converged/all-in-one devices are attractive, they're rarely without compromises. Sure, an iPhone pulls in a lot of function from what used to be standalone devices and those functions are usually good enough for many people, possibly screen size trade-offs notwithstanding.

But from my (and only my) perspective, computers are relatively cheap enough that I don't mind having a number of them optimized for different tasks--one of which is an iPad for mostly consumption mostly for when I'm traveling.

It is sad really. That means that a lot of those programmers have no idea who are they programming for. And it shows.

iPads are killer for audio and drawing. Had a full Android devotee flip over to iOS just because the iPad slapped around the Android tablet initially bought both in terms of performance as well as apps.

I like to have one in the studio as well, as an oscilloscope, sequencer, to control my mix while not in front of the computer, as a software synthesizer and on and on and on.

can you recommend a good oscilloscope app?

I’m testing some out right now, I’ll let you know! If not I should build one!

great, thanks!

Found nothing yet

Yeah that’s understandable. This article is from a software developers perspective. Even though it’s not specifically acknowledged.

Software developers are essential for a healthy eco system. Without them, there are no applications which utilize the device. Yes, there is a lot of software development for the iPad, but it is always limited because you have to write applications on a completely different system than you are targetting for. And it is limited by what applications you are allowed to write.

But even graver are the consequences for first time computer users. When I grew up, I learned computing with machines which would have at least a basic when delivered. I had the ability to do programming and understand what a "computer" is. Children, which today grow up with iPads are actively prevented of having that great learning experience. The Apple ad "What is a computer?" on the one side is brilliant marketing, on the other side is outright scary.

Yes, so what? There is a programming tutorial app for the iPad. That is nice. But that isn't to be mistaken for a programming environment, where you can develop to your hearts desire.

Can I develop freely full screen applications with the Swift playground? Can I share the results with my friends?

Yes, and yes.

This is just one person who wants a touch screen Mac.

Edit: a person with no specified gender

The dog is called Daisy for those of you who click through in a hurry and have any doubts :)

"The iPad has had amazing performance for awhile, so why is the M1 a game changer? Because it’s finally in a machine we can actually do things on.”

This quote drives home well how the iPad feels, well... Perennially not-quite-there, for anything other than a certain kind of digital artist (but not most people who work in 3D, since the App Store doesn't have good general-purpose 3D modeling apps, and if it's not in the App Store, well...). When Apple eventually releases a competitor to the Surface Pro — that is, a tablet that runs macOS with a detachable keyboard (and Apple already has a great detachable keyboard!) — people will lose their minds and whatever that thing is called will fly off the shelves, just like people are so excited about the M1 when it's essentially just the chip from the iPad running a more-useful OS.

Until then, the iPad will still trundle along, supported by those artists who can use it and the hardcore Apple enthusiasts. But it feels like the iPad's stuck in a weird corner where they're too much of an appliance and not enough of a computer for most people, and trying to iterate iPad OS to be less appliance-y seems a bit pointless when macOS can now natively run iPad apps, and merely lacks hardware that includes a touchscreen. Plenty of other manufacturers have shown they can put a touchscreen on a laptop, and sometimes even make you buy the keyboard separately as an accessory. I'd bet Apple eventually ends up there with macOS as well; and if Apple sells a touchscreen computing device that runs macOS, I think it's curtains for iPad OS.

(They might still call it an iPad, of course. And hopefully give macOS a more touch-friendly UI! But it'll be the end of the iPad-as-appliance, which I think many of us here will be thankful for. And I think it'll sell better, too.)

I admire your optimism. I wouldn't expect that putting macOS on an iPad would mean “the end of the iPad-as-appliance” but rather the end of macOS being a general computing platform, given Apple's obsession with locking everything down. I doubt I can take much more iOS-ification of macOS already as it is.

The article is spot on. Right now i notice that when I grab my iPad, i end up merely consuming, not getting any work done.

Apple's decisions to

- block certain types of apps (development) and

- to charge outrageous prices for their keyboards (175€-331€ in Germany)

appear to be the biggest issues.

I use my iPad for work as a collaboration device - it works great for audio and video meetings. In fact, as I type this on PC my iPad is sitting next to the monitor. All of that is most definitely "getting work done" to me.

I also find it useful if there is something I want to research or a document to read to go and sit away from my desk - I much prefer an iPad to a laptop for that kind of thing.

Indeed, I find the combination of a full sized PC and an iPad to be preferable to a laptop - which is neither as powerful and ergonomic as a full sized PC or as portable as a iPad.

edit: In fact I do have a work laptop, but I left it in the office in March and have never been back... I don't miss it!

I use my iPad complementary to my Macbook. Reading documents and taking notes with the pencil mostly. Scribbling down thoughts and concepts that sync over Onenote to my other devices. I have no desire to use it as a Laptop replacement and am not sure why people would want that. I can acknowledge that some people use an iPad as their sole device to work which I think is fine for many, but Software Engineers have such complex usecases it's hard to make a device like the iPad be perfect for them without compromising it's main user base.

I've simultaneously watched a Netflix show in picture-in-picture, while I had AWS console open in a browser and a terminal (Blink)in split-screen and debugged a production issue with the Apple keyboard.

After the problem was managed, I just moved my Netflix show to fullscreen, flipped the keyboard back and kept enjoying my day.

It's so much better than lugging around a 15-16" monster with you.

Yes, you can't run 42 simultaneous virtual machines with databases and a kubernetes cluster on it. But most of us don't really need to - we just want to because it's cooler and it's what we've gotten used to.

>It's so much better than lugging around a 15-16" monster with you.

Exactly, but not everyone works on a remote machine. I would love to work on an iPad but can’t because Apple thinks those kind of apps don’t belong on an iPad. There’s no actual technical reason why I can’t compile code on an iPad. Imagine not being able to put groceries in a Porsche because the manufacturer doesn’t like the look of it.

Then the iPad isn't for you. Over the years it has picked up a bunch of new capabilities and fits a wider range of tasks, but it's definitely not a general computing device.

Like the Porsche 911 is a great car, but it can't fit a family of four. That doesn't mean it's a crappy car, it's just not for me.

The Porsche not fitting a family of four is a technical restriction. The iPad not running arbitrary software (within the bounds of the sandbox) are a political restriction.

> to charge outrageous prices for their keyboards (175€-331€ in Germany)

Those damn iPad keyboards are the thing I understand the least about anything Apple sells, pricing-wise. I accept that Apple charges higher than average prices for stuff, sometimes to an almost offensive degree.

But why is the regular keyboard case so expensive? It's a regular keyboard that's attached to a bit of plastic and fabric. Yet it's more expensive than the Apple Pencil, more expensive than the HomePod Mini, I mean christ if you're buying the entry-level iPad the keyboard adds 48% to the cost! Ridiculous.

I'm glad I managed to get a keyboard second-hand for half the price. They seem to be quite durable, mine looks new.

You can pair a €15 bluetooth keyboard with it.

That might work on a desk or table. It's not lappable.

Last year, I wanted to buy an additional lightweight, portable computer that I could use for office work, as rebooting my Linux machine to work on Excel files (without breaking them in Open Office) became tiresome. I tried the iPad as well as the Surface Pro (6) and eventually decided for the Surface.

My main reason was that the Surface is just a normal Windows computer that can run any software (I even run Linux on it via WSL for when I need to do some light development work), while the iPad is a strongly locked down device where I have to rely on the app store to get and install software, and where I don't even have a real file system to work with (though I hear they improved this with iPadOS).

That said the UX and performance of the iPad is much better than of the Surface, which will often show stuttering and input delays if I open too many apps. In terms of productivity it rocks though as I can do all my office work and some development work on it (and it has a pretty decent keyboard as well).

So I agree with the author that there's so much potential for the iPad, I don't think Apple will want to unearth that though as they'd probably cut into their own Macbook revenue by doing so. Hence the iPad remains more of a "toy" or leisure device that's (IMHO) intended more for media consumption than actual work.

Microsoft has always had much more convergence between its laptops/desktop (well, laptop/desktop OS) and tablets (historically, to a fault) than Apple has simply because Windows was its beachhead. I haven't used Windows much for a decade (though I have a gaming laptop) but I know regular Windows users who really like some model of Surface as their travel machine.

I picked up a 12.9 Pro early last year to try and find new ways of working, not just trying to reproduce the laptop experience on an iPad, which seems to be one stream of effort from many people. And it worked, it was an incredibly collaborative device that could be passed around, drawn on, and used effectively in group settings.

It enables things that are simply not possible on a laptop, and as the platform matures, that will hopefully become more obvious. One standout app for me is Concepts.app, allows me to draw and diagram and demo all in one go. It helped improve team and client relationships straight away. Admittedly, this method of working has vanished completely with remote, but I hope to get back to on-site and face-to-face working next year sometime.

I also recently discovered the Concepts app. It’s amazing and too bad it’s not more widely known.

Im hoping that the "new form factor" rumours for next years MacBook range, is in fact a macPad - the equivalent of a large format iPad with magic keyboard, etc - but running macOS.

It would actually make the new ability to run iOS apps even more practical. Literally open an iOS/iPad app and it behaves exactly as an iPad would. iPads already have keyboards and trackpads, MacBooks have ability to run iOS apps - its not a great leap to see this as the next step.

Id even be happy with a single TB port. Thats all Im using on my 8GB MBP M1 anyway - connecting to a dock for some extra storage, network, power delivery and connecting to 3 4k monitors while in clamshell (and SD card reader, and 4 USB3 ports left over, and daisy chaining...). I really don't get port-anxiety when one gives you all this...

As for making macOS itself touch capable - god no. Keep those behaviours restricted to the views of the "iPad" apps. If you aren't plugged into a keyboard or a dock, or if you enter "iPad mode" (maybe via a hardware switch - like the old silent-mode one), then it could behave just like a regular iPad. Theres none of the windows nonsense if you don't make the "desktop" aspects touch capable.

Yes, the Apple equivalent of a Surface.

Yeah - but without the "touch" stuff added to the desktop OS. Touch should be constrained to iPad views - both fullscreen and windowed - then there would be no temptation to create desktop apps which respond to touch - which is what makes the surface so horrible, IMHO.

Maybe. Big Sur is already moving towards touch with its bigger icons, and larger spacing.

I would prefer if smartphones and tablets would finally make the push to become desktop/laptop replacements. Microsoft tried it with the Windows Phone. Samsung and Huawei still have desktop modes in their phones.

Google kinda explored the idea in some developer settings but the Pixel phones don't even support HDMI out via USB-C.

Just like the Nintendo Switch allows us to play video games on the go and on the big screen with one device, I want to finally have a smartphone / tablet which makes a laptop obsolete.

Just plug it into a dock and start using a monitor, mouse and keyboard. It appears, that apples performance boost makes it more feasible than ever now.

that's a really neat and plausible idea. i could imagine a case where the mbp essentially becomes a glorified shell for the iphone to dock into, and provides a large battery, keypad, speakers, and a screen without any of the core computer innards.

This is a product category that kind of exists. There are companies like https://nexdock.com making these "lapdocks" that work with phones, but also with things like Raspberry Pis. And then there are dozens of Chinese clones on AliExpress.

I'm personally using DeX (Samsung's desktop mode) on daily basis. It is a bit clunky, but better than owning, maintaining, and carrying a second big device. The "real computer" on my desk has only work stuff on it, and all my open source development etc. happens in DeX, mainly via the Termux app.

oh wow. that is literally better than what i had imagined. great price point too.

It makes sense in theory, but it's always going to be a lot less performance than having a device specifically designed for what you need. M1 is great because it fulfils that specific need.

unless you could somehow leverage distributed computing. for instance, the shell "laptop" has a couple cores that can seamlessly modularly enhance the capabilities of the phone. I don't believe such a functionality exists as of yet.

I think if anything is becoming clear from apple’s new direction it’s that putting everything on the same chip is a lot faster! I guess one thing you could do is have a chip that’s potentially faster in the phone and have better cooling in the laptop but even that seems kinda pointless with the air having no fan anyway.

I can’t see apple doing this ever, it’s just too messy for them!

>Just like the Nintendo Switch allows us to play video games on the go and on the big screen with one device, I want to finally have a smartphone / tablet which makes a laptop obsolete.

Considering how underpowered the Switch is when compared to consoles that came out years before it, I'm not really sold on this idea. If you want to get a full experience in any game that requires performance, you're not really getting it on the Switch. There's even some Switch exclusive games that have pretty significant performance issues, like the Xenoblades remaster that might dip down to 540p even when docked. Really, the only thing that the Switch replaced was the Nintendo 3DS.

As with computers in general, it depends on the use case. The Switch is definitively underpowered compared to other consoles or a gaming PC. The competition offers a better at-home experience in AAA games.

But for many indie games and first party titles, I enjoy the flexibility. I don't have to sync data. I can take it to friends and plug it into their dock.

A hybrid desktop smartphone / tablet with the correct ecosystem will offer a worse performance than pure desktop systems. But for most users, it will probably be good enough to browse the web, edit photos and play some games.

Switch, like most Nintendo game consoles isn't about latest cry in technology, rather about the gaming experience.

Nintendo has survived this long by not focusing on console wars for AAA titles.

>Nintendo has survived this long by not focusing on console wars for AAA titles.

Nintendo has a shorter history in consumer electronics than Sony and considering how badly the Wii U went down, I'm not sure if "surviving this long" means the same as Nintendo knows what they are doing. If you compare the sales projections and actual sales of the Wii U, it's pretty clear that they didn't understand the market at all.

We are talking about consoles here, Nintendo sells consoles since 1977 and was founded in 1889.

I guess one or other product failure can be excused, however I would bet you are an unhappy Wii U owner.

> 4. Ruthlessly purge the App Store Guidelines of anything that prevents the iPad from serving as a development machine. Every kind of development from web to games should be possible on an iPad. And speaking of games—emulators should be allowed, too.

#4 is fundamentally incompatible with the walled garden and becoming a dev device under your full control, and makes the author seem a little bit in fantasy land.

The whole point of iPad and iPhone's controls are to prevent unsupervised, uncontrolled usage of the device. Apple is going to let you have unrestricted access to the cell phone chip and radio?

iPads are for artists, designers, some creative professionals. Macs are for developers and hackers. It's pick one or the other. I for one hope that the Macs don't go further in the direction of iPads at least, and take away yet more control. I doubt they will let iPads go in the direction of Macs.

No, it isn't fundamentally incompatible. It is a prefect reasonal requirement for an App Store app to be checked for security and sticking to the sandbox. Which by the way the operation system should enforce. An App should only be able to see the filesystem which belongs to its sandbox and shared forlders. Equally, any direct access to the hardware should be prohibited by the OS, and usually Unix systems are pretty good about that. The App Store review should only check whether an App is a security risk, perform any malware functionality behind the back of the user. But the review shouldn't cover what kind of App Apple likes. A fully sandboxes IDE should be possible. A local shell should be possible, when limited to the applications sandbox.

#4 is fundamentally incompatible with the walled garden and becoming a dev device under your full control, and makes the author seem a little bit in fantasy land.

The whole point of iPad and iPhone's controls are to prevent unsupervised, uncontrolled usage of the device. Apple is going to let you have unrestricted access to the cell phone chip and radio?

I thought this for a long time. Then recently I heard another argument here on HN: the purpose of these draconian anti-development rules is to prevent bait-and-switch apps from existing. That is, apps that behave one way under App Store review and then completely change behaviour after normal users purchase them. Think: Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal type stuff.

> You think Apple is going to let you have unrestricted access to the cell phone chip and radio?

I mean, why not? At least why not to the level it's already possible on other kinds of machines? I can stick an LTE modem into my laptop and the world hasn't ended yet.

The iPad works fine as it is. And I think the base ipad and/or the ipad air are perfectly and totally fine for the kind of work that most people would do there (reading, annotating, some video watching). iPad Pros were useful once (when the basic ipad was a bit underpowered or had a worse screen, or no pencil support), but now their existence doesn't seem so necessary to me (of course, it's the usual Pro thing: maybe a lot of people don't feel the need for a Mac Pro, and yet some people scream they TOTALLY want such a thing).

I think the iPad and the iPad Air are here to stay. I couldn't swear about the iPad Pro. I'd really like to hear from iPad Pro power-users - what's something that you can only get in a Pro?

Screen size is the largest differentiator between the Pro and standard iPads.

I got a first gen iPad Pro (back in 2015!) and it's still running smoothly to this day. It runs the latest iPadOS. Meanwhile, my co-workers and family iPads have all failed, broken, or become obsolete several times since then.

I use the iPad Pro daily for:

- Evening reading

- Reading on flights

- Laptop replacement while travelling

- Recreational writing with bluetooth keyboard

- Recreational doodling with Apple Pencil

- Light productivity tasks like email, etc.

- General browsing

Thanks everybody. So, it boils down to the size. This makes sense. I can imagine Apple discontinuing the 10" iPad Pro in the future.

I'm an iPad Pro 2nd gen owner myself, and I love the device. But I bought it 2nd hand and I could have picked an Air instead with no regrets.

> my co-workers and family iPads have all failed, broken, or become obsolete several times since then.

I suppose they were older devices, though, weren't they? the latest ipadOS seems to support most (all?) ipads from 2014 onwards.

Mainly the large 13" screen.

My partner has a job which involves reading lots of documents, taking notes and then reading/sending emails. The iPad Pro is more comfortable than the rest of the range for split screen mode. The notes can all be written with the pencil and then the iPad can be easily attached to a keyboard for when you need to send long emails.

>What's something that you can only get in a Pro?

For me at this point, it's just the screen size. Personally I think once you get used to the 12.9", any other size feels too small, especially if you are doing anything creative like photo editing or music making.

Right now diff between Air vs Pro is limited. For me the only noticeable thing is ProMotion (120Hz). Can't say 2 GB of additional RAM is seen somewhere as big differentiator.

So it goes down to 12.9" screen size option.

> The iPad works fine as it is.

Where is the USB port?

I'm the target market for the MacPad Pro.

I'm a software developer, and for the past year or so I've been using a Microsoft Surface Go as my primary development machine. I don't need a desktop (I'm not doing any ML that would require a GPU), and I want to go back to Mac (OSX is way better than Windows, easier to install software, more intuitive, JustWorks(TM), etc.) but there's simply no equivalent offering. I can't use an iPad for development (it's not actually a computer), so the only alternative is a MacBook (Air / Pro), which is however way less portable than a tablet.

The addressable market is tiny though so I don't expect this to change anytime soon.

I love iPads and have had one since they first came out. My primary "front-end" machine is a 12.9" Pro at the moment - I do dev work using Blink as a Mosh terminal to a Linux box, I do sketches, I communicate with clients on it. And I very rarely have any complications with using it.

The only things I struggle with are

* the browser - it's really annoying that notifications aren't allowed and I don't see why that's not the case

* the browser - there's no web inspector - I rarely do front-end work but there's always some bit of CSS or JS to sort out (I use Luna Display into a 2012 Mac Mini or VNC into my Linux box for that)

* a minor annoyance with audio - I'd like to use my USB microphone with it, but plugging it in means it gets recognised as an output device as well, so I can't hear anything - unlike a Mac I can't find a way to route the input from one device and the output to another.

All my other annoyances with it are around poorly designed apps - for example ones that assume you wouldn't want multiple windows or think you only ever want to upload from the camera roll rather than the filesystem.

UPDATE: one other thing - in the article she talks about landscape-first; I often use my iPad in landscape but it's in portrait mode where it shines. In landscape, with the magic keyboard, it just feels like a crippled laptop. In portrait with an external keyboard in a stand it feels like a writing machine. In portrait and with the pencil, it feels like a notebook. I don't really get the people who want the iPad to become a laptop when its strengths are elsewhere.

For web inspector you can load eruda console into any page via a bookmarklet. It’s not the same as a native inspector, but it has proven handy in a pinch.


Cheers - I'll check it out

Notifications are missing due to PWAs support.

You can always plug the iPad and use the host web inspector, but I get your point. On device would be rather nice, even it needed to be an additional app for reasons.

Well that's the thing that gets me. My Mac notification bar is full of notifications from web sites and pages I've long forgotten. Yet my iPad, also using Safari, isn't allowed to receive them.

I had no problems plugging in my USB microphone into the pro and having audio output. I was using airpods for the output though... maybe that is it? Or maybe certain USB microphones work and others do not.

It is rather clear that iPad is primary a media consumption + light work (email + MS Office + ssh terminal = thin client) machine. With recent additions of Pen functionality it is also an amazing sketch book.

But proper laptop is just in the different league for productivity. I tried using my iPad with external keyboard as the primary computer when my laptop was undergoing repairs and it was bearable, but not more than that.

I use a proper keyboard and mouse with my laptop almost exclusively (the only exception is unplanned work while traveling or content on the go).

In that sense iPad pro form factor would be a strict improvement - it's far better for casual use and I can set up a home server to SSH into for development outside of home, iOS is a deal breaker however - I need to run some tools client side.

But why, is it anything hardware related, or isn't it, like the article described, a problem of the software infrastructure?

It's the software. The hardware of the iPad Pro is actually even better than the Macbook Air, considering the built-in cellular modem, additional camera, touch screen /w pencil support, motion sensors, two more speakers, micro-location, GPS, etc.

The processing power should be behind the Macbook (whether that's significant, I don't know), but the next iteration could close the gap. If it wasn't for iPadOS artificially limiting the use cases, I'd see an iPad Pro with detachable keyboard as superior to a Macbook for the aforementioned reasons.

What was it you missed exactly? I'm assuming i would find the exact same, but i can't put my finger on exactly why.

To answer that and above comments - it is a combination of form-factor and software limitations. Lack of adjustable hinge/base part and excessive OS sandboxing.

I finally bought 7th gen iPad last year after Apple introduced Desktop 'like' browsing and iPadOS,

Then I got Logitech Combo Touch (sadly they were faulty so I don't have them). and be-hold trackpad and keyboard (which work 'nice' but very limited in support).

It's a GREAT consumer/entertainment device. even nice canvas for sketches. But any other productivity fails deeply.

Here is a simple fail use-case (I think so):

Apple's own Pages.

* Try selecting text and copy/paste. (even with trackpad) sometimes the contextual options provide ANYTHING but copy/paste.

* Apple's FileProvider... I like to do something quite common to my computer workflow, work within a Dropbox folder. This works nicely for few minutes, then you get a message complaining access failed and it closes the document (showing you tons of Conflicted copies).

So for me at least, even declared usability of iPad for any productivity is subpar to macOS. (even with trackpad and keyboard)

The iPad is fine. Don't be upset because you fell for Apple's "what's a computer" marketing. It's not meant to be a proper work device, you can't do much real work outside of email and word processing.

Every tattoo artist I've seen uses an iPad to sketch out their designs. It's a very good tool for an artist.

Most people are using iPads as media consumption, which is what they're very good for. Long battery life, high quality display, it's great.

The iPad Pro is just a better iPad. It never became any better at doing anything just because it was really powerful. It's still just locked to iPad OS.

The writer of this article wants a touch screen Mac. The iPad Pro will likely pivot to being this now that the M1 chips exist. Either that or Apple will keep it around and just make a touch screen Mac. But either way, the iPad will always be an iPad. If you want work done, get a real computer!

The idea of programming on the iPad makes perfect sense.

The idea of opening the iPad to make the programming experience more like a Mac, does not. (At least not from my read of Apple’s philosophy)

What I expect is that Apple will eventually make something based on Playgrounds, but capable of producing apps that can be uploaded to the store.

However it will be a closed loop system, Swift only.

Obviously there will be the usual complaints about why this is bad from a control perspective, which are of course valid. I’m not here to argue that.

What is good about this is that the constraints would force the development of a touch first programming environment. Don’t expect terminals or gatekeeper etc.

This is the approach Apple has been taking with the iPad, and I see no reason they would change it now. The m1 Macs make it less likely that they will open the iPad, not more.

"Adopt a landscape-first mindset. Rotate the Apple logo on the back and move the iPad’s front-facing camera on the side beneath the Apple Pencil charger to better reflect how most people actually use their iPad Pros."

No. No. Keep the camera in portrait mode. Or add another camera (I would love the option of selecting portrait or landscape camera).

It seems like the best approach would be to put it in one of the corners. Then you could hold it in portrait or landscape without covering it with your hands.

Multiple front facing cameras in different locations could also be used for some sort of stereoscopic imaging too.

What about camera location as a configuration option at time of purchse?

That's really not something you can just decide to change on a whim, given how much work goes into the chassis, and how cramped things are inside.

I dunno about that.

The iPad, and iPhone for that matter, are already available in a variety of sizes, another hardware configuration doesn't seem implausible.

And did you see that video from that person who put the headphone jack back in?

Edit to add reference: https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/9/7/16267418/sc...

I really think Apple got it wrong with the iPad. They thought that iPads would replace computers for most people, but 10 years later it's clear that Apple's strict control over the iPad will never allow it to be as capable as a laptop.

But the biggest mistake Apple made over the last ten years is that they have been holding the Mac back to differentiate it from the iPad.

I would love to have always on 4G in my Macbook. I would love to have a touch screen and pen input on my Mac. I don't want to buy an iPad so I can draw on PDFs, I just want to do that on my Mac.

Microsoft hit it out of the park with their Surface line. I think they made the right call, by understanding that people don't want app consoles. People want the power of a desktop, with all the great new tech from mobile devices, like touch screens and 4G.

The Surface Studio is what the iMac should have been. It's weird to have graphic designers, once Apple's core audience, lusting after a Microsoft computer. Apple's reluctance to add touch screens to the Mac is really holding them back. Once you've used a surface device with a pen, you really start wondering why you can't draw on the screen of your Macbook.

My guess is that Apple realized their mistake about a year ago, and they've started on getting iPhone/iPad tech back in to the Mac. They started with the processor, and the next step is adding touch displays and 4G / 5G to the Mac. Big Sur is obviously already optimized for touch, and I'm excited to see what the Mac will become if Apple allows it to compete with the iPad.

There is about zero chance that the processor architecture transition is not many years in the making.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I agree that the processor change was a long time coming.

I'm speculating that they decided to also bring touch screens and 4G back to the Mac about a year ago, when they realised that adding multi-tasking to the iPad wasn't the panacea they hoped it would be.

> Is it headed toward functional parity with the Mac or will it always be hamstrung by Apple’s strict App Store policies and seemingly inconsistent investment in iPadOS?

I see this converging in two possible ways (aside from killing the iPad):

- Macs will have iOS

- iPads will have macOS

I don't see Apple giving that kind of freedom on the iPad, though.

Another possibility is Apple making some kind of 2-in-1 Macs with touch screen. The paddings they added to all kind of UI elements on macOS seems to point in this direction.

From my point of view and the whole Apple culture towards UNIX based platforms since its inception, expect "Macs will have iOS" to be the final outcome.

UNIX support was only a side-effect of NeXT's acquisition (BeOS wasn't a UNIX based OS), and a question of survival to get the geeks to rescue the company.

Besides A/UX, Apple was never serious about that market and now they are printing money, so if it doesn't need to be a proper UNIX clone, then any OS will do, including an evolution of iOS.

Although it makes me nervous, I think iOS and macOS will continue to move closer together. Big Sur feels already much like iOS.

Macs being able to run iOS apps now should give you a hint of the direction where it's going.

I'm convinced a not insignificant number of people high up at Apple see the near future of the Mac as where you go to run multiple iOS apps, at least until iPads start to do that too. I think when the true next gen 14 inch MBP drops next year this will become a lot more obvious.

This is uncomfortable to think about for people who are fans of computers but just look at the profit charts and when you follow modern Apple leadership actions, Macs where they don't get a cut of software and where users do have that freedom are the anomaly and there are some extremely juicy pieces of software that side of the fence which they are currently not profiting from.

I'm surprised by the failure of imagination of HN readers. Nine times out of ten, HN readers are complaining about the limitations of the iPad; out of the woodwork come those who complain about those who complain.

To my mind, Becky is not arguing that the iPad should become the next Mac. Nowhere in the article is that ever stated. Yet, that's the argument against which so many people are rallying.

It is possible to wish for the iPad to do more whilst preserving what makes iPad … iPad. That's what the bulleted list contains: ideas for allowing a little more complexity whilst preserving simplicity.

There are so many more things the iPad can do that expand on its current capabilities without compromising on the iPad experience — don't let your failure of imagination, your sense of "I like using my iPad this way, so everybody else must too" get in the way of dreaming up new experiences for the world's best-selling tablet and digital stylus.

The iPad has already proven itself a wonderful balance of power and simplicity. Imagine what it could do when just a tiny bit more power is unlocked. Not just for pros, developers. For creative types. For school students. For people with disabilities and other special needs.

I work as management consultant and the iPad+Apple Pencil+OneNote combination has been a game changer for my workflow. No need to have tons of paper notebooks to take notes during meetings (and then misplace 2 months into the project), no need to print powerpoint or pdf presentations or documents to make comments for the rest of the team. The OneNote app works really well and syncs perfectly with my windows 10 laptop (and my macbook pro for personal use). I haven't found another compelling use for it (I wouldn't use it to make powerpoint presentations, nor excel spreadsheets; i could use it for text documents in MS Word, but the full keyboard of a laptop and far superior trackpads make this a non-starter). For emails, the phone is good enough if i need to reply on the go. All this to say that how fitting an instrument is to your work depends on the kind of work you do. From what I have seen, graphic designers and artists have embraced the iPad. Do software developers really crave a touch-first instrument that is barely more portable than a MBP 13"?

> Do software developers really crave a touch-first instrument that is barely more portable than a MBP 13"?

I don't know about the need for touch-first, but I can certainly see where the blog post is coming from.

It's not so much about what the iPad can do, it's more about what it cannot do and that there's no technical reason for its limitations.

It's kind of pointless to have two separate device classes when there's no technical difference between them anymore. Before the release of the M1 laptop and Mac Mini it could have been argued that the more traditional machines were more powerful and expandable.

But there's literally no difference between the hardware of a Macbook, Mac Mini, and iPad Pro apart from peripherals (e.g. screen, keyboard, touchpad). Why would a developer even need two devices when the laptop runs the same hardware and is only missing things (modem, touch screen, sensors, cameras)?

> But there's literally no difference between the hardware of a Macbook, Mac Mini, and iPad Pro apart from peripherals (e.g. screen, keyboard, touchpad).

screen, keyboard, trackpad, touch screen ports, are A LOT of what defines the hardware. It is clearly not only chipset and RAM.

> Why would a developer even need two devices when the laptop runs the same hardware and is only missing things (modem, touch screen, sensors, cameras)?

Maybe they don't need two devices in the first place. Isn't a MBP a very capable, portable, software development device? If the issue is that moving around with a MBP13 and an iPadPro with keyboard is cumbersome / heavy, then maybe the MBP plus the cheapest iPad with no keyboard would be more bearable and cover most of the use cases? Maybe the MPB and the iPhone can cover enough use cases.

I think my point is that the reasoning around iPadpro and MBP should not be that they are in principle equally powerful, so they should allow me to do the same things equally well, rather than the two have distinctive hardware features (form, keyboard, ports...) that make one better suited than the other for specific tasks. Whether I value these specific tasks enough to buy both, depends on my personal needs (and cash reserves)

> Isn't a MBP a very capable, portable, software development device?

It's the other way around: isn't the iPad Pro an even more capable and portable software development device? That's my whole point, especially since now you could develop iPad (non-pro) software seamlessly on the device without the need for testing on external hardware (since it already has all the bits and bobs contrary to the MBP).

> There’s no question that Apple has struggled to craft a cohesive, compelling narrative for the iPad... We know what it’s good for, and we can easily imagine what it could be good for, if only Apple would set it free.

Of course there is question... The Ipad was a tremendous success for Apple. In fact, the M1 is possible because tablets in general and phones sell so much compared to normal computers that have made the price of those ARM semiconductors way lower than Intel's or AMD.

It has not struggled in anything. When I wanted to know if making an Ipad app made sense economically for me I stayed an entire day on a big Apple store and they sold like 50 on a normal day. They sold like 3 or 4 macbooks.

It looks geeks believe that companies are out there to satisfy them. But companies are there to sell products to as much people as possible.

> Of course there is question... The Ipad was a tremendous success for Apple. In fact, the M1 is possible because tablets in general and phones sell so much compared to normal computers that have made the price of those ARM semiconductors way lower than Intel's or AMD.

From Apple's 2020Q3 financial results (https://www.apple.com/newsroom/pdfs/FY20-Q3_Consolidated_Fin...), the iPad is more or less their lowest-revenue product line (in competition with 'wearables and accessories').

It's the phones that put Apple in a position to make M1 silicon, and in fact that's probably the impetus for it -- the more restricted form factor has even tighter demands on power efficiency than the larger tablet/laptop/desktop formats.

The iPad was the gateway for me into the Apple community. I was never a fan of Mac Os. But when I got an iPad I was hooked. Which then had me upgrade to an iPad Pro and Macbook Pro 16". Leave the iPad as it is. Improve on it, yes. But we don't need it as another laptop.

At this point, the only thing standing in the way of me doing work on my iPad Pro is Apple.

Would I like to work for 8 hours a day on it? Of course not. But I work mostly from home now. It would be great if I could ditch my laptop and have a desktop Mac for the bulk of my work, with the iPad filling the gaps.

But as things stand, I can't run a web server, can't run PHP or Node, I can't even open dev tools in the browser without relying on a "real computer". Which is especially stupid considering that, even though my "real computer" is a 16" MacBook Pro that cost 3x what the iPad cost, the iPad is faster in many regards (and doesn't burn the skin off my lap either).

You can run the webservers on a raspberry pi easily. I think you can even connect them via USB-C directly and have a wired network between them.

I do agree about the lack of dev tools on iPad Safari though

In this case then the Raspberry Pi fits the definition of "real computer" :)

Apple should really converge the ipad and macbook. Having something like a surface book where there's a laptop/desktop experience with a thin, light, detachable touchscreen and full desktop software would be really nice.

They’re two different worlds though. The world of precision input devices (keyboard/mouse) and relative openness (to running/developing software) and then the world of imprecise fat-finger touch input and the walled-garden landgrab.

So far not even Apple has figured out how to make genuinely complex/feature-rich UIs (think Photoshop, XCode, Maya) work on a touchscreen device. Their best solution so far seems to be adding a keyboard and pointing device in the form of the Pencil.

We have a saying in Lithuanian about things like this: "nei velnias, nei gegutė" (neither a devil, nor a cuckoo).

It would be the worst from both worlds. It didn't work for Microsoft and wouldn't for Apple.

I couldn't agree more with this article. I have been an iPad owner since I got the very first iPad on the day it was released and I am owning a 13" iPad Pro for 4 years now. I have always considered the iPad as an extremels faszinating hardware experience. But its actual use always seems to be constrained by the software.

Indeed, it was always rumored how powerful the processor of the iPad must be, as little things are slow on that machine. But it wasn't widely acknowledged, as very few big software packages are running on the iPad. Count the percentage of software on the Mac which doesn't sell via the App Store and one might get an estimate, what the iPad is missing out. Partially, this has fiscal reasons, avoiding the revenue share with Apple, but a lot has to do with the App Store restrictions.

There are far too many applications which are restricted or outrightly banned by the app store. When I started computing, a computer would come with an implementation of basic. You could immediately start programming on that computer. In my case it was the C64, for others MS Basic on DOS. Not even that exists on the iPad. There are a very few IDEs, which constantly have to avoid being too useful to prevent being banned. To big the danger for Apple seems, if you manage to write an useful App on the iPad without going through the App Store.

Imagine a full featured Python or just Basic, which allows you to write programs with full screen graphics als full user interaction on the iPad. Imagine, if someone ported Squeak as an iPad app. It could perfectly run the whole environment inside the App, this would be a great experience. Imagine running a Lisp machine as an App.

On the technical side, the iPad needs more memory. If it is meant as a "Pro" machine, it should have 8Gb of RAM, optionally 16. But most importantly, a limited form of swap should be introduced. Limiting the active memory of a single app to the available system memory makes sense, but the more complex an application becomes, the less it is acceptable to kill the process just because the user switches to another App. Even on the fastest machine, restoring the state might not be possible fast enough. This can eliminate a wide range of application. Instead, deactivated applications should be swapped out. So the swap would just allow them to run without interruptions.

There is already a thriving ecosystem of very powerful development apps on iOS.

Pythonista is a full copy of Python 2.7 and 3.x, with an IDE, links to the GUI APIs and even a basic visual GUI designer for the iPad and iPhone. You can sync your scripts source code with Macs and other iOS devices through iCloud.


Pyto is another Python app for the iPad, it's not as mature but is 100% open source on Github.


Codea is an IDE for Lua with extensive integration with the iPad native APIs and fantastic graphics capabilities.


There are several others for different languages, but I think these are the most mature. Some of these have even been used to publish apps on the App Store, by dropping the code into a Python or Lua app container project in XCode. You can also integrate them with Git from iOS using an App called Working Copy.

The iPad has received several updates that have made possible for professional music producers to use it in their workflow.

Imo this is a great advancement, where, for example Android is still lagging behind.

Didn’t read the article, but the iPad was my gateway drug into the Apple orchard.

It was quite literally my first ever Apple product, and I had actually purchased it as a gift for the older people in my family.

They had almost never touched computers, but they immediately took to the iPad, after an initial trepidation from fear of accidentally breaking an expensive thing.

After assuring that there was nothing they could do to damage the iPad save for physically smashing it with a hammer, they were using it all the time.

Watching them enjoy it impressed me with its accessibility and simplicity and I just had to try developing for it. So I torrented a VMWare image for macOS (Lion at the time) and started dabbling in it.

My host machine was running Windows 8 and it was the first time I had ever used macOS. Gradually I began to notice that I was spending more time in the Mac VM than in Windows and loving every minute it. My next personal computer was a MacBook and I’ve never felt the need to go back to PCs yet.

So yeah. The iPad was to computers what the Wii was to games.

In fact, I think it’s gotten unnecessarily complicated since then, with its mystery meat menus and arcane gestures and removal of Dock labels etc.

On one hand it should have stayed true to its original purpose, bringing basic computing to the computer-shy masses, but on the other a simplified OS would be a painful waste of the iPad’s beautiful hardware.

Maybe it’s time to offer “Casual” and “Pro” UI modes in iPadOS?

"Move the iPad’s front-facing camera on the side beneath the Apple Pencil charger to better reflect how most people actually use their iPad Pros" - this! Face ID on iPad is really convenient, except the way I usually hold my iPad (landscape, with the pencil at the top) means that the front camera is more-often-than-not blocked when I want to unlock it. I rarely use it portrait so it seems a strange decision.

Interesting post, I too have been wondering how the Macbook and iPad (Pro, especially) will co-exist in future. It seems inevitable that touch will come to the Macbook in some form in the next few years, and with the M1 it sounds like Apple are able to make thin, light laptops that don't run hot or burn through battery, removing a few of the key differentiators between the iPad and laptops.

I do really like using the iPad for consumption and for some creation (music making, photo editing), but for any "serious" work I still find it frustrating at best (editing documents etc.), impossible at worst (development). The hardware is very capable, but the question is how they develop iPadOS to support these use cases without treading too much on the Macs toes - or will the two ultimately merge?

It’s not that the iPad isn’t suitable for work. It’s that if you decide to commit to it and use it for your work you’re now at the whim of Apple. They can wreck your workflow because they have a dispute with the developer. Combined with the push towards rented („subscription based“) software this makes for a very uncertain platform. Even if disputes are rare, as long as Apple holds this power I think it will only ever get worse over time.

Tech-savvy people always seem to miss the mark - but as someone that struggled to get my tech illiterate parents to be productive on a personal computer...giving up and just getting them an iPad was a revelation.

It's not a difficult proposition:

1. iPad for consumption 2. Mac for production

It's really that simple - though the ipad pro kinda blurs that line a little bit - but it's mostly for those creative types that want the "drawing experience" which the mac does not provide, mostly as a response to the Surface line of products. I can see where a graphic designer would have a Mac for "day to day" stuff and then jump to their ipad pro to do their "work drawing". Maybe having the files synced in iCloud so that they can do the final touch-ups on the Mac. Some might just buy the USB tablet or whatever and that's fine for some, but I would think the majority prefer the draw-on-the-screen feel and experience. iPad excels at that, so it makes sense to have the "pro" version with the extra horsepower for that niche market and a premium.

Please just put macOS on an iPad with a larger screen size. It would be the Apple equivalent of the Microsoft Surface, one which I was initially excited about, but which Microsoft hasn't updated in design since the Surface Pro 3 days.

macOS is already moving towards touch, if you notice the pattern of bigger icons, more space between buttons, and larger padding. It's clear that macOS and iPadOS will converge. You can already run iPhone and iPad apps on M1 now. You could even have something like the Magic keyboard having its own battery like the Surface Book, and instead of the Book's docking mechanism, with the Magic Keyboard you could wirelessly charge from the keyboard to the iPad with the iPhone 12's new wireless charging mechanism.

Then I could just buy one device rather than two. But I suspect Apple wouldn't like that very much, which is why we continue to see both macOS and iPadOS simultaneously. However, Jobs said to not fear cannibalizing your own product, because if you don't, someone else will.

I'm a prof (not in CS), and if I can use an iPad quite happily for 90% of my computing needs. Pre-pandemic, having the cellular version also means I can work anywhere, coffee shop, traveling, and not have to worry about wifi, or depleting my iPhone battery by tethering.

The screen is gorgeous. The sound is impressive. The new keyboard thingy is very serviceable. _Overall_ I like using it more than using a laptop. It's my go-to machine when computing around the house, or when working away from my desk/office (e.g. coffee shop), or when traveling.

The pain points currently (iPad Pro 12.9) are:

- FaceTime camera on the "top" edge, which means, when used with Apple's own magic keyboard, the camera is actually on the side, giving a perfect view up my left nostril. There should be two cameras. This is so obvious.

- File system stuff is still a pain point despite the recent advances in the Files app and in multitasking. The odd time when I want to have several apps open and move several files around it really is painful and I usually give up and move to my iMac. Honestly I don't know what the solution is. Perhaps it's a case of "iPad isn't supposed to be used for that sort of thing". Or perhaps it's a case of re-jigging my workflow. Which is up to me of course. I could just get a M1 MacBook Air and call it a day, that would be OK, but I still prefer the overall experience of using the iPad.

- Coding, of course. If I am on a fast connection to a local machine I can use Remote Desktop, which is sort of cheating, it's just using a desktop Mac, sub-optimally. I can use an ssh client and access a remote machine using a text only interface, which works for some coding purposes, but not interactive graphics. My instinct is this is a problem not to be solved for the iPad as it's just not supposed to be used for that. I'm OK with that.

I disagree with the premise. Now that laptops have the same performance and battery life, iPad is freed from having to be the laptop and can continue to develop its productive capability in the areas where focused touch and stylus work either outperform or result in different creative expression.

That's a very interesting take on it actually. The iPad does excel, for me, in the areas where it offers a unique approach (as well as a consumption/browsing device).

Music making is a great example, there's a whole unique ecosystem and way of working which has developed on iPad which doesn't really exist anywhere else.

It's still somewhat tricky to see how e.g. a touch-screen Macbook which can run iPad apps, and an iPad Pro, differentiate themselves a few years down the line though I think.

I think the problem with iPads is that a large proportion of people need keyboards for part of their workflow - emails, reports, twitter etc.

The attachable tablet keyboards can't really be used comfortably on the go - commuting, sofa surfing etc. A laptop has a sturdy, built in lap rest that can be used in just about any position.

IMHO, the killer product is somewhere between an iPad and Macbook Air - with an attached reversible clamshell keyboard, or detachable/attachable keyboard that can be used to support the screen at any angle without being on a desk (ie not some flimsy magnetic lock), so the device can be used like a tablet or laptop and used in either mode wherever.

> The attachable tablet keyboards can't really be used comfortably on the go - commuting, sofa surfing etc.

WHAT?? I disagree completely.

The iPad’s fanless shell and the lightweight sealed keyboards make it PERFECT for random environments, especially restaurants and dining tables etc. where you don’t have to worry about dust or crumbs getting in anything and can just wet-wipe grease and crap off it.

You're describing a Surface Book. Its a nice device, but I do believe Apple's hardware design can take it to the next level.

I hope Apple don't end up going down the touch screen route with macOS. Windows has been much worse as a desktop OS since Windows 8, largely because of the shift to touch.

> The attachable tablet keyboards can't really be used comfortably on the go - commuting, sofa surfing etc

I disagree. I use mine for just these purposes, and I find the ipad to be significantly more comfortable to use than any of my laptops.

> not some flimsy magnetic lock

I've found it to be pretty sturdy. I've only owned the iPad Pro though, perhaps it has a more sturdy keyboard than other models.

Foldable "folio" keyboards with a built in triangular support fit this use case perfectly. If you can find one that fits your device, has the keys you need (esc, pipe, ctrl, alt, function keys, ...) and doesn't fall apart.

I'd kill for an iPad that runs macOS.

But using an iOS device as a main computer? It's a hard sell given you are only allowed to use App Store apps. So much software I want to use (e.g. most free software apps, the Steam back-catalogue, many older Windows apps) is not available on iOS and never will be. Also, of course, you aren't allowed to do software development on an iOS device.

Maybe the new generation that's only known life inside the walled garden will be able to live within its constraints, even if they'll be impoverished in some ways. I think that's what Apple's counting on. I hope they don't succeed.

I'm just waiting for their competitors to catch up and take advantage of the ecosystem shift - Microsoft already had their ARM SoC tablet (I think with Qualcomm) so they will eventually move to 5nm - nobody really wanted to release ARM versions for that because Microsoft has way less pull with app devs - but if they can deliver M1 level performance in a generation and most of the software is ARM ready - I won't care that there's a M2 MacBook out there - because it's still not going to be the form factor I prefer for my mobile device and it still won't run MacOS on iPad Pro.

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