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Buying an iPad Pro for coding was a mistake (technicallychallenged.substack.com)
311 points by koinedad 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 518 comments



Boggles the mind why people still fall for the iPad Pro as a serious work machine beyond writing meme.

The fact that Final Cut launched on it recently and while its exporting you have to sit there leaving the app open you can't go do something else is the punchline of the decade for the lie that this is a serious machine.

This is before we get into the comical evolution from "You just need the touchscreen" to "Actually physical keys are good for long typing" iPad and a keyboard case, to "oh actually a cursor would be useful to do real work" to full blown iPad + trackpad case awkward laptop form factor.

Actually the more I think about how good the M1 MacBook is it's actually a crime these beautiful processors were locked up in that abysmal form factor and forced to do Facebook and match-3 games instead of real work.


Yes, iPadOS has deep, lingering deficiencies as an OS for professional use.

But their ads and keynotes are convincing, so I can't blame people falling for it! There's this weird juxtaposition of a terrible productivity machine combined with some mature, amazing and easy to use software in the demos, and Apple makes it look like iPads can be deeply embedded in your workflow and people have fun and laugh as that tiny device with its M1 CPU is a heavy lifter even for 4K and professional audio mixing.

And everything looks good at first sight. Until you reach the final 5% of usage where you either 1) need to interact with other software, 2) other storages like a Mac main storage, NAS, Samba, NFS drive, personal cloud etc, or 3) just somehow move out of (and back into) that sandboxed app for any reason. Then everything falls apart. Yes, even with that Files app.

There are tools and methods to exit the sandboxed app (share sheets omg all the share sheets) but it's just painted with bold letters all over the place that this is not what iPadOS was designed for from the ground up, but it's in fact still just a smartphone OS with a brand change and some special purpose features added on top that you can run on a device with a large display.

When Apple announced the iPadOS brand, I thought "Wow they finally get it" but I don't think they can figure this one out. They've had so many years now and we still have articles like these. I want them to figure it out because a slick system with optional keyboard and mouse sounds great to me.


I'm somewhat convinced that Apple wants to remove the notion of a Unix filesystem (there are files and directories of files/directories and they have owners/permissions/etc) from their users' understanding of how to use a computer. Both out of ideological purity ("what is a computer?") and so that their users can't use a different device that has an entirely different mental model for interaction.

I already see this with juniors/students/kids that grew up using nothing but mobile devices, tablets, and chromebooks with GSuite. They don't know what a file is.


Yes, this is part of the genius strategy that most people don't see. There is an entire generation of people growing up where iPhones and iPads are the computer. Many of them also don't even know that there is a difference between a mobile device and an iPhone. Android is this weird sort of alternative that nobody uses, and Windows is this "PC" thing which they've never used but they hear that some people use for gaming. To these people, the Apple way is the way, and converting them to anything else will be nigh impossible. The current professionals that find iPads insufficient will age out, and the next generation will consider them the standard workstation.


Android is only used by 80% of the rest of the world, but who's counting anyway.


To a subsection of people, "the rest of the world" is a mythical place that doesn't exist.


So is metric


Indeed if are actually going to count, first we need to define which units are relevant.


The Plan9 discussion from a few days ago shows that quite a few people here don't know what a file actually is either.


I mean a file is fundamentally an abstraction, but it's a useful one. What that abstraction means is a bit obscure under the microscope but at a high level the understanding of directories and regular files is pretty straightforward (it's streams, sockets, links, and all the other stuff that pretends to be a file in unixes that presents the problem).


I used to work in architecture, and I think that's where something like an iPad really shines. It was possible to have all the drawing sets on the iPad, and mark them up on the job site to send back to the office for revisions. Being able to annotate them with photographs of the site conditions and redlining as you talk with the foreman is excellent, it makes things a lot more seamless.

Yes, you weren't going to do any actual CAD work and still need a workstation in the office, but as a digital notebook, it's excellent.


I use an iPad Pro mostly for my lectures and for reading and annotating PDFs. After the latest upgrade of iPadOS, I also explored it for more serious work connecting it to a mouse and keyboard. If you're happy with working inside a browser and use it as a terminal, it works just fine, but as soon as you need to manage files or quickly want to edit a document on the device, it becomes pretty painful. I really don't understand why an iPad Pro with Apple silicon - the latest versions sport an M2 - does not get a Pro OS such as Mac OS.


And if you're using it primarily as web browser you can get a Chromebook that will do the job for a fraction of the cost.


This is an excellent & undervalued point: chromeos is basically an easier to use and maintain iPad Pro at half the price, with a performant Linux container

I’m really pleased with my $4K MacBook Pro M2, really amazing device. but after 3-4 years of chromeos before that, I’d trade it for a $1000 i7 Chromebook in a heartbeat, if it wasn’t for darn local LLMs. They’re not even good or fast but I need them professionally.


Will also second this. I’ve used on old linux box with ChromeOS flex as my daily driver doing fullstack web and mobile development for a bit over a year now and it’s easily the best desktop experience I’ve ever had compared to Windows, Linux and MacOS.

Highly underrated indeed.


I bought my iPad 5th gen years ago pretty much for reading PDFs. Sadly, it's barely even usable for that, even after a fresh device reset it's laggy and so slow. I'm not sure if it was always that way; I don't think so. I've stopped upgrading iOS but I think I'm already at 15, if there's a way to go wayyy back that's probably what I want to do, but it's sad that even an iPad can be bogged down so much as to barely run PDF readers. And I always wished mine supported pencil / annotations, but I think I'm one generation behind.

I imagine most employees who get by in cloud docs (Google/Microsoft/etc.) and don't really open apps other than browsers can learn to be comfortable with an iPad, but many people don't want to. I have friends who refuse to even learn to use a trackpad on Macbook because they are so set in their ways.


I’ve never really understood why folks complain that a screwdriver makes a lousy hammer.


> I want them to figure it out

They've figured it out long since, but they're making more profit as it is now.


IMO, I think they figured out what they want.

They don't want iPads to cannibalize their Macs. They then kneecap iPads accordingly.


Interesting, I think it's the opposite. I think they would love iPads to cannabalize or eat entirely Macs. Macs are still fairly open compared to the iPad, and this allows people to use the device as a general purpose computer (instead of an appliance) without Apple as the gatekeeper/protector.


I too was skeptical for a long time, but a couple of days ago, after spotting a second hand iPad (6th gen from 2018) for 90€, I picked it up and I’m actually super impressed. The difference here is expectation vs. money spent and the value received.

Last time I had a tablet, it was the Nexus 7-inch (the screen size of modern phones) and my GF’s surface tablet with 2-4GB of RAM running an entire desktop Windows experience which should be prohibited by law. This along with me seeing some relatives having iPads across the years for web browsing and email, I never felt they’d be useful for much of anything at all.

However, yesterday I managed to mix some music creating a nice melody, edit some of my best photos in Lightroom, annotate PDFs for my thesis’ literature review while copying notes into MS Word, and use it as a second display to my M1 Macbook Air with the sidecar function and it’s been wonderful. The main reason I got it for, however, is the 20€ apple pencil alternative I ordered for my creative drawing and for illustrating my blog.

So far it’s frankly amazing, particularly considering the little money I’ve spent. However, stretching its abilities to coding or anything else seriously productive is definitely asking to have some unnecessary difficulties in life. Especially when you spend so much money for expensive models.

I guess common sense by now would imply that if you want to do serious work, just get a laptop instead.


iPads are great tablets - even the cheapest ones. You can't go wrong with any iPads from the last n-3 generations. But they are tablets. They do tablet-y things great. Other things not so much.


Yeah, I always thought it’s only good for architects with their drawings or for businesses offering product configurators and such to their customers in their physical spaces or museums, etc. But look at that, instead of carrying one more paper notebook in my bag I now have this extra thing in addition to my laptop and it’s pretty good!


This is a good point. I criticized it in another post here in typical Hacker News fashion but just to add some positivity, iPad Pro is great for precisely architects and engineers bringing CAD drawings etc because the guys pack a tablet with a large screen with them to the actual site and can intuitively work with and demo the project with their hands alone. I know this works because we have people at work doing precisely this and they wanted the big displays for ease of use and showing.

But be very cautious if you need to integrate multiple applications and maybe even those not on the iPad (like Visual Studio Code), having to restort to web interfaces or remote computing apps, terminals... Stuff exists for all of this but it's going to get progressively more painful from my experience, the more involved and "not in this single app" your workflow is.

If you stay like 95% of the time on the iPad and a very few apps in a very basic workflow (like bring a CAD drawing to the iPad before you head out), sure that's a good iPad Pro use, I think!


Or marking up PDF plans and reviewing the field plan review comments with the pencil in the field. It’s better than trying to manage 60+ tabloid-size pages and a 30 page document in the field.

It’s a tool that’s really good for some things but not for others. Unfortunately, it’s the software, and not the hardware, that’s holding it back.


>> Boggles the mind why people still fall for the iPad Pro as a serious work machine beyond writing meme.

So it’s not good as a work machine…apart from most jobs. Most jobs are email and documents. If you’re on the move a lot then it’s a good device for those jobs. Jobs which require a lot of computing power, large screens, input devices other than a keyboard and touch screen, are definitely the minority.


I work in a “mostly email and documents” job, and have an iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard case.

Every 6 months or so I try to use my iPad as a MacBook replacement for work for a day. It just, doesn’t work.

Every time I’ve come up against a limitation.

The iOS version of a tool is missing some critical functionality. Moving things between apps is a hassle. Multi-tasking is a hassle. Etc. Etc.

I’ll probably keep occasionally trying, and the iPad Pro is a great tablet. But it’s a hassle even for an “email and documents” worker.


Yeah, I'm basically email/documents/web as well (when not at home) and I've occasionally given the iPad Pro with pencil and external keyboard a shot for working on a short trip. I admit I probably haven't given myself enough time with the various multitasking features to use them reflexively but I've just never been able to really make it work for me. I can in a pinch on a short trip where I'm mostly just doing some browsing and maybe taking some notes but I'm more inclined to just bring a laptop and ditch the iPad entirely. In fact, I don't really use my iPad at home much and I'm not sure I'll replace my current one which is out of or going out of support.


Managing multiple windows, copy/pasting, using shortcuts from muscle memory and things like instant middle mouse click are terrible experiences on any tablet or phone.

Just opening a new tab on a browser is tedious, and if you deal with a lot of intranet tools, this is the very basics of productivity.


> terrible experiences on any tablet or phone

It sometimes feel like an unspoken taboo, but windows tablets are a thing. Or Chromebooks if there is a strong need for mobile app support.


> using shortcuts from muscle memory

This statement is true if you use any machine other than the one you are used to, so this makes little sense. My Windows shortcuts and Linux shortcuts do not match my MacOS shortcuts. I have to use all three OSes at my job.


Well yeah, but consider that Apple has complete control over both systems. I also bought into the ‘iPad for days full of meetings’ idea and found that if I can’t reliably cmd-tab and browse through some files in a non-iCloud folder the whole experience is garbage. The fact that they bolted on some MacOS features afterwards only makes it all the more ludicrous that they didn’t go for parity from the moment they started with those shitty plastic keyboards.


>Just opening a new tab on a browser is tedious

There is a persistent top-level button in Safari's toolbar to open a new tab. I don't know how tedious that is.


Maybe I only speak for myself here, but if my entire job revolved around document markup I'd probably prefer a laptop anyways.

You could technically do "most jobs" on a cheap Android tablet with Chrome and a Bluetooth keyboard if you wanted. You could be a developer who uses Repl.it on your Xbox for all I know. Rationalizing poor software for less complicated jobs seems like a reductive slope to me though.


I'd argue it's a terrible work machine for "most jobs" because it's grossly over priced for them. Dirt cheap laptops and tablets can do email and documents. A tablet starting at $799 that's been touted for it's performance should not have "can do most jobs" as some sort of feather in it's cap. It's entirely justified to expect more from a device with this price and power.


> Boggles the mind why people still fall for the iPad Pro as a serious work machine beyond writing meme.

The form factor is incredible.

I did this a few years ago, used iPad+vps for personal work. As a backend developer mostly, it was not hard.

Then had to switch back as I got into gamedev but miss the form factor of iPad so much. For some reason, it seemed to inspire me at odd hours and places to code.

Now I am back in market for a new machine. Debating hard to give up projects that cannot be done easily on iPad. So that I can get iPad and VPS again. It sounds crazy to limit your curiosity but it’s just incredible machine.


Yeah, Microsoft Surface got this right. Having a touch screen on a laptop is great. I don’t do any coding on my iPad, but I got a knockoff Magic Keyboard and it’s pretty great. The real thing isn’t worth it, since it puts you into laptop price category, and you’re better off buying a low end laptop.


It seems a lot easier to put a touch screen on a laptop. Mine has one, and it's a totally normal laptop.


My work laptop (Dell XPS) has one and I've never used it. It runs Ubuntu and everything is much faster with the mouse (external) than touching the screen. I'm on my MBA, and I've never felt the urge to touch the screen for anything.

And even with the iPad, there is always this friction when context switching from keyboard to pencil. I either use it in tablet mode (touch and pencil) or writing mode (and I always want some pointing device then).

If only I could find a graphic tablet similar to the apple trackpad!


As great as the Apple trackpads are, if you are reading docs, scrolling through stuff, a touch screen is superior. More precise for text selection. Can’t lose the cursor. Better on my wrists. And complex motions are easier. I wish I could CAD with a touch screen gestures.

It’s different environments too. If I am at my desk with external screens, I want a trackball. I don’t want to reach for the screen. But on the couch, or on the go, I wish I had a touch screen Mac laptop.


I’m not sure if it’s a touchscreen by itself make it such a great device.

I think it’s combination of media consumption focus, responsiveness and super light to hold for reading or writing.

When I bought it, I was going to use it just for reading and drawing. But it was with me all the time so I bought keyboard too and started ssh into my virtual machines for light work. Eventually, I was using it for programming more than drawing or reading.


Right. It’s modal. Depending on the kind of task you have on hand, you need different input methods. That’s why you still need a keyboard and touchpad.


The form factor isn’t the problem. The software is. If they’d let it runMacOS it would be great.


I remember seeing an editorial about the rumored release of the iSlate (yes, that's what people thought it'd be called) circa 2010.

It said that if the iPad was a Macbook, all would be well. But if it was a large iPhone, it would set back tablet/mobile computing a decade.

I think it ended up being a little dramatic, but I agree that the iPad being as shackled as its been has been a net negative for computing.


> I think it ended up being a little dramatic, but I agree that the iPad being as shackled as its been has been a net negative for computing.

...well the war on general purpose computing is on, so, unfortunately, the iOS/Android model is "the future". It won't be long until macOS and Windows are just as shackled. Things are definitely moving in that direction right now.


And people have been saying the sky is falling and Apple will force all Mac apps to go through the App Store since 2011.


The moment macOS is shackled any more, I'll move to Linux. And I suspect I'm not alone in this, and that Apple knows.


Mainly DOS/Windows user from ~1992-2000. Mainly Linux 2000-2011. Mac since.

> The moment macOS is shackled any more

I hadn't really noticed it being "shackled" at all. What do you mean?


If you don’t have an Apple developer account and you give a program you wrote to someone else, their computer will refuse to open it unless they go into System Preferences and whitelist the program.


This is intentionally misleading. Running any unsigned package requires the end user to open the program through system preferences for the first time, as a “did you really mean to run this potentially pwning software”. It’s a good security practice, and less intrusive than windows UAC by far.


With Windows UAC, when you run a program it opens a pop-up saying "do you want to run this program" and you can click "yes" to continue. With a Mac, if you run an unsigned program it opens a pop-up saying "program cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified" and your options are "Move to Trash" or "Cancel". It doesn't mention anything about letting you open the program anyway. This means that if you want to develop software targeted at anyone who doesn't know to go to the security section in System Preferences when they're not prompted to do so, you have to pony up $100 for a developer license. A lot of open-source projects don't offer Mac builds for this reason, and you have to build from source instead.


I keep reading that every time Microsoft pushes something some folks don't like, yet Year of Linux Desktop has become a meme.


macOS has no exclusive apps that I use, while most of the games I‘m interested in and lots of exotic inhouse tools only work on Windows.


This was what I swore to myself when Mojave released. I left during the Catalina beta.


Except most people don't need a full-feature general purpose computer.

"I want to code on a tablet" is a pretty niche market.

The M1+ iPad Pros are pretty good digital creation devices. Lots of photographers use them in their workflows now. Doing a quick (but still high quality) edit at an event, so the customer has something to share immediately is a huge value add.


I am used to being able to write code on my 'computer'. That's my standard definition of 'computer' -- or maybe let's call it 'personal computer'. I can't write code on my microwave for my microwave; I can't write code on my TV for my TV; and I can't write code for my iPad on my iPad -- this means all these devices are computer-powered 'devices'. They are NOT 'personal computers'.

At least, this is how I see it. And while I use my iPP all the time, with kbd & pencil, I would like to bang out a chunk of Python once in a while or write some lisp --- there are 'ways' to do this, they're just clunky.

I'd like to write apps for the iPP, too. But I don't have the required 'development system' (a Mac), and the Swift environment that was recently announced seems more like a playground than a dev environment.

As for moving files around -- I find using Google Drive is the easiest cross-platform way to do this; but yes, it's mainly into the iPP, except for pictures & videos.


this means all these devices are computer-powered 'devices'

Exactly. My iPP is a "personal media consumption device" - anything beyond that is a bonus.


Broadly agree, but:

> This is before we get into the comical evolution from "You just need the touchscreen" to "Actually physical keys are good for long typing" iPad and a keyboard case, to "oh actually a cursor would be useful to do real work" to full blown iPad + trackpad case awkward laptop form factor.

I don't find it surprising; the windows tablets before the iPad suffered from so much software presuming there was a keyboard and a mouse pointer that they were bad user experiences the moment you tried to do without.

The iPad… I remember some of the rumour mills putting out an idea of what it would look like in advance, where it was straight up running macOS X. If it had done that, it would've sucked for all the same reasons: fat fingers on UI that presumed the fine control of a mouse pointer, or that presumed context menus were easy with a right click (or command + left click; I'm not sure how rapidly or when single-button mice disappeared from the Apple world).

It still feels like it has some problems with apps that assume iPhones are the only thing that matters.


I think Apple might still be gearing towards adding macOS in the iPad only because the macOS interface has been adding padding, in almost all recent releases, while screens have remained the same size. I don't see any other reason for added padding around controls apart from a touch screen future.


Designers changing stuff to have something to do?

The system preferences redesign is the first thing that has bugged me (I moved to Mac around 2019). There was no need at all and because they use Catalyst, the icons, and the text are tiny.


Might be the first step into evaluating this course of action. Who knows?


People are also using the iPad for running audio programs. There’s a ton, and they work together by routing audio from one app to another (so you don’t need a VST / AU host). Then there’s all the people running ProCreate or something similar. The horsepower is getting used.


There are definitely ways to leverage the horsepower natively. Having toured with musicians pretty recently though, I'd be lying if I said I saw a single person using an iPad for performance purposes. Everyone uses a laptop, and I don't think Logic Pro on iPad would have changed much. People want Ableton Live and Omnisphere with deep audio hardware support in the drivers and a proper file manager. The iPad makes a valiant attempt at supporting class-compliant MIDI and audio hardware, but it's enormously outclassed in capability by Mac and Windows.

It feels like even if Apple's DAW utopia came to pass, the iPad would still be an imperfect and less powerful option compared to a similarly specced Mac.


I'm not exactly at the highest levels of industry. I generally agree with you- I much prefer hardware or a laptop.

However, as a musician, I wouldn't perform with one, but I use forescore literally every day.

As an sound tech, I've mixed a while lot of shows on glass both as a monitor engineer and FOH for smaller stuff. My iPad is a great tool for that work. They are pretty ubiquitous amound sound techs, at least at the levels I work at.


I’m not surprised that you haven’t seen iPads on tour, but I think it’s coming. The software ecosystem is here now.

If you music, have an iPad, and can spare the cost of a couple restaurant dinners, I recommend picking up the USB adapter and an app like AUM ($22). There are a ton of workhorse tools available like BIAS FX 2, and a ton of apps which are just fun, like Gauss Field Looper ($7). The price/performance of this kind of setup is just out of this world. I don’t think it’s replacing the DAW any time soon, despite the arrival of Logic/Cubasis/Reason/etc, but it’s giving pedalboards a run for their money.


It's all CoreAudio/CoreMIDI under the hood, in both iPadOS and MacOS. I don't think MacOS does anything "deeper" but there is some 3rd party stuff like PT HDX/UAD, etc.

The limiting factor is the performance software (Mainstage and Live) aren't on iPadOS, yet. Live has some bigger lifting to do to get there.


Yep. There's a lot of guitar player youtubers who use iPads for amp modeling and effects. Seems to work pretty well.


I think there's a sentiment that "it can't do coding therefore it has zero use" in this thread.

I'm a software engineer and I daily drive a 12.9in iPad pro at home...because I don't code at home (and have a work M1 for that). I originally bought the 12.9 so I could read sheet and use it as an all in one piano learning companion.

It was great for that! I did give up on Piano unfortunately and now i mainly use it as a very expensive content consumption device - which actually is still great vs lugging a 15in "work" laptop when I travel just so I can watch netflix.


It is similar to the one that only UNIX folks are developers.


Also - people assume everyone on here is a developer of some sort.


> This is before we get into the comical evolution from "You just need the touchscreen" to "Actually physical keys are good for long typing" iPad and a keyboard case

This part is a straw man. When the iPad was first introduced in 2010, there was an iPad stand, keyboard contraption that SJ showed off. The iPad has always supported Bluetooth keyboards.


They market it certainly as PRO, with a hefty pricetag included.

You seem to just acknowledge the author's point that Apple's marketing is false.

Yet you shame if him for not knowing it. Seems like this article is useful for people still thinking of this.


> how good the M1 MacBook is

The primary deficiency of the macbook, and about 95% of all modern laptops, is the keyboard. Primarily the height reduction of the up/down arrows in the arrow key cluster. Nothing is more maddening for code navigation than these terrible, terrible keyboards. Same with the Esc key on many laptop keyboards, in which they are either size-reduced or eliminated entirely.

(yes, I know I'm "supposed" to use hjkl, but jk has never mapped to up/down in my brain, despite trying)

There are some "gaming" laptops that do the keyboard somewhat correctly, but driver support for all the RGB crap is effectively nonexistent in linux. Not to mention most of them are only FHD displays.

The market has largely failed to address the needs of developers.

My personal solution has been constructing my own "laptop" inside a Pelican case with a mini-itx motherboard, a 4k oled panel, a Drop Ctrl keyboard, two 10Ah 24v lithium-ion battery packs, an adjustable DC buck converter (with a little extra output capacitance added), and a couple of brushless fans.


> The market has largely failed to address the needs of developers

I'm a developer, and small arrow keys are perfectly usable to me.


> (yes, I know I'm "supposed" to use hjkl, but jk has never mapped to up/down in my brain, despite trying)

I felt this way for a while, until I turned off / remapped my up/down arrows, and forced myself to use hjkl. You pick it up pretty quick after that.


Personal preference, small arrow keys don’t bother me at all. Regardless, 90% of the time I’m working on my laptop it’s plugged in at a desk where I can use whatever keyboard I want.


> Boggles the mind why people still fall for the iPad Pro as a serious work machine beyond writing meme

Depends on your definition of “serious work”. I don’t write much code anymore, but I can definitely do my entire job using my iPad Pro. I have pretty much done my job for the last couple weeks while managing a family medical situation with multiple back and forth to hospital each day using my iPad. Built in cellular, a small and very light form factor even with the Logitech folio touch case I added, which is completely comfortable to work on…and I can pull it from my sling bag and be up and running in about 3 seconds.

Frankly if I needed access to my main rig back on my desk, Parallels Access is more than sufficient to accomplish that need, but I rarely finding myself needing to use it.


In my country there are a lot of people doing a ton of work with photos and video on iPhones. They are the generation who almost skipped the desktop. I think the M1 iPad is for these people, not us legacy desktop users. That said, why can't we simply have macOS on iPad right?


> Boggles the mind why people still fall for the iPad Pro as a serious work machine beyond writing meme.

I wouldn't know of course, but if I had to guess it'd say it's because of influencers and trends/fashion.


iPad pros are amazing digital art mediums (Procreate as a basic example you have heard of), assuming you consider art to be real work which I do.


I don’t use Final Cut so not sure if it supports split screen, but even apps that require full screen can be multitasked with Stage Manager now. So you can go do something else. I don’t love Stage Manager, but I use it from time to time for this exact purpose — do something else while a full screen app is also running.


Final Cut does not support split screen multitasking or resizing. and you can't switch away from it while it's exporting to answer a slack message or browse the web, it will just cancel the export.

https://9to5mac.com/2023/05/24/final-cut-for-ipad-limitation...


Interesting, the full screen apps I use just keep going when switching window in Stage Manager, whereas some tasks are normally suspended when switching without Stage Manager. What about slide over? Link doesn't mention it, and Slack can be easily used in a slide over window.


I bought an 11" M1 Pro when they were released. But not for coding. It was a splurge and I justified it as "home laptop replacement" with a heavy side of "M1 should mean it'll be supported for a LONG time." Similar theory as maxing the RAM on a new MacBook, etc.

Now that the Air has that same hardware, my wife bought that instead of a Pro, and that's what I'd recommend to most people. The extra camera features are pretty worthless IMO (I have an iPhone Pro and a mirrorless for photography).

I have the Magic Keyboard. It wasn't cheap, but it's really good. My wife didn't bother, but she also has an M1 MacBook Air for laptop stuff.


Touchscreen = consumption. Physical keyboard = production.

My stereotypical, effective perspective of digital productivity.

right now I'm on a touchscreen device fighting that sorry excuse for a keyboard to type; I'm in consumption mode. Not fooling myself.


Touchscreen = navigation and manipulation


It depends on what you consider a serious work machine. Half the time, I couldn't do my job on it because I need Xcode and Android Studio, neither of which run on it (yet?). But days where I'm in meetings or just writing docs, I could (and have) gotten by on just my iPad. My barber runs their business on an iPad, using a native app to handle scheduling and payment combined with a Square reader. Musicians can carry their entire musical portfolio on one, and get paid for their work after. Realtors can do nearly all of their daily work on one since it's largely web-based these days. Our use cases aren't the only ones.


> Actually the more I think about how good the M1 MacBook is it's actually a crime these beautiful processors were locked up in that abysmal form factor and forced to do Facebook and match-3 games instead of real work.

I feel the same, but for Apple's UI design. The fact that the entire silicon engineering team's achievements are being wiped out by Apple's UI fashionistas is a shame. These people will find a way to make it slow again. The entire system would feel 10x faster if all animation times were cutdown by half (from 150ms to 75ms for example).


Boggles the mind why people still don't see how an iPad Pro is a GREAT tool for things far beyond writing.

I shifted my photography workflow to the iPad, and it's been an unalloyed success, for example. I no longer travel with a laptop unless it's explicitly a work trip.

Further, the iPad is pretty GREAT at remote access for Linux or Windows hosts. If you need to do remote admin work, and you want to travel light, it's a better choice than lugging your Dell.

Reflexive hostility to iOS is an article of faith among some folks at places like HN, but it's just not justified.


> iPad Pro is a GREAT tool for things far beyond writing. [...] Further, the iPad is pretty GREAT at remote access for Linux or Windows hosts.

I try and I try and I try because lots of tasks can be done and I want to like it. But I run into this certain problem that I also get with a laptop. I’m going along fine getting shit done then hit a stretch of work with a cognitive load/interaction balance where I start thinking “this would be easier with a mouse.” On a laptop I can grab an external mouse and in either case if that kind of workload keeps going I start thinking “why am I hunched over like this?”

I think I'm just a sucker for the marketing. This thin, lightweight, extremely portable, cute little rectangle can be my interface with professional life. I can do everything on the go and be free in life. I don't have to be a nerd that likes, or just be some rube stuck with being tethered to eyesore equipment in one physical location. ...but it's not working. My ergonomic keyboard, eye-level 27 inch screen and physical mouse are productivity.

And there's a nagging fear at the back of my mind that statements about "you can make it work and be more productive" are true when someone tells me to put time into learning vim and a tiling window manager controlled entirely by keyboard shortcuts, but false when said about finding a mobile workflow.


I mean, if you're going to do things like remote access with Windows, you'll need to either get a pencil or get a trackpad case. It definitely would be painful with JUST the device, but I don't see this as a problem.

I definitely AM more comfortable with a traditional OS -- I mean, I've been using computers since the 80s -- and prefer MacOS by a wide margin. Working in iOS is different, so there definitely IS a cognitive load there. But in terms of portability and usability on the go, a beefy iPad has SO MUCH going for it that I'm willing to adapt.

I definitely also hear you about how a certain set of people are entirely supportive of the argument "you just have to get used to it; you can be productive" if the subject is vim or emacs, and then 100% reverse themselves when the subject is an iPad. Weird, right?


Every time I tried to import/copy large photo sets (hundreds of gigs), the tablet would end up being useless for a long time and often even crashing. Which is ridiculous, I just wanted to copy the files. This is with a first gen iPad Pro.

I literally got it for copying photogrammetry data sets, so it was useless for the one basic task that I got it for. :(


Weird. I copy cardfulls of photos into Lightroom on the regular when I'm traveling, and it's fine. You DO have to leave LR running to do it, but I mostly do this overnight anyway.


Uh, that’s definitely not reasonable behavior IMO. It should take 10-15 minutes to copy, max, and be able to do it in the background while I’m doing other things. The hardware is more than capable.


How so? An iPad pro plus keyboard is heavier, bulkier and much more expensive than a macbook air. That is the comparison, not "lugging your dell".


Even if what you said was true -- that an iPad + keyboard is heavier and more expensive -- an Air is less flexible, has only one usable form factor, and has drastically less battery life than the iPad solution.


Are you saying apple is lying? Because they publish both weight and battery life numbers. Hint: "less" means the number is smaller.


I'm saying you're arguing in bad faith, and are thus probably not worth engaging with further.


Just to recap: your "even if" was very rude. I called you out on it. Instead of apologizing, you now insult me.


The iPad (pro in particular) is an incredible platform for music production and lots of other "pro" tasks. People mostly use them in conjunction with other machines.


I want an iPad for drawing to make sticker files to send to my Cricut. While it's apparently the best pen/device for drawing, the fact that they are priced $500+ is has been a blocking point for me so far. I'm not sure why people think they can export video from an editor, that doesn't sound like a pleasant experience.


I was expecting an ipad as a working power house many years ago but that changed when m1 MBA come out.

It seemed apple doesn't intend to improve ipad to be on par with Mac os. Arm MBA is the one that I'm looking for without the touchscreen. That's good enough for me.

This still holds true today. Apple doesn't care about the ipados for professionals.


Because not everyone is a coder, and there are lots of professional work scenarios where a tablet does perfectly fine.


The way files are managed on iPadOS is terrible for 90% of ‘work’ except web browsing or email. It’s really awkward and slow, and IMO essentially unusable.


And yet photographers are able to use various Adobe (or similar) products to do real-time edits/sharing of their work. Most people don't need 100% control over the file-system. As long as the particular type of file they manipulate is available in the app they want to use, an iPad works pretty well.


If they have a single app/app suite that does everything, then sure that's fine (as long as it isn't things like copying a lot of data off an SD card or whatever) - the OS doesn't get involved much.

That isn't a common use case unless someone is paying a ton of money for a single, specialized piece of software that does everything they want, and the iPad only is used for that one thing. Which is a very limited subset of 'work'.


Many professionals beg otherwise, and are perfectly fine with documents as central concept of work unit, similar to Xerox Workstations.


That's not how the iPadOS treats files. Things are 'owned' by a single App, which makes moving data around or working on a common thing a real PITA except in very specific cases (and even then, it is often heavily controlled).

It's a 'App as a central work unit' type workflow, which is fine as long as you don't use more than a single piece of software/app to work on something.


I know professional photographers that use them for photo editing, but not as their main machine. It allows for a more casual way to work when that is desired.

It also works well for showing photos to clients. Clearly it’s valuable to at least some professionals.


It's really nice as an extension of a notebook (doing math problems, drawings, practicing on keyboard quickly, etc.).

I wouldn't replace it as a serious work machine, but it doesn't need to be really. Over time it will get closer and closer.


I will say however that a plain iPad connected to a macbook in side car mode (second display) makes for a great portable dual screen work setup


You don't have to sit there and wait! You can go grab a coffee or have a smoke!


Or buy another one so you can work on one and wait for the other. Or you could spend that time shopping for an even better device, even maybe from another manufacturer.


No I like the idea of multiple ipads to multitask. It's like a sort microservice for doing computer stuff and you get the security benefits of airgapped processes!


you can split the app screen to allow it to work if I recall correctly


Spot on


Disclaimer I code for the web, so I wouldn't be affected by the SwiftUI part.

Trying to make the iPad thing work for almost 10 years, I finally gave up and bought a Surface Pro (7 first, and upgraded to 8).

People use to joke about the length iPad user go to execute simple tasks.

Like logging to a remote server to reboot it. You can do it on an iPad, you just need an SSH app, share your keys with it, and you're done. Then you push a bit further to check out some git repo, change it and push it, and have your server update. But you're probably three apps down the line at this point, they can't really share a common working directory in the way you expect it to work as files are managed individually, there is the backgrounding issues etc.

You can make most things work, but through piles of hacks, workflow glue, paying for many more external services or basically moving everything remote, out of the iPad.

At some point I had a RPi stuck to the iPad to locally ssh into it.

Or you spend the same amount of effort and frustration, but on Windows, on a machine that has none of the silly limitations, can run an actual linux subsystem locally, Docker if you want to, a full VSCode available offline and any other real pro tool you need.

Basically, for the same amount of pulling hairs a Surface Pro actually delivers where the iPad always falls short in some way.


Not making any statement regarding the mentioned workflow issues (I mostly agree with them), I really like iSH [1] for this sort thing.

It’s a “good enough” solution for the “I just quickly need to do something in a terminal” problems.

And because it’s an x86 Alpine Linux it can even run simple binaries if needed.

But for me it still couldn’t replace a dedicated laptop for proper tasks.

[1]: https://github.com/ish-app/ish


I used to use Surface Pros, but I switched to a Dell Latitude 2-in-1 to get an external eGPU (w/ Thunderbolt 3 before Surface Pro added it)

I like it so much more. It's a little thicker, but it's cheaper, it's repairable (I've replaced the battery twice), and it supports Linux better. I love having a Surface-like that runs Linux


I've been doing development work using Surface Pros since version 4. They are not perfect, but they do the job (for me at least) better than anything else.


I do web development on an iPad Pro, using Blink.sh and a remote server. Not a bad experience, really. Works better with an external monitor hooked up for live-reloading, and not having a real, proper web inspector is a drawback, but it works.


I totally agree it can work, I also had a somewhat working setup.

At some point I just asked myself if avoiding Windows was worth all the tradeoffs. Windows is still completely clunky and ugly, to be honest I feel I exchanged polish and elegance for actual power.

Staying so long on the iPad, it felt really weird when I needed to test on firefox...and I can just run firefox. No need to VNC other some other desktop or use Browserstack style services, "it just works" to borrow the expression.


Windows 11 + Windows Terminal + Windows Subsystem for Linux + VS Code is not clunky at all in my opinion. It looks and works great. If you want to use Docker it's actually better than macOS because you don't need to install bloated desktop apps, you can directly install it on the Linux kernel.


You are right, the lack of dev tools in a browser is probably one of the biggest drawbacks of working on ipad.


> But if you need to run Xcode, VSCode, WebStorm, or Intellij than as far as I can tell the iPad is a no go.

> It's expensive. After buying a powerful pro model, a decent keyboard, and a pencil the price ended up being MORE than a laptop I could have used for even more coding activities.

5m of research could have shown this...

i think this product is only good for artists who needs a specific ipad app or someone who really needs a writing device to use with Apple specific app only. or if you can expense it at work.


I don't know, when I impulse bought my iPad Pro a few years ago to supplement my laptop that stopped charging, I did about 15 minutes of research and found a lot of people claiming that you can comfortably code on an iPad Pro. That turned out to be completely untrue for my use cases, but it would've taken a lot more than 5 minutes to figure that out.

That said, the iPad Pro is my biggest mistake I've never regretted. I've used mine every day since I bought it and I love it. It sucks for coding but it's great for handwritten notes, typed notes, drawing, music production, casual web browsing, mobile games, watching YouTube, controlling Spotify remotely, etc. It's a perfect companion to my regular laptop and a great travel device when I don't want to take my laptop with me. Even the lack of a full OS is an upside for me. iPadOS hinders multitasking enough that it ends up being a more focused device than my normal laptop.


There's a lot of people in this thread mistaking "Pro" for meaning "Developer." The iPad sucks for writing code. But there are tons of professional things you can do on it. I use it more than I use my laptop.

What differentiates the iPad Pro from the regular iPad is/was its high refresh rate display, which makes the Apple Pencil much more responsive, and True Tone color. These are definitely Pro-level features. Just not developer-Pro.


> That turned out to be completely untrue for my use cases, but it would've taken a lot more than 5 minutes to figure that out.

Couldn’t you figure that out when you noticed that it doesn’t have any IDE you’ve ever heard of, and no compiler or runtime for anything? I know there are iPad for coding advocates out there, but it really doesn’t even take 5 minutes to figure out that the developer experience is completely terrible, as evidenced by the lack of any developer tools.


My use case didn't require an IDE. My main intent was to remote into my batteryless laptop, so in principle the iPad didn't need much functionality of its own.

That said, I don't know what you mean by "the lack of any developer tools". There are absolutely code editors, IDEs, SSH clients, and even runtimes for iPadOS. There are also lots of web-based IDEs and editors now, even self-hostable ones like code-server. Obviously I wouldn't have bought mine if those didn't exist.


There are no IDEs that run on iPadOS, the best you can get is either a text editor with basic high lighting, or a “cloud” IDE. There’s also no way to install a runtime or compiler on iPadOS. Unless you’re already using some cloud based solution (in which case you should already be familiar with their pitfalls), it should be immediately apparent to most developers that their workflows aren’t going to run on an iPad. It doesn’t have the most basic tools that you would need, not even the ability to run the code that you write. People do use it, but the level of jankiness they’re accepting is immediately apparent, even if you’re only consulting the most vocal advocates. I also considered this when I saw how cool the iPad Pro looked, but it barely took more than a couple of minutes to figure out that it wasn’t worth trying.


This comment is bizarrely antagonistic for no reason and I would appreciate if you'd knock it off. I literally admitted I was incorrect in thinking that I could comfortably write code on my iPad, a point that largely agrees with what you're saying, but for some reason you still feel the need to argue even further.

It should be immediately apparent to most people that I made my decision based on my own personal context and requirements at the time, just as you made your decision in your own context, which is why we each came to a different conclusion. I already made it clear the iPad was only intended to supplement my laptop, not replace it, so obviously I didn't expect it to fully replace my development workflow either. I just thought it might be usable for casual coding when I wasn't at my desk, and I was willing to accept that I might be wrong in that.

There's no point in trying to convince me now that the iPad dev experience sucks, because obviously I already know that, as evidenced by the fact that I literally said it two comments ago (and because you're wrong about why it sucks). You don't win anything for proving I was wrong again.

What I really don't get is why you feel the need to tell me I'm wrong about what the iPad is capable of when I actually bought one and wrote a decent amount of code on it, while you admit you dismissed it as an option with a few minutes of consideration. I have literally written, run, and compiled code on my iPad both locally and remotely using the dev tools you claim don't exist or don't count or are too janky or whatever. What is the point in arguing with me about that when we both already agree it's probably not worth programming on an iPad either way?

The funny thing is that tooling wasn't even the main reason I moved away from coding on my iPad. The tooling wasn't my favorite, but it does exist and was passable for my limited requirements. I just didn't like iPadOS's mediocre multitasking and weird conflicts with key bindings in browser-based dev tools. Were it not for that, I probably would've kept programming on my iPad for a while longer.


It’s not weirdly antagonistic to point out that you’re making factually incorrect claims. Out of all the tooling that goes into a typical developer workflow, iPadOS will only allow you to install a text editor, a web browser, and provides a somewhat restricted filesystem.

You and I might also agree that a shovel isn’t a very good tool for cutting down trees. But this isn’t a conclusion that takes more than a moments consideration to get to.


The only factually incorrect claims here have come from you.

You claimed that the iPad lacks "any developer tools". That's factually incorrect, as you've admitted and repeatedly tried to walk back.

Because you're determined to be right, after you admitted that the iPad has at least some development tools, you tried to move the goalposts and say that the iPad doesn't have any IDEs, while in the same sentence admitting that it has text editors and cloud-based IDEs, which are developer tools. Now you're trying to walk that back again. If you're going to be wrong, you could at least have the decency to be consistently wrong instead of waffling back and forth like this.

You said, "There's also no way to install a runtime or compiler on iPadOS." That's also factually incorrect. I can use basically any compiler or runtime that I want inside iSH without even needing an internet connection after they're installed.

At any rate, I've already explained why none of this is even relevant to the point at hand, but since you can't be wrong, you'll probably ignore these points like you've ignored everything else. Or maybe you're just trolling, who knows? Either way it's pretty pathetic.


Of everything I've tried, the ipad is still by far my favourite media consumption device. Browsing the web using touch is an absolute joy and the thin, large screen form factor is really convenient. It's just a shame they're so expensive and fragile; I'm waiting a few years now before I can justify buying another one.


My iPad is my favorite computer to use by far. It's five years old now and I'd buy a new one if I could find some reason to do so. My problem isn't that it does so little but rather that it does everything I want it to do.

Articles like this one never feel very genuine to me. It would be like buying a Honda Civic and then complaining that you can't really carry 4x8 sheets of plywood with it.


> 5m of research could have shown this...

Indeed

> i think this product is only good for artists who needs a specific ipad app or someone who really needs a writing device to use with Apple specific app only. or if you can expense it at work.

Procreate (with the Apple pencil) is definitely a killer app for the iPad.

The iPad is also amazing for musicians, particularly in terms of the wide variety of excellent synth (Animoog, Sunrizer, Korg and Moog apps...) and music production apps (Gadget, Cubasis, Logic...) And it's great for sheet music (ForScore).

It's a nice gaming device as well. I particularly appreciate card games like Monster Train or digital board games like Ticket to Ride, but there are also some great RPGs, strategy games, action games, Apple Arcade, and many games with controller support.

Although I've written code on it (Swift Playgrounds, Pythonista...) and have enjoyed writing text in landscape mode (Pages), the iPad's creative/fun apps are the ones that make me keep coming back to it. That and reading stuff on the web, and magazines in Apple News+. Netflix looks surprisingly good on the iPad screen, but the 4:3 aspect ratio isn't a perfect match for modern shows or movies. It's also my gym youtube player.

Sadly the duolingo iOS app is marred by excessive ad interruptions and an energy system, but the web app works well on a touchscreen.


code-server works really well on the iPad. Make a web-app and you have VSCode as pretty much a full citizen. (Except of course you need a network connection and a remote system.) When I’m traveling light, this is an excellent solution. That said, no one should buy an iPad foremostly to code on.


No, no it doesn't work really well. iOS Safari aggressively suspends tabs in the background. So when you switch from editor to webpage, it will often suspend your editor, forcing it to refresh when you flip back to it and you lose the ssh connection, debugger, or whatever else you have running. And if you're debugging a front end in a certain state, it will suspend that, and refresh it when you return, losing that important state. Very infuriating experience. I tried for months to make my iPad Pro an acceptable dev environment, both locally and remotely via code-server, and the OS just isn't there (yet). Maybe someday.


But it's still a bad fit for artists too, as they're not gonna need the hardware of the pro. It's way too overpowered/expensive for what iOS permits you to do.

The normal iPad or iPad Air for media consumption are already perfect, the Pro version remains as a bad market fit


This. Plus, going a step further...

Development using those IDEs are not well suited to inputs from anything other than a keyboard (or keyboard-translator.) Too many functions tied to keys and such.

I'm uncertain why anyone would think this somehow magically changes because of the tablet form-factor.


I think it's great as a large format ebook, especially if you want to read graphic novels.

Also it's great for a musicians to display sheet music.


I’ve owned ipads for a long time and their productivity benefits compared to my Mac and iphone has never improved over the years. This year I’m selling my last ipad and won’t buy again until Apple throws a “real” OS at the thing.

one of the worst things about ios is that files get copied for each app. Say I download a PDF in the Documents app and want to annotate it. As soon as I open it with NoteX, a copy of the PDF is created in NoteX folder. this results in a chaotic situation, in terms of files and hierarchies.


If apps are still handling files that way instead of being able to open documents from anywhere in your local files, iCloud Drive, it’s on the developer. Hasn’t been the case for years that this is the way files work, you should be able to save them to your Downloads folder (or elsewhere) and open them in whichever app you want.

Give PDF Viewer a look if you want better file handling: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pdf-viewer-annotation-expert/i...


That further proves my point about iOS/iPadOS's limitations. Why can't files be handled like on Linux/Windows/Android/macOS/etc. without having to use iCloud?

Edit: Goodnotes and Notability also have this annoyance.


You don't have to use iCloud. You can use local storage, or any cloud provider, or SMB/CIFS.


would also be nice if webdav could just be mounted. i mean caldav and carddav are supported in base os, whats the problem?


I don't know about WebDAV but it does let you mount SMB shares.

If you need WebDAV I think Documents by Readdle will do it, and maybe even makes the share available to other apps though its File Provider. But I'm not sure what parts of Documents are subscription based now since I have a paid copy from before it went subscription.

It even has the option to keep a local copy of folders from network shares so you can use them offline, which is a pretty handy feature if you're working with large files or don't have a cellular iPad.


i'm using documents in free mode for some time, might be worth it if it can really transparently make webdav available to other apps.


I recall it being supported up until iOS 14 or 15 too, for some reason they just decided to remove it.


You don't need iCloud, in the Files app you explicitly have "iCloud Drive" and "On My <device_type>" as top-level root directories to save files, you can maintain everything local as you wish...


some apps use the proper api but thats not the norm yet, PDF Viewer uses it correctly


Which apps would that be?


>If apps are still handling files that way instead of being able to open documents from anywhere in your local files, iCloud Drive, it’s on the developer.

Not a problem on a real operating system, everything just works. No need to pray the developer followed this years best practices instead of 3 years ago best practices just to use files in a sane manner. No need to beg a developer to fix it either, because the system was designed in a non-broken way to begin with.


I’d love to know what fantasy world you live in where developers don’t routinely fuck up basic functionality of operating systems by implementing custom versions of things like save & print dialogs.

Because let me tell you, it ain’t this one. Windows & Linux routinely run into this & per your rant… shouldn’t.

Yet they do.


I don’t mind if not every app can read-write literally the only important files on my devices.


or how about apple never gimped the file handling to begin with? :)


For me, after doing a bunch of evaluation I went with buying an old (and very cheap) 2nd hard Surface Pro 3 on Ebay to see if that could possibly do the job.

... and yep, it does even with just Windows on it. Technically Linux can be loaded onto these things, and apparently works pretty well. But, I never got around to trying that out.

About a year later I dropped the damn thing and completely shattered the screen. Still haven't replaced it, but mean to at some point. Again, not with an iPad, but probably a newer generation Surface Pro. And I'll put Linux on it this time. :)


My experience with Linux on on a SP wasn't great. The basic PC functionality is fine, but getting the pen and touch working required a custom kernel and a fair amount of effort. The input latency on the pen, combined with no good writing apps on Linux killed it for me.


Out of curiosity, what are the "good writing apps" on windows? When I last checked windows seemed to have exactly one note, android like 2 apps and iPad like 3 apps.


There's a few OneNote of course, Nebo, Noteshelf, Squid which is really an Android app. All of those are on iOS and Android too. Microsoft Journal I just discovered and seems alright.


OneNote

Concepts is good for some things too.


Concepts looks nice and I hadn't heard of it before. The freemium and/or subscription seems like a potential dealbreaker to me, but might be worth a try.


Ahhh damn. Didn't know that.

Thanks for the heads up. :)


Full linux as the host OS is probably excruciating. Keeping windows as the host and rely on the WSL2 subsystem seems fine, docker works as well.


> until Apple throws a “real” OS at the thing

+ it still doesn't offer user profiles, so it fails to serve as a family device in the living room


Yeah, it's such an obvious use case and so limiting!


There are many limitations with iPadOS, but that isn’t one of them.

That issue was resolved years ago, and any remaining limitations are due to third-party developers not keeping up with evolving standards.


This is probably because those developers haven't added support for opening files in place, which has been available since iOS 9. There are a few other things (e.g. the way you call open/save dialogs) that need to be changed if you want to add support as well.


i like how we are talking about an OS that initially released in 2007, and only got support for "opening files in place" in 2015. What a time to be alive, we can open files in place and all..

gotta give apple credit, while the rest of the world is reduced to lowly CopyOnWrite, they took it one step further, with CopyOnRead.


What next? Are you going to complain about Windows not supporting more than 8.3 character filenames until 1995?


In 2001 people were still complaining about the pervasive usage of 8.3 filenames due to the legacy of Windows: https://slashdot.org/story/01/03/12/210202/why-are-we-still-...

If a given iPad app is still using a legacy API eight years later, that seems worth complaining about. It might not be Apple's fault so much as it is the app developer's fault, although it is at least indirectly Apple's fault for not introducing a proper file management API from the very outset.


And no one has named the application in question.


i would, but thats a bit more forgivable :)


Given that we're in 2023 this seems like a weird hill to die on.


in 2007 when ios first released, we had the ability to open files without insanities everywhere else. it was total insanity it was not possible, part of the apple thinking that you only do what they 100% say. Who would dare have some video file that isnt in itunes? well certainly not someone the mighty apple cares about. so this lead to movie players also having builtin ftp/smb/nfs clients/servers to be able to access your content, god forbid you could just have files.

so yeah, to have a 2007-vintage API be "legacy that cannot open files properly" is a joke, pretending that it is not, is the apple reality distortion field


I had a similar experience, I had iPads years ago, and recently got one again assuming it would be great, but it's just the same as years ago, really needs a proper os upgrade


God I hope your wish never comes true.

I don't understand why a device can't just be for consumption of media. Why is everyone trying to force this to become a computer with an annoyingly complicated navigation UX and the rest of the ceaveats when using a complete OS.

If I ever have to worry about CPU usage or driver issues on my iPad I will be the one leaving. I bought an iPad NOT to work on it. It is my vacation device so work can never call me and ask me to do something quickly


I owned a Surface Go for two days before getting an iPad Mini.

What made me return it was the file save dialog. I bought a device to read and doodle on, two things I used to do on paper. I browse through my sketches by turning pages, and finish the activity by closing the (note)book. Procreate and Google Play Books work similarly.

After a whole day of installing updates and removing bloatware, the Surface wanted me to name and organise my drawings on a filesystem before I could do something else.

My goal was to draw and read, not to use a computer. The Surface wanted me to think about files and updates and the device’s state. My iPad Mini is a book with benefits, paper with tricks.


What app did you tried on Surface? OneNote works without treating files. (as it's also available on iPad)


Yeah, I'm curious too. If you use a desktop Windows app you will of course run into that kind of thing but there is apps like Sketchable available that are like what's on the iPad. Even on the iPad you can run into file save dialogs, from what I remember Clip Studio Paint on the iPad is for better or worse Clip Studio Paint on the iPad file save dialogs and all.


I tried a few. OneNote was good for notes but not for art. None of them felt as good as their iPad counterparts, plus I had to deal with Windows.


Because Apple doesn't allow macs to take that form factor.

There is a gap between iPads' convenience and macs' capabilities, we've all been pondering about when and how this gap will be filled, and it doesn't feel like it will ever happen.

Basically what is Apple's equivalent of a Surface Pro ? Until that question has an answer, some will be ranting about iPad OS being too restrictive and others lament the mac not getting touch support.


Not that I disagree with your use-case at all, it seems perfectly valid but…

I’ve owned Macs since 2006 and have never had to worry about driver issues once.

Come to think of it, I don’t really worry about the CPU either since M1.

iPads are not for me but I’m happy that they’re for someone else.


It’s called iPad PRO, if you want media consumption device iPad will do just fine.


12.9" pro's the best comic book reading device on the market, by a mile, AFAIK. Comfortable to hold, can display two-page spreads at very nearly full life-size.

It's great for PDFs and sheet music for similar reasons.

Gotta admit, though, if they made a 12.9" non-pro at least $200 cheaper than the 12.9" Pro, I'd have that instead. I don't need the horsepower.


If it is only "very nearly", wouldn't something larger like an s8 ultra be better? Also "by a mile" is a stretch. It might be better but all $1000+ tablets are reasonably close enough to be happy with any of them.


I've used a lot of Android tablets, low end to high, and developed software for them. They're awful. Crashy, glitchy, bad battery life. I don't think we'll see a true iPad competitor until/unless a new OS enters the market—Android's had a long time to get its shit together, and evidently just can't. Wish someone would give it a shot, because I'd love to see that market better-served.


5 years ago I would have mostly agreed with your statements about android tablets, but since then Samsung has created a family of very acceptable tablets imho.


Maybe I'll try one from their newer line at some point. I haven't had a big pile of Android test devices around me on the daily in about 4 years (the consistent "Android's finally good now!" cry with each Android release and major-vendor product launch, followed by that never turning out to be true, for the entire decade I was doing mobile dev before that, is why I'd assumed nothing would have changed by now) so it checks out if they have in-fact finally made a good one (the older Samsung tablets were... not good) I might have missed it.

Last time I was guided by "no really this higher-tier Android thing is finally good, actually" advice was about a year ago, with the Nvidia Shield, though, so I'm... hesitant.

If I see one in a store, I may poke at it, read some reviews, see how their app store's looking these days for categories I care about. Could use a second largish tablet for the kids—or maybe a new one for me, and they can have the big iPad full-time. Having just one decent vendor in the mobile market blows (fucking Apple still won't add multiple profiles/icloud-logins to iPadOS, so annoying) so I'd be thrilled to discover that's changed.


Yeah, yeah and you literally died. This is HN and not reddit, you are better than that.


I have exactly no clue what you mean.


16:10 is an abomination.


4:3 does happen, just coincidentally, to damn-near match the aspect ratio of a 2-page spread on a comic, too (~1.3 width/height on an open comic book, 1.333... for 4:3, 1.6 for 16:10) which means a larger screen in a wider ratio might not actually be any benefit (or not enough to justify the extra weight/unweildiness, perhaps) for that particular narrow use case.

Which, it's a very niche and specific thing, but still, if we're talking "what's the very best device for that exact thing, disregarding all other concerns", having a 4:3 screen ratio's an advantage over all the other common ones.


Pro in Apple world means more powerful hardware + extra niceties. Not a different ecosystem.


They could just buy a tablet based on a real operating system like android /s


Is there one that exists that has 12 hour battery life and not parts of the interface that still goes back to a desktop OS released in 1995?


I can't wait for ipads to mature


With M1 this was something that people hoped would happen. But right now all I use my iPad for is binge watching in my bed. I’ve owned an M1 air for a year and that’s literally all I do with it. If I had a TV in my room the utility of the iPad would be zero for me.


>If I had a TV in my room the utility of the iPad would be zero for me.

TV's are cheaper than iPads these days


In practice, this means being able to run MacOS on them. All the hardware is already there, it's just a matter of time until Apple has the "courage" to enable it.


The issue is not courage. Apple knows that the use cases for the Macbook Air and the iPad Pro significantly overlap. So they use software limitations to avoid canibalising sells of one with the other even if it means making the iPad Pro a lesser product than it could be.


> So they use software limitations to avoid canibalising sells of one with the other

I'm not sure that's the case—Apple has generally not been afraid to cannibalize sales of their devices by their own devices.


IMO it's not about running macOS on it but rather that there is a need for desktop-class features on iPad. Apple doesn't need to run macOS on iPad to add desktop-class features. I'd rather see those features added to iPadOS (as well as visionOS, which is clearly a derivative of iPadOS).


I think we are heading in opposite direction - iPadOS running on MacBook


The hardware may be there, but the input models — touch vs. keyboard & mouse — are so fundamentally different that I think it makes sense to present different user experiences.


given the botched launch of stage manager I'm not holding my breath


I don't see what people expect. The iPad is a portable touch-first device with a small screen and a locked-down operating system. The first two are by-design for the tablet form factor, so this will never change. And I don't expect Apple to open up the system, but it does not sound as if this was the main concern in this article.

So why not simply get a MacBook Air, which is a completely capable, awesome coding device?


Or, just get any laptop really. There's nothing special about a Mac unless you need to do native development for Apple devices, and I'd suggest a Mac Mini for that.


I haven’t used a Linux laptop in a while. Is there any that’s competitive to MBP M2 in terms of processing power and battery life? I’ve been working on an MBP M1 for ~1 years now and I’ve yet to hear the fan working or feel the heat (to be fair, it’s a work laptop and most development happens in the cloud). If only for this reason I find it hard to buy anything other than MBPs for work, unfortunately.


> Is there any that’s competitive to MBP M2 in terms of processing power and battery life?

Sadly, nope. And I'm not even on a MBP M2, just a maxed out MBA M1, The best laptop I ever had. Processing power is more than enough for what I develop, and after more than two years I can still easily work my day with a single charge. Meanwhile, coworkers suffer with Dell laptops running different Linux distros: power management problems, battery life is tiny, fans blowing like they're hoovers. Oh... and they all have more expensive laptops than me.

But Apple bad. Not professional. Or so they say.


My work laptop is a MBP M1 Max, all development is local and I've never heard the fan or feel the heat like my previous work MBP Intel (Core i9). That machine sucked, it had the power but I could never be work for more than 2-3h away from a power outlet. The M1 Max lasts 7-10h even when doing Google Meet video calls (the biggest power drain I experience, much more than development running multiple containers with Rancher Desktop).


Nothing compares for battery life except really slow ARM laptops like Samsung makes.

But if 10 hours is enough I think ASUS Zenbooks and the ProArt line are pretty good Linux machines. They have faster GPUs and betters screens (OLED) too.


I got a surface a few months ago and have been impressed with build quality. I’ve actually never had problems with dell or Lenovo laptops either in terms of ruggedness however I don’t know that I’m actually properly testing that attribute. I don’t view any of my computer usage as rugged tbh.

I just like using / writing code on macOS more than windows, not much else to it.


Processing power: plenty. Battery life: not really but who cares? Just plug in. The real question is why you would want a $2,000 laptop to run as a terminal emulator.


Or you want a 14 hour battery life, doesn’t sound like a 747 when you open a few Chrome tabs.

Not to mention the fact that a Mac laptop won’t fry your nuts when you put it on your lap.


As surprising as you may find it, Apple doesn't have a monopoly on good hardware. The stereotype of any non-macbook being a toaster is practically a strawman at this point (while people are so quick to forget the atrocity of the i9 macbook).


The M1/M2 chips are just that good. My old 2015 Macbook turned into a toaster/jet engine if I only looked at it funny, macbooks between 2015 and 2020 were garbage, crappy keyboards, crappy USB ports and the thermal energy monsters that are Intel chipsets. It only really changed with the 2020 Apple silicon laptops, and they are just that good. A blazingly fast workhorse with outrageous battery runtime that rarely ever gets hot, and I think I heard the fan maybe once? since I bought it 3 years ago.

I'm sure there are great laptops out there, but at least in my company the other Dell or Lenovo (including Thinkpad) machines just don't stack up to that.


Mac hardware is better though. My HP Elitebook from last year is a pretty good device: good screen, solid build, nice glass touchpad, really great keyboard. But the screen resolution is only 1080p, the battery lasts for 6 hours and the fan noise is meh. These are quite expensive premium Windows laptops that cost somewhere between a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro.

Overall I'm happy with my Windows laptop considering that the competition for a Windows laptop is not better, but MacBooks are really a lot better with battery life, screen quality and fan noise.


Show me the laptop that is as good or better than the new 15” MacBook Air at the same price. Needs the same or better specs, build quality, and local in-person support (i.e. a worldwide dense network of retail stores). Good luck!


Dell XPS? Thinkpad T15?

If you pay for the Nvidia card you could even outperform the M2 Ultra for kicks and giggles.


Dell XPS spec’d to meet the 15” MacBook Air requires the nicer screen which makes it $2,000, the screen is higher resolution than the MBA but it’s 100 nits less bright. MacBook Air is $1,700 after adding memory and storage to meet the XPS. The MBA is $300 cheaper for a laptop that is thinner, the same or better specs in almost every category, miles better better build quality (plastic trash vs aluminum) and actually has a network of stores throughout the world. So nowhere close to the 15” MBA, but I appreciate you trying.

The T15 isn’t available so I’ll look at the T16. The cheapest T16 is $1,570. The comparable MacBook Air is $1,500. The T16 has a 300 nits low resolution screen, slow DDR4 RAM (didn’t know they made RAM this slow these days), and is made of cheap plastic. And again, no worldwide network of stores to support your device.

So you’ve really failed to come anywhere close to the specs, build quality or support system of a MacBook. And this is without considering the huge advantages you get with Apple silicon over intel.


And battery life, quietness and generates very little heat?


So where are the other laptops that have a 14 hour battery life, run cool, and have the speed of an ARM MacBook Pro?

No one is “forgetting” about the i9. It sucked like every other x86 laptop sucks.

But this is 2023 not 2020.


Lol. My MacBook Pro loses battery even when plugged and is constantly at 100% fan speed no matter what it is doing (or not doing).


Are you talking about an ARM Mac or x86 Mac?


x86, a 2019 model (and I had this behavior from the start).

I'm aware it's uncomparable to the ARM-based ones, but people were saying the same BS back when it was only Intel.


No one said ever that x86 based Mac laptops had great battery life or ran cool.


Ok buddy lol


So find one mainstream review that gushed about how cool an Intel i9 ran or how quiet it was. I couldn’t find one.


Who talked about i9? And were did the part about battery life go? I could easily find one but you'll keep moving the goalpost.


You did.

> x86, a 2019 model (and I had this behavior from the start).

> Lol. My MacBook Pro loses battery even when plugged and is constantly at 100% fan speed no matter what it is doing (or not doing).


They have i5's and i7's. I'm not even sure they have i9's actually...


They very much came with i9 options

https://support.apple.com/kb/SP809?locale=en_US


I use MacBook Pro for these reasons: a) Availability of high-quality native applications. b) I like macOS. Good GUI with a Unix underneath. (Installing Homebrew and GNU Coreutils makes it much fresher.) c) The hardware is really nice.

If I was a heavy gamer, perhaps I would consider Windows.

There’s one thing I miss from Linux though: Native support for cgroups. I can live without it, but it sure would be convenient.


MacBookPros have been pretty much for the past decade+ the undisputed leader of rugged hardware design. Nobody else to my knowledge sells machined unibody laptops at a competitive price point. (Only half jokingly posting this hoping somebody can't help to attempt to prove me wrong)


Machined unibody laptops aren't rugged hardware. They look nice, and are reasonably robust to minor wear and tear, but they definitely aren't "rugged". Put enough force info the body to bend it, and it's never the same again. A machined unibody like a MacBook offers no damping or shock protection to the boards inside.

Real ruggedized laptops, e.g. those sold by Panasonic or Dell, look very different. It's like the glass-versus-plastic question in phone screens. Glass looks nice, and withstands day-to-day abrasion better. But the stress necessary to shatter glass is way less than that of plastic.


You’re right in that they are not ruggedized. But for “normal” laptop use, it works very well and looks good too. However, if I were to do a geological survey or something like that, I might not use MacBook.


Why do you want a unibody? Isn't it better to open it up and and stick a multi TB ssd and 64GB RAM in, lioe I did with my EliteBook 840?


Old unibody MacBooks could do that. The lack of choice now is due to a non-standard architecture, which the Mac Pro seems to confirm (not “unibody”, but still the RAM is not extensible)


> the undisputed leader of rugged hardware design.

Glass and aluminum are ruggedized materials?


Compared to the cheap plastic laptops HP, Dell etc sell they sure are! For many years I've dropped my MBPs, MBAs, and ipads and have only had one failure, yes a broken ipad screen.

But "undisputed leader"? No there are plenty of more rugged devices used in construction, the military etc.


Sounds like you've got a guardian angel! I wouldn't trust my Macbook to take a spill from waist height, even compared to a plastic HP/Panasonic machine. My ex went through so many broken iPhones that he considered Applecare an operational expense.

They're machines that hold up well in backpacks, but hearing "rugged" used to describe them is funny when a cup of coffee could decommission the whole thing in seconds.


Nothing special indeed about a Macbook Air M1. I need to hear my machine working, but this thing does not even have a cooling fan. I can always put on noise-cancelling headphones if my machine sounds like it's about to lift off. Not to mention Apple Silicon is a joke, the Threadripper in my almost mobile workstation beats it any time. Meanwhile the battery cannot even last a standard Earth day, so why not just stick to power outlets?

All kidding aside, the (lack of) ports and the non-upgradability can be meaningfully criticized, but then again a lot of competitors are copying those anti-features. But to say there is nothing special about these machines... well, maybe not to you. Some people hate noisy laptop fans, and this total silence is a game changer.


You haven’t used a Mac laptop recently I assume.


no I've just been using arm64 devices for like 6 years now and the advantages of the m1/m2 are present in any laptop or tablet that is arm64.

endless battery, fanless design, excellent performance for the kinds of tasks a developer does.

only downside is the m2 is probably faster in cpu/compilation times for certain things because of how fast it is


Are you also "sublinear"? Because that's who was being asked, as far as I see.

In any case, the claim that any ARM laptop before the M1 had excellent performance is new to me and I'd be interested in knowing what non-Apple ARM laptops exist that are competitive with M1/M2 Macbooks in battery life, heat generation, performance and utility for developers. I'm in the market for a new laptop.


It's not quite as fast but the Thinkpad X13s Snapdragon? Fanless, lighter than the 13" MBA, battery life seems good from reviews, offers M.2 storage and 5G if you need it. There is also an ARM version of the Surface Pro 9 which offers an iPad Pro like form factor but without the restrictions. Admittedly the current ARM PC offerings aren't as fast but they aren't terrible either.


I'm interested and not trying to be sarcastic. Which non Apple laptop is arm64 with endless battery, good build quality, and descent performances at a fair price?


Define fair price first.


Between $500 and $3000 perhaps, like most laptops.


my main computer is a Lenovo Duet 5 tablet/laptop hybrid. It gets more than 24 hours of battery life and is completely silent, runs cold and has an excellent OLED screen. I honestly don't know what more I could ask for.

its $500 and includes the kickstand and keyboard

I did mention in my previous comment that the m1/m2 are still faster than other arm64 devices but for the web development tasks that I'm doing a chromebook is better suited anyways due to the less locked down environment and the ability to run full linux apps.

macos is okay for development but I'm not targeting iOS so its benefits are wasted on me. (I still got an m2 Pro mac mini with 32gb of ram to play with machine learning but its turned out to be too slow to compete with even a rtx3060)


Thanks. That’s an interesting device. I ignored devices running ChromeOS. Of course it’s a lot slower than a M1 on the paper but I believe you when you say it’s good enough.


its really on the cheaper/slower end of the spectrum but chromeos is also super lightweight.

a joy to use! I hope to see something similar from apple in the future, I've heard whispers of oled ipads?


Comparable to the M1 Air.


That's funny. It compiles so fast for a laptop that your break times are shorter. Bosses are happy. You're not.


new kind of first world problem just dropped: code compiles too fast


Some people have a preference for macOS and/or Macbook hardware.


That's what I did. I have a HP Elitebook that runs Linux + Windows 11 (really, Windows is not the Windows from 10 years ago, developer experience is pretty great these days, I much prefer it to macOS). For iOS app development I have a Mac Mini.


this article seems like a total ad


Remember the 'What's a computer Ad' of iPad Pro from 2017?

I'm not saying that OP fell for that marketing and is gullible, but Apple marketed the iPad Pro as a replacement for a computer, so it may not be completely unreasonable to expect a reasonably similar experience on an iPad after 6 years and the n number of iPad generations that went by.


It was a replacement for the computer for 90% of the market.

Extrapolating that to Linux server gearheads… sorry, your use case isn’t the same as that 13 year old in the ad.

I am still mad my iPhone didn’t make me a rock god.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSfIm3nbKLs


Computers can be used for other things than coding. And I guess an iPad is a perfectly capable device for many of those tasks.


> Apple marketed the iPad Pro as a replacement for a computer

Nah, they were using an extremely narrow definition of computer, one where you can buy and consume stuff and do "cool" social media with the device. If that's not your use case you want a different kind of computer.


The current marketing copy for the 10th gen iPad on Apple's website says

"Get things done — all on one device. Take notes, collaborate, and work seamlessly between apps. From pie charts to pie recipes, iPad is designed for all kinds of productivity."

and from the iPad Pro site:

"Enhanced ways to work. iPadOS 16 gives you powerful new ways to do more than ever. New desktop-class apps make your workday more productive. Resize and overlap apps to multitask like a pro with Stage Manager. And hook up an external display, with resolutions up to 6K, for even more room for all your apps"

They are clearly marketing these things as do everything productivity devices even though in practice it's pretty bogus especially if you need any sort of programming functionality. Heck they even show an image of Swift Playgrounds being used!


you can't even do social media on an ipad, it runs it in that small iphone emulator mode


That's the fault of the developer, not Apple. For example, Instagram hasn't ticked the box in Xcode to support the iPad screen sizes.


And, presumably, they're also only talking about native apps. You can still do whatever social media you want using Safari†.

†Apart from, I guess, any really bad social media things that only exist as apps. I think there's one or two.


f*ck social media at this point


How are you supposed to use MacBook Air lying in bed?

There’s now iPad and iPad Pro. If you want media consumption then just use iPad.


Why would you want to code lying in bed?


I don’t. That’s the point. I want to have device that adjusts to my needs instead of keeping a zoo of specialized devices. iPad Pro has powerful enough hardware to be a full blown productivity machine when connected to a keyboard, but convenient enough interface to be a media consumption device in bed.


"Zoo" is quite the exaggeration; we're talking two devices instead of one. I'd rather have an iPad Pro for the bedroom (!) and a high-powered desktop Mac for the office than something that tries to be both of those things and ends up failing at both.


> I'd rather have an iPad Pro for the bedroom (!) and a high-powered desktop Mac

That’s not what people in the thread suggest though. They’re talking about MacBook Air. Which is also a nice point, good luck bringing your beefy desktop Mac anywhere with you.


Yeah but you still need a phone and then we're looking pretty zoo like.


True, but by the same argument, you still need a house to put it all in.

(To address the downvote: I consider a phone to be a different class of product, in the context of this discussion. Nobody is seriously talking about coding on their phone.)


My iPad 12.9 is larger and heavier than my 13.6 Macbook Air and the screen is comparable in size. Not sure I buy your small screen argument.


I can answer this honestly: We want to believe that the iPad is the answer to so many of computer's problems, that the iPhone is So Amazing to be able to do so much of what we need a computer to do that a Bigger iPhone would be the ideal computer.

I don't quite know why Apple doesn't see the iPad as a developer machine. Being able to program the machine that you're working on is a, if not the, meaning of a general purpose computer and we all want it to work So Bad. But, this blog really echos what any of us who have really tried to untether ourselves from the traditional keyboard/monitor or mainframe programming have discovered: The iPad (and the iPhone) are appliances and not actual computers.


Or get both? As a research mathematician, my iPad Pro is for drawing mathematics and reading papers, to get me away from a 32" screen when I'm not coding. The MacBook Air is for when I can't be at my 32" screen.

Coding intricate data structures is like teaching the computer chess. It helps if you understand chess. I can't imagine understanding what I want my code to do, without an involved process of drawing everything repeatedly in many variations.

Someday there will be an iPad drawing editor like Emacs, arbitrarily scriptable using further drawings, never putting down the Apple Pencil. We're still at the earliest stages of "word processing" technical art; this evolution is still to come.


My reason: it’s too big. I can’t comfortably carry a big MacBook plus an iPad if I walk around a lot. The iPad is my reading and drawing device.

I settled for an iPad Mini and a 12” MacBook and I’m reallY happy with that combo. I just wish they made a faster M2 version.


The iPad is the only Apple device with a 13"(roughly A4) portable rotating screen and touch support.

A Macbook Air doesn't fit in that category and is sub-par to read A4 formated docs. Arguably a Surface Pro (or Z13 Flow) would be a better choice if programming is also something you want to do.


To have a locked down, consume first, small display device?


I guess the OP wasn't looking for a Linux workstation under their desk and then went for the iPad form factor instead.


Pretty much this

This sounds like a person caught in the hype


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