Giving iPad fire to mere mortals: On myopia and elitism in computing

MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro (Image credit: iMore)

A couple of days ago my iPhone rang. It was 2015 and it wanted it's debate about iPad being a "real" computer back. (Seriously, I could hear Adele in the background, wondering if, after all these years, iPad Pro would like to meet…) At least it felt that way when a few tweets by Joshua Topolsky re-ignited the old is-it/isn't-it debate.

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Josh is a legend in this industry but Twitter is a platform that lends itself to in-the-heat-of-the-moment (or beverage) hot takes often absent the care and consideration they'd be given in a less real-time medium. It also lends itself to immediate hot take reinforcement and retaliation all over the internet, web and social.

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I dislike contributing to that kind of noise, all evidence to the contrary not withstanding, but there are a couple things I dislike more: myopia and elitism.

Being self-centric is natural and perspective taking is hard. I get that. For people who grew up on mainframes, the PC was a joke. For those who lived in the command line, the graphical user interface was a toy. For those who've spent the last couple of decades on Mac or Windows, the iPad is a playground.

Yet the PC untethered computing from universities and enterprises and put it in every home. The GUI opened it up to the arts and education. And multitouch has finally made it approachable to the mainstream.

For a long time computing only addressed the needs of a very few. Now, thanks to iPad and products that have followed its lead, computing is open to almost everyone with almost any need. It's nothing short of a revolution.

People who were, for their whole lives, made to feel stupid and excluded by older computing technology and some of its advocates now have something that's approachable, accessible, and empowering. From toddlers to nonagenarians to every age in between, and for every profession imaginable.

What Apple and iPad have done to bring computing to the mainstream is not only laudable, it's critical. And it's nothing short of amazing.

If I love the traditional computing environment, I can grab a PC and all the traditional computer apps I can handle. If I love the new computing normal, I can grab an iPad and dive into the App Store.

Both are valid. Both are real. Both are better based only and entirely on the needs of the person using them at the time.

It's human nature to think anyone with more computing needs is a nerd or a niche and anyone with less, a luddite or a poser, but that's our problem to solve. Not theirs. It has to do entirely with our inability to perspective-take, our lack of empathy, and our rush to judgement. It's our inability to truly understand that most primary of lessons — it's not all about us.

And that's where elitism rears it's ugly head as well. As much as some simply don't understand that a person can be empowered by an iPad more than they are a PC, others seem to resent it.

That's where "not a real computer" for the technology — and worse, "not a real pro" for the person using it, comes in.

Serenity Caldwell typing on a MacBook Pro

Serenity Caldwell typing on a MacBook Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

It happened when the PC threatened the mainframe elite, the bean-counters, and the filing clerks. It happened when the GUI threatened not just the command liners but the typesetters and film-cutters. And it's happening now, again, with iPad.

It's taken people whose self-identity and sense of importance were tied to and built over years of work and study, over masting obscurity and taming complexity, and flattened them right down.

It's taken the fire of computing and given it freely to mere mortals.

And that stings. That irks.

But here's the simple truth: No one cares.

No one who is happy engaging the world more fully with iPad gives a hot damn if anyone else has their nose turned up or bent out of shape about it. And no one who still loves and cherishes everything about a PC should waste a a moment pontificating about what someone else is or isn't doing on a iPad.

Whether or not iPad is a "real" computer was a ridiculous, self-absorbed, contrived discussion back in 2015. In 2017, it's just embarrassing.

The news is, we don't have to care either. We can let go. You compute you. I'll compute me. If that's every intricacy of Unix, awesome. If that's all the interactivity of iPad, brilliant. And if it's either or, depending on the task, hallelujah. You've achieved zen in our time and all our feeds will be cooler and more peaceful for it.

Written on an iPad Pro. Edited on a MacBook.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Couldn't agree more. I use my iPad Pro 12.9" for work every day, almost exclusively. The only thing I don't/can't use it for is coding. Haven't found a good way to do that. Right now I would say I do about 90% of my daily activities on it, and I love it.
  • Indeed! Regarding coding, have you examined Coda? (Having stated that, I primarily use my Retina MacBook Pro.) However, certain tasks must be performed on my Mac: I develop risk models for clients on my Mac, using Windows 10 Pro within Parallels Desktop (The tool is Analystic Solver Platform loaded into Excel.). I am rewriting my website using Dreamweaver.
  • It can replace a laptop for most things, but it isn't better at them than a laptop for anything (other than drawing, which laptops now support such as surface products).
  • Sitting at my laptop with my iPad connected as an additional screen, one way that it I find the iPad superior to the laptop is that using the apps for at least some financial institutions is a superior experience to using their website. For some of them, it's a simple as being able to login via TouchID rather than userid and password (albeit greatly mitigated by a password manager). For many, the app is a streamlined interface for the most common use cases. When a use case that isn't handled by the app comes up, the web interface is still available on the iPad. The reverse isn't true on the laptop.
  • But it is better at lots of things. I’m a teacher and there are lots of jobs my iPad is better at than my Mac. For instance reading an ebook, document scanning and markup, hand note taking, and messaging. I would go so far as to say any job which is primarily analog but supplemented by a pc, especially if it isn’t done at a desk and doesn’t have really idiosyncratic software.
  • @ ajorourke, You may actually be in the majority. 80 % of 9to5Mac users polled recently would like to have mouse / trackpad support. However, on this board it seems anything you say even remotely suggesting an OPTIONAL support for mouse when the keyboard is turned on, and which would not interfere at all with any of these users' workflows will still get dissed on even though they could just turn off the mouse support if they don't need it. And Rene seems to think the problem is with Joshua and the 80% that want to see mouse support added. Lol!
  • Sidenote - I really like the new home page categorizations. It makes it so much easier to avoid the "fluff" articles and see what we want. Or if you want the fluff articles, it makes it easier to find them in one or two places. "Fluff" isn't a great term... but I just mean the articles that have more of an SEO focus (which is fine to have), or basic how-to stuff that some readers don't need, while others do...
  • Rene, for Apple, it's not just about personal preferences, it's also about market share and profits. iPad has been in declining sales mode for a number of years. Apple needs to add mouse support and start to grow sales. The touch market has been maximized and Apple needs to enter the much wider space of low end PC's where even more users are interested in productivity type work using mouse / keyboard. Not just media consumption, drawing, and low end productivity using finger gymnastics. Microsoft has around a billion low / medium tier PC users around the world. Apple needs to add mouse support and take the iPad to the next level of market penetration. Touch users can still use touch if they feel like it. Adding mouse support does not interfere with their options but simply adds to them.
  • Using mice on iPads misses the point of the interface. Get a MacBook, or use the Pencil, which is like a mouse, only vastly better. I've used Photoshop every day since 1992. A mouse for me with Photoshop is like doing needlepoint wearing hockey gloves. Precision is not there. (Even using a high resolution gaming mouse). Use the cursor control built into the iPad's built-in keyboard and see if you ever need a mouse for anything. It becomes wasted baggage.
  • Time to start thinking beyond the mouse. With iOS 11, drag and drop mouse-free will be way better. However, I could see using the iPhone or a magic pad to move the keyboard cursor. Grubber had something interesting to say on this:
  • Those that are happy with reaching across the keyboard to a touch screen can still continue to do so if they wish. However, a recent survey at 9to5mac showed that around 80 percent of their readers (mostly Apple users) feel mouse / trackpad should be supported: If you like your touch centric workflow then that's great. However, adding mouse support for other types of workers (possibly the majority of iPad users according to the above survey) would not interfere with your own routines since mouse support can be designed to be turned off under Settings pretty easily. Five years of declining iPad sales may be reversed by addressing this non-Touch centric market. Not all folks can afford both, a Macbook and an iPad. Having duel interface capability and ability to adapt to user needs expands the reach of the iPad without compromising it's current usage in tablet mode when the keyboard is turned off. For those that find it wasted baggage, they can just turn it off. Meanwhile, others can elect to turn on mouse / trackpad support when the keyboard is powered on.
  • Then get a surface pro or studio and use the pen. You aren't limited to mobile OSes in this format factor. You have choices, so your competitors plaints about the mouse is largely invalid.
  • And I suppose you would also advise the 80% of Apple users on the 9to5Mac survey cited above who would like to have mouse / trackpad support should also dump their iPads and get a Surface pro? ... All just because the 20% of you, the tail that wants to wag the dog, could not be bothered with turning off of trackpad support in Settings? Talk about elitism.! It's people like you and Rene that are the elitists, not Joshua and the 80%.
  • Spittt - Apple does care about profits, but not market share. As long as a product is still profitable, it's all good. If they cared about market share they would have given up long ago.
  • Apple still have a considerable amount of market share with their portable products. There’s a reason why people say “iPads and other tablets”
  • So that means they should ignore trying to turn around five years of declining iPad sales including a 20 percent drop yoy in the Jan Q?
  • Just took my first trip in years w/o a laptop. Just my iPad pro. Did everything I needed to do. Blogged, uploaded pics. Email, web browsing. One or two things were rough. But everything worked out perfectly in the end. @spittt Apple does not NEED to do anything. They don't worship in the Church of Market Share. They just make products millions of people love.
  • Sure, Apple may not NEED anything but five years of declining iPad sales suggests the Touch centric market is now plateaued. Adding mouse support would just make it even more useful and allow it to tap into a slightly different (and likely much larger) market as suggested by 1 billion low / medium end Windows users. How exactly does adding mouse support to make users like Joshua and possibly tens of millions more users interfere with your current iPad usage stye? It simply adds to the possibilities, does not take away anything. Mouse support would only be activated when a keyboard is turned on, the ipad would stay the same when used in tablet mode.
  • Sure, Apple may not NEED anything but five years of declining iPad sales suggests the Touch centric market is now plateaued. Adding mouse support would just make it even more useful and allow it to tap into a slightly different (and likely much larger) market as suggested by 1 billion low / medium end Windows users. How exactly does adding mouse support to make users like Joshua and possibly tens of millions of others interfere with your current iPad usage stye? It simply adds to the possibilities, does not take away anything. Mouse support would only be activated when a keyboard is turned on, the ipad would stay the same when used in tablet mode.
  • As you mentioned market share...I think to myself, market share may not matter much to Apple concerning the Mac. If there are any devices that I suspect that Apple makes, that market share is important to them, I think it would be the iPhone and iPad. Originally the market share may not have meant as much concerning the iPad and iPhone, but...The market, in my observation, has moved the iPad into the 'Pro' world. People would love to have an iPad type of device that has more Pro features & computing power...That's why it's here today. I don't recall ever originally seeing the iPad have any serious focus on being your main computer. Now, we've got Tim at Apple saying I didn't even need my Mac for my business trip, I just took my iPad Pro & that's all I needed. He's essentially saying, this could practically be your only computer or your main computer. The market has moved it this way...And people love it, including myself. I'm tending to think that people may not actually want separate OS 'modes', but rather an alternate method to interact with certain apps. But the main way of interacting with the OS (And most apps) would still be touch driven. It'll be interesting to see what the future will be. I wonder if iPad sales (As well as many similar tablets) have plateaued because of market saturation of those types of devices. "Those types of devices" would be more consumer used consumption devices (Even though the iPad can do much more, that's still how many view it) Windows is still built on a foundation of keyboard/mouse interaction first. iOS is built on a foundation of touch interaction first. The iPad is keeping touch at the core & then adding more PC features. MS is doing the opposite...Same core, but adding some touch features. It's almost like Apple is actually shooting for a share of the hybrid market now. It replaced my hybrid (Surface Pro 3) quite well. I never really thought that would ever happen. They just have their eyes on a different market now.
  • How many years have PC sales been in decline? Doesn't that suggest that the mouse centric market has plateaued?
  • The Windows PC market seemed to hit a plateau at around 1 billion installed devices. If the iPad ever reaches those types of numbers which it may be fully capable of with mouse support, then that would be just fine and dandy by most AAPL shareholders. Apple would no longer be labled a one-trick pony by Wall St and the p/e would rise accordingly ... not to mention services rev's, and halo effect on other Apple products. Aside/ I find it interesting that the iPhone and Windows PC seemed to hit a plateau at around 1 billion installed devices.
  • Who calls Apple a "one trick pony"? They have had many, many tricks. BTW, exactly how many tricks has Microsoft had? Since Windows and iPhones both peaked at around 1 billion devices, that pretty much eliminates the idea that it is due to the interface. Plus, how many can be sold? If you sell a billion of ANYTHING, isn't that enough? We should all be so lucky to invent a product that peaks at 1 billion installed base.
  • Microsoft has had many tricks. They have Windows, Office, Visual Studio, Azure, SQL Server, SharePoint. Surface Pro, Laptop, Book, Studio. An entire line of PC Accessories. Xbox. Are you really that clueless? Microsoft survival has never really depended on the success of one product. You can. All it that company into 4-5 entities and they all be independently successful. And I see nothing wrong with them trying things and failing. Google does it all the time. I think Aplle doesn't do enough of that, which is probably why they are comparatively stagnant for innovation.
  • Since the iPhone's rise, around 70% of Apple's rev's come from the iPhone. As far as Wall St. is concerned, it's still a one trick pony. If the iPhone was able to reach a billion users then what happened to the iPad? Perhaps it's not offering something that some people need as their work flow (mouse / trackpad) may be different from yours?
  • So Apple will "only" sell 50 to 60 million or so iPads this year. The iPad is by far the largest part of the tablet market, approximately 85% of anything over $200. People talk as though though Apple needs to do something bold to sell even more or they are in trouble. Sure, any company would always love to sell more, but this notion that it is not a smashing success is just silly. Apple is making an insanely great tablet that provides a delightful experience to its users, and in the end, that's the ethos of the company Jobs built.
  • I think IOS 11 will be that 'bold' move. I was a very longtime Win person, from the earliest version. From Ipod to Ipad and Iphone to Mac was my gradual evolution. BUT--though I have a Macbook Pro 15" my Ipad Pro 12.9 does the yeoman's share of work, personal. IOS 11 is what will bring it all together for me. My major bond to a laptop now is for access to 18 years of photo files. And to above about mouse---I used a big Wacom graphics tablet for years, actually went through 2, and found myself continuing into other apps with the stylus--because I hate picking up that mouse LOL. So, the Pencil, and esp. for what it looks like its possibilities in 11, will fit my work habits well.
  • No one could argue that the iPad was not a success. However, declining sales for past five years including a 20% yoy drop in Jan Q suggest that it's not the post-PC era product that everyone thought it was going to be when it launched. If the iPhone was able to reach a billion users then what happened to the iPad? No one is saying it's not a success for the touch centric market but it was hailed by many as the post-PC revolution. And yet it plateaued out so quickly? Perhaps it's not offering something that some people need as their work flow (mouse / trackpad) may be different from it's current feature set. Just because it's current users are happy with the product the way it is does not mean that they can't continue to improve the feature set to grow into other markets as well and reverse the sales decline. It can be the post PC product with the right adjustments. It's just not there yet. Five years of data show this to be a fact, not Joshua's or my opinion.
  • It definitely replaced my mobile solution, which was a Surface Pro 3. Now I use it in conjunction with my Mac Mini and an ultra widescreen LG monitor. One example was last night. Looking for plane tickets. could do it on my iPad Pro, but it was cumbersome, but it was possible. I thought, hey lets fire up the Surface Pro 3. Larger screen, track pad, etc, but still same problem, just cumbersome on a screen that big, and using a trackpad. Finally moved over to my Mac Mini. Was comfortable and pleasant. Thing is I had both the same experience using my SP3 and iPad Pro, full OS vs "mobile" OS.
  • The best way to look for plane tickets on an iPad is to use an app, websites aren’t always optimised and this is the fault of web developers, not Apple
  • I think a good way to look at it is to flip the perspective. Of course an iPad can't replace a laptop. Its not a laptop. But can a laptop replace your iPad? Going from an iPad to a latop you sacrifice a lot: battery life, weight, portability, a GUI built from the ground up to be touch based, security of sandboxed apps... Can you sacrifice all that to get the power of a laptop? Sometimes you need to but if you don't, then stick to the iPad :)
  • Rene to the rescue, how dare one talk rubbish about Apple. We always get an article after a famous tech person critiques Apple.
  • And we always get a troll who has to post a comment like this
  • I used to look at the iPad as mostly consumption & not really a 'full computer', if you will. I think there was good reason for many people to think that way. The idea of it being a 'big' iPhone was common & once again, that was mostly how it was presented, people had good reason to see it that way. You would get one & it would connect to your existing 'real computer' (As some would say, including myself) Apple created great hardware, but honestly what has mostly made the iPad more powerful are the app developers. The hardware was able to perform some pretty good graphic design tasks, good gaming, & office software, but until the OS empowered developers more & until developers started utilizing the abilities more, things wouldn't change. The iPad wouldn't be looked at as a productivity device nor much more than some real basic games, videos, & emails. Software --- Apps, apps, apps is the key to the story. I recently entered the Mac world & enjoy using it, but I'm concerned it's going to stay in an excellent & like new condition for years. It doesn't get nearly as much attention as it would've in the past because I've transitioned over to making my iPad Pro my main device. Although Windows and Mac are capable of very powerful uses that the iPad couldn't be useful for...What really are your needs? Also, what are you most comfortable with? A lot goes back to simply personal preference. Apple does have a power to move the market. I want to be able to sync my iPhone with my main computer. I can't, because my main computer is iPad. I don't want to have to use iCloud or any other cloud storage to back up my devices. I guess that would be another major paradigm shift for the masses as well. Completely wireless is Apples vision I think. Apple is on the brink of, with great help from the app developers, of an even more major shift in how most computing is done now. It has greatly benefited Apple by having the 'heavy weight software champion' developing apps for iOS. Of course that heavy weight is Microsoft. Not that other developers don't matter (They have helped make iOS a huge success!), but if you want to enter the larger corporate or business world, you need their applications. You get those devices replacing the Windows machines at their workplace & you'll eventually have a huge portion of the regular consumer market too...Beyond 'just' consumption devices for people. Maybe Apple is finally moving to only needing two devices instead of three now? I don't think Apple iOS has to give a 'complete' file manager like Macs' Finder or Windows File Explorer for them to be successful. People for the most part don't want something as powerful as that, but they do want more than what they have now. Apple is fine tuning & learning what people really want. Of course, they are guiding the ship, helping show people what they want as well I think Apple is getting it right...Add some more Mac type of features to iOS, but keep it mostly touch driven. Microsoft is moving in a similar direction where the OS is more controlled, locked down, & touched oriented. They see the huge benefit of having an App Store. Which is a real computer? They both are. Imagine what the world would be like if it was all touch oriented & then one day someone introduced a mouse...How would people view this thing called a 'mouse'. It wouldn't feel natural to them. Some people would mock & scoff at it. I do agree that the introduction of mouse support to the iPad would be wonderful. There are times I really want/need it. For me, it wouldn't interfere, but rather blend with the experience. That there iPad is changing the world in what the standard computer looks like & how they work in the future. In that future the mouse will have relatively little use. That's just my take...That's what I see has been slowly coming & now it's happening at an accelerated pace.
  • I'm sure there are people who think that the computer on the USS Enterprise in Star Trek is not a "real computer" either, because it doesn't have a mouse and it doesn't run Windows. It is funny, sad and pathetic all at the same time.
  • This is the mentality of a lot of Apple haters
  • Star Trek is fiction. We live in the real world and if we don't use devices that allow us to get real work done in the most efficient, highest quality manner possible, outr real life houses become the street corner. Welcome to the real world, where results trump ideology.
  • LOL the funny part is people are doing exactly what the article is talking about. lol
  • My thoughts exactly. It’s all about how superior some people want to feel over others.
  • I want to respond here without sounding like a jerk. This is an odd article. Myopic elitism is Rene's stock in trade. Rene's clicks come from picking a side (the elite side of consumer, lifestyle technology) and supporting it zealously, from a highly informed perspective. His niche in technical journalism can make a criticism like this seem hypocritical.
  • This is an interesting take considering all of the "Another reason to switch to iPhone" articles. If our stance is "let people use what they want and leave it be" then that's cool. But it doesn't quite mesh with the intentions of other articles I've read on this website such as those criticizing Windows and encouraging people to switch or those encouraging the move to iPhone and leaving Android.
  • Spot on Rene. I'd like to see Topolsky have this arguement with my mom. She worked behind an DOS based payroll system long past it's lifespan. After she retired she went to Best Buy and got rooked into a loaded 17" Windows laptop that she thought she needed to do home computing. I bought her an iPad Air 2 a couple of years ago and that laptop now languishes on a shelf. The final kicker was to get her network attached printer so she could print from her iPad and now she really has no reason to open that laptop. And no, she doesn't just sit and surf the web all day. She has a homebased job to make side money consisting of document and worksheet building for several businesses in the local area don't have someone to do that for them full-time. She has even done a light amount of accounting work and does it all on the iPad too. I tried to give her a Bluetooth keyboard for it and she insist on working on the on screen keyboard because she likes it so much better. So yes, an iPad can replace a PC.
  • I'm just going to throw some links in the mix: My next "laptop" is going to be an iPad. The iPad's limitations are far less than you may think. For me personally, I have to switch to my iPad or iPhone to get to my Workflows. Case in point, I generate APA citations from Workflow, which understands articles as objects/classes. I had that done in less than 24 hours after the app went free. Today I downloaded 20+ songs from in moments with a Workflow I made in a about a two minutes. The easiest way for me to code that was on iOS. There are still things I need a Mac for… like importing those free and legal MP3s into my music collection. :/ There are definitely limitations. Adding MP3s from Amazon, Bandcamp, and other legal sources is a royal pain.
  • I work as an attorney making court appearances on a daily basis. My needs in no particular order:
    Need to scan documents (yes, phone can do that, iOS 11's Notes scanner is just about the best I've used though).
    Light word processing (yes, have the Smart Keyboard).
    Accessing and downloading court-filed documents.
    Using it to show whoever in court whatever on the screen -- you know, like what one would do with a paper copy.
    So. What MacBook matches that?
    Net, there is no question that what I have -- the 10.5 iPad Pro -- is the laptop for my needs, a better solution than any laptop, even the Windows hybrids.
    Rene is right; to dis the Pro as a laptop says everything about the one doing the dissing, from which nothing of value can be extrapolated.
    Clearly, Topolsky's fall from grace, as it were, and diminished prominence and rep has apparently been a little deranging. No good reason for his Twitter rant.
  • Actually, Topolsky may be in the majority. Around 80% of 9to5Mac readers (mostly Apple users) would like to have mouse / trackpad support for the iPad when a keyboard is powered on. Everyone's has their own favourite types of workflow. Those that wish to reach across the keyboard to a touch screen could still do so and simply turn mouse support off.
  • If 99% of users want a conventional laptop instead of an iPad Pro, Topolsky is still wrong.
    His point was: It sucks for me therefore it's a piece of crap that sucks for everyone.
    There are, as you admit, a a sizable number for whom the iPad is the superior solution.
    And I admit that I'm at the extreme: A MacBook is so inadequate for my needs that I would never consider one. As such, my choice wasn't whether I buy a MacBook or an iPad but rather do I buy an iPad or pass on buying anything?
  • Ahh, the ol' "platform wars". It's nearly as bad as politics. The arguments are not only pointless, but counterproductive as new readers introduced to the site are put off by the incessant blather.
  • Exactly. I am old enough to remember LOTS of flame wars. Amiga/Atari ST. TRS-80/Apple 2. MS-DOS/Windows. Mac/Windows. And on and on. Loads of incessant blather for over 30 years. Today it is Android/iOS. Now along comes "an iPad is not a real computer". Pardon me while I yawn.
  • Separate the tool from the work.
  • There should be no need to do that unless you want to nowadays. The iPad could be the post-PC era product everyone thought it would be. I suspect it will become that soon as well, but it's not quite there yet.
  • When my 2009 27" iMac died from a power surge I didn’t think my 2015 MacBook could replace it but I quickly realized how light my workload had gotten since I fi4st got my iMac. Then a few weeks ago my MacBook died and I wasn’t sure if my iPad Pro could take over but so far I haven’t missed a beat. Many people's workflows nowadays can be handled by an iPad, or even just an iPhone.
  • And just like your anecdote, Joshua stated his, which is a touch only device using finger gymnastics for productivity will not meet his needs. It's interesting how the iPad users on this board seem to think that your anecdote is right while ignoring others like Joshua. The recent survey at 9to5mac (mostly Apple users) suggests that 80% of users want trackpad / mouse support when a keyboard is powered on. Different people have different workflow needs. The iPad does not have to artificially limit it's market reach, especially when facing annual sales declines past five years including a 20% yoy drop in Jan Q. Those that wish to continue reaching across the keyboard to a touch screen can continue to do so by turning off trackpad support. Adding trackpad support would not interfere with your current workflow at all.
  • I’m not ignoring Joshua nor do I think he’s wrong, at least not when it comes to his own use case, I’m just illustrating, like Rene, that for some people the iPad can fit into their existing workflow or make way for a new workflow. I’m sure Apple's been exploring pointer support on the iPad since before it was announced, but like copy and paste in the earlier days of iOS or AR in recent days Apple will wait until they feel they’ve gotten it right before rolling it out. So far it seems like they’re more focused on using the Pencil as a precision pointer.
  • Topolsky didn't share an anecdote, he presented a universality. Read his string of tweets.
    "If YOU think You can replace YOU (sic) laptop...YOU can't."
    "This doesn't come close to replacing YOUR laptop"
    "OSX was made for computers, iOS was made for phones"
    He is extending his personal feelings on everyone else. Exaggerated egos tend to do this, project their feelings on the world. For many, and some have posted here, the iPad serves their needs. Whether it is a 'real computer' isn't even relevant. The hardware has long ago surpassed what took us to the moon and back. UI has always evolved, so it not having an integral hardware keyboard or mouse doesn't matter. I've used computers where my only interface was a deck of punched cards. The iPad computes. If it meets YOUR computing needs, it's a computer. If it doesn't, it is no less a computer to someone else. BTW, adding mouse/trackpad support to an iPad would make it less an iPad. There are plenty of devices out there that already support keyboard, mouse, trackpad, and pen. They don't run iOS, or MacOS for that matter, but they are pretty darn capable, and many as portable as an iPad. Go get one of those. Adding those physical UI elements to the iPad will ultimately turn it into a laptop. You may believe you don't have to use the features, but developers will eventually assume you have them available, and you will wind up with yet another laptop/2 in 1.
  • Joshua is a media guy. He tends to use language that attracts interest. However, in this case, he is right. The iPad hit a plateau and began it's five year of declining sales at a far earlier point than most expected for a device that was hailed as the post-PC era product. Even Joshua does admit that his own mother is fine with an iPad but this is not what most computer users are happy settling for in terms of productivity needs. Sometimes smart people come off as being arrogant. However, Joshua's statements are backed up by five years of declining iPad sales. Rene's statements are backed up by anecdotes.
  • I'd actually love to move to the iPad and leave Macs behind, but for the work I do, there still aren't many viable solutions available on iOS yet.
  • Amazing article Rene, great job getting to the heart of the issue. I spend about 15 hours a week just typing for work, I would never use an iPad for the work that I do but I still think the iPad is a better computer for my needs. I could not use it as my primary work computer but for everything else I would use it over my MBP or my iMac.
  • Pointing out facts is not myopic or elitist. You're severely limited on iOS compared to macOS or Windows. Productivity apps are severely scaled back and the way you manage data is crippled in comparison to desktop OSes. iPad is a legit computer, but you have to be able to live within some severe limitations the software forces on you. I could never do it, but it would be a fabulous companion device. At those prices, though, there is just no way I could get an iPad Pro over a Surface Pro. There are only sacrifices to be gained by choosing an iPad over it - thanks in large part to the software. iPad is only getting around to offering what PCs have been doing for the past 25 years today, but people are acting like iOS 11 is being released in 1992 or something. And when people point it out, they're now myopic and elitist? Seems like political discourse tactics have leaked into tech.
  • I agree, pointing out facts is not myopic or elitist. However, your very next sentences make a determination that the characterists of IOS are crippled? For whom? You? Evidently. However, for others IOS does exactly what they need and want it to do. ! Your determination of what is a shortcoming or a proper price for a device is based on your needs and or opinion. Obviously you find more value in the Windows world. Great! Does that require everyone else to agree with your choices? No. To believe otherwise is a bit myopic or elitist. FWIW, I own an iPad and Surface Pro. They each meet my specific needs.
  • Crippled too is a fact. It has its functions scaled back.
  • For whom? The majority of computer / tablet users thats whom. iPhone and Windows PC sales growth hit a plateau at around 1 billion installed devices. iPad hit a plateau at not even reaching a third of this installed base. Meaning most computer users need mouse / trackpad to get serious work done. Joshua is right. Sometimes the truth hurts and smart people come off looking arrogant. However, Joshua is dead on right. Facts support his statements. Rene has only anecdotes to back him up. Even Joshua admits his own mother can be happy with an iPad so for some types of users, the iPad is fine, but that is NOT what the majority of computer users are voting on with their wallet, hence the premature five year declining of iPad sales.
  • I'll try to be as brief as I can. I read a lot of blogs, articles, and do not comment very much for precisely the reasons described in the title - its not about what I think all the time. That said, this topic is very important for me as I look at the big picture of of using multiple, sometimes complimentary, sometimes competing devices - all made by Apple. The second definition of the word "argument" is: a discussion involving differing points of view; debate. If we can't have discussions that can possibly give someone who thinks differently a different perspective than their own to think about - with the opportunity to change minds - then you might was well stop writing articles and definitely turn off the comments section, because then we are done having civil discourse. If you're still reading, here is my opinion which I hope will give others pause think about things i have seen and experienced. Long-time mac user - 30 + years. I've been an artist/illustrator/designer since I could first pick up a pencil at 4 years of age. Love Apple. Have seen them for who they are, visionary, bold, chance-takers. I stuck with them through the dark days when we were made fun of and laughed at as Apple was "on the brink" of bankruptcy. I have created and run all-mac design departments at 3 different organizations from the early 90s until today. My kids, wife, I have iphones, ipad. My son, wife and daughter all have macbook airs or pros, 4 apple TVs. I use a 2010 Mac Pro, Xserves, X-Raids (yeah I know), and 17" macbook pro at work. I have set up hundreds of systems for our staff when I ran our I.T. department. get the picture. I live and breathe mac. That said, we can all see the writing on the wall about ipad sometimes overtaking and displacing the mac. That is Apple's goal. Jobs said it has much, Cook says it and Apple's commercials have tried to say it. But it is not going to happen as quickly - or completely if they do not "give" a little. Sure, just like politics, there are hardcore believers on both sides. But Joshua's reaction is in reaction to others saying that with IOS 11 and an updated iPad Pro - "we have arrived" at some sort of digital nirvana. And that certainly has not happened. The fact that Apple recognized there there needs to be an intermediary "file browser" and added it to IOS 11 reveals the fact that they did cave - at least a little to the desktop paradigm. And if they want to see more adoption, they are going to have to continue to relax some of their IOS paradigms and understand that the mac is truly superior in some ways. If we truly have entered into a new age of computing and those that "get it" some how feel more superior to the rest of us "old folks" - great. You've arrived. I have not. Why the long preface? Because I want you to know that I have been trying. Perhaps like many of you, you are the gatekeepers of technology for your home, your family, friends and your work. You are all passionate about what you do and want to see that same positive experience for others. So, many years ago when it came time for my 78-year-old mother in law to purchase a new computing device, when she was departing to get a pc laptop, I highly recommended the original ipad! She loved it and has used it since then. Recently, I recommended against a macbook air and told her to get the iPad pro with keyboard - precisely because the power, the cost, the previous experience with ipad all would make the next progression, the next step for her an Ipad. When the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil came out, I had the chance to play with th Apple Pencil and saw what "could" be and all the promise it held for me as an illustrator/artist. I was very hopeful that the iPad could possibly replace my desktop and laptop, give me the drawing capabilties that were previous only available the expensive cintiq tablets. I thought I could possibly replace the expensive Adobe Software with all of its subscription fees and purchase 1, 5, 10 and 20 dollar apps that could do everything on a single device! I compared an iPad Pro and brand new macbook pro an decided, I needed to break from my comfort zone and see what would happen. I still had my 17" macbook pro that I could fall back on so instead of turning it in for another laptop, I took the plunge and purchased an iPad Pro with keyboard and a pencil. Fast forward, I use my ipad mostly to take notes at meetings, upload photos to instagram, creating illustrations (when time permits) and test out the progress that app developers have been making bringing more powerful software to the design world. I love Trigaphy. I have started playing wiht Affinity Photo on iPad and love its ever-increasing potential to become a true Photoshop killer. Yet for all its progress it continues to be a frustrating experience. The number of steps one has to go through to complete sometimes trivial/simple steps that one can perform in the mac os is frustrating and debilitating to productivity. That is not just my opinion. That is fact. Without a Finder, an intermediate location that is commonly availablel to all apps for one to save your work while moving the date to the next app, next step is a productivity killer. I can't describe the frustration applicably - only to say that it is like holding a bunch of items in both hands and not being able to place them on a desk or table in order to pick up the next tool, utensil to continue your work. It's like asking a world-class chef with all his/her skillset to produce a world-class meal but not give them a table on which to prepare the ingredients, instead forcing them to think through how to add everything needed while holding the bowl in one hand and trying to do everything else with the other. the amount of energy and time once has to go through to think through the steps needed to "round trip" a given set of steps is simply not realistic. If Apple wants to truly make it a successor to the mac they need to bring some of the paradigms and conveniences the mac offers back - not just for long-time users but for all users. Bottomline, it amounts to control and who has it. I want the ability to have one device that it touch capable, pencil capable, keyboard and keypad/mouse capable that empowers me to make the decision as to which action I need to take with whatever particular steps is necessary for that given task. Yes, there are real differences between device sizes and practical uses and Apple knows certain things best. But in their zeal, Apple misses certain things to. Every person and organizaton has its blind spots. This is an opportunity for us to discuss those areas with civility and opportunity to change minds. Am I naive enough to believe that Apple is going to give us one device that does it all. Probably, but that is what I would like Apple to consider. If I, and other users, continue to help Apple understand that the experience is a frustrating one, then maybe we can also help influence Apple and help change their minds. Thanks for reading.
  • Really?? I always assume that it was the device more than it was about me as, even though the iPad is my main device, I still need my surface 3 for those other things the iPad can't do, NOT DEPENDING on iTunes for all my media. That, and turning is assignments is still a Firefox/Chrome/Internet Explorer only issue. The day Apple finally allows me to sync my own music and movies not purchased by iTunes and without iTunes to do so otherwise, AND without a Jailbreak, is the day I can finally say I can fully go 100% iPad only.
  • Have you ever thought of using a 3rd party app like VLC for playing media? No need to deal iTunes at all if you don't want.
  • Well said Rene, well said!
    I have the new 12.9 inch Pro with iOS 11 and love it, (even though it's in beta) The new Dock on the iPad puts it a little closer to the usefulness on a laptop, but still has a way to go. For the iPad, I think we'll see even more software enhancements over the next three or four years that will build on iOS 11 and then you will see some naysayers start to change their tune a bit.
    Like what you like and don't condemn anyone else's choice of what platform they use, whether you agree with it or not.
  • I have said it before and I will say it again, anyone who says that an iPad cannot replace a laptop (or any device can not be used as a primary computing device besides a desktop or laptop) has a severely limited skillset. Anyone with the right skillset can make any device their primary computing device. I really think that Apple (since this discussion revolves around iPad and iOS 11) should go back to those "There is an App for that" commercials. For example when I hear people say that you cannot use the iPad to code or build websites, I say wow are they living inside of a box, you have Coda, HTMLEGG, Textastic and many more if you take the time to actually look. As a web designer I am not a real big fan of things like Wordpress but you know what it has its place and in many instances it is better than hand coding; to each his own. Once upon a time I too was once under the belief that if you didn't use Office than you were not using a good productivity suite. Then all of a sudden I realized that hey there are other apps/software that do the same thing such as Google docs/suite, iWork, Libreoffice and more. But again when a person's skillset is limited then you say stuff like "iWork is not a real productivity tool because Numbers does not have pivot tables" yes Numbers does not use pivot tables the way Excel does but this does not mean that you can't get the same function or result of a pivot table, you just have to go about it a different way but the functionality is there. The point that I'm trying to make is that Renee is dead on with what he is saying, if I choose to use my iPad as my main computer and it works for me, why is that such an issue with someone who doesn't do the same? I like chocolate you like vanilla, who cares as long as we both are getting what we want and are satisfied with the result.
  • Because you are talking about light computing here. Try running hundreds of lines of code in MATLAB Mobile, and get back to me.
  • While it may not work for everyone, PyLab/numPy+matplotlib+sciPy has completely replaced MATLAB for me. MATLAB is still ahead in some areas, but I greatly prefer the Python language, the cost, and that it also runs on the iPad. It is a powerful platform that many scientists and engineers do their work on. I am pretty sure I will never use MATLAB again, at least not by choice.
  • Right, there could be work-arounds or other solutions. If those work for you or others, cool, nothing wrong with that nor do I want to suggest that there is. I started using Macs close to a decade before the Intel Macs debuted, so back in those PowerPC days I certainly knew the struggle and made-do as best I could where I could. For me, it's not just about that, though; I just don't like iOS much. I don't like how it looks, I don't like how it functions, I don't like how it feels from a "professional" perspective. Perhaps fine for an iPhone or iPod Touch, but it's just not working for me on a tablet for anything beyond basic tasks (ebooks, web, games, music, and so on. And yes, I do own two iPads). I think it makes a fine entertainment device, though.. Once again, if iOS is good enough for some or an even better solution for others, more power to ya'll. It's not that I can't make an iPad work for my needs; it's that an iOS device does not work well enough for my needs at this point in time. Perhaps in 5 years, maybe. Today, not so much. As for MATLAB, prior to 2013 I used a few of the open source alternatives. MATLAB just works better for my needs.
  • You made the same mistake topolsky made but in the other direction. Saying anyone who can't make an iPad work full time for them doesn't know what they are doing is quite frankly, unintelligent.
  • Thank you Rene for two simple explanations of the entire issue: "Being self-centric is natural and perspective taking is hard. I get that. For people who grew up on mainframes, the PC was a joke. For those who lived in the command line, the graphical user interface was a toy. For those who've spent the last couple of decades on Mac or Windows, the iPad is a playground....It's human nature to think anyone with more computing needs is a nerd or a niche and anyone with less, a luddite or a poser, but that's our problem to solve. Not theirs. It has to do entirely with our inability to perspective-take, our lack of empathy, and our rush to judgement. It's our inability to truly understand that most primary of lessons — it's not all about us." I like my Surface Pro 4 because it brings a lot of power to bear in a small package, but my 9.7 iPP is the one I reach for than ever. Can't wait for iOS 11 to spread its wings even further. I do want to touch on one more subject - file management. It looks to me like Apple has co-opted 90% of the FileBrowser App that I have been using for a couple of years now, which is a good compromise for a device like this between no file management and having full power File Explorer (Spotlight, I think, for you mac mavens).
  • I worked selling iPhones and iPads for Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, so my background is completely mobile. I think it may be slightly true that young ones understand iOS better then they do traditional computers with a desktop OS. Yes, young ones have used a desktop OS before, but the majority of them love iOS for the apps, something that Apple's "walled garden" gets right for the kids. Young ones, a major chunk of who Apple is selling to, don't usually use the things Mac veterans use, many times because those kinds of tools don't apply to them. This is where Rene's words come into play, for us to think about how it's not always about our specific needs in a computer for it to be viable. Kids don't need to use Terminal or have external hard drives and multiple monitors. Kids want something portable and shiny that they can take their pictures with and play their games. And voila, iPad, not a thousand dollar heavier and bulkier Mac (in comparison to iPad). Their workflow is so different than those in the professional market, which is a small amount in comparison to the common folk and children who are using these products. Take a room full of young ones that have used a desktop OS before and see if they know how to get a game on a Mac, as opposed to getting a game on an iPad. Because of these things, most likely young ones prefer iOS over a desktop OS. When I got my iPad Pro and saw Apple marketing it as a computer back in 2015, I wasn't keeping up with all the talk about it not being a real computer. Without having all that hate in my face, I fell for Apple's words saying that it was a computer. I believed that it really was, and so I was using it as my primary device. Shortly after, I got my first Mac, so I finally had what people called a "real" computer. Guess which one I end up using more. That's right, iPad. Now upgrading to the new 12.9 inch iPad Pro, it's almost silly to do certain tasks on my Mac. Why would I edit a photo on my Mac when my iPad has P3 Wide Color Gamut, HDR, Pro Motion, and a True Tone display? My entry-level Mac doesn't have these things, so it is better for me to use my iPad since it's screen technology will give me better color accuracy to produce the right image. Sure, I could get a newer Mac that has these things, but it is easier for me to get an iPad to do these things since it weighs less and is smaller and faster. I know this is only one point, but I like adding to the examples of how iPad has empowered me in ways that a traditional computer hasn't yet done so. I don't know if because of my mobile-first background, perhaps I have become an elitist myself, but with iPad and iPhone. But I like using my iPad, and if iOS 11 brings it more Mac features, then I, a mere iOS-based mortal, will receive another gift from MacOS, without having to use MacOS and a Mac. In the same way that those who use traditional computers must not be elitist against iPad users, so too must I be open to those that don't use iPad. I'm happy with iPad as much as some are happy with desktop operating systems, but I know that time will change and these won't always be viable platforms as much as they are now. I will probably be that guy trying to stick to the iPad when holograms and VR headsets start becoming a viable basis for getting work done. So we must all work hard on getting the elitist mentality from our character, desktop users and iPad users alike.
  • Ok so this is kind of long. Love your podcasts.. we have used computers at home for about 50 years.
    My husband uses his iPhone for his only computer. He is on it almost all day every day for FINANCE(live stock updates and tracking with ifttt and other apps, taxes, budgets, notifications of purchases,numbers), COMMUNICATIONS(phone,email,msgs,Skype,FaceTime), ENTERTAINMENT(iBooks(with eye problems can set screen and text size), read news, podcasts-5+perday, iTunes and our own music plus pandora, streaming videos), EDUCATION(online classes, dozens of google searches with safari, podcasts), TRAVEL(comparisons, book flights hotels, check in, maps including national park maps, city maps etc., currency exchange, translations), SYSTEM (sandbox approach is really important no viruses , security is too, works with iwatch and Apple Pay, syncing to all our devices(photos,docs,music, calendar, reminders)cloud storage(iCloud and Dropbox), Super easy and fast interface.
    Apps we want and use at really good prices. And Siri.
    I use my iPad almost as much for most of the same things.
    iMac edit photos on bigger screen with Pixelmator, stream tv shows, movies(we don't own a tv and cut the cord 6 years ago) use in evenings to watch shows, also for scripting numbers spreadsheets and really large spreadsheets.
    Windows 10 laptop, use once or twice a month (at most)for excel features that numbers can't handle and printshop that I haven't found a good replacement for greeting cards, bulletins. Also for EDX class I took that needed VMware.
    So as you say it depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it. We pick easy, convenient and secure.
    Plus the iphone makes phone calls, takes pictures and videos and is so very portable and connectable.everywhere.
  • It's a tough statement to make either way. As a graphic designer focused (primarily) on print media, there is no way I can do anything on the iPad. I must have Adobe InDesign (though I suppose Quark XPress is the only other option) – which will likely never be on the iPad. So there is no stubbornness or "old-timer's disease" going on here. I flat-out can't do my job with iOS. And quite frankly, I'm not sure I want to do page layout on an iPad. It's just not enough screen real estate. I also do quite a bit of writing, which I could easily do on the iPad. Blogging on iPad would require some adjustment time, but can be done with a little effort. The best tool for the job really depends on the job, and the tools required to do it properly and efficiently. You can build a house with a rubber hammer, but it probably won't yield acceptable results, and absolutely won't happen in a timely manner.
  • Going on 20 years with Macs here and two iPads (Gen 1 and iPad 2). As iOS and Android for that matter have become more popular, the desktop environment has been altered to to be user friendly to those accustomed to the mobile experience. Final Cut Pro got dumbed down because of iOS. Pages got dumbed down because of iOS. And on and on. I want my desktop/laptop environment to look and feel like a desktop/laptop, not iOS.
  • "Josh is a legend in this industry" Who cares, and who prescribed him a 'legend' anyway. It's that type of thing that allows people to get away with things cause no one will point them out. There needs to be an objective accountability for these atrocities. "The news is, we don't have to care either. We can let go. You compute you. I'll compute me. If that's every intricacy of Unix, awesome. If that's all the interactivity of iPad, brilliant. And if it's either or, depending on the task, hallelujah. You've achieved zen in our time and all our feeds will be cooler and more peaceful for it." Yes, we should care. When people say things that we don't agree with, walking away without saying something is rolling over, giving up, and allowing the atrocities to continue with no one getting in the way. Voice your opinion if it's different, especially if they have a lot of eyes and ears on what they are saying and are trying to pander or mount an attack to incite atrocities.