In late April, it had finally arrived. My brand new Magic Keyboard for my month-old iPad Pro was sitting on my coffee table, ready to come alive. I was so convinced the hardware combination would let me replace my MacBook Pro for everyday tasks that I committed to doing just that for 30 days.
Unfortunately, I failed the test. Or rather, Apple did. Mainly because of software shortcomings, the iPad Pro still hasn't replaced my computer, and here are the many reasons why.
The iPad Pro hasn't always been a "pro" device, regardless of what Apple said about earlier models. The introduction of iPadOS slowly changed this when must-have iPad-only features went online, including the ability to use the tablet with mice and other input devices.
This spring, Apple took things even further into the professional direction by introducing the very expensive Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Featuring a built-in trackpad, the keyboard, when snapped into place, gives the iPad Pro an almost iMac-like appearance, especially when viewed from the side.
No doubt, the hardware combination is the reason Apple says of the 2020 iPad Pro, "Your next computer is not a computer."
What works and doesn't work
From a hardware perspective, there's little I would change about the Magic Keyboard and how it connects to the iPad Pro. Sure, an Escape key would be helpful, and the trackpad could be bigger. The keyboard itself, however, is a joy to use thanks to the heavily-praised scissor mechanism also found on the newest MacBooks. I've also come to love the top-heavy design of the iPad Pro/Magic Keyboard combination that works whether you're sitting at a desk or using your tablet from your lap.
As a member of the Future team, I primarily use my computer for writing and editing/adding images to articles. Throughout the workday, you'll also find me on Slack chatting with colleagues, checking out Twitter, and reading the latest news headlines across multiple sites. For video conferencing, we use Google Meet.
Generally, I don't use the computer for processor-heavy tasks such as video-editing or game-playing. When I'm not working, my MacBook Pro is turned off, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max and second-generation 11-inch iPad Pro are my devices of choice for fun and entertainment.
For the "easy" work stuff, the iPad Pro performs just as well as my 2-year-old MacBook Pro. Writing with iA Writer (my favorite text app) on my tablet using the Magic Keyboard is beautiful, for the lack of a better word, and the process of bringing my text to my company's customized web-based CMS is seamless. Editing that content through the CMS is also simple thanks to the trackpad's ease of use.
Slack is also a joy to use on the iPad Pro, as is the everyday web-surfing experience. The Google Meet app performs adequately, although not as well as the web version. However, the login process on the former is much quicker.
Make no mistake; there's nothing I do throughout the day on my computer that can't also be performed on my iPad Pro. However, there are pain points that can't be overlooked. During my month-long test, each of these difficulties slowed down my work process. In some cases, I had to switch back to my computer out of frustration and to keep up with deadlines.
My biggest issue was with editing and importing screenshots and images into our company's CMS. The difficulties here mostly have to do with how iPadOS (and iOS) store photos by default. To create an effective workflow, I had to move images into the Files app (from the Photos app), then give the file(s) a new name to match our requirements. Only then could I drag the images into the CMS.
I also had trouble using Airtable on iPad, which is a software package iMore uses to keep track of assignments. On a computer, Airtable is best accessed through a web browser. On iPad, there's an iPad app that doesn't work nearly as well.
Though multitasking has come a long way on the iPad, it's still not nearly as good as macOS. Specifically, the app tray at the bottom of the iPad Pro shows only recently opened apps, not all opened apps. On a Mac, everything remains in the dock, which keeps the workflow moving in a much more successful way.
Some readers may suggest the difficulties I experienced on iPad Pro are short-term and simply because I'm used to how things work on macOS. In other words, a case of not being able to teach old dogs new tricks. I'd agree with this, at least up to a point. However, there's also a strong case to be made that there's no reason to reinvent to wheel. And on this point, I think Apple "gets it."
Many of the improvements made to iPadOS and iOS in recent years can get tied back to making mobile more like a desktop. Adding trackpad and mice support is just one example of this. I would expect that future versions of iPadOS will look even more like macOS, and no doubt, at some point, a universal OS could be announced. Until then, incremental steps will involve tackling learning curves and patience.
Though my 30-day test is over, I continue to use my iPad Pro for things I once relied on my computer to complete. In cases where the tablet doesn't do a great job, I simply pivot to my laptop, and that's okay.
Have you successfully moved from a computer to a tablet? How'd you do this? Let us know below.