Lately, it seems like every cool Apple nerd is talking about how they've given up on their Macs and have started doing all their work on iPads. Woz bless all of you who have been able to that, but I can't do it. Honestly, I can't even imagine giving up my Macs. There's a simple mechanical reason, here — but more importantly, a philosophical one.
It's not about the power
It's too easy to jump on the anti-tablet bandwagon and say, "iPad as work computer? LOL, it's underpowered!" But it's not underpowered: I do at least half of my daily computing on a lowest of the low-end 12-inch MacBook. There's no way in
R-e-d-m-o-n-d Hell that my laptop is a vastly more powerful computer than my iPad Pro. Instead, what my Mac has going for it for me is thirty years of muscle memory and habit.
I'm typing this right now on an iPad Pro with the Logitech Create keyboard case. (Let no one say I haven't at least tried to work on my tablet.) It's a phenomenal keyboard, and the iPad's screen is as good as any Mac — but I feel like I'm missing something. I keep reaching for the trackpad. I keep hitting Command-S. My eyes drift over to where my second monitor should be when I'm trying to think. A reminder notification pops up — WHY IS THERE NO ESCAPE KEY??
It's like most of my computer is here, but I'm trying to operate it in some kind of weird dream. A dream where I have to keep reaching up and getting fingerprints all over my screen. It's an exciting, futuristic dream, but it doesn't feel solid yet; it's not quite reality for me.
The world of files
The bigger reason why the Mac will always be my true home — and the iPad more of a sunny AirBNB — is that my computer is a world of files first, and apps second. I appreciate my Mac's incredible, deep-bench software, but it all comes back to the Desktop. Perhaps you could even say the Mac is not my home — the Finder is.
I'm not sure if it was the early OS X corrupted Mail databases, the clunk factor of pulling pictures from iPhoto into Photoshop, or just good old fashioned &%@#!-ing iTunes libraries screwing up my music, but I have never been able to fully trust apps that try to manage my files for me.
When I open a file on my computer, I don't think "this is a TextEdit file," I think "this is a .txt file which I can drag onto BBEdit, TextEdit, Highland or whatever I'm currently in the mood to type with." Mac software interacts with my files; it doesn't try to absorb them.
Maybe thinking this way makes me an Old. But I don't believe it's closed-mindedness: I believe people can get real work done on a tablet without a mouse and desktop keyboard (or a command line). I just love having the power to do my work in a more free-form manner than iOS currently allows. I probably shouldn't have to see every dinky file on my disk to make things work, but I like to know that I can.
Mac for life
Some would say that if I don't like the way Apple is heading with these things, it's time to switch to Windows or Linux. I disagree. I spent a lot of the 1990s worried that every Mac would be my last, and I'd have to leave it behind. But the Mac has proven to be more durable than any of us could have dreamed. The iPhone may be the most popular device Apple has ever sold, but they still make the Mac — and people like me will likely buy them as long as they do.
I do love my shiny iOS devices, and it's more than possible to get serious work done on them. But I suspect that it'll be a long time before they feel more like home than my Mac.
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