Why The iPad Pro Wasn’t Right For Me And How It Could Be

I’ve owned several iPads so far. I’ve had the iPad 2, Mini, 3rd gen, Air, and then the Pro. I currently have none, and I’m okay with that and here’s why: I’m a power user.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know the iPad (and similar tablets, for that matter) are not supposed to replace a PC. It’s just that I find myself having to jump to a PC so often that I feel like it’s less convenient then simply starting on the PC to begin with. What’s worse is that, half the time, when I realize I can’t do what I’m wanting to do on the iPad, I’ll simply give up and not do it rather than go switch over to a PC. That’s decidedly less productive.

I was super excited when they announced the iPad Pro. And it turned out to be for good reason. The iPad pro came so very close to fulfilling my needs that I almost considered ditching the laptop for it. I used it with the Smart Keyboard and found it comfortable and versatile enough to use it anywhere and in any situation. The iPad itself was way more powerful than I could make use of and I liked that about it. It felt like I could take on anything with it.

The new multi-tasking capabilities also gave the impression that I could accomplish similar things that a normal power user would on a computer. But it turned out that it just wasn’t quite there.

The new features introduced in iOS 10 are welcome improvements, but I feel like some of them should’ve been there from the get go (I’m looking at you split screen Safari). As brilliant as the split screen concept is, each app has to be written to take advantage of it, which means that many apps won’t work with it at all. Even for the ones that do, the app-choosing method for the split screen app needs improvement since it’s essentially a long vertical list of apps that you flick through until you (finally) find the right one.

The Problem

I like to dabble in all sorts of development. I found Coda for iOS was an excellent solution for web development. All of your code changes are synced via FTP to a web server and it allows you to quickly view those changes on the server. It even comes with an nice SSH client. Using this, I was able to reasonably develop in PHP and Laravel on a remote dev server and I found this comfortable enough for my needs.

The main problem is that coding involves lots of multitasking. You’re typically doing a lot of research on the Internet (at least I do) while crafting your code in another window and iOS’s implementation of multitasking and split screen windows was just too cumbersome for this.

Another problem is that any sort of code that needs to be compiled (java, C++, etc) was a non-starter for iOS. The Swift Playgrounds app was a nice addition to iOS 10, but I still don’t think we’ll be building iOS apps within iOS itself anytime soon. I suppose this is a fringe case and the reality is I’d still be alright with this issue provided I could comfortably write the code itself on this go.

The solution

The situation will improve once more apps have been written to take advantage of multitasking, but I’d like to see multi tasking that works wether the app was written for it or not. I’d also like to see the ability to split the screen into quadrants (sort of like Windows 10) and I’d like to see better\more intuitive ways to create split screens to begin with.

I’d also really like to see a multi desktop mode (like Spaces in OS X) so that you can quickly switch between multi split-screen environments.

The future is looking bright though

Despite these setbacks, I’m happy to see that Apple is continuing to focus on improving the multitasking experience and it seems so close. I feel like the true power of this platform will be recognized once people can be as capable on these devices as they are on a computer, at least for a majority of things. The problem is that right now, many people already meet this criteria not because the platform is where it needs to be, but because their computer skills weren’t that great on a traditional computer to begin with.

The computer power user will likely still find these devices constricting and unproductive until multitasking is as intuitive and feature complete as it is on a traditional computer, whatever that ends up looking like for a tablet.

I’m thinking we’ll probably find the solution within the next 2 years and I imagine that the current generation of hardware will end up being capable of running this solution. Whatever the case, I’ve decided to hold off on trying any more iPads until I’ve seen that iOS can accomplish more of the things I need it to do on a daily basis.

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