What is the iPad?

Back in 2013, I got the first iPad Air, and for many years after that, it served as my computer. For 13-year-old me, that mostly meant playing games, surfing the web, and watching YouTube. When I needed something more powerful, I got the 2017 MacBook Pro, and my first iPad Air became more of a supplemental device. But, even the MacBook wasn’t cutting it for me. I needed something with a bit more power. So, when the 2020 iPad Air came my way, I challenged myself to see if it could be a proper replacement for my Mac, and here’s what I learned.

To put my iPad to the test, I gave it a simple question, can I run this whole blog off my iPad? Short answer, yes. The long answer is way more complicated.

But, let’s start with the short answer. Yes, I am able to create a new blog post from start to finish off my iPad. I would start by doing some research in Safari and get to typing in Grammarly. Then, once everything is proofed and ready, I paste the script into a Parrot, a teleprompter app, and get to recording. When finished, I can then plug my camera directly into my iPad, thanks to the addition of USB-C, and import the video clips into Photos. From there, I can use Lumafusion to stitch the clips together. And, I end by posting the text to AppleGuideWeb.com and uploading the videos to YouTube and Facebook.

So, the moral of the story, I’m able to run this whole channel off my iPad, and I did so for a couple of months. The capabilities of the iPad Air certainly impressed me, and I ended up using my iPad more and more as I found ways to recreate more of my Mac workflows on an iPad. The keyword here is recreate.

Unfortunately, due to the software limitations of iPadOS, you can’t simply replicate your desktop workflow step by step. They’re just fundamentally different devices. Instead, you have to learn the many quarks of the iPad in order to adapt and recreate your workflow.

For instance, uploading a video to YouTube and Facebook wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been. For some background, I export everything into the Files app, where I find it much easier to organize everything into folders. But, to upload the videos had to use a combination of apps and websites to get everything where it needed to be. For YouTube, I had to either save the video to my Photo library and upload it using the YouTube streaming app or go to Safari to upload it using their website. YouTube, why can’t I upload videos using your Studio app? Although, I was able to upload the video to Facebook using their mobile Creator Studio app. But, that’s the problem with both YouTube’s streaming and creators apps and Facebook’s Creator Studio app, they are, more or less, iPhone apps scaled up for the larger screen, and they’re a shell of their online counterparts. Then, you ask, why not skip the apps and upload the videos using their respective websites. Well, that would be nice if YouTube Studio wasn’t so buggy on the smaller screen and Facebook’s Creator Studio supported Safari. Have you tried another browser, you may also ask? Well, what’s the point if Apple requires every iOS browser to be a redesigned version of Safari.

While I’m complaining about apps, here’s another one, Adobe Lightroom, which requires you to purchase and use their Creative Cloud storage, ignoring the fact that you can buy an iPad with up to 2TB of storage that you may or may not want to sync with their services. It’s unfortunate since Lightroom is probably one of the only pro Photo catalogings apps aside from Apple’s built-in Photos app.

And, now that we are on the topic of pro apps, Apple, where’s Final Cut and Logic?

Finally, I can’t complain about apps without also complaining about the multitasking experience on iPadOS, which is messy. I plan on making a more detailed video on the state of multitasking on iPadOS, but here’s the gist. You can have four apps on the screen at a time, two in split view, one hovering over one of the two, and a video playing in picture-in-picture mode. How do you use all of these different modes? It would take too long to explain. It’s so confusing that Apple added three dots at the top of every window to remind you of your limited multitasking options. On top of that, some apps support opening multiple windows for you to lose. And, instead of Apple doing something to fix all of this, they make it worse by adding more layers to it. For example, this year Apple announced Stage Manager and boasted about how you can now resize windows on iPadOS before ultimately revealing that under the hood is the same old tedious multitasking system as before. However, there is still time for Apple to tweak the feature before iPadOS 16 comes out in the fall.

Although, there are some things that the iPad got from the Mac and does pretty well.

For starters, the iPad supports a keyboard and mouse. I have a full video coming that will go more in-depth on how an iPad uniquely interfaces with a keyboard and mouse. But, for now, its most prominent benefit is gaining back some screen real estate that’s typically taken by the on-screen keyboard. The mouse is just an added bonus, so you don’t have to keep reaching up to touch the screen. This is a great addition, especially for users who are heavy typers, and it doesn’t cost much to give it a try.

You also have the merger of software between macOS and iPadOS thanks to Project Catalyst, which created a more unified experience between the two platforms. Some examples of this are Safari and Music.

I also have to give props to Apple for the Files app. It’s come a long way and still has a ways to go. But, it is nice that iPadOS now has a Finder-like file manager that can be accessed across the system

However, at the end of the day, Apple and its users need to ask themselves what they want the iPad to be. Do you want the iPad to be a screen that runs on macOS, or do you want it to be a tablet that functions like a larger iPhone? Because, right now, it still feels like an oversized iPhone too scared to step into the territory of the Mac.

Now, if you’re in the market for a new iPad, you need to ask yourself, what will I actually be using this for, and is it worth the time and effort of reinventing the wheel to accommodate a touch screen device? Then, if you do end up getting an iPad, will you just turn it into a MacBook, as I did thanks to Apple’s Magic Keyboard. If so, you have to consider the price comparison. You get the 2022 iPad Air for $699 and add on the Magic Keyboard for an additional $279. That’s a total of $1,050. Is that worth it when you can get a more capable MacBook Air with the same specs for $999?

The iPad is going through an identity crisis. Does it want to be a Mac? Does it want to be an iPhone? What does it mean to be an iPad? But, at the end of the day, if Apple wants to keep marketing the iPad as a computer and ship high-end pro models with desktop-class performance, they need the software it runs on to meet the hardware halfway. And, until then, no one is going to take the iPad seriously.

Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed this video, be sure to like and subscribe as I plan to go more in-depth into some of the features I talked about today.

Links and Sources:

Stage Manager Saga: