iPad Pro: Just three small steps away from a killer laptop replacement
Apple is making a strong play to replace the form factor of the laptop with the iPad Pro. Their advantage over the innovative Microsoft Surface is that they started with iOS, which as a mobile operating system, is designed to be used in smaller form factors.
I’ve been using an iPad Pro for close to a year now, and from a hardware perspective, it was 95% there. The screen and keyboard were just a tad too small, and Apple may have just solved that with the new 10.5" iPad Pro. The device is pretty close to the same size, but thinner bezels make the screen and keyboard much larger. Can’t wait to try it.
The iPad’s battery life is so vastly superior to a laptop, it’s already a better device to use on so many levels. I think Apple realized that the real challenge in replacing the laptop was the software. iOS 11 is a huge leap forward in making this possible.
— Switching apps took a lot of time. Press home, swipe around to find the app, open it up. Now with iOS 11, you can swipe the dock up from anywhere, and use it to switch to another app or drag up and float a second app on top of a first one.
— If you swipe up further, control panel becomes a set of “spaces” that let you flip back and forth between different app combinations. So even apps not on the dock are really quick to launch.
— The “Files” app finally brings a working file system to the iPad and, wonder of wonders, they built syncing in with Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, so no matter what cloud provider my company ends up using, I’ll be able to access my files.
— Screenshots turn into a real object that you can easily take, crop and doodle on with the Apple Pencil. It’s so much easier to send marked up design edits using the Pencil to get across what I mean.
But there are three key things the iPad Pro still needs to make me ditch the laptop on trips.
- I’ve got to be able to open multiple instances of apps. When I’m editing legal agreements, I often open my original document and somebody else’s messy edits side by side, and rewrite the edits into the original to create a clean master. To my knowledge, iOS 11 has no simple way to open two Word documents side by side.
- I’ve got to be able to sync files to the device. In an ideal world, we’re surrounded by high-speed connectivity and everything can live in the cloud on demand. In the real world, you discover in the first half hour of a five hour flight that the airplane wifi is nonexistent. I can’t risk not having access to my stuff. iPads have as much storage as my MacBook…why not let me selectively sync parts of my Dropbox to the device?
- Apps need to be able to share the screen. The #1 reason I don’t take an iPad to 100% of my meetings at Riskalyze is the need to join a Highfive meeting and share my screen. We also have $35 Google Chromecasts on our conference room TVs, not $150 Apple TVs. Neither of those options work from an iPad yet.
It’s amazing how close we are to the iPad Pro as an all-day battery life device that is superior to a laptop in a number of ways. I hope Apple solves these three software problems and we don’t have to wait one more year for iOS 12.