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Is the iPad REALLY broken? has it got 1 more chance?

Or are we just looking at it the wrong way?

iPad

Pivotal moments in design & technology history come about it in the strangest of ways. Take the iPad for instance. It may have never come to be, but for a dinner party! Sitting down with friends, Steve Jobs was told that Bill Gates was working on a tablet PC. And this is where it all started.

The first meeting

The very next day, Jobs called the team together and told them his vision. He believed that the Mac was too complicated for a massive part of the market. Simplicity was his vision. Lightweight, easy to use, and not overly complicated in its form-factor. He wanted to be able to email on the fly, and not be tethered to a desk. He saw a vision for busy, productive professionals to be able to work anywhere, and not need to have a pHD is computer science. The funny part of the result from this meeting was that it actually resulted in the iPhone. But hot on its heels, we of got the iPad….in 2010 the world saw its first Mac as a tablet, and the rest, is history.

iPad

For the masses

Back at its launch, iPad was met with derision, being called a big iPhone. However, that is actually a skewed vision. The iPhone is actually a small iPad! Don’t forget, that initial meeting was supposed to result in a tablet, but we got the phone instead.

Back then, the Mac was not mainstream. It was the domain of serious computer nerds, designers, creatives & musicians. But the general public were not that interested. It was deemed complicated, expensive and mystic. This is what Jobs, brilliantly defined, and knew needed to change. With the advent of iPhone, the door had been opened. Folks were now using Apple products and understood a bit more about them – the myth dispelled as it were. This was the launch pad Jobs needed. And simplicity was his mantra from day one. No file navigation, no windows to shift through, and no list to work through to get one simple task complete. The home button was seen as an essential get out of jail card – an escape all button. For those that panicked over desktops, the tablet revolution was going to simplify everything and make mobile computing easy for all.

The core Mac users

The line that Apple had to tread was in not alienating their core, loyal, nerdy users. They wanted this future to include them, but not be for use solely by them! There were elements they loved, such as instant on, but Jobs knew, that to make this a success, it was the public that needed to be brought on-side. In fact, Jobs saw this division over the iPad as another challenge. Why could the Mac not be more iPad-like in its operating system? And looking back at Mac history, we can see those influences shining through. It is no surprise, that suddenly in the Mac line-up, machines like the ultra-lightweight MacBook and the MacBook Air were getting all the attention. And had Jobs had his way, those laptops would have been even more iPad-esque to use as well.

Simplicity won

Jobs liked what he was seeing; his vision coming to life. And at its very core, the one design note that Jobs and his team would never roll back on, was that of simplicity. This didn’t purely extend to his immediate team, either. With the iPhone and then the iPad, the App Store had become a burgeoning business in its own right. But woe betide any developer who made an app with even the merest whiff of complexity to it. One touch, press & play, and open & use was what he wanted. And he clarified this for his developers as well. The Files app & even Air Drop, for many years, were considered a step too far.

The common ground

So to the argument we find circling today…should the iPad be more Mac like to use? When will iPad run macOS? These same arguments rage not only for us, but within Apple as well. One of the biggest selling accessories that Apple sell, is the Magic Keyboard, which is no surprise. With that attached, the iPad feels an almost desktop experience. The simplicity lives on, but now with a more familiar feel to it. To some extent, it explains why iWork shipped almost immediately as it fitted the brief perfectly, but then, and still now, no Pro apps were available to run on iPadOS. The iPad Pro has been with us for very nearly seven years, and of those, the last two years it has actually run the same Apple Silicon processors & uses the similar resources as the MacBook Air. It is not just the iPad Pro that benefits, either. iPad Air joined the party, and it too now runs the very same Apple Silicon.

The future

With Tim Cook and Craig Federighi in control, there has been a very slight loosening of the belt in regard to letting the lines blur between macOS & iPadOS. With Universal Control, one mouse and trackpad can control Mac & iPad. We can drag and drop, and we have the Files App too. I can’t see that we’ll ever get a Samsung DeX type system anytime soon though, for a couple of good reasons.

Firstly, I believe Apple do not want to lose the essence & identity of iPad. Whilst a little slack may be given, it will always remain true to its original design brief. And for those hoping one day to be able to plug an iPhone in to a monitor, in a DeX like manner, don’t hold your breath. Whilst I can see the sense for Samsung having that option, for iPhone & Mac it makes none. Apple, will always want you to but a Mac. They believe that when you see how well iOS devices work, a Mac will be your next stop. So, it would be counterproductive for them to enable an iPhone to become a Mac.

And as for the Pro apps, certainly Apple’s own, native ones such as Final Cut and Logic, what’s the future? I think a dedicated version of those pro apps will be coming at us, and soon. The iPadOS needs some love to better utilise the workspace now available, and when that is in place, I imagine the pro apps will be with us making use of all that processor power that iPad now runs.

What’s your thoughts? Are you an iPad Pro user? What improvements would you like to see? Would you use the pro apps if they were on iPad? And where do you see iPad being in a few years?

Getting involved

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Originally published at https://www.talkingtechandaudio.com/blog on April 27, 2022.

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