I'm all in on the iPad Pro
A few weeks ago I spilt coffee all over my 2016 MacBook. The prognosis was not good. According to the Apple Store Genius who tested it, the machine would cost as much to fix as to buy a new one. My addiction to caffeine has proven devastatingly expensive, so too my foolish decision not to take out Apple Care+, which insures the accident-prone, frappe-mocha loving cafe accetionados amongst us, for two device write offs.
All this hoo ha came at the same time as the release of the 10.5" iPad Pro. After selling my MacBook for scrap and flogging a few old iPads knocking around the house, I could justify the expense, and I am happy to report that I haven't looked back since. The iPad Pro is lightening fast. The Apple-made Keyboard is really nice to type on, and is a considerable improvement on previous keyboards that the company has made for its pro line of iPads. I have enjoyed learning all the neat shortcuts (Command + B for bold text where have you been all of my life?!). The Apple Pencil works really well and I am fully intending to integrate it into my workflow for planning lessons in Nebo, an app that converts written notes into text and allows them to be exported to word documents. The Apple Sleeve, while expensive, is really stylish, and protects the iPad in transit. The iPad Pro screen is bright and enjoyable to read on.
In many ways, the initial reviews of this new iPad were spot on. It is a perfect hybrid device that can be used for both consumption and productivity. I recently watched the England V South Africa cricket match, and the vibrant colours of a test match pop out from the screen, aided and abetted by the impressive speakers that are packed into the device. Yet just this morning, I used the iPad for a completely different purpose by working on a PowerPoint presentation.
Some Apple commentators have called for a reversal of the question as to whether an iPad can replace a laptop. John Gruber recently linked to a 2015 article by Frasier Spears, who did just that, when the iPad Pro line was first released. Writes Spears:
"Firstly, consider the hardware. The huge issue with the MacBook Pro is its form factor. The fact that the keyboard and screen are limited to being held in an L-shaped configuration seriously limits its flexibility. It is basically impossible to use a MacBook pro while standing up and downright dangerous to use when walking around. Your computing is limited to times when you are able to find somewhere to sit down. "
On software support:
"Mac software is a limitation here too. Mac OS X only recently got a version of the Photos app from iOS and while there is a photo picker available in some Mac apps like Keynote and Pages, it is far less broadly supported than the photo picker on iOS."
On battery life:
"Despite their far greater size, and consequently weight, there is no MacBook Pro model that gets better battery life than the iPad Pro. You have to wonder about the efficiency of the Intel platform. The MacBook Pro line also requires device-specific chargers."
On watching and listening to things:
"The MacBook Pro isn't even really good for content consumption. No MacBook Pro offers a similar four-speaker configuration to that built into the body of the iPad Pro. This can put a bit of a dampener on your enjoyment of movies and TV shows as the sound is far thinner with less bass and richness than the iPad Pro can deliver. You are also limited to landscape orientation of the screen, which makes reading books and browsing longer websites an exercise in frustrated scrolling. "
There is also the lack of cellular connectivity, the higher price points of Macs and the fact that the new iPad Pros are more powerful than some Macs still on the market.
I am sure that I will find some things more tricky with my iPad. The multitasking features on iOS 11 probably won't serve as a full substitute for the multi-window panes you are able to generate on a laptop. And the 10.5" screen is still pretty small to use for the entire day, when compared to the larger screen sizes of Macs and PCs. Finding and storing documents with a native file system is indeed a problem, although iOS 11 should go some way to resolving this issue.
Indeed, for most things, the iPad Pro is already far superior. The very fact that one does not have to load up an iPad, and the fact that the user has the ability to both touch the screen and type on a physical keyboard, means that, for most of the time, the iPad Pro is far more useful and versatile a product than a laptop. The iPad Pro will innevitably come of age with the release of the tablet-focused iOS 11, but even on the software I am currently using, I not really missing my MacBook.