According to the recent episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen Hackett and David Sparks were looking at the iPad as a laptop replacement. It feels like it was one of the best discussions of the iPad and iOS that I had heard in a while.
They talk about the things of iPad that gives them joy and things that do not. The show makes me think about the history of iOS on the iPad, and where things got stagnant. For me, the iPad becomes stagnant around the time of iPhone 6 Plus debuted as a device. It is a reality that the iPhone has gotten better as handling iPad tasks a lot faster than the iPad has vs. a MacOS powered laptop. After that, iOS on the iPad hasn’t changed dramatically outside of how multitasking works. If you want to listen to a great discussion about the good features and bad features of the iPad lifestyle, I would like to recommend you to take a look at this episode. As I think about the future of the iPad, I have come to the realization that iOS 13 on the iPad will be the most important release to date.
Putting the Pro in iOS
The challenge between Apple and iOS 13 on the iPad is keeping it simple but also improving how it handles complex tasks that typically have been best served by MacOS. If I was a product manager in the iPad group, I would constantly argue about the iPad needs to be able to do everything a Mac can do. Yes, they are different devices, but users should be able to pick up either one and get the same things done. It’s time for the iPad lineup to get the same Pro upgrade with the software that its hardware has gotten in recent years. Tasks like file management have got to become easier. I will argue that Mobile Safari has to be removed, and a desktop-class browser has to be added, and the iPad also needs to get trackpad/pointer support.
The iOS 13 Crossroads
Apple has filled out that the iPad lineup to where it resembles a laptop lineup. There are options for iPad as low as $100 and all the way up to Over $1000 for a maxed out iPad Pro it’s not included accessories. As Apple has built faster and faster iPads but it still is limited by the software. I believe that iOS 13 is a crossroads for the iPad. If WWDC 2019 comes and goes with only incremental updates to iOS on the iPad, it feels like someone is asleep at the wheel on the product team. The iPad is not a new concept of the device if Apple wants to believe it’s the future of computing, then the software needs to match the current hardware also.
Some of you may want to make the argument to let the Mac be the Mac and iPad be the iPad, and I also agree with that to an extent. But, I don’t think selling tablets and laptops is going to work forever for both of them. Companies are building devices that accomplish both. I don’t think right now the category of hybrid devices is great, someone has to figure it out. Just as the iPhone combined our iPods and cellphones into a single device, the iPad Pro should someday be able to cannibalize a MacBook Air and a 9.7-inch iPad. If Apple doesn’t figure it out that how to keep iOS 13 accessible to novice users while expanding what the iPad can do then Apple is leaving an opportunity open for other companies.