- The iPad Pro’s improved performance and larger screens make it better for productivity than ever before.
- But there are a few shortcomings that hold it back from being a true laptop replacement.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When Steve Jobs unveiled the first-generation iPad in 2010, he positioned the device as being a middle ground between the smartphone and the laptop.
Now, nearly a decade later, Apple’s tablet is edging closer toward the laptop end of the spectrum than ever before. The iPad Pro tablets Apple unveiled in October come with larger screens, an A12X Bionic processor that the company says makes them more powerful than most PC laptops, and a USB-C port, which has become the standard for connectivity on most computers and mobile devices.
But even with these upgrades, Apple’s iPads lack a few key features before I ditch my laptop.
Here are four big changes Apple needs to make to the iPad if it wants it to be considered a real computer replacement.
The biggest capability Apple’s iPads lack is support for mice and trackpads. Yes, apps developed for the iPad are well-optimised for touch input and have been for most of the iPad’s nine-year history.
But there are many instances in which I’d rather use a mouse for better precision, such as when I’m managing spreadsheets or editing video. If I’m working on my iPad for long periods of time, it’s also much more comfortable to navigate the screen without having to constantly reach out to tap and swipe it. For my primary work device, mouse input is a deal-breaker.
Such an addition might not be too far off. Apple may add mouse support as an accessibility feature in iOS 13, according to MacStories editor-in-chief Federico Viticci, as MacRumors and other Apple news blogs reported.
Apple has certainly made the iPad better at multitasking in recent years, especially with the introduction of iOS 11 in 2017. That software update brought new features like Slide Over, which makes it possible to view an app in a sidebar over the current app you’re using, and Split View, which as its name implies allows you to divide the screen between two apps.
But for the iPad to function as my main computer, there needs to be more flexibility when it comes to juggling multiple apps. While you can drag the divider to adjust how much space each app occupies on screen in Split View, there’s no way to launch apps in separate re-sizeable windows like you can when using desktop software such as macOS or Windows.
A better file management system
The Files app that Apple introduced in iOS 11 gave its mobile software a much-needed hub for managing documents, photos, and other content across your device and cloud services. With Apple’s app, you can access files saved to your iCloud Drive account as well as content stored in services like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive among others all in one place.
But in most situations, I often find myself navigating directly to the cloud service I’m using, like Google Drive for instance, rather than going through Apple’s Files app. And when it comes to saving files locally on my iPad, I found that the Files app required me to choose an existing folder, like Pages or Keynote, rather than creating a new one.
It’s possible to create new folders within those folders, but based on my experience and Apple’s support page it looks like you must choose one of those folders first before making a fresh one. This isn’t quite as seamless as just right clicking to create a new folder on the desktop like you can do in macOS.
External storage support
The iOS software that powers Apple’s iPads does not support external storage, a particularly important shortcoming for video and photo editors. Third-party developers can write support for external storage, as The Verge’s review notes, but the iPad will not work with external hard drives by default.
That can be a huge drawback for those who frequently use external drives to store hefty video and image files. However, it is possible to import photos to the iPad’s camera roll if you plug in a camera or memory card, as the review notes.
You can configure the iPad Pro to come with up to 1TB of storage, but it will be expensive. The 1TB model of the 11-inch iPad Pro costs $US1,549, while the 12.9-inch 1TB variant will run you $US1,749.
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