The new iPad Pro is definitely the best tablet Apple has ever made, but it’s still not perfect.
In 2010, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs demonstrated the iPad’s capabilities by sitting down on a big comfy chair with it, on stage in front of hundreds of people, and showing what it was like to read a book or browse the web on the iPad.
Recently, though, Apple has pushed the idea of using the iPad for doing work. Real work.
The first iPad Pro, which launched in 2015, had a massive, 12.9-inch display and supported an Apple-made keyboard and a stylus, called Apple Pencil.
Apple also added a ton of productivity features for the iPad in iOS 11 last year, including a dock, drag and drop, multi-tasking, and a way to get files from your main computer – very laptop-y features.
Clearly, Apple wants people to do work on the iPad. But if that’s the case, Apple needs to consider adding these two crucial features that would bring its tablet much more in line with other professional workstations.
A proper file system
In 2014, Apple introduced iCloud Drive, which let you access your saved files across your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
iCloud Drive is useful for getting documents saved to a few folders on your computer, but it’s limited to what you can store in iCloud. It’s not a true file system, which is what the iPad deserves.
On Mac computers, the main file system is called Finder. You can find documents quickly and easily, and rearrange them to your liking using folders. You can send any documents or folders to the trash, where you have one more opportunity to keep them before you lose them forever.
The closest approximation to a file system on the iPad, unfortunately, is the Files app, which is really just iCloud Drive. If you haven’t connected your iPad to your iCloud account, the Files app simply doesn’t work. This isn’t the case when you buy a new Mac computer.
If you don’t like the Files app, you can also use Spotlight Search on the iPad, where you pull down from the middle of the screen to search for anything on your device, but that’s about it.
As a professional user, I want the ability to see and organise all of my files on the fly without needing to visit specific applications, or be connected to iCloud. I just want to be able to explore all of the files and data on my iPad like I can on my Mac. Apple may not have considered baking a full file system into iOS because you’re not doing a ton of work on an iPhone, but it’s one of the biggest aspects that keeps the iPad from becoming a true laptop replacement.
Support for mice and trackpads
Back in June, Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi was asked why he wouldn’t put a touchscreen on a PC.
“We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do,” he told Wired.
What’s funny is that while Federighi was attempting to denounce touchscreen PCs, he unwittingly explained why the iPad isn’t a great replacement for a true work computer, like a laptop or desktop. He says it himself: “Lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do.” And he’s right!
Federighi’s quote is exactly why the iPad needs more inputs methods – particularly the mouse and trackpad, two of the most traditional and popular input methods in the history of computing.
There are a handful of occasions when touchscreens are not ideal – like when you’re playing a game, for instance, since your hand will probably obscure the game you’re playing at least partially. And touchscreens, while fun, are not as precise as mice or trackpads. The Apple Pencil is designed to solve this issue of precision, and it is extremely precise, but it doesn’t solve the issue of fatigue. Imagine editing photos or videos with an Apple Pencil for hours at a time; it’s much easier to do when you don’t have to lift your arm.
Apple needs to figure out a way to let mice and trackpads play nice with the iPads. Even if this feature only works for the iPad Pro, and even if it’s only Apple’s own Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse, Apple should do it. Mouse and trackpad support would make it much easier to work on an iPad for extended periods of time.
Apple is so close to making a perfect tablet
The iPad Pro’s hardware is pretty much there: the new edge-to-edge display looks gorgeous, and the device is really powerful and incredibly thin.
At this point, it’s only the software – without a proper file system, and the lack of support for certain accessories – that’s holding it back.