Squeezing in the iPad Pro into our lives – can it be done?

We can’t. It is too big.

Alright, let’s put aside the issue of size. It’s huge, and everyone knows that. Like it big? Buy it. Otherwise don’t.

The real question revolving around the iPad Pro is not regarding whether it’s too big.

All it takes is scroll through your Twitter feed (if it is anything like mine), for you to pass the most pressing question regarding the behemoth of a tablet.

“Can the iPad Pro do real work?”

This question whizzes around the minds over every person whose minds have considered getting an iPad Pro (even if their wallets vehemently protest the very thought).

office-on-ipad-pro
Microsoft seems to think the iPad Pro can handle real work. Or maybe they’re just mocking it in comparison to their Surface lineup.

There are two main schools of thought to this debate. One side cites the limits of the iPad hardware, the limits of iOS, and the limits of the App Store against doing real work. The other side cites the expansion of power user features in iOS, the massive computing power of the latest generation of iPads, and the few standouts who get by with an iPad as their primary computer.

This question didn’t start with the iPad Pro.

The rise of the work-tablets, as David Pierce from WIRED puts it, is arguably catching on this year. The advent of the Surface lineup, especially the Surface Pro 3, was what sparked this new concept – a tablet device, that could do real work.

One form or another of the question is always in discussion. The question in this case is about real work, because that’s what Apple seems to have marketed here.

But the question is much simpler than that. And it is by no means new. We’ve been asking ourselves these questions for decades now, every time something out of the ordinary is released.  Here is a more universal form of the question that we’re talking about.

How does <insert device>  fit in my life? Why do I need it?

Let’s go back a few years.

Tablets have always been these nice big screens for entertainment – something you would use on a train, or on your sofa to either watch a sitcom or scroll through your news. The ease of use and ergonomics of the larger display were the main selling point of these tablets.

But this wasn’t always the case.

steve-jobs-original-ipad
“Guys, this is the future. No…no, this is not a big iPhone. It’s an iPad. It’s wonderful. It’s awesome. And it’s going to change your lives (in 5 years).”

The tablet revolution started in 2010 when Steve Jobs announced the iPad. Does anyone remember how everyone was wondering how the original iPad would fit in in their lives?

“This is cool, but why do I need it? My laptop and my iPhone do everything this can!”

That was the question that many asked themselves in 2010 when the iPad first came out. The necessity of the tablet, and what role it would play in our quotidian lives was in question.

5 years later (now), tablets have found their places in our lives. The gadget that many dismissed as being pointless is now something that a lot of users have integrated into their lives – mostly as an entertainment device.

This integration of a new gadget is a very notable phenomenon. When a new form factor of a gadget comes, out society starts off questioning (and sometimes ridiculing) its necessity, and more importantly, its place in our lives. A few years later, it all makes sense. Developers make awesome apps with the new form factor in mind. A whole new industry is born for the class of device. Infants and toddlers are now magically born with a natural inclination for tablets (I played with roly-poly toys when I was a kid). And soon enough, the gadget finds its place in our lives.

The iPad is no longer the device that only a niche population have. Nowadays, everyone has a tablet. The iPad fits in.

Well that happened just once or twice right?

Nope. Let’s go back a few more years.

Macintosh-128k
The Original Macintosh 128K

The Original Macintosh.

When it dropped in 1984, the attitude from many tech people was that it was a toy, not something you can do real work on. Macs had limited software support, no PC compatibility, a tiny black and white display, no command line, no multitasking etc.

This “Macs are toys” attitude persisting among PC users until the 2000s, long after many of these issues were resolved. The tide might have turned around OS X 10.3, which came out in 2003. In other words, it took nearly twenty years for attitudes to change around the Macintosh and deem it worthy for doing “real” work.

Now, the Mac (not the original, obviously) fits in.

So what? Should I get the iPad Pro?

The iPad as a platform is five years old, iOS is eight years old. They’ve changed a lot in that time span, and not just visually. There are still limitations to both, but a lot fewer than there were even a year ago. There were professionals using Macintoshes to do all their work in the 1990s, but they were a rare breed. We’re approaching the iPad equivalent of the 1990s now, and the iPad Pro is equivalent to the beloved Macintosh II.

Will it be enough to turn the tide and make iPads the computer for everyone?

No. At least, not yet.

Ten years from now, iPad and iOS will have another decade of development under their belts. The limitations that make the platform unsuitable for whatever you do that makes you stick to a traditional laptop will almost certainly be gone by then. Likely, they’ll be gone sooner.

So don’t buy the iPad Pro now. Most people won’t buy it this year. Or next year. Or even the following year. But that doesn’t mean the iPad Pro is doomed.

The iPad Pro, and work-tablets in general, like all the other gadgets in our lives for decades, will eventually be good enough to find its place in our lives.

apple-ipencil-smart-keyboard-pricing
Slightly reminiscent of a 90s action figure advertisement on TV.  “Each sold separately. Batteries not included. Action figures not included.”

Maybe one day, they’ll start bundling the Pencil, and more importantly, the Smart Keyboard with the iPad Pro.

Till then, I’ll hold off. And I recommend you do too.

Leave a Reply