Thinking about the iPad Pro

Want to see the best example of why the iPad isn’t really a multi-tasking professional machine yet? Try opening up Apple TV while you’re connected to an external monitor. Yes, you can play a video file and you will see the movie play on the big screen. Meanwhile, your iPad screen will be black. And try and open up another application so you can do something else on the iPad while watching that movie, and up will pop the application you just opened on the big screen.

Bear in mind that the processor on the iPad that I’m using – last year’s 12.9in iPad Pro – is a pretty powerful thing. And the iPad can do lots of things at the same time: I can have music playing, watch something using Picture in Picture, have two apps on split screen and another one via SlideOver, all cramped on to the iPad’s screen, and it will work perfectly. What I absolutely can’t do have anything on a monitor that’s not mirrored, unless the developer has worked to create an extended view – which most don’t – and even then I can’t really do much else at the same time.

Here’s what you can do: open up the TV app (or any other application which supports something on an external display. Put the app you want to also work on into the other side of the screen, making it split with TV. Play your movie. And it all works! But what a kludgy, useless kind of hack this is.

You can even have have another app on screen as a SlideOver window, and it works! But forget for a minute that you have had to make this crazy fudge of a way of working, and open up another app… and all of a sudden whatever you have on the big screen will stop working, and you’re back in mirroring hell. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will stop (don’t judge me) and you will need to work out how to juggle the windows all over again.

This isn’t good enough. Not for a device that costs north of £1000 and that has the processing power which the M1 delivers. Apple has a lot of work to do with iPadOS, and I would expect it to arrive at this year’s WWDC.

6 Comments

  1. pimoore: @ianbetteridge Absolutely agree with all of this. If the iPad is truly meant to be a replacement for traditional computers, Apple needs to remove these kinds of shackles and limitations of using it while at a desk. I love the iPad, and like you I’m hoping the last holdouts of the experience will be a thing of the past at WWDC. via micro.blog

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  2. pimoore: @ianbetteridge yes, absolutely! Better desktop docking and display support would be a huge step in making the platform much more flexible for any computing setup you need. As I age, my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be. I’d love to be able to have a bigger screen to use while at my desk, with full support. Granted, this solution still doesn’t address some of the multitasking and background app support issues, nor concerns with the App Store, but it would be a start.
    Truthfully, I still haven’t been able to pull the trigger on an M1 iPad or iMac yet, and find myself more torn than ever. I’d be buying an iPad based on what I’ve enjoyed now and in the hope for future support, but I’m in full agreement with what several people have mentioned here that getting something based on the future is folly. via micro.blog

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  3. ianbetteridge: @pimoore Getting something based on a future which may not happen is certainly folly, and the current M1 Macs are really good. I have an M1 Mac mini and it’s lovely – so fast, so responsive. But using it also always feels somehow like the past. And being limited to keyboard and mouse feels… well, limiting now. I’ve bought the M1 12.9 iPad Pro (replacing last year’s model, which now replaces my partner’s 11in Pro which she accidentally stood on!).
    And boy, is that screen good. It’s instantly the thing that I want to work on more than anything else. via micro.blog

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  4. pimoore: @ianbetteridge That’s part of my debate as well. Every time I use my Mac at work something about it feels off; the old paradigm, the old inputs, even having to manage MacPorts for software tools that Apple doesn’t provide feels cumbersome and legacy. (I also can’t shake the feeling that this method of software distribution is a ticking time bomb, seeing as Homebrew — which also uses GitHub — already had security issues come to light.)
    There’s no doubt the iPad is a much more forward-thinking and fun device to use. I also don’t doubt that Apple still wants it to be the future of their computing platform for people that truly don’t need the workflow that a Mac provides. via micro.blog

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