I can’t lie. I scoffed when I heard that Apple considered the iPad a computer. Surely no one takes people who use iPads with keyboards seriously?
Oh, how the tables have turned. I’ve spent the best part of the last six months on my iPad, and I’m actually enjoying it far more than I have on some of the sleekest, most powerful, most expensive laptops in my time.
To be fair, I’ve got the good fortune to have most of Apple’s current five-device iPad line-up on hand to make such a bold statement. But it’s not too far-fetched, even if you consider yourself a “power user”. There’s a huge caveat that comes with that statement, but we’ll get to it later.
That’s because the main draw of any iPad is its impossibly sleek, versatile and premium-feeling form factor. Pull it out at the beach or the boardroom, on the plane or in the bedroom, standing, sitting or prone – and it fits right in.
With the keyboard-compatible models, I did find the Apple-made keyboards sufficient, but not the most optimal for lap-top operation. Since it involved horrible hunching and oblique viewing angles, I found that it was much, much more ideal to take to the Pencil instead.
That, in particular, is especially ideal for students, who find physically writing a powerful mnemonic tool, or perhaps deal with complicated subjects that are best understood with diagrams, symbols, or a ton of annotations down the margins of endless readings.
For the fulfilment of my Economics and Political Science degree, my needs happen to fall into all three categories. Studying is far more efficient with pen and paper (or Pencil and iPad) since I wouldn’t have to take the time to re-set the context on a completely blank set of notes.
Every iPad now supports Pencil. Yes, every. Only the 2018 Pro models support the Pencil Gen 2 with its cool magnetic attachment system and double-tap sensing magic, but the Gen 1 Pencil is not shabby at all.
Yes, you can see why most students would love Pencil functionality. But for most other users, what advantages could Pencil bring?
1. Deep reading
I find that I better internalise books with a notepad on hand. Despite my profession as a writer, there are words I encounter that require some research. Into the word bank note it goes. Otherwise, information-heavy books require some sort of affirmative action on my end to ensure no point gets lost in the hazy ether of speed-reading.
Sure, you could hammer away at your keys while attempting to make eye contact with the presenter, but nothing feels as intimate and makes the person speaking feel as listened to than constant, attentive eye-contact with furious scribbling hand motions.
Disagree with me as much as you might, but I’ve seen enough clandestine Facebook usage to treat typing audience members and oblique screens with healthy scepticism.
3. Drawing and other tasks that require fine-touch control
But I don’t draw! Well, honey, neither do I. But it’s 2019 and you need to have some sort of artistic talent to be decently interesting. Be it calligraphy, sketching or just plain, old doodling, the Pencil transforms your workhorse-cum-media consumption device into a portable, reusable canvas that won’t drain your art-and-craft fund for your clumsy amateur mistakes.
In any case, without the Pencil, the iPads function perfectly well. No sweat if you’re not convinced.
For absolute power, I’d defer to the iPad Pro 2018 every time, perhaps over the MacBook and MacBook Air ranges. If the A12X Bionic chip is out of your reach financially, the regular A12 features on the 2019 iPad mini and iPad Air models.
The benchmarks have been done, and they don’t mean anything since they don’t directly compare with the competition with the inherent differences in OS. Suffice to say that speed of 4K rendering on Lumafusion has got me off my Mac and editing on-the-go, even on my A12-chipped iPhone, and iPads Air and mini.
No dough to drop on the latest 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018? Go for the iPad Air 10.5″. Prefer a small-and-light, take-everywhere tablet? iPad mini. One for your child, that will be the perfect companion for work and play? iPad 2017.
The Air and Pro are the ones compatible with the Apple-made keyboards, but even the 2017 iPad has its
Yes, I’ve saved the most controversial for last. It’s the Achilles Heel of the iPad range. No mouse/cursor support (yet), a flawed multitasking solution (which also might be fixed), and a terrible, terrible file management system (at least, that’s what everyone’s saying).
I’ve seen and heard it all, but in my months upon months of exclusive usage (at least while mobile), I’ve never encountered any significant drawback.
Pictures rescale for web use better on Mac, with the native preview interface. No sweat, iPad’s got an app for that.
The applications on the iPad are nothing short of phenomenal. All tech users fall into two categories: those who are willing to pay for mobile applications, and Android users. As a life-long Android user, I never saw the need to part with my hard-earned dollars for added functionality on a device I had shelled out over a thousand for.
Like I said, how the tables turn.
This is how it starts. You power on your iDevice for the first time. Apple’s native apps are superb. Pages, Notes, Keynote are seamlessly integrated between my iPad and desktop Mac, meaning I can work remotely and never miss a beat. Handoff works on both Safari and Chrome, meaning I get home, power up my Mac, and continue the articles I peruse on my iPhone. Even iMovie, the Podcast app, or apps as innocuous as the Calendar and Mail app are brilliantly integrated.
But they inevitably miss out a thing or two that would just make it that bit more ideal.
Without turning this rambling piece into an app-recommendation list, my productivity apps really centre in on Notability, Moleskine’s Timepage, Lumafusion, and Apple’s own iWork suite of apps (except Numbers. Nobody uses Numbers).
Apple’s latest iPadOS announcement killed it. They’ve long boasted about the iPad being a game-changer in the world of computing, but the new OS really is the first concrete step the company has taken to cement the product’s place in the tablet world.
Great use of space? Check. Proper multitasking? Check. File management? Check. Desktop-class web browsing? Check. Gesture support? Check. Sidecar, turning your iPad into a second screen for your Mac? Super check!
I can’t wait for September.