Apple really want to convince you the iPad Pro is a computer.
A new ad debuted this week that shows how the keyboard cover wraps around the device quickly and easily. Someone uses the Apple Pencil to make a notation on the screen, and a voiceover announces how much this tablet can function as a computer.
Here's the ad:
I agree with the sentiment, although there are a few bumps on the road. Let me first explain some of the bright spots, though, that make the iPad so compelling.
First, I've recently crossed a major threshold in my own perception about tablets. There's an app called Pixlr that has worked famously as a photo editor within the Chrome browser on the iPad. It can help me resize photos in a pinch, which is something none of the Adobe apps can do. It's a big part of my job--getting images ready--so it has made the iPad Pro a bit more useful.
With Google Docs, I have become a speed typing machine. I don't bother bringing a laptop on a plane anymore, although I do stash a laptop in my luggage. My issue is that the iPad makes it easier to type directly on the screen in the tight confines of an airplane, and without folding the tray down. I can tuck my elbows back and type away. The Pro also lasts the entire flight, and I can switch over to "lean back" mode and watch a movie with one or two swipes. On my last trip to San Francisco, I even played a movie in the background as I typed in Docs, which is about what they show in the new commercial. That's not as easy on a laptop.
So what are some of the bumps? Lately, there's been a serious workflow problem. On a laptop, the one feature that is still a productivity boost for me is task switching. I've used Alt-Tab in Windows for more than a decade now, and I flick quickly from Photoshop to Chrome to Skype with lightning precision. You can do that with the Apple cover keyboard (sort of) but it is not as fast or friendly. I like to keep many apps open at once and it is not quite as fluid on an iPad Pro as a laptop.
Another real issue for me has to do with my production work. It's a little hard to explain, but I tend to "stage" my writing in WordPress or another site editing tool. These tools technically run in the Chrome browser on the iPad, but bugs seem to pop up almost daily when I try to do this work on a tablet. For example, "drag and drop" doesn't really work when I want to move images around for a slideshow. This content creation might seem particular to my job, but I've heard that almost every entrepreneur is becoming a content creator and blogger these days.
When I am staging an article, I may need to select a date for the post to go live. On an iPad, you always have to select a pop-up and scroll down and press again. These fields are a bit cumbersome. The steps to input info are much faster on a PC these days because a mouse works better for this kind of data entry.
Minor issues are still cropping up as well. I can't always type as fast on the iPad Pro as a Google Chromebook Pixel, for example. The iPad Pro doesn't work as well as a powerful laptop for high-end apps like photo and video editors, most games, and presentation apps. With Skype, there are times when the app feels downright sluggish. And, I rarely use the Pencil. (Sorry, Apple.) It just doesn't fit with my workflow, and I prefer taking notes on a pad the old fashioned way.
It's getting there, though. As long as I can type documents on a plane using Google Docs, the iPad Pro will be my choice for productivity when I travel on business. It's not quite a 100% replacement for any laptop, but there is hope for resolving some of the problems I mentioned in the near future.