In a way, or, actually, many ways, an iPad Pro can replace a Mac. It’s lighter and faster than more expensive MacBook or MacBook Pro models and has a few hundred thousand more apps from which to choose. iPad Pro is not as powerful as a Mac, but it can hold its own within certain use scenarios and has a few where the Mac cannot compete. Touchscreen and Pencil.
Our office in downtown San Francisco runs on Office so there is a blend of Macs with Office, and Windows 10 PCs and notebooks with Office. Sorry. It’s a standard we live with. When he introduced iPhone and iPad, Apple’s co-founder and then CEO Steve Jobs lamented the stylus– popular on smartphones and tablets from back in the day– as worthless when compared to our built-in stylus, the finger.
Touchscreens rule. Touchscreen Windows hybrid notebooks are the only category of Windows-based PCs that is growing during the Great PC Decline. The Mac does not have a touch screen, but the notebooks have a giant trackpad that is almost as good. Frankly, I have some hardware envy thanks to HP’s new Spectre models. they don’t run macOS High Sierra. They can be used with finger or stylus.
Here we are six years after Steve Jobs death and Tim Cook’s Apple is rolling along, soaking up industry profits everywhere– Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPods, Apple Music, Apple TV, et al– but not afraid to break with tradition. I’m certain Jobs would be proud of Watch. Pencil? Not so much.
Yet, Pencil has much to love. The artists and graphic designers I know– the digital pen maker Wacom crowd– love Pencil and iPad Pro. Why? It just works. There are handwriting functions in Notes and other applications for iPad Pro (Pencil is exclusive to iPad Pro) and a growing number of iOS apps that utilize Pencil.
Apple has a few issues with Pencil.
First, the charging method– Lightning into the iPad Pro itself– is just stupid. Yes, it works, but it’s much like the Lightning charger location on the Magic Mouse. It cannot be used while charging. Yes. Stupid.
Apple can change that by making the next Pencil another Lightning device that charges via USB. That way, Pencil can be used while charging.
Second, there is no dock or holder for Pencil on iPad or the Smart Keyboard. If you have a Pencil and iPad Pro you need a third party holder or case with a holder. Even Microsoft’s Surface notebook has a magnet holder for its Pen.
Third, no Pencil support in iPhone X. Yes, you can buy a touch stylus for iPhones. They’ve been available for years and many iPhone and iPad owners have them. Sometimes the touch of a finger is not as accurate as holding a pointer. But Apple does not have built-in support for anything except Pencil.
This is not to say that a pointer or pencil or stylus is the future of navigation on mobile devices. But with 3-billion people on planet earth using touch devices it is likely a few hundred million would like to have a touch, navigation, and pointing device beyond their finger.