Is it really possible to replace a Mac with an iPad Pro? Or, just a vanilla iPad for $329? The answer is easy. Yes. Can I do it? No. I’ve tried. I’m trying. I’ve offloaded plenty of Mac tasks to iPhone and iPad.
The jury might still be deliberating but as of now, the Mac is my Ford F-150 and the heavy lifting it can do simply cannot be done on an iPad Pro, even with Apple’s expensive Smart Keyboard. What’s the problem? No mouse.
Point? Or, Touch?
This holiday season Apple has been running a delightful television commercial of a boyish young girl going through the day with her iPad Pro in tow. There is no doubt in my mind that iPad Pro can do much of what that generation and others need to do each day. Browse, email, text, photos, games, social media, homework, et al– to the point where the star in the commercial asks, “What’s a computer?“, not fully understanding that an iPad is a computer.
She is not alone. Computers are intimidating for many of humankind, which may explain why there are more than 3-billion iPhones and Android smartphones on planet earth, but barely half that for what we call traditional personal computers. Isn’t an iPhone about as personal a computer as you can get that isn’t embedded into your brain? iPad, too. Mac? Yes, of course.
Replacing a Mac with an iPad Pro is relatively easy– for some; perhaps many. After all, there may be two to three times as many iPad users as Mac users, though I’m certain of some overlap in ownership. Since the original iPod launched in 2001 we have offloaded various and sundry tasks from the Mac to other devices; iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPods, et al. Moving some tasks and functions from the Mac has been painless, so, yes, you can replace a Mac with an iPad so long as you know exactly what you want from the latter.
But cut the Mac cord completely? Uh uh. Nope. Won’t happen. Why not? No mouse. As antique as it may seem, much of my day-to-day computer work is done on a MacBook Pro– a Mac notebook, And most Macs come with a trackpad. That may be as close as we ever get to a touchscreen on a Mac, but I’ve never been a fan of the trackpad. When I can’t get the keyboard to do everything I want, then I like to point and click, and not fumble around with arcane gestures and touches on a flat plane screen that is too small and too abstract.
Yes, that makes an argument for a touchscreen Mac but let me save that for another rant.
Maybe this is me simply being too deeply rooted into the last century to recognize that touch is where it’s at— and keyboard and mouse are so last century. But for many of us, a keyboard is a necessity for certain workflows and functions. Even Apple recognizes that and gave iPad users a Smart Keyboard (horrendously overpriced). The problem here is that Smart Keyboard or any connected Bluetooth keyboard does not have the same functionality and keyboard shortcuts of the Mac’s keyboard and macOS. While I can get almost anything done on my Mac without my hands leaving the keyboard at all– and perhaps even less so if I would adjust to the trackpad– the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard just are not smart enough and require too much touch.
That means hands leave the keyboard and fingers aim at a spot on the iPad’s screen. Hell, I would go for a trackpad on the keyboard to do some iPad Pro screen touching, but built-in Magic Mouse support in iOS would bring me to tears of joy and flowers to Steve Jobs’ grave.
Yeah, you can replace a Mac with an iPad Pro for many functions, and yes, I know a whole generation or two of children and young adults are growing up without knowing what a real computer can do, but this old dog says those new tricks are not all that cool.