A couple of years ago I interviewed Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, and when he entered the briefing room, he noticed my iPad Pro, he yapped,” need to start using a real computer, my friend.” Of course, I wrote about this encounter and the world over there were headlines paraphrasing my story which in a week led Apple to release an advertisement about the iPad which questioned what’s a computer. With the launch of the new iPad Pro, Apple revisits that question again in an advertisement — “ what’s a computer?” And taking queues from this advertisement — for most people I’ve to admit that the iPad Pro is the best computer. It’s very important to understand, most people today don’t use local apps and are more or less huddled inside the web browser. People don’t use local apps the way we used to till say five years ago. The web browser is the operating system. Perhaps, the only reason people still use apps are for mission-specific tasks — be it photo editing, video editing, or gaming. Even those thing can be done to a certain extent with a great deal of expertise within the browser.
The world just doesn’t revolve around Windows or Desktop operating systems
- The reality couldn’t be starker but for most people, an operating system like Windows is too complicated for doing basic tasks. This is especially true in a world where the web browser is a major part of the operating system that use in an operative sense. The web browser has become the operating system for most of the world. On a Twitter poll that I ran with more than 50 people, more than half people said that they didn’t use anything but the web browser.
- Heck, the default Windows web browser isn’t the most liked web browser around. People basically use a Windows machine to download Chrome or if that’s not the choice they usually go for something like Firefox or Brave if they are obsessed about privacy. On the Mac, people usually stick with Safari or they download Chrome. Similarly, that’s the pattern on iPhones and iPads. Windows or Microsoft’s Edge browser is not part of the play.
- Most of the applications that people use these days are productivity software like Microsoft’s Office suite or Apple’s Pages — but for many people, that’s also been substituted by Google Docs which is a purely web-based solution. We use Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and other streaming services — most of which have great web experiences within the browser but really sub-par native Windows apps or no Mac apps.
- Even if you like using a desktop operating system, there is no escaping the fact that Windows is just a pain to use, perhaps, more so than even macOS. It has crummy stuff like registry which eventually slows down the machine, apps are mostly downloaded from the browser which follows the archaic installation protocol. macOS and most mobile-based operating systems like iOS have robust app stores which are the only destinations for applications. These PCs are also very susceptible to malware like viruses and trojans.
- The user interface of desktop operating systems is convoluted. If you look at Windows 10, it is a love child between a desktop operating system and mobile one. The Start menu for example as so many options and tiles. There are two settings — it is all very complicated with so much stuff hidden under the hood. Modern users aren’t geared to using their gadgets this old fashioned way — they want their computer to be a plug and play appliance.
- Software updates on desktop operating systems break compatibility for mission-specific applications more often than on mobile applications. A great example is macOS Catalina which breaks compatibility for so many professional digital audio applications. This kind of stuff just wouldn’t happen on a mobile app even if it is not updated for a while.
Why people use traditional computers
- Perhaps the reason why people use traditional computers is because of a combination of ignorance and comfort. Most people just don’t know that now they can get all of their work done using just a phone, and tablets like the iPad are fundamentally oversized phones.
- The user interface is a big part of the reason why people use traditional computers. For decades people have used the keyboard and mouse as the primary user interface for navigating computers and even though touch has been around for a while, it hasn’t proven to be better or as accurate for hardcore productivity. That’s the main reason why.
- Most high-end creative and productivity tools are still made only for traditional computers as they are deemed to be powerful enough, coupled with the right user interface. I am talking about stuff like Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Logic, Maya, AutoCAD — stuff that helps to create.
Why the iPad Pro kicks butt
- The iPad Pro has the same level of performance as a compact pro-level notebook as Apple’s MacBook Pro or something like the Dell XPS 13. The A12X Bionic chip on the 2018 iPad Pro was just a transformative moment for an ARM-based CPU. It even had better performance from a real-world point of view because of the level of optimisation on iPad OS which enabled Xbox One S level of gaming performance and way smoother user interface.
- Pro-level applications are now there on the iPad. You get Procreate, Pixelmator Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Lumafusion apart from a litany of applications that are in development. The most important thing is that these apps may skim some features but they don’t skim on performance — in fact, the iPad software and hardware synergy enables even better performance than traditional desktop-based interfaces.
- The iPad is a simpler form of computing. It has a straight forward interface coupled with now desktop-style multitasking. It also has the best app store on the planet and doesn’t have anything that leaks through malware which makes this also a very secure computer. Basically, everything is simpler on an iPad.
- Perhaps the biggest change to the iPad in recent times has been the addition of iPad OS 13 and then more recently iPad OS 13.4. The new OS adds a desktop-class Safari browser which can handle all kinds of web apps which wasn’t possible earlier. It now also adds support for a trackpad which is uniquely adapted to the touch-first interface of the iPad making it the most pleasant computer to use for most people. There is also a new file manager which allows you to download content from the browser and also from USB drives which can be now attached to the iPad.
- The hardware fundamentally is just better than anything you’ll on a traditional laptop. You get an insanely slim iPad which trounces any laptop in terms of portability with the addition of a gorgeous 120Hz screen, true 10 hours of battery life, better biometrics with Face ID, a better camera system for video chats and a super rear camera that’s almost as good as that of an iPhone and more or so better than most Android smartphones.
- For creatives, the Apple Pencil is known to be one of the best creative tools with its class-leading latency levels, tilt support, design and the way it can be paired up with an iPad Pro.
Why the new iPad Pro turns everything to 11
Now, I’ve not tested the new iPad Pro, but there are reasons why I can say it will be a sublime computer for most people.
- The price of the iPad Pro hasn’t come down but now it represents more value as it starts with 128GB of storage which is more or less the same as a MacBook Air.
- The A12Z Bionic may be a small upgrade to the CPU of the iPad Pro, but the A12X was so far ahead that the addition of the additional GPU core feels substantial especially for video editing.
- The new camera dual-camera system makes the iPad Pro a great tool to create end-to-end since it can now shoot video in 4K.
- It will be perhaps the best modern gadget for the sake of augmented reality as Apple adds a LiDAR scanner on the back which was unexpected and game-changing.
- The new magic keyboard accessory which is slated for May will likely make the iPad a true laptop replacement as it adds scissor-style keys and a trackpad with a floating hinge mechanism.