Reviews of the new iPad Pro have covered the display (it’s great), the performance (it’s great) and the sleeker design (it’s great). Then they all ask the same question—the same question of all tablets. Can this replace your laptop? The same question asked last year, and the before that.
While most reviews include caveats for different user types (i.e. creative professionals), they settle on the same answer. No, not yet.
Mark Gurman, on Twitter:
2015: “iPad Pro review: Big and powerful, but it won’t replace your laptop”
2016: “iPad Pro 9.7 review: Apple’s best tablet, but it won’t replace a laptop”
2017: “iOS 11 on an iPad Pro still won’t replace your laptop”
2018: “Nope, Apple’s new iPad Pro still isn’t a laptop”
Given that these iPad Pros now support USB-C and offer (or rather, flaunt) ridiculous processing power, the comparison seems a natural one to make. Even in its keynote last week, Apple made performance comparisons to PCs and the latest generation of gaming consoles.
And while this question should be asked—I myself am considering a move to an iPad Pro from my 2016 13” MacBook Pro—it clouds our judgement of what the iPad can be. It limits what the future of computing can become.
The more interesting answers arise when we consider what iPads can do.
Here’s Rene Ritchie, on Twitter:
I’d argue it’s not power users but *empowering* users that was and is the whole point of iPad (including pro).
We often mistake complexity for capability, but that’s often an easy way out.
How do you make a computer that makes people into pros?
We want (and expect) our desktops to rise to any task we might throw at them. To run multiple displays, to integrate every peripheral and to effortlessly power pro software. Those expectations then trickled down to laptops (replicating the desktop experience), which naturally tricked down to tablets.
However, the dream of the perfect all-in-one portable device is a noble, yet, unreachable one. Video Editors need the fastest processors to handle 4K productions with ease. Freelancers need portability to travel across the city on a whim. Users in developing countries need a low-cost solution that can connect them across the world.
The iPad Pro isn’t and won’t (for the foreseeable future) be a perfect device for all users. It is, however, a great device for most users.
It’s a device that’s reduced all barriers to interaction. Shrunken bezels. No home button. Sleeker profile. It’s become a slab of glass that begs to be picked up and discovered—one that can adapt to its user’s needs at whim.
Need to make last minute edits to a client presentation, in the back of a taxi? Need to make fine tweaks to a multi-layered PSD file? Need to read an interactive bedtime story to your kids, upside down in their bunk bed? The iPad Pro has you covered, without breaking a sweat.
In 2018, the iPad Pro didn’t become a laptop replacement. It became a blank slate.