Year over year the iPad keeps getting better and better, now we are in 2020, and Apple is trying to push the narrative that you could use an iPad exclusively for all your computer needs. Is this a valid claim to make? Could you use your iPad as your main computer? I will try to answer this complex question in this blog post by comparing different types of usage, for example, a designer or someone working in a creative field doesn’t do the same thing on a computer than someone working in finance or a developer.
Now that the iPad has a dedicated mouse and trackpad support (since iPadOS14) and keyboard support, I think it’s fair to compare the iPad Pro to a traditional computer. Will the iPad be sufficient for all your needs? let’s find out.
As a marketer myself I think I can understand this use case the best. Someone working in marketing usually works with many different types of content and files, for some tasks it might be text files for other tasks it might be more graphical demanding files like video or photo review and editing.
The iPad is fully capable as your main computer for text-only work. Now even more than ever since you can get a full key keyboard from apple for the iPad Pro lineup, the Apple iPad magic keyboard. The iPad excels as a typing machine and the App ecosystem around word processing is mature.
Theirs many professional apps available like Microsoft Word and Google Doc available and they work very well.
If you are looking for more lightweight apps for note-taking there’s also a good selection of awesome apps like BEAR (which I’m using currently to write this article) IA, Notes, Notion, Evernote, Microsoft one note, Ulysses and much much more! A future article about note-taking apps is coming soon, subscribe to my mailing list to get it once it’s ready.
We saw that the iPad was great for note-taking, but other big tasks for all marketers and bloggers are emails (and everyone else?)
The even better news is if you are used to the normal web client of any email service provider you will be able to access it as you used to on your traditional computer with the new safari “desktop-grade” version that we got since iPadOS13
For example here is Gmail on safari :
If you are a marketer or a blogger you most likely need to do some social media tasks, that could be designing a Facebook / Instagram post or replying to comments or even settings up ads on Facebook and Google ads. I’m happy to report that this can all be done with the iPad and you might even get a better experience than with your traditional computer if you are using the Apple Pencil. Let’s dive deeper.
The main dissatisfaction that I found is that Figma is still not working flawlessly on the iPad even when using safari (I hope this works soon!) as I am a big Figma user and the official Photoshop app is still not feature complete yet.
Once you ready to publish your creation you can also use the full web version of buffer for example or even use the buffer iPad app
Again, if you are a marketer or a blogger you must spend some amount of time analyzing your data and crunching the numbers in a spreadsheet. This can all be done with the iPad Pro!
Let’s take for example the popular Google Analytics, which you certainly use to examine your website traffic performances :
It works great! You can navigate on all pages with ease especially if you are using a mouse or trackpad.
For spreadsheet work, it can be done on the iPad but in my experience, it’s still not as good as your traditional computer, you can work directly via safari in google sheets without too many issues (I had some scrolling in the past) but because of the size of the iPad screen it might be a bit more challenging on its own. You can always hook up the iPad to an external display but this is limited to the mirror mode only, so no dual screening possible! For Excel nerds, the excel app is also available on the App Store I haven’t used it so you will need to do more research on that point.
The work of a web developer is pretty different depending on the dev stack your working with. But any dev would need a good EDE and there’s some good app for like Textastic code editor 9, coda, buffer editor. But if you are a full stack developer and need to set up servers and backends you will be limited on the iPad because there’s no terminal to work with or any type of local environment setup possible. BUT there are some workarounds, I’m mostly talking about the new codespace feature from GitHub :
This seems to be the ultimate solution for a web developer who wants to use an iPad exclusively.
I’m also hopeful that we will see more pro apps coming to the iPad with iPadOS14 (coming in a few weeks), many people are talking about Xcode for iPad. If Apple delivers on that, it will be crazy to be able to develop iPad or iPhone apps on the iPad itself.
Other useful dev apps I found for the iPad :
If you are a web developer and using your iPad Pro as your main computer, please let me know which other dev apps you’re using daily, I’m curious to learn more.
We already talked about a couple of design focus apps in the marketer/blogger segment, but let me repeat myself here.
If you are a UI/UX designer you probably spend a lot of time in apps like Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, or even adobe XD. I’m sad to say, all of those won’t work on the iPad. I have hope for Figma because it’s now almost workable on safari but still not enough to switch over fully.
If you are a digital artist, then the iPad is probably the best tool you could invest in. Don’t forget to buy an Apple Pencil and consider buying the bigger iPad Pro 12.9 inch screen to have enough space on the canvas for your hands to rest without blocking what you are working on.
The iPad is a great device for digital artists but it’s still lacking some good apps for UI/UX designers. I hope we see more apps dedicated to the iPad in that space.
I feel like an iPad is a good fit for teachers. The iPads are high performing devices, no lag, long battery life, easy to use, and let’s not forget the iPad is super portable even more so if you choose to go with a smaller iPad device like the iPad Air 3 (10.5-inch screen).
If you are a teacher, you probably use your computer mainly for note-taking, occasional emailing, and collaborating with your students. Depending on which software you use, I don’t see why you can’t use an iPad Pro as your main computer.
Using an iPad Pro as your main device if you are a content creator can be done! Once again depending on what software you are using. Don’t expect to be able to use adobe after effect or Apple final cut, but you’ll find a great alternative like Lumafusion for video editing. If you are ready to change your workflow/software and maybe re-learn different new ones, then I would tell you to consider switching to an iPad Pro as your main computer.
For light photo editing there are great apps available for the iPad like Adobe Lightroom. If you are looking for a more complete tool you should look into affinity photo and Adobe photoshop (still missing some basic features but the app is getting better with each update)
For video editing, most iPad users are using Lumafusion. This might be the best video editing app for the iPad. If you are looking for basic video editing software then you could use iMovie.
For audio editing, the best app is FERRITE RECORDING STUDIO! You can use this app to edit any audio tracks or your podcasts.
Since iOS 13, Apple released the files app on iPad and iPhone. Over the years it got improved and your iPad can now recognize any type of storage plug into it via USB-C! That’s a huge feature if you a content creator. This means you can backup all your photos and videos from your SD card directly to your iPad (with a USB-C hub of course) or even plug a hard drive and work directly from that storage unit.
As you can see the answer to this question is more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. I would argue that you could find some workaround and apps for more than 95% of all use cases but that missing 5% could be a bit annoying when you are in your creative flow and just want to do stuff faster.
There are still some main features that everyone expects when using a “traditional” computer that is still missing on the iPad Pro, for example, the possibility to connect to an external monitor, while you can do it you are limited to the mirror view in most apps.
Let’s see if iPadOS 14 will address some of those pain points, I hope so!
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