One more time: What's wrong with the iPad Pro

Same old story—still can't replace a laptop—with new twists.

The problem is the software, the operating system., the business model.

David Pierce, Wall Street Journal: Apple’s New iPad Pro: Great Tablet, Still Can’t Replace Your Laptop. The new iPad Pro is a seriously impressive piece of hardware. But design, as Mr. Jobs himself liked to say, is how it works. And replacing my laptop with it didn’t quite work... I blame the software.

Niley Patel, The Verge: The Fastest iPad is still an iPad. The one thing Apple didn’t really change on the iPad Pro is iOS 12, which has all of the same capabilities and limitations iPad users have come to expect. Apple wants you to think that the iPad Pro is the future of computing, but if you’ve already used iOS 12 on an iPad Pro, you know exactly how you feel about that idea... Either you have to understand the limitations of iOS so well you can make use of these little hacks all over the place to get things done, or you just deal with it and accept that you have to go back to a real computer from time to time because it’s just easier. And in that case, you might as well just use a real computer.

Ben Thompson, Stratechery: iPad Pro Reviews. The mistake goes back to an article I wrote in 2015 called From Products to Platforms. There I criticized Apple for trying to fix falling iPad sales with hardware, instead of fixing the App Store to allow for viable business models for apps that really do take advantage of the iPad being a “magical piece of glass that can be anything you need it to be.” ... Trials and upgrade pricing are what small developers need — and perhaps a reduction of the App Store tax — but I guess that doesn’t fit the services narrative.

My take: Two tweets caught my eye:

See also: Apple's curated collection of reviews.


  1. Fred Stein said:
    Right. It won’t replace your laptop.

    It will replace your older iPad. And lot’s of them. The iPad replacement cycle is longer than the iPhone because LTE speed and camera upgrades don’t matter for the vast majority of iPad users. Compared to older iPads, the new one is much better and much more desirable.

    For investors, the recent iPad and MacBook Air upgrades will improve overall financials.

    November 6, 2018
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    Oh, how I dislike journalists. Pick a subject, any subject, and they’ll find the negative in every one of them. Then write about it as though that was the important takeaway.

    If these idiots were writing a review of my 2005 Ford GT they’d complain it didn’t have a trunk or a glovebox, ignoring that people buy a Ford GT because it looks outstanding,
    accelerates from 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds, or has a top speed of 215 mph (advertised – mine did 220mph) and rides very comfortably. Did I mention that it got 24 mpg on an 8100 mile trip around the US, spending a lot of time traveling at 120 mph? Mine didn’t have the white stripe down the middle.

    I did have a couple of complaints with it though: I couldn’t drive through a new city/town without being stopped (“you didn’t use your turn signal when changing lanes”) so the officer could look at it up close and personal, and I couldn’t a get fifty 40 lb bags of pellets for my pellet stove in it.

    More people buy tablets than buy laptops, maybe because most people don’t need a truck.

    November 6, 2018
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    and perhaps a reduction of the App Store tax — but I guess that doesn’t fit the services narrative.

    I forgot to mention that before the internet, small to medium-sized software developers had to package their discs with instruction manuals and sell through distribution. All that cost more than 30% of the retail price. Then they couldn’t reach more than 30% of the market.

    Paying 30% to be on the Number One App distribution site, with access to the wealthiest and most prolific app buyers, is small peanuts compared to the alternative (remember trying to buy apps for ANY handset before the launch of the iPhone?)

    November 6, 2018
  4. Grady Campbell said:
    The problem with both iOS and Apple’s own apps are not big differences from the Mac, it’s the various small things that make them not quite on par. I’ve always been annoyed when people complain “I can’t do X on my iPad that I can on Mac” and I happen to know it is possible, just not in the way they assumed it should be, so I hesitantly suggest a couple of things that are easy on a Mac but not an iPad:
    – I have a friend whose emails sometimes seem to be delayed; in Mac Mail, I can look in the headers and see where; don’t know how this can be done in iOS Mail
    – in Contacts, on creating a new contact, it’s easy to put it in one or more groups on a Mac; don’t see how to do this in iOS
    – created new files on an iPad and want to back them up on an external disk, easy with a Mac but no way on an iPad without using cloud service
    – in Pages and Keynote, I know there are some small things that work on the Mac but not in iOS versions, pretty close but not quite

    I wish somebody would create a list like this; maybe Apple would then see fit to make MacOS and iPad iOS versions exactly the same (I always figured the iPhone couldn’t reach that level and a single iOS version might be holding back the iPad).

    November 6, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:
      I’ve been using a 10.5″ iPad Pro as my “satellite” machine for a bit over six months now. It’s in addition to an iMac Pro. Before that I was a MacBook Pro/PowerBook user for over twenty years. I decided to try a change and it’s been interesting.

      But, I’m a touch typist and did not want to mung up the iPad with a bluetooth keyboard. In my mind the lightness and simplicity of the iPad is what it has over a laptop. But, typing o its on-screen keyboard sucks and text editing in iOS is also lacking compared with a Mac. And, I miss a mouse.

      But, I stuck with it for the 6+ months and when big typing jobs came along I went to the iMac (which I’m typing this on).

      I sort of threw in the towel on this setup the other day and ordered a MacBook Air to use as my second portable machine, maybe not completely replacing the iPad but at least partly replacing it. We’ll see how it works out, I’m not quite sure about it yet but I miss a real keyboard and MacOS text editing enough so I had to try it.

      It’s coming today so I should know in a week or so what the verdict (for me) will be.

      I doubt I’m all that representative of a general trend but I’m very particular about text editing and keyboarding for sure.

      November 7, 2018
  5. Peter Kropf said:
    Amazing what sells in media these days. Pundits are all excited to share the current “won’t replace” meme.

    But in a moment of huge irony, we find that the 5nm future beckons (2020).

    2020: “Intel’s new chip is a neat 10nm CPU, but it still won’t replace Apple’s 5nm A14X.”

    November 6, 2018
  6. George Ewonus said:
    Unlike said reviewers/pundits I actually don’t need or want my new iPad Pro to replace my new MacBook. They do similar tasks quite differently and have different purposes. Must be why the pundits were unable to read the graph behind Tim Cook (thank you, Philip for including it!). More iPads sold than anyone’s Notebook. Gee, there must be a reason. What could the pundits be missing!?

    November 6, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:
      A problem is that Cook has said numerous times that the iPad is the future of personal computing and for those of us who are primarily Mac users with iPad use on the side, it stings a bit.

      November 7, 2018

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