IPad Pro “Souped up, but driving in school zone”

I don’t want the IPad Pro to be a Mac nor to run MacOS. But, the OS does need more features that take advantage of the hardware. Nothing new in this assertion as many have made this observation, complaint.

That said, I plan to purchase 14” M1 MBP (assuming the rumors are true :crossed_fingers:), an iPhone 13 Pro Max and the 2021 iPad Pro this fall.


I have to agree with almost everything in this article.

It’s not that I don’t like iPadOS or the M1 iPad Pro. In fact I love it and use it as the main machine for an average of 10h per day for both work and entertainment.

It’s not even that I don’t like the changes in iPadOS 15. I’ve been using 15.0b1 since day 1 and the changes are great and impactful. But it doesn’t feel enough of a change, especially when the home screen overhaul was borrowed from iOS 14.

I know Apple is positioning the hardware with a lot of headroom for developers to explore possibilities, according to an interview with Craig. But the main pain points on the system like file management, RAM limit, and lack of background activity are not touched. It’s hard to imagine this is enabling much new possibilities at all.

1 Like

People have wanted something else from the iPad for years, but what in particular is kind of nebulous. As the article’s author said:

It’s possible that this is all Apple ever intends for the iPad to be — a powerful, capable, delightful device with a host of great apps designed for unitasking with occasional multitasking. Those who need to use dual monitors, record a podcast, or edit 4K video with surround sound audio should get a Mac. Macs are pretty good at all of that stuff, and the M1 is great.

I would speculate that’s enough for the majority of people that buy iPads. We are a niche group here, and so are the various podcast-pundits. I would imagine Apple doesn’t want to spend a lot of money making Xcode and an external monitor work on the iPad, when 12 people will use it, and 7 of those will be disappointed by it.


This is very pessimistic. When has Apple been perceived as this kind of company that doesn’t innovate and push forward because few people are wanting it now? Say if there’re xcode on ipad, I think a lot of developers will be drawn to this platform.

In a way, I think the folks who look at the iPad and fixate on the M1 being overpowered for the OS must have short memories. The 2018 iPad Pro’s A12X was similarly powerful for it’s time, as was the 2017’s A10X and the 2015’s A9X. Really, the trend goes back at least as far as the iPad Air 2 (A8X). It’s pretty clear that Apple’s goal for iPadOS/iOS on iPad has never been “max out the hardware” but to create an experience that Apple thinks is optimal for the form factor and market.


And having them overpowered works well. Our house has an iPad Air 2 and a 2017 iPad Pro 12.9 and they both work well for their roles*. I imagine in 2024 the M1 iPad Pro will still be powerful enough for most uses.

*That said I still want to upgrade, I just can’t really justify it since the iPad was my “in person meetings machine” and I’m not sure enough will go back to in person to justify.

1 Like

I used a Lenovo ThinkPad tablet PC circa 2006. Something like:

It was running Windows XP or Windows Vista, and I had more flexibility with it than I do my iPad Pro.

That’s the problem here. Obviously, Apple’s hardware has long eclipsed the Thinkpad I used in 2006. So, Apple’s decision to constrain the software is just that: a decision. Apple has kept the iPad simple deliberately. And that would be perfectly fine if they didn’t call it a Pro device and try to convince people it’s a laptop replacement.

The worst part is that this has kinda worked well for Apple. People like me—and @MacSparky, John Gruber, and Myke Hurley, according to recent episodes of their respective podcasts—buy into the iPad, even if only to struggle with it in a sad kind of Stockholm Syndrome. If the iPad was a Mac replacement, we might not buy both.

I do think the OS is getting somewhere, albeit slowly. I think I can see how iPadOS will be a dream in 2030 or 2040. But goodness do I ever wish I could run macOS on a Surface.


@macsparky ´s thinking at the end of the WWDC episode on the iPad I think captures the gist of this journey. It was very interesting to hear him come to terms with the fact that this device is never going to be what he hopes and now that MacBooks are insanely powerful with huge battery life, maybe it’s not worth trying to force the platform into what it’s clearly never going to be. The iPad is a great device for many people who do productive things. And they love it. But it’s not, and will probably never be on equal footing with a Mac - Apple does not show signs that it’s the intent. It remains « the device in between » touted by Steve Jobs.

But at the same time, many people do not care about text expansion, complex windowing, complex file management, multi screen setups etc. I agree with MacSparky when he says maybe it’s time to let the fight against the platform rest. Use an iPad if you like and it suits you. Otherwise, get a Mac. Personally, that’s what I’m going to do, and use my iPad for handwriting notes and content consumption - two things it’s stellar at. But there’s a Smart Keyboard going to the marketplace at some point.


There are a ton of people for whom it’s a perfectly fine laptop replacement. I don’t think Apple needs to wait for the iPad Pro to be able to replace a laptop for absolutely everyone before they start marketing it as such for the people who’s needs it will fill just fine.


I’m taking a slightly different route, having also at one time tried to replace the MBP with the iPad. Due to the nature of my work I am in a better position to do so than those with more technical needs.

I would still be inclined to use the iPad for ~90% of my work if the battery life on the MBP was still around 4-6 hours. But with the M1’s battery life of 8-10 hours and its speed, I’m reallocating my work flow between the two devices. Having also settled on my apps of choice (I experimented with and struggled between using Obsidian and Craft but have settled on Craft) here are my basic apps and device utilization.

iPad Usage

  • My travel device (I’ve started traveling again, finally)
  • Writing when the focus is the text, not research (Scrivener)
  • Speaking notes when making presentations (all of my speaking notes are prepared and reside in Scrivener, which works great for speaking notes when in Focus mode)
  • Book reading (Kindle app)
  • Reading the news (Apple News)
  • PDF annotations (PDFPen Pro)
  • Meeting notes (Craft)
  • Weekly review (OmniFocus)
  • Email (Apple Mail)


  • Spreadsheets, budgets, etc. (Excel, Numbers)
  • Writing research and complex writing projects (Scrivener, DEVONthink)
  • Citation Management (Bookends)
  • File management, conversion, OCR, etc
  • File backups (Blaze and Time Machine)
  • Brainstorming (MindNode)
  • Email (Apple Mail)
  • Project/task management (OmniFocus)
  • Formal paper/proposal development (Word or Pages)
  • Slide development (Keynote)

Now, what I will have to decide this fall is whether to stick with the 12.9" iPad or go with the 11". I prefer the smaller size (presentations, meeting notes) but when traveling I prefer the 12.9" because it is functioning as my laptop replacement.


My problem is few sites cogently articulated what exact features they needed in iPadOS 15 to truly make it a Pro device worthy of the M1.

I don’t consider rants about Multitasking to be very valid with mobile devices as they are constrained by RAM limits and batteries something their desktop equivalents on AC have a decided advantage.

I see the iPad as what it’s always been for heavier workflows. An auxiliary device for Macs. To add a Jobs’ism…we still Trucks and the iPad is simply not a Truck.

Apple has essentially won the Tablet wars. Samsung doesn’t really care about the Galaxy Tablets and Amazon chucks out cheap Kindle Fires every couple of years. The high end market is Apple’s.

Notice that Tim Cook never says “We view that iPad as the clearest expression of computing” anymore. Apple doesn’t advertise “What’s a Computer?” Ads anymore.

They finally realize they don’t have to pit the two lines against each other anymore.

The IPad Pro will eventually sync up the features with the power but as I’ve said in other threads they’re not just going to deliver iPad versions of the Pro Apps and call it a day.

I haven’t paid for a FCP and Logic Pro update in almost 10 years. I’m guessing that Pro Apps on iOS are gong to come with a monetized lure. (ICloud Pro?)

1 Like

Unless I’m mis-remembering, Apple also markets the entry-level iPad (and of course, by extension, the Pro) as a laptop replacement. Which it is, for the vast majority of people who just need a computing device for Internet, email, some “goofing around” type stuff, etc.

If we start with that as the base marketing claim, then “Pro” makes more sense given Apple’s naming convention.

The base iPad is a useful consumer laptop replacement. The iPad Pro is everything the base iPad is, with more processing power, better sound, a fancier screen, more memory, etc. Owing to the fact that more advanced users are more likely to want things like a keyboard and such, they make those things available as first-party accessories.

I’m not saying iPadOS is where it should ultimately be. But I also don’t think Apple markets the iPad Pro + keyboard / trackpad as a drop-in replacement for a MacBook Pro. And making the “Pro” name carry all that freight - solely by comparison across product lines - doesn’t seem fair.

I think iPadOS will probably iterate to the point where the extra RAM is available to apps, some background multitasking is possible, etc. But to @MacSparky’s statement about letting the fight rest, I tend to agree.

iOS / iPadOS and macOS are designed from the same code base, but they have fundamentally different security models. And a lot of the features we have gotten (third-party keyboards, etc.) are carefully carved-out, significant exceptions to that security model.

As somebody who writes code for a significant portion of my living, I find it highly likely that unless the underlying goal of the platform changes (notably including the sandboxing / process isolation aspects), there are always going to be significant gripes for people who insist that an iPad do everything a Mac can.


I have both an M1 Mac and the latest M1 iPad Pro and I love both of them. I know I’m lucky to be able to afford both, so if I had to choose only one, I would definitely choose the Mac. It is the most capable, powerful computer. I consider my iPad as an adjunct to the Mac. It’s more portable, lighter to carry around, the only thing I take on a trip where I don’t have to do my job (software development), but I never think it is going to replace my Mac.

It is also my main device for browsing the web and watching video/TV. Even though I have a big TV in the basement, sometimes I just want to lie back on the couch or bed and watch a video on my iPad. I think is this also superior for reading books and magazines/PDFs. I use the Apple Pencil to highlight and scribble notes.

So each device has it’s place and I don’t know why that is such a problem. I live in a semi-rural town and there are plenty of people who have both a pickup-truck and a sedan. I don’t see many discussions about, I wish my sedan could carry heavier loads like my pickup truck. The engine is powerful enough, why can’t Toyota give the Camry more carrying power?


I’ve also come around to this perspective and your illusion is a good one. I have a truck AND a SUV. They serve different purposes. They have crossover capabilities, they get me from point A to point B, but they have their areas of specialization. Job’s nailed it.


For me, I wanted to press it more at least in part so I could talk about it on the show and demonstrate “the way” to let the iPad be the computer for more people. I wrote a post a few weeks back about observing how much my kids enjoy using iPad within its constraints in comparison to me, who was, frankly, trying to use it for more than it is really engineered to do (particularly with software). So I’ve eased off a bit. I’m not throwing my iPad out the window but I am instead using an 11" exclusively (the 2018 model that has been passed around the house.) My oldest daughter is in graduate school and will be student teaching here shortly, so I sold my 12.9" to Apple in exchange for a new iPad Air (with a new battery) for her.

I’ll still be using the iPad for work. But I don’t plan on fighting it so hard for the immediate future.


The car analogy is not really adequate. The M1 iPad Pro (sedan) has the same hardware capability as the M1 Mac (truck), but the extra power is just locked artificially (just regarding the RAM limit). It’s not okay to lock out capabilities advertised on the spec sheet.

Apple just released this adv. they still promote the iPad as a computer


Man I gotta start doing better searches. It’s probably a good thing that I keep missing on these because it means I’m not watching broadcast TV which is a beautiful thing.

1 Like

I still want to know how the “What’s a computer” girl closed her iPad with a flick of her wrist.

1 Like

Coolest move ever!

I’ve managed to do that with the smart keyboard folio from the 2018, but haven’t had the opportunity to try it on the smart keyboard from the 2017 model.

The trick is to make knock the support “triangle” on a surface.