Potentially Replacing M1 Macbook with M4 iPad

I’ve been using a slightly strange set up for the last year as I was made redundant and the company I left never asked for their M1 MacBook Pro back. That left me with a 14" MBP, M2 Mac mini and 2020 iPad.

There’s no doubt that I use the MBP for my current work (predominately writing and a bit of creative/video stuff) but, with the unveiling of the new iPads, I’ve been wondering whether trading in the MBP (while it still has value) along with the slightly older iPad makes sense.

The trade-in would almost cover the cost of the new iPad and it would clean up my stack - my main issue being that all of my mobile work (and I’m mobile quite a lot) would be done on an iPad for the first time - although I’d obviously still had the Mac mini at home as a central base.

I should say that I use the iPad a lot too although it tends to be for non-work things. My thinking is that I’d be able to merge two mobile devices into one which would be more powerful than either of the mobile devices I currently have.

Thoughts? Does it make sense or is it a stupid idea?

Thanks in advance

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For the use case you described, I’d say go for it.

In the situations where there’s something that you can’t do in the iPad you can use a remote desktop solution to control your Mac mini via the iPad.

But if I were you, I would keep my existing devices, buy the the new iPad from Apple/Costco (whichever has a larger return policy window), try it out and see if it can replace the Mac and only then sell the old Mac and old iPad. Selling the old devices on eBay auction or other places gets more $ than Apple trade-in (at least here in Australia).

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I used an iPad as my primary computer for several months before I purchased an iPad Pro and made the switch.

So, IMO, if you know that you can do all your mobile work on an iPad, and you have determined how you are going to back it up, then I don’t see a problem.

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If it’s to be your only mobile device be sure to go with the 13". Will it work for you? Depends on the specifics of your tasks and also how you approach it. I think many people fail at such a switch because they don’t have the apps they need and/or because they try to do a quick switch. The quick switch is far more likely to fail and leave you frustrated. I read about it all the time. Just know this: iPadOS is NOT macOS! The iPad is NOT a Mac!

It’s a different paradigm of computing. Not only is it a touch first device but if you’re accustomed to the Mac way of doing things you will need to be patient as you adjust. Be prepared to be patient as you learn and adapt.

I was a very gradual switcher. I used the iPad almost every day from 2010 to 2017. Around 2017 I switched over accidentally. It just sort of happened and I noticed it after the fact. In other words, I was familiar with the iPad and had already accepted and adapted the differences.

I think the iPad experience is FAR improved since the introduction of full mouse/trackpad cursor support. The iPad is my only daily computer with a MacMini as a server. I love using the iPad and find working with at a real delight because I’m not fighting it at every turn and have no wish for it to be a Mac.

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@Denny I’d love to know why you prefer the iPad and if you don’t mind sharing your primary computing needs and uses. I’d love to rely on just the iPad if I could do so effectively and efficiently. My first impulse is always to reach for the iPad, not the MBP.

Have you considered that there may be a question of ownership when you trade in this MacBook Pro?

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never asked for their M1 MacBook Pro back

As long as you realize that you are accruing a substantial amount of interest that will come due someday. :joy:

I always wonder about this when I hear of people trying to replace a computer with an iPad.

It’s possible to do a decent job of a keyboard on the iPad and there are ample apps available.

But it seems to me the biggest show-stopper is the multitasking limitation of iOS/iPadOS - I suspect most people use that more than they realize

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I’ve been using Spaces and full screen apps on 13” MacBooks for well over 10 years. For me the move to an iPad was almost effortless.

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Hardware
First and foremost, it’s the fact that there is no permanently attached keyboard. At some point around 2017 I started to feel bothered by the keyboard I could not remove on my MBP. I’ve always really enjoyed that I could hold the iPad as just a tablet and then pop it into a stand or folio to use with a Bluetooth keyboard. I really loved the Smart Keyboard Folio with the 2018 iPad Pro and since then I’ve tried and alternate between the Magic Keyboard for iPad, the Logitech Combo Touch and any number of Bluetooth keyboards with the Magic Trackpad and sometimes a mouse. Lately I’ve been using it fairly often in a stand that’s clamped near a shelf next to my bed/futon. It’s all the possible configurations!

iPadOS
I love iPadOS. LOVE IT. It’s not perfect and there are missing apps and features. While it’s common for many to joke about is the lack of a calculator, a bigger miss is a native font app management app/process like that on a Mac with FontBook. And I can list missing features from lots of apps such as smart folders in Mail or batch tagging/captioning in Photos or a customizable toolbar in Safari.

The key strength of iPadOS
Regarding multitasking brought up by @rkaplan, it’s not been a problem for me. I was adept at using SplitView/Slideover and enjoyed that mode previously. It worked pretty well for me even with the iPad Air2 years ago. But I found it even better with the 2018 13" and now with a 13" M1 with Stage Manager, the multitasking is better than my experience on a Mac. The 8GB of ram has solved any previous problem of frequent apps reloading. I often use the keyboard shortcuts like Command-Tab but also the globe-key multitasking shortcuts more specific to iPadOS. Love it. BUT, with the iPad I also get multi-touch gestures which I also use all the time and really enjoy.

iPadOS multitasking, the mix of multi-touch and keyboard shortcuts is a combination I could never have with a Mac.

Essential Apps I love
Last, it’s the apps I rely on and really enjoy using. The first is Affinity Publisher. I love using it on the iPad. Another is Textastic for setting up new websites or updating, managing existing sites. And for writing and blogging, iA Writer, Textastic and Obsidian have all been great on the iPad. Last is Shortcuts which I use constantly. I do far more automation with Shortcuts than I ever did with Automator on the Mac.

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Thanks for writing this up. I doubt I could ever be happy doing that, but I enjoy seeing workflows and tastes that are very different from my own. It makes me think more deeply about my own preferences

a bigger miss is a native font app management app/process like that on a Mac with FontBook.

That annoys me on smartphones, too. I use Fontcase on my iPhone and it’s a great workaround (most Android phones can’t even do that), but having a font manager built into iOS and iPadOS would be better.

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Frankly, I try not to multitask as I believe it distracts from deep focus. I do, of course, have several windows open related to the same project, but I’m rigorous about not multitasking. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thank you for taking the time to respond in such a thoughtful and thorough manner, tip of the at to you! :tophat:

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To this point (and related to what @Bmosbacker just said above), I actually find that, for my use cases, iPad is superior to MacOS for multitasking, especially with Split View and Slide Over, as it’s a more focused experience. For instance, while writing a report or a research paper, I really like having the document I’m referencing (a source, my notes, etc.) open in the pane on the left, the document I’m creating open in the pane on the right, and an app that I am occasionally referencing (a dictionary or thesaurus, for instance) open in slide over. I find creating an equivalent setup on MacOS much more finicky.

Of course, I may need to reference more than one document. I try to reference only one at a time (that’s where the focus comes in), but if I have to move between two or more documents, I try to use tabs within a single app (like in PDF Viewer, for instance), or, worst case scenario, I simply swap the apps out into that space. But I find that the iPad helps me keep the mentality of having one reference document on one side and one creation document on the other in a way that the Mac doesn’t.

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I am not suggesting you need to be actively multitasking - only that you likely want your computer to do so.

Background syncing of data, background backups of data, and background downloading of large files are examples of things that are common on a Mac and much harder to do on an iPad.

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That’s why I’m a heavy user of spaces on a Mac. I can reserve a focused space for each project, and ignore the others when I’m working on it. Whenever I come back to it, it’s still there, exactly as I left it.

Another example: I have a separate communications space set up for when it’s time to deal with email and messages.

The lack of virtual desktops on an iPad makes that kind of workflow impossible.

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This is what I do 95% of the time.

Yes, I can see that. I’ve done something similar for major writing projects. I’ve have my writing app and perhaps research opened in a separate workspace with nothing else.

The point I was making is that the lack of multitasking is a desirable feature of the iPad. I’m far less tempted to get distracted by the calendar, emails, texts, and the like. I find it easier to absorb myself in my work on the iPad. And, I prefer the typing experience and the screen on the iPad. And, when out and about, having cellular is an added benefit.

I’m curious about what you prefer about the typing experience on the iPad

I would suggest testing your iPad for work tasks before considering the switch. Could you try that for a few hours or days to identify the barriers and more importantly identify the workarounds within the limits of iOS?