Pro iPads and tech-media groupthink

Something I’ve noticed and I’m guessing many others have as well is the tendency of groupthink in the Apple/Tech sphere. Probably in other things too but I spend time here so this is where I notice it most. It really bothers me but I suppose it’s easy to fall into.

One example, go back to 2018 when Apple released the iPad Pro with USB C. In perfect harmony, the tech/Apple sphere of writers and podcasters all complained about the lack of external drive support. Months later Apple announces external drive support and releases that in the fall along with massive updates to multi-tasking which had been another complaint. For months the iPad conversation seemed to be dominated by the lack of these features. Then it was annnounced and released in 2019. While the drive support worked great multi-tasking and bugginess became the fall and winter group theme. I’m sure other things were mixed in but themes seem to emerge in each cycle. Then the call was for a slow down in features and a “Snow Leopard” release of bug fixes which came in 2020. Of course the theme then was “not enough features” and “Apple moves too slow on iPad development cycles and new features”.

The past year the theme seemed to shift to Apple’s pro apps, proper 2nd display support and another revamp of multi-tasking. Over and over and over I hear how the iPad Pro is over-powered and not pro because it doesn’t have Final Cut, Logic Pro or Xcode. Previous complaints included no Adobe pro apps but those are starting to trickle out so that part of the song is currently somewhat subdued.

Of course with the new hardware announced the chorus got ever louder! All that RAM, we can’t use it without Final Cut or Logic or Xcode! What are we going to do with Thunderbolt without better 2nd display support? Why can’t I run Mac OS on the iPad?? Every podcast and article repeats the same points over and over.

But I’ve noticed that in all that these same folks (who are usually the folks very loudly proclaiming that they supported subscriptions because they support developers and that third party developers of pro software should be supported) seem to generally ignore the amazing work being done in the “pro” iPad app ecosystem. To name just the ones I use: Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer and Luma Fusion. Affinity Publisher is set to come to iPad soon too (I’d guess this year). Luma Fusion was showcased by Apple on 4/20. And I’m sure there are lots of other specialty apps out there being used by people working on iPads. So, why not really celebrate Luma Fusion and put a spotlight on their work rather than taking the easy route and repeating for the hundredth time that Final Cut Pro is not available? Why not dig in and highlight these amazing Affinity apps rather than bemoan the lack of Adobe apps?

I suppose I’m suggesting and hoping that the Apple-focused tech media branch out a bit from what seems to be group think. The same people shuffling/guesting on one anothers podcasts repeating the same themes creating a limited view of what’s possible and what’s being done with these amazing computers. The overall focus for much of every year is negative, always what’s lacking, what’s wrong and how Apple can do better. And, honestly, it seems when they are not critiquing Apple they are again discussing a switch from one task manager or text editor to another.

Maybe it’s ironic that I’m doing the same thing here except that I’m turning the tables a bit and asking those have amplified voices, Apple-focused podcasters and publishers, to themselves, do better. Rather than repeat one another in a seemingly endless stream of complaint, perhaps branch out a bit, explore and celebrate the work that’s being done and how people are empowered by these amazing computers.

16 Likes

There is a lot of truth to it! :slight_smile:

Then again, I have to be honest: It does happen to me, too - I want more, I am not pleased with what I have, I tend to forget the positive side of things and I do bemoan the fact that an app is not available to me while at the same time I am not appreciating what IS available.

Regarding the Pro iPads: iPadOS 15 will be interesting. There is no doubt about the fact that the iPad Pro M1s are remarkable devices. There have to be plans for using this amazing hardware software-wise! I cannot imagine that we won’t see remarkable improvements in iPadOS sooner or later.

Regarding tech media: I get that everybody reads what other outlets and authors are writing and then everybody chimes in with their thoughts. And yes, that leads to “groupthink”. What baffles me though, is that Apple does not embrace the iPad Pro with their own Pro software. It is just weird. And I can understand that this is being criticized. Why not leading with good example with your own software instead of pointing to other independent vendors who truly have created impressive applications for the iPad? :slight_smile: If Apple lead the charge more aggressively with regards to iPad Pro software, I am sure that the big ol’ software companies probably would invest more into the platform, too. But still, what Adobe has done and keeps doing and what Microsoft is doing is a lot more than nothing. I am not sure, if I ever expected those vendors to create as much for the iPad like they have done and keep on doing as of now.

But… You definitely have a point! :slight_smile:

2 Likes

This is a very true statement. It’s almost like they all have the same script form Apple.

1 Like

Denny was talking about content that is generally dis-satisfied with Apple - that isn’t a script they would like.

2 Likes

But would we have Affinity Photo and LumaFusion if Apple brought their pro apps to iPad at a competitive price? Yes, they are probably a lot of people that could use Final Cut Pro on the iPad, but I suspect there are many more that find LumaFusion an excellent product that fulfills most/all of their needs.

The M1 iPad Pro now has a price that will make most buyers think twice, or not at all, before buying one. Maybe Apple can bring FCP, etc. to only the most powerful models without crowding out the programs that allowed iPad to become the success that it is today.

2 Likes

I’ve abandoned most tech news podcasts for the simple reason that it is just too much. Same for podcasts that just talk about Apple ‘news’ - meaning any and every rumor.

But I also abandoned multiple Apple-related podcasts that seemed to spend most of their time criticizing Apple. David and Stephen certainly voice criticisms of Apple, but retain a general enthusiasm that keeps it balanced.

The rest are kinda like movie critics. They like the movies you don’t, and hate the movies you like. If you do that with my chosen tech ecosystem you’re useless to me…

8 Likes

I appreciate what you’re saying. I think there’s some misunderstanding of the media/arts use of the iPad from the more text/document/code side. There’s also a generational gap as younger users tend to like the uniqueness of creating on the iPad. In gaming, there’s something similar. I was listening to an interview with a League of Legends designer and he was talking about how when they ported League of Legends to iPhone and iPad, keyboard+mouse players were concerned about how touch players could possibly keep up. At the same time, experienced touch-based players were asking Riot how the players coming from PC would be able to compete! These aren’t people who want their tablets to become laptop-like.

There’s another disconnect I probably can’t describe well. The iPad is designed to be used in more situations than a laptop, and part of that is it’s designed to be put down more often more quickly than a laptop, to do something else. So its best workflows are more about alternating between the computer and something else, than about using it steadily for a long time as you would with a computer at a desk. Many of the creative apps are like that as you can just unlock with Face ID, do a quick things, and set the device down again without any fuss. A lot of the desire to make the iPad more Mac-like seems to be to make it something you don’t put down as often. I don’t think that’s a healthy direction. We need a device with a large screen that is productive without consuming our attention.

4 Likes

Maybe there’s some ambiguity in the definition or use of the word ‘Pro’. iPad Pro can be a professional version of the iPad without being an iPad for professionals. It could also be to imply that it’s something professionals would use, while professionals in fact aren’t going to edit 8k video on an iPad, nor edit 400 megapixel images from their Hasselblad on an iPad.

As for the pundits:

5 Likes

IMO, only the top of the line Mac, and now perhaps the 12.9 iPad, could possible rate the term Pro. It doesn’t belong on any iPhone or laptop. But Apple slaps it on virtually everything these days (AirPods Pro, really?) so it’s now nothing but a marketing term.

Back in the day neither my Nikon F4s nor any of my other equipment had “Pro” plastered on it. The quality of the work they helped create determined if something was professional, nothing else mattered.

1 Like

Tech writers get paid for producing content so that usually means switching apps at a ridiculous rate and some follow like sheep. Once you realise that these writers probably switch just to write reviews and by definition get paid the siren calls to change have less effect.

Never listen to podcasts so immune to those plus from the ads for them it seems to be the same in crowd everywhere.

5 Likes

… and get retained on staff depending on how many eyeballs they attract.

I don’t make time for podcasts (apologies to our beloved hosts), and I avoid most tech sites, never pay any tech guru a subscription to read or hear their opinions, and only occasionally look at tech blogs. Anything useful I’ve learned about Apple products and third-party software that operates on it came from sites like MPU. I really don’t care if some guy on The Verge doesn’t like iPad Pros or anything else.

4 Likes

Interesting thoughts - thanks.

A couple of points strike me as relevant:

  • All these podcasts/blogs are chasing clicks & related revenue. They have to rush to be first out fo the blocks with the hot take and the take has to be something eye-catching.
  • Most of the writers don’t do much in the way of the tasks that the device “can’t” support - the limitations, such as they are, are generally in highly specialised edge cases. To take your example of Final Cut Pro - while using it on an iPad might be “cool”, it’s just not practical. Never mind attached storage, multi-tasking or whatever the whinge of the day is - serious movie editing means big screens and many of them. What’s the point of a “portable” device that’s connected to massive desktop displays and storage racks, just so you can say you can edit on it. We’re in the territory off those guys in my use who had massive stereo systems and only one demonstration disk. Never mind listening to music, just hear that separation.
  • See this a lot on photo blogs/podcasts - there are the professionals, taking fabulous images and winning awards right, left and centre, but the reviewers can always find the critical flaw that prevents this camera from being as good as it should be,

In the end, these guys are journalists trying to make a living writing about tech - as opposed to ordinary folks using tech to try and make a living

2 Likes

To be honest, I get the impression it’s complaining for the sake of complaining. At work we have/had Windows/Android tablet. And I know many friends with tablets, I own both an iPad and an Android tablet. And I also teach, where lots of tablets are used. I have never seen somebody attach an external drive. With one exception: tablet+photography. Meaning RAWs from DSLRs on longer trips and using an external drive as a backup. I personally prefer to take a laptop along for that. So maybe 1:1000 tablet owners wanting to attach external drives. Listening to the ranting, you get the impression it’s a use case for at least half the tablet users. The level of complaining doesn’t match reality, at all.

My podcast comsumption is significantly lower. I’ve abandoned most of them. The worst: the 2-3 following an Apple Keynote. Every single podcast repeating the announcements. Then discussing number of ports. Guys, before you even started recording the podcast, many people watched the actual podcast, read newsfeeds/Twitter/Whatever. “The new M1 has two ports…that’s less ports than before…yes, the previous MBP had more ports…people might now buy a new MBP because of the ports…the 2015 had 2 USB and 2 Thunderbolt ports…now only two ports…”. For 20minutes in almost every single podcast, after we watched the Keynote and read about it everywhere. Then the same “analysis” in 20 different podcasts…like scripted.

3 Likes

Back in the day, most podcasters were “ordinary folks using tech” and made their podcasts as a hobby. IMHO the content was better. I’d rather hear from somebody how they are using tech in their “ordinary job” than content rushed into a podcast (by a full-time podcaster). Now tehy talk more about their podcasting equipment, which I find utterly boring, since I don’t podcast. What I like: non-podcasting guests talking about tech usage in their job.

5 Likes

This, of course, after 20 minutes about the awesome sandwich they had.

1 Like

At least the sandwich wasn’t in the original keynote.

3 Likes

I don’t think the format or incentives of tech podcasts has anything to do with why people keep repeating “iPad crippled.” If anything, the consistency of the complaints about iPad hardware overpowering the software indicate they’re not just chasing fresh content.

1 Like

Totally agree. But my personal issue is the hypocrisy when it comes to 3rd party solutions.

On the one hand, since the early days, we are constantly told that Apple isn’t a proprietary closed system and has many ways for 3rd party hardware and software to be used.

But even now, there is a blind faith in any app or hardware from Apple to the detriment of great or worthwhile 3rd party solutions.

I see a lot of devotion to very “meh” products only because they are from Apple with no consideration for alternatives.

Yet when these same bloggers/writers/youtubers/podcasters find a 3rd party product they like, we are inundated with information on why it is so much better and we should abandon the free or paid Apple “basic” solution for “uber wonderful” alternative.

I can give examples, but prefer to keep this as an overall comment and avoid specifics that might embarrass or unfairly callout specific companies or individuals.

2 Likes

I totally agree. My two favorite podcasts of all time are Buzz Out Loud which served up tech news multiple times a week, but was most enjoyable because of the banter between the hosts.

The other is a program created by a couple of lawyers that I’ve been listening to for many years. Some of you may be familiar with that one :wink:

I don’t need tech news, I like programs that make you feel you are with colleagues discussing a subject you all enjoy.

1 Like

That is why I ditched most of the Relay podcasts and unsubscribed from all those “tech productivity” YouTube channels. It’s all the boring same. Sure they report on what they know best and that is the tools they use to consume and remix news (I even have a tough time calling it “creating”) they found via RSS, on Twitter or other podcasts.

Get me some interviews with tech or non-tech designers, engineers, professional photographers or film makers shooting documentaries or short/feature films (and no, just because you do unboxings on YouTube you do not qualify as a film maker), sound designers, people working in academia or teaching, data scientists or the devs from companies like Flexibits or Cultured Code. Get into controversial topics like subscription pricing, privacy and encryption. Try to take different stances and challenge your guests.
Get me that “Apple Pro Workflows” team as podcast guests.

The only podcasts that survived my spring cleaning are:
ATP (not even Relay, but I’d say “almost”), MPU, Automators, Focused and Thoroughly Considered.

Adapt was great, even with Viticci. It had real potential. Especially the “challenge to do X with just an iPad” segment.
Subnet was the best show Relay ever made. It was able to replace all the “Apple rumor mill” ones and is was just a few minutes long, which says enough in itself.

4 Likes