Will Apple Fix the Problems with iPadOS?

Re: truthful in advertising. Is Tim Cook a Pro? He is reported to travel with only an iPhone and an iPad. What I meant was, without defining Pro any statement Apple makes about “Pro” users would probably be truthful. It’s up to me to decide if a device meets my needs.

I watched OpenAI’s update presentation yesterday, and Google IO’s keynote today. Both were very impressive. Perhaps any new Apple AI features will take advantage of its new M4 iPad Pros. This should be a interesting WWDC.

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Nice summary from Macstories.

Implementing unrestricted background work in iPadOS would probably require a status indicator. Maybe a permissions popup. The system conveys a different set of expectations to users than in macOS.

Same for more complex audio management, both playback and recording. Needs an easily reachable status area that proactively communicates to the user. They aren’t going to let iPads potentially get in a state where audio can’t be paused with global controls (e.g. first track keeps playing, second track is silent so global play/pause only toggles that.)

Same for using the Files app to control what apps do. Files isn’t the central app of iPadOS like Finder. So you’d need a way to easily reset any confusing state. The good thing about some of the Files limitations is that they can be solved orthogonally to the user experience (i.e. they add depth or completeness to interactions that already exist without creating surprising side effects; transfer progress bars are an example of that.)

That’s just a few reactions. Federico seems to appreciate these design challenges and just wants more work to be put into solving them–so do I. The reality that it takes months or years to solve these things at a high level of polish with few/no tradeoffs. Undoing some previous missteps adds time.


I’m sure Tim is a “Pro,” but he has an entourage of assistants, so I doubt he does much heavy computing. I suspect he checks the news and stocks, handles triaged emails, checks “dashboards of metrics,” and the like. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m confident that the M4 is designed to handle AI. The question is, “How effectively and broadly will Apple implement AI?” We will soon know!



This was Apple’s best chance to make the “Pro” label actually mean something in their product names!

This is a good point, and I wish I could remember where I read it before, but one of the “Pro” folks the iPad works for is executives. If your job is mainly reviewing briefings, reading papers, responding to emails, working in whatever custom software tool they have for project management, etc., then the iPad is a FANTASTIC tool.

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Finally, a reviewer (John Gruber) who has published weights for the Magic Keyboard for the 13" iPad Pro:

  • 13″ M3 MacBook Air: 1,227g
  • 13″ M4 iPad Pro: 1,247g

So the new iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard is 0.05lbs more than a MacBook Air. “Indistinguishable” was a pretty good description.

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More from Gruber’s review:

The consensus from product reviewers — including yours truly — has been remarkably consistent for the latter half of the iPad’s entire existence, especially when it comes to iPad Pros: incredibly powerful and beautiful hardware hamstrung by infuriatingly limited software. That was the consensus regarding the new iPad Pros in 2022, in 2021, in 2020, and in 2018. In fact consensus is arguably too weak a word. I’m not sure there’s any product in all of tech that has been so consistently regarded by product reviewers for so many years.

Incredibly powerful and beautiful hardware hamstrung by infuriatingly limited software.

But what if we’re thinking about this wrong?

But let’s invert our thinking on this. Instead of starting with the hardware and pondering what the ideal software would be like to take advantage of its power, let’s start with the software. A concept for simplicity-first console-style touchscreen tablet computing. A metaphor for computing with smartphone-style guardrails, with tablet-specific features like stylus support and laptop docking. A tablet OS that is unabashedly a souped-up version of iOS, not a stripped-down version of MacOS. What type of hardware should Apple build to instantiate such a platform?

For the sake of this argument, let’s posit that there exist tens of millions — perhaps 100 million — users who love the iPad for what it is. People who feel empowered, not hamstrung, by how it works, and who have no or very little need for a computer that exposes the complexity of a desktop OS like MacOS or Windows. And that there exist tens of millions more people who enjoy having an iPad to complement, not replace, their desktop computer.

And so the power-user thinking is that if I’m fine with 6-year-old hardware that is utterly blown away, spec-wise, by this new M4 generation of iPad Pros, then, ipso facto, something is profoundly and fundamentally wrong with the software platform. That if the iPadOS software platform were what it should be, it would compel users — like me, perhaps like you — to upgrade to this latest and greatest hardware to “take advantage of” the hardware’s extraordinary capabilities.

But what if that’s misguided? What if the iPadOS platform is great? Or at the very least, the software is very close to the mark of what it should be and how it should work?

iPadOS is what it is. Whatever you (or I) think of it as a productivity platform, you’re a fool if you think it isn’t beloved by many. It’s popular, even for some “professional” use cases, not despite iPadOS’s guardrails but often because of them. Those guardrails feel limiting to me, often very much so, but those same guardrails are liberating to others. There is tremendous power in having a computer that is simple not merely by suggestion but by hard and fast technical constraints.


Some tradeoffs (battery size, balance) but definitely impressive. Makes me want to see what they could do with a 15" cantilevered display.

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My elderly MacBook developed a fault immediately before a month long overseas trip. I was forced to take my iPad that until then I had used primarily for reading and watching, or as an auxiliary screen for my Mac with universal control.
I spent some time reorganising my iPad, including the addition of widgets and shortcuts. After that, I could do almost everything I needed. A spare SSD drive provided additional storage capacity. I did not have Final Cut for video editing, but I could have installed LumaFusion or equivalent if needed. My only frustration was that I did not have a keyboard and my fat fingers made too many mistakes.
I prefer working on a Mac with its keyboard and large screen, and also with the automation I have created. Nevertheless, I managed perfectly well for a month using only my iPad and have continued to use it much more than in the past.


That is an excellent perspective, one that causes me to rethink my criticism of iPadOS. As I said earlier, I need to come to terms with Apple’s goal for the iPad and the resulting design and OS choices and use it as Apple intends, an extension, and sometimes a replacement, for my MBP.


I feel Gruber’s perspective is just providing an excuse for Apple not to fix any of the issues with iPadOS, ever. This is not an either/or choice between this and that set of users – fixing long-existing problems and bugs that prevent more professional workflows or are incredibly annoying to power users on the iPad does not mean any of the users that ‘love’ the iPad for what it is today will lose anything.

This is akin to how your Mac, out of the box, is set up for an ‘average’ user and you need to dig into settings to enable some of the more ‘power user’ stuff. The fact that the power user stuff is there and available is not preventing any ‘casual’ users in using their Mac the way they are used to. So, fix Stage Manager, which remains a mess – those who do not use it will not care, so nothing changes for them. Heck, it’s not even available on an entry-level device, so clearly product segmentation based on target demographics is possible.

I don’t see how fixing all the things Federico outlined in his latest article – and these are all glaring issues with iPadOS – is going to make iPadOS any more complex or more difficult to use for any demographic. An overhaul of the totally broken Files app, which is probably one of the worst and least intuitive file management apps ever to exist on any computing platform, would benefit everyone, for example. It’s a disgrace that Apple ships Files app in its current state on a ‘Pro’ device.


I see this a lot I don’t get it. I use the Files app to manage thousands of files across hundreds of folders and have found it to work very well. I did a side-by-side comparison with the Mac’s Finder and visually at least, it’s nearly identical.

I regularly copy or move files on device and across cloud services with no problems and find it as easy to use as the Finder.

I think the biggest miss is the lack of an option to set default apps for file types but that dates back to the Sandboxing of iOS and isn’t likely to change.

Stage Manager, again, not sure I get the complaint. It could be expanded to allow more than 4 apps, 4 spaces. But Federico is the one that lobbied in 2022 for Stage Manager to be optimized for older iPads with only 4-6GB of memory. If they’re going to expand those limits or remove them it will likely be a feature limited to M series iPads.

In general I’ve found Stage Manager enjoyable to use and an improvement over Split View.


I am reasonably happy with the Stage Manager now but would like to see the artificial limits gone and the ability to create (and remember) set app pairs introduced.

I’ve had many issues with the Files app over the past two years of using the iPad Pro as my primary productivity device, so while I trust that it works for you, for some reason, I am having issues with it. It will become sluggish and then freeze, requiring to be force quit, if SMB shares are not ejected before leaving the network. It will add timestamps to filenames on its own when pasting files to a third-party cloud service (it literally changes the filename on its own). It is inconsistent as to when it displays copy vs. move options. It will sometimes freeze on large copy operations from third-party cloud services or they simply never complete with no indication of what’s gone wrong.

It often forgets the folders pinned to favourites if these are stored on third-party cloud services; they are gone from favourites and cannot be repinned because Files ‘thinks’ they are still there. And then the iCloud syncing issues tie in to all of that. There’s a bunch of things Files could do better.

Both OpenAI and Google have demonstrated features this week that are likely to be real game changers. I don’t think we can evaluate the future of the iPad until we see what AI features Apple has planned.

I have had time to see what they offered. I’ll have to check it out when I am able. In the meantime, my hardware and workflow remains the same. I’ll reassess after WWDC. :slightly_smiling_face:

The problem is with 3rd party apps (why you don’t have issues, but I do, I have no idea). I don’t use iCloud unless I have to. Using OneDrive or Synology Drive and getting it to sync within Files can be troublesome. Heck, sometimes with an iCloud file, it will just not sync until it’s good and ready. There is no way to force a resync (this one reason I don’t use iCloud).

Which is the other problem. Apps do not have access to a real file system, they have access to an app. So if I want to use an app that needs a file from a less popular cloud system, I have to depend on it syncing with the Files app. Excel is a good example here. It works fine with OneDrive, but if my files are not on OneDrive, I need to play with the Files app to try to get it to sync with whatever service my file is on (usually Synology Drive). And all the big tech companies want to steer you into their cloud system. So I don’t use my iPad for things I could do on it, because getting them to work is too much of a hassle.

I find that doing things on an iPad work best if I stay with in Apple’s ecosystem, but the moment I want to veer out of that, it becomes a PITA. Which is of course the way Apple wants it.

I never have these issues on a Mac. On a Mac (and PC), all my files are on easy to get to no matter what cloud system I am using. I can even have files all downloaded to the system and sync when I am done editing.

I was recently watching a YouTube video of a guy showing off his HomeLab. I was surprised he did it from his iPad, using Stage Manager. So I gave it another shot on my big iPad. I still don’t get it. If I need to switch between windows a lot it seems neat, I just don’t do that a lot. On a Mac, I still find it completely pointless.


The usefulness of Stage Manager probably depends on your usage of your iPad (and that’s fair enough, iPad can’t be everything to everyone, despite what some pundits believe).

I only use Stage Manager for work on my iPad, as it has no value to me for my personal iPad use. For me, when I’m working I usually have 3-5 specific apps I might be moving between, and Stage Manager is great for that. In addition, for reading and typing notes as I go, I’ve found Stage Manager offers me a better viewing experience than Split View. In Stage Manager I can size the reading ‘pane’ and the text ‘pane’ exactly how I like (Split View in contrast only offers set views). In addition, I can arrange more than 2 windows together, for example if I am reading and making notes in two separate places. This is amazing and I love it, but if you don’t need this functionality (as I don’t for non-work iPad use) Stage Manager doesn’t have much to offer.

But really the fact that it’s there at all is I think testament to the fact that Apple is supporting workers on iPad. It might not be supporting ALL vocations, and they can’t speak for the quality of the third party apps we have access to, but for many jobs that predominantly run on cloud services you could probably do most if not all of it on an iPad if your employer felt like it.


While waiting for the delivery of my new iPad Pro I have been watching some videos of iPad OS tutorials and tips. My goal is to try to use the iPad as my daily driver. Although I have owned iPads from the day the first one was introduced, I’ve never really used the Files apps to any real extent. I know it’s come a long way over the years. Here’s one video that I found useful. Warning: It’s really basic (but it was helpful to me). (@Denny - I’m not suggesting you need this :grinning:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkbwRmmvWcQ


This has been my experience, as well. I have timed myself performing same-class-of-actions on both my iPad and my Mac. I can accomplish the same file management tasks on both and there is almost no time difference between the two. (Indeed, sometimes the iPad method is faster; sometimes the Mac method is. But I’m talking about seconds of difference.)

As for improvements to Files, the main thing is overall consistency and reliability. Files on iPad works perfectly well almost all the time for me, but sometimes there are quirks. I’d also like more batch processing ability through Shortcuts. There is a lot I can do (file renaming and file movement are my primary needs), but I’d like more functionality exposed. (This is one of those things that would benefit power users while being completely unobtrusive to non-power users). Beyond that, here is my wishlist for making Files even better:

  • allow smart folders;
  • better “collaboration” with external file providers (e.g., I’d like to be able to move files rather than copy and delete them when going between providers);
  • better ability to search for files across ALL file providers (this seems like it has improved already, but I’m not 100% sure);
  • better incorporation of file tags (this may be a third-party provider issue; i.e., providers like Dropbox don’t seem to want to provide that functionality).

I also agree with you about setting default apps. For some reason, yesterday, every time I opened a Word doc it would open in Pages. I had to go to the extreme step of deleting and re-installing Pages. Word has been the default app for Word docs (no shock there); why did Pages start taking over? I don’t know. This is one of those fit-and-finish issues that I needs to be addressed.

There is one last improvement that I would personally like that may not impact users more generally. I have some third-party apps that integrate with Files. When I need to import documents into the apps, I can import an entire folder. It has to be an iCloud folder. If the iCloud folder contains documents that aren’t downloaded on my iPad, the third-party app doesn’t see them and (obviously) won’t download them. When I use the feature, I have to make sure all the documents in a folder are downloaded and that is an annoyance. I don’t have the problem if I just import from a USB drive, which is what I sometimes do.

The discussion about Files, in particular, over the forum and elsewhere led me to draw a hypothesis. My sense is that a huge swath of iPadOS complaints are based on users wanting to perform a task on their iPads exactly as they perform it on macOS and the resulting frustration they experience when it doesn’t work out so well on iPadOS. When users invest time learning how the OS works, and then try performing the tasks the “native” way, a whole lot of problems seem to disappear: multitasking and file management chief among them.


I feel like I am missing something. I hooked up my iPad to Magic Keyboard and wanted to move multiple files at once to a new folder. In list view dragging a box doesn’t work. You can drag a box around files in grid view though. Selecting multiple files is difficult to do, maybe impossible by touch? There is no way to copy and paste with the keyboard. Just trying to move files in iCloud I got loading animations on the file even though I was trying to move them and not open them (also having files trying to load suddenly meant none of them could actually load). I found it very frustrating and broken.

Also is there way to open other tabs? You can open 2 instances of Files and put them side by side, but doing that over and over is clunky. All this stuff is easy on a Mac. I think saying Files looks like Finder is disingenuous. Yes they look similar, but they do not act similar.

Granted, I don’t use Files a lot, but I am decent in Finder. Every time I do use Files for anything more than looking at files on iCloud, I find it frustrating.

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