Yesterday, I sold my iPad Pro for good. I am not going to buy another one anytime soon. From now on, I will stick to my good old MacBook Pro for everything, from coding to writing, from designing to blogging.
If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been an avid iPad Pro fan for years. As a minimalist and slow traveler, I am always looking at ways of reducing my belongings to the bare minimum. Carrying two devices with me –a tablet and a laptop– was difficult to justify.
Yes, you could argue that the iPad Pro was better for reading, casual browsing, or writing, and the MacBook Pro was the go-to tool for serious stuff (like coding). But convenience does not equal necessity. I didn’t truly need the iPad.
Why was I trying so hard then?
I tried to use an iPad Pro as my one and only working device for three years. As an entrepreneur and multipotentialite, I do lots of different things, so I started to explore the possibilities of using the iPad Pro for:
I even tried to work only with my iPad Pro for an entire week, without my laptop, to find out if the iPad could replace it.
But why was I trying so hard? Why not using my laptop?
Well, the Macbook Pro is an awesome device. I love it. Since I got my hands on my first MacBook (one of those white, stylish, but plastic ones from 2007) I knew I would not be able to work on a PC anymore.
I fell in love with the iPad because of that. It is small and light. You can use it to read or attach the smart cover and start coding. It is an extremely flexible and portable device. I really wanted to be able to get rid of my MacBook and use the iPad Pro only.
Why the iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop
However, after three years of trying, I have finally resigned. It’s not because the device is not powerful enough. It is because iPadOS is a toy operating system, and it has been purposely limited by Apple –the walled garden– in key aspects such as access to the File System, a local terminal, easy information sharing between apps, etc…
Yes, you can do lots of things on an iPad. For some stuff (like administrative work, blogging or writing), you may be even able to do 100% of your tasks on it.
But the lack of a proper File System and the inability to access the information contained in the device comprehensively (not through apps) hampers my attempts to do anything meaningful on it.
Well, to be fair, you can get some work done, but it takes twice or three times as much time as it takes on a laptop. And the experience is frustrating as a whole. You need to constantly be switching apps, moving things from one place to another, and using external artifacts like cloud services or online tools for the simplest things.
Will I be able to replace my laptop with another device someday?
I personally don’t think so. I love the idea of owning a tablet-like device instead of a computer. But Apple does not seem to be interested in making iPadOS more open or similar to macOS. Not at least, enough to be a serious competitor to a laptop.
I had a look at alternative devices, but I could not find an appropriate competitor. Microsoft Surface or any device running Windows is a no-no for me. To be honest, I had a look at the recent Duo (the first Microsoft device to run Android) and I did not like it at all. It’s not only ugly (what’s with this bending-devices trend?) and kind of useless (why would I want a screen on both sides of a phone?), but also super expensive. I won’t be spending $1400 anytime soon on that.
Then, I had a look at Android tablets, but none of them seemed to be truly professional devices. I can’t imagine myself working on a Samsung Galaxy tablet. I even tested some of them. None was anywhere close to being useful for work.
Devices are just tools
Even though I am disappointed about not being able to replace my laptop with an iPad Pro, that’s ok. Devices are just tools. You need to find the one that works better for you.
In my case, for a device to call itself “Pro”, it needs to grant me access to truly pro functionalities. I need to be able to easily and quickly access files, modify and move them, resize images, move folders, start new code projects, edit configuration files manually (through a terminal), and so on.
The iPad Pro unfortunately does not meet this requirement.
But that’s fine. I have my MacBook Pro, and it works for me. I sold my iPad Pro because I don’t want to carry two devices when I can just carry one. It is one thing less to clutter my mind, and my suitcase.
Unless you only need to answer emails and browse the web, the iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop for work. Its many shortcomings (lack of a professional Operating System, proper access to the File System, etc) make it awkwardly slow to work on, even if you have access to all the tools you need.