What’s a computer?

Can iPad Pro now replace a computer with the release of iPadOS?

When Apple announced their decision to separate the iPad from iOS and instead make a dedicated operating system for it, I was ecstatic. I knew this was a giant leap toward Apple’s aspirations to make the iPad more credible as a professional’s device.

iPad Pro

Apple introduced the iPad Pro in 2015. It was originally only available in the 12.9-inch form factor and it was huge. The key characteristics of that first machine were its size and the introduction of Apple’s very own stylus called the Apple Pencil. Apple optimized the Pencil to work extremely well with the iPad, thereby making all other styluses virtually useless but more importantly, making content creation on the iPad more like pen on paper.

The iPad Pro line grew in the next few years although the physical devices actually shrunk. Last year, Apple introduced its first bezel-less iPad Pros in the 11 and 12.9 inch sizes. They managed to package these two more powerful devices into smaller form factors and give it Face ID. They also scrapped the ridiculous charging design for the Apple Pencil. The Second Generation Apple Pencil attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro and simultaneously charges and pairs to it. Reviewers raved about the power of the device, sporting benchmark values higher than rival company’s computers. However, it was almost unanimously decided that although the new iPad Pro packed a lot of power, this was wasted on the then operating system, iOS 12.

The new home screen with smaller icons allowing for space for widgets on the left.

So of course when Apple remedied this by releasing the all-new iPadOS on Tuesday (24 September 2019), this iPad Pro user was elated. I use a 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the upgrade from my second-generation iPad to this tablet was monumental.

That iPad was the second Apple product I bought. It was more than a tablet to me. I watched TV on that thing and read the entire series of “A song of ice on fire” (Game of Thrones) on it. I wrote with it and surfed the net. To me, it quickly became the quintessential Apple product.

So when Apple introduced the iPad Pro along with the Apple Pencil I had to make plans to get the thing. I replaced my iPad with an iPad Pro in 2017. I bought the Pencil the next year. Previously, I had been using the Adonit stylus.

The low latency, extremely capable, Apple Pencil.

Obviously, the low latency of the Apple Pencil was a gift of the gods for me. I don’t use the pencil as much as I should. I mean that thing was expensive, even though I bought it on a Black Friday special. I use Notability for note taking on the iPad and it’s really close to the pen and paper experience. Apple products are really easy to use. The technology just recedes, allowing you to go about your daily duties. Below are a few of my favorite updates.

Slide Over and Split View

Multitasking, where you can have two apps next to each other and have another app float above them, was introduced to the iPad in an earlier software update. What’s new is that you can now have two windows of the same app in split view. What’s more, you can have multiple windows of the same app open all at once and you can view and switch between them by using app exposé. You can also have multiple apps in slide over (the floating apps mentioned above), and then switch between these by scrolling using the bottom bar. I personally find this useful for having my schedule and tasks available for quick checks whilst busy with something else. You can replace a splitview app with a floating app using the top bar to drag and release over it existing item or you can pull a splitview app out by dragging down on the top bar. If you want to get rid of the floating apps you can swipe off the screen using the top bar. You can also use this top bar to pull the app to the middle of the screen and release for a full mode app. This video on Apple Support’s YouTube channel explains it so much better.

The very useful Smart Keyboard.

Text editing

This is like magic. I usually don’t use the gestures because it used to seem to me like just highlighting something and then picking one of the options that pop up was easier. However, the new text editing gestures are really cool to me and I feel like a magician when doing them.

Once you have selected your text and highlighted it, you can pinch with three fingers to copy, or do this twice to cut. Pasting is just the opposite of the pinch, you open your fingers from that pinched position. You can undo with a three finger swipe to the left and redo with a three finger swipe in the opposite direction. Here’s the Apple Support video.

I used the tool palette to edit a screenshot of a draft of this blog post🤯

Tool Palette and Markup

I use the tool palette extensively to mark up screenshots and photos and I’m very glad to see that it has been redesigned. The tool palette looks cleaner but more impressive in that it can move across the screen. You can basically place the palette at the top or bottom of the screen or left and right. Also, if you put the palette in any of the corners, only your chosen tool will be displayed. I would have preferred for the tool palette to rotate when you change the screen orientation. A few other useful features is the ability to start a note from the locked screen by tapping the Apple Pencil on it and the ability to search handwritten notes.

The redesigned files app.

Files

A very big move for making the iPad more like a computer is the way files are stored. Apple added the Files app to the iPad Pros a few years ago and extended it to successive iPads. In iPadOS the Files app gets a much needed upgrade making it much more capable. You can change the way you view your files from icon view to list view to column view, where you can view nested files. You can also create folders. I’m not sure if that was a feature on iOS 12. Lastly, you can scan documents and place it directly in a folder.

Conclusion

This is very good update and Apple have certainly made a strong push to make the iPad more appealing for Pro users. Personally, I will probably leave my laptop at home more, as I can do so much on the go with my iPad now. However, I do not think I will get rid of my computer just yet. Some people may disagree and say that Apple have done enough and they feel quite comfortable with the iPad becoming their Pro tool of choice. The fact that they are this close is impressive and perhaps one day we may earnestly ask, “What’s a Computer?


What’s a Computer?

I usually prefer using my own titles but this time I couldn’t resist using the title of one of Apple’s amazing iPad advertisements. Check it out here.

Photo Credits

Featured Image – Original Photo by eleven x on Unsplash

Home screen – Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Apple Pencil – Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

Smart Keyboard – Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

Finder in files – Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

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