The question that comes out of all of this is “Can I use the iPad as my main machine with iPadOS?” As a former podcaster, I can definitely say no. Not until Apple opens up the OS to allow for plugins like eCamm Call Recorder. I can’t speak for professional or even prosumer video editors, or vloggers, or any other type of user.
I’m a writer. My needs aren’t as simple as some. I do more than surf the Internet and binge Netflix. That said, I definitely don’t need to edit 4K video or render computer graphics. I put text in a word processor while occasionally scribbling notes or capturing screenshots as research. The extent of my heavy computing is relegated to the two dozen or so tabs I have open in Safari at any given time.
And for those purposes, yeah. I can safely say the iPad has become my main machine. In fact, even when I was a podcaster, I would record my interviews on my Mac, then edit the files in Ferrite on the iPad. Before iPadOS, my iPad was capable of some things, but severely limited in other ways.
An app could only have one window open at any time. My widgets were somewhere off the homescreen where I often forgot about them. The Apple Pencil was mostly a drawing implement and not an all-purpose screenshot capture and annotation tool. It’s wild to think that in nine years, the original intent of the iPad—as a halfway point between the iPhone and the Mac—has shifted so drastically.
Sure, some apps in the beginning tried to push the tablet beyond its limits, but Apple always kept things simple. Now, especially with the Pro and the upgraded Air as part of the lineup, Apple’s iPad can competently compete for desk space with the MacBook Air and even some of the smaller MacBooks Pro.
That’s not to say iPadOS 13 isn’t without its problems. It’s clear there are bugs to be squashed and I believe much of that comes with the sheer enormity of this update. They didn’t add a few features to make certain actions easier. Apple fundamentally changed the definition of the iPad.
I predicted several months ago that the MacBook lineup would shift with the introduction of iPadOS. It might take some time, but it wouldn’t be long before the iPad replaced the low-end MacBook as the default for students and customers with average computing needs. Well, the lineup shifted earlier than anticipated, but it looks like Apple is moving things in that direction.
Not only did they drop the low-end MacBook off the roster, but the iPad Pro and iPad Air are now part of the company’s back-to-school discount program. Students can opt for one of the higher-end iPads to take to class, rather than the MacBook Pro or even the MacBook Air they might’ve defaulted to in previous years. If that doesn’t signify a shift in the way Apple perceives the iPad, I don’t know what will.
And iPadOS is what will make that migration even easier. The advanced multitasking with slide over, the desktop-class Safari browser, the enhanced Shortcuts, and the new Pencil functionality propel the iPad to laptop-level performance in a lot of ways, and in others, beyond what the traditional Macs have offered.
It’s a new paradigm, one we’re still getting used to, but the possibilities are too great to ignore. Apple has the chance to turn computing on its head again, just as it did 30+ years ago. The only question is whether the world will accept such a new concept—a computer that isn’t a computer.
To quote my favorite—and in my not-so-humble opinion, the best — Pixar film, Ratatouille, “There are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”
I’ll be iPadOS’s friend. I hope you will, too.