Can the iPad Pro be your only computer

July 18, 2018 | Reading time 6 minutes

Apple wants you to believe that the iPad Pro can be your only computer. But, can it? Techies will say it can’t, because it doesn’t have a full blown OS. If that’s the case than you might also say that the Surface Pro isn’t a tablet, because many apps on Windows aren’t designed for touch. I think both opinions are right but that you should measure it in another way.

Recently I have been to Sweden for a few weeks and I decided to leave my MacBook Pro at home. This meant that my only computer would be my 10.5” iPad Pro. This would be my test. And yes, it can be your main computer. And no, it can’t be your only computer.

During my stay in Sweden I have been writing a lot. I’m working on a book and being out there in the woods was perfect to write. Just like my iPad was the perfect companion. I’m using the Smart Keyboard made by Apple and it’s such a joy to type on. It might be the nicest keyboard that I have ever used. Even better than those on the Surface Book and Surface Laptop. The texture and feedback are great. The iPad has tons of apps for writing like Word or Pages, but there are also more dedicated apps like IA Writer and Bear. I do most of my drafts in Bear and do the finishing in Pages and sometimes Word. During my writing I didn’t miss my MacBook at all. Pages even let’s me export ePub files that I can send to reviewers, which is really convenient. Once back home and working on my MacBook again, I did miss my iPad. I missed the keyboard and the focus that I had on the iPad. It kind of forces you to focus and that helps me to get things done.

Editing photos

I’m not a pro photographer, but I do like to edit photos. With Affinity Photo you have a very powerful editor on the iPad. Together with the Apple Pencil I think I like it more on the iPad than on a laptop. It feels more natural and the iPad Pro is outperforming many laptops while adjusting the RAW images that I shoot with Halide. Its performance is absolutely amazing for such a compact device. It made me move all my photo editing to the iPad, perhaps it won’t work for a pro but for most others it certainly will.

Design and creative work

Designing on the iPad was still kind of a struggle, until last week. Serif finally released Affinity Designer for the iPad and I was blown away after playing around with it. It’s far more better than I hoped and my first impression is that it offers about everything that I use on the Mac. I might do a full review later on. Together with Affinity Photo, Serif now offers two great apps for creatives on the iPad. As an alternative for Affinity Designer you can also take a look at Vectornator. That’s a free app and also seems very good, but I haven’t played with it that much.

There are also several good apps like Procreate for digital art. Every artist that I know, loves the iPad Pro with the Pencil for drawing and sketching. It’s very good.

I have to admit that for creative work you might prefer the larger iPad Pro for. But, the 10.5″ is easier to hold and carry around. There are rumours that Apple will release an 11″ iPad Pro this fall with about the same size of the 10.5″. If that’s the case, they will probably shrink the 12.9″ version too or put an even larger screen on it. If so, I might opt in for the larger one.

Coding

The one thing that I can’t do in a satisfying way on the iPad Pro, is coding. It’s still easier to navigate through multiple applications on a laptop. There are some code editors for the iPad, but none of them could convince me.

Other productivity work

What about other productivity work? Well, that depends on what you want to do. You can do most office work more than fine on the iPad Pro, but navigating through files and opening them is still easier on a laptop. When you’re working in large spread sheets, you might also want to go to something like a desktop, because Excel on iOS might not offer all your required features.

Merging iOS and macOS

Apple tried to kill the rumors about a merger of iOS and macOS during the WWDC back in June, by showing and saying NO on stage. But is it true? It seems so obvious and with the expected move from Intel to Apple processors for the Mac that might be even easier. The iPad Pro sure has the power to do more and after using the it as my only computer for a few weeks, I catch myself touching the screen on my MacBook more and more. It feels natural, even if Apple denies it.

Personally I guess Apple will merge iOS and macOS at some point, but it won’t be a merger. I think it will be an evolution of iOS on the iPad.

Media

Let’s not forget the non-work part, because the iPad is a great device to watch Netflix, listen to music, reading and do some gaming. It makes that you can use one device for all things in life and that’s a big pro for me, because I’m a bit tired of having to use multiple devices. (The latter sounds weird since I love to try new tech.)

Verdict

My conclusion is that the iPad Pro can be the only computer for lots of people. It’s the best tablet by far (sorry Microsoft) and for many people it will do more than fine for productivity work, but not for everyone. Looking at the current MacBooks, the iPad Pro might even be Apples best “laptop”. At least that was the case while I was writing this blog. Last week Apple updated the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro’s and the iPad Pro won’t match the performance of the 15″ version, but the iPads will get updated too and might be a tough competition for the 13″ model. Besides that, we have to wait how the new MacBooks will perform in real life compared to the iPad Pro.

If writing was my main source of income, I would definitely go with the iPad as my only computer. For now I will probably keep going back to my MacBook because it allows me to do other things faster, but perhaps that will change in the future and for lots of people that future is now.

So, what’s a computer?