On the Eve of WWDC - Reflections on the iPad

Last year, I wished for Apple to finally figure out windowing on iPadOS. That didn’t happen. Instead, Apple added a few icons at the top of the iPad screen to choose between split screen, single app and slide over modes, and then called it a day. For some, it was an acknowledgment that multi-tasking gestures are too hard to discover or figure out, but to me, it was another let down and more of the same slowpoke pace of iPad progress that we’ve seen before.

2022 really feels like a make it or break it year for the iPad. With the macOS transition to Apple Silicon, the reasons to get an iPad over a laptop are dwindling. Almost all of the iPad’s advantages have been trumped by the current line of M1 MacBooks. They offer better battery life, more built-in ports, multi-tasking that doesn’t feel like you’re working with one arm tied behind your back, just to name a few. It feels like the iPad’s selling points boil down to cellular connectivity, Apple Pencil support, touch interface, tablet form factor, and ability to use iOS based software. While there are power users that do get all of their work done on the iPad, they are very few professionals that I know that can.

Just this past week, Federico Viticci, the biggest proponent of the iPad (IMO), shared that over the last 6 months, he had switched from using an iPad Pro to a 14” MacBook Pro with M1 Max… and he enjoyed it! If that sort of news isn’t a wake up call to the folks in charge of iPadOS, I dunno what is. The fact that the guy that has made a career out of writing articles about how to make the iPad a power user tool has been using a Mac full time should send those folks running for their lives. Turns out if you need to use a Mac to accomplish a workflow that isn’t possible on the iPad, you may just end up using the Mac for everything else.

Perhaps Apple’s slow-as-molasses pace of improving iPadOS is all part of their grand plan. They began by splitting iOS into a separate OS specifically for iPad in 2019. I took that as a sign that Apple was finally getting serious about the iPad, but in the end, it seems mostly for show. I can’t think of anything that Apple has done to take advantage of this separation from standard iOS. Apple also doesn’t seem interested in adding touch to the Mac, and they’re also not interested in giving users the ability to run macOS on the iPad, even though they probably could.

Maybe Apple was waiting for the Mac to make the move to Apple silicon in order to finally unleash iPadOS? In 2021 the iPad Pro was introduced with the exact same M1 processor found in the Mac, but iPadOS remained unchanged. In 2022, we’re finally at a point where almost all of Apple’s products are running on Apple silicon, so if change doesn’t come this year, I have no idea what they’re waiting for. I can only hope that they have a plan for the iPad and that it will finally be revealed tomorrow. The bottom line is that there are fewer reasons for anyone to choose an iPad than ever before. Until Apple can explain why anyone should choose and iPad over a laptop, I believe fewer will choose it.