A few days ago, Apple released a new ad for the iPad Pro that gives five reasons it can be ‘your next computer.’ While I thought the ad was well done, I did come away from it frustrated. While I’ve been a big proponent of the iPad for a long time (I’ve bought 500+ iPads over the past eight years), I think the video shows serious flaws with Apple’s mindset at the moment. And I’ve been thinking, is the iPad Pro worth the money?
As I was killing time last week, I was reading John Gruber’s link to Jason Snell’s iPad review, and I was shaking my head in agreement here. I know some of you are going to disagree with me immediately, but just give me a moment.
But, I will object to one thing: the iPad feels like a young platform, yes, but it’s not young. It’s over 8 years old. Steve Jobs was still around to introduce it. When the Mac was 8 years old in 1992, System 7 had been launched, and it was a very advanced platform, suitable for work of any kind. The new iPad Pro hardware might be the best consumer computer hardware ever made — the only rivals are the iPhone XS and XR. But software-wise, the iPad platform is nowhere near as far along after 8 years as the Mac was a generation ago. The iPhone is. But the iPad is not, and I don’t see how anyone can deny that.
Before we go any further, go ahead and watch the commercial.
Apple’s reasons the iPad Pro can be your next computer:
It’s More Powerful Than Most Computers
It’s more powerful than what? Are we comparing it to a PC or a Mac? Is this a knock on Intel? The current promotion on iPad hardware is like selling a Ferrari on a dirt road. Yes, the iPad hardware is amazing, but people buy computers for software first. If I were always after the fastest hardware, I would have never purchased a Powerbook G4 back in 2005. People who prefer Apple products were never after the fastest computer on the market. They were after the best computer on the market.
It’s Like A…
Apple goes to list a scanner, camera, notepad, multimedia editing suite, music editor, and a book reader. The iPad is an extremely versatile device. It can be all of those things. It can do all of those things well. My question here is where is Apple’s version of Final Cut Pro and Logic for iPad? If the iPad Pro is the worth the money Apple charges for it, they should show the way for developers by making pro-level apps.
It Goes Anywhere and Stays Connected
Which product is this a knock on? There are PCs with built-in LTE service, but there aren’t Macs. Is one Apple product knocking another because of a missing hardware feature that Apple is 100% in control of providing? I think there is undoubtedly a market for a Mac laptop with LTE, but Apple has never made it an option.
It’s As Easy As This…
In the commercial, they show moving content around with their finger. Fraser Speirs had a great tweet last week that sums up my thinking on this.
Been using a Google Pixelbook this weekend. It's virtually the exact same footprint and weight as my wife's new 12.9" iPad Pro. Makes me wonder what could have been if Apple hadn't been so determined to keep a hard wall between laptop and touchscreens.
— Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) November 18, 2018
Yes, touch is a great way to move content around. It certainly makes the iPad more approachable. Why has Apple drawn such a line in the sand where iOS is the only OS with touch? Google and Microsoft are showing it can work in both places. As these devices get more expensive, I expect them to be able to do more, and not less.
It’s Even Better With Apple Pencil
The iPad Pro is undoubtedly better with Apple Pencil, but it also adds $129 in cost to the iPad Pro (that starts at $799). The keyboard case starts at $179. According to this commercial, you need to spend a minimum of $1107 plus tax to get a computer like the iPad Pro.
My honest question to Apple is how is the iPad Pro that much better than the $329 6th generation iPad? Is the iPad Pro worth the money? It’s running the same software as a device that is more than $700 less expensive.
I came away from this commercial feeling like this was a modern-day Mac vs. PC commercial, but was an iPad vs. Mac.
For the sake of fun, I’m going to put together another commercial script for Apple. It’s called 5 Reasons Why the iPad Pro Shouldn’t Be Your Next Computer. Another working title is Get a Mac: is the iPad Pro worth the money?
- It still uses a mobile web browser despite being lightning fast
- You can’t plug up a USB-C hard drive to import files onto the iPad despite no technical limit.
- If you work at a “computer” as a knowledge worker, the touchscreen-only interface is ergonomically poor.
- There is no multi-user interface, so you’ll have to have a dedicated machine for each member of your entire family.
- You can’t run pro apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic, Motion, and Compressor on iPad (Photoshop is coming soon, though).
Apple has this sentence on the Mac section of their website:
macOS is the operating system that powers every Mac. It lets you do things you simply can’t with other computers.
I love macOS, and I love the iPad. I want the iPad (and iOS) to be able to do everything macOS can do. Marco Arment had a very astute point recently on Twitter.
Regarding “iPad isn’t a young platform”: https://t.co/yVxJBXQ5ru
Yes, it should be much more mature after 8 years. But it spent a lot of those years neglected. From its launch as iOS 3.2 until iOS 9, I’d say, it was barely moved forward at all except what iPhone updates brought.
— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) November 20, 2018
I 100% agree with him. That is also precisely why I am judging this year’s iPad Pros as a standalone product. Products shouldn’t be sold based on what they might do in the future (the rumored iOS 13 iPad overhaul), but rather what they can do today.
Is the iPad Pro worth the money? For me, until the iPad Pro can replace 100% of my work, there is no chance I am spending $1000+ on one. Are there people who can do 100% of their work on iPad Pro? Absolutely, but that list has been stagnant for a while now. I want to be one of those people. I want to be iPad only. I love the iPad (and that is why I criticize).
Right now, there are essential tasks that I either can’t do or are extremely tedious. I can live with tedious for a device that is $329, but for a device that is over $1,000 with accessories, I struggle to think it’s worth the money. Apple dropped the ball on the iPad software years ago, and in my view, it’s still on the ground.