Apple needs to decide what it wants the iPad to be

Apple’s iPad still leads the global tablet market, but, unlike the Mac and iPhone, sales are decreasing. I think this will continue until the tech giant decides what it wants the tablet to be.

Apple continues to insist that, when it comes to the iPad, “your next computer is not a computer.” However, for many of us, the iPad, even the iPad Pro, isn’t a true laptop replacement.

I truly wish it was. I use my 12.9-inch iPad Pro to watch videos, check email, and surf the web. I use it as a drawing tablet, gaming device, ebook reader, Bible, and more. However, when I go on the road, I can’t use it as a laptop replacement for running Apple World Today.

It’s not the hardware. An iPad running an Apple-designed M1 processor has plenty of oomph. It’s not the screen size, though I would buy a 15-inch iPad IF I could use it as a laptop. It’s the operating system; iPadOS doesn’t offer the multitasking features and flexibility of macOS.

I’d be delighted to see an iPad with a touch-capable version of macOS. However, that probably ain’t gonna happen. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman probably has the next best idea that he presented in his April 18 Power On newsletter: a “pro” mode for iPadOS that would allow the tablet’s software to catch up with the power of its hardware. 

“The current iPad Pro hardware remains well ahead of its operating system, iPadOS,” he writes. “The device now has an M1 chip, the same processor that powers a 13-inch MacBook Pro or 24-inch iMac. It’s way more powerful than needed to run iPadOS, which, in my mind, is still basically a blown-up and tweaked version of the iPhone’s iOS.”

Here’s what Gurman suggests as three iPad Pro modes:

  • A standard, touch-first mode with the normal home screen that is part of iPadOS today.
  • A new option that turns on when you connect an Apple Pencil, optimizing icons, controls and user interface elements for that accessory.
  • And, most importantly, a new “pro” mode that kicks in when the iPad is connected to a keyboard and trackpad, such as Apple’s own Magic Keyboard, or an external display.

As for multitasking improvements, Parker Ortolani has tweeted a great concept (pictured) for iPadOS 16 “taking multitasking to a new whole new level.”

In my ideal world, I’d have an iMac that I used for the bulk of my day-to-day work and an iPad Pro for after-work activities AND as my go-to laptop when I’m away from the home office. So I’d love to see Apple truly make the iPad (at least the Pro) a true laptop replacement/alternative as it claims it is. Otherwise, quit touting it as such and let the tablet just be a tablet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.