In 2018, Apple made a declaration about its vision for the iPad. Apple sees the iPad as a modern device that could replace a traditional computer for most people. With the release of the iOS 13 and iPad OS, I think the iPad is finally getting closer to making Apple’s vision a reality. I wanted to figure out what it would take for the average person to completely replace their laptop with an iPad.
Here’s what I learned.
First thing’s first, you’ll need some accessories. The two most important ones are a keyboard and a case. The case is obviously for protection, but make sure you get one that also lets you prop up your iPad.
For my iPad Mini, I went with the classic Apple Smart Cover, because of how thin and light it is and because of the various ways I can prop up my iPad on it. When it comes to a keyboard, I didn’t want one that was stuck to my iPad.
I do a lot of other things besides typing, so 80% of the time, it would’ve just been in a way. So I went with a $10 Bluetooth keyboard off Amazon. It’s cheap, it’s plasticky, and I don’t feel guilty about just tossing it in my bag and forgetting about it.
And at the end of the day, it’s still better than typing for extended periods of time on the touch screen. Now the cool thing about iPad OS, is that the Files app actually acts more like a real file system. That means you can plug in peripherals, like external hard drives or SD cards, and drag and drop files on your iPad just like you would on a computer. But that means your peripherals need to support USB or you need to buy the right dongles and cables.
The final thing I want to mention about accessories, is a feature buried in iPad OS that will actually let you use a mouse with your iPad. You can connect a Bluetooth mouse or again, a wired mouse, given you have the right combination of dongles and cables, and you’ll get this nifty little cursor that acts like your finger.
Any gesture you can do with a finger and the touch screen can be done with the mouse and this cursor. I actually found this to be more useful than I thought, but I don’t think a mouse is necessary like the case and keyboard. It’s still a nice option to have.
APPS AND SOFTWARES
When it comes to software, it’s hard recommend apps or services that will be a good fit for everyone. Since we all use our devices for so many different things. So the best I can do here is speak to my experience. I am not the average computer user.
As a podcast and video producer, I have a powerful desktop work station where I do most of my work. But when I’m not at my work station, I use my laptop for a lot of the same things that most people do. I will say, the one piece of software that I think is absolutely necessary, is a Cloud service.
I try to do as much as I can wirelessly and I save everything to the Cloud. That way any changes I make to a photo or a document, on my iPad, are already synced when I sit down on my desktop to keep working. So I really recommend you find a Cloud service that works for you. iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive all play nice with the built in Files app in iPad OS. And they each have their own robust apps.
So, would I get rid of my laptop and make my iPad my day to day mobile computer? Yeah. I’m not saying it can do everything. I didn’t edit this video on an iPad. I don’t record and mix podcasts on an iPad. Could it do those things? Technically, yeah. But I’d have to jump through an annoying number of hoops. The iPad is not ready to tackle high level professional tasks. The true power of the iPad lies in its ability to conform to whatever you need it to be. For an artist it can become an amazing digital canvas. For a writer it can be a great way to write on the go. For a photographer it might be a great tool for quick touch ups and edits in the field.
And when you think about the iPad through this lens, it makes you wonder, what is a computer?