I’ve been using an iPad Pro 11” (A1934) with a Smart Keyboard Folio case and pencil as a daily driver for a while now, and while iPadOS-14 was a good upgrade iPadOS-15 feels like it’s finally starting to deliver on the promise of a ‘professional’ computing device.
But, and it’s a big but, despite Apple’s vaunted attention to detail and UX prowess it still feels like there’s too many rough edges for me to recommend it without caveats.
In previous versions of iOS/iPadOS I’ve found both the browser and in-built tools like Mail to be too simplistic. Mail has improved considerably, and now in landscape mode it’s a pleasant experience. In portrait mode however it still behaves too like a small screen device, not allowing me to dock the inbox to navigate between mails. It seems like a strange oversight when they have done the work for landscape mode.
Also, when using Mail with Exchange or GSuite it’s odd that in order to add contacts from the Global Address List you have to go into groups, scroll a list (that doesn’t show scroll bars!) and ephemerally select the Global address book for the account - it seems logical that if you’re sending email from an account that domains global address book should be included automatically.
I love focus mode because it allows me to set up smarter ‘do not disturb’ profiles, but it needs to extend beyond just contacts in the Apple address book - if I want specific Teams or Telegram users to be able to break through and notify me in a profile the system should acknowledge that there’s a richer ecosystem of communication options than just what’s built in to the OS.
Safari is a great and reliable rendering engine, but as a developer the lack of developer tools has been a hinderance. Now with extensions and tools like WebInsepctor it’s a lot closer to being useful. Apple, of course, still have some restrictions stopping it being as useful as a desktop for debugging, but it’s closer.
On the subject of webdev tools, the lack of ability to setup a LAMP environment on the device to develop and test without needing a ‘real’ machine is limiting. Using iSH does provide a workaround, but it’s got limitations and appears to exist only on suffereance from Apple at the moment. Getting a webserver installed and running is possible, but without a database it’s only partially useful. Sure, most developers won’t be using an iPad as their primary machine but as someone who likes to travel light the idea of being able to work on a plane with no connectivity and not need to lug along my laptop was a reason to explore the iPad (luckily no-one is traveling much these days!)
As the iPad comes with the ability to connect to an HDMI external monitor, I’d hoped dual monitor support would exist by now - instead in most apps we get a very limited mirroring that preserves the aspect ratio of the iPad rather than make full use of the screen. As it’s limited to mirroring without parial solutions like ShiftScreen it feels like a missed opportunity. Especially for apps like Remote Desktop which could make use of the two screens, or improved multi-tasking experiences leveraging the full display surface of two (or more!) monitors.
In portrait mode, which I use a lot for reading or apps like Newsify the position of the camera is fine. Even for Teams calls I’ll often hold it that way. However with the 11” model when it’s in the keyboard case then the camera is in a really strange place if you’re on a call. To work around this, I’d love to see the iPad add support for an external webcam to add a little more flexibility in usage. On my Macbook Pro I use an external camera for the same reason - the one on the laptop has a weird angle when I’m using the external monitor as my primary display.
When I am using Teams (or Zoom etc) for a meeting, I’d like the app to be able to silence notifications. Maybe still show toasts, but don’t allow beeps to mute the audio of the call I’m on. As none of these apps seem to enable that, I have to assume it’s an iPadOS limitation.
When the iPad is in the keyboard case I can charge it, but I have to connect to it, rather than the case. It seems like the SartConnector wasn’t actually that smart an idea after all, as passthrough charging would have been a great way to keep it topped up, but easy to just grab the tablet and go if I need to. Making me fiddle with cables feels… old. I know magnetic Qi charging is the future, but for the price users paid for these devices we shouldn’t be left by the wayside. I know there is a Logitech stand that does support charging via the SmartConnector but it seems to toggle between very overpriced or out of stock!
It’s a silly frustration, but if I’m playing music on the iPad and something ‘interrupts’ it (a video in Safari, or in Twitter, or a Teams call) it doesn’t go back to the music seamlessly. I can’t even rely on the control center ‘now playing’ to give me a quick way to get back as that often forgets what was playing (even if you leave the iPad idle for a while)
These days the iPad does an amazing of the basics (and the new homescreen widgets are a delight that remind me of Windows Phone), but there are still too many iPhone-only apps (which in 2x mode look ugly, and in 1x mode look ridiculous), and too many user hostile decisionss that make the iPad Pro less than Pro. It is largely a media consumption device (reading and music), and I rely more on remote desktop to connect to a ‘real’ machine for the heavy lifting - which seems a waste given the power this thing undeniably has.