Every five or six years I buy a new Mac notebook, usually when the latest macOS version won’t run on older hardware. That means I’ve had few Mac notebooks through the years. The first in 1992, the next in 2003, again in 2009, and again two years ago. I’m not quite ready to move to another model and I’m willing to hold out for a Mac with built-in Face ID and a better keyboard.
What I would like to do is what absolutely positively cannot be done. Today. That is, switch from my Mac to an iPad Pro. Don’t get me wrong. The iPad Pro is a superbly crafted device which could easily take the place of Macs and Windows PCs for much of humankind if they don’t mind a change in their habits and workflow.
That’s my issue. Workflow. Oh, and horsepower. Macs run applications which have no counterpart among the nearly 1-million iPad applications available. Oh, and screen real estate. There is just no substitute for a big Retina display. Not even a small Retina display with higher quality.
The defining issue for me is workflow. There are too many tasks in my workflow that are macOS only and cannot easily be moved to iOS and iPad Pro without compromise and suffering. I’ve tried.
Since Apple introduced the iPod in 2001 we’ve seen a steady exodus of Mac-centric functions. iPod took music away from the Mac. iPhone took even more functionality once reserved for the larger screen. Wisely, Apple made basic applications sync between devices so we can add events to Calendar or itemize a Reminder list or type out some Notes and keep each on each device; Mac, iPhone, and iPad. That’s all well and good but the Mac remains the most productive of all Apple devices. Not always the most convenient, though. Relatively speaking, Macs are heavy and cumbersome with that attached keyboard, but that’s a big part of the workflow.
For many of us who are traditional Mac and PC owners, the keyboard is a critical element to usage. That explains why Bluetooth keyboards work on iPads and why Apple sells their own Smart Keyboard. Apart from that, keyboard shortcuts are important and iOS just does not have enough of them within applications to reach Mac productivity levels, let alone allow the device to become as powerful yet more convenient.
If you don’t need a keyboard, an iPad is an excellent device. If you need a keyboard but only sometimes, iPad Pro can get you there. If your Mac life is keyboard-centric, iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard will not do the job. No keyboard shortcuts. Too much use of fingers, hands, arm, and shoulder.
Apple could improve iOS with trackpad or mouse support which would duplicate touch. Sadly, that may never happen. Apple is stubborn like that, which explains why we do not see a touchscreen Mac at the Apple Store. Would they sell? Yes. Would an iPad with trackpad or mouse support sell better? Yes (because I want one).
Each of Apple’s devices have their own character, strengths, weaknesses, and benefits. An iPhone is not a Mac even though it is as powerful as entry-level Macs but fit in your pocket. And iPad is not a Mac but could be used to handle most of what Mac and Windows PC customers do. So, it all boils down to workflow. For me, the Mac has become a heavy lifting device with capabilities– thanks to larger screen, powerful applications, keyboard centric workflow– that even a fully tricked out iPad Pro cannot match.