Ever since Steven Jobs released the first iPad in April 2010, Apple has claimed that the iPad will ultimately replace the laptop computer for both business and personal use. That prediction has yet to come to pass, and, in fact, iPad sales have been decreasing since its sales apex in 2013.
Now, however, Apple has released two new iPad Pro models, and it has released a Beta (trial) version of iOS 11. Apple now claims that when iOS 11 is combined with the iPad Pro models, it truly becomes a “laptop killer.” We have two observations about these developments. First, we are still not convinced that an iPad can be a complete laptop replacement. Second, since we are the suspicious type, we believe Apple has created the new iPad Pro models and iOS 11 in an effort to convince buyers to ditch their old iPads, and buy a new iPad Pro — since the compelling features of the new iOS 11 certainly work best with an iPad Pro.
First, let’s talk about the iPad Pro models. After seven years, Apple, with these new pro devices, has taken a giant step forward in its attempt to make the iPad a laptop killer. The 12.9” iPad Pro is not significantly different from previous 12.9” versions, but it does have a faster processor and some other bells and whistles. The big change is in the smaller iPad Pro. The smaller iPad Pro is now a 10.5” model rather than a 9.7” model. The 10.5” is exactly the same overall size as the 9.7”, but it has a thinner bezel, so it now has a 10.5” screen rather than a 9.7” screen. Both models have a long battery life, significantly longer than most laptop computers.
Apple’s new A10X processor is extremely powerful and fast, and it is very stable when combined with iOS 11. However, both models are expensive. The 10.5” model sells for $649 for a 64-gigabyte model, and the 12.9” model costs $150 more than the 10.5”. In order to take full advantage of the capabilities of the Pro models and move it closer to a laptop replacement, you will need to buy a keyboard (cost approximately $159) and the Apple Pencil ($99). It won’t be long until you have $1,000 in your potential laptop killer. We believe you can buy a very, very good laptop computer for $1,000.
Now, onto iOS 11. iOS 11 is still in its beta version, but anyone can download the beta version and give it a try. There are numerous great features of iOS 11, and it is a substantial improvement over previous iPad operating systems. We experienced a slight learning curve when we tried it out, but the curve was not so steep that it prevented us from taking advantage of these new features. The biggest change in the operating system is probably in the control center. The look is completely different when you swipe the screen to the right. You get an almost unlimited number of “toggles” you can add to the control center screen for easy access. But don’t get carried away; if you add too many it will be hard to find the ones you use most often.
Bill’s favorite new feature is the Notes app. He uses it a lot in his day-to-day personal and work life. Notes now supports drag and drop, a built-in scanner, handwriting markup tools, and handwriting recognition. You can tap on the home screen with your iPad pencil, and it will automatically open up Notes. You can then jot down notes, and they will be converted into text — as long as your handwriting is not too terrible.
Another great feature is the brand new Files app. On older iPad and iOS versions, you could not easily manage files stored on the iPad or on Cloud services. Now there is a dedicated app that allows you to manage your file storage and easily find the files you need, when you need them.
Another neat feature is the new “dock.” It sits at the bottom of the screen ready to pop back up when you need it. You can use it to drag one app over another, for example. The “floating” app will be in a separate window, or you can snap it to the side. You can also drag and drop content between apps, which can be very handy, and is “laptop-like.”
There are many more neat, new features in iOS 11 when combined with the iPad Pro. We really like them a lot, but we still cling to our laptops. There are many iPad apps that do everything we need to do for office and work, but we do not feel we can meaningfully work without a mouse and menus. iPads will not allow the use of a mouse. We think “mouselessness” is a real draw back. We just cannot get used to all the mouseless pinching, holding, swiping, dragging and all that stuff. Maybe this is just an indication that we are old fossils and can’t get used to the new interface metaphors, and the new ways iOS 11 and the iPad Pro do things. We understand the power, and the ability is there. We just don’t think it works as well as the traditional menu-driven mouse-centered interface. But, the new iPad system is getting there. If you can afford it, give it a try.