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‘Inferior to a Laptop in Almost Every Way, Unless You Like to Draw’

Joshua Topolsky pretty much trashed the iPad Pro in a series of tweets last night:

Couple of tweets about the new iPad and iOS 11. It is inferior to a laptop in almost every way, unless you like to draw.

If you think you can replace you laptop with this setup: you cannot. Imagine a computer, but everything works worse than you expect. […]

But this doesn’t COME CLOSE to replacing your laptop, even for simple things you do, like email. AND one other thing. Apple’s keyboard cover is a fucking atrocity. A terrible piece of hardware. Awkward to use, poor as a cover. Okay in a pinch if you need something LIKE a keyboard.

I agree with almost every single word in Topolsky’s thread — but I also think he’s completely wrong.

Here’s what I mean. Me, personally, I find a MacBook way better for almost every single thing I do that I consider work. Let’s define that as everything I do where, if I were using an iPad Pro, I would connect it to the Smart Keyboard and prop it up in laptop form. I much prefer MacOS for my conceptual interface with my work and I much prefer a MacBook Pro’s hardware for my physical interface.

But people like me and Topolsky — and millions of others — are the reason why Apple continues to work on MacOS and make new MacBook hardware. I can say without hesitation that the iPad Pro is not the work device for me. I can also say without hesitation that the iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard is the work device for millions of other people.

A MacBook is better in some ways; an iPad is better in others. For some of us, our personal preferences fall strongly in one direction or the other. “Imagine a computer, but everything works worse than you expect” is no more fair as criticism of the iPad than a statement like “Imagine an iPad but everything is more complicated and there’s always a jumble of dozens of overlapping windows cluttering the screen” would be as criticism of the Mac.

What I wrote back in December 2010 remains as true today as then:

The central conceit of the iPad is that it’s a portable computer that does less — and because it does less, what it does do, it does better, more simply, and more elegantly. Apple can only begin phasing out the Mac if and when iOS expands to allow us to do everything we can do on the Mac. It’s the heaviness of the Mac that allows iOS to remain light.