An iPad is not a computer

Last year I bought a 12.9″ iPad Pro to replace an ageing 2012 MacBook Air which, like its owner, is noticeably slowing as time passes.

I did my usual round of research before making the jump.

I love my MacBook, is does everything I need but the screen is a shortcoming, especially these days switching from iPhone/iPad to the MacBook was jarring. I could’ve gotten a retina screened MacBook but that’s when the second consideration kicked in (our old friend money).

For a lot less moolah I could get a gorgeous big retina screen, if I switched to an iPad and having seen pictures of the 12.9″ retina screen I was very tempted.

I had an iPad Air and a bluetooth keyboard already so had a sense of what I could, and couldn’t, do if I switched operating systems. I then spent 20 mins or so in the Apple Store trying the iPad Pro out and came away convinced I could make the switch.

And I’ve been pretty happy with the decision. Over the past year or so I’ve rarely used my MacBook and, other than still needing to get a better keyboard, if feels like it was the right thing to do. Also, the Apple Pencil is a thing of simple wonder (and no, I can’t draw for shit, but it sure is fun trying).


Well, of course there is a but…

The other day I was looking for some old photos and needed to fire up my MacBook to attach an old external drive. It was odd going back to a laptop (I use one at work but it’s Windows and that switch is odd enough) and I had to stop myself from touching the screen several times.

However, after about 10 mins the old muscle memory returned and it felt… faster, quicker, I felt like I wasn’t being hindered by the device I was using, something I hadn’t really noticed when I started using the iPad Pro, probably because I was busy re-learning how to do things, rather than noting how quickly I was managing to do them.

The iPad Pro hardware is much faster to react to things within an app but as I Alt+Tab’d my way around the MacBook I realised that one area where the iPad is lacking is in just this kind of multi-tasking. It is possible to do what I was doing on the iPad but because it’s using iOS, and crucially I have to take a hand off the keyboard to four finger swipe between apps, it left me with the impression that I was working faster on my MacBook than I could manage with my iPad.

And it was noticeable enough that it’s been bothering me (bothering me enough to write a post about it!).

What was going on?

Was it just because I’ve been using macOS (OSX) for so long now it’s more familiar than iOS, so feels more comfortable and, somehow, ‘faster’? Was it because I still don’t feel like iOS is fully suited to ‘work’ (even though I’ve been using it that way for a while now)?

I’m not sure, and maybe it’ll just take me more time to feel comfortable with iOS as my main interface. But (there’s that word again) it’s been a year, so if I’m not used to it by now, well, will I ever be?

Maybe it’s because I use a computer all day at work (an IBM ThinkCentre black box with a keyboard and a mouse), and have done for cough years, and that re-enforces the notion of ‘getting things done’ that is still mentally mapped to that form of working, hands on keyboard. Or maybe it’s my physical model that needs to adjust to the mix of movements that iOS requires? I can’t help but think that periodically lifting a hand to the screen and away from the primary input device still feels wrong.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a power user, I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts and inherently, because of the limitations of iOS in that department, it will never feel as fast.

Who knows.

The only problem I have now is that the thought is in my head and the lure of new shiny is strong.

Because, new shiny!!

And I am weak.

So so weak.

P.S. This is not a long winded way of saying I bought an new MacBook. Honest.