📱 Broken dream of the iPad Pro
Written May 7, 2023.
The iPad Pro 13 could’ve been the perfect device but it’s not.
At the end of last year, I purchased an iPad Pro 12.9 in Malaysia, where Apple products are a bit cheaper. Including the keyboard case and the Pencil, it totalled around $1600.
However, I'm quite disappointed with it. The device has good potential, but with such software, it's unusable for anything serious.
Here's a roundup of what I wanted to use it for:
👉 Travel-friendly secondary display
Sidecar actually works perfectly. I found a good setup with the Roost stand to fit just below my main screen.
What I didn't anticipate is that it would be mostly useless. I don't have much use for a second smaller screen.
I prefer to have only the task I'm focusing on in front of me. The Mac OS spaces are already designed for secondary things.
The only good use is having the terminal or Spotify on the secondary display while coding so I don't need to switch spaces to change the playing song or debug something.
It doesn't really justify having to carry a second device.
Notepad with backups and shareability
Note-taking/drawing with the Pencil is good, but is it better than a $2 pen and notepad? Not really.
Sure, I can draw something to explain a concept while I'm on a Zoom call with the team, but I've only used this feature twice.
And, don't get fooled by Apple commercials:
👉 Reading/watching support for articles/videos, etc.
It's quite good for reading and annotating articles and PDFs. It's slightly more convenient to use in bed and on the couch than a laptop.
I thought it would be the perfect device to watch YouTube while cooking or exercising.
- The MacBook is already capable of this.
- You need a stand to hold it.
- iPadOS means no uBlock, SponsorBlock, etc., so the YouTube watching experience is terrible.
- In bed, it won't replace the Kindle for melatonin, eye strain, etc.
👉 Minimalist work station for weekends, planes, etc.
This is where I had the most hope, working from a smaller device than my bulky MacBook Pro 16.
I tried, really tried, to make it work. But it's impossible. Because of iPad OS.
Coding on iPadOS, for example, is hell. Forget your familiar environment.
The only options are:
- To connect via VNC to a remote machine and endure the lag.
- Use one of the native iOS code editors and Git clients, which cost about $40 per app. The experience is way subpar compared to MacOS, you don't have extensions, etc.
- To use a remotely hosted (vscode.dev) instance of VSCode. This is the least worst option, but a lot of extensions are not supported, and you still can't work without internet.
I hate everything about iPadOS: the fact that we can't have a normal browser with normal extensions, that none of my muscle memory shortcuts work, that none of the actually good software for my work is on the store, stage manager, etc.
Call it iPad Pro all you like but it's far from a device usable by pros.
So, in terms of work, the only thing it can do well is basically answer emails, take notes and preparing the occasional presentation. Such a waste of M2.
Here's the other thing: the iPad by itself is quite lightweight. But add a keyboard case, and it's heavier than the MacBook Air.
|iPad Pro||0.64 kg|
|MacBook Air 13||1.25 kg|
|iPad + "Magic" Keyboard||1.35 kg|
|iPad + Logitech Combo Touch||1.42 kg|
All the more lightweight keyboards, like the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio, are terrible to use. The good keyboards (~$300) are okay to type on, but just try to use them on your lap, and you'll feel the pain.
You can use your normal Mac magic keyboard/magic mouse (that I already carry everywhere) with the iPad, but you have to unpair it every time, or it will still the connection to the Mac, and the experience won't be good in general.
It's really frustrating knowing the iPad has all the necessary hardware for powerful work (M2 processor) but the software heavily limits it. MacOS running on this thing would be game-changer.
For the past few months, I've found myself reaching it only for the occasional game, taking notes or facetime calls.
Then when you take the price into account... I'm selling mine! 😙