About a year ago, I wrote a piece concerning the capabilities of an iPad as a computer replacement. A couple weeks ago, I purchased an iPad Pro for my schooling needs, and I thought I would revisit the subject, “Can a Tablet Replace Your Conventional PC?” Now, a lot has changed since then, so I feel as if this piece is warranted. The short answer from the get-go is sort of. What changed my mind from my previous stance of no way? Primarily, it is due to the advancements of iOS 11. At WWDC, Apple unveiled many new features and gave some real love towards their iPad users. In this post, I want to share with you some of my experience with the device and OS and give my opinion on whether it is a worthy replacement for a computer.
One of the key features of iOS 11 for the iPad is multitasking. Just so you have an idea of what I am working with, I have the second-generation iPad Pro 12.9” and I have been using it for three weeks now. Back to multitasking. This feature combined with the large screen real-estate only complements one another. It’s not uncommon to find me with an open word document along with a Google Chrome tab open in another window. This feature is a real boost to productivity! What’s even cooler, you can add up to three windows on the iPad Pro!
Another feature that ties in greatly with multitasking is drag and drop. What’s really cool about this is the fact that you can drag items from one application into another. It is both intuitive and seamless. Say for example you are working on a presentation, and you want to spruce it up with some visuals. With these new enhancements, you can swipe up, bring in your browser, find an image, and drag and drop it into your presentation. This same concept also applies to text, links, and even media! Now that I have established some of the important features, I’d like to throw them at some of the tasks I do on a regular basis.
One of the obvious tasks that I accomplish on my iPad is document creation. Every week, I have assignments that need to be submitted. Thus, I really needed a device that could handle my schooling needs. Now, this is an area that I had no concern about. Honestly, any low-end computer is usually capable of doing such things. The same applies to media consumption. I use many applications from YouTube, to Plex, to Photos, to Apple Music. Now as expected, I experienced no real problems. Here I have listed some simple tasks, so how about we kick it up a notch!
Something you may not know about me is that I work with audio quite a bit. At my church, I am the podcast director which means I oversee recording, editing, and uploading of the weekly message. For years, I have relied on my computer to aid me in completing these tasks, which really hindered me when my old computer started going south. Now, with the power of the iPad Pro, I have found that the iPad is quite capable of keeping up with me. I use software to wirelessly transmit the contents of a flash drive that we record to via a personal FTP server. This not only means the elimination of wires, but it also means I am less likely to forget the flash drive at home! GarageBand has become my go-to program for audio editing. I can skim the timeline, trim sections, and merge multiple tracks with ease. However, the one thing that does bother me is the fact that GarageBand only exports in M4A format. This one gripe really has nothing to do with the iPad itself but with a single application. This is not too big of a deal, though, when equipped with an audio conversion application. Next, I use another program to upload the audio track directly to an FTP server which stores all our media files. Lastly, I link the content through several plugins we use and then it is published. It astonished me how much I could get done on the iPad, and with time, my original conclusion of the iPad’s capabilities compared to that of a computer began to shift greatly.
Another fun fact about me is that I fancy myself as quite the movie maker. Lately, I have made several event recap videos which bring the memory of a past activity to life. Now, this is a field that I have long reserved for my desktop grade editing suite. Though it is still quite capable of making decent videos, I will state that it is quite limited. However, again, this is more of an application gripe than that of the device itself. These gripes are quite substantial if you really think about it. For example, I like to apply layers to my videos, but many applications are quite limited in that respect. I also like the ability to fine tune background audio to best suit the needs of the video, which again, is quite limited in my experience. I have no doubt that if developers would add some more functionality to these programs, I would be less annoyed by the ones that don’t exist.
So, that covers audio and video. What else do I use my iPad Pro for? Great question! In addition to everything listed above, I also use my iPad as a remote to control many things. For one, I can control the slides at my church with a couple of taps. The coolest thing though, at least in my opinion, is the ability to control our digital soundboard. Thus, whenever I scrub up, the fader on the board goes up, and when I adjust a nob on the iPad, the same takes place on the physical board. With the multitasking abilities of iOS 11, I am even able to do both all at once from a distance away from the equipment.
What is my conclusion then? I will say, for most, the iPad Pro could replace a computer. The capabilities that are now offered make the product even more enticing. However, for those who still rely on a high-powered editing rig, gaming rig, or whatever type rig, the iPad is obviously not the way to go. For me, I have been really impressed, and I am only hoping that developers take advantage of the raw power of the iPad Pro. What do you think of this summation? How do you think the iPad Pro stacks up against a PC? Would you ever consider phasing out your laptops? I’d be interested to hear what you have to share.