The new iPad Pro is out. It has thin bezels, no home button, Face ID and it’s more powerful than any other tablet in the market. It’s so powerful that Apple is daring to compare it with laptops in terms of performance (and sales). And yet, many tech media sites rushed to publish their favorite headline when it comes to the iPad: “it still cannot replace your laptop”. Well, I’m here to refute that idea; I replaced my laptop with an iPad Pro months ago.
First, let’s briefly talk about the laptop I replaced. I bought a Surface Book in October of 2015 and I fell in love with it immediately. One feature in specific won me over: Windows Hello. Thanks to Windows Hello I was able to unlock the device using only my face. It was fast and reliable, and it showed me what the future should look like. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use Windows Hello to log into my apps and websites, although this will hopefully change soon. On top of that, the Surface Book was too big and heavy for light traveling, so in December of 2017 I got an iPad.
After being an iPhone user for many years, I wasn’t surprised by iOS’ simplicity or by the broad collection of apps available on the App Store. Regardless, I was delighted with the iPad as a travel companion due to its great battery life, its light and thin form factor, and its straightforward authentication (based on Touch ID). Getting the awkward-looking Smart Keyboard was an interesting addition: the whole package was so easy to carry around that I found myself often writing for geekonrecord.com from the iPad.
The Surface Book didn’t have any real problems but its size offered enough friction for me to stop using it on my daily routine. Instead, I ended up using the iPad for everything: writing tech articles on Google Docs, watching Netflix during weekend trips, replying to long emails, looking for holidays flights online, playing some video games after work (you should check out the game ‘Inside’, I’m obsessed!) or reading books on Kindle. In less than a month, the iPad became my main computer.
At some point I noticed that the Surface Book was just gathering dust, so I got rid of it earlier this summer, right around the time the Surface Go was announced. I’ll admit that I feared regretting my decision. What if I found a new use case that I couldn’t cover with the iPad? After all, news sites kept repeating over and over again that the iPad could not replace a laptop. Nonetheless, I told myself it was just fear of missing out, and that I could always buy a laptop again. It’s been now four months since I started using the iPad as my only computer.
I’m genuinely curious every time a tech writer says they tried using the iPad as their laptop. What use cases do they have that I don’t? It usually boils down to photo or video editing, since the iPad makes it hard to import raw pictures from external sources (unless they go through the camera roll first). This, however, made me realize that critics usually assume that most people have similar needs to theirs. I believe this is wrong.
One thing I’ve learned from my experience working on UX for Windows and Bing is that most users will miss what I consider obvious. A vast majority of customers have simple needs when it comes to technology, and they expect equally simple solutions to their problems. Most users want a computer for editing or creating text documents, browsing the web, responding to emails, watching movies, and a bunch of other scenarios often covered with stock or popular apps. Most users won’t care or won’t see any difference between Apple’s Mail app and Microsoft’s Outlook app, for example. Most users won’t need to have four windows visible at the same time on their screen, and two will be more than enough for them.
Defining what type of user you are talking to is key, and I believe that’s what many tech writers miss. If you think most people need to import raw images to edit them in Photoshop, you should think twice. Stop thinking of ‘power users’ and think of normal users; realize that many people don’t really understand the difference between a web browser and a search engine. For all of these normal users, an iPad can replace their laptop, hands down.
Next time you read or watch a review of the new iPad saying that it cannot replace your current computer, think what kind of user you are and what your needs are. Perhaps you should consider other aspects like price or screen size. But if you want a computer that is easy to use and light to carry (and have at least $1000 to spare), you might want to drop by an Apple Store.
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Image via Apple