Back in April I wrote about my internal conflicts between the rumored MacBook 12″ Retina, and the rumored iPad Pro. In that post I think my thoughts were best summed up as:
If an iPad Pro comes out I would have no hesitation buying it, but if it’s a similar price to a retina MacBook Air, I’d choose the latter. The only caveat to that is if the iPad pro had expanded features (more than screen size) over a standard iPad. That said, I won’t hesitate to use my iPad more for work from here on out.
Of course, being cruel as they are, Apple has priced the iPad Pro and the MacBook very similarly — assuming you consider the Smart Keyboard and Pencil as required accessories for the iPad at least. Anyone looking at either of these devices will basically see the prices as identical, and I think they should see them as just that.
While I haven’t had my iPad Pro as long as the MacBook, I can say that I still could not decide between the two if I was forced to. I had thought I might sell off our 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, give my wife my MacBook and buy another baseline MacBook for any Mac needs I had, but I can’t see how that would be a good decision for me.
As many people have said, the iPad Pro is driven by the fact the hardware greatly outpaces the software. This gives you a sense of great hope when you are using the device — you feel like you are just waiting for the one piece of software which will make everything magical. What software that is, is going to be different for everyone, but the real question is whether Apple and iPad Pro users can convince developers it is worth their time.
Conversely, the MacBook feels like a device made possible only by the software — not the hardware. You feel like it is as fast as things are going to get, which isn’t to say the MacBook is slow. It is just mature. And because it is mature, what really excites you is the physical shape and design of the hardware and not the tool itself.
Which is the real difference. To select a MacBook is to select an impossibly small, full featured, computer on an incredibly stable and mature platform with limitless software available.
To select an iPad Pro is to select a platform which very much feels like the future — a device which has yet to be fully realized and is no where near being a mature product.
In other words, selecting an iPad Pro feels an awful lot like it did when I selected a PowerBook G4 back in 2004, you knew this was the future, but you also knew there were going to just be some things which you could not do on the device. I hedged back then, as I guess I am now, by having a desktop PC I built out — as I have the MacBook now.
Back in 2004 there were simply some banking websites which were not compatible on the Mac. Full stop, no matter what you did, they wouldn’t work. There were inconsistency in some files which would drive my professors nuts. Though, I did have an easier time connecting to the campus WiFi network.
And now, just over a decade later, I am staring at this iPad Pro and thinking to myself: this is the same jump I made back in 2004. Yes, there will be somethings which won’t work, but I jumped because I knew that I had found the future of computing and I didn’t want to stay on the old crap I had before. It’s the same, but I admit it may be difficult for many to see this right now.
In 2004 most software was default Windows software, and with no App Store it was difficult to sniff out the bad software from the good. If you wanted any software for your Mac you had to pay for it. When a new piece of software came out then, it was a big deal. Mac users were heavily reliant on third party vendors to get any use out of their beautiful and expensive machines. Adobe had the best stuff out there. If you wonder why Apple makes Pages and Numbers, it’s because Microsoft was terrible at keeping Office updated to be compatible on the Mac with Windows.
In general, things kind of sucked. Most people could get by, but you had to find a lot of work arounds — which is also why I find it a little funny when long time Mac users shake their heads at people trying to go iOS only, as they should be the first to sympathize having spent a good part of their lives tackling the same issues to use a platform they love.
I certainly am not going to argue that iOS is lacking in apps — if anything there are too many, well too many of the same apps at least. But abundance of choice is generally good. What I am arguing is that the iPad Pro is severely lacking in apps, with developers questioning whether their time is worth it or not — just as it felt back in 2004. I won’t say I have some crystal ball which tells me that the time investment will be worth it, or even if the iPad Pro is going to be the next major computing platform.
All I can say is things feel very similar, and 2004 was a huge turning point for Macs. Macs were yearning for some great software to show off a great OS and solid hardware — just as the iPad Pro is yearning for great software to show of some great hardware and solid OS.
And, like in 2004, Adobe is at the forefront again of providing excellent software for iOS. In fact, like has always been the case with Macs, the creative apps are the best apps out there for the iPad Pro.
I truly believe, based on not only my own usage, but in talking with others who bought iPad Pros — this is going to be an important device going forward. Not only for iOS developers to try and make a better living selling software for sustainable prices, but for a lot of people who just don’t understand why their laptop has to be so much more confusing to use than their iPhone.
There is a plethora of things which I cannot do on the iPad Pro, or cannot do as well or as fast, but I really don’t care. I don’t care that it takes me longer, or that sometimes I just have to say: fuck it, can’t do that. I truly don’t care because using the iPad Pro makes it all worth it.
For all practical purposes my MacBook is not only the right machine for me, it is the better machine for me. But this is also where, as I talked about the other day, I have to balance my heart with my mind — my heart is all in on iOS as my full time OS. And my mind, for it’s part, knows the difference isn’t great enough, so it will let the decision slide.
iOS simply is not the frustrating OS to use which it used to be — it isn’t mature yet, and it won’t be for some time — but it’s only annoying some times, and great most of the time. A half a year ago, it was more annoying than it is great. It’s been a huge shift in iOS in under a year — I can’t imagine what 2016 will bring, and that’s not even with third party developers going for all-in with the iPad Pro.
Seems like it goes without saying, but I am going to be full time on the iPad Pro from here on out. I’ll keep the MacBook around, but honestly a large part of that is because I’ll need it to test the products at MartianCraft more than I will need it to help for the times when iOS isn’t working for me.
As it stands, there is no software I am missing in order to be productive. There’s certainly software out there which could make it a lot better, a lot faster, but it will all come in time.
The iPad Pro right now might not be for you, but come this time next year, I am guessing we will be seeing a lot more people starting to shift their computing to iPads.
Also published on Medium.