I had originally commited to buy and test an iPad Pro for 30 days while giving up access to my MacBook Air. My thinking was that at the end of the "experiment" I could always sell the iPad Pro and go back to using my MacBook Air.
I'm only a few weeks into this experiment and I have already decided to give up my safety net and sell the Air. ( If you are interested in buying it, and if you live in Houston and are willing to come pick it up (not going to do any shipping), and want a good used Mid 2013 MBAir, you can go here to purchase it online)
There has been a lot of buzz on the intenet around the question of how well the iPad Pro would function as a laptop replacment. And that was also the original premis of my "iPad experment", to see if it could replace my MacBook. I have obviously answerd that question with a resounding YES while many of the tech writers on the Internet have decided the answer is NO WAY. In the end, I think how one answers this question comes down to how one chooses to interpret the word "replace". I think many of the tech pundits have set out to answer the wrong question. They are testing the iPad Pro to see if it can "REPLICATE" the experience of their laptop. If that is your underlying goal, then the iPad is destined to fail that test.
As I started my experiment I believe I subconsciously had the same goal in mind, but I quickly decided that really what I needed to decide was if the iPad could become my primary mobile device, NOT if the iPad could replace the MAC. I will still have a Mac to use when at my office. So the real question became whether or not the iPad Pro could meet my mobile compting needs. And although the requirements for this will be unique for each individual, it is a very diffrent metric than requiring the iPad to replicate all the functionality of a Mac or Windows PC.
Like all of the other folks running this expeiment, I have found a few things I can still only accomplish on my desktop computer. As a recovering architect I still will only have access to full featured CADD softare on a desktop. But in the end, I rarely used my laptop to do drafting while on the go. I was typically at my office with a mouse and keyboard and large monitor attached. So the lack of CADD software for the iPad will not be an issue for me. There are a few other pieces of tech / geek software that are not yet available on iOS, but I have already installed Screens on my Mac and my iPad so I can remote control my Mac at the office from anywhere as long as I have an Internet connection.
On the positive side of switching to the iPad Pro, there have been several instances where I have found the iPad Pro / iOS experience better than the equivilent on on my Mac.
The first was an unexpected discovery on several fronts. I have found that processing email on the iPad is now my preferred way to deal with my overflowing inbox. Not only was I suprised that I preferred email on the iPad (with the full sized Apple keyboard of course), I was suprised that my app of choice on iOS is from Microsoft! I would highly recommend you check out Outlook for iOS if you have not already. It allows you to connect to almost any email service (not just Microsoft services) and it is fast and clean and has a number of features I wish were available on the desktop as well. I have configured outlook on my iPhone, my iPad and on my Mac as well. Althought not as clean an experience on the desktop, I have 7 email accounts configured in all locations and the sync functionality has been fantastic. I now have a unified app to check my gmail, iCloud, exchange, Kerio, and some misc IMAP accounts and I am very pleased. I still use other applications for my calendar, but as an email cleint, Outlook is fantastic on iOS.
I have also found that some services are better on iOS than on a desktop web browser. I have a Shutterstock account and was looking for some stock photography on their web site to use for a marketing project. In the end, the process was much better and easier to do with their app on the iPad than it was on the web.
I am also thrilled with the entertainment experience on the iPad. Granted, my Air did not have a retina display like the iPad, but I think the real differentiator for entertainment apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HuLu and the like is that their interface and usability is so much better on the iPad than it is on the web on a desktop computer.
Lastly, I am really pleased with the functionalty and responsiveness of the Apple Pencil. I know this will not appeal to everyone, but I do think eventually people will realize that you don't need to be an "artist" to find a use for the pencil. I have seen many positive reviews of the pencil that tout its value even if you solely use it as a tool to take hand written notes. And Apple and many other app manufacturers have already updated their software to take advantage of this new hardware. Even Apple's free notes app has become a really robust tool to let you take advantage of the pencils features. And other apps have been updated as well. I use Evernote and the built in functionality supports the pencil as does their separate Penultimate note and drawing app. All of the above also work with cloud sync services so the notes I create on my iPad are almost instantly available on all my other devices including my desktop mac.
In closing today's post, I want to acknowledge that the iPad Pro does not "replicate" the functionality of my MacBook. However, for me, I have already found it can easily replace my laptop as my primary mobile compting device. I have not been as excited about a "new" computing device / platform since the introduction of the Palm Pilot in the late 90's. Back then, it was the first mobile device to challenge us to "think different" about how we did computing while on the go. I think we are once again looking at a new paradigm in mobile computing and I am glad that Apple is NOT trying to replicate a 30 year old paradigm by making the iPad simply a Mac with a touch interface. The Mac and Windows desktop compting environments are not going away anytime soon, but I am confident that we are in the early stages of an explosion of innovation and offerings for mobile computing options led by Apple and the iPad Pro.