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Should the iPad become a Mac Replacement?

  • Yes - the iPad should become a general Mac replacement

    Votes: 38 12.6%
  • Yes - the iPad should become a Mac laptop replacement

    Votes: 53 17.5%
  • No - the iPad should stick to the original design intent

    Votes: 171 56.6%
  • I don’t have a preference for what the iPad evolves into

    Votes: 40 13.2%

  • Total voters
    302

heretiq

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 31, 2014
894
1,422
Denver, CO
The iPad is not a Mac. It is a complement to the Mac. Expecting it to do the things a Mac is designed to do as well as the Mac appears to be a major reason for disappointment with the iPad. Judging from the comments I’ve read on MR it appears that few expect a Mac to work like an iPad, while many want/expect an iPad to behave like a Mac. I’m curious to know whether those who wish the iPad was a better Mac replacement represent the population or a vocal minority — hence this poll.

Some background
Based on initial Steve Jobs iPad intro presentation and contemporaneous interviews and reporting, the iPad was designed for work that is best performed in a “lean back“ posture (single-focus tasks such as reading, ideating, composing, exploring, digesting, crafting thoughtful responses to touchy subjects and strong opinions expressed in MR forums, etc.). See Steve Jobs iPad introduction -
.

Notice the sofa chair on the stage — it’s there to signal the mode of use that the iPad was designed for .. not because Steve Jobs or Scott Forestall were tired. The demos were conducted entirely while “leaning back” on that sofa chair and demonstrating tasks that are best performed in that posture using the apps available at the time of the intro. While the iPad app landscape has exploded, the fundamental “lean back” psychological use case orientation for the iPad remains. This critical aspect of iPad positioning seems to have been lost .. and probably sets buyers up to expect the iPad to behave in ways it was not designed to behave. While there are recent iPad app exceptions (DaVinci Resolve, Affinity Designer, etc.), the ”lean back“ app orientation remains a fundamental organizing principle for the iPad design.

The Mac in contrast is better oriented to work that is best performed in a “lean forward” posture (multitasking, production audio/video/graphics/writing, heavy analysis, serious coding, etc.).

So, given that background, do you think the iPad should become a Mac replacement or stay true to its original design intent?
 

sracer

macrumors G4
Apr 9, 2010
10,346
13,150
where hip is spoken
I continue to be puzzled by this idea that there is a single all-encompassing universal use-case for Macs.

The iPad is already a Mac replacement for some/many people. That has been true since the first day of the first gen. For others, the iPhone is a Mac replacement.

The added functionality and features to the iPad since that first gen have done nothing to impede the use of the iPad for those first gen use cases.
 

monstermash

macrumors 6502a
Apr 21, 2020
822
884
The iPad is not a Mac. It is a complement to the Mac. Expecting it to do the things a Mac is designed to do as well as the Mac appears to be a major reason for disappointment with the iPad. Judging from the comments I’ve read on MR it appears that few expect a Mac to work like an iPad, while many want/expect an iPad to behave like a Mac. I’m curious to know whether those who wish the iPad was a better Mac replacement represent the population or a vocal minority — hence this poll.

Some background
Based on initial Steve Jobs iPad intro presentation and contemporaneous interviews and reporting, the iPad was designed for work that is best performed in a “lean back“ posture (single-focus tasks such as reading, ideating, composing, exploring, digesting, crafting thoughtful responses to touchy subjects and strong opinions expressed in MR forums, etc.). See Steve Jobs iPad introduction -
.

Notice the sofa chair on the stage — it’s there to signal the mode of use that the iPad was designed for .. not because Steve Jobs or Scott Forestall were tired. The demos were conducted entirely while “leaning back” on that sofa chair and demonstrating tasks that are best performed in that posture using the apps available at the time of the intro. While the iPad app landscape has exploded, the fundamental “lean back” psychological use case orientation for the iPad remains. This critical aspect of iPad positioning seems to have been lost .. and probably sets buyers up to expect the iPad to behave in ways it was not designed to behave. While there are recent iPad app exceptions (DaVinci Resolve, Affinity Designer, etc.), the ”lean back“ app orientation remains a fundamental organizing principle for the iPad design.

The Mac in contrast is better oriented to work that is best performed in a “lean forward” posture (multitasking, production audio/video/graphics/writing, heavy analysis, serious coding, etc.).

So, given that background, do you think the iPad should become a Mac replacement or stay true to its original design intent?

My wife replaced her MacBook Air with an iPad Pro some 4 years ago.
 

stevemiller

macrumors 68020
Oct 27, 2008
2,011
1,556
at the end of the day macs, ipads, iphones are all screens that show applications that you interact with. each form factor is going to excel at certain things better than others and fit different people's use cases. if there's an elegant way of performing a task on a given device, thats great. if its super awkward, just means maybe the implementation needs to be rethought, or maybe there's a better tool for the task.
 

heretiq

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 31, 2014
894
1,422
Denver, CO
I continue to be puzzled by this idea that there is a single all-encompassing universal use-case for Macs.

The iPad is already a Mac replacement for some/many people. That has been true since the first day of the first gen. For others, the iPhone is a Mac replacement.

The added functionality and features to the iPad since that first gen have done nothing to impede the use of the iPad for those first gen use cases.
Good points @sracer. I agree that the iPad is indeed a Mac replacement for certain users/use cases and that the added functionality has expanded iPad use cases while preserving the original use cases — which is good.

However this poll was prompted by a post from a person bashing the iPad because that person’s 8GB M2 iPad Pro cannot adequately handle tasks that his 64GB M1 Max MBP can. That poster is not alone and I see the phrase “Mac replacement” used increasingly without conditions — so I wanted to try and get a quasi-objective sense of whether this was a widely held view.
 
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MacDaddyPanda

macrumors 6502a
Dec 28, 2018
960
1,120
Murica
I prefer the Ipad stay and ipad in design. And MAc/Macbook stay as they are with the mobile devices as supplementary/complementary. OFC anyone is free to use them as replacements. I think most prefer the compartmentalized use case.
 

heretiq

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 31, 2014
894
1,422
Denver, CO
I prefer the Ipad stay and ipad in design. And MAc/Macbook stay as they are with the mobile devices as supplementary/complementary. OFC anyone is free to use them as replacements. I think most prefer the compartmentalized use case.
You and me. I think the compartmentalized/specialized/interoperability device approach is the only way to maintain the edge that Apple has created for the iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Mac and Watch product lines. I think trying to make each as good as the others for broad overlapping use cases will lead to a one-size-fits-all mediocrity trap.
 

eicca

Suspended
Oct 23, 2014
1,773
3,599
I have an M1 iPad Pro. I also owned an M1 MacBook Air. I had to sell the Air because laptop posture aggravates my carpal tunnel. The iPad has been sufficient for my around-the-house content consumption.

But it still cost more than the MacBook and yet it cannot play simultaneous audio sources, has a vastly subpar file browser/manager, is riddled with UI and app bugs (some of which I remember from iOS 10), has many hugely inefficient UI design choices in general, and ultimately makes me go upstairs to my Mac Pro to do something like downloading/saving web files or sending PDF documents because the iPadOS UX is incredibly crippling for the amount of power this chip has.

It has triple the single-core and almost double the multi-core power as my 13-year-old Mac Pro. But function wise, the Mac Pro absolutely demolishes it.

iPadOS needs some serious overhauls if they’re going to continue marketing the iPad Pro as a “Pro” device. Otherwise it’s just a very nice YouTube player and basic web browser that’s more expensive than a laptop.

If someone could crack the boot loader and let me put Linux on this thing, it would be a national holiday.
 

teh_hunterer

macrumors 65816
Jul 1, 2021
1,157
1,510
I don't think the question keeps coming up because the iPad needs to become a Mac replacement, but because there is a hole between the iPad and the Mac in Apple's lineup.

Here's what is mainly missing from the Mac: the smaller size and portability of the iPad, the touch screen, the touch screen apps, the ability to get the keyboard out of the way and use just the touch screen, the ability to use a pencil, cellular.

Here's what is mainly missing from the iPad: proper desktop apps, a refined and consistent OS that can address multiple monitors, audio sources, etc

There are a lot of people who really want all those things, and the trouble is that you can't have them all in one device. Going with just one means you miss out on the advantages the other has. If you go with both, you've spent double the money, and you're either stuck carrying two devices, or constantly having to choose which one you want to take with you, which is an annoying choice because even ignoring the decision fatigue, you're still going to end up missing the things from the one you don't take with you that day.

To further complicate things, even if the iPad Pro straight up got MacOS it might not be perfect to fill that gap. At 2.4lbs, an 11" iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard combination is actually pretty heavy for what it is. The Magic Keyboard has to have a certain amount of dead weight in order to balance the iPad Pro, which is actually quite inefficient when you realise that Apple made a 2lb laptop back in 2016 which had a bigger keyboard and a 12" screen.

The perfect device for me, which I'm under no illusions that Apple is close to doing:

- No heavier than 2.2lbs
- 12.5" 120hz Pro Motion display ( which with modern bezels would fit in the same footprint as the old 12")
- Touch screen
- The ability to run iPad apps
- Apple pencil support
- Cellular
- A hinge that lets you fold the screen all the way back to use in "tablet mode"
- M3
- Runs macOS of course

Apple could certainly make this device come in weighing less than an 11" iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, and it would replace my iPad 100%. I'd pay a pretty penny for it, too. Will they make this any time soon? Probably not.
 
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heretiq

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 31, 2014
894
1,422
Denver, CO
I have an M1 iPad Pro. I also owned an M1 MacBook Air. I had to sell the Air because laptop posture aggravates my carpal tunnel. The iPad has been sufficient for my around-the-house content consumption.

But it still cost more than the MacBook and yet it cannot play simultaneous audio sources, has a vastly subpar file browser/manager, is riddled with UI and app bugs (some of which I remember from iOS 10), has many hugely inefficient UI design choices in general, and ultimately makes me go upstairs to my Mac Pro to do something like downloading/saving web files or sending PDF documents because the iPadOS UX is incredibly crippling for the amount of power this chip has.

It has triple the single-core and almost double the multi-core power as my 13-year-old Mac Pro. But function wise, the Mac Pro absolutely demolishes it.

iPadOS needs some serious overhauls if they’re going to continue marketing the iPad Pro as a “Pro” device. Otherwise it’s just a very nice YouTube player and basic web browser that’s more expensive than a laptop.

If someone could crack the boot loader and let me put Linux on this thing, it would be a national holiday.
Hmmm @eicca .. scratching my head on this post. Not trying to dismiss your experience but I’m not seeing the issues you identified— what’s your ipad RAM and available storage?

Regarding the issues you identified:
  1. Multiple/simultaneous audio playback has been available since iPadOS 15: https://www.reddit.com/r/ipad/comments/nutph8
  2. It’s true that the Files app was previously very limited; however I use the Files app daily and since iPadOS 15, I cannot recall a single instance where I couldn’t do something I wanted to do. What can’t you do with Files?
  3. iPadOS is not perfect, but it’s been rock solid for me with hours of use every day — running iPadOS betas by the way — so I can’t square the “riddled with ui and app bugs” comment. App bugs are on the App devs not iPadOS. What UI bugs are you experiencing?
  4. Issues Downloading/saving web files and sending PDFs sound like you may not have sufficient storage space available — since these are trivial operations. Are you low on storage?
Thoughts?
 

engbren

macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
126
85
Australia
I'd say Apple changed the design intent definitely with the iPad Pro 11 inch (2018) and possibly before that with the 12.9 inch iPad Pros. The lean-back use cases are simply not as nice on the iPad Pro 2018. The weight distribution, the sharp/squared edges make it much less comfortable than the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7 inch that came before it for content consumption in the lean-back posture. The design itself appears to shift towards landscpape use, increasingly with a keyboard. The mainstream iPad itself now follows its design. I would rather see Apple continue to invest in opening up additional use cases in iPadOS and therefore narrowing the productivity gap between a laptop and iPad, making an iPad or iPad Pro a replacement for a laptop for even more people.
 

eicca

Suspended
Oct 23, 2014
1,773
3,599
Hmmm @eicca .. scratching my head on this post. Not trying to dismiss your experience but I’m not seeing the issues you identified— what’s your ipad RAM and available storage?

Regarding the issues you identified:
  1. Multiple/simultaneous audio playback has been available since iPadOS 15: https://www.reddit.com/r/ipad/comments/nutph8
  2. It’s true that the Files app was previously very limited; however I use the Files app daily and since iPadOS 15, I cannot recall a single instance where I couldn’t do something I wanted to do. What can’t you do with Files?
  3. iPadOS is not perfect, but it’s been rock solid for me with hours of use every day — running iPadOS betas by the way — so I can’t square the “riddled with ui and app bugs” comment. App bugs are on the App devs not iPadOS. What UI bugs are you experiencing?
  4. Issues Downloading/saving web files and sending PDFs sound like you may not have sufficient storage space available — since these are trivial operations. Are you low on storage?
Thoughts?

1. Whatever I’m listening to/watching still gets paused by any auto-play crap I encounter while browsing the web. This alone has me considering risking carpal tunnel again to own a macOS laptop where that issue didn’t exist. I’m running iPadOS 16.4.1.

2. It’s big and clunky. Copying and pasting feels convoluted, its not smooth or graceful in the way the UX elements interact, and the “Recent” sidebar thing constantly gets stuck on one random folder.

3. Apps running in Stage Manager (even Apple’s stock apps) will often fail to resize based on screen orientation, or the text field doesn’t rise up out of the way of the keyboard making it impossible to see the text being typed. Safari’s URL bar will simply not respond to the Return button if a new tab is invoked after starting the app while it’s on the all-tabs view. The ”Battery” quick-select menu thing when long-pressing the Settings icon doesn’t open the Battery section, it just opens whatever Settings was last on. Notes often don’t sync, Reminders often don’t sync, Safari will reload tabs even when apps that have been in the background for WEEKS open right where they were.

4. It’s not a matter of storage, it’s how the UX is designed. It’s clunky and not intuitive and makes the process slow and untrustworthy. My iPad had 80% of its 256GB free.

iPadOS is just a bad-UX pileup. It doesn’t feel Pro. It doesn’t feel refined. It feels like a rail-shooter trying to convince you it’s open-world but you can absolutely tell it’s not even close. It’s a colossal waste of a gorgeous multitouch screen and massive computing power. And don’t even get me started on all the crap Auto Correct tried to pull just in typing this post.

EDIT: Just tried every combination of two audio sources I could think of (WAV in files and a track in Music, WAV file and online video, YouTube app and WAV file, two WAV files, two Music tracks, etc.) It will not play them simultaneously no matter what I do.

EDIT 2: Just found another incredible bug. I open a second Files window and for whatever reason it decides to start in a Pages doc from months ago. So I hit Done to close that document and it just closes the entire window. So I have to bring up a third window before closing the second in order to get two Files windows. Do they even test this crap? My decrepit 2011 MacBook Pro is better at doing basic tasks than this thing.
 
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iPadified

macrumors 68000
Apr 25, 2017
1,959
2,160
Another one of these threads. MacOS is not iPadOS and should never be.
iPad OS is superior to MacOS in specific situation:

1.Consumption especially away from the desk. Operation using a finger for relax use of a computer.
2 Pencil centric work, like annotation, note taking, drawing etc. Could be done on a Mac as well but likely only in together with another point device. Problem is A Mac solution with a keyboard and screen positions essentially vertically from the screen is problematic.
3. Assistant when doing other work like flying, teaching, probably in the health sectors, construction etc. This is key to iPad as the UI needs to be for brief interaction using fingers. Trust me you do not do much file management or messing around with windows management when you have 50+ students in front of you.
4... likely more.

Making iPad to run MacOS would kill especially 1 and 3 while the technical solution for 2 is not obvious. Making MacOS to support these situation is not really compatible with the "finger" first operations for the OS or the away from the desk environment. Dual boot seems like a no brainer through.

There is a long list when MacOS is superior and it all rely on desktop work. Do not confuse a Laptop with mobile work or usage. Laptops are used at desks in the very large majority of cases.

PS. eicca: Your Edit 1: when do you need to play two audiostreams independently. Edit2. Is this linked to stage manager? I could not reproduce your observations using files.
 

floral

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2023
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So, given that background, do you think the iPad should become a Mac replacement or stay true to its original design intent?
I'm pretty adamant about what the future iPads choose to change into. If it's a more computer-like design, then that's nice - now I can use apps more efficiently. If it's a more mobile design, cool - now it's more portable. As long as I can do the same things with the iPad, then I'm content with it, and if I can do more, then that's even better :3
 
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h.gilbert

macrumors 6502a
Nov 17, 2022
663
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Not for me. I need a proper file managing system, desktop browser for extensions, ability to install programs from outside the app store, desktop excel and word, etc etc.

When I want to sit back and relax too my 13" MBP isn't any less cumbersome than an iPad from my experience and has the benefit of a rigid keyboard that keeps the screen up.
 
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Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
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Personally no, the Mac's form factor will always be superior for the tasks I do on a Mac, while the iPad is better suited to its traditional consumption role.
 
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Spaceboi Scaphandre

macrumors 68040
Jun 8, 2022
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Unless the iPad Pro gets the ability to dualboot macOS, no. iPadOS is terrible for using like a laptop and Apple constantly trying to make the iPad a laptop replacement has been stupid and ineffective. "What's a computer?"

Either put macOS on the iPad Pro, or just let the iPad be a tablet. It's not rocket science.
 
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spiderman0616

Suspended
Aug 1, 2010
5,670
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OP: There's already a 5,000,000 page long pinned thread regarding this topic. It's been litigated and re-litigated over and over since 2010. The only result of this conversation is that people who prefer iPads still prefer iPads and people who prefer Macs still prefer Macs. Everyone will end up more convinced their way is right, not less convinced.

If YOU can use an iPad in YOUR life to replace YOUR Mac for YOUR workflows, that's great. I certainly use mine every day in tandem with my Macs rather than instead of my Macs. I have also done my job only on an iPad for days at a time. It's really not as complicated these days as people like to make it sound.

I think in the end, it's people just being insecure about their choices and having FOMO about new tech. During the years when iPad advances were explosive for each new release, people felt insecure about their Macs because they thought Apple didn't care about them anymore. When Apple Silicon Macs came out, people felt insecure about their iPad Pros because they thought Apple was forgetting about the iPad and refocusing on the Mac.

It's really just tribalism, FOMO, and people thinking their use cases and workflows are the only way to do things. Best to just pay this topic no mind and just use the device that's right for your own life. Don't worry about what Apple or anyone else says.
 

heretiq

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 31, 2014
894
1,422
Denver, CO
I don't think the question keeps coming up because the iPad needs to become a Mac replacement, but because there is a hole between the iPad and the Mac in Apple's lineup.

Here's what is mainly missing from the Mac: the smaller size and portability of the iPad, the touch screen, the touch screen apps, the ability to get the keyboard out of the way and use just the touch screen, the ability to use a pencil, cellular.

Here's what is mainly missing from the iPad: proper desktop apps, a refined and consistent OS that can address multiple monitors, audio sources, etc

There are a lot of people who really want all those things, and the trouble is that you can't have them all in one device. Going with just one means you miss out on the advantages the other has. If you go with both, you've spent double the money, and you're either stuck carrying two devices, or constantly having to choose which one you want to take with you, which is an annoying choice because even ignoring the decision fatigue, you're still going to end up missing the things from the one you don't take with you that day.

To further complicate things, even if the iPad Pro straight up got MacOS it might not be perfect to fill that gap. At 2.4lbs, an 11" iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard combination is actually pretty heavy for what it is. The Magic Keyboard has to have a certain amount of dead weight in order to balance the iPad Pro, which is actually quite inefficient when you realise that Apple made a 2lb laptop back in 2016 which had a bigger keyboard and a 12" screen.

The perfect device for me, which I'm under no illusions that Apple is close to doing:

- No heavier than 2.2lbs
- 12.5" 120hz Pro Motion display ( which with modern bezels would fit in the same footprint as the old 12")
- Touch screen
- The ability to run iPad apps
- Apple pencil support
- Cellular
- A hinge that lets you fold the screen all the way back to use in "tablet mode"
- M3
- Runs macOS of course

Apple could certainly make this device come in weighing less than an 11" iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, and it would replace my iPad 100%. I'd pay a pretty penny for it, too. Will they make this any time soon? Probably not.
@teh_hunterer I think the gap between the Mac and iPad is deliberate and reflects Apple’s multi-device with overlapping/complementary functionality vision. The expectation is for users to embrace the multi-device model and cover the gap by using their preferred device for each use case.

I’ve largely embraced this multi-device paradigm and am happy with the results, but it is evident that many are struggling to bridge that gap with one device. The struggle will likely continue even after Apple chooses to create that gap device as there also seems to be many different preferences for how that device should work (e.g., touch screen Mac vs MacOS on iPad, etc.).
 
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heretiq

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 31, 2014
894
1,422
Denver, CO
OP: There's already a 5,000,000 page long pinned thread regarding this topic. It's been litigated and re-litigated over and over since 2010. The only result of this conversation is that people who prefer iPads still prefer iPads and people who prefer Macs still prefer Macs. Everyone will end up more convinced their way is right, not less convinced.

If YOU can use an iPad in YOUR life to replace YOUR Mac for YOUR workflows, that's great. I certainly use mine every day in tandem with my Macs rather than instead of my Macs. I have also done my job only on an iPad for days at a time. It's really not as complicated these days as people like to make it sound.

I think in the end, it's people just being insecure about their choices and having FOMO about new tech. During the years when iPad advances were explosive for each new release, people felt insecure about their Macs because they thought Apple didn't care about them anymore. When Apple Silicon Macs came out, people felt insecure about their iPad Pros because they thought Apple was forgetting about the iPad and refocusing on the Mac.

It's really just tribalism, FOMO, and people thinking their use cases and workflows are the only way to do things. Best to just pay this topic no mind and just use the device that's right for your own life. Don't worry about what Apple or anyone else says.
@spiderman0616, I agree 100% couldn’t have said it better. I saw that thread. I wanted to gauge the proportion of those wanting the iPad to be a Mac replacement vs those wanting an iPad to be an iPad — so I posted a Poll with background to highlight iPad design intent and try to limit the degrees of freedom in interpreting poll options.
 
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