All iPads The software problem with iPad as laptop replacement.

Discussion in 'iPad' started by rwp, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. rwp macrumors member

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    #1
    Much has been written about the lack of a desktop file browser, trackpad, external storage, multiple monitor support, etc... But the #1 thing that frustrates me on a daily basis is the limbo state of the OS and apps today that places them between a tablet and a laptop. Let me use Numbers as an example:

    Numbers is actually a decent tablet-based spreadsheet application. I have used it for years, primarily creating spreadsheets from a desktop or web browser, but viewing and performing minor edits on my iPad. Very nice. When trying to use Numbers on an iPad with a keyboard, however, it becomes nearly unusable. Select a date cell and try to type in a new date to get a basic idea of what I am talking about. You can't. In other words, I can't just select the cell and type "4/1" and press return, I have to select the cell, select the part of the date I want to change individually, use the on-screen numeric keypad to change the value, then tap on the green checkmark. And if I want to change more than one value of the date, the process is multiplied.

    So when I got my iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Numbers frustrated me so much that I bought a subscription to Office 365. Excel on iPad is still not perfect (it'd be great if it treated iCloud Drive as a first-class storage citizen), but basic editing when a keyboard is attached is a lot more like a desktop experience.

    Numbers is only one example of this, but the overall problem is a global one. What I really want is desktop-class applications that have intuitive touch interfaces when in tablet mode, and otherwise behave like their desktop counterparts when keyboards are attached. I can live with touching the screen or using arrow keys for cursor placement and selection.

    My suspicion is that any real solution to this will require additional OS enhancements as well as application updates. I remain optimistic that as iPads become more capable from a hardware perspective, there will be more pressure from the user community to support it, and both Apple and the developer community will step up. Time will tell.
     
  2. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    #2
    I have no idea whether your suspicion is right or wrong, but your example with Numbers doesn't seem to support such a conclusion, as that seems to be an application specific coding problem that should be correctable with improved UI design without further OS level modification. Could you give some other examples that led you to form this suspicion?
     
  3. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #3
    I agree that the solution will include OS enhancements, application updates, and tweaks to the hardware. Although I'm disappointed that Apple didn't go far enough with the iPad Pro, I believe that they took this approach as a way of examining how people actually use the device and will respond accordingly on the next iteration.
     
  4. rwp thread starter macrumors member

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    #4
    Applications leverage system services that have default behaviors -- like text handling, hiding/showing keyboard, etc... Some of the general awkwardness is likely due to the current implementation. Apple is clearly dipping their toes in the 'iPad as laptop' waters little by little (like adding the system document dialog, split-screen multitasking, etc...), but there is a lot farther they can still go in that respect. IOS is definitely in a touch-first, keyboard-as-afterthought state today.

    For the record, I agree with being cautious about reaching toward keyboard-centricity. I would not want to lose the touch elegance that has evolved so cleanly.
     
  5. Eric5273 macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Baby steps..... it will happen, just give it some time. The iPad Pro has only been out a few weeks. It will take at least a few months before we start seeing a lot of good "pro" applications.
     
  6. ssong macrumors 6502a

    ssong

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    #6
    Given that the iPad was generally thought of as a consuming device and not a productive one the iPad Pro will signal a paradigm shift IMO. I'd say within the next half a year more apps will become better optimised and with iOS10 coming in September (probably), I'd say we can expect fairly big changes.
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    The bottom line is that the iPad Pro is using an operating system that was originally designed for a phone. Enhancements have been make it work for tablets, and I expect further enhancements to help leverage the iPad Pro. With that said, I do not expect a lot of major changes to iOS. The design philosophy will be intact, and that includes NOT exposing the file system, or increasing app interaction/intercommunications at the OS level.

    People should not expect the mobile OS to behave like a desktop OS. Sure there will be "pro" apps written that will be fairly powerful and take advantage of the screen real estate, processing power or the stylus, but lets not set our expectations of iOS beyond what is reasonable, especially given apple's annual update cycle that only introduces small but efficient updates.
     
  8. ZombiePete macrumors 68020

    ZombiePete

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    #8
    That statement really fails convey the amount of evolution iOS has undergone since it was first released. Look back at iOS 1 and then look at iOS 9 on an iPA2 or the iPP; the evolution of the OS is far more than just some simple enhancements. iOS' foundation as a "Phone OS" is undeniable, but that shouldn't be touted as a negative IMO. It's the entire reason that iOS works better as a tablet OS than Windows, whose evolution from a desktop OS to an "all-in-one" has been pretty messy (and still is IME).

    The iPad Pro and iOS 9 are not the final forms of Apple's productivity tablet ambitions, I have no doubt. We will see iOS continue to evolve in a natural way to bring more features that make sense and enhance the experience. Does that mean access to the file system? Probably not. Does it mean better cross-app functionality, better multitasking, better APIs to encourage the development of "better" productivity apps, or even more advances "window" management? Maybe!

    But yesterday, as I was using my Pencil to fill out some New Patient PDF forms for a doctor I'm seeing on Monday morning, which I had downloaded in Safari, opened in Documents and moved to a folder I had created in iCloud, I marveled to myself at how much I had been able to do with my iPP in such a short amount of time. For me, it's already in a great place productivity-wise so I can only see it getting better.
     
  9. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    #9
    I agree that a mobile OS shouldn't behave like a desktop OS, but that doesn't mean iOS can't be powerful in its own right. Enhancements to iOS may have been slower than some have liked, but they have been coming steadily, and while each annual update might seem small, each year, the list of things I still need a desktop for has kept shrinking, I doubt I'll ever buy another laptop, and it's questionable whether I'll need to buy another desktop. There's a good possibility now that by the time my newest iMac can no longer receive the latest OSX upgrade, iOS would be good enough to meet all my computing needs.
     
  10. ZombiePete macrumors 68020

    ZombiePete

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    #10
    Yeah; if it was just another desktop OS, there would be no reason to buy an iPad Pro versus a MacBook Pro.
     
  11. ssong macrumors 6502a

    ssong

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    #11
    One could also dream of a future where the two devices converge into one? I'm not talking of a literal merging of iOS and OSX, that would be horrible, but I think the iPP is a step in the right direction on rethinking how humans operate and carry out daily tasks. After all OSX is a 'desktop' OS and the necessity for desktops and 'business machines' was primarily based on the fact that technology wasn't developed enough to carry out the same tasks. With more and more BYOD and workplaces becoming mobile, I'd imagine that a convergence is fairly near.
     
  12. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    I don't actually see how that would need to be horrible. If you try to merge them as a single interface it would be, but even today you could simply replace "Launchpad" with full iOS and be done with it. This solution would be perfect for a Surface Pro style hybrid device. Some work would need to be done under the hood to regulate how the system preferences of the two UIs work together, but otherwise there's almost nothing that needs to be changed.

    The reason this will never happen is because this immediately kills the iOS app store on this theoretical device. The user can always back out to OSX and install legacy software, and Running iOS as a layer on top of OSX allows side-loading and modification of the iOS system files. We've already seen this with the DOA Mac App Store, which no one uses because the OS doesn't force it.
     
  13. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    #13
    Sure. Another possibility is something like this.
    http://www.kangaroo.cc

    Theoretically, this should let me keep a set of monitor, keyboard and mouse at the office, and another set at home, and carry my entire PC with me wherever I go. Not sure how well this particular system would work in real life, but that's something I've been hoping for for a while. Ironic, however, that by the time this kind of thing has finally become practical, I'm now considering ditching desktop OS altogether and going mobile only. It just shows how unpredictable technology is, and how something that seems like a hard truth right now, like "you'll never be able to do real work unless you have X" can change five or ten years down the line.
     
  14. ssong macrumors 6502a

    ssong

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    #14
    I kinda see OSX dying off in the future... With the right push on iOS I think a lot of mobile apps can start taking over some basic desktop tasks. I only figured that it would be horrible because it still is representative of a big difference in workflow: desktop vs mobile. My theory was that over time, all our computing needs would move onto the mobile platform and desktops would die off, in fact desktops could end up being a computational companion like Amazon Echo, or a culminating device between HomeKit and Siri.

    I do think many tasks which we do daily are a bit redundant and can easily be automated with the development of AI and machine learning, which to a degree could simplify our computational needs. Take web design for example, you have many design based platforms that allow you to create a simple basic website without much need for coding (yes some people prefer to code it them selves.. and these platforms often are lacklustre), but you also have prototype devices like 'The Grid' that proposes to custom create a website for your needs using its AI.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 8, 2016 ---

    oooh.. I haven't seen that is certainly interesting but would be problematic if the display and keyboard sets weren't readily available..... I was personally just waiting for http://paperspace.io to finally launch..
     
  15. rwp thread starter macrumors member

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    #15
    I appreciate everyone's views -- this is definitely an interesting debate. iOS has come a long way since the first version for the first iPhone, and so has the hardware. Look at the specs of the iPad Pro. When you have that kind of power in an all-day use portable device, when you add an optional keyboard that folds out of a slim cover and a pencil that responds like a pencil, when you add apps (like the iWork suite, Office 365, Procreate, iMovie...) that come close to the functionality of their desktop counterparts... you are leading your user base down a specific path. It isn't a mystery why there are so many posts about people trying to replace their laptops/desktops with iPads now. The ecosystem is still nascent, but it is evolving rapidly. My main point with the original post was that as iOS and app development progresses, more emphasis should be put on improving the keyboard use case -- but without sacrificing the tablet use case. I didn't want to switch from Numbers to Excel in my example above, but I will continue to use the apps with the most productive user interfaces in both modes.
     
  16. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #16
    I agree that it can be as powerful, but I think Apple's approach is not make it as powerful, and what I mean by that is the stuff you normally expect in a desktop OS, such as the file system.

    For instance, doing attachments in iOS is just plain frustrating at best, how is a so called professional product unable to easily attach files? It goes against the grain of how Apple wants to keep iOS locked down.
     
  17. Codeseven macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    This^

    It's waaay too early.

    However, if, within a 'reasonable' 6 months time period there remains a lack of iOS functionality and pro level apps that reflect the reasoning behind even bothering to manufacture an iPad with that much hardware capability then it should begin to raise a red flag as to the Pro's future as a touted potential OSX device replacement.

    I hate to wait so long, but I'm really hopeful that by the time a very capable iOS 10 arrives, pro level apps for the iPP will be the norm and the difference between iPads of the past and the typical role they played, and what the new direction this new device paves the way for will become then evident.
     
  18. JonSarge3108 macrumors regular

    JonSarge3108

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    #18
    Couldn't the same be done with a Mac mini ?
     
  19. Krevnik macrumors 68040

    Krevnik

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    #19
    Considering the APIs around iCloud Drive / Document Storage Providers are something I've worked with: It'd be great if Apple made it easier to make them first class citizens or at least embed them rather than forcing an open/save sort of affair. They own the whole UI and don't let you tweak it (in part because OneDrive, Dropbox, etc can all implement their own browser views that work differently).
    --- Post Merged, Jan 8, 2016 ---
    Unfortunately, I think the time frame is going to be closer to 1-2 years. That's how long it took iOS devs to really adapt to the iPad itself in my own experience. I wanted to like the original iPad (returned it), but it wasn't until ~iPad 4 that it became an invaluable tool in my arsenal, and all that was due to software more than the hardware evolution (although retina did help).
     
  20. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    #20
    From what I understand, the Kangaroo is smaller than the Mac mini and has a 4 hour battery.
     
  21. rowspaxe macrumors 68000

    rowspaxe

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    #21
    Its still mysterious to me. Whats the point?

    There is potential for Apple to make hybrid hardware--with trackpad/mouse and usb--to drive and expanded version of ios. This wouldn't be very pro but it might be a great solution for users who want graphics provided by the pencil along with the traditional laptop experience, albiet with somewhat simplified software. It could be the ultimate student machine.
     
  22. JonSarge3108 macrumors regular

    JonSarge3108

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    #22
    It's interesting - has anyone seen the keynote address on the Solu?

    Portable, screen on it for simple stuff and can they connect to monitors and keyboard and it becomes the track pad.

    The downside - it runs its own OS which looks nice, but pulls Android apps to do anything. Unfortunately I don't trust android development community for supplying enterprise/corporate apps. That may be really unfair.
     
  23. whtrbt7 macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    I work with Numbers and Excel in separate environments but my primary purpose for Numbers is showing math performed on figures in a very presentable format. Excel is great for collaboration in the Office365 environment but it's designed to work with OneDrive and not iCloud Drive which makes it work better in an office environment where multiple people are accessing the same spreadsheet and editing it in bits and pieces. Depending on which you are more familiar with or how quickly you need to do specific tasks with spreadsheets, you'll end up using one over the other. I tend to favor Numbers now even though I grew up with Excel just because I can more quickly cobble together numbers for people in a presentable format in Numbers. Excel is still a little more hokey for me to use now due to the way the format bars are arranged and how many taps it takes to get things done.

    The iPad can only be a laptop replacement for those that are willing to clear the space in their minds to work with the tablet interface vs a x86 based interface. Also it would be application specific since somethings can only be run on x86 but the same can be said to where some apps only run on ARM.
     
  24. vinylretina macrumors member

    vinylretina

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    #24
    This right here.

    It seems to me like there are a lot of people out there that are confused about what they want. No one wants OS X on their iPad or some kind of hybrid (because unlike the Microsoft people, we're all in agreement that just slamming the same operating system on everything is a terrible approach) but at the same time, everyone is frustrated by iOS in its current form. I think the real problem here is that Apple started the iPad out as simply a consumer device, and really, all tablets were in the beginning. However, the desire to use a tablet as more than that has grown exponentially due to their size and the way they work. That's why we see OS X becoming more and more like iOS with every release. It just seems to me that no one can really figure out what they really want. Like, do you want a 2-in-1 that doesn't really function very well as either because if you don't want to spend a huge amount of money, you have to buy one with a 32GB drive, 2GB of RAM, and a plucking Atom processor that causes the OS to become so neutered and crippled that acts like it's 7 years old straight out of the box...or, you can spend all kinds of money and have the good innards and still be unhappy with the fact that using a "desktop" OS on a tablet just plain sucks.

    Then on the other side of the coin, we have Apple who keeps trying to make watches more like iPhones, iPhones more like iPads, iPads more like Macs, and Macs more like all the rest of them. Now, keep in mind, I love Apple computers...but what the hell? Figure out what you want to make. I use both my Mac and my iPad both very differently and practically the same. They both do work for college, they both do work for my creative endeavors, they both provide me with entertainment, and they both get used for things like mindless internet consumption, Netflix, etc. However, they both do all of those things very differently and for the most part, I'm comfortable with that. But what I have a problem with is, like I stated before, the fact that they can't just let the devices be what they are. I think that there are changes that need to be made to iOS in order for it to function better as a work and productivity device, but I think that underneath those changes, the heart of it needs to stay the same. Same goes for OS X; it made the Mac what it is for a reason. Granted, maybe the Mac has had it's time in the sun and it's time for a new family of computers to step into the spotlight, but Apple is never going to achieve that by just slamming a bunch of spec-candy into an iPad without anything that can utilize it and make it worthwhile or slapping an expensive keyboard on it.

    EDIT: I think I made the point I was trying to make, but I'm running on 2 hours of sleep and my brain is mush
     
  25. Codeseven macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    That might well be.

    But one thing to point out about your statement is that all the way back when you purchased that iPad 1 apps and the 'app world' was minuscule compared to the monster it has become (One Billion apps have been sold). Nowadays apps are being developed at record pace.
     

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