Indeed, for many users, an iPad M1 should be even more powerful than a MacBook, given that it has a touchscreen and a stylus: features that Apple refused to add to the MacBook as part of its aforementioned practice of maximum profitability at the expense of maximum functionality.
But, until now (or rather until later this year), the iPad has always been crippled to make it nearly useless as a MacBook replacement.
Multitasking was terribly implemented; file system access has been severely restricted; and attaching a second screen to the iPad, so you can use it as a desktop computer, has been so dysfunctional, the only words we’ve found to describe it when we’ve reviewed it in the past are “total madness ” .
(Of course, there was always a method to this madness. See “giving customers exactly what Apple needs” above.)
All of that is about to change, however, and for the first time in memory, Apple is about to give its recent iPad M1 customers exactly what they’ve been asking for. It gives us here at Digital Life Labs everything we’ve been asking for for years.
Attaching an external monitor to the iPad is most important.
This means you can use the USB-C port on recent iPads to plug the tablet directly into an external display, and to deploy themselves the iPad screen on this screen, as you have been able to do for decades on just about every other computing device on the market.
(Speaking of USB-C ports, let’s just hope that this refreshing new mentality at Apple extends to the iPhone this year, and that Apple’s phones will get USB-C cables like every other phone and every other devices on the market. That would eat into Apple’s Lightning Cable revenue, sure, but it would give many, many iPhone users what they want most.)
For reasons better understood by Apple, it has imposed a limit of eight iPad apps running simultaneously on both screens – four on the iPad itself and four on the external display – but that looks like a very reasonable compromise, and it’s much better than what you’re getting right now, which is limited to either just mirroring (rather than extending) the iPad screen, or a maximized second screen for the limited number of apps which have been rewritten to take advantage of the crazy screen connectivity of the iPad.
None of this would be very useful if the iPad still had a windowing system that only allowed full-screen or split-screen apps, and so Apple fixed that too, adding its “Stage Manager” windowing system. ” which works like MacOS or Windows. (but with this limit of eight applications).
When iPadOS 16 comes out, you’ll be able to create windows of different sizes and drag them with a mouse or finger to overlap, just like you’ve been able to do with Microsoft Windows and macOS since the 1980s.
The iPad’s Files app is also changing, giving you more control over files so you can do things like change file extensions to change which app opens them.
Oh, and you’ll even be able to change the scaling of iPad screens, so you can cram more or less of the screen depending on how good your eyesight is and if you’ve forgotten your glasses.
Yes, these are all simple things that other computers have been able to do forever, which have been remarkable in their absence on the iPad. But pair them with Apple’s brilliant M1 processor and the iPad really could become the universal device many of us have been waiting for and the best computer ever released.
And who knows? Now that Apple seems to be listening to its customers, maybe at next year’s WWDC it will announce that the iPad can run Mac apps, the same way Macs can run iPad apps.
You’ll never need to buy a laptop again. Until today (or, to be precise, later this year), Apple still seemed to see this as a problem. Maybe he sees it now as an opportunity.
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