Matt Birchler, of A Better Computer and Birchtree fame recently released another great video on his channel, posing the question Is the iPad exciting anymore?. If you haven’t watched it yet, give it a watch below.
The video saw Matt, and a fantastic line up of known iPad power users, share their thoughts on the current state of the iPad and where this may go in the future. The question posed by Matt got me thinking about my own views on the topic, so I thought I’d take a stab at answer the two questions Matt posed to Christopher Lawley, Daryl Baxter and Tim Chaten.
Is the iPad less exciting now than it used to be?
As Tim quite rightly points out, I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that every current gen iPad is in an incredibly exciting place from a hardware perspective. The Pro XDR display on the 12.9” iPad Pro is really stunning, the current keyboard folio with trackpad adds another dimension to the device, and there isn’t a day that goes by without seeing a tweet from someone gushing over how much they love the new iPad mini. I, personally, love using both of my iPads, the large Pro and the petite mini. That being said, as Daryl points out some tasks are just not suitable on the iPad, or if they are they can be achieved easier elsewhere. In Daryl’s case in particular he has clearly ‘out grown’ the iPad to a certain extent and needed something more than the iPad can currently offer. From Chris and Daryl’s points of view, it seems that the iPad hasn’t become less exciting, per se, their use cases have just evolved beyond that which the iPad is currently designed for.
For me, my day job can’t be done on an iPad. It also can’t be done, however, on a Mac. So, despite the Mac itself going through a bit of a Renaissance right now, even that can’t be bent to do doing real work for me. So, as pointed out by Matt, it comes down to perspective.
The iPad itself, in terms of excitement as a concept, I’m still very excited by the device, from both a hardware and software perspective. For me, the hardware itself is exciting now. It’s a pleasure to use for any of the tasks I do use it for. From a software perspective, the excitement for me still comes in a large part from the potential of what comes next.
How can the iPad get exciting again for you?
In his section, Daryl laments over iPadOS 15 being the death knell for his excitement and passion for the iPad in general, and I understand his viewpoint. Whilst he does touch on this, I think the impact of COVID on the development of iPadOS 15 cannot be understated. When iPadOS 14 was released I said at the time that real widget support in iPadOS 15 was clearly held back from release the previous year as almost a freebie tentpole feature in this years release. I don’t believe it didn’t still require work, but I would bet it could have shipped in iPadOS 14 if Apple were on track for their planned roadmap. I still think, without COVID, the iPad software would be better aligned with the hardware currently available. Whilst I doubt it would have met all of the lofty expectations us iPad fans have of it, I think it would have been closer than we have now.
As I say above, the iPad hardware itself is in strong and exciting position at the moment and the software is ripe to catch it up. For some, like Chris and Daryl, their personal needs and use cases have meant they can no longer wait around, their minds full of what ifs and wishes. From my side, however, my use case is a lot lighter and the iPad still fits perfectly for the things I need it for right now, and the excitement for me comes from both a love of using a joyful device today and the idea that potentially exciting things are just around the corner. Crucially, because of my lack of needing the iPad to do more I can sit back and enjoy the waiting, the anticipation, the hype, the rumours, the what-ifs. If I get more functionality from the devices I love and use daily, then wonderful, but if not I enjoyed guessing what might come up next regardless. As and when I get to the point I outgrow it like some of the others, I’d happily move on. Until then, however, I’m excited about the future of the iPad.
As a final aside, Daryl you don’t need to hope for Apple Arcade on the Mac App Store, those games are already there. Shut down Metal Gear Solid for now and get some cheeky Oddmar+ action in your life.