The iPad running iPadOS 13 won’t magically make the iPad a better laptop.
Not if iOS 13 Public Beta 2 is any indication of what’s actually to come. I’ve been using the beta with my iPad Pro 12.9 (late 2018), the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio, and an Apple mouse.
Mouse and multitasking
As widely covered, the beta of iPadOS (this is the first time Apple is calling it “iPadOS”) allows you to use a mouse by going into Settings, choosing Accessibility, tapping on Touch, then AssistiveTouch, and toggling it on.
The tl:dr for my experience so far is, it makes things like cut-and-paste, navigating legacy applications (read: Microsoft Office), and other applications like WordPress easier. But it falls far short of my Google Pixel Slate or a Microsoft Surface.
Both of the latter have keyboards with integrated trackpads. And both Chrome OS and Windows 10 have full-blown pointing device support — iOS 13 Public Beta 2 does not.
And about multitasking on iOS 13 Public Beta 2: Yes, you can now open multiple copies of the same app on the beta but it’s not enough to sideline my MacBook.
Here’s my litmus test for a real laptop stand-in: how many people do you see using iPads at airports or coffee shops for real work (aka, productivity)? There are usually a few but invariably they’re far outnumbered* by MacBook and Windows laptop users.
That’s not going to change unless iOS becomes more like a mobile macOS. Google has done this with Chrome OS, which — as longtime user — is the optimal blend of a desktop and mobile OS.
Still a touch-first OS:
My iPad Pro 12.9 has incredible battery life, built-in 4G, it’s fast, it’s light, and is Apple’s most gorgeous design (imo). So, I would like to use it more. A lot more.
But I can’t because I invariably run into stupid iOS roadblocks and gotchas when doing productivity stuff.
The good news is, barriers are lowered with a mouse. For example, text selection for copy and paste is easier: if you hover over the text and click, it automatically highlights, then you drag what you want to copy. And, as mentioned above, you can open more windows in the same app: hover over a link in Safari, then grab and drag it down to open a new instance of the app.
But the iPad is still a touch-first OS. And maybe that’s how Apple wants it. The problem for me is, this doesn’t realize the real potential of an iPad, particularly for the most Pro of the iPads: the 12.9-inch model. My iPad (image below) is screaming to be a real productivity machine. It should be able to make my MacBook obsolete in 2019.
I mean, why have a giant 13-inch class display and keyboard? Why stop if you’re 90 percent of the way there? Why leave out the built-in trackpad?
It’s not lappable
Even with all the changes coming to the iPadOS, it still won’t have a keyboard with a built-in trackpad** like the the Pixel Slate and Microsoft Surface, i.e., a mouse-capable device you can put on your lap. The iPad and keyboard must be sitting on a desk with a standalone mouse.
Sorry, that doesn’t work for me because I use laptops and hybrids (Pixel Slate and Microsoft Surface) on my lap. Particularly when I’m traveling.
We’ll know more this fall when Apple releases a bunch of new iPads but I’m not holding my breath.
*Or just go to any Apple event and witness all of the MacBooks vs. iPads.
**Unless Apple or a third party comes up with a keyboard with a built-in trackpad this fall.