For tech fans, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, is a big deal. Apple fans get to see what the future of Apple will entail, and the industry gets to see how Apple will steer the ship of influence. The WWDC is a week-long event for developers to learn about and get their hands on new software and, if we’re lucky, hardware.
Many, including myself, were hoping to see new Apple Silicon Macs and the rumored M1X or maybe even M2. That did not happen. It was very much a software update event with many welcome features, like Universal Control. It lets you use a single Mac keyboard and mouse to interact with another Mac or iPad by seamlessly moving the cursor to the side where your iPad or other Mac is.
While much of the Apple lineup got some great updates, iPadOS is still missing some glaring features from a device it expects professionals to spend as much as $799 for the Pro 11-inch and $1099 for the 12.9-inch, and those prices are without the 11-inch $299 or 12-inch $349 Magic Keyboard. At that price point, a user could save the $99 and get a MacBook Air which comes with a keyboard and trackpad, and runs more traditional software.
A few months ago, when the M1 iPad Pro released, I seriously considered selling my M1 MacBook Pro for it. The ultra-smooth ProMotion display was very tempting, plus I wondered if I was really going to get the most out of MacOS. I ended up shelving that idea. Frankly, I like the way MacOS works, and since I have an iPad, I already had an idea of how iPadOS works, and realized how frustrated I would ultimately be trying to get work done with the iPad Pro.
I’ve put together a list of things I’d like to see from iPadOS in the future that could result in my MacBook ending up on eBay.
1. Multi-User Support
I had a 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet that had multi-user support. The thing cost $49 and had 8GB of storage, so while I doubt it could’ve handled many users very well, the point is the $49 Fire tablet had multi-user support. How does a $329 tablet not have that, let alone a $799 tablet? Back in 2007, Apple announced that the iPhone operating system was based on Mac OS X, bragging that its mobile device would have the most advanced operating system on the market. iPhone OS later became iOS and iPadOS, which is the same advanced operating system. Ergo, I don’t think it would be a stretch to believe that iPadOS is advanced enough to handle multiple users. When iPads are in the hands of families which may not be able to afford more than one, and in schools and businesses which may be interested in an administrator user account, I would imagine this would be a welcome addition.
2. Better System Utilization
When the iPad Pro was rumored to receive a faster processor than the A12Z, I had hopes that they would leave the A-series processors to the lower-end iPhones and iPads and unleash the M1 onto the iPad Pro. And to my surprise, that’s just what Apple did. The current iPad Pro with M1 has 8GB of RAM, up from the A12Z’s 6GB of RAM, and can be configured with 16GB of RAM. This was a major factor in me considering the M1 Pro, as I have gotten used to apps shutting off after inactivity or multitasking music and an app on my iPhone 11 and 8th generation iPad. That is until many users began to Tweet to developers of professional iPad apps, asking whether or not they will update their apps to use more RAM. These developers explained that even with the M1, they cannot use more than 5GB of RAM. Now I know RAM is only one part of the M1 story, but this just doesn’t sit well with me. If Apple is going to put a desktop-class SoC into their Pro product, I expect an operating system with more robust memory management.
3. Better Multitasking
iPadOS 15 will have better multitasking, which will offer an easier way to split two apps side-by-side, including manageable pop-up segments of apps. Still, trying engage with the iPad through confusing gestures and there’s nothing easier than using a trackpad and simply dragging a window where I want it. Even better, resizing a window how I want. And even further, I can use the green button in a Mac window or the Window menu to fine-tune exactly where I want an app to be; or not be, as hiding an app is a menu-click or a keyboard-shortcut away. I may be expecting too much from a mobile operating system, but with a pro device, I feel like I should expect more. And if Apple wants my expectations of the iPad to be at traditional computer levels, I think their iPadOS development team should expect more than the conventions of a mobile operating system.
4. Better File Management
I remember when the Files app arrived on iOS and iPadOS, enthusiasts let out a collective “FINALLY!” A feature that had existed for decades on traditional computers and every other mobile operating system was now on iOS. Still, there’s room for improvement. Take for example the lack of a Photos folder. Plus, you can’t download ringtones on the device; you have to sync with iTunes… This one I just can’t help but audibly groan. While it’s nice that Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive play nicely with Files, I just feel the app could be a lot closer to Finder on MacOS.
5. Better Feature Synchronization with iOS
For a trillion-dollar company, Apple sure has some management issues. A year ago, what brought me back to iPhone after nearly five years of Android phones was the addition of widgets on the home screen and several other long-overdue Android copies. I was shocked to see when I bought my iPad that while there were widgets, they were only accessible on the side of the first page of the home screen. And I couldn’t remove apps I didn’t want on my home screen because there was no App Library on iPadOS. After a year of being on iOS, these features will arrive on iPadOS 15 this fall, to which I wonder what took so long? How are these things not released at the same time? I could understand if it were the reverse and widgets and App Library were iPadOS features first, but this makes no sense. Get it together, Apple.
6. Consider Giving Up on iPadOS (on Pro devices)
With my $329 iPad, I have expectations perfectly set on its limitations. While this thing can do “work,” I realize there are higher-end devices that are better suited for things beyond checking Instagram. There’s where current-day iPadOS could be excused from my complaints above. And years ago, when Macs only used Intel processors, it made sense that MacOS and iPadOS were different beasts. But today, as I’ve stated many times, the iPad Pro has the same exact M1 that the iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini run. At this point, there is no excuse beyond forcing the user to buy either one or the other, or both, when it comes to the Mac and iPad. If Apple wants the Pro to live up to its name, I believe a hybrid MacOS and iPadOS should exist.
It would look something like this: the iPad Pro without a Magic Keyboard would operate in the same iPadOS touch-friendly interface, but when that keyboard is connected, a more MacOS interface should appear. Not to mention a touchscreen MacBook should exist, with the ability to enable a touch-friendly interface. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to interact with the MacBook screen. And how I wish the mouse support on iPadOS could do more.
Microsoft received a healthy amount of criticism with Windows 8 by forcing a touch-friendly tablet interface on a largely keyboard and mouse market. However, while a Windows tablet market never took off, it created touchscreen laptops that could take the place of a tablet, offering a great value for enthusiasts. While I’m sure Apple would love to keep giving users a reason to buy both a Mac and an iPad, at least for the pro market, I think iPadOS has some necessary adjustments before I can replace my traditional computer.