I used to be one of the naysayers. All over Twitter I’d see the tech pundits proclaim that the iPad is the future of computing. It’s post-PC. It’s easily a laptop replacement. Well I didn’t buy any of that whatsoever. I agreed there was value in having an iPad, but in my previous experience owning first an iPad 2, then an iPad mini 2, it in no way replaced my MacBook. It didn’t even come close.
Even when I recently bought an iPad Pro I still wasn’t convinced. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is as smooth as butter and great with multitasking, but it still wasn’t the same experience as a Mac. All of this changed, however, when I finally caved and bought the Smart Keyboard. I thought it was ridiculously overpriced, but now I understand why. The Smart Keyboard transforms a mere tablet into a laptop replacement.
I understand your skepticism reading this. It probably seems like any other basic keyboard attachment. I can’t fully explain the phenomenon myself, but when I realized I was using my iPad Pro daily and hadn’t touched my Mac in a week, I knew something had changed.
When I finally did fire up my MacBook Air again, I was stunned. Not only did I not miss it, I found it inferior to my iPad Pro in several key areas.
My Smart Keyboard is Better Than My MacBook Keyboard
I know this is totally subjective and not many people agree, but I actually prefer my Smart Keyboard to my MacBook keyboard. Never in a million years did I think I’d say that. But opening my MacBook after a week of typing on my Smart Keyboard was shockingly disappointing. The keys now feel gummy and unstable by comparison.
I thought I’d miss the further key travel but I surprisingly prefer the shallow key travel on the Smart Keyboard. It’s far more clicky and satisfying.
Bear in mind that my machine is a 2011 MacBook Air. It’s not at all new Apple hardware. But I’ve used the new MacBook Pro keyboard several times with the shallow key travel and butterfly mechanism. That keyboard feels far closer to an iPad Smart Keyboard than it does to the old MacBook keyboard.
So while everyone is claiming the new keyboard is a major trade-off of the thin MacBook Pro design, I disagree. I think it’s very intentional. Apple prefers the clicky feel, and it’s quite narrow-minded to think you’ll never adapt if you don’t like it now. I’m a huge fan, and I’m sure when I inevitably upgrade to a newer MacBook Pro I’ll enjoy that keyboard full-time as well.
The iPad is Completely Silent
The other thing I definitely don’t miss is the noise. No matter what I’m doing on my iPad Pro — from browsing the web to exporting a video from iMovie — it’s totally silent. You don’t even realize it’s silent until you switch back to a machine with a fan and it sounds old and tired.
I thought I’d miss the further key travel but I surprisingly prefer the shallow key travel on the Smart Keyboard.
Granted, the new MacBook Pros are quieter than the older ones and the 12-inch MacBook is totally fanless. I can easily see a future in which Apple only ships fanless Macs too. But right now, that’s not the case. Most Macs still have fans that make noise. Not one iPad model makes noise.
It’s even more impressive when you consider the iPad doesn’t get very hot either. Sure it gets warm when you throw demanding tasks at it, but it by no means becomes very hot. My MacBook Air from day one got pretty damn hot at times.
iPad Pro is Faster at Switching Between Apps
The iPad Pro’s speed is shocking. It’s so fast that I’m still pleasantly surprised by it every day after several weeks of usage now. I definitely credit a solid portion of that to the 120Hz refresh rate of the new 10.5-inch because I’ve used a 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the difference is remarkable. I can quickly switch from one app to another almost instantly. This is the closest Apple has ever gotten to impeccable multitasking.
I always preferred my MacBook for multitasking, but the new iPad especially with iOS 11 is way faster. It might not be as capable because I can’t have multiple windows overlapping each other, but I can finish typing this post in WordPress, then switch to Twitter faster than you can say “Tim Cook.” Split View is convenient and fast too.
When I returned to my MacBook after that week of solely using my iPad I was so disappointed at how slow it was launching apps, opening new tabs in Safari, playing games and more. There is so much lag that just isn’t present on the iPad Pro. In fact, it’s astonishingly difficult to experience any lag at all.
iOS is a Car, macOS is a Truck
While the hardware of the iPad Pro is undeniably a beast, all of my complaints about going back to the Mac remind me of a Steve Jobs quote. When asked about the future of tablets shortly after the release of the iPad in 2010, he said he thought they would eventually replace most PCs (as in personal computers.) Computers and laptops would be like trucks… some people will need one and prefer one, but most people will find a car (read: tablet) more than capable.
I never fully believed that until this year with the release of iOS 11 and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Something about this combination of hardware and software just finally feels right. iOS feels so lightweight yet so incredibly powerful at the same time. It’s modern and simple, yet elegant and sophisticated. It does about 95 percent of everything I normally did on my Mac.
This is the closest Apple has ever gotten to impeccable multitasking.
While I still probably need my MacBook as a backup machine for tasks the iPad still can’t do, it’s silly to assume the iPad will never be able to do everything a Mac does. I don’t think it’ll take more than 5 years for the iPad to be as capable. Plus, bear in mind, I already think the iPad exceeds the Mac in several areas right now like multitasking speed and silence.
I finally understand that analogy Steve Jobs made. I thought I’d always be a truck guy, but I’m loving the ride in this car too much.