iOS 11 and what it means for the iPad

Not long ago, people who had an iPad –like me- would preferably use it as a media consumption device, an e-reader, and maybe a light web browser, or even a device to respond emails. Of course there were a percentage of users whose primarily job was write articles, and of course the iPad was the more practical solution to their needs. I mean, snap a keyboard -the fancy Apple keyboard if you have the bucks for it- and you have a really cool typing device. There are tons of really cool apps available for writers on the App Store. From the ones that excel by their simplicity and minimalistic interface or the more complex ones that include powerful features.

And even if you were not a writer or journalist and whatnot, if you had a keyboard, you basically had a very light laptop that would allow you partially to complete some tasks in a quick manner. I’m thinking students here, who were able to get homework done, papers, research and thank God to Split View mode, you gained a lot more versatility and speed to carry out your assignments. Throw in a stylus and you have an even better laptop.

The iPad was that device that nobody knew exactly what it was: a complement to your laptop, a task manager, a support device, or just like Steve Jobs said once, that device that lays in between a smartphone and a computer. Was it really a laptop replacement? Well that’s what Apple wanted you to believe… and my answer is “not really”. The lighter version of a desktop OS , just like iOS, would never allow a big part of their users to complete all of their tasks with just an iPad. I mean, I even tried it myself a few times at work. Being in logistics makes you deal with A LOT of mails, spreadsheets, web base applications, PDF´s and dependent tasks. For the most part, my iPad was really good at emailing back and forth with clients, providers and coworkers. Spreadsheets? Not so good. The lack of a mouse or trackpack would make things horribly slow and not having a powerful spreadsheet app (even Excel does not include power user features in their iOS app) will bring an enormous amount of distress to my day-to-day use. Web base apps? Not bad I have to say. PDF’s? More or less, I couldn’t save webs as PDF and that really would limit my productivity. And finally, the iPad was good to let me keep track of dependent tasks. There are very nice apps for that in the iOS world. So, again, was the iPad a fully viable solution to replace my laptop? You gotta judge your own situation yourself. Either way, the iPad was fun, pretty and people would still pay money for it. A lot of money.

WWDC ‘17: iOS 11 is here!

A few weeks ago, however, we had the unveiling of the new iOS 11 for iPad. It seems to me that Apple has listened to the claims of a big portion of their users and has included really cool features with this new iteration.

For starters, they have brought to the iPad a new file system solution. It’s like having some sort of Finder. While in Beta, it doesn’t seem to be fully implemented yet but it seems like it will have the basics of a Finder. Not ideal but it’s a step in the right direction.

Split View works now a little better by letting you have a third floating window hovering over the two that originally we were able to work with.

Drag and drop is another feature that is definitely appreciated by the vast majority of users. This way, Split View makes more sense.

The dock is an addition that is well received and will save some time when switching apps. instead of a double tap on the home button we will only have to swipe up from the very bottom of the screen.

And with all these new features, it is hard not to see iOS 11 as a hybrid between MacOS and iOS. The question is, why has Apple taken so long to admit this when it was so obvious that this was the right path to go on? Even Microsoft figured it out first with their Surface Pro line. Do I think that a full desktop OS should run on a tablet? Absolutely not. But having all these features at our disposal (like Surface Pro users) is better than the lack of them in our devices (in this case, iPad users).

I think the right answer here is a well balanced OS that can run on a tablet with all the pros and cons that that brings: touch screens, lack of mouse, the need of a physical keyboard, etc. This utopian OS should include almost 100% of the features that make a desktop OS as robust as it is but taking into account the capabilities of a touch screen device. The answer is not having a shrink-down version of MacOS running on an iPad, and definitely not iOS 10 either or any previous iteration.

Only when Apple brings back that level of innovation to put together the next iPad iOS they will be able to say they revolutionized the way people use tablets and I will believe all that crap they want us to believe these days.

I really hope iOS 11 is just the beginning of Apple’s proposal on their approach to personal computing for the future. They need this. They are far from what they were years ago and they need to change the status quo again.

The hardware is already there. The new iPad Pro’s are literal monsters that score benchmarks that can be even higher than some from a MacBook Pro. Go figure! It’s time to come up with something so cool that can truly make us think we can replace our laptops with iPads. Give us a good video editor. Give us desktop class iWork -I mean I can’t even change a paragraph style on the iOS version without having saved it on my Mac first- and so on.

It’s up to you, Apple. Bring back the magic!

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