Somewhere in the back of my head, I had hoped this would be the week the iPad Pro changed forever.
I don’t think I ever actually believed Apple would completely change the way the high-end tablet worked, but I hoped it would. I went into WWDC 2021 with a dream that the iPad would become better than the Mac and that I could say goodbye to the laptop forever.
This of course didn’t happen.
Scroll through tech-based forums or the comments under iPadOS 15 videos on YouTube and the general feeling is clear. People were expecting a lot, and what actually was announced wasn’t really what many wanted.
A lot of this seems to stem from the latest iPad Pro 2021 having a chip – the Apple M1, that’s the same as the chip you’d find in the new colourful iMac, the MacBook Air and the Mac Mini.
I can’t see the appeal of having MacOS Monterey running on an iPad personally, even if it has the power to do so. That’s a desktop OS, not one built for touch and one that would feel almost archaic compared to iPadOS on a tablet. I’ve tried using Windows on touch devices – and it’s mostly awful.
But what I did want from iPadOS 15 was a little more freedom. The freedom to put that M1 and all that RAM (up to 16GB in the higher storage models of the 2021 iPad Pro) to proper use and the freedom to, just maybe, use some apps that are more than just iPad versions. The full version of Lightroom runs on an M1 Mac, but on the iPad it’s not that full version.
This is the ‘Pro’ iPad after all. and with the 12.9-inch model starting at £999 this isn’t really a mainstream product aimed at those who use a tablet for a bit of web browsing or watching Netflix.
Instead what iPadOS 15 added were smaller tweaks – some very welcome, but not a whole lot that felt new and nothing really that would make you decide against just getting the iPad Air 4 instead of paying more.
The updated multitasking, for instance, is very much the same as before just more intuitive to use. You’re still restricted to two main apps open at once and the apps themselves can’t be windowed out. Other parts still feel tricky to master, like the new Shelf element.
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The rest of iPadOS 15 is built up of features we got in the iPhone updates last year. App Library is welcome and looks like it’ll work very well on the iPad and being able to freely move widgets across the homescreen is great.
For me, there are still gaps in the iPad software that aren’t necessarily linked to power. I’ve written before about how it’s bizarre users can’t have multiple profiles on a single tablet and I can’t understand why that remains absent. The iPad, unlike a phone, is far more of a communal device than a personal one and it’s something that just needs to be added.
A better file system and proper external display support are a couple of others, even if they are far more niche.
But iPadOS does remain the best tablet OS with the best tablet apps and the finest hardware. Yes, there are features that could be added to make it even better – but for most people, it offers the simplicity that is often lost with laptops and that’s a good thing.
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