My iPad Pro Part 3 – Software & Services

Now one of my biggest concerns whilst researching on whether to purchase the iPad was what software to use.

Working as a G Suite reseller and a long term Chromebook user it concerned me whether the iPad would deliver a good experience with Google services and applications. Whilst I have access to work hardware it was still important to me that I could use my device when I wanted to whether for convenience or ease of travel.

I had also, from previous experience, had concerns around iCloud syncing across devices but syncing has improved but it still is slower than the Chrome OS/Android ecosystem.

Firstly there has been a change when it comes to browsers. Safari is being touted as a desktop-class browser – except for extensions although you do have a share sheet which takes away some of that omission. Effectively this means you can treat the iPad as you would a Chromebook but get the upside of the iPad’s ecosystem. However, whilst it is better than previously, it is still not desktop-class. Even simple things such as pinned tabs are not supported.

Using the web browser is second nature to me after long term use of Chromebooks and whilst in general, the Apps are fine they are still limited compared to their web browser cousins. WordPress, Google Docs and Microsoft Word are all examples of that. The Google suite of apps is so bad it is better to delete them and use Safari. Who’s to blame Google or Apple? Who knows but it’s the user who is left frustrated.

The App Store has a terrific range of applications which are optimised for the bigger screen, keyboard and trackpad as well as touch. Some of my favourite finds have been Ulysses, a writing app, and Stella an Apple Arcade title.

On the subject of Apple Arcade, the gaming subscription service Apple launched last year, there is a large choice of games for all tastes. These will not appeal to hardcore console gamers as they are rather basic but some are beautifully made with gorgeous artwork and haunting theme music. Good value at £4.99 per month.

One of the main reasons why Apple split iPadOS from iOS is its multitasking advantages. But while multitasking with my Mac or Chromebook is effortless and seamless, on the iPad’s is a confusing mess, especially when using the trackpad. Split View apps need to be opened from the Dock, a Slide Over window is impossible to close without touching the screen, and resizing is a guessing game.

I understand that the iPad is different than the Mac so floating windows don’t make sense, but iPad multitasking still feels Apple would address these confusions in iPadOS 14, but that doesn’t seem to be that case.

Allied to that but the lack of true multi-monitor support, which failed to appear in iPadOS 14, was to me a huge disappointment. We still have a mirrored screen with ugly, and wasteful, black bars on either side of the image.

For me and my usage, the iPad is far less a productivity machine than my Chromebook. A sentence that is a disappointment to write but for in my case is a fact.

Watch out for Part 4 where I explore what’s next for me in my tech set up and how does the iPad Pro feature?

3 Replies to “My iPad Pro Part 3 – Software & Services”

  1. Interesting points you made. I am glad there are many computing options out there, the iPad being one of them. Like you’ve found, there’s some good software on iOS (I was once a subscriber to Ulysses), but the overall productivity experience, for me, was lacking.
    On a related note, I’m surprised that Apple’s Office suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) is not more popular. Yet on iOS and macOS, it seems either MS Office or Google Docs are tied for first place.
    I am sometimes tempted to return again to the Apple ecosystem. The whole is greater than its parts. But the cost is so high. So I’m thankful for the Google-verse Chromebook+Android phone combo that’s more affordable.
    Oh, on iPadOS multi-tasking, you’re not alone. Several tech-savvy Apple friendly users think it’s quite poor.
    My stance on iPad is that, as a tablet, it’s fantastic and without competition. But as a “computer” or laptop replacement, no, not for me, and I’d say not for most.

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    1. Hey Jason – thanks for reading and I hope you and yours are ok. Productivity is seriously lacking compared to a Chromebook – use case dependent of course – which I will delve into more on the next, and last, post in this series. Apple’s Office suite is not popular I think for two reasons. Accessibility and functions. G Suite is device agnostic (leaving aside the appalling iPad apps) so you just need internet effectively. As for functions Pages and Keynote work OK but Numbers is lacking and interoperability between them seems non-existent. This shows Apple focussed on hardware as opposed to services. I am enjoying my Chromebook/iPhone/Apple Watch combo very much and I will only use device-agnostic software going forward.

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      1. Good to know, Wes. Thanks for sharing. I think Google’s web-centricity makes its apps more ubiquitous. And I think an advantage of third-party software is that it’s platform agnostic, thus device agnostic. For example, Evernote is just about on everything, even kindle fire tablets, maybe even Linux.

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