back to article Six things I learned from using the iPad Pro for Real Work™

Last year Apple transformed the fortunes of its iPad. In the spring the iconic fondleslab looked so neglected, it was declared "done". Sales were half of what they had been at the iPad's peak. Then in June, the biggest software update in years, iOS 11, transformed the iPad from a glorified picture frame into something …

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blast away

more than sufficient to blast away a desktop chip in benchmarks.

Erm...

Reading the linked page, the processor "comes close" to matching the entry level macbook's processor on the benchmarks.

While this may be great for a tablet and totally sufficient for the work you are doing, it's hardly blowing away desktop chips, is it?

1) You're comparing it to a processor in a laptop, with tighter power requirements than a desktop chip

2) It is still slower than said chip

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Shh, don't rock the boat

They're so desperate to try and make those slablets important, don't ruin their illusions.

Those things have their uses, but when surfing, email and chat are in the top 5 apps to use, you take the rear of the line when actual work is concerned.

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Re: blast away

Too late to edit to update my original post, but here are the numbers:

the A10X achieves:

a single-core score of 3929 and a multi-core score of 9372.

the entry-level 15-inch MacBook Pro achieves:

a single-core score of 4255 and a multi-core score of 13,727

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Re: blast away

But the entry level you have chosen isn't the entry level. The entry level is the MacBook Air or the new MacBook. MacBook Pros are much faster. Granted, the linked example doesn't quite match the words, but the words do at least match the reality of the real-world line-up.

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Re: blast away

@SuccessCase

I disagree, I think he's got the comparison right. Comparing the iPad PRO to the MacBook PRO.

If we bring macbook air into the equation then you should really be comparing to the entry level iPad not the PRO version.

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Boffin

@Baldrick Re: blast away

Its a bit unfair to assume the comparison against a desktop where you have the ability to handle the TDP by tossing a honking radiator on top of it with a large fan to push air to cool it. So no duh! He's comparing the iPad to a laptop.

Even here... iPad lacks fan so its still not a fair comparison.

One app / feature that the author missed... Duet.

I can use my iPad Pro 12.9" as a second monitor for my MacBook Pro while traveling.

In terms of work... I tend to use the iPad as my library with over 50 work related texts, or for downloading and watching movies while on a flight and I don't want to do any reading. Or emails when I can't take the laptop out. Also as a second terminal if I need to do a remote login. (Need to have the case with the keyboard for that to work. )

I do agree that the gestures and multi tasking is a bit bizarre. They changed it from a simple swipe then scrolling to find the second App, to something that doesn't seem to want to work. Lets hope they get it right. (Hint: add an on/off switch in the System Preferences for the app to select it to be in the list for second pane and got back to the original way )

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Re: blast away

"I disagree, I think he's got the comparison right. Comparing the iPad PRO to the MacBook PRO."

Not really. A maxed out 10.5in iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil is going to cost you the same as the cheapest MacBook. That's the comparison point.

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Re: blast away

"But the entry level you have chosen isn't the entry level. The entry level is the MacBook Air or the new MacBook."

He's literally using the processor named in the linked article. The one that actually says the exact opposite of what Orlowski says it does.

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Re: blast away

He's literally using the processor named in the linked article. The one that actually says the exact opposite of what Orlowski says it does.

Thankyou.

I didn't go searching for a comparison, I was pointing out a factual error in the article.<br>The article states that the iPad chip outperformed the listed Macbook's processor. This is not only false, it isn't representative of the source (if the source had claimed that the iPad outperformed the Macbook, then this would be more understandable)

Personally, I would have looked for a benchmark vs the latest Surface and maybe a Macbook Air, as competitors in the same market.

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Anonymous Coward

Real work my arse, try being a fisherman in the North Atlantic or a carer in a geriatric ward.

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Do they use iPads too?

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Slight context change there, since this is a tech website and neither of those are technology jobs, though of course it does illustrate that office work is pretty physically undemanding. I would submit however, that if a carer in a geriatric ward is going to be using computing technology, in the future it will be increasingly likely to look more like an iPad than a desktop or laptop computer.

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Real work my arse, try being a fisherman in the North Atlantic or a carer in a geriatric ward.

I design water systems to avoid contamination of drinking water. A job that could easily be done on a tablet, while sitting on a sofa, sipping an iced latte. Is that not real work?

The only exercise afforded by that is a bit of muscle-toning when picking up huge folders full of regulations and datasheets - and arm strengthening by hurling disgusting iced lattes as far away as possible...

As stated above, people who work on geriatric wards also spend quite a lot of time sitting on their arses filling out forms. In my experience of those wards, a good deal too much time on their arses, and not enough time dealing with the actual patients...

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Anonymous Coward

>I would submit however, that if a carer in a geriatric ward is going to be using computing technology

Good luck wiping shitty Alzheimer's patients bottoms using a box pc or a non stick ipad screen.

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"Real work my arse, try being a fisherman in the North Atlantic or a carer in a geriatric ward."

Having spent my teenage years living on North Uist and having summer jobs working on fishing boats in the (admittedly close to the coast) Atlantic and now working as a Software Developer I may be uniquely placed to answer this one!

I can categorically say that while at sea we had no call for (or time to make use of) an iPad, your comment makes no sense and you have completely failed at your trolling attempt. Get back under your bridge.

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Dunno about iPads, but fishermen definitely use the net.

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Coat

And an Apple Mackerel

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Nonetheless, there's actually relatively few jobs that an iPad Pro would be useful for.

It's essentially limited to more or less (MS, Libre or Google) Office-centric workloads. Anyone needing custom-built software (say, a fat-client CRM system)? No. Anyone needing CAD (Architects, most engineering roles?) No. IT? Not much use for anyone until the File Manager is better.

Ultimately, Andrew saying that he was able to do a full days work on an iPad Pro and not be overly inconvenienced means that Andrew's relatively lightweight software requirements (basically just email and a word processor) are still not as useful on the iPad as they are on MacOS or Windows.

And the real problem is, most of those tasks can already be performed to an equally inferior standard on the normal iPad, at half the price.

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Anonymous Coward

You cannot buy many (any ?) existing custom software that will run on an ipad Pro, but getting an app developed to run on one would be surprisingly easy. It is possible that some serious apps that can usefully be used in a mobile & remote mode will indeed develop iPad clients. CRM is certainly one that comes to mind.

I do know of a number of tracking and delivery apps specifically ported to run on an iPad - typically a cheap one not the Pro, but it's "proof of concept" rather than a specific example.

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Anonymous Coward

Occupational hazard for journalists and tech reviewers

Mistaking 'blogging', emailing and web surfing, for work.

While the number pushing ability, and even graphical resolution of this device may surpass a graphics workstation from 20 years ago, it would require an idiot of millennial stature to try and use one for CAD or similar work

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Is being a Biological Scientist work? See when I have to go into the Maus Haus (phonetically works in both languages) with restrictions on what can be brought in for infection control reasons and taking the animal management database (FileMaker) in as printouts is clumsy and so last century (did plenty of that) but put it and FM on a slab and take that in and sync with the desktop db when you get back?

Sure a stylus helps for when one is wearing nitrile gloves, but they can be taken off (note to safety Johnnies: I have a biology PhD and am perfectly capable of assessing when it is safe to take my fecking gloves off).

The work is physical and frequently dirty (they launder lab coats/scrubs for one) and my family can tell when I've done a session by the smell on my cuffs despite the above.

I once spent most of two week in there taking out mouse intestines, from duodenum to anus, slitting them lengthways, cleaning them out, cutting into length sections and pinning flat in dishes (Sylgard on the bottom) under fixative. I did most of it under saline and breathed through my mouth and mouse intestinal contents are very fibrous and look a bit like sawdust for most of the time but the smell is the smell. Does that count as 'real work'?

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TRT
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Stylus instead of mouse.

I know what you mean! Is the iPadPro immersion proof? A dip in Cidex opens up whole worlds of possibilities for theatres of use.

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Actually, it's usable for IT work. There are decent clients available for managing AWS, SSH some with, some without X support), and passable remote desktop tools. Oh, and there are VPN clients galore.

It's not great, mind you, however now and then I'm in a position where I need to do some urgent work and the only thing I've had on me is my iPad, and it's worked surprisingly well.

It cannot compete against a desktop or a laptop if the work requires special locally-running apps, but as a remote access device, I consider it an almost-as-good alternative to lugging around a laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

"real work" but inside the RDF

Please do not compare those apples to these oranges.

Remember, these are products that are entry paraphernalia into the <i>Reality DIstortion Field.</i> He won't really be handling nitroglycerine or powerful explosives, talking about Real Work

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By that logic mobile phones are a good alternative to lugging around a laptop.

There are interfaces for AWS and Azure, SSH Apps and VPN Apps.

I think the important thing to take away from this is that whilst the iPad Pro CAN perform basic tasks, roles that require any kind of real software to perform shouldn't rely on an iPad in the place of an actual computer.

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Anonymous Coward

"Office just isn't good enough"

Indeed. Can it run LaTeX? :-)

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Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

Yes, you can use, for example, TexPad.

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Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

With a network connection (and just a text editor to do things offline) you can also run Mathematica and Mathcad (my current bread and butter)

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Meh

Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

However, network access is often not available, whereas some form of power usually is. The irony is, I've seen people using andriod phones with a local link to a honking desktop to drive audio/video systems. So if it's just simple control, you don't need the expensive iPad, but if it's real work you can't use it.

TL/DR

Horses for courses

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Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

Quite true. But power consumption is frequently an issue when I am travelling but even in the benighted UK a 3G mobile connection almost always is. I also use (not professional!) a rather nifty photo editing application (on desktop as well as tablet) call Affinity that does most of what I need to do.

So real work (Ok many people have different needs) is very possible and I have largely abandoned carrying my very capable but rather heavier MacBook Pro when travelling.

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"Overall, despite much carping over details here, I found the iPad surprisingly usable and likeable."

Details like... you can't drag-drop nicely, manage files, save a JPEG... god.

"After almost a decade, it's still early days."

And there's the problem. Give it another decade it might be usable.

Hell, they ONLY JUST figured out multitasking and can't even get the gestures right for that.

Something tells me that The Reg is still trying to find a way back into Apple's good books (though I can't imagine why they'd want to for a second).

I can't imagine anything worse than using ANY kind of iPad for serious work.

Pretty much the only contender in that kind of arena isn't even a tablet - it'll be one of those convertible laptops that has a "proper" copy of Windows.

We have iPads and Windows Surface in work... the iPads are just toys and the Surface has LITERALLY done the rounds of all the senior staff and nobody can find a use for it despite everyone clamouring to have it. It's been sitting on a shelf for I-don't-know-how-long now. People literally choose NOT to use it and ask for anything else rather than struggle with it.

I imagine the iPad Pro is the same. And, though not necessarily solely the iPad's fault, non-compatible Office is game over before you start. I mean... really.. there's no excuse there.

If you want to do "proper" work, you need Windows (I hate to say it), proper Windows, not half-baked Metro-eqsue Windows CE equivalents, in at least a VM (so has to be fully virtualisible if not actually a Windows machine as sold), with a decent keyboard (things that are attached but flimsy will break the first time you grab it quickly and they swing into the edge of the table, if they don't flex out of shape/break before then (Though I don't use Apple products where possible, I'd much prefer them to be slightly thicker if it means they could be even a BIT more sturdy), and something which doesn't rely at all on gestures (cute for killing apps, useless for just about everything else).

Gimme one of those Yoga things, made properly, with Windows and VMWare. I'll make it out-do anything that any tablet, Pro or not, can do. Even MacOS (inside a VM).

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Worse than that - flat keyboard and non-adjustable screen angle, No thanks.

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If you want to do "proper" work, you need Windows (I hate to say it), proper Windows, not half-baked Metro-eqsue Windows CE equivalents

Well I'd say you need a proper desktop OS, be it your choice of Windows, *nix or MacOS in whatever is your preferred flavour.

On the rest we agree.

A good few years ago now, my father was looking at getting a tablet for when he was away from home. I pointed him at the Asus Transformer line, with the Atom processors, so they could run full x86 Windows. It's been working great for him.

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Anonymous Coward

"things that are attached but flimsy will break the first time you grab it"

I've been using a Surface for over 4 years, and the keyboard is thin but quite sturdy - and not bad to type upon even for a long time. No issue to use a mouse when you need it.

Many users don't need virtual machines on their systems - that's mostly a thing for IT people.

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Funny that...

... Here multiple executives are very good at using the Surface Pro. I have yet to see someone here using an iPad Pro...

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Mostly agree (especially the bit about Windows being far from the only 'proper' OS, having been 100% Linux for many years for my work in professional photography and event production) except that, for the real work of controlling a professional stage lighting rig, a decent Android tablet running QLC+ works very well indeed.

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What is all this crap about "proper work". We've got the reverse-snobbishness above, who says it ain't workin' if you're not a'fishin' the salty seas for cod! Aaaarrrrrhhhh! Then we've got people here saying it's not working if you're not furiously typing and tabbing between windows.

Surely it's horses for courses.

Some of our road warriors get vast amounts of work done on a phone, sitting on a train. If you've read Orlowski's reviews before (particularly his almost obsessive love for the old Blackberry), you'll know that he has to go through vast numbers of emails - and most of what he's doing is ignoring/sorting/filing/planning. Many emails only require a short reply, which can be pecked out on a horrible onscreen keyboard - leaving long composition for a time in the day when you've got access to something better.

In fact I'm office-based, and it's rare I'll send an email longer than a couple of paragraphs. Mostly if it's complex, I'll phone someone up - something else you can do well on the move. In fact it's essential - any long email will require information I can only get talking to someone - and asking them the questions they didn't know they needed the answers to, before I can then sit down for a couple of hours to do calcs and compose an email with the answers.

Copy and Paste is often a vital feature though, and the original iPad is still shit at that. I get the impression the Pro isn't much of an improvement, except in a few cases. Apple also seem to have lost total discipline with their UI, by just allowing loads of new gestures, seemingly with not that much logic to it. Now you need a long tutorial video to work it all out, whereas you used to be able to pick an iPad up and work it out with no help whatsoever.

And the pencil is tragic. To add it with almost no handwriting support is pathetic. You still can't do hand-writing recognition in Apple's own email app, but have to copy and paste (still shit) from a dedicated hand-writing app. My £550, HP 2005 Vista convertible tablet/laptop thingy could do that!

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Anonymous Coward

Other keyboards are available

I've seen a good number of people(at Starbuck's where else...) using the Logitech case/kb that uses the smart connector.

It is even available at the Apple Store.

still, it is nice to see an article about Apple with no mention of the 'Cupertino tat seller' that has been popular in the past.

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"If you want to do "proper" work, you need Windows (I hate to say it), proper Windows"

Funny - that's one thing I avoid whenever I need to do actual work. Some people might want it, but I suggest that's familiarity rather than need.

Unix works just fine... At the moment I'm sat with a BSD derived box at my fingertips. Makes a rather good tool, and is my 'work' machine.

I also have some experience of using the iPad as a productivity tool - for a while we went 'computerless' at home, and my wife wrote a book on her iPad2, with an apple bluetooth keyboard. The iPad has now basically stopped being useful (used occasionally for things), but I still use that keyboard when I work whilst travelling, since a keyboard and iPad mini actually make a great little work device - fits far better on a train/plane table than a laptop ever does.

One of very few things I struggle to do on the iPad is to remotely control a PC UI... And frankly I'm not surprised... I do wish they'd allow a pointing device (heck even if it's an app on a companion iDevice).

(Amusingly computerless is autoscrewuped to computerises)

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"Details like... you can't drag-drop nicely, manage files, save a JPEG... god."

Details that don't exist you mean?

I can manage files just fine on an iPad/iPhone using FileExplorer. It's easy to keep them appropriately filed and tidy on my NAS, DropBox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, WebDAV, Box, etc.

As to JPEG, I can export as JPEG, PNG or whatever the heck I like, depending on the App.

Here, for example, is the list of import/export formats supported by ArtStudio.

Import: Images - PNG, JPEG, PSD, HEIC, TIFF, Brushes - ABR, TPL, Color swatches - ASE, ACO, Patterns - PAT, Gradients - GRD, Fonts - TTF, OTF

Export: Images - PNG, JPEG, PSD, TIFF

Knocking Apple/iOS is fine by me, but try to do it from a basis of knowledge rather than ignorance.

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Unhappy

"I do wish they'd allow a pointing device "

Hear. Hear.

When away from home recently I tried my best to use an iPad as my sole computing device. I managed well with both writing and a bit of Python programming, but what really got me was the awful copy and paste mechanism.

My hands are simply too large to get text selection right at the first attempt.

I have a Logitech Type Plus keyboard which is not only comfortable to type with, but it has proper Control, Option and Command keys too. Once I have the cursor positioned in the right place I can use shift plus cursor movement keys just as I can on a Mac.

Gimme an attachable mouse, and I really could be productive on the thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Funny that...

About three years ago around here, there was a mini rush on people buying Surface Pro's for use. Funnily enough, none of the people I know who rushed out to get one then are still using it in a serious way - all discarded. YMMV.

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Surely it's horses for courses.

I can say with complete confidence that horses are not much use in the North Sea.

I am somewhat less confident that Windows is suitable for "real work". Fake work, maybe.

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Re: Other keyboards are available

Totally concur. I went into the Apple store for the very first time to test the official keyboard after I had reservations with it. I will wholeheatedly disagree with Andrew there: the official keyboard is a spunky mess and overpriced tat. Why people like it is because it is a very good design adding little bulk to the device.

Funny thing is that I need a keyboard TO FUCKING TYPE ON. The Logitech is such a keyboard with great action and just enough key travel. The downside? It doubles the thickness of the iPad Pro but when I’m using the 13” version it is already stupidly sized and doesn’t matter. Plus, Logi kit is usually available much cheaper that the Apple official stuff. Angle adjustment it there but the hinge does not know how to fully handle the larger Pro and so does need some wedging on some angles to avoid collapsing. I’d recommend it regardless - it’s fantastic.

Interesting that I was pushed into the Apple keyboard by the PFY on the Geniu$ bar and I had to plainly tell him that the official iPad Pro keyboard was not up to scratch. He wasn’t sure how to “handle” that information...

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It isn't there

I have an iPad Pro and a Windows PC.

On my PC, I normally have more than 2 windows open at once. I can share data between apps. I can EASILY flip between windows or add a new one. I can see what I've got open at a glance. File Manager is more than a joke.

Sorry, but IOS is NOT a replacement for a proper working environment. I did try to do it, but failed very quickly.

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Re: It isn't there

Sorry, but IOS is NOT a replacement for a proper working environment. I did try to do it, but failed very quickly.

I'm confident it was never intended to do real "productivity" working with multiple applications and multiple windows open concurrently. What this should do is run a task specific function for non-power users, but still be able to do a fair bit more than a basic tablet, thus avoiding the need for a full fat PC, or run more complicated stuff but in "consumption" rather than "creation and input" mode.

Think how senior managers are usually clueless around a PC. This gives them the pricey comfort blanket (and office prestige) of Apple, the ability to open the exec briefing papers, the finance spreadsheets, dabble a little bit, and that's all that is required. They won't even have it iin use for a full day, so the battery life is no problem. Apple don't want to be fighting in the cost conscious IT-for-the-hoi-polloi market, so wider limitations compared to commodity PCs don't matter, and real power users are the tiniest of tiny minorities - Apple can't compete there simply because of the processor grunt and OS limitations across their range.

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Re: It isn't there

Also, there's got to be a limit to how many windows you can have open on any screen that you can practically hold in one hand. Whereas a 30" PC monitor with loads of room is no problem.

I could do 90% of my current job on an iPad - though because I use mutliple different bits of software at once, most of that would be slower and more awkward than doing it on a PC. And there's some things that would just be impossible. But quite a lot of people just use email, a word processor the odd spreadsheet and the internet.

And lots of programs use browsers as an interface now, like our CRM and accounts package. So even a lot of that is possible with tablets.

As I can touch type, I find any other text entry system than a proper full-size keyboard massively frustrating, and slow. I don't know how true that is for the keyboard peckers amongst us though.

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Re: It isn't there

I'm confident it was never intended to do real "productivity" working with multiple applications and multiple windows open concurrently.

Agreed: Apple doesn't want to kill off its own notebooks, yet.

It's a good review and I can see the device working for quite a few people. My brother uses one at home for nearly all the things he used to use a PC for. The IOS restrictions can be really annoying if you run into them but some people never do.

Be interesting to see what Apple does with this and whether they see any serious competition.

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Anonymous Coward

A mobile OS will need, eventually, to become a desktop OS for real work...

Any attempt to turn iOS or Android into systems for real, complex work will require them to match desktop OS features - and that will require a lot of redesign of both the OS and applications. So why not just use a desktop OS and its superior applications?

I'm just displeased Microsoft no longer makes a 10.5"-11" Surface, it's a comfortable size when it's not your primary device but you need something small yet powerful to carry around.

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Re: A mobile OS will need, eventually, to become a desktop OS for real work...

and that will require a lot of redesign of both the OS and applications.

It's mainly the UI that needs work and both Android and IOS have been making strides in that direction for years. Some apps will just look stupid without any changes but they can be configured to run in phone size windows.

Both OSes already provide most of the service for pre-emptive multitasking, printing, etc. Not sure what's really missing.

Apple's numbers for sales of the I-Pad Pro show that there is a market for this and developers that focus on it could do well.

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