back to article Apple updates iPad Pro with a trackpad, faster processor. Is it a real computer now?

A common refrain in Apple’s hymnbook is that the iPad Pro is a legitimate computer, much like a MacBook Pro. Marketing aside, most professionals are yet to be convinced, noting that Cupertino’s increasingly pricey fondleslabs lack the essential features of a computer – like, for example, a pointing device. Enter the latest …

  1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I think they're great products, but this isn't a competition to see how much they can price-gouge users. You spend £1200 on a tablet because it's good. Bloody good. But an extra £349 for a keyboard is eye-wateringly expensive. That's more than cheap laptops. And a further £119 for a pencil? That's £469 extra to spend on peripherals that you can take for granted on other platforms. There's got to be a point where the most die-hard Apple fan (yes I love apple products) has to say "you know, this is a tool, and I can get almost the same functionality from a lesser platform". Yes, iPads are nice, they're fast, but I'm sorry Apple, I can probably spend less than half that on a device that isn't anywhere near as nice, but as a tool for doing my job, it'll be MORE than adequate.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Cheaper iPads are available. I'm pretty happy with my iPad Air 2.

      Cheapest available today costs £349.

      The previous release was faster than an i7-8700U, so faster than basically all laptops on the market at the time except gaming laptops and workstation laptops running H-Series chips. This one is presumably even faster than that, so obviously it is going to be more expensive than a cheap laptop.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        The previous release was faster than an i7-8700U, so faster than basically all laptops on the market at the time except gaming laptops and workstation laptops running H-Series chips.

        These figures are very suspicious. They are based on benchmarks, which are prone to all sorts of fiddling. And that's for the same SoC on the same OS ... let alone when both are different.

        But on the other side, perhaps this is why ARM Apple laptops are coming in 2021 or thereabouts?

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Yes. Show me an iPad connected to 2 external monitors, running an IDE, a couple of virtual machines, Outlook, half a dozen RDP and TeamViewer sessions and then I'll start to believe that the A12 is as powerful as a Windows laptop.

          I'm sure Apple's ARM chip is highly optimized and, with raw benchmarks, can put in some very nice run times. But it is real-use that counts at the end of the day. The iPadOS has so far been optimized for a single, or possibly 2, visible app(s) and what is running in the background can be slept when needed. I'm sure it would have no problems running Safari and standard office applications in a desktop scenario, but multiple VMs? Premier Pro or (full) Photoshop? There I'm a little sceptical, until I see an iPad actually doing those sorts of things faster than a Wintel laptop.

          Intel has bee complacent for too long, they need a good fright, but Apple has only said their CPU is quicker than Intel laptops, it hasn't actually shown any proof, yet (and synthetic benchmarks are just that, they aren't the real world). Maybe they have a skunkworks project to get their chip to run a full version of macOS, but they haven't demonstrated anything yet.

          1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            You pretty much nailed it here.

            Maybe they have a skunkworks project to get their chip to run a full version of macOS, but they haven't demonstrated anything yet.

            To be honest, some "practical" proof exists.

            Ages ago, the original iPad Air (only the iPad Air) can run Mac OS X Mavericks, because Apple had included ARM binaries of the whole system in the Mavericks release.

            Tutorial

          2. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Nobody said powerful. They said fast. Which of course is open to interpretation.

          3. Dave 126 Silver badge

            > Maybe they have a skunkworks project to get their chip to run a full version of macOS,

            There's no maybe about it, it's a given. Heck, OSX ( nee NeXtStep) had been run on five different different architectures before it ran on Intel. Even existing 3rd party software should be easy to run flawlessly on ARM Mac OS today if developers have used Apple's tools and guidelines.

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      I have a 2018 iPad Pro 12.9 that I use for general-purpose computing, and as a digital music stand on stage. I bought it mostly for the latter application, because it can display music sheets at 100% size. Given the cost, I wanted to make it as useful as possible -- without paying Apple prices for add-ons.

      * iPads work fine with 3rd party BlueTooth keyboards and mice. I use a Logitech keyboard that I already had and a generic $5 Chinese mouse. (Hoping that iPadOS 14 will make the mouse more useful; the current Accessibility support is crap for general use.)

      * I don't need the pressure sensitive feature of the Apple Pencil, so I got a Logitech Crayon for $50. It supports palm rejection, and it's fine for scrawling quick notes and such.

      * The iPad is wrapped in a really nice $30 leather case from Amazon.

      Even if I'd had to drop $50 on a good-quality keyboard, the whole accessory package would have come to maybe $150, tops. My hodge-podge is not as sleek as Apple's magic thingy. But it does all of the same stuff for a tiny fraction of the cost, and I rarely need the keyboard and mouse anyway.

      1. VicMortimer

        No you don't.

        The iPad can't do general purpose computing. General purpose computing by definition requires that you be able to run arbitrary software from any source of your choosing.

        And the iPad can't do that. It's an overpriced toy, nothing more.

        1. Joe Gurman

          Um....

          I’d like to use Apple’s Pages and Numbers applications on a tablet. Where’s the “general purpose computer” that can do that?

          Written on my VLuIFs

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Um....

            A Windows tablet that is turned into a Hackintosh.

        2. oiseau Silver badge
          Pint

          Common sense

          It's an overpriced toy, nothing more.

          Finally ...

          Some common sense.

          Have a beer --->

          O.

        3. anonanonanon2

          "And the iPad can't do that. It's an overpriced toy, nothing more."

          Love you guys, you give me so many opportunities as you write off massive market segments. Probably you can't see all the ipads used in business from your ivory tower up there.

          1. oiseau Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Probably you can't see all the ipads used in business ...

            Oh, yes ...

            I have seen them.

            ie: legions of PHBs with a knack for bling and appearances actually using absurdly expensive equipnment which was duly signed off by the upper ranks and paid for by the stockholders.

            Long ago, in another life and while working for a ministry, the director general in charge summoned me to ask that I purchase a laptop for him. I gently reminded him of his lack of basic computing skills (evidenced by the frequent calls to me) but he insisted that he really needed to have one.

            Only when I pointed out that as I could not possibly justify such an expensive piece of kit (at the time equivalent to 3.5 standard issue desktops) within the IT budget he reduced every year without even asking, he would have to make the request in writing and sign off for it himself did he back down.

            After all was done, he came forth with the real reason he wanted a portable: turns out that everytime he had to attend a cabinet meeting, he was the only asshole (his words) who did not have a laptop.

            I'm sure many of us have been there and done that.

            O.

            1. anonanonanon2

              PHBs, really? Then, no, you have not seen them used in businesses, manager types still like their laptops. But I like how you quickly dismissed it, keep at it.

        4. Dave 126 Silver badge

          My tractor only runs John Deere software. Does that make it a toy?

          There are a lot of devices out there running proprietary firmware, from audio recorders to site surveying equipment. Are they all just toys?

          And a PC that is administered by a company so that the user can use it to write reports but can't install a game - toy or tool? Sounds like a tool to me.

          Try not to be so narrow minded about what jobs other people do and what tools make those jobs easier.

          1. IGotOut

            'My tractor only runs John Deere software. Does that make it a toy?"

            Nope it makes it a perfect case for the right to repair legislation currently being looked at.

        5. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          The iPad can't do general purpose computing. General purpose computing by definition requires that you be able to run arbitrary software from any source of your choosing.

          That's one definition, but it's not the only one.

          I can run a variety of office suites (including MS). I can save and load files in any format to/from local storage (including a USB-C external drive), or multiple cloud platforms -- and/or print those files to either of two wireless printers in my house.

          I can connect a USB-C audio interface -- the same one I use with a desktop PC or Mac -- and record high-bitrate multi-channel audio. I can edit and mix that audio, and output it using any of the above-mentioned storage methods. I can edit video. Play games. Manage my network. Etc., etc.

          Those are the same things that I (and most people) do on desktop PCs and laptops with Windows or MacOS -- and yes, I have those as well.

          Obviously some computing devices are better-suited to some applications, but that's more a matter of form factor. To say that an iPad is "an overpriced toy, nothing more," solely on the basis of not running code from arbitrary sources, is (a) doctrinaire, and (b) not reflective of how most of the world uses computing tools.

    3. jonathan keith Silver badge

      The one accessory the new iPad is missing is a mounting adapter for the (£950) Pro Stand.

  2. trevorde
    Trollface

    My, my ...

    What big cameras you have!

    - All the better to see you with...

    What big microphones you have!

    - All the better to hear you with...

    What a big stylus you have!

    - All the better to gouge with!!!

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "you get 128GB of storage"

    I'm sorry, Apple is touting a laptop for video editing and the basic version only has 128GB of storage ?

    If you're editing video, you know full well that a terabyte these days is not too much. Yet, the terabyte version is the priciest.

    That's like Renault selling you a Twingo named Ferrari. It's cheating, pure and simple.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: "you get 128GB of storage"

      Another one who starts a post with an apology for the rest of it.

      Rightly so. I don't think the amount of storage is the whole story about this. You'd get more seats and luggage space in a Twingo after all.

    2. IGotOut

      Re: "you get 128GB of storage"

      "That's like Renault selling you a Twingo named Ferrari. It's cheating, pure and simple."

      You mean my Aston Martin Cygnet is little more than a reskined Toyota IQ? Lies!

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "you get 128GB of storage"

      The internet is full of short videos, often by folk I've heard referred to as vloggers who earn a crust from it. Its not just attention seekers, either: Other short videos might be workplace instructional videos, or product demonstrations.

      I'm capable of assuming that their workflow - and needs - are very different to those of a video editor working on footage from several 8k hdr cameras at the end of a day's shoot, redundantly backed up.

      1. IGotOut

        Re: "you get 128GB of storage"

        Actually if you look at some of those vloggers, they do have some pretty stonking kit.

  4. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge
    Coat

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

    [GGGAAAAAASSSSPPPP]

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    OH don't mind me, I have a condition, I start laughing when I hear the most absurd things... That's why I got my coa....

    PFFFTTTT

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH

  5. Eponymous Bastard
    Windows

    Nah . . .

    . . . still Fisher Price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nah . . .

      Isn't that what they called Windows XP?

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Nah . . .

        Thought it was Tellytubbies.

  6. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

    Still not a real computer.

    Unless you can totally control every partition of that flash storage.

    Until you can change out the operating system for anything you might see fit.

    Until you can swap out parts, because thin 'n' light != not repairable. They don't make them the same way nowadays.

    Until it runs a real operating system, not a mobile operating system wearing a T-shirt five sizes too big.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Still not a real computer.

      I remember just how reliable and trouble free my old 486 was /s

      1. IGotOut

        Re: Still not a real computer.

        "I remember just how reliable and trouble free my old 486 was /s"

        Yup just like how great your first car was.

        Hint: Most old cars were utter shit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still not a real computer.

      ...and

      Has flashing lights on its front panels.

      Has spinning tape reels on the front panels.

      Is booted from paper tape or toggle switches.

      Is in its own room with aircon.

      Is programed via punch cards and outputs to line printers.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: Still not a real computer.

        These omissions are the result of progress. The above are the result of arbitrary lockdown.

  7. Ian Joyner

    Trackpad is a misunderstanding

    1) one a touchscreen device – THE SCREEN IS THE TRACKPAD.

    2) Apple has insisted that apps are specifically developed for iOS, not just lazily ported from Mac or elsewhere. That means apps must use the touch facilities and USE THE SCREEN AS THE TRACKPAD.

    3) Microsoft has taken the lazy approach to just put Windows on its pads. Yes that suits developers – no rework for a new form factor, but the user pays for that in device not being as easy to use. Then you get this nonsense about “no trackpad – it is not a real computer”. That is garbage thinking, misleading the masses. THE SCREEN IS THE TRACKPAD.

    4) When using a device you should not think of it as a computer or even be aware it is a computer. The whole criticism of iOS devices not being a computer is pure ignorance on the part of those who say it. The fundamental lesson of computer science is abstraction – making one machine look like something else (a Universal Turing Machine can emulate any Turing machine). Don’t buy a computer, buy a device that will run useful applications for you. Users should not have to do those computer-type things like set IP addresses, etc. Doing computer things on the device makes it less useful – NOT MORE USEFUL.

    I hope Apple aren’t losing focus on this and making things easy for lazy developers and not standing up for the end user. The computer industry is NOT for computer people but for the end user who should need to know very little about the workings of a computer. If we insist on that, we computer specialists have failed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trackpad is a misunderstanding

      4. This is computing utopianism. Beautiful ... as long as everything works as planned. Thing is, life isn't idyllic bliss. Screens break. Wi-Fi connections drop. Batteries die. People run out of money. All of these happen in the Real World, and all of them would throw a spanner in Apple's utopian plan.

    2. YetAnotherJoeBlow

      Re: Trackpad is a misunderstanding

      "Doing computer things on the device makes it less useful – NOT MORE USEFUL."

      Huh?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Trackpad is a misunderstanding

        The idea is you put it on a plinth and marvel at its wonderful design language. Anything else like running software detracts from that.

    3. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Trackpad is a misunderstanding

      1) one [sic] a touchscreen device – THE SCREEN IS THE TRACKPAD.

      Came here to say this myself, but with a different POV - Why would you want to "replace" the accuracy* of drawing directly on a 11" screen with a 3" trackpad? Or have that huge keyboard extension just to house a trackpad? Better to use a mouse, especially if it supports variable DPI.

      * Though the trackpad does re-introduce the paradigm of a visible cursor (not hidden by fat fingers)

      1. Tessier-Ashpool

        Re: Trackpad is a misunderstanding

        Well, it’s more accurate to say the screen is A trackpad now, since you can drag your finger around two surfaces.

        I’m not saying that an iPad is a computer replacement, by any means, but for extended use on a desk I can see the benefit of mounting it vertically and handling user input on a horizontal trackpad, like a traditional laptop.

        Not for me. My iPad is mostly for use when I’m reading in bed where, I have to say, it works admirably and ergonomically.

  8. Ian Joyner

    Professionals?

    And who are these professionals? Many professionals have no idea. If it were up to them, the GUI developed in Silicon Valley, Xerox, and then brought to us by Apple would not exist and we’d still be doing things on the command line. Computer professionals more-often-than-not stand in the way of progress. They have been taught – a computer looks like this. Processor architectures are supposed to be ... RISC, CISC or whatever. They can’t stand anything that is different. They used to be IBM people (even when IBM had really inferior products), then they went to Microsoft – all with the same single-vendor-supporting prejudices.

    Take with a grain of salt what a lot of computing professionals say – that have been fed and taught a lot of false notions. Computers should really be imagining what could be, not stuck in the past of what is or was.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Professionals?

      And who are these professionals? Many professionals have no idea.

      Professionals are, in abstract terms, anybody whose profession is related to computers. Since they use computers daily, perhaps even looking at a computer more than looking at their loved ones, they might have a slight clue. You never know.

      If it were up to them, the GUI developed in Silicon Valley, Xerox, and then brought to us by Apple would not exist and we’d still be doing things on the command line.

      So? The command line is a superior interface. More raw power.

      There are people who drive cars with automatic transmissions. That doesn't make manual transmissions worse for driving "professionals".

      Computer professionals more-often-than-not stand in the way of progress.

      Institutionalised people do. More often than not, they are the users themselves. But sometimes, they are the "professionals" indeed. This is because we are creatures of habit.

      They used to be IBM people (even when IBM had really inferior products), then they went to Microsoft – all with the same single-vendor-supporting prejudices.

      Arbitrarily ignoring a whole wave of FOSS enthusiasts - the "hippies" to the "authority" of IBM/Microsoft/...

      Computers should really be imagining what could be, not stuck in the past of what is or was.

      Pretty much everything should be. Your fight is against institutionalisation, not "computing professionals", especially not the "professionals" that the article refers to.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Professionals?

        So? The command line is a superior interface. More raw power.

        Depends if your job is administering storage, mixing sound at a gig or designing a road layout.

    2. nanchatte

      Re: Professionals?

      as has been made clear in this thread, people often conflate “professional” with the “highest level of skill” or “highest demand”

      But A professional is really nothing more than a person who makes money from what they do. If they are able to make a living from applying their skills to the real world, and they do this as a significant source of their income, then we could arguably call them a professional regardless of absolute skill level.

      I’m a photographer But there are countless hobbyists and amateur photographers who are able to take far more artistic and creative shots than I do for my clients. Why? Because time, money, repeatability, reliability are not important to them. However skilled they are, they’re still amateurs: they don’t shoot for money.

      Professionals usually just need to get the job done, pronto.. with minimum hassle and minimum cost.

      But the rest can often take more Leisurely approach knowing that their lunch is not on the line.

      Thus, I would say that the top iPad is really no longer a professional device as such, it is clearly moved into the lifestyle device with specifications, cost, critical function limitations and arguably unnecessary design flair that are generally unnecessary to the typical IT/information/office/video worker.

  9. Aussie Doc
    Coat

    Yeah, sure.

    "...more powerful than most Windows PC Laptops."

    As an ardent tinkerer of Premiere Pro and Photoshop I can put my hand on my heart (and the other on the wallet in my pocket) and say that 128GB storage duth not a serious laptop make.

    Yes, I'm sure it's a case of *Terms and conditions apply, enter all the extras you need before that is actually the case.

    Yep, my wallet's still there ----->

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, sure.

      My laptop (base model 2017 MacBook Pro) has 128GB. It's 'serious' enough that I can run my business from it. Point being: a laptop doesn't have to set the world on fire to be considered 'serious' - 128GB is more than enough for a great many users.

      As with all things, YMMV.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Yeah, sure.

        Indeed, how did these poor folk survive when Windows NT couldn't see HDDs above 8GB?

  10. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    iPad Pro: Looks decent. Can live with the price.

    Pencil: Don't need it myself, but for those that do it's a good option. Pretty expensive tho.

    Magic Keyboard: Pretty go... wait who am I kidding. It costs HOW much?!?!?!? For a KEYBOARD?!??! For that price it should be able to read my mind, accurately transcribe my inner dialogue and 'magically' turn my semi-coherent ramblings into artful prose worthy of the most silver-tongued scribes the world has ever seen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same here

      Basic iPad Pro looks good (and will probably upgrade from my 9.7" one). Pity I need to get a new Pencil as that transformed the way I could use my iPad - handwritten notes that get converted to text, sketches and really fine pointing for edits. Not keen on the keypad - I have one with my current one and, other than when I've needed it when remote accessing a Windows desktop, I won't miss it (and I'll not need the remote Win access for now as that job has ended). The Pencil, with something like Nebo, is a more natural way to make notes. If I want to hammer a manual keyboard for a few hours, I'll go to a Mac or WinPC.

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