The iPad Can Replace Your Laptop, Maybe

BY Evan Selleck

Published 28 Jun 2017

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, probably has a pretty busy schedule on a day-to-day basis, with a lot to do, even when it looks like he’s just traveling and stopping in to local Apple retail sites across the globe.

The reason I bring up Cook is because he’s gone on record as saying that he only carries around his iPhone and an iPad Pro — no MacBook. Sure, it would probably make sense if the Apple CEO said he liked using a MacBook, but hey, if the CEO of Apple can get along just fine with just using an iPad Pro instead of a laptop, so much so that he leaves his MacBook (or probably MacBooks) at home, there’s no real reason to carry around extra hardware.

It also means that someone else can probably replace their laptop with an iPad, too.

I’ve seen a lot of back-and-forth with the iPad Pro and, almost specifically, iOS 11 recently. Apple has been positioning the iPad as the future of computing for a long time, and maybe some people take offense to this, because there have been a lot of absolutes being hurled around. Take, for example, the latest article titled, “iOS 11 on an iPad still won’t replace your laptop” over on The Verge. The article’s title is absolutely sure about its sentiment, and the article itself does a good job of raising some questions about the user experience (and how it relates to the car crash that was Windows 8) in iOS 11, especially when it comes to multitasking.

I just don’t agree with that title. Or with the other statements out there that seem to definitively, 100% rule out any possibility that an iPad can replace someone’s laptop. Anyone’s laptop, even. The reason is simple: I’ve seen it replace someone’s laptop with my own eyes. More than a few people, in fact. That includes one family member, a close friend, and even several different colleagues. And in some cases they did this before the iPad Pro even arrived on the scene!

Not every situation is the same for everyone. And while I get that the aforementioned article title is meant to draw eyeballs, the corresponding text within supports it. If you ask the author, or many others, if the iPad (or iPad Pro) can replace your laptop, it looks to me like they’ll tell you no without much thought. But I know better.

I have to believe that most, if not all, of these people that are decrying the iPad Pro and iOS 11’s merits would also ask the person what they use their laptop for. Do you do a lot of heavy video or photo editing? Well, maybe you want to stick with a laptop for a bit longer — but even when it comes to photo editing, Apple showed off at this year’s WWDC how the iPad Pro is catching up to that benchmark, too.

There seems to be some belief that if the iPad Pro can’t conclusively answer ever single burning “professional productivity” question (like video editing), then it simply can’t replace your laptop. But I think there’s a simple fix that can get right to the root of it:

“iOS 11 on an iPad still won’t replace my laptop.”

That’s the title I’d use, at least, because the truth is I have no earthly idea if an iPad, in any variation and running any version of iOS, can replace your laptop — because I don’t know what you need it for. But I can safely say that I know the iPad can replace someone’s laptop. It’s possible. I’ve seen it. I know people who are much happier with just their iPad than they were with their laptop.

I’ll add right here that the iPad, or the iPad Pro for that matter, can’t replace my laptop, but not from a lack of trying. However, I’m beholden to third-party rulesets that are just a bit too annoying to work through on an iPad and a touchscreen-only interface. For my daily routine mouse support is just something I can’t give up. So I know that the iPad Pro can’t replace my laptop.

But, hey, Tim Cook seems to get along just fine.