Apple finally admits iPad Pro won't replace your PC

Is the iPad Pro the only future for productive computing? It isn't. At last Apple acknowledges it.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Apple kept insisting.

For quite some time, indeed, Cupertino plagued people with the message that the iPad Pro wasn't just a computer, but the only computer you need.

Two years ago, Apple presented an ad in which a young woman, devoted to her iPad Pro, claimed not to even know what a computer was.

The year before, the company insisted iPad Pro was a computer and appealed to users to merely imagine what that computer could do. Microsoft burst out laughing. Yes, publicly.

Apple was undeterred. Last year, it presented five reasons why iPad Pro is a computer. One of which was that, oh, it has that indispensable computer element: a pencil.

Another was that it "goes anywhere." Because your MacBook Air simply refuses to fly United Airlines.

The implication through all this time was that your PC, your precious MacBook, is a mere symbol of a time gone by.

In practice, it seemed as if Apple was deliberately neglecting MacBooks in order to force customers over to the iPad side. Could there be any other reason for the MacBooks' lamentable butterfly keyboards?

Last week, however, Apple finally gave up.

Not only did it release a new 16-inch MacBook Pro with a (slightly old-fashioned) keyboard that might even work, it also uttered vital words for workers.

The company's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, can reach for haughtiness on occasion, such as when he insisted that if your kids use Chromebooks they'll fail at school.

However, in the same interview, he offered CNET these life-affirming words: "We believe the best personal computer is a Mac, and we want to keep going down that path. And we think the best tablet computing device is an iPad, and we'll go down that path."

It's heartening to learn your way of life isn't about to be cast aside in favor of gratuitous modernity. It's uplifting to know that, in a world of searing division, Apple is prepared to listen to -- and accommodate -- both sides.

I own an iPad Pro and have given it a fair shot at becoming my main productivity vehicle. Sadly, there are still some basic needs it cannot satisfy.

Those who crow about its vast versatility are often, I suspect, those who place their iPad Pro on a desk.

I can no more use a desk than I can milk a chicken. I write on my lap. Ergo, I use a laptop. Actually, sometimes I write semi-prostrate. (Please judge.) Still, the iPad Pro isn't stable enough for that.

Then there's the iPad Pro's keyboard. It's alright, but it doesn't come close to the blissful keyboard enjoyed by my old 12-inch MacBook Air. The iPad Pro's keyboard feels smaller. It curls up at the sides, too, which makes for an occasionally uncomfortable ride, even on a firm surface.

Yes, for those who make their money by prodding and clicking, rather than writing more than 100 words, the iPad Pro may be a fine solution.

What lifts my soul, however, is that Schiller has finally conceded that there's more than one way of being productive.

Indeed, he appeared to concede that typing on an iPad Pro is as elegant as rushing to your lover's house on a Segway.

He said: "iPad benefits because we assume that you need to be able to do most everything with touch, and we don't have to trade off on that experience. Mac assumes you want to do most everything with a keyboard and mouse input. We don't have to trade off on that path."

So now I can open my iPad Pro and watch obscure foreign TV series -- have you seen Norway's "Unge Lovende"? It's really quite good -- without deep injections of guilt searing through my sinews.

It's as if I've gone to confession at the Cupertino Village Chapel and the priest has -- after several meetings with the local diocese -- finally offered me absolution.

MacBook Air, iPad Pro, Mac mini, Pixel Slate and more: Reviews round-up

Editorial standards