iOS is 90% There, but That Last 10% Hurts

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 3 min read

It's amazing how much you can get done on a smartphone in 2015. For the last couple weeks, I've been away from my Mac for almost half of each week and my life goes on just fine. I'm not a casual computer user either; I have a very active online presence and almost all of my media and new consumption happens on a computing device. And yet even I am able to spend substantial time on iOS-only and nobody notices.

Most of my work is writing focused, and iOS is excellent at that, but it's the many other things iOS can do that please me. I can watch movies, post to my website, play games, talk with friends, and manage my photo library from not only my iPad, but my iPhone as well. I can accomplish 90% of my digital life with this small 5.5 inch screen.

It's that last 10% that stings. If I had a laptop this would be different, but I have a Mac mini and it lives at home. When I'm away, I can't use it as a fall back. That's why it's so frustrating when things get beyond the scope of what iOS can currently handle.

Case in point, I screwed up my podcast feed today. I messed it up really bad. If you got an episode of Bite Size Tech in your podcast player today at all, you got the wrong episode. I don't know how I did it, but I uploaded last week's episode again. What a dummy, I know!

If I was at my Mac I could simply delete the bad episode and upload the right MP3 file. The show would be late and some people would have wasted some data downloading a repeat episode, but it wouldn't be that bad. But since I'm on my iPhone, there's not much I can do. The file is in my Dropbox at least so I can access it. I can listen to the file from but you can't. I don't have a way to download that file to my phone, and even if I did I don't have a way to upload that file to my web page because the media browser on iOS 8 only shows you your photos and videos from Photos 1.

I say all this because I get asked by people on occasion whether they should replace their Windows or Mac-based computer with an iPad. I wish that I could say “yeah, you'll be 100% happy!” But I can't in good conscience. iOS is 90% there for most people. Hell, I think that most people would enjoy their computing time more if they had an iPad instead of a full PC. But it's that last 10% or so of stuff that it can't do that prevent me from saying you should go all in on iOS (or Android for that matter).

The list of things you can't do on an iOS device is shrinking every year, but it's still not there. Most things are easier on it, a few things are harder, and some are just impossible. We're still a couple of years away from iOS getting there, but it delights me that we're getting closer.

As a final note, it has to be mentioned that Microsoft my be the most advanced in this area. A Windows 8 tablet enables you to use tablet apps most of the time but then dip into the desktop environment for a minute to do something and just right back to tablet world. I don't like Microsoft's desktop or mobile platform, but I do think they have the right idea in letting their mobile users “have it all.”

I know it's not happening, but I would pay a lot of money for a way to dual-boot iOS and OS X on my iPad.

  1. This may actually be solved in iOS 9, but don't hold me to that. I may just be dreaming.