My Mac workflows that will never, ever work on iOS

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

It's high time I acknowledge my web development workflow will never work on the iPad. Likewise my video editing workflow will never work on iOS at all, nor will my podcasting process. Unless Apple forsakes some of the major pillars of what makes iOS so great in the first place, these workflows of mine will never work on iOS.

Ah, that feels good to get off my chest!


I also think that I will be doing all 3 of those things on iOS exclusively on iOS within the next decade. No, not because iOS will finally offer a traditional file system, deliver the multi-window UI of macOS, or because it will allow apps to be installed from anywhere, but because there will be better workflows on iOS; workflows that are simply not possible on the Mac.

It's important to look back at history to see how this has happened over and over again as new computing paradigms come into play. Mobile operating systems iOS and Android were essential drivers in the rise in social media apps. Twitter was puttering along until the iPhone came along and brought Twitter to the phone. It made sense on the desktop, but it was perfect for your pocket. Facebook was successful years before the smartphone, but today 91% of their users use mobile, and 54% of Facebook users are exclusively using it on their mobile device. Likewise, Instagram and Snapchat have taken off as exclusively mobile services. Instagram has a worthless website for viewing your feed, and Snapchat simply has no web UI at all, and yet these are two of the most popular services in the world.

Focusing more on productivity, phone/tablet-based email has taken over, task management is often easier from a phone or tablet than a PC, digital art, and word precessing for many people is easier and better on iOS than on macOS/Windows. There are plenty more examples, but we'll leave it there.

Going even further back in time, you can look at the conversion from DOS to Windows, which had the same sort of heated debate we're having today. "Professional" users and "serious" people said that the GUI was nice and all for arty stuff, but real work needs the command line. People still use the command line today, but how many people do you know who do all their work in there? The answer is ZERO. Some people (basically only developers) use it for some things, but most work happens in GUI apps that people once said could never handle real work.

So when I say my web development, video editing, and podcasting workflows will never work on iOS, that doesn't mean I'll never do them on iOS, just that no one has yet to devise a workflow that's better than what I have today. Some of this is due to limitations that Apple has put on iOS developers so they can not make the tools we need to replace these older workflows, but a big part is simply a lack of anything thinking up a totally new way to do these things well. From where I stand, it's not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when."