My Next “Mac” Could be an iPad

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

There is currently a conversations going around the Apple world about whether the iPad Pro can be your main computer. This is honestly a conversation that has been going on for far longer, and really dates back to the launch of the original iPad in 2010. People fall into a few sides on this debate:

  1. You can’t do it
  2. You can do it
  3. You can sort of do it, but probably shouldn’t

This is something that Richard Anderson touched on this week at his (excellent) site, Sanspoint:

I have to draw comparisons to the original Macintosh. When it dropped in 1984, the attitude from many tech people was that it was a toy, not something you can do real work on. Macs had limited software support, no PC compatibility, a tiny black and white display, no command line, no multitasking…

Unlike Richard, I’m a lifelong Mac user (since 1994, when I was 8 and my dad bought our first computer) and I definitely remember similar complaints lobbed my way. “Can Macs even use the internet?” was my favorite question, as it gave me the opportunity to figuratively yell “YES, of course it does!” There were other, harder questions like “does it play any games?” but overall, I was very happy with my Mac, even if the vast majority of people thought I was crazy. It’s also very possible that I was prone to support my computer since I was 8 and was in no position to buy myself something else, but that’s beside the point.

We all know that the Mac and GUI based operating systems in general won out over the command line (although Windows, OS X, and Linux still let you dive down to that level if you want to) and I don’t think that anyone would say that we’re in a worse place because of it. In fact, computers have gotten significantly better because of the changes the Macintosh popularized. Not only are basic computer functions better with a mouse-based GUI, but many things like photo and video editing fundamentally require this input method to even exist. I’m sure there’s a comment line-based video editor out there, but I’m also sure that it’s terrible.

We’re at a similar point now with the iPad. A debate is raging over what the future of computers looks like. Is it iOS or is it traditional desktops? I’ve made it very clear that I think it is iOS, even if it still has a few years to get there for most people. I’m a pretty heavy computer user and I do some advanced stuff on my machines. But even I have not touched my Mac to do anything besides edit a podcast and launch a book over the past 10 days. I didn’t prepare for this move, I essentially just decided to keep my Mac turned off starting last Tuesday and I’ve been fine in general. iPad apps have gotten very good over the first 5 years of its existence and iOS 9 made some amazing upgrades to the operating system that make it a more powerful tool. The hardware has gotten insanely good too. The A8X chip in my iPad Air 2 screams, and I don’t feel like I’m ever using something that’s slower than my Mac (late-2012 Mac Mini Quad Core). The iPad Pro is benchmarking off the charts as well.

I am due to upgrade my Mac in 2016 sometime. I was looking at the 13 inch MacBook Pro ($1,499) or the 5K iMac ($1,799), but now I’m thinking the iPad Pro ($949) might be the best upgrade I can make. Not only will it let me work on the platform I prefer, but it will cut my investment nearly in half. I’ll just keep my Mac mini running for all the little things I still need it around for. It’s an exciting prospect, and I’m very happy that we’ve gotten to the point where I can seriously considering upgrading my Mac with an iPad.