Note: The following article appeared fist in the March issue of iMagazine - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there.
We're almost there with WWDC (Apple's World Wide Develoeprs Conference) where they'll probably announce iOS8. Along with that the rumors start showing up of a a mysterious iPad Pro to be introduced later this year. As the big iPad's name has been changed to iPad Air it is very much likely Apple will release third iPad - by analogy to the Mac series. There are several theories circulating in the media. As I am writing this text on the iPad and as I use it for work almost all the time, I would like to organize my thoughts on the topic and encourage you to discuss this with me. Let's see what we'll come up with.
iPad PRO Hybrid 12"?
One of the most popular theories in this debate is the idea to create a hybrid. This would be a combination of MacBook Air and iPad Air - a 12-inch, touch screen laptop with a keyboard. Something like Microsoft Surface Pro. Joining two separate worlds of Mac OSX and iOS together in order to obtain a harmonious whole. Would it make any sense at all? Or wouldn't it? Let's find out:
Let's say it would make sense.
Let's start with the positive sides. Why the iPad Pro could be a good idea from the professionals' point of view?
Keyboard - it is mandatory for professional use, right? If the new iPad is to be "Pro", it needs to be more like OSX which is more popular amongst the pros. No keyboard no chance for their interest. The lack of keyboard is the main "problem" when using the iPad for professional tasks. That's the common sense.
iOS à la OSX - this means a larger screen, more windows, more multitasking, drag and drop between the apps, screen sharing - all these useful features from OSX should be applied in iPad to make it really Pro.
So here goes:
Let's then take the iPad Air, let's make its screen bigger, add the attachable keyboard and let it display more windows at the same time. It sounds Pro, doesn't it?...
...but it doesn't sound like Apple though.
Why I don't like this Pro idea?
Does such an iPad Pro really make sense? I don't think so. It seems to me that the focus is not where it actually should be. Making iOS more OSX-ish is a giant misunderstanding.
Keyboard is optional
As I have written in my #iPadOnly book that keyboard for the iPad is optional. It is only needed when writing long texts - such as this one for example. I also wrote my latest book: It's all about Passion! entirely on my iPad. I am usually writing on my iPad Air placed vertically on the iPad Mini Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. Yes, that's right. The iPad Mini keyboard used for Air. Vertically! It is so much more natural than a horizontally designed laptops or Microsoft Surface. By the way: Microsoft Surface is a kind of hybrid and we all know how well it sells... and they just introduced a new one...
It is the lack of keyboard that lets us make use of that great display and the apps associated to it on the iPad. That's why we can simply touch the icons and swipe left and right instead of using the CTRL+CMD+OPT+Z-like shortcuts. It feels much more intuitive and easier. And as I am not a professional writer, believe me, I use the keyboard only for 30% of my working time.
There are plenty of bluetooth keyboards out there. If we really need one, we can easily get it - there is no need for an integrated one. Especially that I use it mostly in vertical position and not horizontal as it is in laptops.
iOS should be like OSX indeed, but not in a way we think it should
We are finally getting to the point. It is cool that we see just one app at the time in iOS. It lets us focus exactly on what we are doing. We do not get distracted by 10 windows, 100 notifications and other doodads. At this moment, I have Editorial app for iOS running on my iPad and I am writing this article. I don't know what's up on Twitter, Facebook or in my email inbox or Nozbe. I only know that I am writing these words and have to hurry as I have so much more to tell you...
iOS7 is great which doesn't mean it can't be even better and more Pro
By writing the paragraph above I didn't say the things are ideal at the moment. There are several fields in which iOS could be enhanced but not by making it an OSX clone. Here are my ideas and my vision for iOS professional usage:
Here's my list of things to improve in iOS7/8:
Let's focus on workflows
What I like the most about working on the iPad is that I have my own apps and processes.
In order to write an article for iMagazine, I run Pages, I type it, I touch "Share" button, I type the name of the editor, I attach the graphics and send it... and that's it! Article submitted.
When I write a blog post, I run Editorial, I go to a suitable folder in my Dropbox, I type my thoughts, I schedule the publication date... and that's it. When I want to give my programmers feedback, I take a screenshot, I open Skitch, I draw what I need on that image, I tap "Share" and I send it to whom I need or automatically save it in Evernote, run Nozbe, then tap on a "Add comment" icon in a suitable task, I choose "Evernote" and attach the Skitch created a second ago.
Apps working together - even more
In the examples above, you can see the apps working together. Pages with Email, Editorial with Dropbox, Skitch with Evernote and Nozbe with Evernote. And this is exactly where I see the future of productivity. This is the reason why, even when working on the Mac, sometimes I prefer to switch to iPad. I precisely know what to do to achieve my goal - step by step.
Today we have "Share" button allowing us to open the object in another app. It would be nice to go even further and have a given object processed inside one application. For example: the app automatically sends the text to another app that, in turn, converts it to PDF, uploads to Dropbox and comes back with that PDF opening the "send e-mail" window at the same time. Or something like this... The thing is to make that other application do something "behind the scenes" so that we do not have to switch the windows. We stay where we are and "the magic" happens in the background. From my point of view, fully integrated apps are the future of iOS. They have to be able to "talk to each other" so that the users don't need to switch from one app to another so often.
A much better clipboard
Clipboard works poorly in Mac OSX and I really miss it in iOS. I try to replace this function by Clipboard History app but I would appreciate something integrated in the system. I would then be able to copy something to clipboard, it would be saved in iCloud in a real-time and once I need to paste it, I could do it in a traditional way (the last saved object would be pasted) or a less traditional manner (I choose the object I want to paste). That would be a Pro clipboard, wouldn't it?
Two windows in a Norton Commander style
Sometimes it would be really nice to have two windows opened at the same time like it used to be in Norton Commander in DOS, Total Commander in Windows or Forklift on a Mac. This would be quite useful especially while translating, transcribing, rewriting, copying things from one place to another as a reference to what we are writing... With a large 12" screen it can be done inside the system or - not making the interface more complicated - by convincing developers to allow this option in their apps. Example? Editorial for the iPad has a browser built in. It could be nice to be able to open it "next" instead of "above" the text that we're working on... open the two texts next to each other...
I see a great value in a dual thing like that as a replacement for windows management procedures used in Mac OSX. And I am not saying it should be implemented inside the system. I guess it should be done inside the apps.
More RAM and better RAM handling, please!
Recently my biggest frustration is the RAM handling on the iPad. It has too little RAM and all too often as I switch from one app to another, the app has to reload because (I assume) it was killed due to lack of RAM. I hate it. That's why we need both: less app-switching (more apps talking to each other) and better RAM handling. Especially that the iPad should know - if I switch between these three apps constantly, please keep them in RAM and don't kill them. Just don't. Let me be productive! The same applies to Safari tabs. They reload all too often. Once a page has been downloaded it should be cached somewhere. Why oh why it has to reload all of the time?
Exactly. Why don't they improve caching? I have a 64Gig iPad, I have room for cache, please use it, Apple!
What would Apple/Steve Jobs do?
I have no idea. The time will tell. So far, people have voted with their wallets, proving that while PC/Mac computers are quite easy to use, iPads and iPhones are totally intuitive, more comprehensible and cool to work with. They're just more delightful. That's why Apple won't complicate the system that has been utterly successful. Will Apple listen to my suggestions? Directly - probably not, but maybe they think in a similar way... And you? What do you think? Let me know!
Question: What would an iPad PRO look like according to you? What are your suggestions for iOS8?
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- Michael Sliwinski