For the past weeks, I've been working exclusively from an iPad Pro 11" with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Working includes: emailing, chatting with my co-workers, working on design documents, blogging, reviewing marketing materials, evaluating product and conveying feedback, online conferencing, managing my calendar, social networking, etc.
After using it, I've become so excited about its possibilities that I donated 15 combos of iPad + Magic Keyboard + Pencil to Hack Club to distribute to Black teens and other disadvantaged folks in America.
- Opening my iPad anywhere and having LTE internet feels absolutely God-damn magical. It feels like I'm living inside the Matrix. I'm constantly plugged in.
- FaceID is magical. Coming from my laptop with TouchID, and having expressed a preference for TouchID in the past, I can now say: I was absolutely wrong.
- The integration between FaceID and autocompletion from Keychain makes 1Password feel absolutely ancient. Never going back to that again
- The ability to put something on the iPhone's clipboard and paste it on the iPad, again, feels absolutely magical.
- Apple Pencil is magical. I've been using it to annotate screenshots (see below for a screenshot counter-point). I'm starting to use it to give presentations (Khan academy style), which is a game-changer and was my original desire for moving to iPad.
- Magic Keyboard is, well, magical. The actual keyboard hardware is exceptional. The magnets, the stand, the charging by-pass. Maybe the best and most impactful hardware accessory ever made.
- The operating system just works better, compared to macOS. It's hard to point to a specific thing other than "there seems to be better engineering and more resources working on this OS", but I can enumerate a few:
- Everything tends to perform excellently. I basically never feel like something is slow, or apps are fighting for resources.
- Animations are everywhere, and they're delightful. Things transition smoothly, shrink, fade in and out. Better overall polish.
- Everything is more intuitive. There's basically no learning curve for anything. For example, the System Settings are far better organized and displayed on iPad.
- The security model is sound. Things that stress people out on macOS like "Zoom installed a hidden web server" are downright impossible on iPad.
- Due to a combination of the factors above, many native iPad apps are just better than their matching websites on Desktop. (See below, however, for a counterpoint.)
- The notification system, which feels like an after-thought on macOS or it's partially mediated by Chrome, is absolutely delightful on iPad. This is compounded by the fact that because there are more native apps that use the notification system.
- Anything to do with hardware and external device interoperability works better. Bluetooth works better. WiFi works better. AirPlay works better.
- There are convenient touch gestures everywhere even for the trackpad. On a laptop, developers have had the same technology but really not used it. The fact that iPad apps have been designed touch-first makes for better apps even with a trackpad.
- Safari is amazing. Opening a URL from an app (see below for the in-app browser counterpoint) into Safari makes a smooth, instant transition. Safari always performs excellently. Safari's integration with password management (mediated by FaceID) is incredibly well done.
- Blink Shell together with Mosh, a Google Cloud VM and Inspector, have given me a delightful terminal experience for casual coding, trying out CLI programs,
curl-ing and so on. I wouldn't call this a "developer setup", since I only casually develop these days, but I was able to very productively write the "Develop, Preview, Test" blog post using Next.js, end to end. All I had to do was run
git push to publish my site to Vercel and be online.
- I find myself using touch on the screen quite a bit, where finger gestures makes more sense than using a keyboard and the trackpad. I'd say I touch the screen maybe 5% of the time, but it feels great to use "the right
tool input mechanism" for the job.
- iSH, an implementation of Linux via emulation, has been surprisingly amazing. I've been using it to execute network tests and quick scripts when I want to use the native hardware / network instead of a VM.
- Things like selecting and copying text are noticeably tedious, and sometimes downright impossible.
- Apps like Slack and many others disable selection, and make me copy a huge blob of text all at once. In most cases I want granular selection assisted by my trackpad cursor.
- I had to use my laptop in order to be able to send an email where I had to copy and paste a bunch of email addresses of an old email from the BCC field.
- I expect these to be easily fixable. Now that Magic Keyboard exists, app creators will start paying more attention to text selection with the trackpad
- Taking screenshots, putting them on the clipboard, sending them out is slower and requires many taps.
- I expect this to be easily fixable. iPadOS can even begin supporting the shortcut that macOS uses to put something directly in the keyboard
- Lots of apps still don't work well with keyboard shortcuts. On the flip side, I was surprised at how many of the core apps already do, meaning that Apple takes this seriously
- I expect this to be easily fixable. App creators will be quite motivated to support Magic Keyboard and improve interactions via shortcuts
- Lots of apps still don't work well with the trackpad cursor.
- I expect this to be easily fixable, just like with keyboard shortcuts.
- A lot of apps that make a lot of sense in a Magic Keyboard / Apple Pencil world, that previously didn't make as much sense in a Touch-only world, are altogether missing.
- This, however, creates a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and inventors, and I'm quite excited about it. I point some of them out below.