Apple Guide Podcast

Apple Guide Podcast

Can the iPad Enter Your Workflow? Can it Replace Your Computer?

February 26, 2021

Since the release of the iPad Pro back in 2015, Apple has attempted to market the iPad as a replacement to the traditional computer. After having my 2020 iPad Air for about two months, I see it as a possibility, but not for everyone. So, let's look at some problems you may run into and some things to consider if you're looking to replacing your desktop with an iPad.

The big thing to note is iPadOS is not macOS. If you spent years perfecting your desktop workflow and feel more comfortable using a desktop or laptop, then trying to transition to an iPad can be a bit tricky. But, depending on what you do, it may also be simpler and cheaper.

The first problem you may run into is app support. If you're used to using the desktop version of an app, there's no guarantee that the iPad app, if it exists, will work or feel the same.

In the case there is not an iPad version, you may have to find a substitute which can be a time-consuming process.

If you are lucky enough to find an iPad version of your desktop app, you need to make sure they're the same. In some cases, like Adobe Photoshop, the iPad version may be a stripped-down shell of their desktop counterparts or, in the case of Photoshop, just haven't caught up yet.

Do you plan on having your old desktop tie into your new workflow? If so, you need to make sure whatever app you choose also somehow supports the respective desktop app. For instance, if your editing Photoshop files on your iPad, you need a macOS app that can also open and edit Photoshop files.

Affinity Photo on iPadOS v. macOS

What about touch? For many people switching to a touch-first interface may be difficult. If you look at something like Affinity Photo, the iPad and desktop apps may look roughly the same, but it's still an adjustment to replace a mouse and keyboard with a touch-only interface. You can solve some of your problems with an external Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. But then you have to carry around more external accessories, which defeats the purpose of a portable iPad unless you go with a keyboard case. Logitech's Combo Touch case is a good example of what a keyboard case could be. However, either option you choose you're going to run into spotty mouse support and missing keyboard shortcuts.

iPad Air paired with a mouse and keyboard

Another issue you may run into is the cloud. Many apps use cloud storage to backup and sync your files. In some cases, you may not want this and prefer to have your data only stored locally. Take Adobe Lightroom for iPad as an example. It's such a powerful photo editor loved by many photographers. But, as soon as you sign in to your Creative Cloud account, it starts uploading your photos to the cloud, quickly filling up the cloud storage you may not want to use.

This brings me to how apps use your iPad's storage. If you use Finder on your Mac or File Explorer on Windows, then you know you can access any file created by any application. You can dive deep into your system files and have full reign over your whole computer. With iPadOS, you don't get that control. Now there is the Files app, but you only have as much control as an app will allow you to have. Let's take a look at the Photos app, for example. On your Mac, you have full access to the photos in your Photos Library. If you want, you can copy your whole library to an external drive freeing up space on your computer, or you can navigate through the library itself. On iPadOS, you don't get that option. The only way you can access your photos is through the Photos app. I don't want to talk about this too much because I plan on making a whole post dedicated to the Files app.