On iPads Replacing PCs and Macs - It’s Starting To Happen Here | iLounge Backstage


On iPads Replacing PCs and Macs - It’s Starting To Happen Here

After Apple introduced the iPad in April, it rapidly took over so much of my computing time that my MacBook Pro and iPhone were essentially sidelined. The laptop gathered dust and I started to forget where I’d left the phone at night—no easy feat considering that they’d previously been my constant companions for the past roughly three years. My desktop Mac literally remained necessary for business purposes, but for everything else, I was using the iPad. And this was only in the iPad’s first month, with the first wave of iPad-specific applications—ones that had been rushed out and in many cases only modestly enhanced from earlier iPhone and iPod touch versions.

Over the past few weeks, a bunch of things have changed: the iPad’s apps. They’re just getting better and better. In some cases, they’ve become so superior to desktop applications that I’m shifting even further away from using a computer, and towards using the iPad for as many purposes as possible. When I’m checking the news, I now prefer to do it with the iPad app Reeder rather than the Mac version of NewsFire, which I used religiously for the past year. PDFs now go into the just-updated version of iBooks, which really speeds up the previously sluggish display of big documents. Gaming, watching videos, and web browsing have shifted almost entirely to the iPad as well, with increasingly impressive games and greater support for the iPad’s native video and browser capabilities.

The thing that’s most striking about the iPad user experience at this stage is the speed at which it transitions between different usage models—and users. One minute, I’m browsing through web pages as I sit on the sofa with my daughter, who’s watching Dora or Diego on a nearby television. Three minutes later, we’re together on YouTube hunting for Beatles videos, and soon thereafter, we’re doing puzzles in Shape Builder, tapping on sheep in Baa Baa Black Sheep, or sketching out letters in iWriteWords. She’s two years old and switches between apps with speed and confidence that dazzle her grandparents… and her parents. Then the iPad’s back in my lap again, and a minute later, doing something completely different. Even the best Mac computers can’t pull off that sort of trick.

Part of this is due to iOS, which offers such an instant-on, quick app-loading experience that Macs now feel comparatively slow—though multitasking makes them much more powerful once you’ve loaded a few apps. Most of the iPad’s appeal, however, is due to the work of third-party developers who have innovated more in a short period of time than most users could have ever thought possible. Today’s iPhone + iPad Gems column is a prime example: even when apps such as Flipboard and Popplet show up in the App Store in need of additional work, their bedrock content is so compelling that you can’t help but feel that mouse-based desktop computing is going to fade away, replaced by beautiful, powerful touch-based apps. Why bother with a full-sized computer when the iPad makes doing the same tasks feel so much better?

There are things that the iPad still can’t do as well as a Mac, though half are purely software-limited, and the other half are due to hardware differences. Facebook feels weak on the iPad because the web site still doesn’t support iPad media uploading or chat, and the official app is stuck with iPhone 3G-era limitations. Photo browsing on the iPad is awesome, but iPad Camera Connection Kit importation bugs in the Photos application have really limited the quantity of picture processing I’ve wanted to achieve through the otherwise capable device. Mail still stinks because iOS 3.2 doesn’t support unified mailboxes. Streaming of iPad audio and video content to a TV doesn’t happen because there’s no Apple software for it—even with the Apple TV—and there are still rare occasions when I need to use a computer to view Flash or other content on a web site. Finally, video calling and video editing just aren’t happening on the iPad for now; blame missing components or the lack of software and accessory support as you prefer.

Even with these issues yet to be addressed, the iPad’s utility has continued to grow so impressively over time that it’s certain to become my primary computer in the near future. While writing this article, the power went out in my neighborhood, stopping my typing mid-sentence as my computer and entire wireless network went down. The iPad, complete with its 3G wireless connection, stayed on and ready to use. There seemed to be a message there: if only I’d been typing on it, instead, this article would have been up already—and my work day would have ended 10 minutes earlier.

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All of the things that you say the iPad can do so unbelievably wonderfully the iPhone can do better (with limited multitasking) and the PC can do unbelievably better with a bigger screen, higher resolution, real multitasking, and a real keyboard.*

Posted by 0megapart!cle on July 21, 2010 at 6:43 PM (CDT)


@ 0megapart!cle   Spoken like someone who hasn’t spent much, if any, time using an iPad.

Posted by JustMe on July 21, 2010 at 8:02 PM (CDT)


Use the iPad most the time now.  App developers are starting to use the potential of the iPad.  I hard use the Mac anymore except for photo editting.  Reeder app rocks!

Posted by Ryan on July 21, 2010 at 10:49 PM (CDT)


+1for Reeder! I never liked NetNewsWire for iOS and now I never use it on my Mac. I’m even starting to use my Mac less. Picture uploading/editing, the few flash sites I come across, and syncing with iTunes (for the love of god we need wireless sync!)

Posted by Dvashawn on July 22, 2010 at 12:51 AM (CDT)


When the iPad fits in my pocket, runs Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office, and properly renders Flash sites (believe it or not, there are lots of them out there), I’ll re-consider one. Until then, my iPhone and my MacBook Pro together provide a far superior solution for my computing needs.

Posted by Farnsworth on July 22, 2010 at 10:10 AM (CDT)


Don’t expect iOS 4.0 to fix mail, it might bring a unified mailbox but it STILL does not report new mail in sub folders, so its never going to replace mail on a macbook until this is resolved!

Posted by Paul on July 22, 2010 at 10:15 AM (CDT)


For me it’s not about what my desktop can do better, it’s about being able to curl up on the couch and relax with the iPad and maybe get a little work done. It’s also about the iPad being convenient enough to turn on that I don’t hesitate to pull it out when I have a few minutes (this was always an issue with my laptop). It’s also about not being all that comfortable typing more than a few words at a time on the iPhone, so while I may check mail more often on my phone, if I need to respond I’m likely to pull out the iPad.

Is the iPad perfect? No. Do I have a list of things I wish worked better? Yes. But I am using the iPad a lot more (and having more fun) than I got out of my laptop in the past couple of years.

Posted by MHBurts on July 22, 2010 at 12:00 PM (CDT)


Funny, I think the exact opposite thing is happening for me. Now I feel that if I’m gonna go grab a device, I’ll just use my MacBook Pro since I can have multiple apps open at once, use websites (such as my workplace’s) that are created in Flash, and view 1080p YouTube videos without err. Basically for a month the iPad was my main device, but after coming back to OS X and Safari, it feels sort of archaic. I know it’s cliche, but it really is just a big iPod touch (except less useful now until iOS 4 comes to the iPad). And who knows, I’ll probably use it a bit more after 4.0 comes to the iPad.

Posted by itsatrap on July 22, 2010 at 9:49 PM (CDT)


Waiting impatiently for iOS 4 for iPad.  I’ve been using my iPad less now that I’ve got an iPhone 4 with more memory, better screen, and multi-tasking.  Really, I’m kind of waiting for the next hardware rev which will I hope will bring a FaceTime camera, more memory, and unify the WiFi and Wifi + 3G models (i.e. drop the WiFi-only model and sell the 3G models in the old WiFi price bracket) as well as shipping with iOS 4.

Posted by Dyvim on July 23, 2010 at 9:21 AM (CDT)


#9 that’s a terrible idea. There needs to be a WiFi-only model (1) in order for Apple to have a cheaper model available, and (2) for the many, many of us who want to give AT&T less of our business, not more.

Posted by Farnsworth on July 23, 2010 at 9:48 AM (CDT)


Actually, there would be nothing wrong with eliminating the Wi-Fi only model if they dropped the price of the Wi-Fi + 3G model, since unlike the iPhone there’s absolutely no requirement to sign up for cellular service to use the device—you can use the 3G without a SIM card in the same manner as the Wi-Fi only model, and you get the added advantage of GPS support.  In fact, I know a few people who paid the extra premium for the 3G model without signing up for cellular service just so that they’d have the option in the future.

Realistically, however, the Wi-Fi model should remain less expsnive than the 3G model, so even if Apple dropped the price of the 3G units, the Wi-Fi units would experience a similar price drop. Dropping the price of the 3G units and discontinuing the Wi-Fi only models would be little more than an illusion to make it look like they were now selling them at the same price.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on July 23, 2010 at 11:16 AM (CDT)


I have an iPad.  As many reviewers noted, it is for content consumption, not content creation.

Apple’s lockbox on how it interfaces with the world severely hobble the iPad.  Sure.  You can sit on a couch and share a touchscreen game with a child.  But try to create a spreadsheet, even in Numbers, then share it with someone (mostly, anyone in the whole world) who uses Excel) and you and they will be VERY frustrated.  Can be done.  Byzantine export available to Mac owners with Numbers for OS X only, and then the formatting arrives broken.

How about something simple, like emailing a link to a website?  Sure, it can be done, but when I do it on the iPad, I sure wish I was on the laptop!  Even after adding the Apple Wireless keyboard.

So.  Replace a laptop?  Only if Steve Jobs releases his stranglehold.

Replace a Kindle or dedicated DVD viewer.  Absolutely.

Posted by Vox on July 24, 2010 at 4:39 PM (CDT)

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