If Apple really wants the iPad to replace the PC, they need to supercharge iOS

Ben Bajarin quotes one of his first public columns, “From Click to Touch – iPad & the Era of Touch Computing,” published in 2010:

It is interesting to have observed the barrier to computing a keyboard and mouse have been for so long. I was always amazed at how older generations stumbled with a keyboard and mouse, or how the biggest hurdle of learning computers for my children was the keyboard and mouse. Even my youngest, who had issues with the mouse and is just learning to read, is operating the iPad with ease and engaging in many learning games she couldn’t on the PC with the traditional peripherals. Think about the developing world and the people who never grew up with computers the way we in America have with a mouse and keyboard. How much more quickly will they embrace touch computing?

“Mobile operating systems like iOS and Android abolish the need for tech literacy classes yet still yield the same potential end results in creativity and productivity as any desktop OS,” Bajarin writes. “We are several years down the road. My concern is tablets have not gained as much ground on the PC as the PC has gained on tablets. It’s true iPad has tens of thousands of dedicated apps and both iPad and Android tablets are utilized in enterprises for mobile workforce computers but, when it comes to the average consumer, they are still not turning from their PCs to iPads.”

“This is a year where Apple needs to take great strides in software around iOS for iPad if they want the iPad to become more than it is today and truly rival the PC in the minds of the consumer,” Bajarin writes. “While tablets have no doubt grown up, they still have a little more growing to do if they want to truly challenge the PC and Mac.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in November 2015, “Given what the average users do, Apple’s iPad is what ‘personal computing’ for the average user should’ve always been, had the technology existed back when Steve Jobs first delivered personal computing to the masses.”

Apple’s next-gen iPads coming this year, along with iOS 11, will make Apple’s Multi-Touch computing even more accessible to even more would-be traditional computer users.

As we wrote last August:

Yes, barring untimely death, we’ve considered that the last Macs we’ll ever buy could come within 5-10 years. We expect to definitely buy one more round of Mac desktops and notebooks and at least one more round after that. That’ll be 5-10 years right there. iPad Pro and iOS can already replace our road Macs, but as longtime Mac users, we have ingrained habits and therefore remain much faster on our MacBooks than on iPad. Younger users (under 12 or so) have no such issues and can usually blow us away iPad to iPad, but we are getting better and faster all the time. Old habits will die hard, but they will die eventually.

That said, of course, beyond 2026, we’d love to see the Macintosh and macOS live on in some capacity (professional machines; “trucks,” if you will) for many more years!

And, as we wrote back in mid-November 2015:

iPad Pro can replace the vast majority of people’s MacBooks because people never had an alternative to a MacBook to accomplish what what they use a personal computer for: Web browsing, email, light word processing, music-video-photo storage and playback, and maybe some messaging (but they do most or all of that on their iPhones or iPhone wannabes).

Note: Obviously, we are not talking about our readership which skews heavily toward techies who use their Macs for far more than the vast majority of current personal computer users.

For the vast majority of people even a crappy low-end Windows laptop is vast overkill for what they do. Therefore, the headroom for iPad remains virtually limitless, especially as Apple’s A-Series chips, iOS and iPad apps become ever more powerful.

This “iPad pause” will not last forever.

Apple’s next-gen 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro lineup not coming until May-June – February 24, 2017
Apple debuts new Twitter-themed ad campaign for iPad Pro – February 17, 2017
Apple iPad’s bright future – February 9, 2017


  1. ONE MORE TIME: mouse and keyboard are the only input devices that are precise enough to use the apps that I make my living with. If my apps required touch interface, my screen would have to be the size of a 4X8 sheet of plywood. The apps are far too complex to make a touch interface even remotely applicable.

    They are the apps that create the content that Apples audience is becoming, I will grant that, just entertainment consumption apps with very basic file structures.

    This will probably fall on deaf ears because Apples target now seems to be the 2017 equivalent of Angry Birds.

    Try doing Photoshop or something like that with a touch interface!

        1. I think you have hit the that prime line that splits the use of the two devices at least in their present or foreseeable state.

          I see no real indication that as a designer the iPad (for most functions) can presently get near to what I can achieve on a Mac or perhaps more importantly can do it as smoothly and easily. And design is clearly not the only area where this will be the case, input has to improve immensely to compete and as you said above the size of screen for touch to match the precision of a mouse will be enormous as things stand. Tablets have their own advantages of course but these are only specialist functions presently where design and other professional uses are concerned.

          Yes my iPad is now 4 years old but even for example on basic functions until I can be convinced that for example type heavy input and selection is improved I have no real compulsion to replace it. Insertion points are frustrating and hit and miss ( a left right nudge key would be a bonus), selecting areas of type can be equally a lottery and auto correct the most disjointed of the lot. Im sure that the latest iPads will be better in this regard, the over worked silicon certainly is part of the problem but I don’t see them solving the frustrating experience as compared to using a keyboard and multi functional mouse. And that surprises me after the supposed years of development of iOS. Copy checking alone is 5 times more time consuming, mind numbing and difficult as an example when compared to the Mac. No excuse for that.

          As you say when you consider things like Photoshop, Indesign or Illustrator, well I can only make an informed guess but I doubt it is anywhere near making a viable device again except in specialist areas like paint. I really had expected the dynamics of iOS and tablets to have developed a lot quicker but the slowness be it inevitable or Apple (in particular) simply sitting on what once looked like a cash cow that did not take sales away from the Mac or iPhone is a matter of conjecture. But the iPad needs to grow up and more consistent in operation if it is to seriously become imbedded in whats deemed traditional Mac/PC workloads. I think 2017 will give us a better insight into that likelihood. Otherwise the combo device seems like the best option and its sad that Apple though detailing the concept many years back have decided to reject it while doing little to provide a true and effective alternative vision.

    1. I agree, iPads and phones are great for consuming information and keeping in touch but for intricate work a desktop is still my preferred tool. I need a clean screen it’s as simple as that.

  2. Looking at this page on an iPad Pro and it won’t display it properly. Plus with the amount of sites still using flash and the lack of it on the iPad makes me constantly have to turn to my MBP for simple web browsing. Apple is too stubborn to make the iPad into a true replacement for the computer. The only tablet that could replace a computer right now is the surface. The only reason I have an iPad is because it fits into the system and I like the integration of my MBP, watch, iPhone and iPad.

    I would drop the iPad LONG before I dropped my MBP although I would prefer an iPad that ran MacOS.

    1. Agreed only difference for me is I never owned an iPad or one twice returned both times I just see them in the category of an iPhone but can’t be used for real work and never will be able to these attach keyboards are junk

  3. For text editing and other task which require text input and/or delicate manipulations of on-screen data, a keyboard and mouse work better than a touchscreen. Apple should swallow their pride and release an iOS variant specifically for the iPad, one which supports mouse/trackpad input.

  4. The iPad will never be a replacement for the Mac, while performance is improving, there are a whole host ot tasks that the processors in an iPad just cannot deal with, nor IMHO should they be.

    The idea that an iPad can completely replace a computer is just dumb, and Tim is silly for thinking it can.. There are places where an iPad is perfect and there are places where you really need a computer with some horsepower and displays that an iPad will never have..

  5. Not a chance in hell the iPad will ever replace the Mac for me. The iPad is great in augmenting a different mostly entertainment experience but not so much that of getting-work-done desktop computing by virtue of it’s mobile nature. I share the love between things (Watch, iPhone, iPad, Mac) that do different things for me. All computers but all with different strengths. The latest fun thing was my Watch allowing me to instantly log on to my Mac Book Pro. Cool.

  6. iOS is becoming a feature creature. It has way too many pop-up dialogs that come up without warning. I find myself backing out of apps that started without me wanting to because the pop-up came up just as I was going to do what I wanted to do. Please do make my desktop like this. It will becoming worse than having Windows.

  7. Import and edit iPhone video on a Mac with iMovie. Then do the same thing on an iPad and tell me it was easier and gave equal results. Go on vacation with an iPad, take several hundred pictures with a real camera (jpegs since iPad can’t handle Raw), edit them and try to upload them to a new Facebook album. Then tell me how iPad can replace a Mac.
    The speed may be there but the lack of even a rudimentary file structure and lack of input options keep the iPad a consumption device.

  8. It’s trucks vs cars people.

    How many people REALLY need an SUV or a large F-150/250 pickup? Very few. But they THINK they need them. I like my combination, a Prius and a “base” Tacoma. Those two do everything I need and they are totally reliable and get great gas milage. The combined cost of them is less then most F-150s,

    As far as computers go I have an iMac (truck), an iPad, and iPhone 6s. For me, the 6s handles my day to day mobile requirements and when I go on a trip, the iPad is REAL convenient and lasts for days. The iMac runs all day, everyday, always being cool and quiet, backing up stuff up and nicely updating itself. I don’t even think of those two things anymore.

    Stories of Apple/IBM developing business “apps” for those who need them means that a third to half of the people could use an iMac/iPad combo and get WAY more “throughput” done in a day. That’s the future people, a tablet for mobile and a “truck” back at the office/home. It is also real nice to always have a powerful computer in your pocket, the iPhone.

    Some like laptops because they can easily be moved around the home or office but, for me, a powerful computer with a big beutiful screen that is always connected (ethernet), backing up and updating is AWESOME. Look something up quick? pay a bill? download a book or movie? Bang out a quick letter? Quickly review a spreadsheet? iPhone is in your pocket. Need something a little more powerful-write a report in a hotel room? an iPad is in your bag right next to your socks……

  9. 1. Too many sites do not display properly on iPad.
    2. iPad lacks the precision of a mouse and keyboard.
    3. I like to see my files on a desktop.
    4. iPad Pro and Pencil are killer for drawing and painting, but to finish off and export, off they go to my big Macs.

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