Apple’s amazingly powerful iPad Pro is a computer from the future, with software from yesterday

“I love my iPad. I am conflicted by my iPad. I am bullish on the A-chips that power iPads as the future of Apple’s computers,” Craig Mod blogs eponymously. “In fact, these new iPad Pros are so high-powered that they benchmark close to top-of-the-line MacBook Pro Intel-powered laptops.”

“This is magic — getting this kind of power into a device so devoid of mass and heat,” Mod writes. “Super computers shoved into thin space beneath extra-tough glass. Digi-Slates. Actual Gibsonian, Stephensonian objects from the future. Throw them in your backpack, a few hundred grams, big screen, cellular high-speed connectivity, all-day battery life. Uhm, yes, please.”

“Since 2017, with the release of iOS 11 and basic multitasking, you could maybe — just maybe — earnestly use them as potential laptop replacements,” Mod writes. “These new iPads may be gorgeous pieces of kit, but the iPad Pros of 2017 were also beautiful machines — svelte and overpowered. In fact, the iPad Pro hardware, engineering, and silicon teams are probably the most impressive units at Apple of recent years. The problem is, almost none of the usability or productivity issues with iPads are hardware issues. Which is to say: For years now, the iPad’s shortcomings are all in iOS.”

All-new designs push 11-inch and 12.9-inch Liquid Retina displays to the edges of iPad Pro.
All-new designs push 11-inch and 12.9-inch Liquid Retina displays to the edges of iPad Pro.

“Having used the heck out of iPads these past few years, I believe there are two big software flaws that both make iOS great, and keep it from succeeding as a ‘pro’ device: [1] iOS is primarily designed for — and overly dependent on — single-context computing. [2] Access to a lower level (i.e., a file-like system) components is necessary for professional edge-tasks,” Mod writes. “And one big general flaw that keeps it from being superb: Many software companies still don’t treat the iPad as a first class computing platform.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s some more nice weekend reading for Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Craig Federighi and Co.

Perhaps articles like this one, along with many other similar pieces (see sampling below), and with Adobe’s (real) Photoshop for iPad launch coming soon, the floodgates will be unleashed at Apple and with third-party software companies.

If you want it to be considered a “real computer,” Apple, how about Xcode for iOS?

Imagine an “iOS Pro” mode.

Turn on iOS Pro on your iPad Pro
1. Tap Settings > General, and make sure iOS Pro is turned on.
2. There is no step two.

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

Shouldn’t such a thing already exist? Where would iPad sales be if it did?MacDailyNews, December 29, 2015

The answer isn’t to try to make the iPad into a MacBook. The answer is to provide all the tools possible in iOS for developers to make robust apps that can take advantage of the multi-touch paradigm. — MacDailyNews, May 16, 2017

Interns, go get that mic… uh, keg and tap away! TGIF! Prost, everyone!

I can’t put Apple’s new iPad Pro down, but we really need ‘padOS’ – November 8, 2018
What Apple’s iPad Pro enables matters more than what it replaces – November 7, 2018
The Verge reviews the new iPad Pro: Apple’s approach to iOS is holding back powerful hardware in serious ways – November 5, 2018


  1. I for one (and a few others) have addressed this issue for years..
    I suggested the ‘IOS-Pro’ upgrade idea a good 4 years ago or so and even suggested they charge for it … those who wanted would pay and those who did not would not .. Simple! ( if anything it would be an additional revenue source for Apple…. )
    My IOS- Pro idea was mainly about the severely handicapped, convoluted file/ folder/ assette management on ios…….. which truly hold it back the ipad as a full blown power house for productivity.

    Then Apple as a response to our complaints introduces the Files app, cloud based file management app, which is a joke! Try and work/interact with files that are gigabits large from the cloud … its stupid and a ludicrous .

    Apple again is handicaping their products intentionally to force their stupid cloud initiatives at our productivity and conveniance cost..
    Its not a technological issue… its a money issue!

    Its unacceptable and greedy ……we pay such premium for Apple products only to be played with in this manner. … shameful .

    Taking this mastepiece of an ipad they just put out and cut its hand off. Its a crime.
    No core ios comprehensive assert management availible with consistant core ui accessible from all Apps.. ( not this chaotic convoluted app-centric file managment, each in its own universe)
    No convenient local/none cloud IO ..
    No headphone jack for no good reason.

    I have praised the new ipad pro to the moon…..
    But no headphone jack for absolutly no practical reason?
    No IO fir external drives , no file/folder/assett mangment…to force us into the stupid cloud!?

    Apple! large files, assett intensive projects dont work on cloud speeds ..aaaand they don’t work where there is no reception either .
    Do u get this ? ??

    I have been objecting about this for years and years now,,, to deaf ears of Apple.
    Maybe someday they will listen, once they have milked us costumers enough.

    1. Your post should be required reading at Apple. High priced, missing connections and severely limited OS and professional productivity programs. A more capable computer with keyboard can be bought for less…

      1. Can only agree wholeheartedly, yojimbo should be offered a job at Apple to kick some butt into the realities of the real world. The Pro has in a way made the situation worse because I am sure like me it has set expectations and a sense of buyer desire that simply are not being met on the productivity, flexibility and general software front it offers. On that front I am conflicted I probably only need the cheaper iPads to upgrade to but but I really want a Pro for amongst reasons that only that machine can truly plug into the future we desire the others are a dead end that may well become obsolete well before I would want to upgrade from that. So would paying the price for a pro outweigh the limited potential of the lesser machines which in all honesty are just less sluggish versions of my presense 3rd gen.

        The price of the pro would just about be worth it if only I was convinced it could fulfill the potential of all that power and that Apple would deliver it and stop being so dogmatic. I understand their unwillingness to turn it into a laptop clone but by now they should have developed its interface and interactions do as to offer something better (equal even) and more compelling to use for similar tasks while introducing competive flexibility and seamless inter operability between the platforms. To see MDN’s take and others similar comments from 2015 or earlier it is simply frustrating as hell to see the lack of progress to support the powerful, if woefully under exploited silicon. Even the pros only really exist because of opposition attempts to gate crash the show from above. The lack of imagination has been criminal and one wonders, now that the power of the A series increasingly out performs Intel and computing generally is becoming a series of overlapping platforms, how Apple will deliver clear thinking solutions in a timely manner when change appears so anathema to so many at the top.

        1. Another post that should be required reading at Apple. Particularly the consumer confusion caused by limited product abilities, slapping a Pro name on a product and charging premium prices. Well done, fellas…

        2. Very good commentaries, both of you. One small quibble, though. Computing whizzes, or “pros,” typically aren’t bamboozled by naming conventions; they rely on specs, just like people that know internal-combustion engines, who are also wise to marketspeak by car manufacturers.

        3. Agree when it comes to computers with advanced innards, upgradability, pro software and OS. Could be wrong but iPads are a different animal with a limited OS, lack of pro software and working in the cloud with no upgradability. Doesn’t seem the same and the focus is just some chips are faster than others so where do you draw the pro line? Possibly it’s just my lack of enthusiasm that blinds me for a high priced product I have no use for…

  2. The iPad represents a thin client computing model hardly any different than the mainframe hell that Jobs and Gates wanted to free users from 3 decades ago.

    The key difference today is that IBM served businesses primarily, never seeing the potential for the fickle consumer market. Now that is all Cook sees. Apple is hopelessly uncompetitive in any B2B model. Apple uses the fashion angle to woo unsophisticated consumers into bad subscription based computing deals. Cook would love nothing more than to be Big Brother, exacting a monthly fee and either directly or indirectly having control over all user data at all times.

    It is amazing how many people still don’t see through the iCloud sales pitch: if you stop paying your monthly fee, your data will evaporate. There is no fast easy way to see or fully access all your data once offloaded into a mysterious cloud. Cook can claim until he’s blue in the face that he doesn’t sell your data (a half truth at best), he still datamines it for Apple’s uses and, once the user is hooked, he has the power to hold that data hostage from users on AWS and Google servers. Apple makes no guarantees that those files are safe, secure, private, or accessible.

    Still It’s only a matter of time before some bad actor strikes or Apple screws up, just like has happened to Sony, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and thousands of other supposedly competent tech companies.

    BOTTOM LINE: If you don’t personally hold the encryption keys, you don’t have control of your data. People need to learn that. Unfortunately, they will someday learn that the hard way. Apple has a big target on its chest, as all cloud purveyors do. It’s only a matter of time before something much bigger than a Fappening file theft happens. Don’t rely on faith in some cheery Timmy pretending to care about users. He wants more of your money, that is all.

    iOS = gateway drug to subcription land
    Mac = personal compting

  3. i read the whole linked article. Interesting, worth the time.

    I love my iPad Pro 12..9 but I know iOS limitations from the past and never tried to use it as a primary work machine as the author did. My go to device is a Mac Pro (upgraded Cheese Garater) connected to 2 big monitors. Work using multi tasking on big windows and MacOS so much faster.

    Did go on a one month trip to Asia with just my iPad and iPhone though.

  4. “This is magic — getting this kind of power into a device so devoid of mass and heat,”

    It’s not magic, it’s performance per Watt, and if you think there’s no sacrifices, think again.

    “Apple’s amazingly powerful iPad Pro is a computer from the future, with software from yesterday”

    Now that’s bullshit!
    It’s a computer from today trying to catch up to average laptop performance for the past decade, but in a tablet.

    1. And I thought I was cynical. Cynical I may be but short sighted and dogmatic I am not I will leave that as usual to you. Sadly in many ways you are closer in attitude to those inside Apple limiting true progress and innovation than you could ever imagine and that irony is a little amusing I guess.

        1. Indeed. When your own posts have shaded toward the aspirational, they have been your best. So many other commenters here have outdone you in rank cynicism. You should consider switching to evangelism. You’d be great at it. Think about it: the age of trolls is essentially over, now that the invisible hand of market forces has caressed Apple and given the finger to its inept rivals.

  5. Task iOS further and then you got much slower machine I would think. The iPad to me always was best with information, entertainment and social media. And I love it for that. My Macs (or future PC’s) take care of the rest.

  6. I think most businesses would prefer it if the iPad Pro was able to run Mac OSX with some sort of touch interface. That’s why almost everyone praises the Microsoft Surface Pro as being an actual computer and not the iPad Pro. I’m sure all the critics believe the iPad Pro won’t be a high-selling product. It’s a shame if the A12 Bionic isn’t going to have any selling advantage to professionals. I think the iPad Pro is a wonderful device but I’m just an ordinary user and not a professional. I suppose most pros have certain needs and the iPad Pro doesn’t quite live up to that potential, or so I’ve heard.

    I understand Apple is trying to differentiate their product lineup but it doesn’t seem to be working up to Wall Street’s expectations.

    1. I think we have to be careful here it is a wonderful product for doing what it does, out sells the opposition by miles, is the business tablet of choice doing all sorts of business in addition to its supreme consumer presense. It’s just that it could do so much more if Apple had the imagination and the will. Fact is if Apple created a Surface Pro it would be roundly rideculed for its inherent limitations as was its forebears. That said as technology and software changes and inherent limitations of the ‘be all’ concept wane that is the direction both iPad and Mac need to go in whatever fashion that might be because as time passes and soon either iOS needs to have more Mac capabilities or equivalence or as stated the Mac OS needs to develop a touch interface for true pros to exploit amongst other devotees. Otherwise I fell the iPad of its offspring will never regain true momentum.

  7. I couldn’t agree more. I love my new iPad,
    but I can’t even open two Notes at once, or even change the color of the text without having to go to my Mac. Totally freaking ridiculous!

    1. And you have totally hit the point what holds back the iPad isn’t that it doesn’t mimic a Mac like for like that’s a side issue, but there are so many minor aspects that are decidedly annoying within a touch interface some of which should in theory be easier using touch which limits it when you want to be productive. I am cut off from newer iOS iterations which may have improved things admittedly, but my experience with for example Evernote mirrors yours. I tend to add and edit on Mac while viewing the information iOS. Precise control is still lacking and to my mind too much depends on desktop inspired menus when select and drag between apps should surely be the preference and why better multitasking is required.

    1. Yes, “cumbersome” is the precise word. Used my sisters large iPad and attempted to type a few lengthy e-mails. After the first two I simply gave up. Uncomfortable positions using a humungous onscreen keyboard and without an external my (gorilla) arm got sore quickly. But for watching movies/video, playing games and internet surfing as a portable device it gets the highest marks. You certainly don’t need to spend premium money on the Pro versions to accomplish, the smaller models work just as well all beating the largest iPhone…

  8. In the name of Mike, people, just stop wasting your time grumbling about Apple and being their stooge, and go get a Surface or similar Touch convertible. It solves everything that you complain about above. Applications galore, and more apps will come into the store if you throw your weight behind it.

    I know, I know..”Windows sucks!”..blah blah. Just stop towing the party line for a minute. The brainwashing that’s convinced you to parrot the that “it’s not the ultimate “tablet” experience”. I know. But you’re talking about wanting a productivity machine here without stupid limitations. So open your mind and go try it for a while. All your problems will go away. Do it for yourself.

  9. Apple is always about creating new paradigms of usage, no implementations of new tech (Face ID, Touch ID, no more disk drives, etc). And this is nothing new. They are pushing everyone to cloud based instead of hard drive, flash drive based. In the process they are pushing other technologies to match up with their new implementations. This is nothing new. And it always takes a couple of years to pull it off. Like getting rid of Flash by adopting H.264.

    I got the new 2018 iPad Pro 256Gb LTE/WiFi version and I actually think the older versions are more user friendly. This new one may be incrementally faster, but so what when you just do basic internet stuff. And the shrinkage of the size of the unit now make the WHOLE screen touch active so there is no where to hold onto the device without activating the screen. It sounded good in theory to shrink it all the way, but in reality it causes other issues, at least for me.
    So I may just go back to my bigger 1st generation unit till next year’s groundbreaking redo comes out, according to Ming.

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