With iPadOS, Apple’s dream of replacing laptops with iPads finally looks like a reality

Leif Johnson for Macworld:

As recently as last week we could still look at the iPad and smirk at Apple’s dogged insistence that its tablet works as a laptop replacement — one that will even leave us asking questions like, “What’s a computer?” The power was certainly there — especially in latter-day models — but not the freedom.

I know this all too well. For over a year I used an iPad as my main work device, but I crawled back to the Mac after enduring months of unusable thumb drives at press junkets and frustrations springing from actions as simple as selecting text. This week, though, Apple dashed away most of my concerns with a masterstroke that it’s calling iPadOS.

Granted, I haven’t had a chance to handle iPadOS just yet, but everything I’ve seen so far suggests it’ll transform the iPad into the laptop replacement Apple’s always wanted it to be, even while retaining — no, improving — the features that set it apart from devices like Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

MacDailyNews Take: We look forward to really putting iPad OS through its paces. When people ask us why we grab our MacBooks over our iPad Pros for work, it’s first and foremost because of text selection. Text selection, Cut-Copy-Paste, and precise cursor control are little things, but they’re make-or-break when it comes to accuracy and speed. (Recall Apple’s Toby Paterson struggling a bit to select a word on an iPad for several seconds during the iPadOS demo during Monday’s WWDC keynote.) For us, the MacBook has always won the Who’s Coming Out Of The Backpack Race simply because of text selection, Cut-Copy-Paste, and precise cursor control.

We look forward to iPadOS’ improvements in that area, among many others, and to iPadOS improving throughout its beta period!


  1. How is iPad OS going to improve cursor precision when the “cursor” is our relatively clunky and imprecise finger? A.I.? Typing on my narrower iPhone X vs my 6+ has been annoying enough. Without a trackpad I don’t see my iPad as a primary computer. The pseudo-trackpad that appears by holding the space bar on the iOS keyboard sucks, it’s imprecise and gradually forces the cursor down after a few seconds of use.

  2. Has the disclosure of iPad linking to external drives been thoroughly examined? How does an iPad user FORMAT an external drive for use – if the iPad is the person’s only computing device?

  3. It is certainly possible to write a book or academic dissertation on an iPad, but it wouldn’t be very pleasant. As long as college assignments mostly involve writing rather than audio or images, most students will prefer a solid keyboard and means to place the cursor without touching the screen.

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