Can iPad Pro running iPadOS finally replace your MacBook?

iPadOS features a new Home screen with more apps and a Today View for information at a glance.
iPadOS features a new Home screen with more apps and a Today View for information at a glance.

Rene Ritchie for iMore:

[Late last year, I explained] why I felt the iPad Pro was less a laptop replacement and more a laptop alternative, and then went through a few of the ways I was hoping Apple would improve the software in the future to take better advantage of all the new hardware.

Well, that future is now. Ish. iOS 13 and iPadOS — yes, the iPad still runs iOS 13 just with the beginnings of some iPadOS differentiation — offer some major enhancements to the iPad’s capabilities.

What I am going to do here is go down my list from that previous column, everything I said I needed to make the iPad Pro in specific but any modern iPad, in general, my main machine, and see, at least in theory, how far we’ve come…

MacDailyNews Take: As for the answer to Rene’s headline question, as he admits, “it always could for some people and still can’t for others.” It depends on what you use your MacBook for, but iPadOS certainly brings in more people to a group that’s already a majority: desktop and notebook users who’d be better served with an iPad.

iPad Pro can replace the vast majority of people’s MacBooks because people never had an alternative to a MacBook to accomplish 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.MacDailyNews, November 11, 2015


  1. I, too, have been waiting for “that day” to arrive. And, you know, along the way I began to wonder why it was so important to me. And when I failed to come to any conclusion I began to wonder why I ever wanted to abandon my MacBookPro in the first place?

    My conclusion to all of this finally “gelled” in my mind… I like my Mac. It’s great and getting better every day. Why would I need (or even want) to replace it? Certainly, cost is not the issue. (Have you seen what a fully-loaded iPad Pro costs compared to a MacBook Pro?)

    You see, too many people out there are trying to figure out when “the iPad Pro will be close-enough to my needs, that I won’t need a Mac.” Perhaps the real question has always been, “If there is nothing you do that really needs an iPad, why would you ever leave your Mac?”

    When Steve Jobs explained how the iPad would fare in the future, he explained some folks need a truck (the Mac) and some only need a sports car (the iPad). Well, I guess I have discovered I need a truck. Perhaps I can afford a sports car, too. But there is just no need for a sports car than can do duty as a truck. For me, there is just no compelling reason to have an iPad that can replace my Mac. Enough said.

    1. “When Steve Jobs explained how the iPad would fare in the future, he explained some folks need a truck (the Mac) and some only need a sports car (the iPad)”

      He never said that. He was speaking about the PC and Mac.

    2. I mostly agree, but it really sucks that
      – it is unnecessarily complicated to access your (even iCloud) files, let alone network volumes (some applications even make an app-local copy to operate on them, causing a proliferation of versions, e.g., several (s)ftp programs: far from intuitive);
      – you can’t even access simple file formats such as .rtf, let alone edit them;
      – split screen is still a far cry of super flexible windowing;

    3. Too bad Jobs in all his genius forgot (purposely overlooked?) the 3rd class of vehicle that is one of the most purchased on the road – it’s called an suv. Where you get the strengths that you care about from both in one vehicle, and don’t need to buy both a car and a truck.

      And with that, I will return to my one device.. [Picks up Surface]

  2. None of you understand.

    In the information age, device doesn’t matter. Apple is putting it all out there for all to see. It’s all bits and most people don’t need computers, just access to information in its myriad forms.

      1. Clueless Citize X is the master of proving that ‘tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to open one’s mouth as Citizen X so often does and remove all doubt.

        Please continue proving this, X, while all doubt was removed long ago, your tiny entertainment value remains.

        1. A long long time ago, in a Kingdom called America, a number of companies and individuals recognized that computers (PCs, tablets, DynaBooks, iPads, iPhones, iPods, Macs etc) were really not what the revolution was all about.
          It was all about access to information. Whether it was The Qube System, Teletex, Telidon, AOL, Compuserve, Delphi, Atari, Apple, The source or whoever delivering it didn’t really matter in the scheme of things.

          Now. The hardware capabilities have finally caught up with that vision from 40 FUCKING YEARS AGO and idiots like you, with your small minds and small penises just can’t help yourself. Can you.

          You can shut up now.

        2. Those companies saved us from what you’re talking about. Client/server is nothing less than the mainframe model, and it has it’s place, but it’s not nearly everything.

          Bill Joy is credited for coining “The Network is the Computer”. That’s one perspective.

          I look at it like this… “The Internet is the add-on”.

        3. I wouldn’t call the internet an add on. More like a pool of resources. Client/server? Those historical information utilities like AOL fit into that client/server model. With most people using their computer or tablet for email, surfing the web and entertainment they don’t need a computer. Just access to info.

  3. Now that external drive support will be supported, would it be possible for a 3rd party vendor to develop an app for burning CD/DVD’s? I know it’s ancient tech, but I still like to give some tech-hobbled friends music on disc, and have to hang onto my MacBook Pro until either optical disc burning comes to iPad, or til my friends can figure out how to get music off a thumb drive…

  4. If all you ever did with the MacBook was surf the web, send email, listen to music and play games, you never needed a MacBook. If you did more, it is no replacement.

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