How Apple’s iPad went from consumption device to indispensable

Apple's 10.2‑inch iPad with full-size Smart Keyboard
Apple’s 10.2‑inch iPad with full-size Smart Keyboard

Ten years ago, Ben Lovejoy was looking for a slim and light device that he could use to watch movies and TV shows on the go.

Ben Lovejoy for 9to5Mac:

The iPad seemed tailor-made for this, so I bit the bullet and bought one, not expecting to use it for much else. It took a couple weeks to realize I had underestimated the usefulness of the device: The iPad was much more than just a way to watch movies, it was also a really great mobile internet device.

Something crazy happens every November. In National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a bunch of certifiable people throughout the world try to write 50,000 words of a novel. One year, I decided to join them… The instant-on, instant-off nature of the iPad, coupled to a true 10-hour battery life, made it the perfect NaNoWriMo novel-writing tool…

[Today, the iPad Pro] has replaced a fair chunk of my [MacBook Pro] usage… I’d guess that something like 25% of the things I used to do on a MacBook are now done on my iPad.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a very app-specific thing for each individual when it come to how much you can get done on an iPad versus a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. If the apps you use and need are fully fleshed out on iPad, then the iPad can obviously pick up more than 25% of the workload. Some people can do everything they need with an iPad out of the box. Some need to add external keyboards. Some are still waiting for developers to match Mac feature sets in their iPadOS versions. (Adobe, we’re looking at you, but even some fantasy football sites offer more functionality on the desktop than they do in their mobile apps.) As with everything, how much iPad can do for you depends on what you do with computers.


  1. I tried to like the iPad. But I quickly realized that it was indeed dispensable if you already own a Mac or, yes, a Windows personal computer. The thin-client experience of iOS is highly constraining.

  2. I use my iPad Pro from morning to night. True, I do the heavy lifting with an iMac, but the iPad is used along side to annotate images, create simple sketches, read scripts while recording training videos and more. Separately it is great for reading PDFs and eBooks and listening to podcasts. I use it to present talks at scientific conferences and in one-on-one training with customers. It is a fantastic device that I use all day long.

  3. I bought it for work and it became a consumption device.
    (okay, not really. I bought it as a consumption device and it has remained one its entire life and sequence [iPad 2, 3, original Pro]).

    The iPad is an indispensable consumption device :).
    If I’m not in front of my iMac Pro, I watch all my movies and TV shows on my iPad (the iMac Pro’s screen is still far better when I’m sitting at my desk).

    The true dispensable item was the TV set. Other than an occasional football game, I rarely watch TV anymore.

    Of course, the big problem for my with the iPad is that I am a software and hardware developer. The small screen, lack of a mouse (well integrated into the OS), and native software and hardware development tools make the iPad a complete non-starter for my use case. Even as a writer (having written several technical books), I prefer a PC with Framemaker over anything that you can use on an iPad.

    I’m sure some “lightweight” computer users can get by just fine with an iPad (MDN’s “ten-year-old who has never used a PC.”) Not knocking them, but any article that claims “I can get by just using an iPad” is just as easily countered by other people who can’t. The difference is that the majority of such articles are written by journalists (writers) about how they can write their articles on an iPad. They seem to think that because they can get their work done on an iPad, everyone should be able to; they have no clue how “lightweight” their use cases are. This is very similar to the Mac owners bitching about how the Mac Pro isn’t really necessary because they don’t have a heavyweight-enough use case to justify one (I fall into this category; heck, the iMac Pro I purchased was, frankly, a waste of money — I could have gotten by with an iMac 5K for half the price given my use cases (very little video editing).

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