Even some of Apple’s most dedicated fans seem to think the iPad has been something of a disappointment. “Apple cheerleader John Gruber, who usually ardently defends the company, feels the iPad simply hasn’t evolved,” Navneet Alang writes for The Week. “Noted analyst and former Apple employee Ben Thompson called the iPad not a failure, but rather a tragedy: something that hasn’t and never will live up to its potential.” But, really, Apple’s iPad has transformed computing.
It’s an odd contradiction: the iPad has sold nearly half a billion units and produced billions in revenue and profit, and yet there’s this lingering sense that it’s been a weird sort of dud — wildly popular and disappointing all at once.
That’s because according to these critics the iPad was supposed to revolutionary — to have the same kind of impact on the world as the iPhone. But what the criticism misses is that the iPad’s impact was always going to be less obvious and more implicit — and it still represents the future of computing…
For a device that’s just a disappointment, that iPad seems to have upended the industry nonetheless.
That’s not to say the criticisms are unwarranted. Rather, this situation is a product of the tablet not yet finding a particular grammar of its own — an interface and a hardware model that truly works for the tablet’s in-between status. Nothing is more emblematic of this problem than tablet keyboards, where even the most elegant solutions are awkward at best.
MacDailyNews Take: Look, it depends, as always, on what you do. If you write (blog), you need a good keyboard, you need precise cursor control, and you need to be able to cut/copy/paste accurately and quickly. As all written reviews are from writers, and the iPad is inferior to a MacBook for writing, what you’ll read is heavier on the criticism than from say, an artist. For an artist, an iPad is a total revolution. Ditto for musicians. But artists and musicians write far fewer reviews than writers (duh), so all we end up hearing about is an endless stream of how the iPad keyboard “sucks,” how iPad needs circa-1984 mouse support, and “where’s my trackpad?”
We use MacBook Pros to write. If iPad had a keyboard anywhere near as good as our 16-inch MacBook Pros and allowed us to quickly and accurately select and move text snippets, we’d use it more for writing (blogging). If iPad had coherent, intuitive multi-tasking and we could use it to quickly assemble images and insert them into our articles, we’d use it more. But, right now, it cannot come close to working as well and as quickly on both counts as our MacBook Pros.
If an artist or musician or someone from any number of other disciplines (almost every high-level exec we know today uses an iPad Pro far more than a laptop, if they still even have a laptop) were to write about the iPad, the story would be completely the opposite. iPad works far better for what they’re doing than a MacBook Pro. For many, Apple’s iPad transformed computing long ago.
We find that there are many older users longing to make iPad work like a laptop, because that’s what they know.
Take a look at a twelve-year-old who’s only really ever used an iPad for personal computing. It’s an eyeopener. It’s like looking into the future.
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
Our main gripe about iPad is about iPadOS, not the brilliant hardware, and that we feel Apple should be further along that they are now because what they’re offering currently significantly lacks intuitiveness and discovery. This is because the company lost their sole judge of user-friendliness and have not yet been able to construct a reliable system of replacing that singular point of judgement. This is why nobody can just pick up an iPad and figure out how to multitask with it today. If you have to read the manual, that’s not the Apple way; Steve would have repeatedly sent them back to get it right and make it discoverable before he’d ship it.
iPad’s multitasking certainly screams for a rethink. But it, along with add-on keyboards and rudimentary mouse support, signals Apple’s confusion as to what to do with iPad, what iPad is for, how iPad is supposed to work, and what iPad’s supposed to be. Steve Jobs had an idea of what iPad was meant to become, we’re fairly certain, but it seems to have gotten muddled since he passed too soon after iPad’s birth.
If we could boil down iPad’s problem, it comes down to an overall problem Apple has had seemingly since Steve Jobs’ death: Discoverability. Used to be, you could grab an Apple product and intuitively figure it out. That interesting, but half-baked ideas like 3D Touch and Touch Bars and iPad split-view multitasking whatever somehow made it to the public (we all know why: the final arbiter, the guy who’d send his engineers and designers back to their drawing boards the minute something wasn’t user-friendly enough was gone). These things, especially iPad multitasking, are simply not discoverable or intuitive or consistent and it’s in those very things where Apple misses Steve Jobs the most today. — MacDailyNews, January 28, 2020
A team of people – talented people who actually get it and who are all on the same page – is an absolute necessity for Apple’s success, but it creates a problem: Jobs was a single filter. A unified mind. The founder. A group of people simply cannot replicate that. This is not to say that they cannot do great work (we believe Apple does, and will continue, to do great work) just that Apple is fundamentally affected by the loss of Steve Jobs and has to figure out a new way to work. — MacDailyNews, April 8, 2014
The absence of Steve Jobs grows ever more apparent with the introduction of each new Apple product, service, and app. At today’s Apple, the lack of an omnipotent arbiter of taste glares like a klieg light. — MacDailyNews, October 1, 2017