There’s an assertion doing the rounds lately that the iPad can’t replace your laptop. Well, for me that’s certainly true : I need a Mac to do my job.

As an iOS app developer, when I sit down to work it’s invariably and necessarily in front of a Mac. MacBooks seem to be the favoured weapon of choice for developers of all persuasions these days, but I personally work better at a desktop machine - so an iMac is my preferred tool. App developers need a Mac because Xcode - the tool for building Mac and iOS apps - only runs on Macs. Other powerful tools compliment this, the Unix command line, GUI clients for source control, and design and graphics apps - making the Mac a productivity powerhouse.

But any time I’m not ‘working’ at app development, I pick up my iPad. In fact, I’m writing this on the train using my iPad. I haven’t bothered to connect to the slow on-board WiFi because the iPad has it’s own 4G connection. I’m typing as fast as I can on my laptop because I’m using the Smart Cover keyboard1.

I work away from home during the week, and usually pack my iPad and my personal single port MacBook (I have a work-owned machine that I use during the day). But I rarely, if ever, crack open the Macbook. The only times I turn it on are when I need to do some coding on my own personal apps, and the odd occasion that some task really require the additional flexibility that Mac OS offers. But those times are rare.

Not only is the iPad a capable productivity and entertainment device, there are things it does that the Mac can’t hope to compete with. Start listening to music on your AirPods, and chuck the iPad in your bag and head out. Guess what - the music keeps on playing. Try that on a Mac. Want to sketch out some ideas? Pull out the Pencil and fire up Linea (or on iOS11, just tap the pencil to the screen and start drawing).

My default machine is the iPad. It’s the thing I reach for when I want to write and email or a blog post, browse a web site or read the news, watch a movie or listen to music2. I only defer back to the Mac if I hit some roadblock where I know I could do the task more easily on a Mac.

Don’t get me wrong - I love the MacBook too. It’s tiny and lightweight, and has a great keyboard and screen. But I think it might be the last MacBook I own. In future I think I’ll stick with an iPad for portability, and a desktop Mac for work.

So for me, I couldn’t completely replace my Mac with an iPad. But - like any developer - I’m an outlier. For the majority of people and iPad can, and does, excel as their only computing device.

  1. I do wish the iPad had a preference for key repeat rate though - I find deleting too slow for my tastes. 

  2. Apple really did a great job on the speakers on the iPads Pro - they are fantastic!