Normally when I come home from work, I’ll take my laptop and plug it into my 32-inch 4K monitor and start typing. Whether it’s a feature story or a newsletter, I tend to spend the rest of my evening at my desk making sure I can get whatever content I want finished. But as of late, that hasn’t been the case.
Lately, I’ve been spending a ton of time away from my desk, and it’s all thanks to Apple’s iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard. I have yet to do a proper review on the keyboard (it’s coming – I promise!), but I did want to take a second talk about how I’ve been using the tablet/accessory combo: as a Chromebook.
For years, I’ve been begging companies for a Chromebook that I could do almost all of my work on. With Matridox, my workflow is pretty basic. I use a web browser constantly throughout the day, and only a handful of other apps like watermarking software and Spotify are open at the same time. I’m not editing 4K RAW footage or trying to color-correct landscape photography. I’m just writing articles, checking email, and collecting research. It’s really quite simple.
But my search for the perfect Chromebook always ends in disappointment. Some might say Google’s Pixelbook or Pixelbook Go are what I’m looking for, but they really aren’t. What I’m looking for is a lightweight computer that’s fun to use, something I can throw in my bag, has LTE, and is still powerful enough in case my work load requires more horsepower one day. I also want it to pry me from the many distractions a typical Windows laptop is filled with. Folks, sometimes computing limitations are good when you have to force yourself to sit down and write.
I’ve always been attracted to Chromebooks for this reason. Some come with insane amounts of power that no Chromebook owner would ever take advantage of, while others are capable of connecting to LTE. Some are light, some are ultra-portable, and some are relatively fun to use. And Chrome OS is no Windows 10 or macOS, so the whole “focus on your writing Max because it’s the only thing you can do on this thing” idea would play nicely. But one that does all of that and does it well is pretty much non-existent.
That is, until you start looking at computers that don’t run Chrome OS.
Apple’s iPad Pro runs iPadOS which, for years, was simply called iOS and acted like a blown-up iPhone with huge icons, a ton of white space, and a nearly identical experience to the six-inch devices we all carry in our pockets. But over the past few years, Apple has really refined the iPad experience to better fit a larger canvas, and iPadOS is by far their best implementation yet.
It does Split View. It does Slide Over. It has a ton of gestures that aren’t complicated to learn. It has a huge app ecosystem and it’s buttery smooth. It takes full advantage of the power Apple packs into each iPad, all while remaining incredibly efficient in energy consumption. Plus, Apple has yet to turn it into a proper macOS alternative (e.g. the iPad just got trackpad support, while the file system is far from perfect). It’s one thing to say how many things you can do on the iPad, and it’s another thing to say how you can do those things on the iPad.
I’m fascinated by the “how” part of that sentence, hence the reason I bought the $299 Magic Keyboard for my 11-inch iPad Pro when it came out. I wanted to see how I could do all of my work on my iPad and whether it could prove to be the Chromebook that I’ve been dreaming about.
Guys, it totally is. Almost overnight, my iPad Pro has turned into my preferred writing computer. I no longer think about buying a Chromebook for managing all the lightweight work surrounding my website. The iPad Pro does everything I’ve been looking for in a Chromebook, and it does it extremely well.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. For years, people have complained about inconsistencies throughout Chrome OS such as hardware optimization and energy efficiency. Plus, the whole app situation is still screwed up since all you have to work with are a bunch of Android tablet apps that, *snarky growl*, aren’t that great. Meanwhile, everyone from indie app developers to large corporations have been developing iPad apps for nearly a decade, so enough time for them to perfect their own experiences has been granted ten-fold.
Apple’s also just better at software. iPadOS, in my experience, has been nothing but silky and smooth. Bugs, performance issues, and security flaws are a rarity for the system, and you’re guaranteed software updates for at least four or five years. (I have a feeling this number may be a bit bigger for iPad Pros since they’re basically computers at this point and MacBooks dating all the way back to 2012 can run macOS Catalina).
And then there’s the conversation about whether it can replace your laptop. Look: until iPadOS gets proper windowing, a deeply integrated file system, and desktop-class app support, the iPad will not replace your laptop. But I didn’t set out looking to replace my laptop. I just want a solid companion that I can use to focus for a while and not get distracted by the vast capabilities of my Windows laptop. Plus, my iPad is just more fun to use with all of its animations and ability to transform into a media powerhouse at a moment’s notice.
This goes without saying the Magic Keyboard is an absolutely delightful accessory, but I’ll save that for my review.
My 2018 iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard make my dream of finding the perfect Chromebook a reality. It’s now my go-to computer, and I couldn’t be happier.
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