There’s a lot of talk about whether or not the new iPad Pro can be a laptop replacement and get real work done. While I don’t have a new iPad Pro yet (mine is on the way), we went with the previous iPad Pro this fall as the main/sole device we give to teachers, and overall, the response has been positive. There are always going to be complaints and growing pains when making a transition in technology (especially among teachers – no offense, teachers), but it seems like a definite improvement over the aging Windows laptops we were using. I’d like to go over some of the things that the iPad excels at as a laptop replacement, as well as some of the ways it could still improve to make it an uncompromising laptop replacement.
Ways It Excels As A Laptop Replacement:
The versatility of the iPad’s interaction methods mean it can be a perfect fit for anybody. Whether our teachers prefer to use the Apple Pencil and hand write everything, use the touch screen, use an external keyboard, or some combination of the three, the iPad easily adapts to what makes them most comfortable.
An iPad that is using AirPlay to display on a TV allows a teacher to be more mobile than a laptop that is tethered to a VGA cable. They can present from anywhere in the classroom with the iPad in their hand, which lets them better keep an eye on their students.
When it comes to portability, the iPad is light years ahead of the old Windows laptops we were using, which honestly isn’t that hard. But even compared to modern, ultraportable laptops, the iPad is hard to beat. I loving using my iPad as my main work device because it is so lightweight (it’s only 1 pound). Carrying it around with me on campus as I go from class to class and building to building is actually pleasant. Our teachers have really loved the drastic change in size and weight between their laptop and their iPad.
For our teachers, the iPad has been more intuitive than their Windows laptops. This is surely subjective, but it’s something that I appreciate as the head of technology. Any problem they can solve on their own frees me to handle the more difficult issues that arise.
Areas It Can Still Improve:
There are still a decent number of websites that think since you’re visiting from an iPad, you must want the mobile version of that site. On a 10.5” screen (much less an 11” or 12.9”) this just looks like poor design. You can hold your finger down on the reload button at the top of the window and choose to load a desktop version of the site, but this is hit or miss for me. I hope someday soon the web will treat the iPad like a regular computer and not a mobile one.
Apple has done a good job of bringing feature parity between its Mac iWork applications and their iOS variants. I’m not aware of things you can do on one that you cannot do on the other. The same cannot be said for both Google’s and Microsoft’s productivity suites – the iPad versions of these apps are definitely watered down. You can still access all of your files and get basics done, but there are going to be features missing. For me this hasn’t been a problem, but some of our teachers have missed certain PowerPoint features that they had on their laptops. Hopefully Microsoft and Google fix this. In addition to these, Apple also hasn’t brought their professional applications (Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro) to the iPad. As long as there are things that people need to do on an iPad that they cannot get done because of missing or watered down apps, it’s going to be hard to call the iPad a 100% laptop replacement for everyone. It works for us, but may not work for you.
For our teachers, the iPad has been a definite improvement from what they were using before. As I said earlier, there are growing pains. It takes a little time to transition your workflow to something new. That said, the iPad has been an exciting new direction for us. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.