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Can you replace your Mac 2020 with an iPad?

  An iPad Pro with a magic keyboard, mouse, iPhone 11 Pro, and AirPods on a desk.
Pickaxe Media / Shutterstock

The iPad is rarely seen as a real computer, but times are changing. Apple's hardware, software, and marketing suggest that the latest iPad Pro and its Magic Keyboard are the next laptop replacement Apple has ever made.

Is the iPad finally ready for the big time in 2020? Well, it depends.

iPad Pro, iPad Air or iPad?

Despite many similarities, the iPad Pro, iPad Air and standard iPad are very different tablets. If you want to replace a full-fledged computer with a tablet, the iPad Pro comes a lot closer in terms of features and hardware features.

Starting at $ 799, the iPad Pro is also much more expensive than a regular iPad starting at $ 329. You can buy an iPad Air from $ 499. For this comparison, we consider the iPad Air as the "standard" model, since the normal iPad is cheaper and is mainly aimed at classrooms.

The iPad Pro is supplied with a more powerful A1

2Z processor, two cameras and up to 1 TB of memory and a USB-C port. The iPad Air has a normal A12 chip, up to 256 GB of memory and a single 8 megapixel camera.

  An iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard and Trackpad.

The latest iPad Pro models are compatible with Apple's newly announced Magic Keyboard (which includes a trackpad). The iPad Air has to get by with a smart keyboard (a folio case without a trackpad). If you want to use the (latest) second version of Apple Pencil, you are limited to the iPad Pro. Optionally, you can connect a Bluetooth mouse or a trackpad to your normal iPad.

Overall, the iPad Pro experience is the premium experience of both. Both Pro tablets come with high-resolution 120 Hz ProMotion displays, which means that they respond better to touch inputs. Thanks to Apple's Liquid Retina display, the display quality of the Pro is also better. The speakers have also improved significantly.

If you want to perform demanding tasks on your tablet, e.g. For example, rendering videos or playing the latest 3D games, the iPad Pro is a better choice. If you want expandability via USB-C, choose the Pro. If a trackpad is important to you, you need the Pro.

  An iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro 11-inch comparison side by side.

Both tablets run the same operating system and offer access to a largely identical library of software. However, the iPad Pro comes much closer to a laptop replacement and still remains competitively priced.

iPad Pro is more like a Mac than ever

Apple's marketing for the latest version of iPad Pro marks a turning point in how the company positions its high-end tablet. The claim that "your next computer is not a computer" is the first time that Apple has referred to the iPad as a "computer" (despite the implications of such a slogan).

But there is a reason for this sudden change of perspective – the new Magic Keyboard with trackpad. Apple has always been at the forefront of trackpad gaming as long as most of us can remember. The trackpad on the new Magic Keyboard was praised similarly. IOS 14 is expected to make better use of this peripheral when it is released in October.

While connected to the Magic keyboard, the iPad itself hovers, much like an iMac with a hinged hinge. It's a big improvement over the weaker smart keyboard, although it's still thin and light enough to use as a tablet.

In contrast to the Lightning connector, the iPad Pro is also supplied with a suitable USB-C connector for charging and expanding the air and normal iPad. You can connect USB-C hubs to use normal USB-A, memory cards, a 3.5mm audio interface, or HDMI connections with varying degrees of success.

  iPadOS 13 runs on an iPad Pro.

And then there is iPadOS, an offshoot of iOS. It looks and feels exactly the same, but has been tailored more specifically to the tablet form factor. The gestures you use on the iPad Pro are similar to those on the latest iPhones. You can also run two apps simultaneously in a split 50/50 view or a 70/30 slide-over view.

Apple's Files app lets you manage files both locally and in the cloud. Believe it or not, none of the iPad or iPhone models had this feature until iOS 11 arrived in late 2018. You can color and label files to make it easier to organize, just like on macOS. These are basic but essential features, and the iPad Pro has finally covered most of them.

Another area where the iPad Pro has been improved is software support. While iPadOS borrows heavily from the standard version of iOS, the introduction of heavyweight apps makes the tablet infinitely more practical for creative people. Adobe Photoshop for iPadOS even has the same code base as the desktop version.

Adobe has also announced that full-fat versions of Illustrator and Aero will soon be available on the iPad. This type of software support from an industry leader changes the game. Combine this with professional apps like LumaFusion or Cubasis, and the iPad Pro becomes a far more practical platform for serious work.

What are you using your Mac for?

The iPad Pro (and even the regular old iPad) can do pretty much any “wireless web” task you do. This includes checking and replying to emails, chatting with Slack, surfing the Internet, word processing and other office tasks. For most people, it's also a pretty powerful photo and video editing device.

But there are many tasks that the iPad Pro and its cheaper siblings cannot do. This is mainly due to Apple's "Walled Garden" approach to software management. iPadOS is not a MacOS. Although the two platforms share more code and functionality over time, they remain distinctly separate.

macOS is a suitable desktop operating system. Apple strives to pack the desktop experience into cotton wool, making it difficult to install software from unknown sources.

Mac functions such as system integrity protection prevent people (and malware) from corrupting important files or inserting code apps like Finder or Safari.

  A 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro.

These protective measures are largely optional under macOS. If you want, you can install an app from anywhere. You can disable protection at the operating system level and play around with files to your heart's content. You can install Windows on your Mac and delete your recovery partition if you really want to.

You can't do this on an iPad without jailbreaking (installing modified firmware that removes Apple's restrictions). This is a fundamentally risky process because you are also removing many of Apple's protective features. Jailbreaking is a cat-and-mouse game that security-conscious people should avoid.

Your iPad cannot format a USB drive for exFAT, so you can view a movie file on your smart TV. Neither Windows nor Linux can be run on your iPad, nor can installation media be prepared for these platforms. Many accessories are not compatible with the iPad, including Thunderbolt RAID arrays and HDMI capture cards.

  A G-Tech G-RAID chassis.

You cannot install a BitTorrent client on your iPad and use it to share files. You can't just play old DOS games with an emulator like DOSBox. You cannot run a simple file or media server for your home network from an iPad. You also can't create local backups of your iPhone or other iOS devices on an iPad like on a Mac.

When you create software, there is no Xcode for iPadOS (at least not yet). There are rumors that Apple will release a version of Xcode for the iPad along with iOS (or iPadOS) 14. This would be a game changer for many developers who are tied to MacBooks and iMacs. It could also open the door for Apple's top tier apps to receive iPadOS ports, including industry standards like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.

The iPad is inherently a more restrictive device. However, this doesn't mean that it doesn't work as a kind of computer replacement. In fact, buying an iPad Pro may make more sense than upgrading your existing device.

The Benefits of Using an iPad for Certain Tasks

If You Are Looking for a Faster, Newer, and Shimmering Way Basic Everyday Tasks, an iPad Pro could fill the gap. Instead of opting for a new MacBook, you should keep your old one and add an iPad Pro.

Starting at $ 799, the iPad Pro is cheaper than any MacBook model. If you add $ 299 for a Magic keyboard, you get $ 1,099 for a simple 128GB tablet. For comparison, the MacBook Air starts at $ 999 and requires no additional purchases.

However, the A12Z processor and multicore performance make the iPad Pro a much more powerful computer. If you're doing video coding, multitasking, or heavy apps like Photoshop, the iPad Pro is a more powerful machine.

 Widgets on an iPad Pro home screen in landscape format. [19659004] Geekbench is a benchmarking tool that compares how powerful the hardware really is. The base MacBook Air 2020 achieved a single core score of around 1,002, while the multicore performance rose to 1,997. For comparison: The iPad Pro 11-inch for 2020 has an average single core value of 1,113 and a multi-core value of 4,608.

If you hold your Mac for everything the iPad Pro can't, the tablet can complete a nice setup. You also get a tablet that is perfect for watching movies and games, and a better sofa or travel companion than a swivel laptop.

Battery life is comparable, as is charging, since both the iPad Pro and MacBook Air are charged via USB-C. When comparing the 11-inch models, both are slim and portable. If you can live with (or work around) restrictions, you may prefer the iPad Pro route.

Remember that the iPad cannot do everything. You will likely encounter some of these limitations at some point. Even things you take for granted, such as using web apps (WordPress blog engine is a good example), can be frustrating on an iPad. Hopefully the new Magic Keyboard Trackpad and iOS 14 will help solve some of these problems.

Progress, but still not for everyone

When the iPad Pro first came on the market, it was unable to completely replace a laptop. However, in the past few iterations, Apple has made some major changes in both hardware and software. These changes give the premium tablet a real chance of success.

Finally, years later, a strategy comes together!

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