Can the iPad Pro become an everyday computer replacement? My 7 day review at work with the iPad Pro & iPadOS

Can the iPad Pro become an everyday computer replacement? My 7 day review at work with the iPad Pro & iPadOS

Before I started in any direction with the iPad Pro I already knew out of the gate that it is not a full desktop/laptop replacement. My thoughts going into this project was that with the help and new direction of iPadOS that the iPad though still an iPad is now breaking lose and striving to become something more. Apple is starting to realize that iOS though great on a handheld phone that it is impeding and holding back the potential of what it can accomplish with the power of today’s iPads.

Why iPad Pro?
The iPad Pro is something that I’ve been wanting to utilize for a longtime but up until the latest generation of iPad Pro & the release of iPadOS it was hard to justify it as an everyday device. Could it replace a desktop? Can it take place of a laptop when you’re moving around and on the go? Can it become your be all, one in all device?

Luckily for me I have the ability to test it & push it as much as I can. With my day to day job as an IT Professional for a large Provincial College I have the ability to not only use the iPad as a daily driver but to explor different areas and views that some cannot. It is with this that I want to test different areas & push the potential of the iPad Pro.

My Setup

  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2018 3rd Gen)
  • Apple Pencil 2
  • Logitech Slim Folio Pro Keyboard
  • Logitech MX Anywhere 2s Mouse
  • JETech Tempered Glass

Day 1 – First Impressions (Sept. 18, 2019)

Thugh technically day 2 the iPad stayed in the box for the first day as it arrived without the case and I was to scared to take it out and use it without something to protect it. The iPad still feels like a fragile device and to me doesn’t feel comfortable to use without some sort of protection. This left me setting up the iPad with the latest iPadOS 10.3.1 Beta 4 build all while it sat in the box. Though getting ahold of a proper keyboard case was nice I have say that using the on screen keyboard for the day wasn’t as bad a I thought it would be with it being a full size on the iPad Pro 12.9.

When I finally got the case the next day it was a game changer. This was the first day where I was finally able to go through and setup the device the way I wanted and to get started with exploring the new device and the slick new iPadOS.

Mouse for an iPad? Who’s going to use that?
When I first seen reviews showing the ability to use a mouse I honestly though it looked useless. Will it even work the way we expect it to & what would we use it with? The short answer, it just works & you can use it for just about everything. To my surprise the mouse became part of the package. It flows alongside iOS/iPadOS a lot better than I was anticipating. I haven’t come across any applications that I can not use it for short of trying some games but have none to test with right now.

Apple opened up the treasure chest when they allowed for mouse support and with it so widely talked about and tested all they can do is embrace it and move forward supporting it.

Day 2 – There are differences between iPadOS & Office Apps from the desktop version? (Sept. 19, 2019)

So far my experience has been smooth. For day two though still exploring and customizing my setup I still have a job to do so it’s here where I hit the odd wall and needed to figure out how to do a task the same but different compared to it’s big brother OS’s laptops and desktops.

In my daily job I’m handing emails/communications, service tickets, documentation and more. It’s here where you need to realize that many apps were developed for iOS they’re not yet taking advantage of the larger screens and power that the iPads have.

My Apps:

  • Google Chrome & Safari
  • Apple Mail (Outlook when on a computer)
  • Microsoft ToDo
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Apple Files
  • Readdle Documents
  • Readdle Printer Pro
  • Citrix WorkSpace
  • Apple Siri Shortcuts
  • Spotify (everyone needs music)

Normally I’m a Google Chrome user but with the latest version of Safari it’s much better when it comes to viewing websites due to the ability to request and load all sites as a “Desktop”. This makes a big difference as Chrome still loads many sites with a mobile client feel. If it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t view my favourites in the bookmark bar as just icons without text I’d give it a good try without Chrome.

Mail vs Outlook
I use the Outlook app on my desktop defies devices but I’ve always found the iOS version to be lacking in a few areas and more so with the iPad version. Outlook still feels like a mobile app that just doesn’t have the comfortable view that the Mail App provides. This was the biggest decision to stay with Apple Mail as I want to see my structure and mail together. Apple Mail gives me a smoother looking and feeling client than Outlook though I think with some minor adjustments Outlook could become top dog. It’s the mobile feel in the Outlook app that hinders it on the iPad.

Office Suite
Our College has embraced Office 365 as many have so this will be my office suite of choice but I do hope in due time Microsoft will improve the interface and ability of its products to be closer to their desktop versions. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and OneNote though they get the job done they’re lacking in options. This is similar to the web versions as you will go looking for something you’re used to and it’s not there. They are a streamlined versions of their big brother apps for smaller products with less storage but with the storage and power behind newer hardware we need a suite that closer resembles the productivity of their counterparts.

We have a “Files” System?
With the Files App we have a bit more control over how we can handle and move files around which is a big change compared to years past but there’s a lot of room for improvement. I know I’ve working with a beta version but it still lacks in areas such as connecting to remote servers and the ability to read  and open files from an external drive without the need to copy to the local storage. 

I’ve been able to get around  some of this with the use of Readdle Documents but since third party apps do not yet have the ability to view local files it’s a back and forth game. The Files App still seems clunky when it comes to moving files around and if you want to open particular files (only found a couple files with this issue) from an external HD you may need to copy them to the local drive. For example we went to play a 10GB ProRes .mov file from an external 7,200rpm USB3 drive but we could not get the option to open in VLC. If I clicked on the files it didn’t know how to open it. Instead I needed to transfer it to the internal storage then when I went to open it the option for VLC was there and played it without issue. Because third party apps like VLC and other players have not been updated with the access and ability to open files from external devices the work around is to use the Files App only.

It wasn’t until this week while using the iPad that I realized support for iOS and printing just, well, sucks! WiFi printing is not a normal way of printing when it comes to Enterprise. WiFi printing is a consumer function. So how did I fix this? It was rather easy, well, at least for me since I still have a work desktop in the office to utilize. With the help of Readdle Printer Pro I was able to make quick work of printing. I installed the needed desktop app on my office computer then installed the Printer Pro app on the iPad. From here I added the printer by adding the needed code from the desktop app to connect them via the cloud. The bonus here is that because it’s printing documents technically through my desktop it’s still using our Print Counting System that we have in place. Another bonus, this works smooth with an iPhone as well.