was probably the one that received the least attention. Although I am not personally very invested in the latter, there is a particular aspect of the
it’s worth a close look.
Namely, the fact that the device seeks to redefine the primary purpose of a tablet in the first place. It seems Google’s decision to take a different approach, which emphasizes smart home functionality, is a direct result of the evolution of tablets over the past two years.
The purpose of modern tablets
First of all, most people may still remember the lofty goal of tablets when they first started gaining traction. For a while, it looked like these devices could eventually replace laptops and computers as the only productivity devices consumers use every day. Needless to say, that vision hasn’t materialized, and barring a slight spike in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, tablet shipments have more or less plateaued and are expected to remain well below PCs. traditional.
Image Credit – IDC
Plus, over the past couple of years, the most commercially successful tablets just aren’t trying to emulate the 2-in-1 fantasy in the first place. I decided to call this phenomenon the “iPad problem”, since Apple is the undisputed king of tablets right now. Basically, today’s most popular tablets cannot and do not seek to replace your laptop. They aim to be a flashy gadget that you use alongside a computer (when you don’t have your phone in your hand, that is).
Image credit – Canalys
It’s no surprise that the Cupertino company has managed to convince users that they need three or more Apple products in their lifetime. But what exactly are the implications of this strategy… and where does that leave the iPad, the most distensible of the lot?
The iPad: Stellar Hardware vs. Subpar Software
Over the past couple of years, Apple’s iPad lineup has come a long way in the hardware department, especially when it comes to the high-end iPad Pro models. The adoption of the M1 chip gave the Cupertino company’s tablets an unprecedented advantage over their competitors – not only on Android devices like the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, but also on those that run entirely on Windows, like the Microsoft Surface 9. It should be noted that even less premium iPad models like the The iPad Air (2022) still offers superior performance to tablets in the same price range. In a sense, hardware-wise, Apple’s iPads are as good as they come, with one notable exception that can’t be overlooked. All iPads except the The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is stuck with an LCD panel. Thankfully, that should change for the foreseeable future as Apple continues its transition to OLED.
This means that as soon as possible, the iPad should be as close to tablet perfection as possible. Which is one of the main things that grab users’ attention. Combined with the advantages of the Apple ecosystem, it is not very difficult to explain the unparalleled appeal of the iPad. In fact, the appeal is so powerful that it manages to captivate consumers despite one glaring shortcoming: iPadOS.
This is not only due to the very nature of iPadOS, but also to the latter’s dependence on the App Store. There are almost no applications capable of fully exploiting the capabilities of the M1/M2 chip. To add insult to injury, even apps like Final Cut Pro come with very limited functionality, with no obvious justification. Which brings me to the crux of the matter.
Do you really need an 11″+ iPhone?
The evolution of the iPad (and the tablet as a whole) has been heavily influenced by the way smartphones have developed over the past decade. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that they, unlike laptops and computers, share the primary touchscreen input method. Therefore, tablet operating systems and their functionality rely on Android and iOS, more than Windows and MacOS. No matter how many advanced multitasking features Apple implements, iPadOS will never have the software capabilities to take full advantage of iPad’s exceptional hardware without a major overhaul. Unfortunately, the Cupertino company is reluctant to align iPadOS with a desktop operating system (more on that later) and tries to position it as a middle ground between macOS and iOS.
Where does this lead us? The iPad becomes a tertiary product, one that can offer neither the portability of the iPhone nor the productivity of the MacBook. At best, it’s used as a dedicated media-consuming device, at worst – as a glorified toy to give to your little one.
Between florets with large imprints like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, notebook-style foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and laptops with touchscreens like the Lenovo Yoga 9i, there’s very little room left for glorified high-end smartphones.
Will Apple change course?
The last paragraph offers yet another explanation for the sluggishness of tablet sales… and Apple knows it, because the iPad is no exception to the norm. Essentially, the company is intentionally crippling its own device in order to allow the MacBook to shine.
Whether a truly capable iPad is a real threat to the MacBook is a question in itself. However, won’t it get any easier to answer by giving the iPad even more raw power with the next-gen M3 chip?
The iPad should either reach its full potential, perhaps at the expense of the MacBook, or continue to be a niche device, used primarily by those too young to own an iPhone. Finally, no one is saying that the iPad should run macOS – but it certainly should have software (more) suited to its hardware capabilities. Everything else is exaggeration.