The Platform’s Ceiling Is Irrelevant

Shawn Blanc, on the anniversary of the iPad’s initial release:

It’s now been seven years since the original iPad shipped. And the basic landscape hasn’t changed all that much. This is simultaneously good and bad.

…bad because the iPad is [a] fantastic device, and yet it’s not the go-to platform for the best apps and innovations.

But good because it means the iPad is still full of simplicity and promise.

Unlike the iPhone, I didn’t wait in line to buy the original iPad. Instead, I preordered a cellular model and had to wait until the end of the month for it to ship. Since then, I’ve only owned one other model — the iPad Air 2 that I’m currently typing on. It’s one of the most powerful computers I’ve ever used. And I’m not just talking about its computational abilities.

The iPad has become a platform that’s near and dear to my heart because its a device that has unlocked a great deal of potential within me. It wasn’t until I went full time on iOS and started using apps like Workflow, Coda, and Ulysses that I really began to understand what I was able to do with computers. Building complicated workflows to improve my productivity, writing more efficiently with Markdown, and redesigning my site from the ground up — it’s coming soon, I promise. This is the type of stuff that just never clicked for me until I started treating my iOS devices as first-class citizens.

This might sound odd given that the Mac is thought of as the more capable operating system. But despite my best efforts, I was never able to get the most out of macOS. I’ve used Quicksilver, Automator, and just about every other power user app you can think of, but the habits didn’t materialize — beyond using control+space to launch applications and open webpages.

What I’ve learned from the iPad over these seven years — an important lesson that everyone in this community should consider — is that it doesn’t matter what the absolute potential of a platform is. It only matters what you are capable of while using it. I think we can all agree that, as of right now, the Mac is able to perform a much wider range of tasks, but if I am capable of more on iOS, isn’t it the better option for me?

The iPad might not be the industry’s go-to platform for innovation, but its the machine that has enabled me to find the most creativity and innovation within myself.