Tag Archive for ‘Riccardo Mori’

The State of iPad

The iPad was announced on January 27, 2010 — just over ten years ago. And this anniversary has started a discussion among our community about the state of iPad, where it has succeeded and where it has failed. I have my own opinions which I’ll share at the end, but I thought I’d do my best Michael Tsai impersonation and share some choice quotes from others who have written about this occasion.

John Gruber:

The iPad at 10 is, to me, a grave disappointment. Not because it’s “bad”, because it’s not bad — it’s great even — but because great though it is in so many ways, overall it has fallen so far short of the grand potential it showed on day one. To reach that potential, Apple needs to recognize they have made profound conceptual mistakes in the iPad user interface, mistakes that need to be scrapped and replaced, not polished and refined. I worry that iPadOS 13 suggests the opposite — that Apple is steering the iPad full speed ahead down a blind alley.

Nick Heer:

There are small elements of friction, like how the iPad does not have paged memory, so the system tends to boot applications from memory when it runs out. There are developer limitations that make it difficult for apps to interact with each other. There are still system features that occupy the entire display. Put all of these issues together and it makes a chore of something as ostensibly simple as writing.

Riccardo Mori:

Ten years later, here I am, with a sufficiently large and advanced iPhone on one side, and a sufficiently compact and powerful laptop (the 11-inch MacBook Air) on the other. And the combination of these two devices has effectively neutralised any need I might have for an iPad. After ten years, the only area where the iPad has truly become far better than a laptop and far better than a smartphone is art creation. For that, it’s a really astounding tool.

John Gruber, in response to Matt Birchler’s on the intuitiveness of platforms:

Advanced iPad features are mostly invoked only by gestures — which gestures are not cohesively designed. The Mac is more complex — which is good for experts and would-be experts, but bad for typical users — but its complexity is almost entirely discoverable visually. You just move your mouse around the screen and click on things. That’s how you close any window. That’s how you put any window into or out of full-screen mode.1 Far more of iPadOS should be exposed by visual buttons and on-screen elements that you can look at and simply tap or drag with a single finger.

Habib Cham:

The age-old uncertainty of whether the iPad can completely replace your PC and whether you can do work on the iPad remains. There is a simple answer to both questions: it depends on your computing requirements. To still utterly condemn the iPad as incapable of doing work is ludicrous and often a statement made by disputatious observers.

Lee Peterson:

I might dig into other comments separately but in general I have to say that I’d like iPhone development to slow down and iPad development to speed up. iOS 14 should be stability and no new features on iPhone and a real effort put into pruning iPadOS. I’d also love to see more work put in by Apple to make professional apps such as Final Cut Pro on iPad and it’s own apps such as Reminders split out of the OS and put into the store as an app that can be worked on independently just like Microsoft or Google do. […]

The iPad in my opinion isn’t tragic or a failure, it just needs a bit more focus for the power users.

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Apple’s iPad may have transformed the tablet market, but it now appears to be growing into something more. The next decade of the iPad will define whether it remains as a third category of device that’s capable of occasionally bridging the gap between tablet and PC or if it’s ready to fully embrace life as a laptop.

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories:

iPad keynotes are very different today. The black leather chair is gone, and demos emphasize creative apps like Adobe Photoshop. The ‘single slab of multitouch glass’ is gone too. Sure, the iPad can still be used on its own and can transform into whichever app you’re using as it has always done, but there are many more layers to the interaction now with Split View, Slide Over, and multiwindowing, along with accessories like the Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil.

That’s quite a transformation for a product that has only been around for 10 years, and with the more recent introduction of the iPad Pro and iPadOS, in many ways it feels as though the iPad is just getting started.

Om Malik:

A decade after its introduction, I think the iPad is still an underappreciated step in the storied history of computing. If anything, it has been let down by the limited imagination of application developers, who have failed to harness the capabilities of this device.

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The iPad situation is serious. As an old warrior of the early Mac years recently said, one worries that Apple’s current leadership is unable to say No to bad ideas. Do Apple senior execs actually use the iPad’s undiscoverable and, once discovered, confusing multitasking features? Did they sincerely like them? Perhaps they suffer a lack of empathy for the common user: They’ve learned how to use their favorite multitasking gestures, but never built an internal representation of what we peons would feel when facing the iPad’s “improvements”.

Ben Thompson:

There are, needless to say, no companies built on the iPad that are worth anything approaching $1 billion in 2020 dollars, much less in 1994 dollars, even as the total addressable market has exploded, and one big reason is that $4.99 price point. Apple set the standard that highly complex, innovative software that was only possible on the iPad could only ever earn 5 bucks from a customer forever (updates, of course, were free).

I have a more optimistic outlook on the iPad than many of the bigger influencers within the community. It’s far from perfect, but I think the state of iPad is overall positive. There are issues with the multitasking interface, text selection, mediocre mouse support, and more — I trust that these annoyances will be smoothed out over time, though.

And even with these issues, my iPad is still my primary personal computing device. With the help of Fantastical, Day One, Bear, Things, Ulysses, Spark, Slack, Code Editor by Panic, Pixelmator, and more, I can do just about everything I was using my Mac for prior to going iPad-first in 2015.

There are still plenty of limitations on the iPad, but the ceiling feels higher for me than it does on macOS. The key is access to automation through Shortcuts. On macOS, I’ve used Alfred, Quicksilver, Automator, and countless other apps within the category, but I’ve never been able to build anything quite as advanced as I have with Shortcuts.

It’s difficult to feel pessimistic about a platform that is home to a productivity tool that has clicked for me like Shortcuts has. And seeing Apple integrate it into the system as deeply as they have shows that they get it. It’s just a matter of tightening things up and continuing to aim the ship in its current direction.

Riccardo Mori Spends Ten Days With the First-Generation iPad ➝

I still have my original iPad, but unfortunately, the battery’s completely shot. Which is a real shame, because I would love to spend a few hours tinkering with it.

Speculation and Dread for the Next Transition ➝

Riccardo Mori, in reference to Andy Ihnatko’s piece on the rumored transition of Macs to ARM:

I have to reiterate just how silly and disheartening all the recent treatment of the Mac has become. That it’s inadequate, and has to be phased out, is just empty talk by all-too-eager iOS-only pundits. Obviously, everyone is free to use what’s best for them and speak about their preferences, but things like The Mac is too cumbersome and difficult to use, or that it’s inadequate for modern tasks, or that iOS is a superior platform are very subjective opinions, and not statements of facts. It’s also a bit hypocritical to invite Mac users to be more open-minded towards iOS as a professional tool, while iOS-only proponents aren’t similarly inclined to maybe get to know the Mac better before dismissing it as inadequate and awkward. As I’ve previously, repeatedly said, this iOS vs. Mac OS debate is toxic; Mac OS doesn’t need to be put aside to make iOS shine. It’s not a zero-sum game.

This insistence that, between iOS and Mac OS, ‘only one shall prevail’ is so misplaced. Both platforms have a specific kind of versatility and a specific set of strengths. If you ask me, the smart position is Better both worlds than the best of both worlds — but both worlds need to be taken care equally. Currently, that doesn’t seem to be happening, with the Mac losing ground, and Apple executives not giving very strong signals that they love the Mac as much as they say they do. This rumoured next transition will be crucial and revealing in this regard. As Ihnatko concludes, either Apple has a big, revolutionary plan in store for the Mac, or it’s preparing for the last season of Mac OS.

iOS may be my preferred platform, but I certainly don’t want to see Macs to go away.

Snow Leopardise to Not Compromise ➝

Riccardo Mori:

I’m still using a fair amount of vintage PowerPC Macs and older iOS devices on a daily basis. I’m writing this on a 17-inch PowerBook G4 from 2003/2004, running Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard. I also use other Macs running Tiger (10.4) and even Panther (10.3). I’ve been using these Macs and these versions of Mac OS X constantly for years — and in the case of an iBook G3 and the 12-inch PowerBook G4, since their introduction, April 2005 for Tiger, October 2007 for Leopard. While I indeed encountered a few annoying bugs when Tiger and Leopard were in active development, I remember how the most egregious usually disappeared after a minor OS X release (I even remember resolving an issue on one of my Macs by downloading a Combo Update and reinstalling).

Whether small or a bit more serious, the bugs, then, felt like something transient passing through an otherwise rock-solid environment. In my 10+ years of using these PowerPC Macs running Tiger and Leopard, I’ve never encountered new issues or noticed things I didn’t before, and I’ve had plenty of time to become ‘hyper-sensitive’ to how they work. Sure, the PowerPC platform isn’t in active development anymore, and I’m speaking of machines and systems that are basically crystallised in their most mature state. But still, in all these years of use, with all the first-party and third-party software I’ve thrown at them, I should have been able to encounter bugs I’d previously missed, or trigger unexpected behaviours.

It’s hard for me to speak about the buggy-ness of Apple’s software these days — I just don’t experience the sheer number of irritating, daily annoyances that others seem to. But I can say without hesitation that Apple’s software during the days of Tiger and Leopard was rock solid.

App Subscription Optimism ➝

Nick Heer, commenting on Riccardo Mori’s app subscription piece:

I’m generally optimistic because the apps you love most probably come from developers who respect their users. Developers like Panic, Flexibits, Cultured Code, Tapbots, Sam Oakley, and Ole Zorn — they actually care. And those developers who do not care about their apps’ users will find it very difficult to retain subscribers.

My thoughts exactly — the more I think about these changes, the more I believe the market will work itself out. It might be a little bumpy at first, as developers test the waters with new revenue models, but I don’t expect it’ll take long for everything to settle into a comfortable position for users and developers alike.

On the Magic Keyboard’s Arrow Keys ➝

Riccardo Mori:

I’m absolutely baffled by this change, because it’s simply poor design. It impacts usability, it goes against the majority of keyboards out there, it seems completely unnecessary and arbitrary, something like Let’s fill up all the space because the empty areas above the left/right keys don’t look cool. Something users have to take time and adjust to for no justifiable reason. […]

You may think I’m making a big deal out of a minor detail. It’s that I utterly dislike arbitrary design impositions such as these. Sure, one may get used to that arrow keys arrangement eventually, but if you — like me — usually type on more than one keyboard, and all the other keyboards you own have the traditional ‘inverted T’ design, good luck getting used to the other design while you switch from the Magic Keyboard to another and back.

Maybe I’ll stick it out with my pre-magic Apple wireless keyboard for a little while longer.