I bought a MacBook!
That’s not usually a surprising statement, but it is in my case!
For years, I’ve been using an iPad Pro as my main computer, and supporting it with an M1 Mac Mini for any needed heavy lifting! I used to do about 90% of my computational tasks on the iPad Pro; writing, note-taking by hand, reading, annotating PDFs, word processing, email, browsing, etc. My M1 Mac mini had only a few jobs; backing up data, video editing, working with multiple apps on multiple screens, and the occasional word processing tasks that the iPad could not do.
I enjoyed having a device that is truly mobile, powerful, and flexible. I could work in my home office, work office (before leaving the job!), coffee shops, and any spot at home!
There is something magical about grabbing a light and small device, going to a coffee shop, picking whatever table I wanted, easily placing the device on the table, and getting into work! The Magic Keyboard is excellent for type intensive tasks, while the Apple Pencil is great for hand notes, brainstorming, and annotations.
Like many people, I was thrilled with the announcement of the iPad Pro 2021 with the M1 chip and the prospect of it becoming even more computer-like! And like many people, I found myself buying it even though I had a solid 2018 iPad Pro!
Then…. WWDC 2021 happened!
Among other announcements, iPadOS 15 was announced. I remember not really noticing the (cool) new features like enhanced multitasking and expanded keyboard shortcuts. These and others were solid and good improvements, but there were no major features taking the iPad (Pro) to the next level! For me, the lack of a full external monitor support was a huge disappointment! Why would Apple equip the iPad Pro with the M1 chip?! Of course, earlier this year, that same chip was put on an iPad Air, which added salt to the wound (having spent more on an iPad Pro!).
From that point on, I gradually started to look at the iPad Pro differently. Yes, it was still able to do all what it has always been doing, but there was something missing. I had wanted to (eventually) be able to use it as a full computer and to even replace the tasks that a desktop computer would do.
The reality, though, is that Apple doesn’t seem to aim for the iPad (Pro) to be a full desktop level computer replacement. This point was especially driven home while listening to David Sparks on the Mac Power Users podcast. It was the notion of enjoying and accepting the iPad as it is, and not trying to push it beyond its limitations. In addition, Federico Viticci (MacStories website and App Stories podcast), bought a MacBook Pro, implying a shift of his workflow from being almost 100% dependent on the iPad Pro.
So, the iPad has hit a ceiling!
On the other hand, the Mac has gotten significantly better with the M1 chip series. More interestingly to me, the MacBook line has closed the gap of mobility with the iPad. New MacBooks have significantly better battery life than the iPad, smooth running, and the ability to open the device (almost) instantly. And you got all of this with additional power of a Mac!
Consequently, I had decided to switch back to the MacBook as my main computer and main mobile computer. The iPad Pro would still be useful, but would no longer assume the prime spot in my gadget arsenal!
What is exciting (notwithstanding the additional costs!) about this switch is going through the experience and experimenting with tools and workflows!
Which MacBook to pick? How to set it up?
What tasks would the Mac do? What role(s) would the iPad have?
How smooth would the transition be? Would the Mac frustrate me?
These questions, and more, would be explored in the upcoming posts of this mini-series “Switching to the MacBook”