The State of iPadOS

May 18, 2024

Federico Viticci reviews the state of iPadOS:

If you’ve used iPadOS long enough (the iPad has been my primary computer for 12 years now), I’m sure you’ve run into these: the small bugs, annoyances, and missing features that don’t seem like much in isolation. Considered as a whole, however, they paint a not-too-rosy picture for an operating system that, 14 years into its existence, still lags behind macOS in terms of basic functionalities and problems that have never been addressed. […]

You know what’s equally the best and worst part of all this? That I still love the iPad.

The iPad is the only Apple computer that genuinely feels made for someone like me – a person who loves modularity, freedom, and the mix of touch and keyboard interactions. I share my frustrations because I care about the platform and want it to get better. But at the same time, we need to face reality: the iPad’s operating system isn’t improving at the speed the hardware deserves – that iPad owners who spent thousands of dollars on these machines deserve.

Something needs to change.

John Gruber has a slightly different take on Daring Fireball:

iPadOS has never been a workstation-style OS. The obvious truth — reiterated in recent weeks by the EU calling bullshit (or perhaps, conneries) on Apple’s claim that iPad and iPhone are separate platforms — is that iPadOS is a souped-up tablet-oriented variant of iOS.

This has never been more true than now — the M4 iPad Pros are, by some practical measures, the fastest computers Apple makes. But iPadOS is not the sort of system that the typical power user would think to run on super-powerful hardware.

But let’s invert our thinking on this. Instead of starting with the hardware and pondering what the ideal software would be like to take advantage of its power, let’s start with the software. A concept for simplicity-first console-style touchscreen tablet computing. A metaphor for computing with smartphone-style guardrails, with tablet-specific features like stylus support and laptop docking. A tablet OS that is unabashedly a souped-up version of iOS, not a stripped-down version of MacOS. What type of hardware should Apple build to instantiate such a platform?