Prior to the arrival of the iPhone, I purchased the Samsung Blackjack Windows Mobile phone which integrated well with my work (I do a lot with Exchange Servers). Time went on and I never really bought into the hype and life was good. A couple of years ago, I was working with a customer doing a global migration fron Exchange Server 2007 to Exchange Server 2013 and due to numerous factors, there were some complications with iOS devices (numerous devices per user, full mailbox syncing, iOS 8 release). After the project was wrapped up, I decided that I would try out an iPhone just to become familiar with it and didn’t really ever use it.
Finally, I picked up an iPad Mini as part of deal for buying an iPhone for my wife. I really started to like iOS: I have mobile data, the size was perfect for taking with me anywhere (could fit it in a jacket pocket or the pocket of cargo shorts), and I really like some of the newer apps (Outlook for iOS).
I started agonizing over the idea of getting an iPad Pro, thinking that I could use it as a laptop replacement (or at least, a smarter dumb terminal). It has RD Client from Microsoft and I have used this along with VPN software to connect into my home PC. So, if the iPad didn’t have everything, I could at least use a Windows machine, remotely. Eventually, I caved. So, I have had the iPad Pro with mobile data for about two weeks now. I do quite like it, but I have had numerous situations where some changes would come in handy. I have upgraded to iOS 10 with the hopes that it would improve. Here is my list of inadequacies that could be improved:
1. No mouse support – seriously, if you are going to market it as a laptop replacement, it must have a mouse. I have the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard case. It just isn’t the same. When I am doing some work typing, I don’t want to lift my hand up to the screen to touch it, whether with my finger or the pencil. When I am working on a remote server or desktop, a mouse also comes in handy. I have acquired Jump Desktop as a replacement for RD Client as it does have mouse support, but it is limited to the Citrix X1 (doesn’t look like a quality device) and the Swiftpoint GT (a very big difference from the normal mouse experience). I have a Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse that pairs, but it doesn’t work; Jump Desktop is looking into supporting this.
2. Single app multitasking – so, I do quite a bit of writing. Most of the time it is in Microsoft Word. Sometimes I have to update documents and I want to compare different documents side by side. This doesn’t work with Microsoft Word in iOS… browsers can’t do this. Not one app on iOS do I know to have the capability. It should be possible.
3. Screen sharing – I join a lot of conference calls with screen sharing. I know that part of the “sandbox” feature set of iOS is to blame… it shouldn’t be such a limitation. I need to be able to share my screen, take control of others screens, etc. This doesn’t work in WebEx, Lync/Skype for Business, etc.
4. The Smart Keyboard cover – this should have a loop for the Apple Pencil. It is just silly. I have a loop on the way, but it should have come along with it. Come on Apple.
5. USB support – it should have a USB port, or additional lightning ports. I have a Snowflake microphone that I would like to hook up, and the idea of consuming the solitary lightning port while using a device that will be powered by my iPad… I find it a bad thing. Let me plug in and charge my iPad and hook something up to another port.
6. Expanded storage – this is probably the biggest fail on Apple’s part. Get with it and offer SD expansion storage. I have had it in all of my Windows mobile devices since 2007. Android devices have it. Get over it, Apple.
That is about it, really. Not a long list, but they do limit the ability of this to be a real laptop replacement. Certain people could certainly use an iPad, let alone an iPad Pro, as their primary computing device. The market isn’t a large enough one. These issues are easily solvable. Some are hardware related and could be fixed on upcoming devices… and there are 3rd party solutions to some, already.