The iPad is a strange device. Since it was brought up, people weren’t quite sure where to use them and the workflow. For me, it started as a consumption device. I will use it to read everything from magazines and books to newspapers and brochures.
Over the years, with the iPad upgrade, I started using it for media consumption as well. Not so much for movies, but more for short videos and music. Pro models are starting to get so powerful that they’ve actually replaced my laptop, at least for short trips and as a meeting device. Then came the iPad Air, which is a thinner and lighter version, with less power but suitable for most of the tasks I’ll be doing.
And after that, the iPad Air became even more powerful. The Apple M1 chip is an absolute powerhouse of a practical type. I don’t edit videos (which you can do) on my iPad, but I do edit photos, and apps like Lightroom, Affinity Publisher, and Procreate make a great toolkit for making great photos. So much so that no matter what I do, the iPad Air can handle it with ease. In some ways, I feel like Apple has broken into its market with the iPad Air. I no longer need the more expensive and powerful Pro version; Air takes care of everything.
For a start, there’s more screen – every 10.9 inches of it. The bezels are reduced and you get a beautiful edge-to-edge screen, like the Pro models.
Then there is the change in the front camera. For the longest time, the FaceTime camera has been very limited. On the iPad Pro, the Center Stage was introduced to bring the object into the center – you! This feature is now on the iPad Air and works brilliantly. I end up using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet for many of my business calls, and Center Stage works perfectly in all of these apps; Nice blurry background and you are just in the middle. If someone else is going to be standing, sitting next to you, or getting into the frame, the camera instantly resets and puts both people in the frame. Again, centered.
For connectivity, the Air now has Wi-Fi 6 and if your routers support it, you’ll get lightning-fast speeds. If you are lucky enough to have a 5G network, Air also takes full advantage of that. The USB-C port provides transfer rates of up to 10Gbps and is also much faster when connected to devices such as cameras, hard drives, and monitors. I used it to offload photos from a recent trip and I didn’t miss my MacBook at all. Later I transferred the photos over the network to my storage and everything was fine.
Did I mention that your iPad can now charge a phone? I needed to do this a few days ago after a 24 hour power outage drained my phone; I have charged the phone and there is still some battery left on my iPad, which totally saves me.
While it’s not exclusive to the iPad Air, one big difference was iOS 15. Improved multitasking, easy-to-use gestures, and the Files app have made the iPad a great laptop for travel. I’m currently away from home and while carrying my MacBook, I use the Air almost exclusively as my primary device.
The new Apple M1 chip provides simply amazing power and speed. The claim is 10x faster, but this only shows up when running benchmarks. In the real world, what it means is that every app I use runs incredibly fast. At the time of writing, I had over 32 apps open and none of them struggled. CPU and GPU intensive programs like Procreate and Affinity seem to sing together. I can create multi-layer images and apply effects that are rendered instantly.
Do you have an iPad, will you play
Although I’m not a gamer, the on-air games have also become console-like. I made my son play some games and after a while he refused to give them back to me. The beauty is that it does all of these things with a battery that never seems to run out. All day battery life for everything I throw at it and still plenty of juice. I have an automated system that says “give me juice or give me death” when the iPad reaches less than 20 percent battery levels, but I usually go out before that and charge it.
In terms of accessories, the new Air is the same size as the previous generation, therefore, the magic keyboard and smart sheets are all suitable and work without problems. The backed pencil is a Gen 2 Pencil and it snaps on the side. Whenever I have my MacBook at home, I tend to use Universal Control to manage my iPad; But when I leave the house, I like to carry the magic keyboard with me. The pencil has also gained new functionality and now has many tricks up its sleeve. You can type in any input box, search bar, or scan text, and if you use it for notes and drawing, it’s indispensable.
This brings me back to the beginning.
So where exactly does the iPad Air fit in? Is it a laptop replacement, a larger iPhone, or a tool for consumption and creativity? For me, it has become all three. I’m using it as a replacement for my MacBook, which, by the way, is a super fast development machine, and while the iPad doesn’t handle things like my virtual machines and development stack, it certainly works brilliantly as a writing device – everything from long emails is done And short to such articles on the air. I consider them Goldilocks for iPad, not too big and not too small, but quite suitable as a daily driver.
Sorry Apple, I won’t be buying a Pro anytime soon. My professional type of business will still be a MacBook but for reading, writing, listening to music, watching videos, and short trips, the iPad Air is.
May 09 2022