Apple’s most expensive iPad hasn’t changed visually in years. Last iPad 2021It, like many of its predecessors, still has a very familiar metallic exterior with a massive black bezel-lined display, a Touch ID home button, and a Lightning port, for the same $329 price tag. Although the iPad’s basic appearance appears frozen over time, Apple’s vision for it has evolved significantly.
Apple no longer wants the entry-level iPad to be just a reliable entertainment tablet. She wants you to do everything on her, including work, and replace Budget Laptops. To achieve this, Apple has added a file iPad ProSmart Connector pins – which allow you to easily snap onto an external keyboard – and updates to the iPad operating system have added the ability to use multiple apps simultaneously.
The new 9th generation iPad only gets better with these additions. It runs on the A13 Bionic chip, identical to the one in the iPhone 11, which still beats most flagship Android phones in 2022 and provides plenty of power for multitasking and software updates for years to come. Its selfie camera features a “Pro” Center Stage feature, which keeps you in the frame of video calls even when you’re on the go.
To put the iPad 9’s laptop ambitions to the test, I switched confidence Mac mini And Chromebook She has and worked on her exclusively for over a week. Because Apple does not sell high-end products magic keyboard For a basic iPad, and I can’t stand the soft keys of the more economical Smart Keyboard plus the lack of a trackpad, I hooked up the iPad 9th-Gen with Logitech’s Combo Touch, a Microsoft Surface-esque case that provides solid strength for a backlit keyboard and keyboard. Extensive tracking for any iPad.
So, can Apple’s cheaper iPad handle traditional computers? Here’s what it’s like to work on the iPad 9.
Can you get work done on iPad 2021?
Since Apple split iOS into iPadOS for its dedicated iPad software, it has actively rolled out a set of standard desktop features to its tablets so you don’t feel immediately lost when switching from a computer. Once you pair your iPad 9 with the keyboard case, it behaves somewhat like any other Windows or Mac notebook computer.
With your keyboard and trackpad, you can operate your iPad the way you use a computer. The cursor replaces touch input, and you have your usual set of keyboard and trackpad shortcuts for multitasking: ‘Cmd + Tab’ to navigate between apps, ‘Cmd + Space’ launches a Spotlight search, a three-finger swipe shows you recent apps, two taps on the trackpad open Right-click menu – you get the idea. It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable navigating my iPad with the keyboard and trackpad.
It helps that most of the apps I need for the iPad are regularly updated and feature a multi-column layout. Browsers, for example, have a row of tabs at the top that you can control using familiar shortcuts, like “Cmd + T”. Gmail’s iPad app similarly displays a list of emails on one half of the screen and their content on the other. iPadOS even allows you to run multiple instances of some apps like Safari, where you can have as many browser windows as you want.
Recreating your daily Mac workflow on the iPad was easy. My work generally involves a lot of web time, and since Safari now works like a true desktop browser on the iPad, that wasn’t a challenge at all. Browsing the Internet on iPadOS is just as fast as any other premium PC, and the iPad 2021 jumped between multiple windows and tabs without skipping a beat.
When I have to access a different app, like Google Docs, I can simply drag the dock like I do on a Mac and drag and drop it on one side of the screen to enter split-screen mode and work on both apps at the same time.
What’s interesting is that the side-by-side view becomes its own workspace (like macOS) and stays in place after I leave it. So the next time I want to use Google Docs and Safari together, I can just go back to them without going through the trouble of manually putting them in a split screen again. I can also throw a third app into the mix in the “Slide Over” panel, a narrow vertical window that hovers over your screen — perfect for quickly accessing your calculator or your notes. However, on a basic iPad, I’d advise against “Slide Over” because the 10.2-inch screen can barely fit two apps at once.
Multitasking feels like a chore on the iPad
It’s easy to use split screen mode on your iPad, but its implementation is far from perfect. The thing that bothers me the most with iPadOS is that it doesn’t allow you to turn on split screen using keyboard shortcuts. You have to drag and drop apps with your mouse, which would have been fine if it supported the tap and hold gesture. Instead, you have to hold the trackpad with one finger and move the icon with the other to drag and drop items, which is more frustrating than it sounds. Another option is to create a custom shortcut for multitasking, but for that, you have to install the apps you want on the split screen.
If all of that sounds like a lot of work for something as mundane as split-screen mode, that’s because it is, and this is also where Apple’s promise of a dual-function iPad starts to fade. Even though the iPad packs a banquet of desktop capabilities, they feel a lot more cramped than normal on iPadOS, and I struggled to get into a normal productivity groove. At almost every step there is a steep learning curve, and even when I learned all the gestures, I still felt like I was trying too hard to do simple tasks.
The thing is that when you pair your iPad peripherals, it doesn’t turn into a more convenient keyboard and trackpad interface. Chrome OS and Windows, for example, have separate environments for touch and keyboard input. In the latter, they offer free-flowing windows, and in the former, they revert to a tablet user interface with apps running full screen by default. On the iPad, you’re always on iPadOS and mobile apps, most of which don’t work well with the trackpad and keyboard.
Inconsistent work experience
Double-clicking on a paragraph in Google Docs, for example, will not allow you to select text as if it were in Safari. Pressing the arrow keys will scroll in one app but not in another. In addition, many applications, such as Twitter and Slack, often crash when switching to keyboard input, causing menus to get out of place, text fields randomly disappear, and more. These complaints may seem minor but combined, they hampered the flow enough to get me back to a real PC.
The lack of free-flowing windows is also a major drawback of working on the iPad. Although the Alt-Tab shortcut is well implemented, it takes extra device effort to throw apps into full screen mode, and when you constantly switch between them, at some point your 9th generation iPad’s limited RAM (3GB) kicks in to show its limits. This ultimately means having to wait for the apps to restore the state they left them in.
Also missing is multi-user support. On my Mac, I frequently switch between two profiles to keep my work and personal life separate. On iPadOS, there is no way to achieve this.
For me, the iPadOS Files app was the only positive result. It serves as a central control panel for all your on-premises and cloud storage drives and provides every tool you want. You can connect third-party services, such as Dropbox, drag and drop files across apps with ease, compress multiple items, and more.
iPads are not for serious work
On the iPad 9 specifically, the Lightning port is another flaw as I couldn’t connect it USB-C . display And outboard motors without a dongle. Plus, like other models, the iPad’s front camera location isn’t practical when you’re working in landscape mode, and you’ll have to sit at a far angle — away from the keyboard — to position yourself in the center frame.
On the other hand, the 2021 iPad’s battery life was excellent, easily lasting a work day. Also great is the 10.2 inch Retina LCD display. It’s sharp and bright enough for outdoor use at 500 nits, and better than most laptops in its range.
Your iPad expects you to adapt to its new ways rather than the other way around. It forces you to relearn a lot of what you already know about using computers, and if you are willing to do so, it can work. At least for lighter workflows, such as documents, emails, and web browsing. But for everything else and especially for people who rely on proprietary desktop software, this is a frustrating experience.
The appeal of the iPad as a computer is understandable. It’s the best shot for Apple users in 2 in 1 laptop The company continues to oppose the idea of adding a touch screen to the Mac. In its current state, though, the iPad’s desktop capabilities fall short and are just a stark reminder of Apple’s stubborn refusal to integrate macOS and iPadOS. Until that changes, I’ll just stick with using an iPad to extend my Mac’s screen.