Understanding What Productivity Looks Like on an iPad Pro

Posted on June 19, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Mobile with 59 Comments

Understanding What Productivity Looks Like on an iPad Pro

With the latest iPad Pro and iOS 11, Apple is finally moving the needle on iPad-based productivity. Here’s what to expect, and how it compares to a more full-featured Windows PC or Mac productivity experience.

For this overview, I’m using the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which has a few limitations compared to its bigger 12.9-inch cousin, but also some advantages over other iPads and iOS devices. I’m also using Apple’s Smart Keyboard.

Keyboard shortcuts

While Apple should be dinged for not providing any mouse or touchpad support in iOS, it has long supported basic keyboard shortcuts. And in the past, I’ve tested various iPads with Apple’s Bluetooth keyboards, and they work about as well as you might expect.

But these days there are some neat discoverability features that can really help in this transition. If you press and hold the CMD (“Command”) key on the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard—this key is roughly analogous to ALT in Windows—an overlay will appear, displaying which keyboard shortcuts are available. (This works with other keyboards too, of course.)

This capability is smart, too, meaning it’s context-sensitive. So from the home screen, you will see keyboard shortcuts that are possible from there (CMD + TAB for app switching, CMD + SPACE for search, and a few others). But if you press and hold on CMD in apps, you’ll see options that are specific to them. In Safari, for example, we learn that CMD + T opens a new tab, which is obvious enough. But CMD + N opens a new window, which in iOS is called Split View. More on that in a moment.

While it’s not possible to easily navigate the iPad Pro using only the keyboard, you can get pretty close. You can press any key to wake up the device, press again to display the PIN log-in, and then use the number keys to enter your PIN; it’s not as easy as using Touch ID on the Home button, but it works. Once you’re in, you can type CMD + H at any time to return to the Home screen. And you can use the CMD + SPACE shortcut, as on the Mac, to launch any app via search.

Curiously, CMD + RIGHT ARROW (or LEFT ARROW) doesn’t navigate between your various Home screens, which is surprising, but then you wouldn’t be able to select individual icons with the keyboard anyway: There’s no sense of a selected icon either. Which, when you think about it, could make sense if Apple wanted to enable a “keyboard mode” for those who prefer to keep their hands rooted to the keyboard. I do this in Windows, but then I’m a writer and maybe this isn’t the type of thing many need.

Apps also support various keyboard shortcuts, naturally, and if you use productivity apps like Microsoft Word, you’ll find yourself in fairly familiar territory. Word for iOS supports a ton of CMD-based keyboards shortcuts for such things as Bold (CMD + B), Cut (CMD + X), and the like, and arrow key navigation works as expected. (CMD + RIGHT ARROW to go to the end of the current line, CMD + DOWN ARROW to go to the bottom of the document, and so on.)

Multitasking

Any modern iOS device supports basic multitasking features, including an app switcher you can access by double-pressing the Home button. With the iPad Pro and its more voluminous screen, however, Apple has turned things up a notch, with features like Split View, which lets you view two apps, or two views of the same app, at one time. And then things are getting even more sophisticated with iOS 11, which is what I’m focusing on here.

First up is the new Dock, which looks like the one in macOS, but is in fact a different thing entirely. On the iPad Pro, the new Dock lets you pin app icons as before, and lets you pin many more of them, but there is also an area for your most-recently used apps on the right.

So what does the Dock have to do with multitasking? With iOS 11, you can now access the Dock from within any app, too: Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. This makes it easier to display a second app (or app view) alongside (or over) the current app.

You do this by dragging an app icon off the Dock. The first time you do so, it will appear in a windowed view, over the current app, in a mode Apple calls Slide Over. This floating app window will take up about 25 percent of the display, and can’t be resized. But it can be moved to the other side of the screen using a little handle at the top.

You can remove a Slide Over window by dragging it off the edge of the screen. But once you do so, it will remain available for later use, too: Just slide your finger back in from that screen edge to bring it back.

Some apps can be converted from Slide Over view into a more useful split screen view called Split View: Just drag down on that handle and it will indicate whether it can be positioned like that. But you can also drag an app off the Dock directly into Split View by dragging all the way to one edge of the screen.

Split View works a bit differently across the two iPad Pro models, but on the 10.5-inch version I’m using, you essentially have three possible views: One in which each app takes up half the screen, one in which one app takes up 75 percent of the space on the left and another takes up the remaining 25 percent of the screen on the right, and then a third view in which the smaller app is on the left and the larger is on the right. You can resize and reposition these apps with your finger, and you can drag the splitter between them to the edge of the screen to make one of the apps full-screen again.

This is useful, of course. But in my experience so far, I’m not sure it’s something I’d use all that often. On this iPad, Split View renders apps into an iPhone-like “Compact” mode (regardless of the 50/50 or 75/25 split) that makes it hard or difficult to access certain app features. And the 10.5-inch display isn’t exactly ideal for this kind of thing anyway: Looking at two apps side-by-side on the new Surface Pro, for example, is both easier on the eyes and more full-featured. (Plus, you can arbitrarily resize and float windows in Windows 10 as well, too.)

There is one other oddity to iOS multitasking that is worth considering: Some apps support a picture-in-picture (PIP) display mode for video. And this is something I would use: For example, I could take notes or tweet during a live video presentation.

Unfortunately, this feature isn’t supported by YouTube. But if you can find a web video in Safari or a compatible app, it works well enough.

To emulate this experience, I opened a new document in Word, switched back to the Home screen, and then launched Safari and found Apple’s WWDC 2017 presentation on its website. Using the PIP toggle, I displayed the video in a small floating window and then returned to Word. As expected, the video floats over Word, and I could type notes while playback continued. This window also supports repositioning on-screen and pinch-based resizing, and it has basic playback controls.

So… Is it productive?

Looking at these features, it’s pretty easy to dismiss the iPad Pro and iOS 11 as finally achieving the level of multitasking and productivity functionality that Microsoft achieved five years ago with Windows RT and Surface RT. (And that was considered a regression from “full” Windows, it’s also fair to note.)

But taking a less cynical tact, I guess it’s worth pointing out that these advances—the new Dock, the improved Slide Over and Split View modes, picture-in-picture for video, and so on—do really advance the productivity story on iPad Pro. And so will other iOS 11 features, like the new Files app, the improved Control Center (with its app switching functionality), and probably other things I’ve not yet touched on.

For those coming from full-featured environments like Windows 10 or macOS, the iPad Pro is, perhaps, a step back. But how you view this functionality will depend on your needs today. And it’s probable that Windows 10 and macOS are overkill for many today.

Looking at my own work, I am positive I couldn’t switch to an iPad Pro, even the larger version. But I wonder about the couple of small changes Apple could easily make that would put this over the top. Pointer support being the key one. It’s not hard to imagine.

But Apple also moves on a fairly glacial schedule. If such a thing were to happen, the earliest would likely be September 2018 when a presumed iOS 12 appears. So until then, Microsoft has some breathing space: It owns productivity today and will continue to do so for the next few years at least.

 

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Comments (59)

59 responses to “Understanding What Productivity Looks Like on an iPad Pro”

  1. obarthelemy

    Very interesting, thank you.

  2. PincasX

    I got the 10.5 and am patiently waiting for the public beta of iOS 11 to see how much Apple has moved the needle on the productivity front so it is nice to get a preview.


    So far the one thing that stands out is the screen, because it is f-ing amazing.

  3. Waethorn

    But what does productivity look like in portrait orientation?

  4. wunderbar

    Pointer support would make this thing a "good enough" solution for for 90% of what 90% of what people actually use a computer for now.

  5. jimchamplin

    If Apple does add mouse/trackpad support, I’d be willing to bet that it’s far more limited than one might expect. One of the examples I always hear is Remote Desktop, so the arrow is controlled by an external mouse in apps like that which are updated for the feature. It moves the selection bar around in text editing. Things like that. I highly doubt that full mouse through the iOS UI will ever be supported.

  6. Angusmatheson

    I'd love mouse support - but for me, the feature that I think would work best is Nebi saw in a Microsoft demo - when the phone became a trackpad for a continuum desktop. I would love that for iPad Pro - I always have my phone with me. And am conceivably not using it when on the iPad. In truth a pointer works great in touch apps, it is the reverse that is the problem which is desktop apps for mouth and keyboard work terribly for touch. I think the lack of mouse support in iPad is to stop developers from writing desktop type apps for it, which give a terrible experience with touch. But since Apple controls the App Store, they can enforce discipline and force only touch first apps, that could take advantage of a pointer - from Bluetooth mouse or paired phone acting as a trackpad (hey I can dream).

  7. Chris_Kez

    Folks, just a reminder that it is okay if other people are happy and productive working in ways that differ from your own. Their definition of "productivity" can even differ from yours. Not a problem. If someone can be productive on an iPad or an iPad Pro, that's okay. If they supplement their Windows or Mac devices with an iPad that's okay too. None of that invalidates your requirements, workflow or preferences.

  8. Luka Pribanić

    All the comments of productivity aside... Why the hell would me, or my mom, grandma or a schoolkid want/need to do any of those things on an IPAD instead of much cheaper WinTel tablet or Android/ARM tablet? Either you do "productivity" that isn't really hard on computing resources and hence use a lower end device for it, or you need something with a more punch and get a proper laptop or desktop PC. Throwing money on iOS-based overpriced device to do "productivity" in the likes of reading emails and writing occasional Word document is pure stupidity (no offence). Sure, sure, iPad lasts a good 5 years and is yadda yadda yadda... Let's be honest - it's iSheep sindrome. Most of those that claim to use same iPad for 5 years lie, and have bough new Apple tablet almost each generation. And schoolkids "need" iPad because other kids have it. And my grandma would buy it (if she was alive) only if I suggested it. So to me, it's iSheep schoolkids, iSheep wannabe adults with too much money on their bank accounts, and their grannies. Though same goes for those spending 1k $ on any smarphone, when for same $ they could have had laptop, tablet and a smartphone. You'd all be better off spending money on your and your kid's education, traveling the world, and spending some on charity. No wonder that Trumps of this world are in charge.


    P.S. Sorry for sounding like a troll, just couldn't stand silent after reading 20+ comments on iPad "productivity"

  9. MutualCore

    I fail to see how you can be productive without the precision of a mouse pointer. Touch will never replace that. Touch is great for mobile apps and what they do, media consumption, Apple Pay but that's it.

  10. F4IL

    I can definitely see many people using the new iPad for productivity, the same way chromebooks are continuously capturing the edu and enterprise sectors. It is only a matter of time.

    • Stooks

      In reply to F4IL:

      Yeah because iPad's come with the full size keyboards, 100% mouse support and has an average selling price of $250 just like Chromebooks???????


      Apple is losing market share rapidly in the only place chromebooks are taking off, US schools.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to Stooks:

        iPads are not loosing to Chromeboks but to Smartphonesjust like anything else. You might say that PCs are loosing to Chromebook in some context, that makes more sense.

        But let's face it, you would probably be using Windows 7 ig not for the iPad. Even though it was just a giant smarphone it was good enough the smash any XBOX One and Playstation combined!! That is how a bad idea was the iPad. Some will simply hate this simple fact because well .... don't know why really ... Even your precious Android Smartphone would probably still have an amaing keyboard attached to it.

        The iPad appeared in the time where smartphones where small, Smartphones became bigger, people liked it, so the need for a tool betweem a PC and a smartphone became less and less verifiable, Of course one can come with justification that SJ just wanted to sell more devices without solving anything real, rewriting history as you see fit .... Anyway considering this they need to change gears, if iPad is to prove useful in between they need to be better than ultra light laptops at least, Surface Pros incuded. They need to change to a point that challenge the perception that laptops are simply more powerfull in performance, not just challenge actually prove that this notion is not real. They sem to be there in performance but not in human machine interaction, trackpad and mouse has too much traction and for good reason, Its a good solution for a lot of use cases and Apple has failed to prove its inefficiency compared to touch in very common and recurrent circumstances.

        I'm just being realistic, Android and Windows People can bash the iPhone and the iPad has much as they want, but a bit of historical context this is quite verifiable.

        Back when I was a full blown Windows addict I went for Pen Computing in Windows XP. Yes I had Windows XP Tablet in my Toshiba M200. I payed close to $2000, It is not true that Pen Computing was just at surface it actually deep into the system, I used an amazing application that even today there is no counter part, called Franklin Cover Tablet Edition. Best planner and note taking I ever saw,

        Well, MS killed the Tablet PC. Pushed One Note further killing the potential of innovation that third partiers could bring on board. The device prices never went down, neither the performance increased. In fact, Windows just got even more bloated with Windows Vista ... I just wonder if MS had simply done the right thing to push tech forward., Anyway, long gone. But now all of the sudden with a device of $649 that has the power in context of device that cost $1700 is no good and expensive? Of course not. It makes no sense in retrospect, its all circuntancial that amounts to tech marketing noise as always, like it was with when Windows Vista.

    • Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

      In reply to F4IL:
      Quote: "I can definitely see many people using the new iPad for productivity"

      I do definitely see all people using the new iPad for unproductivity - the art of time killing courtesy of Apple.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:


        Productivity is the amount of value you create with what you produce. It is not embedded in the device. Practice that and you be highly productive regardless of tech changes.

        Don't be fooled by any company on this. You can even use a pen and paper and be more productive in one year that X number of people using the device to which you attribute productivity. Its tech marketing, just that. Its not real.

        Having said, this a good device its important in the sense that lets you focus on delivering value or not. For instance, every time a device exhibits out of band behavior that you need to take care of, that slows you down and forces you to compensate. One way to compensate is say by giving extra hours of work on what otherwise could be less. The more time you spend with the device, its NOT to that you become less productive necessarily, but it "hurts" your life in a broader sense. Now you might turn that into fun, but that should always be a choice not a necessity.

  11. nbplopes

    Hi a couple of notes:

    1) Surface RT did not had the power or the form factor, in other words the context, for such multitasking. In other words, it once again a limped MS approach. Not to forget that desktop mode was confined to MS apps, MS Office. So basically basically it failed because Office is good, but not at any price. So in the end of the day, no It was not doing it. It just looked like it was.

    2) Saying that the multi window experience is cramped when compared with Surface Pro while not taking into account the size of the screen of the unit at test does not look fair. Meaning that this solution in-spite of having the performance a 10.5 inch screen is too small for creation, one needs at least a 12 to 13 inch screen, and that is the iPad Pro 12.x.

    So the bottom line seams to be that the lack the trackpad and mouse support, as everyone else is saying.

    As for Apple moving at glacial moves, it depends. Sometimes movement looks like movement but is not really movement.for instance, now we have Windows 10, but in reality people are using the same native applications, with the same levels of productivity that they used in Windows 7, or even Windows XP soo ... It just happens that now they no one can repair laptop (pun to the Surface Laptop).

    One thing we agree. If iPad Pro is to convince anyone it needs to be better than Windows 10 solution for general productivity and cheaper. They have gotten the cheaper at the performance level, they need to bring the mouse and the trackpad on board.


    • skane2600

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Mostly I agree but don't forget the iPad Pro also has to compete with the Mac when it comes to productivity.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to skane2600:


        Yes. I tend to see PC has a form factor, so a Mac is a PC much like a Windows PC. I think Apple is not concerned if the iPad eats the lunch of their Macbook line up.

        But something went kind of sideways for Apple with the launch of the iPad Pro almost two years ago. They seam to have launched the Pro too soon a year ago, they started developing a new pricing model for Mac to create space for iPad Pro also too soon. They simply did not have the OS for an iPad Pro, they did not, but still they believed it would be a bigger success than it was.

        They seam to be patching it by lowering the prices of entry level new MacBooks Pro's as the iPad Pro did no provide a solution for entry level customer while keeping the MacBook Air way beyond the lifetime they expected to be necessary. I think next year, both MacBook Air and the Macbook will be gone from the lineup. They definitely expect the iPad Pro to take the place of those. So I believe that we will see greater investment of Apple in iOS and devices within the iPad Pro from now on.

        Their main secret weapon I think its performance, both users and developers love performance.

  12. jrickel96

    I really like my iPad Pro 9.7, but it's far from a replacement for me for my laptop. It's great for consumption and can manage light tasks well. I have the Apple Pencil and use it to draw occasionally. I also have a portable compact foldable BT keyboard that I can carry with me and set the iPad on a desk and use for longer writing uses.


    It really is a great device, especially since I have a SIM in it and get LTE, but it was also expensive for the LTE model with 128GB of storage. It cost me as much as my Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 convertible with 12GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Granted, that device does not have the LTE ability and I'd have to use a hotspot.


    I'll be interested to see the LTE offerings in Qualcomm and Intel form factors coming up. The problem is that the iPad is a really great size for consumption - for Netflix, for Kindle, etc. But the 13" laptop is much better for long term work and actually is a better Netflix/VUDU device thanks to tent mode, 16:9, and the larger screen and better speakers.


    The newer iPad Pro with the bigger screen might make more of an impact there, but I think you still need a variety of devices. On my last trip I took my iPhone, my iPad Pro, and my laptop. I used the phone the most, but that had a lot to do with travel. Since I have the 7+, a lot of movies work quite well for personal use on it. So I think the iPad is the one that's more likely to be shown the door in the future.


    Frankly the 3:2 nature of the Surface Pro or the Spectre X2 with i7 and IRIS graphics means that one of those might replace my iPad, laptop, and desktop via docking. My main hangup on the iPad is the fact you can't dock it and use it like a traditional computer at a desk. If they add pointer support in the future, that changes. And truth is that all the major consumption apps I use - VUDU, Hulu, Netflix, and CBS - are all UWP. The 12" or so 3:2 may be a little big, but it's much smaller than all three devices together.

  13. robincapper

    That keyboard is a deal breaker irrespective of the rest

  14. Jeffery Commaroto

    I think the $329 iPad with all the new features makes it perfect for most people for a "home" computer. I am a dad who is at every event with a DSLR. I am a loner. I edit family video in Final Cut and Premiere. Again loner. I program for fun. Loner. Most home users get on the Web, capture life through their iPhone and watch Netflix and check Facebook. The iPad is perfect for them. The phone is better. 99% of my immediate and extended family do almost everything they need on an iPhone.


    The iPad Pro is not worth it for them. It is expensive. The few gamers have PC's or consoles. The workers have work laptops. They need mouse pointers. If Microsoft could get most of the apps people use on the iPad into the Windows Store the Surface would take care of everything for almost all of them and most consumers would flock.


    Then there is the small percentage of power users. An iPad to do actual work is just frustrating for them.


    I did IT for a good period of time and learned quickly that the majority of people never caught onto a majority of basic computing concepts. The clock isn't flashing 12:00 because the computer takes care of it for them. They learned the few things they needed to know in the few apps they had to learn. Young people, in many ways, are worse not better. They know how to use apps on their iPhone. They don't open the hood but are entering the workforce heralded as experts because they understand Snapchat.


    Anyway, I would invest in whatever platform robots and AI like the most. That is going to deliver the real $ in the future.

  15. Brett Barbier

    Paul (and other iPad owners) - search the App store for "Pipifier" (it's free, I think). Once installed, you can then go into Safari's share sheet menu to add Pipifier to the apps that you can then choose when you click the share button within Safari. Once you have THAT done, then when you're at youtube.com, just click the share button and choose Pipifier, and voila! - PIP video!

  16. Brett Barbier

    I think Apple's not going to add a mouse pointer - what they likely WILL add is a way to navigate throughout the home screen and change the focus, much like how the Apple TV remote's touchpad allows for apps to be selected, but without a pointer.

  17. Jerry Rioux

    Clearly, the new and improved iPad Pro is still less productive that my four year old Surface RT. The new A10X increases its power significantly, but it's still mostly an expensive status symbol and toy for folks who want to be hip.

  18. woodward5418

    For me, I live a double life and cannot escape an iPad/Windows combination. You have captured it on your site many times along with the Job's truck analogy. I use my Surface Pro for the heavier lifting and my iPad Pro (first 9.7 and now 10.5) for most of my consumption or light duty creation. Luckily the thinness of the device makes this easier. In some respects it is like going to Wendy's or McDonald's. The food isn't the best, but you know what you get and it is always consistent. I find myself starting a lot of stuff on the iPad and then finishing it off on the Surface or my desktop.


    I have tried using an assortment of Windows tablets like the Dell Venue 8 (the newest one), the Surface 3, and even the Samsung Galaxy Book 10, but nothing captures the convenience and portability of the iPad. The biggest struggle is finding the right case to carry the pencil effectively and still maintain portability. I found that for the 9.7 pro but is not available yet for the 10.5. Luckily I have purchased extra pen loops from the Microsoft store for such occasions. Paul, you should be proud the loop is such a utility piece.

    • wolters

      In reply to woodward5418:

      I've tried with all that is in me to use Windows as a Tablet. While I've been a Surface Owner (and owned every one since the original RT), my Surface Book is my laptop more than a tablet. I had a Dell Venue 8 Pro which I liked but I had problems with it and too many service calls or replacements. The NuVision 10.1 inch one was a joke and never could get it stable. Android tablets are OK but it iPad Pro does look like it can meet a middle ground. To be honest, I loved the Note 7 and the abilities of the S-Pen that went way beyond just writing notes. If the Note 8 looks good, I may go back to that (from Pixel XL) because I found it to be a very productive phone.

      • zenith601

        In reply to wolters:

        I have a Tab S3 and all the features touted by iOS11 are already available on Android+Samsung combo. In terms of pen support, I had before a Note4 and the improvements on the Tab S3 pen are impressive, very low latency, way better pressure detection and generally more polished software.


        The iPad is surely a great tablet, but I fail to see how these new features are supposed to move the needle when most are already available on Android tablets... And those haven't put the world of productivity on fire.

  19. MikeGalos

    So, in short, it's not only nowhere near as productive as a tablet running Windows 10 S, it's nowhere near productive enough to actually be usable for, say, actually creating things.

    • Stooks

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Or SSDD for the iPad. Or it is a consumption device for 98% of owners.

    • skane2600

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Perhaps we should wait until there actually is a tablet running Windows 10S to make a comparison (I'm not a fan of iPads BTW). IMO, full Windows on a non-tablet is the most productive scenario (or a computer running MacOS for those who are committed to Apple).

      • William Clark

        In reply to skane2600: I would argue that when it comes to productivity "it depends" is the operative phrase. In some scenarios a full Windows laptop or desktop is not the most productive option. For example, when I need to check a ferry schedule I can do that on an iPad or even an iPhone far quicker than on any laptop. If I need to generate a route for my marine gps I can do that as quick if not quicker on the iPad than a laptop.

        And since my laptop is a bit bulky to carry around all the time I can do things on my smartphone which I always have with me no matter where I am. If I have to wait until I get home or to my car to use the laptop I've lost time being productive. So, it depends.


        • skane2600

          In reply to William Clark:

          In the context of this discussion, I think productivity refers to creating documents, videos, etc. But in the broader sense I agree that different form-factors and OS's have different logical uses which is why IMO, smartphones, tablets, and conventional PCs or Macs don't need to share a common OS or apps with identical code. iPads have always been pitched as PC replacements and that would require productivity in the classic sense. The PC and Mac already have that covered.

    • Angusmatheson

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      For me it is the inability to run two legacy programs - 1 Citrix receiver runs but the UI is so small I can't navigate it on iPad. 2) I need to USB and not wirelessly print. But that is is. An iPad pro does everything else I need, and I suspect it may do everything else better. Everybody productivity needs are different. This will work for some, not for others. But I bet it will work for more than the iPad worked for. And next year it will for for a few more. I don't see things going in the other direction. People who can use iPad instead of PC for productivity switching back.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to MikeGalos: Artists create things all the time with no more than some chalk and a sidewalk. Productivity is a broad term. It isn't limited to people in suits running LOB applications in Fortune 500 companies. A kid doing a book report in Word for iOS is productive. An older couple needing to do no more than manage their finances, write letters (e-Mails), keep up their community volunteer calendar, maybe gathering genealogy information for their families, can be fine with an iPad, and I would consider them productive.


  20. RobertJasiek

    All these changes are welcome but only marginally affecting degree of productivity. Functionality of Files will be the first relevant aspect towards some noteworthy productivity but we need to await iOS 11 before we know what will be missing. The next level would be a 20 times increased functionality of countless specialised productivity apps for everybody needing more than Office and basic media editing.

    • Stooks

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      "Functionality of Files will be the first relevant aspect towards some noteworthy productivity"


      I would imagine anyone trying to use this would be using cloud storage, iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive these days. The file feature is nice but about 5 year too late IMHO.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to Stooks: It's not like I can't get to my iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive files now on my iPad (or iPhone) and use them. They just aren't accessible from one place. I don't think files is going to make this better. I expect instead of clicking OneDrive, I'll be clicking Files, then OneDrive. I don't actually expect to be able to search across storage locations from the Files app. Maybe you can.
        I'm actually sort of ambivalent to the File system thing. Certainly I'm used to it from years of use on PCs, but phones have typically not exposed them and we've gotten used to that. You open the app, and it provides associated files, rather than using a file manager and having the file open the associated application.


        • RobertJasiek

          In reply to SvenJ:

          Without file manager and supposing no need to convert file formats, could I use one app for pictures, one app for music and one app for videos? Not even that. I also need very convenient and efficient batch renaming so as to group and sort 100,000 files of a type within seconds. Media editors or viewers do not offer such powerful renaming. I need a renaming tool for it, which has direct immediate access to all the files without wasting any time for linking files to the tool. With a file system and general file manager, there is no problem because media apps and file tools can both access the files.

          For my work or similar activities, my needs for file management and tools are very much greater. There is not the only one software that can do all tasks but there is, simply speaking, the only one folder containing all my work-related files, which come in different file types and must be edited by different softwares. Now, just imagine what this would mean on iOS: if I put all my work-related files together in one app's storage place, I cannot edit those file types needing other apps; I would waste very much time for moving files to other apps. If, however, I put files of each type to some suitable app, I would also waste very much time for moving files between apps because quite a few need editing by different apps. Furthermore, instead of simply backing up one work folder, I would have trouble with having to backup files stored for different apps. Again, with general file manager and tools, all these problems and wasting of very much time do not exist.

          (Probably, Apple does it wrong with the Files app, and extreme workflow problems persist, but that is another story. Above, I merely explain why file management is essential for both my consumption and production.)

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to SvenJ:


          It’s pretty early to know how much is going to make it into the final (also I’m not sure if 3rd party plugins are going to be able to provide their documents contents to the OS, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t be able to).

          As it stands, one should be able to do global searches both inside the Files app, and also global spotlight searches outside.

          The first set of results in Spotlight is from the Files app. And it looks pretty solid. So, back to Paul’s description of how a file system search *should* work. iOS seems to be going pretty well.

  21. Darmok N Jalad

    YouTube probably doesn't work like that likely because they want you to be a Red subscriber. Otherwise you would have one of the advantages of their premium service--the ability to listen to music in the background.

    And yes, Apple moves slowly, but the benefit is that whatever they've added will work really well and developer support will move in almost right after. MS and Google put the features out sooner, but it seems to take ages to get the third-party support.

    • OhBrother

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:


      No, the problem is the device. I can open you tube in a stay on top window on my surface, or minimize it to the task bar, and it keeps playing. I'm not a red subscriber.


      To put an app in always on top (floating) mode on iPad, the app must code to support it. On my surface, I can put ANY app in on top mode, because I can install on-top functionality and it's now OS-level support. So any window can be made to float. One more limitation of the iPad.


      And YouTube apparently isn't coded (or allowed) to stream in the background, hence you close the close the app and playback stops. But on Windows, ALL apps run in the background natively, so this isn't a problem for YouTube. Another limitation of iPad/iOS.


      Starting to see the the benefit of dropping a thousand bucks on an iPad "Pro", and (as most people do) ALSO having to own a Mac to complete your work?

  22. Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

    In reply to Paul Thurrott:
    Quote: "Understanding What Productivity Looks Like on an iPad Pro"

    Anyone contemplating purchasing any Apple product fully understands "what productivity looks like" by the mere glance of the price tag.

    The unprecedented level of productivity of Apple is therefore evident in the bank and credit card statements post-purchase by the faithful flock of mesmerized iSheeple, who in concert bleat at the joy of showcasing their fond love of their iDevice.

    • OhBrother

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:


      You said a mouthful my friend.


      Sadly I agree with you. Just left an Apple devoted site where they were all complaining how they just purchased a pro and now found themselves drawn in to buy the 10.5" - one guy had just bought his 12.9" THE DAY BEFORE, and went in to buy a 10.5"!!!


      They are totally abused by a hardware sales-driven company. But the moment I spoke up about this company trapping them, they shredded me. So they're getting the pain that they're asking for.

  23. wright_is

    I was thinking the level of multi-tasking achieved by Windows 1 - no overlapping windows. In fact it sounds like a mix-up of the old Mac OS Multifinder and Windows 1. ;-)

  24. Bats

    So, the bottom line is this: YES, you CAN be productive on an iPad Pro.

    I have been saying this for years, that Paul needs to be involved in Tech Roundtables where he can discuss topics like this with other writers, so he can learn and be more educated with the ways computers are used. Being solely inside a Microsoft bubble is just not good for his work. It's too bad that it took him a "Harry McKraken" to make him realize, how un-knowing he really is. 

    In addition, this idea that Microsoft "owns" productivity at least for the next few years is...lol. Productivity is a subjective term. For example, Paul Thurrott can clearly be productive with what he does on the iPad Pro or even Galaxy Note/Tab. He just doesn't want to. It's like what his friend Harry McKraken said, you just gotta change your workflow a bit. 

    Paul Thurrott doesn't realize how offsetting his comments are when it comes to this topic. After listening to the latest Windows Weekly, Paul (in a way) said that it's the computer's job to search for the file you want and that no one should perform a manual search. This is exactly what I have been doing for years. There is really no need for a "file system" to which Paul has said is essential for productivity. All you need to do is basically save your file on your computer (tablet) and just move on. People have been doing this stuff for years now and have been very productive using the tablet as well.


    • josephgerth

      In reply to Bats:


      I'm not responding to your take on Paul's take. But I do want to share an important point.


      I had an iPad about 5 years ago, and tried to do some productivity things with it (I'm a teacher and write most of my own worksheets, tests, etc.). I found that you could get things done with an iPad... But it was slower than with a laptop. Based on what you've said, I agree with you: You can be productive on an iPad. But I found it to be frustrating that the same task that took me, say, 20 minutes on a laptop, took me 30 minutes on an iPad. And the single biggest issue I had on an iPad is the lack of a pointer. If I made a spelling error, I had to remove my hands from the keyboard, press and hold to be able to get the cursor to show up, then move my finger delicately so as to move the cursor to where it needed to be, just so I could change "th eproblem" into "the problem". There are other ways around this, like selecting the whole word and retyping it. But no matter what you come up with, it still takes longer than it would had I just used a mouse or track pad.


      And this was the reason I picked up a Thinkpad X1 Carbon - that track point allows me full pointer control with my fingers still on the home row. I cannot even begin to tell you how much time and frustration that saved me over the past 2 years!


      Anyway, it all comes down to preference, since, as you say, it is possible to get things done on an iPad. But for me, I found it a waste of my time to use an iPad for editing documents, since a track point and physical keyboard is just so much more efficient.

    • Bill Russell

      In reply to Bats:

      really depends heavily on what "productivity" is. An extremely broad term. If taking photos is being productive for example then a smartphone is better than a PC. I guarantee you I could not be "productive" on an iPad, chromebook, Surface, frankly any laptop is an impediment to me. I am a firmware/software developer and amateur audio engineer and anything less than my chosen mechanical keyboard, dual monitors, tons of RAM, and fast storage and most powerful current generation CPU etc at reasonable costs. Not everyone is light duty author/writer or pen wielding artist, which is defining productivity for them. The point is, I think too many people are waiting for some company like MS or Apple to just "clean house" and come up with the one perfect universal "computer" for everyone, every task. We are stuck in a mindset of the days when the PC was the only practical device for every function that required a CPU and are waiting for that situation to arise again for some reason. Things are so much better today, with all the messy choice and fragmentation.

    • Angusmatheson

      In reply to Bats:

      I absultely couldn't do my job as a physician with an iPad Pro. My wife couldn't do her job of a professional photographer with an iPad Pro. However, my father who now works as an admistrstor I think could - and intact he just bought one and is going to try it out. I bet he will only use is clamshell laptop when he does doctor stuff - and maybe he will be able to use the iPad pro for that too. If 1 in 3 can use it to replace their work PC - that is success for Apple I think. (My mother loves her phone and has already replaced her computer which she never understood with an iPhone which she loves and does everything she wants. So iPhone + iPad in our family my replace computer 2 in 4)

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to Bats:

      I'm pretty sure you're mistaken about the context and thrust of Paul's comments on Windows Weekly regarding file search. I believe he was saying that the notion of micro-managing a file system, of carefully organizing every document, was outdated; that it was the computer's job to help you find the files you need. He was arguing against manual organization, not manual search.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to Chris_Kez:


        So. What you’re saying is that the perfect representation of of “no manual organization” is not having a file system to manage.


        Seems like Apple is on target. There is a revolution happening, and files are not going to be first-class citizens of that new computing world.


        This makes me sad, as a software developer, but if someone can find a better way to write software without eight billion project files, I’m all for it.

    • Stooks

      In reply to Bats:

      "Harry McKraken"


      Harry is a full on iTard. I just recently heard him say on This week in Tech (pod cast) that he is 100% against Apple adding mouse support t the iPad. The other guests and the host asked him if it did not change anything with touch would he still be against mouse support. He said yes and went on to say he was a purest.


      At that point, anything he said went right by me. His value on whether that iPad can be used in creation activities is worthless to me. He probably only types of blog posts in some simple iPad app and reads email/web stuff.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to Bats:


        “Harry is a full on iTard. I just recently heard him say on This week in Tech (pod cast) that he is 100% against Apple adding mouse support t the iPad. The other guests and the host asked him if it did not change anything with touch would he still be against mouse support. He said yes and went on to say he was a purest.”


        I’m not a fan of the “purist” angle. I think that’s just plain silly. But I find it interesting that so many people seem to think you can’t be productive without a mouse.

        Those people then tend to go on to say Apple is stupid for not including touch (an alternate input method from a mouse) on the Mac.

        I’m also interested to know why, if mouse input is so productive and amazing, there’s this grouping of people (vim users are a big one) who insist they have empirical evidence that taking your hands off the keyboard (for instance, to grab your mouse) is the %1 productivity killer.

        This leads to keyboard shortcuts.

        So many things exist to minimize moving to your mouse (or reaching out to touch a screen); yet it’s SO essential for productivity.

        Honestly, I don’t miss the mouse. And I’ll be happy when it dies.

        • William Clark

          In reply to curtisspendlove: I remember back in the early days of word processors on PCs that a program like Word Star was criticized for not having Mouse support early on where other word processors did. WS did have a ton of keyboard shortcuts and things like selecting a word or a whole sentence were just a ctrl-key press away. I know in the world of coding there were several programs along the way like emacs and such that were highly praised because you could customize just about every aspect of how the editor worked.

          I am finding on my Acer Windows/Touch Screen Laptop that I often just use my finger to do things like scrolling around the screen or zooming in and such. It's much easier and faster than reaching for the mouse.


        • Stooks

          In reply to curtisspendlove:

          "Honestly, I don’t miss the mouse. And I’ll be happy when it dies."


          If you have moved on from the mouse why would you.....or anyone be "happy" when it dies???????


          I get if it was the ONLY option but if touch continues and you do not use a mouse, why do you even care. You are just as bad as Harry. The logic or lack of is silly.


          I never said you CANT be productive with out a mouse.


          My example is the demo at the event. When they were showing iOS 11 on the iPad. When he chose multiple photos and then dragged them into mail.....it looked like finger/hand/arm torture to do that move. He was super focused because it was either NOT natural or he did not want to screw up.


          That very same demo with a mouse/keyboard shift click, right click copy, right click paste would have taken anyone 3 seconds and they could have been day dreaming while doing it.


          Don't get rid of touch but ADD mouse support. For those that "hate" the mouse (???????) they can CHOOSE not to use it.

          • curtisspendlove

            In reply to Stooks:


            “I get if it was the ONLY option but if touch continues and you do not use a mouse, why do you even care. You are just as bad as Harry. The logic or lack of is silly.”

            I use a mouse all the time. But I don’t find myself any more or less productive with one. This also largely depends on what I’m trying to do at the time.

            An iPad doesn’t replace my “productivity” but really nothing but a Mac or Linux machine can provide the best productive environment for my “work” work (but that’s an issue with ruby, more than anything).

            However, any non-coding “productivity” actions can be done perfectly well on a tablet (with a keyboard–I’m not good at typing on glass).

            I’m merely pointing out the inconsistencies in the main three arguments I hear. And many of those same comments come from the same person at different times.

            I’m not opposed to adding mouse support to iOS. I just don’t think it’s the best input option moving forward. And I think people who’ve been immersed in tech for decades see the mouse as a hammer, and every UI component as a nail.

  25. neteru1920

    Paul, I'm a fan but this review of "Understanding Productivity on iPad" is flawed. To be productive on an iPad don't try to force feed a Microsoft workflow, if reviewing a platform be all in on the best the platform has to offer. As an example, Word is great on Windows good on Mac but the effort to put the features in IOS isn't there, so to be productive on an iPad I wouldn't use word, the app is not optimized for the platform.

    Productivity is different for everyone, but this post shows the least possible way to be productive on an iPad. And I'm not an "iSheep", I own every surface that exists, game on a Windows PC, but use a Mac for development. I am very productive with an iPad when I don't want to carry a laptop . Apps like Textastic, Coda, Prompt, Working Copy, Transmit give me a mobile IDE with snytax highlighting, a local web server and a javascript console, access to SSH to my AWS environment, and mount my S3 folder as drive all on and iPad device. Writing Apps like Ulysses, and Scrivener. Apps like mindnode for mind mapping and Lucid Chart for diagrams. Affinity Photo shows what is possible when developers bring first class apps to a platform.


    Productivity can exist on an iPad, the industry is moving in the direction of productivity on more "constrained" operating systems. Google, Apple, and now Microsoft with 10S show an overblown OS is not necessary for the average user to be productive but it does need a strong developer community to produce apps people will use. Image the performance of the Surface Pro with the option of not having full Windows 10. When Microsoft has a less anemic app store they will probably brand 10S to more than students and move down a similar path as Apple with the iPad and IOS. Anyway just my opinion.

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