Those Weird iPad Laptop Replacement People

The big iOS 9 multitasking news from WWDC 2015.

June 8, 2015
There are 2 types of people in higher ed. Those sane people who use a laptop for work, and an iPad for content consumption. And those crazy people who almost totally replace their laptop with an iPad.  
The crazy iPad people may have gotten a boost from Monday’s iOS 9 announcements at WWDC 2015. Come Fall, when iOS 9 is released, iPad users will (finally) be able to easily multitask. It will now be possible to run 2 apps at once, and easily switch between apps while keeping both apps on the screen. The next version of iOS allows for apps to be run side-by-side, and even enables a flexible picture-in-picture (PIP) so that video or presentations can play in a small screen while you work in a main window.  

Will multitasking on the iPad convince us reasonable people to stop carrying our laptops around wherever we go?  

It is not that the people who replace their laptops with iPads don’t own a laptop.  Rather, they are “post-PC” in their walking around life. Where I am never without my laptop, they are seldom without their iPad.  

The misguided and confused iPad laptop replacement people argue that we are in the "post-PC" era. They say that the reasons to ditch carrying around your laptop at all times include:
Social: Puts up less of a tech device barrier in meetings than a laptop, as holding and typing on a flat pane of glass is less isolating and anti-social than sitting behind a screen and typing a keyboard.
Form Factor and Battery: An iPad is smaller, lighter, and easier to carry - with a battery that lasts all day.
Connectivity: An iPad is more reliable for bandwidth, as the always connected can choose a cellular connectivity plan.
User Interface: An iPad is easier and more intuitive to use, as swiping and touching is more natural than always typing.
Handwriting: The iPad provides a more natural and fluid, as well as socially connecting, way to take notes - as a stylus (or a finger) is a better input device for note taking.
Consumption and Quick Notes: The iPad is a better solution for what they do all day, which is to take notes (often using a stylus), read e-mails and news and tweets, and maybe look at videos.
Apps: Apps are cheaper to buy, easier to use, and faster to startup than full-fledged applications. Who needs a bloated application when an app will do the trick?
The problems that I have with the iPad as a laptop replacement device for work are as follows:
Typing:  Typing on an iPad screen is mind numbingly maddening (at least for me). If you are going to connect one of those external iPad keyboards, then why not just use a real laptop.
Creation:  I don’t know what I think until I write it down. An iPad was designed as a content consumption device, not a content creation device. All the add-ons and apps in the world don’t turn it into what is what not intended to be.
Form Factor:  Is a 3 pound, 0.68 inch thick, MacBook Air (13 inch) really too heavy and big to carry around?
Presenting:  It seems that presenting from an iPad is getting better (especially if the monitor is hooked up to an Apple TV), but the process of connecting to a projector is nowhere near at parity as a laptop.
Applications:  Maybe I’m missing the boat here, but it seems that creating presentations or spreadsheets or long documents on an iPad would be torture. Why not have in your backpack the tool that you will use to create most of your work?
The Closed Lid: The great thing about carrying a laptop around all day is that you can bring it to a meeting (or a class), and close the lid. An iPad may be too great an temptation to look at e-mail or apps or surf around on.
Are you one of those strange people who uses an iPad as a laptop replacement?
Will the coming of iOS 9 and multitasking push you to give a new look at making an iPad your primary computing device?
Is the iPhone 6 Plus (and other giant phones) replacing the iPad as a laptop replacement?


Back to Top