The iPad is enjoying a second coming, says David Chartier, as developers and users find exciting new ways to make the most of it
David Chartier on the iPad’s second coming.
How do you tell when a product is having its second coming, has got “a new pair of shoes,” or has caught its second wind? With this year’s iPad Pro refresh, the iPad-centric iOS 11, and broader developer support than ever, it feels like now is a new time for the iPad to shine.
Looking back on things, the iPad’s launch and steady evolution were crafted in classic, standard company fashion. At first, Apple and much of the industry struggled to give the iPad a concrete place alongside our existing devices, but it was pitched with specific uses in mind: browsing the web, ebooks, games, watching videos, and so on.
The iPad’s abilities and appeal have systematically expanded over the years. Apple added powerful things like flexible multitasking, inter-app data sharing, a new kind of document system, and much more, all while keeping it a simple, supremely portable computer that can serve most people’s needs. It probably helps that the iPad surpassed the Mac’s all-time sales somewhere around 2015.
2017 has been good to the iPad so far. Years of strong, yet slowly declining sales turned around and saw 15 percent growth – to 11.4 million iPads in Q3 – over the same time last year. Apple released its most affordable full-size iPad yet, starting at just $329. The Pro got a significant refresh in power and storage, a new size (the 9.7-inch is now a 10.5-inch), and feature parity across both sizes.
The iPad’s third-party apps are blossoming too. Microsoft Office is more powerful and feature-rich, and Adobe went on a national tour to promote its mobile apps for professionals and hobbyists.
As for indie developers, the iPad has flourished for nearly every industry and niche, including writing, scientific research, the arts, business, many areas of design, and even coding to an extent. Great recent arrivals include: Procreate (powerful drawing), Kaleidoscope (a longtime Mac staple for comparing text files and images), major upgrades to The Omni Group’s suite of productivity apps, Pixaki (full-featured pixel art and animation), and Pythonista 3 (coding and scripting in Python), and MindNode 4 (brainstorming and mind mapping).
In recent years, I’ve seen more articles, posts in communities like Reddit, and questions through my own site about how to do this and that with an iPad. Some people are replacing a laptop, for others it’s their first computer – after an iPhone, of course. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but the point is that it seems to be in the air.
With growing support, fresh new possibilities in iOS 11, and an upswing in sales, I think the iPad is in a good position for the next few years. It brings great advantages for many people and uses, and I’m a big believer in the right tool for the job. Now, maybe the iPad is the right tool for more jobs than ever.
In recent years, I’ve seen more people asking how to do this and that with an iPad
Kaleidoscope compares files – on a device that didn’t used to expose its file system.