The Shift

The iPad is en­joy­ing a sec­ond com­ing, says David Chartier, as de­vel­op­ers and users find ex­cit­ing new ways to make the most of it

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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.

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