It took Apple more than nine years to recognize that the iPad and iPhone were different enough to warrant separate operating systems. While there have been minor variations in features forwards and backwards devices in recent years, it’s only this season it's officially forked into two slightly different operating systems with distinct names: iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. Now, using the changes in this new operating-system, an iPad could replace a laptop for many people for much or even all their work. iPadOS may be a game changer for traveling with a laptop.

What’s new in iPadOS?

For probably the most part, iPadOS is like its sibling iOS for the iPhone and ipod itouch, but there are a variety of features made to make iPadOS more “computer-like.” Up to now, iOS was a one-window-at-a-time operating-system, but that changed with a few multi-tasking features introduced in iOS 12. iPadOS 13 has a lot of additional features that provide you more ways to utilize multiple apps and windows. You can now use spaces in iPadOS, which can contain multiple windows from an application, or windows from different apps. You can use App Exposé to show all the windows of an app and switch to another window.

Apple has highlighted the brand new desktop-class browser in iPadOS, and this feature alone goes a long way toward extending the possibilities of the iPad. You're no more limited to using mobile versions of web sites, and you can now access sites for example Google Docs in Safari. This means that for many sites, notably for productivity tools, you have access to the services’ full-range of features in the browser, and also you don’t want to use separate apps.

Working with Files

Another big alternation in iPadOS is the ability to download, manage, and upload files. If, for instance, you have to download a file from the website to add it to a cloud storage folder, or to pass it on to a colleague, this can be done from Safari or other apps. Files obtainable locally, and also the Files app lets you send these to other locations.

You can also connect external storage devices for an iPad, like a thumb drive or any hard disk. You can copy files to and from the unit, and employ them, via the Files app, to utilize your projects. Add photos from an SD card, PDFs from a thumb drive, and more.

Even better, your iPad are now able to connect to a local server. So when you’re at home or in the office, you are able to mount your Mac or PC and access files from that device. This is a huge enhancement for anyone needing to work with files with an iPad. Below, you can observe my iPad is connected to the home folder on my small iMac:

Typing and editing text

Text editing is definitely difficult on the iPad, but new gestures for editing text have been added in iPadOS 13. I’m not really a big fan of gestures; they are difficult to discover and simple to forget.

You can tap and contain the cursor, then drag it anywhere you want. You can pick a block of text by dragging your finger over it. And you may select text by tapping: tap twice to pick a word; three times to pick a sentence; and 4 times to pick a paragraph. There are also new copy, paste, and undo gestures, which involve three-finger pinches, drops, and swipes. I really think Apple should develop a Gestures app that explains all the gestures available on iOS and iPadOS, because there are so many it's difficult to remember all of them.

iPadOS sees some interesting improvements in using both the on-screen and hardware keyboard. You can shrink the iPad’s keyboard using a pinching gesture from both sides. This allows you to both type with one hand but also to make use of the new swipe-to-type feature in iOS 13 that isn't available when you use the full-sized keyboard.

And while you have been able to use a hardware keyboard using the iPad for many years, Apple has added a number of keyboard shortcuts in Safari to make it quicker to work on the web.

More new features

There are numerous other new features in iPadOS 13 worth looking at. If you’re a fan of Dark Mode, technology-not only in your iPad. The brand new desltop allows you to have smaller icons, and also to display six apps or folders on each row, rather than four, and you can pin Today View widgets on the home screen if you wish to discover their whereabouts constantly .

If you apply the Apple Pencil being an input or editing device, a new set of tools and a shrinkable palette makes it much simpler to utilize. You can now install custom fonts, you will find new editing tools within the Photos app, and much more.

Can an iPad replace a laptop?

Comparing a tablet to some laptop is like comparing apples and potatoes. Apple has been working difficult to result in the iPad a usable replacement for a MacBook Pro. But will it work for you?

Many people could perform all their tasks with an iPad without an external keyboard, but since the release of iPadOS 13, I have spent a good period of time focusing on my 11″ iPad Pro with a keyboard. I purchased a Studio Neat Canopy, a sort of keyboard case that also can serve as an iPad stand, that works by having an Apple Magic Keyboard.

With the raised keyboard shortcuts and other features mentioned previously, this is a powerful combination, particularly with the addition of the Apple Pencil. It’s easy to switch apps by pressing Command-Tab, as you do on the Mac, and all sorts of apps I use offer keyboard shortcuts to make dealing with this product more efficient. You may also switch the keyboard layout, that you simply canrrrt do with the on-screen keyboard. I personally use a Dvorak layout on my Macs, and it’s best to be able to use by using a keyboard in my iPad.

Or, with the new Magic Keyboard for iPad, you can use your iPad almost like a laptop.

If you are writing a lot, as I do, then an external keyboard is essential. As a touch typist, there’s no way I can input text into my iPad as fast without a keyboard. However, the brand new Voice Control feature in iPadOS 13, and also the dictation feature that's been around for a long time, could make entering text a lot easier, if you’re in a quiet environment.

If you want to save weight, then your iPad can be a better option. My setup, by having an 11″ iPad, an Apple folio cover, keyboard, and Apple Pencil, weighs 1043 g. You can help to save a couple hundred grams by using Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, but this device is expensive, and not everyone will enjoy the design of the keys. The lightest Apple macbook, the MacBook Air, weighs 1025 g, and my 13″ MacBook Pro weighs 1353 g. However, should you choose desire to use many of the multi-tasking options that come with iPadOS, you’ll want the bigger, heavier, more costly 12.9″ model, which is a lot nearer to the Mac in dimensions, weight, and price.

Ergonomics

But despite a keyboard, the main problem using the iPad compared to a laptop is among ergonomics. When you can control a lot with the keyboard, you’ll still need tap the screen-a lot. This is often uncomfortable with time, and even result in repetitive stress injuries. This is whats called gorilla arm syndrome, because your arm starts to ache and feel oversized. Steve Jobs once said about vertical touchscreens, “after a short time you start to fatigue, after a long period of time, your arm really wants to fall off.”

One way to avoid this is to change from using a hardware keyboard when necessary to presenting the iPad with you whenever possible. And unless you are typing a lot, a handheld iPad might be better ergonomically. One way Apple could remedy this is to add full pointer support, so, when working with an iPad and keyboard at a desk, use a mouse. You can already sort of do this, with an accessibility feature called Assistive Touch, but this merely puts an online fingertip on the screen, not an actual pointer. It notably doesn't permit you to edit text efficiently.

In the finish, it comes to precisely what kind of work you need to do in your computing device. If whatever you do is email, web surfing, and a few apps, then your iPad is a perfect replacement for a laptop. It’s smaller, lighter, and easier to use. If you do occasionally have to type a great deal, then another keyboard extends its capabilities.

However, in case your work involves utilizing a cursor a great deal, then your need to touch the screen often-in cases where you can’t move around using the keyboard-is likely a deal-breaker. So if you're accustomed to using specific macOS apps that don’t have iOS or web equivalents, then you definitely really can’t go tablet if you aren't willing to completely reinvent your everyday workflow.

How can one learn more?

This week around the Intego Mac Podcast episode 108, Intego’s experts will talk about whether an iPad can replace your MacBook, in addition to a new “Light Commands” attack against Siri-enabled devices, and Apple’s privacy policy page update. Be sure to subscribe to be sure you never miss the latest episode.

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