I replaced my Mac with my iPad Pro for a week — here's how it went
Recently, my Mac keeled over, leaving me with my iPad Pro to produce content and do day-to-day tasks with. This is how I managed, using only my iPad.
A few weeks ago, my trusty Mac finally had to undergo repairs. The graphics chip was failing, making external monitors unusable and video editing a chore. My USB-C ports had become loose — cables would physically disconnect randomly. And the keyboard alternated between typing no spaces to typing superfluous characters.
I created a clone of my drive and raced to the nearest Apple Store to begin the repair process that I knew would take me out of commission for at least a week.That left me at my desk with nothing more than my iPad Pro and a pile of work that needed to get done.
So began my week replacing my Mac with my iPad Pro.
My new setup
I had the latest generation 2018 iPad Pro in the larger 12.9-inch size and 64GB of storage, with Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio. Since my iPad Pro was not a primary device for me I was also using the iOS 13 beta which comes with both pros and cons.
All of my working projects were stored on my 20TB LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt 3 Dock — which meant even with iOS 13, I could get to them on my iPad Pro. Before I took my Mac in, I did move two or three current projects onto an external Glyph Atom USB-C SSD.
The first major hurdles I had to overcome was a doozie — one I expected and one that is entirely attributed to the beta process. Excellent mobile video editing application Lumafusion had a major bug that prevented my projects from exporting. Funny enough, this issue only occurs upon export, meaning you've already edited your entire project and are ready for publication when it inevitably fails.
Luma Touch was great and tried to issue me a temporary TestFlight build to see if it resolved the issue, and while it fixed one, it presented me another. Still, I was unable to export my project.
This isn't Luma Touch's fault by any means. Apple introduces a number of changes with each major OS update and iPadOS has loads of them. They will certainly have these issues squashed by the official release, but in the interim, I was in trouble.
While I worked with the team at Luma Touch on the issues preventing my projects from exporting, I turned to Apple's own iMovie.
It was frustrating having to re-edit an entire project, especially in iMovie. For eagle-eyed YouTube viewers, they may have noticed a video didn't go up on that Monday as I adjusted, and the video that went on Tuesday was missing some of the usual flair.
My second day with my iPad Pro was largely still just adjusting my workflow and dealing with the ramifications of my go-to editor being out of commission.
There were still a few apps that had crashed because of the beta that I had to work around, but I was still able to get a lot of writing done and started to feel much more productive.
On the third day, things got slightly more interesting. I bumped up against a huge hurdle. My iPad Pro was a measly 64GB — a far cry from the necessary storage I'd need if I were to truly make the iPad my main workstation.
When I picked up the 3rd-generation iPad Pro, it was not my intent to necessarily keep the device. I already had a 2nd-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch and was in no rush to replace it. But the new slim design of the updated model and the impressive performance and updated Apple Pencil made it a must. I decided to keep that iPad Pro — even with the paltry storage.
Nearly a year later, and this was turning to bite me in the rear.
I spent quite a bit of time optimizing my iPad, removing large RAW graphic files I had been editing and apps that I had downloaded for testing or other reasons and never quite used. This freed up enough space to continue working, but I did have to make sure to upload to the cloud whenever possible.
I started to really appreciate iCloud Drive as well as iOS's ability to connect external storage. I was able to hop into the Files app, pull footage right from my Nikon's XQD card or my Glyph Drive and save locally to the iPad. I could then edit the project and when done, move the resources up to the cloud, freeing up more local space.
I kept it local because I like to edit on the go and don't always have a connection and it is far faster than waiting for several 4K clips to download each time I need them for a project.
Four days is how long it took me to become completely comfortable on my iPad Pro in doing real work. I had proper workflows laid out and started to rely on the Shortcuts app for further automation. For example, images getting uploaded to AI have to meet certain requirements, many of which I executed by applying a Shortcut on a group of images that get compressed, resized, and even renamed.
I could import the photos directly into the Files app and iCloud Drive from external media, manually edit specific shots inside of Affinity Photo, then run my shortcut that runs the commands and puts them into a new folder.
This is also when I started to adjust more to the new gestures which are great for text editing and selections. Multiple windows were also quite helpful, as I worked in different Files windows at once and easily dragged stuff between them all and my other apps.
The larger display affords me the ability to move more freely between these apps. On many occasions I found myself editing text on one side, the AppleInsider publishing platform on the other, and using slide-over for accessing Slack and Twitter.
Overall, I didn't feel nearly as limited with the iPadOS multitasking interface as I thought I would be.
One iOS 13 change did make things a bit more difficult for me — at present, pasting in text automatically adds a space following and preceding the selection. When working in HTML, as we do when working with certain aspects of articles and editorials such as this, it gets very frustrating. I'd paste a link in between a set of parenthesis and I'd have to manually go and remove the ancillary spaces.
My iPad's stint was a bit abbreviated with an extremely fast turnaround from Apple after replacing the internal logic board, the extra I/O board, and the top cover on my MacBook Pro.
As I started to restore my Mac and get it back up to snuff, I reflected on what was working and not working with the iPad. Editing video was surprisingly doable and I actually quite enjoyed using LumaFusion and will use that again.
At the same time, I felt while things weren't difficult and doable, they took a bit more time than they did on my Mac. Little things like the space inserted in pasting text. I did try using a mouse with the iPad and iOS 13 but it still wasn't as smooth as experience as I had hoped.
I also felt like I kept having to jump in and out of apps more than simply being in them all at once like on my Mac.
Still, using my iPad Pro as a daily driver was refreshing. It was a different way of looking at things and the platform shows a lot of promise. For full video editing, I'm not 100-percent ready to give up my Mac but with the latest hardware and iOS 13, Apple is getting remarkably close to getting there. Perhaps next year will finally bridge the gap.