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How the iPad is used by AppleInsider staff and why it remains important

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The iPad is in an odd place in Apple's lineup because it can meet a wide range of casual and professional needs. Here's how the iPad fits into the lives of AppleInsider staff.

When Steve Jobs first revealed the iPad in 2010, he positioned it as the perfect consumption device. It was a product built to deliver books, newspapers, and media while you recline in a big, comfy chair.

Fast forward to today, and Apple has muddied this vision a bit with the iPad Pro. Now, the iPad is positioned as a productivity device with the Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, M1 processor, Thunderbolt port, and advanced multitasking. However, consuming media is still a primary function.

Most of the AppleInsider staff use an iPad in their day-to-day or integrate it into their workflow. Here's what device they use and what got them invested in the iPad in the first place.

Wesley Hilliard

After spending a few years and a bunch of money on various Samsung tablets, Sony convertibles, and Windows laptops — I finally arrived at Apple and iPad in 2014. The simplicity of the software paired with its broader ecosystem of products just clicked.

iPad Pro pre-trackpad support still served as a productivity machine
iPad Pro pre-trackpad support still served as a productivity machine

Imagine my surprise when Apple revealed the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Folio Keyboard a year later. It was as if Apple had renewed its dedication to the iPad right as I discovered it.

The slow march of improving iPad hardware and software has led to what we have today. The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet computer with the same processor as a MacBook Pro, yet it is held back by how iPadOS handles certain types of software. Yet again, iPad enthusiasts look to WWDC for another "finally" moment when Apple opens up the iPad's capabilities ever so slightly more.

I love the iPad and used an iPad Pro as my primary and only work computer with AppleInsider for my first two years of employment, yes, even before proper cursor support. I had felt that the Mac and macOS had stagnated, and it transported me back to 2005 any time I touched the old Mac paradigm.

The advent of Apple Silicon changed this as Apple revived its aging operating system with some much-needed quality-of-life improvements. I purchased a 14-inch MacBook Pro (check prices) and started using it as my primary computer late in 2021.

Universal Control increases the iPad's utility in a Mac-focused setup
Universal Control increases the iPad's utility in a Mac-focused setup

Serendipitously, Apple introduced Universal Control and allowed me to continue implementing my iPad Pro in my day-to-day workflows. I can utilize every facet of the iPad Pro while still using the Mac as the primary workhorse.

I have two iPads and a MacBook Pro working in tandem when I'm at my desk. The MacBook Pro is connected to a Studio Display where I perform my daily tasks. The iPad Pro is off to the side, displaying the news, Twitter, and other media for reference. I'm able to move my cursor to the iPad and grab snippets of text, images, and additional information without moving my hands away from the Mac trackpad.

Sure, I could get another display and have these kinds of information available there instead. However, the iPad Pro is so much more than a dumb monitor. For example, I can run Pixelmator Pro on the iPad Pro using SideCar and take advantage of the Apple Pencil for editing.

My iPad mini acts as a media control hub for my HomePods during the work day. It gets most of its use as my portable device I use around the home outside of work hours. I've found that the iPad mini 6 (check prices) is the epitome of Apple's original vision of the iPad as a consumption device.

The iPad mini works great as a media control device when at the desk
The iPad mini works great as a media control device when at the desk

The iPad Pro is my portable work machine. If I want to work outside or take my work with me to a coffee shop, the iPad Pro is what goes with me. I prefer the iPad as a portable computer while the Mac works best at a desk with a monitor.

When I travel, the iPad Pro and iPad mini work in tandem as a tiny mobile office. If only Apple let me initiate Universal Control from an iPad.

The iPad remains my favorite Apple product, and I expect its capabilities will only grow with each passing WWDC and hardware release. Eventually, I expect it will supplant the MacBook Pro and become my only computing device for work again.

William Gallagher

The iPad didn't come out here in the UK until the end of May 2010, two months after its US launch. But the BBC magazine I worked for imported one for testing, and I vividly remember being handed it.

That first impression of surprise at how small it turned out to be, was followed by a realization that I'd quickly forgotten that and instead become engrossed in what I was reading. That was when I knew I was going to buy one.

William's iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard get a lot of heavy use
William's iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard get a lot of heavy use

I've had a few iPads over the years since then, and each time it's been both a workhorse for my writing business and what I turn to for relaxation. I've used iPads for reading, watching films, writing scripts, and even editing videos on occasion.

Today I've got an 11-inch iPad Pro (check latest prices), and my use did initially dip after I also got a 14-inch MacBook Pro. Yet if I used to drain the iPad Pro's battery every single day, it's now never more than every two days.

And as well as reading and writing on it, it's now often a companion screen for me using the startlingly good Universal Control.

Amber Neely

The iPad is, hands down, my favorite Apple device I own, though it does get used admittedly less than my iMac. I love the portability of the iPad, and I think that iPadOS is a fantastic platform.

I primarily use my iPad as a personal device rather than a work-facing device. I use it to create digital art, watch shows on Discovery+, view recipes while I cook, and as a way to keep in contact with friends and family when I travel.

Amber uses the iPad Air for art and media consumption
Amber uses the iPad Air for art and media consumption

My current setup includes iPad Air 4 (on sale), a second-generation Apple Pencil, and a Magic Keyboard. When I'm creating art, I bounce between using the Sketchboard Pro or a smaller, desktop easel-style stand.

I also use the PenPad, which has been instrumental in reducing wrist fatigue while I work in Procreate for long hours.

Mike Wuerthele

This house jumped on the iPad early. The original iPad gave the Internet back to a pair of senior citizens in the house, and then later to a stroke-afflicted wife because she couldn't use a full-size computer keyboard very well anymore.

We originally hoped we'd have to use one as an assistive communication device, but that didn't pan out for reasons unrelated to the technology. Instead, two other children have used one for education, recreation, and music.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is great for reading documents and books
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is great for reading documents and books

My own use is light. Most of what I read is letter-sized and not paperback-formatted, so I bought one immediately for myself when the 12.9-inch iPad Pro came out.

But, as I've said so many times before, I'm Mac-primary, iPhone secondary. That puts my iPad in a distant third for computing needs. So much so that I didn't see a need to buy the micro LED M1 iPad Pro for myself.

And even that 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro that I bought in 2020 has been passed on. I've since shifted back down to a 10.2-inch iPad, and not even the newest version.

So, as such, I don't use much in the way of accessories. I still have my original Apple Pencil that I used with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro when I need a stylus. I don't use it for production, so there's no need for a keyboard — but I did use the Magic Keyboard with my 2018 iPad Pro and liked it very much. Even when I travel, it's not out for long, so it's "naked" with no case.

I don't think this is going to change. I don't see giving up the Mac ecosystem.

Unless Apple does something like a high-end iPad that can load macOS I don't see another iPad Pro in my personal use future. Despite some ill-informed speculation about a patent from some sources notwithstanding, I don't see that happening.

Malcolm Owen

I ordered my 9.7-inch iPad Pro in March 2016, making it a six-year-old bit of hardware that I still use daily.

Why the iPad Pro? At the time, I wanted to upgrade my mobile computing setup, and while I could get a notebook, there was also the allure of moving from my Google Nexus tablet to something better.

An iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard was basically the same as a notebook, except separate and a fair bit smaller, I thought at the time. There may be some curveballs, but surely it would work for my mobile computing needs. Years later, and it's safe to say that it did.

Malcolm's 9.7-inch iPad Pro is still chugging along six years later
Malcolm's 9.7-inch iPad Pro is still chugging along six years later

I'm still using that same iPad Pro today, but not necessarily in the same capacity as I once did. Before, I would write while sitting in a local coffee shop, use it for photo editing with an Apple Pencil instead of buying a tablet for the Mac, or practically any task that I didn't necessarily have to be in the office chair for.

Now, its workload is a little bit more relaxed, with an iPhone picking up a lot of the slack. I'm not going out as much as I used to, but I still use it for image editing, including remote control and review of my mirrorless camera's creations using a companion app.

It does spend a lot more time at the desk. It acts as a jukebox while I'm working or can be used for quick searches while playing a game and needing to check something.

Six years is a long time, and it's probably due for an update. I think the fact I went with the Pro has helped keep it usable all these years later, but its days are certainly numbered.

Next, I may consider a return to pursuing a remote working setup. If the money fell into my lap, maybe an M1 iPad Pro and a Magic Keyboard (check prices). After all, if I'm using it for the next six years or so, I might as well do it properly.

Mike Peterson

I am admittedly not much of an iPad user. In my day-to-day life, the iPad Pro that I have has been restricted to kitchen duty for looking up recipes while cooking. It didn't start that way, however.

I've never been an early adopter of new technology. I got an iPhone years after the first one debuted, and the same goes for the iPad. I don't think I received my first tablet in time enough for it to make a significant impact — I still vastly prefer computer operating systems to the touch-based controls of iOS or iPadOS.

The iPad Pro is a great tablet even when used outside of professional work
The iPad Pro is a great tablet even when used outside of professional work

However, I did use my first iPad — a second or third-generation model — for GarageBand. For years, the tablet served as my main musical creation device. I had GarageBand on my Mac, but I didn't have any audio interface or MIDI keyboard for creating tracks. The iPad's touch controls became handy for digital piano or drums. I later bought an Apogee Jam, which let me record a guitar or bass.

I continued using the iPad to make music until I bit the bullet and bought Logic and a digital piano with MIDI. I haven't looked back since. So the iPad stays in the kitchen.

While I've long considered an iPad-based portable writing setup with a Magic Keyboard, I still haven't been able to justify it. Maybe one day.

Andrew O'Hara

I admit that I haven't always been a lifelong Apple user. I know that is probably the case for several of you out there, but I got into the Apple ecosystem via the iPod before jumping to the Mac and everything else.

This makes me a little late to the game with much of Apple's gear. However, with the iPad, I've been there since the beginning.

The iPad Pro becomes a work machine when paired with the Magic Keyboard
The iPad Pro becomes a work machine when paired with the Magic Keyboard

I have incredibly fond memories of the initial iPad launch. Back then, both my grandfathers were still around, and we got up during the wee hours to take up our post in front of the local Best Buy since there were no Apple Stores nearby at this point. I'd wait outside in the elements while my grandfathers would take turns sitting with me and warming up a bit in the idling car.

Even after getting that first iPad, I wasn't sure what to do with it. It did a lot of things, but none exceptionally well. I think it was more of a media consumption device than anything, though I did do some typing with that quirky keyboard and dock combo Apple had released. When not in use, it sat in our trashy college house as a persistent picture frame while docked, proudly displaying our group's escapades.

Things have changed since then, and now it's become one of my most oft-used Apple devices. I prefer using it to my Mac for most tasks, and I've come to love how versatile and immensely portable it is.

I own both an iPad mini for around the house and travel and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro for getting things done. I yearn for the day when Apple adds real external monitor support and makes a mobile version of Final Cut, but otherwise, I'm a huge fan of what the iPad has evolved into.