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iPad Pro: Take one tablet … and call me from the futu...

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iPad Pro – Take one tablet … and call me from the future


Toby Shapshak is publisher of Stuff ( and Scrolla.Africa.

As things return to normal and travel picks up, can a 25-year laptop user pitch it for an iPad Pro?

I am writing this on my new iPad Pro on my lap. I am on a mission to see if a Pro tablet can replace my laptop.

It’s partly experimental: to see if the technology is truly as ready for this as all the people I know who use an iPad as their primary computer claim it to be. At least one of them runs a bank.

Two years ago, I got my wife, who is a lawyer, an iPad Pro 12.9-inch, with an Apple Pencil. For the first few months, it was a fiddly arrangement involving apps specifically designed for editing PDFs.

But, quite quickly, the functionality was built into Microsoft Word, and she could make notes or edit directly in the Word document with the Pencil.

It has become as easy and familiar an interface as the mouse, or a pencil on real paper. I suspect Apple has saved millions of trees in the legal industry alone.

To replace my laptop with this iPad Pro 11-inch with 256GB of storage, I added Apple’s Magic Keyboard, a nifty combination with impressive engineering, as you’d expect. The keys are the same as in a MacBook and the keyboard is tactile and responsive. I find it slightly harder to type than on the bigger 13-inch MacBook-sized keyboard, which I am so used to. But I can’t say it has hindered me, especially as Word seems to compensate for typos with a useful slickness.

The trackpad handles multiple fingers, so you can use all the MacBook multitouch shortcuts. A clever interface for touching the “mouse” on to the iPad’s dock is the equivalent of pushing the home key.

The keyboard is backlit, nogal. You’d be surprised at how useful this is for typing on a dark plane, which worked well on a recent trip to New York.

I chose the iPad Pro with a cellular slot and got an extra data SIM from my Vodacom RED package. It’s almost unnecessary, given how easily and slickly the iPad (or my laptop) jumps on my iPhone’s personal hotspot.

I haven’t used the Apple Pencil much yet, but that is because I prefer to type notes – for which this smaller size iPad is useful because it’s less intrusive on a table during an interview or meeting. I bought all of these from Incredible Connection, my new go-to store for all things Apple.

The overall experience so far is very slick. And this was before the upgrade announced on 6 June, which will make iPadOS look and operate much more like a laptop.

It may seem like a #FirstWorldProblem but as my use of technology changes – or, more aptly, the available technology – I am rethinking how I work while traveling.

Is a laptop still the best option? I need the extra processing power for copying video off my Fuji XT-4 DSLR camera, which I use to shoot video. Or do I?

Because the iPad has a USB-C port, you can transfer video or images with a SD card reader. Then, just as I have always done with my laptop, I upload these to a cloud-hosting service and send them to Stuff’s creative director, Daron Chatz. The Pro is powerful enough, especially with the new upgrade, to edit those images or video.

I have adapted to working on it – hopping between multiple Word documents, too many open browser tabs and my email – with ease. One noticeable, and welcome, difference: there is no WhatsApp standalone app for iPadOS. I am sure I could run WhatsApp in a browser, but it is such a relief not to have that never-ending message-pinging service distracting me. That, alone, is worth its weight in productivity. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.


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