Is iPad-only the new desktop Linux?

Watts Martin:

You like the iPad because it’s simple. But if you’re using the iPad as your primary computer, you may just like it because it’s a challenge.


And I started using it.

I used it to make revisions to a story and send it to an editor. I used it to create new stories. I used it for editing bigger works in Scrivo Pro, a “Scrivener for the iPad” before the official Scrivener for iOS release. I even used Working Copy to check my company’s documentation out of Git, made changes in Editorial or Textastic, and merged them back in. I switched to Spark as an email client, and Ulysses as a plain text editor.

I have a few months of using it daily now, and using it for relatively serious work. Yes, I like it. Yes, it can replace my Macbook in many regards. Some of what I need to do is easier on the iPad than it is on either the iMac or the MacBook: email triage, for instance, and anything that involves long-form reading. And it’s a good “single focus” editor for writing.

But where it fell down — and will continue falling even with iOS 10 — is when I needed to do just about anything that involves more than one program at once.

Right after I’d gotten the iPad Pro, I had to do something common for fiction writers: review comments from an editor on a short story of mine, accept or reject their changes, make my own copy edits, and then send the file back in a reply to the original message.


You can argue that I should just stay within the bounds of the ecosystem I’m supposed to be in. Fuck that. This is plain text. A lot of files we work with are de facto standards: JPEG, Word, HTML, MP3. Downloading an image from a web site, resizing and editing it in an image editor, and uploading it to WordPress — these are things that people do all the time and require coordination between multiple apps, yet don’t demand specific apps.

If you’re going to tell me “normal people” don’t do those tasks, please don’t. Quilters run blogs. Salespeople create presentations. And non-techie writers send revisions to editors. It’s us nerds who insist that iOS solves the “problem” of normal people who don’t understand the file system putting all their files on the desktop. But the desktop acts as shared document storage, which is something it turns out normal people sometimes need, and iOS does not solve that problem. Lecture me about the virtues of containers all you want, but there is no world in which having to use Dropbox as a temporary storage medium is a step forward.

I’m not 100% on board all with everything Watts is saying in his post, I’ve been using an iPad as a laptop replacement for years and more and more with the iPad Pro than ever before. As more and more apps start adopting the split screen support (and Zoom, I’m talking to you as an app I use every day for video conferences and still does not have split screen support), it gets even more usable.

I wrote the majority of both the first and second editions of the Twilio Cookbook on an iPad and even managed to read my editor’s comments in Word, But, I can also see where he is coming from too, maybe I’m just used to working within the confines of iOS?

I’ve also been the full-time desktop Linux user, and iPad-only does not feel at all like that for me.