"Netbooks aren't better at anything," Steve Jobs joked when he was on stage almost 10 years ago to introduce the first iPad. Apple's original vision for his tablet was for a new category of devices that focused on browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, and e-books. "If there is a third category of devices, it should be better in tasks like this than a laptop or a smartphone, otherwise it has no reason to be," Jobs said.
It was not a giant iPhone and also not a full laptop replacement. The iPad has always been something like that for ten years, but now every iPad wants to be a Surface.
The iPad made netbooks look like cheap laptops, and it initially became hugely popular when rivals tried to catch up and offer cheaper tablets to the masses. Microsoft even famously went into Apple & # 39; s vision of touch-friendly computing and went a little too far with Windows 8. But what the iPad did offer was a reason for the Surface line. Microsoft's Surface devices have always included optional keyboards to transform the tablet into more of a laptop. Now the entire iPad setup, with the exception of the mini, looks much more Surface-like than iPad thanks to the built-in keyboard and Pencil support.
Apple has introduced a new 10.2-inch iPad on Tuesday, designed as the cheapest (also standard) iPad that consumers will buy. For just $ 329, the new seventh generation iPad is compatible with the full-size Smart keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil. These changes mean that the iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad all support the Smart Keyboard for the first time. Apple first introduced its iPad keyboards with the iPad Pro in 2015, and now they have found their way through the iPad setup. The iPad Mini is the notable exception, but a smart keyboard of that size would probably not work as well.
The change is significant in the way the iPad is positioned. You had to choose third-party keyboards on the basic iPad for almost 10 years, and now Apple wants every iPad to work with a keyboard out of the box. Microsoft clearly saw the keyboard capability for the iPad early on and the Surface was born out of the option to function as a laptop or tablet.
Although most Surface owners purchase the optional keyboard because Windows is primarily an operating system designed for traditional computing, it is reasonable to say that most iPad owners are unlikely to have a keyboard. Apple's newest iPad may not be enough to change it from one day to the next, but it certainly puts the tablet closer to Chromebooks and cheaper Windows laptops, even if you charge $ 160 for the Smart Keyboard brings the basic iPad closer to $ 500.
Apple even briefly compared its new iPad to the top-selling Windows laptop on stage yesterday, clearly identifying the iPad's target audience in the face of the destructive competition from Android tablets. If you're considering a laptop or tablet, put a $ 500 iPad (with keyboard) that both tries to do, certainly put the pressure on Microsoft & # 39; s Surface Go. Apples full 10.2-inch iPad site is also devoted to its advantages over a computer.
Like Chrome OS, Apple & # 39; s iPadOS is designed to be simple and secure while running modern apps. These are important advantages compared to cheaper Windows laptops that run older desktop apps. But if you are used to the freedom and power of desktop computing, iPad apps can be a disadvantage because they are still only touch screens and relatively limited. Yet Apple is slowly trying to convince everyone that the iPad Pro is a computer thanks to keyboard support and the ever-changing nature of work and productivity. It is much easier to do work on an iPad now, thanks to the many always-connected mobile apps built for the iPhone era.
Combined with some of the larger changes to iPadOS that will be released later this month, it is clear that the iPad is evolving more and more towards laptop-like tasks than ever before. There is even mouse support for the iPad, although it is currently limited. Now that every major iPad supports a keyboard, we are one step closer to seeing where Apple will take this device in the future. The software that drives the iPad is steadily disappearing from the roots of its smartphone, and now the hardware offers iPad fans a way to transform the device into something that goes beyond a tablet.
Microsoft and Apple are at the forefront with tablets that combine laptop tasks. Apple catches up on the laptop-like side and Microsoft has a long way to go to tackle the tablet experience. The power of Apple is the touch-friendly apps and the simplified operating system that exists for the iPad, and that of Microsoft is the three decades of traditional computing experience that Windows has started using.
The search for the perfect 2-in-1 device has been going on for almost 10 years. Now it seems within reach. We will keep a close eye on how initiatives such as iPadOS, Windows Lite and maybe even Chrome OS bridge the gap between the tablet and PC. One, or a combination of approaches, will ultimately meet the needs of the majority.