Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Nov 2015 13:53 UTC

The reviews for the Apple Surface are coming in. There's two reviews at The Verge, one at the Wall Street Journal, and John Gruber's got early access from Apple as well.

The general gist? If you've ever read a Surface Pro review, you've read all the iPad Pro reviews. Well, mostly - the complaints leveled at the Surface Pro are being tip-toed around a bit now that they apply to an Apple product, of course, and suddenly, the magic argument "but it will get better in the future" is now completely valid, while the same argument is never considered valid for the Surface Pro (or something like the Priv and its early bugs).

That being said, all reviews dive into just how uncomfortable the iPad Pro is to use as a laptop - and the problem, of course, is iOS itself. iOS is a mobile, touch-first operating system that Apple is now trying to shoehorn into a laptop role. iOS provides no support for mice or trackpads, and the keyboard and iOS lack most basic shortcut keys, so in order to do anything other than typing, you'll need to lift your arm and reach for the screen to use touch. This is something Apple has mocked for years as the reason not to include touch on laptops, and now they release a device which requires it 100%.

This is what happens when you run out of ideas and try to shoehorn your cashcow - iOS - into a role it was never intended to fulfill, without being gutsy enough to make the changes it requires. The iPad Pro is clearly screaming for a touchpad (and proper keyboard shortcuts), but it doesn't have any, and according to John Gruber, it never will (a comment I filed away for later when Apple inevitably adds mouse support to iOS).

Microsoft's Surface may not be perfect, but its problems stem almost exclusively not from a lack in hardware capability or a faulty concept, but from Microsoft's Metro environment being utterly shit. The concept of having a tablet and a laptop in the same device, seamlessly switching between a tablet UI and a desktop UI, is sound - the only problem is that Microsoft doesn't have a working tablet UI and applications. Meanwhile, trying to shoehorn a mobile, touch-first UI into a laptop form factor is just as silly and idiotic as trying to shoehorn a desktop UI into a mobile, touch-first form factor - and Apple should know better.

Or should they? Paul Thurrott, earlier this week:

While the iPad Pro was in many ways inevitable, it also points to a crisis of original thought at Apple, which has been coasting on the iPhone’s coattails for perhaps too long. At Apple, the solution to every problem is another iPhone. And the iPad Pro, like the new Apple TV and the Apple Watch, is really just another attempt to duplicate that singular success in other markets.

Thurrott really hits the nail on the head. The iPhone became a success because Apple sought - and succeeded in - designing an interface and interaction model that was specifically designed for the iPhone's input methods - the multitouch display, the home button. Ever since that major big hit, they've been trying to shoehorn that exact same interface and interaction model into every major new product - the Apple Watch, the new Apple TV, and now the iPad Pro. However, if there's one thing we've learned from Palm OS (pen-first, mobile-first) and iOS (multitouch-first, mobile-first), it's that every form factor needs a tailored interaction model - not a shoehorned one.

When you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail - which sums up Apple's new major product lines ever since the release of the iPhone, and the iPad Pro seems no different. It will do great as an iPad+, but beyond that? It's not going to make a single, meaningful dent, without considerable restructuring of iOS' UI and interaction models - and lots and lots of crow.

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RE[2]: Some alternative views
by Tony Swash on Thu 12th Nov 2015 00:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Some alternative views"
Tony Swash
Member since:

Except of course for the fact your daughter didn't use the Mac for the same things as those hypothetical people preferring the command line. If anything, history has shown that the graphical user interface could not fully replace the command line. Just like touch can't fully replace a quality keyboard and mouse. .

I think you may have that inverted. What's so striking about mobile devices is how much more they can do than PCs can not do.

Once computers shrank so that they could fit in a pocket and had batteries that lasted all day, and had a built in array of very powerful sensors (GPS, Gyros, compasses, motion sensors,) and built in video and still cameras, sound play back and recording, telephony and bluetooth, they became way, way more powerful than desktop PCs.

Sure editing a spreadsheet on a smart phone is bit more fiddly than on a PC but can you use any PC do this: stumble out of the pub late at night pull out your phone to check the football score, use the map to check the nearest metro, discover you just missed the last train, use Uber to call a cab, while you wait post the funny photo you took in the pub on Instagram and then in the cab call your wife to say you will be home soon and then settle back and listen to some music whilst browsing though your photos from the day. Try that with a laptop ;)

PCs are the best for a few things but mobile computing devices are much more powerful for many more things. And the things that mobile devices are good at are actually the things that make up the fabric of most of our days and lives.

I quite liked this cheeky video from Horace Dediu called "The Desktop Computer"

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