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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"Professional"? "Big business"?
by CapEnt on Wed 11th Nov 2015 15:52 UTC
Member since:

Gruber highlights something pretty laughable in face of your comments, Thom: that the "pro" in iPad pro actually now stands for "professional" instead of "deluxe", and it should appeal to professionals. The Verge goes down the line saying that iPad Pro should appeal to "big business".

See... the problem with iOS goes deeper than his awkward UI (with keyboards), it fundamentally lacks near everything that makes a OS usable for professionals working inside a big team with a defined workflow and big business.

It lacks a true printing subsystem (don't dare to say "AirPrint"), it lacks any real file sharing/network drive features, it's not multi-user (so, not surprising, it lacks things like roaming profiles, group policies, login/logoff script execution, etc.), it lacks out-of-box screen sharing capabilities, actually it lacks any kind of remote deployment/control capabilities outside App Store itself, no remote monitoring capabilities, no admin-side update services control, remote configuration management ("fleet control"), firewall control, standard system log application (it do have a syslog in the form of ASL)... for hell! you cannot even install custom enterprise application without enrolling into Apple Developer Enterprise Program!

Sure, iOS devices works great as information terminals on production lines, and as a access terminals for web services in the hands of sales people (and correlates) on field (that was iPad usage scenarios on big corps thus far, and iPad pro will not change that). But as a daily enterprise workstation? No.

But one thing we all must have in mind: all this is software related. If Apple truly wants, they can deliver a true enterprise product.

Edited 2015-11-11 16:01 UTC

Reply Score: 7

avgalen Member since:

Apple and Enterprise...just doesn't work. In Enterprise there are so many machines that it is simply to expensive to make them all "Pro" devices. Apple also always pushes for latest=greatest without thinking about backwards compatibility which is fine for home but not enterprise. They have given up on Enterprise and Pro a while ago when they dropped Server and didn't meaningfully develop the MacPro or the MacBookPro anymore.

Apple has moved entirely into the consumer/prosumer market and is doing extremely well there. Selling more and more products with higher and higher prices and incredible margins.

iPad is a "dying" business. Apple would love for it to be a laptop replacement but it is a laptop addition without a meaningful replacement cycle. Once you got one (as a gift is actually extremely common) you will not replace it because you wouldn't do anything with the new one that you wouldn't do with the old one. Even this hyper-expensive iPad Pro is just a bigger and faster iPad without any Pro features. They would normally have called it the Plus....but they want it to be more than it is.

If the world is truly moving away from laptops and into tablets, then how do you explain MacBook sales going up and iPad sales going down the last few years?

Reply Parent Score: 5

chithanh Member since:

Apple and Enterprise...just doesn't work. In Enterprise there are so many machines that it is simply to expensive to make them all "Pro" devices.
IBM did check it and found that in their case, replacing Windows machines with Apple machines actually led to cost savings.
I'm not saying that it applies to all enterprises or to all Apple devices, but saying it "just doesn't work" is false.

Apple also always pushes for latest=greatest without thinking about backwards compatibility which is fine for home but not enterprise.
Backwards compatibility for iOS apps matters and it works fine. You can still use the apps that were written for the original iPad today.

They have given up on Enterprise and Pro a while ago
You mean that enterprise cooperation with IBM? I don't see how they have given up on that... in fact I think that the iPad Pro was released only due to that cooperation.

If the world is truly moving away from laptops and into tablets, then how do you explain MacBook sales going up and iPad sales going down the last few years?

I don't think anybody seriously claims that the world is moving towards tablets any more.
Both PC and tablet sales have been declining for years, and will eventually end up as a niche for the small number of use cases where their respective form factors are optimal.

Reply Parent Score: 1

dhickman Member since:

Simple solution for Apple to make this product viable. ALLOW bluetooth pointing devices on ios.

Personally I would stick with my air 2, but I know people would would use this as their daily driver if they could do decent VDI with it. I am in the same camp, but the pro is simply too large of a device for me to carry around.

Reply Parent Score: 2

CapEnt Member since:

Simple solution for Apple to make this product viable.

It's simple, and yet Apple doesn't seem to bother. The first iPad was released in 2010, and warping 5 years to the present, we still have iPad in the same place that Jobs left it: as a content consumption device, not a production machine.

Simple stretching his screen and gluing a keyboard on it is not enough. Not even by a long shot.

Reply Parent Score: 3

ezraz Member since:

an iPad running filemaker go and custom business software, along with dropbox, email, and basic web products is all most people need to "work" these days.

i have several clients employing thousands of people that can do nearly all of their daily computing tasks on an iPad.

most people just add/edit/view data when needed, they don't actually have to develop.

*nearly* is the key, and the reason apple continues to enhance iOS and it's hardware options.

Edited 2015-11-11 21:00 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 0

CapEnt Member since:

I got your point.

The problem that i'm pointing out doesn't lie on what the user does when working (and you are quite underestimating what a user actually do in his work). It lies on how to properly manage a network composed of dozens of thousands of iOS devices.

The thing is, very large corporations and federal-level governments (the ones that makes large hardware purchases and keep companies like Dell and Microsoft afloat) usually has understaffed IT departments that has to handle massive numbers of machines simultaneously at global level. These are corporate issued machines, not a "bring your own device" thing.

In these corporations, hundreds of people are hired and fired everyday, so hundreds of users enter and get deactivated on the directory services every day. And every single user has his own set of application, group policies depending on his department and position, and file permissions. And new permission requests are made by the thousands every day at global level.

Everything has to standardized because when a IT team ends his shift on West, a new day just rise on East side of the planet, with a different IT team taking over the management and keep the wheels turning. For every machine they has to keep software inventories, handle requests to purchase new software, and deploy these software on machines that could be on the other side of the planet.

Not to mention solve user problems reported by the dreaded help-desk, and the constant change of the network topology made by new network services coming online and offline everyday, and new hardware being plunged in on data centers and offices everywhere. All that must be reflect on the clients in the form of new set of permission, new network mappings, new printers, new software deployments...

There is also the mobile guys, with VPNs...

My point is: iOS don't have the internals to make itself usable on these scale. Sure, you could glue a dozen of thirty party apps to make it barely usable on small scale. Or could integrate it on your workforce to handle simple tasks. But this is a "Windows 3.11" thing (that God have mercy on these poor souls back then), where you had to deal with OS shortcomings with usually substandard software to give the functionality that you needed.

Reply Parent Score: 5