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[4]: Some alternative views
by Tony Swash on Thu 12th Nov 2015 10:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Some alternative views"
Tony Swash
Member since:

"Try that with a laptop ;)

I don't have to as I'm not the one stating that the phone is dead. On the other hand I could list an equally long list of things that a touch device absolutely sucks for (including typing this reply, as I tend to grab my MacBook rather than my iPad).

I get that this particular use case actually becomes slightly less annoying on iPad Pro and Surface devices. Unfortunately for the iPad Pro it also sucks pretty badly for most of the things you listed. I certainly won't be carrying such a huge device around when heading home drunk from the pub.

The point I was making is that for most young people their primary and dominant experience of computing is using mobile touch based devices, overwhelmingly phones. So for them the idea of using a bigger form factor tablet as a desktop computer rather than a traditional mouse based PC system (such as OSX and Windows) is far less novel or challenging.

Personally I am not like that. I have been using mouse based desktop systems since getting a Mac II in the mid 1980s and I find using a traditional PC setup much more comfortable and familiar to do anything of substance. Additionally as I age I need a big screen (eyesight) and I spend less time out and about so being tied to desk is less of a big deal.

But watching my kids generation using their devices its clear they are truly a new generation of computer users, with an entirely different culture and experience. In the next ten years touch based computing will seep into every nook and cranny of computing, both personal and professional. Already traditional PCs are a minority niche of computing.

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