The purist designers and engineers at Apple may have missed the boat of opportunity with the new iPad and iOS 11. What’s missing? Keyboard support. Trackpad support. Mouse support. These are the staples of modern computing.
Sure, touching an iPad’s screen is the way to use a tablet, but there are many times when you need to get something done– real world work– and that requires a good old fashioned keyboard. The new iPad– clearly aimed at schools and education– does not promote any of what makes a Chromebook a growing and popular choice for schools.
We take the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad for granted on our Macs. Those are the time honored interface tools which work and everyone who uses a personal computer these days knows how to get something done. Putting in text via a keyboard is vastly superior to using an onscreen keyboard on iPad. When in keyboard mode, and iPad then needs either a trackpad or mouse because the entire arm and shoulder and fingers is not a good way to navigate. iOS 11 does not have good keyboard navigation the way a Mac with macOS High Sierra has. If Apple wants an iPad to be the device for the post-PC era, it needs to give it the tools that make modern computing, well, modern.
I’m not advocating against iPad. I have an iPad Pro and it can do many functions more convenient than a Mac notebook. There are more apps for iPad than for Mac. iPad– for computer newbies– is easier to learn and navigate than a Mac or Windows-based PC. But once you move upwards into traditional computer productivity tools– Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Microsoft’s Office of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, an integrated keyboard is a huge time saver.
Apple acknowledges the keyboard requirement with it’s own Smart Keyboard which plugs into the Smart Connector. This arrangement is better than a cheap Bluetooth keyboard but not by much. Worse, add the price of an Apple branded Smart Keyboard and you might as well use a Mac because app navigation is easier via keyboard, trackpad or mouse than it is with Smart Keyboard and iPad Pro.
iOS 11 is not exactly keyboard friendly, and definitely not keyboard navigation friendly. Mac power users know the value of using only the keyboard– and excellent device for productivity, efficiency, and with knowledge of more keyboard shortcuts, about as good as it can get short of macOS Brain Implant.
Chromebook makers push half-way decent devices into schools for far less than Apple’s $299 school price for iPad. iPad needs another $50 to add Crayon and Case and maybe another $50 for decent Bluetooth keyboard. Apple has reached this point where it is so prosperous it doesn’t seem to want or need the education business that Google is lapping up.
So it isn’t just the keyboard an iPad needs. There must be keyboard shortcut and navigation options in iOS. Ditto for trackpad and mouse capability. The time has come to make an iPad truly useful as a personal computer.