The iPad reviews are in :: And they all hit the wall at the exact same point

by Volker Weber


The iPad Pro reviews praise the hardware and dismiss the software, basically for one reason: iOS does not expose a filesystem. Which makes it difficult to do PC things, i.e. managing files. And that is a view which all nerds share, and basically nobody that is 'just a user'.

I have been a happy Microsoft Surface user for two years, because it lets me do things the PC way. It is a PC, disguised as a tablet. When you run it in laptop configuration, with a keyboard and trackpad attached, it behaves exactly like a PC.

This time I want to go full iPad. That will require some learning. Or shall I say un-learning? My files live inside a service: OneDrive. I don't really need to manage files on external storage. At least not every single hour of the day. At first I will be handling some tasks on a Mac, but I want to center everything on the iPad. I am sure there will be some learnings along the way.

Here is what you can't do: compare a piano to a guitar and complain that the guitar does not handle really well, because it does not burn as long as a piano.


I'm tempted as well to try that. As my current Macbook Air does its job still very good, I'll wait for your experiences and your opinion.

Patrick Bohr, 2018-11-05

I am very curious the see your experience, Volker.
In regards of being "just a user": I bought an iPad for my wife to make her life easier (no walk-overs to the office, no boot "pause", no long "update and reboot" chain etc).
She had a hard time (better: still has) to learn the hard way - as she is "just a user", she expected to do things as she learned some time back. Now she has to invest to learn no ways (at least she can sit on the sofa going forward :-).
And some cases are really, really hard... (how to get 150 pictures of a Synology NAS into an app to get hard copies for the grandparents? Most photo print apps only support cloud services like Google Drive or OneDrive. Going via the iPad Foto App is the only way we found - w/o "select all" feature one photo after another...).
We learned:
Life is easier as there is most of the time exactly one way that leads over the finish line.
Life is harder as this one way is sometimes not that obvious or convenient (meant as "trained" - no muscle memory so far...).

Ali Schmalzhaf, 2018-11-05

Photos on Synology NAS is a typical PC solution. Photos in any cloud service: Find a set of photos, create shared folder, boom. No filenames, no directories, just a sea of photos. Searchable, findable, shareable.

That is what I mean with un-learning. If you try to stick to the PC way, get a PC.

Volker Weber, 2018-11-05

I'll use an iPad for my daily driver only when it exposes a shell and is able to run multiple virtualised OS. Until then, its just a limited tool.

Andy Mell, 2018-11-05

Of course, it is limited for your kind of work. Since I don't have your requirements, I do not see this limitation. And if I were you, I would not hold my breath. :-)

Volker Weber, 2018-11-05

What is meant by people who complain iOS does not expose a filesystem — it most certainly does (,,,

Do they mean their often-used app hasn't adopted this support in the 18 months since it was released? There are certainly far too many apps in that situation — perhaps it's the iOS equivalent of the Android OS updating problem. It is also true batch operations on iOS files are a problem, but that isn't the same as saying the filesystem isn't exposed.

David Richardson, 2018-11-05

Volker, your answer to Ali is incomplete. Or, to phrase it better: also the app developers/publishers need to learn.

If you, eg., want to order a book of photo prints at the famous (?) German CEWE service, you need to use their app. This app can only access pictures in the iOS picture library (hope this is still correct - it used to be a limitation, IIRC). So if you have a service (being it Google or the Synology Photo Station or just „a sea of pictures“) with your pics, you need to get them to your iOS photo library. Google Drive, eg, has no „fetch all“ command, AFAIK, so you need to pick one photo after another and import it to your local library. So stupid. And not a problem of the user, but of the apps involved.

Jonas Rathert, 2018-11-05

I am also curious even if your use case might differ from mine. What we should not forget: This is a device for 2000 Euro or more and it is named "Pro". So I would expect from it to replace a laptop. Full stop. For simply browsing the internet and watch YouTube there are much cheaper solutions available, even from Apple. A Surface Pro is a distinct 2-in-1 device - not sure what the iPad (Pro) is.

Jochen Kattoll, 2018-11-05

Volker, I really do like your assessment regarding the reviews that were just published. I agree 100%.
I also appreciate you jumping through the hoops Federico-style and documenting your findings on I am really looking forward to it!

Markus Dierker, 2018-11-05

Synology NAS offers a cloud service too. No need to stick to the PC way, just get Synology Drive up and running, share a folder with your photos and there you are.

Axel Koerv, 2018-11-05

Volker, I am also living in Office 365 and continously switch between MacBook, Surface, iPad, iPhone and Android. What I start creating at my desk on the MacBook, do I discuss with others on the iPhone or iPad at lunch with others. Later on in an online meeting, I love to draw on slides from the Surface. What do I really miss on the iPad Pro so far? For presenting I would like to count on my large PP collection, that is ready for offline work. While Onedrive for Business allows you to download folders in advance, you still can‘t use them in PP & Co. without a proper online connection. Also creating detailed diagramms on the iPad is not really fluid like on macOS or Windows 10. Also it does not look like that Microsoft will add screen sharing to Skype for Business for iOS - new features are here for Teams only. Have you every tried to share an iPad screen via Airplay while also being connected to a Bluetooth conference speaker like Jabra Speak 710 (a very nice device btw).

I am looking forward to your verdict.

Peter Meuser, 2018-11-05

For everybody how is interested in Volkers approach -
Google the following:
- Federico Viticci + ipad

If you like to listen to podcasts google:
- Federico Viticci ipad mac power users

Jörg Heuer, 2018-11-05

David, splitting hair as ever. You may be able to see the internal f/s, but it does not expose a file system for a connected external storage, and it most likely does not have support for the different partitioning schemes and file systems there. This happens on the app level for apps like Photos, which can pull photos from DCIM at a connected SD card. The user could care less. All he knows is there is no desktop where he can store files and push them around.

Jochen, I have showed the price differences between iPad Pro and Surface before. iPad isn't more expensive. And no, it does not have to replicate the behaviour of a PC. It needs to support relevant workflows. What is relevant depends on the user. And I am not going to start with edge cases that Peter mentions. I will start nice and slow until I can do everything I need to do. Some of those are actually quite easy. I have a workflow (from the iPhone) which scales a photo down to 640px width, logs into via SFTP with a certificate, uploads the file with a random filename and returns the html code I need to display the image in a blog posting. With ONE tap. That is a whole lot easier than it was on Windows.

So, we will see, how far I can get. This is not a piano. It's a different instrument.

Thanks, Jörg. I had no idea what Markus was talking about.

And full disclaimer: I am not beating a new path. I have a friend who lives five years in the future. He is mostly on iPad.

Volker Weber, 2018-11-05

I still find the Microsoft Office apps on iOS to be too limited for a full replacement. Besides the occasional loss of the subscription info (as discussed here in one of the other comment threads), for example there is no way to create or even update existing diagrams. Just a few columns of values visualized with a simple chart - you can change the values in Excel, but the chart doesn't update.

And I can relate to the picture printing - my wife selected a few pictures for printing on her iPhone. I could easily put them into a dedicated album and even look at them on mine. But when at the photo printing kiosk in the store, I could only select pictures from the iPhone Photos app, nothing else - no cloud service, nothing. It may have been possible to get to the cloud services with an app of the kiosk manufacturer or the store chain, but I don't really want to install tons of apps just for limited (and at least for me, rare) use cases.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2018-11-05

I would be Super interested in a “Rundown of Volker’s workflows”. Tools and strategies. Tons of gems to be learned about

Stephan H. Wissel, 2018-11-06

Sorry for having been too implicit. I was sure, Volker, you already knew Federico Viticci and his excellent site Every year or so he rounds up his favorite iPad apps. His site (archive) is definitely worthwhile to visit. In addition I recommend Frederico‘s and Fraser Speirs‘ excellent podcast ‘Canvas’:
Fraser uses iPad in a school context and also knows his stuff. Federico is one of the go-to guys when it comes to automation (‘Shortcuts’ formerly known as ‘Workflow’).
@Jörg: Thanks for being more explicit to Volker and his audience than I was!

Markus Dierker, 2018-11-06

Great experiment, Volker, love it when you are all in. Good luck and as I said, curious to hear your findings even if my use case is different.

Jochen Kattoll, 2018-11-06

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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