The iPad is doomed to remain a secondary device (for at least another year)8
From the fact that the new iPad Pro models have M1 processors, 50% faster CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, to rumors and even tweets that ended up getting suspiciously deleted, we were fed expectations for iPadOS 15 to bring grand new things to the iPad. Most notably, desktop apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro and desktop-class multitasking.
Instead, what we got were iPhone features like freely-moveable widgets, the App Library and slightly changed, arguably more convoluted multitasking... Hurray?
The next MacOS version even gets a feature (Universal Control) that solidifies the fact that Apple wants us to view the iPad as a secondary device to our Macs and not a standalone computer. It essentially turns your iPad into a seamless secondary monitor for your Mac. Yet the iPad can be so much more, and on its own too...
To be fair, Apple never said that the iPad will be turning into a computer anytime soon, and many of you likely saw the less-than-eventful iPadOS 15 update coming from a mile away.
Is the iPad's potential wasted?
Modern iPads have tons of power and potential, yet Apple still refused to take the iPad to the next level this year. Could it be because the iPad might cause a dip into MacBook sales if it becomes as competent as a MacBook? Or could it be that Apple wants to stay focused, keep the iPad a great tablet and nothing more? If so, why did Apple cave in and add mouse support to iPadOS and even start selling an iPad keyboard with a trackpad?
We've been getting mixed signals about the iPad for a while, so it's understandable for us iPad fans to be confused about the future of Apple's super popular tablet. But it's not a stretch to say that I was disappointed with iPadOS 15, as I'm sure many avid iPad users were. And there aren't any more major iPad-related events or updates expected this year, to keep us hoping.
Is Apple unsure about what to do with the iPad?
Apple restrained from giving the iPad mouse support for quite some time, and while no one was supporting this choice, at least it sent us – the users – a clear message – "The iPad is a tablet, period. Don't expect anything more."
But as mentioned earlier, that changed and the Cupertino company embraced the use of keyboards and trackpads on the iPad ever since iOS 13.4, which in turn got us thinking that this "tablet" was about to blossom into a nice, portable computer, at least to an extent. And you could argue that it did, even if we want more.
A good number of artists, video makers, students, writers and music producers can rely on using the iPad for most of their work. But eventually, even the perfect iPad Pro user will likely hit a roadblock and will find themselves in need of a Windows PC or a Mac to do something that the iPad just can't.
For example, I often stumble upon websites that can't be used properly even with the iPad's "desktop-class" Safari browser. Or I'll need to edit an HTML or a TXT file. You won't believe the amount of hassle such seemingly simple tasks were to do on the iPad, which are as easy as right-clicking a file and choosing "Edit" on a Windows PC.
The iPad remains a secondary device, an entertainment tablet, or at best – the main computer for a small niche of creators or students. And unfortunately, iPadOS 15 only confirms the fact that we shouldn't expect anything more from Apple's tablet anytime soon.
Is there still hope for major iPad updates? Yes, but we'll have to keep waiting...
Me and my colleague Preslav are avid iPad power users and have been for many, many years. After the somewhat disappointing iPadOS 15 release, we started speculating as to why Apple didn't bring Final Cut Pro and other desktop apps, as was highly expected. And the reason could be as simple as this – Apple chose to delay such major updates for the sake of 2018 iPad Pro users. At best, any desktop apps that come to the iPad will likely only work on 2019 iPad Pro models and beyond. At worst – just the brand new M1 iPad Pro models.
If Apple released a major iPadOS 15 upgrade with desktop-class apps now, in 2021, it would've made the 2018 iPad Pro models obsolete a mere three years after their release, understandably upsetting 2018 iPad Pro users. Could this be enough of a reason for Apple to delay something that was highly expected? Yes, it does sound like something Apple might do. People expect a good number of years of support for their Apple devices, and three just wouldn't cut it. It might've become a PR nightmare, tarnishing Apple's great track record of software support.
This is just one theory, of course. But with all of the rumors, expectations and demands from users, Apple will have to do something bigger with the iPad. Unfortunately, it just clearly won't be this year.