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Although it may be suitable to use the iPad Pro for work, it's not a silver bullet -- so IT pros must decipher in which use cases it would work best.
The ultimate vision of tablets is that they will replace laptops by combining portability with a touchscreen, pencil and apps that can do all the office productivity tasks a desktop can -- all while working seamlessly on Wi-Fi.
Apple's iPad Pro may be a replacement for certain use cases, but there are a few use cases that require the horsepower of a laptop. The iPad Pro's specs compare favorably to many basic laptop standards out there, however.
Although the iPad Pro hasn't changed much since 2015 when Apple added an extra boost in storage, a faster processor and better screen resolution, it is robust enough to handle most daily work tasks using office software and email.
A changing workplace
So let's say the iPad Pro's specs suffice for business users' needs, and, as an IT pro, you can tolerate the price. Has anything changed in the workplace over the past few years that make it conducive to a laptop replacement? I would say yes. Productivity software from Apple, Google and Microsoft enable end users to perform all their office software needs from their apps, including Apple Pages, Google Slides and Microsoft Office.
One limitation of the iPad is that it can only show a presentation using AirPlay or via an HDMI adapter. But many corporate offices have updated meeting rooms to allow connection to the TVs and monitors with HDMI cords or Apple TV, which uses AirPlay to connect.
Web conferencing software apps enable iPad Pro users to join a meeting, but those tools haven't improved a lot in the past three years, making it difficult to share a meeting without a desktop.
Apple iPad Pro specs
The iPad Pro is now on its third iteration and comes in both a 12.9 inch and 10.5 inch size. The resolution on the larger iPad is 2,732 x 2,048. Both versions work well with the Apple Pencil and have Touch ID. It comes with a camera comparable to the iPhone 7, and the base model has been bumped up to 64 GB of storage. The price rolls in at $649 for the 10.5 inch and $799 for the 12.9 inch iPad Pro.
Cloud storage apps, such as Box, enable end users to store large files and access materials from anywhere. Also, collaboration apps, such as Slack and Asana, and human resources apps, such as Workday, enable users to access many enterprise features that were not available a few years ago.
These apps are often much better on a mobile device than a desktop or laptop because the companies are forced to design for mobile first. Multitasking through iOS 11 is actually more efficient than using two monitors.
Employees that would benefit most from using an iPad Pro for work include:
- Executives: Executives that do not have time to use all the features their loaded laptops usually contain can use an iPad Pro for basic office functions and email.
- Sales: Salespeople need a portable device with a screen that is visible in all shades of light to use in the field, as well as a device that can run company order systems.
- General business and project managers: Most workers would love to use an iPad Pro for work with the right access to company resources.
When an iPad Pro won't suffice
I still don't think that it's a great experience to virtualize applications and run them via a remote desktop app, so organizations should not use the iPad Pro for this purpose. It is only doable on a case-by-case basis if an older enterprise application is not available through a browser or native app.
Also, company intranets are filled with home-grown applications and inferior web standards that sometimes do not render well on an iPad Pro.
Other use cases that don't work well with an iPad Pro for work include:
- Most developers: Developers typically need a machine that can process many commands and run different kinds of software.
- Designers: The pencil and screen are good enough to replace many of Wacom's tablet use cases, but for most designers, the iPad Pro is just a complementary device to a Wacom, which is typically larger and has specific software for professional drawing. The iPad does work well for designing in the field and prototyping, however.