Is Apple Failing Their iPad Power Users?

Many seem to hate the direction of the iPad and the threats keep coming.

iPad Pro 9.7-inch. Photo taken in 2016 by author.

I have gone over this a few times already. About two years ago before iPadOS 16 was announced, I wrote about how I felt iPad Power Users were expecting too much. I went over their unrealistic expectations and how their wanting to use a MacBook was tainting their reasoning to think the iPad was going downhill.

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After iPadOS 16 was announced, I talked about how even though none of the expectations that all these power users were met, they all still praised iPadOS 16 as Apple finally coming through. Until they used Stage Manager of course. Not only was Stage Manager riddled with bugs and odd restrictions like resizing windows, but a huge uproar started about how Apple was only giving this new feature to iPads with M1's — which at the time only meant the newest iPad Pros and the iPad Air.

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During the beta cycle, Apple fixed some of the Stage Manager bugs, but a lot of the odd restrictions remained in the final build, they also made Stage Manager available to all modern iPad Pros — with the caveat that only the M1’s would be able to support Stage Manger with an external Monitor. This helped ease the tension within the iPad Power User community, but because Stage Manager still wasn’t providing the perfect fantasy productivity feature many had been waiting for, they were still unhappy.

A year later, many of those iPad Power Users still consider themselves lovers of the iPad but have moved their workflow to a Mac for most of their heavy-duty work, making the iPad more of a secondary computer. Many think this setup is ideal, whether or not you have identified yourself as an iPad Power User and are not struggling with that title. Those of us who love technology and don’t associate with one computer over another find that both the iPad and Mac work great together.

I don’t fall into any camp. I think we like to build these tribes of who uses what in a way that is unhelpful and just silly. If you are known for using a certain computer a certain way and you’re struggling with your identity because that computer is no longer interesting or filling your needs, then move on. My recommendation is that you be more clear and transparent about how you are feeling and what you want to do.

Instead what I see currently in the iPad Power User community is them feeling like they aren’t getting the same treatment that other platforms are getting, the Mac, and the only way to justify their moving away from their iPad-Only identity is to say the iPad is garbage. This idea that Apple isn’t taking iPad users seriously or that the direction Apple is going is wrong is just bananas to me.

How do you know what Apple is planning exactly? And why are your specific needs in a computer all of a sudden the main factor in determining if the platform is failing or not? It is all silly, to say the least, and I haven’t even gotten into the actual arguments people are making and why they don’t exactly mean anything.

Stage Manager

From my use with Stage Manager, I can take it or leave it. I don’t have strong feelings about it like some do, but I also appreciate some of the things it offers. Remember back in the day when Apple only allowed you to have one app open at a time like the iPhone? That was when many fell in love with the iPad. It helped with focus and productivity by allowing you to work on one thing at a time.

This was when I started to understand why many were starting to use their iPads. It wasn’t until iOS 9 was released in 2015, five years after the first iPad was released, in 2010, that Apple introduced the split screen feature which allowed you to have two apps open at once. This was also when Apple first introduced the iPad Pro line with the very first 12.9-inch model.

Even with the introduction of the bigger iPad Pro, Apple still allowed you to use the split screen feature on any iPad that supported iOS 9, this even included the iPad Mini. As many have said before, when Apple uses the word Pro in its products it mostly means superior materials and specs but not necessarily more features outside of hardware. That is the reason many were mad about the M1 iPads only getting Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.

I Feel Bad For Stage Manager
It was given too much expectation and is failing to even do the

Granted, when I eventually decided to go iPad-Only, for the first time, it was on an iPad Pro 9.7-inch which was years after split screen was available. Still, I used the iPad however I wanted, and the single-use app mode was my favorite since it did provide that focus. If I wanted to work on something that required two things it was nice to bring up another window, but the iPad experience was what I wanted, and didn’t bash it just because it didn’t copy some of the things you could do on a Mac.

If I wanted the exact experience that a Mac provided, I would just go back to one. Which I did, multiple times. I didn’t see myself as an iPad guy or a Mac guy, I was probably considered an Apple guy but I wanted to be able to move to whatever platform I wanted without feeling like I was abandoning something else. Nor was I obligated to justify my switch to each platform by bashing the other one.

I get that I am not a YouTuber or popular tech writer, but even if your identity is tied to one platform and it is public, just be honest about what you want to do, you don’t have to justify it by destroying your past credibility. Regardless of why someone moves to a Mac or iPad, there is a reason why you were on that platform before, and those reasons still exist. Just because new reasons that you warrant are “most important of all or the whole thing is crap” doesn’t mean that all the other reasons you loved on that platform disappeared.

What I am getting at here is that Stage Manager is available if you want it, just like split screen was for me when I first jumped on the iPad-Only lifestyle. Just because it is available doesn’t mean you have to use it. If it has features you like, but you are criticizing or discussing other ways that the feature can be improved fine, but most don’t go into that detail, they just say it is awful and move on to complaint that the entire direction of the iPad is bad.

Stage Manager has a lot of great features and even though I agree that the version released in iPadOS 16 was rough, iPadOS 17 has brought some very good improvements and it is a great multitasking tool. I don’t love it, I think the need for overlapping windows is unneeded since the iPad is its own thing and doesn’t need to be like a Mac. But it feels futuristic and can be helpful sometimes when you want to use more than one app and have them really close by.

I have not used Stage Manager on a 12.9-inch very much, so most of this is my experience on the smaller 11-inch. I am sure if I had the 12.9-inch it may be a different story, but regardless my main point is; that you don’t have to use it. The iPad has many ways to interact with it, and the reason you chose to jump on the iPad-Only life still exists somewhere in the OS. If you are ready for a change, then say that, but stop saying it is because the iPad is crap now, because it isn’t, it’s you.

The iPad’s Future

I don’t know what Apple has planned for the future of iPadOS, and as of right now, I don’t care. If Apple started removing features then I would care a lot, but Apple doesn’t do that. You can argue the poor rollout of Stage Manager is worrisome, why would Apple release something so buggy and clearly unfinished? I agree with that sentiment. But didn’t they correct that by addressing most of the issues in iPadOS 17?

I think Apple needs to do something with the hardware of the iPad Pros especially. Does the line-up feel confusing with all the different overlapping iPad models? Sure, but I get why it is like that. Apple wants to try and hit a price point for everyone. Most customers don’t care about specs, display features, or port functionality. They care about colors, screen size, and storage space. Apple wants to have an option for everyone at every price so I get it.

But like I wrote about before, Apple needs to give some love to iPad Pro like they have been doing with the MacBook Pro. We need a new design, more ports, and a new Magic Keyboard. The thing is that I think Apple already has this planned in their roadmap. I am not going to threaten to leave the iPad if this doesn’t happen in a year or two, instead, I will appreciate the iPad I have now and upgrade to what is available if I need it. It is still the platform that I prefer right now, regardless of any imaginative versions of it that may come in the future.

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What I am ultimately getting at, and as I summarize my thoughts, is that all of these people who are upset or annoyed that you didn’t get what you wanted with Apple’s releases of iPad or iPadOS are your problem, not Apple. Putting this much weight on a for-profit company to deliver your specific needs is just silly. If you love a certain product but want something new, just say that and move on. Stop blaming Apple and maybe start looking in the mirror at why you are getting so riled up over a huge company updating its products without removing anything that originally got you to love the product in the first place. Bottom line; grow up.

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Jamie Larson