There is a lot of chat about this excellent Viticci article on MacStories, looking at the art of software and challenging the place in which the iPad finds itself.
One thing I think about a lot is the congruency in technical architecture. What this means is that “computing” is now more about form factor and form factor-oriented software experiences than actual capabilities; no longer can I not do something until I get back to my desktop, but rather operate based on the shape of device that makes sense for my context.
In this way, I think the MacBook (Air/Pro/whatever) muddies the waters the most. Plug in an external monitor, and it is a capable desktop experience, but it also operates in the same manner when pulled from a backpack in a coffee shop. It shuns the dichotomy between desk and mobile computing activity. This isn’t necesarily bad, but it’s interesting, and has, I think, secondary effects.
In my case, my MacBook Air is lighter than my iPad+keyboard, and is the “whole desktop experience” anywhere I take it. So really, I’m treating a non-mobile experience in a mobile context, but I do think that there is an opportunity to differentiate in-home-at-desk-sit-down computing experiences from those that arise when on the move.
The iPad could fill this space (mobile device with a mobile experience), but then doesn’t really need to, again, because MacBook Air. Putting a keyboard and trackpad on the iPad doesn’t help clarify; it’s steering away from a mobile mode of computing and in to basically trying to impersonate a laptop, but then it isn’t a laptop, so everything is confused (or at least I am).
To me, this is why the iPad Mini is the magic device. It’s never going to pretend to be a laptop with the full Magic Keyboard kind of set up, even though I could Bluetooth peripherals in a pinch, and it clearly positions itself as a mobile device. It’s not big enough to have Stage Manager-oriented nightmares, nor is it small enough to confuse itself with a phone. It supports and carries the Pencil, and it does a great job of living in that middle mobile space.
The “big” iPads, though, have an identity crisis to solve.
I hope they do, though. For all of this, my iPad Pro 12.9" from 2018 is still my favourite device to use, in general terms, and I’m even thinking about what it might be like to upgrade it to a modern one, even though I can’t really articulate why. Maybe because I interact with it directly instead of through the peripherals all over my Mac? I don’t know.
Anyway, I’m still holding out for a Watch-based video editor so that I can opertate solely from it.