IT USED TO be the case that choosing between a MacBook and an iPad was easy, but Apple has started to blur the lines between the two in ways that few of us could have expected. In terms of power, we have now reached parity thanks to the new iPad Pro which uses the same M1 chip as the MacBook Air, and when you start to look at the storage onboard the comparisons become even closer. For example, you can buy a 12.9–inch iPad Pro for only $200 more than the equivalent 256GB MacBook Air, but if you opt for the 11–inch iPad Pro then you can pay only $100 more than the 256GB MacBook Air for 512GB of storage. This makes the cost analysis almost moot, which is then exacerbated by the fact that the M1 chipped MacBooks can run most iOS apps and games as well. With so many titles now available on macOS, it can come down to how each will work for you in terms of the physical forms. We’ll try to help you decide which device will be best for you, but there’s little doubt that Apple is making this a tricky question to answer.
QUICK LOOK The flat iPad keyboard
Many people will quite rightly presume that a physical keyboard is best for long periods of typing and data entry, and in many ways this assumption makes sense — but there is more to the story. A software keyboard like the one on the iPad can be customized to work in specific ways, which can make it as efficient as real keys.
A HALF A SCREEN
The main disadvantage of using the iPad software keyboard is that it takes up half the screen, which lessens how much text you can view. However, you will be working on a much smaller and more portable device while typing.
B APP KEYBOARDS
Many apps will customize the keyboard and allow specific functionality just above the keys. This will speed up your data input and could be likened to the hardware touch bar that was added to some MacBooks.
C FORGET THE KEYBOARD
There’s a good argument for using voice dictation for data entry, whether you’re using a MacBook or an iPad. The software tech is the same in both, so the end results will be identical.
D FLICK TO CHANGE
The ability to insert numbers and punctuation with a simple gesture is a big advantage on the iPad side. Not only is it very efficient, but it will also likely reduce the strain on your fingers and wrists as well.
PRO iPAD APPS
You no longer need a “proper” computer when performing many professional tasks
1 ADOBE PHOTOSHOP
Most people are aware of Photoshop, but are likely less aware of just how powerful the iPad version is. You can now undertake complex image manipulation wherever.
Apple makes GarageBand and has not scrimped on features when it comes to the iPad. In this app, the Apple Pencil arguably gives you greater control than on the Mac.
3 AFFINITY PHOTO
Whether you need unlimited layers, brushes, or smart object importing, Affinity Photo offers it all on the iPad. Again, the Apple Pencil offers near-perfect control.
4 CODE EDITOR
If you have a data input system you are happy with, either an external keyboard or the iPad screen, Code Editor gives you every coding tool you could possibly need.
5 LUMA FUSION
Video editing on an iPad? Yes indeed. With the later iPads and the Pro models, you will notice little difference in performance compared to a Mac. A big leap forward.
AutoCAD lets you view and edit CAD drawings wherever you are with just your iPad. This is perfect for when you’re on site and you need to make instant adjustments.
DUPLICATE AND HANDOFFS Some of the core aspects of the Apple operating systems can now be used in exactly the same ways, just using different devices and potentially in different situations. Having this consistency across devices is a genuine productivity bonus
1 START THE PROCESS
In many apps, you can start creating a document or task on an iPad, and then you can have a break and leave it for when you need to return later.
2 CONTINUE YOUR WORK
When you open the work on your MacBook it should return to the exact point you left it. The feature you are reading has been created on both.
3 WORK WHERE YOU WANT
Messages is a very good example of how identical the two platforms are in use, which should help you to make your choice on hardware alone.
WRITE ANYWHERE The Scribble feature offers a new way to use an iPad, and one which is not present in macOS. Potentially, it lets you control your iPad almost entirely with the Apple Pencil and offers unique flexibility
1 SET IT UP
To enable Scribble, all you need to do is go to Settings > Apple Pencil and ensure that the icon next to ‘Scribble’ is green. You can try it out immediately.
2 WRITE AND SEARCH
In Safari you can simply start writing with the Apple Pencil in the search bar. At no point will you need to bring up the keyboard if you have Scribble enabled.
3 EXTRA SCRIBBLE FEATURES
In Settings you can learn how to delete, select, and insert text using Scribble. It proves that the feature is much more than just writing words.
True word processing
The MacBook is arguably the perfect portable device for writing long-form articles and getting work done on the go. Pages is provided by Apple, and you get all of the features you require in the best alternative to Microsoft Word available today. The thing to remember is that Pages on the iPad is now not very different at all.
A EVERY TEMPLATE
All of the Pages templates you’re used to using are in the iPad version. Indeed, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a feature that doesn’t work as well on the iPad version as it does in the macOS version.
B A MULTIMEDIA MARVEL
From simple text-based letters to complex leaflets and presentations, you can do it all in Pages on the iPad, and arguably have greater control over how images are added.
C SMART ANNOTATIONS
If you want to add annotations and drawn additions you can. The Apple Pencil acts as the main differentiator between the Mac and iPad, and your choice could be influenced by your creativity.
D EVERY SINGLE SETTING
Every feature should be present on the iPad, including the useful word count at the bottom of the screen. Tap any paragraph three times and the count automatically adjusts to your selection.
If there is one feature Mac users have been hoping for over the past few years, it’s cellular connectivity. Despite the fact that Apple has made MacBooks more portable than ever, you still need an iPhone for connections outside of Wi-Fi. The iPads, however, all have this option if you need it. It is a very strange omission.
A A NEW SIM
You will need to purchase a separate data plan for your iPad to be able to use it outside of the house and away from Wi–Fi. The relevant options will be available at the top of the main Settings screen.
B WI–FI EVERYWHERE
If you are careful with your security, you can be fairly sure of decent Wi-Fi coverage in most public places. Cellular can perform better for you, however, if you are undertaking data-hungry tasks on the road.
C A CHEAPER OPTION
If you carry your iPhone with you anyway, using the hotspot feature will be cheaper and almost as convenient. This works in exactly the same way for a MacBook, which evens the feature setup a bit.
D MIND THE COSTS
An iPad cellular connection is very handy, but you really need to think hard about the costs. Most providers offer a monthly plan that includes the cost of the hardware, but standalone SIMs can prove quite costly over time.
ADVANCED CALCULATIONS There’s one task in which the iPad wins for the majority of users. Numbers is an advanced spreadsheet solution and one where data entry is usually done in short bursts. When you consider this alongside the iPad touchscreen, the benefits are clear.
1 SIMPLE OR COMPLEX
Numbers on the iPad has all the pre– formatted spreadsheet templates you need. Choose one, customize the look, and add data to make it your own.
2 QUICK NAVIGATION
The ability to tap on any cell with your finger or Apple Pencil is much quicker than using a trackpad or mouse. This adds up to big-time savings.
3 WHAT YOU SEE…
The unblemished screen view on the iPad offers a clean summary of your work. It equals the Mac and surpasses it in many crucial areas.
ENHANCE YOUR CREATIVITY
Combine the Apple Pencil with some of the specialist apps designed to take advantage of it
1 A GOOD START
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