New dock on the iPad is the first sign of the Mac apocalypse

The iPad is going to replace the Mac someday.

New iPad dock is the first sign of the Mac apocalypse

I started using a Mac for the first time at a corporate job in the 1990s.

I still remember starting up Photoshop for the first time and being amazed at how much editing I could do on a color photo, and then doing some basic page layout in a long-forgotten app called Aldus PageMaker.

These were the days when there was still a sense of wonder about being able to load multiple apps at once, and even the classic mouse was still fairly new, at least in terms of doing professional graphic design work with some accuracy.

Recently, Apple announced they would be adding a few features to the iPad that, when I first heard about them, instantly wondered if this was going to be the end of the Mac for good. I know, processing power on mobile devices is still not quite there yet. You can’t quite fit a high-end NVIDIA card into an iPad. Yet, from a workflow standpoint, several features in iOS 11 stand out as noteworthy, but they are also a sign that the Mac might be heading for extinction.

The most interesting update has to do with the dock. This fall, when iOS 11 debuts, you’ll be able to add multiple apps to the dock. It will become context sensitive, so if you load a photo app, the dock will fill up with other photo-related apps. Again, it’s a workflow concept -- it will help you get work done and not just use the iPad for books and watching Netflix.

Drag-and-drop will work exactly the same as it does on a desktop, and there’s several new features related to multi-tasking to keep multiple apps open and then switch between them, dragging and dropping files. This might even work on the iPhone. I like how Apple is added a Files app, so you can do a lot of file management, moving folders around and even managing files and folders in the cloud on services like Dropbox.

OK, so what’s the real plan here? For me, it’s a confluence of several computing paradigms. For one, speech is improving dramatically. I won’t need a physical keyboard on an iPad soon because Siri will help me dictate entire documents and it will work, likely by 2020 for sure. As for photo editing, it’s a bit like that awe and wonder of using Photoshop long ago. I’ll be able to make edits to photos by voice, and some future iPad Pro will likely have enough horsepower to do that.

Voice, mobility, and power were always the dream from day one. The new iOS 11 features are exactly the things that I’ve found annoying and frustrating about using an iPad as a laptop replacement. If voice improves even more, it’s starting to make me wonder why I’d need a laptop at all in the near future. I’m already using an iPad only on an airplane, typing directly on the screen in most cases. If I can do everything else that’s possible on a laptop, I may start using one more and more even for writing sessions at a coffee-house.

I’ll say this. I’m still on a desktop in my office. I like playing Forza in 4K, watching 4K movies, and editing videos from a bike-camping vacation. I don’t see an iPad replacing that desktop anytime soon. But then again, that machine runs Windows 10. The real debate for me at least is whether the iPad can replace my MacBook, and that sounds incredibly inevitable now.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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