Why I’m Giving Up On The iPad Pro

Why I’m Giving Up On The iPad Pro

Over the last few months, I’ve been using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro as my main mobile computer. Although I have Mac and Windows desktops at the two “fixed” locations I work from, I’ve been using the larger iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard as my traveller. And, for the most part, it has worked really well. But a couple of limitations have really started to get to me recently.

As portable computers go, the larger iPad Pro is competent – at least for my purposes. I can write stuff using Word, Notes or Evernote and cloud services (I’m a paying Office 365 and Evernote subscriber) cover file and data syncing.

Apple’s Smart Keyboard (which is really just a keyboard and not particularly smart) is OK although I do find that occasionally the command key doesn’t respond. I can type at a reasonable clip on it although I do prefer a desktop keyboard for long stints at the desk.

The display is great and with most of my key apps playing well in Split Screen mode I can write, research and deal with email, IM and other communications apps pretty easily.

Where the iPad lets me down is when working offline. The iPad I’m using has cellular comms which means it works really well for everything as long as I have access to WiFi or 3G/4G/LTE.

But it’s a real pain in the butt when I’m working offline.

For example, I edit a newsletter for one of my corporate clients. Each issue has about ten pieces of content. I store each of those pieces in its own folder in OneDrive.

If I use a traditional computer, I can access that folder when offline as the contents sync in real time. But on the iPad, I can only access those files if I plan ahead and make the contents of those folders available offline. And OneDrive on the iPad Pro doesn’t let me sync folders – only individual files. So then I have to go through each folder and choose the files I want to access offline.

The whole process is annoying.

I also find that some web apps don’t quite work perfectly. One content system I work with insists in recognising the larger iPad Pro as a mobile browser. In another app, I can’t type into data entry fields.

I understand this isn’t an issue with iOS or the iPad but getting developers to change their apps isn’t easy.

So, what’s my road ahead?

Although I have a reasonable amount of Apple kit already, I’m more interested in application support rather than operating systems. Windows 10 is reliable and the UI is pretty good – unless Apple picks things up with the next release of macOS they will be left behind I think. And all my favourite apps are multi-platform these days so switching from iOS to Windows should be reasonably easy.

I’m very tempted by the Surface Pro 4 or another Windows 10 device that has about the same screen size as the iPad, a touchscreen and pen support. But cellular data is a must for me now so I’ll be looking for device that has that as well. Any suggestions?


  • I can recommend against the Surface Pro 4, if you think the Ipad Pro gives you headaches, then you are in for a migraine with that thing.
    I gave up after 8 weeks of constantly fighting with it. Lovely format and looks sexy, but just doesn’t work as a daily use device.

    BTW, which content system is it that you can’t force into non-mobile mode?

    • Really? I have a Surface and I’ve had only very minor things. Wen I need to connect to the Internet, I use my Mobile phone. I even found that if I go into the Network icon and select the phone it will change the phone over to Internet Sharing automatically. Not sure how that happened but it’s a great feature and with 7Gb plus download on my phone it does the job just great. The keyboard is fine and I got used to it very quickly and the pen is also a nice feature for doing PDFs and using something like Xodo and clients filling them out.

      • I love my Surface Pro 4. There are a few annoyances mostly surrounding the display when docked, though MS have worked a lot on it and so by and large the major problems have disappeared. Love the fact that its a full windows device but can also move to a more tablet-friendly mode. Netflix, Plex etc work very well and since its a full windows machine all the desktop apps work well.

        • You can download new drivers for the surface 3 and 4 that improves the docking. Works well for mine.

          • That’s the whole point. We shouldn’t have to be buying more bells and whistles to get the damn thing just to work. Customer service after the purchase, forget about it. Apple doesn’t give a flying flip. I have had 2 iPad Pro 12.9 and both right out of the box tanked within 1 month. Freezing. Can’t type. iMovie doesn’t even work right. It should never be about try using a new one of these to get your brand new purchase to function correctly. Heading to Microsoft shortly.

    • I find it hard to take this comment seriously, given that we weren’t given so much as a single example of the kinds of problems he’s experienced. I had Surface Pro 2 for a year or so and I never had even the slightest problem. I sold it to a mate, who still uses it every day as his main PC without any issues. It’s hard to imagine a Pro 4 would be worse.

  • How is the iPad to blame for an app from Microsoft? Why not use an alternative sync utility that can sync folders?

    • As he says, applications are what matter, your OS and hardware come second. So if Microsoft’s apps aren’t working and they are what you need, you have to find a way to get ’em working and the obvious way is to switch to a device and OS that supports them fully. You can still blame Microsoft for it but you’d be a complete idiot to put up with it when you can fix it yourself by buying another machine.

  • I use my iPad and Keyboard when doing work in flights (Cattle Class doesn’t seem to have enough space for laptops), and I agree the Cloud syncing seem to be the biggest issue I have and it doesn’t seem to matter which service you use they all seem to have such a long sync cycle that you end up being caught short without a file you need offline.

    I solved that with one of those Lightning USB Thumb Drives, stick it in the laptop just before boarding and sync the files I’m working on. Then stick it into the iPad when in-flight.

    I do have to go through the Import / Duplicate to Save stuff to get the file from the USB to the App I want to use but it’s been very reliable.

    I can even queue up the Email updates as I finish items so when I get off at the other end I can simply connect to WiFi (or Phone) and the updated documents send out by the time I get to the Hotel.

  • I’d actually recommend a chromebook. I love my Plus. Can’t beat it for writing and web.

  • I can’t help you with any of your dilemmas, but if you want to sell your iPad pro, I’m interested. I bought my 92 year old mother a new computer and she’s having great difficulty with it. She knows how to use my current old model iPad and I plan to buy a new pro.

  • I recently started using the iPad Pro 9.7″ (no physical keyboard, just low key cover and an Apple Pencil).

    The files syncing aspect isn’t really an issue with Apple, but with the software developer. Devs will add features that people want.. or will keep features out that are not beneficial to their own interests.

    For syncing files, I’m using DropBox and you can mark folders to be made available offline. I have it on my laptop, desktop, tablet, and phone. Makes it very easy to keep files I need access to, available.

    Similarly, Evernote has the same thing for each Notebook, you can make Notebooks available offline on mobile devices. Another service I have available on all of my devices.

    I’m still learning the ins and outs, but I’ve found that syncing my information through DropBox and Evernote has basically covered most of the cases where I would want to work on files/projects

    Google Drive and MS OneDrive seem to be to limited to just single file sync, at least on IOS. Given that both of those companies have competing products in the space, I don’t find the missing functionality to be a surprise.

    What IS surprising is that iCloud Drive doesn’t allow for manual settings in the iCloud Drive interface to flag content that needs to remain present for offline access.

    So far, I love using the iPad Pro 9.7″ it’s a good size to be very portable while allowing me to read documents and technical books. Notes Plus and the Apple Pencil makes for a great hand written note taking application combo. And when I need to type more, I’ll need to consider getting a keyboard. Borrowed a co-worker’s Logitech Create keyboard case and it was very nice.

    In either case, YMMV. Each person will find a fit with one device or another. The Surface Pro 4 looks amazing and I’ve considered getting it or one of the prior versions more than once for the pressure sensitive technology. However, my software install base is centered around Mac OS X and IOS. So having to re-acquire all of the software(s) and then deal with another OS is a major PITA.

    The 12.9″ is kinda huge. I thought hard about it, but at the end of the day… if I’m going to have a 12.9″ device in my hands, it might as well be a laptop.

    Anyways, my 2 cents.

    • Wingedpower should be writing for Lifehacker. He / she understands the file sharing programs much better than the author. If you just have a cellular connection you don’t want the file sharing program constantly sharing data to the cloud, and eating up your data plan.

    • Thanks for that. I know Dropbox and Drive have better folder sync options but I like OneDrive and the fact I can easily launch Word from O365 on a browser when I don’t have access to my own computer and edit within the browser. I know I can do this with Google, for example, but, frankly, changing device to support how I work is easier that changing how I work. At least that’s the case for me.

      This is a supplementary device for me that has to complement my main systems – a Mac at one office and a Windows 10 system at another. This is computer I’ll use when travelling and being able to detach/hide the keyboard is handy on planes.

      • I agree completely – you choose your applications first, then find the devices and OS that best support them. Nobody pays me to use macOS or iOS or Android or even Windows, they pay me to use After Effects and Cinema 4D and Photoshop and 3DS Max. The OS, even the device, is completely incidental. If I can get my work done on my own Win10 laptop instead of the MacPro they provide me, they won’t care, as long as it gets done.

        Mind you, the whole idea of “supplementary devices” does my head in. If I had to rely on the cloud for anything it would drive me insane. That said, I do have a tablet, but it’s a proper tablet (running Windows) so on the very rare occasions I need to transfer files between it and my laptop, I do so in the time-honoured tradition I have used for nearly two decades – a USB thumb drive. That way everything remains under my control, I don’t have to rely upon anyone else to write their app the way I want it or for decent internet connectivity or anything else. I do the same with my phone – it either gets directly connected to my PC to transfer files or I use a thumb drive. And for the last 10 years I have always carried around at least one thumb-drive in my pocket with my car key and loose change, usually two.

  • my suggestion is a 12″ MacBook. small, light and a full PC. battery life is great, speed is great and the speakers sound nice!

    • Unless you need decent screen res. I simply cannot work with anything less than full HD, because that’s what my applicaiton’s UIs are designed for, and it is a joke that the MB Air is still using screens from 2010.

      • MacBook is different to MacBook Air. MacBook has Retina display. MacBook Air still thinks it’s 2009.

  • Having used a wide range of mobile devices from the Galaxy Note 12.2 (honestly the best of it’s era compare to the Surface line of that time & the iPads of 2014) to the iPad Pro and Surface (Pro 4 & Book), I must respectfully disagree. As the comments “wingedpower” mentioned. Your issue is a software issue of OneDrive that has already been “fixed” if you will by DropBox.

    Furthermore, I find that the my iPad Pro pretty much made carrying a laptop around pointless. The light weight and the large screen is perfect for me. I understand “winged power” considers it too large but for me the 9.7 is too small to seriously take advantage of the the split screen mode. The iPad Pro 12.9 with LTE gives me a great balance of mobile functionality and better battery life than any windows tablet with the possible exception of the Hauwei Matebook. I think the that Matebook is probably the best Windows Tablet for the mobile professional who needs the Win 10 ecosystem.

  • This is the last word on the iPad Pro. If you are having problems, you aren’t using it correctly. And if you aren’t connected, then where the heck are you? I have never used OneDrive and don’t recommend it. Business is moving toward online applications. The only full applications you need to have stored on your device are: a PDF editor, a word processor and a spreadsheet editor. There are several combos of apps to accomplish this, but I use PDF Expert by Readdle, Pages and Numbers by Apple. This allows me to store the documents both in the cloud and on my device and work with them at any time. When I am connected, they sync between my device and the cloud.

  • I’ve used the the surface pro 3, 4 and surface book, the iPad pro 12.9 and 9.7. I loved the light weight portability of the iPad Pro and the accuracy of the Apple Pencil. However, I have been using the surface book as my main conouter, coupling it to a desktop configuration with the docking station. This is definitely my favorite setup.

    If you already have your desktop setup, I would hold tight until the Samsung Smart Pro 2 is released. They will incorporate cellular connectivity, a Wacom S Pen, and it will come in a 10″ and 12″ size. It is windows 10, and I think it will fill the niche you’re looking for.

  • Sync all your data to a USB stick. Then just plug that into your… oh.
    Yeah, ipads have… limitations.

    • There are plenty of usb sticks with usb on one end and lightning on the Other, do your criticism is void.

    • You can get thumb drives with lightning connector one end, std usb on the other. A comment above even said they do exactly that.

      • My old ipad still has the original connector. No lightning drives permitted.
        Replacing a connector should just be a case of… oh.

        Yeah, all modern laptops / tablets lock in your interface options at the time of purchase.

      • Yeah – but then I need to make sure I have all the docs I need copied across. That’s reasonably easy with my Windows 10 and macOS computers but a PITA on iOS – at least with the one I have. I need to be able to pick up my portable computer and not mess about manually managing files. I don’t have time for that and it’s too easy to miss a file I’ll need – particularly when I’m not sure what I’ll need before I take off on a trip.

        • I dunno. I think the whole premise is flawed. I don’t believe an iPad was designed to replace a laptop or desktop, which is why Apple still sells MacBooks and iMacs. They are designed to consume (email, www, netflix, games, movies etc) with light creation and presentation duties.

          Its like buying a moped and complaining it can’t do things that you can do in a ute. An iPad is a moped, a laptop is a ute. I think a surface is like a hatchback – not a great moped and also not a great ute either. It’s adequate at fuel economy and carrying capacity without excelling at either.

  • I use an Acer Switch Alpha 12 personally and a Surface 4 at work. Surface 4 is better but the Acer is far less expensive (especially since it comes with the keyboard).

    For syncing… I have an Office 365 subscription + 1TB of OneDrive space. I simply tell my home PC to sync everything. My tablet, I only tell it to sync MyDocuments, Music folders, and the Camera folders. I use a 128GB SD card and my normal sync size is around 40GB. Plug it into a network, give it an hour, and it will have completed the sync.

    I’m in Canada, so WiFi is pretty much everywhere — and usually free. Hard to find a place to work without WiFi. Further, as soon as you connect via WiFi, most files you are working on sync fairly quickly, so you don’t typically worry about it.

    In the few cases I need LTE access… I just use my phone as turn on the hot spot. Honestly, I don’t do this more than a couple of times a month. Just let it sync over anything new, turn it off, and work offline.

  • BREAKING NEWS: iPad doesn’t run desktop OS so is not standards compliant with a variety of stuff.

    • I’m sorry – there is a set of “standards” for tablets? Saying a non-desktop doesn’t work like a desktop seems a bit redundant to me.

  • I’d return the Apple (not so) smart kb for a Logitech K810/811. I abandoned ALL Apple keyboards in favor of Logitech. They’re just better and in the case of the K81x series can be repurposed to other devices.

    I’m keeping my iPad Pro for two reasons:

    – As a content scraping device. I can get more RSS reading done on the iPad than “pinned” to my MBP. Ditto for Safari reading list, Gab, Twitter, etc.

    – When I need to draft something, I have access to Drafts and Ulysses. And then I have Workflow (and Entangler) to sync/dispatch tasks back to the MBP running Server.

    Of course Apple is killing off Automation in favor of “Accessibility” so guys like me are now edge cases. I’m going to look into the USB/Lightning drives. That’s a nice option.

    • Sure – the Logitech K810 is nice but it would be a pain to carry and use on a plane wouldn’t it?

      I’ve got a Lightning/USB drive – fine for a quick sneaker-net solution but I find them cumbersome as an everyday file sync tool.

  • I can understand the problem with the iPad, which has an incomplete, or ‘cut down’ processor. It has nothing like the capability of the Surface Pro 3 or Pro 4; those two computers offer i5 and i7 processors, both of which are far more powerful, and offer ‘full’ computer capabilities.
    The primary reason those two models win is that they are built for Windows 10 and are completely compatible with all the Office attachments, including of course, OneDrive. Secondly they are the lightest ‘full-power-Windows-10’ computers around.
    There are others of course; your choice. And I respect those who prefer Apple computers. But personally, having used them, they irritate me. I don’t get on with non-standard niche products: I prefer conventional stuff, it stays active and backwards compatible for far longer.
    I use a Pro 3 i5. It is sufficient for me, although faster being better, I would like an i7 processor. Yes, there are irritations, mostly to do with fairly constant updating and with the fact that Windows insists on loading almost everything including the kitchen sink whenever it starts up. That’s why an i7 is the better option.
    Frankly I recommend the Surface. I think it’s the best ‘Pad’ out there. I use mine at home on DSL, and at all the malls nearby on wifi. (You might ask, why at malls? 1. I work better away from home, and 2. I like noise around me.)

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