What’s a Computer? iPad Software

Last year, we started a series of articles discussing if the iPad Pro could replace a more traditional PC solution, and this article continues that series. This time we will be looking at the iPad’s software, comparing the functionality of its suite of applications to the expected norms of those found on a PC.

Productivity Software

Every day, millions use computers for work, school, and hobbies, each with their own needs to be met. Several software packages are used to accomplish these tasks such as Office suites, email clients, and to-do apps. Microsoft Office and Apple’s iWork are two of the most comprehensive packages, including features like a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, and much more.

Productivity software is one area where the iPad Pro shines. It does have the Microsoft Office suite and adequate email programs, but unfortunately, you will not be working on Microsoft Access databases, or other advanced Office related activities. However, you can use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint or Pages, Numbers and Keynote in iWork to complete projects. You will also find email programs with organizational features to make your life easier as well. Google has also added its Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps to iOS, so there are even more alternatives to expand the iPad’s usefulness and integration for cross-platform collaboration.

Creativity Applications

Creativity tasks have become very popular with the powerful computers we have today, but can the same tasks be completed on an iPad? PCs and Macs have amazing software programs for creative professionals. Reaper, SoundForge, Audacity, and Logic are powerful tools for sound engineers, while video and photo designers have access to iMovie, Photoshop, and Pixelmator. The iPad Pro has a desktop class processor and GPU that allows creative professionals to make amazing music, and great visual creations while on the go. In fact, the iPad Pro will process 4k video faster than many high performance PCs and Mac, so in this case, the iPad does stand up to PC performance. The iPad Pro also has support for the Apple Pencil, allowing the user to create art on one’s device, then process it through an image editing solution. It also supports annotating documents and creating  drawings, whereas a PC user would need a device such as a Wacom for similar results.

Developer Applications

In an ever-increasingly connected world with computers being a mainstay in everybody’s lives, coding has become more prevalent. so Can users code the same solutions on the iPad Pro as they would on a PC or Mac? In short, no. The iPad Pro does not have the facilities for full software development. There are applications to write code, however, the iPad cannot compile apps for iOS or Android using currently available tools at the time of this writing. It seems that Apple may be moving the iPad Pro into the PC space, but it can’t fully be on the same playing field unless it offers the ability to build applications.

Currently the iPad Pro and other iPads have Swift Playgrounds, which lets you play games, and write code, but these code creations can only run on the iPad they are saved on, and can’t run independently. Swift Playgrounds is a start, but you can’t reach the command line or other areas that are important, if not essential, to programmers.

Web developers are in luck though. The iPad Pro has several apps that allow web developers to create websites, and there are now ways that you can test your website on the iPad with help from apps like Pythonista, where you can use Python to create small web servers.

File Management

iPadOS 13 introduces many changes to the Files application that brings it more in line with Finder on macOS. You can now view files in grid view, list view, and even detail view where you can see the file information before you open the document in question. The ability to connect to an external hard drive and a network server has been something the iPad operating system has needed for a long time, and you can finally accomplish this using the Files app. There are a few limitations here, but great strides have been made to update the iPad into a more useful storage device.


The iPad Pro still has some room to grow, but it is much closer to a computer replacement with iPadOS 13. We now have the ability to use automations and shortcuts, along with pro level applications to create productive solutions. We just need to see apps like Logic, Final Cut, and Xcode, and the iPad will be a proper computer replacement.

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