Is the iPad a viable laptop replacement yet?

Hardware and Accessories

Hi there,

So, you may recall I got a MacBook Pro last year and if you don't, well you should have been paying attention. From the get go I was disappointed with the machine, errors with the speakers, the clumsiness of the Touch Bar, general software instability and, basically not what you expect for 1700 squids. Anyway, one of the keyboard keys is now become intermittent which is utterly frustrating...

What are peoples views on iPads now? Maybe the pro and whether it could be a laptop replacement, possibly with the Bridge Pro keyboard? IOS just feels more solid and future proof whereas Macs seem to be on the way out.

Tasks I would need it for:

Writing markdown and exporting to word files, for work.
Playing music like a DJ for D&D sessions
General fiction writing...
Moaning about apple products being better in the old days on here...

Views? Comments?





Submitted by Remy on Friday, May 10, 2019

I'm a writer, Voice Actor, musician and sound designer. I'm also a PC user. and while I do love my Ipad Pro for many daily tasks, from a creative point of view, especially in the writing department, it's not great. I have found properly and efficiently navigating and editing text on an Ipad far more cumbersome than it is on my PC Laptop. I've used Pages, Notes, MS Word and Voice Dream Writer. Granted using a keyboard does make it much easier, but even with one, it can be awkward working with large documents. Voice Dream Writer works quite well for this, and you can mark formatting with it and export it to Word. Big problem though, you can NOT import word files, and until that becomes possible, it's a one-way program for me. I'd love someone to tell me all the things I'm doing wrong, because I'd love to write on the go like I used to in the old days with my Braille Lite 40.

If all you're doing with music is DJing, the Ipad can serve your needs. It has Apple Music, and even if you don't want to use that, the music player is more than capable of serving your needs. Just make a D&D Playlist and let it play. Easy. There are also other alternatives for music if you're having a hard time using ITunes.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Friday, May 10, 2019

Hi, thanks for the reply. IA writer seems to work pretty well with VO for markdown and exporting to word. I was just using it on my iPhone.

I tend to write books in Scrivener which is an excellent way of keeping the flow moving whilst having quick access to sections. In fact, this seems simpler on IOS than the Mac that can sometimes end up being a little convoluted.

Voiceover work was something I was also going to ask about. I currently use Amadeus Pro and Auphonic for voice recordings. Presumably there is a recording app that is advanced enough now to step in?

How do you find skipping between apps? I have to do a lot of research for work so I'm constantly moving between my markdown editor and safari. I've tried doing this on my iPhone but it's clunky as have to bring up the running app screen, find safari and then vice versa on the way back. The command tab on the keyboard with iPad does sound better.. though this is what I've already got with the MBP.

As for D&D music, I have several playlists which I currently call up with shortcut keys and apple scripts for several different situations. iTunes is pretty old and clunky and is really lacking on features such as allowing a script command for up next and cross fading. Seems that IOS might be better for this.

... Just reading this back it sounds like I'm trying to convince myself. :)... Possibly I should take the plunge and just try it for a week or so, see if I can create satisfactory work flows. I have to admit, it does sound like I'd need both for the time being if I was going to try it. Possibly a Mac mini and iPad Pro wold work well as a setup, one for power use, the other for portability, simplicity and relative ease of use.

Will be interested to see what IOS 13 brings. More shortcut keys would be most welcome.


Submitted by walkseasy on Friday, May 10, 2019

I do not think the IPad is rready to replace the laptop yet. Actually, I use my IPad mini more than my Mac, but I still prefer the laptop for reading email, and producing documents. Mostly I use the tablet for web browsing, news, weather, books, podcasts, and music. I might do more with the tablet if it were possible to plug in a drive, and get files out of it easier, but that is not the case right now.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Saturday, May 11, 2019

Is it not possible to use the USB C connection on iPad pros for files?

Yeah, I get it. Your mini is more of a content consumer device than creation. This is why the whole iphone/ipad thing is confusing. You can do 99% of what you do on the iPad on the iPhone, it's simply got a bigger screen.

Submitted by DoubleM on Saturday, May 11, 2019

As of now, I’m on my 3rd Mac, albeit refurbished, plus I have an iPad air. Now... my IOS device is seeing more use due to technical issues with my laptop. However, as a DJ, I find the mac useful for file storage and transferring, burning CD’s, In addition, ITunes on the Mac has the cross-fade feature that’s not present on IOs, and with use of Audio Record Pro, recording computer audio is a breeze.
As for when I perform gigs, my Ipad scores the highest points. In conjunction with several controllers and Djay for IOS, I’m able to restrict VO to my headphones. Output. I have not had the same success on the Mac.
Does anyone have any ideas on this. Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Saturday, May 11, 2019


Yeah, I've decided to give it a go anyway with the iPad Pro 11. I'll have a play and perhaps write up something on where it works and doesn't work as a replacement for my own use case.

When pushing music to airplay with my iTunes, I use bluetooth headphones with voiceover but also have the sound of dice rolls coming from my MBP speakers... This is done by connecting to bluetooth headphones in the bluetooth menu, then going to the sound setting menu and setting that back to MBP speakers and finally, going into voiceover, sound, and selecting the bluetooth headphones as output. It's all a little fiddly but works most of the time.

In terms of cross fading, have you come across any other music apps on IOS that handle it? the iTunes crossfade is pretty pants, if I'm honest. Wanted an ability to drop a new track or playlist and for it to then cross fade rather than the abrupt transition.


Submitted by Chris on Sunday, May 12, 2019

I do not believe the iPad is a viable computer replacement. It may be for someone who has very very basic computing needs. By very very basic, I'm talking about basic web browsing, email management, listening to audio or watching videos, and writing documents. iOS fails at so many basic computing tasks a Windows or Mac system does with ease.

Forget about efficient file management. In fact, there really isn't a useful user facing file system because it's hidden away. Applications can't truly share files, so you have to import multiple copies of files if you want to work with them in multiple programs. Blame sandboxing for the headaches. Safari can't even download files from the Internet which is absolutely unacceptable! Apple restricts the types of applications that can run. You can't truly run programs in the background like you can with Windows or macOS. The audio system on iOS is horrible! You can't play multiple audio streams simultaneously. You can't record audio while doing other things because it will randomly cut off if you do things like bring up Siri or get a call. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I don't know much about the iPad Pro with USB C, but I don't believe it's possible to connect a USB C flash drive and access the files from the Files app. Maybe they will majorly improve the experience for iPad users in iOS 13?

The fact that Apple calls the iPad Pro a computer replacement is absurd! Then they have the audacity to sneer at people using 7 or 8 year old computers? I assume the jab was primarily aimed at Windows users, but there are also people running old Macs as well. Yeah, I don't appreciate the attitude Apple is projecting here.

Submitted by Jakob Rosin on Monday, May 13, 2019

Last summer, I did a self experiment and used an iPad for work for 2 weeks.
First of all, in general, reaching out to the screen and flicking and flipping there with up to 4 fingers is just weird for me. Lack of proper keyboard navigation means that you need to touch, explore, flick and find stuff a lot. OK, spotlight helps you find files, but it doesn't go all the way.
I do audio editing, thats just a huge failure on iPad, if you want to do it efficiently. No way to import stuff from SD kards, no way to effectively share audio. No VST effects or ability to interface with external devices properly.
I got sent a link for Google Docs document. This just fell over and got into a loop of "open Google docs app", "failed...." "Open Google Docs app" "Failed...."
So I went and bought a brand new 2015 Mac Book Pro and Maxed it out. Yes, in 2018, I knowingly bought a 3 year old computer model.
All the keys work flawlessly, the computer is super fast and efficient, I have no useless touchbars and I don't feel I am missing out anything the new ones could offer. OK, Touch ID would be cool, but one can't have everything... Yes, I am using MacOs daily and just the other day tried to remember when was the last time I booted into my Windows VM.... couldn't.
So I'd suggest you to sell your new macbook when you still can and get an older Air or Pro. Based on your tasks, you don't need anything too processor efficient to do, so you're good.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Monday, May 13, 2019

I think you're right. I am giving it a go, as I said, trying an iPad whilst away on holiday, but for power use (or as power hungry as it gets), an older Mac which doesn't seem to be riddled with all these problems might be the best bet. I'm just about to take my MBP 2018 into the store to have the keyboard fixed, once that's done I think I might look into finding an alternative.

Thanks so much for your reply.

Oh, also, I'll be interested to see what iOS 13 has in store. Apartnetly there will be a further narrowing between Mac OS 15 and iOS 13, which could be interesting. Like all of their products, they never make a single device to cover everything.



Submitted by Justin on Monday, May 13, 2019

Honestly, give it a go and see what happens. Oh, I don't see selling your new mac book pro as a great option yet. It's not even a year old yet and yes a key isn't working. I understand, I've had key issues with my 2016 machine, so know the frustrations. If worst comes to worst, get a apple magic keyboard and hook it up to the machine. Theres an app called antisleep that will cause your mac to stay awake with the screen closed. It's kinda quirky, but it works well for my needs. If nothing else give this a go and see if you like it. It's not perfect, but we need to find a solution that works, and if you are selling your machine, whatever works for you. Personally the touchBar works fine for my needs. Yes function keys are gone, but if you want the best of both worlds, then get a apple magic keyboard. It'll only need charged about once a month and it honestly works just fine.

Submitted by Lysette Chaproniere on Monday, May 13, 2019

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

I use my iPad as a laptop replacement and have been doing so for about 18 months. Before that, I was using Windows, but I didn’t really like Windows 10, and didn’t want to switch to Mac, so it made sense.

I think you’ll be able to do what you need on the iPad. Apart from all the basics like email and web browsing, I use it to produce documents of several thousand words. I think the biggest problem you’ll have will be if you need to edit Word docs, especially if they have a lot of complex formatting. It’s doable but not easy, and I have Pages, Word and Google Docs all installed on my iPad so that on the rare occasions when I have to do it I can use whichever one seems most inclined to behave itself. However, the vast majority of the time my word processing needs are served very well by writing in Markdown and exporting to Word or PDF, so if that’s all you need you should be fine. I know some people think it might not be practical to edit long documents, but in a few apps there’s a quick way to navigate between Markdown headings, such as the outline in Voice Dream Writer. And, of course, you could keep each section of your piece of work in a separate file while it’s in progress, if that’s easier. I’ll also mention that if you want a proper file system, there’s Dropbox and other cloud services.

I’m thinking of writing a more detailed post about this soon, but I hope that helps for now.

Submitted by bryan mcglashan on Monday, May 27, 2019


In some ways the IPad is better than a laptop but would I give up my computer for it? At this stage, no, I still do a lot which I rely on the computer for. For instance, I’d much rather fill in forms using the computer Hope this helps

Submitted by Justin Philips on Monday, May 27, 2019

Federico Vitichi from MacStories has written about his experiences using Ipad Pro entirely as a laptop replacement. It is a long read. An external keyboard, moving most of the stuff into Icloud, and using readdle file manager are the strategies that he uses.

Submitted by bryan mcglashan on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

In reply to by Oliver Kennett


I have a late 2014 Mac which still works pretty well. I also have an IPad Pro. I couldn’t replace the computer with the IPad just yet. I do use the IPad but it’s mainly for music purposes and responding to emails texts etc. Just invested in a HomePod, great speaker.

Submitted by Anna Beige on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I use my iPHone as my main computer, although my use case is different than yours. I originally used Windows, but back in 2016, I thought, almost everything I do on my computer, I can do on my phone. It was hard at first, because I kept wanting to use the computer instead of the iPHone six I had at the time.
Once I got used to it, though, it was pretty easy.
I use Dropbox for file storage/management, Scrivener and Google Docs for writing.
I mainly just web browse, listen to Spotify, watch Netflix, etc.
Even though my use case is different than yours, hopefully this helped you a little.

Submitted by tomg35 on Wednesday, May 29, 2019

There is no denying that Ipads have "come on", but for serious prolonged typing using the on-screen keyboard its a no. Repetitive stress would be a concern.
Yes use it for short note taking, but to avoid issue you would need an external keyboard - At which point it becomes a laptop

Submitted by Victor on Sunday, June 2, 2019


If you enjoy being a DJ, and if you are interested in audio editing, there are some voiceover accessible iOS apps you can try. DJ pro, ferrite recording studio and Hokusai audio editor are just a few.

As for using the iPad Pro as a laptop, there are many who swear that you can! In fact, there are courses being taught and using the iPad as a laptop. Currently, I use an older iMac and an iPad Pro. I love them both and I can’t decide which I prefer. For many, I think it is just a matter of personal preference based on the needs of the individual. From personal experience, I think it is possible to use the iPad Pro as a laptop. However, in order to do so, it is necessary to think outside the box and do a few things differently. I have not tried the latest iPad Pro, but it sounds like it is possible to connect some external devices to it. Knowing apples innovation, I’m pretty sure that iOS 13 will make using the iPad Pro as a laptop easier.

If you are concerned about the cost of all these devices, I think the best way to go might be to purchase an iMac with the magic keyboard and an iPhone. When you need portability, I think you can use the magic keyboard as a Bluetooth keyboard with your iPhone. But when you need the power and other benefits of a full-fledged computer, you can use the iMac. Considering the cost of the iPad Pro, the MacBook Pro, the iMac and the latest iPhones, I just think this might be the most financially practical way to go. Having the iMac with the magic keyboard and an iPhone just seems to me that you would get the best of everything overall. But this is just my opinion.

Submitted by Jesse Tregarthen on Sunday, June 2, 2019

I've thought long and hard about this as I decide whether to buy an iPad or Mac. At least for my use cases, I can't bring myself to think about buying an iPad for more than about 30 seconds. This is nothing at all against the iPad, it's just a use case thing. I do audio editing and while Ferrite and Hokusai are great apps, it takes me twice as long as it does to quickly edit in Amadeus at the radio station where I co-host my show. They're very powerful but limited by the touch screen. I'm also interested in coding and the iPad doesn't yet seem to be a viable option for this. Also as part of audio editing I like using apps such as Audio Highjack to capture audio from other programs and haven't found a way to do this on iOS. The last thing is GarageBand. I find the touch instruments really hard to orientate with and I make a lot of mistakes. Yes I can connect my guitar with the Apogee Jam or other such products and my midi controler with a camera kit but this starts to get clumsy. In finishing, I really think it just has to do with use case.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Monday, June 3, 2019

Submitted by bryan mcglashan on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Well, the iPad may be a viable solution for a laptop after today’s announcements

Will need to try the new operating system


Submitted by Victor on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

In reply to by bryan mcglashan

I’ve just been reading about all of the new features coming to Apple products this fall! All of them sound promising! I am especially interested in the new iPad iOS operating system. This may finally make the iPad a truly viable laptop! We shall see!

Submitted by Victor on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

In reply to by Jesse Tregarthen


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about audio editing on the iPad.

Like you, I also host a radio show. Also like you, I am interested in audio editing. I have heard much about Amadeus Pro and I am sure it’s a great audio editing program. I would love to spend some time with it.

Are use the Mac and the iPad Pro. As much as I love the iPad Pro, I am leaning toward choosing the Mac for my audio editing needs and desires. It sounds like Amadeus pro for the Mac would be more useful to me. As I know very little about audio editing right now, I suspect that I would probably get more training from the Apple store on Amadeus pro that I would on Hokusai 2 and Ferrite recording studio.

I love the iPad Pro for its portability. I also love all aspects of iOS. Unfortunately, iOS does not allow the user to download audio and video files from YouTube and elsewhere. Plus, as a DJ at a radio station, I have discovered that iOS does not like working with certain text files. For instance, iOS does not like working with text files that have been exported from music scheduling programs. In order to use one of these text files, I am forced to copy the text of the file into Voice Dream writer. That’s the only way I can manipulate these text files on my iPhone and my iPad. These text files are the music logs that are generated by the music scheduling program. Perhaps that would be different if the radio station were using Mac OS radio broadcasting software.

Anyhow, I am leaning toward getting a MacBook Pro for my audio editing and broadcasting needs. Perhaps things will change when the new updates for iOS and iPad iOS are released this fall.