Sometimes, I feel deficient. Often, even.
I watch what some people appear to do on their iPad Pros — magical things like running their businesses and, um, typing — and feel a desperate sense of failure.
There I am with my constantly malfunctioning MacBook Air feeling as if I’m a Billy Joel fan at Billie Eilish concert.
Several times over the last few years, Apple has insisted the iPad Pro is a computer. This made Microsoft chuckle rather loudly.
Yet, late last year, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, appeared to confess that there was a difference between iPads and MacBooks. He said: “We believe the best personal computer is a Mac, and we want to keep going down that path. And we think the best tablet computing device is an iPad, and we’ll go down that path.”
I wasn’t sure whether he was merely having an especially benign day or whether Apple was now a touch chastened by objective reality.
I’m grateful, therefore, to an incident relayed by tech writer Russell Holly. He was struggling with a buzzing noise in one of his AirPods. This is the contemporary equivalent of losing a leg in World War 1.
Holly took his ailing AirPod to the Apple store clinic, where a Genius performed diagnostic analysis. However, as Holly recorded, the equipment he used wasn’t post-PC. There was an iPad hooked up to a laptop, hooked up to a dongle, hooked up to the sick AirPod.
As Holly put it: “iPad for diag UI, Laptop doing all the work. Because you can’t just connect to the iPad.”
Naturally, this stimulated a hearty debate on Twitter.
Some claimed the iPad Pro satisfied their work needs perfectly. Others offered continued suspicion that the iPad Pro isn’t all that. Michael Perry, for example, on his experience with an iPad Pro: “Spent more time figuring out how to do simple things or what 1 app out of thousands do what I need bc it used the ‘right’ API than I did actually working. I gave up & bought an MBP.” (That would be a MacBook Pro.)
It can be tiresome when so-called thought leaders insist a particular technology is to be dismissed because its successor is plainly here. It can be tiresome when tech companies neglect the older technology as a way of forcing customers into the new one.
Perhaps Apple will now try a little harder to create MacBooks that not only work beautifully, but that are beautiful to look at. Yes, I still embrace my MacBook Air because, despite everything, it works for my particular needs. And, look at Holly’s photo, older ones even work for Geniuses.
The only time technology becomes expendable is when it becomes obvious to a vast majority of people.
That hasn’t quite happened to PCs yet.