The Evolution of the iPad for Content Creation and the Upcoming iPadOS

Ever since starting this blog or site under and before changing the domain name and theme to make it more of a personal site, I started it as an iPad-based blog. I had the original iPad model in 2010 not long after it came out and the original theme for the blog was using it for all creative content and the multimedia you see here.

I’ve never used tablets before and they were an abstract concept for me similar to the way I envisioned Personal Digital Assistants. I could not figure out the use for such devices in my life as I figured I can always use good ‘ole pen and paper for note taking and task management. However, after getting my hands on the iPad I realize it was much more than an assistant. I realized I will want to do everything on it from content consumption to content creation.

To me, the iPad hasn’t strayed far from this vision as I continue to use it daily; although now have the 10” iPad Pro model from 2017. I use it for most blogging, graphic design, video editing and content creation tasks. This is despite the fact Apple’s flagship tablet was originally advertised, by Steve Jobs himself, as more of a content consumption tool than anything else.

Self-created design
Self-designed graphic

I simply found it so much more convenient to hold and use than my Macbook Air or desktops at home. It is lighter than my Macbook and its battery life is much better. I now have both an Apple Pencil (stylus) and until recently I had a Bluetooth keyboard that I now have to repurchase (or get the Smart Keyboard) due to spilling a drink on it and some keys malfunctioning as a result.

A Device Originally Seen as a Big iPhone Finally Coming to Its Own

Over the years I witnessed the operating system and various software or apps associated with the iPad become more friendly toward work and content creation. An example of this is Google G-suite, particularly Docs and Sheets. I remember at one point opening it up through Safari (not sure if it even had its own app on the App Store as it competed with Apple’s Pages and it may either have not existed or been read only at the outset) where I could not even write or edit anything into the document.

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Today, I can do pretty much everything as the desktop variant although I admit it is a slower task where you have to keep clicking on the pencil icon to switch between editing mode and read-only mode where you can track and accept changes as well as read comments by other editors.

Software continued to be refined and mimic what is possible on the desktop. Some of this is based on Apple making changes to iOS over the years and some of it is to companies making their own changes to software with iPad-specific features.

An example of this is WordPress. Now you can create blogs with both written paragraphs and multimedia inserted using blocks Within the app. Navigation and the user interface are finally seamless to use or at least not too much of a drag as they once were within the app. I admit this took years of constant updates, but it is now not a crash-prone disaster trying to write a blog post using the WordPress app as it once was. It is also simple to upload files today from either the iCloud folder or the photos app directly onto WordPress.

Another example of an evolution of software available on the iPad, particularly for content creation, is HTML5 video or web content. For a long time many sites had embedded videos and other interactive content on them that would not play on the iPad at all. They were created in Flash and as some of you know who have been iOS users for many years, Apple famously gave Adobe the shun when it came to implementing Flash within iOS.

There were many reasons for this like Flash being notorious for security vulnerabilities as well as slowing systems down to a crawl at times. Thus Apple sort of forced the industry to adapt to HTML5 video content creation vs creating video and website content in Flash. Even YouTube at one point was hard to access on the iPad with little of the video content compatible in HTML5.

Now we can watch what seems like YouTube’s entire library on the iPad and this is a good thing for both content creators and viewers. In fact, I have been cresting YouTube videos for my channel entirely on the iPad. This includes shooting the videos when I am out and about, editing them using iMovie for iPad and uploading them directly from iMovie to YouTube. Yes, iMovie for iPad is lacking in features to the desktop version of the app, but it still is great and easy to use for many tasks and hopefully this will also change in the future.

The iPadOS: a Game Changer in the Making

The iPad will soon get its own dedicated OS or a variant of the overall iOS it shares with the iPhone and finally break free from just being a larger iPhone with a nicer battery life. The upcoming OS is called iPad OS 13 and will be released sometime this fall. If you have followed my blog over the years, you may have realized I have been pushing for this to happen for years.

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I realized the potential for the iPad when first getting hands on the original model in 2010, back when it did not even have multitasking capabilities. Slowly more features like multitasking and split screen were added to simulate the windows on a desktop screen, but the big thing that was always holding it back was the lack of a file system.

This is where iPadOS 13 comes in. The upcoming software update will actually add a file system of sorts and the ability to search for files as well as upload files easier. This is particularly great news as the latest iPad models are being fitter with an actual USB drive that allows for file storage and cameras to be inserted.

I remember when printing on the iPad was even impossible and how Airprint-enabled printers made printing a breeze. I also remember when Steve Jobs famously said the stylus is unwieldy or worthless to use and now we can edit photos or create digital art using the Apple Pencil combined with software like Procreate or Artstudio Pro.

The iPad Continues to Evolve in Hardware and Software

The iPad is evolving in both the hardware and software sense. It is becoming much more of a computer than it ever was even intended to. It is finally reaching its potential as a device that can take the best of the desktop and smartphone worlds for a seamless, yet feature-rich computing experience.

The iPadOS will finally see it implement desktop features and really split away from the iPhone however in the software sense. Some of the upcoming changes include the aforementioned file system, improved Google Docs and possibly G-Suite as a whole navigation and widgets on the home screen or main interface showing up.

In terms interfact updates or updates to simulate a desktop environment, there will be windows options for the apps. This, alongside a file system, has been my biggest compliants when trying to write and research other content online while I am writing on the iPad: the lack of windows makes this a drag as only two apps can be currently viewed side-by-side.

According to Apple, users will be able to open multiple windows from the app in the Split View feature that currently enables two apps. Another upcoming feature is called Sidecar and it will allow the iPad to become a second screen to a Mac or mirror a display to a desktop.

Even the way the keyboard functions will be improved with swipe typing of sorts implemented and the ability to minimize or resize the keyboard to one’s choosing. These are just some exmaples of the many changes to come.

Here is a video I found showcasing many of these features from someone using the beta version of the upcoming OS:

The interesting thing about the upcoming OS is that it will replace Safari to the Mac version or at least allow that version to be read by the OS instead of the mobile version. This has been something that makes productivity work on the iPad a drag as every time you visit a website it often directs to the mobile version lacking many of its desktop features. Some news sites look and feel unwieldy to me when visiting them on the iPad vs the desktop, so this is definitely a good direction for Safari.

Hopefully YouTube follows suit with the same URL being copied from the iPad navigator as the desktop and not just the mobile URL. This has annoyed me in for a while in trying to embed YouTube videos on forums, sites and blogs.

Still Too Early to Tell How Large of an Impact iPadOs Will Have

One thing we have to keep in mind is that this is just a first step in moving away from the iPhone and closer to the Mac experience of computing. There are many things that the iPad lags behind the Mac in or lacks entirely, even with this upcoming iPadOS.

Video editing is still an issue and will be so for professionals until Apple releases a full version of Final Cut for the platform. You are also not going to be coding on the iPad anytime soon snd compiling your code natively on it to run across multiple operating systems and computers. Creating websites is somewhat possible using apps like Weebly and WordPress, but none of these solutions can mimic web development on desktop computers.

I believe these things will take time and eventually you may be able to do everything on the iPad as on a desktop PC or Mac. However, each device has hardware limitations or a form factor that is suited for particular tasks. This is without even taking software constraints into account.

The Potential for a Full Desktop Experience

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The iPad has a much smaller display, unless you are using the largest Pro models, than desktops and even if you connect a mouse to it, it may not be the best form factor for complex video editing or Photoshop tasks. However, you can always connect it to a larger display so this is a minor issue. Also of note is that the full version of Photoshop is coming to the iPad eventually. Hopefully, other Adobe software will follow suit.

As the hardware advances with greater specs, the USB connector continues to be utilized and Apple continues to add features to iPadOS, there should be no limitation in app support. The iOS ecosystem has been generally on the cheaper end of the equation snd the mentality of iPad users to not want to pay much for apps or software may be the main obstacle in getting apps like Illustrator on the iPad. Thus, separating the OS from the iPhone is a step in the right direction when it comes to retraining the user base what a tablet computer is about.

I am very excited about iPadOS 13 and think it is a step that needed to take place a couple years ago. It is better late than never. We may soon have a tablet experience that shows the true potential of a lightweight, comfortable and fun device to have on us wherever we go and stay productive while we are at it.

It actually brings me back to the time I fell in love with the iPad and realized its potential. this was when I dragged images between Pages documents or used my finger to directly interact with multimedia content that was impossible on computers without a touch interface. that sort of fun interactivity and a new paradigm in computing was revolutionary to me and much more so than a tiny iPhone screen with apps created for portrait orientation and lacking features to even that of the iPad — such as the Mail app lacking sidebar navigation.

I found the iPad as a tool to bridge the creative gap between a fun toy used to directly insert and mess around with multimedia content and that of a desktop computer’s content-creation capabilities. I knew it was far from being a full desktop and mobile hybrid in terms of content creation, but had the potential. the iPad brought the fun into computing for me and the upcoming iPad-specific OS looks to continue this trend while matching the content creation and navigation experience with that of the desktop.

Speaking of content creation and the iPad, guess what I wrote this blog post on? Yes, you guessed it, the iPad as was the graphic design showcased here.

Self-created graphic

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