Thoughts on iOS (iPadOS)

Ideas Jun 25, 2021

I still recall the day when I saw the iPad 1 - it was at one of my violin teacher’s house. He’s a violin virtuoso who is strict in many ways but jovial in many others. He was presenting this iPad to me and my family and expressing just how awesome it was (I was five or six at the time). he showed us a bunch of apps and I clearly remember one of them being Tom the Cat (Or whatever it was called). It was an artificially intelligent cat software that talks or repeats what you say. I didn't know any computer science at the time and I was like "Jeez, this is sick, I've never seen anything like this." - the typical reaction of any 5 year old.

I'm not saying that violinists cannot show fascination for technology, only that that fascination is different from many others. Especially when technology is complex, I cannot imagine any artist being interested in a phone that contains tons of options and a list UI. It's simply too general and cannot capture their attention. They also don't want to "waste time and learn how to use a new phone"(Quote my Mom). A piece of tech has to be sexy in its special ways to present itself luring for all kinds of audiences - like artists.

That is exactly what Apple accomplished at the time. An immaculate, beautiful, yet novel design of both the hardware and the software aspects of a piece of tech. I was more than astonished and admiring towards Apple at that time. That made one of my biggest interests just to own an iPhone. I am sure I wasn't going for the games or many of the other features in an iPhone, but rather just the design. I once made this ludicrous request to my mother to buy me an iPhone and she responded with: "Why do you need a smart phone? Give me some proper reason and I will get you one." As I've said, I did not have a clear sense of what I was hoping out of an iPhone; and no, visually appealing is not a proper reason if you a parent hearing from a child who wants a smartphone. I mean, even if I somehow came up with a proper reason, she would've probably not buy me one. All jokes aside, most kids get phones just to play video games (really common at the time. When I got up to 6th grade, the whole situation became a lot worse in my opinion. This can be a topic for another day)

Even after she rejected my request, I wander around the Apple website from time to time just to watch keynotes or product pages again and again. So I got half of the visual experience of an iPhone (i guess). But I never got my hands on an actual iPhone with the actual UI/UX until 5th grade. I got an iPhone 4s from my mother where she switched to an iPhone 5.

Ever since my switch to an iPhone 4s, iPhones have established the golden standard for an mobile OS in my mind. It is clean, bugless, and with the beautiful flat UI (I was never a true fan of realism design philosophies). That standard grew with its expectations. Because I thought it should be bugless (technically impossible), I screenshotted every single time the phone had a bug - adding it to the collection of a few wonders of the OS realm. Maybe it was just myself being naïve (I didn't even know Android existed). Or, it could have been my ignorance of how software works. I will never know, but that was truly my impression of iOS.

Starting from I don't remember when, I started to hate Apple products in general because of how pricey they are. Possibly when I finally formed  basic idea of how money works. This happened simultaneously with my transition from "software should be free, it's not some actual thing that I can buy" to "software can still be great work, and there are special things making them worth supporting". Not long after that "enlightenment", my iPhone 4s died one day and I was cut off from one of Apple's masterpieces - iOS.

Right after that, my interest for iOS started to wane. I was no longer that interested in the mobile OS that I once thought of as unsurpassable. I started to embrace the more open OS: Android.

My journey with Android OS has came a long way and it is still going. I've loved all the possible customizations and functionality in android either with deeply customized ROMs (i.e. Flyme OS), slightly customized ROMs (i.e. Oxygen/Hydrogen OS) or Google's stock ROM. Many of the features present on Android was missing in iOS. These might ranges from file managers to widgets (which Apple has been adopting in the recent years).

All the great things about Android aside, I want to continue my conversation on iOS - it might be rather faceted, but bear with me, you might find some similar feelings.

Since I've never had the chance to get my hands on another iPhone, iPad is the only iOS device that I own. iPad will also be where most of my experiences are coming from. From that experience, I think iOS has changed. And by change, I mean, a lot.

There's a ton of bright sides, especially on iPad OS (iOS for iPad). Apple tried to make it the ultimate two-in-one (at least in my opinion). My iPad Pro is one of the devices that I cannot "live" without, there's just too many things it is capable of:

  • Sketching/Drawing (Procreate)
  • Note-taking (Notability)
  • Large portable screen for watching videos (Netflix, etc.)
  • Book/document reader (Kindle, Adobe PDF, etc.)
  • Music scores (Forscore)
  • Video editing on the go (Premiere Rush)
  • Office Suite (Microsoft Office, Google Docs, etc.) + Keyboard
  • Great speakers for playing music (...)
  • Gaming (...)

There's so much more, and I truly love the device.

However, there is always a catch. The OS cannot fully replace a PC with things like a poorly designed file manager or orientations that bugs out sometimes. And with that someone might say the file manager is just a nice addition. If it lacks a progress bar or cannot consistently transfer large files... we can't blame them.

Well, considering the amount of time and money that Apple spends on R&D every year, something as "simple" as a file manager should be not huge feat. But, regardless, they weren't able to pull it off all that well when Apple really should.

There was also a release by Apple that messed up the cursor size for all iPads (For sure that was not intentional)

These problems, small bugs or "incomplete" software, is what bugs me most. In my memory, Apple does not seem like a company that would tolerate this. Neither do I.

The good new is, at the time I am picking up this article again to finish it, Apple is going to release iPad OS 15 along with its other 15 lineup OSes soon: something to look forward to.

No matter how much pickier I am with iPadOS, it's still a great platform that enabled me to work on-the-go more conveniently in comparison to my semi-heavy laptop. The platform might not have enough horsepower, but it is more than enough for most tasks. (At least for now)

I just wish it had the same QC as the old Apple many years ago.

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