The iPad isn't a large iPhone, and that's a good thing


This may come as a surprise to many of you, but I have not always been the well-rounded iPad user that I am today. No no, don't interrupt me. It's true.

After picking up the first iPad before it launched over here in the UK - there's an interesting little story about that involving scientist Brian Cox, maybe I'll tell you all one day - and then losing interest in it, I bought an iPad 2 shortly after its arrival. It was new, shiny, thinner and lighter. Apart from that, I still didn't really use it. It was a nice-to-have, but far from essential.

Of course, now I live on my iPad mini, but that transition started with something much more basic than going all-in. I didn't write blog posts on it, and I certainly didn't manage any FTP stuff like I do now.

What made the transition happen initially was the realisation that the iPad isn't a big iPhone.

The problem I always had when making myself use the iPad was that I tended to have my iPhone either in my pocket or my hand. Why would I hunt out my iPad to do something that I could already do with what was, quite literally, to hand? The short answer is that I didn't and, in fact, I shouldn't. The iPad is not a large iPhone, and the sooner everyone realises that, the better.

Use the iPad for reading comics. You wouldn't do that on your iPhone. Use it for watching Netflix. You wouldn't do that on your iPhone. Use it for browsing the web, for reading everything you save to Pinboard, for thumbing through Reddit. Use it for editing images in Pixelmator. And games. And...well, you get the idea by now.

Sure, use your iPad for everything that the iPhone just isn't suited for. But that also works both ways.

A lot of the problems I had with the iPad was that it just wasn't as good at doing some things as my iPhone. It wasn't as good for reading Twitter because I typed replies quicker on the iPhone. It wasn't as good for iMessage for the same reason. Emails? Same. Yes it's good for triage, but unless you use an external keyboard, it's useless for writing.

Fundamentally, the iPad and the iPhone are two distinct products in two differing product categories and should be treated as such. That's the reason developers do, or at least should design their apps to make proper use of the iPad rather than simply rescaling their iPhone apps to fit without looking stupid. Things started great in that regard, but as the App Store has matured and developers have stopped using their iPads, the lines between iPhone and iPad apps have begun to blur. But that's another argument for another time.

The reason I bring all this up now is that I have been listening to the latest episode of Accidental Tech Podcast in which the ever opinionated Marco Arment waxed lyrical about how he has a new-found love of the iPad after buying an iPad Air 2. The improved hardware works better, and that helps greatly, but Marco's real reason for getting back into iPad use is the realisation that it does some things in a much better way than the iPhone and if you remember that, the two need not fight each other for supremacy.

I like Marco, despite what he might think, and it's good to hear that one of the more prominent iOS developers around has fallen for the iPad once more. Let us hope that means that some other developers will start to give Apple's tablet a little more attention from now on.

Tagged , ,