The iPad has always struggled to find a place in my computing life. Not that I havenâ€™t wanted to use it, but itâ€™s historically been a much more limited device than my laptop, while lacking the portability of my iPhone. It didnâ€™t help that I opted for an iPad 3, which was a compromised device thanks to the retina display. While it was fine for a couple versions, OS updates only dragged the performance downâ€”and as for the fancy new features? Forget it.
It did find a niche as where I read my RSS feeds in the morning, read comic books at night, and occasionally banging out words on the go. Not that I did much of the latter. The iPad 3 lacked the portability of the previous modelsâ€”it felt heavy in my bag, so I mostly left it at home on the dining table. In some ways, it felt like Iâ€™d spent $500 on an entertainment device that I could occasionally use for â€œrealâ€ work if I wanted to put up with the limitations of the hardware and software.
About a month in with the iPad Air 2, however, and Iâ€™m singing a very different tune. Where the iPad 3 was fun to use, it never made me want to use it more, even before OS updates caused it to slow down. The Air 2 is fast and flexible enough that it can not only do a huge chunk of what I can do on my Mac, but it does it well enough that I want to use it more. I understand how Myke Hurley feels about his iPad Pro now. Doing some stuff on the iPad is slower, but it feelsâ€¦ better somehow.
It turns out the Git client, Working Copy, works as an iOS Document Provider. So, I can use a programming text editor, like Textastic to do the editing, and the changes propagate back into Working Copy where I can test in its integrated browser. Itâ€™s not perfect: Textastic hasnâ€™t been updated for split-screen multitasking yet, but it works well enough that I was able to push some bug fixes back into my GitHub repository right from my iPad. Thatâ€™s incredible.
Maybe the iPad wonâ€™t have a niche. Maybe itâ€™ll become the computer I choose to do most of my work on. I donâ€™t see that happening any time soon. Thereâ€™s still too many limitations to iOS and the iPad hardware right now, but thatâ€™s a temporary problem. Appleâ€™s shown they want make the iPad into something powerful enough for more than just content consumption. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised in a year or two if Apple releases a version of Xcode for the iPad, if only because I canâ€™t imagine iOS Engineers not wanting to write code for their platform on the platform. Until then, Iâ€™m happy with my Air 2 and itâ€™s capabilitiesâ€”but Iâ€™m also eyeing the iPad Pro with more than a bit of gadget lust.