1. The iPad is Intimate
You interact with a laptop at arm’s length whereas an iPad gets brought into your circle of personal space. It's a question of intimacy. You might not think it’s a big deal but it is. Being at arm’s length is the difference between shaking the hand of a business acquaintance or hugging your spouse.
You can get cozy with an iPad in a way that you never can with a laptop. That has an effect on your brain that is almost below the conscious level. This closeness starts to engender a biased preference for a device that you associate with your favorite easy chair and a hot cup of coffee.
2. The Touch Interface
I love the touch interface of iOS. Ever since I first delighted in slide to unlock on the iPhone I’ve found a satisfaction in the various swipes and touches.
But Touch is better on an intimate device than one at arm’s length so I’ve never desired Touch on my Mac. In fact, whenever I’m using my iPad with a keyboard and I have to touch the screen it reminds me why touch is so bad on a laptop and I wish my iPad had a mouse.
I prefer editing photos on my iPad simply because it’s more enjoyable. If I’m writing on my Mac and remember that I need to edit a few photos I will literally slam my MacBook shut and reach for my iPad. Sitting in my easy chair and grabbing the corners to crop a photo with my finger feels more like fun, sitting at my desk on a Mac using a mouse it feels more like work. The whimsy interaction with the touch interface makes work more enjoyable and also feels more natural.
For millennia artists have interacted directly with their canvas. If your painting needed a little more something in the dark sky you would painstakingly apply your brush directly to the canvas, adjusting pressure and speed as you go. The touch interface of the iPad seems more natural to me when I’m interacting with a photo. There’s no middleman, just you interacting directly with your art.
3. The Apps
Even if you could remove the keyboard from a MacBook Pro and Apple added a touch interface you would have a hard time getting me to switch back. Mainly because of the iOS App Store.
I love the fact that when I get a new iOS device I can conveniently load all of my apps from one single place. One of the things I hate about the Mac more than anything is how difficult getting my software back on it will be after starting over from scratch. To remedy that I stopped purchasing software that wasn’t on the Mac App Store. But unlike the iOS App Store, that means you might miss out on some of the good stuff.
Even taking into account Mac software that isn’t in the Mac App Store, there are a lot of iOS equivalents that have no equivalent available for the Mac. For instance, I love how I can control my TV when I’m sitting with my iPad using the VIZIO SmartCast app or Apple TV app. If I’m sitting in chair with my MacBook that is not possible. And the list of iOS apps not available on the Mac goes on and on.
I didn’t see anything out of the WWDC that made the iPad less of an iPad. Anyone who thinks that the iPad became more like the Mac misunderstands why we like the iPad. Removing the keyboard allows the flexibility to use it as an intimate device when you want. And the combination of the touch interface and iOS apps makes work on the iPad feel more enjoyable. Kind of like grinding up vegetables and putting them into the mashed potatoes so that your kids will eat them.
The iPad retained the big three items I enjoy about it and added some new tricks that were long overdue. I came away from the WWDC more than pleased with Apple's iOS enhancements for the iPad.