Making Your Preferences Apply to Everyone

December 25th, 2015

If we all had the same expectations and preferences, there might be only one product in each category. So if everyone preferred Coca Cola to Pepsi or 7 Up, would there be a need for any other fizzy soft drink? What about Nestle bottled water over Aquafina or Desani? Should one company’s idea of a “pure, fresh taste” thus appeal to everyone? (I say that despite not noticing much of a difference between these three.)

Obviously most companies hope you’ll buy no other. Ford wants you to buy or lease only Fords or Lincoln. For years many people told me that there was no reason to even consider the Mac anymore when Windows dominated by a huge margin. But enough people stuck with Apple thick and thin, and many times it got real difficult, that it helped the company survive until things got straightened out.

But it sure got exasperating in the mid-1990s, and many abandoned Macs, at least for a while. I recall some pretty hostile experiences setting up new Macs in those days. But it was still worse on the Windows platform.

In the old days, after the first Mac arrived in a single configuration, Apple began to expand the product line. The needs of some customers were better met not with a compact computer, but one with expandability, one that allowed you to install more RAM, a bigger hard drive, peripheral cards and to use any display you wanted.

With every Apple product, there are alternatives depending on your needs. But sometimes reviewers want to think that only their opinions count, and there aren’t legitimate reasons for making difference choices. You read articles about why they might have bought something from Apple or another company, found it didn’t meet their needs and returned it. There will be many reasons, from basic usability to the glitches they confronted. Yes, there ought to be an updated four-inch iPhone for those for whom the bigger displays are just too big. Maybe the rumors that one will come in 2016 are accurate.

Whether any of that applies to you is another story.

So I recently read a blog from someone who bought Apple’s bold new iPad Pro and decided it wasn’t for them. All right, no argument with that. But it did seem as if that decision was presented as a pronouncement from upon high rather than just someone’s personal decision.

In this case, the iPad Pro had been considered as a consumption device. The larger screen and superior sound system were mentioned, and it’s clear that short shrift was given to its possibilities for productivity. Without actually trying Apple’s Smart Keyboard, which wasn’t available at the time, the one sampled at a store was pronounced unsatisfactory.

As to consumption, a major problem is the size of the device. It’s not easily hold aloft in one hand. A seated position, with the iPad Pro in your lap, may be better. As to weight, don’t forget it’s little different from the original 9.7-inch iPad, but even that was a bit of a load. At least than a pound, some are still not comfortable with the iPad Air 2.

The iPad Pro is clearly a more specialized device, and it does create possibilities for productivity that aren’t as well realized in Apple’s smaller tablets, or even on Macs for that matter. I’ve seen some illustrations made with the Apple Pencil and it does offer expanded opportunities for the creative arts. If anything is lacking, it’s that the number of apps suited to productivity aren’t as extensive as they could be, and few yet take advantage of the iPad Pro’s larger display. Even Apple doesn’t exploit it with iOS 9, which is why app icons are spread wider across the display rather than give you the opportunity to display more of them.

Should the iPad Pro become a huge success for Apple, it’ll based largely on it meeting the needs of customers who may find it does what they need better than the smaller models, or makes a better case for a tablet. That will depend on new and updated apps, and Apple expanding the iOS to accommodate the larger display. Some will regard it as a proper note-book replacement.  But it’s still early in the game.

So as far as that user who returned the iPad, it doesn’t appear the decision to buy one was well thought out. I take it no more seriously than anyone else’s personal choices.

As for me, I’m still working with the loaner unit Apple sent me. I have the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, though I realize both were late to arrive. I am not an artist, though I enjoyed watching my son, home from his Madrid residence for a couple of weeks, marking things up humorously. My wife, an inveterate note writer, is still getting accustomed to using an electronic pencil as opposed to her thick ball pen. But at least it was comfortable for both.

Unfortunately they can’t become too accustomed to it. Grayson will return home in January, as will the iPad Pro since Apple expects its return.

I would like to use it for productivity, but most of the items I do are better accomplished on a Mac even if they might fare well on an iPad. I’m not enamored with the Smart Keyboard, and I tend to be sensitive to input devices overall. I still prefer the traditional mechanical keyboard, typified by the Matias Quiet Pro. Even the Magic Keyboard didn’t make it for met as a replacement, though I really gave it a chance.

With Philip Schiller now running Apple’s various app stores, perhaps he will loosen some of the limitations that prevent certain types of software from being developed. I could see myself editing audio waveforms on the iPad Pro if apps were offered that captured content simultaneous from Skype and other sources. A better way of managing multiple files from different apps would also be helpful if the iPad is going to become more productive.

And wouldn’t’ it make sense to expand Split View to up to four panes on an iPad Pro? Again, Apple needs to consider the possibilities of the additional screen real estate.

In short, I’d much rather carry an iPad Pro in a carrying case than that old 17-inch MacBook Pro. But it’s not ready yet. If I didn’t have the opportunity to review one, I’d wait. But it offers a wealth of possibilities if you don’t dismiss it out of hand.

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