Things You Can’t Do on an iPad

page 5 of 10

Work Reliably

iOS is a relatively new operating system. The competitive nature of mobile computing has forced Apple to cram as many features as possible into each release. This has resulted in iOS releases plagued with problems. For example, when iOS 8 was released, copy/cut/paste functionality was buggy for about two months. This is a basic feature of any modern operating system. I still have the occasional copy/paste failure in iOS 8.1.3, but it works 95% of the time. This is still not acceptable for work. This feature has worked just fine on computers for over 30 years.

Apple released an operating system that couldn’t do a basic task. I ended up using my Mac a lot more often. The defect was so severe, it rendered my iPad virtually useless. Apple would never release OS X with such a glaring defect. Unfortunately, with iOS, you can’t revert the operating system. If you intend to work solely on an iPad, you must be conservative about upgrading iOS.

Even when iOS is stable, there are certain fundamental features that have never worked well. Selecting text has always been quirky. All too often, when I try to select text, it will reset the selection. If I am using Notes and start selecting text from the top when the keyboard is up, it is often difficult to select text obscured by the keyboard. I will sometimes tap a key and my selection is deleted.

When you try to select text on a web page, the selection capabilities try to be smart and aware of the underlying HTML, but this causes a lot of problems. Selecting text in an HTML table element has always been quirky. I have to select the whole row, paste it, and select it again. Ugh! This always has me booting up my Mac when I want to work fast and frustration-free. There are no apps on the iPad that accomplish this basic task well. TextTastic and other apps offer on-screen cursor controls. These can help, but compared to selecting text on a Mac with a trackpad or mouse, the iPad fails again. It’s clear that third-party developers have seen these glaring flaws and have tried to ameliorate them.

It’s not just copying and pasting text that is flawed in iOS. Compared to the rock-solid nature of OS X, iOS still has a long way to go. Apps crash or close unexpectedly much more often than OS X. iOS still is more stable than desktop and mobile operating systems developed by other technology corporations. It’s just that, compared to a Mac, iOS is a frustrating experience.

Revert Operating System

It is no longer possible to revert iOS back to the previous version. Shortly after a new version of iOS is released, the previous version is no longer signed. It cannot be installed on an iOS device. Restoring the backup will not restore the old operating system. You can no longer revert iOS using iTunes.

This is unique to iOS devices, as virtually every other computing device (including the Mac) will let you install an older version of its operating system. Even though Mac OS X upgrades are done primarily through the App Store, it is possible to buy an older release of OS X (on a USB drive) and install it. It is quite clear that iOS devices aren’t really computers. They are consumer electronic devices.

I really like Apple products, but this is far too heavy-handed. Given that the last two major iOS release have been buggy for the first few months, reverting would allow users to have a stable environment. I believe Apple does this so they can boast about how many users upgrade to the new operating system. There are some minor complications that reverting would cause. If you upgrade to iOS 8 and buy a new app that requires the new OS, how would they handle reversion? They could refund the app purchase, but that’s just not the Apple way.

Whatever the motive, the fact that you can no longer revert iOS can be limiting. You could be stuck with a buggy device until they release updates to fix crippling defects. (continue…)

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