Things You Can’t Do on an iPad

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Image Editing

Numerous iPad apps enable image and photo editing, but they all pale in comparison to Photoshop or even GIMP on a computer. These apps can only do the basics and are designed to quickly edit photos taken on an iPad or iPhone. Professional photographers are still using standalone DSLR cameras and computer-based photo editing tools such as Photoshop.

While working on my website, I quickly ran into limitations with the available iPad graphics editing apps. I am hardly a professional graphics designer, but the iPad couldn’t even do some basic tasks. When I take a photo, I often need to straighten it out using the perspective tool. This tool is intended to add perspective to images, but it can also straighten a misaligned photo. Perspective editing differs from rotation, which is available on most iPad graphics apps.

iPad can't adjust image perspective

I have searched through the App Store and spent a few bucks on promising apps, but not one of them offers this basic feature. Even GIMP on a Mac or PC can do this, and it is free, open source software. Beyond the perspective tool, Photoshop, GIMP and other computer-based graphics tools offer so many more features and are extensible with plugins. iOS Extensions are still in their infancy, and don’t even offer a fraction of the plugins available to computer-based graphics applications.

Develop Software

This seems pretty obvious, but some iPad proponents will claim that you can develop software on an iPad. This is not true. You can write code on an iPad. You cannot compile, test or deploy it on an iPad.

There are plenty of iPad text editors, but that’s all they can do. At best, if you are a web developer, you can write code on an iPad and deploy it to a development server. In this case, however, you need another computer (the development server) to do the heavy lifting.

If you have a Mac, PC or Linux machine, you can run an integrated development environment (IDE). IDEs enable developers to write code, compile, debug and deploy. Writing code is easier, because great IDEs like Eclipse and Xcode can provide assistance (beyond coloring key words) when writing code. For an IDE to do this, it must be able to compile and reflect on the code. An IDE is aware of the software libraries and APIs. An iPad is only aware of the text. A simple iPad text editor is not an IDE.

Host Severs and Databases

The iPad is, for the most part, a client and not a server. There are a few exceptions. I have an audio app that allows me to get files from my iPad using a URL. In this case, the iPad is theoretically acting like a server, but it is not a proper server. It doesn’t handle multiple, simultaneous users. It is more of a peer-to-peer connection.

If you have a Mac, PC or Linux machine, it is possible to host a server. This will make it much easier to develop and test system software. If you are working on enterprise software, you will most likely need a database. You can host databases, such as MySQL and SQL Server on a computer. You can host a web or application server on a computer. This cannot be done on an iPad, with its basic multitasking capabilities. (continue…)

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