Things You Can’t Do on an iPad

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Run Windows and Linux

A proper computer can support multiple instances of different operating systems. This can be accomplished with virtualization or a multiple-boot configuration.

Virtualization basically runs an OS on top of an OS, within a virtual machine. For example, you can run a virtual instance of Windows or Linux on a Mac using software such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion. Virtualization is most popular in data centers, where a physical server will often host many virtual servers.

A multiple-boot configuration allows the user to select a different operating system when starting the computer. Apple offers Boot Camp, which allows Mac OS X users to easily install Windows. This actually works well, and many technical users claim that Windows actually runs better on a Mac because Macs often have better hardware than PCs. For about a decade, Macs have featured the same Intel processors found in most Windows PCs. Apple also develops all of the Windows drivers for Boot Camp, which may also explain why Windows runs so well on a Mac. When I used Windows, I would often experience problems with drivers created by some fly-by-night hardware company.

It is possible to install Linux on an iPad, but you must forego using iOS. This means you won’t be able to use any of the excellent apps that are designed specifically for your device. An iPad running true iOS cannot dual-boot operating systems or run virtual instances of Windows or Linux. Jailbreaking your device offers some possibilities, but it also voids your warranty and could expose you to malware. The iPad that most people use — one that runs iOS — cannot run other operating systems.

No Internal Storage Over 128 GB

The top-of-the-line iPad only offers 128 GB of SSD storage space. A notebook or desktop computer can store terabytes (1 TB = 1024 GB) of data on local drives. My Mac Pro has 2.5 TB of disk space.

There are many accessories and external hard drives that can work with an iPad, but none of these are internal. You must either carry the extra device with you or be on the same WiFi network. Furthermore, these devices are not nearly as fast as high performance internal SSD or hard drives found in notebook and desktop computers. You can increase storage by using cloud-based services, but these are even slower than external drives.

The lack of expandable internal storage hinders the iPad’s ability to be a creative tool for professionals. A pro audio or video engineer typically needs terabytes of internal storage to manage assets.

Can’t Customize Gestures

With iOS 8, Apple added new features, bringing customization options such as widgets and extensions to the iPad and other devices. Unlike the Mac, users cannot configure gestures. They are either on or off. Accessibility features offer a few more options, but they are fixed and not customizable.

Can’t Access File System

Apple abstracted away the notion of files and folders in their mobile operating system. Instead of having a file browser, like Finder, users manage documents within each app. There are some apps that can use files from other applications, but there still is nothing like Finder that can explore the iOS file system.

On a Mac, the average user is shielded from any system directories. This is for their own good. They could delete or rename a critical system file, which could corrupt the operating system. Administrators can run a Unix command to gain access to every directory. This cannot be done on iOS. (continue…)

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2 comments

  1. I impulsively bought myself a 7th generation 10.9 with 128 GB, as a Christmas present to me. Mind you, I am an Android and HP/Windows user. However, I was thinking of lightening my home needs by going Chromebook because I detest Windows or going over to Apple. As I hadn’t decide on the p.c. issue yet, when I came across what I thought was a very good deal, I snatched it up. I received it before Christmas, opened the packaging, looked at everything and put it all back. Since the pad comes with absolutely no written information, I felt rather intimidated by it, however that was my delay in firing up this baby. I needed justification for buying it. Of course, I looked thru numerous posts of What I Can Do on a iPad. Still wasn’t sold. This morning it hit me, Check out What I Can’t Do on an ipad. Your article was the first I opened. By the 6th page, my mind was made up. I just skimmed pages 7 thru 10, just to get to the comment section. Your article was a tremdous help in making up my mind. I cannot justify buying this “tablet”. It cannot do many of the things that I would want or require. My tablet does more than the ipad. This pretty in pink get up will be going back in today’s mail. I CANNOT PURCHASE AN IPAD. Thank you.

    1. I actually bought two iPads and like the devices. It’s just that Apple’s claim is bogus. It’s essentially a larger iPhone. iPadOS doesn’t change that for me. You still can’t write and compile code on it. No professional studio would record an album on an iPad. No Hollywood film studio would edit a movie on an iPad.

      Although I like and use my 2017 iPad, it will be my last. I think the iPhone and MacBook Pro are enough portals into the Apple ecosystem. Some people want the Apple Watch, iPad and the whole smorgasbord.

      I think a lot of people can get away with just using an iPad, but it doesn’t mean it can replace a notebook computer. Even working on this site is tedious on an iPad. I can publish articles and administrate my site, but nothing beyond that. Even something like GIMP on macOS is far superior to any image processing software on an iPad.

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