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Does the iPad make sense as a computer now?


(Dieter exhales loudly) (mid-tempo hip-hop music)
– This week was WWDC and we saw a ton, and
I mean a ton, of stuff: that new Mac Pro, dark mode on the iPhone, iPad apps on the Mac, a watchOS App Store, and new features for the iPad. And today, I want to talk about the iPad because I have feelings, also questions, maybe answers, but definitely questions,
and here are two. Is it ready to be your primary computer, and then, is this new
gesture system intuitive? (quirky music)
So with the first question, we’ve got iPadOS, which is iOS 13 but renamed for the iPad, I guess. Can it do all the computer things? I mean, if you look at all of the features that Apple announced in its keynote, it’s like they were personally
responding to our gripes from our iPad Pro review. – You can plug as many flash drives or hard drives as you
want into this USB-C port, and nothing will happen. (audience applauds)
– You can now plug in a thumb drive! – You can’t even import photos directly into an app like Lightroom CC. – Sometimes when you’re
working with a camera, you’d like to import directly
into an app like Lightroom, and now you can. – The mobile version of Safari just isn’t a desktop-class browser. – Well, no more, because we’re bringing
desktop-class browsing. (audience applauds) (quirky electronic music)
– Now, with all of that stuff, I don’t really know if it’s all better because Apple changed the
iPad at a fundamental level or if Apple’s just
fixing one-off annoyances we’ve been complaining about
by just doing whack-a-mole. We’re going to have to
wait for the full review to answer that question for real. I should note right now, though, that I only had a short time
with the new iPadOS directly. All the video footage that
you’re seeing here and elsewhere is Apple’s own on-rails demo. Anyway, I do think the
new windowing system alone should make this update worth it. You have a ton of new
Slide Over app options, and you can fan them out or swipe through them just like an iPhone. You could have a single
app with multiple windows and even get a view of
all those app windows just like you can on the Mac. iPadOS is built so that
anything you can drag, you can pretty much make a window out of, and although the first
version of this developer beta is a little bit buggy, the window thing, it actually
really did kinda work. But we need to talk about
the new gestures now, and that means we get to talk about grammar. – [Off-camera] No. – This is the, look, look! I got an English degree
(mid-tempo hip-hop music) and I’m going to use it, damnit, and I promise this is going to make sense, so just hang with me here. First thing, we need to talk about what all of the iPadOS gestures are because there are just a lot of them. One finger, tap. Also drag. Also tap and hold to do some stuff, but it changes depending on the context. It might be jiggly mode or
it might be something else, but then, there’s also new stuff. There’s a new way to just
drag the cursor around, but if you do it just so, instead of moving the cursor, you can select text with it. Then, two fingers. This is new, but there’s a way
that you can use two fingers to select multiple items
on a list by dragging it. I don’t think we’ve seen all the ways that this can work just yet. Now, the other new thing is three fingers. First, there’s cut and paste. You use three fingers like you’re picking something up to copy. You do it twice to cut, and then you do this
like three-finger plop to paste stuff. There’s also undo and redo, which is a three-finger swipe
to the left or to the right. Also, you can hold down three fingers to get a pop-up user interface
for cut, copy, and paste. Lastly, four fingers. Just like before, a pinch will take you home. It’s actually pretty easy to mix this up with the three-finger thing, but whatever. (Dieter exhales sharply) The thing is if we made this
same list for Mac or Windows and everything that you
can do with a keyboard and various mouse clicks
and drags or whatever, it would be pretty long, too, which is what brings me to grammar. Okay, so how long do I have to get into the theory of language and maybe just a little
bit of bonus semiotics? – [Off-camera] I’ll give you like a minute? – Okay so, yeah, no semiotics then. (books thud heavily) (Dieter groans) (percussive music)
Think of language as being on a spectrum. On this end are really rigid languages like math and formal
logic and computer code. If you use the wrong
grammar in these languages, they totally break and they
don’t communicate any meaning. They form an internally
consistent framework that runs like a clock, and you pretty much have to take classes to learn how to use them. On the other end of the
spectrum is natural language, the stuff that you and I speak every day, like English or Mandarin or whatever. These languages are really flexible. Their rules of grammar can bend without breaking their meaning. The grammar, though, it’s super messy because we basically make it up as we go. However, we learn these
languages naturally just by having people talk to us. In the middle, you can
think of a user interface as a kind of language. It’s how you communicate
with the computer. It has to be really rigid
and consistent like code because that’s how computers work, but it also needs to be
flexible and learnable over time because that’s how our stupid
squishy human brains work. So the iPad user interface has a grammar. It has rules, but where does it fall on this language spectrum? Did I do it?
(percussive music) I didn’t do it? Great. I was close! (electronic drum thumps) So let’s answer that spectrum question. (mid-tempo hip-hop music)
I do think the grammar on iPadOS is mostly internally consistent and fairly flexible. One finger, do stuff. Two fingers, select stuff. Three fingers, edit stuff. Four fingers, go home, I guess? I don’t know. These different finger
gestures do different things depending on the context, which is a little bit of
a problem for consistency, but hey, this isn’t code, so I’m not mad. But I worry that the iPad’s grammar is too hard to naturally learn. With the grammar of a
mouse and a keyboard, you build up more skills
naturally over time as you use it. You right-click and see a menu and then you do it elsewhere. You find the keyboard shortcuts
listed in the top menu. Now, part of this is that we’ve had the desktop around for 35 years, so it feels normal. But the truth is that the
desktop UI is super weird, and we all learned how to use it, but it has a smooth ramp-up
from basic user to pro user. On the iPad, I just don’t
know how one of these gestures leads naturally to the more advanced one. I think once you learn them
all and get good at them, the iPad can be incredibly
flexible and powerful, but there’s not a smooth ramp-up. You’re going to have to, like,
watch a lot of tutorials to figure all these gestures out. (mellow music)
Look, I know this grammar stuff,
it’s not a perfect metaphor, but I do think it’s a
really helpful framework for answering the question I started with at the beginning of the video: is the iPad’s user interface intuitive? Now, I think intuitive is a dumb word because most people use it wrong. They think it means something that everybody just knows inherently. What intuitive actually means is stuff that you learn without noticing that you’re learning it. We all know that the iPad is intuitive because you can just
hand it to any toddler and they’ll figure out the
basics just by playing with it, but these new, more advanced gestures, I’m not sure they’re there yet. I think we might be looking
at the same story as always with the iPad. It can be really powerful, but only if you take the
time to learn its quirks. Hey, thank you so much for watching. Let me know what you think of this weird argument
down in the comments, and specifically, do you think that iPadOS makes this a primary
computer for more people? Also, if you’re more interested in an, like, actually powerful computer, we have a great video with the new Mac Pro and a ton of coverage for
that so check all that out.

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