Using the iPad Pro as My Only Computer

Does your next computer need to be a computer?

Joshua Beck
9 min readSep 27, 2020


A week ago, I decided to try something gutsy: I replaced my MacBook Air- my only computer- with the iPad Pro and the Magic Keyboard. My goal was to put Apple’s marketing campaign to the ultimate test, to determine if the iPad was truly ready to be a laptop replacement.

Now, Apple’s been touting the iPad as the replacement for your laptop for a couple of years now. In 2018, they launched the “What’s a Computer” ad. And in 2020, they announced that “Your next computer is not a computer.” Yeah, I think Apple’s message is pretty clear.

But their hardware and software, up until now, simply hadn’t been on the same level as their dreams. Back when that first ad was released, the iPad had no trackpad support, it had a rudimentary Files app that was nowhere near as powerful as Finder or File Explorer on Mac and Windows, and it couldn’t even allow you to run the same app side by side. It was a fantastic device, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t a computer.


But here we are now, in 2020 (and you know what they say about hindsight). Apple’s added trackpad support, and even released the Magic Keyboard with their excellent keyboard design and a smallish (but incredibly useful) trackpad built right in. iPadOS 14 is here, and along with prior updates it has refined how the iPad functions and what it is capable of doing.

And so the question must be asked anew: Can the iPad be used as your only computer?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer…

Compromise Where You Can. Where You Can’t, Don’t.

Look, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to use the iPad as my only computer. In fact, I’ve spent most of my technological life trying my best to use the iPad for everything. This isn’t even the first time I’m writing about it.

In fact, I did use the iPad for my daily tasks as far back as the iPad Mini 1 (the real question, then, should be how on earth I managed to get anything done on…