Before iOS 9, I was tempted to sell my iPad Air 2 and opt for a MacBook this Fall. I figured that, between the next-generation iPhone and the new super thin MacBook, I’d have what I needed for a compact computing setup wherever I go. However, with the announcement and my rash decision to install the very first iOS 9 beta on my Air 2, I’m once again feeling very excited about the iPad as a computing platform.
The result of all of the little iPad-specific features added in this latest release is that friction has been reduced across the board. There are so many little roadblocks that iOS 9 has removed at the system level, and although it will really take us until Fall to realize the full extent of what this update offers, there is some great low hanging fruit to discuss.
Mail attachments are a big deal in iOS 9, and it’s great that we’re not limited to iCloud Drive. I am free to attach files from Dropbox, One Drive, and Google Drive, as well. I previously had to rely on mailing files from third party apps via the share sheet, but this new attachment option built into iOS 9 allows me to handle email in much the same way I do on the desktop.
I can already tell it will take a while to get used to the new multitasking features. I’ve grown so used to switching apps to reference text or copy links that I often forget I can just swipe from the right side to lay Safari right over my current app. Drawing in Paper is more fun this way, and adding links to my articles has gotten so much easier as a result. What’s most surprising, however, is how good this feels in the very first beta. Performance is very smooth, and although battery life took a dive in the first day, it’s faring much better now.
What all of these changes have really meant for me is that I now believe, once more, that Apple is taking the iPad seriously as a platform. They want to develop new ways to get things done, to take advantage of the larger screen and the portability of their tablet. Keyboard shortcuts alone have changed the way the device feels to me — and I’m fairly confident I can now do all of the things I would have wanted to do on the 12-inch Retina MacBook on my iPad Air 2 instead.
Writing is comfortable with a Bluetooth keyboard or with SwiftKey and the new QuickType gestures, so I’ve got a mobile writing machine with me wherever I go. I can write on my lap, hold the tablet in two hands to thumb type, or set it down at a desk to really speed things up.
Picture editing and management is also possible, thanks to the excellent Wi-Fi transfer on my Sony A6000. It does take longer than using an SD card reader, but it transfers pictures at full resolution, and iCloud Photo Library optimizes the size of the pictures on my device to preserve room. I’m still hoping photo extensions are given more leeway in iOS 9, though.
Browsing is also quite comfortable, given the 2 GB of RAM on my Air 2, which allows me to load several tabs without having them reload on me while I surf. Sliding notes over to type a few sentences, or surfing while chatting in a split-screen iMessage window are equally easy.
These really are all of the things I wanted a MacBook for, and they’ve suddenly become a lot easier to do on the iPad with this single software update, and I feel like this device has gotten a new lease on life.
I’m looking forward to more great software improvements this fall, but I’m already in a great position right now to enjoy things with iOS 9.