Steven Aquino is a freelance tech author and iOS accessibility expert.
I’ve always had a love-hate attribute with normal laptops, like a MacBook. we possess one of a first aluminum unibody models.
It was my initial Mac, and notwithstanding being ancient in mechanism years, it’s still serviceable. we don’t use it many anymore, nonetheless it’s fun to consider that a appurtenance we bought in 2008 is means of regulating OS X El Capitan in 2016 (albeit not well).
My MacBook might be delayed and technically obsolete, nonetheless it still *works*. Its longevity speaks to Apple’s hardware prowess—design-wise, today’s MacBook Pros are approach descendants—and a Mac’s value proposition.
Though a MacBook chugs along, it’s not all roses. In my experience, I’ve found a laptop’s form cause to work opposite me in terms of accessibility.
As we wrote final year, the problem is that a laptop’s shade has always felt “far away.” Being visually impaired, we need to get as tighten as probable in sequence to see comfortably, and a laptop’s shade creates that difficult. we have to gaunt in to see, roughly a indicate where my nose is touching a display. It’s not usually ergonomically terrible nonetheless we demeanour flattering stupid doing it. we try to recompense for this by adjusting a position of a shade and regulating program tricks like augmenting a distance of a rodent pointer, nonetheless a advantages are nominal.
The fact of a matter is that laptops are harder for me to use given we can’t get as tighten to a shade as we need to work effectively. It isn’t that we *can’t* use laptops; it’s that regulating them has always felt like an ascending conflict we can’t win.
The iPad, quite a 12.9-inch Pro, offers a vastly opposite experience. It’s roughly a distance of a 12-inch Retina MacBook, nonetheless a tablet’s form cause and communication indication make it so many softened for accessibility.
It’s for these reasons (as good as my laxity with iOS) that has finished me a follower in using a iPad as my categorical computer. Unlike my aged MacBook, we can reason a iPad Pro as tighten to my face as necessary, and we can do things simply by touching a screen.
My unrestrained for a iPad is given we remonstrate strongly with Tech Insider’s Tim Stenovec, whom we feel was off a symbol when he recently wrote the iPad Pro “isn’t as versatile as a computer,” as it seems his criticism overlooks a niche nonetheless not considerate demographic: a accessibility community.
I contend that a iPad is in many ways *more* versatile than a laptop for people with disabilities. Computing and capability isn’t always about a spec square or tender energy or Photoshop. The iPad *is* a bone-fide computer, no doubt about it. After regulating a examination section for a while, we trust a 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a many permitted mechanism Apple has ever built.
The iPad Pro’s Killer Feature: Bigger Is Better
From an accessibility standpoint, a iPad Pro’s torpedo underline is a screen.
In [writing about given we switched to an iPhone 6s Plus, we conspicuous this about a iPad Pro:
At 12.9 inches, a iPad Pro’s arrangement is a best thing to occur to my prophesy in a prolonged time. Its effects aren’t usually about pixel firmness or tone accuracy; it’s about ideal size. The iPad Pro’s shade is outrageous and has totally remade how we work. Everything we see on a iPad is softened simply by trait of a vast screen, from handling email to browsing a Web to typing on a unsentimental keyboard.
The pivotal takeaway we have from regulating a iPad Pro is that bigger screens are softened for my vision. The Pro’s outrageous shade is a excellence to spy given my eyes don’t have to work as tough to examination content or find buttons; all we see is some-more visually accessible. The good partial is that it’s a same iPad knowledge we was used to on a 9.7-inch model, usually now it’s super-sized. There was no training bend or duration of composition in relocating to a Pro. Suffice it to say, relocating to a iPad Pro from my iPad Air 1 has been a substantial upgrade.
While it might seem hackneyed or overly uncomplicated to claim that a iPad Pro is good mostly for a screen, it creates clarity in an accessibility context. Using a iPad Pro has been zero brief of a revelation. It’s taught me to welcome a ginormous iOS inclination *because* of their ginormous screens, their altogether unwieldiness be damned.
It’s value noting, too, usually how many of an outcome a iPad Pro’s shade has on one’s notice of other devices. After usually a initial few hours with my examination unit, my aged iPad Air felt comically small. Compared to a Pro, regulating a Air finished me feel as nonetheless we were holding an iPad Mini. It’s a sheer contrast, to be sure, nonetheless we can’t see myself returning to a “small” 9.7-inch distance after regulating a 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Holding and Using a iPad Pro
When it was initial announced, we disturbed a iPad Pro would be worried to use while sitting on a couch, to examination or watch videos, given a device is so large. As it turns out, holding a inscription hasn’t been an issue. It is heavier than my iPad Air 1, nonetheless a weight is co-ordinate with a size. It’s not complicated overall, nonetheless like a iPhone 6s Plus, is softened when reason with dual hands. Nonetheless, also like a 6s Plus, a Pro’s overwhelming shade trumps any regard over a earthy size.
If I’m not holding a Pro, I’m typing with it on my lap. Though we do like a Smart Keyboard (more on it later), many of my “working hours” (i.e., writing) are spent regulating a unsentimental keyboard. we like it a lot, even nonetheless typing isn’t a easiest thing for me to do. The incomparable shade naturally allows for a incomparable keyboard, and we feel like my hands have some-more room to move. we feel like a bigger space is some-more forgiving on my two-finger, hunt-and-peck typing style.
iOS 9 On a Big Screen
As we wrote previously, iOS on a iPad Pro is now informed to me. The disproportion is that iOS has never before been bearing onto a arrangement as vast and packaged with as many pixels as a iPad Pro’s. That we can see some-more during a peek is positively a good thing, nonetheless it doesn’t meant all is perfect.
Let’s initial intensify a positive. One of a advantages of regulating iOS as a primary height is a handling system’s miss of cruft. Conceptually speaking, where OS X was recognised around keyboard-and-mouse submit and mixed windows, iOS is radically different. It’s built for touch, gestures of all sorts, and, until recently, showed usually one app during a time. This miss of complexity is partly given iOS inclination are desired by people of all ages and abilities, and given iOS is so good for accessibility. As we wrote during a outset, this morality is a pivotal reason given we select to work from an iPad rather than a MacBook.
Of course, iOS has grown some-more mature and formidable given “iPhone OS 1.0” in 2007. One of a [marquee facilities of iOS 9](http://www.apple.com/ios/) is a multitasking support for iPad. Being means to see dual apps during once has severely softened my productivity, as I’m now means to have Safari open beside my content editor, that saves me from constantly switching behind and onward to investigate information and squeeze links. It’s so nice.
As we familiarized myself with iOS 9’s multitasking features, one suspicion that persisted in my mind was how permitted a Split View indication is. With desktop OSes, I’ve run into a lot of problem perplexing to conduct windows on screen—resizing them is generally heavy given of a problem in anticipating a window’s corner and judging an suitable size.
By contrast, Apple has limitations regarding how many of their shade an app can occupy. This lessens my cognitive bucket given we no longer need to onslaught in determining where we wish to put things; we usually need to confirm if we wish an app to take adult a entertain or half of a screen.
More importantly for accessibility, a mechanics by that we plead Split View or Slide Over are perpetually some-more permitted than fiddling with a rodent pointer. All we do is pierce my finger to drag a divider where we wish it; it also helps a divider is dim adequate that we can simply see it on screen.
I have usually one censure about iOS on a iPad Pro. It’s expected Apple is going to preview iOS 10 in a subsequent few months, and I’d adore to see a association pull even serve during enhancing a knowledge on iPad. The multitasking improvements notwithstanding, iOS is effectively an OS meant for smartphones, and it unequivocally shows on iPad Pro. It would be overwhelming to see Apple redo iOS on a 12.9-inch indication to take even softened advantage of a shade genuine estate. Buttons and other user interface elements could be finished some-more conspicuous though requiring Display Zoom, for instance. Likewise, a insertion point, magnification loupe, and cut/copy/paste menu all sorely need a visible upgrade.
On a arrangement as vast as iPad Pro’s, these elements’ little distance is illogical for a visually impaired. At a unequivocally least, iOS 10 should embody an environment underneath Accessibility where users can adjust a distance of a insertion point, identical to a rodent pointer choice on a Mac.
Gripes aside, I’m gratified by a altogether knowledge of iOS on a iPad Pro. we consider it’s critical to clarify, though, that for as many as we praise iOS, we don’t meant to indicate that OS X is untouched or a worse system. we like a Mac unequivocally much, nonetheless a accessibility advantages to regulating a touch-driven OS are so apparent that it feels right to spend a infancy of my time on iOS.
The Accessories: Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil
First, a Smart Keyboard. I’ve created many a whole of this essay on it, and it’s been great. Although I hated it during first, I’ve grown to unequivocally like a Smart Keyboard. It looks good, feels good to form on, and isn’t too bulky. I’ve attempted several third-party iPad keyboards in a past, nonetheless nothing compare a niceness or facilities (firmware updates!) of Apple’s solution.
My favorite thing about it? Hitting Command-Tab to fast switch apps.
That said, a Smart Keyboard would be softened if it had dual things. First, I’d adore backlit keys. we don’t know how unsentimental this is, engineering-wise, nonetheless a keys as-is are tough to see in low light. we spend several seconds looking for a right keys to press given it’s tough to tell what I’m looking at, and some-more mostly than not, we finish adult attack a wrong key(s). The additional light would go a prolonged way in assisting me some-more simply mark keys. Secondly, a Caps Lock pivotal needs an indicator light. One good aspect about my aged Apple wireless keyboard is it has a small immature light that tells we either caps tighten is on or not. That visible evidence is a valuable, however subtle, accessibility aid. Even in essay this piece, I’ve mislaid count during how many times I’ve pulpy Caps Lock in sequence to see if it’s on or off given we can’t tell that state it’s in, and we keep origination typos. It’s frustrating.
Finally, a note about attaching a keyboard. My examination pack from Apple enclosed both accessories, and we had a hardest time in a commencement perplexing to get a Smart Keyboard and iPad together. This is due to inventiveness issues caused by my intelligent palsy, as good as my low vision. (In other words, folding a keyboard and saying where a Smart Connector is ostensible to dock.) After a few expletive-laden attempts, it took a how-to video by a crony sent over iMessage for me to finally grasp a correct technique.
Regarding Apple Pencil, there aren’t adequate superlatives in a compendium to report how good it is. In fact, we would contend a plain evidence could be finished that a Pencil, on a possess merits, was a many considerable product to come out of Cupertino final year. It’s quintessential Apple: their classical brew of hardware and program formation that works so well, you’d swear it’s magic. It’s that good.
Using a Apple Pencil with iPad Pro feels to me like a digital homogeneous of a analog coop (or pencil) and paper. The Pencil feels good to reason and to write with. Like with a Smart Keyboard, I’ve used other stylus-like devices with iPads in a past, nonetheless nothing come tighten to delivering what a Pencil can. It’s one of those “only Apple” things that Tim Cook mostly boasts about, given Apple controls a whole smoke-stack by conceptualizing their products in concert.
The best partial about regulating Apple Pencil is that it’s gotten me to try my artistic side. we enviousness (and admire) [hose who have far some-more artistic ability than I, nonetheless we do suffer doodling and coloring. One of a initial App Store apps we downloaded for a iPad Pro was Pigment by Pixite, an “adult coloring book” that’s turn one of my favorite apps.
As with printed coloring books, you’re presented with black-and-white “pages” of cinema travelling several categories to color. It’s a good finished app; we generally like that we can pinch-to-zoom to softened see a lines. It’s a vast assistance for me in saying some-more fact and origination certain my work is neat. Most of all, we like Pigment given coloring is therapeutic.
When I’m stressed or get a box of writer’s block, we find it relaxing to squeeze my Pencil, open Pigment, and tone divided for a few minutes. It’s fun, nonetheless I’ve nonetheless to finish a page. It’s some-more about routine than product.
I have no qualms over a Apple Pencil itself. The usually emanate we have is that I’m paranoid about losing a cap. It’s tiny, and we tatter over it descending to a building and rolling into a abyss because, given my eyesight, I’d substantially never see it again. I’ve jokingly tweeted a few times that Apple should make a Find My Apple Pencil Cap app for iPhone, so as to assistance people find a top when they fundamentally displace it.
I tremble whenever we see others in a tech press who, like Tim Stenovec did, contend that a iPad isn’t a genuine computer. we consider this line of meditative is improvident and does a iPad a disservice. we concur that a MacBook stays softened than an iPad Pro during behaving certain tasks — podcasting is one example — nonetheless a iPad is getting so powerful now that a list of things it can’t do is flourishing ever some-more esoteric.
At this point, we consider to continue a sleepy “laptops are for creation, tablets are for consumption” tongue is disingenuous.
In terms of accessibility and palliate of use, however, a iPad Pro is a transparent leader over a laptop. As a chairman with years of knowledge regulating iPads in accessibility-centric settings, we am keenly wakeful of a tablet’s strengths and weaknesses. Yes, a knowledge of regulating iOS on a iPad can and should improve, nonetheless whatever faults that currently exist doesn’t wholly deter from a apparent and inclusive benefits. This relates to a infirm and non-disabled alike. Today’s iPad Pro is a powerhouse, and a destiny intensity feels limitless.
John Gruber astutely forked out in final his iPad Pro review that “the destiny of mass marketplace unstable computing involves conjunction a rodent pointer nor an x86 processor.”
I unequivocally trust that. The iPad Pro might not be a laptop deputy for everyone, and that’s okay, nonetheless it certainly is for me. The allure of iOS and a tablet’s form is irresistible, and a multiple creates computing many some-more accessible. While I’ll perpetually lust over a 12-inch MacBook’s svelte design, a 12.9″ iPad Pro is positively a softened “laptop” for my needs.