Apple launched the iPad in stores exactly 12 years ago today, and the device has evolved enormously since then, in both capabilities and hardware. Today’s devices can do so much more than their forbearers. Tablets have lived up to Steve Jobs’ vision … and exceeded it.
Here are a dozen reasons to love what Apple’s tablet has become.
iPad at 12
1. iPad gives a real alternative to traditional notebooks
Laptops are great. Especially MacBooks. But we don’t live in a “one size fits all” world. Notebooks don’t meet everyone’s needs — thank goodness we have iPad.
Tablets are as easily portable as a large computer can get. And they let you reach out and touch whatever you’re working on.
They fit the needs of young children who aren’t ready for a keyboard. And they’re right for others who just don’t want a keyboard — they’re looking for a device to enjoy video or social media.
Apple gives us a choice between a MacBook and iPad. Neither is better for everyone. What is better for everyone is more choices.
2. Apple made iPad very powerful
iPad lacked a lot of features when it launched all those years ago. But after generally steady improvements, iPadOS does just about everything average users need today.
With this improved software, someone with any iPad model is ready to watch a streaming service, enjoy social media, do their taxes, write a novel, exchange emails, play games, check the weather, edit video … and much more.
That said, Apple deliberately made the iPad simpler. That often makes it easier to use, a benefit for average users. But there are advanced capabilities missing, and that frustrates some hard-core users.
However, Apple offers both iPad and MacBook for a reason: It is about choice. Those who want iPad to act like a MacBook are missing the point — if you want a MacBook, Apple offers some very good ones. iPad is the alternative for people who don’t want a Mac. It’s for people who like the simplicity and don’t want or need the advanced Mac features.
3. iPad is more flexible than laptops
Many people love iPad because the tablet can turn into a laptop while a MacBook (and most Windows laptops) can’t turn into a tablet.
By itself, an iPad is an ideal “lean back” computer. With a touchscreen but no bulky keyboard it’s perfect for scrolling through social media, watching video or wandering the web.
Add a click-on keyboard and trackpad, and an iPad becomes a “lean forward” computer. You can type out emails, write a novel, enter data into spreadsheets. Whatever you need.
Don’t try pulling the keyboard off your laptop, though. It won’t go well.
4. A touchscreen is so intuitive
People who’ve been using a mouse or trackpad for many years forget that it’s a workaround from the days before touchscreens. With an iPad, you reach out and touch whatever it is you want to move. It’s easy to overlook how amazing that is.
Use an iPad for a while, and you’ll realize that a mouse or trackpad is a very indirect way to control a computer. That said, iPad doesn’t ignore that most people are accustomed to using those indirect input methods. iPadOS supports mouse/trackpad in addition to its lovely touchscreen.
5. There are so many iPad models to love
When Steve Jobs held up that first iPad on this day back in 2010, there was just one size available. Now these tablets come in a range of sizes. And there are other hardware differences, too. That means more choices for consumers.
The smallest is the iPad mini with an 8.3-inch display. The largest is an iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch screen. The basic iPad still uses the Lightning port and Home button, while all the other versions have USB-C and edge-to-edge displays.
Let’s do a quick summary of all the iPad models to love:
- iPad: 10.2-inch screen, Lightning, $329
- iPad mini: 8.3-inch screen, USB-C, $499
- iPad Air: 10.9-inch screen, USB-C, $599
- iPad Pro: 11-inch screen, USB-C, $799
- iPad Pro: 12.9-inch screen, USB-C, $1,099
6. iPad is a powerful computer at a low price
While critics decry the high prices of Apple computers, the 10.2-inch iPad is a shining exception. It costs $329 — about a third the price of the cheapest MacBook. Even adding a keyboard case to let the tablet convert to a laptop still puts it well below half the cost of a MacBook.
And the budget iPad is a very capable computer — all a student needs. Heck, it can do everything most adults need for their personal lives.
7. Games, games, games and more games
Mac is not a great gaming platform. That’s why many Mac users own a console or even a PC just for gaming. But iPad is also a strong option.
There are untold thousands of iPhone games, and all of these are playable on the larger iPad display. There are also plenty of top-quality titles available in the Apple Arcade subscription service.
Many of these support game controllers — just connect one to any iPad and play on.
8. There’s no better ebook reader than iPad
Traditional books are great, but they’re bulky. An iPad can carry every book you’ve ever read or even plan to. You won’t have to carefully choose which novels to take on vacation — take all of them.
Another advantage is that ebooks let you control the size of the font. There’s no reason to put on reading glasses when you can make the words easier to see with the push of a button. (That’s something to really love.)
9. iPad is easy to learn, especially for iPhone users
Someone buying their first computer should consider getting an iPad instead of a MacBook. Especially if they are already familiar with iPhone.
The two mobile computers are very much alike, though the larger iPad screen makes it a better option than an iPhone for many tasks. A tablet is ideal for watching video, for example. Or you can do your taxes on an iPad, for example. That’s not something anyone would recommend on a smaller handset.
10. Center Stage makes for amazing video calls
It didn’t escape Apple’s attention that almost everyone makes more video calls than they used to, and the response is Center Stage. This AI feature lets the iPad’s front-facing camera follow someone on a video call, as though the camera was moving around. It is a significant improvement for FaceTime and Zoom calls.
Center Stage is in the latest iPad Pro, iPad mini and budget iPad. It recently became a marquee feature of the new iPad Air 5, making it part of every Apple tablet.
11. Love the benefits of built-in 5G
When buying an iPad, you can have it configured with built-in 5G cellular networking. (That also includes 4G.) You’ll then have internet access wherever you take your computer, whether that’s a classroom or a camping trip. You don’t have to depend on Wi-Fi.
This is a feature not yet available in MacBooks. They, of course, can use an iPhone to connect to the internet. But that’s not as convenient as 5G built right in.
12. iPad is a canvas digital artists can love
An iPad is a digital canvas you can work with directly. Apple Pencil is your paintbrush, and you can make touchups with your hands, just like on a regular canvas. You can mix mediums with ease. And you never need to wait for the paint to dry.
You can even level up your creative process: With applications such as Procreate, you can view your art on an external display while working on the iPad.
Happy birthday, iPad
iPad has been a tremendous success — Apple sold about $30 billion worth of them in the past year alone. That’s almost as much revenue as the Mac brought in.
And iPad adds a tremendous depth and dimension to Apple’s product lineup. As wonderful as MacBooks are, they’re aren’t the best option for everyone or every task. Tablets are for people looking for something smaller and simpler.
And they have been a lifesaver for many people forced to go to school from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Happy 12th birthday, iPad! We love you!
Note: This editorial was originally published on January 22, 2022, the 12th anniversary of Steve Jobs unveiling the iPad 1.