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Not an iPad Pro Review: Why iPadOS Still Doesn’t Get the Basics Right

Let me cut to the chase: sadly, I don’t have a new iPad Pro to review today on MacStories.

I was able to try one in London last week, and, as I wrote, I came away impressed with the hardware. However, I didn’t get a chance to use a new iPad Pro over the past six days ahead of today’s review embargo.

I know that many of you were expecting a deeper look at the iPad Pro on MacStories this week, but that will have to come later. I still plan on upgrading to a 13” iPad Pro myself; I’ve decided I want to return to the larger size after a few months with the 11” iPad Pro. If you’re interested in checking out reviews of the new iPad Pros from heavy iPad users like yours truly right now, I highly recommend reading and watching what my friends Jason Snell and Chris Lawley have prepared.

Still, as I was thinking about my usage of the iPad and why I enjoy using the device so much despite its limitations, I realized that I have never actually written about all of those “limitations” in a single, comprehensive article. In our community, we often hear about the issues of iPadOS and the obstacles people like me run into when working on the platform, but I’ve been guilty in the past of taking context for granted and assuming that you, dear reader, also know precisely what I’m talking about.

Today, I will rectify that. Instead of reviewing the new iPad Pro, I took the time to put together a list of all the common problems I’ve run into over the past…checks notes12 years of working on the iPad, before its operating system was even called iPadOS.

My goal with this story was threefold. First, as I’ve said multiple times, I love my iPad and want the platform to get better. If you care about something or someone, sometimes you have to tell them what’s wrong in order to improve and find a new path forward. I hope this story can serve as a reference for those with the power to steer iPadOS in a different direction in the future.

Second, lately I’ve seen some people argue on Mastodon and Threads that folks who criticize iPadOS do so because their ultimate goal is to have macOS on iPads, and I wanted to clarify this misunderstanding. While I’m on the record as thinking that a hybrid macOS/iPadOS environment would be terrific (I know, because I use it), that is not the point. The reality is that, regardless of whether macOS runs on iPads or not, iPadOS is the ideal OS for touch interactions. But it still gets many basic computing features wrong, and there is plenty of low-hanging fruit for Apple to pick. We don’t need to talk about macOS to cover these issues.

Lastly, I wanted to provide readers with the necessary context to understand what I mean when I mention the limitations of iPadOS. My iPad setup and workflow have changed enough times over the years that I think some of you may have lost track of the issues I (and others) have been experiencing. This article is a chance to collect them all in one place.

Let’s dive in.

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Thoughts and First Impressions on the New iPad Pros from Apple’s Event in London

The new 13" iPad Pro.

The new 13” iPad Pro.

I just came back to my hotel from the media event Apple held earlier today in London at their Battersea Power Station headquarters. I had high expectations for the new generation of iPad Pros that Apple unveiled today – some of which were exceeded by reality (hardware), and others that were, regrettably but unsurprisingly, faced with the reality of the iPad platform (software).

What follows is a loose collection of notes and impressions from the event, where I was able to try both iPad Pro models multiple times and spend some quality time with their accessories.

Let’s dive in.

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Every App Tells a Story Worth Preserving, Even Warren Buffet’s Paper Wizard

You're Warren, and your job is to deliver newspapers.

You’re Warren, and your job is to deliver newspapers.

Apple anniversaries come and go. Some mark important milestones in the company’s history. Others celebrate products that have had outsized impacts on the world. Both have their place, but I prefer Door Number 3: Weird Apple Anniversaries.

That’s why today, on its fifth anniversary, it’s worth taking a moment to solemnly reflect on the legacy of one of Apple’s least culturally significant software releases ever: Warren Buffet’s Paper Wizard. I regret to say that I didn’t cover Warren Buffet’s namesake paper-tossing arcade game in 2019. So, to make amends, let’s take a look back at this gem that dropped out of nowhere five years ago today.

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Hands-on With France’s Digital ID App on the iPhone: Not as Digital as Digital Can Be

Almost three years ago now, Apple announced that it would support adding state IDs and driver’s licenses to the Wallet app on the iPhone and the Apple Watch, with the feature first rolling out to a handful of US states. Today, digital IDs in Wallet still haven’t materialized in most of the states that committed to support the feature back in 2021, and Apple hasn’t announced any expansion of the feature beyond the US.

Here in France, the government has long pledged to offer the ability to get a digital ID for all holders of the redesigned national identity card that started rolling out in 2021. The new ID card format was to be smaller than the old one (finally reaching the size of any standard credit card), but more importantly, it would feature an RFID chip that would enable contactless interactivity with, say, a dedicated terminal or any NFC-enabled smartphone. Fast-forward to today, and with this new ID card now widely in the hands of French citizens, France’s government has released France Identité, an app that allows any French ID card holder to get a digital version of their ID or driver’s license on their smartphone.

While the app was publicly made available earlier this year on iOS and Android, I have been using the beta for close to a full year now. France Identité is a strange, frustrating mix of physical and digital that says a lot about the privacy concerns and technical issues that inevitably get raised when a state wants to take their IDs digital.

Let’s take a look at the app, what it can do, and how it differs from Apple’s vision for digital IDs.

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How to Load Your Game Boy Games Onto the iPhone to Play in the Delta Emulator

So, you’ve probably seen the (totally justified) hype surrounding the Delta emulator’s launch on the App Store and downloaded it because, why not, it’s free. You may have also recalled that, like a lot of people, you have a box of old Game Boy cartridges stored somewhere that are gathering dust. Or, like me, maybe you spent way too much money on second-hand videogame sites during the COVID lockdown. Regardless of your Game Boy cartridge origin story, today I’m going to show you a simple way to breathe new life into those games by bringing them, along with your save files, to your iPhone.

The GB Operator. Source: Epilogue.

The GB Operator. Source: Epilogue.

The easiest way I’ve found to pull the game files from a Game Boy, Game Boy Color, or Game Boy Advance cartridge is with a little USB-C accessory called the GB Operator by Epilogue, or as I like to call it the Game Boy Toaster. That’s because the device looks like a top-loading transparent toaster that takes game cartridges instead of bread. If you have a big collection of game cartridges, the GB Operator is a great investment at $50 because it allows you to both play and back up your games using a Mac.

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HomeKit Gadgets: The MacStories Team Collection

John: Everyone on the MacStories team is deep into HomeKit devices. For me, smart home gadgets tick all the boxes:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Automation

It’s really as simple as that.

However, as fun as HomeKit devices can be, they can also be frustrating. The best accessories fit comfortably into your household, making life a little easier but falling back gracefully to a simple solution for anyone in your home who isn’t interested in automation. It sounds easy, but it’s a tough balancing act that few companies get right.

We’ve all tried our share of HomeKit and other smart home devices. Some have worked out, and others have fallen by the wayside as failed experiments. Today, we thought we’d pool our collective experience and share with you the MacStories team’s favorite smart home gadgets.

We have a lot of ground to cover, so this story will focus on indoor gadgets. Soon, we’ll shift our focus to the great outdoors.

[table_of_contents]

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Single-Space Challenge: Trying to Manage My macOS Windows All in One Virtual Desktop

A couple of weeks ago, in a members-only special episode of the Accidental Tech Podcast, John Siracusa went in-depth on his window management techniques on the Mac. This was absolutely fascinating to me. I strongly recommend checking the episode out if you can. One of the many reasons it captivated me is the fact that John Siracusa uses macOS in only a single space (the system’s name for virtual desktops) and lays out windows in a very specific way to take advantage of his entire display.

This is completely opposite of the way I’ve been managing and arranging windows on my Mac for the past ten years. To work on my Mac, I always heavily rely on having at least three spaces and switching between them on the fly depending on the task at hand. Moreover, I rarely keep more than two or three windows open at a time in each space.

However, since I’m always up for an experiment and shaking things up, I thought I would try going back to a single space on my Mac for a full week. I approached this by drawing inspiration from John Siracusa’s window management techniques and digging up an old Mac utility that helped me with the transition. I’ve learned a lot from this challenge; even more surprisingly, it has sparked in me a newfound interest in Stage Manager on the Mac.

Let me tell you how it went.

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Vision Pro Chronicles: My Custom ‘Dual Knit Open’ Setup for Maximum Comfort and Awareness

My custom Vision Pro setup. [This is the stand](https://www.etsy.com/listing/1679187530/dock-for-apple-vision-pro-apple-vision) I'm using.

My custom Vision Pro setup. This is the stand I’m using.

Vision Pro Chronicles is a MacStories series about our journeys with the Vision Pro. In this series, we’ll explore the potential of visionOS as a brand new platform in our workflows and personal lives, share how we’re using the Vision Pro on a daily basis, and cover interesting apps and accessories for the device.

You’ll be shocked to learn that I’m not using the Vision Pro in any of the default Apple configurations.

After two months spent testing a variety of different options for bands, straps, and other “mounting” solutions, I’ve found my ideal setup. It looks somewhat ridiculous at a glance, and it’s not for everyone, but it allows me to use the Vision Pro for longer sessions.

Most importantly, it helps me enjoy the Vision Pro more.

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