iPad Air review: ‘Pro’ enough for most people

People who want a tablet to completely replace their laptops.

Over the past few years, Apple has started insisting that your next computer “isn’t a computer” — it’s an iPad. Thanks to changes to the way the company’s iPadOS tablet software works, that argument isn’t nearly as silly as it used to be.

You can, for instance, add some widgets to your home screen, making it more informative than just a pile of app icons. Or why not connect a keyboard and mouse to an iPad over Bluetooth to get a little work done? Got some, ahem, legitimately downloaded movies on an external hard drive? You can plug that right into an iPad and start watching, though you may need a USB-C dongle.

As a result, the line between Apple’s laptops and tablets has grown surprisingly hazy. But the line still exists, and you’ll find yourself bumping into it if you try using the iPad Air as your main computer.

Here’s one hurdle you may run into: You can run two apps side by side on an iPad Air, plus fire up another in a “Slide Over” window, but the gestures you’ll need to make all that happen can take a lot of getting used to. And if you need to do lot at once, there’s no way to run a slew of apps in different overlapping windows and bounce between them like you could on a more traditional computer.

Because of that, I hardly ever feel fully productive when I try to use an iPad as my main computing device — I just can’t do as much at once. That won’t be a dealbreaker for most, but again, this is a tablet that has the tech needed to compete with full-blown laptops. Apple’s software should do a better job reflecting that.