How to run your business with a tablet like the iPad Pro?

When Apple announced the latest iPad Pro earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook stated that there are over 600 million Windows PCs in use that are more than five years’ old. Could your enterprise replace its aging desktops with the new iPad Pro?

The original iPad Pro may have been bigger, but many felt that this didn’t necessarily mean better. For the creative industry the larger screen real-estate was a clear bonus, and coupled with the Apple Pencil, offered a new platform for anyone in the creative sector to express themselves. But the smaller 9.7-inch iPad Air was a better fit as a business machine.

With the arrival of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple has launched an assault on the business users who may have looked at its larger cousin, but felt the cost was too high to adopt this device across their enterprises.

Now that Apple has released its new iPad Pro with all the features of its larger cousin, plus some new ones of its own – such as True Tone display technology, and the 12MP camera that can shoot 4K video, plus more on-board memory – suddenly the business community that had perhaps been using the Surface Pro could now pledge their allegiance to Apple without making any compromises on features or power.

  • Read techradar’s full review of the new iPad Pro here

The real question is: does the new iPad Pro offer a real alternative to machines that have a full OS such as the Surface Pro or MacBook Pro?

Says Oliver Furniss, VP/GM Product at cloud accountancy software company Xero: “It depends on the kind of work you do and your appetite for change. For example, if you’re a salesperson on the go, an iPad Pro might be the perfect thing. For a modern small business with everything in the cloud and accessible via apps and the web, it’s compelling. The portability, battery life, instant-on and 4G data of the new iPad Pro are ideal.”

Could this be the future of small business computing?

Business machine?

For businesses the headline grabbing consumer-led aspects of the iPad range are not their focus. Productivity and the ability to connect to networks on and off-site, as workers increasingly become decentralised, is important.

Whether larger enterprises will adopt tablet PCs on a wholesale basis is yet to be seen. However, in the small business community there may be more movement, as these companies tend to be more nimble and able to adopt new technologies at a faster rate. However, Forrester has found that office workers in general are three times more likely to use laptops and desktop PCs than their tablets.

Moving wholesale from a desktop/laptop environment to one that is dominated by tablets does seem to be the goal of many smaller businesses. Whether they choose iPads or make their move towards hybrid devices typified by the Surface range, small business owners in particular can see the benefits, and need to test these devices in real-world situations to identify their limitations.

A spokesperson for Dell also noted: “There is a false perception out there that Apple devices based on Mac OS or iOS are more secure. That’s simply not true.

“According to a recent whitepaper published by Symantec (Apple Threat Landscape, February 2016), the number of new Mac OS threats is increasing year-over-year, and the number of Macs hit by malware infections have increased significantly – in the first nine months of 2015, the number of unique OS X computers infected with malware was seven times higher than all of 2014.”

The simple connectivity of Apple’s devices has always been a major selling point. For small businesses in particular, the adoption of Wi-Fi across their organisations has bought a level of flexible working that has been unprecedented.

With Si Conroy, CEO and founder, Scarlet Monday and, commenting: “I can’t see the pressure points on SMEs to adopt technologies like iPad Pro without clear business reasons to do so. Performance for price is now probably better aligned to similar laptops. Apple’s iPads have always had the advantages of fast start and application switch etc. I think it’s a mind-set thing. They are not seen as business tools.”

Melvit Cardozo, technical support engineer at TP-LINK UK

Focusing on this aspect of using tablets in business, Melvit Cardozo, technical support engineer at TP-LINK UK says: “For organisations over 40 seats, the best approach is a series of access points with cluster technology, this effectively creates load balancing between them, managed by a software controller. This is the most cost-effective way for larger SMEs to manage the demands on Wi-Fi created by the proliferation of tablets, or other devices.”

Think about connectivity

Do you need the ports that a traditional laptop offers? If you use USB or HDMI ports regularly, connecting an iPad to external devices such as projectors could be frustrating.

Making a decision

As a small business owner the investments you make must have a strong business case. The wholesale adoption of the iPad or other tablets may have already begun thanks to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). However, where you intend to make a more formal adoption of these technologies, bear the following points in mind…

Using business applications

The Microsoft Office suite has of course been available for some time on iOS. If you spend your days with these applications, using the touchscreen and pencil with these apps does need some getting used to.

Choose your keyboard

One of the key advantages of the iPad Pro is that you can choose to use the virtual on-screen keyboard, or connect a physical keyboard to the tablet. The Apple keyboard doesn’t have the key travel of a laptop, but you can of course connect a number of third-party keyboards.

Screen performance

The 12-inch iPad sports a screen resolution of 2732 x 2048. The 9.7-inch version is 2048 x 1536. The 12-inch Surface Pro 4 sports a screen with a resolution of 2736 x 1824. It’s the form factor of the iPad, coupled with its always-on and available nature that makes the tablet so compelling to use.

Battery life

Apple claims a ten-hour battery life, but in the real world this is more realistically around seven to eight hours. This of course depends massively on what you are doing with the iPad.

Storage capacity

Whether the storage capacity of today’s laptops and tablets is a concern largely depends on how you will be using the device. On-board storage for the new iPad Pro is a maximum of 256GB. The Surface Pro 4 can have up to 512GB on its SSD. Many business users of course will store documents in the cloud, and use a core set of apps, making what appears to be a lack of storage on the iPad not such an issue.

The new iPad Pro could be the device that pushes small businesses to abandon desktop PCs and laptops

Different operating systems

There is no escaping the fact that the operating system that the iPad Pro uses isn’t a fully-featured desktop OS. The compromises that have to be made in order to deliver the iPad Pro in its current form to support the idea of mobile media for consumers means the device can’t offer a desktop OS environment.

No one – except perhaps Apple – is claiming that the business laptop is dead. What is certain is that the easy decisions your business has made in the past regarding the replacement of these devices are no longer clear cut. The new Apple iPad Pro and its brethren now offer a tangible alternative that many small businesses in particular will adopt and exploit.

Xero’s Oliver Furniss concluded: “It’s mostly larger businesses that adopt tech for tech’s sake. There will always be those trying to persuade SMEs of how technology X, Y or Z can transform their business, but most SMEs are both too smart and too conscious of cash flow to buy into the latest thing on a whim.”

He continued: “For other SMEs there might not be clear business reasons to adopt such technologies yet, but they’re becoming more pervasive all the time. Such businesses should keep an eye on what others in their industry are using. If your fellow small business owners are switching to iPads and apps, there will be good reason for it and you should find out why that’s working for them.”


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