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Why the iPad Pro may, or may not, work at work

Ryan Faas | March 24, 2016
Factors to consider when deciding whether to use an iPad Pro as your main work computer

There is no clear right or wrong answer. It depends on the needs and capabilities of an organization and its employees.

During both iPad Pro launches, Apple has positioned the devices as being business-ready due to a range of business tools, content creation and design apps, and multitasking features like iOS 9's split screen mode. One push for Apple's Smart Keyboard for both devices is its support for desktop-like keyboard commands and shortcuts.

Apple does make a compelling case for the iPad Pro models as powerful business tools, including several of Microsoft's own apps including Office. The company's new iPad Pro highlights other tasks like shooting and editing video, brainstorm and mind mapping (including doing so while video chatting thanks to iOS 9's picture-in-picture feature), 3D modeling, and even scanning and editing pages and forms. Given the range of industry-specific apps and in-house enterprise apps, and the range of business apps emerging from Apple's partnership with IBM, Apple's promotional materials are really just scratching the surface (no pun intended) of the iPad Pro's capabilities in business.

That doesn't mean the iPad Pro (large or small) is an easy fit as a PC replacement in every workplace. As I wrote last year when comparing the larger iPad Pro to the Surface Pro 4, the major difference in the products are that the iPad Pro runs an OS designed for mobile while the Surface runs a full version of Windows. This allows easy access to legacy Windows apps, most notably existing in-house enterprise apps that may have been in use for years or decades, as well as direct integration with Active Directory for both authentication and management.

Apple does offer a range of iOS management capabilities through MDM/EMM solutions, which also can use Active Directory information for applying policies. The company is also testing the waters of multi-user functionality in iOS 9.3, though that functionality is limited to the education market. Neither option, however, offers the full range of controls and capabilities offered by joining a device to an Active Directory domain; whether that range of controls and capabilities is truly needed depends on the organization.

As much as there are reasons for some organizations — or some departments within an organization — to opt for Windows PCs or tablets like the Surface, there are also many situations where an iPad Pro might make more sense. That could be because of the mobile nature of some workers (sales professionals, healthcare workers, field service staff, etc.) or because the apps and features available on the iPad Pro lend themselves more easily to specific tasks.

How the new iPad Pro fits into the business and enterprise landscape


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