An iPad as a developer box. Pros and cons
When my 5-year-old iPad Pro fell on the floor for the third time (not accidentally, one could argue when you have a 5-year-old kid. Coincidence? I don’t think so!), I decided it was time for a new iPad rather than spending a lot to fix it due to an expired warranty.
I bought a new iPad Air with the M1 CPU and a Magic Keyboard. No pencil, I still have the first-generation Apple Pencil, and I need to find out where it is, given that I never really used it.
The main idea that justifies spending a ton of money on the keyboard is:
Given how superb Visual Studio Code Dev Containers support is, the option to use it from a browser through GitHub Codespaces or GitHub Dev, and the recently introduced support for Remote Tunnels
I would like to know if I can use an iPad as an on-the-go development/work device.
There are a few options when buying an iPad. I went for the Air M1 one, with 256 GB of storage and a SIM card.
The good and the not so good
Let’s start with the latter. SIM card support is beneficial. I have a data plan, and not being required to tether using the phone is a plus. It saves the phone’s battery life.
Portability is excellent, and battery life is superb.
My main concern is that the device with the keyboard is too heavy. According to my kitchen scale, it’s 464 + 602 grams. A little more than a kilogram is not a big deal, but it feels too much for what’s still an iPad.
For prolonged periods of usage, the screen is too small. 10” is great for specific tasks, and coding is not among them.
Keyboard and trackpad
The lack of the escape key drives me nuts. Muscle memory kicks in too quickly—every single time!
The trackpad is small but freaking good.
The great thing is that keyboard shortcuts and trackpad behaviors are what I’m used to as a macOS user.
If it’s your only option, then a 10-inch iPad can be used as a development machine. Otherwise, a bigger screen is beneficial, if not mandatory. Everything else works fine, making me think that a MacBook Air is a better compromise.
Photo by Francois Hoang on Unsplash