The Problem is Safari for iPad

Professional users hunt for a Mac-like Safari...
iPad Safari Fails at All of These
"I need a web browser that behaves and resizes exactly like Safari on the Mac."

My friend Tom Conrad had a rant about the iPad Pro/iPadOS over the weekend on Threads. It starts:

Lots of talk about iPadOS and its various failings for "power use." I love my M1 iPad Pro and would love to use it as my daily driver. I have no esoteric needs most days - no external drives, no video editing. I need a web browser that behaves and resizes exactly like Safari on the Mac. No forever-prompting to install bad iPad app versions of a site, a cursor that works with the trackpad flawlessly, dependable keyboard focus, scrolling behavior that works. Etc. iPad Safari fails at all of these

What if the big debate about the iPad Pro running macOS really just boils down to being able to run the macOS version of Safari? Not for everyone of course. But many people, myself included, do about 90% of my work in a web browser. And the Safari browser on iPad has always behaved more like the Safari browser on iOS versus the version built for Macs. This is hardly a surprise – iPadOS itself came directly from iOS. But count me in the boat that Apple has this backwards.

This points back to the touch vs. trackpad debate because Safari for iPad is clearly built for touch, as it needs to be. But to go back to my general iPad Pro idea, what if when you connect a Magic Keyboard to the iPad Pro, iPadOS recognizes this and gives you the option to load the macOS version of Safari? Sort of like "request desktop version" but without having to explicitly do that for every website. Also, in my experience, that feature rarely works. Or it keeps the same annoying "open this page in..." dickbar at the top. I'm talking about a version of Safari that is the macOS version. And loads everything accordingly.

Obviously, Safari for macOS still has some compatibility issues with various sites versus the more widely-used Chrome browser on desktops. But unless you're in the EU, you still need to use Safari's engines even with a Chrome skin in that app. So let's just start with Safari here, shall we? Back to Tom:

It kills me because there are a bunch of great things about the iPad that are superior to a MacBook. I'd really like to be team fulltime-iPad (particularly when traveling) but there are basic everyday things – not esoteric edge cases – that make it really hard. I keep wondering if there are folks at Apple that try to use the iPad as a daily driver for a week and just make a list of the little things that are broken, or are they instead rendering pencil shadows?

I honestly think this is a fair question. What if folks at Apple were forced to use the iPad Pro as their main machines for a week or more? I'm guessing we'd see a lot of things change, quite quickly. Apple would counter and say, "that's why we have the Mac too!" And, sure. But you can't have it both ways. You can't tout the iPad as a fully functional computer and out of the same mouth say that to do everything you want to do, you need both an iPad and a Mac.

Apple would counter that regular users can use an iPad just fine for "regular" computing, and I agree with this. That's why I'm specifically talking about the iPad Pro. The device which costs upwards of $2,000. And has a $300 keyboard accessory to make it more "like a MacBook".

All of this boils down to iPadOS being a problem for "professional" or "power" or whatever-you-want-to-call-them users. I'm one. Tom is one. Many of us are one. Apple is essentially saying that we're "holding it wrong" but it has been 14 years with the iPad now. They need to rethink the OS for this user base. And they can start by at least letting us run "real" Safari. And then macOS. And go from there.