Despite the title I chose for this article, this is not one of those articles that pits one device against the other. I use both, and probably will as long as both exist. But I am excited about the iPad with iOS 11 in ways that I am not excited about the Mac regardless of the OS.

There are many ways that the Mac outpaces the iPad. We all know what they are. But there are many ways the iPad outpaces the Mac. Those advantages are not as obvious, many of which are new with the early betas of iOS 11. Here are a few:

Slide Over

There has always been something a little special about Slide Over. That is an iPad feature introduced in iOS 9. It was a good idea with a questionable implementation. The idea is that you can have an app in standby that can be quickly accessed in a small window on the side of the screen via a gesture.

IOS 11 finally revisits the entire multi-window interface introduced in iOS 9. And they have nearly perfected it. This good idea is paired with a great implementation. And there is nothing quite like it on the Mac.

This feature works in conjunction with Split View. That is the feature that allows you to pin two apps side by side on the screen that are persistent. In Split View, both apps shrink so that they both fit. The Slide Over app is a floating overlay temporarily resting atop the other apps.

While Split View is possible on the Mac, it is not implemented with nearly so much polish. Together, these features represent a clear advantage for the iPad. It is surprising how useful these features are when implemented well.

Big print everywhere

I have to offer this feature with a major caveat: it may not actually make it into the final release. This type of thing has been implemented in the betas before, only to be stripped out in later releases.

The feature I am referring to is large print everywhere. More precisely, the interface honors your choice of font size in more places than ever before. You may not realize you have any control over the font size. But you do.

Go into Settings, General, Accessibility, Large Text. Make sure the toggle is set to ON. Then set the slider at the bottom to the font size you prefer. All of this has been present in iOS for some time.

What has happened in the past is that you would get those large fonts in some places such as the text in Messages. But you would not get them in the App Store. There are some problems when setting fonts too large. And Apple has always stepped in to counter your preferences when it would break too many things.

As a result, Lock Screen text was always small. The same is true for a lot of the text throughout the interface. But in iOS 11 beta 1, that situation is dramatically improved. The font size you select is honored through the system.

The reason I am cautiously optimistic that the feature will stick around this time is that there is a new accommodation in Control Center specifically for quick text size adjustment.

So if your giant text size does cause a collision, you can quickly adjust it to accommodate the situation. Again, the Mac has nothing quite like this ability to manipulate text size on the fly.

Control Center

The closest thing the Mac has to Control Center are those little Menu Bar widgets at the top right of the screen. But I have never really liked that widget area. The icons are small. And they are not always visible when you need them. Depending on the app you happen to be in, some of those widgets will not be available due to space considerations.

Control Center in iOS had the potential to be much better from the start. But it was also constrained by implementation details. iOS 11 fixes nearly all of the complaints about Control Center. It is more streamline, yet makes way for a lot more options than before.

The new Control Center is more useful than any Mac counterpart of which I am aware. And that is without even touching upon the new windows management feature for the iPad. Long story short: it is Mission Control with Spaces brought to the iPad. And it’s awesome!

Screen capture

Not everyone is going to care much about the new screen capture features in iOS 11. That is because very few people other than bloggers care about it on the Mac. It has always been somewhat cumbersome on the Mac, and not a lot of fun. It is just a task that you sometimes have to do.

It has been possible to take screenshots on the iPad for a long time. But it was still always a bit cumbersome. IOS 11 streamlines that process and adds markup and screen recording. Now, if you are writing a how to article, it just got a lot easier. The screen captures in this article would not have existed were it not for iOS 11 on the iPad.

So is the iPad running iOS 11 now better than a Mac? It could be, depending on the types of things you do. But one thing is certain: It is a much harder decision today than it was before iOS 11 beta.

David Johnson