The iPad is Apple's surprising blind spot in its iOS/OS X vision

As Apple connects more devices and apps, in some cases it leaves the iPad at a disadvantage

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Yes, there are plenty of third-party apps I can (and do) use for those that Apple doesn't make available for the iPad. But why must I? If the native Apple apps were on all Apple devices, they could sync with each other, so the cities I monitor in Weather in my iPhone, for example, would be automatically monitored on my iPad (and Mac), exactly as my bookmarks and photos are synced for me.

At least part of Apple knows you don't need a device in hand to want it to access the data you are collecting and have collected. In fact, such eventual synchronization and multidevice access is the major thrust in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

Apple is using ad hoc networks via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to let iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Macs share information and work together automatically even when there's no network. That's the Handoff technology it has previewed publicly. And it's using iCloud and other cloud services to keep devices in sync even when they're nowhere near each other -- it's how the mail filters on my home and work Macs stay in sync even though they're kept miles apart, and how my bookmarks stay in sync across Safari on all my devices.

Thanks to the cloud and ad hoc networks Apple is relying on in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you're connected to devices you don't have with you, and devices not on the Internet can connect to those that are or sync later when they are connected. So why not have all the apps on all the Apple devices?

Case in point: Why can't I check in to a flight on an iPad?
As an example of how Apple's iPad app disconnect makes no sense, take Passbook, its ticket wallet app. If you are using your iPad and get an email notification that it's time to check in for your flight, you'll check in from your iPad. But when you do, there's no Passbook app on the iPad, so you can't send the digital ticket to Passbook so that it's available when you get to the airport on your iPhone. No, you have to check in from your iPhone instead to get that ticket placed in Passbook. That means unnecessarily switching devices.

I should be able to check in to my flight from my iPad (or Mac) if I happen to be using it and have the ticket sent to Passbook via iCloud or an ad hoc network connection so that it's available to my iPhone. Apple has iCloud do that for Safari bookmarks, contacts, calendar entries, iWork documents, and other cloud-delivered data. It's using ad hoc networks in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite to go even further, such as for AirDrop file sharing and Handoff's "pick up where you left off on a new device" feature.

So why not do syncing or handoff for Passbook, too. After all, Apple already lets me send an itinerary on my Mac from its Maps app to the Maps app on the iPhone or iPad in iOS 7.

In iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple seems to be adding more of the same senseless disconnect, this time for its new technology like HealthKit.

In the HealthKit context, it makes sense for an iPhone to be a physical monitor, both directly (that's why Apple created the M8 motion coprocessor) and through peripherals (why it's made low-energy Bluetooth part and parcel of its devices for years).

But it doesn't make sense to restrict the access to that data to the iPhone. An iPad can interact with the same Bluetooth peripherals that an iPhone can, so it too can be a hub for sensors. Even when the iPhone itself is the sensor, it can send that data through iCloud or via direct Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections to the iPad. After all, one of the big advances in iOS 8 is the use of direct Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections to let devices interact directly, without going through an existing network.

In Apple's connected world, let's leave no devices behind
Apple's path to devices interacting with each other directly via ad hoc networks and indirectly via the cloud makes a ton of sense. That's why so much of what Apple will release this fall via iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite is so compelling. It's too bad Apple doesn't seem to apply that vision to the iPad as broadly as it is doing to the iPhone and even Mac.

We're three or four months away from the releases of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, so Apple could still rectify these aberrations in its Continuity and Handoff strategy for the iPad. Let's hope it does.

This article, "The iPad is Apple's surprising blind spot in its iOS/OS X vision," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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