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Device of the decade: Why did it take nine years for the iPad to get its own operating system?

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Apple has streamlined its entire iPad lineup to replace your laptop
ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani tells Karen Roby that the base-model iPad is more capable than ever thanks to a recent update. Read more: https://zd.net/2NdaomS

In January 2010, Steve Jobs famously sat on stage and walked the audience through what seemed like a scene straight out of Harry Potter. As he held a piece of glass in his hands, tapping and swiping through websites, a calendar, digital books, and a music library, the iPad came to be. 

The iPad launched in April 2010 with iPhone OS 3.2 as its operating system. The OS featured new interfaces and methods to interact with apps not found on the iPhone or iPod Touch. That same year, Apple announced iPhone OS would transition to iOS, and that’s what the iPad had used up until this year, when Apple announced the iPad would get its own operating system called iPadOS. 

When it was released, critics panned it as merely a bigger version of the iPhone. Indeed, it ran the same apps as the iPhone, but developers were able to customize the look and feel of their apps to fit a larger display. Apps like Mail could show your inbox on top of an email you were currently looking at, for example. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Another common critique of the iPad, and one that I still hear echoed to this day, is that it’s a consumption-only device — meaning it’s best suited for someone who wants to watch Netflix, manage their inbox or scroll through Facebook (i.e., consume various aspects of the digital world).

Over the past decade, the iPad has shed the “bigger iPhone” label as Apple has expanded the iPad lineup, and it’s added meaningful software features. I’ve never really viewed the iPad as a consumption device, and I’m not entirely sure Apple ever intended for it to be viewed as one. During the original announcement Apple showed off a drawing app, and Apple’s iWork suite of apps — Pages, Keynote and Numbers — were available at launch. 

I’ve been using an iPad as my main writing device since 2012. I relied on third-party Bluetooth keyboards. Heck, I wrote two digital books entirely on the third-generation iPad. There was something about the way that its software forced you to focus on a single task that I feel in love with. I immediately began looking for ways to expand the iPad beyond being my modern-day typewriter and using it more like I would a computer. Years ago, I wanted my iPad to replace my laptop.

The problem was that it took a lot of work to figure out workarounds for tasks like easily combining images, or working with the content management systems that I often run into to publish online. 

Also: iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 6: Can a tablet-laptop hybrid really replace your PC?

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One of my first reviews of a keyboard for the iPad back in 2012. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

I spent a lot of time buying and testing apps, and ultimately, buying and testing more apps until I found a workflow that worked. And when all else failed, I would remotely connect to a computer and finish a given task on a computer, using my iPad. It worked, but I was in the minority of users who were willing to spend time trying to make the iPad work for me. Essentially, I had to force the iPad to be the device I wanted it to be. Still, the potential was there. 

Apple steadily updated iOS, some years adding new features specific to the iPad, other years simply updating iOS as a whole and leaving the iPad as a de facto beneficiary of the improvements. 

It wasn’t until the release of iOS 9 in 2015 that we really saw Apple start to add impactful features with the addition of split view, slide over, and picture-in-picture. The three new features improved multitasking on the iPad and were timed with the release of the first iPad Pro. Apple also debuted the Apple Pencil in 2015, adding another layer of productivity to the tablet. 

The 2015 iPad Pro — combined with iOS 9 and its new iPad-specific features and Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover — began to lay the groundwork for the iPad’s divergence from the iPhone and its ability to replace the computer, but it wasn’t quite there yet. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

In 2016, iOS 10 added split-view for multiple Safari tabs and some other minor updates. In 2017, iOS 11 was one of the biggest updates we’d seen for the iPad. Apple added a Files app for managing files and folders directly on the iPad, the application dock was redesigned, and drag-and-drop was added, making it possible to drag photos or text from one app to another. 

Throughout this time, Apple continued to update iPad hardware, releasing new models at a regular cadence. The iPad’s hardware and software were gaining momentum, boosted by Apple releasing the second-generation iPad Pro in 2017. But, in 2018, even as the iPad’s hardware became more robust and powerful, its software started to fall behind. 

Apple didn’t announce any meaningful iPad updates in iOS 12 despite releasing the third-generation iPad Pro. Safari, Apple’s web browser, wasn’t providing a desktop experience. Instead, it was defaulting to the mobile version of websites, and it severely crippled the overall experience. 

Also: Can you really run the iPad Pro as a full desk setup? This guy did

My review of the 2018 iPad Pro was mostly positive in relation to hardware, but the software was holding it back. 

With the iPad Pro dropping Apple’s Lightning connector in favor of USB-C, and Apple touting the ability to connect the iPad to external monitors and accessories, users naturally began asking for the ability to connect external storage to the iPad in addition to an improved browser and the ability to have multiple windows of the same app open at once. 

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In June, Apple announced iPadOS. The iPad will still share the same core features as iOS and the iPhone, but by giving the iPad its own operating system Apple is signaling the company is ready to begin to make big changes to the iPad. 

The major changes started with iPadOS 13.1, and it included a desktop-class version of Safari, the ability to connect to external storage, vastly improved multitasking — like the ability to have multiple windows of the same app open — and a new home screen that puts more information at your fingertips. 

It’s by far the biggest updated we’ve seen to the iPad, and with a dedicated operating system in iPadOS, Apple is poised to push the iPad forward. 

Also: iPadOS pushes Apple’s tablet closer to mainstream PC replacement

Just what that looks like is uncertain, but a lot of it will have to do with user feedback (a driving force for a lot of the changes we’ve seen up until this point). 

I think, in general, it took a decade for the iPad to be ready to stand on its own because Apple has been trying to figure out the exact path forward for the iPad, and just how far to push it. The messaging from the marketing department didn’t often align with what the iPad was truly capable of. Sure, it could replace a computer for some users, and with the iPad Pro lineup (and the added versatility it provided) that dream came closer to reality. Combine the hardware and the cascading of a dedicated keyboard for even the entry-level iPad, along with iPadOS, and it’s clear that the iPad is more of a laptop now than it has ever been.

I’ve all but quit looking for apps that provide some sort of workaround to common tasks, and I can’t tell you the last time I remotely connected to my computer in order to finish a task. iPadOS is only a few months old, and it’s already had a big impact on my day-to-day workflow. 

What the next 10 years hold for the iPad is anyone’s guess, but with its own operating system, I think it’s safe to say we’re about to see the iPad truly grow as a computing device.

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Twitter announces ‘Super Follow’ subscriptions – TechCrunch

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Twitter reveals its move into paid subscriptions, Australia passes its media bargaining law and Coinbase files its S-1. This is your Daily Crunch for February 25, 2021.

The big story: Twitter announces ‘Super Follow’ subscriptions

Twitter announced its first paid product at an investor event today, showing off screenshots of a feature that will allow users to subscribe to their favorite creators in exchange for things like exclusive content, subscriber-only newsletters and a supporter badge.

The company also announced a feature called Communities, which could compete with Facebook Groups and enable Super Follow networks to interact, plus a Safety Mode for auto-blocking and muting abusive accounts. On top of all that, Twitter said it plans to double revenue by 2023.

Not announced: launch dates for any of these features.

The tech giants

After Facebook’s news flex, Australia passes bargaining code for platforms and publishers — This requires platform giants like Facebook and Google to negotiate to remunerate local news publishers for their content.

New Facebook ad campaign extols the benefits of personalized ads — The sentiments are similar to a campaign that Facebook launched last year in opposition to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Sergey Brin’s airship aims to use world’s biggest mobile hydrogen fuel cell — The Google co-founder’s secretive airship company LTA Research and Exploration is planning to power a huge disaster relief airship with an equally record-breaking hydrogen fuel cell.

Coinbase files to go public in a key listing for the cryptocurrency category — Coinbase’s financials show a company that grew rapidly from 2019 to 2020 while also crossing the threshold into unadjusted profitability.

Boosted by the pandemic, meeting transcription service Otter.ai raises $50M — With convenient timing, Otter.ai added Zoom integration back in April 2020.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

DigitalOcean’s IPO filing shows a two-class cloud market — The company intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DOCN.”

Pilot CEO Waseem Daher tears down his company’s $60M Series C pitch deck — For founders aiming to entice investors, the pitch deck remains the best way to communicate their startup’s progress and potential.

Five takeaways from Coinbase’s S-1 — We dig into Coinbase’s user numbers, its asset mix, its growing subscription incomes, its competitive landscape and who owns what in the company.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Paramount+ will cost $4.99 per month with ads — The new streaming service launches on March 4.

Register for TC Sessions: Justice for a conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion in the startup world — This is just one week away!

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Twitter plans to double revenue by 2023, reach 315M daily users – TechCrunch

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Just ahead of its 2021 virtual investor day on Thursday, Twitter this morning announced its three long-term goals focused on user base and revenue growth, and a faster pace of shipping new features across its platform. The company said it aims to “at least” double its total annual revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion or more in 2023. It also expects to reach at least 315 million mDAUs — that’s Twitter’s self-invented metric for “monetizable” daily active users — by the fourth quarter of 2023.

That would represent a roughly 20% compound annual growth rate from Twitter’s base of 152 million mDAUs reported in the fourth quarter of 2019, the company noted in a new SEC filing.

Active user growth has been difficult for Twitter — the growth tends to be slow or even flat, at times. Per Twitter’s most recent earnings, mDAUs in the fourth quarter 2020 had reached 192 million instead of the 193.5 million expected, for instance. Investors are used to Twitter under-delivering on this metric — or even inventing its own user base metric to hide that its monthly user growth sometimes declines.

In any event, Twitter’s longer-term plans indicate it believes it will finally be able to deliver on user growth — perhaps aided by its investment in new features.

In its filing, Twitter said it would “double development velocity by the end of 2023,” which means doubling the number of features shipped per employee that “directly drive either mDAU or revenue,” it said.

On this front, Twitter has been fairly active in recent months. Late last year, it launched its “stories” feature called Fleets to its global audience. It’s also now testing new features including a Clubhouse rival, Twitter Spaces, and a community-led misinformation debunking effort known as Birdwatch. And it acquired newsletter platform Revue, which is already now integrated on the Twitter website. The company has made smaller acquisitions, as well, to build out product teams, including with social app Squad, stories template maker Chroma Labs, and podcasting app Breaker.

New features may help to attract increased Twitter usage, but revenue growth will also come from diversification beyond advertising. Twitter has spoken several times about its plans to build out a subscription product, which the company said would begin in 2021 but wouldn’t impact Twitter revenue in the near-term. The company has also said it may investigate other areas of monetization, like tipping and various paid consumer-facing features.

Today, Twitter said publicly it plans to reach the $7.5 billion or more target by “growing our audience and gaining advertising market share in both brand and direct response.” But the company did not speak to its plans for subscriptions.

Investors are already responding favorably to Twitter’s announcements this morning. Twitter stock is up by nearly 7% as of the time of writing.

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New Facebook ad campaign extols the benefits of personalized ads – TechCrunch

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Online advertising can be a “pretty dry topic,” as Facebook’s head of brand marketing Andrew Stirk acknowledged, but with a new campaign of its own, the social networking giant is looking to “bring to life how personalized ads level the playing field” for small businesses.

The Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found campaign will include TV, radio and digital advertising. Individual businesses will also be able to promote it using a new Instagram sticker and the #DeserveToBeFound hashtag on Facebook.

The campaign will highlight specific small businesses on Facebook, including bag and luggage company House of Takura, whose founder Annette Njau spoke about the benefits of digital advertising at a press event yesterday.

“What those platforms allow us to do is, they allow us to tell stories,” Njau said. “I can’t tell this story on TV, I can’t tell this story in a huge magazine because it costs money and I don’t know who will see it.”

These sentiments are similar to a campaign that Facebook launched last year in opposition to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature, where apps will have to ask for permission before sharing user data for third-party ad targeting. In response, Facebook claimed that it was “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere,” though the social network also pointed to these changes as one of the “more significant advertising headwinds” that it expects to face this year. (Apple’s Tim Cook, in contrast, has said that these changes provide consumers with the control that they’ve been asking for.)

When asked how this fits into the broader dispute with Apple, Stirk said that while Facebook has been publicly opposed to Apple’s changes, this campaign is part the company’s longer-term support for small business.

“There is a degree of urgency in the fact that … small businesses are hurting right now,” he said.

Head of Facebook Business Products Helen Ma added that this is “very much an extension of the work that we did on the product side at the very start of the COVID period,” which included the launch of the Businesses Nearby section and a #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag.

In addition to launching the campaign today, Facebook is announcing several product changes, including a simplified Ads Manager dashboard, new options for restaurants to provide more information about their dining experiences and more information about personalized ads in Facebook’s Business Resource hub and Instagram’s Professional Dashboard.

The company also said it will continue to waive fees on transactions through Checkouts on Shops through June 2021, and will do the same for fees collected on paid online events until August 2021 at the earliest.

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