This write-up summarises my feelings about the iPad quite well. I love the iPads I’ve owned over the years; at times they’ve been my primary computing device. My mum is still running my “iPad 2”, and my partner has my first generation iPad Mini — both run well enough for most things they want to do (although the Mini is going to need replaced this year). The iPad form-factor – to me – is the natural expression of Personal Computing for Most People.
The software has never quite clicked though, as you say, and it’s always the reason I end up retreating to having another class of device around. The more Apple tries to bring it closer to a “real” computer, the more it breaks down. A lot of the interactions in iPadOS 13 are so unintuitive I regularly forget they are there, or how to initiate them. I’d happlily pay a small charge for Slide Over to be removed completely. I’ve lost count of how often I’ve accidentally triggered it and found myself unable to dismiss the hovering app now getting in my way. During the public beta period I wrote multiple pieces of feedback that drag-and-drop actions triggered far too easily, making tap-and-hold actions needlessly difficult to execute on some interfaces. If anything, it feels like this has got worse as iPadOS 13 has matured.
I wish I had a good answer for where the software should go in the future, to fulfill the iPad’s potential. Even more, I wish Apple did too.