Is iPad Good for Coding?

One of the reasons why the iPad is becoming more and more popular today is that it has become quite powerful to the point that it could already serve as a good laptop alternative to a lot of different people who use it for work. Most people who work using iPads tend to do simple things such as word or spreadsheet processing. However, as powerful as the iPad is, does that mean that you can also use it for coding? Or, better yet, is the iPad actually good for coding?

IPads can be used for coding as long as you have an internet connection. However, the bad part about coding using an iPad is that there are no good native coding apps. You can code when you are using the iPad’s web browser but you need to run the code through the cloud, which is a bit slow.

While it is very much possible to use an iPad for coding as long as you have an internet connection, it really isn’t the best to use whenever you are coding because of how there are so many restrictions and limitations. This is why developers and programmers are yet to embrace the iPad as a full laptop alternative unlike how writers and other regular 9 to 5 workers are able to do most of their work on an iPad similar to how they do so with their laptops.

ipad with keyboard and touch pad

Can you code using an iPad?

The iPad, like most other tablets, has gone through significant evolutions over the years since the introduction of the very first iPad. Back then, the iPad was seen as a gimmick because it was seen as a larger version of the popular iPod Touch and not of the iPhone due to its lack of cellphone capabilities. So, in other words, you probably only needed an iPad if you wanted to read or browse on a screen that is much larger than what your iPhone had.

Much of the iPad’s lack of functionality back then can be attributed to a lot of its weaknesses and limitations such as the lack of a keyboard attachment (which took several years later to be released). That means that you would struggle to type something on your iPad if you wanted to use it for word processing or for your spreadsheets as you would need to type on an on-screen keyboard, which really isn’t the easiest to use if you want to work fast and type accurately. But the weaknesses still did not hurt the iPad as it has always been the world leader in terms of overall tablet sales.

As the years went by, the iPad only improved more and more especially with the introduction of the powerful iPad Pro, which quickly took the world by storm due to its functionality and its hefty price tag. The introduction of the iPad Pro allowed the iPad to have a keyboard attachment that has made it easier for people to write and do regular work stuff on their iPads. Meanwhile, the improvements in the iPad’s processing power have allowed it to become more and more functional for regular everyday tasks.

Once seen as just a bigger iPod Touch, the iPad became the closest thing to a laptop alternative that we can get. However, while regular everyday office workers and writers have found the iPad quite useful for their usual tasks, the one thing that the iPad lagged behind when it comes to how it could be used for work is in programming. In the past, programmers have found it quite difficult to use the iPad for coding for several reasons such as its apparent lack of speed and power and the absence of a keyboard, which is almost a necessity if you want to code fast.

However, the biggest reason why programmers and developers did not use the iPad in the past is that they could not even code using an iPad. That said, as iPads are now more functional and more powerful than ever before, does that mean that you can already write code using an iPad?

For the most part, yes. The iPad has improved so much that it has become possible for programmers and developers to use it for coding. While coding was not possible in the past, the iPad has made a huge leap in this department as you can now write code using your iPad even though this was the part that it lagged behind in terms of its overall functionality.

The fact that you can now write code with your iPad allows it to become one step closer to becoming a full-on laptop alternative. Before, the iPad was only seen as a laptop alternative by those who could actually use it for spreadsheets, browsing, and word processing. But because of how it has improved, the iPad is steadily becoming a device that you could actually use for work even though it might take a long while before it could actually replace laptops.

In that regard, you can now actually code with an iPad when you want to develop programs on the go and during the times that you want to travel light. But, then again, there are still some weaknesses when it comes to coding with an iPad.

three ipads next to each other

What is it like coding with an iPad?

When it comes to coding with an iPad, the first thing you need to know is that you should always be connected to the internet because of how there are no good native coding apps that you can use for your iPad. That means that the best choice that you can do when you are coding with your iPad is to use the online GitHub editor, which will allow you to make simple and small changes to your code.

However, in a way, coding can still be fun on an iPad if you are connected to the internet and if you use any of the options that we will be talking about in a while.

Coding options for iPad

GitPod is actually an impressively good option that you can use for coding in your iPad’s browser. It gives you a full VS code when you are coding using your browser. This means that you will be able to write and edit code really well as long as you are connected to the internet.

Some alternatives that you may like are also available. One such alternative is Codeanywhere, which is also good but is not as good as GitPod, which gives you a better overall experience in terms of how easy and smooth it is to use. GitPod runs in your browser really well and comes with all of the different keyboard shortcuts that every programmer should know when he is typing code.

But the game-changing part about GitPod is that it allows you to open a full-on workspace just by typing “” in front of any GitHub URL. This is a really good feature to have because it takes away the hassle of having to open the Git project on your iPad and then looking for another program that will allow you to edit the project. Instead, tying that can easily allow you to open your workspace automatically without hassle.


Keyboard and mouse attachments are great

For the longest time possible, the iPad lagged behind the laptop when it comes to coding and simple writing tasks due to its lack of a keyboard and mouse attachment. However, now that there are now keyboards and mice that are available for you to use for your iPad, it makes writing and typing so much easier.

The quality of the wireless keyboards that you can get from Apple is remarkable as they come with an amazing feeling for your fingers. However, if you do prefer mechanical keyboards, there are plenty of mechanical keyboards that can wirelessly connect to your iPad. But these keyboards take away the portability of an iPad as they tend to be clunky and difficult to carry around.

Still, regardless of whether you prefer the butterfly keys that the Apple keyboard comes with or the mechanical switches found in mechanical keyboards, the fact that you can use your keyboard and mouse on your iPad makes coding really simple as you can easily write and edit code on your iPad similar to how you would on an actual computer.

Being able to use keyboards that are actually great makes all the difference in the world when you are writing code on an iPad. While there are some third-party keyboard attachments that actually work for iPads, it has only been in recent years that you can use high-quality keyboards such as Apple’s Magic Keyboard and several other wireless mechanical keyboards for your iPad. This has made it easier to type on your iPad while retaining the same experience as typing on a real computer.

ipad with keyboard and touch pad up close

GitHub has improved

In the past, it was a struggle for programmers to use GitHub because of how the local version can be pretty difficult to use for some computers. This has forced most programmers to use the online version of GitHub, which is actually pretty decent as it works well for computers and iPads alike.

So, if you want to get a good experience writing code on your iPad, using the online version of GitHub should be one of the best options for you because you can directly edit files using it. And while it isn’t much, using the online GitHub editor is good for those who want to make small changes in their code because you can easily track it using the Git version history. And something as simple as that can make a huge difference for programmers who want to troubleshoot the problems with their code.

Is the iPad good for coding?

Now that we have explained that you can code on your iPad and now that you have a gist of what it’s like using your iPad to write code, you may be wondering if an iPad is actually good for coding in a more general sense.

While the iPad has indeed made leaps and bounds in terms of what it can do for programmers out there since you are now actually allowed to edit your code, that doesn’t mean that it can serve as a good replacement for your laptop if you want to code on the go. In fact, in the estimation of most programmers, the iPad, no matter how powerful it has become, is not even good for coding.

In terms of what it can do for programmers, the iPad lacked power and functionality in the past as they needed it to have fast enough processing speeds and a keyboard and mouse attachment. However, while Apple may have answered those demands by making the iPad a lot more powerful with the introduction of the iPad Pro and by allowing you to use keyboards and mice, it still lags in terms of the apps that it offers for programmers.

As we have mentioned, there are no good native apps that you can use for coding no matter how hard you go through Apple’s App Store. There are some coding tools that are decent but they still don’t provide you the full-on coding experience that you need to properly develop programs with your iPad.

Man reading on iPad Pro WWDC 19 Xcode 11 and SwiftUI

However, the biggest turn-off is the fact that you should always be connected to the internet when you want to edit code on your iPad well enough because, again, the best tools you can use are available online. This means that you can’t simply write code anywhere without an internet connection. You would have to have a good mobile data signal on your iPad or have a good Wi-Fi connection wherever you may be. This defeats the very purpose of having an iPad that should be portable and convenient when you want to code on the go.

Meanwhile, if you want to run your code using your iPad, you would have to use the cloud to do so. Using the cloud will require you to pay a subscription, which might not be worth the money for programmers. And the reason why it’s not worth it using the cloud to run your code is the fact that it is a lot slower than running your code locally.

Another sad part here is that there is no Xcode for the iPad. That means that you cannot even use your iPad to work on iOS apps. This sounds a bit odd because of how it should have been a no-brainer to include Xcode on an Apple device that can be used to develop iOS apps. But that’s the way Apple has designed the iPad.

All that said and considered, while the iPad has indeed made huge leaps in what it can do for programmers out there considering that its processing speed has improved and that you can use it for writing code using good keyboards and mice, it still has a long way to go before it can actually become a good alternative to the laptop for those who want to write code on the go. So, if you want to use a portable machine for writing code, it still is better to stick with your trusty laptop.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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