The first week or so with the new iPad was filled with the enthusiasm and excitement of a kid with a new toy. Setting it up, playing around with new apps, enjoying their expanded functionality and the iPads extra gesture controls. It was all fun and games for awhile but there was real work to be done and it was time to get down to business and put the iPad through its paces. Did that mean the honeymoon was over… well, not quite because I really did enjoy using the iPad. The primary goal now was to start looking at how this beautifully designed device constructed of glass and aluminum we call a tablet fits into my workflow. The best way to gauge this was to just use it like any other mobile device I’ve purchased in the past and watch where it lands. This way I’m not going out of my way searching for solutions to problems that may or may not exist. After all this is a tablet designed for the average user so why not start there and work my way up.
My original thinking was that the iPad would either bring a totally new dynamic to how I use mobile devices or things would simply stay the same. Roughly two weeks later I realized that the iPad has ushered in a rather fluidic workflow to how I blog compared to how I used a laptop in the past for the same purpose. This caused me to take a good hard look at my laptop. Although it had a larger display, much higher storage capacity, a full-size keyboard, multiple ports, a disc drive, etc. it became immediately clear why it failed in other aspects of daily use despite it’s obvious advantages. For example, a lack of true instant on, inconsistent user experience, poor battery life, and is less portable than this new era of tablets from Apple and those running Google’s Android operating system. So based on that criteria, my initial decision to buy the iPad instead of another laptop, even a cheap one was starting to show glimpses of its’ practicality and usefulness in the real world.
IT’S ALL ABOUT WORKFLOW
Having the iPad for the past 2 months has allowed me to setup an even more mobile office and workflow for my blog than what any laptop could provide. Prior to having the iPad, I was using my iPhone for roughly 95 percent of the work and turning to my laptop later for the remaining 5 percent that couldn’t be handled well on the smaller screen. It was a good setup that worked very well for me. But that was then, now, I’m able to be completely mobile by using the iPad and iPhone or just the iPad alone.
I usually start out on the iPhone using the builtin Notes application to jot down and outline an idea for an article wherever I may be, even at 2:00 in the morning. Later in the day, or once I have a general direction for the piece which is usually after I’m home, I’ll go to the iPad to continue constructing my thoughts. The iPad which syncs with iCloud will already have all my notes entered earlier on the iPhone so, continuing with my train of thought is a breeze. Any pictures I took prior with the iPhone are also automatically pushed to the iPad via Photo Stream so those too are also ready for use. Although, I haven’t found it necessary to do so just yet I can also perform some quick and dirty touch ups with the iPhoto application for iOS should I not be completely satisfied with any of the pictures. This has in affect eliminated roughly 99 percent of my need for the separate camera, memory card and desktop/laptop computer setup for photo editing. Should I require a separate camera I’ll use it in conjunction with the Apple Camera Connection Kit to move the photos to the iPad forgoing the computer altogether. Once I am satisfied with my final draft I’ll then copy it from the Notes application and paste it into the WordPress application on the iPad. From there I’ll add any necessary links, photos and perform a final check before setting it up for publishing. After everything is checked and set I’m done without ever having to touch a laptop or desktop computer.
Looking back, all of this was previously accomplished with the iPhone and a laptop without much of an issue. But this is all about workflow so taking into account things like portability, instant on and battery life, the iPad has shown its’ superiority over a laptop in every one of these categories. For starters, even at the iPad’s size it’s still lighter and more portable than any laptop you can find. I have been able to carry the iPad more comfortably with me just about everywhere without feeling weighed down at any time. It’s instant on ability is the closest experience you’ll have to near zero start time so sudden bursts of creativity won’t get lost from staring at a startup screen. Even under the longest scenario of turning it on, unlocking it, and starting up the Notes application; the iPad is still infinitely faster than a laptop under the same conditions. The only thing faster is simple pen and paper. Last, but not least is the iPad’s battery life which far exceeds that of any laptop I’ve used without even attempting to be power conscious. I’ve gone more than 10 hours of almost continuous use without getting near the low battery warning. This is essential should you be away from external power sources for extended periods of time. My laptop couldn’t pretend to go beyond 4 hours of moderate use before cutting off completely, costing me time and limiting its main function as a mobile productivity tool. Power is something no one should have to regularly worry about in the course of a day when it comes to mobile devices.
Software wise my iPad setup is almost a mirror image of my iPhone because I use them so interchangeably. This gives me the ability to use whichever device works best for the situation at hand. This also has the added benefit of not disrupting my workflow by having to adjust to a another operating system should I have to change devices in the middle of a task. Less thought about the device I’m working from means more thought goes into the task I’m working on. Software like the iWork and iLife Suites, Documents To Go or the built-in Photos application which incorporate services such as Photo Stream, iCloud and Dropbox also contribute to having a better mobile office setup and user experience by keeping both devices in sync with each other. Apple’s two software suites which have become a key part of my daily use have performed more than admirably when used for tasks like creating and editing my resume, creating a video presentation with my daughter for her school project we shot solely with the iPhone or even for the current project I’m working on for work. All of this was also done without a desktop computer playing any major part in production.
The concept of mobility is about making the user mobile while keeping them productive more so than just the device itself and the iPad does that in spades. That said, the iPad is not a complete laptop replacement right now but it moves ever closer as we move further way from things like physical media which is just the direction Apple is headed. What I’ve been able to accomplish in the past 2 months could not have been done as effortless and as seamlessly with any other device on any other platform in the same manner. In the end it’s been a blissful 2 months using the iPad. I have no regrets whatsoever purchasing the new iPad and considering that I’m more than satisfied with it and how it has worked for me, I seriously doubt my position will change. Using my particular usage case as barometer, I can confidently say I’ve got all the functionality, usability and reliability I’ve required of a laptop to run my blog and more but in an extremely convenient package that will get me through a full 8-hour work day on a single charge. When you add in the two complete sets of desktop software suites specifically designed for iOS; the iPad also currently stands as the only tablet in its’ category that offers a complete native mobile office solution that could serve the vast majority of people and businesses alike. The iPad is a fantastic device that will only get better as the device becomes more power, and the OS and software become more sophisticated allowing for more intricate tasks to be performed. So, if your looking for a well-designed tablet with a complete mobile office solution, and a solid offering of software titles that can serve in a school, business or even just casual use setting, the iPad is well worth looking into.