iPad as a Production vs Consumption Device

A few years ago, I bought a first generation iPad Pro 9.7 and Apple Pencil primarily as a work device. I was drawing a lot more as part of my work, both as a way to help myself make sense of things and to communicate ideas to others more effectively.

The iPad has been amazing for this. I find myself using it more and more as my primary work device — a few times out of necessity, but often by choice.

I also use it as passive consumption device as well — reading articles, watching movies, etc. One thing I’ve noticed is that using my iPad to create — whether it’s sketching, writing, or annotating something I’m reading — uses far more battery (I’d guess 3-4 times as much) than using it to consume.

Even though it’s a minor inconvenience (the iPad has excellent battery life either way), I find this delightful. When I’ve been sketching or writing for a few hours, and I see that I’ve used up 40 percent of my battery life, I get a little endorphin jolt — a tiny reward for making, not just consuming.

Using my iPad Pro as my Primary Computing Device: Day 1

On Saturday, I sent my MacBook Pro in to get its keyboard repaired. Because my Hackintosh died late last year and I decided to keep things simple, I will be without a computer for two weeks for the first time in my professional life.

Boo hoo, right?

Ten or even five years ago, this would have been a big problem, but in this age of advanced mobile devices, it should be okay, at least in theory. I have a first-generation iPad Pro 9.7 with keyboard and Pencil, and I enjoy it very much. I use it a lot for sketching (via Paper) and writing (via Bear and Ulysses). Because my iPad does not let me multitask as easily as on my laptop, I’m able to focus more, which is great for reflecting and writing. Everything syncs to the cloud instantaneously, meaning I can access this data on my laptop immediately.

The iPad has limitations that make it difficult for me to replace my laptop entirely. For example, G Suite does not play that well with the iPad. I can’t ALT-TAB between different documents, the mobile versions of the app have limited functionality, and I haven’t figured out how to easily use the desktop versions of the app via Chrome.

It’s all good… until you no longer have access to your laptop. I timed my repair (which will take 1-2 weeks) to when I figured it would be least inconvenient, and I’m making a go of using my iPad as my primary computing device in the meantime. Here’s what I’m learning so far:

  • My bag is much lighter!
  • Writing blog posts via the WordPress app works quite well!
  • I can’t easily print from my iPad to my 2011 Brother printer. Exploring options now.
  • I’m not sure how well conferencing via Zoom will work. At minimum, I usually take notes while I’m on Zoom, and I often use its more advanced features, such as screen-sharing and breakout groups. I’m not planning on doing the latter on any upcoming calls, but it’s a good opportunity just to see if any of this is possible.

We’ll see how this all goes.