The following is a guest post by my good friend and former co-founder, Jon Wheatley.
Two weeks ago I got rid of my laptop and bought an iPad Pro. My goal was to use it exclusively until I just couldn’t take it anymore. Here’s how it’s going.
What I Do
I’m head of product at Need/Want. Most of my day is usually spent using email + slack, but I do use some light production tools to help communicate different ideas and concepts.
I’m using a White 128 gb iPad Pro with LTE. Using the official Apple keyboard and an Apple Pencil. Total cost: $1,490.85. Which for context is around the same price as a moderately upgraded MacBook.
These are the workflows that have been working for me
Anything + Slack
I’m so glad this app was updated and ready to go. Most of my day is spent in slack in one form or another. Being able to have it open in a little secondary window was probably one of the biggest reasons I thought I’d actually be able to use an iPad Pro over my macbook in the first place.
Email with Evernote in the sidebar
I like to be able to look at the email I’m replying to. There’s often parts of the email you’re replying to that you need to reference and without a way of looking at what you’re writing and looking at what you’re replying to it can get very fiddly.
This also has the added bonus of having nearly all of my emails backed up in Evernote which makes searching for things in the future very handy!
Evernote for taking meeting notes
This one will work on any iPad but it’s very handy being able to use a full size keyboard to transcribe notes. There’s also a pretty sweet voice recorder feature that I’ll let run during the meeting for the rare time I need to go back and listen to something again.
Pinterest + Procreate
I love using Pinterest in the ideation stage of product development. Being able to search for something then see a never ending list of high quality pictures of different versions of that thing is a HUGELY valuable tool. Being able to scroll through Pinterest on one side of the screen while sketching out ideas on the other side of the screen is awesome.
Safari + 1Password
This one makes entering in passwords/addresses/credit card numbers a breeze. You can have 1password open in a little pane off the right and freely search/copy/paste between apps. I wish there was a way of doing deeper integration in iOS so apps like this could work even better but this is a nice workaround for the time being.
For prototyping and ideation this app is perfect. It lets you create great looking mockups at the same speed (or perhaps even quicker) than you would be able to on a laptop.
There are some advantages to using an iPad over a laptop.
Focus. This is a big one. Without all the distractions of a regular laptop I found myself doing much more focused work. It was no longer as easy for me to have 10 different windows open. Twitter updating in the corner of my screen, slack consistently scrolling by, email open in a window always visible. The limitations of the iPad Pro force you to do a lot more focused work.
Casual Browsing + Reading
Folding over the keyboard and relaxing on the sofa with iPad in hand is really where the iPad comes into its own. With it’s very large, super crisp screen, casual browsing and reading has been a joy to do. I find myself reading a lot more too which I’m very happy about!
For some tasks the Apple Pencil is vastly superior than using a mouse or a track pad. Being able to sketch things out quickly in Procreate and easily share them is really nice. If I ever went back to a traditional laptop I would definitely miss this.
Built in LTE
Knowing that I can pull out this thing wherever I am and not have to worry about connecting to wifi is a real time saver. It makes me much more likely to take this thing with me to meetings and keep it in my bag.
…but there are definitely some limitations.
There were a few occasions when I really felt like my hands were tied on this thing and I just wanted my macbook back. It didn’t happen very often but when it did it was very frustrating.
Anything that involved a lot of copying and pasting.
This has always been an issue on iOS in my opinion. The actual copying and pasting isn’t so bad with a keyboard but the awkward tapping to select the text area you want to copy is very fiddly on iOS.
Being in any position where the 30 degree screen tilt is wrong
This happens. A lot. Unless I’m sat at a table or have no interest in using the keyboard (not often) then this has been an issue for me. Using the keyboard lying down or on your lap, with the 1 angle you’re forced to use, is very annoying at times.
I do have a hacky work around I like to call the JAM. To increase the angle you can just jam different things behind the iPad and the keyboard rest that’s supporting it. Usually the Apple Pencil or an iPhone does the trick.
The keyboard case is not intuitive at all to fold out. It’s still a little puzzle every time I pull it out.
Lots of apps haven’t been updated yet
There’s a few that are CRYING out for an update. Like the YouTube app. Right now there’s no way of doing the cool picture in picture thing unless you copy the link and paste it in a little tool like this to trick it into playing in Safari. Then, it works. But it takes a LOT of tapping around to make it work.
There’s also a lot of apps that need to update their assets and/or add multitasking support. Once more apps update the general day to day use of an iPad Pro will get much better.
Every so often, some seemingly simple task is impossible
Example: I’m writing this post in Mediums (really solid) iPad app. For some reason there’s no way of copying big blocks of text without copying each paragraph one by one. This makes reformatting posts, like I’m trying to do right now with this post, almost impossible. Something that definitely wouldn’t be an issue on a laptop. ANNOYING.
So, is it possible to work exclusively on an iPad Pro? The answer is a resounding… kind of. Depending on what you want to use it for. It has about as many advantages as disadvantages. What works for me might not work for you but so far it IS working for me. Just about!