This week, I tested running my business with the iPad Pro. Just the iPad Pro. This took a metaphorical declawing of my hands off my beloved Macbook, but I am glad I did it. I was surprised to find a lot of advantages it offered over a desktop set-up, and even more surprised to find that it was, well, fun.
The transition from desktop to iPad Pro did not come easily. Like many other people, when the iPad Pro was announced, I didn’t think of it as a serious business tool, until I got one and started playing with it. Now, 8 days into using it as my go-to device for running Pad & Quill, I have come to three conclusions about how it has changed my day to day working behaviors versus being on my laptop...
Overcoming Desktop Mentality
The iPad Pro makes no pretense of "kowtowing" to desktop mentality. It is unabashedly iOS. Now that is not to say it isn’t fierce competition for its desktop counterparts in Windows and MacOS. However, unlike the Windows Surface tablet, it isn’t trying to compete by simply being a clone of standard desktop software in a different package. On one hand, the familiarity of iOS is comforting. You know what you are dealing with. It is as familiar as your iPhone is. On the other hand, the missing hierarchy of a desktop system in your workflow is a big adjustment. How so?
It takes a mental shift to adjust to the total lack of traditional hierarchy in iOS 9. Especially if you come from a Windows background and are new to iOS. You can't organize individual files. So how did I mentally adjust to work through this issue? I realized that every document and image file I need is already available with organization built-in to each respective app for the iPad Pro. Services like Apple's iCloud, Google Docs, and Dropbox give plenty of organization options, albeit not on your local hard drive, but rather they are stored in online servers or 'Cloud' service. This sounds a bit scary as it's hard to get out of the PC-era mindset that all your files should be on your drive under your fingertips. But the past 5 years of cloud computing has shown that it is not only secure but becoming common best practice.
All these files you normally organize on your desktop are now stored in these cloud apps, including word processing apps, spreadsheet apps, and even presentation apps. Because it's Apple, when you try to open certain docs and you don't have the right app, your iPad says, "Hey you want to open that with this app? Download here." Nice. I had this happen with a Sheets program in Google. Problem solved.
How about all the shortcut keystrokes you get used to using on MacOS? Well, unknown to me prior to purchasing my iPad Pro, it also has shortcut keystrokes via the command key, tons of them actually. Switch apps, go home, cut, copy, paste, refresh, change font, etc. It is a learning curve, but a short one.
The one issue I still struggle with a bit is the trackpad. With no trackpad, like on the MacBook, your hand has to regularly leave the keyboard to make things happen, tap on an icon, or press a button. I have to admit this is annoying, but not at all a deal breaker.
The Take Away: You have to learn to operate within the confines of Apps and Cloud storage instead of traditional desktop hierarchy and hard drives, but it is quick and easy to learn, as are shortcut keystrokes.
It Forces Me to Focus
There is no doubt that multi-tasking does not result in very high productivity, accuracy, or quality. Distractions are detrimental to the working process. Human beings need to be singular in focus to be optimal in productivity, as countless studies have shown. We simply work slower and less effectively when trying to do 14 things at once. Well, welcome to my Mac OS desktop. Good grief, I have task lists open, buzzes coming in from Skype, iMessage, and, of course I check Facebook occasionally. This was dramatically changed when I started working on the iPad Pro. iOS 9's multi-screen apps that lets me work on just two apps at a time. I can honestly say I focus better with this limitation in place. I truly get more done using this method. This is by far the biggest take-away I have learned from this experiment, so much so that I will be using the Mac OS Split View from now on.
For example, having Numbers (Apple’s Spreadsheet) open on the left side, and Notes or a Word Processing App open on the right side, let’s me get a lot done. Or looking at Pad & Quill’s webstore on my left, while Skyping my marketing guru on the right side. I can even take phone calls and work on an email at the same time. Here, iOS is imitating its big brother of Mac OS' Continuity, but in its own special and useful way.
The Take Away: Using Split View on my iPad Pro limits distractions and lets me get a lot more done than my always dinging and buzzing Macbook does.
It Is Just Plain Fun
The iPad Pro has this fun feeling to it, like driving a Tesla. Sure, the workhorse desktop could do the job, much like any old car could, but the iPad Pro offers an experience that is satisfying to the senses and just plain fun. When you get an idea in the middle of emails, hit the home button and pick up your Apple Pencil and start sketching. Now when I sketch, I am using that term very loosely, but it helps me get my ideas out into physical space. The iPad Pro is so much more flexible than my smaller iPad. Watching movies, playing stunning iOS games, sketching new product ideas, updating key spreadsheets and reviewing imagery for the site is all just a button and tap away.
The Take Away: The iPad Pro offers a level of user engagement that is really a pleasure to work with.
This is the Future
With 13 inches of gorgeous screen, the Apple pencil, and superb usability, it just feels like the future. With iOS 9 and the iPad Pro, we are beginning to see the first new business class operating system take shape. Is it fully baked? No way, but it is far more promising than I expected just several weeks ago. First impressions tell me that Apple is basically making two competing Software platforms. Obviously, the MacOS will dominate for some time for Apple customers, but iPad Pro seems to be staking out new territory in the business world and I am thrilled to be in at ground level.
The iPad Pro for me has been a delight to use in the past week or so and I know in the months and years ahead I will regularly use it as my daily workhorse. It has even taught me a thing or two about how to improve my working time on my laptop. Don’t get me wrong. I am not selling my Macbook anytime soon, with its file systems and more complex features. With that said, I'm going to enjoy watching what Apple does in future iOS updates, especially with the iPad Pro. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the iPad, as it was the device that inspired me to launch my company six years ago. Now if I could just find my Apple Pencil….