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May 2, 2018

Using an iPad Pro as a laptop replacement

For the last 6 months or so I found myself developing a new, interesting habit. Whenever I sat on the couch watching a movie, a football match, a tennis match or anything passive enough, I’d want the iPad next to me, as the device to do things on. Until then, the devices I prefered were a 2012 MacBook or my iPhone 7+.

The thing is I felt the iPhone wasn’t big enough when I was writing emails or messages and the MacBook didn’t have a touch screen, which made it more cumbersome to use.

So I found myself using the iPad Pro 9.7 I’ve had for about 2 years. It used to be my girlfriend’s device of choice to use with the Apple pen to do lettering and illustrations, but since she now uses an iPad Pro 12.9 – 2nd gen, the 9.7 was there for me to use.

Another thing I noticed is that while the 2012 MacBook is great to take with you while traveling – and I did travel a lot in the last 3-4 months – I wasn’t happy with what it offered me. I wanted more performance for the common enough tasks and more battery life. So I switched, for a while, just to experiment, to the iPad. After attaching a Smart keybord, I didn’t open the MacBook since.

I have to tell you that I also own a 2015 MacBook Pro which is my main working machine. I hate the “butterfly” keyboard on the newer MacBook Pros, so I won’t switch anytime soon.

Finally, about 2 weeks ago I took the plunge in making this iPad Pro my main computer. I will not quit on the MB Pro, I still use it often enough for some things, like video calls or podcast recording, but I discover more and more ways to not use it. I also can’t use my bank’s website on my iPad because it has JavaScript. Scratch that, I just found out they released a tablet app. What do you know.

Here’s what I use the iPad for, at the moment:

  • surfing the web. Most of it it’s from the iPad now. I rarely open Chrome on my MacBook, unless I need a specific extension of the browser.
  • reading and replying to emails
  • using FB messenger and Slack (I don’t use Whatsapp almost at all, so that’s only used on my phone)
  • reading Kindle/iBook books. I still prefer a Kindle Oasis most of the times, but I find myself reading from the iPad more often now.
  • writing long form text (I write what started as a longer article on how to keep investors and potential investors updated and it morphed into a longer potential PDF). I use Scrivener and Ulysses – this is the app I’m using right now to write this.
  • games (simple ones, I have a Nintendo Switch and a PS4 for more heavy duty gaming)
  • browsing Reddit, YouTube;
  • listening to music (Spotify) and podcasts (Overcast)
  • booking hotels and planes;
  • watching Netflix (most of the times in a PIP window, while I do something else)

If I think about it, I do most of the things that I normally would on my laptop. There are still some things I prefer my laptop for, but almost 80% of my day is iPad and iPhone based right now.

It’s true, my speed and efficiency aren’t at the laptop level yet. As an example, I still find using files on iPad frustrating (even with the use of Documents by Readdle, a really good files app the compensates a lot of things lacking from the iPad Files app). I’m looking to use Workflow to automate some tasks, but it’s still early to give you any kind of real examples. I tried adding a specific meal in My Fitness Pal and failed because MFP doesn’t allow Workflow use.

All and all, I’ve found the experience interesting enough to keep me doing it. I’ll keep you updated as new things come to light.

Conclusion

Using the iPad is becoming easier for me, even for work related tasks. The learning curve is there and I think iOS is still far from being a true computer, but for 80-90% of my tasks, it’s more than good. I don’t expect it to complete remove my need for a laptop, but I find myself looking more towards a media server (and, hence, a Mac Mini), rather than a full blown MacBook Pro.

And now I’ve published my first post on the blog using just the iPad. Nice.

Resources

Some more articles to read about iPad as a laptop, articles I’ve found and read in the last 2 weeks:

Matt Gemmell’s iPad series

MacStories – A Computer for Everything One Year of iPad Pro

How to Blog on an iPad

The Overspill: Life on an iPad

Photos: my “office” while I’m in Greece and my first screen of the iPad.

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