Shawn Blanc’s iPad Life

Please welcome Shawn Blanc, perhaps best known for his exquisite writing on, he was kind enough to take some time to share his iPad Life with me.

Tell me a little about yourself, what do you do, where do you live?

I am a full-time missionary at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I serve as the Director of Marketing and head up our website, design, branding, and most other communication efforts.

Because of my affinity of fine software and great design I write a tech- and design-centric website at Also, I drive a 20th Anniversary Edition Volkswagen GTI (#3455 of 4000), and I love to snowboard.

What was your reaction when the iPad was launched?

When Steve Jobs first announced the iPad in February it was pretty much what I expected. Watching him show it off, it just seemed like a big iPod touch. Not that I was unimpressed, just that it instantly seemed familiar.

But then the reviews started rolling out just a few days before it went on sale — I especially remember reading David Pogue’s, Andy Ihnatko’s, and Stephen Fry’s articles. Based on these guys’ reactions, it was obvious that the iPad wasn’t just a giant iPod touch and that the next few weeks and months were going to be very exciting for early adopters.

By then it was two days before the release, and so it was too late to pre-order one and get it in time for launch day. I had no choice but to arrive early at the Apple store and wait in line.

Which model did you order and why?

I bought the 16GB, Wi-Fi model (the 3G models weren’t available on day one), along with the Apple case and a bluetooth keyboard.

Based on how and where I use my laptop I knew I’d be fine with the version that offered Wi-Fi only. And based on how many apps and music I keep on my iPhone I knew 16GB of storage would be more than enough for me. And I was right.

Though it would be nice to have a 3G model so I could still have connectivity at times when Wi-Fi is not available, those times are few and far between. In fact, usually those times are when there is Wi-Fi but it’s slow.

How are you using the iPad on a daily basis?

My iPad is used for all sorts of things: reading, writing, taking notes, jotting down to-do items, sketching out Website ideas for my team, setting meetings, checking email, and more.

Can you give me a quick run down of the apps that you use the most?

I do a lot of reading in Instapaper, Reeder, and iBooks (Instapaper on the iPad is perhaps the best way to read the Internet). I also buy and read Wired every month.

Even with the plethora of writing apps which have come out, I still write all my notes in Simplenote, and do a lot of long-form writing here as well (using the bluetooth keyboard). Though I have bought and fiddled with Writer and PlainText and a few others, I am still sticking with Simplenote as my main writing/syncing app of choice.

For sketching, I use Penultimate; it’s fun and clever (though Adobe Ideas is also a good sketching app and happens to be free).

In the past few months OmniFocus has grown into a vital iPad app. Not only is OmniFocus a fantastic task-management app (on iPhone, iPad, and the Mac) but the iPad version is by far the strongest version of the three-app suite from OmniGroup, and I use it for my weekly project reviews.

Which app is your favorite?

Based on time spent in the app: Simplenote.

Based on most-frequently launched: Twitterrific.

Based on personal affection: Instapaper.

Do you have any bag/stand/case recommendations for people?

I use Apple’s iPad case. It gets a lot of flack, but I like it. It is not the coolest case ever (the sharp edges are annoying), but it is thin and highly functional.

If I need to prop my iPad up while its not in its case, I use an inexpensive book stand that I picked up on Amazon a few years back.

What features do you want to see in a future iPad?

My future feature requests are just the usual suspects: retina display, an even longer battery life, and a lighter casing that makes it easier to hold in one hand.

Also, I’d love some sort of Apple-led, Dropbox killing, cloud service that allowed all my iPad, iPhone, and Mac apps to work much better together. Right now, each developer has to build their own syncing solution and though Dropbox is significantly helping make that possible, it’s not the ideal situation.

Thanks again to Shawn for taking the time to give us a little insight into his iPad life. Be sure to follow him on Twitter he is @shawnblanc.

More iPad Life

To see more people’s iPad Lives take a look here.

Originally posted for members on: November 1, 2010
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