‘The Missing Workflow’

In his recent Monday Note Jean-Louis Gassée laments about the things that are far too cumbersome to do on an iPad:

Once I start writing, I want to look through the research material I’ve compiled. On a Mac, I simply open an Evernote window, side-by-side with my Pages document: select, drag, drop. I take some partial screenshots, annotate graphs (such as the iPad Pro prices above), convert images to the .png format used to put the Monday Note on the Web…
On the iPad, these tasks are complicated and cumbersome.

As I always say, I wish I did more writing on my iPad, but the fact is that Gassée’s problem seems to be one of an unwillingness to dive into the App Store more than a problem that is a true limitation of the iPad. As best as I can tell here are Gassée’s problems/issues:

  1. No easy way to save pages to Evernote
  2. He can’t view research material side by side with his writing app.
  3. Adding a link is difficult.
  4. He cannot take partial screenshots.
  5. He knows of no way to add annotations to a screenshot. (Really?!?)

The points that Gassée is making are all valid — it is more difficult to do all of these tasks on the iPad, but not nearly as difficult as Gassée makes them out to be.

As for item 1, well just install the Evernote bookmarklet and you should be all set — not sure what the issue is here. Yes, bookmarklet’s are hard to install in iOS, but you can install it on your Mac and sync it over.

Spend just a few moments browsing the App Store and you might come across Writing Kit. In one app Gassée can take care of items 2 and 3 — well mostly 2. Still that’s just one app. Enter any number of captioning and photo editing apps that take no longer than 5 seconds to find browsing the store and you take care of 4 and 5.

If the argument is simply more cumbersome and not impossible, then yes at times it is more cumbersome on the iPad — but my text editor of choice on the Mac doesn’t have a link button living above the top row of keys like most iOS editors do on the software keyboard.

Because Gassée can actually do what he thinks he can’t do on the iPad, the question becomes: is the iPad truly more cumbersome to use?

Some things are harder to do on the iPad, while others are easier — that I think we can all agree on. What I find interesting is that tasks often are at the same level of “cumbersome”. The reason the iPad can seem more cumbersome is that there is an ideological shift required by your brain when you move from OS X to iOS. If you can accept this ideological shift between the two then you can begin to realize that things aren’t necessarily harder, they are just different.

Ask a computer user, that grew up only using the iPad, five years from now which is more cumbersome, Mac or iPad, and I think the iPad will be handily winning that competition.

Gassée, though, is arguing that a Pro model is needed for business use, but I don’t think a Pro model is needed as much as a shift in the way IT departments work is needed. Instead of saying that all files live in this non-iPad accessible thing: the more user friendly shift is not to make the iPad more complex, but instead to make the systems less complex.

Because if you ask me the better solution is always the solution that keeps things simple for users.

Originally posted for members on: February 4, 2013
Follow along on RSS, App.net, or Twitter.
~I would appreciate it if you considered becoming a member.~