Mobile technology is changing everyday, forcing all of us to keep changing with it. That in itself is not a bad thing – it does however become detrimental when we spend more time trying to change, than we do working. Technology brings with it the great promise of enabling us to do more with less time – to be more productive – is this necessarily true?
Merlin Mann says1:
Every time you feel like trying a new todo app, turn off your computer, and complete one task.
Poignant advice to be sure.
My life since April 1st, 2010 has changed dramatically – both technologically and personally , but I am only going to focus on the technologic changes. The beginning of April brought forth the iPad, May brought me from OmniFocus to Things and from using my MacBook Pro monitor as a second monitor to one monitor. June has brought me the iPhone 4. These were seemingly small steps along the way – in aggregate they may just be the most significant steps forward that I have taken in a long while.
Any single step along the way would not have been enough for me to think about (let alone write about) but taken together it is a change that is hard to wrap your head around. The difference between now and March is the difference between the Original iPhone and the iPhone 4 – both are great, but there has been a pronounced change for the better.
The iPad was First
When Apple launched the iPad I was disappointed, I wanted more and didn’t see why I needed it. Pressure from family and friends set in and I purchased one. Today I can’t imagine not having an iPad (funny how technology always works like that), my brother-in-law recently asked if he should get an iPhone 4 or and iPad. My answer: If you already have an iPhone 3G S (assuming no cracked screen) then I would get the iPad over the iPhone 4 – however if you don’t have an iPhone already, then take the iPhone 4 (not 3G S) over the iPad any day.
I still feel that is great advice (I gave it after only having the iPhone 4 for a couple of hours) but I would seriously encourage people to splurge on the iPad as well. Don’t bother with a laptop that you will carry with you anymore – my Macbook Pro is 5.6 pounds and the iPad is 1.5 the amount that I cannot accomplish with the iPad alone does not warrant the extra 4.1 pounds in weight.
Here are some situations I use my iPad in (string together for space saving): meeting notes, iPhone 4 line entertainment / productivity, couch surfing, book reading, news reading, reading, vacation, car trips, watching videos, watching podcasts, weather information, weekend email, cooking recipes, magazine reading, calendaring, task managementing, supplement to watching baseball, watching baseball when the wife doesn’t want me to, reviewing photos from my last shoot, 1024×768 web site testing (kinda a little), RDPing into works Windows servers and using the Windows apps on it instead of my Macbook Pro (via Parallels), sketching, finding a restaurant for the night, entertaining the cats (NobyNobyBoy), and entertaining myself (FlightControl HD).
That is a lot of stuff. All of this can be done easily on a computer, and most of it can easily be done on my iPhone. None of that is the point – the point is that I have chosen, that I find it better, to do all of these activities on the iPad.
The magical part of the iPad for me is not that apps, the form factor – it is the on-demand nature that the device has. You pick it up and press one button and the iPad is on and ready to go. There is no wait, instantaneous gratification is delivered to you. Yes the same is true of the iPhone, but the iPad has the large screen, the type-able keyboard, etc..
Things Came Next
Ah the ever lasting debate between which task management app to use – since its inception I have been a diehard OmniFocus user – sure I spent a few months here and there using trying out the ‘other guys’, but in the end I always came ‘home’ to OmniFocus. This time it is different, this time it is not about power and flexibility it is all about: simplification.
Hours of my life have been wasted customizing and tweaking OmniFocus, changing the font (a dangerous option to give a wannabe designer), the colors, the perspectives. I think that most days I played with the app rather than do the tasks it was storing. I probably even made tasks to do things in the app.
Things offers simplicity in that respect, it is everything I need and gets rid of the distraction of customization. I can do everything I need to do in the app that will help me get things done, without the distraction of the app itself.
There is of course other reasons – the iPad app is a major reason I made the move. But more than that the switch from OmniFocus to Things represents a larger move of mine away from complex ‘best in class’ apps to simple ‘gets your shit done’ apps.2 I switched to Things for the very reason that I switched from Evernote to Notational Velocity: I wanted the app to get out of my way.
Oh Then Came My 4th iPhone
I have resigned myself to the fact that every year I will have to upgrade my iPhone to the newest model. There are many reasons for this, the main reason is that I am very hard on my phones. I use them with no cases, dropped into my pocket with change and money clips. My iPhone 3G S had no less than 4 cracks on the plastic casing and a few specs of dust behind the glass that you could see.
More than anything else though I wanted the iPhone 4 for its expected better battery life (thus far it has been twice as good as my iPhone 3G S’ was) as I have been spoiled by the battery that Apple included with the iPad. I have grown tired of chargers – or more specifically charging.
Three Things – One Transformation
For the first time in my life I truly feel like I am living in the future. It has nothing to do with these device or software choices and everything to do with one concept, a concept that it seems engineers and developers are beginning to get:
The tools we use to get the job done – need to stay out of the users way.
That is the dramatic change that has happened in my life these past months – I finally see the future and am getting a small taste of it.
What the Future Holds
- Battery life becomes irrelevant in the future – at least in so far as having to worry about a battery charge not lasting a normal day of use.
Connectivity is all wireless – what the hell is an ethernet cable?
Syncing is everywhere and seamless.
Typing accuracy is irrelevant – the device will guess what you mean to type.
Remembering multiple passwords is for the paranoid – secure databases will store those for you and log you in when needed.
Carrying heavy bulk (e.g. Laptops) is a thing of the past and completely unnecessary.
Scratches – they don’t happen.
Instant on is on its way out, predictive is in.
Welcome to the future that I have started to realize.