The iPad remains the most interesting product on the market, as it perfectly encapsulates so many of my childhood dreams. It is the Star Trek PADD, and did I ever love that device. In theory the iPad is all that most people need, but in practice we know that is far from the truth. My love for the hardware combined with the opportunity I see for the software, keeps drawing me in.
I read Federico Viticci’s ode to the iPad, on my iPad, while pacing around the room for a bit of exercise and I found myself smiling as I read the words of someone who so clearly loves the iPad as much as I do. My am I jealous of him that I have yet to make the jump fully to the iPad — ditching my MacBook Pro — but he has.
I wrote the other day about computing setups and looking at the aesthetics of something and comparing that to the ergonomics and in those posts I talked about staggering screen sizes, and perhaps an iMac being the best solution. I was further reminded of this after reading Anand Sharma’s post on ‘Designing while Traveling’:
As I traveled around the world, it was always by my side. Since it was so small and accessible, I had very little downtime. Since I didn’t always need an internet connection, I could work from almost anywhere.
In the above he is talking about an 11” MacBook Air, but it might as well be an iPad — the premise is the same: small is nice.
So what does all of this have to do with a bigger iPad, a lot actually, you see I always have felt that if the 10” iPad is built to mimic a standard sheet of paper, that I would love a larger iPad built to mimic an A3/Tabloid sheet of paper. The larger size would be killer.
I’ve since refined that view and think that, for me, an iPad in the realm of 12-15” would completely obviate my need for a laptop all together.
Yes, there would be times when I needed a proper Mac, but I am guessing that would be no more frequent than 3-6 times in a year and I can deal with that.
The reason I think this is because working on the iPad is better in almost every way than working on my Mac, except that the screen is a little small for it to be my only device. To be a truly comfrotable only-device it really needs to be a bit larger. Fifteen inches might be a bit much, but a 13” iPad would be perfect if I had to guess.
There are two reasons why I think an larger iPad would be far better:
- The onscreen keyboard would be vastly improved. With a sizing that could perfectly replicate that of a MacBook’s and with extra head room to see more of the typed text above the keyboard the experience of using the onscreen keyboard would be vastly better. Not to mention apps that site an extra row of modifier keys along the top would be easier to accommodate without being reduced to seeing just a few lines of typed text.
- The screen would be shareable if needed. At 10” you just can’t quite share the screen easily, but at 13” it’s “big” enough that you can share it. Two people reviewing something on an iPad, or watching a video together on one, just looks silly. But a couple of people sharing a larger screen at the 13″ level would look just fine. Not to mention it would actually improve functionality, not just appearance.
I’m guessing there is a good many of you out there that think I am nuts. Either because “why would anyone want a bigger iPad”, or because “why would anyone want to work only from an iPad”.
I can answer both of those questions with the same answer: my only goal is to work from the best device for me. That’s why I went with an iPhone 6 plus even though the smaller phone is far easier to handle. It’s also why I want an iPad to be my only ‘computer’: it’s easier and better for me to work from.
I can tell you the iPad is better all day long, but that’s meaningless without putting it in more context.
First let’s start with the most often quoted benefit: less distractions. I hate to lead with this, but I need to get it out of the way. Yes, this is also a true statement, if a bit overplayed. The forced, full-screen, nature of iPad apps enforces a strong ‘focus’ on the task at hand. For instance, I can’t glance easily at Slack to see what is being said and get sucked into that distraction. If I am writing an email, I am writing an email. Likewise, to note a downside, if I am fucking around on the web, I am fucking around on the web. So yes, more focus, but that is universal, not just on the productive operations. In general, I’ve found the increased focus a net benefit.
I may get slaughtered for saying this, but iOS has better notifications than Mac OS X. Yes, both operate on similar principles and are architected to try and be very similar, but iOS executes it better. I am getting notification from the apps themselves for Twitter, so clicking them doesn’t take me to the web. Additionally, it is much easier to deny apps the ability to send me notifications on iOS since they prompt when I install the app, making notification management a lot easier. On OS X everything tends to get the ability to send me notifications, and I have to go dig around System Preferences to turn them off instead of getting to choose right when I install the app.
If that last point doesn’t have you thinking I am crazy, this will: iOS has better apps. No, I am not about to espouse some “they are simpler” bullshit — they usually aren’t, they are just better designed. Here’s a few apps that I either can’t find a competitive replacement for on OS X, or that I can only find a good replacement for by using multiple apps:
- Editorial: I could replace it with two apps (TextMate and Keyboard Maestro), but there’s no direct replacement. And, make no mistake, Editorial is one hell of an app.
- Unread: I was initially laughing at Unread when it came out because the marketing for it is ridiculous. But all be damned if it isn’t the best way to read and manage RSS on any platform.
- iBooks: It even exists for the Mac, but it’s a shitty Mac app and a passable iPhone app. On the iPad though, it’s awesome.
- Messages: Too small on the iPhone to really take it beyond the text message paradigm, and just too terrible on the Mac. Perfect on the iPad.
- Mail: Yes, the default email app. There have been many times when I have borked Dispatch, Mail.app on the Mac, or AirMail — but Mail on the iPad just keeps working. It’s simple, fast, and efficient.
- Day One: fantastic on all devices, but come on, it’s downright perfect on the iPad. It feels more personal, while retaining all the design and features of the iPhone and Mac.
- Photos.app: I haven’t tested the Mac app yet, but Photos on iPad does a lot of things I can’t easily do on the Mac. Think about how easy it is to add effects, whether from iOS or Flare, or even crop photos. You just don’t get that ease and speed on the Mac. It’s interactive, simple, and gorgeous.
I’ll stop there, but I could easily keep going for a while yet.
There’s also the fact that iOS is faster, and I don’t even have the iPad Air 2. Yes, RAM is finite, but the device is just snappier than OS X (even with a clean Yosemite install). It’s more stable1 and everything just feels quick. The device manages its speed for me better than my Mac and it does a great job at doing that to boot. It’s not actually as fast as a Mac, but it certainly feels faster most of the time.
My iPad is always online. You just can’t get that with your Mac, no matter what options are out there. Often my iPad has a faster connection than my Mac too which certainly helps to keep me happy. With the work I do, often just having internet connectivity is more important than what device I am using.
Better battery life: though I will caveat this that the MacBook Airs can exceed the iPad’s battery life. However, those devices can’t do that while on LTE — if they could that would be a hell of a device — so I think there is still a net positive here. Even still I am a heavy iPad user and I never worry about bringing a charger with me, I just charge my iPad every other day. I would suspect that would switch to daily if it became my main device.
The iPad is more portable than any Mac could be — even the 11″ Air. I can hold my iPad with one hand and read an article while walking around with no worries the device might be dropped. You might try and fool yourself into thinking that you can do that with your MacBook Air, but hahahaha, come on. The iPad is flexible enough to be used on the desk, or in the hand. MacBooks can only be used on a surface.
There’s less tweaking and fiddling on iOS, because you simply can’t tweak and fiddle with much. For some that drives them to Android, but for me it’s the best thing that could happen, as I am prone to lots of fiddling if given the chance.
All of that and more, is why the iPad works for me, and why I long for a bigger screened iPad.
There are tradeoffs and problems of course Zip files, PSDs, and other application specific files can be hard to deal with. If an app doesn’t have an extension you will be driven nuts. And the keyboard offerings (as I’ve talked about before) are lackluster at the moment.
Before iOS 8 there was simply no way I could say that iOS on the iPad would be a better work tool for me. Post iOS 8, and now looking at 2015 apps it seems apparent to me that the only reason iOS isn’t my full time OS is because of my own fear. I think a larger iPad would push me over that threshold of fear and into excitement, but there really should be no reason my current iPad Air wouldn’t suffice.
Still, I am holding back on this…
Probably not for long.