It is now a couple of weeks that I have been using my new iPad Air as my main computer – and I have to say I am loving it. This has come as something of a surprise to me. I have been a hard core Mac user for many years and have got a lot of pleasure from building up workflows, macros, keyboard shortcuts etc and frankly played my Mac like a musical instrument. I also didn’t get along with the first iPad. I tried but just couldn’t live with what I saw as its limitations, and to be fair it was MUCH slower, didn’t do multitasking, and didn’t have the amazing app ecology that now exists. So I have come along way and now find myself thinking of my MacBook Air as, to quote Steve Jobs, a truck.
I thought others might find it useful to learn what sort of apps and addons I am using, what I love about the experience, and the one or two things that I still need access to a “real” machine for.
I tried using the iPad with the onscreen keyboard, and didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would but as I am a reasonably fast touch typist I wanted a real keyboard. I started off with the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard that we already owned along with an Origami Workstation stand. This combination worked OK but I found the stand a nuisance to carry in addition to the iPad and wanted a keyboard that incorporated dedicated iPad keys. I settled on the Zagg Keys Folio which has a great keyboard, backlit keys, iPad keys, makes a great case, and didn’t add too much to the overall case. Am I mad carrying around a “pretend” laptop as I used to see them and should I have got a 11″ MacBook Air? Maybe – but it would have been about twice the price!
I have to say that Apple do, finally, seem to be getting things together with iCloud. Things just sync, docs get backed up, settings appear as if by magic and I am missing a folder structure less than I thought. To be fair this is partly thanks to Dropbox but I am using even that for less than I thought.
Too many wonderful apps to mention but to single a couple out.
I am writing this on Editorial, a wonderful text editor that handles Markdown, snippets, and even scripting using Python. I am really enjoying the interface and, with the great keyboard, find myself being drawn to write. If I was writing anything longer than articles or blog posts I would miss Scrivener more than I am but the promised arrival of Scrivener for iPad next year was part of what made me make the leap.
The other app that I am loving using is the blogging app from Squarespace. I can write in Editorial, copy the markdown into the blogging app, and send the blog post to Twitter or Facebook all with less clicks than it used to take on my Mac.
I am enjoying the touch interface more than I expected – and in fact point at my Mac’s screen on the odd occasion when I revert to using that. I love the portability and the lightness of the iPad, even with the case. The only things I still need to do on the Mac are use some budgeting apps and podcasting (though even that I will do on the iPad when I get the right connection). It may just be the novelty that is making things feel so good at the moment but long may the feeling continue!