The iPad's value can be hard to quantify, but don't let that stop you

My Tablet Has Stickers — Learning By Shipping — Medium – Steven Sinofsky

Some things to note here:

  • This is written by Microsoft’s former president of the Windows Division, who has now gone tablet only
  • It’s an iPad Pro (and 9.7-inch, at that)
  • If you’re interested in mobile computing, the challenges of working from iPad, or simply how this industry approaches (and far too often, resists) change, you really should read that piece

I’ve been on board the iPad train with Federico Viticci and others for a while now. With his excellent piece, Sinkofsky articulates many of the points I’ve tried to make in posts and discussions over the years.

iOS fundamentally resets many aspects of computing, some of which might not be immediately apparent, or they might feel foreign because of our current muscle memory and habits. But as I’ve given myself time to try them, to understand them, to watch Apple improve on them, to build muscle memory for them in the same way I did for the mouse, keyboard, and then trackpad, I’ve come to understand and prefer a growing number of them over the old ways of doing their equivalent on a Mac.

Even tasks like file management have slowly become more flexible and enjoyable (believe it or not) in some cases. My iPad Air 2 was steadily growing into my main computer, but iOS 9 and my 12-inch iPad Pro accelerated that process. Between gaining a full-size keyboard on screen, iOS 9, Split View, and the Apple Pencil that is really growing on me for various types of work and play, I’ve grown to enjoy using my iPad far more than my Mac.

It’s significantly more portable than my Mac (yes, even over my 12-inch retina MacBook), which means I can toss it in my day bag and have it with me far more often, ready to write, read, draw, and everything else I do at a moment’s notice.

The value of making this change, and spending the time to learn and do it right, can be tough to quantify though. Setting aside some of the tasks that are not yet well adapted for the iPad (such as writing apps, managing massive spreadsheets, complex art), the things that do work well on it aren’t always valuable in and of themselves.

For example, I could easily have written this article on my Mac. But it’s the total iOS workflow that makes me reach for iOS most times these days. First, I read the article with my iPhone while on the train where using a Mac rarely makes much sense. I tossed a couple ideas into an inbox draft with Ulysses for iOS. Once I got to a coffee shop for the day, I switched to my iPad because it has more and better tools available than my Mac, like Blink for grabbing affiliate links and Clips for organizing multiple snippets for articles. I also often rely on my iPad’s 4G connection because most public wifi is, in my opinion, either untrustworthy or unreliable. This way I’m not limited to where I can do, well, anything; it’s a perk that has grown quite valuable to me personally and professionally.

I have Blogo, WordPress, and Weebly for managing my sites, the iOS keyboard makes many text actions faster or easier (especially in Markdown-aware apps like Ulysses), and Split View compounds the usefulness of all these apps when used side-by-side. I can quickly attach a keyboard for hardware familiarity or just as quickly detach and read, play games, and draw. The device instantly wakes up and never needs to be shut down.

It’s the sum of these and other factors that makes the iPad greater than its parts. Sinofsky’s right—change is rarely easy. But there’s an irony to how this industry fights against it far too often (and he makes this point by citing a great bunch of examples from tech’s history). If there are mature tools built for the tasks you care about (and there’s a good chance there are), combining those with the iPad’s inherent and sometimes overlooked advantages can open some empowering doors for you.