How the iPad Pro changed my computing needs

Apple’s iPad Pro is the perfect tool for my work as a freelance journalist. It’s light, powerful, has a battery that lasts all day and a good keyboard.

To my surprise I’ve found my writing is more productive on the Pro than on a Mac. That has a lot to do with the physical hardware. It is also down to iOS 9 which forces distraction-free mode on users.

Nothing pops up to distract me while working. I’m rarely tempted to switch screens unless it is necessary. Trust me, this enforced focus writing is just what I need.

I get paid by the word and can write more words per day on the iPad Pro. It’s that simple.

iPad Pro great for writing

Today’s iOS writing tools are excellent. There is plenty of choice. At one point I had seven different apps installed I can use to manipulate words and sentences.

At first sight Apple’s iPad Pro keyboard doesn’t look promising. In practice I can touch type on it all day. I’ve no idea if my iPad Pro typing speed matches my MacBook typing speed. What I do know is the iPad Pro writing set-up is productive.

My only niggle is that sometimes I must lift my hands from the keyboard and touch the screen or the Touch ID button. This doesn’t interfere with productivity, but it doesn’t feel like a natural action. Not yet[1].

The iPad Pro has earned its place in my technology armoury. The machine I’m writing this post on is a review model from Apple. When the review period is up I’m going to buy my own iPad Pro and a keyboard and an Apple pencil.

What does it replace?

There is one problem. I’ve not decided what it will displace.

Although I can do all my work on the iPad Pro, it can’t do all the other things I need to do. While iCloud works well (so does OneDrive) the iPad Pro is not ideal for making local file copies. Physical back-up may be an anachronistic security blanket in your eyes, I’ve come to depend on it. I learned the hard way about backing up and don’t plan to stop.

Last month I had to install new firmware on my home wireless router. That meant downloading a zip file, decompressing it then installing it on the router. There’s no way I know of to do this using the iPad Pro[2].

I’ve invested a small fortune in OS X and Windows apps. In truth, there are few desktop business apps that I find essential. I use Acorn to manipulate graphics files but there are good iPad apps for this task.

The iPad Pro handles most web design work. Downloading and editing HTML, CSS or PHP files is tricky compared with the Mac. I can’t see how I can run local development versions of websites on the iPad. Maybe there are tools, I haven’t found them yet.

Missing in action

Where the iPad Pro misses most is with leisure software. That’s strange given its consumer origins. Here I’m talking about specialist apps. I use sophisticated music composition software on my Mac, it doesn’t run on iOS. Having said that, I have found some great alternative iOS music software.

Games are another matter. I’m not much of a gamer, but on wet weekends and home alone evenings I might want to unwind. Although there are iOS versions of some of the games I play, they are not a patch on the OS X versions.

The iPad Pro is the best thing for watching streaming video content. Premier League Pass is wonderful on the Retina screen. Movies are wonderful and the display is big enough for two to snuggle up and watch together.

Can’t drop the Mac yet

Despite this, I’m still going to need a Mac of some description for some time. The question is which model?

Until I used the iPad Pro, Apple’s 2015 MacBook was at the top of my shopping list. It’s small and light and has a great screen. That sounds just like the iPad Pro, except I now know I work better with a Pro.

My MacBook Air is two years old. The battery doesn’t last quite as long as it did when it was new, the power cable wore away and needed kludging. I was planning to look for a replacement about now.

Thanks to the iPad Pro I can relegate the MacBook to a secondary role and extend its life. Maybe when it gets more tired I can replace it with a Retina iMac. Or maybe another MacBook Air.


  1. I’ve noticed with the iPad Pro and all the touch screen PCs or Hybrids I’ve used that excessive touch screen use gives me a little upper arm pain. I’ll let you know if this becomes a problem.  ↩
  2. If you do, please tell me.  ↩

5 thoughts on “How the iPad Pro changed my computing needs

  1. You are right that an iPad changes everything. I used to own a MacBook Pro when it died, I switched to the iMac Retina 5k. With the iPad, I didn’t need the same portability. When the Surface Pro 3 got out, I bought it at work. I didn’t like it at all, the most useful thing I did with it was use it as a stand for my iPad when watching movies. I use my iPad all the time, it’s the most useful device I ever owned. Now that the iPad Pro is out, I can’t wait to get my hands on one. The only thing I’m not sure about is the keyboard. The switch between a keyboard and a screen is not natural, that’s one of the things I never got used to with the Surface.

    Like

    • In terms of backing things up, have you looked at something like your own personal cloud? I know that doesn’t allow you to backup firmware or anything like that. I have been an extensive iPad user for years. In fact, I haven’t consistently used my MacBook Pro for some time. Now that I have the iPad Pro, I feel much more productive in all that I do. Unfortunately, Apple still requires you to have an iMac or MacBook for securely backing up your iPad, and there are some limitations with the iPad Pro; however, I have found many workarounds for issues that I have run into with productivity. Not the most ideal way of handling it, but there it is. Great article!

      Like

    • I’m lucky because I write about technology for a living which means I’m on the Apple (and other companies’) review list. Companies who sell hardware to businesses sometimes have loan equipment for this kind of testing, I doubt any retailer will let you have a device for a few days on test.

      Like

  2. I loved hearing your experience and I am looking forward to getting my own iPad pro one of these days. To solve the file download issue you may want to consider using remote control to remote into you MacBook or other computer that can handle that. The only thing I don’t like about the iPad is no mouse. How does the pencil make up for it?

    Like

Comments are closed.