I’ve been using the iPad as my only computer for the past three months and thought I’d give a quick update on how that’s going.
Why iPad Only?
You may wonder why I chose to do this. After all, I have a recent Mac that I love and am very comfortable using. But, I’m at the point where I want to focus on what I’m doing and not the things I’m using to do it.
The iPad is a much simpler device to operate than a Mac, and certainly a PC. By operate I mean that it’s not only simpler to use, but simpler to maintain and manage. There is just much less fiddling with it to get things done. There are no device drivers to worry about, installing an app can’t mess up the rest of the system, there are no viruses to deal with, the system updates are automatic and stable, and so on.
I’ve had an iPad since the first model and I’ve always loved the simplicity and focus of the device. It essentially becomes what you want it to be: a book, a game, your email, a spreadsheet, etc. As it’s gotten more capable, with more great apps, I’ve found myself using it more and more and using my Mac less.
When I decided to stop doing app development and focus on writing, I thought about what tools I needed and realized that outside of development work, I was using my iPad for almost everything else. I didn’t want to use different devices for different tasks, and I certainly wasn’t going to give up the iPad, so I decided to try to use it for everything.
Getting Used to Different
As I said, I’ve been using the iPad since the beginning, so am quite comfortable with it. When I got that first iPad, I used it for web browsing and reading. I added other things over time, such as email, calendar, and such, but I still used my Mac for several things, like spreadsheets, writing, finances, and photo editing.
When I switched to only using the iPad and started doing those things that I used to do on a Mac, it felt strange. It felt slow and cumbersome. It was different. For example, I download financial transactions from several web sites regularly and add them to a spreadsheet to keep track of my spending. On the Mac, I had this down to a science. I had the muscle memory of using the mouse and menus, having a few windows open, and switching between them. I knew right where to go to do it all. It felt easy and right. At first, doing the same thing on the iPad was very awkward, and I felt as if I was working in slow motion.
I read an article on MacStories called Thinking Different: Keys to Adopting an iPad-First Workflow and something the author wrote really spoke to me:
“Part of embracing change on the iPad is resolving to stick with the iPad through its learning curve.”
“If you abandon the iPad every time a task seems difficult, you’ll simply continue encountering those same frustrations over and over again.”
That makes complete sense, of course, but it was good to have it reinforced by reading someone else’s advice. Obviously I needed to stick with it. I needed to develop new muscle memory for the things I commonly do. People often forget how strange a computer mouse felt when they’d never used one before. This is the same type of thing. It takes time to become familiar and normal.
This feeling of normal really hit home the other day when I was doing my transaction downloads. It felt fast, smooth, and simple. I knew right where to tap, drag, and how do the task at hand. After I was finished, I thought about how awkward it had felt just a few short weeks ago. Sticking with the different way of doing things allowed me to become used to it and develop new muscle memory.
How It’s Going?
I now do everything (well, there’s one exception I discuss below) on my iPad. At first I wondered if I could really use it for everything, but I’ve seen first-hand, that for what I need, the iPad works really, really well. I’m quite pleased with this approach. The iPad has become the best computer I’ve ever used, and by far my favorite.
While it did take some time to get comfortable using the iPad for things I’d typically do on my Mac, it’s been worth it. I now feel just as productive on the iPad, and for some things even more so. The simplicity of the iPad, the portability, the battery life, and the rich set of apps makes doing everything I need a joy.
I’m not suggesting that the iPad is perfect. It’s not. But then, neither is the Mac (or a PC). I’m also not suggesting that the iPad can replace a Mac or PC for everyone — I’m sure it can’t. For me, though, it’s become the best way to do what I need to do.
Back To The Mac
One thing I did use my Mac for recently was preparing my taxes. I started them on my iPad and that was going well, but I then realized I’d have to pay twice if I wanted to help my son with his taxes, too. So I purchased TurboTax for my Mac, which allows up to five tax returns to be filed for one price.
The thing I noticed was that the Mac actually felt a bit slow and awkward. Not nearly as much as when I started using the iPad for everything, but the feeling was there. Using the trackpad instead of just touching the screen to place the cursor felt slow, switching between windows and sizing them, and so on felt like a burden. With all these windows open and mouse movements, and menu bar, and dock, there was a lot to take in.
Now, I’m a geek and love technology. I love doing app development and digging into the guts of how things work. But, and this is a big but for me, I don’t really care about all that any more. Where in the past all those windows, menus, gadgets, drivers, system management, etc. were fun and exciting, these days I want my computing device to just work and allow me to focus on the task at hand.
The iPad Life
Will I ever switch back to the Mac, or something else? As with anything, it’s hard to give a definitive “no.” But, right now, I don’t see that happening. I am so happy with the iPad that I have no reason to change. The more I use it, the more I love it.
What do you think? Is the iPad right for you? If you have any questions about how I use the iPad, let me know.