An iPad Pro as a productivity device

George Stefanis
George Stefanis
An iPad Pro as a productivity device

This isn’t the first time I am doing this experiment. This is in fact my third iPad. I bought the first one sometime when the iPad 2 came out. I did see the potential then. A portable device ready to be with you at any point. It was obvious to me since then that it can fill an important gap. It sounds excellent for writing, taking notes, reading books and consuming content. The device back then did not meet my expectations.

The apps weren’t there. The hardware wasn’t there. The screen was low res, the styluses I tried were primitive and didn’t perform well. Consuming content was awkward. It was excellent for reading books though. But the kindle was better. I kept the kindle and sold the iPad 2. Fast forward in 2017 and I did try my lack again with the base iPad model that was available then. At that point all I wanted was to read technical books from Safari books. Nothing more. I bought the base version and it was great. It still is.

Fast forward to today. I did switch to a Linux PC. A desktop. I love the massive screen, the ability to play games and do all sorts of things. In fact I missed it after using MacBooks for years. My work laptops are always MacBooks and when I am using one I feel like I’m working. I don’t manage to disengage properly. Plus Linux is amazing for developing. What I am trying to say is that my personal 15 inch MacBook Pro is collecting dust. I will donate it to my mother. She will put it into good use.

That leaves me with a need for something portable. Something that I can take with me, along with my work laptop, and write, read, consume. Additionally I need to be taking notes. The advent of the Apple Pencil suddenly made the iPad an excellent candidate for this. And like that I am finding myself with an 11 inch iPad Pro, the fancy one with the M1 processor.

Choosing the 11 inch vs the bigger one wasn’t an easy choice. I can see the benefit of a bigger screen but it comes in the expense of portability. Staying in bed, watching movies on a massive slate of glass and aluminium isn’t easy. But while I write this on iA writer I wish I had a bigger screen. Alas.

The Apple Pencil along with GoodNotes is amazing. The app takes full advantage of the pencil and the hardware is instant in recognising what you write. I will be using this for taking notes while working. I like to keep notes during 1-to-1s, code reviews and meetings. I did download procreate, it’s only fair. I do scribble the odd thing sometimes. I won’t claim I’m an artist or remotely talented but the app is exceptional and the Apple Pencil spectacular. I can see why artists love the iPad.

When it comes to the keyboard I did buy the cheaper keyboard and I did regret it instantly. The keys aren’t great and I do miss the trackpad. Still, it’s amazing! I can comfortably type this. It makes the iPad much more that it used to be back in 2011. It is now a proper productivity machine. One that can collect my ideas and help me with my writing.

What’s next? I will be getting the more expensive keyboard and I will return this. Then I need to figure out how to do wireframes on the iPad. Sounds amazing for basic ideation and design. Finally I need to figure out if I can code on this machine. I’m aware of VNC and various utilities but I need to figure out if they work for me. The thing is though, I don’t want the iPad as a developing machine. It’s my writing/productivity machine and because of that I don’t intent to dive deep into iPad developing apps.

That said, this post was uploaded from my iPad, using the app Working Copy and it couldn’t have been more simple. I even have the iA Writer and Working Copy open next to each other, using multitasking and it works fantastic. I won’t be doing side projects like that though.