Brett Spiegel

Director, Business Strategy

Research and Perspective

Going Pro

I ditched my laptop and used an iPad Pro exclusively for one week.

iPad Pro

My days are typically split between meetings, management, writing and design. After doing some legwork to setup my apps and documents, I didn’t skip a beat when it came to most of my non-design tasks. But when time called for pushing pixels, the iPad Pro just doesn’t match the ease of a desktop.

Here’s how the week went.

Setup for Success

Planning was critical for a successful experiment. The Dropbox app makes it easy to access all my documents, but it does me no good if my files are sitting on my laptop’s desktop. A quick double check to correct some bad backup habits, and everything I could potentially need was available on the cloud.

Next, I did a quick scrub of all the apps I touch in a my typical work modes (meet, manage, write, design). Luckily, just about all of my apps are available on iOS. Below is a screenshot of my perfectly composed homescreen.

My Homescreen

Some Speed Bumps

It wasn’t too bad, but did have a few hiccups along the way.

All the Fonts

Armed with a Smart Keyboard and Pencil, and with my documents online and apps download, I was ready to dominate with the iPad Pro. My first speed bump came about 30 minutes in when I discovered a font we use in our standard presentation template (Gotham Narrow) was not available in the Keynote app. But I would not be deterred. A quick internet search and I found my solution with AnyFont. Via the Dropbox app I was able to grab all the fonts I needed and then install them with AnyFont. I launched Keynote again and opened the presentation, now error free. Score one for determination.

Google Docs on iPad Pro

I immediately became addicted to multitasking. The iPad Pro’s 12.9” retina display is perfect to run two applications at once. Unfortunately, I use Google’s Docs and Sheets at work, and Google has not yet updated their iPad apps to maximize the iPad Pro’s screen and take advantage of multitask. This was a huge blow. Do I forgo multitasking and force myself into a single, blown-up application when I needed to work on a writing assignment? Or, find another solution and ditch Google?

Pages to the rescue. It was a pain-in-the-arse transfering files over from Google Docs to Pages (two minutes of my life I’ll never get back). But once everything was there, I was free to write-and-chat to my heart’s content.

Being Passive While Attentive

I love a good badged app icon. It tells you something needs your attention, but you’re free to ignore or investigate it on your own time. As opposed to push notifications, which while they serve their purpose for specific use cases, are a nightmare if you have them turned on for every communication app (i.e. Mail, Messages, Slack, Hangouts and Twitter). Using an iPad Pro, with it’s clean edge-to-edge application canvass, meant I wasn’t able to passively glance down at my icon dock twice a minute to see if there was a message I should be ignoring.

The solution hit me on Day 2, when I noticed that when in the multitasking menu, app badges continue to update. Gamechanger. The perfect setup for me was a 3/4 split between my focused app of choice, and the multitasking menu. I could see badges as they came in while still working away. I’m dubbing it MultiGlance. Feel free to use that, Apple.


Cheaters Never Win

Full disclosure: I cheated.

I didn’t make it a full week. An emergency presentation need popped up, and I was weak. I turned back to what was easy and used the full Keynote on my laptop to get it done. I could have probably produced a decent presentation on Keynote for iPad, but it would have been a lot harder and that sucks. (Not to mention there are some pretty critical alignment and shape manipulation tools that are completely missing from the iPad version of the app. Keynote Team, I’m glaring at you.)

All in All

The iPad Pro as a primary business computer is very solid, depending on the type of work you do. The good thing about using a single application (or two) is that it forces you to focus. Getting distracted is a lot harder when you have to exit out of one app and search for the other. And the rubbery Smart Keyboard does get comfortable after a while; it almost feels like you’re using a regular old computer!

I could see myself ditching the laptop and Going Pro when I travel for business, as those days are either filled with client meetings or at conferences.

…and by “ditch”, I mean keep the laptop back in my hotel room, hidden away like the safety blanket stuffed into the bottom of your duffle bag at sleep-away camp.

This article originally appeared on Medium