Seeing the iPad as a productive tool from different perspectives

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By 2021, many people have been seeking new study and work devices due to the quarantine. From desktop to mobile, iPad as a productivity tool has a special place. As a product aimed to bridge the gap between desktop and mobile, iPad is a standout in the list of productivity devices with its excellent user experience, complete application ecosystem, and excellent hardware configuration. The Apple even made the slogan ‘Your next computer is not a computer’ for it. But is this really the case? Is iPad really as powerful as advertised? Can iPad to solve the previous efficiency problems? I purchased an iPad Pro 11 2018 in the Spring of 2019 to better integrate into the Apple ecosystem with the MacBook Pro 13. iPad Pro 11 After combining the in-depth experience of using MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iPad Pro, I summarized the essential differences between iPad and desktop devices.

The window mode determines the essential difference between iPad and desktop device task management

With the launch of iPad OS 13 and 14, the multitasking management of iPad OS has become more and more perfect. Both the multi-window and the side-swipe to call out applications represent the iPad’s imitation of multitasking on the desktop and improvement based on its own touch screen. iPad Window However, due to the position of iPad itself, the window management is still an applicationbased interaction mode. In contrast, the interaction mode of the desktop - file management modes and the freedom of the window - leads to logic differences of iPad users’. To iPad users, the task they are currently working on is based on the two applications themselves, whereas the same type of task is based on the task itself to Mac users.

In my personal workflow, it is quite tedious to constantly switch between different software if I use iPad to complete complex workflows, so iPad is limited to simple, linear tasks, such as taking notes in class, coding, picture viewing, gaming, etc. Once it comes to situations that require more than two multi-party applications to perform, such as searching for data and papers, programming (even using Pythonista is already available on the iPad), scheduling management, taking notes that require references, etc. The simple task management system of the iPad is clearly diminished, and the tedious application switching is simply not enough to cope with the short thinking span. Many times I want to complete a task, because the operation response is so slow that it gradually piles up a bunch of tasks in the mind. So when dealing with high levels of complexity, I prefer to give up the touch screen experience and the high refresh rate of 120 fps and switch to Mac mini.

In short, in my workflow

Examples of usage scenarios for iPad

  • Lightroom
  • MarginNote + (GoodNotes)
  • Reeder
  • GoodNotes/Notability
  • Procreate

Examples of usage scenarios for Mac

  • Pages/Word + EndNote + Safari
  • iTerm + VS Code + Finder
  • Ulysses + Safari + RemNote
  • Photos + Lightroom + Finder
  • Email + Calendar + Reminder + Notes
  • Teams + OneDrive + PowerPoint
  • Anki + Preview + PowerPoint + Teams + Numbers

As you can see, at least in the six types of my personal work, the usage scenario for Mac is based on multiple applications, so pressing 㵰Command + Tab many times per minute is required. In the mindset of using a Mac, I call this horizontal productivity. The opposite tone of iPad productivity is what I call vertical productivity because of its linear software-based mindset. This term originated from other.

If touch screen becomes the primary interaction, what the smart keyboard will change

For people who don’t know iPad productivity well, iPad is probably just a toy that can’t act as a productivity tool, and the fundamental reason is based on the nature of the touch screen. Without the Smart Keyboard, I used the Apple Pencil alone to further study iPad’s productivity potential. However, Smart Keyboard solves iPad’s shortcomings: word processing ability and the ability to switch tasks quickly.

This article is not a review of the Smart Keyboard, but it seems to me that what it changes is the nature of how users interact with it. As mentioned above, iPad as a device lacks the freedom of file management mode and windows, resulting in logic differences between users and desktop users.

The birth of Smart Keyboard means that Apple has filled the middle of two very different terminals on the desktop and mobile side, but has not fully realized the interaction method on the desktop side, so the example of Mac’s use scenario as mentioned above is still unattainable at the moment. The estimated time or trend of development in the future is not necessarily very close or present. However, there is one thing to say, together with Smart Keyboard, the unique iPad OS software ecosystem still gives users a different software experience.

What are the collaboration and interaction between iPad and other Apple devices in terms of productivity in a good ecosystem

For a student like me, iPad is more about learning than managing than Mac. Using software such as MarginNote, GoodNotes, Notability, I prefer to operate on iPad first and then sync to Mac via iCloud so that I can hand over with Anki, Ulysses, Pages, RemNote, etc. As a “big version of iPhone”, the reading experience of iPad is definitely better, and the experience can be improved by synchronizing the items to be read through Reeder, Calendar/reminder, etc. through Continuity relays to iPad. These basic operations will not be elaborated here.。

感谢阅读!作者 @Cheng Ji

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