Out of Office

It was as innevitable as the changing of the seasons or that one off of the X Factor getting the Christmas number one (don't you just miss Rage Against The Machine?); at some point I knew I'd have to do some actual work-work on my iPad. 

Thus far, the trusty Air 2 has done a darn fine job of replacing the day-to-day tasks of my personal MacBook - email, web browsing, games, etc, the other things, blah blah - but when I kicked this little experiment off I never, for a moment, thought that the iPad could replace my work computer (I mean, it still can't, so don't get too excited). BUT a couple of weeks back I did have to bring the office home with me and, sticking to my guns, I made a point of doing those tasks on the iPad.

Truth be told, there was nothing particularly complicated or laborious about the task I had to complete - it wasn't like I was working with a complex database, for example -  but it did require some pretty detailed formatting of Word documents, quite extensive writing and I needed to get it done quickly.

Pages to the rescue. Honestly, if Apple didn't shove Pages in as standard software on iOS, I probably wouldn't have bought it; at the outset of this blog I may have considered Microsoft Office for iPad (and I still might, but that pesky subscription and mandatory use of OneDrive are right offputting) as an alternative. 

Still, I had what I had and made the best of it - and you know what? It was simple. As easy as opening a document from an email, making the edits, and emailing back. Pretty standard workflow by my reckoning. 

I shan't bore you with the details of using pages (just go try it yourself if you're an iPad user), instead I'll get to my point:

This was the most significant task I've had to complete on the iPad to date, and I had anticipated that it'd be a painful, clunky experience that would drive me insane and end up with me flinging my tablet out of the window, but it wasn't - it was easy. Really easy. 

If I can handle more involved word processing challenges on the iPad then there's another nail in my Mac's coffin. 

iPad 2 - MacBook 1


You know what sucks? Getting ill on the days you booked off work to use up the last of your holiday. You know what else sucks? Being asked for rent money from your house mate for the fifth time whilst cluthcing your temples to stave off the impending headache.

But you know what sucks the most? The largest suckiest thing of all? Being so ill that you're compelled to pull out your laptop, even though you've vowed to go 'tablet only' in a personal experiment and to prove a point to some people on Twitter, just to navigate 72 layers of security to access your personal banking so that you can pay the aforementioned housemate for no better reason than you're on the cusp of a full blown migraine and all you want to do is go to bed all the while knowing that this banking could be done on your iPad but you just don't have the patience or the physical resilence to remember each of your passwords and you know keychain will make this so much more bareable. 

I'm sure you've been there. 

iPad 1 - Mac 1

Changing the mindset is certainly one challenge in switching your primary computer from your laptop to your tablet. But this episode shows that two others are history and experience. I've done all my banking, historically, on my MacBook, and I'm used to navigating the online banking UI with it too (touch friendly interfaces would also have made the iPad a more appealing prospect when it came to doing this banking - but that's a topic totally worthy of it's own post, the lucky sod). So why would I, at a time when staring at a screen is quite literally the most repugnant thing I could think of doing, even contemplate elongating the experience by using something that I'm just not used too? I wouldn't.

I mean, I'd be lying if I said that the Mac has been in the cupboard for the last fortnight, aside from this one brief balls-up, while I prove my point - it hasn't. It has, however, been used almost exclusively for iPlayer and 4OD. All browsing, creating (not that there's a great deal), other online banking (when I was in less pain), and that sort of stuff has very much remained in the capable hands of my iPad. As far as I'm concerned I'm winning my own bet.   

For all intents and purposes, my Mac has become a glorified TV but I do think I need better discipline in not turning to it in times when I just need to do something easily; whether I'm rushed or just not in the mood and I know that it will be easier on the Mac because I'm used to it and I've done it all thousands of times before. Really, If I'm serious that my tablet is my computer, I need to find away to lock the laptop down to prevent myself from grabbing it in these instances but without ruining its TV props. I'll let you know how that goes.  

In the larger shceme of things, I am starting to find limitations with the iPad. Nothing major, but the sort of thing that wouldn't even be cause for concern with a traditional laptop. For example, without a Mac the only way I can get music onto my phone is with the iTunes store - not ideal if I have a small library of CDs that I've ripped over the years that need transferring.

What about battery life? Tablets are meant to be portable, and hot dang the iPad is. And 10 hours is nothing to shake a stick at, but you know what I can't do with it? Stick in a USB and charge my phone while I work. Ok, this point is petty, and there are some other gigantic fish to try, but its something that I did very habitually with my iPhone 5 and my Mac and now I live in fear that my iPhone battery will be dead by early afternoon.  

And how about file storage and management? I don't even know where to start. The way that iOS apps are sandboxed makes this a complete nightmare, unless you want to use DropBox. But then what about storing financial documents? Do you want them on the cloud?   

These are but just a few of the questions I need to address if I really want to say that the iPad can replace a laptop. The future of computing very much focusses on mobility, both in the enterprise and consumer space. So we need to find ways to fix these short comings, or change our expecations about what computers are supposed to do, settling for what tablets are capable of now - but somehow I really don't see the latter happening after the years of experience we've had with the functionality of the modern computer. 

A Cracking Start

If I'm being totally honest, I've already failed. 

This was never going to be an easy task, even for a for a diehard gadget geek, but I still would have liked to have made it to the 48 hour mark.


Let's back up.

When the new iPad Air 2 was announced and the reviews started pouring in criticising that, despite being the 'best tablet ever', it was just another iterative upgrade, I couldn't help but think that some critics were missing the point. And perhaps so too was Apple's messaging.

The already impossibly thin iPad Air may well have shed a few pound and may also need to go down a notch on its belt but it's what's going on on the inside that looks most exciting.

The power of the new A8X chip suggested this was the first tablet from Apple that could possibly replace the laptop as my primary device. 

I got to thinking. 

The response wasn't overwhelmingly positive.


Perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps out of stubbornness, or perhaps out of an overwhelming desire to be right - I felt it was time to test my theory. 

A few days of research later, I decided that, although being built for exactly this purpose, using the Microsoft Surface almost felt like cheating. Instead, I picked up the iPad Air 2 (64GB Wi-fi version) and challenged myself to use this as my primary device from that moment.

 (Primary device meaning that I always turn to the iPad first to complete any task, and I endeavour to use the iPad 95% of the time over my MacBook Pro)

Fast forward back to today, and I'm sitting here typing this post on the iPad - Success?

Alas no. I used my MacBook Pro to set up this blog. An undeniable fail before I'd truly started the challenge. 


That said, I'm not going to give up; I stalled the car before I pulled out the drive. Instead I view this failureas a need for a mindset change. I could have set up Squaresace on my iPad, I just didn't. 

Reaffirming myself to this goal - all the work I do to customise this blog will be completed on the iPad from now on, as will as many other everyday computing tasks. I'll documentment the process here, looking at battery life issues, personal storage and file management, productivity, creativity, mobility, entertainment, and any other challenge I find myself up against (how am I going to watch those blu-rays sitting on my bookcase from my iPad?). 

The age of tablet computing is upon us. Maybe.