I've told this story on various occasions before, but it's worth mentioning for context again. My iPad journey began in 2012 when I was treated with cancer. In the first half of the year, right after my diagnosis, I constantly moved between hospitals to talk to different doctors and understand the best strategies for my first round of treatment. These chemo treatments often proved that I was too tired to get some work done. I wanted to continue working for MacStories because there was a healthy distraction that kept my brain busy, but the MacBook Air was uncomfortable to carry around and I couldn't use it in my car as it lacked a mobile connection. In contrast, iPad was light, it contained built-in 3G, and it allowed me to stay in touch with the MacStories team anywhere, anytime with the comfort of a large, beautiful Retina display.
The tip came when I had to be hospitalized for three consecutive weeks to undergo aggressive chemotherapy; during that period I concluded that extreme sociability and freedom given by the iPad had become important to me. I started exploring the idea of using iPad as my primary computer (see this story for more details); If something happened to me again that prevented being at my desk in the home office, I would be prepared. It meant to include iOS, iPad apps and another way to work every day.
I realized when I wrote this story that I've run MacStories from my iPad longer than I ever ran it from a Mac. The site was last 10 months, and I've managed it almost exclusively from an iPad for seven of those years. And yet, I still feel I am adapting to the iPad lifestyle myself – I'm still figuring out the best approaches and forcing me to be creative in working around the limitations of IOS.
On the one hand, anyone can see This as an indictment of Apple's slow development of the iPad platform, with two-year tablet-focused iOS releases that have left long-standing issues not yet resolved. And they're not wrong: I love working from the iPad, but I recognize how some aspects of the software are still heavily baked behind macOS. On the other hand, I won't lie: I've always had the challenge of "figuring out the iPad" and pushing me to be creative and productive in a more limited environment.
In addition to discovering new apps, I could cover MacStories and think about how I could work on the iPad, giving me a mental framework that I probably wouldn't have developed on a traditional desktop computer. If I was in a hospital bed and couldn't use a Mac, that meant someone else from the MacStories team had to complete a specific Mac-only task. In a sense, the limitations of the iPad taught me the importance of delegation – a lesson I was forced to. As a result, for the first few years, the limited nature of the iPad helped me to be more creative and focused on my writing; Before the days of Split View and drag and drop, the iPad was the ideal device to concentrate on one task at a time.
Over the next few years, I learned to navigate the iPad's limitations and started optimizing them to get more work on the device (I was also cancer-free, which apparently helped). This is when I came across the iOS automation scene with apps like Pythonista, Editorial, Drafts and possibly Workflow. These programs, despite the often unreliable nature of their solutions, allowed me to push IOS and iPad further than Apple might have thought of the device at that time. In retrospect, I have built hundreds of workflow automations, prepared for the bold, more powerful future of shortcuts. Automation should not replace core functionality of an operating system; Normally, there should be an improvement on the page, a add-on for users seeking the extra speed and flexibility it provides. Many years ago, these automation apps were the only way to achieve more serious work on the iPad. I'm glad I learned to use them because they eventually made me work, even though it wasn't the easiest or most obvious path.
When Apple announced the iPad Pro in 2015, it felt like a retreat of the idea that for many iOS users – including myself – it was actually possible to process the iPad as a portable replacement. And although not much has changed (since?) Since the 2017 iOS 11 on what iPad Pro's software can do, the modern iPad App ecosystem is significantly different from the first days of the iPad 3 and IOS 5, and that's all thanks to iPad Pro and Apple's push for pro apps and an economically viable App Store.
We now have professional programs like Ulysses, Agenda, Things, Keep It and iA Writer, which in most cases can boast functionality with their Mac colleagues We have examples of iOS-only pro tools such as Pixelmator Photo, LumaFusion, Shortcuts and Working Copy, which is ushering us into a new era of mobile productivity; And from a purely iPad hardware and accessory perspective, we have more choices than ever thanks to a larger, more inclusive iPad series, remarkable Pro hardware and solid options for expanding iPad through keyboards, USB-C accessories, and more .
Seven years after I started (slowly) replacing the MacBook Air with an iPad, my life is different, but a principle still applies: I will never find myself forced to work on a computer that is only effective at home, It cannot be held in my hands or it cannot be adapted to different layouts. That's why iPad Pro is the best computer for the kind of lifestyle I want.
However, the iPad is not perfect. And then in the spirit of offering a final update before WWDC and the massive release to the iPad like iOS 13 will probably be, I thought I'd summarize seven years of daily use of the iPad in an article describing how I work from the device and how I want the iPad platform to improve in the future.
In this story, I will explore four different main areas to work on the iPad using iOS 12 system features, third-party apps and accessories. I will describe how I optimized each site for my needs, explain the solutions I implemented to work around the iPad's software limitations, and discuss how these solutions should be no longer needed when iPad approaches its tenth anniversary.
Consider this my iPad manifesto, right on the WWDC pinch. Let's dive in.