The iPad has become my favorite gadget to use during this COVID-19 lockdown, for both work and play.
My 11-inch iPad Pro setup includes an Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard and a dongle which even has Ethernet and VGA ports. Since Apple released iPadOS, a lot of work that I could only do on Mac has moved to the iPad. For entertainment, it already has the best in class display and speaker system which lets me enjoy content from YouTube, Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV+ without any issue.
Working on an iPad
My usual work routine involves the use of the following websites and apps on Mac:
- Asana (in browser)
- Slack, Zoom and Skype
- Google Meet in browser
- Spark (for email)
- Workplace Chat
- WordPress (in browser)
- Pixelmator Pro
- Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Google Suite apps (Sheets, Docs, Slides)
- Preview (for image edits and resizes)
- Chrome and Safari for browsing
- Adobe XD for wireframes
With iPad Pro, I have been able to get the same work done using the following apps, and alternatives, where applicable:
- Slack, Zoom, Google Meet and Skype
- Workplace Chat
- WordPress in Safari
- Pixelmator (for image edits and resizes)
- Annotable (Skitch alternative)
- Lightroom + Pixelmator Photo for photography workflows
- Office and Google productivity apps
- Dropbox (works great with Files app, without even opening Dropbox app)
- Chrome and Safari for browsing
- Adobe Comp for wireframes
Along with some Safari extensions like ImageDrain (which lets me download any image from any website), I have also been using some Shortcuts in iPadOS:
- Image resize (to quickly resize photos and save them to Files app with a file name of my choice)
- Apple Frames. This one is made by Federico Viticci of MacStories and lets me put device frames around screenshots
The type of work I have been able to do on an iPad includes image editing, blog writing, managing web development projects, and staying in touch with my teams while working remotely during isolation. Not only does it help me get all this done, it also lets me multitask by setting up spaces and combinations of apps, just like I can on Mac, but never did. I particularly enjoy keeping all my messaging apps in Slide Over so I can easily access them anytime.
Of course, this has all been made considerably better because I can use a mouse with my iPad now. I use a Logitech M337 mouse which connects and works via Bluetooth, without any dongle.
I work on two MacBook Pro models: 15-inch 2018, and 13-inch 2019, and both have a tendency of heating up even under minimum workload. With sweaty palms like mine, this gets extremely annoying. No such issues with the smart keyboard for iPad Pro. It does not have the best keyboard, but it is much better than the butterfly-switch keys on the MacBooks.
The camera on the iPad Pro is way better than any other laptop camera that I’ve seen, and it makes video calls much better. Its portability and long lasting battery life also make it easy to work around the house, without having to tug around a charger.
iPad Pro is far from perfect, but it gets the job done.
iPad for Entertainment
For entertainment, an iPad does everything better than a Mac. I use a combination of the following apps:
- Kindle and Books for reading
- Infuse to watch movies offline
- Netflix, HBO, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ for video streaming
- Apple Music
- Overcast for podcasts
iPad’s 120Hz Retina Display with True Tone and wide color support, coupled with its four-speaker system make it a perfect choice for all the above apps. Watching ‘Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse’ on the iPad Pro’s display and Dolby Atmos speaker output is a treat. If I have to nitpick, I would say that Apple should have increased the brightness on iPad Pro and supported HDR content. Perhaps we would see that in the rumored 5G iPad Pro.
Even folks who live and breathe Android have been recommending users to do themselves a favor and buy an iPad during lockdown. AndroidPolice had written about it a few days ago and praised the apps, quality hardware and timely software updates that iPad users are so accustomed to:
Even if you don’t like Apple, or you think iOS is derpy and restrictive — which is, in my opinion, unarguably true — iPads really do offer the best big-screen tablet environment. A Kindle Fire should probably be the budget choice for a content consumption device given the value they represent, but if you’d like to get yourself something genuinely nice to enjoy as you’re trapped indoors for the foreseeable future, just buy an iPad. You might even get some work done on it.
AndroidPolice even recommends buying a refurbished iPad, even if it’s a 2017 model, because they just keep on working without any performance downgrades.
Meanwhile, the alternatives for an iPad are nothing to write home about. Surface devices are good laptops but not good tablets. Android tablets ship with tons of bloatware and rarely get software updates beyond the first year. The apps on either of these alternatives are not optimized for large touch screen displays either. You can certainly get work done on a Windows tablet, but if you use it like a laptop with apps that were designed for non-touch screen PCs.
Have you found your favorite gadget during isolation? Which one and why? Let us know in the comments.
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