Can You Work From an iPad?

iPad in a Coffee ShopI’m writing this from a coffeeshop in northern Massachusetts. The nature of my business is such that I can workshift from pretty much anywhere, most of the time, so before we talk about working from an iPad, we have to discount the fact that my job is heavily Internet based. That said, I wanted to explore what it felt like to work from an iPad instead of my laptop.

My Work Processes

Broken down, the things I do in my day look like this:

  • Email correspondence.
  • Writing (proposals, books, blog posts).
  • Speech Prep (Keynote)
  • Other Communication (Google Wave, Twitter, LinkedIn).
  • Scheduling (Google Calendar)
  • Reading/researching (Google Reader, Search).
  • Planning (Evernote, Mindnode)
  • Media Making (here’s where the iPad falls down).

Broken down to the simple activities, my day looks lame. Luckily, I soothe myself by saying that it’s all in the “brain work.” But try this yourself: write down what exactly you DO in a given day. It looks weird on paper.

How the iPad Executes These Processes

Here’s what I think of how the iPad handles all my efforts:

  • Email – the mail app works just fine. I don’t have to integrate mine to Outlook. I’m not sure how that works, but for me, Google boy, things work just great with my iPad. It’s a little slower than browser-based, because I’m adept at the keyboard commands, but I think it’s okay.
  • Writing – I’m using Pages (around ten bucks US) and it works well on the iPad. I very much enjoy the feeling of pages on the iPad, especially because I bought the external docking keyboard. I also have the Bluetooth keyboard, but the dock has a piece that stands the iPad up. A big plus with using Pages on the iPad is that I’m forced to single-task. This means that I work much harder and much more focused between breaks to communicate.
  • Speech Prep – Don’t get me started. The integration between the Mac app Keynote to the iPad app Keynote is so frustrating. If I use a non-native font, my presentation is ruined. If I don’t have the Internet, I often run into an error message. I have to sync through the iTunes app. Overall, it’s really frustrating to use the iPad for speeches. Creating one? Forget it. It’s teeth-pulling.
  • Other Communication – Google Wave is a bit of a wash on iPad for me, so far. I can’t start new Waves, and can’t really interact the way I want. Twitter works okay. I’m using Twitterific instead of the multi-pane apps, mostly because I think the screen real estate isn’t good for them. Even though I’m limited to a single pane with Twitterific, I’m okay with it. LinkedIn works so-so via the website. Not worse. Just very mouse-clicky, so I find myself touching the screen a lot.
  • Scheduling – I use Google Calendar for this, and it works just fine on the iPad. I don’t have a lot to say about it. I don’t integrate the native calendar, but that looks nice, too.
  • Reading / Researching – On my laptop, I’m a Google Reader kind of guy, so I’m really happy with the NewsRack application for iPad. So far, that’s been reasonably helpful in keeping up to speed. What it doesn’t do easily is emulate my efforts to share content out (or rather, it’s not nearly as easy as using Google Reader directly and hitting Shift S when I find things I like). Researching is mostly browser-based, but I did also get the Wolfram Alpha app, and I find it pretty darned cool for searching.
  • Planning – The Evernote application is a godsend. I use it on my phone, my iPad, my laptop – everywhere. I mind map quite a lot. The MindNode app works really well for me. Now, another gripe: if I make a mind map on my laptop and send it over to the iPad, it’s a whole pain in the butt. (Thus, getting me into DropBox, Box.net, AirSharing, and many other tools I didn’t need to know about until the iPad.)
  • Media Making – There is none. I can’t upload video. I can evidently podcast, but I haven’t actually tried the app yet. I can’t edit anything. So, for my media making part of the job, I still need a laptop. But then, you might not be in the media business, so it might not matter.

Was it Worth It?

I think the iPad is still very much a technology in search of a problem to solve. People are calling it the ultimate “couchtop.” Did we need that? I don’t know. It reminds me of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where you’d see Picard and Riker noodling over a bit of data before throwing all the rules out the window to go down and try and reason with some new alien bad guys (Kirk would’ve skipped two steps and punched the aliens without using the future iPad or trying to reason with the aliens). But I digress.

I think the iPad serves me well as a way to focus on writing. I think it’s a great way to “check status” on certain things. It will never replace my laptop at its current configuration. I find myself slowing down when I walk by Apple stores, thinking about the Macbook Air, but that’s adding a 13″ laptop to my 15″ Macbook Pro, and that just doesn’t make sense, either.

But, will these devices be a huge game-changer overall? I say yes. That’s reason enough for me to keep working on my iPad, and noodling with thoughts about the future. I’m already seeing some possible ways this tech would serve consumers better (in store shopping assistant, anyone?) and also business types (especially when we can just Tom-Cruise-Minority-Report drag data from our iPhone onto our iPad and back with a hand gesture).

What’s your take? Did you buy one? Are you using it for work? Are you sitting this one out?

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  • https://www.growfinancial.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=insurance.totalProtect Total Protect Home Warranty

    This stuff is legitimately important. I love the ipad, that Web browsing, Email, Read news & comics, Watching movies on a plane, Watching photo, videos, totally amazing, and this are what I experience most.

  • http://real-estate-services.longandfoster.com/Home-Warranty/Warranty.aspx HMS Home Warranty

    It’s a great product, the iPad, but something altogether different than a laptop or a true pocket-sized mobile device. I think Apple has created something nobody really needs, but once you have one, you don’t want to do without it.

  • Ron Lane88

    Hey Chris, I got one last week and I really like it. But it hasn’t replaced my laptop yet because of some video stuff. I do like it for just being out and about.

  • Ron Lane88

    Hey Chris, I got one last week and I really like it. But it hasn’t replaced my laptop yet because of some video stuff. I do like it for just being out and about.

  • Crys

    I am a stay at home mom that has recently started work on my masters. I got an iPad at the beginning of the summer and honestly wonder how we functioned without it before hand. I use it as a book reader for personal and school use. I take notes inside my text books. I have not strayed from my laptop for writing documents yet, but I have not tried the pages app. I have a great shopping list app (grocery pal) and google maps on the ipad has been a life saver. I take it everywhere with me because it is not heavy, fits in my purse, has a 10 hour battery, and it is used all day, everyday.
    As a mom, the iPad is my first choice for on the go kid entertainment. There are many children’s books that integrate music and games with the stories. My kids have spent countless hours playing educational apps. It’s also great for watching movies in the car, airplane, or if they are sick and in bed for the day. I no longer have to cart around toys or books, just the iPad. It is very user friendly, a two year old has no problem using it. After having the iPad for a few months, my kids have better developed skills on other devices, even though my youngest is constantly touching screens. The cost and durability of the iPad makes me more willing to just hand it over to a young child. Mine has had juice spilled on it and been dropped down the stairs a couple of times without a scratch, I don’t think my laptop could handle that kind of abuse.

  • Crys

    I am a stay at home mom that has recently started work on my masters. I got an iPad at the beginning of the summer and honestly wonder how we functioned without it before hand. I use it as a book reader for personal and school use. I take notes inside my text books. I have not strayed from my laptop for writing documents yet, but I have not tried the pages app. I have a great shopping list app (grocery pal) and google maps on the ipad has been a life saver. I take it everywhere with me because it is not heavy, fits in my purse, has a 10 hour battery, and it is used all day, everyday.
    As a mom, the iPad is my first choice for on the go kid entertainment. There are many children’s books that integrate music and games with the stories. My kids have spent countless hours playing educational apps. It’s also great for watching movies in the car, airplane, or if they are sick and in bed for the day. I no longer have to cart around toys or books, just the iPad. It is very user friendly, a two year old has no problem using it. After having the iPad for a few months, my kids have better developed skills on other devices, even though my youngest is constantly touching screens. The cost and durability of the iPad makes me more willing to just hand it over to a young child. Mine has had juice spilled on it and been dropped down the stairs a couple of times without a scratch, I don’t think my laptop could handle that kind of abuse.

  • http://www.downtown-san-diego-hotels.com/ Downtown San Diego Hotels

    I’m writing this on an iPad! I also took the bait but I’ve not regretted it. I use it constantly for work – some great teaching apps – and it’s portability makes it great for traveling, especially on planes: music & books all in one place.

    And, if at the end of the day, you don’t like Apple’s/Jobs’ philosophy: you can always jailbreak the thing and put what you like on it.

    It still does’t substitute for a desktop pc/powerful laptop but then it’s not meant to

  • http://www.downtown-san-diego-hotels.com/ Downtown San Diego Hotels

    I’m writing this on an iPad! I also took the bait but I’ve not regretted it. I use it constantly for work – some great teaching apps – and it’s portability makes it great for traveling, especially on planes: music & books all in one place.

    And, if at the end of the day, you don’t like Apple’s/Jobs’ philosophy: you can always jailbreak the thing and put what you like on it.

    It still does’t substitute for a desktop pc/powerful laptop but then it’s not meant to

  • http://twitter.com/mykalaikontilai Mykalai Kontilai

    with all electronics, if you wait a year then another newer, better device will be available. The iPhone 1st Gen was revolutionary when it was first released even without an app store and the lack of “native” web apps. All of that was created because the iPhone was so revolutionary and everyone started buying them up. so enjoy the technology advantages

  • http://www.designussion.com/category/wordpress/ Wordpress

    I wanted to explore what it felt like to work from an iPad instead of my laptop.

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    It’s a little slower than browser-based, because I’m adept at the keyboard commands. Anyway its a nice post.

  • http://buymeprivate.com/website_list.php?mode=search&catId=MTQ= Buy Domains

    It’s a little slower than browser-based, because I’m adept at the keyboard commands. Anyway its a nice post.

  • http://www.macrobusinesscapital.com/ small business loans new york

    Yes, you can work on the iPad — but why would you

  • http://www.blindandshutterpro.net/faux-blinds.html faux blinds

    The cost and durability of the iPad makes me more willing to just hand it over to a young child. Mine has had juice spilled on it and been dropped down the stairs a couple of times without a scratch, I don’t think my laptop could handle that kind of abuse.

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    I’m already seeing some possible ways this tech would serve consumers better.

  • http://www.bspcn.com/.../35-seriously-creative-examples-of-digital-artworks/ Mykalai Kontilai

    I’m already seeing some possible ways this technology would serve consumers better.

  • http://www.bspcn.com/.../35-seriously-creative-examples-of-digital-artworks/ Mykalai Kontilai

    I’m already seeing some possible ways this technology would serve consumers better.

  • http://www.lead411.com/Jennifer_Berg_3072391.html Jennifer Berg

    The iPhone 1st Gen was revolutionary when it was first released even without an app store and the lack of “native” web apps.Anyways good posting…

  • http://twitter.com/mykalaikontilai Mykalai Kontilai

    I love having the light, compact iPad in coffee shops, on planes, waiting in lobbies. I can touch type on it pretty well, as it suits me.

  • http://www.nissanpartswarehouse.com/ Nissan Parts

    I think the iPad serves me well as a way to focus on writing. I think it’s a great way to “check status” on certain things. It will never replace my laptop at its current configuration.

  • http://www.designussion.com designussion.com

    I have managed to replace my laptop with my iPad. I work in an environment where you pretty much take your laptop with you everywhere, so carrying the iPad vs. a traditional laptop is a no brainer in terms of size/weight.

  • http://www.designussion.com Website Design

    It appears the iPad can do all the work of a PC or a laptop. It’s easy to use and is portable, which makes this a valuable piece of technology to own. And it’s a perfect replacement of laptops and P.C’s.

  • http://www.maxfurnitureonline.com/ Max Furniture Online

    I think the iPad serves me well as a way to focus on writing. I think it’s a great way to “check status” on certain things. It will never replace my laptop at its current configuration. I find myself slowing down when I walk by Apple stores.

  • http://www.yourpennypinchingsourceonline.com/2010/07/considering-homeprotect-home-warranty.html Home Protect Home Warranty

    I use Google Calendar for this, and it works just fine on the iPad. I don’t have a lot to say about it. I don’t integrate the native calendar, but that looks nice, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reputationmanagers Reputation Managers

    So far the iPad seems to have everything one would need to work with it on the road. Now I want to get that keyboard attachment!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/reputationmanagers Reputation Managers

    So far the iPad seems to have everything one would need to work with it on the road. Now I want to get that keyboard attachment!!

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    I got an iPad at the beginning of the summer and honestly wonder how we functioned without it before hand. I use it as a book reader for personal use.

  • http://www.seniorfacility.com Senior Facility

    Taking it to lunch, to the bookstore, to tweet-ups. I’ve let everyone from the waiter to kids play with it. It’s still popping the eyes and entrancing folks.

  • Kittymon84

    can we do our typing work with ipad… like the microsoft office does??

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KH4MQIEPO2ELXLWML4K4O7LX5I Anonymous

      Yes you can buy Microsoft Office from the app store and install it to the iPad

  • Kittymon84

    can we do our typing work with ipad… like the microsoft office does??

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  • http://www.fit4kitchens.co.uk/kitchen_bins Kitchen Bin

    Yes and no! It depends a lot as to what business you are in.. It wouldn’t be my choice.

  • meslie

    Two years after iPad’s release, it’s good to see iPad has become a professional device for work. For my part, I use it everyday at work. I also think iPad is an efficient professional device thanks to business applications which can be really good. 

    In business app, I’d like to recommend a great one which integrated an interesting concept; saving time from your notes. This app, Beesy, generates automatically a ToDo list from a smart note taking. Also, the advantage is you can esasily send your minutes by email. I love testing new business/ productivity apps such as Evernote, Penutilmate, Omnifocus, Awesome but it’s the first time I see an app so well done.  I recommend Beesy for people which often have meetings ;)

    Great post :)

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