If you’ve been following my struggles to decide what to do about my future with Apple you’ll know the higher prices of their laptops and the lack of innovation has been putting me off. What I’ve been crying out for, and what Apple doesn’t deliver, is a touchscreen device that I can carry anywhere so I can write, design and work on the move. What I want is a Surface Pro that’s running in the Apple ecosystem.
I have been watching the iPad Pro evolve with interest. The larger screen size and integration with a stylus attracted my attention when it first came out, but I know Apple well enough NOT to buy the first generation of anything. When the second generation came along I had a play and was impressed with how quick and easy it was to use. What was letting it down was iOS.
IOS has a job to do, which is run relatively low powered mobile devices where great demands aren’t placed on them. It’s a consumer product and having used Android, Windows and MacOS devices it’s probably the easiest operating system to live with if you want to focus on work rather than endless configuration and conflict. In many ways it’s the control over the ecosystem (hardware, operating system, own software and third party software) that makes the iPad such a compelling proposition.
Over the past few months I’ve gradually moved most of my writing workflow onto the iPad. Much of what I post has been written, edited and uploaded with it, only the photos being left behind. I’ve crafted a few process maps using PowerPoint, prepared some presentations and built a couple of spreadsheets. Sometimes it is a bit fiddly, most of the time I’m a bit more productive than with my MacBook.
There’s always been that feeling that the iPad isn’t quite there. Most of the time simplicity works in its favour. Unfortunately there are times when it works against it.
My biggest complaint is the file system. I use Google Drive to retain all my client files, regardless of the application they were created in. Everything from PDFs sent by clients to Word docs to Keynotes are placed in a carefully structured filing system that makes finding and recalling work incredibly easy. With the iPad my Google, Microsoft and Apple apps have their own segregated clouds. I can’t currently save a Word document or an Affinity Photo file to Google Drive. This has meant doubling up on my filing and bringing everything together periodically from a MacBook.
I’d hoped the new Files app in iOS11 would solve this, only it doesn’t. All the app does is give you the ability to access different cloud drives from one place. Moving files between drives isn’t possible (at least not that I’ve found) and apps remain wedded to their own clouds. In short, while it might grab a few headlines it does very little to advance the idea of a single file system for the iPad to use.
For my own projects I’m more than comfortable leaving the MacBook at home and working on the iPad. With client projects the issues with the file system makes me a little more reluctant to make the switch. I’m sure Apple will get there in time, but for now I think I’ll be keeping my Laptop in my work bag.
I'm a freelance designer and writer. My clients have included Fintech startups, publishers and digital agencies. You can read more about my work here.