Tag Archives: iPad Pro

IPad Pro 2 years on – mostly getting better

I spend a lot of time thinking, reading and writing about gadgets. And quite rightly so, gadgets are awesome. About 5 years ago, when I first bought a Mac Air, I remember saying to a slightly bored friend of mine that the perfect device would be a Mac Air that could separate into a tablet. Then along came the iPad Pro which is almost, nearly, kinda that.

I say almost because it can do about 95% of everything I need. I use a laptop for writing and browsing the internet. Or watching Netflix if cooking / washing up / brushing my teeth / shaving / going to the toilet, etc. I can do all that on the iPad. And while it is getting better, there are some minor annoyances and a couple of things that are slightly worse. If you are still reading by this point – this may interest or even be helpful to you. (No promises.)

The better:

More apps are available and they are increasingly designed to work well on a tablet. This has bugger all to do with anything done by Apple (or they would be more expensive) but more about apps like Dropbox, Evernote, Word and so on releasing better products that are good on a tablet. A combination of improved interfaces and my getting used to doing things in a different way, have meant that I do more on the iPad now than when I first got it.

iOS11 – This was a superb update. As you can see from the picture, the iPad is looking more like the laptop version than ever. It is now a lot easier to switch between apps and with access to files, I can write and edit documents directly in the cloud (mostly Dropbox, Google docs and Word). It is pretty damn cool and it just requires a slight adjustment to how you work.

The worse:

I am currently writing on the official iPad cover keyboard wotsit. It is actually pretty nice when you get used to it. I also have a Logitech keyboard which is even nicer but quite bulky. However both are increasingly having problems connecting to the iPad. Looking at forums, I am not alone. I have to keep disconnecting and connecting until it reluctantly lets me type. It is particularly galling when trying to connect the official apple cover and it tells me that the device is ‘not supported’. Apple is supposed to be overpriced but well designed so it infuriating when you buy two things from the shop and they don’t seem to like playing together any more. If anything, the Logitech is slightly better.

iOS11. While it has made using the iPad a lot better and more like the laptop replacement it aspires to be, it has noticeably caused battery drain. I could write and read for hours before and it would only lose a few percent. I don’t want to get too technical here but it is bollocks. When I hoped for a more laptop-like experience, I didn’t meant to include the battery life. I haven’t tested it but I think it will still outlast most laptops but only just. I am quite a heavy user, so there will be battery degradation but again, the forums are full of people complaining.

Conclusion

I promised two years ago to review the iPad and so there you go. 95% of my writing is done in apps. The 5% that will means I will still, daily, have to buy a new laptop is down to:

– No mouse. Let us use a sodding mouse. Highlighting words on an iPad screen is still a ball-ache and will always be. I can use the pen to click on stuff but a mouse is better, especially when editing.

– I like saving stuff to folders on the desktop. While I can now write and edit stuff in the cloud, it is still annoying and fiddly. If I need to read a variety of sources while writing I generally revert to my laptop. The ‘files’ update is a good step as I can at least group different documents in the same project together.

– I edit a lot of stuff for a lot of clients – advertising, copywriting, doctoral theses and so on. This can similarly be a bit annoying when I need a few windows open.

Otherwise it is great. I still fucking love my iPad and use it daily. However, I do sometimes look at friends with a Microsoft Surface and envy them with their ability to do everything on it. Until you ask them about it and hear a whole different set of issues. Come on technology – get it together. As always – feel free to send me free technology to try out. You know the address.

 

 

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Travelling with just an iPad Pro and phone as a writer

When I was younger I used to travel with a pen, a writing pad and a small pile of books for both entertainment and work. Now I need a phone, a tablet/book (for entertainment) and a laptop because as a writer these days, everything has to be done right bloody now. I remember when I was 18, way back in 1990, one of my first jobs was covering a yacht launch. I just had a notebook and the magazine I was writing for hired a photographer. I wrote the text the following morning in the office and the rest of stuff was done by others. Simple times, let down a bit by the fact that I was 18, there was free booze, and I got drunk and lost my notebook. It is probably a good thing that I didn’t have an iPad Pro or smartphone back then.

These days you need to turn things around a bit more speedily but happily, laptops and phones now weigh nearly bugger all. Another great step is the rise of the hybrid laptop/tablet, which weighs slightly less. I am about to leave the hot and rainy Bangkok and go to the apparently warm and not too rainy UK. After that will be a trip to Germany and the towns of Kassel and Muenster for Documenta and a ton of art. I am a bit worried as I have made the momentous decision to travel with just my iPad Pro (for writing and entertainment) and a Samsung 8+ (for photos and the internet) and no laptop. I haven’t travelled without a laptop for over a decade and I will need to be writing things on a daily basis. There will be a lot of walking involved this trip and weight will be a key factor.

This may be of interest to very few people except other writers. I think my websites will be fine, it is everything else I worry about. In addition to writing articles, press releases, brochures, websites, a novel and so on, I also edit random things like doctoral theses and promotional posters. Will this combo be enough for everything? I have a huge power-bank that can fully recharge the iPad and phone, so battery power or lack of outlets won’t be a problem anymore. I save everything to the cloud, so if things get complicated I can go to an internet cafe. We shall see. If this is all possible, then my spine and editors will be happy. I look forward to a future with no wires needed and a single, unfoldable device that does everything. Hurry up technology.

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iPad Pro review for writers

1459847976151-170881345I have had my beloved iPad Pro for about 4 months now. I always said when I got the iPad 1 that I couldn’t wait until they brought out a larger one, so you can imagine my delight when a mere 5 years later I was able to upgrade. The original one still works – the hardware at least, the software is somewhat reluctant to run that slow. Poor old thing.

The iPad Pro was a pretty bastardly expensive device but I was able to justify it quite easily. For one thing, I had saved a fortune by skipping all the versions between 1 and Pro.

I should also point out that I am writing using the Logitech keyboard and writing about the big iPad.

Personal Writing

The iPad Pro satisfies all my personal writing needs. As in the stuff I do for fun, like this blog, www.scifiward.com, my short stories (see top right), and a couple of books I am writing. My personal preference at the moment for novels is to write all notes, characters, place description, plot drafts, etc, in One Note, and then write the draft on Ulysses. I know you can make notes on Ulysses but I find it distracting to have to switch out of what I am writing to check on something. As the iPad Pro has the option to pull in another screen from the right, it makes checking notes on One Note a lot easier. You can pull it just a little in, for a quick check, or go for full-on half screen action.

For everything else, there is Word or a ton of other writing apps. Sadly no Scrivener, but you can’t have everything. I am writing this on the iPad Pro, so WordPress is obviously ok.

Professional Writing

Sadly, for now, I still have a full-time day job and have the gloriously underwhelming job title of Senior Content Writer. My first ever job, when I was 18, was a ‘Reporter’, which sounds a lot cooler. Anyway, I have to write a variety of stuff. Sometimes it is on the Internet, Word, PDF, proofreading artwork, writing brochures, and so on. All of these are pretty much fine on their own, but I sometimes have to combine things from a variety of sources and double check facts on the Internet. That is where it starts to get tricky and I frequently have to bring my phone into play just to have a separate screen to play with.

So it is largely ok but sometimes just a bit quicker and much less confusing to go old-school and use a laptop if I need a lot of windows open. I should also add that the more I use the IPad Pro, the more I get used to doing things slightly different from a laptop. The feeling of being slightly restricted while on a tablet diminishes with use. You adjust. Mostly.

iPad Keyboard

As I said earlier, I use the backlit Logitech keyboard, and it is a delight to write on. I find it just as good as my 12″ MacBook Air to touch-type on. Obviously experiences vary. The only real downside is that with the keyboard attached, it is basically a laptop in relation to its size and weight. Although it is a laptop that has an incredible battery (over 10 hours if gaming or watching films, longer for writing) and I can fully recharge it using a portable battery bank. Also, this is what I have been wanting for half a decade – a MacBook Air where you can detach the screen and use it for films/books/comics/internet, etc.

Non-writing related stuff

Writing aside, the iPad Pro is just an incredible tablet. It is possible that I am easily impressed having come from an iPad 1 but for reading comics, watching films, surfing the web, or gaming, it is the best tablet I have seen or researched. The four speakers sound great and the screen is crisp and lovely. Basically, all the stuff you do on a tablet but with a bigger better screen.

I have also started drawing again. I’m not great but it was a something I enjoyed when younger and I have been carrying drawing pads and pencil sets from country to country for decades now. I am also going to use it to design book covers, so it all kind of ties in.

Conclusion

For writers, I think the iPad Pro is bloody superb. It takes a while to get used to but with the Logitech keyboard, it is surprisingly easy. If you are a business type and do presentations and need multiple media outputs or whatever the hell you people do, then this probably isn’t for you. Apple keep saying this can replace a laptop and I don’t really think it can. I do about 95% of things on my iPad but my needs are simple. I said earlier that this was what I had been waiting for but I actually want the full OS experience, perhaps with a button that switches to iOS. Make this happen Apple!

I don’t know if this review will help anyone but before I bought my iPad Pro I was looking for exactly this, so maybe it will help someone somewhere. If you disagree and think this review is flawed feel free to discuss it with your friends. I don’t care.

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