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The 9 Things I Learned Going iPad Only

Going “iPad only” wasn’t a goal for me until recently. Before then it was just something I felt more comfortable using over a Mac. Now that I have made this blog it got me thinking about all the things I learned by making my iPad my main device. These are some of them.

It’s Easier Than You Think

When I first set out to make my iPad Air 2 my main computer back in college it seemed too daunting and scary. A lot of these questions came at me when I left for class without my Mac, knowing that I only had this tablet to handle all of my work.

How will I handle my files? How can I make sure I keep things on task? What about my trackpad?!

By the end of the day, though, I realized that there wasn’t anything that really got in my way of my work. Things like taking notes, writing papers, or even researching for other assignments came easy. This small piece of glass seemed to handle everything I threw at it.

Something about working with this device made sense to me. This was the beginning of something magical for me.

Like many things in life, I decided to disregard my reservations about trying something new. I just dove in head first into the sea of the unknown, only to come out the other side a more experienced person. Going iPad only seemed like a silly idea, but in practice it allowed me to do my work freely and with more joy.

Less is More

Limitation is often seen as a negative thing, but for me having that limiter on myself makes my life a lot easier. It’s not about making decisions on how I do my work, but more on the work itself.

For instance, recording a podcast on an iPad isn’t impossible, but it does require a lot of effort and some sacrifice. I wrote about podcasting on iOS before, but to reiterate I have to use both my iPhone and my iPad to record a podcast successfully. I did this because even though it isn’t a pretty solution, I can still do it with just an iPad and my iPhone. I was able to take a theory and turn it into a proof. I also did this because I really wanted to go iPad only, even if it meant function over form.

There are some things you can’t do on iOS that you can on a Mac or PC; but they are so seldom that I often don’t need to worry about it on a day to day use. Plus, with limitation comes innovation, and I have stripped down a lot of the things in my workflow because of iOS. I also have learned a lot from it as well.

You Learn a Lot About iOS

If I only used my iPad when I was on the go instead of all the time, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t know I could do with an iPad. I would have had the instinctual reaction to open up my MacBook Air instead of trying to find a solution with the tools I already had in front of me.

One of the big ones for me is automation and using the app Workflow. There are a number of things I never would think I could do on an iPad that Workflow allows me to do with ease. For instance, converting rich text into Markdown has been a hassle for me for years. That is until Workflow built a simple tool to take that text and convert it to a fully functional Markdown.

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To go even deeper with this, I have also learned how to bend and contort many types of media to the specific types I need them in. It’s all thanks to the brilliant minds behind Workflow and knowing what I needed to make these alterations happen without a hitch.

The iPad Can Be a Workhorse

Working on my iPad has been my preferred device ever since I realized how little there is I can’t do with this device. My work can be done on an iPad about 90% of the time no problem. The other 10% is where things get tricky. Doing something like editing a podcast, making graphics for the website becomes problematic on any iOS device.

This isn’t to say I can’t do those things on iOS, but because I am a creature of habit I still am apprehensive to migrate it over to the iPad. I am slowly moving towards Ferrite for podcast editing and recording, as well as Pixelmator for photo editing. The only problem I still am yet to tackle is editing the website. I still need to use a Mac for it, albeit on a seldom basis.

But to set aside the 10% I don’t use with my iPad, the fact that this machine has gone from a giant iPhone into a full-fledged Mac replacement is astonishing to me. I still find it a shock to my system when I think about all the things I need to do that get done solely on my iPad.

iOS is the OS for Me.

I have been an Apple use for years, ever since I got my iPhone 4s I made the switch from Android and PC to iOS and macOS. I have owned a Mac longer than I owned any iOS device.

With that said, macOS has slowly drifted away from me like Wilson in the movie Cast Away. Instead of screaming for the Mac to come back to me, however, I have found solace in iOS.

To me, iOS is equally lightweight in robust tasks I barely do, and more flexible with the minimal tasks I do. I can write and blog without having several apps open, yet I can edit a podcast if I so choose.

I mentioned already how working with my hands is a satisfying thing, but it isn’t just that I control it with touch. Working on the iPad, for me, has changed the way I look at computers all together.

The Mac was a window into the world, the iPad is more a window into the things important to me.

I am not here to badmouth the Mac, but to say that the Mac is a good alternative to an iPad would be doing the iPad a disservice. I would actually counter it with the iPad being a good alternative to the Mac. At least for me.

Portability Becomes More Important

Until I started to use my iPad, I used to think that my 13” 2015 MacBook Air was the epitome of portable. Now, in the seldom times I need to open the Macbook, it seems like a giant computer. It makes my shoulders hurt just thinking about lugging it around town with me as I work from coffee shops and local libraries.

The iPad is perfect for someone who is on the go and working from place to place. It offers keyboard accessability, but it isn’t required to work with it. the fact that you don’t need to have a surface to hold it is something you don’t appreciate until you are in that position.

If I could explain this feeling, it is like having a piece of paper to write with. But when you finally need to write on that sheet of paper, you then need to find a surface flat enough to write on. Now imagine the iPad is a proverbial clipboard, allowing you to write anywhere you go as you wander the area. That is the relief and ease I am talking about with the iPad.

The iPad Really Can Replace Your Other Computers

Do you remember those “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials? I think back on those a lot. Mainly as a question of what would Apple be comparing these days with those two actors? For me it would be an iPad and everything else.

“I’m an iPad, and I’m everything else,” could start the commercial. Then Apple could talk about how the Apple Pencil is the most efficient stylus on the market. Or how the iPad allows your to work on the best hardware Apple has to offer with the best OS as well. The comparisons are endless.

It Is Much More Enjoyable

Speaking of joy, working on an iPad can be a lot of fun. Something about working on a device with my hands is just so satisfying. I still use the iPad with a keyboard for the most part. But at times where I need to use Drag and Drop or editing photos with Pixelmator, I notice how much more I enjoy handling the mundane. Using my hands to physically move and edit things over a mouse or trackpad is just nice compared to a more “traditional” computer.

Tapping and sliding my fingers on the glass is a lot like ice skating. The flow in which I feel in my hands only validates that feeling more. I feel like I am soaring through my work much more efficiently and elegantly than I would on any other device.

On top of that, when I got the iPad Pro I bought the Apple Pencil. It’s still one of my favorite tools Apple has made. Writing notes down on a pen and paper is still satisfying, but being able to do it on my iPad still feels like the future. the latency is next to nothing, and the feeling you get writing on the glass screen is incomparable.

I love opening up GoodNotes 4 and jotting down ideas for Tablet Habit and having them saved digitally. Unlike a notebook, if I lost my iPad tomorrow I would still have all of my notes saved on the cloud for safekeeping.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

All of the people I know who are iPad only (or even iPad first) have taken the limitations of iOS in stride. Some, like me, use the limitations as a means of focus. Others, like Federico Viticci over at MacStories, have found ways to bypass those limitations. He creates Workflows, automation, and even writing his own code to make iOS work for him. In both cases pro users of the iPad will hit some roadblocks, but they take that as a challenge rather than a disadvantage.

So much of what I do can be done without many bumps in the road. But when I do get to an area where there are some road blocks, I take it as a chance to learn more about the systems in which I do my work. I want to find ways to make my own detours towards my destination.

Something about iOS, and those who use it as their main OS, makes you want to push forward and raise the bar just a little higher each and every day. I am sure there are other communities like us, but for me this feels like home.

What’s Next

The iPad is a tremendous machine, and a testament that Apple continually innovates their products years after it comes out. There is very little I have to say negatively about the iPad, but in the future I hope Apple keeps their momentum with the iPad going. A version of this device has been out over 8 years now and I hope in another 8 years I am as satisfied and pleasantly surprised as I am today.

For now, the iPad will continue to be the device I take with me everywhere I go. Whether it is to catch up on some news, or to write an ebook, the iPad will be my computer of choice.

If you want to make the switch and go iPad only, sign up to get my free ebook coming out at the end of April. It will show you the 20 apps to get productive on the iPad, and how you can make the transition from Mac and PC over to iOS.

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