10 Tips on using the Apple iPad as your primary device

I can be clumsy when overtired. And so it happened that I broke my laptop whilst travelling to a major conference, and couldn’t get it replaced for nearly 3 weeks. As it happens I then smashed the screen on my iPad, but that’s another story, and anyhow it carried on working.

For those 3 weeks, I had only my iPad as my primary computer. Here’s how I coped – and then ended up loving the iPad more than ever before.

1. Let go of trying to curate complex content

Question is – can you? With my job I often can for some periods of time, because content curation happens in fits and spurts. When a suitable powerpoint presentation is written, you can stick with it for some time.

2. Focus on Task Management and workflow

This was my next lesson – and there are some great software enablers for this on the iPad like OmniFocus. I love this because I can categorize and prioritize tasks – entering them as I think of them, and making sure I actually get things done. This is actually a huge boon for productivity.

I’ve also bought a bunch of apps – Keynote, Numbers and Pages to cover off displaying documents properly that others send me. GoodReader, which allows you to process ZIP files. And a bunch of free apps – Lync 2010, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, Facebook. I use most of these on a daily basis and they make a difference to productivity.

3. Buy an Apple Keyboard and an Apple Smart Cover

I’ve tried a bunch of iPad cases like the ones from ZAGG and Logitech, but they all SUCK. They are cut-size keyboards that cause you to compromise. Instead, buy a spare Apple Keyboard and carry it when you need to create content. Conveniently, the keyboard shortcuts also work.

For example, this blog is written on vacation, using the Apple Keyboard on my lap. I can type just as fast as on a desktop computer and I leave the keyboard in the hotel safe when I don’t need it.

4. Always carry the 10W Apple Charger

But only to your hotel room and never during the day. I charge the iPad every night, but never need to charge it during the day. That’s the beauty – on a tough day I get down to 10% battery but I’ve never run out. If you get desperate, you can always steal someone’s iPhone charger!

5. If you’re clumsy, look into AppleCare+

I think it’s only available in the USA so far – in the UK they were not familiar with it – but for $100 you get full phone support, plus accidental damage cover. If you drop, drown or destroy your iPad, Apple will provide you with a replacement on the spot, for a $50 co-pay. They’ll do this twice.

6. Use iCloud Backup

I got my iPad replaced just now after the cracked screen and it was an awesome experience. You back up the existing iPad using iCloud and then reset it. When you set up the new iPad you select “use existing iCloud backup” and it puts your iPad back just the way it was – apps, settings and data – including the latest versions of apps – in about 10 minutes. You can do it at the Apple Store when they replace your iPad. So convenient.

7. Focus on being in the present

That’s the great thing about the iPad – you don’t focus on the computer, you focus on the room. Gone are the days of meetings where people peer into their laptops like there’s pictures of naked ladies on them (get the Friends reference?). Instead, focus on discussing, sharing, creating and white-boarding ideas. Create something great together and then take it home to work on it.

8. Relax

Remember that you don’t need to do everything right now and this is a benefit. So long as you capture what it is you need to work on, you can do it later. But, to do this, you have to let go a bit – and relax.

9. Get focussed on your email activity

The iPad is an AWESOME email device because it discourages long and rambling email responses. Email is at its best when it is used as a mechanism to convey a shared opinion, to pass over a task to someone who is responsible and capable of doing it. It’s at its worst when used for rants, rambles, conversations and grenades – or to avoid a face to face conversation. Make sure you use your iPad as a force for good!

10. Enjoy

Sit back and enjoy what you get in return – no big bag to carry around, no chargers and cables. The simple and elegant tablet and how it simplifies your life. On my latest flight I carried a small slip that included the iPad, its charger, a few necessary documents and a toothbrush. No heavy wheelybag, and everything I needed for a week in technology. Not even a need to open an overhead bin.

Final Thoughts

I’m wondering as I write this whether the day of the desktop computer will return. More and more, my laptop is a tool that I use at home, to create content or do complex financial analysis. Provided it is in sync – and iCloud and Microsoft Exchange ensure that everything is – I just don’t need my laptop during an average day.

And I’d conclude that whilst I still need a desktop – the iPad has become my primary device.

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7 Responses to 10 Tips on using the Apple iPad as your primary device

  1. bluewoodtree says:

    What a beautiful article, I will safe it for future reference since I am planning to replace my MacBook, too, soon. The major work I do on my computer at my office, and at home I think I could also do things like emails and Co on an iPad. IPads furthermore has the advantage of additional mobility, in terms of traveling, reading on the couch or in the bed etc.

  2. Good for you, John! I agree with most of your points, except I do LOVE the Logitech UltraThin keyboard case. My fingers have gotten used to the small keys for the most part and I’m much more effective typing on it, rather than the touchscreen.

    Lastly, I would recommend a stylus to anyone. I know it works fine with fingers, but I do notice the glare from fingerprints after awhile. A stylus keeps me from having to wipe the screen as often. Heck, even the conference freebies work alright. Just don’t spend $20 bucks on a stylus!

  3. Good for you, mate. Since my life is spent reviewing all kinds of spreadsheets and making edits – I am more productive on my Thinkpad for work. And then I cannot be bothered to carry an extra device. So I am on and off about carrying ipad on work. I do however use it extensively for vacation time. Maybe this will change as time progresses.

  4. bluewoodtree says:

    I am just wondering if you can hook up an external monitor via the apple hdmi adapter? I could imagine using an external monitor as extended display next to the touch screen at home (including bluetooth mouse and keyboard)

  5. Rob Whittaker says:

    Another great article.

    A think the day of the desktop is numbered, especially now I can get my citrix desktop on ipad and Android. I am expecting a convergence of these devices, like the Asus padfone.

    @bluewoodtree Not quite the same. There’s a youtube video of someone using there phone as a desktop, as an experiment. He connected a monitor, bluetooth keyboard and track pad. It was very effective.

  6. Jose HC says:

    Great tips… my main issue is that I am constantly working on either PPT or XLS… so a laptop can never be too far away. Perhaps one day.

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