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Using the new 128GB iPad as my main computer – Day 2

Today marked day two of using the new 128GB iPad as my sole computing device.  To see my reasoning for this experiment and to hear my thoughts on how the first day went, make sure to check out my day one article from yesterday.

Day 2 – Some Weaknesses Begin to Appear

Today I had a full day of meetings, teaching, and desk work.  (The main reason for the lateness of this post – sorry folks!) I had to do some extensive document editing, giving me a good feel for what the iPad is capable of when some serious computing work needs to get done.  Though I got all my work done and  I continued to enjoy the benefits of the versatility of the iPad, I hit a couple of snags that I feel may be major headaches to anyone attempting to use the iPad as their only computing device.

Snag #1 – Working with Multiple Documents at Once

At work today I needed to take two documents and combine their information into one document by doing a lot of cutting, pasting, and editing of the text.  Basically, this meant that I needed to work with three documents all at once – the two documents I was pulling information from and the document I was pulling the information together into.  Unfortunately, there is no way to open multiple documents at once using Pages, Apple’s word processing app.  This led me to have to open and close documents over and over in order to go from one document to the next.  Eventually I opened up one document using the Dropbox app and one document using the Pages app just to have more than one document open and active at once.  Though this helped me get my job done, the process was a bit of a headache and reminded me of one serious limitation of iOS that I hadn’t thought of at the start of my quest to use the iPad as my main device.  If your work involves you needing to have many documents open at once for simultaneous editing, copying, and pasting, the iPad will not work as your sole device.  As this is a somewhat uncommon need for me, I don’t think I will bump up against this limitation very often.  However, it is enough to prevent me from being able to get rid of all of my laptop or desktop computing devices in favor of owning just the iPad.

The bottom app switching panel and I became good friends today. Working with three documents at once was a chore.

Snag #2 – The Inability to Upload Files to the Web other than Photos

As a teacher I often make use of the program Nearpod.  This is an online site that allows you to make interactive quizzes that you can give to your students via mobile devices such as iPads.  This site allows you to upload files into the presentation such as movie files, photos, .PDF documents, text documents, and more.  Unfortunately, due to the limitations of iOS and your limited access to the file system, I am only able to upload photos via the Safari web browser to the Nearpod website.  It is a rare occurrence for me to use files other than photos and images with as I design these interactive quizzes, however, this got me thinking about many other situations in which you need to upload documents onto the web from your browser.  I thought of situations such as submitting paper work on certain websites to submitting assignments in the form of documents to my school for my the online courses I am taking towards my Master’s degree.  I have yet to think of a workaround solution for this on the iPad.

Issues with Nearpod and file uploading via the browser – a key issue for me.

 Some Positives Remain

 I still love the portability of taking the iPad from room to room at work.  Most of the time I do not need the Bluetooth keyboard during my work day as most of my serious document editing takes place at the beginning and end of the day.  Carrying around your main c.  Again, not lugging around a charger or even needing to bring it to work at all is still an awesome feeling of freedom.

Carrying around your computing device like a book is great!

I continue to be impressed with the ability of the Dropbox and Cloudmagic apps to find documents that I need which are stored either on my various cloud drives or on the iPad itself.  Finding the documents I need to work on or use in a pinch has been a breeze.  This was something I really worried about at the beginning of this experiment and it has turned out to be a non-issue.

I also continue to enjoy my time away from the distractions of a full fledged computer.   I continue to find myself less likely to get sidetracked while working on my computer documents, writing my daily emails, or doing online research.  With no other windows to grab my attention, no twitter feed scrolling off to the side, and no extra windows begging for my attention, I have found myself spending less time off task.  As I said earlier this can be both a blessing and a curse.  It really depends on how serious of work you need to get done.  It’s a blessing when you are just typing out a single, simple document.  It is a curse when you’ve got multiple documents to work on and edit at once or pull together.

A Clearer Picture of Who This Type of Set-Up Will Work For

After day two, I really do feel I have a better feel for what type of person will enjoy using the iPad as their main computing device and who it will frustrate.  For someone who only needs to do light or simple document editing at work and home, email, and web browsing, an iPad will be more than sufficient for a main device most, if not all, of the time.

For someone whose work regularily requires heavy document editing, pulling together of various documents, copying and pasting, and flipping back and forth between different sources of information constantly, having the iPad as your only computing option will frustrate you and slow you down.

I sit right in the middle of these two camps.  I do a lot of work with documents, but only occasionally have the need to have multiple documents open at once.  I do often use a web browser while creating documents, but am able to put up with switching between just two windows.  Its the multiple document need that will only occasionally snag me.  Your mileage will very based on where you fall on that spectrum.

The Family Desktop/Laptop Central Hub and Tablet Approach

I’m beginning to believe in the idea that having one major computing device at home that the whole family shares, with individuals relying on their own personal tablets or smartphones may be the model that many families shift to.  This gives the family a full fledged computer that is occasionally used when someone has some serious work to do, and individual tablets for the majority of everyone’s lighter computing needs.  Documents, photos, and files would be stored and shared by all on the central “hub” computer, while everyone has their portable device with all their important day to day files loaded on them.  Seeing that my needs are 90% covered by the iPad in my day to day work while still recognizing there will be the occasional time I may need to shift to a more powerful computer.  I am leaning towards adopting this model at the end of this week long iPad experiment.  This would leave my iPad as my “main” device, while still giving my family and I a device that we all share to complete the heavier computer jobs. Could this model work at an office as well?

Opinion on Sole iPad Computing After Day 2 – Doable Most of the Time

For me it works and is enjoyable 90% of the time (your percentage may vary) and may work as a main device under the central family computing hub model outlined above for the occasional serious work.  However, if that is the computing model you feel would work for you, the need for a 128GB iPad is really moot.


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  • Jailbreak tweaks like Zephyr (for the app switching) and SwipeSelection (for editing) ease the pain of working with many documents, but the fundamental differences (problems?) still exist.
    Also, Jailbreaking might be out of the scope of this experiment.

    Keep it up, interested to see how this goes.

  • jim8151

    This is a bit of a hack, but to solve the multiple document problem, I would have just cut-and-pasted all the contents from the source documents into my working document, then rearranged and culled info as needed. But at the end of the day, it’s not an optimal solution.

    Nonetheless, kudos to you for giving this a try. It may be that there are some tweaks that Apple could engineer to work around a lot of these issues without compromising battery life, which obviously they are anal about. I would be surprised if they are not working on these sorts of “pro” improvements, however, since the biggest complaints about “getting real work done” on the iPad seem to be multi-tasking and file management.

  • Octavius

    Side by Side is an iPad that’ll let you veiw two web pages at a time, or take notes while your browsing, or download files. It works with dropbox too. You should check it out.

  • I was going to reply to this article with a ton of suggestions to fix the problems you’re having, but the lack of any response to any comments on the previous comments talked me out of it. Sorry, but I can’t be bothered talking to a wall.