The iPad Pro has become my laptop replacement

iPad Pro. Image ©2015, Steven Sande

iPad Pro. Image ©2015, Steven Sande

Back on New Year's Eve, Dennis laid out his reasons why the iPad Pro still isn't a laptop replacement for him. That same day, as I was sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas waiting for the midnight fireworks to begin, I was realizing that my decision to sell my 12-inch Retina MacBook and tie my fortunes to the iPad Pro was the correct decision for me. Why do we have different opinions on the subject? Well, as I've said from the start of the debate of MacBook vs. iPad Pro, it all depends on your workflow and your expectations. For me, the choice all boils down to two things: a lack of interruptions and a well-defined workflow.

The first thing I've noticed about using the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement is that I have fewer interruptions. When I'm working on my iMac, I tend to have way too many disruptions at any time. While that 27-inch beast is a fast and versatile computer, I tend to have way too many things running simultaneously and they all vie for my attention.

An email comes in, and suddenly I drop my writing to see what's happening. I get a tweet, and I want to answer it. I can run various analytics for the website, and I'm obsessed with looking at them. While it's great to have a lot of information coming in all the time, it's also a way to chase way too many squirrels (apologies to Pixar's Up and Doug the Dog).

I was the same way on my 12-inch MacBook and every other Mac laptop I've owned over the years. Every time I'd get one a MacBook set up the way I wanted it, I was trying to emulate the full desktop experience. On a small screen (I've had everything from the 11-inch MacBook Air to the 13-inch MacBook Pro), I found myself in a bit of trouble -- I'd try to navigate between the various open windows and once again get distracted by all of the various applications and notifications, the issue exacerbated by trying to switch to the screen I needed.

Using the iPad Air to write is like a breath of fresh air. I've come up with a very simple workflow, which involves using a Markdown editor (either Ulysses or 1Writer) on one side of the screen and another app (either FieryFeeds or Safari depending on my needs) on the other. Once the posts are written in Markdown, I close the editor, open up the Squarespace Blog app and pop my post in for publication. Unfortunately, the Squarespace Blog app still isn't iOS 9 multitasking-compliant, but once it is my workflow will become even smoother...

When a post is completed, I switch gears. I check and respond to emails, take a look at the Twitter feed, and so on. But by keeping myself to a maximum of two apps vying for my attention at any one time -- which is forced upon me by iOS -- I find I can actually be more productive. Sure, I could probably do the same on my Mac by just quitting apps that I'm not using and forcing myself to focus on the task at hand, but if I have a 27-inch screen and tons of power I'll be damned if I'm going to put that power and display real estate to waste!

Could I do all of my work on the iPad Pro? Well, I'm still a bit squeamish about moving my photography workflows to the platform, although I might be jumping on the Adobe CC for Photography bandwagon soon. Video? Well, there are amazing apps for iPad for doing video editing (witness the incredible Vizzywig 4K), and once again, without all of the "power tools" that are available on the Mac, I may find myself making more videos for the website.

How about those behind-the-scenes things that require "business apps"? You know, things like spreadsheets, accounting, and those other things I'd rather not think about? Yeah, I've been able to do all of them to my satisfaction on the iPad Pro. Microsoft has actually done a better job of making "office" apps for the iPad than Apple has, and I'm happy to say that Microsoft Office on the iPad is working just fine. Likewise, I'm able to handle the vast majority of my accounting needs with Intuit's QuickBooks on the iPad.

Those analytics that we need to keep Apple World Today growing? They're easy to get to and use on the iPad Pro, since they're all web-based. Recording and editing podcasts? I'm working on it...

So that’s it - I’ve switched, and I’m happy with my decision. When I’m on the road or just don’t feel like being tied to my iMac, the iPad Pro is doing just fine as a “laptop” for me.