523: State of the iPad

How does the iPad fit into your workflows and tech life?

After listening to this episode, I blew the (metaphorical) dust off my iPad mini 2, 2013 model. Not sure if I’ll continue using it. It’s cramped, and doesn’t hold a charge long. Still, I do like the light weight and how easy it is to hold. Maybe, as @MacSparky says, for reading?

As a journalist, my work takes me to a lot of professional conferences, where I do interviews, take notes on presentations and write articles. I found last year that the iPad 2018 was fine for that function, paired with an external keyboard. I had to cut a few corners but that was more than offset by light weight and long battery life. I still carry the MacBook Pro with me when I travel, but it stays in my hotel room.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a huge fan of the base iPad, and bought one for myself.

I do feel like if the iPad is someone’s main/significant device for work then getting the Air or Pro is worthwhile, but I also strongly believe that the base iPad should be the default option for most people. It is wonderfully fast for everything I do on it (with Graphic and Sketchup Viewer probably being the most demanding)
One of the great things about the common perception that the iPad is overpowered is that 2-3 year old processors are still very capable.

Looking forward to this one as an iPad first user. I use a pro and mini in my day to day. Editing podcasts, blogging, note taking, editing photos, reading, colouring, consuming. I do 90% of my day on an iPad. (Outside of having to use a windows PC in work of course LOL).

I got the iPad 4 within days of its release in 2012, and it’s still the one I use. It is, and always has been, a reader. I save articles to Instapaper all week, and then I read most of them on the iPad later, usually on the weekends. I also use it to read the occasional book in Apple Books. The only time it’s involved in work/creation is when I use it during voiceover gigs as a script reader. The OS stopped updating around 10.3.something, but I haven’t really noticed. As long as Instapaper, Books, and something that can open Word documents keep working, it’s as good as new.

I’ve been a bit of a crossroads recently (but in a good way). I use my original iPad Pro 12.9 as my daily driver for work in lab, because it’s great for the two things I need it for daily: reading research PDFs and taking notes for online storage of my day to day lab life. However, the lack of a good citation management application that isn’t total crap in order to write papers and the inability to run statistical software like SPSS keep me from going all in on the device for all my needs.

The crossroads part is that I really want to get a new laptop, but coughing up $2k for a new MBP isn’t particularly enticing. And it would definitely need to be with the new keyboard, as my 2016 MBP needed 3 replacements before I gave up on it.

iPad does a lot of things that I need, but not the two major roles that I need it to perform because of specific software packages, so at this stage it will remain a side-device and not a main computer.


Would the apponfly implementation of IBM SPSS work for you?


I think Apple has approached incorrectly their message with the iPad. They promote that it can be a laptop replacement. A mistake. Who wants to replace something that actually works? It is my opinion that they should have focused on promoting why the iPad is the best option to do some key tasks. It can replace activities that you do on a Macbook but if you need or want a Macbook, buy a Macbook. An iPad is perfect and more enjoyable to use for some tasks but it is more limited than a Macbook. Having an iPad allows you to be quicker and portable but even with the great improvements, you are limited by the software. You can do many tasks quicker on an iPad than a Macbook but others you simply cannot or are quite slow and clumsy. Even if I consider myself a Pro user of the iPad, I need my Macbook when going mobile. Mostly it stays on the bag but I still need it to be productive, I cannot depend on the iPad.


I first had an iPad 2, then the original iPad Pro (the large one), and now a new 12.9" iPad Pro.

Over the years I have heard David and Katie and Stephen talk about the Apple Pencil, and they always leave out one huge category of users for whom the Pencil is a great tool. They talk about artists and designers, and David talks about reviewing documents, but I can’t remember a time they’ve talked about educators. I’m a college professor and use my iPad Pro as much or more than my MacBook Pro at work or my iMac at home. In fact, I’m due for a computer upgrade at work and am seriously considering asking for a desktop and letting the iPad be my laptop.

What do I use the pencil for? Lots, including…

  • Grading papers! I have students turn in all their papers as PDF or Word files and use PDF Expert or Word to grade them. I had worked some with a tablet PC for a while, and I was really disappointed that it took so long to get the Pencil. Tablet PC’s were terrible for the most part, but their stylus was so much better than finger writing.
  • Digital Whiteboard — I project Notability or GoodNotes and use it as a digital blackboard, which allows me to post everything I wrote on the board later. I can also let students take over easily.
  • Creating videos. I don’t do tons of this, but I’ve used Explain Everything and other apps to create explanatory videos that I post to clarify issues students are wrestling with.
  • Research. Like David, I spend a lot of time reading PDF’s (usually of academic articles), and I prefer reading and taking notes on them with my iPad and the Pencil.

About the only thing that makes me nervous about using the iPad as my laptop is that I do a fair amount of work on other languages, and iPad’s keyboard support for alternate languages (at least the ones I use) is limited.

I love my iPad. I love the big one. Long live the iPad!


It’s surely a PC alternative, but I don’t think Apple ever called it a laptop replacement.

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I would be thrilled if we could get Zotero on the iPad. Getting stuff into Zotero from my iPad using the web interface is “non-optimal.”


I know that he says for “many people” but since the iPad Pro Apple shares the message that it replaces a PC (that includes a Macbook) with an iPad… Look at this:

“I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore?” Cook told in an interview. “No really, why would you buy one?”

Cook insisted that “the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people” who will “start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phone.”

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I’m a Mac user and was given a crappy dell by my employer last year. Our database system, CRM and email are all web based, so with a keyboard I was able to use my iPad Pro 11 to do most of my work. I still use my laptop on occasion for printing via a private network, and is usually just stored in my vehicle in case.

I use my iPad for photo.video editing, and note taking. It has replaced a laptop for me. I still use my home Mac on occasion when I want the screen real estate, but all my files are stored in ICloud or G drive, or Dropbox, and I’m able to access portable drives with the iPad. I love this thing, and love the Smart Keyboard as well.

The biggest hurdle was managing PDF’s but I was able to fix that by using Spark Email and PDF expert. It’s not great that I have to pay $9.99/mo for a good PDF solution, but I’ve been expensing it and haven’t been asked about it.

my 2 cents


Endnote actually has a great iPad app, it offers a lot of great annotation tools compared to other citation managers, but the “cite as you write” functionality isn’t that great, such to the point that I end up back on my iMac at work instead.

I agree about Zotero, it’s a really great community-built app and does exactly what it’s meant for, and it would be great if there was an iPad app that worked with it.

I enjoyed this episode and it really resonated with me, when David said that he doesn’t want to fumble with the dock and app layouts in front of a client. As most users in this forum, I’d call myself quite tech-savvy, but when I’m using my iPad in front of others I sometimes get nervous.

I also think that it currently is totally overpowered for the tasks most people throw at it. If the prices stay the same or even increase for this year’s generation of iPad Pros I can’t imagine a lot of people upgrading. I’d even say that a new generation of iPad Pros will create higher demand for the 2018 generation’s models. Similar to the Apple Watch 3, due to the then lowered price.

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I don’t think that a single 4.5 year-old interview response counts as Apple’s ‘message with the iPad.’

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I’m right with you (though I don’t do much with videos — that’s very occasional for me).

I use GoodNotes and Notability for different tasks. If Notability would make three changes, I’d start doing my GoodNotes tasks there. I like Notability’s interface a lot better (plus, I don’t have to tap the shape tool to auto-draw shapes).

  • Hide the user interface when projecting to a screen.
  • If using split screen and projecting, project only Notability.
  • Allow more than two levels of nesting.

An iPad [Pro included] is still not at the replacement of a Mac level. Sure it can cater to the needs of an individual user/developer. But it has its limitations. Its super mobile, other than that it still suffers from a desktop powered Mac in terms of features and Operating System. For someone in an enterprise Software world, using Mac to develop software, it still

  • Cannot ssh.
  • Coding using iPad is not that comfortable as one can do it on a Mac for long hours.
  • Firewalls and VPNs have not yet made into iOS/iPad OS.

It’s still a long way to go, but I would love iOS or iPad OS to get there as having an iPad is super mobile in and out of work.

I agree with Cook that "many, many people” people don’t need a traditional computer anymore. Sales of laptops and desktops have been steadily declining for more than a decade while tablet sales remain pretty steady.

And if you also count the millions of students, and others, that use Chromebooks exclusively, it looks like we have a significant percentage of the population who haven’t used a PC in years, if ever.

I’m retired, but still do some consulting and volunteer work. I have a Mac mini for a home server, but 90+ percent of my computing is IOS. I use my iPad for my personal computing as well as my consulting. (Some of my technical work is accomplished using other computers remotely, but that’s also the way I worked with my company furnished laptops.)

An iPad cannot replace every laptop/desktop any more that PCs & Macs are 100% interchangeable, but every year more people are using something other than a traditional computer, at least for their personal needs.

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