A couple weeks ago, I wrote a quick note signaling my intent to predominantly use my iPad as my main computer when I travel going forward. What started as a successful two-day experiment led to a long weekend away last week. That went well enough that I’m confident in my choice. The iPad is my new road machine.
While this may not sound like a big deal — I’m hardly the first to do this — consider that I’m a heavy, heavy computer user. In particular, I write a lot. Blog posts, emails, tweets, etc. The iPad is not supposed to be good at those things. It’s not supposed to be able to replace a laptop for people like me. And yet, it is.
To be fair, I am cheating a little bit. When I know I’m going to do a lot of typing on the iPad, I break out the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I bought one on a whim a few weeks back while I was in an Apple Store. Simply put: it’s amazing. Best $99 I’ve spent in a while. It’s so good that I fully expect Apple itself to do something in this space.
Yes, I’m the guy who just a couple months ago wasn’t a huge fan of the notion of Microsoft’s keyboard cover for the Surface. (Though I did note that it was a smart thing to try.) My main issue is that I view the physical keyboard as a crutch — a link to the past.
The future of computing will be wrapped in new inputs. Touch, voice, gestures, etc. A tablet screen with a keyboard keeps the old paradigm alive. But here’s the thing: for people of my generation and the generations before me that grew up with the keyboard, it’s a necessary evil for now. It’s comforting. It will ease the transition to tablets.
I’m sure I could get used to the software keyboard — in fact, I see people from time to time who seem faster typing on it than a real one — but unlike smartphones with keyboards, the tablet physical keyboards don’t take anything away from the device itself, like screen real-estate. They’re fully supplemental (and optional) tools.
For most tasks on the iPad, I’m fully touch-ready. In fact, I’m now so used to my iPhone and iPad that I reach up to touch the screen of my MacBook more than I’d care to admit. It’s simply a much more natural interface than using a mouse. You see an area you want to take action on? Touch it.
That’s one reason why the iPad is such a powerful tool with children. It just makes sense. There is basically no learning curve.
This thought leads some skeptics to suggest that maybe the iPad is just that: a children’s toy. It’s not a real computer. But that’s crap. Again, I’m a heavy computer user. And I’m getting comfortable enough with the iPad now that I much prefer to use it in the vast majority of computing situations.
No, it’s not as good at multi-tasking as a traditional computer. But in many ways, that’s actually refreshing. It moves us away from the era of always being distracted and trying to do six tasks at once. Focus.
Also remember that this is still the early days of tablets. The new iPad is very powerful, but in a few years, it will seem insanely weak and slow. The things we’ll be able to do with them will grow exponentially. And more people will end up like me: carrying around a tablet instead of a laptop.
To be clear, I’m not going to throw away my laptop anytime soon. I just replaced my standard desktop machine of the past few years, an iMac, with a Retina MacBook Pro. There’s no question that it’s far more powerful than even the current top-of-the-line iPad. And that gap isn’t likely to close for years.
For things like video-editing, photo-manipulation, and programming, traditional computing will remain the work-horse. But it will increasingly remain at home or at work.
And yes, I wrote this entire post on my iPad.
Or, if you prefer, “Sent from my iPad”.