‘Giving Up the iPad-Only Travel Dream’

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

In the battle between iPad and Mac, I’m a longtime member of Team Both — I use my Mac most of the day at my desk, but when I write elsewhere in the house or backyard, I switch to an iPad Pro in the Magic Keyboard case. And that iPad (in a regular case) is my primary computing device when I’m not in work mode.

I’m not at all ready to declare the “use iPad to get work done” experiment dead. With the forthcoming release of iPadOS 17, Stage Manager has thrown in a bunch of improvements that suggest the iPad’s progression to more functional status continues, albeit at a pace that’s a bit too slow for my liking.

But here I sit at my mother’s dining room table, typing on a MacBook Air. Something has changed in my approach to travel, and I’m trying to understand just what it is and what it tells me about the trajectory of the iPad as a productivity tool.

I’ve written at length, multiple times, about my decidedly mixed feelings regarding the iPad — most stridently in January 2020, in a piece titled “The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10”. Stage Manager is the biggest change to the iPad interface since I wrote that, and its existence certainly helps on that “power user” front. (And Stage Manager sees some nice improvements in this year’s iPadOS 17.) But for me personally, I continue to find that I’m most productive when I spend my working time in front of my Mac. Gobs of people thrive using their iPads for writing and other creative endeavors. But I know I’m best off, productivity-wise, using my iPad basically as a single-tasking consumption device for long-form reading and video watching.

The reason this topic remains evergreen is that I want to use my iPad more. There’s something ineffable about it. It’s a thrill when I use my iPad to do something that an iPad is actually best at. I honestly think I’d be more productive if I owned no iPad at all, yet I keep trying to find ways to use it more.

So when I travel, it’s never a question whether I’ll pack my MacBook Pro. Even if I don’t plan or want to work during a particular trip, the one-man-show nature of Daring Fireball means I feel that I need to be able to. (I was on a family vacation, preparing to head to dinner, when this news broke 12 years ago yesterday.) The question is whether I even pack my iPad Pro at all, or just go it alone with iPhone and Mac. When I’m packing, I generally wind up tossing the iPad in my bag, thinking I’ll miss it if I don’t. But when I do just leave the iPad at home, I don’t miss it. It’s confounding, though, because I’m going on a trip next week and I bet I’ll take my damn iPad.

Friday, 25 August 2023