How the iPad is used by AppleInsider staff and why it remains important

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in iPad edited May 27
The iPad is in an odd place in Apple's lineup because it can meet a wide range of casual and professional needs. Here's how the iPad fits into the lives of AppleInsider staff.

Apple's iPad is used across AppleInsider for work and play
Apple's iPad is used across AppleInsider for work and play


When Steve Jobs first revealed the iPad in 2010, he positioned it as the perfect consumption device. It was a product built to deliver books, newspapers, and media while you recline in a big, comfy chair.

Fast forward to today, and Apple has muddied this vision a bit with the iPad Pro. Now, the iPad is positioned as a productivity device with the Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, M1 processor, Thunderbolt port, and advanced multitasking. However, consuming media is still a primary function.

Most of the AppleInsider staff use an iPad in their day-to-day or integrate it into their workflow. Here's what device they use and what got them invested in the iPad in the first place.

Wesley Hilliard

After spending a few years and a bunch of money on various Samsung tablets, Sony convertibles, and Windows laptops -- I finally arrived at Apple and iPad in 2014. The simplicity of the software paired with its broader ecosystem of products just clicked.

iPad Pro pre-trackpad support still served as a productivity machine
iPad Pro pre-trackpad support still served as a productivity machine


Imagine my surprise when Apple revealed the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Folio Keyboard a year later. It was as if Apple had renewed its dedication to the iPad right as I discovered it.

The slow march of improving iPad hardware and software has led to what we have today. The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet computer with the same processor as a MacBook Pro, yet it is held back by how iPadOS handles certain types of software. Yet again, iPad enthusiasts look to WWDC for another "finally" moment when Apple opens up the iPad's capabilities ever so slightly more.

I love the iPad and used an iPad Pro as my primary and only work computer with AppleInsider for my first two years of employment, yes, even before proper cursor support. I had felt that the Mac and macOS had stagnated, and it transported me back to 2005 any time I touched the old Mac paradigm.

The advent of Apple Silicon changed this as Apple revived its aging operating system with some much-needed quality-of-life improvements. I purchased a 14-inch MacBook Pro (check prices) and started using it as my primary computer late in 2021.

Universal Control increases the iPad's utility in a Mac-focused setup
Universal Control increases the iPad's utility in a Mac-focused setup


Serendipitously, Apple introduced Universal Control and allowed me to continue implementing my iPad Pro in my day-to-day workflows. I can utilize every facet of the iPad Pro while still using the Mac as the primary workhorse.

I have two iPads and a MacBook Pro working in tandem when I'm at my desk. The MacBook Pro is connected to a Studio Display where I perform my daily tasks. The iPad Pro is off to the side, displaying the news, Twitter, and other media for reference. I'm able to move my cursor to the iPad and grab snippets of text, images, and additional information without moving my hands away from the Mac trackpad.

Sure, I could get another display and have these kinds of information available there instead. However, the iPad Pro is so much more than a dumb monitor. For example, I can run Pixelmator Pro on the iPad Pro using SideCar and take advantage of the Apple Pencil for editing.

My iPad mini acts as a media control hub for my HomePods during the work day. It gets most of its use as my portable device I use around the home outside of work hours. I've found that the iPad mini 6 (check prices) is the epitome of Apple's original vision of the iPad as a consumption device.

The iPad mini works great as a media control device when at the desk
The iPad mini works great as a media control device when at the desk


The iPad Pro is my portable work machine. If I want to work outside or take my work with me to a coffee shop, the iPad Pro is what goes with me. I prefer the iPad as a portable computer while the Mac works best at a desk with a monitor.

When I travel, the iPad Pro and iPad mini work in tandem as a tiny mobile office. If only Apple let me initiate Universal Control from an iPad.

The iPad remains my favorite Apple product, and I expect its capabilities will only grow with each passing WWDC and hardware release. Eventually, I expect it will supplant the MacBook Pro and become my only computing device for work again.

William Gallagher

The iPad didn't come out here in the UK until the end of May 2010, two months after its US launch. But the BBC magazine I worked for imported one for testing, and I vividly remember being handed it.

That first impression of surprise at how small it turned out to be, was followed by a realization that I'd quickly forgotten that and instead become engrossed in what I was reading. That was when I knew I was going to buy one.

William's iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard get a lot of heavy use
William's iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard get a lot of heavy use


I've had a few iPads over the years since then, and each time it's been both a workhorse for my writing business and what I turn to for relaxation. I've used iPads for reading, watching films, writing scripts, and even editing videos on occasion.

Today I've got an 11-inch iPad Pro (check latest prices), and my use did initially dip after I also got a 14-inch MacBook Pro. Yet if I used to drain the iPad Pro's battery every single day, it's now never more than every two days.

And as well as reading and writing on it, it's now often a companion screen for me using the startlingly good Universal Control.

Amber Neely

The iPad is, hands down, my favorite Apple device I own, though it does get used admittedly less than my iMac. I love the portability of the iPad, and I think that iPadOS is a fantastic platform.

I primarily use my iPad as a personal device rather than a work-facing device. I use it to create digital art, watch shows on Discovery+, view recipes while I cook, and as a way to keep in contact with friends and family when I travel.

Amber uses the iPad Air for art and media consumption
Amber uses the iPad Air for art and media consumption


My current setup includes iPad Air 4 (on sale), a second-generation Apple Pencil, and a Magic Keyboard. When I'm creating art, I bounce between using the Sketchboard Pro or a smaller, desktop easel-style stand.

I also use the PenPad, which has been instrumental in reducing wrist fatigue while I work in Procreate for long hours.

Mike Wuerthele

This house jumped on the iPad early. The original iPad gave the Internet back to a pair of senior citizens in the house, and then later to a stroke-afflicted wife because she couldn't use a full-size computer keyboard very well anymore.

We originally hoped we'd have to use one as an assistive communication device, but that didn't pan out for reasons unrelated to the technology. Instead, two other children have used one for education, recreation, and music.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is great for reading documents and books
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is great for reading documents and books


My own use is light. Most of what I read is letter-sized and not paperback-formatted, so I bought one immediately for myself when the 12.9-inch iPad Pro came out.

But, as I've said so many times before, I'm Mac-primary, iPhone secondary. That puts my iPad in a distant third for computing needs. So much so that I didn't see a need to buy the micro LED M1 iPad Pro for myself.

And even that 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro that I bought in 2020 has been passed on. I've since shifted back down to a 10.2-inch iPad, and not even the newest version.

So, as such, I don't use much in the way of accessories. I still have my original Apple Pencil that I used with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro when I need a stylus. I don't use it for production, so there's no need for a keyboard -- but I did use the Magic Keyboard with my 2018 iPad Pro and liked it very much. Even when I travel, it's not out for long, so it's "naked" with no case.

I don't think this is going to change. I don't see giving up the Mac ecosystem.

Unless Apple does something like a high-end iPad that can load macOS I don't see another iPad Pro in my personal use future. Despite some ill-informed speculation about a patent from some sources notwithstanding, I don't see that happening.

Malcolm Owen

I ordered my 9.7-inch iPad Pro in March 2016, making it a six-year-old bit of hardware that I still use daily.

Why the iPad Pro? At the time, I wanted to upgrade my mobile computing setup, and while I could get a notebook, there was also the allure of moving from my Google Nexus tablet to something better.

An iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard was basically the same as a notebook, except separate and a fair bit smaller, I thought at the time. There may be some curveballs, but surely it would work for my mobile computing needs. Years later, and it's safe to say that it did.

Malcolm's 9.7-inch iPad Pro is still chugging along six years later
Malcolm's 9.7-inch iPad Pro is still chugging along six years later


I'm still using that same iPad Pro today, but not necessarily in the same capacity as I once did. Before, I would write while sitting in a local coffee shop, use it for photo editing with an Apple Pencil instead of buying a tablet for the Mac, or practically any task that I didn't necessarily have to be in the office chair for.

Now, its workload is a little bit more relaxed, with an iPhone picking up a lot of the slack. I'm not going out as much as I used to, but I still use it for image editing, including remote control and review of my mirrorless camera's creations using a companion app.

It does spend a lot more time at the desk. It acts as a jukebox while I'm working or can be used for quick searches while playing a game and needing to check something.

Six years is a long time, and it's probably due for an update. I think the fact I went with the Pro has helped keep it usable all these years later, but its days are certainly numbered.

Next, I may consider a return to pursuing a remote working setup. If the money fell into my lap, maybe an M1 iPad Pro and a Magic Keyboard (check prices). After all, if I'm using it for the next six years or so, I might as well do it properly.

Mike Peterson

I am admittedly not much of an iPad user. In my day-to-day life, the iPad Pro that I have has been restricted to kitchen duty for looking up recipes while cooking. It didn't start that way, however.

I've never been an early adopter of new technology. I got an iPhone years after the first one debuted, and the same goes for the iPad. I don't think I received my first tablet in time enough for it to make a significant impact -- I still vastly prefer computer operating systems to the touch-based controls of iOS or iPadOS.

The iPad Pro is a great tablet even when used outside of professional work
The iPad Pro is a great tablet even when used outside of professional work


However, I did use my first iPad -- a second or third-generation model -- for GarageBand. For years, the tablet served as my main musical creation device. I had GarageBand on my Mac, but I didn't have any audio interface or MIDI keyboard for creating tracks. The iPad's touch controls became handy for digital piano or drums. I later bought an Apogee Jam, which let me record a guitar or bass.

I continued using the iPad to make music until I bit the bullet and bought Logic and a digital piano with MIDI. I haven't looked back since. So the iPad stays in the kitchen.

While I've long considered an iPad-based portable writing setup with a Magic Keyboard, I still haven't been able to justify it. Maybe one day.

Andrew O'Hara

I admit that I haven't always been a lifelong Apple user. I know that is probably the case for several of you out there, but I got into the Apple ecosystem via the iPod before jumping to the Mac and everything else.

This makes me a little late to the game with much of Apple's gear. However, with the iPad, I've been there since the beginning.

The iPad Pro becomes a work machine when paired with the Magic Keyboard
The iPad Pro becomes a work machine when paired with the Magic Keyboard


I have incredibly fond memories of the initial iPad launch. Back then, both my grandfathers were still around, and we got up during the wee hours to take up our post in front of the local Best Buy since there were no Apple Stores nearby at this point. I'd wait outside in the elements while my grandfathers would take turns sitting with me and warming up a bit in the idling car.

Even after getting that first iPad, I wasn't sure what to do with it. It did a lot of things, but none exceptionally well. I think it was more of a media consumption device than anything, though I did do some typing with that quirky keyboard and dock combo Apple had released. When not in use, it sat in our trashy college house as a persistent picture frame while docked, proudly displaying our group's escapades.

Things have changed since then, and now it's become one of my most oft-used Apple devices. I prefer using it to my Mac for most tasks, and I've come to love how versatile and immensely portable it is.

I own both an iPad mini for around the house and travel and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro for getting things done. I yearn for the day when Apple adds real external monitor support and makes a mobile version of Final Cut, but otherwise, I'm a huge fan of what the iPad has evolved into.

Read on AppleInsider
dewme

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    tzterritzterri Posts: 101member
    I love mine in my car setup while doing deliveries.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,465administrator
    While the article wasn't clear about this, we do want to hear about and see what you use your iPads for.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    amar99amar99 Posts: 121member
    This is sort of a strange article. It's almost like an article about an article...a love letter to, or summary of, the iPad and how it fits into the Apple ecosystem, in mostly broad terms.

    The readers still wonder: How do AppleInsider employees actually use their iPads, in a very practical sense? Specifically, what apps do they use? Why, versus a Mac? Workflow ideas? etc. Something we can actually take away and apply.
    edited May 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,465administrator
    amar99 said:
    This is sort of a strange article. It's almost like an article about an article...a love letter to, or summary of, the iPad and how it fits into the Apple ecosystem, in mostly broad terms.

    The readers still wonder: How do AppleInsider employees actually use their iPads, in a very practical sense? Specifically, what apps do they use? Why, versus a Mac? Workflow ideas? etc. Something we can actually take away and apply.
    Which iPads the AI staff use is a very frequent question we get, so we've decided to answer it sooner rather than later.

    "The readers" that you speak of can read other pieces that we've done on practical uses, and others yet to come.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    Wesley HilliardWesley Hilliard Posts: 66member, moderator, editor
    amar99 said:
    This is sort of a strange article. It's almost like an article about an article...a love letter to, or summary of, the iPad and how it fits into the Apple ecosystem, in mostly broad terms.
    I thought it covered this quite clearly. App and workflow breakdowns don't really have a place in an already long article about general use case. William uses his for writing, Amber uses hers for art, Mike P uses his for music, Andrew uses his for most tasks same as I do.

    I've multiple lengthy articles about my iPad uses and how it has evolved and I've linked to a couple. As Mike W said, there's always more going to be written about these things. All you have to do is look.

    And if you have any specific questions, Andrew, William, and myself are active on Twitter.
    watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 11
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,250member
    Very nice article. Like Andrew, I came into the Apple ecosystem via iPod, then iMac, then iPad, and finally iPhone.

    When I watched the iPad launch presentation with Steve sitting on the couch and stepping through the iPad's various features I was immediately captivated by its utility, not only for what it could deliver but for what it could eliminate. The iPad eliminated stacks of magazines, hundreds of pounds of books, photo albums, dedicated music player, dedicated GPS navigation device, the need to carry 8-10 pounds of laptop with all of its claptrap, etc. I'd previously owned several generations of what Microsoft thought were portable (PDA anyone?), handheld, and tablet computing devices.

    The day the iPad was announced made it clear to me that every single one of the devices that preceded the iPad still had at least one leg stuck in the primordial ooze that the iPad had emerged from. Those devices were forever stuck in yesterday and were largely artifacts of priorities defined by industrial, commercial, and business needs. Business devices dressed up as personal devices, with all of the personal appeal that comes along with that lipstick-on-a-pig exercise. The iPad was the first meaningful incarnation of a personal computing device with its DNA built around individual and "truly" personal needs - a slab of glass that could morph to whatever you wanted it to be in your personal life.

    At the time I bought my first iPad had a company issued business laptop and business dumbphone that I'd carry with me when traveling. All of my personal computing and communication equipment was pretty much anchored to my home office desk. My iPad with cellular connectivity allowed me to bring the essentials of my personal computing and connectivity experience with me everywhere I had to go, which was around the world. Shortly after getting my iPad I spent a couple of months in Singapore. Being able to slide a Singtel SIM card into my iPad and have unlimited connectivity for about $20 a month while being 10K miles away from home was transformative.

    I appreciate the "Pro" versions of the iPad, but the iPad will forever be my my favorite "truly personal" computer. I've never asked it to replace my "work" computers, which are now Macs. The iPad, and especially the mini, doesn't place any big demands on me so there is always room in my life and my baggage to bring it with me regardless of whatever else I need to carry.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    thttht Posts: 4,390member
    My iPP10.5 LTE has been my personal computer for the past 5 years or so. I have the Apple sleeve with Pencil holder. I use the software keyboard, in landscape, as the primary text input. It's much more mobile than a laptop, so I can take it anywhere with me: waiting for the kids somewhere, on a table, on vacation, in bed, etc. I use it for Safari, News, games, apps, streaming, business, shopping, scratch paper, teaching tool, books, what have you.

    Looking forward to replacing it with a large display iPad Pro soon. A little trepidatious about the increased size and weight, but if iPadOS is going go have overlapping arbitrary sized apps soon, bigger will be better. Also wish Apple could make the software keyboard more flexible. Like, make the layout user designerable even.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    I have an original 1st gen iPad Air and a 2018 11" iPad Pro. I use them both as additional monitors simultaneously connected to my 2020 13" MBP i5 in my WFH set up. The Air connects using an app called YAM (installed on both iPad and Mac) with a wired lightning-to-USB connection, while the Pro uses Sidecar (via WiFi). This way, I have a continuous, extended desktop, compact triple-monitor configuration using only my MBP keyboard/trackpad along with BT mouse as interface.

    YAM is quite nice, seeing as it works with an old iPad that doesn't support Sidecar, and can be used at the same time as Sidecar. The YAM app on iPad was $7.99 and the Mac app is free. YAM is very reliable, but I have to say, Sidecar is not that reliable for me -- it sometimes loses connection, with display still showing but cursor not able to move to that display. I have to disconnect and re-connect in Display Preferences to bring it back. (WiFi signal strength is always very strong, so not sure why Sidecar would not be more reliable). This happens even if YAM is not being used.
    edited May 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,067member
    iPad primary, iPhone secondary, then Macs. I work on a crummy Dell laptop for my current job contract, but when not working it’s usually the iPad. iPhone when out and about, and Macs when working on personal projects. 
    dewme
  • Reply 10 of 11
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,144member
    I have the 12.9" iPad Pro with the M1 chip and it is probably my favourite Apple device. I use it either on its own or paired with the Magic Keyboard and find it an absolute joy to work on.

    I have the original 5K iMac, but I use it very sparingly now. I use the iPad for everything, from documenting, to photo editing, to reading comics, watching movies and browsing.

    The iPhone is almost like an essential device and it blows me away every time I use the camera on it, but the iPad brings me real joy every time I open it.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    I also use mine in the car for navigation, but that is just a few times/year, mainly I use it as entertainment on my daily commute to work by train, and for email and reading AppleInsider and other webpages during lunch break. And at home for reading in bed or the sofa. I have a 2018 iPad Pro 11” that I use most of the time, while my old iPad Air stays in the kitchen for music playback, and an iPad gen 6 (I think) stays on my living room table for checking stuff like IMDb and other things while in front of the TV.
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