Editors note: This article speaks about two apps, Notesy and OmniFocus for iPad. Although the author uses these to get work done, these are by no means the only apps that can be used to be productive at work with an iPad.
When the iPad was initially released the tech media touted it as a “consumption only device”. This was mostly do to its lack of fast input that you would normally experience on a notebook computer with a hardware keyboard. The touchscreen input on the iPad is a tad bit awkward, at least at first, but after a few days and weeks the input isn’t really that bad. Not to mention you can hook up an external keyboard with all fo the new keyboard docks and cases to get entry as fast as any laptop or desktop.
I program in a Windows shop but use a Mac, iPad, and iPhone personally. Because of this I tend to have all of my “systems” set up on my Apple devices and consider my Windows work environment a “context”. At first, I was trying to use my Mac so I had access to full-strength OmniFocus, but with a small desk added complexity I decided to try and use Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools; OneNote and Outlook.
That didn’t last long. So, it was time to employ an iPad-only type of work plan.
Can this once deemed “consumption only device” be used at work to get things done?
The best part about using the iPad at work is its size and shape. It fits perfectly next to my main keyboard at work with its Incase Convertible Magazine Jacket propping it up so I can input into OmniFocus or Notesy. I can also easily tear it down and put it off to the side if I need to jot down some mind maps or a possible software design in a paper notebook.
Because of the size and shape I can easily take it to meetings where I may need access to project notes or agenda items that I need to bring up. It works well in our daily team meetings as well; I load up issues that have come up since the last meeting and can easily go over them when the time is right.
I don’t feel locked down with using the iPad at work. I don’t have to worry about writing something down or printing it out from Outlook when I need to leave my desk. I just take the iPad and a notebook with me.
The 10+ hour battery life on the iPad allows it to be heavily used throughout the day with little worry about it dieing on you. In fact, if I am just using OmniFocus to guide my day I can easily get two or three days out of one charge. Try that with any laptop.
The battery life of the iPad alone makes it the ultimate productivity tool as you can keep it by your side all day. The only other device that is comparable to this type of battery performance is the iPhone.
This takes the portability and the battery life of the iPad and smashes them together. If you have something you can take anywhere with you that is on all day you can truly use it as a device to carry your ubiquitous, trusted system. And even if you can’t hit a hotspot all day, you can sync your data when you do.
Using my iPad at work with Notesy and OmniFocus I have a system that is rock solid and can be fully trusted. It helps me get more done throughout my day as well as allows me to sleep like a baby at night.
Still awkward input
The only thing that still is an annoyance with the iPad is the weirdness of input. I will never go as far to say that the iPad, because of its lack of solid input, is a “consumption only device”, but I can say that input can be a true pain. I tend to only use the iPad to enter quick actions, waiting fors, etc. If I want to get into project planning and organizing mode I do that on my Mac. Also, tools like myPhoneDesktop are nice if you have a constant WiFi connection and lenient IT policies at your work place.
myPhoneDesktop allows you to send text from you desktop (either Mac or PC) straight to you iDevice. It works surprisingly well.
Yes, you can use a bluetooth keyboard and case stand, thingy, but being the Mac fanboy I am I want to keep my iPad experience “clean” (you may flame me in the comments). iOS 5 should clear some of this up as the OS allows the landscape and portrait keyboards to be split in two seperate sections on either side of the screen. This allows the use of thumb typing like you would do on your cell phone which can be much faster and natural feeling then the touch-typing you have to do in landscape mode.
Solid work and life device
So, does the iPad stand up to be worked with? For this nerd, absolutely. Even with its input shortcomings, the benefits of a portable, always-on, ubiquitous device is just the thing that many knowledge workers need to augment their productivity.
I can’t express how much using an iPad at work has helped me keep track of important things as well as get things done.
Do you use an iPad or other tablet device for work? If so, how is it working out for you.