I just had a friend email me something including this text:

Will be interesting to see how the iPad unfolds. I find it hard to believe it’ll be a serious productivity tool until voice rec or a fast method of input becomes a thing. But I wouldn’t want to bet against it either :)

I had been debating with him about a tool he’s building and talking about how important I think the iPad is and he is disagreeing. I get it. It took me a long time to grok the overall nature of an iPad but I think I finally have it.

As I write this I’m on vacation and the family is at rest (it’s a little past 5). I’m doing my normal vacation thing - making progress on a recreational coding project. Here’s what my “desk” looks like:


On the left is a Macbook and on the right is an iPad Air 2 wrapped in a Belkin keyboard case.

Now the Belkin case is an add on product so its hard to argue that its a general purpose productivity tool. But what adding a keyboard case to your iPad does is make it into:

1 pound micro laptop an 8+ hour battery with wireless connectivity anywhere you are

I’ve used an iPad in this configuration to pull off the highway in the middle of absolutely nowhere West Virginia and ssh into a server to terminate a runaway process. I didn’t have to worry about a separate data plan for my “real” laptop. I didn’t have to worry about pairing my iPhone with laptop. I just whipped out my iPad and used Prompt from Panic. Even tho there are lots of places where I’m hesitant to bring a full fledged laptop, there’s pretty much nowhere these days where you can’t bring a tablet.

Now let’s say that you don’t want to add a keyboard case to your iPad, well, there are still lots of productivity reasons to use an iPad aggressively:

  • Passwords. Add a password manager like Enpass coupled with Dropbox and you can have all of your passwords with you everywhere. That’s powerful.
  • Good Notes. Add a stylus and you have a pen based not taking solution for conferences where you can hold your iPad up, capture the projected screen and then add your own notes. I saw this at ElixirConf and asked the individual (I forget his name but he was from Basho; nice folks).
  • The app store in general. It took me a long time to understand this but the cutting edge of software development no longer happens on OSX or Windows or even Linux. Its happening at the app store level. Now from a business perspective I find tying your business to this type of walled garden terrifying but developers are doing it in droves. And you’re seeing real changes like that iOS Twitter clients seem to be updated more frequently than the OSX versions. There are great productivity apps out there like Good Notes but you do have to look for them. One great example is Scrivener for iPad which has finally shipped.
  • There’s an aspect to modern productivity which doesn’t involve tons of data input - things like reviewing tweets, keeping up with your facebook feed, etc can readily be done on an iPad. Any type of information consumption can arguably be done more easily on an iPad.