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How much of your job can you really do on an iPad?

Macworld Staff | July 22, 2014
Tim Cook recently said that he performs 80% of his work on an iPad--and he thinks everyone should do the same. But is that really realistic?

Serenity Caldwell (Associate Editor, Macworld)

Circumstances have, on occasion, forced me to use an iPad for work; at those times, I found it feasible but not comfortable. So, though I spend a good chunk of my work time testing and playing with iOS apps, when it's time to write about them I invariably go back to the Mac.

That's partly a matter of convenience: If I'm writing about an iOS app, it helps to have it open on one device while I'm writing on another. That's not to say I don't like writing on the iPad: I've written many things on both my iPad mini and iPhone. I find doing so can help center me and tune out the noise that comes from constantly switching applications, monitoring chat rooms and Twitter, and checking email. But those projects are usually personal, rather than professional; I find that I prefer a multi-screen workflow for work-related content.

As Chris mentioned above, our content-management tools aren't built for a touch screen. Nor is it practical to constantly be switching among applications to, say, be sure I haven't missed an important bit of information in our newsroom while I'm working on something else.

Given the right job and the right software tools, it's certainly possible to do all or nearly all of your work on the iPad. But at the end of the day, it's about matching the device to the task. I don't know what Tim Cook's daily schedule looks like. But I imagine it involves a lot of email, viewing Web-based reports and the visual output of designers, and the like--all tasks that are eminently achievable on the iPad. And if he runs into something he can't do with it, he knows who to call to make the tool he needs.

Jason Cross (Executive Editor, Greenbot)

I currently do zero percent of my work on my iPad. But if I really had to, I could probably do 90%--maybe even 100%--of it on Apple's tablet. But it would be slow and laborious.

For one thing, having multiple windows open--preferably on multiple monitors--is a core component of my daily workflow. I need to be able to drag an image from a webpage to my local machine, then into Photoshop (real Photoshop, not just any old image editor). I need to drag multiple images from my local files into our CMS, copy and paste large blocks of text, and quickly highlight text for comments, links, or edits.

Can the iPad do all this? Sure, at least in some roundabout way. I can save an image, then switch over to an image editor and edit it. It would take more time to resize those images precisely (for which I have simple presets on the desktop). It would take more time for me to manage multiple files at once, just as it would take longer for me to open email attachments from writers, edit them, send them back, then take the next round of revised text and put it into our CMS.

 

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