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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?

Mark Hachman (Senior Editor, PC World)

In general, I treat the iPad as I would any other tablet: as an alternative to my ThinkPad that I turn to only in a pinch. For me, a tablet can serve as a great second screen--for covering a keynote, say, or for keeping open a reference document. But that's about it.

One big impediment to using the iPad productively is Apple's reluctance to enable real multitasking on the iPad; switching from app to app nearly useless. That's why I treat the iPad as a glorified netbook, switching from browser tab to browser tab to get things done. (I use Chrome, but to each his own.) So if I want to keep one tab open as an Outlook browser while reserving another for business chat, I can.

The other big impediment is that I can't deal with typing on a sheet of glass. Fortunately, there are plenty of great Bluetooth keyboard stands for the iPad that can alleviate that problem.

In other words, I do about about zero percent of my actual work on an iPad right now. I simply have too many alternatives.

Roman Loyola (Senior Editor, Macworld)

For me, it isn't a matter of whether I can do my job on the iPad, but whether I can do so efficiently. My work habits involve switching between apps constantly, a seamless thing to do on the Mac. Sure, you can switch between apps easily on an iPad, but it's not seamless, and all that shuffling tends to wear on me after a while.

So much of my work involves our CMS that I don't think I could do even 50 percent of my job on an iPad--as others have pointed out, our CMS simply isn't built for mobile devices. It's worse for me than for some other editors because, as Macworld's reviews editor, I not only have to edit reviews: I also have to maintain product records in our database. Doing that requires those same touch-unfriendly CMS tools. And to create and edit those product records, I need to do research on the Web, find product images, and transfer data such as URLs from the vendor's site to the CMS. They're all relatively simple tasks that I can finish quickly on a Mac. But I can't keep up my preferred pace on an iPad.

When I do use an iPad for work, it's all about communications: email and social media. I almost prefer doing work email on the iPad--I say "almost" because I use Microsoft Outlook's Web interface, and its non-standard UI is horrible on the iPad.

I could reassess my work habits and, instead of fitting the way I do things now to the iPad, start over from scratch and create a new iPad-based workflow. But, to be honest, who has the time? I don't think I'll be giving up my MacBook Pro any time soon.


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