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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?

Dan Moren (Senior Editor, Macworld)

As someone who has on occasion forced himself to work on the iPad, I know I can get my job done from Apple's tablet. While those iPad workflows have yet to beat what I can do on my MacBook Air, I've gotten to the point where I can accomplish most of the tasks I need to do in a day--albeit slowly.

As many of my colleagues have pointed out, an external keyboard is imperative for writing anything longer than a tweet or short email. I could write a full article on the touchscreen keyboard if I had to. But as someone who touch-types more than 100 words per minute, the onscreen keyboard feels like running through a molasses spill.

That said, for mundane tasks like checking email, posting to Twitter, reading RSS feeds, accessing my calendar, and chatting with colleagues on via instant message or HipChat, the iPad is more than sufficient. I can even access remote file servers via Google Drive, Dropbox, and GoodReader. And, in a pinch, I can use Screens to access my Mac's desktop, which I have absolutely never ever done while sitting at the couch because I was too lazy to walk to my desk. Ever.

Overall, the biggest frustration about working on an iPad is the difficulty of multitasking. Part of that stems from having a slower iPad. My iPad mini (the original) essentially has the specs of an iPad 2, which means that every time I switch back to an app, there's a noticeable pause before the app is responsive again.

Even worse, simultaneously using multiple apps is still impossible. I can't, for example, easily look at a webpage and type up a story based on notes there; when I try to work on my iPad, I find myself using my iPhone as a second screen. For this reason, I'm really looking forward to iOS 8: Among other things, extensions should ease some of the pain of transitioning between apps. That alone could make a big improvement in my daily workflows, opening up all kinds of new possibilities.

In the end, it's not hard for me to imagine that Tim Cook can get 80% of his job done on an iPad--then again, he's also the CEO of a major company, meaning that he is also probably available to delegate a lot his day-to-day activities. Not that his job isn't intensive, but it's a different sort of gig from the kind of stuff the rest of us do all day.

Jason Snell (Editorial Director, IDGCSMB)

For a large part of my job, I'm on my MacBook. However, if I've got a meeting, I just bring my iPad mini, rather than my laptop. I can use the little tablet to take notes, check my schedule, and even call up a document I've got stored in Google Docs, Dropbox, or Office 365.


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