When Steve Jobs took the stage to announce the original iPad, he took us through a list of tasks a tablet would have to excel at when compared to a smartphone and computer in order to be successful. And then he sat down in a comfy chair and started tapping on the piece of glass in his hands, walking the world through the future. Though, the future ended up being a little different than what Jobs showed that day.
At the end of the keynote, one thing was clear: the iPad was originally thought of as a device for consuming content. It was meant to read books, browse the web, view photos, watch movies, and play games.
Then something exciting happened — as developers began creating productivity apps to take advantage of the larger screen, the iPad gradually started to change the way we work. Apps, however, are only half of the iPad's story of transformation (and something I will discuss in my next Work Beyond Mac column!). The other half, accessories, have placed the iPad in briefcases and on desks across the globe.
I've long touted the iPad as my favorite computer, for its simple, distraction-free interface combined with portability and battery life. But even so, I'd have trouble getting my work done if not for a few select accessories. This is the gear I've come to rely upon to get the most out of my iPad.
The iPad's keyboard is sufficient when typing out short iMessage replies and tweets, but when it comes down to it, it's not meant for extensive writing. By pairing a Bluetooth keyboard to an iPad, the familiarity of physical keys makes it more appealing to sit down and type out a long email — or in my case, write this article. In addition to more efficient typing, you gain precious screen space normally hidden behind the digital keyboard.
My favorite, the $100 Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover has been a staple in my bag for the two-plus years. (The new version for the iPad Air 2 is great too.) It's lightweight, has a battery that doesn't know how to quit, and its keys feel similar to Apple's Wireless Keyboard, making the transition from Mac to iPad nearly seamless.
Whether or not you spend your day writing like I do, an external keyboard is a must for iPad users who want to start leaving a heavy laptop at home more often.
SD card reader
There's a long list of cloud services to keep our photos synced across multiple devices, including Apple's own Photo Stream (or iCloud Photo Library for the adventurous). However convenient each service might be, none provide an all encompassing solution.
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