Size Matters – Busting the Fallacy of the “It’s just a bigger iPad” Myth

Tim Cook holds up the iPad Pro
It’s an iPad Tim, but not as we know it Credit: Learnbonds.com

Just a Bigger iPad

Is the iPad Pro just a “bigger iPad?” I’d argue not, in the same way a 4WD isn’t just a “bigger car” or a A380 just a “bigger aeroplane.”

My experience with both the iPad Pro, and the iPhone 6s+, is that the footprint makes a significant difference by itself. And then there are additional features to boot.

Some areas which have made a material difference in these tools for work and travel:

 1. Battery life.

My phone easily lasts 2 full days. And I never worry about turning off services, or not using it for location tracking, photos, email, messaging, calls, video etc.

The iPad Pro easily lasts a week most weeks, and well over 12 hours of full usage (Internet, Video editing, composing etc)

2. Screen Real Estate

Both the iPad Pro at 5.6MPx and the iPhone 6s+ at True HD 1080p have striking screens that is brilliant for consuming video. The iPP actually is the best device I’ve used to date to edit video as well. You get all the screen size to view original HD footage, and plenty of space for video & audio tracks, transitions, titles, and clips.

The iPhone display finally makes it a device I’m happy to read novels on (although still use Audible more than Kindle when out and about). It’s actually big enough for chord charts for my guitar at a pinch. And as a navigator on the bike or in the car, the 5.5″ screen is bigger than many commercial GPS units. Suffice to say, previous iPhones now seem ridiculously small and unusable.

The iPP display makes it the ideal device for handwritten notes, and drawings. I regularly use this as a portable whiteboard with clients and colleagues.

3. The Camera

I still find it wierd to use the iPP as a camera, although it does a pretty decent job at 8MPx. Video is a respectable 1080p.

The iPhone 6s+, however, has an awesome camera. And with 4K video, about the only time I use another video camera is the GoPro Hero 4 Action Cam because I need to be hands free.

Both of these come into their own for Video Conferences, Facetime with family and friends, or Skype (for Business)/Zoom for work conferences. But it’s the size (again the screen) that make this a great experience.

4. Other Features

We’ve  already mentioned other features that put the Pro into iPad Pro, like the Pencil, Keyboard, Speakers etc.

Don’t Dimiss It

So be careful not to dismiss the iPad Pro as a professional tool, because you have experience with previous iPad’s and consider this just a ‘bigger’ device. I encourage you to give it another go, because you can do so much more.

“Real Work” and the Post-PC age

iPad Pro
The best work travel device

A former colleague, still working for Microsoft, commented on a tweet about one of my iPad Pro reviews today. He (somewhat predictably) ‘encouraged’ me to get a ‘real’ device. The Microsoft Surface Pro.

I responded with a baited hook about the superiority of the iPP, which (again predictably) he took. Hilarity ensued.

Surface Pro 4
(c) Microsoft – Surface Pro 4

Don’t get me wrong. The Surface Pro, v4, is a good computer. Damned expensive for the model that has any real functionality. Like double the price of the iPad Pro. And don’t compare the ‘speeds and feeds’ on Windows you need more processing power for all the processes that keep running in the background. But it is a good computer nonetheless. A great one even.

But it’s still a PC. And the world has moved on. Period.

One of Jeff’s taunts was for me to speak to him when I had ‘real’ work.

Which is when it hit me…

Quite apart from him being a salaried Microsoft evangelist, i.e. It’s his job to evangelise Microsoft products (easy with something as good as the Surface tbh), his whole perspective, Microsoft’s whole perspective, is that ‘real’ work is something you do on a PC. Something you need a PC to do.

But I don’t. And, actually, I rather consider my work is as ‘real’ as anyones’.

https://www.twitter.com/Rog42/status/735994161342472192

Components of Work?

Much like many ‘Information Workers’ my work entails some routine administrative tasks including expenses and timesheets, travel bookings and the like. All of these have mobile apps for Android and iOS. I don’t even bother with these on the iPad, my iPhone does the job.

Checking in for flights and hotels, including lounge and room access, again on the iPhone.

As you’d expect a lot of my work revolves around messaging, and I average about 60 – 120 emails per day. I deal with these on both the phone and tablet. The large screen, long battery life, constant connectivity, and awesome keyboard of the iPP make this a better device than any laptop, Surface or no. We use Microsoft Office365, so I don’t have any storage issues, and never a need for a USB drive.

Yes my work does entail ‘office productivity’ previously the domain of the PC:

As a Chief Technologist I’m constantly working on large proposals and whitepapers, mostly MS Word documents, sometimes with Excel spreadsheet financial models. Again the MS apps on iOS are great for these. But even before this was true, there were many alternatives that read and write these documents in native format.

Then there’s presentations. Personally, after 20 years of Powerpoint domination, I prefer Keynote on iOS (but not on OSX). Nevertheless, I enjoy Powerpoint on iOS now too. And no amount of animations, full screen pictures, nor embedded video, even online polls, is too much for the iPad. Indeed both the touch and pencil access on the iPP make this an awesome device to create, deliver, and annotate presentations.

There are a bunch of internal websites with sales and delivery collateral that I can’t access with the iPad unless I’m in the office. And some even when I am in the office. That’s a legacy of IE6 websites. Sigh. But as we shift work to the cloud, and O365, these are far and few between.

I also collaborate online. We use Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync) but I prefer both Zoom.us and Join.us. All of them work great on the iPad.

But my ‘real’ work is not about documents, or even presentations. It’s about influence. Interviews. Consulting. Sometimes educating. Definitely innovating. My work isn’t done when my inbox is empty (I wish), and it doesn’t begin with a document to write or edit. Technology is simply a tool. Documents simply a record, or one of many channels of communication. I don’t get paid for producing MS Office files, or even contributing to them. In the same way a pilot doesn’t get paid for filing a flight plan. We both have to do that as part of the job, sure, but that’s not the job.

And even if it were, you simply no longer need a full PC, with expensive processor, weight, fan, that needs LAN connectivity (WiFi rather than LTE) to do that. Not anymore. We live in a Post-PC world.

Other Industries

This week I’m facilitating envisioning workshops with a healthcare agency about the digital hospital and integrated care system of the future. The reality of how PC’s are constraining ‘real’ work is evident. Clinicians are held back by tethered PC’s with peripherals like mice and keyboards that get in the way of capturing information where and when they need it. We need to move beyond this to mobile devices, with natural and intuitive interfaces, to truly enable healthcare.

Recently the headmaster of a Sydney Grammar school published in a national newspaper his opinion that computers were a waste of time in class. Whilst I fervently disagree with him; my position is that education needs to change as technology enables us; I do agree that the architecture of the PC doesn’t lend itself to teaching. It’s not mobile enough, not intuitive enough, not connected enough. Too expensive, with too many barriers to entry. But an iPod (or MP3 player)? A tablet? A light, intuitive, mobile device with natural interfaces like speech and handwriting? These are devices that lend themselves to learning.

Work is not about using computers. Work is about teaching, healing, influencing, building, creating, entertaining, transacting, selling, serving, reporting, and leading. The PC did a great job of automating the paper based processes we used to arbiter knowledge. But it’s day is done.

Windows is not for Post-PC Devices

The <1% marketshare of Windows Phones leading to today’s layoff of the final 1850 Nokia staff is demonstrative that Windows, a brilliant PC platform, indeed PC OS’s have no place in the post-PC world. Google knows this. Apple knows this. Palm knew this a long time ago (sadly).

Or Startups

Even start-ups who’re using the power of the Internet, and programming, i.e. writing code, don’t use Windows PC’s. Even when they’re writing for solutions on Microsoft Azure. Actually that’s not entirely true. Of course many startups use Windows. Just not PC’s. When they need local compute power, Macs are predominent in the startup world. Many of these run Windows in bootcamp, or in a virtual machine. That is those that aren’t running Linux 🙂

Move On

Use the tools that enable, accelerate, and amplify your work. For now this is most likely a mobile device giving you the information you need, where and when you need it, with the processing power and ubiquitous access of the cloud, combined with the collaborative nature of social media.

Tomorrow it will probably be an Augmented Reality device giving you information from IoT sensors instrumenting everything, combined with the real time context from distributed AI & machine learning analytics systems.

I won’t buy a Surface, not even for work, because the iPad Pro is a superior device for my ‘real’ work. (Well that and my employer issues me with an laptop) I will very likely, however, buy the Microsoft Hololens 🙂

 

IPad Pro in Anger: Day Eight – Flying

Flying Home

There are many reasons for using a tablet on an aeroplane:

  • Entertainment
  • Creativity
  • Learning – and –
  • Work

Entertainment

As an entertainment device, the iPad Pro has no equal. The screen, both from a real estate and resolution perspective, is phenomenal. Also the brightness. I was next to someone watching a movie on a Surface Pro today. He asked me to close the window shade because of screen glare. The Pro was plenty bright enough to not need this.

Then there’s the battery life, which even without in-seat power on my recent SYD-SFO flight, lasted the whole flight.

Quite apart from purchasing iTunes movies and TV shows, you can get the OPlayerHD App, or VLC, or any number of video players. Simply copy movies in any format to the device, and et voila, your movie collection comes to life.

Creativity

Photo-20160201235906145.jpgIt is true that the iPad lends itself to creative tasks. Just today on two short haul flights between Sydney and the Gold Coast (1 hour flying time) on the iPad Pro I:

  • Used calligraphy to handwrite a thank-you note
  • Blogged
  • Edited video
  • Edited photos, and
  • Sketched

Of course there’s plenty more I could’ve done from creating music to building websites.

Udemy Course on Drawing
Udemy Course on Drawing

Learning

Here Udemy, iTunesU, Kindle, Kahn Academy, DuoLingo, and iBooks are my friend. So many options for learning, there is no longer an excuse for not finding the time to learn your next skill.

Work

Ok, the biggie. Can you really do real work on the iPad Pro, in an economy seat on an aeroplane?

Of course, that’s determined by your definition of real work. So let me say, for me, the compute tasks I need to do to conduct my work when travelling include:

  • Email
  • Reviewing & authoring documents (PDF’s & Word)
  • Reviewing, creating and delivering presentations
  • Reviewing spreadsheets
  • Research, both primary (mostly Interviews), and secondary (mostly Internet) which I need to collate, synthesise and share with colleagues
  • There is administrivia, like timesheets, expenses, booking travel, the leave and payroll system, and occasionally procuring equipment. All of these systems are web-based, and even with last years 108 days of travel, I can do these back in the office (or on a PC at home)

In the last two weeks I’ve flown 4 times – two 14+ hour flights to and from San Francisco, and two 1 hour flights to and from the Gold Coast.

On the Qantas 747-400, there is no problem doing serious work in economy. Both flights I was on the aisle (44C and 48H), in a seat behind another (so people reclined seats onto me). With the seat reclined, it was tough to use the iPad Pro on the in-seat table. There’s not quite enough room to extend your arms for the keyboard, without standing the Pro upright. However, there’s no problem at all with the keyboard on your lap.

If the seat in front is upright, the table is the way to go.

On the Virgin 737-800 I was in a window seat (29A) and found it pretty cramped. Once the seat in front reclined, there wasn’t really enough room to type comfortably. On the Embrauer 190, however, also a window seat (9F) there was room to type comfortably on the table, even with the seat reclined. I think the extra elbow room on the E190 contributes to this.

On all four flights I cleared my email, mostly before take-off.

Travelling to San Francisco saw me reviewing some 10 deep technical abstract papers, and summarising these for a calibration workshop. I also worked on a client PowerPoint presentation, and another client PoC Proposal (Word).

On the flights too and from Coolangatta I continued work on the Word proposal, and the PowerPoint presentation.

Of course it was hard to review anything without Internet Access, but I did read the pages I had clipped into Evernote prior to the flight.

I’m collaborating with others on both the Word and PowerPoint files, and as soon as I connected to the web again, MS Office365 OneDrive synced my changes to everyone else.

Added Bonus

There are five added bonuses for using the Pro as a travel work device:

  1. As it’s not a “laptop” you don’t need to remove it from your carry-on at security
  2. As it’s not a “laptop” you can use it (in airplane mode) from gate-to-gate
  3. LIghtning Connector – you can charge it in-flight on most long haul carriers. Not to mention everyone has a Lightning cable, and on the odd occasion you sit next to an Android Afficionado, you can pick up a cable in every airport. If you start with a charged device, you won’t need this on all but the longest flights
  4. No fan noise, or overheating.
  5. Integrated 4G means you can stay connected until the doors close, and reconnect as soon as you land, allowing you to send all of those queued emails, and post those blog’s.

Drawbacks

There are a couple of drawbacks:

  • That damned Pencil design. I’ve lost the magnetic lightning connector cap. It came off in a seat-back somewhere over the pacific, and is no more.
  • Also, the Pencil dropped during a meal, and rolled back 2 rows. This saw me using my iPhone torch at 3am somewhere to try and recover the device. (I recovered it). Seriously Apple – A CLIP WOULD BE NICE.
  • None of the Office Products are fully featured. This is particularly irksome on PowerPoint, especially if you’re trying to create graphics. Word is okay-ish: It’s ok for most text styles, and even tables. Just not ideal for graphics (e.g. No aligning function, no multiple select etc.) The workaround is to open the documents in Pages, or Keynote, and edit them with the rich tools there, then save them as Office formats. Either that or only do work that requires limited editing functionality.

The Answer?

Uniquivocally…

“Yes!”

I took both the laptop and the Pro with me for the last two trips, and didn’t need to use the laptop for all but the most obscure reasons.