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Issue #1: Are you ready to make the Switch to iPad?

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I’m so glad that you’re here, receiving this inaugural issue of Switch to iPad! Together we’ll journey towards a more comfortable and invigorated computing life.

The first couple of issues will tackle the fundamentals of switching to iPad, as in terms of hardware and accessories, but also the whys and hows. We’ll run through them quickly – the next issue will be out before you know it – so that we’ll have a solid ground to stand on. You could say that we’re doing the broad strokes first, before going all nitty-gritty with the details. That said, there should be something for everyone here, even if you’re a dedicated iPad user already.

Who am I? My name is Thord D. Hedengren, and I write a lot. Fiction, columns, techy stuff, the occasional blog post – you name it. I also design and develop digital things (mostly websites) at Divide & Conquer, the digital agency I co-founded. There’s more about me on my website,, if you’re curious.

But enough rambling already, let’s get to it!

But why switch to iPad?

It’s certainly a valid question: Why would you want to switch to iPad? The answer – my answer – is that it’s a more creative device, more flexible, and more in tune with how we live our lives today. It’s a magic piece of glass that can be a book, a canvas, a synthesizer, a typewriter, a studio, a gaming device, a magazine, a tv, and everything in-between. We haven’t even touched the fact that it’s the whole bloody internet too, anywhere you like if you have wifi or cellular connectivity.

You don’t have to switch to the iPad full time. You can learn something from these letters anyway. But if you’re interested in a more versatile computing life, then this, I think, is your best bet today.

The why is always hard. I prefer the iPad for just about every task, but maybe you won’t. To make matters worse, it’s hard to break old usage patterns, even if you know they’re faulty to begin with. And it might not be worth it for you, but if it is, then you’ll learn something new, and not be stuck with old broken methods.

On computing devices

Just about every device we have in our arsenal these days is a computing device. Your iPhone is a powerful marvel, rivaling laptops in some cases. A somewhat recent iPad is the same, the power’s there for almost every type of user.

Most of us have multiple computing devices: The phone, access to at least one computer (but possibly more), tablets… Finding a balance here is important, especially in the sometimes hysteric app era we’re living in right now.

Your main computing device probably changes. It’s unlikely that you’ll edit spreadsheets on your phone, but other things truly belong, or work fine, on the smaller screen. We’re not trying to get rid of anything right away here, not really, although that might very well be the end result. For now, let’s just agree that there are several computing devices, and you’re doing different things on them.

The traditional computer (MacBook, PC, iMac – whatever) is where most of us do our work. That spreadsheet belongs on the computer, not on your phone, for obvious reasons. In most cases, the traditional computer is your main computing device, (although you might use your phone more). It’s where you work and create things.

That’s what we’re going to change.

What’s holding you back?

Let’s face it, switching your main computing device from a traditional computer, to an iPad, isn’t something most of us can just go ahead and do. Even if you buy the latest iPad Pro with every accessory, you’ll run into obstacles. Company VPN tunnels will mess things up, an app you rely on isn’t available for iPadOS, the web interface is poorly optimized for touch screens, virtualization on device is impossible, and so on. There’ll be issues.

If you intend to switch to iPad for both work (as in, working with an employer) and personal use (which also includes whatever creative projects you might have yourself), you’ll no doubt have a harder time. It doesn’t have to be annoying VPN solutions that require a Cisco app from the last decade, it can be something as simple as a lacking web interface or file sharing. If your employer relies on something like Dropbox or Microsoft Office 365 you’ll be fine, but there could be other things. It’s obviously easier if you only have your own stuff to worry about.

Figuring out how to make all of this work is the key to a successful switch. Just picking up an iPad and going cold turkey on the laptop use will get messy. Which brings us to…

You need a checklist

To make the transition as smooth as possible, I suggest you write down a checklist. This’ll prepare you for all the issues that you can be aware of – and there’ll no doubt be others – so that you can work around them, or find an alternative solution.

Things to consider for your checklist:

  • Are there tools or services that are crucial for you to do your work, and do they have iPad compatible solutions?
  • Do you rely on software that isn’t available for iPad? If you do, can you identify probable solutions?
  • What sort of actions do you do on your traditional computer, and how will you replicate (or replace) them on your iPad?

These questions should help you write a list of all things you do that you need to replace, and then check them off one by one. You’ll notice that some things will just work (if you rely on Microsoft Word, then that ticks itself off, for example), other things will have possible solutions (Sketch isn’t available for iPad, but Affinity Designer is, so that could be a solution), whereas some things can be a lot more tricky. There might even be roadblocks – things you rely on that just doesn’t work on your iPad. Well, that sucks, but then you know that, and thus you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

Assuming no everyday key things on your checklist is impossible, you’re good to go. And remember, we all have multiple computing devices. You don’t have to throw away your MacBook just because you want to work from an iPad, it can be a soft transition.

Don’t do it all at once

Which brings me to this: Don’t do it all at once.

I could technically do everything I do from an iPad, but I don’t. There are too many hoops for some parts of my workday, and while everything works on an iPad, the workflow is just too choppy. I’m losing time, and I’m building frustration.

That’s not a reason to switch to the iPad. We’re looking for a computing life that is fluid and enjoyable, that sparks creativity, and gets out of our way. I’m working on it, hence Switch to iPad – we’re in this together.

It’s okay to not make the switch, and it’s also okay to not make the switch all at once. It’s also important to remember that there’s no point in switching if things doesn’t get better, if it doesn’t lead to a better and more rewarding computing life, then what’s the point?

Thing is, the fact that I can sit in my armchair and write this on my iPad (I’ll get to my setup in a future letter), be done with it and remove the keyboard to quickly edit a photo with iPad in hand, using a Pencil for additional control, and then leave all those things behind to lounge on the couch reading something – it’s amazing. The iPad is a transformer, a magical piece of glass, and I believe it can be transformative as to how we’re looking at, and experiencing, work. And indeed, all other interactions with this computing device.

I think the iPad fares best, perhaps needs, to be the main computing device. And I think that we, in the process, need to start rethinking work too.

That’s it for this first issue of Switch to iPad. The idea here is to set the stage so that we can dig into issues and opportunities, bit by bit. I’d love to hear what you thought of this issue though, so don’t hesitate to hit reply and let me know. You can also tweet to @tdh if you prefer.

Issue 2 is just around the corner, and it’ll be free too. We’ll launch into this with speed and vigor, together. I’ll be in your inbox again this Friday.

– Thord D. Hedengren

In the wild…