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Issue #78: So, how did that iPad mini holiday work out?

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Hi!

How are you? I hope you had a nice break over the holidays, or that this letter finds you in good health. This is the first issue of Switch to iPad in 2022, the seventy-eight, and I’m happy to be back at it. I’ve managed to stay true to the previous issue, where I stated that I’d rely on my iPad mini over the holidays, and figured that I’d share how that went.

It’s been a slow couple of weeks for me. I didn’t put in many knots until after New Years, and then it was mostly client things that (still) requires a Mac to work. Some of these even require an Intel Mac, due to stupid IT reasons, but that’s the life of a digital consultant.

Anyway, these are the things I’ve used my iPad mini for during the holidays.

  1. Writing.
  2. Reading.
  3. Gaming.
  4. Light communication.
  5. Note-taking.

Writing

I’ve written mostly shorter things, no fiction whatsoever, so the sessions have been short. I’d planned to play with a number of small keyboards, but ultimately, I decided to just not bother with it. Instead, I relied on my Keychron K2, which obviously works just as well when paired to an iPad mini as it does when paired to an iPad Pro.

Most of my entries has been made thumb-typing in portrait mode, though, which is a pretty horrible experience. That surprised me when I picked up the iPad mini because it’s just not nice, despite my big hands. The format is just not pleasant, and I can’t stand it for longer periods of time, but a short email or journal entry in Day One works just fine.

I’d expected, and hoped, to write a lot more during this period. The few words of fiction I managed were scribbled by hand, in an actual physical notebook (don’t ask), so I don’t think I put the iPad mini to the test here.

Reading

I’ve read a lot over the holidays, both articles (long and short) and fiction. Quite a lot of fiction, actually, using the Kindle app. The iPad mini is great for this, so great that my Kindle Paperwhite in the house has been sitting untouched, despite it being a truly great device. There’s something appealing with fewer devices, after all, and the iPad mini is good enough in comparison, even when the Kindle Paperwhite truly shines.

As mentioned previously, I swapped back to Pocket. This app doesn’t have the formatting issues with the iPad mini screen that Matter does, so I’m happy being back there. It just works great.

Somewhat related, both Reeder (for RSS feeds) and Twitter work just fine on an iPad mini. I’ve been spending some time there too, and on Reddit as well. This sort of primarily text consumption is just great on an iPad mini.

Gaming

There’s never enough time to play games, it seems. I splurged on an Xbox Series X to play Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and I’ve been doing just that, half of the time. The iPad mini mostly got shorter gaming sessions, Clap Hanz Golf and Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City keeps claiming my time. I’ve played some other games as well, but it’s mostly casual things. That’s usually not the case, but having time to sit down with the Xbox turned out to be meditative for me.

I did play some games using a controller as well, mostly streamed from Xbox Game Pass, or locally, from the Xbox, but when there’s a large 4K TV, you tend to pick that one. I still think that the iPad mini on a stand with an Xbox controller is a cute gaming station, but as with all portable devices that can dock with a proper TV in some fashion, the larger the screen, the better.

Light communication

There’s been many messages on various platforms (iMessage, Telegram, tweets mostly), and I’ve done the occasional FaceTime call as well, but that’s about it. It’s been a quiet couple of weeks in terms of communication.

I did talk to a couple of clients via Basecamp between Christmas and New Years, and the week after New Year’s as well, but that’s about it.

None of these things was an issue for the iPad mini, although a proper video conference might’ve been due to the screen size. Luckily, there was none of that during the holidays.

Note-taking

Ideas come when you least expect it, and twice as often during downtime. I’ve jotted down a ton of notes during the holidays, split between the default Notes app, and GoodNotes using the Apple Pencil. The Pencil works in the Notes app, but I rarely use it there, it’s mostly text and saved links for me there.

GoodNotes is a different matter, I only use the Pencil here. Here, the difference between the iPad mini and the iPad Pro (either size) is apparent. You’ve got the screen size, which is a lot smaller, and then there’s the actual screen and how that feels to write and draw on. I’ve gotten used to the size, although larger is better, but the difference in how it feels to draw and write is still a bit jarring. It’s not that it’s bad on the iPad mini, it’s just so much better on an iPad Pro. That’s due to the screen’s refresh rate, and how far from the Pencil’s tip you actually are when drawing. It’s obvious when you compare the two, but if you don’t, it’s fine.


So, where does that put us? I didn’t miss the 12.9” iPad Pro because I didn’t do any of the things on my iPad mini where the larger, more powerful iPad truly shines. Note-taking might be the exception to this, but it’s not a deal-breaker in such a way that I actually missed the iPad Pro.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you — or I, in this case — can get by with an iPad mini. Of course, you can, it’s a strong and capable iPad, the screen’s just small. In the end, it all depends on what you need for your workflow, and, I guess, if the iPad is your primary or secondary computing device. I wouldn’t want to develop exclusively on the iPad mini’s small screen, for example. Your mileage will vary, as they say.

All in all, I’m happy with my iPad mini break, with the added bonus that my 12.9” iPad Pro feels huge now.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡