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Issue #83: Finding a place for my iPads

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I hope this letter finds you well. Me, I was so very positive last Sunday, full of energy. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling unwell all week, which is also why this letter reaches you a day later than usual – sorry about that.

I have had time to think, though, and my thoughts have been on the iPads in my house. Namely, all three of the current generation that I use – I’m not counting iPads for development, testing, or betas. I’ve been selling off a few older devices, and a couple of newer ones (yes, there is such a thing as too many iPads), and I got the question, why so many?

Well, for work, and Switch to iPad, and because I can’t help myself, obviously!

But, it did get me thinking about how I use my iPads, how they fit in my workflow.

Three is actually two

The three iPads that I use are all the current generation.

  • M1 2021 iPad Pro 12.9” wifi+cellular with 2 TB storage.
  • M1 2021 iPad Pro 11” wifi+cellular with 1 TB storage.
  • 2021 iPad mini 6th generation wifi+cellular with 256 GB storage.

You’ll note that they’re all the cellular kind, which carries two premiums: Upon purchase, and a cellular plan with an operator. I’d argue if this is money well spent, especially during a pandemic, but I always do this because a couple of hours lost due to lack of reliable internet can be costly in my work. That said, I deactivate the plan on iPads not used, the eSIM cards are great that way.

Now, all these devices are great. In many ways, the 11” iPad Pro fits the bill perfectly for the things I do. It’s easy to throw in a bag, sitting in its Magic Keyboard, and it works well for writing both short and long-form. I don’t have an issue with the 11” Magic Keyboard, despite the size of my hands (they’re substantial), but I know some people do. Sure, bigger is better, but it works. The 11” iPad Pro has the portability counting for it, while still being useful for both writing, and working with the Apple Pencil.

And yet, I don’t use it. In fact, it’s been sitting unused for weeks, and the last time I did use it, was just to check something that I thought hadn’t synced to iCloud (it had).

The reason, or reasons, are spelled pandemic and iPad mini.

Portability vs. usability

There are one (1) thing that the 11” iPad Pro does a lot better than the 12.9” iPad Pro, and that’s using any kind of reading app. It doesn’t matter if it’s your read later app of choice, or if you’re reading books or comic books, that big 12.9” screen makes the biggest iPad unwieldy. It’s just not nice, not even when you’re reading an A4 (or US Letter, for that matter) PDF – too big, not nice, it works, but no, not if I don’t have to. The 11” screen is much better for this.

But, you see, that’s the only thing the 11” iPad Pro does better than the 12” model. Everything else, from browsing the web to writing, drawing, managing photos, editing videos, all that jazz, then bigger is better.

(There’s a second thing where form factor might be in the 11” model’s favor, and that’s games. It’ll be dependent on the game, though, since some are better with a bigger screen, so I’m leaving it out of this.)

This is where the iPad mini comes in. While not great when reading comic books or print PDFs – the screen is on the small side for that, although it obviously works – it shines when you read anything else. I use it every day, it’s the perfect companion iPad, for consumption and entertainment. In fact, it’s my preferable gaming iPad too, and not only because it looks so cute as a portable gaming station, but because it sits so well in your hands. You can play for hours without it getting heavy, something you can’t say for the bigger iPad models. The iPad mini is far from unwieldy, it’s quite the opposite.

This brings me to my iPad usage, and it’s firmly set, for now:

  • The 12.9” iPad Pro is for creation.
  • The iPad mini is for consumption.

This goes well alongside the things I still, unfortunately, can’t do from an iPad. There, I rely on various Macs (it’s a mess presently, we’re moving offices), but the iPads are always close by. The iPad Pro gets a lot of use, for quick mockups, photo editing, drawings, and sometimes even as a second screen. My iPad mini, well, that’s for breaks.

My situation isn’t unique, but I do realize it’s the outlier. When Apple releases a new iPad, I buy it, try it, and then decide if it changes my workflow. Most people don’t waste money like that, as discussed in the previous issue, nor should they. That’s what I’m here for.

Until next time, take care.

— Thord D. Hedengren

In the wild…