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Rethinking the iPad as a Work Device

I remember the first time I heard Steve Jobs talk about iPads (way back in 2010). I knew it was going to be big. It’s hard to believe now, but during the couple months between the iPad’s announcement and its launch, there were a lot of people who thought Apple was about to take a major loss. We know, of course, that quite the opposite happened. In the same way the iPhone reshaped the mobile phone industry the iPad reshaped the tablet industry.

My Original iPad Perspective

What I discovered quickly was that the iPad wasn’t a replacement for my laptop. I loved my laptop and while some people thought their new iPads back in 2010 would replace their laptops I didn’t see that happening. Almost everyone I knew who tried the iPad as a laptop replacement returned to their computer in a matter of weeks.

My view at the time was based on the idea that a laptop (or any traditional computer for that matter) was more of a lean forward experience while the iPad was more of a lean back experience. In other words, the laptop was what you used to lean in and get work done but the iPad was perfect for media consumption. I’ve held to this view for the last three years and had not really considered changing it, but when I got my new iPad Mini a few months ago I realized how far the iPad has come since the first generation and the apps that support business efforts for it have too.

Living Up to Its Potential

Today’s iPads are much more powerful than the earlier generations. They have HD video cameras, HD displays, good still cameras and most importantly many more apps that allow real work to get done. Whether it’s editing photos, updating spreadsheets or typing this very blog post it’s all available in more of a laptop-esque experience now on the iPad. In fact for this post I used the Camera+ app for the photo and the Over app for the photo text and I’m using the WordPress app to compose the full post.

Still Some Limitations (But Far Less Today)

There are still limitations that may be too big to overcome in certain situations. Making simple updates to this post, like hyperlinks takes a lot longer than using my laptop, and if you’re like me and like seeing multiple windows open on your screen, you’re going to give that up on your iPad too. The laptop is easy to use, and the keyboard design makes it easy to type and press keys because of membrane switches. Also, there are certain business functions like reviewing a huge spreadsheet that are just plain easier to navigate on a big monitor than on any size iPad, but despite these drawbacks, the iPad has legitimately moved into the realm of possibility for a work device now.

Three years ago I wouldn’t have considered taking my iPad to a coffee shop to get some work done but now I absolutely could see it work. I have no doubt I could be just as productive as I ever was with my laptop. I don’t see myself giving up a laptop but I do see myself leaving it at the office connected to my monitor and grabbing the iPad and keyboard when I’m on the go for a few hours. It was time to rethink my view on the iPad as a work device and I believe now that it’s legitimately moved into that role.