Apple iPad and Life on the Cloud

by Joel Friedlander on December 4, 2010 · 12 comments

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Do you own an iPad? Has it become a day to day tool for you?

After seven months, my iPad has become part of my daily life and my workflow. But not always for the things I thought I would be doing with it when it was new. Like, reading ebooks.

Media and publishing market forecast firm Simba Information, publisher of the “Book Publishing Report” newsletter, has estimated about 35% of iPad owners haven’t used the devices to read e-books.—Book Publishing News

Okay, I confess I’m one of those who hasn’t read an ebook on the iPad. I did read a PDF book, but that seems different somehow. Even so, this versatile device keeps finding more ways to be helpful. Here are some of the ways I’ve come to rely on the iPad.

The iPad has become my favorite PDF viewer You can drop your PDFs in the iBookstore by adding them to your iTunes library. They just pop onto the bookshelp when you sync up. And there are great third-party software utilities like Good Reader that show your PDFs in all the startling clarity I’ve gotten used to on the iPad.

The iPad is great for focus. Using Writer, the pared-down word-crunching machine designed from the ground up for iPad is an everyday thrill for me. With my bluetooth keyboard and nifty easel stand, the tablet has become my favored writing platform. Since there’s nothing else to do since there’s nothing running in the background, you naturally focus on the task at hand. The result? My writing productivity has gone to an all time high.

The $99 a year for Apple’s cloud seems worth it. I signed up for this service back when it was “mobile.me” but only used the iDisk storage. Now, with applications appearing on all three platforms—iPhone, iPad and iMac—everything syncs wirelessly, continuously, with all devices constantly updated. This was science fiction not that long ago. Now, I put a note into my phone at lunch, and it’s there when I sit down at my desk. Love it.

In fact, every “cloud” application. I hope you’ve discovered how useful Dropbox and Evernote are for day to day tasks like research, peer review, file sharing with a workgroup. These applications are also on all three Apple platforms, and provide a level of ease of use and safety that’s very welcome. In Writer, for instance, when work is done, you just hit a button and in a few seconds your files are updated in every Dropbox location. Sweet.

Private theater can save your marriage. If you stay up later than your spouse, plug your headphones into the iPad. You’ve got a personal video theater. The size is great for one or two people to watch, the headset keeps it quiet and gives you great sound, everybody’s happy.

News all the time. There are many news sources on iPad, and I’ve become a daily user of the New York Times app, recently completely overhauled, and Newsy, a channel with short videos gathering media treatments of popular subjects. Times videos are what I always thought TV was going to be like: lush documentaries that run longer than any broadcast station would show, just great on the spot reporting and analysis from the paper’s staff.

Mail, all in one place. The recent software upgrade that allowed the email program to merge all your accounts into a common inbox has made it much more satisfying to use. Gone is the constantly shuffling back and forth between accounts.

Magazines just getting there. The recent launch of the Martha Stewart Living app and other pending magazine launches promise to bring a huge area of usability to the iPad. It seems perfectly suited to periodicals. And getting your subscriptions automatically—and wirelessly—is just going to make it ever better.

Recipe central. I’ve tried using laptops and smartphones in the kitchen, with little success. The iPad does this perfectly. The touchscreen interface is terrific when you’re cooking and can’t manage a keyboard—you can always wipe the flour off your screen later.

On the other hand, I have yet to look at gaming on the iPad, and have no music videos or downloaded movies. Even so, it has become one of the most useful digital appliances I own.

Rumor has it that Apple is preparing to sell as many as 40 million of these tablets over the next year. That has the potential to create an enormous, self-perpetuating market and community around the device.

I know some of you own iPads. What’s your favorite use for it?

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by yagan kiely, http://www.flickr.com/photos/yagankiely/4884489727/

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Doug Metcalfe December 6, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Heh, that would be dangerous for me. It’s a 5 speed stick shift dump truck, usually pulling a 2 ton chipper. A Garmin GPS is all I care to deal with while I’m driving the truck. I has acted as back up GPS (when I’m stopped) to get a better look at the neighborhood via Google Maps and Streetview.

    Keeping track of my customers with Bento and just being able to search my email when afield has been it’s most “magical” application for me.

    I have purchased a few books via iTunes Bookstore and read them on the iPad. For writers, having a vehicle like the iPad to sell their e-books is priceless.

    Reply

    Doug Metcalfe December 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I use my iPad daily in my tree service business. I throw it on the dashboard of my dump truck and keep in contact with my customers and prospective customers as my day goes along.
    Tapping on an address in notepad or email takes me to Google Maps and shows me where the customer is located, Streetview often shows me the customer’s property.
    A laptop could never stand the sawdust and wood chips that cover everything by the end of my day, the iPad just shakes it off and thrives in this environment.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 6, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Doug, I’ve seen people who have fit an iPad holder to their dashboard to use it like a laptop on the road, too. Thanks for your interesting comment.

    Reply

    Jennifer Robin December 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    The iPad is a great mobile tool for a writer, and it has had an unexpected benefit for me. I’ve started writing poetry on it. The crispness of the onscreen keyboard combined with the ease of adding photos has proved an irresistible combination for creating illustrated poems. I never did this regularly before, and now I can’t stop! I’ve used the templates on pages and come up with all kinds of interesting formats. My idea of video games!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 4, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Pages uses the seductive touch interface to make creating documents almost sinfully fun. I’m not surprised you’ve put it to such creative use, maybe it’s another book? Thanks, Jennifer

    Reply

    Neil Anderson December 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Mail, Safari, Pages, and Remote.

    Reply

    Porsupah December 4, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I wound up getting an iPad instead of moving from an iPhone 3G to a new iPhone 4 (without contract), and I’ve not regretted the purchase once. It’s perhaps difficult to convey quite why the UI is so pleasant to use – Twitter for iPad comes to mind as a particularly good example – but often, I’ll wind up using the iPad rather than my 17″ MacBook Pro.

    Games, of course, can be very well suited indeed, whether it’s the immediate placement of pointers in ChuChu Rocket, or the sublime delights of Zen Bound, a title that lends itself especially well to a device such as the iPad.

    Watching movies or TV is perfectly easy even in the bath, and one need not even have the file in a native format, courtesy of utilities like AirVideo, which can transcode the original file on the fly, so the MBP can be transcoding and serving the video elsewhere in the house, while I enjoy it wherever I am, even on 3G.

    The “one app at a time” paradigm has even permitted my mother to get online, having bought one for her as a birthday present – not quite a technophobe, but finds it difficult to get to grips with much gadgetry. The nephews, meanwhile, are very keen to take care of it while she’s not using it. =:)

    A device like this was once purely sci-fi. Perhaps the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has more extensive coverage off-world, though.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Porsupah, thanks for that. Very nice and, yes, a bit other-worldly. Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply

    Jus December 4, 2010 at 1:42 am

    I bought our iPad last August after some serious arm twisting from my wife. I’ve never been an early adopter of new technology and although I loved the idea of the device I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to spend that much money. Anyway I was persuaded and after the first day I was a convert. It’s a great device. It’s main use for me has been consumption rather than creation, although I think that may change in time. Favourite apps are Twitter, Flipboard, BBC News, sketchbook Pro and of course Angry Birds!
    My wife has completely embraced the iPad and has not used her Pc laptop since we bought it. She mainly uses it for Internet access, email, Pages and games.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 4, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Jus, similar here. I was very resistant, couldn’t figure out quite why I needed it, and then fell hard.

    Reply

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