Apple iPad and Life on the Cloud

POSTED ON Dec 4, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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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 “” 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,

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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