Why I use the iPad as my Creativity Station

Work vs Personal Use
I have a MacBook Pro for my job. It’s great for multitasking. It’s fantastic for switching in between multiple browsers, and filling in complex spreadsheets, and plugging in 2 extra monitors so that I can have my browsers, email, chat, PowerPoint, Word and any number of other applications up and running at the same time.  

But that’s work. For my work in the software industry I’m constantly taxing the RAM and processing power of my computer as I record video of presentations, edit training videos, write giant word documents and work with several different programs running at once. But when I’m at home I rarely need that much power. I occasionally need to do some quick, precision work on a spreadsheet or two. Sometimes I need to have two or more browser windows open at once, with Spotify running in the background, but that’s small stuff. When I’m at home I find I don’t want to multitask. 

In fact, I have found that when I’m at home, if I’m using a computer I tend to multitask unnecessarily, almost as if using a computer necessitated more applications running than I really need. I end up pulling up Facebook, and Spotify, and Twitter, on top of whatever else I was originally going to be working on (which somehow always gets buried under some distraction going on in one of my other many applications).  

This is why I’ve switched to using an iPad as my primary computing device for all of my personal tasks. And I must admit, I’ve been using my iPad Air as my primary device for nearly a year now and I have no intention of going back to using a laptop for personal use.  

This fact has made me question many of the reviews on the new iPad Pro’s that the tech site have been writing. Everyone seems to continue to ask one question, and one question only “can this replace your work laptop?” . . . well, no, of course it can’t. The iPad isn’t near ready to replace my work laptop, but I don’t want it to. I think that the laptop will be my primary work machine for a long time yet. But I can say that my iPad is perfect for everything else that I do, and I think that it’s fantastic for a number of different reasons that I’ll describe.  

Simplicity

One of the primary reasons that I prefer my iPad to a laptop in personal use is that it limits the multitasking I can do. Yes, that’s right, I said it. It limits my multitasking. And that, in my humble opinion, is a good thing.  

Multitasking is for work. Work is the place where I need a multitude of apps open, and I need to be able to switch back and forth quickly. It’s the place where I need to have a multitude of tools available and ready in case I need them for any given task that I’m handed.  

When I’m at home, not only is multitasking unnecessary, it’s actually detrimental to my creative flow. Switching back and forth between apps all of the time doesn’t help anyone focus, and that is a fact.  

Having one app open at a time, focusing on using that app for creative purposes is what I need. The iPad forces me to choose which app I want to be working on right now. Maybe with split screen you can work on two apps at once, but seriously, this is mostly to make it easier to copy and paste between two apps, or to reference one thing while writing or drawing on the other side of the screen. You’re typically still doing only one task, just using two apps to do it. 

The whole point of the iPad, for me, is to focus, to tune out all of the other distractions that make work . . . well, work.  

This is why I’ve switched to the iPad, and also why I have started looking at apps that force me to focus on one thing, to remove all distractions. Life is full of too many distractions, my personal computing device shouldn’t be one of them. It should enable me to work creatively and focus on that creativity. 

So Portable 

The second reason is that it’s so portable. A laptop is portable, yes. But an iPad takes portability to another level. There is no need for a keyboard, although I carry one with me when I’m out and about because I write a lot. The apps are designed to be used without a keyboard or a trackpad, something that can’t really be said for any apps designed for laptops, even those laptops that have touchscreens are not really optimized for a touch experience. They are still very much traditional laptops, with an added “cool factor” of having a screen that you can touch.  

The iPad (and other tablets) are designed to be used without any other peripherals. If you don’t want to grab a stylus (or pencil, or whatever), and if you aren’t feeling like adding bulk to your iPad with a keyboard, it will still have what you need, albeit your typing will be slower. But there are tradeoffs with anything. The tradeoff with a laptop is that you are sacrificing some portability for the power and convenience of a built-in keyboard and improved computing power.  

Creativity

I like technology, but I don’t get all drooly when someone starts talking about the latest processors and graphics cards, or even when people start talking about the highest resolution screens.  

What I’m all about is getting tools that help me be more creative, that are designed well. I want tools (whether that be apps or tablets, phones or computers) that get out of my way. Instead of trying to dictate how my creative flow should go, they allow me to create without distractions and create in my own way.  

I’m a musician, I’m a writer, and I need tools that allow me to work on a blank canvas without the clutter. I don’t need desktop grade apps with all of the bells and whistles (reviewers seem bent on calling this a fault in the iPads). I don’t need or want a trackpad, or OS X-type features. I need apps that are simple, well designed, and designed for creative people. I don’t need a ton of features in these apps, I just need the right features. 

Conclusion

For me, simplicity and funcitonality of deisgn will always be more important than the sheer number of features that ship with a piece of hardware or software. This is why computers are not my go-to devices for my personal endeavors anymore. I need my devices to be simple, eliminate distractions, be very portable, and allow me to be creative in my own way.  

So for me, the iPad will be my device of choice until Apple loses their minds and starts turning the iPad into the MacBook, then I’ll rethink. But for now, the iPad has nearly everything that I want, and I’m hopeful that the iPad Pro will eventually give me everything else that’s on my wish list. 

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