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iPad Limitations With Reactive Work →

Riccardo Mori, at morrick.me:

The point that some iPad die‐hard fans seem to miss is that it’s not a matter of people not wanting to adapt to an iOS‐based workflow; it’s not a matter of people lacking mental agility to ditch their computers and switch to iPads for work. It’s that their work imposes different solutions, in the form of dedicated software, company‐issued computers, multitasking requirements (e.g. ability to monitor more than three applications simultaneously on a bigger screen), etc.

Although the “why I can or can’t use the iPad as my only computer” topic has been covered ad nauseam, and although Riccardo’s post focused on the portability and lightness aspect as a draw for iOS, the above quote is what struck me.

While I love the change of pace of working on my iPad when I can, it simply isn’t possibly when things are flying fast and furious at the office. And that has nothing to do with me not being familiar enough with iOS or iOS automation to bend the iPad to my will so I can react quickly. Instead, it has everything to do with the design decisions of the iPad concerning windowing and multi-tasking, as well as the limits of automation on iOS1.

I can’t instantly jump between apps on the iPad as quickly as I can on the Mac, or keep more than a couple windows on screen at once (three, if you count slide over). iOS automation isn’t to where it is on macOS yet, either. For example, with Keyboard Maestro on macOS, I can apply a brute force filter to entries in our firm’s case management system, using Keyboard Maestro’s ability to click on specified images. With the iPad, I have to do this clicking manually. The iPad method takes several seconds longer, and, for me, those seconds count.

For my type of work, the iPad is good when I know what I need to get done, and can control my work environment. When I have to be reactive, though, I need a system with windowed apps, and more advanced multi-tasking and automation (i.e., macOS).

I’m glad Ricardo framed this as “some” iPad users missing the point. I think most of the people in my online circle seem to understand that what works for them doesn’t work for everyone. I certainly understand that my way of doing things is specific to me, and that the iPad is a much better platform for some of you.

(But don’t get me started on the ergonomic and future health issues of working solely on an iPad or laptop.)

  1. This post isn’t meant as a suggestion that there’s something inherently wrong with those design decisions, or that Apple should change them – just that they hold me back in some situations.