Over the last few months, I’ve been using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro as my main mobile computer. Although I have Mac and Windows desktops at the two “fixed” locations I work from, I’ve been using the larger iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard as my traveller. And, for the most part, it has worked really well. But a couple of limitations have really started to get to me recently.
As portable computers go, the larger iPad Pro is competent - at least for my purposes. I can write stuff using Word, Notes or Evernote and cloud services (I’m a paying Office 365 and Evernote subscriber) cover file and data syncing.
Apple’s Smart Keyboard (which is really just a keyboard and not particularly smart) is OK although I do find that occasionally the command key doesn’t respond. I can type at a reasonable clip on it although I do prefer a desktop keyboard for long stints at the desk.
The display is great and with most of my key apps playing well in Split Screen mode I can write, research and deal with email, IM and other communications apps pretty easily.
Where the iPad lets me down is when working offline. The iPad I’m using has cellular comms which means it works really well for everything as long as I have access to WiFi or 3G/4G/LTE.
But it’s a real pain in the butt when I’m working offline.
For example, I edit a newsletter for one of my corporate clients. Each issue has about ten pieces of content. I store each of those pieces in its own folder in OneDrive.
If I use a traditional computer, I can access that folder when offline as the contents sync in real time. But on the iPad, I can only access those files if I plan ahead and make the contents of those folders available offline. And OneDrive on the iPad Pro doesn’t let me sync folders - only individual files. So then I have to go through each folder and choose the files I want to access offline.
The whole process is annoying.
I also find that some web apps don’t quite work perfectly. One content system I work with insists in recognising the larger iPad Pro as a mobile browser. In another app, I can’t type into data entry fields.
I understand this isn’t an issue with iOS or the iPad but getting developers to change their apps isn’t easy.
So, what’s my road ahead?
Although I have a reasonable amount of Apple kit already, I’m more interested in application support rather than operating systems. Windows 10 is reliable and the UI is pretty good - unless Apple picks things up with the next release of macOS they will be left behind I think. And all my favourite apps are multi-platform these days so switching from iOS to Windows should be reasonably easy.
I’m very tempted by the Surface Pro 4 or another Windows 10 device that has about the same screen size as the iPad, a touchscreen and pen support. But cellular data is a must for me now so I’ll be looking for device that has that as well. Any suggestions?