Two Weeks In

Two weeks ago I wrote about how I’m Going All In on iOS, so I figured I'd publish a Honey Moon update. So far so … mostly ok.

I have to say, for such a lightweight device, the 12.9" iPad Pro has a lot packed into it. It’s fast, it has a really sharp and clear screen, multi-tasking works well for my needs, and the app ecosystem is pretty decent. Not everything is great though, and I’m starting to see where things are going to be difficult.

Hardware

Overall I’m pretty impressed with the hardware itself. The size and clarity of the screen is great for pretty much everything from photo editing, to watching videos, and especially for writing (like I’m doing now). The downside is it is huge. I can’t see trading it for a smaller one because I bought the device specifically for photo editing, but it can definitely be a bit cumbersome at times.

The battery is as good as Apple claims. I don’t have usage stats but so far I’ve only reached under 20% once and that was because I didn’t charge it the night before. I’d say I rarely go below 60% using it each morning and evening for a plethora of tasks including lots of video watching. The one thing that’s tough is once it is drained, it takes quite a while to recharge to a usable state.

The speakers sound clearer than my 11" MBAir but they’re certainly not comparable to a set of real speakers or headphones. I do appreciate that they provided four individual speakers since I currently have a pencil holder blocking one of them.

Apple Pencil

This little thing is really responsive and feels really great in your hand. For $99 I would sure hope so. That said, charging it really is as ridiculous as it seems sticking in the “butt” of your device. The other pain is finding a place to keep the thing when not in use. I ended up finding a 3d printed holder on Amazon that sits nicely in the speaker port of the Create.

Unfortunately it’s also surprisingly terrible at holding a charge. I’ll often charge it to 100% right before calling it quits for the night and by morning it’s at 80%. 20% drain in ten-ish hours while it rests unused is really terrible. Even today I started my day to find it at 10% because I didn’t charge it yesterday. Luckily it does charge up quickly, just as long as you don’t need some personal space, like in an airplane. Hopefully they release a better battery in the next version or maybe I just have a dud and need to get it replaced.

Logitech Create

Man what a difference a physical keyboard makes. I am convinced that anyone that’s tried a tablet and given up should try again with a physical keyboard. So many tasks are simply easier because of keyboard shortcuts. The Create is pretty great because it looks and feels like a standard Mac keyboard with keys that really depress separate from the housing unlike the Apple smart cover keyboard.

I find it a lot more natural to type with a physical keyboard over a digital one. I’m sure most of us took typing classes at some point, and thanks to those endless hours of typing without looking down, my fingers instinctively search for the home row. Having physical indicators on the J and F keys makes moving from keyboard to screen and back better than you’d expect. The only downside is it’s really awkward using the iPad more like a tablet since it’s locked into the cover. Flipping the keyboard completely over and sliding the iPad down atop the keyboard result in everything sliding around as you use it.

Web Browsing

I’m a Chrome user. I’ve tried to use Safari but it just doesn’t cut it for me. I did give Safari a few days, but in the end it was just easier for me to auto sync my bookmarks, history, and current tabs from Chrome sessions on my phone and laptop. That said, it’s really just the Safari engine with a different UI and syncing, so maybe it’s not so much Safari I have trouble with and more that I’m just really locked into Chrome at this point.

Most websites work as expected, but some browser sniff — C’MON it’s 2016!!! — and end up trying to serve you a mobile website on a screen that’s 2732px wide. It’s a seriously ridiculous situation. Fortunately Chrome has a Request Desktop feature that tricks the site into thinking you’re using a regular device. Unfortunately that doesn’t fix everything. I’ve noticed odd bugs, even some in Google’s own products that make navigating content difficult at best and impossible at worst. You’d think that since Google has typically been better at web than Apple and is also in the tablet game they’d have things figured out. Google is definitely not the only one either, but I don’t have room to shame everyone here.

Apps

There’s a pretty good ecosystem of apps that have been adapted or re-released specifically for iPad. I’m not a cheapskate so I don’t mind paying for both an iPhone and iPad version if I feel I need both. It takes a lot of work and consideration to build for each experience, and developers should be paid for that work. That said, wtf guys?

There are still tons of apps that are either unvailable or had zero thought put into making them usable on larger screens. I’m worried Apple’s lack of care for the ecosystem they forced developers into in the first place is going to prevent developers from converting their apps or spending a lot of time and money doing it right. Hopefully Apple will get it together and fix the AppStore that have been plaguing developers for far longer than this device has existed.

Photo Management

Managing a photo catalog sucks. Not just on iOS but everywhere. I’ve already settled on an OSX workflow that I know and I find reliable with Lightroom. Moving away from that is proving difficult and I’m still experimenting. Unfortunately that means I’m neither ready to have an opinion or that there’s enough room to cover the subject in this post. I am outlining a follow up as I attempt different workflows and I’ll be sure to detail what I eventually settle on. For now, I’ll say I haven’t found anything I really dig.

Photo Editing

This is a lot like photo management. I know Lightroom, I have a comfortable workflow with it, and while Lightroom Mobile is pretty good overall, it’s still not everything I’m looking for. So far I’ve only experimented lightly with other apps but I plan to put them through their paces over the Christmas break. As of right now I’m playing with Lightroom Mobile, VSCO, RAW, Snapseed, and Darkroom (only available for iPhone though) for general editing as well as Exif Photos for managing metadata and SKWRT for adjusting alignment and perspective. I should mention I’m really impressed with SKWRT not just for it’s capabilities but also for it’s intuitive interface. Serious kudos to the developers of that one.

Tablet

This is kind of a funny one. Of course it’s a tablet, but how does it behave as one? It’s honestly as huge and awkward as it seems. Hand holding it in a portrait orientation while trying to swipe and tap looks and feels comical. I definitely wonder if the 9.7" iPad Pro is the better choice if I was looking for a tablet. The thing is I rarely use our iPad mini these days (which could be because it’s a first generation that’s become a bit sluggish), and I question if I’m the target audience for more traditional tablet usage.

Laptop

The whole reason I bought the 12.9" is because I’m looking for a laptop replacement when I travel. I really believe that’s where this thing shines. Paired with a keyboard, probably any keyboard, and it becomes a great laptop that just also happens to function as a tablet. It’s still not perfect, I’ve already outlined some of the issues above, but it’s certainly better than previous attempts and I’m sure will improve over time. It really seems like Apple is pushing forward on iOS more than it is OSX (now MacOS) and the iPad Pro is a great example of that.


This turned into a longer post than I expected, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ll go into more detail within each category in future posts after I’ve had some more time to experiment and settle on a workflow I’m comfortable with. I will say I’m happy I chose the 12.9" iPad over a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Having a touch screen and the Pencil does make a difference in photo editing. For other general tasks I’m actually finding I prefer single tasking over the distraction of multiple apps. Now I just need to find a workflow that works for me.

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