I am currently writing this blog on an iPad Mini 2. I know writing on an iPad (or any tablet) is not a new thing and writers have been doing this for some time now, but this is the first time I have decided to write a lot more of my blog posts, articles and fiction on a tablet going forward (with a bluetooth keyboard of course; anything less would be insanity!).
Surprisingly, I am finding it a rather good way to write; it is very minimalist, given the iPad’s one-app-at-a-time user interface, and most importantly, it feels distraction free. Essentially, I am looking at my words on a white screen (more or less). I am using Microsoft Word for iOS to type this blog post, and given its minimal user interface, but still with the capacity to access the most important functions that I rely on with Word, the experience of writing is actually good on an iPad Mini 2. I’ve also tested it using an iPad Air 2, which unsurprisingly yields better results given the larger screen, but the Mini does get the job done.
Before I go further, I should point out that I did write a blog post using one of my earlier iPads a few years ago using the onscreen keyboard. So yes, technically I have done this before, but it was more of a test and back then I never seriously considered using an iPad to write. A big reason for this is that a physical keyboard is mandatory, at least for me. The prevalence of better wireless keyboards and the usability of newer iPads have made this all a lot easier. Although Siri is available as an option for me to dictate this blog post, I find nothing beats writing with a keyboard for workflow (and I’ll admit, I just don’t like the idea of a voice assistant for word processing or anything else, at least not yet). Also, there weren’t a lot of good word processors back in the 3rd gen-iPad days that I felt comfortable using.
I’ll also digress one step further back before continuing by saying that as I’m writing this I’m recalling an obscure memory from when I was a kid of my uncle trying to convince me to write with pen and paper rather than waiting for my computer to come back online (it wasn’t working at the time). Trying to imagine this scenario in today’s world is almost antithetical, not to mention inefficient. Still, there’s something even more distraction free and wonderfully low-tech about sitting outside on a nice day with nothing but a pen and paper to compose your next literary masterpiece. It will just take forever, be messier to clean up, and then you will have to type it up any way.
All right, enough with the digressions. I’m seriously considering this as a writing option going forward. I love writing with my MacBook Pro, but the iPad (regardless of model) is infinitely more portable and seemingly more focused on the task of writing than the MacBook ever could be. Even with the bluetooth keyboard, iPads are very easy to slip in to a bag to be taken anywhere. Despite the advances in thinness and lightness with laptops, they’re still a hunk of machine compared to a tablet.
I find the above statements ironic for me because it would appear that I have finally found a use for a tablet as a productivity tool. You will recall that Steve and I have had many discussions on our podcasts in the past about how iPads are excellent content consumption devices, but not particularly good productivity devices, and to an extent, that’s still largely true for me. However, writing with a good word processing app has made writing on an iPad a no-brainer (I’m using Word, but you could equally use Pages from Apple which has improved quite a bit, or dive in to dedicated writing apps such as Scrivener or Ulysses). Having said that, there are still limitations with iOS that make the whole workflow for blog posts problematic, or in other words, after I’ve finished writing this blog post, I’m likely to go back to my Mac to tidy up this blog and then post it to our site (which I in fact did).
So there it is, my first blog post for 2017 written on a device I never expected to use as a writing tool. Stay tuned for more!