MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AND LEAVING THE DESKTOP BEHIND - PART 1
“...the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people” who will “start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than
The quote above is from an interview in The Telegraph newspaper with Apple CEO Tim Cook and this seems to have annoyed a lot of people and got just as many on the defensive about laptops and computers. What I see as the crucial point that many are missing here is the phrase “..for many, many people...” I agree with him, it’s the way forward for me and here is why....
I have been using Apple products for 23 years. In education, my personal life, my working life and my creative output. The Apple Mac changed my life. There I’ve said it. Not some Apple evangelist, fan boy, geek speak, just a straight up statement about how much a personal desktop computer opened up a wealth of new possibilities for me. However, it is now time to move forward.....
I have had issues with my sight since birth, but I have managed to have a work life career and run my own business. At the end of the 1980’s and into the 1990’s I had a period of being blind but after surgery, recovery and some sight restored I decided that I needed a new focus for the future (excuse the pun). Being involved in the independent m usic industry I always had an interest in graphic design so I opted for a college course in Electronic Publishing. I had no idea how I was going to do it but after talking with tutors and a tech advice team they suggested that it would be possible by investing in an Apple computer which at the time was already embracing accessible technology.
After a bit of research, I ordered an Apple Macintosh Performa 5300 together with an Iomega Zip Drive and an Apple LaserWriter printer. The course led onto further qualifications in Multimedia Development and Production and as I started each new course I invested in a new Mac. After the Performa it was The original G3 Bondi Blue iMac, then the ‘Floating’ IMac G4, IMac G5 and finally to the Aluminium IMac which lasted me for a few years.
Each iteration of the Mac ushered in more possibilities and new ways of creating work with both software development and hardware acceleration and some Assistive Technology. Screens got bigger and each new machine brought with it new peripherals (scanner, graphics tablet, optical drives...), more wires, new ways of controlling input devices and more software upgrades to learn and master. Creative work was put together with industry standard programmes like Photoshop, PageMaker, Quark Xpress and Illustrator all running alongside Shareware and Freeware software from cover mounted CD’s given away with the Mac magazines of the day, all of this being pre App Store and everything that followed it. As a freelance Graphic Designer I managed to maintain a steady income stream in working with record labels, magazines, galleries, arts organisations, education trusts, schools, artists and photographers in producing print design, websites, CD–ROM’s, sound design, retouching photos and prepping work for exhibitions for galleries.
In 2012 I was given an iPhone 4S and it literally changed everything. Using other software took an immediate back seat when I discovered Camera+ , Camera Bag and Hipstamatic coupled with the new found freedom of being able to work on images wherever I was. A year later I got an iPad and that changed everything for me. The bigger screen, importing directly from the iPhone, more Apps, more storage and Pinch to zoom (a game changer). Then came the iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPhone 7Plus. Possibilities increased and new ways of working emerged bringing me to my current set up of an iPhone X, 11” iPad Pro and 2nd generation Apple Pencil. My creativity increased, I sought less freelance work, took a new career path and embraced my new passion for photographic work by creating fine art prints and delivering mobile photography workshops, amongst other things. I had an exhibition of my mobile art & photography work which turned out to be the first exhibition of its kind in Scotland in that it consisted of work created entirely on mobile devices. Since then I have exhibited work in numerous group shows and been shortlisted for awards.
Alongside this new mobile workflow I found that I was struggling with my desktop computer, a 21.5 inch, 2014 model iMac. I should say that it has served me well and been a hub for sales, exhibition planning, design work, sound design, video digitising and editing and photo management amongst much more. However as the updates to MacOS moves ever on I had found the machine becoming increasingly slow to respond with more instances of the ‘spinning beach ball’ as software launches, files copy to external drives or importing photos from my iPhone X to name just a few in a long list. Even reformatting the hard drive and setting it up as a new machine didn’t improve it much. I was not alone, searches on Apples support pages revealed countless others having similar issues.
As the problems continued I found that I was turning to my iPad Pro more to get on with a lot of the desktop tasks, email, networking, website updates, photo management, video editing, working on my book and workshop content and of course my image based work. It soon became clear to me that I could easily move to a mobile only set up. With that in mind I started a side by side comparison / substitution list of what I was using and doing on the iMac and how I could achieve this on the iPad Pro. Within a matter of days my list revealed that there was nothing I was doing on the iMac that I couldn’t do on the iPad Pro.
Here are a few examples:
On the iMac I had been using Photoshop for many years but since getting an iPad this took a back seat, so much so that I stopped upgrading. For what I need to do I can achieve this with Pixelmator, Pixelmator Photo and Snapseed Apps using the second generation Apple Pencil (another game changer). To manage my photo library I was using Apple Photos on the iMac and IOS devices, so no changes there. For office work like finance and word processing I was using Microsoft Office but this was also becoming sluggish so I stuck with Apples own Numbers and Pages together with Keynote for presentations. Video editing was via iMovie but a move to LumaFusion offered more creative control. As for a journal / notebook / sketchbook /i deas dump, I have been using the first rate Notebooks and IAWriter Apps for quite a few years now as they sync seamlessly between the copy on Mac OS and IOS versions on the iPhone and iPad. It has never crashed or quit on me, is in constant development and is one of only a handful of Apps that have been on my iPad consistently over the past six years. It’s a Note Taker, Text Processor, Markdown Composer for my website updates, Task Manager and Reminder app, File Storage and Organiser all in one.
The other main issue that is discussed in switching to the iPad Pro is backing up files to external drives. At the time of writing it isn’t possible to connect an external drive to the iPad and access its documents and files. This was solved by purchasing the compact RAVPower FileHub. This little black box is a wireless hub, that also acts as a portable battery charger and reads SD cards, flash drives and any USB drive and can connect to my iPad and iPhone via an App which makes it easy to transfer and managing files on and between devices. This has enabled me to have several master backup drives fir video, photos, archive of family documents and digitised paperwork and a drive of ongoing project files. All of these reside on the iPad Pro but back ups of everything are an absolute necessity.
As a back up strategy prior to selling my iMac I created master folders for specific files, video, audio, photos, documents etc and backed these up to external hard drives and iCloud Drive and DropBox. I then connected my iPhone and iPad Pro to the iMac and synced everything up. Secure erased the hard drive and reinstalled MacOS Mojave.
After I started this article Apple announced iPadOS and a wealth of updates, new features and new gesture support. There will be the ability to use a Magic Mouse or Trackpad, direct support for external hard drives and integration with the Files App. There are too many to list here but it is now looking ever more likely that we will be significantly changing how we will use the iPad Pro in the future. Now that I have finally taken the plunge I am looking forward to how things are developing.
Part 2 is due soon…
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