IPad Pro 10.5 – More Thoughts

Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure to learn a lot more about the Apple iPad Pro 10.5 and wanted to share a few of the things that I have found work for me while using it.

It really is a great little computer and just the right size for a tablet – much larger and it would be unwieldy when not attached to a keyboard and any smaller having two apps open at once on the screen would be very hard to use. The 10.5 to 11.0 inch form factor seems about right for a tablet, especially when it has a detachable keyboard which can be used with it. I also know that I would not have been as happy with the 12.9 iPad Pro – it is just too big for what I or how I will use one.

Some of the things that I have learned during my first month with my iPad Pro 10.5:

1. I have to have an external keyboard to do lots of typing.

The other day I screwed up and haven’t ever fully charged my Zagg Bluetooth keyboard and of course while I was at the car dealership, it stopped working. I had planned on doing a blog post while I was there and figured that this would be a great opportunity to use the iPad’s on screen keyboard for more than a line or two.

It didn’t suck nearly as bad as thought it would, but it using the on screen keyboard is not something that I would want to have to use exclusively. One thing I had to change was my right index fingernail was just a touch too long and I kept missing keystrokes with that finger when I touched the screen key using only my fingernail. That got just a tad bit frustrating.

Which meant going and finding a pair of scissors to make it so I could type correctly. Before I cut the fingernail down to size, it caused a lot of misspelled words that I had to go back and correct.

I will definitely keep my Zagg keyboard or something similar over the onboard keyboard – the onboard keyboard doesn’t work all that well for me.

2. Moving exclusively to the Apple software/app silo only, probably will not happen.

I could probably get by with most of Apple’s offerings, but there are apps that seem to work better for me from other brands, which is not what I really expected. However, I want to work with what works best for how I work, so I have chosen a few surprises to keep moving forward.

Email – I will keep my gmail.com email account as my primary account, even though I will use Apple’s mail as the default email app, since it syncs well with iCloud. I just don’t like the .icloud.com identifier as my email provider at this time, it identifies too much what kind of computer equipment/stuff I probably own, while the gmail.com is more generic. Perhaps I am being a bit too paranoid, especially since here I am writing about my experience with Apple’s products on my blog, but sometimes being a little paranoid online is not a bad thing. Maybe down the road I will change my opinion, but for now I will keep using my gmail.com for emails. Although for certain things I can foresee moving more to iCloud.com

Notes – I like Apple’s Notes for the most part, but after all these years of doing things a certain way, I keep finding myself going back to Microsoft OneNote no matter which operating system I am using – when I can. The idea of different Notebooks for different interests is a level of organization that I prefer. I gotta admit that I liked Evernote back in the day, but some of the changes and pricing strategies moved me away from using it.

OneNote does everything that I want from a notes app, although I can’t use it directly in iCloud and I have to use Microsoft’s SkyDrive to sync things. Not really what I want, but if I want to use OneNote, something I will have to deal with.

What will probably happen is that I will initially use Apple Notes to create a note or capture something, think about how much I really need to keep it. Then if I decide that it is something I want to have permanently move the Note to OneNote in the appropriate Notebook. A bit of a convoluted way to do things, but I like both apps for different reasons and I do wish Apple Notes had a Notebook or whatever Apple would call it versus the one big pile of notes without any way to organize them the way I would like.

Photos – This is my biggest complaint right now. Moving my photo library from Google to iCloud and onto my iPad Pro is a mess and damn near impossible to do without a lot of manual input. Which is not how I am going to do things. So unless I find a different solution, I plan to keep what is in Google Photos as my archive for pre iPad Pro (keep adding stuff until I reach my limit), move individual photos to iCloud as I need them and use Apple Photos for my images going forward. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination and goes against something that I thought Apple was big on – it should just work.

iCloud – I really would like to eventually be able to move all of my online storage to here at some point. However, if I want to use OneNote, I have to use SkyDrive and the issue with moving my archive photos to my iPad/iCloud is a pain in the arse, means I have to keep Google Drive updated as well. It would be nice to have just iCloud, but where I am moving in from other providers, there doesn’t seem to be easy answers to getting my data from them to my iPad/iCloud account. At some point maybe a dongle and SD cards would help?

Productivity – It really doesn’t matter to me which Word Processor, Spreadsheet or Presentation software I use. They all do about the same things, it is just a matter of learning where the commands are hidden more than anything else. Apple’s offerings are more than adequate for what I do now and actually for personal use, I remember how much I preferred Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet to the others, now that I have been back to using it a bit. Plus I don’t see me making any presentations anytime soon.

Calendar/todo – I am not that crazy about Calendar or Reminders, they do enough, but…getting them to do what I want is not always shall we say simple. Subscribing to a different calendar in IOS can be a bit of a chore and getting reminders to be in order by date, well I haven’t figured it out yet, without having to manually move things around. I have been sort of looking at other options, but in the end will probably end up sticking to Apple’s calendar and reminders more because they are the default app than anything else.

Browser – Safari is here by default and for the most part seems to work well enough. Well except on the Garmin Connect and Strava sites, it doesn’t work correctly???? I don’t really think it is Apple’s fault, but…still they are sites I do like to visit every so often (yes, I have attempted to use the Desktop mode). Which means that I have to use Chrome when I want to visit those or some other sites. Plus I do like that I can Chromecast from the iPad too when I use Chrome on certain sites.

Firefox I have it on my iPad Pro because I wanted to see how the “new” Firefox worked. For me it is okay, but nothing about it makes me jump up and use it as my primary browser yet. I will stick with Safari as my primary browser and use Chrome as my back-up until things change. Although I did like the Brave browser when I was on Linux and just realized that it is available for IOS, I will play with it a little going forward.

Music – Let’s be real, I am not a big music guy, I like my collection (mostly older stuff) and have simple wants. A workout playlist and maybe an easy listening one. I am not crazy about the Apple Music app and while it works, it just doesn’t seem all that intuitive to me and iTunes for IOS is more about parting me from my money than anything else.

Getting my music library to my iPad still required me to install iTunes on my wife’s Windows desktop, import my music library and then sync my iPad Pro. Not what I consider ideal either, but it worked, I tried the photo thing, but that didn’t work. For the past few years I have had my music library in Google Music and that is okay, but it is not where I want it to be, but Apple doesn’t really want me to have an pre-existing library outside their silo. At least it seems that way when I want to put something on my iPad Pro, nothing seems very straight-forward, unless it is coming from the Apple silo.

To be honest, despite all of the advertising and free offers from Apple Music, I still tend to listen mostly to Pandora.com in the background when I am working on the iPad and want music. It is simple and I don’t have to screw around with it.

News Aggregator – I can’t quite wrap my head around how to get the app to work for me the way I want to see news stories. Even when I check the dislike box, I still seem to get “Just for you” stories on things I don’t like i.e. Soccer, NFL, Entertainment and so on. I do prefer to get various views on what is going going from liberal to conservative with big city and rural newspapers that have local news too. Maybe my eclectic view on things screws up what they think I want to see.

Yeah, the Apple News app is a strange beast, who’s machine learning or AI doesn’t seem to be working for me all that well. I am tempted to use Google News again, but at the same time, not really wanting to. So I have a bit of a conundrum about which way I want to go for this one.

Split Screen – One thing that I have noticed is that I very seldom use the split screen capability that iPads now enjoy. I tend to work in one app and then switch to another when I need to do something else or use my iPhone as my other screen. About the only time I really use the split screen is putting events from Facebook to calendar (which in my opinion, should be done with a click versus me having to do data entry), but different silos, so I shouldn’t expect them to work easily together or copying my run information data to my running log spreadsheet.

I actually have found that I prefer to only have one app open at a time, it does make me focus and think about what I am doing. However, I do like having the option when I need the split screen for it to be there. The best of both worlds.

The reality is that

My iPad Pro 10.5 takes the place of how I would use a MacBook or other laptop (Windows, Chromebook or Linux) and in just the short time I have had it, I am getting pretty damned comfortable with how it works too.

Even so, there was still a bit of a learning curve, transitioning my muscle memory and wrapping my brain around how the iPad works with IOS. Some things are much more intuitive, while others leave me scratching my head wondering why Apple chose to make things this way. I sort of think that even Apple is learning what users want, with the newer capabilities that the iPad Pro’s bring to the conversation.

Who knows maybe even some of the things that I am whining about now, will not be an issue.

At some point Apple will have to let iPads and IOS stand on their own, as their own computing system and not require them to plug into a “real” computer to do some things that should be easily accomplished on my iPad. I know, not all iPads are iPad Pros, and I know that IOS is designed for the iPhone first and iPads second. As iPhones and iPads become more and more powerful Apple will have to make changes that allow us to use them as our primary and in many cases only computer – not just an auxiliary device.

It was my experience of moving primarily from Google products to only using Apple’s IOS offerings was a bit of challenge and more of a chore than it should have been. Apple doesn’t always make things easy to move your data to their silo from other places and to be honest some of their software/apps are not as good as the other brand’s. I know that is heresy to many Apple fans out there, but from where I sit, it is how I see things.

Luckily, my iPad Pro has enough flexibility in the apps it can use that I can have my cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately, it also means that my computing experience will continue to be a blended approach between Microsoft, Google and Apple, with a few independent choices along the way. Perhaps that is how computing is meant to be, not wedded to any one silo and using what works best for you.

That might be a pretty novel approach. (Did you detect any sarcasm there?)

Either way, I am happy with my iPad Pro 10.5 and my iPhone 7 and yes, I will keep attempting to put more of my “stuff” into the Apple silo.