Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5 – A Week Later

All the experts seem to have written “a week later” post on their experiences with Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5 and while I am definitely not an expert by anyone’s stretch of imagination – I think I have a pretty good idea of how to use and what I want from my computers. This is the observations from a new to the iPad universe user, but not new to computers, having used them for way too many years

First of all the my iPad Pro 10.5 is a “real” computer.

It has plenty of onboard memory at 256gb and 4gb RAM, there are lots of software (yes, I know they are now called apps) that can do almost everything that you need to do.

While iPads have a reputation as being primarily a digital consumption device, using my iPad Pro over the past week has wiped that stereotype completely from my view of iPads at least at my iPad Pro 10.5 level. It can do pretty much anything that most computer users need to get done and do it well enough for most people who are not power users or required to use particular software where they work.

Differences

The biggest change for me is that I had to shift my mindset and accept that I had to create new work flows or look differently at how I accomplished a task. The iPad Pro is not a Windows machine, not a Chromebook clone, it is not a Mac (although it shares some abilities) and it is not a Linux distro – it has its own operating system.

I just have to embrace the differences.

They are real.

  • No support for a mouse or trackpad
  • Differences in how apps may look versus their legacy counterparts
  • Changes to where software commands are found/implemented
  • No integrated keyboard – I will not and do not classify their onscreen keyboard as a “real” keyboard – I don’t like it all that much
  • The desktop is just for apps, not files, you can get them there, but it is not what I would call intuitive.
  • The iPad is primarily a touch interface
  • The file management system is purposely limited by Apple
  • You still have to sync your old music collection with iTunes on a different computer
  • And others that are more subtle. Those ones that I only notice when they happen, but do not really pay much attention to because they are not that different, but there is a difference

The differences are there.

Some I really like and some well they are just different from what I am used to.

However, let me be totally honest – I would not like my iPad Pro if I did not have a keyboard paired with it. Typing on the screen keyboard sucks and I would not have gotten it. I would have gone with as new a 11.0″ MacBook Air as I could find.

What I Like

The portability is amazing compared to the other laptops I have had. I can move it around the house or take it on trips with me and it sits nicely on a flat surface or my lap with the Zagg keyboard combo that I got. I really like that I can quickly remove it from the keyboard and just use it for reading or viewing a video/movie or TV show without any issues. When I go to have a vehicle worked on, if I don’t go for a run, I don’t hesitate to bring my iPad, whereas I hardly ever brought my laptop – it just wasn’t convenient.

I thought that I would really miss the mouse, trackball, trackpad method of moving the cursor around – after the initial WTFO how do I live without those things, I am getting acclimated to using keyboard shortcuts, my finger on the screen or my cheap $5.00 stylus to move the cursor around or to select icons. Enough so that when I had to use my wife’s Windows machine I found myself using her touchscreen more than the mouse – you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Speaking of the stylus. No I didn’t get the Apple Stylus – I have no doubt that it is a quality piece of equipment, but for the way that I am going to use a stylus, it is overkill. If I need to take a note I will use the keyboard or ask Siri to create one. I do not draw and am not a graphic artist, plus since I retired I don’t think that I going to be correcting/editing other people’s work anytime soon – so my cheap $5.00 stylus works quite nicely and I know that I have a couple more laying around the house. Yeah, I was a little worried that I would need that $100 Apple stylus too – I don’t.

Siri – Yes, I am using her more and more, as I learn how to use that technology, within the limitations that it still has. Although I gotta admit it is weird talking to the computer, it is the way of the future as predicted all those years ago in Star Trek or Hello Hal.

I am finding myself creating my own hybrid method of typing that is a combination of touch typing, using my stylus and fingers on the screen (the word prediction) and keyboard. It is weird, but the more I use it the more natural it is becoming.

Having a camera to create .pdf documents in Notes or simply to quickly an easily take a photo of something that I want to write about is convenient and a feature that I didn’t think that I would use as much as I have. Like taking the photo of the stylus after I got through writing about it. In the past I would have to get my phone, take the picture, wait for it to upload, then add it to a post. With the iPad’s camera I set the stylus on the table opened the photo app, took the picture, added a space in my post and added the photo. No fuss, no mess.

Which brings up another use where I couldn’t conveniently use my laptop. While using the elliptical, I can watch TV on the iPad, it fit well into the into the notch on the machine’s screen, so it is another option to distract me when working out on it or if I go to the gym and run on the treadmill, I can actually read a book or watch something I want, not necessarily what is on the TV.

I got the Zagg Rugged Messenger case/keyboard combo and have been extremely pleased with the protection it gives and also the keyboard itself.

I can type without worrying about whether it will keep up with me and I wonder how many people who actually use the Bluetooth connection keyboard type 90-100 WPM, like some of the reviewers do who complained about the keyboard not keeping up with them? I know that I don’t have that issues and while I touch type without looking at the keyboard pretty well, I certainly don’t have that kind of speed. So can I make a small prediction – I have a feeling for most mere mortal typists the Zagg Bluetooth keyboard and many others will keep up with us. I will probably do a review of that at some point in the next couple of weeks.

One of the reasons that I did get the iPad versus going the Mac route, it is the same operating system as my iPhone 7. Which has meant that things that I learn for one is usually applicable to the other and vice versa. Whereas if I was using a Mac or Windows machine, I am using two separate operating systems that do things differently. I wanted to simplify my computing experience and after only a week on the iPad, I can see how important this will be going forward. Especially, as IOS continues to improve and the other operating systems make changes also that I no longer have to really worry about.

Another thing that I did was buy the 200gb iCloud plan for $2.99 a month. I figure that should be enough to keep my iPad Pro backed up and have all of my files in one place versus in Google, Box, SkyDrive, DropBox or all the other places I have squirreled away data/files. I am tired of things being scattered across the Internet and moving to the iPad Pro has been a good impetus to consolidate things (once I figure out the file system to get the data into iCloud and on my iPad). This will take a while to sort through, but once it is done, I have a feeling that I will be happier.

That doesn’t mean it is perfect, because it is not.

The same software name may be the same, but it doesn’t mean that how the software may look, works or interacts with users is the same. Let’s use Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet – it works slightly differently in IOS than OS-X, how we access commands are different. Not enough to be all that bad, but enough to be a pain in the rear. Websites might not render the same in IOSand while some can be changed manually in IOS back to legacy views, I tend to forget that it does that.

Some apps for the iPhone do not work well (if at all) on the iPad – like Garmin Connect or Strava and I have to use the web versions.

Unfortunately, the biggest impediment for a lot of people and one that made me think long and hard before getting it, is the cost of getting into the iPad Pro 10.5 256gb edition. You do have to have a keyboard, which I know that I factored into the cost of getting it. However, when you buy Apple products that extra cost you pay for this brand is a known factor.

Dongles – enough said – everyone bitches about having to have a dongle to do stuff – I knew it would be an issue when I got it. I can see it becoming one down the road when I know that I will want/need them.

The biggest thing that I do not like is:

The file system limitations and it is not the iPad Pro’s issue that it cannot do something – it is more the choices Apple has made.

I want all of my files on my iPad and synced in iCloud since there is ample space for them there – especially my photos and .pdf files. Unfortunately, after a week I am still working on getting my photo library copied from Google Photos to my Photo library on the iPad Pro, there was no direct way to bulk move those files from Google to my iPad that I have found. I am not going the single download file route – 60gb of photos would make that a bit time consuming.

The best method I could come up with was to put iCloud on my wife’s Window’s computer, then do a Google take-out, unzipping the files, and now I have to figure out how to upload the mess to actually get in iCloud and then sync to my iPad. Sure does seem like a convoluted mess to simply transfer my data from Google’s silo to Apple’s.

Once I get it in there it will be fine, but getting stuff moved in has proved to be more difficult than it should be.

Although I have a feeling might be simpler to just keep everything in Google that is there and move forward from this point on in the Apple ecosystem. Naw that would be way too easy, I will find the solution, not because I have to, but because I am a stubborn old fart who has his mind set on having as much of my data on the iPad as possible.

Yeah, a stubborn old fart.

There – that short rant is over.

The reality is that

After only a week, I really don’t need anything else but the iPad Pro 10.5.

Yes, the file system stuff is a pain in the ass, but will not really be that big of a deal once I get things where I want them and going forward the file system is good enough once you have your data in Apple’s silo. Now I just have to get it there.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I am adapting to not using a mouse/trackpad to get stuff done.

Do I foresee it not doing anything that I need to do with my computer…not really. However, that is part of the fun of owning something different from what most folk have – is finding out what works for you and what does not.

I am sure there will be a few annoyances, having to re-learn how to accomplish tasks and tweaking the iPad to make it Harold’s iPad. I am still playing with what Apps are actually useful and eliminating the ones are not. Eventually, I would like to be able to retire my legacy accounts at Microsoft and Google or other places. Kind of clean up my stuff online, but I hate having an email that ends in .iCloud.com it just tells too many out there what kind of system you are using – which may or may not be a good thing in today’s world.

What I can say today about using my iPad Pro 10.5 is something that I haven’t said about a computer in a long time is that I am having fun with it and I am getting what what I want to do – done.

It is just that I have to do some thing differently than I used to.

Why the iPad Pro 10.5?

First and foremost my old ASUS TP300L, which is now using Linux Elementary OS is starting to have hardware issues that are at some point going make it into a brick — probably sooner rather than later. Which meant that I had to start really thinking about what I wanted from my next computer.

I have used several different styles and configurations of computers and operating systems over the years, so I am comfortable looking at how I (not anyone else) would use a new computer going forward. Also I have to be realistic in what I want from a computer now that I am retired – not how I used to use my computers in a more professional environment.

What are the differences?

There are some pretty significant differences.

  • I don’t have to worry about knowing a specific program or OS for work,
  • There is no need for me to program,
  • I never did much with music (except to listen to it),
  • I do not plan on needing Photoshop quality photo tools,
  • I do not foresee any serious video editing,
  • I don’t play any high-end computer games.

After looking at how my computer use has been for the last six month — my needs are actually becoming more and more consumption oriented than creation. Other than being able to write and add images or an occasional video to this blog.

Knowing all that does give me the freedom to look beyond the usual suspects or platforms that I have used in the past.

So what is important to me now?

Some things that I do want from my next computer are:

  • Portability is important, while I don’t go on business trips or long vacations, I still move around the house with my computer and from time-to-time make trips where I want my computer with me.
  • Size is another major consideration, I do a lot of stuff with my computer in my lap on the couch or at the kitchen table. Gone are the days of having a specific desk in the house where I go to do my computer stuff – I use the computer pretty much wherever in the house I happen to be and I am finding that even my 13″ ASUS is too bulky for me. If I want a big screen, I can cast to the TV.
  •  Whatever computer I get, needs to connect easily to the Internet (almost all do), plus it needs to work well offline and have enough storage that if I don’t want everything I have in Cloud or if the Internet is not available my computer is still functioning and I have access to my data or games that I want to play. Like when we go to Lancaster, there is no Internet, but there is plenty of power.
  • Longer battery life – I am almost always close to an outlet, but the idea that the computer can last more 8 hours on a regular basis is something that I want going forward. There are going to be times when I will need this I have a feeling.
  • Easily talk with my daughter and grandchildren i.e. Facetime, Skype or something similar, without having to jump through multiple hoops to get the app to work well.
  • Having a good selection of quality software (or apps) and the ability to play some of the old Blizzard RPG games based on AD&D.
  •  Integrates easily with my phone.

There is nothing really earth-shattering on any of those items and many different platforms can do exactly what I want.

I don’t want

While I do know what I want, I also have a pretty good idea of what I do not want also:

  • A Windows machine – I am purposely chosing to move in a different direction. Although the Microsoft Surface is a form factor that is close to what I want.
  • Another Chromebook – There is something missing with Chromebooks and how I do things – it might just be that I am old-fashioned about wanting more offline storage than most of them have. Whatever the reason each one that I have had, ends up in the end table beside the couch and I go back to using something else after the newness wears off.
  • Linux – my experience is that most of the distros are better than I expected or most people believe. However, at this point in my life I don’t want to mess around with the Command line anymore. I had to do too much of it to get the ASUS to the point where I wanted it and to be honest I don’t really want to do it again.
  •  Android – If I had stayed with my Android phone, I probably would have looked closer at moving to a high-end Android tablet, however once I moved back to an iPhone, doing more with Android wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.

When I look at my past experiences with all the operating systems and what I am looking for now, it become pretty clear that moving to Apple was the choice that I would be making.

Why Apple?

Even though I haven’t been in the Apple silo for a while, I do still read the technology blogs, magazines, etc., and attempt to stay somewhat current on what is going on in the world of technology.

Apple – Their products are Expensive as hell, but in my opinion the best designed hardware out there, although they have had a few duds lately and seem to be confused about whether to stay in the laptop business (by their minimal updates to the Mac lines) or make the iPad their professional portable computer and force their customers in that direction.

My decision was influenced even more when I moved to an iPhone 7 a few weeks ago and after using it for only a very short time, it reminded me how much I enjoyed using Apple’s product lines.

It is easier to stay in the Apple silo, especially if I am not going to use Windows, since the other operating systems do not play well with iPhones.

Form Factor

The next thing was to figure out which form factor to move to in the Apple lines:

  • iMac – Would love to have one, but I do not have a need for it, it is huge and it is stationary – therefore not what I am looking for
  • Mac – I loved my 2009 MacBook Pro and unfortunately, as much as I would love to have a MacBook or MacBook Pro the price tag was just too much outside the budget. That and Apple discontinued the MacBook Air 11″, which is the model I would have preferred. I did look at refurbished models and while those are a bit easier on the budget, it means that they either had a previous problem or they have been used by someone else. Apple refurbished I would trust, but others I would always question the how long it would last.
  • iPad – Which left the iPads which have always interested me, but in all honesty, I didn’t see them as a replacement for a full-fledged laptop. Based on how I used my laptops before, I  was fairly certain I wouldn’t have been happy with one as my primary daily driver before now.
screenshot-www.apple.com-2017-11-10-14-06-32-096
Screen shot from Apple.com

With all the improvements in the iPad Pro line this year, the 10.5 size and the release of IOS11. I decided to give the iPad line another look, even though they still didn’t support a mouse or trackpad, which have been an important part of my computing for many years.

While I was at the Apple store in early November and actually got to look at, use, talk with one of the Apple Instructors about how it could be used and play around with the iPad Pro 10.5 – I came away impressed.

Very Impressed.

Tinkerer

Let’s face it I am also an inveterate tinkerer who loves to learn new things and I don’t always end up doing things the same way as everyone else. Yeah, I could easily go back to Window or find a reconditioned 11″ MacBook Air with the stats I want, hell I could probably do quite nicely with a Chromebook or pick up a nice pre-owned, but lightly used Mac or Windows machine and keep playing with Linux. Yes, I could do any those things without too many issues.

However, I enjoy challenges and one type of hardware that I really haven’t done anything with – is an iPad. With all the improvements that Apple has made to them over the years, I have always wanted to see what all the fuss is about, but they never seemed quite enough computer for how I would use it.
Until now.

The reality is that

After actually playing around with and using an iPad Pro 10.5, doing all that research, I made my mind up that I wanted one.

Badly.

It seemed as though Apple had taken many of my personal  requirements for a computer and designed a laptop replacement iPad just for me. After that experience, I did a ton of research and the more I read or watched, the more I became certain that the iPad Pro 10.5 was the right computer for how I use a computer now.

So now is the time to try the iPad.

The next part of the story is what happened next – a few surprises and a trip to Portland.

 

Moving Back to iPhone

Yes, I have moved back to an iPhone. No, it is not their newest and greatest, but it is still a very current and dare I say fabulous cell phone – the iPhone 7. Say what you will about Apple, the high price of their products and all the other stuff, they do have beautiful and well made products that usually set the standard for those niches.

screenshot-www.apple.com-2017-11-10-14-09-11-313
Apple iPhone 7 – Screenshot from Apple.com 11/9/17

This post is not really about the technical aspects of the iPhone that I am now using (it is old news and a lot has been written about it), it is more about my experience moving back to using an iPhone after a couple of years of using Android phones and how it has made me look at things a LOT differently than I did a week ago. Continue reading