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1st Day – M4 iPad Pro

Working on iPad – a new experience

M4 iPad Pro

Today is the day I will finally go full iPad.

It’s an odd gig this content creation lark. The first day I spent with the iPad which was now 48 hours ago, I barely got to use it. The day was spent taking B-roll shots of it and getting a video out covering my first thoughts on it. That meant I barely used or even touched it other than getting it out of the box and setting it up. It was about 11 PM before I started to ‘play’ with it and log into apps and start to make it feel my own.

Yesterday I was in London for a few meetings – and the only odd part about that was as I left home, the only device (other than my iPhone) with me was the iPad. When I know I’m out for a few hours I’ll nearly always take a Mac with me so that I can work more easily. But leaving the MacBook Air at home yesterday did feel odd – I felt kind of naked. Old habits and all that…

Today is going to be my first full day ever of iPad life! I have a day of writing and fairly general admin stuff ahead of me so this will be as good a day as I get to lean into it.

Everything feels a little bit alien to me right now. I’m certainly slower but I know I just have to hunker down and get used to iPad life if I’m going to be able to give honest reviews on it – so here we go, my first story written on the iPad and my first thoughts.

iPad life

First – the aesthetics…

The M4 iPad Pro is every bit as crazy slim as you may have heard. It is about as close to the pane of glass ideology that Apple has long held as its perfect iPad as you can imagine possible.

It’s now so improbably slim that a USB-C adapter is almost thicker than the tablet. The balance of it is lovely – it doesn’t feel top-heavy or awkward in the slightest. With the accessories (more on those later) this thing costs a small fortune – in my case £2500 so it needs to feel premium.

It does!

Sadly unlike my iPhone though, the iPad will be living in the Magic Keyboard. The thought of trying to use this without it is a non-starter but it does mean that the beautiful feel and tactile design of the iPad are lost – needs must though.

I’m starting to get a feel for iPadOS – don’t forget this is my first serious iPad and certainly the first day I’ve ever spent working on one. From my perspective, it’s a mix between iOS and macOS. Everything I turn to want to use feels kind of familiar – but with a twist. Nothing is flowing for me just now.

For instance – Ulysses my writing app – was one of the first apps I downloaded but Grammarly won’t work on it. On the Mac, I rely on Grammarly to double-check me, but so far, I’ve not been able to get it working…any suggestions are gratefully received. I guess all I can do today after writing this piece is to then check it on a Mac which is where I’ll add the images as well.

And that is exactly what I mean about familiar yet slower. On a Mac I’d normally re-size the images in Photoshop, pop them in a folder on my desktop or downloads and then place them within Ulysses. The only way I can think of doing that on here would be to import them to Lightroom first on a Mac as they are on an SD card and then edit in Lightroom on the iPad and re-size in Photoshop on the iPad. Then I could create a folder in files and import them from there. That sounds like a ballache.

I need to persevere though – I can’t run scared after a few hours and never use the iPad again – it will become more of a second nature in time, I know it will.

All normal

Last night I decided to spend today as much as possible working from the iPad – and 4 or 5 hours in it’s going ok.

I know it’s laughable how much power I have on tap with this tablet and how little of it I am using – I’m not even scratching the surface.

But importantly I have only used the iPad so far today. I’ve replied to viewer’s comments on here and even done a bit of Lightroom work for a picture I posted on Instagram earlier.

I have it connected to the Studio Display while I am working at home and that has immediately made it feel like I’m more at home. I have Safari, Music and Mail open on that display while I write on the iPads display.

Stage Manager never made any sense whatsoever to me on a Mac but on the iPad, I’m starting to see its use. The stacks set one side give me a quick visual reference of what I have open and make it easy to navigate.

I’m using Universal Control from the iPad across the display and two other Macs. It was a bit sluggish to recognise the other Macs but since then it’s been ok with only the occasional lag. I have a mini desk set-up going on – and is starting to feel good.

There was a point where I had to screenshot something and drop into another app – again I couldn’t think of a decent iPad workaround for that – so then I did use a Mac.

The display

I mentioned I was in London yesterday – part of the day was a meeting at the Brompton Road Apple Store.

While there I checked out my iPad which has the nano texture finish on the display against one without.

I thought the difference would be more stark but in reality, there was not that much difference between them. Possibly it was a tiny bit flatter in colour and contrast, but not that much. I thought the moment I saw them side by side I’d want to swap – but now I’m not so certain.

Mine with the nano texture was easier on the eye – with less glare and fewer reflections making it a better working environment. On balance I think I’ll keep with what I have.

Writing on it today I’ve left Ulysses set to bright (not dark) mode. The black text looks very black – more so than on my Macs.

How much can it do

My end game is to edit a video on here.

I’m waiting for the Final Cut Camera app to come out later this month and then I’ll grab Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 (£49/year or £4.95/month) and see what it’s like to push this thing. I don’t think I’d ever want to edit full-time from it – particularly as you can’t run plugins but at least then I feel I will have pushed it to some degree.

That said – I mentioned earlier that I’d used Lightroom on here today – well I added some pre-sets, added some lens blur and de-noised which on reflection was pretty intense and of course it didn’t bat an eyelid.

The fact that I’ve only now thought of how easily it handled that with no obvious delay in letting me export etc starts to give you an idea of how consummate this tablet is.

The accessories

I’ve hardly used the pencil. I used it briefly in Lightroom but I’ve not had a reason to use any of the new features. Over the next few days, I’ll try to find reasons to use it – but I knew even as I bought it that it wasn’t aimed at me.

The little I have used it though on the screen you can just feel a little drag to it – it’s subtle but it has some of that paper-drag factor to it.

The Magic Keyboard on the other hand – wow! OK, I can’t compare it to previous versions but this thing is so comfortable to use. Because it sits so flat on the desk there is no wrist pain. The layout is a tiny bit cramped for my hands – the same problem I had on the 13-inch MacBook Air – but I know I have fairly large hands.

Where I had feared that the newly added row of function keys may feel awkward, they don’t – you can use them ever so comfortably. Having brightness and volume controls to hand is so convenient. Also now that the top plate is made of metal the entire experience just feels more Mac-like.

The Face ID works super well and I am a big fan of the large widgets on the home screen. When I used the speakers on it they sounded good enough as to not be offensive for general desk-type listening. The camera & mics for video calls were good – better than when the Studio Display launched, that’s for sure.

What next?

I need to get some time in the bank with it, that’s what.

I’m glad that today I’ve had some time to just quietly go about my day’s work. Can I see myself becoming a hardened iPad user? No, the fact that I edit video and audio as much as I do means that I think I’ll be staying a Mac user. But I will try to reach for this more than the MacBook Air over the next few weeks – that’s its direct competition.

At last, though, I can join in the chat about iPad and iPadOS. If the leaks and rumours are true, then I’ve picked the perfect time to join the party. WWDC in a few weeks could prove to be the making of the OS. For ages, the hardware has been able but the software sadly lacking. Is that about to change? Monday 10th June we’ll all know.

For now, I’ll carry on getting used to working on it as much as I can – so far so good.

Now, if only I could get Grammarly to work…

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