iPad Journal (March/April 2020)


I just got a new iPad Pro 12.9-inch. These are some first impressions. Some thoughts on the hardware: there’s a new microphone, the same one that’s supposed to be, or similar to what’s in the MacBook Pro 16-inch. Then there is the wide-angle camera and LIDAR, and now there’s mouse support, but that’s more OS-specific.

As far as the hardware goes, I probably don’t need the latest version for the things that I do with the iPad. Speed-wise, it’s supposed to be slightly faster, but I rarely do things like video editing on it. The microphone will probably be nice to have. I have done some recording with the MacBook Pro’s microphone. If it’s as good as that, then I’ll be pretty happy with that.So that’s that for the hardware. The biggest change for me is going back to a 12.9 inch. I had previously the 11-inch.

The very first one I had was a 12.9. This was the original one. I switch every generation, so I went back to the 10.5. Then once the newer ones came out, the 2018, the big change as far as like form factor, switched to a 12.9 and again traded that with my brother back to an 11. That was earlier this year.

And now I’m back to a 12.9. I do kind of miss the size. There’s trade offs. I think that’s a separate topic, though, as far as switching sizes and figuring out what size is best. But right now in isolation, not traveling much, not taking anything out to a coffee shop or anything like that, happy to have the extra drawing space while I’m at home.

So that’s it for the hardware thoughts.

As far as changes that aren’t specific to the new models. That first one was switching to a bigger size. I do have a 16-inch MacBook pro. I just can’t imagine bringing both this iPad Pro and the MacBook Pro around. I have been thinking—now I’m getting tempted by that 13-inch MacBook Air but we’ll figure that out later.

I definitely don’t need it. I don’t need this new iPad either. It’s more about the size change. Another change is that the… this is not even with the latest OS… I think it was the previous major update where desktop web browsing was introduced. That’s been a big improvement compared to the years before that using the iPad.

Then, of course, the latest iOS update brings mouse support and pulls it out of the accessibility options. It’s been very cool so far and I’m very excited to see where things go with that. What I’ve done with those last two things combined with desktop web browsing and the mouse support… I’ve tried Figma. I tried making a template for GoodNotes with it, and it pretty much works for that.

That’s been pretty exciting to see. This kind of experience is only going to get better as both sides of that… I’m sure Figman will continue to improve that experience and also mouse support will only improve on the iPad. Then of course, any other web app is improved by this combination.

I’ve been trying to adjust where there are still some things that I’m getting used to and trying to understand as far as when I need to have accessibility options on or off. I think it also depends on how an app is put together. I noticed… in Figma. if I have accessibility options on, then it does the weird thing where if I try to move with the mouse, it tries to scroll the screen at the same time, but with it off and just using the normal mouse support, it works really great.

But then I tried it in MindNode and noticed that if I don’t have accessibility options on, then I can’t do any like panning or anything like that within MindNode. But when I turn it on… I think it is just how it’s treating the cursor. I’m guessing different apps will be updated to have full mouse support.

Or I don’t know what I’m doing is also a definite possibility.

Maybe I just am not doing it right in these different apps. But again, excited to see the mouse support.

Last section: What I’ve been using my iPad for lately.

So just continuing to draw with it. I’ve been drawing these note cards for blog posts that I write and have been writing more on that so check that out.

The other thing I’ve been using my iPad for… I’m trying recording audio in it.

What I have set up: side by side, I have Just Press Record on the right side. That’s my favorite voice recording app. I’m not using the microphone in the iPad. I have it hooked up to a Zoom H1 microphone that’s hooked up through USB.

On the left side, I just have this set of notes. Another thing that I’ve been using it for is writing.

That’s probably my favorite thing to do with the iPad, just because… Again, I’ve talked about this in other videos: just the focus that I can get with iOS is something that I don’t have with MacOS and my MacBook.

On my Mac, I always have some other window open from something I was trying to do earlier.

No matter what.

I have a shortcut that I could use to quit everything, but then what that does is it pops up all these “Save as” windows, and then I’m reminded of all my unfinished work, and all my failings from the last time that I opened up my Mac. That’s why I like my iPad: for hiding from that failure to finish things.

I can write in it and that’s what I’ve done with some shortcuts that I’ve set up. I really do need to make this video about the different shortcuts I use for writing. One of them that I used—in particular for the outline for this video—is a 10 minute shortcut.

What it does is it turns on Dark Noise—highly recommend that app for white noise— then it starts a 10-minute timer, plays a song, or I think it opens a song in Spotify, but it won’t actually play it. And then I hit play, then return back and it opens up Ulysses and I can start writing there.

What I did this time is I opened up a different shortcut that gives me a quick outline as long as… It just runs me through the prompts so that it can come up with three topics and then that takes about a minute and I fill that with some sub-topics to talk about. It gives me an outline to talk through.

Then the last thing that I’ve been using it for is just browsing the internet and reading around the apartment,while I am in isolation. That’s what’s happening right now.

We did buy a treadmill. This was an emergency purchase for quarantine to keep the movement going. I do have some kettlebells that I haven’t been using as much as I want.

[There seems to be a kettlebell shortage. Just just a note. Something I noticed trying to order a new one.]

The treadmill came, have it set up, so that’s something that I’ve done with the iPad. I will put something on there to read or watch. I also have my phone.

What it doesn’t work that well for—and this has more to do with the treadmill not having a flat surface to put the iPad on—so it’s not like a working treadmill or a desk treadmill or anything like that.

I did try to use like the Apple Pencil while walking. It didn’t work that well. The angle of the treadmill wasn’t suitable.

So what I do is I’ll have the iPad and then have my phone as kind of this input device so that I can continue to write on my phone and take notes on my phone while I walk.

It’s fine.

I’ve actually done quite a bit of writing in that way. So that’s a nice setup. If you have your phone and an iPad, great combo.

I’ll stop right there. Thanks for checking this out.

Next video will be that Shortcuts video.

Shortcuts for writers or something like that.

Thanks a lot.