Elsewhere on this blog, Kirk compares the tablet vs. laptop, covering the pros and cons of replacing a laptop with a tablet. Although initially dismissed as consumption devices, in recent years tablets – especially Apple’s iPads – have proven themselves to be more than capable for business use.
An iPad is lightweight, flexible, and offers unique, distinct business-oriented apps, efficiencies, and interactions that just don’t exist on traditional desktops and laptops. However, to get the best from an iPad, and ensure you have an optimum solution for day-to-day work in any environment, take advantage of the following tips.
10 ways to get the most out of your iPad for business use
1. Go large
Surprisingly, even the iPad mini is a solid tool for productivity, but its tiny screen feels cramped in most use cases. Whether sorting email or working on mind mapping apps, you’re ultimately going to be happier with more – rather than less – screen space. On that basis, go for the iPad Pro. The latest 12.9-inch model is smaller than its predecessor, but the 11-inch iPad Pro is also suitable for work-related tasks.
2. Consider a cellular model iPad
Not all carriers enable you to have your smartphone act as a personal hotspot other devices can use for internet access. If you’re in that situation, look at buying an iPad with LTE. These models are more expensive, but you can use the built-in eSIM to get online in seconds. (If in the USA, note AT&T has a habit of locking SIMs in Apple devices, and so make your choice of carrier carefully.)
3. Buy Apple’s Smart Keyboard
You can type on glass, but won’t want to. So you’ll need a keyboard. Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio instantly connects to your iPad; it’s odd to type on at first, but I’ve grown to like mine. If you want something more laptop-like, with backlit keys, try the Brydge Pro or Logitech Slim Folio Pro. Or if you already own a standard Apple keyboard, connect it via Bluetooth, and use something like the upcoming TouchType to act as a stand while you work – and protect all your kit when on the move.
4. Grab a stylus
The iPad’s iOS operating system is designed to be used with fingers. Touch targets are large enough that you don’t need to file your fingers to a point in order to work. That said, an Apple Pencil is a wise investment for precision work that requires speed – sketches; mind-maps; document annotation. The latest iteration also smartly charges when magnetically attached to the iPad Pro, and allows you to switch tools with a double-tap.
5. Make yourself appy
There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the tried-and-tested. If you’ve been a Microsoft Office fan all your working life, you may want to continue using that suite on your iPad. But do explore the App Store for other apps that help boost productivity and efficiency, such as Soulver’s smart notepad calculator app, focus timers, read-later apps, long-form rich text writing tool Scrivener, and superb multi-document information review/organizational tool LiquidText.
6. Hide distractions
Like on any computing device, it pays on iPad to minimize distractions. Use the dock and first Home screen to house only vital work-related tools. Move everything else (games; TV apps) to a second screen; delete pre-loaded apps you don’t need, or place them within a folder you can move out of sight. Elsewhere, use the Notifications section of Settings to prune notifications to only those that are essential for your work/life and wellbeing.
7. Make sure you backup
Backing up is vital for any business tool, and that’s especially true for one that’s so portable – and potentially easy to lose. As per the mobile device backup tips outlined on this blog, keep your data safe by using the cloud, backing up your iPad to iCloud, and – if you also own a PC or Mac – periodically backing it up using iTunes.
8. Embrace the cloud
You can save files and content on your iPad, but you’re better off embracing the cloud. Save as much of your output as possible to iCloud – or an alternate cloud storage provider of choice – and also use iCloud for calendaring, reminders, and notes. This gives you another layer of protection in terms of data access should your iPad be lost or damaged.
9. Go beyond the bare accessories
For many people, an iPad, a decent keyboard, and a stand will be enough for work-related needs. But with today’s rich hardware ecosystem, it’s worth expanding your horizons. At the very least, invest in decent wireless headphones and speakers (even if the iPad Pro’s four built-in speakers are pretty good). If you often record audio, invest in a quality external mic (like Apogee’s MiC+). And for when you need to plug things into your iPad (or your iPad into other kit), there’s the Satechi Mobile Pro Hub, with its range of handy ports.
10. Watch your ergonomics
I’ve on this blog previously written about poor ergonomics. The one big negative of the iPad is it isn’t geared towards good posture when used as a sort-of laptop. So in an office-type environment, use it in a stand at eye-height – Lamicall offers a range of options – with an external keyboard; when on the move, take advantage of the iPad’s handheld nature, using it like a book when reading/browsing/reviewing.
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