iOS 9 was released almost two months ago, bringing with it the biggest upgrade to the experience of using an iPad. The iPad Pro was released last week, and already Mubaloo’s chairman, Mark Mason, digital director, Karl Loudon and designer, Ellis Reed have bought the new device to use for a variety of reasons. We’ll be bringing you insight from each of them over the coming weeks and months, but before then, Karl used his iPad Air for almost a month to see whether iOS 9 had solved many of the productivity limitations of its tablet experience.
As Digital Director of Mubaloo, Karl spends a fair amount of time on the road. When he’s in the office, Karl will be going from meeting to meeting presenting or taking notes, or if he’s at his desk, he’ll be reviewing work, writing proposals, preparing presentations, creating reports or responding to emails. Being able to be productive and mobile are both very important to Karl, here are his thoughts:
The announcement of the iPad Pro, and specifically the multitasking features of iOS 9 got me very excited about the idea of finally having one device to work from. So I set about trying to work solely with my iPad Air 2 for a week or two, bought an external keyboard and stylus and got to it.
To iOS 9’s credit, after less than an hour I’d settled into new workflows of multitasking. The biggest thing slowing me down was having to stop and think about new ways of working with various file types and the apps I needed. I was able to find the apps I needed very quickly to perform various tasks, including PDF conversion, saving, sharing, annotating and creating presentations, as well as image editing. With iOS 9, pulling all these things back together is dramatically easier than ever before.
Whilst the experience of using the iPad for productivity was much better than pre-iOS 9, not every developer has gone out and optimised their app for iOS 9 yet. Over the course of the experiment, I found that it was apps that were generally the main sticking point for interrupting my workflow.
At the moment, apps that support multitasking appear in a list on the right of the screen. Over the course of the month, as more apps support multi-tasking and split screen, scrolling through this screen became more laborious as the list grew. One suggestion to improve this experience could be to add a search function. Alternative, Apple could use Proactive and other features, to make this smarter.
Where the multi-tasking does shine, however, is when you are using an external keyboard. The new shortcuts to switch between apps, which is identical to the implementation on OS X, means that you can easily change the main app in use. In general, using an external keyboard is what helps to show the true potential for iOS and iPad as a powerful business tool.
Mobile operating systems can only really be truly effective if they are used within a modern enterprise architecture. By this, I mean a company that is fully cloud based. Apple is a company that famously moves technology forward, even if the rest of the market isn’t quite ready. Famous examples of this include dropping support for Floppy Disk drives with the introduction of the iMac, never supporting Blu-Ray and even dropping support for CD drives with its Macs, long before the rest of the industry. Most recently, Apple dropped support for standard USB ports on its new MacBook, moving instead to a single USB-C port.
For some companies, this may make using the iPad tricky, especially if their infrastructure is stuck in the past. For others though, who have fully embraced cloud infrastructures, devices like the iPad or Google Chromebook are ideal.
For a large number of workers, the iPad and apps available from the App Store (or that can be created for them) is all the computing they need. Many organisations have a large numbers of employees who don’t need to have a full desktop operating system, especially if those employees are largely away from their desks.
iOS 9 has transformed the iPad Air 2 for me, making me much more confident about being able to be productive on the move without my laptop. I found that it was possible to work largely from the iPad, though there were still some situations when I did need to reach for my laptop.
As good as the step up was in the experience, the screen size would prevent me from jumping to the iPad Air for work. Which is why, after the release of the Pro, I couldn’t resist pressing the order button.