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Summary:

My look at a typical day with the Sprint EVO 4G was well received and I started getting requests for a similar look at a day with the iPad. Not one to ignore requests, this covers a typical day with the iPad in Mobile Tech Manor.

JK iPad Desktop

My recent look at a typical day with the Sprint EVO 4G was well received and I started getting requests for a similar look at a day with the iPad. Not one to ignore good requests, this post covers a typical day with the iPad in Mobile Tech Manor. I should point out that the iPad is so different from most gadgets I write about and I’m not sure there is a “typical” day. Perhaps I should more accurately present a “recent day” with the iPad.

It is still dark outside when the merciless alarm rouses me from a deep sleep and I stumble out of bed to greet the day. The iPad is lying on the night stand where I left it last night, having read an e-book before bedtime. It has not been charging overnight, as the extended battery life you’ve heard about on the iPad is not fiction. I rarely charge the iPad at night, which is a first with me for any gadget. Instead, I will plug it in while using it at my desk in a little while, and charge it until it shows a full charge after which it will remain untethered for the rest of the day.

I grab the first cup of coffee and settle into the easy chair with the iPad in hand. It is nestled in the Apple case I bought along with the iPad, and I am glad I did. The brushed aluminum back on the iPad is extremely slippery, and I’ve almost dropped it a few times. The case adds a nice grippy cover for it without adding much bulk to the slim package. I also use the stand on the back of the case to prop up the iPad throughout the day.

The first thing I do is catch up with email that has arrived overnight. We have a lot of site visitors located all over the globe, and the stream of email doesn’t stop when I am getting my beauty rest at night. Using the Mail app on the iPad is easy to do, and sitting in the chair I typically hold it in portrait which is more comfortable for me. I spin through the night’s email in just a few minutes, responding to mail as necessary via the onscreen keyboard. I use the keyboard by typing with my right index finger in portrait, and I find it fast enough for most messages I compose. For longer entries I spin the iPad around to landscape orientation which makes the keyboard big enough for easier typing. I have three different email accounts configured, and I’ll be glad when that unified inbox appears in iPhone 4.0.

NewsRack

Once my inbox is back to zero I spin through RSS feeds that have accumulated new items overnight. I am torn between two apps to do this — NetNewsWire and NewsRack. Both apps handle RSS feeds in a similar fashion, and both sync with Google Reader which is mandatory for my needs. I am leaning more towards NewsRack as it is now faster than NetNewsWire since a recent update, and I like the interface a little better. I fire it up and start spinning through the hundreds of news items waiting for my attention.

I pop from item to item using the “next item” button in NewsRack, and when an item deserves more attention I either hit the star button to mark it for reading later or I hit the button to open the item in the internal browser to read it right then. Either method works well, but usually I just hit the star and come back to the item later in the day.

Calendar

Once I have achieved inbox zero for my feeds, I get ready for some serious work. I make my 30 second commute to Mobile Tech Manor to begin my work day. I prop the iPad up to the left of my big desktop monitor and plug it in so it can be charging while I work at the Mac. I fire up the Calendar app on the iPad to check the day’s schedule, and then I run the ToDo app to check my task list.

ToDo

ToDo is a great task manager and I sync it with my ToodleDo online account. I love the planner interface that ToDo employs, and I find it a good way to stay on top of things that need to get done. ToDo stays open much of the day on the iPad so I can refer to it as needed, and I mark things done as appropriate. That’s one of my favorite things to do — mark a task as complete.

I find having the iPad serve as my day planner in this way adds value to my work setup. Is it necessary to get my work done? Of course not; but since I have the iPad I find it is very useful to keep my planning methods separate from my work computer. I am able to concentrate on the work when I should, yet pop over to the planner to see what I need to think about next when appropriate. This is even more useful for me as I often change the work computer given all the systems that I test for work. Having the iPad function as a planner allows me to extend whatever work setup I am employing at a given time, without having to change things. It’s all about getting my work done as easily as I can.

iThoughtsHD

I use iThoughtsHD as needed to map out longer articles I write. I like mind mapping and use it as a visual outliner. It’s easy to lay out a project in a map, and refer to it while I write the article. There are several mind map apps for the iPad, but iThoughts does everything I need and I like it a lot.

B&N eReader

I work at my desk until lunch time when I shut down to grab a bite to eat. I head to the local sandwich shop after throwing the iPad and Sprint Overdrive into a little gear bag. I eat my sandwich while reading an e-book on the iPad. Today I am using the Barnes & Noble eReader app to read the book; other days I use the Kindle app. Which one I use depends on where I bought the e-book, of course. I buy most of the books from Amazon but I have been getting some from B&N as I am giving the eReader app a try. They are both functionally similar; I don’t really favor one over the other.

Twitterrific Pro

Just before finishing lunch I hit the power button on the Overdrive to tap into the Sprint 4G network. In just a minute it connects and the iPad automatically connects to it, turning it into a 4G iPad. I check up on Twitter using Twitterrific Pro, my Twitter app of choice on the iPad. I also catch up with my email sitting in the lunchroom. The iPad makes it so easy to check my email that it has helped me keep up with my desire to maintain inbox zero. Sure I could do this with a smartphone but the iPad is faster and easier to use due to the larger screen.

Once lunch is finished I head back to my office to finish up the work day. The afternoon is spent much like the morning, working at my desk with the iPad sitting alongside my big screen. I take a couple of breaks in the afternoon, as I believe it is important to maintain a work routine that mimics one in a “real” office. It is vital to take breaks from the computer screen, and I do that in my home office, too. I grab the iPad when I step away from the desk and read the e-book during these breaks. The iPad is my ereader of choice, and I haven’t touched my Kindle since getting the iPad.

When the work day is finished and I step out of the Manor, the iPad comes with me. The slim, light form of the iPad makes it easy to grab and go, and the fact is it is always within reach. It sits on the table next to my easy chair, ready to grab for jumping online quickly to check something. I jump on Twitter several times during the evening to keep up with my peeps, and I check the RSS feeds in NewsRack a couple of times. The real value provided by the iPad is how I can do any of these things by simply picking it up and jumping online in less than a minute. Hit the button, slide the toggle and I’m online.

Is the iPad the only way to do this online stuff? Absolutely not, but it is so easy and quick that it is the best way for me. Is the iPad worth the price to everyone for this functionality? Probably not, that’s a case-by-case situation. Is it the easiest and most enjoyable way to do these things? For me, yes indeed. Since getting the iPad I spend less time checking things on the web, yet I spend more time online. What the iPad lets me do is jump online to check a particular thing, and then shut it down instantly.

It’s not all work, I have been playing a number of games on the iPad. I try to limit the time spent playing, but some of the games are pretty good and that makes it easy to get lost in them sometimes. The game I am currently having fun with is BrokenSword HD. It is well executed on the iPad and is a great mystery that unfolds in front of my eyes.

The iPad is not for everyone, mobile technology is a very personal thing. I’m sure many will look at a given task I’ve described and come up with another type of gadget that will do the task as well or better. In my case, when I look at the group of tasks I do each day, the iPad is the best single gadget to use. Over the course of this day I used the iPad to jump online at least 50 times. A simple tap of the on button and a tap of the browser app and I was connected to anything I wanted to be connected to. The iPad is my companion device of choice, it is not a primary system. But the utility it provides is augmented by the fact that more often than not it can do what I need, often even better or faster than my primary system.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Can Anyone Compete With the iPad?

  1. “The iPad is lying on the night stand where I left it last night”.

    For me that would be: “every night”. Like a good book. I like your iPad background. What is it.

    I’m also looking forward to the unified inbox in iPhone OS 4. I have three email accounts and switching back and forth is frustrating.

    I was going to write an article for the Princeton MacIntosh User’s Group Blog on my first month with the iPad. You and I share similar use cases and even use the same apps. I think I’ll just put a short posting on the blog and point a link over to your posting.

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    1. That background is a cartoon of me at work commissioned by my wife. I scanned it in to use as a desktop and love it.

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  2. Gavin Miller Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    There’s a danger for those reporting on the iPad to be over apologetic. I know it’s like treading on eggshells as I’ve never come across such polarised opinions on any new device!

    I thought long and hard before getting mine, especially as a long time Tablet PC user, but the bottom line is the iPad is FUN to use! True, I’ve jailbroken for backgrounder and wireless sync (both of which work like the’re just part of the OS), and I’m loving it. As a consultant it’s terrific for on the go access to reference docs, through Dropbox or Goodreader, reviewing my training material and of course email and internet.

    The constant sneering I see seems to be based around the netbook comparison. For me, having owned 5 different netbooks, the iPad trashes them hands down for pleasure of use and flexibility. I was always a ‘what if’ person, trying to cover every possible mobile scenario, before realising that 90% of the time my work on the road involved, reading, preparing and short notes or emails. This is why this device works so well for me as a terrific companion device.

    As you’ve always said James, get the tech that meets your needs. Clearly the iPad meets yours and I see no reason why we shouldn’t champion the positives of this groundbreaking device.

    Now, just one more go of Plants Vs Zombies……

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  3. Zack Lee Wright Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Your experience shows just how useful this device really is.
    I am tired of listening to Windows fanboys trashing the iPad, this is a revolutionary device that has already changed the game witnessed by the upcoming flood of copycat devices running Android.
    The success of the iPad just shows how the vast majority of the so-called experts in the technology field are basically clueless at their own profession.
    With 2 million iPads sold in just 2 months I think we all know just how much smarter Steve is than the rest of the CEOs at tech companies.
    The really scary thing is that this is just the beginning, with iPhoneOS 4.x update this fall the iPad will get even better and the iPad apps are mind blowing and growing. This is actually a killer corporate device for running custom internal corporate apps. Several companies in Europe will soon be ordering tens of thousands of iPads to greatly enhance their corporate productivity.
    With Google officially dumping Windows for corporate use and the rapid growth of iPhoneOS and Android throughout the world we can only hope that the decline of the Windows OS has finally begun and everybody will get much better applications and user experiences than the horrible Windows frustration we have all had to endure for so many years.
    The EASE OF USE of the iPad just cannot be underestimated !

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  4. I forgot to mention how I checked the App Store for updates to apps I use. I check it at least 2 – 3 times a day as apps frequently get updated. This is a big plus for me as it is amazing how free (or very cheap) apps keep getting updated with added functionality all the time.

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    1. I do the same thing. I’ve developed a bad habit of not syncing the device to a Mac. I have no backups.

      My blog post on my first 31 days with the device will post around 11:30 AM today. Thanks for the blogging inspiration.

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  5. Being Canadian I had to wait till May 28th to get my iPad. That did give me lots of time to determine if it was suitable for me and what I plan to use it for. And so far after 3 days I would say the iPad is perfect for my usage scenario. The Kindle is now in my wife’s hands as the iPad is an awesome ebook reader like you say. I also have a Zinio account and the magazines look great on the iPad as well as comics.

    Love reading your posts on the iPad and how you are using.

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  6. Love the style of writing for these-keep it up!
    (amazing, 7 comments and not one “I can do all that with a netbook, why can’t you?” responses! Yet :p )

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  7. I’ve only had my iPad since last Thursday so am still finding apps and working out how I’m going to use it. So far it’s mainly been used for email with Mail, reading with iBooks, surfing with iCab and Twitter with Twitterific. I’m waiting for my favourite iPhone RSS reader, Reeder, to be released before buying one. I’ve installed My Frame today to use the iPad as a photo frame at work. I need to work on getting some work documents onto it via Dropbox.

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  8. I’ve had my iPad for about 2 weeks now and coming from a previous netbook user, it’s a great piece of tech. I manage 9 offsite work locations and about 200 people and it has helped me quite a bit.

    Granted, I could do 99% of what I do on my iPad with my iPhone, but in the end, the iPad is a much more enjoyable device. Here is what I typically have used mine for:

    Email (Exchange, it’s funny out Apple out MS’s MS in regards to email functionality from an exchange server. Try and do HTML email or simply view a spreadsheet some time, Windows Mobile murders them)

    ToDo (simply awesome, a nice step up from the iPhone app, synced to Toodledo and my Exchange tasks on my desktop)

    DocsToGo (My iPad is jailbroken, fullforce is an awesome app, it makes many iPhone apps run natively on the iPad, ymmv)

    Dropbox (FTW!, I have every single word, excel, powerpoint and PDF from my desktop accessible anywhere)

    Numbers, not so much. With no native .xls export, its really useless to me

    Mix in Pulse for news and a few games (Civ :P) it makes for an all around mobile workstation for me.

    On the off chance I need to print something, Jump Desktop RDP access to my desktop takes care of that in a jiffy. I’ve been showing it off a bit to some of my coworkers and just about everyone is amazed at what it can do.

    It may sound like a commercial, but I really don’t give a rats ass. The iPad is a fun way to get my work done and when you put in 70+ hours a week, anything fun makes it more enjoyable!

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    1. Thanks for the Fullforce heads up! Works really well on quite a few Apps I use a lot – Spotify, Navigon (bit big for a portable Sat Nav but cool to see it running), Facebook etc. Great stop gap till Devs update their apps.

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  9. Matt Hopkins Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Nice post — I’ve found Bulletin to be the best news / rss reader so far — have you tried it? (not associated with them in any way)

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    1. I’m trying it now and it’s nice. Very similar in features to the two I mentioned, but the interface on Bulletin has some minor advantages. Too many choices, I’d say any of these 3 is a good choice.

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  10. Interesting use, James. I always enjoy your “day in the life” articles.

    I was curious about the way you keep the iPad next to your desktop all day. Have you considered using it as a screen extension/second monitor? Don’t recall the name, but I know I saw an app that allows Mac users to do that.

    Also, on the B&N Reader, please keep us posted if you hear anything about using eReader (former PeanutPress) books in it. I have more than 100, so I’m eager to find a way to use them on iPad, other than the iPhone app.

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    1. I have a 24-inch monitor connected to the 13-inch MacBook and the two displays are all I need. I believe the app you’re thinking of is Air Display, and others really like it. I don’t need it, I prefer to have the iPad be an iPad on the desk. :)

      You can read eReader.com books using the B&N eReader app for the iPad. I’m not sure how you can get them onto the iPad from the eReader site though. I am keeping an eye on this as I have over 500 books in my eReader library.

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