What's It Like Working With an iPad Full Time?


Even since the iPad was launched, I’ve been wondering whether it really could be used as a tool for work. So I was interested to learn that Shane Pearlman (of Shane & Peter, the company behind WWD’s redesign) had been been forced into using his iPad for work for the past few days — effectively running the company from his iPad. He describes his experience in a blog post.

Pearlman’s MacBook Pro met with an untimely demise just before a trip to Hawaii, and when his Time Machine backup proved to be corrupted, rendering his stand-by machine useless, he moved to his iPad full time. Overall, Pearlman describes working with the iPad as “doable,” and details both the good and bad aspects of it. (Note: Pearlman doesn’t mention it in his post, but his photo shows that he has Apple’s Keyboard Dock, which would definitely make working with the device easier).

The Positives

The iPad’s battery life (Pearlman can get an entire day’s work done on one charge), its touch interface, the number and quality of apps already available for the platform, and the overall experience of using the device all get the thumbs up.

The Negatives

Pearlman goes into much more detail on the negatives. Significantly, he complains about the linear workflow enforced by the lack of multitasking. He also notes that push notifications are more intrusive than Growl, and lists specific problems with email, AIM, Safari and the calendar.

The iPad as a Web Working Tool

The iPad still hasn’t been released here in the UK, so I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on one to assess it for myself. Unlike some of my blogging colleagues, I’m still not convinced I could justify purchasing one for my web working toolbox, but Pearlman’s experience proves that, in a pinch, you can certainly do useful work with one. It’s clear that software like SugarSync and Dropbox’s new mobile API are easing the clunky problem of getting files onto and off the iPad, which allays one of my biggest concerns about it, and the breadth of useful, high-quality apps already available for the device really is quite staggering, given the short amount of time it’s been available.

Have an iPad? Let us know the positives and negatives of working with it in the comments.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Why the iPad is Right for the Enterprise



We bought an iPad as soon as they were available, and just love it. In fact, we just purchased our second one last week, because I can never get our first one away from my husband. We take them everywhere with us, and we use them for everything. Love them!

Matt carleton

Being a designer I wish I could do more extensive photo editing on my ipad. I keep wanting it to act more like my MacBook but in reality I know that really isn’t what it was intended for. Most annoying comment I get from people? “what, it doesn’t have a phone”?…idiots.

Benjamin Woodruff

I’m a student who blogs fairly often about politics, technology and whatever social issues I get into, and I also have an iPad. I’m about to finish my first term and start summer classes. I don’t bring my MacBook to class anymore because I’ve been using my iPad for note taking, drawing, and even writing my papers. I’m not really into using Google Docs because it doesn’t have as many formatting tools as Word or Pages.
In the past I’d used my MacBook to write papers and such, then managed my content on the cloud using tools such as QuickOffice and Dropbox.com, which allowed me to make small changes to my documents or simply review slideshow lectures from my iPhone. I was pretty upset, however, to find out that neither of those services have iPad versions of their apps. I really don’t enjoy iPhone apps on my iPad except for some of the games. But, eventually I realized that a different approach was all I needed to make my work experience on the iPad a positive one.
I was a little skeptical about the iPad iWork apps before having downloaded them, but now I can say that, except for a few small issues, writing a five or eight page paper isn’t really that bad on my iPad. I don’t have the wireless keyboard or the keyboard dock attachment, but when doing serious typing I use my leather case that folds up like the standard Apple one does, and using a modified find n peck method, it works rather well. The great thing about the Pages app, as compared to some other mobile word processor, it allows me to work under MLA formatting almost as efficiently as I can in MS Word. Really, the only downside is having to do Works Cited page manually, but the Mac version has the same weakness so really it isn’t that bad. The interface is much simpler than any other word processor I’ve used, mobile or otherwise. And it doesn’t look half bad either.
As far as the actual practical sense of accessing documents and other content on the iPad, it’s not ideal, but I understand why Apple has limited some things that would make this process easier, and really it isn’t that bad either. As soon as I finish a paper, I head off to the computer lab in my school, pull out my iPad and email my finished paper to myself (using the .doc format of course), then simply open the web browser on these lab PCs and print the document from MS Word. At this point I’m done and I can go to class and turn the darn thing in. Sure, this process may be like taking a step backwards in the cloud experience. I may go back to the ‘more advanced’ cloud solutions once the come out with iPad versions of their apps, but I’m not going to rely on Google Docs just to access my files when I can do Wifi file sharing from home and work in style on the go using iWork.
This approach may not work as well for those people who do a very large amount of creating original documents or editing documents little by little. For these two tasks you need easier access to organized folders and an easier way to get documents from other people into those folders. But if you write anywhere from one to ten papers a week and don’t care too much about organizing with folders, then it may work for you.
One last thing, I really don’t understand why Apple doesn’t make use of the iDisk app and connect it to iWork somehow. Why, if I have he iDisk app on my iPad, can’t I just save files created in the iWork apps directly to my iDisk? Or conversely open files on my iDisk directly in iWork? To me, this negates the usefulness of MobileMe and is a terrible waste of amazing potential.
Thanks for reading this comment.

Simon Mackie

Thanks for taking the time to detail your experience, Benjamin. I’m still concerned about the “having to email files to yourself” bit — like you, I think this is a step backwards. However, some of the workaround presented by the likes of SugarSync and Dropbox do seem to be addressing this issue.

Robert Nelson

I picked up an iPad when the 3G model was released last week and while I can do some work on it, I would consider it more of another device. Its nice at times, but much more enjoyable for sitting on the couch, in bed or patio playing with instead of trying to do actual work. That said, I am very happy with the purchase, well aside from the fact that my family also loves it and this one purchase means I now have to share — or buy another.

Leslie A. Joy

I don’t have an iPad, but from all the reviews I’ve read, the iPad seems much more useful as something to have on your coffee table and use for the internet. Without multi-tasking and with reviews saying many of the apps are clunky, it seems a bit early for web workers to ditch netbooks when they need something small and portable.

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