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Matt Chamlee

Apps That Help Make My iPad a Laptop

3 min read

I’ve been repeatedly impressed by this iPad Pro and how it works as both a tablet and a laptop. Granted, there are still severe limitations in some areas compared to a full Windows or macOS experience, one being serious software development, but I’ve been able to take Python development further on this device than I ever thought possible. Some credit goes to iOS itself, especially version 11, with the multitasking bits allowing overlaid and split-screen application usage. Lately, however, I’ve found myself impressed in the application design itself, usage of the space on the iPad, and elements of very thoughtful design. Not all of it is perfect, and some of it you pay a hefty pricetag for (looking at you Omnigraffle), but it goes a long way to helping me settle into using this as both a tablet and a laptop/productivity device.

Editorial, which I’m using to author this post, is a great example of clean, get out of your way design. While I’m sad my current blogging platform of choice, Known, doesn’t support Markdown directly, Editorial is still great for publishing layout and organization. It can be what you want, from a simple text editor to a robust word processor, and even includes scripting which I have yet to try out.

Omnigraffle, what some might call the premiere vector design and diagramming tool for Apple devices, really shines on iOS in it’s latest release. It’s expensive, but if it’s something you have a need for the flow, performance, and ease of use make it worth it.

Word, which I’m using more and more on my iPad for outlines as I plan out projects and applications, is a great example of taking something as long lived and feature-rich as it is and distilling it into just what you need to get the job done. The features are all there, but it gets out of your way and let’s you work on the task and hand. The more I use it the more I’m curious to see what I can do with Powerpoint on iOS.

A few apps I’ve used very little, but am exited to spend more time with, are Pythonista, Ynab, and Terminus. Pythonista take a lot of cues from Editorial, which makes sense since it’s the same developer. Ynab I just feel more comforable doing the regular stuff on the web app and quick things on the phone, but I suspect over time the iPad app won’t feel so awkward, already doing several things very well. Terminus is a superb terminal application that I just haven’t had as much need for, but I know of ways I could put it to more use.

I look forward to being able to do more on the iPad. I’ll probably never get to any more serious development, at least not locally (Terminus provides some remote development options), but I expect to find more capabilities as time goes on.