I’m From the Future


162 Days Later

Hello, friend.

When we last talked, I was at a crossroads. I was still trying to make a mental leap on workflow that involved a MacBook 12″ for my day to day computing and using only an iPad Pro 9.7″ and the iPhone 7Plus. The experiment as a whole has been rather facinating to watch my flow bend and adjust to something far more simplistic than what I was used to. Which is fantastic.

Over the last few months, I’ve settled into a grove with a setup that really works for me:

  • MacBook 12″ at the home office desk with a 27″ monitor, bluetooth keyboard and mouse. This machine hasn’t left the desk in 4 months, but it’s what I use when working on Keynotes, taking video conferences, etc.
  • iPad Pro 9.7 for around the house, reading in bed or on the couch, going to the office, working out (more on that in another post), and most importantly any and all travel.
  • The iPhone 7Plus funny enough, is with me pretty much all day long, all day, every day.

One of the most surprising things is that I really haven’t missed traveling with the Mac. I dont need a power brick, I get a much longer battery life, watching movies on the plane or at the hotel is great on the iPad Pro. My EDC has a simple dual-USB charger for both the phone and the pad, and it rarely leaves the bag during the day.

In addition — when I travel, all I do is run around between meetings all day anyways, so why lug a laptop from place to place?

Side note: Never get an iPad without cellular — it has proven indispensable as I won’t use hotel or a public WiFi. Plus, I have the iPad on a different carrier than the phone, so I always use the “fastest” network and just tether.

On Dongles

At first the complaining about dongles seemed just, but now I realize it’s more about people being creatures of habit. Take something away, people get mad. Most don’t want to evolve (queue #courage jokes) — floppy drives, SCSI cables, etc., etc.. move on.

I wrote about this a bit in “Be a Geek Again”. How I solved carrying dongles? Go wireless. Really have been enjoying the Beats Powerbeats3 bluetooth headphones that are powered with the same W1 chip as the Apple Airpods. Getting great battery life (12 hours) and not seeing any real battery drain on the pad. Oh, they sound great too.

But honestly, complainers are always going to complain. Nothing I can do to help here.

Apps Are the Future…

On of the most useful things that this experiment has had me doing was to start exploring new applications to smooth out my workflow. Apps such as MindNode have moved from “novelty” to “essential” when I’m in a brainstorming session. I never really got into the mind map thing until I made a mental leap to stop excessive note-taking and move to something more fluid.

As a bonus, I can easily move a mind map to tasks in OmniFocus.

Easy, effective and smooth. The way it should be.

… And Apps Are the Achilles Heel

And on the flip side, I’ve often hit odd roadblocks when applications can’t do what you want. Or worse, what you expect them to do.

Last week, I found myself in the situation where I needed to edit a Keynote master slide — guess what? You can’t on the iOS version.

Also hit several weird copy/paste bugs, especially copying items into the Notes application. It’s sometimes painless, but often it is an exercise in frustration when you move beyond some of the basic functionality and need to push things a bit.

I said this before, and will say it again and again:

The iPad Pro is all the hardware you need, but the software hasn’t caught up yet.

This is also true with the iPhone 7Plus. Why more developers don’t take advantage of landscape mode is beyond me. Why force touch is mostly used for useless gimmicks is also strange. These can be awesome — as shown by the iPhone 7’s haptic engine on the home button. There needs to be more of this.

Pencil Sharpener

For me the Apple Pencil has basically been useless. I watch (in awe?) as co-workers use it, scribbling notes all over their screen in OneNote. And I’ve asked them about it — they love it!

I just can’t get there. There isn’t a killer app yet that is making me use it; so my usage is pretty much this: I lug it around with me and have to recharge it every week.

Being From The Future

This experiment really has me wondering if that perhaps the next phase of computing is actually here now, and it only requires a bit of a larger leap of faith and further simplification of workflow.

It’s in your pocket already.

Justin Blanton has two really great articles “The iPhone 7 Plus is My Only Computer” and “iPhone Only?” which talk about his transformation to “the computer in his pocket”.

Maybe the real transformation down the road is to just leave both the Mac and iPad at home. Go “phone only”. The Mac on the desk is the “backup computer” (as Justin comments).

It’s certainly intriguing- I’m not sure how I’d write a post like this (which was entirely written on the iPad) or edit a Keynote with any precision on the phone. I’m also not a huge fan of reading a book on the phone, or watching hours of video on a long flight. It’s certainly doable, just not pleasurable.

But as an information device, it’s there today.