An iPad story. Part 1

August 2017. My 10.5″ iPad Pro in Rose Gold arrives. Since then it has served as my primary computing device, even if Apple themselves aren’t sure as to what’s a computer.

Our story doesn’t start here however. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and set the scene.

Many years ago I owned a first generation iPod Mini. For a long time that was the only Apple product I owned. Several years later I bought my first smartphone, a HTC Legend running Android 2.1. It was fine, but I didn’t really use many of it’s features. I did spend a little while playing around with custom ROMs and generally tinkering with it, but when I started having battery life issues I found myself not being able to justify getting another smart phone. And so I moved back to a ‘dumb’ phone. Calls and texts, it was all I needed.

It’s important to note here that I’ve never been a heavy user of Google’s services. Outside of YouTube I have little interaction with them. I don’t use gmail, and my search engine of choice is DuckDuckGo.

By the time 2016 rolled around I was looking to acquire a smartphone again. Being able to keep up with email on the go was becoming important, and I was starting to make more use of things like Twitter. (I’ve never used Facebook however, outside of making an account years ago to reserve my name.)

I’d been sharing a house with a friend and colleague who was a fan of Apple devices. Coupled with his advice, and Apple holding their March event debuting the iPhone SE I knew what I had to do.

My old dumb phone, and my new iPhone SE

I do like the white fronts.

For the year that followed the SE became my primary computer.

I work as a technician for a university. My job does not involve looking at a computer screen all day, but instead supporting students in their use of 3D printers, Laser cutters, Arduinos, and various other electronic gizmos. The labs are all outfitted with iMacs, so having my own personal machine isn’t a requirement.

It turns out you can do quite a lot with just an iPhone. Coupled with an Apple TV that I acquired at the same time and I was pretty much set for my home computing needs.

That SE became my revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. It also became my camera, cycle computer, diary, and even allowed me to do 3D modelling, although the small size wasn’t ideal for the latter.

Something happens when you spend a year using iOS as your main operating system. You get used to it’s way of doing things. Need to get some data out of an app? Chances are there is an option hidden in the share sheet that will do what you need. The lack of file system access isn’t an issue when you’re not dealing with code on a daily basis.

The other thing that happens, at least in my case, is you begin making heavy use of Apple’s services. My diary lives in notes, my photos in iCloud. I even use Apple’s podcasts app rather than something like the excellent Overcast. Indeed, in most cases I use the default Apple apps over third party ones where possible. I plan on writing more about my specific app usage in a future post, but for now it’s enough to know that I became pretty heavily invested in the Apple Ecosystem.

The SE was serving me well. Android is by all accounts a very capable system, and very customisable. But I came to enjoy the simplicity of iOS. In my earlier years I loved tinkering with computers and customising software, but nowadays I just want to be able to get on with my work, and have my operating system get out of the way so I can focus on the task at hand.

As time moved on though the limits of the phone was starting to become apparent. Yes it fits in my hands perfectly, but that screen is only so large when you’re trying to work on a 3D model or make changes to an image.

It was time to go larger.

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