Don’t tell anyone but, I bought an iPad

Look, I’m a Windows guy. I always have been. At least since 1998. Before that, I’d been clinging to my Amiga and trusty old Workbench 3.1 since the late 80’s. Hey, it worked.

Windows, for me, has always just made sense. Everything does what I expect it to do, lives where I expect it to live and after 25 years of using it every day, it’s just what I’m comfortable with.

Now, that’s not to say I’ve never used anything else. I’ve used Linux on various older laptops I’ve had, and I use an Android phone and have done since whenever the Samsung Galaxy S2 came out, and during a rather horrible period in a previous role after my work laptop had a minor accident involving an HGV, I also used a Mac for about two months.

MacOS and iOS, and the walled garden approach taken to their ecosystem, as well as the pretty locked down, hand-holdy nature of the out of the box experience always put me off. If I want to completely replace the shell, I should be able to. Not that I want to, but I want the option.

Anyway, for years I enjoyed participating the good-natured Windows user v’s Mac user “banter” in the office, always refusing to switch, even as most of the rest of the company moved to Macbooks. I clung on to my Windows machine. Switching jobs, I was offered my choice of Windows or Mac, and barely had they finished the question before I made my choice known. Windows. Always.

Until about 6 months ago. I found myself wanting a tablet for note taking, mainly. It’ll get other use, too, but note taking was the most important. I’d considered those Remarkable tablet things, but they seemed too limited. And expensive for what they are.

Now, I’ve had a few Android tablets over the years and, while they were fine, they never seemed to quite do the job. The Android App Store is heavily biased towards phone apps, not tablet optimised ones (it’s getting better though). Windows tablets were even worse. They were either botched, ARM driven (and therefore massively limited) pieces of junk, or they were horrible to use with a touch interface. Hardware wise, the Surface was lovely, and it was nice to hold, but using it was just horrible.

And, so, I found myself giving in and ordering an iPad Air (2022) with Apple Pencil. Because why not spend the extra on a fake, plastic pencil? I was ashamed of myself.

Until I used it. Now, firstly the built in apps (notes app etc) are all shit, in my opinion. And I don’t use it for email or anything like that. But, using OneNote and Evernote, it’s absolutely perfect. Writing feels a bit odd at first, but you get used to it.

At work, I also use Miro heavily, and using the Miro app on the iPad has changed everything about that workflow. Being able to draw, sketch and quickly scribble illegible notes onto collaborative whiteboards is a game changer. And, once I’d gotten used to the gestures, it’s changed everything about how I plan, collaborate and share ideas with my team. As an added bonus, I’ve been playing with improving my ability to draw and sketch, and I’m definitely getting better.

Now, it’s not perfect. Some days it flat out refuses to connect to my WiFi (doesn’t seem to like WiFi6 at all), and the battery life is, frankly, terrible. Forget to stick it on charge at the end of the day and it’ll be useless by the morning. Although, I will say that it does charge quite quickly via USB-C. The Apple Pencil 2 is quite nice to use, but I think I would have been fine with the much cheaper v1 Pencil to be honest. And, overall, it was just really expensive. £700ish all in (I didn’t opt for loads of storage as I pay for loads of Google Drive space already, so I just shove it all into the cloud anyway) is quite pricey for a glorified notepad and it’s definitely not within reach of everyone – I only bought one because I had a bonus cheque burning a hole in my pocket, otherwise I don’t think I could have justified it.

Would I recommend one to someone looking for a better way to take notes and organise their thoughts? Probably, but only if you can afford it. There are cheaper iPads – the regular one is a few hundred quid cheaper, I just wanted the lighter version – so if one of those will work for you, go with that. Or second hand – battery life is poor anyway.

I’m still unlikely to start wearing turtlenecks and sandals, but I’ll hold my hands up and say; yeah, the iPad is alright, actually.