I got asked a rather odd question this afternoon as I moved my various Apple gadgets around on the breakfast bar. “If you could only have one Apple device, what would it be?”
This caught me by surprise. I fought back tears as I took turns in imagining life without just one of my devices. Alright, I didn’t fight back tears, but I had to buy some time.
“So where would I be that I couldn’t have all of them?”
“Say a desert island!”
“Well that’s easy then. I’d take the iPhone. I’d just call for help”
“There’d be no reception!”
“In that case, there’d be no electricity either!” I protested.
“Look just imagine you have electricity and no reception!”. My family were beginning to lose interest by this point.
I’ve thought about this a lot and I tend to cut the thought experiment short through strategic equivocation. An iPhone is what I’d call the greatest personal computing device ever invented. Mine never leaves my side and is the closest thing I have to a prosthetic. Given the choice between always having to have an insulin pump attached to my body and carrying an iPhone, well, the pump has already lost that battle.
As for the MacBook Air, an 11″ model from 2011, fully maxed out with the processor, RAM and SSD upgrades, well that’s the greatest personal computer I’ve ever owned.
Then there’s the iPad. It’s such a 55M-sold-in-a-year anomaly, that I still haven’t been able to classify it. Most everyone I know says the same thing – that they can’t think of why they’d need one. Then of course they get one and wonder how they got along without it. The iPad doesn’t quite inspire the same degree of love as does an iPhone or MacBook Air, and you wouldn’t type a novel on it (but how many people type novels anyway), but you end up using it for much more than you realise. (I’m writing this post on my iPad, lying down, comfortably. I’d not be able to do this using the MacBook Air.)
On the iPad I run my life with the best version of OmniFocus there is. I can’t run Xcode on it, which would be fantastic and make my life complete, but I have given many presentations off it, going straight into a projector. In fact, I have once written an entire presentation on a tube journey on it. Keynote on iPad is the best presentation software I’ve ever used on any platform.
I once had an hour to write a 30 slide presentation. I chose my iPad and got the job done.
I read books on the iPad. For technical books it beats my Kindle hands down, but granted, for novels it is simply too heavy. For short form reading, I still prefer Instapaper on iPad.
I’d use it for writing if iA Writer didn’t have that cursor positioning bug that the author never responds to queries on. Still, there’s SimpleNote, which I pay for.
There is no more convenient browser than Safari for iPad. It’s the first browser I reach for when I’m at home. For email, I’d rather use the iPad than the iPhone, and it’s often more immediate and therefore convenient than reaching for the laptop.
My favourite diary app is Day One. I like it best on the iPad.
I used to prefer TweetBot on iPhone to any other client on any other platform until TapBots made the iPad version.
I use a Cosmonaut pen by the guys who made the Glyf. I’m still waiting for them to send me a replacement tip, but whatever, I use it on Penultimate, which I use every single day for free form writing and ideas. I used to buy loads of notebooks and then I felt too much reverence for the paper to defile it with my writing. Now I can use page after page of virtual paper and never feel the twinge of regret that I did when I used to lay waste to trees with my ridiculous paper fetish. The iPad did that.
I think the best portable gaming device is the Vita. You might accuse me of bias, but I genuinely believe that. The iPad runs a close second. Right now, there are some fantastic games for iPad and I see only more time wasting brilliance coming this way. It’s better for games than either the Mac or the iPhone.
Then there’s music. I have a folder full of music apps that are absolutely brilliant.
I know that as a geek I should pick the MacBook Air. I know that as a rational time and motion study, the choice would be iPhone.
But if you ask me today, I’d have to take the iPad. I don’t love it as much as the other two, but it’s the one I’d have to take. It is worming its way into more and more areas of my life and nearly always does what I need it to do.
It’s loaded with my music and a couple of choice films (I’m presuming my life’s truncated music collection would be available via iTunes Match) and most importantly, with more books than I will ever be able to read in what’s left of my life.
I will be able to read, write, play, draw, make music, record my thoughts, blog, write Lua if I really want, scribble, access my personal archives, pretty much everything I could do with a MacBook Air bar making iPad apps. And I haven’t made an iPad app, so let’s be honest with ourselves. An iPad is all the machine I need, in a format that makes it a lot easier to use, a lot more immediate, a lot more friendly, a lot less buggy, a lot longer lasting and a lot more personal than a laptop computer. As a canvas, it excels and outs the iPhone into the shade. I can’t see this changing. I see the iPad occupying an ever-increasing portion if my life, and the lives of hundreds of millions of others and I don’t see Google, or almost anybody else, catching up for a decade in this space. The traditional computer is dead bar the shouting.
I just wish it would be a bit quicker, and have a retina display. Roll on March.