Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

Summary: The iPad 2 has become an integral part of my work day. Follow along on a typical day with an iPad 2.


Those who follow my tech coverage on ZDNet know that I don't just cover new gadgets, I use them in my daily life. When a gadget assumes a big role in my work I share how I use it, occasionally by detailing a day in the life of that device. The iPad 2 has already assumed such a role, and here is a day in the life of my iPad 2.

Even though I work at home my work day starts very early as my wife works across town and our alarm goes off promptly at five o'clock. I stumble out of bed and grab the first cup of joe for the day. Coffee in hand the next thing I pick up is my iPad 2.

While enjoying my caffeine fix I check the email that has come in during the previous night. While the Mail app on the iPad is not as good as the Gmail app on Android, it is good enough for everything I need to do. This app uses Gmail's IMAP capability to handle labels in a way sufficient for my needs. I will be glad when Google gets the Gmail app of iOS fixed and back in the App Store for me to give it a try.

Once my email has been triaged using the iPad 2, I jump into Twitter to check for any direct messages and replies to my tweets from the night before. I use the Twitter app on the iPad as I find it better than other apps I have tried. I like the sliding pane method Twitter uses on the iPad.

With email and Twitter processed, I jump in the browser and check this blog for comments on recent posts, and how traffic is doing. Sometimes the post comments lead me to jump elsewhere on the web to check on things others have mentioned. I like the way the Safari browser has tabs on the iPad since iOS 5, and before long I have 3 or 4 web sites open in tabs, happily jumping back and forth as needed.

With my preliminary day's work out of the way, I get ready for the day's real work. I sit down at my desk around six o'clock and fire up the MacBook. The iPad 2 goes in the Jadu Skadoosh stand to the left of my external monitor connected to the MacBook, which goes on a laptop stand to prop the screen up at a good height. I can easily work with the iPad 2 in the stand as I work at my desk, and I plug the iPad 2 in for charging while in the stand as I do not charge it overnight.

I leave Pocket Informant HD running on the iPad 2 while in the stand, whcih gives me access to my task list, calendar, and the Today view which pulls everything I need for the day onto one screen. This keeps me on task and focused on the things that matter for this day. Pocket Informant syncs automatically with my information in the Google cloud so anything I do on the iPad is instantly reflected on my other systems using Google.

My morning work keeps me busy at the MacBook, referring to the iPad 2 as needed. Before long it's time to have a healthy lunch, and the iPad 2 leaves the stand and spends the lunch break with me. I usually have a salad for lunch at home, and I use the Kindle app on the iPad to read while I eat. This is a wonderful break for me as I am a voracious reader.

When I finish eating I jump from the Kindle app to check any mail that has arrived. I skim the email headers to see which of the messages need immediate attention.

Once the lunch break is over I head back to the office, a commute of 10 seconds or so. I pick up at the desk where I left off, working for a couple of hours. When afternoon breaktime arrives, I decide I need a change of scenery for a while, along with a good coffee from my local beanery.

I put the iPad 2 in the Logitech Keyboard Case, throw them in my gear bag and head for the coffee shop. In ten minutes I am sitting at a table in the shop with the iPad 2 sitting in the keyboard ready for work.

I like to listen to podcasts while I work so I fire up Downcast, my favorite podcatcher. I use my Plantronics 590 Bluetooth headphones so I don't bother others in the shop. I like this full-featured app, especially the ability to set the listening speed slightly faster than normal. This lets me finish podcasts in less time than usual, without sounding bad, so I can get more podcast listening in.

I have an idea for an article so I fire up iThoughtsHD and map out a brief outline. I jump into the browser as needed and flesh out the article very quickly. I bounce back and forth between these two apps for a while, using the four-finger swipe method to slide back and forth.

Once the outline for the article is mapped out, I jump into Evernote to write it. Entering the article using the keyboard is as fast and capable as if I had a full laptop with me, but at a fraction of the size and weight. The long battery life of the iPad 2 makes it a mobile workhorse, and I don't even worry about battery consumption during the day.

Once the article is written in Evernote, I save it which sends it to the cloud. It is then available to me on every computer and gadget I use. I will copy and paste it into my desktop browser for final editing and publishing once back in the office.

I move from article to article, and in this session I do the groundwork for three stories I want to tell. I do all the research online I need to do, and either outline or write all of the articles. This is a very efficient way to work, as the one app on screen at a time method presented by the iPad 2 eliminates all distractions that normally hit me back at my desk. I am totally focused on the task at hand, and that is a very powerful thing.

The research starts with the Reeder app to spin through the hundreds of RSS feeds I follow with Google Reader. Reeder presents each article in a concise way that lets me cover a lot of ground while focusing on individual news items when needed.

After Reeder, I fire up Zite to have topics of interest presented in a magazine layout that is enjoyable to read, and often tips me on the subjects that interest me. I also use Flipboard this way, which is similar but with lots of different news sources I have input into the app. Using these three apps I cover an enormous amount of information, quickly and effortlessly.

Using the iPhone 4S I take a photo of the iPad and keyboard for one of the articles, and since I have Photostream enabled this photo is instantly available on both the iPad and my MacBook back at the office. It is great to have this just happen. I even edit the photo on the iPad using the Photo app, lightening it up a bit and cropping it for eventual publication.

The cloud focus of iOS 5 transcends photo work, as iMessage plays a role too. When I first got to the coffee shop I used iMessage to send a message to my wife's iPhone 4. We then got in a back and forth conversation, she on her iPhone and me on the iPad. It is very cool how iMessage works between devices this way, and even carries on the conversation when I switch between the iPad and the iPhone 4S.

After a very productive session working in the coffee shop, I snap the iPad 2 back in the keyboard case and head back to the home office. Once there, the iPad 2 goes back in the stand, and I finish my work day in the office.

Evening duty for the iPad 2 consists of all of the activities I have done throughout the day, mostly reading with the Kindle app, checking email as it arrives, and tweeting a bit. I do a lot of web surfing while watching TV, too.

I take the iPad 2 to bed, and read the current novel of interest before the end of the day. When it's time to go lights out, I set the iPad 2 on the nightstand and call it a day. This was a typical work day with the iPad 2, and as usual it played a major role, serving many functions. It is not the only tablet capable of doing these things by any means, but it does them well and works for me.

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Topics: Hardware, Apple, Browser, Collaboration, iPad, Laptops, Mobile OS, Mobility

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  • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

    nice article James, I enjoy reading you're use cases, looks like the iPad 2 is working out well for you.
    • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

      @pstmstr I sometimes wish I could be so devoid of scepticism and cynicism.
      Tim Acheson
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @Tim Acheson I often wish you could be too. ;-) In fact, I wish most of the commenters here could be... it's like being at a wrestling match sometimes.
    • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

      @Tim Acheson - quite. Hope the loss of integrity was worth it for the Apple freebies that will be coming James's way. This is not a review, it's a breathless advertorial. For a start, I cannot see the appeal of an expensive and fiddly iPad + keyboard converter combo when you could get a great ultra portable with better performance and compatibility for less cash.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @Psdie As you state, you just can't see it. This is not, wasn't pitched as, and wasn't indicated to be a review of anything, simply an account of how I use this gear. It wasn't intended to get free gear from Apple, who doesn't do that anyway. Must be terrible to be so cynical about a simple account about using gadgets.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @JamesKendrick - appreciate your reply. I find it hard to believe that Apple-positive reviews don't increase the likelihood of receiving free "loaners" in future, as is pretty standard across tech reviewing, but if that's not been a factor in your enamorment, my apologies.

        I'd be surprised though if you couldn't step back from what you wrote in the article and recognise the advertorial tone? Look at the marvelous care free life *you too* could lead if you stump up for the latest iPad :)

        One thing I will confess though - just checked pricing on the iPad 2 and Logitech adapter - it's not as high as I'd presumed; starting at circa $600 I believe? To be honest, that's neck and neck with the starting price for decent ultra portables with similar screen size, so my point is diluted somewhat.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @Psdie <br><br> "I cannot see the appeal of an expensive and fiddly iPad + keyboard converter combo when you could get a great ultra portable with better performance and compatibility for less cash."<br><br>And how would one get multi-touch on those ultra potable laptops? How would one get gyroscope and accelerometer? What about GPS, does ultra potables come with GPS? I like to hand the kids my iPad on long road trips, does the ultra portables have over 10 hour battery life? I use my iPad in the living-room and control what the kids are watching in the next room via Airplay + home sharing. Can send a YouTube clip or an HBO movie I was watching on the iPad directly to the AppleTV in the living-room, wirelessly. Read a book comfortably in bed without worrying about attached keyboard. <br><br>If James got the iPad just so he can attach a keyboard for work, I too would call it foolish, but the iPad is so much more and offer so much new use cases.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @Psdie Just buy iPad and try for your self. Keep in mind, it's not a tools to do work, but it's a tool to use everyday. Just try it !!!
      • Not as Biased as Previous Article

        @Psdie <br>Actually, this article, being more a matter of fact account, seems way more balanced to me than his last article about the iPad 2, which painted it as perfect in every way. It's how he uses the device. Does it make me want to log on and purchase an iPad 2? No, it doesn't, but I already know enough about the device to know I'll never be interested in buying one.<br><br>@dave95<br>Multitouch<br>Well if you have to be working with a laptop style device (like a netbook), and you are using the touchpad, you already have a better input device than the touchscreen on the iPad 2, even if you don't have a multi-touch touchpad (which do exist). A multi-touch touchscreen is only an advantage over other touchscreens, not alternative methods of input. A tablet's advantage over a netbook is that you can hold it in one hand and use it with the other. There's no practical way to do that with a non-convertible netbook; you have to be able to set it down.<br><br>Gyroscope and Acclerometer<br>Why would you need these things with a netbook? There's only one orientation that you use it in. A tablet has the same advantage as above.<br><br>GPS<br>Well, it's certainly possible for netbooks/ultraportables to have GPS capability. There are also USB GPS devices. Do all iPad 2 models have GPS?<br><br>Battery Life<br>That really is the best thing about ARM based devices (not really a factor of being a tablet).<br><br>AirPlay, AppleTV<br>An iPad 2 can't do those things at my house. I don't have AppleTV or any network enabled device hooked up to the TV. If I wanted to do these things, there are certainly other ways to do them.<br><br>Read a Book<br>It's not really tough to read a book in bed with an ultraportable. Actually, though, I've only used my palmtop ARM based computer or a MID (really a tablet smaller than 7 inches) for this, other than an actual book (which I've done a lot more of).<br><br>Can you take the pictures you just took with your DSLR and look at them on the iPad2 when you get back to the car? There is no way. Can you access <i>anything</i> that someone hands you on an SD card or a USB thumb drive? No.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @Psdie So basically what you are saying is that you hate Apple and if this article was identical in every way except it was about your tablet of choice it would have be a great piece right? Time to get a life.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

        @CFWhitman [i]Can you take the pictures you just took with your DSLR and look at them on the iPad2 when you get back to the car? There is no way. Can you access anything that someone hands you on an SD card or a USB thumb drive? No.[/i]
        Sorry, just like so many other things you say about iOS devices this is wrong. Sure you need to get the $20 adapter which I have to view those photos from your DSLR but you said it wasn't possible when it actaully is. Of course in about a year I have only used that adapter twice so really, how important of an issue is it anyway.
      • Precisely.


        The shame of this whole tablet craze is that it seems impossible to justify the price of one of these things for what they can actually do well.

        I have read many such articles on what an iPad fan does with their iPad, or even other tablets, and far too much of it always comes across like someone who has decided that come hell or high water they are going to start living in a world where they are going to start living by trying daily to put a very expensive square peg in a round hole. And learn to love it.

        Here is the truth, and for $500+ here is the problem. James says once hes done some messin' around fiddly stuff on the iPad:

        "With my preliminary day???s work out of the way, I get ready for the day???s real work. I sit down at my desk around six o???clock and fire up the MacBook"

        And with that single statement volumes are spoken for the average man on the street. Without a doubt of any kind, a Macbook is highly proficient in checking emails, twitter and yes, even new postings to this very blog. But an iPad isn't really up to the task of "the day???s real work". Multitudes of people wish they could afford a Macbook alone, not that they would necessarily purchase one even if they could afford one, but just having that kind of cash would be nice. After all you could purchase a great Windows 7 laptop and still have enough for a really good netbook and a dinner out with the wife at a good restaurant if you had the money for a good Macbook. But a Macbook and an iPad? I know even more people that wish they had that kind of money.

        Sorry to say the whole article reeks of nothing more then someone who cannot bare to be separated from their iPad, it sounds perversely bizarre just reading the thing. Having it hanging around like a third wheel most of the time, and then grabbing onto it at the first conceivable opportunity that there is something that it can actually do, even if the Macbook could do it as well. The only possible "excuse" for scooping it up this way is that its somehow a little more convenient at the particular moment then the Macbook. Wow. Double wow.

        Just how much money do people have kicking around for this luxury of minor convenience?? In the circles I travel in, most of the people I know that bough an iPad bought it because they thought they were buying the next big thing. In short, something that looked like it was right off Star Trek, a full fledged computer in a slate. Everyone of them are moderately disappointed at least to find out thats not the case because they really are not much good at most of the "real" computing that people want to do.

        I also know a couple of very lucky people like James who could afford to just buy one, and the really weird thing is they, just like James, carry the damn thing around like its their child. Its weird and it doesn't seem normal. For those few people I am left shaking my head every time I see them trying to jam that costly square peg into the round hole, particularly when a perfectly good round peg that would do the job much better is sometimes within arms reach. Its crazy.

        And they, just like James seem to revel in it. Sorry, but I don't get it. Not for that kind of money.
  • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

    One question James, are you using the device without a screen protector? If so, are you getting much glare when working outside on the patio? I tried an anti-glare protector on mine but didn't' like the way it washed out the color of the screen.
    • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

      @pstmstr I don't use screen protectors as I hate them. My patio is covered so the glare is not bad.
      • For Gmail


        Try iMailG HD app - works well on my iPad2 and is much closer to Android/Web Gmail...
    • Don't need a screen protector

      A big fallacy about the iPad is the need for a screen protector.
      I've used tablet computers for about 15 years... all of them pen based, and I would always put a screen protector on each one. They all needed them.
      What about the ipad??
      Doesn't need one.
      Two reasons... the screen is much, much more durable than any other tablet device I've ever used, and...
      You're using your finger on the screen, not some sharp object!!

      $30 ipad screen protectors are just a way for the store to make a little extra money off the conscientious purchaser.
      • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2


        Too true... Resistive screens benefit from screen protectors whereas they are not neccessary on any capacitive screen that I have used, unless one is awfully clumsy.
      • Not sure I agree


        On my original iPad, if you hold it angled you can see wear shadows on the glass.
        In the iPad2 I put one on (19$) that pretty much makes fingerprints a non issue.
  • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

    @kenosha7777 I use FaceTime on both the iPad and the iPhone. Works great but for business use I lean to Skype on the iPad 2. It works very well.
    • RE: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2

      @JamesKendrick make sense, too, because is Skype is platform-agnostic, unlike Face Time.