Balancing MacBook & iPad

In this mini-series, I talked about reasons triggering my switch back to the Mac (from being completely dependent on the iPad), and about my initial setup and thoughts. 

As I continue going through this shift, I’m beginning to see that neither device could completely and solely fulfill my computational needs.

In this article, I’ll talk about a few advantage points of the Mac, a few advantage points of the iPad, and initial thoughts on balancing between the two.

# Advantage Mac!

After years of (mostly!) neglecting macOS, I’m feeling the power of the Mac again! The device is more versatile, more capable, and full of tricks. There’s a certain freeing sense I get knowing that I have a full computer with me wherever I go.

One way I feel the power of the Mac, in contrast to the iPad, is when using the built in Mail app. 

The Mac version could automatically download all messages (even in the background), has smart mailboxes, and offers a more comprehensive view of messages.

In addition, I could now sort through messages more fluidly! At the beginning, I was trying to find extensions or apps to help me swipe messages to the trash or archival folder (a la iPad!). Eventually, I learned to do it the Mac way by using keyboard shortcuts and the Touch Bar!

Another example of the power of the Mac is in using TextExpander app. Granted, the iPad could use the built in text expansion features, but having a more robust and system-wide app on the Mac makes my workflow more efficient.

# Advantage iPad!

One could get the sense, reading the above, that the iPad has become a useless (mobile) computer! Well, I’m happy to report that nothing is further from the truth! Having been forcing myself to mostly use the MacBook for work, I’ve rediscovered the magic of the iPad!

First, it has solidified its role as the Go-To device for reading, annotating, and hand-writing notes. When there’s a need to focus on reading something, I find myself putting the MacBook aside and grabbing the iPad for a more immersive and distraction-free experience. Also, when needing to brainstorm an idea, nothing beats jotting down thoughts on the iPad! 

In addition, despite the M1 MacBooks gaining grounds on mobility, there’re some instances where it is just much more convenient and practical to grab an iPad. This includes certain situations, like working in the car (while waiting at the parking area), having an early morning outlook while on the dining table, and browsing the web while on the bed!

# Balancing the two

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’m gradually finding that neither device could completely and solely fulfill my computational needs. I’m getting closer and closer to a balancing point where I could use each device to its advantages, and also benefiting from the synergy between them.

With the introduction of M1 MacBooks, the gap of mobility between the iPad and the Mac is reduced, but not completely closed! I’m gradually settling in on which device to use in which situations/scenarios. For now, the MacBook is turning into a sort of a mobile desktop computer!! It’s main two spots are the desk of my home office and a suitable desk at a coffee shop! For anything in between, it is less convenient and more fragile, which has designated the iPad as the Go-To (ultra) mobile computer!

This also means reducing my dependency on the iPad’s Magic Keyboard. As the M1 MacBook Pro 13″ has now become my main writing machine, the iPad’s Magic Keyboard rarely leaves the house (saving me 640 grams of travel weight!). 

In addition to the complementing roles of the two devices, using them together has made my workflow more efficient and even more fun! I’m finding myself benefiting much from Universal Control and Side Car features in different work situations. This topic, though, will be covered in the next post of the series! 

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