What’s up, I hope y’all are doing well. I’m alright myself. This post is probably a surprise seeing as I’ve never really done a review of tech hardware before, outside of the PS5. But as you know whenever I choose to write something so random, it usually stems from the fact that the games aren’t hitting at the moment, which is once again the case. I’m slowly but surely trudging my way through Bravely Default 2, but I won’t lie that it’s been a bit of a slog. Lately all I’ve been doing is playing Apex, Destiny 2, and FFXIV, all of which you have my thoughts on already! So here we are.
Fam Why Do You Have an iPad?
Good question! Four reasons:
1. I am a flawed human being that likes to buy expensive tech toys when he’s depressed.
2. My old iPad is 5000 years old and I wanted to see how it’s been updated.
3. I wanted to draw on something now that I gave my mom my Surface Pro.
4. My laptop’s in the shop and I needed something to work on while it gets repaired.
I didn’t think I’d be using it as much as I currently am, but one week later I’m already smitten with the thing.
As I mentioned before, the last iPad I had was from 2015, and it’s barely been upgraded with any of the OS updates, so the iPad Air 4 and iOS 14 has basically been a brand new experience for me. Let’s start from the top.
The iPad is pretty solidly built out of the box, but I was eager to get it into a case as soon as possible. Without one, it’s hard to hold with one hand, and I cringed whenever I put it on a table, worried that its camera would get scuffed. In a good case though, it feels great to carry around, and just the right size to carry a round from room to room.
Instead of using facial recognition, the iPad uses TouchID to unlock. Considering the pain of unlocking my phone with a mask on, I actually hope that TouchID makes a comeback. It can be a bit finicky at times, but slowing down usually gets it to work on a second go. I let the iPad recognize my two index fingers and thumbs so that I can unlock it whether it’s in portrait or landscape mode.
My old iPad had a headphone jack. The new one does not. I will forever be annoyed by this trend, but at least I have high-quality headphones to match.
Somewhere between now and 2015, the iPad seems to have picked up a bunch of tricks for its OS. This thing is a lot more powerful than it first appears. Multitasking works very welll now. I was super impressed by how I could swipe the right side of the screen to access a list of apps that could overlay on top of whatever I was already looking at. It works with some apps better than others, but a week it already feels natural to swipe, write a tweet or send a message, and get back to whatever I was doing.
When I need a little more space, split-screen lets me go a bit further, letting me pick get enough space for both apps.
The main issue I have with this multitasking is that it almost always works better in horizontal mode. Also, swiping right works well enough, but swiping back to close the drawer of apps can be really finicky and distracting. I dunno if I’m just not getting the positioning right, but it was downright annoying at times.
Another aspect I was very fond of is Picture-in-Picture, which is an bad name for a pretty good feature. Getting to pull up HBO Max to watch a show while I play a game at the same time felt great, even though I sometimes found myself sliding the video around sometimes so I could access buttons on whatever app I was in.
As far as battery goes, I am once again impressed. Even when using all these aspects in conjunction with one another, I found that I wasn’t nervously glancing at the top-right corner of the screen, like I sometimes do when I’m doing extensive work with my phone. After an 8 hour day, I’d be sitting in the 50% range well into the rest of the night. Not bad at all.
By virtue of Apple owning each of my buttcheeks, my iPad quickly sat in well with the rest of my family of hardware. It synced up immediately with my photos and files, and I’ve actually come to find myself using iCloud for once, which I used to avoid because of how cumbersome it used to be. Airdropping stuff to my family or to one of my other devices is pretty snappy too.
I think it’d be hard to do any real work on an iPad without a keyboard of some kind, but with one, it becomes a tiny little work-horse. In fact, I’m writing this very piece on my iPad right now, in Craft! I’m able to chat with my coworkers on Slack without much issue, and even managed to make a whole presentation in Keynote. I would be lying if I said it went effortlessly, though. Part of it is the adjustment period, but I also found myself yearning for the ability to right click, or have a bit more space on my screen to manipulate things. For example in Keynote a lot of the aspects I normally work with are hidden behind sub menus, where they’d usually just be hanging out on the right side of the screen on my laptop.
One of my favorite things to do on the iPad has been reading. The big, crystal-clear screen and long-battery life has let me tear through multiple series of manga with the Shonen Jump app. I still think an eReader is better for novel/long-term reading, but for stuff like manga, comics, and the news, the iPad’s a great fit. It’s nice to be able to go through my RSS feed while draped on my couch, instead of sitting at my desk like always.
Then there are the games. I am not one of those people who think games shouldn’t be on the phone/iPad. As you already probably know, I have always been gatcha trash, so I’m not remiss to the idea, and there are interesting methods of interaction that can come strictly from touch. That said, some games definitely worked, while others didn’t. Slay the Spire, for example, is a perfect, and I mean PERFECT fit for the iPad. Moving cards around with my finger felt as natural as breathing. In fact, most turn-based and strategy games worked really well on the iPad, and none of them had much of an impact on the battery either, which is a nice plus.
Action games were another story. I tried out The Pathless and the new Samurai Jack game, and they didn’t feel nearly as smooth. Controlling the camera while performing actions at the same time just felt off. Granted, you could use a controller, but at that point...why not just play on a console, you know?
The iPad came with 3 months of Apple Arcade, which was a nice bonus. I will probably do a separate post with all the stuff I’ve played on it and my thoughts, but my general feeling is that while there are some great games, I don’t know how worth it it is to pay a sub every month to be able to access them. Sorry Grindstone. That said, I can see myself paying for a month every now and then to try out new games.
As I mentioned, I also got an Apple Pencil thrown into the deal, and it’s also pretty great. I actually much prefer hand-writing for a lot of things, and it supplements those aspects well. Apparently the first iteration of the Apple Pencil was garbage in a lot of ways? No problems with this one, though. It attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad, which serves as its method of charging as well. It feels good to draw on the iPad’s screen. I was worried it would feel like I was scratching the screen of the iPad if I pressed too hard on it with the nub, but that proved to not be a problem, at least so far. I bought Procreate, and while I’ll never quit my day job to be a full-time artist, it feels great to draw on. The pencil can take on all types of brush sensitivities, and Procreate itself is intuitive to work with.
I normally draw all my design thumbnails in my notebook, but I could myself doing it on my iPad from now on. It’ll make the transfer process to my other software smoother as well.
Tablets have always fascinated me on a fundamental level. First mocked as an “extra large phone,” you now see them everywhere, from doctor’s offices to ordering kiosks at restaurants. I think tablets have a place in the technological sphere, but it comes down to who you are and what you need from your tech.
If you don’t use a computer for much beyond minor office work, web-browsing/media consumption, or art, an iPad might be the perfect choice for you. It’s light-weight, easy to use, has great battery life, and paired with a keyboard, can replace a lot of what you might need doing on a computer. It’d save you money in the long-run. But if you’re like me, and are an intense multitasker, coder, designer, or musician/videographer, than an iPad probably isn’t going to be enough. Even then, though, it’s a great supplement for your existing workstation — although it’s most certainly going to be a luxury to get one as an addition.
As for me, I’ll probably be using my iPad all the time from now on, when I’ve got downtime away from my computer. And if we’re ever allowed to free ourselves from the shackles of quarantine, I could see it being the thing I put in my backpack instead of my laptop.