All iPads iPad as a laptop replacement - What are your apps and workflows?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by crodonline, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. crodonline macrumors member


    Mar 19, 2018
    Chicago, IL
    As someone who has been looking into substituting (not really a replacement in my case, I will always have my MBA around until it dies) their laptop with their iPad, I have been reading many articles and forum posts (especially here).

    Now I've heard all of the arguments, praises, etc. but I've heard very little on apps and workflows. I haven't found a forum talking about it (is there a dedicated one I've missed?), so I figured I would start one.

    I just have one rule: Please, pretty please, no posts on why an iPad will never replace a laptop, etc. We know all the whys. Now I want to hear, especially from the people who are doing it, what works.

    What apps are you using?
    What are your workflows?
    What are your special accessories/add-ons, if any?
    How are you making it work?

    I'm probably asking for it, but here goes nothing - ready, set, go!
  2. Abazigal macrumors G4


    Jul 18, 2011
    Maybe I can start the ball rolling.

    Teacher here. I use my iPad to teach in the classroom. My iPad is mirrored to an Apple TV connected to the projector.

    Main app is Notability. I have converted all my teaching material to pdf and I annotate on them using my Apple Pencil.

    Files are stored in Dropbox, and synced locally via Documents. Slowly getting the hang of the files app as well.

    I have a number of text snippets saved in Copied. As the Social Studies head in my school, I email my staff weekly on lesson matters, and it has been the third year in a row, so I have the instructions saved and it has been a real time saver. Basically, any text which you find yourself typing on a regular basis, can be stored here.

    Email app is spark, but I also use the stock mail app for mail drop.

    Things for task management. Latest update supports drag-and-drop task creation, which is cool when used in tandem with the mail app.

    The iPad is also awesome for presentations and reading. Notes are typed in the Notes app. Using Bear as well, but not as much, but at $1 a month, simply haven’t been bothered to terminate the subscription yet.

    Other apps are used sporadically. PDF expert for non-teaching but still work-related files. Office for viewing documents. iWork’s for content creation.

    Also have the workflow app. Nothing complicated, but it’s handy once you have the task coded out.

    It’s also my main entertainment device. Youtube, Netflix, Apple Music, podcasts, news, reading etc. It’s all done here as well.

    Accessories - 9.7” iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, Smart Cover, some poetic case with a built in pencil holder, Logitech keys-to-go keyboard for when I need to type.

    At home, I use my imac to manage my files. It’s basically the backend which makes what I do on my iPad possible.
  3. DoubleFlyaway macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2017
    I don't use anything special. Safari, Mail, Facetime, Files, Books, Kindle, Fanatical. Web based whiteboard for teaching. Sometimes Skype or Hangouts or Google Docs. Occasionally Puffin browser if a page just isn't cooperating. I use apple pencil and ASK constantly. No other add ons. I might get a Bluetooth number pad for occasional use. Sometimes Airpods, sometimes wired headphones because Airpods don't last long enough on two hour conference calls.

    I don't find being iOS-only challenging. No workarounds necessary.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 12, 2018 ---
    Adding... I teach online. I forgot to mention I do use a proprietary app for my contract work... It is video chat with integrated whiteboard and other tools. For work with a law school classmate, I make do with Facetime, Skype, and web whiteboards.
  4. DoubleFlyaway macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2017
  5. muzzy996 macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2018
    Glad that workflow is the focus here.

    PDF document review and annotation: For this task I utilize Microsoft One Drive to get the documents to/from the IPP and my windows workstation. For software on the IPP I use PDF Expert. I also rely heavily on my Apple Pencil to do the markup. I primarily work with engineering drawings so quick handwritten redline work is what is required so that I can quickly turn around a QC set of drawings back to production for revision. File sizes vary from a few MB to a couple hundred MB in size. The IPP seems to handle things well for me.

    Internet forum browsing and posting: Tapatalk. One stop shop for forums I like to visit and lurk in without the hassle of dealing with web pages and ads.

    Favorite news site browsing: Newsify. Just like Tapatalk, I stick in the feeds that I like to read daily into this one app and can quickly browse the headlines and quick views or dive into the web pages from within the app for articles that I like. Simple, elegant, fast. Greatly reduces dealing with ads on standard web browsing.
  6. pdaholic macrumors 65816


    Jun 22, 2011
    Great thread, and one that actually might turn out to be helpful. I’ve been using a 10.5 IPP for the last few months and pretty much leave my MacBook for transferring files to my hard drives/NAS drive and *ahem* my Apple Watch. Just bought a 12.9 IPP as I was tired of constantly zooming, and I’ve finally adjusted and love it.

    The most important app on my IPP is Documents by Readdle. My biggest hurdle since the inception of iOS has been the ability to download files from the internet like mp3’s, videos, PDFs, etc. Documents has a built-in browser that enables me to download from pretty much any website, just as I can do on my Mac. It can also see my NAS drive, and it can play videos in every format that I throw at it. Incredible app.

    I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with cloud storage. Dropbox has traditionally been my go-to, but since I’ve been using my NAS drive for larger files like videos, I don’t see much of a need for it, and iCloud storage is easy and I like how it pushes and pulls files with my iPhone/Mac. Dropbox seems faster though. Still trying to figure out which works best for me.

    Readdle PDF Expert is another must in my book. That app combined with the pencil makes the IPP my ultimate study companion.

    As for entertainment I use NPlayer plus. It streams from my NAS drive very well. I’ve tried almost every video player out there, and either they are buggy (VLC), have a monthly fee (Infuse), or freeze when switching apps on split screen (File Explorer and others). I use iMazing to move gigs of video files to my iPad from my Mac.

    No other apps are “must have” in my mind, but I do like Readdle’s Calendars app as I can have a monthly calendar view in a split screen (even quarter size split screen).

    I should mention that I organize my dock with entertainment apps (NPlayer, photos, Dropbox for music) on the left and work apps (PDF Expert, iWork apps, Notes, Documents) on the right as I’m right handed and tend to be touching them and flicking them upward more. Apps that I use fleetingly (reminders, messages) go in the middle of the dock where I can flick up to the middle of the split screen for slide-over.

    Accessories include Apple Smart Keyboard, Pencil, and a strap to attach the pencil to the keyboard. Skin on the back of the iPad to prevent scratches. Guess my MacBook is my iPad accessory as well! Bought a charging dock to rest my iPad in at night when I’m done.
  7. spiderman0616 macrumors 68040


    Aug 1, 2010
    First off, my iPad Pro is my only personally owned computer. I have a company issued MacBook Air that I have to use for work, but they also let us put all of our Office 365 software on our personal devices, so I can do some of that work from my iPad Pro if needed as well. (Honestly, I could do 99% of my day job from my iPad Pro if I really had to.) But as I've said in other threads, if I lost my job today and they took my Macbook away, I would not have any need to replace it with a personally owned Mac.

    I have a huge mixture of both commonplace and niche uses for my iPad Pro:

    Email: Stock mail app for personal, and Outlook for work

    Productivity: iWork for personal docs (on the rare occasion I need to make one) and Office 365 for work.

    Note taking: stock Notes or Notability for personal, OneNote for work. I LOVE OneNote and Apple Pencil together. Microsoft has done some great work here. Notability is fantastic too for more robust multimedia type note taking. I really wish I had an iPad with Notability in college--would have been a life saver.

    Podcasting: I use RINGR for recording the conversation, and Ferrite for editing, mixing and publishing the final shows. This actually requires the use of an iPhone in tandem with the iPad, but I still think it's great that I can do this without a Mac and with better results than I ever got on a Mac.

    Music composition: Notion--another app that is surprisingly well fitted for Apple Pencil and very robust.

    Scanner Pro or stock Notes for scanning/signing/marking documents

    Printer Pro to print to my non-AirPrint model printer

    I'm sure there's other stuff I'm not thinking of for work.

    For entertainment--

    iBooks for reading books. I also subscribe to a magazine or two.

    Playstation Vue--we use this as our cable TV and I have it tied in with the TV app and single sign on as well, so I can use it with all the channel apps and more easily look up On Demand content in the TV app. I also use the TV app for our movie library to watch things we've purchased in iTunes. We supplement with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as well.

    Apple Music for music. Pocket Cast for podcasts.

    Home app, IFTTT, and Workflow for all my home automation stuff

    odds and ends: Twitter, News, Civilization VI, TurboTax (I have done all of our tax returns on TurboTax for iPad for the last several years, and I love it.)

    The iPad Pro is the only "computer" I really need anymore. I have never been particularly fond of laptops, and don't really use my work MacBook Air as a laptop--it's docked on my desk and hooked up to two monitors and a Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard.

    Because the iPad Pro is a fantastic tablet in its own right and can double as a laptop via the Apple Smart Keyboard when I need it for long form typing (though more often lately, I've been ditching the ASK and just typing on the screen), it's really more versatile, useful, and entertaining than any laptop or desktop computer I've ever owned. Add in the Apple Pencil, and it's an entirely new type of computer altogether.
  8. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    Majority of my laptop usage was Firefox. On the iPad, it's Safari. That's probably 70% of my PC usage right there.

    File management and syncing: Dropbox and Documents by Readdle.

    Email: Stock app. I check email much more frequently now. I never used to check my email on the PC.

    Calendar: Stock app. We used to rely on memory and/or use a literal (wall) calendar to mark appointments.

    Comics: ComicGlass, comiXology (so much nicer to read on iPad than on PC)

    Ebooks: Marvin 3, Marvin sxs (again, so much nicer to read on iPad than on PC)

    PDF: GoodReader, PDF Expert

    Scanning: Office Lens (by Microsoft)

    Printing: Most of the time, I use the built-in print preview, pinch to zoom and then export PDF to Dropbox. For printing on paper, we have a Canon MF8280Cw.

    Office Apps: Microsoft Word and Excel (rarely used)

    The introduction of and improvements made to iOS Share Sheets has greatly enhanced my usage of iOS. Before, I'd often need to go to the PC for simple stuff (e.g. file downloads). Now, I can just download on iPad and Save to Dropbox.

    My home PC is used primarily as server and for backup nowadays. I'd sit in front of it maybe 1-2x a month. I don't trust cloud services as sole repository of data and backups plus I've got too much media to store in the cloud anyway.
  9. thisismyusername, Apr 13, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018

    thisismyusername macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2015
    Here's how I use my iPad Pro as my laptop replacement (disclaimer: I still use a desktop PC when I need a real computer). I also have a Smart Keyboard and Pencil. I use the former all the time. The Pencil is for note taking.

    Reading news: Apple's News app, Google News, and Feedly. The first two are for just browsing the latest headlines and whatnot, with them tailored to the news sites I prefer. Feedly is setup for RSS feeds for sites I closely follow, where I tend to read almost every article they post.

    Email: Just the stock Mail app

    Google Keep for shorter, random, mostly text notes. I use this a lot for both personal and work related notes. This is my dumping ground for lots of random things. I used to use Evernote for this reason but switched to Google Keep once Evernote really started wanting you to pay; I just can't justify paying for that service when Keep is just as good for me.

    Google Docs/Sheets for personal docs and spreadsheets. The most common thing I use this for is keeping track of my finances.

    I just started using Notability, with both the Smart Keyboard and Pencil, for work related notes. This is for longer form notes that need a mix of text and diagrams. I use this as a whiteboard. I don't enough experience with it to know if I'll get a lot of use out of it long term but I'm hoping it helps me out with work.

    Things for todo list type stuff.

    Pulse Secure for my work VPN. OpenVPN for my home VPN.

    Prompt 2 for SSH'ing into various different work and home servers.

    RD Client when I need to remote desktop into my home PC. I haven't used this very much and might investigate other options. It's just the first app I picked.

    I want to start making use of Workflow but I haven't really found any good reasons to yet. I use this for some very simple things on my iPhone though.

    Dropbox for obvious reasons

    Pocket Earth. I use this as an offline map, with the appropriate areas downloaded ahead of time, when traveling. I also use this to plan hikes, off road motorcycle rides, etc.

    Plex. I use this on my iPad mainly for watching movies when flying.

    Aside from typical entertainment apps (e.g. youtube), those are the most common things I use my iPad for and how it has replaced my laptop. I never thought I'd get this much use out of my iPad Pro when I bought it. I haven't opened my personal MBP since I bought it.
  10. Brammy macrumors 65816

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ulysses is my main writing app. Things for task management. Word for school writing. Pages for miscellaneous writing. I’d use Pages for the school stuff, but since it needs to be in .doc stuff, I just use Word. Numbers for some minor personal spreadsheet stuff. Procreate and Linea for drawing. OneNote for work notes. Notes for personal notes. Affinity Photo for phot editing. Photos for photo management. PDF Expert for marking up PDF documents. AnyFont for adding fonts. Instapaper for read-it-later. Reeder for RSS.

    Outlook for work email. for personal mail. I like keeping the two separate.
  11. Abazigal macrumors G4


    Jul 18, 2011
    A very cool use for my iPad came up yesterday when I was at a English training workshop. We were given a task to analyse a sample examination question, pick out the flaws and redesign the question. While everyone else was scribbling down their notes on paper, I used my iPad to make a scan of the document, imported it to PDF expert, and our team annotated our findings directly on the question itself.

    While other teams were presenting their work via the (rather dark) visualiser, I did mine directly off my iPad (always have the VGA adaptor with me).

    So in a sense, I find my iPad hasn't really been a laptop replacement for it. All along, I used a laptop for my work because it was really the only option available, which meant having to jump through hoops for some of the very basic tasks that crop up in the nature of my work. For example, in order to get a document onto my device, I would first have to scan or take a snapshot with my phone, then email it over to my laptop.

    An iPad has allowed me to streamline many of these processes. It has inbuilt 4g, long battery life, is thin and light, has a great camera, awesome apps, and I don't have to deal with the complexities of a desktop operating system. Basically, I had been using a hammer to drive in screws because the screwdriver hadn't been invent yet. Now it has, and there is no going back.
  12. ericwn macrumors 68020

    Apr 24, 2016
    I use GoodNotes a lot with the Apple Pencil. I use it to write the occasional handwritten thoughts or diary, plan things that need quick visualization and take notes for the music I play when performing with a band.

    I still use Clear for really simple to-do lists. Wish they‘d polish that app for iPad finally.

    Music comes via Apple Music, Photos are in iCloud.

    I use Documents by Readdle frequently to sync files and folders to my iMac, also really like their PDF expert app.

    Standard mail app. Standard messenger apps like Messages, Skype, Hangouts.

    Day One for Journaling - just an awesome app in my opinion.

    Tapatalk for forum browsing although its developers don‘t care for user feedback and the app is an ad infested junk piece - but still the most common one for forums. A lot of forums thought don‘t support it or have moved away from supporting it.

    Ulysses for longer text projects. Pages for the occasional quick document.

    Used to use Evernote but transitioned over to Apple notes for basics.
  13. crodonline thread starter macrumors member


    Mar 19, 2018
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks everyone. I've enjoyed reading everything so far. I hope others will hop on in and contribute. It's definitely helping me with coming up with a workflow on my iPad.
  14. CrystalQuest76 Suspended

    Dec 14, 2015
    West Cost A Lot
    Affinity Photo for photo editing.
    LumaFusion for video editing.
    Pages for note taking and short document creation.
  15. Mahasamatman macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2017

    • Lightroom for photo editing with some rare output to Photoshop Fix and Affinity
    • Pages/Numbers/Keynote for that sort of stuff
    • Kindle for reading
    • Safari and the standard email client
    • When I cross over to work, OmniGraffle for diagrams
    • Evernote Penultimate for notes
    • FileExplorer for exploring files on NAS etc.
    • News for reading news
    • iTunes for music and video
    When you list it like that it’s a reasonable amount. I have a 10.5 IPP with pencil and ASK which has by and large replaced my MBP which is booted up every month or so to apply patches and then left alone. I can’t part with it yet, at least not for another while as I may want it for something but so far, since I moved to my IPP it’s pretty much redundant.
  16. pdaholic macrumors 65816


    Jun 22, 2011
    For those of you out there with the 10.5 model and frustrated with the small webpage fonts in split screen on safari, I found that iCab browser will let you adjust font sizes for specific webpages. It also has numerous options for tweaking the browser. Also seems to be able to download files without a hiccup. This will likely become my primary browser.

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