Moving to iOS

The single sentence that I never thought I’d utter: “I’m moving to iOS as my main computing platform.” It’s been a long time in the making and something that I’ve often dreamt about, but never actually did because I didn’t think the platform was powerful enough, couldn’t do all of the tasks that I needed to do, and above all was just not as good as my Mac for “real work.”

I started considering iOS as my main platform a few years back when the iPad Pro was released in late 2015. With a keyboard, proper keyboard shortcuts, and desktop class software, it seemed like a true dream computing device. However, I didn’t have an AirPrint capable printer, didn’t have the ability to scan documents and store them and search through OCR’d text, and didn’t have a good way to do my blogging and other writing directly from the device, and above all didn’t have the ability to do any software development. Fortunately things have turned around over the past 3 years.

In 2018, the iPad Pro and iOS 11 is as powerful as ever, offering a slew of capabilities, both for consumption and for productivity. You can connect many different peripherals including a Smart Keyboard, a scanner, a printer, and other things that would be unthinkable just a few years ago.

While the argument “iOS cannot be used for real work” is still partially true for me (c’mon Apple, give us a fully fledged iOS IDE for iPad), I will be moving over to iOS for my main non-development computing tasks. No longer will I boot up my Mac to watch YouTube videos, to type up a document, to write blog posts, to respond to emails or Basecamp messages, or the myriad of other tasks that I do every day. iOS is more than perfectly capable to handle all of my daily tasks that don’t include iOS programming, and I’m hoping one day it can also replace that (again, c’mon Apple!). Yes, Swift Playgrounds is a step in the right direction, but unless I can use git, edit source and Storyboards, then I’m stuck using my Mac.

Did I mention that my iPad Pro 10.5″ is also a lot more portable than a MacBook Pro? While the screen isn’t as big, I can still have most if not all of the functionality of the MacBook Pro in something that weighs less, takes up less space, is infinitely easier to carry around, and has a constant Internet connection thanks to LTE.

To me, the iPad Pro is the ultimate computing device, and I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring in terms of developer tools, productivity and creativity software that can allow me to completely move from macOS to something that’s highly portable.

Some might be asking, “Well what apps do you use?” The answer to that question is that it depends. I use a myriad of iOS apps every day to perform tasks, but here are my must-have apps for iOS that I couldn’t live without:

Messaging

  • iMessage is used to communicate with groups (I recently migrated some Slack groups over to iMessage since it doesn’t require a dedicated app and everyone I communicate with has access to iMessage)
  • Basecamp is used for work communication

Productivity

  • Ulysses is my go-to writing tool that I couldn’t live without. Every blog post on this blog and every post I write for TechRepublic.com is written in this app.
  • iWork (Pages/Numbers/Keynote) is used for writing documents, editing spreadsheets, and creating presentations I sync everything with iCloud Drive, and use the sharing option when I need to collaborate with others
  • Working Copy for when I need to clone a git repository and do some coding or working on hosted GitHub pages that don’t require an IDE
  • Swift Playgrounds for when I need to quickly sketch out an idea for iOS — I’ve built full UICollectionView layouts and other UI elements using Swift Playgrounds and is a great tool to carry around
  • Affinity Photo for when I need to edit photos or graphics, or make a graphic for a blog post. It’s like having full-fledged Photoshop on the iPad
  • OmniGraffle for when I need to create diagrams and app flowcharts on the iPad
  • Parallels Access for when I want to access Xcode on my Mac. Sometimes I’m away from the Mac when an emergency arises. In this situation, I can easily log into my Mac remotely with Parallels, open Xcode, create a change, test in the sim, and push to git.
  • DEVONthink for storing documents and being able to search OCR’d text.

Utilities

  • TunnelBear to provide a secure VPN connections when I’m on public Wi-Fi networks
  • 1Password for managing and syncing important passwords and secure information
  • Prompt for when I need to log into an SSH session with my Mac, or a remote server
  • Coda for when I need to edit websites on the iPad

These apps are ones I cannot use iOS without — they make for a great working experience.

The Objective Developer is a blog written by Cory Bohon