Ode to My iPad Pro

The subtitle for this blog used to be “Bible, Tech, Bible Tech.” I haven’t blogged about tech much in a long time. But I still love it. And it’s time for a break from heavy stuff.

One particular piece of tech I love is my new-to-me 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I got it a few months ago, and I got it basically brand new at almost half off the full price—the best tech deal I think I’ve ever scored. (Guy on OfferUp just didn’t find it did what he needed it to do, whatever that was. It was such a good deal that it made me wonder if he was legit, but he was.)

My iPad Pro hasn’t replaced my laptop or my desktop; I still need at least a desktop both for graphic design and for serious work at the office and at home. But it the iPad Pro has bridged the laptop and tablet worlds and created something new: a powerful device that can do almost everything I need, but that does those things differently enough that I find myself working differently. It’s always fast. It’s always available; the battery lasts all day. It’s really great for reading Logos and other books: the stylus is a big help. It’s light and barely noticeable and therefore can (and does) go with me anywhere. The keyboard case is fit for good work (though I wouldn’t want to work literally day on this keyboard), and with the addition of a small stand I’ve had forever and a used Bluetooth keyboard I got for cheap, it becomes a great writing device at coffee shops and libraries. I prefer to write on a screen set up in a vertical orientation:

I accidentally forgot my laptop on vacation, and I was able to do everything except actual graphic design just fine. I have no Adobe Illustrator equivalent; once that comes out (?) I should be able to do more—but without a mouse… I’m not sure this will ever be a sufficient design tool. I did, however, love editing a recent photo on it, because never in my life have I been able to draw with Photoshop’s clone stamp tool or any brushes directly on my image.

I also love teaching from the iPad Pro. I can have my sermon open in Ulysses in one pane and a Bible text or two in Logos in another.

I also love taking and marking up screenshots so easily with the stylus. It’s uber quick: just drag from the bottom left corner and you’ve got a screenshot with mark-up tools. You also have a pen in your hand! And the magnetic connection is convenient and brilliant for charging and for storage.

I also love LiquidText, great software for reading PDFs that allows me to use my stylus to good effect, and that saves all my excerpts and makes them easily exportable.

Also, the speakers are pretty loud, and I can play a story or a Bible passage for the kids during story time and/or Bible time, and they can all hear from their beds while the iPad is in the hall.

Also, the device is tall, so I can lie on the couch, rest it on a pillow, and not have to crane my neck to read my Logos books. Now that I have the iPad Pro I’m doing more reading in Logos books than I ever have before. (I’ve always done a lot of checking of reference works; now I’m reading more books “cover to cover.”) Going from working to reading is great for me as an editor. I go from typing on the cover to sitting back in my chair in an instant.

Also, the FaceID is super fast, and filling in passwords with FaceID is a relief.

Also, I’m really not lacking for any apps or utilities; I thought I would be. I was worried about not having TextExpander, especially. But the native iPad OS/iOS text expansion is not only great but syncs across all my Apple devices.

My main complaint is not file management so much as the ability to quickly open files in various apps. I need to get documents into Google Docs and Word and other things, and I often end up doing too much clicking around before I get what I want. This is one of the ways in which I feel that iPad OS is still slightly rough around the edges. Only slightly.

My second major complaint is that some apps, especially the Gmail app, are just scaled-up mobile apps; Gmail’s failure to use keyboard shortcuts is pretty annoying (though I can use them in Gmail in Safari, and that does help). Chrome’s inability to use keyword searches is bad for me. I use them extensively, and it seems to me that they would be such an easy addition on this powerful device. I’m hoping these are obvious fixes that will come soon—as the iPad Pro establishes itself as a new category of work machine.

A last minor complaint is that I can’t type on my lap very well if my legs are bent at a right angle. I have to stretch my legs out, or the cover is too bouncy as I type—not balanced correctly. Stretching is usually doable for me on the bus. But on the plane, the iPad Pro was awesome. I was able to work in the tiny space afforded me in coach.

The benefits of mobility, lightning quickness, full-screen for every app if need be, and a streamlined experience that doesn’t let me have too many apps open at once but can still launch them super quick—that’s what I’ve basically alway wanted without quite knowing it. And I sense that the device is only going to get better with software improvements. In God’s good providence, mine is a 64GB model (smallest size, but plenty for me) that also has LTE. For a tiny price from US Mobile (or for free from FreedomPOP if you can figure out how to do it; I failed and ended up disputing their charge on my card, something I have never done), I can have connectivity at those odd moments when I really need it for email or for syncing Ulysses documents.

Bottom line: I’ve always wanted a computer that was above all quick, and this is it. It launches instantly; apps launch instantly; I barely ever have to wait for anything.

Technology is what we call recent tools invented as a result of and for the furthering of the cultural mandate. I can subdue the earth and have dominion over it more effectively because I have this tool. I’m grateful to God.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

5 Comments

  1. OSchrock on January 16, 2020 at 6:24 am

    I’ve been hearing of more and more people using the iPad as a major productivity tool. It was interesting to read about your experience with it.
    I’m needing to upgrade my antique iPad and I’m curious to know how much advantage the Pro version has over the “regular” iPad? For a pastor/student who plans to use the iPad only for Bible Study and writing, is there a major advantage in the Pro version? If you’ve previously had an iPad, I’d be interested in knowing in what ways your new one outperforms the previous one?
    Also, I’ve heard it’s now possible to use a mouse with the iPad, have you tried that?

    Thanks!



  2. JDCancino on January 18, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    For me, no mouse, no productivity. It seems like a generational thing; so your article makes me feel old.



  3. Mark Ward on January 18, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    I kind of thought the same, but considering that a lot of what I do is write, and that the stylus really does do well some of the pointing and clicking of the mouse, I don’t find I really miss it—except for in graphic design work.



  4. Jacob Larsen on February 19, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Hello Mark,
    I always enjoy reading your blog and gaining insight to current topics, especailly in the area of Bible translations. As a fellow tech lover and iPad user, this article was interesting. There is a case/keyboard that I would reccomend that turns your iPad pro into a laptop. It is made by brydge. You can even get one that has a trackpad. This is really helpful for using on your lap.



  5. Mark Ward on February 19, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    Yes, I’ve seen that one! Is it easy to take the iPad out? I really like to take it out of the case for reading.



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