Geeky Challenge: Using the Apple iPad as an exclusive mobile workstation

Can a simple iPad be a true laptop replacement?

Now that the dust has settled, and Apple has somewhat geared back on promoting its latest iOS release—it’s up to version 11.0 now, in case you haven’t heard—there are a lot of interesting new things that are possible now which simply weren’t before.

For instance, even though Apple has been boasting about the capabilities of its iOS devices as mobile workstations for years, now is the time when there really is a lot of evidence backing their claims. And the latest iOS update adds even more to this.

If you aren’t an Apple user, there may be no way to easily describe to you what you’re missing. After all, people who aren’t locked into the Apple ecosystem tend to be using either one of two major alternatives: Windows and Android. With Windows, you’re privy to a whole world of full-featured desktop-class applications. While on Android, well, you’re getting the same exact options available to you on any current smartphone. That is to say, you probably aren’t looking for a way out.

But for us, there are more than a handful of reasons why you should consider going “full mobile.” For one thing, you’ll be able to reduce the weight of your laptop bag. From carrying a full-sized laptop, you can move on to carrying just a tablet and a small keyboard. You also don’t need to carry a heavy power brick anymore.

Of course, you’ll be losing your options of running full desktop programs, too. But when much of your time online is spent in the browser, and the most typing you do is to place comments on random photos here and there, there could be an argument for your going tablet-only or, in this case, iOS only.

So here’s a question that popped into our head recently: without shelling out any money on new devices, and simply relying on freely available and downloadable software updates, would it be possible to really use an iOS device as a mobile workstation? And we don’t mean in the sense that you’ll use it whenever your laptop runs out of batteries. We mean, iPad-as-a-laptop-replacement kind of deal.

We could have asked that and simply wait for responses to pour in through twitter, facebook, or reddit. But instead, we’re going to take the plunge ourselves. 

Last year, we bought an Apple iPad mini 2 with 32GB of internal storage. We have since updated it to iOS 11. And we also bought a stand as well as a Logitech K380 Bluetooth wireless keyboard for it. Our work consists mainly of writing articles for online publishing. We need a way to edit photos, including cropping and resizing them, but other than that, much of our time will be spent solely inside the built-in browser. In this case, it’s Safari.

We’re giving ourselves 1-2 weeks to get into this setup, and if we like it, we’ll continue for a full month. How far do you think we’ll make it, trying to get any work done on this kind of setup? Do you really think we can get anything of note done with such a seemingly basic set of tools? Catch us in November to find out!

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