iPad Pro Diary: The iOS ecosystem is much deeper than I knew

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iPad Pro
Have you picked up a cheap iPad Pro yet?
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

iPad Pro Diary, Day 2: I have a shameful confession to make. Even though I’ve been using an iPad and iPhone for years, I haven’t really been using them.

I do a few things that haven’t changed for donkeys. I read on the iPad all the time and send the odd email. I play songs on Sonos. I played Kingdom Rush a few times. I watched a Netflix video. That’s about it.

My iPhone I use more, but nothing heavy duty. Messaging, email, photos and maps. The odd phone call.

But now that I’m forcing myself to use the iPad Pro for work — to see if it really is a PC replacement — I’m discovering something unesxpected: That the iOS ecosytem is far deeper, more productive, and better integrated than I knew.

Not only is work easier on the iPad these days, it’s a lot more fun.

I was going to talk about adding a keyboard to the iPad Pro (which I talk about in the video and a review of the keyboard), but the real lesson is how powerful and integrated the iOS ecosystem is.

Yes, I know it’s rather sad, but I used iMovie for iOS for the first time on the iPad and it was a revelation. I was able to make the above video pretty quickly and I’m delighted. Not with the results, which are comically amateurish, but the experience of putting it together.

The video was shot with my iPhone 6 and the footage transferred to the iPad via AirDrop. It was DEAD EASY!

The last time I did any video work, it was painful. I can’t remember precisely, but it involved plugging a camera or iPhone into the compuetr with a cable, or using a memory card or other hard media to import the footage. It ate giagbytes of hard drive space, and although older versions of iMovie were touted as easy-to-use, they really weren’t. At least the way I do things, which is steadfastly refusing to open a manual. If I can’t figure it out right away, I’m done.

How times have changed.

iMovie on iOS is a ton of fun to use, and amazingly powerful. I know my video has bad lighting, bad sound and way too many stock graphics, but I was delighted that I figured it out with minimal help (I Googled two things). I was amazed that the app does fairly complex things like video overlays with one click (or rather, finger press).

There’s also amazing and seamless integration between apps, devices and various online services. Swapping video via Airplay was fast and flawless. Uploading the finished thing to the Cult of Mac YouTube channel was so shockingly easy, it made me suspicious I’d done it wrong.

I know I’m just scratching the surface. Thanks to iOS 9, there’s a lot more cross-app integration than ever before. iOS 9’s Share Sheets bring up a wide variety of apps and services to work with, from Facebook to Evernote. Routine tasks like emailing an attachement are as simple as choosing the email app in a Share Sheet.

I knew a lot of this, of course, because I use iOS devices every day. But I’d never used them in a work context, to get things done, and I’m discovering that things have come a long way.

As I say in the video, a keyboard is essential to making the iPad a computer replacement. But I’m also discovering the joys of doing things with multitouch instead of a trackpad and keyboard. I’m discovering how rich and powerful it all is. It’s a better way to work — easy, intuitive and fun.