Seven years with Apple’s iPad as my main computer

“My iPad journey began in 2012 when I was undergoing cancer treatments. In the first half of the year, right after my diagnosis, I was constantly moving between hospitals to talk to different doctors and understand the best strategies for my initial round of treatments. Those chemo treatments, it turned out, often made me too tired to get any work done. I wanted to continue working for MacStories because it was a healthy distraction that kept my brain busy, but my MacBook Air was uncomfortable to carry around and I couldn’t use it in my car as it lacked a cellular connection,” Federico Viticci writes for MacStories. “By contrast, the iPad was light, it featured built-in 3G, and it allowed me to stay in touch with the MacStories team from anywhere, at any time with the comfort of a large, beautiful Retina display.”

MacDailyNews Note: Many of us do use our MacBooks and MacBook Air units in cars frequently – tethered to our iPhones, of course. The iPad with Cellular is one less step, but it’s a minor step.

“The tipping point came when I had to be hospitalized for three consecutive weeks to undergo aggressive chemo treatments; in that period of time, I concluded that the extreme portability and freedom granted by the iPad had become essential for me,” Viticci writes. “I started exploring the idea of using the iPad as my primary computer; if anything were to ever happen to me again that prevented being at my desk in my home office, I wanted to be prepared. That meant embracing iOS, iPad apps, and a different way of working on a daily basis.”

“I realized when writing this story that I’ve been running MacStories from my iPad for longer than I ever ran it from a Mac. The website turned 10 last month, and I’ve managed it almost exclusively from an iPad for seven of those years,” Viticci writes. “And yet, I feel like I’m still adapting to the iPad lifestyle myself – I’m still figuring out the best approaches and forcing myself to be creative in working around the limitations of iOS.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: We won’t go into detail, but when on the road, including many visits to oncologists’ offices, during surgeries, post-surgeries, etc. we went pretty much the opposite way: Apple’s smallest, lightest MacBooks went with us everywhere – again, tethered to iPhone for connectivity – with which we ran MacDailyNews as best we could for the past four of our site’s nearly seventeen years.

Not that we couldn’t have done it with iPad Pro units, but we didn’t want to deal with any learning curves at the time; the Mac being second nature was critical during this period.

We are very much looking forward to iOS 13 to see what it has in store for iPad productivity.

BTW: We know the site has seemed frozen in time for quite some time. We apologize and thank you for your patience! On the desktop and mobile, this is a design from years past. That will finally be changing very soon! 🙂


  1. I have an iPad Pro (3rd generation) and until recently a MacBook Pro. There is no way I see any iPad as a replacement for a Macintosh.

    Another option is Parallels Access where you can run your Mac apps from your iPad

  2. I’m willing to bet there are very few people who see an iPad as a replacement for a laptop. I don’t have an iPad so I wouldn’t know. I do know I’ll likely never replace my MacBook Pro with an iPad. I would use both if that’s the case. I just happen to like typing on a keyboard and the laptop form factor. I can see an iPad being useful to me as a reading device or for watching movies. I wouldn’t be playing games on it. Honestly, I happen to think that a laptop is a lot more versatile than a tablet if I could only choose one device.

    I’m not quite happy with touch-screen devices in general because I don’t like seeing fingerprint smudges on a display which is probably a lame excuse.

    1. You’d lose that bet. 🙂 When most people think “laptop” they think “email, photos, facebook” and an iPad can completely cover that simple use case. No, it’s not a replacement for everyone, some folks have very detailed use cases that REQUIRE a Mac. Some people may not NEED a Mac, but still prefer a Mac. The VAST majority, though, have very simple computing needs.

      And “not liking seeing fingerprint smudges” isn’t a lame excuse, it’s simply a use case that would require a more versatile laptop.

  3. I absolutely love my ipad pro and have been using ipad as my main hub for years now (i spend a good 5-6 hours a Day on it) for almost all aspects of my computing except for 3d animation or any super asset intensive projects.
    Lack of having a core, user manageable, robust file/folder system with a consistent ui accessible from all apps for all files……And an unrestricted i/o is the Achilles’ heel of the iPad.
    Bring iOS up to par by having something like the ‘finder’ and open i/o.. and ill be able to pull off 90% of what i need with it… EFFICIENTLY .
    We are almost there.. …….only if Apple allows it to get there.
    Looking forward to iOS 13.

    1. In addition to finder/things you mention above, it needs mouse support. A cover/keyboard with built in trackpad will be transformative of the iPad. Youll be able to get a lot of detail work done that is too tedious with touch, while sitting at the cafe.

      Fingers crossed for iOS13.

      1. I have heard rumors that mouse support will be in ios 13.

        That said.. i use my ipad with the pencil.. and accuracy and precision is a none issue.. actually in some cases the directness of the interactivity is much more superior to what can be achieved with a mouse pr a touchpad.

        1. Pencil and mouse/trackpad are very different use cases. The accuracy and hand movements required with pencil can be quite tedious in a number of productivity apps, and quite the boon in a number of graphic arts apps. So it depends.

          But when sitting at a coffee shop, with the screen propped up using the keyboard, having an integrated touchpad will definitely beat the tedium of bringing out the pencil and trying to use the screen in a vertical orientation.

          1. ‘tedium of bringing out the pencil and trying to use the screen in a vertical orientation” ……. im not sure what problem u find here.
            When use my ipad.. more often than not its on my lap .. any orientation.. but mostly landscape/horizontal…
            But to each his/her own.
            I find the combination of pencil, builtin touchpad and finger touch superior to mouse in most use cases than not.
            Lets see what iOS 13 brings to the picture .🙏🤞🤞

            1. Yea bUt manny. People prop the iPad up vertically like a laptop screen as set on the iPad keyboard stand and type on the keyboard. If you’re typing in pages and want to grab some text section and move it around while the screen is vertical because you’re typing on the keyboard, grabbing the pencil to make text selections in a vertical plane is odious.

  4. Horses for courses – I need MB Pro for serious image editing, GIS/mapping and scientific report writing etc.
    Much as I try to use Pages/Numbers for routine stuff, they fail to deliver professional material.
    Apple apps are for consumers rather than professionals, and that’s fine, but please don’t pretend that a iPad will replace a MB Pro.

    1. Considering that most of the Macs purchased, 80%, are going to consumers that never use a Pro app? Yeah, an iPad would replace that MacBook Pro for most of them. 🙂

      1. You are wrong, again.

        Even the simplest photo management is 1000% more difficult on iOS compared to Mac or Windows. Anyone with a brain can see that. The act of downloading photos from a state of the art SLR camera to an iPad is the first step that tells the iPad user that he made a mistake. Every process goes downhill from there.

        The iPad is Apple’s netbook / thin client to the old cloud mainframe — optimized for consumption of Apple media and app sales, which are mostly games. iOS has never shown the capability to do two things at once, let alone properly manage or archive files for rapid access — you know, with adequate local storage. Don’t forget also that your iOS device is only as good as your internet connection, as Apple planned it. Working offline remotely is not what Apple had in mind. Unless of course you like waiting for your iCloud downloads over a cellular network. Oh how satisfying that is…..

        If you create anything, just get a Mac.

        1. “state of the art SLR camera to an iPad”
          And it’s your assessment that MOST Mac users also own SLR’s? Because I’d say your assessment is off. The most popular camera right now is some form of iPhone and downloading photos is JUST as simple as the needs of these millions of simple people.

          “If you create anything, just get a Mac”
          80% of Mac purchasers are NOT USING PROFESSIONAL APPS. Chances are they are NOT creating anything more than social media posts. Which, you can do just as well from an iOS device. And, the iOS device is online instantly at the point of inspiration. The fact that most people’s needs are so limited that they could really go either way (because their main use is consumption) does NOT take your Mac with it’s use cases off your desk. I can think of 4 things that would require a Mac AND, at the same time, understand that 90% of the people using a Mac would never do any of those things.

      2. To underscore the difference in Mac users versus iPad users, consider looking at MDN’s app trackers:

        Top 10 Paid Mac Apps

        DaisyDisk - Software Ambience Corp.
        Antivirus Zap - Virus & Adware - Voros Innovation
        The Sims™ 2: Super Collection - Aspyr Media, Inc.
        BetterSnapTool - folivora.AI GmbH
        MainStage 3 - Apple
        Disk Cleaner - Free HD Space - Pocket Bits LLC
        Notability - Ginger Labs
        Final Cut Pro - Apple
        Logic Pro X - Apple
        Magnet - CrowdCafé

        There is one game on that list.

        Top 10 Free Mac Apps

        Open Any File - Rocky Sand Studio Ltd.
        WhatsApp Desktop - WhatsApp Inc.
        Microsoft PowerPoint - Microsoft Corporation
        Microsoft Word - Microsoft Corporation
        Microsoft Excel - Microsoft Corporation
        Numbers - Apple
        Keynote - Apple
        Pages - Apple
        GarageBand - Apple
        iMovie - Apple

        There are no games whatsoever on that list.

        Top 10 Free iPad Apps

        Super Brawl Universe - Nickelodeon
        Google Chrome - Google LLC
        Roller Splat! - Voodoo
        Netflix - Netflix, Inc.
        Tiles Hop - EDM Rush - Amanotes Pte. Ltd.
        YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream - Google LLC
        Traffic Run! - Geisha Tokyo Inc.
        Run Race 3D - Good Job Games
        Stack Ball 3D - Azur Interactive Games Limited
        Clean Road - SayGames LLC

        Here we have 7 games, 2 Google spyware apps that connect to web and streaming video, and 1 video subscription app. ZERO tools for creativity or productivity of any kind.

        The iPad is treated by many if not most consumers as a toy and a time waster, not a tool. App sales prove it. I rest my case.

        1. “The iPad is treated by many if not most consumers as a toy and a time waster, not a tool. App sales prove it.”

          Well done and absolutely right!

          Tim, just let the impossible GO…

    2. It all depends on the use case… in some areas iPad and its directness of interactivity excels .. In Other case lap top suits the job at hand better….
      Ipad does not need to replace the macbook…. its a different device with its own unique Advantages that the macbook cant replace or match. But a core use manageable file/folder sys and open i/o are big handicaps for the time being.

  5. When my wife was diagnosed with acute leukemia and sent to the hospital for a month I went to work getting her et up with video conferencing with her brother in Australia. Skype was the only option then and the challenge was getting a connection to her room. Only the rooms close to the nurse’s station was able to get a signal so I went down to CompUSA (yep, it was that long ago) and got the best antenna I could get. The hospital tech set due up and was so impressed with the idea that he talked to the IT Director to open the internet up to all rooms, and it was done in a day or two – pretty impressive IMO. In those days my wife was using the white plastic MacBook, and that was the perfect notebook for hospital stays. It handled Skype well and had a DVD player built in for movies. With over 100 days in the hospital over a 2 year period that little MacBook was a blessing. And it shows that you don’t need a powerhouse of a computer all the time.

    BTW, the wife now has been using a Gun 1 MacBook Air.

  6. ‘I’m going to make a point that most folks use Macs to ‘create’ by highlighting the fact that one of the TOP FREE apps for macOS is a desktop version of FACEBOOK’S MOBILE SOCIAL MEDIA APP!”
    Thanks for making my point that among the office workalikes a very important free app is one that gets folks their Facebook Fix!

    For the Paid apps, you DO realize that 20% of users use their Macs professionally? I hope so, because that’s kinda the point I was making. Some of these users use a Professional app like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro X several times a month. So, the fact that 80% of Mac users are using their Macs VERY simplistically doesn’t prevent that 20% from, you know… buying apps. 🙂 And, I hope you realize that seeing Final Cut Pro on that list doesn’t mean that all Macs have Final Cut Pro installed… or even a majority of Macs. Probably more like… 20% (there’s that number again!).

    Finally, I thought it’d be interesting to look at the Top 10 Paid iOS Apps, for consumption only, of course. 🙂

    Top 10 Paid iOS Apps
    GoodNotes 5
    PDF Expert
    Teach Your Monster to Read
    GoodNotes 5 Upgrade Bundle
    Toca Life: Neighborhood
    Bluebeam Revu for iPad
    Toca Kitchen 2
    Toca Hair Salon 3

    You may notice that Notability shows up as one of the Top Paid apps for both Mac and iOS. But, don’t worry, I’m sure the iOS version is ONLY for consumption 🙂 Anyway, I’m not going to make a leap of logic and say “SEE? BECAUSE PROCREATE SHOWS UP ON A LIST, I NOW KNOW HOW MOST PEOPLE USE IOS!” Nope, this doesn’t change the fact that, regardless of WHAT platform you point to (Windows, iOS, macOS) the vast majority of people are doing the same ol’ things on all of them. Surfing the web, posting to social media, checking emails, etc. And, they could surf the web and post to social media just as well from Windows, iOS, or macOS.

    YOU are a professional, YOU do professional things. YOU need a Mac. Most folks don’t. Unless you’re saying that most folks are professionals. Which, well, we’ll just have to disagree on that point.

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