Over the past few weeks, I have varied up my computing habits a bit. For a laptop, I have been using a Pixelbook, and I have also been spending more timing using an iPad Pro for work (vs my default of using a Mac laptop for everything).
What I have discovered is that the form factor of the device I’m using matters a lot in terms of what kinds of work it supports best. Both devices have exactly the same apps, but the experience on each couldn’t be more different.
For example, the iPad (the 10.5″ Pro model in particular) is great for long-form reading: I use Pocket to gather articles (from wherever I am – phone, tablet or computer) and when I want to sit down and read, I do it on the iPad. And beyond reading, email on the iPad is possible, but forces you to write shorter responses. So it’s both good for deep reading and also good for quick email processing. That combination has been working great for me.
I have been trying to avoid reading — especially at home, when I am around my family — on my phone. There is something about the posture you take when you read on a phone that is both uncomfortable and anti-social. Hunched over, hands up, squinting down. By contrast, reading on the iPad feels more like reading a book or a newspaper – open, relaxed. Not only is the reading area a better size, but it feels more like a “public” device, in the sense that by reading it you aren’t lost in the private world of your phone.
The Pixelbook (google’s new chromebook) is great in a different way. What is nice about the Pixelbook is how simple login and setup are (especially if you are a heavy google apps / google chrome user). You just sign in, load up some web apps (and many enterprise desktop apps such as Slack and Zoom work just as well as Chrome apps) and you’re good. It feels very lightweight and efficient. Low overhead, lean and mean. When I log into the Pixelbook I feel ready to go. (There is also an added security benefit to using a Chromebook for work – sign-in can be protected by 2FA).
It just goes to show that the form factor / design / packaging of a system (device, app, etc) really matter so much in terms of how it can / should / will be used. Maybe this is obvious, but it has really struck me lately.