How much of your daily work can you do on the iPad?

How much of your daily work can you get done on the iPad? [Poll]

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook says he does 80% of his work on his iPad, and that means 80% of running one of the most valuable companies on earth. You've got to imagine that includes handling his mail, likely his calendar, and probably a lot of information reading, including a lot a numbers. How much of the rest is on his iPhone vs. his Mac is interesting to ponder, but the bottom like is he gets not only most of his daily work done on iPad. So the question is, how much can you?

When I'm out and about, I use an iPhone to quickly check in on, keep up to date with, and lightly edit my work. When I'm standing at my desk or sitting in a coffee shop on my MacBook Air, I'm doing bulk text entry, image editing, and other heavy duty operations.

My Mac screen is covered in a myriad of web pages, with a BBEdit, Photoshop, Napkin, GarageBand, Coda, and Final Cut Pro X, scattered in between. I feel not so much like I need OS X apps to get my work done, but that they're all muscle memory at this point, as is using them as part of a drag-and-drop flow.

If I were just to concentrate on my writing I imagine I could do much more on my iPad Air, but I think I'd still need a keyboard. I love typing on the iPad. 4 years later and it still feels like magic. But I'm just used to touch typing on a Macbook Keyboard.

How do you feel? Can you get your job done, day in, day out on an iPad? If so, how much? If not, why not? Vote in the poll up top and give me the details in the comments below!

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How much of your daily work can you get done on the iPad? [Poll]


I'm about 80% myself. Work-wise there is a lot I could do on the iPad but not allowed to. At home about 90% of my work can be done on my iPad. Still some tasks I prefer on a traditional desktop/laptop though, though they are few.

Being in the finance industry, we use a lot of proprietary software to manage all our operations, especially when it comes to trading. I would love to use my iPad for all of our communications and calendar tracking though.

I said 100% only because there wasn't a good option for "I do almost all of my work on the iPad." 80% is a lot, but I do more like 95% of my stuff on the iPad with two exceptions:

1) the Web. iPad does not provide a way to access the Web without seeing commercials, and without being tracked. It's also just plain awkward for anything other than very casual browsing.

2) Media storage. Almost the only reason I have a home computer any more is because I need somewhere for my media library to exist and to store all my documents etc. The technology to do this any other way just isn't there yet.

I do very little "work" on my iPad. I work for a company that uses ADP for all our software solutions, and while they have iPad "web-apps" (iPad optimized websites) for all their various resources...they all suck. Compared to their windows counterparts they are virtually useless. If my company would break away from ADP I'd love to go 100% iPad. Or if ADP would get in 2014 that would be even better.

You must be just the right size to use one, since it only has one setting for the angle of the screen. And the keyboard/cover sure is heavy, sort of defeats the purpose, no?

I've tried both ways, and it really comes down to a) what you do, and b) availability/convenience.

The question used to be, can it be done on an iPad? I think now, for most things, the answer is probably yes. But, if you have a laptop or desktop available, it's going to be more efficient to do there. (I'd say the same of my laptop vs iMac.)

For a couple of years, I was probably at about 80+% iPad usage, as I mostly researched and wrote. I had a Mac mini at home, but out of convenience and portability, spent most of my time with the iPad (and often, external keyboard). Some things are actually easier, or better suited to the iPad... and there is a social aspect of, say, meeting someone for coffee and pulling out the iPad vs laptop. The laptop just gets in the way more, socially. And, on public transit, the iPad is a clear winner.

But, now I spend most of my time doing web design and IT type work. While I still use my iPad a LOT, it's dropped considerably. As I get closer to full-time in that area, the iPad percentage is going to drop even more. (Though, I often have my iPad running along-side my laptop or iMac.) For much of what I do now, it's not so much a matter of 'could it be done' on the iPad, but which is more efficient? The bigger and more powerful device almost always wins out. But, when I'm traveling, then of course, the iPad or laptop win just due to availability.

Good luck with that. I just tried out the Surface Pro 3 and the only thing I noticed is that it is fast. But it's got a cheap looking design, and the keyboard cover didn't even cover the screen completely. No thanks.

I would love to do all of my work on an iPad but I use Excel, Access and VBA all day every day, none of which work (beyond a very basic level) on an iPad. If Microsoft released full office on the ipad I would switch for sure!

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When your company can develop apps tailored to your business, you can do 80%+ work on your iPad. For the rest of us who does not work at Apple, it is highly unlikely we can achieve such high percentage without having to use softwares that require Windows OS.

Why? I haven't used Windows OS, M$ Office, etc. for over 8 years now (since I left corporate IT), outside of some cross-platform and browser testing I do of web sites, and a very occasional game of BF4. In other words, my primary work duties don't require anything from Microsoft.

And, before I started my design & web development business, I could actually do most of my work on an iPad (research and writing) with no custom tailored apps... and I didn't work at Apple.

This kinda reminds me of the remark he made about Android and them running older OS SMH! I cannot see how he doing 80% of his work on his iPad unless he is running a modified version of IOS that allows him to do more then the retail version. I could say maybe 40% but 80% seems way to high.

I'm guessing a bit here, as I've never been a CEO.... but what kinds of things would you guess he does for most of his day? I bet he could do 50% of his work without a computer or iPad, as it's probably talking to people in person or on the phone. The rest is probably reading reports, responding to e-mails, etc. All of that is VERY doable on an iPad.

What kind of CEO tasks are you imagining in that 60%?

It could probably be close to 20% if we were allowed to use Office for iPad for our "commercial" docs/spreadsheets. But since I can't use the "personal" or "home" subscriptions to work on stuff for my work related items, we're closer to 10% (basically email). iWork just doesn't work for our needs, the 3rd party apps are not quite good enough, and subscribing to Office 365 is just not in the cards for the time being. The rest of my work revolves around a collection of web apps that are currently only certified on desktop Chrome and IE.

The idea of primarily using my iPad for work is both exciting and terrifying. It would be wonderful to only have to carry such a compact package, yet I would probably be expected to work more often in more places as a result.

My old outdated PC finally went blank last winter, January or February, and I've used my iPhone and iPad only since. For getting things done, it's the iPad with the Zagg Keys Cover keyboard for me. Love them both.

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Would you really use Photoshop/Illustrator on a 10 inch device?

I know I sure won't. As a second screen (or third in my case) the iPad is quite impressive. My time tracking, notes and project management is done on my iPad... As well as IM and video-chat. But Photoshop or Illustrator on an iPad? I don’t see Adobe doing that with much success (maybe it’s my shortness of sight though)

I can't respond to this poll.

I use my iPad for recreation only, and therefore do 0% of my work on it, but I use a desktop machine - aka a "real computer" - rather than a wimpy notebook.

Please add "0% I need a 24" screen and my Das Keyboard!"

Most of my work involves creating presentations, writing and planning. All of this is far easier on the iPad than on my crappy work laptop and I'd use the iPad even more if it weren't for systems already in place at work. I use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard which stays at work, so no, I don't have the 'issue' of having to transport it around via special cart or elephant.

No kidding... if I only worked in 2 set locations, I just have the 'accessories' at both. But, even though that isn't the case, having an iPad and BT keyboard with me isn't really a big deal at all. Heck, now that I also sometimes need a laptop along (MB Air in my case), I think all of it is still less than my old MBPs in weight. :)

Rane, these questions are vague at best to figure out user case

Ideally you should ask on Work, personal and entertainment perspectives

Say my online reading is 90% is now done on iPad,
50% video consumed on iPad (rest TV not PC)
about 25% emails (work/ personal) are handled on iPad, 25% on iPhone, 50% on the desktop
About 20% of web search and R&D done on iPad (80% on desktop)
99% productivity work is done on the desktop

So please re-run the poll

For me to do "work" at work on the computer requires many excel spread sheets open at once and an additional 2-3 pieces of instrument/analysis software; spread across two 27" monitors. In addition I always have Outlook, a browser, and something else open as well. Full windowed multitasking is absolutely required. The iPad is useless for me to do work.

Oh, and I hate typing on any tablet keyboard.

I said about 50%. The lack of a file structure is what kills it for me. If I they had even a sandboxed area that I could store ANY file and upload it as needed, then I would be able to do 80% I think, maybe 90%. Sadly, there are still some things that I have to have Windows to accomplish because the software won't run on anything else.

I could do more on my iPad but the web based case management database administered by the state I work for is optimized for IE 6 if that tells you anything. Some functions work on desk top Chrome or Safari but not well. I do use my iPad in the field or in court to look up case info when I need it and greatly lighten my load that I have to carry.

Heh, yea the proprietary 'web app' that took huge teams months and years to develop, I'd guess. That's corporate or govt IT for you. Sorry to hear about that.

Moving files is the biggest problem with an iPad for me. Not allowing users to plug in a usb stick is unacceptable at this point.

Moving useful files about is impossible on the ipad. If I want to edit raw files or images it makes it very hard. Ipad needs some pro level image software. And the ability to connect to and transfer things to backup drives.

The ipad needs to evolve from something that requires a computer to function. To a full fledged computer. The evolution is all software. I think ios will get there, I am just getting impatient with the wait.

Not so good for work. Better for casual games and the infamous social apps. Besides, it needs a PC for syncing and adding new files. That doesn't make it the ideal autonomous working device.

I think it's horrible for social apps, actually.... they (especially Facebook) barely work on the desktop! But, with dropbox, you can do quite a bit with no PC. That said, the file system (or lack of) is my biggest pain to have to work around.

It's all about what your job duties are. I'd bet a good portion of laptop users out there actually could do it. What most people do with laptops IS 'really basic.' About the only thing stopping it (until recently) is that most laptop users are probably stuck dealing with Office.