In Ben Brooks' latest iPad Productivity Report, he hit on a couple of things that I have both wondered about and (mostly) solved. I have transitioned to iPads Pro usage for both personal and work related tasks. I now have plenty of practice maximizing iOS and iPads for productivity. I get great battery life, being able to untether all day, with enough power to get my work done. Part of this is a testament to the power of iOS, part of it is my new job. Being able to have my entire computing environment with me where ever I go has been transformative. I don't have to think about what device to take to meetings, I bring my iPad Pro 12.9" with attached smart cover and I'm good to go.
Ben's diary entry begins with asking, two Apple Pencils or one. Ben asks, in an age of AirPods, why does the Apple Pencil not have a "pair with iCloud" feature.
Why must my Pencil be “locked” to one device at a time.
He reaches a conclusion that it is an issue of battery life, and he is on to something. In the comparison between AirPods and the Apple Pencil, the AirPods have an "off" state, when they are charging in their case. The Apple Pencil does not. My Apple Pencil is always out of battery because it goes in my bag and is reading from the angle and motion sensors. I would posit that the device doesn't have an off state, but a power conservation mode, in which it stops reading the angle and motion when it is at rest. This may be fine for someone who leaves an Apple Pencil at their desk. I put it in my bag to go to a meeting, I know that the Pencil is reading the accelerometers, waiting for that tip to touch an iPad Pro screen. This explains my dead or dying Apple Pencil.
Back to Ben's question: Two Apple Pencils or one.
I have two iPads Pro, a 12.9" and 9.7", and one Apple Pencil. I would love to move back and forth between them. It should be possible, like AirPods, but because it isn't Ben asks, should I get two Apple Pencils? I have considered it, although not one for each iPad. Instead, I want to keep a Pencil at each place I am, work and home. This might still mean having to plug-in to each iPad when I want to use it, which is where Ben's point is critical. If I did have two Pencils, one in each place, I don't want to have to remember which iPad I last plugged into. If Apple introduced the Apple Pencil 2 and it has an off state, the battery should be good enough to be able to switch back and forth between each iPad.
Phone calls and AirPods
Later in Ben's diary entry, he writes about having to pause things to take a phone call. While I have hardly any phone calls, I do have an office that people stop by very frequently. I have spent a lot of time with headphones on or earbud in. In a previous job, I have had large over-ear headphones that made it very obvious that I was not paying attention. Since the release of the AirPods, the problem has been that they are so small and discrete that most people do not notice that I have them in. The person who darkens my door gets through their first thought in the conversation before I recognize that they are there and remove my AirPods. Having people come to my door isn't a phone call as Ben describes:
I get a DM notification: “Can we have a quick call?”. It’s a client and I know they are wanting to call my iPhone. That’s great, I am happy to do it, but here’s the steps I now need to take to get this call going:
- Flip over to Music/Control Center to pause my music
- Flip to Slack/Messages to confirm now is good to call
- Grab my AirPods and hope they connect to my iPhone first
- Answer the call
Oh, and that’s if they call, if they don’t I need to go back to Music (via Control Center of course) and restart the music. Which is the part I don’t get. I can forward calls from my iPhone to iPad (which I don’t, that’s terrible as it commandeers your entire fucking screen and interrupts any non-iPhone calls you might be having), but for some reason my iPad doesn’t get to know that I am on a call if I don’t forward the call?
While my process isn't the same multi-step process as Ben, it is close. I would love to have an iPad pause playback when I receive a phone call. But, Ben's dream is a lofty for a company that, a few paragraphs earlier, couldn't get a Bluetooth stylus to sync between devices. Apple Pencil pairing seems pedantic compared to an iPad "knowing" that that the phone is ringing and pausing playback. Sure, it should "just work" but that is a stretch, when iPads are, from my observation, family, multi-user devices. Assuming the feature is iCloud-based and most family's iPads are setup under the same iCloud account. Is the desired effect to have my kids Netflix playback paused when I get a phone call? I'm not sure how configure the device to achieve what Ben is aiming for, short of a setting on each device that enables call preemption. The issue is not if that setting should exist, but what the default state of that setting is. Allowing preemption by default is disruptive. Disabling preemption by default means that a majority of users will never enable it. This leads to the same Apple Pencil issue, which device is configured for preemption, and which isn't.
This has lead to my current configuration. Two iPads Pro, one in a stand to elevate it to a more reasonable level, the other to the side, allowing me to address one of Ben's other issues–watching video on the iPad while I work. I have my iPhone and a Bluetooth speaker on my desk, this allows me to address both the AirPods issue and Ben's phone call issue. In an ideal world, I would love a Griffin Powermate that worked with the iPhone–a rotation of the dial for volume, a press to pause playback and a press and rotate to scrub forward or backward. Whack the big button of the Griffin Powermate to pause. As it is now, when someone enters my office, they hear my podcast or music, know that I'm not paying attention and I am able to pause my playback.
who has stand alone speakers anymore?
Most people. Including me, until something better comes along.