Life without Windows, transitioning to iOS only

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So, it finally happened. It’s not like I didn’t want to transition, but am I ready. What happened you may ask? My Windows computer crashed after a long hard fought life. To be honest, I was expecting it to happen, the signs were there, really. I woke up every day to a warning message saying my system was destined for imminent disk failure, I was just hoping that I would have a little more time. As a result, I’ve had to push forward with my plans to transition to an all iOS setup.

I have been prepping myself for this transition ever since I purchased my first iPad, but iOS and the iPads themselves just could not handle all that I wanted to do on them. You may ask yourself what has changed besides my loss of a Windows computer.  Two things mainly.

First the hardware, Apple has released the iPad Pro (I have the 10.5-inch second-generation version). Having a device that can handle the workload of a laptop or desktop system is important. I will admit that my iPad can never fully replace the functionality of a desktop or laptop, but it should be close enough to allow me to function without one.

The second reason is the operating system – iOS 11. Apple has continually improved the iOS software to the point that I feel that I can live without a desktop or laptop.

I am not kidding myself, I know this transition will not be without its trials and tribulations, just trying to figure how to set up my desk to best utilize my new set up is a challenge. Before, when I would work at my desk I would basically have two screens. I had an HP Elite L2201x monitor that was hooked to my Windows machine, a keyboard, and mouse. I also had my iPad, my Apple Magic Keyboard and my iPhone with its Qi charging stand. As far as accessories I have BYBLIGHT and my iClever multi-port USB charger. I did most of my writing on my iPad and used my desktop for reference. I have been a two monitor user for many years now and don’t think I could function well without that kind of setup.

My first inclination was to try to replicate a setup similar to my old one using my iPad Pro and my iPhone 6. I have the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter and figured I could use that to run my iPad or iPhone into my HP monitor. In theory, I could do this by buying an adapter that would allow me to run my HDMI cable into the monitors DP (Display Port) port. In reality, this was a no go. My thinking was to use my iPhone similar to my desktop, basically for reference and minor research. Mind you I could go out and buy a bunch of peripherals to make things work, but to be honest I may be a little on the cheap side so I would like to try to use what I have on hand.

I had to move to plan B. This plan consists of me using my original iPad 2 and my iPad Pro. The good thing about this solution is that I have my iPad 2 and it works. The bad thing with the iPad 2 is that it is obsolete and is no longer supported. For now, this will work as I really only use the iPad 2 to browse the internet and to look up reference info while I write. Some alternatives that may exist that I am not ready to explore yet are a newer iPad, a Monitor that accepts HDMI input, or a different tablet device I may have access to. For now, I am not prepared to try any of these alternative solutions, so plan B it is.

Plan C, yes I know I said it would have to wait, but while writing this article I had the good fortune to be the recipient of a 2016 iPad. To be honest, I was happy to receive it, my old iPad 2 was a dog, it would work but it was slow. So, now that my base setup was determined and setup it is time to try to function in this matter.

Switching to this new methodology means I will have to look at software and accessories that will help my set up feel more like a real work environment. The first item that I think I will need is a second Bluetooth keyboard. My main keyboard for my iPad has been my Apple Magic Keyboard, and while I love it, it is pricey and to be honest, lacks a little pizazz. I think I found what I was looking for in an Arteck HB030B keyboard (more on this at a later date) the keyboard is backlit rechargeable and priced at $19.99 from Amazon (it has a high user rating). The next item I decided I need is something for power management. I settled on the iClever multi-port USB charger that I had reviewed in the past. The iClever has 6 USB ports, more than enough to charge my iPads and the accessories I use. As far as other accessories, I will be using a BYBLIGHT as my lighting source (it has various brightness and temperature levels), A Cooler Master stand for my iPad (my iPad lives on my desk), The Apple Smart Cover on my iPad Pro (I carry this one around with me), a set of Supertooth Disco Twin Bluetooth speakers (for true stereo sound), and a Thecus NAS server for backup and storage. I have reviewed most of these items and they are linked if you are interested in reading about them.

Software for this transition may be a different animal for me. For the basics, I am happy to use the Apple suite of products (Number, Pages, and Keynote), but for other things such as video and photo editing, I am still looking for the one. For photo editing, I am using a program called Filterstorm Neue. Knowing that we are trying to standardize some things here at The Gadgeteer I am not sure this program will meet my needs (it may also be a little too sophisticated for my rudimentary skill level). The program lets me crop, resize and touch up photos but I am not sure I am getting full use out of it so I am always open to suggestions. Other useful software apps I have so far, are Grammarly, Google Chrome, and Dropbox.

So, what’s my bottom line here? Seeing as I am just getting started on this journey I cannot say for sure. I do not see myself going back to a desktop or laptop so I am basically in the “damn the torpedos full speed ahead mode”. I do like my setup and I seem to be functioning well with it so we shall see. I am always looking for suggestions and feedback so if you have any drop me a note in the comments section.

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16 thoughts on “Life without Windows, transitioning to iOS only”

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  2. Nice article! I tried my hand at moving over to all-iOS in early 2017 on my 12.9″ iPad Pro and found that the only thing I missed was a pro-level photo editing solution. Getting together a workflow to import and edit photos is pretty simple, but making a batch process to resize, rename and save a copy to a specific folder in iCloud Files or Dropbox still requires a one-at-a-time approach or some arcane Workflow app formula. And even then, it doesn’t optimize them in the way Photoshop can with a mass save for web.

    I think Adobe Lightroom can handle this, but I haven’t played around with it, and it requires a subscription to Creative Cloud, which I *do* have through work, but most people woulnd’t, especially going all iOS.

    Also, I run a Plex server on a headless Mac mini, and I use Screens to remote in to that computer to rip and store DVDs and manage the files on that computer. Sometimes I’ll “cheat” and remote in to do something on a “real” computer when I have to, for when there’s no other option.

    So there’s a lot of room to grow, for sure. I wish Adobe would get on the ball with developing real apps for iOS. That said, I do love it. It’s great to just have all my photos, documents, tasks and manuscripts shared across a single platform on agile little devices. And the writing experience of having a split screen (1/2 iA Writer, 1/2 Safari browser) is *sublime.*

    1. Jake I have to agree about photo editing, but I do not do enough editing to really consider it a major issue. The reality seems to be (IMHO) that the software has not yet caught up with the hardware. I am hoping, at least on the iOS side, as more people start migrating to the iPhone 8 and X and over to the better iPads software developers will produce more robust product offerings.

  3. I keep wanting to make this happen with an Android tablet. It’s on my list of articles to do soon.

    Like Jacob, photo editing is always the task that trips me up when I try to move to a lighter platform. That and gmail using the full desktop view. I think I have the gmail situation solved, so it’s just image editing that trips me up.

    1. I highly recommend looking at ChromeOS instead. I made a Chromebook my daily driver for a year before the play store landed, and it’s only gotten easier now. Either way, I’m sure Larry will be grape jelly of Android and ChromeOS’ cursor support! No sore arms reaching up to peck at the screen every few seconds.

  4. Larry, I know that you’re a gamer. Are you exclusively a console gamer? Do you have no need for Steam, GOG, or any other PC platform for gaming?

    1. Chris, I moved exclusively to console about 7 years ago. I found the cost of trying to keep up with the latest PC trends in hardware to be a little too much for my wallet. I can still be competitive on my Xbox One even though the new Xbox hardware specs are better, so I will only have to upgrade every 5 years or so (I hope).

  5. Photo editing is the ONE thing keeping me from going full iOS for reviews. I’m too attached to Photoshop after 25+ years of using it.

  6. To be honest, you lost me way back there. All that to avoid replacing a failing disk drive? You have me shaking my head.

    1. All that to avoid buying a new system. The computer was over 5 years old using the free windows 10 software. If I were to just buy a new disc drive I would have to buy a new OS. Since I only used my PC for research (it did have a large screen) and photo editing, and since I already had the iPad Pro it did not make sense to buy a new PC. As I said in my article I knew there would be some issues with moving strictly to an iOS environment but again I think it was worth it. I understand this move is not for everyone but so for it is the right move for me.

  7. No thanks. Android beats iPhone any day. Adobe Photoshop is excellent. Can’t handle the way Microsoft Office and Excel (don’t) work on IOS. Besides, the cost is outrageous.

  8. The biggest failing for iOS as a “desktop” OS for me is the lack of mouse support. The mechanics of your hands on a keyboard, with a touchpad (or IBM stick) or even a real mouse “literally” at hand is SOOOO much more fluid than reaching up to tap the screen. Hands and fingers floating in space, tapping screens are so less precise than a good mouse/trackball or trackpad/IBM stick, with your palm properly supported, could ever be.

    And iOS “can” support a mouse as seen on jailbroken iOS devices. I’ve had working BT mice on my iPad, with wheel support and a right click that was a “home” button and it was brilliant. Alas the JB community can no longer keep up with Apple’s security (and I’m getting too old to hack anyway lol).

    Apple is just afraid it will doom their PC business if they give iOS devices full laptop/desktop functionality. I don’t care how many fancy pencils and pens Apple makes for iPads, until they support a true mouse type interface, I’ll never feel truly productive on them.


      1. Yeah. The mouse functionality on iOS for that short time I had a Jailbroken iPad was really awesome. I had a mini BT keyboard/case combo and a small BT mouse and it was like a perfect little laptop. 10 battery life, weeks on standby, and a mouse and keyboard! So much easier to do things like word processing (cutting, pasting, text selection, etc) spreadsheet cell manipulation, and stuff like that with a real mouse.

        I really hope Apple sees the light and allows a mouse, I might even stop using my Windows Thinkpad if they did.

  9. I have used CorelDraw! Almost since it was first introduced, I have yet to find a way to duplicate the fine control (using a mouse) and text manipulation that I have with a windows PC and CorelDraw! That being said, I too am frustrated by having to upgrade/replace laptops over the years. I am comfortable doing basic tasks, word processing, spreadsheet and presentations, I would like better photo editing and graphics. Thanks for your review and conversation starter

  10. Sorry in advance for spelling and grammar errors, I’m French (I use ” deepl. com ” to translate).
    I have my main pc currently over 6 years old (the other one is a raspberry pi).The motherboard is an asus e45 m1-m pro is working perfectly well to watch videos, bureaucracy, chat, browse and rigorously play video games requiring a low configuration.
    For heavy tasks like video editing, he won’t do it.
    The electricity consumption without the monitor does not exceed 30 watts, so that I have charged electrification is low (less than 30 euros per month). 🙂

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