How about an iPad Desktop?

iOS desktop computer - home
Apple iOS Desktop Computer – Home Screen

Imagine a large iPad, perhaps 17.9 inches or larger, on your desk. I’d certainly like one! Imagine it ran all the software you needed for word processing, spreadsheets and photo editing. Imagine it was wirelessly connected to an Apple Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil and an Apple Mouse (or Trackpad).

Apple iOS Desktop Computer - Microsoft Office
Apple iOS Desktop Computer – Microsoft Office

If Apple made an iPad desktop computer it could really impact traditional PC sales. iOS is efficient and easy to use. Printing would be wireless. Storage would be in the Cloud. Teams would have access to their work via their Macs, iPads (or iPhones) and could work anywhere and anytime.

Apple iOS Desktop Computer - Excel
Apple iOS Desktop Computer – Microsoft Excel

An iOS desktop would reduce IT costs and make everyone more efficient. Microsoft already offers Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS and it works great. And without incurring the cost of Microsoft software Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote is also great. Another viable option is Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. So there’s no shortage of apps to hold an office environment back from switching over to iOS. In fact, even image editing software is up to professional standards with amazing software from Pixelmator and Affinity Photo. There is no reason to let Adobe Photoshop’s lack of full participation in iOS prevent even the most advanced advertising agencies and graphic design studios from using iOS. In addition to Pixelmator and Affinity Photo, other apps built for artists such as Procreate and Sketchbook Pro allow creatives to reach their full artistic potential.

Apple iOS Desktop Computer – Pixelmator

I use an iPad Pro 12.9” as my primary computer every day. Beyond the software mentioned above my iPad is used for taking notes (Apple Notes), scheduling (Apple Calendar), tasks and reminders (Clear Todos). Additionally, social media and reading the news works brilliantly on iOS.

I’d like to see Apple make an iOS desktop. I believe it would reduce the hassles many PC users face, increase productivity and offer additional flexibility in the workplace that would allow us to reach our greatest potential and do our best work.


Getting work done with Pixelmator Pro

I have been looking forward to Pixelmator Pro since its announcement back in September 2017. As an Art Director/Marketing Manager the iPad Pro 12.9” had already become a big part of the way I worked. I needed the mobility of iOS. To meet demanding deadlines it became important for me to be able to layout an advertisement or retouch a photo whenever a spark of creativity hit. The iPad Pro quickly became my ‘computer’ of choice. The iOS version of Pixelmator was so impressive I started using Pixelmator on the iMac at work. With a few nits to pic, Pixelmator replaced Photoshop on my iMac simply because I was able to move seamlessly from iMac to iPad with confidence and ease.

When Pixelmator Pro became available I decided to purchase it but the App Store determined my iMac (27” 2015 iMac) required the latest macOS. After work, I installed the update and went back to the App Store to make the purchase.

It’s been over a month and I have been using Pixelmator Pro every day. I have not opened the original Pixelmator OR Photoshop (except by accident double clicking on a file). I really enjoy Pixelmator Pro. The software is an absolute pleasure to use!

The Clone tool is great. For this image I was quickly able to add more mountains and sky to the left. I also used Adjust Colors tools to pop the colors and make the image more interesting. The whole thing took a few minutes and I was able to move on to my next project.

The Fill tools allowed me to add sky in seconds.

The Adjust Colors tool offered a cool Wave feature that allowed me to create a unique swirl effect the client loved.

Pixelmator Pro made quick work of holiday cards!

Every day I look forward to getting real work done in Pixelmator Pro. Of equal importance, I use Pixelmator iOS in conjunction with Pixelmator Pro. The interface is largely the same and offers a consistency unlike any other photo manipulation app.

Pixelmator Pro and Pixelmator iOS have become my ‘go to’ apps because they allow me to get my work done more efficiently than ever before. The interface is a pleasure and easy to explore. Everything moves fluidly and I feel like I’m working with state-of-the-art image editing software. As it is, it’s amazing. But I know the Pixelmator team will continue to delight as they further develop what I believe will soon become the premier image editing app for macOS and iOS.

Mirror iPad onto iMac

This was an amazing find! Since my iPad Pro has become my main device I wanted the ability to mirror the display onto my 27” iMac at work. Surprisingly, you don’t need to purchase anything! Simply use your Lightning to USB cable that came with your iPhone or iPad and plug it into the back of your iMac. Then, launch QuickTime.

Open QuickTime, then click File > New Movie Recording > Press the “down” arrow near the red “record” button, and set it to your iPad (or your iPhone). That’s it!

You can also record your screen for presentations if you want. It’s easy!

Now I can build my presentations, do my layouts and retouch photos using my iPad Pro with it all displaying on my iMac at work.


Drawing with Pixelmator for iOS

I love drawing on glass and have been on a search to determine the best drawing app for the iPad Pro. Having downloaded about a dozen apps, clearly an app I like may not be one that you like because they all work differently and have different interfaces. At the moment, my top three drawing apps for iOS (in no particular order) are Sketchbook Pro, Procreate and Pixelmator. This post focuses on Pixelmator.

Pixelmator for iOS has a good reputation as a Photoshop replacement. Many reviews suggest Pixelmator is nearly enough. For my needs, it’s enough. I consider Pixelmator a Photoshop replacement on the iPad (as well as on the iMac).

At work, I use Photoshop on an iMac for manipulating photos. I may combine two or more images, color correct them, add or remove things, etc. Sometimes I add text to create a layout or ad. Sometimes I bring the newly created image into another application like InDesign or Illustrator. Pixelmator allows me to do almost everything I normally do in Photoshop on my iPad. Since Pixelmator was upgraded to version 2.3, I don’t think there’s ever been an instance when I could not produce the same work. (Unfortunately, I recently determined it does not support text on a curve.) 

The reason Pixelmator is MORE than Photoshop for me not just because it does what Photoshop does but because I love drawing with it. I don’t have a Cintiq at work. All of my digital drawings have always been done on iPad. The iPad Pro 12.9″ is an amazing device for drawing and Pixelmator is a great option for this.

Pixelmator has a generous selection of brushes. Unlike Procreate and Sketchbook Pro, Pixelmator eliminates most of the customization features. In other words, with Pixelmator, you select your brush, its thickness, opacity and color – that’s it. The other apps allow things like angle adjustments, jitter and pressure sensitivity curves. I found all this control too much of a good thing and constantly played with the settings. With Pixelmator, you just pick a brush and draw. Sometimes less is more!

Accidentally, I discovered how well Pixelmator integrates with iCloud. While Procreate and Sketchbook Pro gobbled up my iPad Pro’s storage space, Pixelmator only took sips. It stores everything in iCloud without fuss. Sketchbook Pro does a decent job with iCloud but not as efficiently as Pixelmator. Procreate only allows you to upload your drawings to iCloud manually.

Overall, Pixelmator is a winner! It does almost everything Photoshop does and offers an excellent platform for illustrators to indulge themselves without having to carry around a sketchpad. I love it and recommend it highly. It’s one of my favorite apps not only for what it does but for how productive it allows me to be. 

Managing Procreate File Sizes with iCloud

Procreate is a great drawing app for the iPad Pro. I enjoyed using it to complete several drawings. I selected Procreate because of its large brush selection and its capacity for multiple layers. Once you get used to drawing on layers you spoil yourself for lesser apps, like Adobe Sketch which is more limited in this respect.

Unfortunately, iPad space is valuable and scarce when you only have the 32GB version and I was unaware Procreate did not automatically back up your files. So Procreate became a space hog and I needed to do something about it. The solution was iCloud.

There are other storage apps out there like iCloud – Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. – but none are as easy to use as iCloud.

Procreate claimed the most space on my iPad by far. At 3.6GB the next closest app was Affinity Photo (another space hog) at just over 1GB. All of my other apps were below 500MB – most below 300MB.

iCloud cost 99 cents a month for 50GB so I upgraded from the free plan and created a folder called Procreate. This had to be done from my iMac but I hope this function will be available in iOS 11. Once the folder is setup, you can save your Procreate files by simply clicking Share Your Work and selecting the file type. I saved my files as .JPEG, .PRO and .PSD files. This way I am able to quickly share JPEGs via email, open files in Procreate and continue working on them OR open Photoshop files with all layers intact.

Once everything was backed up, I deleted and reinstalled Procreate. The space it claimed was reduced from 3.6GB to 113MB! Certainly, Procreate will continue to grow as I use it but for now, my artwork files are safe in iCloud and I can begin working on other projects.

Apple Pages as an InDesign Replacement

My iPad Pro is always with me. If it’s not in my backpack it’s on my couch, ottoman or night table. Recently, I needed to take a day off to bring my father to the doctor. I was in the middle of a project at work that was time sensitive – a creative slick to pitch a client. A file I’d normally create in Adobe InDesign was setup in Apple Pages in order to come along with me that day. It worked out very well

InDesign is nearly everyone’s ‘go to’ layout application on a Mac or PC. But InDesign is not available on the iPad (Adobe has a watered down iPad app called Comp that works with InDesign). So I built the file in Apple Pages based on a layout I had previously done in InDesign. Surprisingly, I was able to replicate it exactly – and quickly!

Once the layout was complete, I not only had a template for future work, I had the file that was due tomorrow on my iPad. Dad and I went to the doctor the next day and as we waited a handful of emails came thru asking for changes to the file. I was easily able to make all of the changes. Once complete, it was easy to convert the file to PDF and email to the team.

It was a pleasure using Apple Pages for page layout. I always just considered it a Microsoft Word replacement. But it’s much more! Once I discovered the Text Box option creating fluid layouts was easy. Amazingly, you can link the text and have it flow thru multiple columns – just like InDesign.

Ultimately, I was able to easily and efficiently complete the project on my iPad. Once I was back at my work desk I opened the file on my iMac in Pages – it was perfect.

InDesign is regarded as the standard when it comes to sophisticated page layout but Apple Pages is not too far behind with its wonderfully simple interface. For me, on this specific project, the features in Pages were all I needed to produce a professional looking advertising slick. Being able to take my work on the road on an iPad piques my interest further in learning more about Pages and how it can be used as a professional layout tool – at my desk as well as on the go!

Microsoft claims iPad Pro copies Surface Pro

Microsoft executive Ryan Gavin alleged the recently released Apple iPad Pro was copying the Microsoft Surface Pro.

“We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now, [but] when Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them [Apple]. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that.”

It’s difficult to take Mr. Gavin’s statement seriously especially since I’ve been using an iPad 2 (which came out in March, 2011) connected to an Apple Keyboard. As an iPad user, it was obvious to me Microsoft was copying Apple when they released the Surface, February 2013.

It was very exciting to learn an iPad could be connected to a keyboard. This pairing brought my productivity up as my iPad became my go-to machine for writing. Email, notes and ideas were easily typed out on my go-anywhere iPad.

Apple created a mobile device I could draw and write on. Heck, my iPad came with me on longboard trips around Mill Pond where I found myself sketching scenes with a rubber nibbled stylus.

When I began attaching a keyboard to an iPad I recognized immediately how versatile the form factor was and wrote about it on a few occasions. Here’s a post from 2012.

We’ve come a long way since then. It’s 2017 and even tho I’ve upgraded to an iPad Pro 12.9″ I’m still using an Apple external keyboard. It’s a great form factor – and I don’t mind at all that Microsoft copied it.