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Can students make do with just an iPad?

As students, we depend on reliable technology to get our work done.

Apple’s iPad has come a long way since it was unveiled in April 2010, but is it really good enough to replace the laptop today?

Is an iPad really as good as a laptop?

Earlier this year Apple announced the ‘iPadOS’, a new operating system based on the popular iOS system used on its iPhones, with the intention of taking the iPad to the next level. In essence, this operating system has finally brought the iPad up to scratch with ‘proper’ computers. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The iPad can now run up to three apps on-screen simultaneously. Perfect for having your notes, reading and lecture-slides up at the same time. This is all done through intuitive and simple gestures to make the process as fluid as possible.
  • At long last, it supports external drives, allowing students to plug in USB sticks, SD cards and just about any other USB device. Even basic features such as a font manager—missing all these years—are now present in full force.
  • Desktop-class browsing in Safari makes the iPad feel like a real computer. No longer will you be presented with skewed and limited mobile versions of websites, but the full experience as you’re used to it. This means web apps such as Google Docs, Squarespace and WordPress work perfectly. There’s now even a proper download manager and tab management.
  • Intuitive swiping gestures to cut, copy, paste and undo make text editing easier and, more importantly, genuinely viable. Not to mention the virtual touchpad which truly speeds up text-editing.
  • The iPad supports Bluetooth keyboards or a magnetically connected Smart Keyboard which doesn’t require charging or pairing. With new shortcuts and navigation, Apple has made it easier to keep your fingers where they should be—on the keyboard, not constantly going up to the screen. There's now also mouse support.
Can an iPad be better than a laptop?
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Digital note-taking tips and tricks #6- dark paper template I tried writing notes on dark template for the first time. I have been writing notes on white template for about 2 years now and switching to dark feels so different but I am loving this change😅I definitely need more time to get used to it though. 😀Anyways here are some tips and tricks that I thought might be useful to all the beginner users of dark paper template. . . 📝1. Highlighting Highlighting on dark paper can be either done by drawing a line with the thickest pen first and then writing on the top (Just like when you highlight first and then write on it on paper to avoid smudging) or by changing the color of text you want to highlight using lasso tool. . . 📝2. Images Its easier on white paper to just drag and drop any image from the browser without worrying about its white background. If white or any other color background in an image bothers you on black template, search png images with no backgrounds or crop the image background freehand or use image eraser to remove the background. . . 📝3. Pen color The most fun part of writing on dark template is using colorful pens. I like white for the main text and bright colors for keywords. Choose colors that are easy on your eyes and that make the notes stand out. . . 📝4. Titles/subtitles Same like in white paper but choose brighter colored fonts or create them yourself using thicker pen/brush. Or follow tip no. 1. i.e highlight first using pen tool and then write on it. . . 📝5. Digital stationery 😋 Make use of digital widgets, sticky notes,stickers etc to make your notes a bit extra. They look really good especially on black template. You can find some digital stickers from my freebies. Link in bio😊 . . I hope these were helpful. Going to use these tips myself too as I write more on dark paper. 😊 . . Do you prefer white template or dark one? . . . Note taking app: @noteshelfapp Template: midnight Ipad: Ipadpro 12.9” 2017 Stylus: applepencil 1st gen . . . . #just_me_studying #studygram #medicine #studycommunity #med #digitalnotes #ipadnotes #studytips #notetaking #medgram #ipadpro #ipad #applepencil #anatomy #medschool

A post shared by JustMeStudying👩🏻 (@just_me_studying) on

In terms of hardware, iPad’s outstanding, high-refresh-rate, high-resolution display outshines anything else in the industry. Despite being so slim, the iPad has fantastic stereo speakers and a battery life that will beat any laptop. It’s also valuable to remember that as an iPad, it won’t ever get viruses or be bogged-down with third-party bloated apps, and it’ll receive years of support and updates from Apple.

Apps such as Notability also allow you to record your lectures, annotate PDFs and make notes with 'Apple Pencil'—Apple's excellently designed stylus—all simultaneously.

However, Apple does have a reputation for its excessive pricing, so for those ready to make the leap to an iPad, how much will it cost? Uncharacteristically for Apple, the iPad starts at just £330 with a student discount. Plus, over the summer period, this is accompanied by free Beats Headphones. At this price, the iPad is cheaper than any equivalent laptop despite containing better hardware. Apple certainly seems enthusiastic to kick-start this consumer computing revolution by making it accessible to everyone, and especially students. 

What about the Pros?

An iPad can clearly work for the average student, but what about more specialist tasks such as music production, video editing, podcasting and so on? In terms of hardware, the iPad Pro is astonishingly powerful with its A12X processor, which beats all but the most high-end laptops. Even the top-spec 15” MacBook Pro, over £2,000, cannot match the iPad in benchmark tests.

Adobe has brought full desktop Photoshop to iPad, and more Creative Cloud apps are being ported over to the platform. Designers, podcasters and artists likewise have a wealth of software to choose from such as Affinity, ProCreate, Ferrite or Pythonista.

Others, such as video editors, will struggle more, with the only option being Lumafusion, which, while highly-capable, still feels a far-cry from Final Cut Pro X. The iPad Pro certainly has the power to do all of this, but developers, and indeed Apple itself, still needs to make versions of their pro-software for their newest heavyweight tablets.

Making the jump

This year, the iPad has become more than capable of fulfilling the needs of the average student. So forget your preconceptions, and next time you’re looking for a computer, consider going full-iPad.

If you haven’t already, or don’t think you can, it's only a matter of time.

Featured image: Marek Levák/Unsplash