Seven ways the iPad Pro is making me a more efficient designer:
For a while I was skeptical about using an iPad Pro as my go to road warrior, but recently some key apps have been optimized to utilize the Pro's power and extra screen real estate. As a designer I need certain desktop performance applications to properly perform my job, most of which are Adobe applications. Adobe has really stepped up their game in terms of mobile and there are other app developers that are also doing some exciting things, making my iPad Pro my go to tool even more often. I have listed the top SEVEN ways the iPad Pro is making me a more efficient graphic designer.
1 - Adobe Creative Cloud:
One of the most widely used programs for designers is made by Adobe. The creators behind Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign have produced an invaluable tool for most designers and creatives working in today's industry. Their tools don't end at the desktop anymore. With a complete suite of mobile apps, Adobe has allowed creatives to take their work on the road. Up until recently, I didn't do anything more than minor edits to images while away from my desktop. The creation and further development of Adobe Comp almost makes it an InDesign substitute while on the road. Using Adobe Comp with Photoshop Fix, Mix, and Lightroom, designing on-the-go is getting easier.
2 - Astropad App
Every designer knows that this career makes you quickly become friends with a digital tablet. During the last decade as a designer I have used multiple Wacom tablets. In my standard out of the office routine, I would take my computer and my tablet would always follow suit. This also required all of his friends, including another usb cord and a platform specific stylus (that I couldn't really use with anything else). Until I discovered the AstroPad App on Twit TV's iOS Today, a tech show I frequently watch. I downloaded the app immediately and it converted my iPad Pro into a full fledged digital tablet. I was able to erase with precision, use the select tool and freehand draw as if I were using my everyday Wacom. I now had a tablet almost twice the size as my original take-a-long tablet and with the built in wifi it allows for wireless editing. If you need a cord to connect for whatever reason, it connects with the standard Apple Lightning cable, leaving you with one less tablet cord and stylus to carry. It may not seem like a lot, but every little bit counts.
3 - Bamboo Paper by Wacom
The one thing that I need at every meeting is a notebook. A notebook isn't just important for jotting down key points of a project, but also for sketching out ideas while in front of a client. A lot of times clients need to see the ideas you are envisioning. This was a task usually delegated to one of many Moleskine notebooks I have purchased, but of course that changed when I discovered Wacom's Bamboo Paper app. It acts as a notebook and sketchbook together in one app. You can customize the cover, paper style and writing tools. They give you the ability to write on lined paper, graph paper, or even plain drawing paper. The options don't stop there though. The selection of writing utensils is just as robust ranging from a standard pencil or pen all the way to highlighters, brush tip pens, and even crayons. You can actually build a library of multiple notebooks which only takes up the space of one thin iPad Pro. The app is a note taker's dream that offers endless functionality.
4 - Adobe Fill & Sign & Acrobat
Contracts and briefings are the things no one really likes, but are both a necessary part to any business transaction. Using contracts required me to write up the documents then carry two printed copies kept neatly in a portfolio pouch, and finally deliver the documents from inside my bag when the conversation brought us to that point. With an iPad Pro, when services are agreed upon, I AirDrop the contract to my iPad and it is ready to go. When it's time to talk legalese, I switch apps and have them sign using the Adobe Fill & Sign app. Once the contracts are complete they're emailed to both my clients and I. Composing client briefings was typically the same writing, printing, and carrying process and I'd use a notebook to document any additional notes that may have come up. Adobe Acrobat allows me to simply upload the PDF and type until my hearts content. Both options save on physical home filing space and there's no way to lose the documents accidentally, plus is saves the trees.
5 - Skillshare
Part of being a designer is keeping up with evolving technology to create better work for our clients. The problem with that is technology changes everyday, and staying up to date with the latest tech advancements can be a full time job in itself. Luckily I have the perfect solution, the app is called Skillshare. It has iOS apps, Android apps and even an Apple TV application. With bite sized classes that make learning a new skill during a lunch break easy and quick. Most classes last about an hour, but there are several for only 20-30 minutes, and they range from learning how to blog, graphic program training, business strategies, and even music creation. The mobile app allows you to download videos for offline viewing, and syncs to your account so you can even watch classes on your TV at home. With a premium plan starting at just $9.99 a month it is the cheapest training you can receive online. Using this app I have brushed up on skills I haven't used in a while as well as learned new skills that have helped me build my growing business. I really recommend this app and have a link to how you can receive your first three months for only $3. Go ahead and use the code to try out this awesome community based training and see how Skillshare can help your business grow as well.
6 - Adobe Portfolio
Every once in a while a portfolio may need to be presented to a client. For designers old enough to remember the days when that meant using black presentation boards and spray adhesive to prominently display your artwork, to then collect those individual pieces into an oversized black briefcase, to then have to lug it to that next presentation. The whole process was a bit daunting to say the least. In today's day of meeting anyone anywhere mentality, you can't always have your portfolio under your arm to show off your work at a beckon call. With high resolution tablets a designer's artwork can be anywhere they need it. I think the iPad Pro has a particularly great portfolio viewing experience. With the Pro's 2732 x 2048 resolution screen, artwork looks crisp and fresh. Colors pop and text is extremely precise. Along with the portfolio app you can even view and present full project scopes from brainstorming concepts to finished projects.
7 - Accessories:
Most devices are great at doing something, but it is the accessories and peripherals that you add on that really open up a device's possibilities. The iPad Pro is no different. Here are three accessories I can't live without.
Now a lot of these apps are great by themselves, but they each go a little further with the assistance of the Apple Pencil. I have used a lot of styli in my day, but none has the control and versatility of the Apple Pencil. With drawing apps like Sketchbook Pro, Adobe Sketch or Draw I can have Pens, Pencils, Brushes & charcoal at my disposal, which normally requires that trusty ArtBin. I get to utilize tools I wouldn't have on me normally. Beyond drawing apps, The Apple Pencil is also extremely useful with note taking apps, from Apple's Notes app to the Moleskine app I mentioned earlier. Check back later for my post where I will be writing a more in depth review of the pencil in the months ahead.
Apple Magic Keyboard
About a year ago Apple released an update to their wireless keyboard. It had a slimmer profile, lower slant, and newly designed keys that are akin to the new MacBook. An internal battery and Bluetooth 4.0 make it efficient and versatile. It is the one tool that actually converts the iPad very closely to becoming a laptop. Of course it misses a few functional points still, like a trackpad or mouse connection, but in terms of having to write for a few hours in a coffee shop, the keyboard actually makes the iPad Pro more of a production powerhouse.
Sandisk USB 2.0 Wireless Stick
Now my iPad Pro is 128 GB and with an additional 200 GB of cloud storage, there isn't much space I need for files. Sometimes things need to be accessible via desktop and mobile, and that is where the Sandisk Connect comes in handy. It is a wi-if enabled stick flash device that can stream saved files on to your mac or iPad, and through a special app you can view anything that is on the device. I like having all my current client work in one place and this allows me to work on the road without lugging around a laptop.
There you have it, the seven ways the iPad Pro has made me a more efficient designer. I am reviewing the 12.9" version, but Apple also makes the iPad Pro in the standard 9.7" size. I've had my iPad for just over a year now, and I literally use it everyday. These are the apps and tools I use the most. The joy of these devices is that every revolutionary app or tool that is created extends it's functionality even more.