The iPad gave my Desktop a New Lease of Life

An interesting side note to yesterday's post on the iPad Air is that while the iPad killed off my desire to carry a regular notebook computer, it hasn't obviated my need for a  desktop Mac. In fact, it's made the iMac an even more essential part of my daily workflow.

I'm not suggesting I'm typical in this: Indeed, in the first six months of using the very first iPad I wondered aloud just how long it would take for the iPad to replace my workplace desktop computer. Maybe this was because I was stuck on a pretty old, low-on-RAM iMac at my office which took longer to load web pages or fetch my email than even the original RAM-cosntrained iPad. Maybe not though: Even before I upgraded to a 2012 slimline iMac for work I found myself coming back to using the desktop and the iPad as complementary devices, suited to sometimes subtly different tasks, or to different approaches.

What really altered my previous trajectory towards an iPad-only workflow was OS X, or rather the changes that we began to see with 2011's Mac OS X 10.7 Lion release. This was the OS X release heralded as representing a "Back to the Mac" approach, with Apple bringing the best elements of iOS to its Mac line. While more than a few long-time Mac users complained about changes like autosave, the beginning of the App Store sandbox shenanigans, and 'natural' direction scrolling, Lion also represents the beginning of the line that led rapidly to iCloud syncing, and eventually to last month's 'unification' of iWork apps across iOS and OS X.

The significance of these changes can't be over-emphasised. We're at a place now where it's possible to move relatively seamlessly between a large screen Mac desktop and a portable iOS experience; where I can start an email on the iPhone during a commute and pick it up at my desk, and where I can finish a Keynote presentation on my iMac and present it moments later through a web browser on a classroom PC.

The way that iOS increasingly shares an infrastructure with OS X has actually made my iMac more useful, not less as I originally suspected it might. The iPad might have become my mobile computer of choice—snuggling up with me on the sofa to finish a blog post after dinner or sneaking out of a noisy office to find a quiet cafe where I can write an important email—but the iMac feels more like the nerve centre of operations where I can sit back and see everything that's happening in an increasingly crowded and connected work life.