Note: this is a piece I wrote back in June that first appeared on AppleMatters.com.
A few weeks ago I traveled to visit my mom, and while doing so I realized the limitations of the iPad for writing and blogging. Though the original intent of the iPad was never to be a laptop replacement, one would think it could be used as a productive writing tool.
While it’s expected that you can’t edit movies or create Garageband songs on the device, the inclusion of Apple‘s word processing program, Pages for the iPad, gives the impression that writing can effectively be done on the device. But again, that’s not quite the case.
SimpleNote and MyWritingNook also work with the text completion program,TextExpander for the iPhone and iPad. I was very surprised that this app does not have to be open in order to use it.
The built-in keyboard of the iPad is also not as cumbersome to use as might at first think. Typing on the iPad in landscape position can be very handy for quickly typing notes and short drafts. Though my fingers often slide off the keys, the intuitive and automatic text expansion and spelling correction feature of the iPad often aids in helping the poorest typist pound out sentences.
However, I must say that serious writing is best done using an external keyboard. Apple’s wireless keyboard is the one I use, and I found it to be the best keyboard I‘ve ever used. The keys are quick and responsive, and the keyboard‘s small size makes it perfect for the iPad.
The Wall of Limitations
If novel writing were what you wanted to do on the iPad, then you probably could get by just fine. But if the writing you do requires researching, quoting text, embedding URLs, adding images blog posts, and multitasking between apps—all of which is what bloggers do—then the iPad is going to push you back to your Mac desktop or laptop.
First off, as far as I know WordPress and BlogPress are the only two blogging client apps for the iPad. I downloaded the WordPress app and it seems to work like the web-based editor, but I couldn’t get it to upload a sample post. It reports that my blog theme can’t be retrieved. Nevertheless the potential is there for blogging using these apps, though markups and adding photos to blog entries are big problems with these apps.
Secondly, there’s the lack of multitasking in the iPad, which makes for working between apps and conducting research painfully difficult. A couple of multitasking apps might be helpful. For instance, BrowserNotes and MyMultiView allow you to open web pages and a notepad in the same application. There’s also iAnnotate PDF for reading and annotating PDFs. But these apps only go so far. There are still improvements that Apple needs to make for its mobile devices to get the one-open app limitation.
Without these tools, the use of the very affordable but not so futuristic iPad is a limited device for bloggers. The device says, I can deliver blogs for you to read, but if you want to write and post your own, go back where you came from.