I’ve had my iPad for about 9 months now, and I love it, but I’ve mostly been using it for relatively simple things: checking e-mail and facebook, making phone calls when my old cellphone wouldn’t work, playing games, reading books for pleasure, etc. The most academic use it has gotten is taking notes in meetings with my advisors or at talks (being unable to lose handwritten notes is a huge plus). But my looming research trip has forced me to finally try to make my iPad useful for more of my scholarly work. Here are three things that have really made a difference for me:
- A big part of my discomfort with the iPad when writing even things as simple as a facebook post was that I kept needing to click to a second screen to get an apostrophe or quotation mark. Turns out, there’s a very simple solution: when using the built-in keyboard, you can swipe up on the comma, and you’ll get an apostrophe. If you swipe up on the period, you get a quotation mark. This makes a lot of sense, and would have saved me much annoyance if I had figured it out earlier.
- But for slightly heavier writing, the same problem exists for dashes, slashes, and parentheses. Solution: bluetooth keyboard! I got the Mac version, which is slightly more expensive than other models, but it’s TINY. It fits in my purse along with my iPad, and I can still zip the thing up. The other thing that I really like about the keyboard is that it has ARROW KEYS. You do not know how much you rely on the arrow keys while writing until you try and write without them. Trying to use your finger to get between just the right two letters is awkward and frustrating. My fingers just aren’t that small.
- I also now use the iAnnotate PDF to read and annotate my scholarly reading. It’s so much better than trying to read and annotate on my computer. I had tried using iAnnotate before, but the process of getting documents into the app was painful until I finally figured out how to sync my dropbox with the app. Now when I annotate a PDF, it automatically syncs back to my laptop and I can use the annotations when I’m doing writing on my laptop.