Three ways the iPad beats the Mac

In the argument between people who embrace the iPad to get work done and people who stick to their Macs, I’m firmly Team Both. For a few years now, I’ve used an iMac at my desk and an iPad Pro everywhere else.

Committing to the iPad to get work done has always involved some compromise. There are moments when I’m working away on my iPad and I realize that there’s something I need to do that would be done far more easily on my Mac. Those moments are a lot less frequent they were even a couple of years ago, but they do exist.

What’s funny is that in the last year or so, I’ve noticed an increasing number of incidents when I find myself sitting at my desk, staring at my iMac, realizing that the task I need to perform would be done far more easily on my iPad.

Fixing up photos

I’ve been using Photoshop for decades. I wrote an entire book about Apple’s Photos app. And yet when I want to touch up a photo before displaying it on my website, on social media, or on my walls as a print, I end up going to my iPad and using Pixelmator Photo.

1ee9469a d73c 4789 b15b f39b14249f0e Pixelmator Pro makes it easy to remove dust and blemishes from photos.

Pixelmator Photo is a $5 iPad-exclusive app that offers machine-learning-based tools for adjusting image settings, cropping, and color matching. It’s got a very large suite of image adjustment tools. But the feature that sets it apart is its Repair tool, which intelligently fixes flaws in photos.

I can’t really say enough about the Repair tool. It’s a delight to use. To remove dust from a product shot or a skin blemish from a portrait, I just tap on the area with my finger, and it’s gone instantly. I don’t need to sample from some other part of the photo, as I would do with other tools—Pixelmator Photo is smart enough to figure out the right thing to do without any intervention. It even works well to remove people from backgrounds, something that used to take me ages to accomplish in Photoshop.

Productivity-boosting shortcuts

The Mac is supremely flexible, with a library of native apps, Unix underpinnings, and a user automation system that’s been around for decades. I am constantly amazed at what I can automate on my Mac. That said, the Mac’s user-automation tools are harder to use than those on iOS. And while iOS apps have rushed to support Shortcuts, Apple’s user-automation app, Mac apps are no longer making any real effort to add support for AppleScript and Automator.

Shortcuts on iPad

This shortcut makes a blog post based on the latest item in a podcast’s RSS feed.

As a result, I’ve been able to build some slick, easy-to-use automations on my iPad that I haven’t been able to replicate on my Mac—or at least, not replicate in a satisfying way. My iPad’s got a shortcut that query my home weather station for the current weather and place the result on the clipboard, for me to use to taunt my friends on particularly nice days. With the help of the new app Charty, I was able to built a shortcut that scrapes the content of a webpage and generates detailed charts automatically.