The 3 operating system (OS) experiment had been going well. Then I ran into an issue that first cropped up while at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference. WordPress is not optimized for the iPad. At least it’s not optimized for creating and editing content even if it renders sites effectively for content consumption. Last week I outlined the four core activities we use our devices for in the mobile era. It described how the tablet is optimized for content consumption and is an inferior device for content creation. How true.
Leaving the PC Behind
Traveling is a great time to leave PC behind. Many computing activities can be expertly handled by a combination of the smartphone and tablet connected to a cloud environment. However, for content creation, few tools are optimized for the touch interface and smaller screen real estate. This makes all of the activities take longer than a comparable exercise on the laptop. It also means certain functions such as uploading images aren’t available. In theory this feature should work. However, the WordPress page editor doesn’t show an option to load a local image from the iPad. If its not already in the image gallery, no dice. Also, there are pop-up editing screens that don’t allow you scroll meaning features below the fold are inaccessible and there is a menu bar that jumps to the middle of the screen when you touch scroll in the main editing layout. Very annoying.
Similarly, our friends at Apple have made it hard to easily integrate the Pocket bookmarking service. The Pocket help page assures me that this is possible, but recommends simply emailing links to a getPocket email address as the surest path to success. I can see why. I followed the instructions for adding Pocket to the iPad Safari browser and perplexingly, it won’t let me edit the URL with the script to link to Pocket. I haven’t given up yet, but this is a sharp contrast to how easy it was to add Pocket to Chrome and Android. I even tested it by pulling up Internet Explorer 9 just to make sure it wasn’t a Google-makes-thing-easy scenario. No problem for Microsoft.
Multi Operating System Potholes
My conclusion is that both of these issues link directly to the OS. It may be a failing – or maybe a walled garden principle – of Apple, but these are the issues you face when working across multiple operating systems. Solutions that work flawlessly on one OS often work quite differently, sub-optimally or not at all on another. I expect to find more of these potholes as I continue my three operating system experiment.
Why Use a Tablet Anyway?
As I have said previously, it is hard to make the case that a tablet is an absolute necessity. It is, however, an excellent content consumption device. Tablets are great for receiving and engaging with content, but lack sophistication in the content creation category. Granted the two examples listed above may work well on an Android tablet, but there are clearly other drawbacks to all tablets when it comes to content creation or processes requiring heavy computing power.
Content creation software stalwarts such as Adobe are bringing out tools for the iPad that leverage the touch interface and have been favorably reviewed. However, this isn’t really where the tablet shines.
Tablets are portable. They are very capable for taking notes, displaying images to show to others, accessing online content and interacting in long-form messaging. These are all areas where the small screen size and tiny thumb touch keyboards on smartphones come up lacking. They also have excellent portability and long battery life which make them well suited for many tasks common to business travel. Sales people can show images or a video to a prospective customer while walking down the hallway. Notes can be easily taken and shared in real-time at meetings. A laptop simply isn’t as versatile on the go.
For now the 1 User 3 OS experiment is showing some chinks in the armor of the OS-doesn’t-matter-anymore thesis. However, it appears more and more that the three devices are here to stay.
What do you think? Are tablets a necessary or even very beneficial tool for business today? Comment below.