I have had dozens of conversation with people who are trying to understand the concept of why something between a computer and a cellphone called an iPad could possibly be useful, and how the whole app thing works. Here I will describe what my iPad replaces, what it adds, and some of the key apps I use on a daily basis as part of My Life on The Cloud.

First off, a disclaimer: you may not need an iPad. If you already know you don’t need one, don’t buy one. I am not an iPad salesman and I really don’t care either way. I just want you to feel strong, happy, and free! I live on The Cloud and my iPad actually helps me to be stronger, happier, and freer than I would be otherwise. Okay…

The iPad does NOT replace my cellphone. Well, not very often anyway. I still make local phonecalls on a local mobile phone, and with texts I can go either way. Ideally I would do all my texting on the iPad, but I haven’t made that transition fully just yet. My iPad did replace my iPhone, however. I downgraded to a V3 RAZR after purchasing my iPad, and for more on that see my last post on the iPhone+dumbphone approach.

What it does do is:

  • makes outgoing international calls (via Skype on wifi, a free app)
  • handles most of my texts (via Skype/GoogleVoice, both free apps)
  • gives me directions anywhere (via GoogleMaps, built-in app)
  • Wakes me up in the morning (via Nightstand Central, free app or $3 for pro version)
  • gets me online practically anyplace (via the 3G microSim)

The iPad does NOT replace my laptop. Well, not very often anyway. I still carry a laptop with me most of the time, or two, as needed for client work. I do NOT recommend trying to get by on an iPad without a computer, that is not what they are designed for, and you will run into trouble. You need computers for backing up your iPad, as well as other things that tablets just don’t do well yet.

What it does do is:

  • helps me reply to time sensitive emails quickly and transparently when not actually “working,” which is key to working on the cloud (via Mail, built-in app)
  • increases my laptop screen real estate by 40% (via AirDisplay, a $10 app)
  • gives me a “second laptop” to use for my Parallel Processing Technique (which I’ll cover in a later post), with the addition of an Apple Wireless Keyboard
  • lets me continue working for way longer than my laptop battery lasts (around 14-hrs total)
  • shows me where to go for wifi connections for serious online activities, like file transfers (with various location-specific wi-finders)
  • shows me all about the place that I am or am about to be (via Wikihood, a free app)
  • helps me to write, edit, publish, and link to facebook all the blog posts just like this one, without ever touching a computer (via WordPress, a free app)
  • allows me to monitor server performance for clients and my own websites (via HostMonitor, a $1 app)
  • takes me to another net-connected computer of mine, which I can drive remotely even if I left it on another continent (via iTeleport, a $20 app)

The iPad does NOT replace my paper notebook. Well, not very often anyway. I find that paper and pen are still best for things like capturing ideas, jotting down phone numbers/addresses, idly doodling/sketching, making lists, journaling, having people give you their contact info, handing notes to other people, and generally using whenever power is an issue. But what it does do is:

  • Tracks all my to do items (via OmniFocus, a $40 app) and lists (via Omnioutliner, a $20 app)
  • Stores all the phone numbers/addresses I may want to use more than once (via Contacts, an in-built app)
  • Connect to new friends via Facebook/Google+ during conversation without much distraction
  • and too many other things to list…

The iPad DOES replace my iPod/Walkman. I’ve always got a few gigs of great music and podcasts and audiobooks on me, which is perfect for long journeys. I also use it to record business meetings (via Soundnote, a $5 app), rehearsals (via VoiceRecorder, a $1 app), and multitrack musical ideas (via VoiceJam, a $5 app).

My iPad will soon replace my looping pedal as well. There are some fantastic apps out there that do way more than my Boss RC-2, but I haven’t quite got all the kinks worked out of the wiring & dependability & interface design issues just yet. I keep hoping that if I wait long enough I won’t have to go to the trouble of actually creating one of the things I sketched out a few years ago. It’s not there yet, but close. (If you’re wondering what a looping pedal is and why I need one, it’s because I’m a musician, and you probably don’t need one, so don’t worry about it.)

If I had an iPad 2, it would likely replace my camera and my video camera. I plan to make that jump in a year or so and reevaluate then. But by that time I’m sure the 4G iPad 3 will be out anyway…