iOS & Mac – frictionless workflow with ubiquitous tools

I used to own an Android

Actually, I owned two. My first one was a HTC Magic, which I rooted after a week to see what I could do with it. These were the times of unlocked and unencrypted boot loaders, with Android operating systems being improved in the wild. I really enjoyed tinkering with it. My second Android was a HTC Desire. It looked great, and it was performance wise quite an improvement over the Magic. I never rooted it. I don’t know why, but the effort of rooting and maintaining my phone was prohibitive when compared to the value I derived from it. I loved to tinker, but my tinkering did not really bring me closer to real workflow improvements.

Remigrating to a Mac

And then I migrated back to a Mac, an 2010 iMac. I had worked on Macs before, all through my student days, in the early 1990’s. However, once entering the workforce I had to move to Windows. And while I held on for a little while, I even had a 1996 Powerbook, I soon migrated to Windows for home use as well. It was just easier that way. As an auditor, most of my work was done in Word and Excel anyway, and they were just easier to use on a Windows machine.

But returning to that Mac after more than 10 years really was like coming home to an old friend. The interface, while it had of course changed quite dramatically, was still very familiar. After an initial couple of days of hesitation, I quickly adapted to that very user centric and even user aware interface and felt more and more frustrated with my Windows machine.

Acquiring iOS devices and apps

I acquired my first iOS device with my original iPad on day one of the Belgian launch. And I started acquiring apps. For testing purposes, but at a relatively low per application price I soon built quite a library. Some of my most prized possessions in my app library were and still are the Omni Group set of applications for iOS. I soon acquired an iPhone 4 and a couple of months later my employer provided us with iPad 2’s. And my apps, most of which were both iPhone and iPad capable, just migrated with me.

The thing with the apps is that the best of them are just as customizable as required to optimize them for your own workflow, but not more. Not all choices are possible or even wanted. Quite a difference from Android. By limiting my app configuration choices but by making sure the apps all work according to the same usage principles, and leveraging first dropbox and now iCloud as a data exchange platform between devices and even apps, the apps and the device become ubiquitous. I no longer am aware of the tool I am using, because the tool is not the central point, my content is. And I can access and continue working on my content without breaking my stride. It just works.

The ubiquitous devices – iOS and Mac

This truly became apparent to me when I changed employers and had to give back my iPad 2. I had some fear that my workflow would be hampered on my original iPad. It wasn’t. Not at all. The couple of additional tenths of a second I need to wait longer for a webpage to render or for a process to finish is irrelevant to my workflow, and I honestly don’t even notice anymore.

Bizarre as it may seem, Apple succeeded in both binding me to their products and make me totally machine agnostic at the same time. I really don’t care what machine of mine I work on for most of my tasks, as long as it runs iOS or OSX, I’ll be fine. It may take a couple of minutes to restore my key software and apps from the app store, but I will have them available. My data is in the cloud, either on dropbox, iCloud or even some info on Google documents, but I can get that back.

The machine is no longer central to the equation. My content and my access to my content is. All the rest is really irrelevant. And that’s amazing, since the last truly ubiquitous tool for producing content was, in effect, pen and paper.