Jake asks:

I’m currently taking bookings faster than I planned would happen and have decided that an iPad might be a better way to keep everything in one place , meaning my emails/ceremonies, and documents. But the main reason is I would like to be able to have my couples sign the the paperwork on the iPad (form 15 , NOIM) all that jazz. I just wanted to know what you would recommend in size and what programs/apps would make this possible.

So my goal in life is to live 100% on my iPad. It has merit for a few reasons.

Firstly, I never want to get comfortable in my technology usage, I always want to be challenged, if not by one of you, then by myself, because as much as I age, my target market does not. The way they communicate and do work will be always changing, so trying to fit my foot into a new shoe is a good way of exercising those muscles.

Secondly, the iPad really is a beautiful little machine, and for someone like me who spends a lot of time away from the office, it’s the perfect size and weight to travel with.

Finally, Apple is investing heavily in the iPad series of devices being the future of computing. If I am ever in the place where I need to choose between the new version or the existing version of a thing, I’ll always choose the new version, even if it hurts, because I’d rather adapt early than adapt late.

Which iPad

A quick look at https://www.apple.com/au/ipad/ will give you the outline of what Apple is selling in the range of iPads today.

There’s the simply named, iPad, which is the smallest of the “normal sized” iPads, and it’s also the slowest and the cheapest, running old hardware. It starts from $529 from the Apple Store and can be priced up to $889.

The iPad Air is what you might call, the regular man’s iPad, running newer hardware and a slightly bigger screen,

The iPad Mini is the half-sized iPad, and in my opinion, too small to do work on.

Then there’s the iPad Pro. I use an iPad Pro, the 11” of the current series. If you wanted to go all out on an iPad Pro with 1 terabyte of storage and 4G, that’s $2269.

The good news is that all of the iPads run the latest iPad OS 13, so software wise they’re all basically the same, and of the current range being sold by Apple, they all support Apple Pencil.

They differ in screen size, screen quality, device size, storage size, and whether you want a 4G modem inside.

My buying advice today is to buy the most expensive model you can afford, at the biggest hard drive space you can afford, and if you’ve still got wiggle room left, buy the 4G version – people say “you can just tether it to your phone” but you won’t understand how nice it is to just have a computer that is always internet connected until you have one.

The iPad I use today is the iPad I’d buy again today, an 11” iPad Pro with 256GB of hard drive space and 4G. This model is $1,669, and if I was feeling generous, I’d upgrade to 512GB of hard drive space.

You’ll need an Apple Pencil $199 for the current range of iPad Pros, or $145 for the other iPads. I’ve heard others buy cheaper stylus for iPad, and you’ll regret it, just try out an Apple Pencil. You’ll want a Smart Keyboard, or at least a Bluetooth keyboard, and as someone who has dropped his iPad a few times, you’ll want to spend the $169 on AppleCare+ to help you get it fixed and replaced for cheap.

So the good news is that after all these purchases your new daily driver computer is awesome, but you’ve just spent $2300. If you want to spread the expense out a little, I bought mine on a plan from Optus. It comes with loads of data and the plan I went on was cheaper over 24 months than buying the iPad outright.

If you’re looking for a good deal, keep an eye on OzBargain.

Which apps

My everyday apps are as follows:

Spark for email – I would normally lean towards using the builtin mail app, but I have an assistant, so Spark allows us to delegate emails to each other and for us to leave private comments on emails to help each other cover the workload.

Drafts for notes – I love the simple and no-nonsense framework Drafts uses for just getting text out of my head and into a note. There’s an iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac app, and all the notes sync up. The Apple Watch version even has a really nice dictation mode so I can take notes straight into my watch.

Dropbox for files – iCloud file sharing will be good one day, but until it is, I use Dropbox as my personal filing cabinet in the cloud. I pay for the extra features that make it a professional level file system.

Ulysses for long form writing – I might start my writing in Drafts often enough, but I’ll finish it in Ulysses. It uses Markdown formatting which I love, and it’s just a really nice way to write long form for this website, or for print. I’m literally typing this into Ulysses right now. It’s syncing between iPad, iPhone, and Mac works beautifully too.

Notability for PDF signing – I’ve tested a lot of PDF apps and as of the last test I could not find one that treated a marriage certificate like a boring piece of paper we could scribble on to. Notability does that one job really well. I import documents, we sign them, and I export them to Dropbox.

Lightroom for photo editing – I edit all of my personally take professional photos and iPhone photos in Lightroom. It’s simply the best and everything else is just trying to be Lightroom.

Lumafusion for video editing – at time of print, Lumafusion is the most powerful video editor available for iPadOS.

Ferrite for audio recording and editing – I wish Ferrite was on Mac, I love it that much for editing podcasts I record.

djay for playing music professionally – the Music app, or Spotify, works well enough for casual tunes, but if you’re being paid to play music, you need a professional song player, and that’s djay.

Goodreader for basic file handling – Sometimes on iPad you just need a Swiss Army Knife for opening files, that’s Goodreader.

Carrot for weather – the built-in Apple Weather app has wrong info, carrot gets the right stuff from BoM via Willyweather.

Zoom for video chat – I like Facetime but I like Zoom just a little bit more. I can have a chat room that I can just invite people to join with the same link every time. It’s a nice experience.

Flow for doodling – If you’ve got an Apple Pencil, you’ll love to doodle, and Flow is the nicest app for sketching, doodling, drawing, and creating.

Tripit for travel plans – I travel a lot so I store alllllllll my travel plans inside Tripit. The bonus us that TripIt automatically syncs with Flighty.

Flighty for flight info – Flighty is a beautiful app for tracking flights. It has loads of data and updates via notifications that are really helpful.

1Password for password and sensitive data storage – I keep all of my passwords, sensitive documents like ID, and secure notes, in 1Password. I’ve got it on the family plan so Britt can access it as well, and it helps me give every single app and website a unique password so that if one of those services get hacked, the hackers don’t have access to everything of yours.

Canva for graphic design – for anything a little more creative than a photo or words, I use Canva. It’s Australian made and so powerful that even the largest companies are using it for branded design.

And for an old school bit of fun: BananaPaint – If you were an original black and white Macintosh user, you’ll appreciate the uselessness and beauty of BananaPaint, named after Apple Paint.

Outside of those apps I use the built-in apps, because they integrate so nicely with the whole system and that’s the iPadOS experience: tight and beautiful integration.

Shortcuts for creating workflows, Safari for web browsing, Reminders for to-do lists and reminders, Calendar for calendars, Message for messages, News for news, Maps for maps, Clock for clock, Numbers for spreadsheets, Pages for a word processor.

Shrotcuts is one of the most powerful and underrated apps on the iPad. Check out the MacStories archive for some really cool shortcuts.

If you’ve got a powerful machine like an iPad, you can play games as well, I pay for Apple Arcade, and my favourite game at the moment is Mini Motorways. Plus a little but of Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix, keeps my spare hours filled.

The final app I use which is a little outside the regular person’s scope is OpenVPN. I use OpenVPN to connect my iPad to my home network while I’m travelling so that wherever I am, I’m always on my home network. This means that people snooping around the hotel wifi network, or the airport wifi, don’t get access to my data. Plus if my MacBook is on my office desk, I can remote desktop into it and use my MacBook on the Gold Coast, from Iceland. This requires a “server” to be set up at home, so I have a RaspberryPi that runs a VPN server, it all cost maybe $100, plus that RaspberryPi also ruins Pihole so I have advertising blocked on my home internet, so any website I view has no ads on it! If you want to go down this route it might be helpful to get a nerd to help, or to skip the hard part and buy a kit off Amazon.