I might write a “Using the iPad and Magic Keyboard as a PhD student” soon, like I have done with the Apple Watch here. However, I quickly want to share my experience with the wonder that is the Apple Pencil first.
I put a matt screen protecter on my iPad (I use Paperlike) that does bring some noise to the screen, but it’s worth it because it feels more like writing on real paper.
Like I've written about recently, I see the PhD student as having at least two roles - that of creative researcher and that of research manager. And while I can cover the research manager role by using OmniFocus and Mail on my MacBook, I have struggled with finding hardware that can support creative reading and writing for hours without getting distracted.
I have long thought about just having one device specifically for creative writing and research (I’ve written about contextualizing my devices here) and that’s where the iPad comes in! The 10,9” iPad Air with the Magic keyboard is fantastic for writing in my lab, I have found.
But that is not where the magic stops. With the iPad Air 4 + Apple Pencil 2 setup, it becomes fun and engaging to sketch out outlines for articles and plan workflows. Just look at these articles outlines (not the prettiest, I’m still learning). I use Goodnotes for sketching, as suggested by The Sweet Setup.
David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, says somewhere that we need more “back-of-the-napkin planning”. I find that the iPad with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil fits the role of a casual planner for quickly outlining thoughts and ideas visually.
I also use a leather-bound notebook for research journaling, but I never found myself sketching away in it like I do on the iPad now. I think it is the ability to undo and work with colours and shapes that is creatively stimulating.
Time will tell if the iPad, Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard setup actually proves more productive for churning out more research articles.