My New Favourite Thing

Move over notebooks. I think I’ve just found my new favourite thing – for a writer.

Apple pencil:pro I feel a bit odd gushing about a gadget in this terribly material age, but my new favourite thing is a fantastic tool of trade – a shiny new iPad Pro (the small 9.7 inch version). It’s a big step up from my poor, struggling, constantly crashing, five-year-old iPad 2. Though I remember being as excited as a kid with a new toy at Christmas the year I got it too. But the new one has features I didn’t even dream of back then, but have been longing for now for quite awhile. Top of my list – an actual pen-like stylus. So for me the best part of my new iPad is actually the optional extra – and most brilliant tool – the Apple pencil. (Is it wrong to gush over a pencil?!)

Now I know how illustrators must feel with a brand new tablet to add to their toolbox.

I’ve long edited manuscripts on-the-go, on trains, in cafes, waiting in waiting-rooms, using an ordinary stylus in the Goodnotes app. I’m still using Goodnotes (though I’m sure there are heaps of other equally great editing/note software apps out there too). The difference now is that using the Apple pencil with the iPad Pro is that I can rest my palm on the screen without making unwanted marks or erasing edits accidentally.

Apple pencilAll I have to do is PDF the manuscript on the desktop first and email it to myself on the iPad. When I receive the email, I just transfer the doc to Goodnotes and away I go. Of course, I can still type edits into the document too, or use an alternative stylus or even my fingertip. But I love that Apple pencil replicates a pen with the same feel and the same fine point that, so far, other styli don’t provide. Now I end up with a far more legible document that I don’t have to waste time trying to decipher. The program highlighter is great for marking up words, paras to rejig later too.

Sadly, neither the pencil nor the new technology improves my scrawly handwriting at all, but at least it’s more readable. And I seem to have room on the page now to write heaps more.

IMG_5305I love too how, in the ordinary Apple Notes app, I can handwrite, draw, highlight, use colour for emphasis (or fun). It even has a ruler. (See the elegant straight line in my pic.) I can also print, copy, text, email, save images etc from Notes. (Could you do that before?)

And in the middle of the night, when I think of an idea, brilliant new title or must-do tomorrow, I love how I can now write it down using the backlight and even my fingertip to write if I don’t want to bother with the pencil. It doesn’t improve the quality of those ‘gems’ of the wee hours, but it’s much easier to capture them at least – just in case.

Even though noone will ever see them, I’m also having a lot of fun playing with the pencil in ‘Paint’ too, creating images and playing with shapes and colours. More disappear than are saved, but it’s lots of fun and non-threatening for a non-drawer like me.

I do think the pencil is the real joy and new favourite thing for me, as much as the iPad, because it’s not only great for print-free editing, but it’s inspiring my creativity in other ways too.

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I’m jealous!

June 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm
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alison Reynolds

Sounds so fascinating. Love the thought of the stylus. Will have to check up!

June 28, 2016 at 8:28 pm

John Tyrrell

Great review, Chris. I feel very much in your moccasins with an iPad of a similar vintage to yours, which has been slowly driving me up the wall with its stalling and crashing antics. The time has come to succumb to Apple’s planned obsolescence program. Not sure that I can justify getting the Pro but it sounds like a creative’s dream machine – esp with the fun you’re having with the stylus.

June 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Lovely to see you here, John.
    That crashing with my old iPad was driving me insane. Particularly after I did the latest upgrade. Upgrade to frustration they should’ve called it! You won’t regret the move to a newer version, whether you go for the Pro or not. I’d not realised how slow the page load was or the frequency of failure to loads until I got the new one. I was blaming our connectivity with the router at the far end of the house in my office, but now I realise it that the old iPad just didn’t have the oomph to connect properly. It’s saving me a fortune in the remote sim. I can leave it turned off at home now, but I always had to use it if I was at the front of the house and blamed the interconnecting walls. Not so. The built-in obsolescence is annoying and expensive though and I fear for the weight our poor planet will have to support in old technology unless we can find away to float it into the stratosphere!

    June 28, 2016 at 9:37 pm

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