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The iPad as Research Assistant

by Kerry Dawson

IPad Air

I tend to have to do a lot of research in my work. The days of having an actual dedicated research assistant are long gone. Now, my research assistant is my iPad. My iPad has been my research assistant since I got my very first iPad and that was the first generation iPad. Thus, my iPad has been my research assistant for a long time.

Many Tools but the iPad has become Key

Commander in Chief

I, of course, use many tools in conducting research. Naturally, at one time, my Mac would have been my research assistant and it certainly is. However my Mac continues to play the larger role of commander and chief. It is the place research is analyzed, broken down and turned into new information.

The iPad though is my key research assistant. I use it to find information, read it and then send what’s relevant is sent on up to the Mac. The iPad is ideal for this. You can be anywhere and conduct, read and disseminate the information. Personally, I love getting away from my Mac at the desk and sitting on the couch with my iPad to conduct my research. It’s both effective and somewhat relaxing.

The iPad is a Computer

The iPad could never replace my Mac but it is a computer of a different nature. A multi-function, multi-purpose device it can be many things including your research assistant.

All my iPads have been incredibly powerful and surprisingly so. I’ve been amazed consistently at just exactly what the iPad is capable of. My iPad Air though has crossed the line, even if there was one to cross, to that of a very powerful computer. What limits the iPad is not the iPad but IOS and Apple’s rules around how the device should work.

Yet, the iPad meets my needs perfectly. In a relaxed spot, I read, read, read. I’ve read a number of books on it. But I read numerous things related to the research I’m conducting. That information then is all sent to the Mac primarily using Evernote. Although I’ve written elsewhere that my preferred research tool is DEVONthink, which it is, I use Evernote as the conduit to get the information to the Mac and then DEVONthink. If DEVONtechnologies could get their IOS upgrade for Devonthink out the door this hoop I jump probably wouldn’t be necessary. If they don’t get their IOS product out the door the day may come where the research stops at Evernote.

Putting it Together

The iPad is such a perfect tool to, no matter where you are, capture your information, analyze it, determine its benefit and then disseminate it to the Mac for interpretation and the creation of information. I might not actually have a physical person who does this for me but the iPad is an ideal replacement if not in some ways a better replacement. It allows me to find my own, relevant and important information and in a relaxed setting move it on up to the Mac.

Sometimes though, I might actually do everything on the iPad. I have a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard which is the perfect complement to the iPad. The keyboard takes a device that is more of a consumption machine and turns it into a powerful production machine.

In a different fashion, I am able to analyze my research on the iPad and deal with it there. Using the Bluetooth keyboard, I’ll begin writing and it is surprising just how fast I can write on the iPad. As I said, the iPad really is a computer in an amazing form factor. It can do numerous things and for this reason I feel it is probably one of the best investments you can make in your tool kit.

Synergies of Function lead to Outcome

For me, the iPad is no toy. It is part of my work environment that is quite synergistic. The iPad has it’s distinctive role whereas my Mac has its role. The roles of these devices though are quite synergistic. Using this approach, the one cannot work without the other.

True, I could probably do more on the iPad than I do. However, I just find that I’m more focussed at my Mac and can therefore produce at a much higher level. This division of function works for me. I tend to employ software in a synergistic fashion also. It’s not taking anything but just adding to my function.

Don’t Limit the iPad

Sailing ship

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of the iPad. You may have bought your iPad for one purpose and it’s meeting that need well. However, possibly there’s something else you want to do or there’s potentially a better way of doing what you’re doing. If you have to buy a keyboard to turn your iPad into a production powerhouse, do it.

In my case, my iPad plays many roles for me. The iPad is no one trick pony. Rather it is an extremely versatile device. When I was thinking about the way I did my research I suddenly thought the iPad could assist here and possibly make life easier. I was right. It’s turned into a wonderful research assistant. The iPad Air, just by the nature of its form factor and power has turned into the best of the bunch. In many ways I love my iPad more than my iPhone and I certainly couldn’t do without that. Kudos to Apple on this one as they definitely made my life just a little bit better the day they released the iPad and they have gone on to definitely not disappoint.

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