It’s Not About the Device

thanksgiving-229287_640A veritable cornucopia of new devices has recently been released (e.g. Microsoft Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, IPad Pro), as well as new phones, other tablets and updated laptops. I contend that their value is not in the device itself, but in the use case. Said another way, the magic is in how YOU use it, not about the nuanced technology features. Here are a few examples from my work life that show various devices in action in ways that meet my unique needs.

Capturing notes in a conference keynote setting

  • Setting: Usual setup is rows of chairs with no tables.
  • Devices: A tablet with stylus is ideal for electronic handwritten notes. I use my phone camera to take pictures of relevant slides or the speaker to help aid my memory.
  • Process: Take rough notes, publish to PDF and place in electronic folder along with any pictures, handouts and a scan/copy of the conference agenda.
  • Output: Summary document in electronic folder consisting of: a list of takeaways, further ideas to explore and/or additional resources (link to speaker’s website).

Facilitating a business meeting

  • Setting: Conference room, in the office or offsite. I need access to multiple pieces of information and don’t want it to get in the way of the discussion. A laptop screen can be intrusive.
  • Devices: Pen and paper in the form of a notepad or journal, plus tablet with OneNote app.
  • Output: Notes and follow-up items. Additional documents are created or a summary of the meeting is created from handwritten notes, scans of any whiteboard or flip chart work. All items are placed in a electronic folder or in OneNote shared notebook.

Writing a monthly summary report

  • Setting: Office.
  • Devices: Laptop with multiple computer displays and three or four applications running.
  • Output: A one-page word document. Ability to reference calendar, various emails, last month’s report and various other documents.

Two easy traps to fall into are: 1) thinking that one device will meet all of your needs and 2) the lure of the latest and greatest new shiny object in the marketplace. Before investing, consider this:

Being productive is about using multiple tools at hand in a way that works for you. Work process, collaboration and tools will continue to evolve. Devices will continue to proliferate and improve. There will never be a singular device for all situations and individuals.

The use cases dictate a combination of different features (technology and otherwise). My work situations are perhaps a bit more diverse than many. But the same rules likely apply to everyone—there are many tools and applications within your environments that can help personal productivity. Trying to make them all fit into once device is not practical, in my opinion.


What’s New from Apple

Apple just made their always-anticipated September product announcements. Featured this year were the iPad Pro, new iPhones, Apple TV and OS 2.0 for Apple Watch. There are many summaries you can read about the details, including:

The upgrades are interesting, but are not compelling me to purchase the new devices, at least in the short term. I made the following post on Facebook…adding up the cost of all of the new devices and making a comparison to a desktop computer purchased 17 years ago.

comparison

Certainly I enjoy the camera technology, and the camera and video technology upgrades look interesting. Apple TV and, specifically, the remote are nice (and overdue) improvements.

Here are my key takeaways:

  • The iPad Pro could become my replacement for my home laptop. Its screen is larger and has a much improved keyboard (compared to third-party devices). Besides, my trusty five-plus-year-old MacBook has been sitting on the floor in my office for at least two months without me turning it on. Why? There isn’t anything I have had to do on it that I couldn’t do with my iPad or an occasional simple task on my work laptop (create a bike route, type something, fill out a longer form or interact with a legacy (non tablet friendly) website). Data is in the cloud. Devices sync wirelessly to the cloud or they don’t need to sync.
  • The iPhone will become a new standard. The camera and 3D Touch, improved glass and additional hardware features are nice.
  • The biggest improvements are iOS9 software-related. In particular, the multiscreen presentation on the iPad and 3D Touch navigation on the iPhone. This creates new possibilities for application developers and increased ease of use in a variety of situations.

But when is good enough good enough? I’m sensing a topic for my next post.