iPad Productivity Tips
I think of my iPad as a proper computer. It is something on which to get work done. It’s a good thing to consider how you’re going to get your words into the device. Due to the mobility of the device I use it in various situations so what works well in one place is not so good in another. I use my iPad when I’m sitting in bed or lounging on the sofa. When I’m taking a break at work and sitting in the passenger seat of my car, that’s a good place to pick up my iPad. Sometimes I’m standing up and using the iPad, perhaps to send a quick message or create a note. So taking ergonomics into consideration, it’s a brilliant idea to have a number of different ways to write into the iPad. Let’s have a look at which is best for which job. iPad productivity tips
- On-screen keyboard
- A paired Bluetooth keyboard
- Siri dictation
- Handwriting recognition
The other thing to think about is whether you actually need to have words on a page. Perhaps one of the best Productivity Tips would be to record an audio or video message to communicate whatever you have to say.
I like using the on-screen keyboard on the iPad. Some people think that it’s weird to type on glass and that it would slow them down. This is not necessarily going to be the case because of the predictive text. Predictive text is amazing because it means you can type in a whole word, however long it might be with just one tap. You just have to train yourself to keep an eye on the extra keyboard row to see if one of the three offerings is the word you’re looking for. It is also possible for the iPad to give you auto correction. This is not always a good idea as you can end up with some weird looking sentences that have no meaning whatsoever. There is also the auto capitalisation which saves you some taps on the keyboard for the shift key. Apple have done a super job of giving us a keyboard to help us find our inner poet or blog master. For the longer writings you will no doubt want to use a laptop or better still an iMac. You could write long pieces on the iPad though and especially the iPad Pro and with the right set up be quite contented with the process.
The onscreen keyboard of the iPad Pro in the app Ulysses
Adding extra keyboards
There are a number of useful extra on screen keyboards to bolster your productivity. There are keyboards giving you access to emoji icons in case you want to communicate like a teenager. The application Copied gives you quick access to the last few things you put onto your clipboard. I also have an application called Hemingboard which is a fancy thesaurus. When I have a word selected and I want to change it for something more appropriate I can swap keyboards. Hemingboard gives me synonyms and antonyms as well as rhyming words. You never know when you might want to be poetical. The other keyboard I’ve just started using is MyScript – Stylus. This one lets me use my Apple Pencil to do handwriting onto the screen and have that awful scrawl turned into editable text. More about that later in these iPad productivity tips.
A Physical Keyboard – iPad productivity tips
For some people there’s nothing better than using a mechanical/physical keyboard. There are iPad productivity tips options suggesting type with our favourite keyboards connected to the iPad. Ergonomics comes into the equation once more and depending on the keyboards you’ll have to arrange how you set yourself up to do your typing. One thing I have found is that if you’re going to use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, it works better to have one specifically for using with the iPad or iPhone. If it’s already paired to a Mac then getting it to pair with your iPad can sometimes be a bit of a pain. You have to make sure it is fully disconnected from the other device first before you can set it up.
Sitting is bad for you and having a set up so you can stand up and write could be great for your health. Have a table at the right height and plonk the iPad on top with a keyboard. Maybe even go a stage further and have a walking desk so you clock up some kilometres as you write.
Bluetooth Keyboard options
I bought the Microsoft Bluetooth Universal Mobile Keyboard. It’s a great little keyboard which has an integrated stand to put your device at the correct angle. It does take a little bit of getting used to a smaller keyboard if you’re used to working with a full-size one. I bought a version that had a UK English layout and I could use it with an Android device or with Windows if I was crazy enough. The keyboard is light and easy to carry around and well worth having. If I was planning to do a lot more typing then I’d rather use the standard Apple Bluetooth keyboard instead. Handy set of iPad productivity tips regards using external keyboards with your iPad.
iPad Pro Keyboards
I’ve only had a look at one of these and a little tryout in one of the Apple stores. It seems like a good way to have a keyboard connected to your iPad. It connects to the iPad using the special connector and you don’t need to worry about charging the batteries of a keyboard. The main problem I have with this keyboard is that it’s so expensive. My preferred method of inputting data into the computer is by using dictation. So I’m not likely to spend a huge amount of money to give me keyboard input.
Another keyboard to look at would be the Logitech which gives you backlighting on the keys. This can be particularly useful if you like to type in dark places or at night time. This does mean you have to charge the battery more often and it does weigh 725 g. If you’re going to go down this route then you might want to consider just buying one of the new MacBooks instead. It could be lighter than this combination of iPad Pro and an external keyboard. It’s all down to personal choice, the way you work with your devices and what software you like to use. The red version of the Logitech keyboard and cover does look rather nice.
Dictation – One of the best iPad Productivity Tips Ever!
Siri is there for answering all your questions, however daft they may be. Siri will also give you fantastic dictation capabilities for your iPad or iPhone. I have used Siri dictation to write a 1000 word article using my iPhone. It was the device I had with me at the time, so was perfect for the job. I was using it over 4G Internet connection so it was fast in operation. I found it incredibly accurate and efficient to write this way. It’s best to write your sentences two or three at a time and then look back at what Siri has written for you. If there’s a word it’s got wrong you only have to double tap on the word and replace it. I like this way of working and I do this quite often. You quickly get used to saying the punctuation commands like comma and the rest. Any sort of dictation is so much faster than using a keyboard of any sort even when you need to go back and make one or two corrections. In any case, when you’re typing you should also be editing your written work when you’ve finished. You don’t have to consider the time you spend editing after dictation as something extra, time wise in the writing process.
Dictation into Ulysses App
Now and then when using Siri dictation you will get back strange conversions of your speech. Don’t let this colour your view on how well the Siri dictation works. It just happens from time to time and the next time you work with Siri you will once again be surprised how well it converts speech to text. The good thing about using dictation is that you will get much better spelling. You do however have to watch out for the homonyms (words that sound the same, but mean different things)
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Good iPad productivity tips – Dragon dictation on the Mac is absolutely amazing. I have just ordered the new version which is coming out the 1st of September this year. The new version is supposed to work faster than ever before and incorporate deep learning technology. This means it’s supposed to learn from the way you speak and the words you use, better than previous versions. I do most of my writing this way and it’s the only reason I would consider buying a Mac laptop to use as a writing machine. There are ways you can use the Dragon dictation on a mobile device such as your iPhone or iPad. Nuance have an application called Dragon Anywhere which I haven’t been able to try. This is because it’s not available in the country where I live. It’s only available if you live in the USA or the UK. It does work out quite expensive because you have to pay monthly for the service. I think it’s a better solution to use an audio application such as Twisted Wave and then to use transcription with Dragon for Mac. If you’ve already paid out for the Mac version and maybe upgraded a couple of times you’re not really going to want to pay out for a monthly service as well. Transcription of audio files works pretty well although I’m not quite as comfortable dictating in that way. I like to say what I have to say, write what I have to write and see the words appearing on the screen in front of me.
Dragon Dictation Application – there is another Dragon dictation application which doesn’t require a monthly fee. This application has been around for a while from Nuance and works pretty good. For best accuracy and performance use an external microphone, but you can also use the built-in microphone on the iPhone or iPad. This is so long as you hold the device so the microphone is close to your mouth. The first time I tried out this application was a couple of years ago and I was incredibly impressed. I was sitting outside in the street at a cafe and I could hear machines working in streets nearby. Despite this, the Dragon Dictation application worked stupendously well. Even better news is the app is free.
Unedited text from Dragon Dictation on iOS
Testing using the Dragon dictation recording application. I normally prefer to do this on the Mac but this works pretty well as well. You don’t get to see the words as they appear on screen and when you finish recording you tap the screen to stop. It is best to do this, say a few sentences at a time and then look back at how well the software has converted your words into text. The first editing option is to select a word by tapping on it and you have the option to delete it. If you need to do further editing you can bring up a keyboard and get right into the nitty-gritty of sorting out where the dictation service didn’t get it quite right. This section of text was dictated into the iPad and it didn’t get any words wrong at all. When you finish doing your dictation you can take the words and copy them to the clipboard or send them to one or two other places using the small icon in the top right hand corner. The results from this Dragon dictation application on the iPad is nothing short of impressive.
Another choice available for entering text on the iPad is handwriting. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I can see occasions when it could be useful. I’m surprised the software can read my writing at all. I am writing this section with the Apple Pencil on the iPad and I’m learning as I go. I can split text and get rid of spaces as well as using the predictive text to help out when necessary. It’s possible to go back to earlier in the text to make charges when I spot a mistake later. I’m even deleting single letters to make corrections. I’m getting better with this type of text entry the more I use it. Speech recognition is much more useful because of the speed of entry. Can’t always have a chat with my computer, so using this does have its place. iPad productivity tips – This is being written using the MyScript Stylus keyboard option. I’m using it in the Ulysses writers software and it is available in whatever app where you can swap to another third party keyboard.
Turning handwriting into editable text
I heard about this one from Alison Sheridan of the Nosillacast Podcast. I thought such software was a daft idea at first. So I thought why not give it a try and see for myself. I now think it could be useful in certain occasions. This is a keyboard add on which means you can use it in all your apps requiring a keyboard. After seeing what this could do I downloaded other apps from the same developer. When you have terrible handwriting you have to train yourself to write a little neater. Even with a looping script MyScript Stylus will do a great job of recognising the words. You write into an area where the keyboard sits usually and there are keys for Return, backspace and spacebar. Scroll with two fingers to see words just converted – Sometimes you have to fix mistakes. You might want to split, join, overwrite letters or words and there are two ways to delete stuff. There are reminders in the help section to show you how you do this editing with gestures. There are other settings you access from within the app. I’ll keep this 3rd party keyboard around for a while and see how much I use it. I also downloaded the application called MyScript Stack which is similar but not quite the same. You have to print each of the letters individually and they disappear from the screen quickly. It might be suitable if you write in this fashion anyway but it’s far better if you can write with cursive text if that’s what you’re used to.
There’s a help animation for the gestures
iPad productivity tips – Memo for handwriting recognition
I downloaded this application after seeing it in the list of other applications by the same developer as MyScript Stylus. So I started doing some handwriting onto the page and I wasn’t too impressed at first. Then I saw I could also add photos and I thought that was quite handy. There is also a tool for selecting what you have on the page. Once you have something selected you can export it out as an image or as text. If you export it out as text then it goes to an online service which does a pretty good job of changing it from handwritten scribble into editable text. That’s just for the part selected but it’s also possible to export the whole document. It’s not bad software for writing on the iPad and doing it with handwriting. Myscript Memo App
Handwriting into Memo
Converted by the software
I’m not so keen on the way it only works in portrait mode. The conversion isn’t anywhere near as fast or as accurate as when using Nebo or the MyScript Keyboard. I will not keep this app around after I’ve finished this testing for this article. It does have a wrist guard so you don’t make marks in places where you don’t want them. Rotating and positioning photos is OK, but there are better apps to take notes like that. I’d recommend Nebo instead if you have the iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. Just noticed there is a personal dictionary option for the app to better recognise words. Not sure why that would be needed. It is possible to export all your memo notes to a MyScript file. I tried the Open In option and it didn’t do anything at all.
The selection tool in Memo
Just select a portion of your handwriting on the note to be converted if you don’t want all of your writing. You will have to wait a short while for the app to send off the image to the online service and send back the converted text.
iPad productivity tips – Nebo
Nebo is another handwriting recognition application. I like the way it works. You get a sheet to write on and the text gets sent to the server to be converted as you are writing it. You can see if your writing has been converted to the correct word or spelling in the conversion preview. As you see what you’ve written turn into editable text, the conversion preview lets export just that section. It’s easy to erase a word previously converted to text then write the word that is supposed to be there. I would suggest starting with the tutorial to familiarise yourself with the workings of Nebo. It will show you how to do lists, headings, highlighted words and how to delete letters, words and spaces. You’ll soon be up and running if you follow some of these iPad productivity tips.
I prefer this app to the Memo app as you get extra capabilities. If you need mathematic symbols or diagrams then this is the app to use. I love the diagraming tools. Do the rough sketch of your diagram to have the shapes converted to circles, squares and triangles with completely straight lines connecting the elements. You put the diagrams into a container on the page meant just for diagrams. This way the app doesn’t get confused with what you are trying to do. Put words into the shapes you create if you want to. Select the container to copy or cut it to the clipboard or to convert anything not already converted. I successfully copied one of these diagrams I made this application and pasted it into the application Book Creator.
Diagram from Nebo pasted into Book Creator
Nebo writing and drawing just works with the Apple Pencil and doesn’t work with your fingers. This is good because it means it doesn’t waste some of the space by having a hand rest guard. You can change the colour of the text you’re writing with. When the writing has been converted into text you get text in the same colour you’re using with the pencil.
The text appears on the page above your writing as you write. You still have to click on it to do the conversion. When it is converted the handwriting goes away and you just have the text. Or you can just copy converted text into the clipboard to put somewhere else in another app.
I like this application and I’m going to keep it around. I see it as quite useful to create diagrams as well as for converting handwriting into editable text. I might not be using it too often because I do prefer to create text with dictation. It’s a good thing to have the application there for the choice though. While the application is good for the handwriting conversion it may also be used to create stand-alone documents. The other export option is as HTML, but as far as I can make out that doesn’t really work. When exporting to another text based application it just comes in as a gobbledygook.