ipad: The next generation student sidekick

By Jonathan Buckle

If you were to watch Apple’s latest hypnotising ads displaying the many uses for the iPad you might be forgiven for thinking that the keyboard is old news.  Tablets have arrived, and for all their wonders, it seems amazing that we’ve been managing so successfully without them.  But is it really time to be ditching our keys and embracing our shiny touchscreen future?

Well, maybe not just yet.  One of the major criticisms of the iPad upon its release was that it was little more than a bigger iPhone; the layout is almost identical and additional features are almost non-existent.

In fact, compared to its diminutive brother, the iPad is lacking a front-facing camera for video calls and actually has less memory available for running applications on its larger screen.  And it’s the screen that Apple is really hoping will lure you in by suggesting that this is now a viable laptop replacement capable of handling all your work and leisure needs.
But with numerous essays to write, each of which number in thousands of words, do we really want to be typing on a screen?  The experience is slightly disconcerting, it lacks feedback and requires a great deal of focus, not to mention cutting the screen in half.

Of course, there is a keyboard attachment to help you power through those late night writing sessions but it immediately doubles the bulk of your svelte iPad and leaves you questioning why you didn’t just buy a laptop in the first place.

Another concern is the iPad’s inability to have multiple windows open simultaneously; when I get down to working I immediately open dozens of tabs and windows, arranging them artfully around the screen so that I can write whilst I plagiarise research (but perhaps that’s just my chaotic methods).
The iPad’s saving grace however is its fantastic selection of apps which really make the most of its expansive touchscreen.  Here are our favourites to quash your essay anxieties:

Writeroom – $4.99
This minimalist word processing app cuts out all distractions taking you back to the days of blinking green text on a blank screen.  Retro and sure to boost productivity.

Evernote – Free
A virtual notebook that accepts scans of notes, photos and of course text files.  Handwriting recognition sets this app apart allowing you to search your handwritten notes for that one fact you just can’t recall.  It syncs with your Mac or PC so you can access your notes anywhere.

Wunderlist – Free
A beautifully designed To-Do list app allowing you to set tasks, organise them into categories and sync them with your PC or Mac at home.

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