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On Switching from an iPad Pro and MacBook to a Pixelbook (speirs.org)
66 points by plg 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 114 comments

I'd much rather schools switched mostly to pen and paper, TBH. 95% of homework in the 9th grade SHOULD NOT require a computer. It's a distraction, and one which hits kids on the ADHD spectrum especially hard.

There's nothing to be gained from requiring computers for homework in most cases, and kids get plenty of computer time outside of school. The net effect of this "progress" is that I have to constantly supervise my 15 year old like a hawk, or else no homework will get done and he will watch Youtube instead.

This is not a good set-up, because eventually there will be no supervision, and then he will be well and truly fucked, because he can't seem to realize that he needs to actually care about anything other than YT and computer games. I'm afraid that by the time he realizes that it'll be too late to fix anything.

If I hadn't been allowed to take notes on a computer in school--or if I'd been born a few decades earlier and computers weren't available--I literally don't think I would be where I am today. As in, my grades would have been worse, I would have gotten into a lesser college, etc.

My handwriting is slow and difficult to decipher. And handwriting makes tiny revisions—adding words into the middle of a sentence, restructuring a sentence slightly, etc—unduly annoying.

If the internet is a problem, disable the internet.

I should mention, I actually didn't start using a normal laptop until college. In grade school, I had this "digital typewriter" of sorts that ran Palm OS. Very nifty little device... it was far more lightweight than laptops of the time, and the battery lasted weeks.

Your handwriting would be faster and easier to decipher, out of necessity.

Moreover, research shows that because of this bandwidth restriction (and because you can draw easily on paper), you'd memorize the material much better, because you'd be forced to summarize it before you write it down, so it's entirely possible that you'd get into an even better college.

Without the internet, at least in school that my son goes to, the computers are utterly useless because everything is online. They have an internet filter, but kids find holes in it anyway. Kids whose parents don't give a shit just browse bullshit during class.

At home I use a combination of PiHole and OPNSense to filter things until homework is done. The list of sites and wildcards is well over 1000 entries long, and I still can't block everything I need to.

I didn't get a computer until university. My handwriting was terrible, remained terrible, and my ability to write essays increased dramatically when I was able to do so with a computer.

Essays, yes, I can see how a computer would help with essay writing. To write well by hand, one has to rewrite them twice: first write notes and fragments, then draft, then edited essay.

But I don't know how I'd take notes in science and math if I couldn't quickly write formulae and draw. My handwriting is also terrible, but I could read it, and I would not be academically successful if I wasn't forced to take notes. I'm 100% certain of that. In fact, I've been writing more lately as a part of my studies. Things just seem to "stick" much better if I don't passively record, but either summarize, or embody something in code.

I'm glad that works for you, but I don't think it would have worked for me, and you shouldn't presume everyone learns the same way. I took handwritten notes extensively throughout middle school and never really got better at it. I don't have the hand coordination.

Learning to type around 8th grade was a revelatory experience, and it had a noticeable impact in my academic performance. Writing, reviewing, note taking, and even just general organization became much easier, and I thus got better at it.

I will say, dealing with math symbols on my typewriter-device was always a bit annoying, and I would sometimes write formulas from those classes on a standard notepad. I would hope that nowadays, we have better programs for dealing mathematical notation (in an easy/expedient way).

I believe you and the parent commenter are arguing about orthogonal things; you are arguing that you should be allowed a device that types, while they are arguing against a device that is connected to the Internet within the classroom. You could achieve a middle ground where wi-fi is not enabled in the classroom, so you have to do any online syncing of documents outside the classroom, but even cloud-based word processors like Google Docs allow you to work offline.

As far as potentially missing things, I think a thing that has changed is video recording of lectures. I went to a perennially broke mid-tier public university in the US, and all lectures (unless small humanities affairs) were recorded so that you could watch it later, and all the slides were put online. So it was possible to go back and add things to your notes that you may have missed before, and in fact it would be a severe disadvantage to not rewatch lectures since everybody else was doing it. It becomes a lot easier to take handwritten notes once you can rewind and fast forward through lectures at your pleasure.

>> we have better programs for dealing mathematical notation

Not that I know of, no. The fastest thing available is LaTeX, and you need to compile to see if the formula came out correctly or not, and you might not know how to encode some of the gnarlier formulas or characters. And even if you compile as you type, it's still not as fast as writing by hand. You can write formulae by hand using a digitizer, but the experience leaves much to be desired as well.

> Your handwriting would be faster and easier to decipher, out of necessity.

Maybe it would. Or maybe it wouldn’t and he’d just get left behind and withdraw from academic pursuits. It’s not like that doesn’t happen all the time.

In Australia, it’s mostly the government run schools that heavily promote laptops and tablets in the classrooms.

Private run schools are increasingly going back to pen and paper under pressure from parents who work in corporate jobs, and see an overreliance on computers as a disadvantage.

Overreliance isn't quite the word. It's as if someone told them they "have" to do it, and they're happy to oblige. I have a feeling (unsubstantiated) that nobody has seriously studied whether screens are advantageous in the classroom. My anecdata suggests they are strongly detrimental, especially in middle school.

I feel like some old fogey/luddite when I say "I've never seen the point of iPads" - or tablets for that matter. I've had a few and they're great as media consumption/browsing devices - but am utterly bemused when people say they do "all their work from them". I feel quite angsty enough when my laptop gets decoupled from the desktop-symbiotic multi-monitors and proper mouse and keyboard. I can see the point of a Chromebook - shoving Chrome into something cheap/efficient (if Chrome is all you need), but am eternally bemused over people trying to bolt keyboards to tablets - "you wanted a laptop"

You are not a "luddite," you are a "laggard." There is a massive difference.

Luddites were against technology because of fears that society would wind up being worse off, and especially that they would end up starving to death.

Laggards are people who cling to their technology because it feels "good enough," and they do not perceive the benefits of staying so-called "current" outweigh the costs of adopting new tech.

Being a luddite is having a strong opinion about whether new technology is bad for society, and then acting to protect society (from your POV).

Being a laggard is having an opinion about whether technology new technology is a waste of time, and then acting or refusing to act to protect yourself from wasting time and effort.

You appear to be happy as a desktop user. No argument from me. If your rig makes you happy, who am I to tell you to spend money on a tablet and then re-learn all your habits?

As you acknowledge, not all new technology is better (for the desired application).

Most tech companies want to make money as their primary goal, rather than "make people's lives better with our tech".

As their goals in selling items are largely orthogonal to improving one's life calling someone a "laggard" -- which bears a slightly derogatory air -- simply for not buying in to a tech company's latest money acquisition effort seems, well, strange.

Perhaps "discerning" is a better description.

The parent poster is neither a luddite nor a laggard. They are an informed consumer.


I mostly agree. I'm a condensed matter theorist and though I do some numerics, most of my time is spent doing handwritten math. It's the handwritten math that the iPad pro really excels at. I absolutely love writing on it and as a pretty disorganized person, I'm sure that if I didn't have an iPad there is absolutely no way I'd still have notes and calculations I wrote 6 years ago. Not only do I still have all my old notes in a quite organized form but they're actually searchable with in-app handwriting analysis. Not only that, but I can edit, resize and move my text very naturally on an iPad in way that are just impossible with pen and paper.

Because my iPad is so pleasurable to use for the things that its good at (media consumption and handwriting for me), I always feel so tempted to just get rid of my laptop and move over completely to my iPad but it honestly just isn't as good at keyboard centric tasks as a laptop is.

I feel the iPad's real strength is in the intimacy of the experience so its really great for handwriting, looking through photos, reading books. It really gives a stronger feeling of connection to whats on the screen than a laptop or desktop can in my opinion. But it still has a long way to go before I’d use it in anger for programming

I’m an electrical engineer and I also do the initial design with pencil and paper and only skip over to CAD once I have the design space understood. But I do everything in paper notebooks and old notebooks do get lost and/or damaged (or they’re somehow always in the wrong location), so I’m curious what iPad apps you use for notes and handwriting recognition as maybe they could work for me too. Can the handwriting recognition software understand mathematical equations too? That would be amazing.

So currently there are two dominant iOS apps for handwritten notes: GoodNotes[1] and Notability[2]. They have much more features in common than they do that are different but there's enough differences that some have strong feelings one way or another.

Neither app can recognize math unfortunately (sounds like a very hard thing to support!) but both recognize handwriting. Notability in my opinion has a much more pretty UI and has infinite scrolling (scrolling down to the bottom of a page just brings you continuously onto the next page).

On the other hand, GoodNotes has

* More levels of folder nesting, a feature one only truly appreciates after a few years of collecting daily notes.

* More control over the 'background' of your note. You can upload whatever PDF you want, with whatever proportions and use it as your 'paper', and you can have notes where the background paper changes from page to page

* Inking that I like a bit more. It's less pressure sensitive than Notability is which I think makes my writing look a bit more uniform. This one is completely up to taste.

There's more to the differences but if you decide on an iPad I'd recommend getting both apps and seeing which you prefer. I started with Notability and switched after 4 years. I like both but find GoodNotes works better for me these days. They're relatively cheap (cheaper than nice a physical notebook) and both allow for a variety of cloud storage options which is great. I can't recommend an iPad Pro enough for anyone who does a lot of math with pen and paper.

[1] https://www.goodnotes.com

[2] https://www.gingerlabs.com

Thanks. I’ll give them both a shot. I was recently given an iPad Pro and I was wondering what I was going to do with it. :)

I second this. Using the new apple pencil’s are quite amazing in terms of how natural it actually feels. I use it constantly for communication at work and idea exchange.

Yeah honestly I don't get it either. So many simple things like for example, quickly opening 8 hackernews links on the front page in a new tab for future reading takes me about 5 seconds. On an iPad you'd have to long-press and open in a new tab, it'd probably take me half a minute.

It's stuff like that which kills even a browser experience for me because a lot of my browsing is navigation and exploration, e.g. on HN or Wikipedia, rather than pure-reading on a single page for 30 minutes which is nice to do with a light Pad on the couch.

Being able to organise a mini-session of 20 different wikipedia links with small tidbits of information relating to a central topic of interest, opening and closing them and switching between, is just so much easier on a Macbook with monitors, mouse and keyboard.

Hell even typing this comment is trivial on a keyboard.

> eternally bemused over people trying to bolt keyboards to tablets - "you wanted a laptop"

That's right. I want an iOS laptop. A Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad Pro is just about perfect for me.

It all comes down to what applications you need to run and the hardware that supports it. I have a laptop that I'm using for Ruby on Rails right now (just learning it). But it doesn't run Procreate or support anything like the Apple Pencil. So for that application, the iPad is perfect. I have a Kindle Paperwhite that I read on. I used to have a Windows desktop that I would play games on, but now I do all of that on a PS4. These are all different computers for different things.

I think that pretty much sums it up. "Horses for courses" - or "There's no one perfect device, nor should there be" Occasionally something disruptive comes along, and maybe a few users split across the gap - but doesn't negate the previous devices.

I use my iPad as a YouTube / Netflix machine. I'm very happy with it for that purpose. I also don't understand who would make their tablet their primary work device, or even a secondary or tertiary work device.

  > I also don't understand who would make their tablet
  > their primary work device, or even a secondary or tertiary
  > work device.
You called?

I carry my iPad Pro (previous generation) + Apple Pencil + Smart Keyboard Cover to all kinds of meetings. I take notes with the pencil, can look up anything I want in Trello, G-Suites, Confluence, &c. ...

It is wholly inadequate for coding, but I'm with the late Steve Jobs on that. Laptops—even Apple laptops—are pickup trucks. When I want to haul stuff around, I use my pickup.

But it's amazing how much of my job is concerned with words and people. You don't do words+people with a pickup truck. Ok, the metaphor is strained, so I'll just say that when I'm using my words with people, the iPad Pro is a very good tool for augmenting my memory and my words.


p.s. There is something amazing I have noticed ever since I got a Toshiba Portegé Tablet PC decades ago: If you are talking to someone, the laptop screen is a wall and a psychological barrier.

A tablet reverses this. No wall. Also, less privacy for taking notes. But that can be a plus, it implies that you don't have some secret agenda. I think that's something in favour of a tablet, regardless of whether it's an iPad or some origami-like device that is a tablet or a clamshell depending on how you fold it.

Very good point, was talking about that with a friend of mine a few weeks ago as well. He was telling me the exact same thing, when dealing with people an iPad is much less intrusive and creates a more relaxed setting than a laptop would.

OK. So a tablet makes sense for people who are effectively telephone sanitizers.

I am not familiar with this term, "telephone sanitizer," but I suspect that it has a dismissive aspect to it, much like the term "soft skills."

I am a principal engineer with a very successful technology company. If being good at my job is accomplished via telephone sanitization and/or soft skills, so be it.

I don't care what you call me, just don't call me late for dinner.

I'm not quite understanding the relevance, but that's ok.

To give an example that I hope is perfectly clear, I contend that for me, a tablet is a better device to take when interviewing a candidate than a laptop.

Interviewing candidates is not my only job, or 50% of my job, or anything like that. But when I do interviews f2f, I take my iPad, not my Macbook.

there seems to be zero relevance, hopefully he can explain further. i totally agree with you, most work meetings i attend demand proper attention and being on a laptop (even if taking notes!) could be seen as rude.

being a forgetful person, i've had to balance the optics vs. being able to remember meeting contents :) maybe a tablet is in order...

> there seems to be zero relevance, hopefully he can explain further

There's no explanation required. Given the context of the quote, that person was simply being condescending and dismissive.

Effectively, it means "I deem what you do and how you do it to be lacking in worth, therefore you must be a waste of space in the same manner as the worst of the Golgafrincham race".

Using an iPad for work is kind of odd. If you mostly just need to do things like read, browse social media, and send emails you can use it like a tablet and then prop it up when you need to type. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you can ssh into a "real" computer, prop up the iPad, and then use vim on a keyboard without needing to touch the iPad. There's this uncanny valley where if you need to do a mix of typing and touch navigation it's really awkward, but if you just need to do one or the other it's actually workable.

I mean I don't use one. The keyboards are awful and the system is ridiculously locked down when you start thinking about iOS as a desktop rather than a phone OS. But I can see how it would work for certain people.

How are “the keyboards awful”? If you don’t like the standard keyboards specifically meant for iPads, just use any a Bluetooth keyboard.

how is carrying an ipad and a bluetooth keyboard around easier than a small laptop that has so many more uses?

I don't have one but after trying out the iPad with the new apple pencil I can see it being more useful in a lot of situations where drawing is more useful than typing. and having a passable keyboard built into the cover should be sufficient for most people. now if you absolutely can't live without a bluetooth keyboard it might be a bit more cumbersome but the benefits that the pencil bring should outweigh that.

When I’m travelling, I don’t necessarily want “so many more uses.” Being constrained to e-mail and simple editing, together with the iPad’s small form factor and extreme mobility, can be more productive than lugging around a laptop. (I use a laptop most of the time. But depending on one’s workflow, an iPad + Bluetooth keyboard at the hotel room can be a productivity boost.)

Your flaw is in assuming that tablet + keyboard == laptop. Tablet + keyboard is way better than a laptop in some contexts, way worse in others. Imagine being an illustrator that also does a lot of communication with clients over email. Imagine being a blogger that writes articles but also touches up photos. Imagine being a mobile software developer, writing and testing code on the same device. Hell, even mobile websites are a huge market today and they're all interacted with via touch, most mobile web developers should actually be moving to tablets for testing.

About half my workday is spent following slide decks, reading PDFs or other documents, or answering email or Slack. At that point, being able to walk around with the iPad is much more comfortable.

When I have heavy creation to do, I use my desktop.

As a desktop user, that's how I feel about using a laptop! ;)

Previous gen iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard cover + Google Cloud has pretty much freed me from carrying my MacBook Pro when I have to travel.

Other answers already covered email, slack, jira, etc. iPad is great for anything that’s more text or equal parts reading/writing.

Where GC comes in, is when I need bigquery or to actually work with code, I can do a lot via the browser and for the full power just need to SSH into a box in the same project. Cloud shell can be used in a similar manner with Vim and tmux. I just need more than 5GB of disk usually.

I’m actually evaluating ChromeOS as a possible replacement because of the Linux app support and better support for the GSuite, so this article is an interesting read.

Same here, I don't understand people trying to shove work processes on entertainment devices.

I love my iPad Pro for several purposes -- media consumption, some light gaming, reading, managing media / bookmark / book collections -- but it would never occur to me to code on it (even through shells to Linux).

I am not fully comfortable even with my MacBook Pro. I am working on building a work process that doesn't rely on a mouse or a touchpad and then I could work on the MBP full time (mostly involving memorizing shell and editor shortcuts, and making a lot of shell aliases).

Before that there's simply no point -- it's like trying to run with weights on your ankles.

As a theoretical physicist, the iPad can handle work-related tasks that the MacBook cannot (and vice versa). The unique iPad features mostly center around the Pencil: annotating papers, and doing "pen-and-paper" math, except that the iPad is far superior to pen and paper (you can move things around and "re-edit" them). Actually, the iPad can handle most things the I generally prefer the MacBook for (programming and writing, mostly), but there's usually some hoops to jump through. But it's certainly good enough that when I travel, I usually only take the iPad.

Mhm, I guess its a pretty niche thing but it always kinda annoys me when people say its not a real 'Pro' device. For writing math, there's no real competition against tablets from laptops or desktops.

Not only is the editing experience amazing (which is super important as in physics I probably write more incorrect things down than I write correct things), but it makes organization painless. I never had the discipline to keep paper notes in tidy binders and put them back after I take them out.

There's no way I'd have as good access to my six year old notes if they were written on paper, especially considering that now they're all backed up to the cloud and my app has handwriting recognition (only words, not math unfortunately) so they're quite searchable.

My scientist brother tells me the same and I am inclined to believe you and him. I realize the pencil helps you guys -- he annotates a lot and regularly uses the pencil instead of his fingers. I kind of implied programmers only in my comment which wasn't accurate. Sorry about that.

It would be perfect for Civ6 though..

I would be very okay with that. The iPad Pros have amazingly strong hardware, it's kind of wasted on anything but games and professional photo/video editing software.

it is perfect for civ 6.

There’s a lot of people who aren’t developers. Personally I use iPad as a secondary work device when I don’t want to carry the MBP.

Agreed. I made a bad assumption, sorry.

Does the iPad pro run Xcode?

It currently does not


It does run a full Python 2 and 3 IDE called Pythonista, including support for making graphical applications, debugging, and even running a limited shell called StaSH with a bunch of PyPy versions of a typical POSIX userland.

There are other IDEs for other languages, too, although Pythonista is the star at the moment.

So it's not as though programming, even graphical using UIKit, isn't possible just because there's no Xcode.

Sounds nice.

My problem is just, I only use Macs because of iOS development.

I don't expect that'll ever change.

I have been using the iPad since day 1 in 2010 and almost every single day since. Our home has 5 versions that I have cycled through for the wife/kids. It is my daily driver at work.

The best thing about them is they require almost no troubleshooting except for the occasional restart. The first iPad still has a week standby battery life which blows my mind.

That said, the devices are still fragile and require bulky protective cases for kids to not destroy them.

If Apple really cared about iPad in education, they would release a $100 plastic version (hard poly clear screen and backing a la iphone 5c) to get kids on the OS. They have the software infrastructure to make sure the device only works through schools if they were afraid of it cannibalising sales of their glass/metal versions.

Ipad could be an amazing remote teaching assistance device, where someone can write pen/paper style to walk students through problem solving (I tried this volunteering through WeTeach, but the browser software was too laggy).

I am all for google docs dominating education if Apple is unwilling to compete here. We can’t honestly expect schools to spend money on ‘textbooks’ that will shatter if dropped, and that cost many hundreds of dollars per device.

$100 is a really low price for an iPad. Comparable Android tablets at the price range tend to be complete garbage, with spyware, horrible build quality, and anemic processors.

Don't forget that schools and school districts get special educational and volume pricing, so they're not paying the same prices for iPads and apps as consumers. I believe schools and school districts that allow parents/caregivers to rent-to-own iPads may do so at these reduced prices, passing the savings on to parents.

I think a cheap, plastic iPad would be a significant downgrade. You can't broke a hole in the back side of an iPad, and no plastic screen can match the strengthened glass — not only does impact cause it to crack rather than shatter, but I don't think Apple would or even could put their Apple Pencil-compatible touch technology on to plastic.

>> That said, the devices are still fragile and require bulky protective cases for kids to not destroy them.

Modern laptops aren't much different. You should see how easy it is for a kid to destroy a MacBook.

I broke a MBP screen a few years ago. Actually, two different laptops broke. One was warrantied, the other was an accident and had to be paid. The cost for a Retina display replacement in 2015? About $700. Ouch.

I keep my MacBook on my desk nearly 24/7 now, but I’d hate to know the cost or have to pay for a display replacement.

My Lenovo laptop's screen recently started showing a dark area at the bottom. So I got a replacement panel off eBay for $40 and replaced it. Takes about 15 min.

Just because both are bad, doesn't mean one can become better.

I actually use iOS for work stuff almost constantly, lots more than I use anything else. (My Macbook spends most of its time these days downloading things from Dropbox and backing them up to time machine, plus whenever I decide to actually write some serious code.) But I'm a professor-type in a non-collaborative field, so:

- the iPad Pro is amazing for reading academic papers with the pencil at hand. Ditto for grading and such.

- the keyboard is good enough that I can write on it at just about full speed, and I write in markdown anyway.

- most of the things I need to do that require full computer chops can be done in the cloud---I have a bunch of little Heroku dynos sitting around sleeping (on free time) until I ask them to do something like run a document through pandoc or add something to a database for one of my data collection projects. The shortcuts app in ios12 + Pythonista + Heroku are an amazing combination, they allow me to turn almost anything complicated into an API call that I can trigger with a freaking voice command if I really want (but mostly share documents into).

Just about the only way this hinders my usual workflow (apart from having to bust out the Mac for heavy coding) is that there's no Zotero on iOS. But sooner or later I will get around to shoving that into a Heroku dyno and making some shortcuts to push web pages into its readers and then it'll be solved too.

For non-collaborative workflows this is perfect. I can see how the author's collaboration needs really would not be met by such a setup though.

I'd love to see a guide on setting up that Shortcuts -> Heroku -> final result workflow in a streamlined manner.

Now.sh could be another useful tool for that kind of thing, since their 2.0 product is focused on no-hassle lamda functions, without needing a full VM setup.

Maybe I'll write a guide up! I've got a pretty good setup going.

Pending full write up, here are some key pieces:

Shortcuts side: the shortcuts app is really shockingly powerful, mainly because you can share almost anything you want into it and it intelligently figures out what you want. For example, if you share a web page from safari into it, if the first action receives a url, it'll treat it as such, if it receives a web page it'll take the DOM and not worry about the URL, etc.

There are really three key actions.

1) `Get contents of URL` allows arbitrary http requests. You can pass in data from other actions. This is the main workhorse for heroku things.

2) `Run JavaScript on web page` allows you to just run arbitrary JS in the context of whatever page you share into it. It's great for data-collection type tasks, you can just rip whatever you need out of the DOM and POST it away per the above, and then shove it into a database from heroku.

3) `Run Pythonista script` does what you'd expect. It passes whatever the action receives into Pythonista as a command line argument. And then, obviously, anything goes. If you haven't tried Pythonista, you should check it out---it's hard to get 3rd party libraries in (and many don't work), but you get the full stdlib plus a bunch of key libraries that the dev has taken the trouble to build in, including numpy, requests, matplotlib, beautifulsoup, PIL, sympy, etc...)

After receiving a response from heroku, it's trivial to save it to iCloud/Dropbox, put on clipboard, open a preview window with a share sheet available, etc.

On the Heroku side, the key trick is that you can run Docker containers. So, for example, my mobile pandoc solution is a docker container that has texlive and pandoc on it, allowing me to have basically a personal improved docverter. So I just post a markdown document via shortcuts to a flask endpoint that converts the document and returns it to me as the response.

I really wish they would add mouse support to iOS as it would allow me to work on gslides presentations. I could then leave the MacBook at home a lot more.

Are there any workarounds or markdown presentation apps I should check out?

I use Jump desktop to remote into any number of powerful desktop or laptop computers. It supports the swiftpoint bluetooth mouse so you can use it in that way as a keyboard/mouse PC/Mac setup quite well.

Try Deckset.

The title suggests that the article is going to be about Pixelbook but there is hardly anything about Pixelbook and the same old iOS can't do this and that type of a post.

I don't know what the title was when you saw it, but the On Switching from an iPad Pro and MacBook to a Pixelbook title I see now seems to match the article -- it's about the reasons why IOS isn't meeting his needs. I didn't expect it to be about the virtues of a Pixelbook.

Actually that's exactly what I expected. If you replace A with B then I fully expect you to (1) first say how A is inadequate -- which the article did -- and (2) why is B better, which the article didn't state.

I thought that part was implied -- he switched to the Pixelbook because it's a Google product that works well with the other Google (Google Suite) product he uses.

Fair enough. I expected a bit more thorough motivation than that.

> and was even able to launch a successful podcast which has almost entirely been recorded, edited and published using iOS.

Seriously? I could do that using a 1985 Amiga or Atari ST.

You haven't lived till you've used a toaster to accomplish this... IoT is here

I LOVE my pixel book. Crostini is really a game changer. Its a super polished experience using native chrome + Linux apps. Android apps too!

Cloudflare is trialing chromebooks as a replacement for MacBooks:


I use both. The Pixelbook hardware is unparalleled. I like it better than anything from Apple right now.

The Pixelbook of course does not support iMessage, so on it I would use OWS’ Signal for messaging... but they (OWS) discontinued their Chrome App version, and the Android/Play Store version is “incompatible with this device”, so I can’t use my Pixelbook to chat with anyone outside of Slack or IRCCloud (or other undesirable/non-e2e chat services like Hangouts/etc), which is super lame.

OWS really needs to support that platform better.

> The Pixelbook hardware is unparalleled.

Really? I’ve found it awkwardly designed; it’s really a “form follows function” laptop to me–especially the palmrest, which makes my fingers angle downwards while typing and has an unappealing material which seems to gather sweat. I know why it’s there, but I feel that it could be significantly improved if the keys were placed in a depression rather than trying to add stuff to keep them from hitting the screen.

That doesn't sound like "form follows function" to me.

The “form follows function” bit is Google trying too hard to shoehorn their “two-tone” design into a place it isn’t necessary and doesn’t belong. The computer would have been significantly improved if the palmrest just stayed the same material as the rest of the bottom case.

Do you consider the cold metallic palmrests typical in laptops to be somehow more functional? I find the rubber palmrests quite comfortable.

Also your wrists are _supposed_ to be elevated when typing.

I don't see how 'trying too hard to shoehorn their “two-tone” design into a place it isn’t necessary and doesn’t belong' represents an application of the principle "form follows function".

   Form follows function is a principle associated with
   20th-century modernist architecture and industrial 
   design which says that the shape of a building or 
   object should primarily relate to its intended 
   function or purpose.

You can install Signal through apt if you turn on Linux applications.

Thanks for the tip; I did not know that.

This however requires that I eschew all of the security benefits of ChromeOS, falling back to the basic Linux security model to protect my Signal chats from eg any package on PyPi (pip supports full package-provided code exec on every install, without sandboxing). While I will probably end up doing it regardless, this defeats much of the purpose of having a Chromebook in the first place.

(also, the apt security model where any repo you have configured can replace any package with a newer version (even packages not first sourced from that repo, like distro stuff) sucks really bad.)

I can’t imagine using ChromeOS for anything. I can barely use Chrome, and it has massive memory leaks/eats up my free memory. I wonder what memory leaks OS is like.

Chrome might be horrible on desktop, but it performs great when it’s the only thing running. Chromebooks are quite snappy for the amount of resources they generally have.

> Chrome might be horrible on desktop, but it performs great when it’s the only thing running. Chromebooks are quite snappy for the amount of resources they generally have.

Try comparing it with the obvious alternative - a lightweight Linux distro running on identical or roughly equivalent hardware - and you probably won't think of it as "snappy". Linux desktops can run absolutely fine on hardware from 10 years ago and sometimes more: "resources" are almost a non-issue these days.

(And Linux distros are also about to get the sort of comprehensive touch-screen and small-screen support that iOS, Android and ChromeOS are usually known for, as a side effect of the ongoing work on "mobile" interfaces for the OS. Using a touch-screen-only device for productivity purposes will probably always be a challenge, but a high-quality OS and UX can absolutely make a difference.)

I use a Chromebook as a mobile terminal in the data center. A nice thing about them is they are ready to use in a second or two after opening the cover. Booting up is phenomenally quick for a device that cost about $300.

I see an iPad with a keyboard doing decent for this instance as well.

And this is exactly why Google makes sure all the G suite apps are just a little broken in iOS & Safari. It has been like this for the past half decade, since Apple stepped on their turf with Maps.

There's a Google Docs app for iOS. Shouldn't be too hard for those who are invested in Google Docs to download the app; that's pretty much standard procedure on iOS anyway, plus an app will always be a better time than a website for editing on an iPad.

This is in regards to the apps too (“iOS & Safari”). I mean, the native app shortcomings are the entire subject of this HN post. Where are you coming from?

What keeps you from installing an alternative browser, like Firefox or Chrome for iOS? I recently switched to Opera Touch on iOS and it’s been great so far. Definitely worth a try I would say.

Apple only allows the Safari Webkit engine to be installed on iOS. As a result, all third party browsers on iOS are using the identical browser engine as iOS Safari. Any browser incompatibility issues is likely shared across all iOS browsers.

The only thing I can’t comprehend is how any person using iPad for work can be dissatisfied with the changes in iOS 12 — apart from the scale of those changes that could be bigger.

I was also a little sad that Apple withdrew Safari from Windows. How does Apple envision bookmark sharing happen for a Windows user who buys an iPhone?

They’ve supported this for quite some time in the absence of Safari for Windows. The iCloud for Windows client will sync your bookmarks from your third party Windows browsers, much the same way as it plugs the holes for syncing photos and documents on Windows as well.

> https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201391

> https://www.techrepublic.com/article/pro-tip-sync-bookmarks-...

I was worried as well but as a sibling comment said, The iCloud for Windows client is quite adequate. I use it to have bidirectional bookmark syncing to and from both Chrome and Firefox. Works pretty well, never made a mistake so far.

Literally everyone who is multiplatform uses Chrome/google utilities. it's undeniably better for internet workflows.

i tried safari for a couple of days when i switched to mac and switched back to chrome. safari lack of feature parity isn't worth the battery savings(although i do have an android not an iphone so that probably affects my decision)

You probably know the answer: Apple would rather you get a Mac. If you’re using Safari and want it on Windows, you’re in a small minority since there are many competing browsers on Windows.

For one, this article could've been 30% the original length - it drones on and on repeatatively!

While I find the reasoning sound on why iPads can't be your full time productivity device, completely ignoring Microsoft surface in this space seems either ignorant or a paid Google ad for the Chromebook

I think a history of failures in mobile tech keeps most people from even considering Microsoft gear. Surface may be great, but who is buying them? Who is developing for them?

Mobile is Apple/iOS, or Google/Android, for better or worse.

Lots of people are buying them, and anyone developing windows apps is developing for them. I dual boot my surface book 2 with Linux and I have a decent Linux machine, a decent Windows machine, a decent tablet and a decent gaming machine in one device. It's not cheap though!

he only uses the browser... keyboard and battery should be his only concerns anyways

Tl;dr: dude works in school where they use Google Docs, which run better in a desktop web browser than the corresponding iOS app.

I’m pretty sure that Google purposely cripples their office suite on mobile Safari and iOS because it helps their narrative of iPad not being a “proper” computer, which helps them sell Chromebooks.

This is 100% not true. Enterprise adoption of GSuite is infinitly more valuable to Google than chromebook sales, and that means having well-supported apps on iOS, which is the BYOD platform of choice for most office workers.

Like another comment mentioned, it's much more likely that the web version, which constitutes the major use case for the app (chromebook, windows, macOS, etc.) just has a boatload more developers working on it.

I mean, when you can have your cake and eat it to by getting people to sign up for GSuite and buy Chromebooks, I see no reason why Google would want to release a good experience on iPad.

Or more charitably, underallocates resources to keep feature parity. Yes, to sell more Chromebooks, but is Apple’s iWork suite available on the Chrome Store?

It isn't explicitly a Chrome app, but there are web versions of the iWork apps available through icloud.com, and they work pretty decently in a browser.

It’s actually broadly available on iCloud.com and works very well.

To be fair, I'Ve found Google Docs (well, especially Google Sheets) to run like garbage on macOS Safari. Sometimes even completely breaking copy/paste etc

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