Part 1 - the Clouds - iPad as my main computer

Today is my first day of working entirely on the iPad. As I mentioned in my last blog post over the course of the next weeks I will try to make this very iPad my only computer, actually spending 80%+ of my time working on the iPad. The last two days I've been setting it up and made a few discoveries... about the clouds and the significant part they'll play in my "iPad only" journey. Here we go:


Life in the cloud... and there are more clouds than we think

Lots of companies are talking about moving to the cloud and how it can be accomplished and there are many "cloud" services out there... and what I have found out is that in order for my ipad experiment to work I really need to use several cloud services and balance between storing data in the cloud and locally on my iPad. Luckily I have 64GB of storage so plenty to go by... but I need to go away from just storing everything here. It's not possible... and it's stupid. iPad is a post-PC device and needs a different approach. And it's very exciting :-)

7 Clouds to rule them all

Over the last few days I've been playing with different apps and setups and found out that there will be at least 7 cloud services involved in my iPad only setup, here they are in order of importance:

Cloud #1 - the iCloud for settings and some files

The default iCloud is of course the basis of my post-PC iPad - my contacts, calendars and other Apple-relevant stuff is synced via iCloud. Many apps (like "Day One" for journal) also sync via iCloud. We are using a common iCloud account with my wife to sync our contacts and calendar as well as our particular iCloud accounts for our personal needs. I'll talk about this setup sometime in the future. Oh, and my iPad will sync today for the first time with the iCloud. Exciting.

Cloud #2 - Dropbox for most of the files

Most of my "normal" files are synced via Dropbox - I'm a premium member but have found out that with about 10Gig of space I'm pretty much covered for most of my file storage. Many apps sync with Dropbox (like 1Password) which is great and helps me stay in sync with my home PC if I need to. Dropbox apart from the iCloud is the second storage space I will use a lot on my iPad.

Cloud #3 - Evernote for media-rich notes and stuff

I'm a big Evernote fan and I've been using them for three years now. That's why it was so important to me that Evernote synced with my Nozbe project management app. Thanks to Evernote I'm not "producing" so many files anymore (hence no need for a very big Dropbox) - I dump many things to Evernote, my sketches, scans, documents, I clip articles I find interesting thanks to the Reeder integration... basically I treat Evernote as my second brain. The cool thing is that Evernote does OCR of images and makes them searchable thus making it my ultimate "dump service" for media-rich notes.

Cloud #4 - Kindle for eBooks and... PDFs

As I prefer audiobooks, I tend to directly use Audible app on my iPhone, but some books are not available in audio so I use Kindle... and recently I discovered that Kindle gives you 5GIG of storage for PDFs... and as a Productive! Magazine editor I get lots of PDFs to read. I used to keep some of these in Dropbox and others in Evernote... now I've removed them from both and sent everything to my email address. Now I can read them in Kindle on my iPad and it remebers my last-read position... and it's a real joy to use. Great iPad-friendly discovery.

Cloud #5 - Simplenote for text-only notes

I write this blog post in SimpleNote. I've been using Notational Velocity on my Mac (NValt fork by Brett) and it syncs beautifully with Simplenote on my iPad. This serivce is far superior to Evernote for simple text-only notes. The search is instant and saving to the cloud as I type. Syncs with NValt on my Mac and has full-page writing mode. As I write very often (blog posts, articles, esseys) this one is a killer writer's cloud for me :-)

Cloud #6 - Nozbe for tasks

Of course I use Nozbe on the iPad for task and project management. I the iPad app designed by Macoscope guys as well as plain-easy Nozbe web interface. We are currently tweaking the Nozbe desktop interface to use it for the iPad as a web app - this will soon be available with more iPad-friendly look and feel. Now that I've moved to the iPad my team is working overtime to make it happen. Thanks to Nozbe we (team of 12) communicate through tasks and hardly send emails to one another. Nozbe syncs with my desktop on my Mac (we just released our Mac and PC app) as well as my iPhone.

Cloud #7 - Google for Mail, Docs and Calendars

Although I don't like where "getting evil" Google is going, I still can't replace my Gmail account as well as Docs for collaborative writing and Calendars for collaborative scheduling. I've set up my Gmail account in my as well as the dedicated HTML5 Gmail app. I'm actually paying Google for more space there.

7 Clouds to manage them, one iPad to bind them

These are so far my most important "cloud" services and I'm happy I finally got around to re-designing my computer setup. The iPad only experiment made me re-think the way I work and I love the results so far. No longer is my PC my "central hub" the 7 Clouds are and they compliment my iPad beautifully. The major difference between the iPad and say a "chromebook" is that lots of stuff is still happening locally on my iPad, I can work offline most of the time... and when I connect the stuff syncs right away (although I do have 4G model so I'm very rarely offline).

Do you use "Clouds"? How does your setup look like? Did I miss anything?

Stay tuned for the next episode of my "iPad only" journey by following me on Twitter and subscribing to my blog. Thanks!

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 (ipad,ipadonly)

Like this post? Subscribe to my newsletter, and every 2 weeks you'll receive updates from me. You'll also get you my latest book for FREE as a thank-you: "No Office Apps: How the Nozbe team uses modern technologies to communicate better and get more done.".

David I.
Apr 10, 2012 18:04
Given the project is using the ipad. You might check out They have now integrated their cloud service with numerous apps that work on the ipad.
Michael Sliwinski
Apr 10, 2012 18:34
I know both Dropbox and Box - but have found out that more apps that I use on my iPad sync with Dropbox, hence my integration with this service. Nozbe, my web app syncs with both, by the way :-)
Michael K
Apr 11, 2012 02:30
Simplenote is the only add for me. The other 6 are already my clouds. I don't yet write on the iPad as I have not yet invested in a keyboard for it. Noted in my someday/maybe list. What Bluetooth keyboard do you like?
Michael Sliwinski
Apr 11, 2012 16:48
Simplenote kicks it for writing on the iPad and its seamless sync with nvALT on my Mac rocks, the ZaggKeys Flex keyboard is fantastic, really easy to touch type on this one. Thanks for your comment Michael K.
Apr 11, 2012 22:20
Congrats on your first day. Nice touch w/ the LOTR reference.

I use clouds as well and 2 that I find useful are:
1. Wunderlist - this competes w/ Nozbe as a GTD app, but for simple to-do lists it meets my needs
2. iA Writer - a text-only editor that syncs to iCloud and/or Dropbox. I use this exclusively for drafting blog posts. Simple, clean and sexy.

One topic I'd like to see you cover is the cost associated with switching to the iPad-only model. Including the cost of the device and data plan would be the price of apps, monthly fees (i.e., Evernote Pro), etc.

Michael Sliwinski
Apr 12, 2012 23:33
Yes, I will cover more in detail the overall cost of switching to the iPad (along with data plan and service plans as well as apps) but I'll comment on it a little later once I've established my setup. Thanks for your suggestions and your setup, ThatGuyKC!
Aug 23, 2012 22:23
Just starting your series :) BTW great write up. You may have these in the other articles I have yet to read but here goes:

I use most of the Cloud services that are available including Sugar Sync, CX, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, SkyDrive, and Google Drive. A couple of great programs to help manage all of those are ZeroPC and Otixo.

ZeroPC has a nice iPad app and Otixo is Web driven, but with WebDav connectability. That means all your "stuff" is accessable to many of the apps on your ipad in one location.


Michael Sliwinski
Sep 17, 2012 16:26
Setting up the clouds was the most important factor for me in going #iPadOnly - I always wanted to go the "all cloud" way but now with iPad I have to :-) Thanks for your comments AChurchnerd - I have a few more articles in the pipeline.