I lead a mobile sedentary lifestyle. I’m not someone who travels a lot or needs to visit multiple sites during a workday. I like, as George Carlin once said, to bring all my stuff with me. This has created its own challenges. Keeping multiple devices in sync can be frustrating, so I try to make one mobile device the primary source of truth for my data. I view myself as a creative (although I’m not even on the same planet as Adam Savage), so I want my devices to aid my efforts while staying out of the way as much as possible.
I bought the iPhone 6 Plus with the hopes it would become that device, especially with some new enhancements in iOS 8. Read on to see how successful it was.
One device to rule them all: is that possible?
It is almost impossible to discuss the iPhone 6 Plus without talking about how it integrates with the rest of my mobile devices: an iPad 3 and a MacBook Pro from 2011. I also have a work-supplied ThinkPad I use for most of my daily toil.
One of my weird little personally quirks is that I try to do all things on my mobile devices. This has led to initiatives like my Year of the iPad last year. Due to limitations of my iPhone 5, my iPad saw heavy use. So last year I worked on not having to carry my MacBook with me as much. I was largely successful at this.
This is because my reaction to the 6 Plus was so positive, and I’ve also found myself reaching for the iPad less.
My daily routine is pretty well-established at this point. I show up for work and put my iPad into my Origami Workstation Case, my iPhone into its charger and I make my coffee while my ThinkPad starts up. In the past, when I went to meetings, I’d take my iPad and the keyboard and use OneNote. It’s a great option, but after awhile it felt like I was doing it this way for the sake of doing it, when I could (and should) just bring my work laptop. So for now, I’ve put off the idea of using the iPad to take notes during a meeting. I am working on getting more comfortable with the on-screen keyboard to eliminate needing an external keyboard. However, the iPad does still work as a mechanism to reference documents during a meeting. If I’m interviewing someone, I’ll just open his or her resume on my iPad.
While I doubt I can ever fully replace my iPad or MacBook for my personal mobile needs, I’m finding that I now do about 80 percent of my non-laptop tasks on my 6 Plus.
Thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus, five months in
This is an amazing device. I wasn’t very happy with my iPhone 5. It was larger, true, but it didn’t really offer any noticeable difference. The extra row of icons was nice, but I still wasn’t able to read a book on it. When Apple announced the new iPhone would have two sizes, I knew I was going to jump to the bigger phone. It has exceeded all of my expectations. Prior to the Plus, I was contemplating the iPad mini. I was concerned that it wasn’t going to be small enough, and I’d have some of the same limitations with the mini I would have with the larger iPad. It would still be too large to fit in a pocket and I’d still need my bag to carry it in. With the Plus, I was hoping I’d find a sweet spot. I have.
This may sound like a trivial matter, but being able to read a book on a device is a requirement for me. I read a lot and even being able to read a chapter is nice. The side benefit to this is that if I can read on a device comfortably I can easily perform other tasks. So my iPhone is now my default mobile device for triaging email, my task list, Twitter and Facebook.
The other big selling point was the extra battery life. My iPhone 5 barely got through the day on normal use. If I had to go into Boston for the day, or wasn’t able to charge it, it would die around 5 p.m. This last weekend I was at a gaming convention and was barely able to charge it for two days. It finally almost ran out when I left at midnight the second night. My iPad called it quits the first day. What’s also nice is how quickly the iPhone 6 Plus it charges. I have an iPad 3, and it take a good 10 hours to charge over the 30-pin connector. My iPhone 6 charges fully in an hour or so.
I am always trying to write more on mobile devices. I found this article on how someone writes on the 6 Plus and I was intrigued with his methods. I agreed with him on the keyboards on the iPads. After reading it, I tried writing the beginning of this article on the Plus. It went very well and I can see myself using the Plus to write with. I’m not looking for something I’d compose chapters of a book on, but more something to jot down some thoughts when I have a spare couple of minutes during the day.
I came for the larger screen; I stayed for iOS 8
While the iPhone 6 Plus does a great job at triaging information, sometimes it’s like drinking from the fire hose. Frequently during the day I’ll come across (or be sent) something I simply want to check out later. This usually isn’t something I want to put into Instapaper (that’s articles I’ll want to read later) — it’s usually an app, book, or a matter I want to Google later. iOS 8’s extensions make handling these sorts of tasks very easy. In this case, I use Workflow to create a workflow that automatically appends the URL or selected text to an Evernote note named “Check Out.” When I get home, I look through the note, check stuff out, and clear out the note.
I’m still working on getting used to the Today screen. My Today screen is set up so it’s easy to add a task to Things. I’ll use the Evernote today screen to quickly create a note, or view a recent note – usually the Check Out note. iOS 8 makes it so easy to hand off data to different apps. We’ve had so many years of having to use unsupported workarounds to integrate apps, I have to remember now that there may be an easier way to accomplish a goal. This is where I think an app like Workflow could completely change how I interact with my iPhone. So far, all I’ve done is adjust a few of their standard workflows. I look forward to digging in more and creating workflows from scratch.
Earlier, I said one of my personality quirks is trying to make a mobile device handle all of my mobile tasks. With the iPhone 6 Plus, I’m finally changing that mindset. Instead of trying have one device at arm’s reach that can handle all of my needs, instead I want the device I use the most to be able to handle the important day-to-day tasks. I’ve decided that the most important task is to triage and handle information thrown to me on a daily basis. I may not be able to do anything about it at that moment, but it’s important to address it and file it away. The large screen makes it easy to do that.
I’ve thought about getting a small BlueTooth keyboard to use with the 6 Plus, but I think that gets away from its core competency. With the iPhone 6 Plus, I’ve finally found a device that I can both keep in my pocket and also be very productive when using.