February 19, 2018

On-Screen Work-Flow: Microsoft Surface or Apple iPad Pro

I recently commented on a PCWorld article, and wanted to share my remarks here because they are insightful.

Original Article How Microsoft’s Surface Book compares to Apple’s MacBook: Let’s play CPU detective:

I can’t stand working with a keyboard and mouse!


Well over the past year I sought to do my video editing on an iPhone or iPad, which ever one that was fastest and up to the task. The primary reason was that I wanted the portability of being able to work on my video projects “anywhere.”

Anywhere as in waiting in lines, while sitting in the car, or while sitting outside in the fresh air in the yard on the patio. Lugging a laptop around tethered to its power cord, keyboard, and a mouse was not the answer. Remember, you still need a flat surface to use the mouse.

Even though the screen based solution offered by the iPad and iPhone were promising. I still needed to find professional featured rich applications, or at least do the basic tasks well, for the iDevices.

It was challenging to find reasonable application solutions for the basic core work-flow such as image manipulation, video editing, and file access (i.e., renaming, storing, transferring, backing up, etc.).

After that, the next challenge was to learn how to use the iDevice applications, discover their limitations, develop work-flow workarounds. All the while getting used to working with a stylus.

Then, once the iDevice, application and work-flow issues were somewhat resolved. Realizations of the limitations of the iDevices (i.e., limited ram) started taking place, further complicating true portable work-flow practices.

My current hardware “tools” are the iPhone 6 Plus, which is primarily used as a video recorder, and an iPad Air 2, which I use primarily for editing, cutting, trimming, and final producing.

The limitations of the application software on the iDevices is still there. But I’m able to push out basic productions to some degree of satisfaction. I’m able to still pursue projects which I would have otherwise disregarded due to the “old school” methods and limitations of using a keyboard/mouse, and truly limited portable device.

After several months now, I’ve managed to stay busy, but still get bogged down with the clunky file system access offered by the iDevices.

Both needed to be jail-broken so the file storage areas in the applications could be accessed using third party software on my MacBook Pro laptop. Yes, the laptop is still in the work-flow equation, but is used to facilitate file relocations from one application to another, or from one device to another. The files are also mass renamed, and any batch file procedures are also done on the Mac Book Pro as well.

I will add I am running windows 10 on the MacBook Pro under Bootcamp. Primarily because of Windows based software which is not designed for the Mac OSX.

Now, even though the initial goal was to gain portability by using the iDevices, one expected benefit gained from the experience was to develop a knack using the stylus.

The knack has turned into a preference, and I truly dredge using the mouse/keyboard system when working on my projects. The on-screen experience is more organic making me feel more connected to my work. This then inspires more creativity to take place without the mouse/keyboard barrier interfering with connecting to the work-flow.


I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s next iteration of their Surface device. Especially now that they have gone around the block a couple of time’s with their earlier version in order to work out the technological kinks.

Admittedly, and after spending my time working with the clunky iDevices, I look forward to the promise of a true on-screen stylus working environment on a fully Windows software compatible device. I’m not just talking touch screen either, I’m talking about direct on-screen work-flow writing with a stylus like I would a pencil, pen, or paint brush.

Anything to get away from the iDevices’ limited file access systems capabilities. Something Apple’s iPad Pro doesn’t seem to appear to variate from. Sure, it will be bigger, more powerful,

One reason why Apple hasn’t offered a touch screen option with their MacBook Pros is that it will directly impact their sales of their iDevices. Surely a consumer would opt to buy a touch screen based MacBook Pro over the iPad Pro simply for the USB ports you’ll get. LOL.

Furthermore, it surely would impact the marketing performance of the upcoming iPad Pro, which isn’t even out yet.

However, if a fully functional touch screen based MacBook Pro hits the market any time soon, the Microsoft Surface’s glow in the market share limelight may be short lived.

In that sense, Microsoft has played a marketing and manufacturing chess game by selling their fully functional device at a time when Apple is forcing their customers to choose between one or the other, or both.

In this respect, I look forward to being able to use windows based video/photo/media management software on the Surface Pro without any loading or running limitations.

What will that mean?

For one, I will be able to incorporate my preferred stylus-based work-flow into the mix. I will finally be able to use my Windows based software with my stylus to really start producing.

In this sense, yes, the Surface Pro has been a waited for edition to my digital media tools. It will truly trump the limited “not for work but for play” functionality of the iDevices. Not to mention their limited file access capabilities which ultimately draw you back to a laptop device (i.e., iTunes file transfers, etc.). I mean, really, if I have 50GB of raw camera files to edit, what are my non jail-broken options to transfer that data to and from the applications?

However, even if the Surface Pro is great, there still is the issue of fully on-screen/stylus based functional software.

Sure, old mouse/keyboard based software may load and run on the Surface. However, will it be another frustration working with incompatible GUI’s designed for the older pointing devices, versus one that was truly designed to work with the ergonometrically superior stylus based, on-screen work-flow?

A true tablet/stylus based software will need to incorporate stylus based on screen manipulation capabilities and not just offer backward compatibility of the old mouse/right-click functionality. It will have to do both. That is, run the older software, and the new. You can’t expect people to also run out and spend what money they have left upgrading all their software to truly catch up to the Surface’s on-screen capabilities.

In any case, on-screen GUI’s are here to stay.

Once the stylus technology and Windows, or MAC OSX software catch up, there shouldn’t be any turning back. I expect the stylus to be a fully functional with engineering that stands on its own, and even leans forward into unchartered stylus waters.

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