How I Personally Use Mobile Computing in 2023
23 Jan 2023 Charles Choi
Not necessarily profound, but some personal thoughts/checkpoints on how I use “mobile” computing in 2023. Motivated by following up with this post I made back in January 2010.
By far, an iPad with an external keyboard has become my primary and preferred means of communication.
Text messages, email, video, and even voice calls: I do all these things through my iPad nearly all the time. It has been this way for the past four years.
With cloud based messaging services, my bias is to use a mobile phone as a read-only device whenever I'm dealing with text.
Most of my communication writing is done on the iPad using an external keyboard.
Emotionally, I don’t think of a laptop as a “mobile” device anymore.
My 90% use case is to run it as a docked system connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. This is the case regardless if I’m at home or at work. It’s basically a desktop (albeit portable) computer to me now.
- That said, the option to run it as a laptop is still a great win for the cases when I need to. I’d still observe that these are exceptions to my day-to-day behavior.
Related to the above, whenever I need mobile access (via iPad or iPhone) to my laptop’s files, I use a terminal emulator.
I got an iPad 2nd generation on the day of its release in 2011, and for most of its life I found it great for consuming media but not much else. It was far from being a system I could do work with which entails a lot of writing, both of software and its documentation, journaling, and project planning. After a couple of years it went into the bookcase, unused.
Around 2018 I refreshed and got a 6th gen iPad. As a media consumption device, it was still great. But I was still concerned that I couldn't use it to create in the ways I was interested in. Then I learned about Blink shell, a terminal emulator that launched in 2017. Running a Blink on an iPad with an attached external keyboard turned it into the best 80’s-style thin client that could never have existed back in the 80’s. Coupled with
tmux, as long as I had an internet connection, I could do work. An aside: I'd also observe that my dependency on Blink shell is co-mingled with using Emacs and in particular
emacsclientover the years.
Since then, it’s a rare day that I don’t use my iPad.
Noted with chagrin that with the above, I’ve turned my laptop into a server.
Outside of some file data, most all the data state that I work with is “cloud”-based.
I rarely deal with manual data sync (outside of git repos) across multiple clients (laptops, desktops, tablets, phones). Most all of the data sync I use is automatically managed at the application level.