Why Apple’s iPad Is the Gadget of the Pandemic

Why Apple’s iPad Is the Gadget of the Pandemic


In a flatlining economy, the $399 iPhone that Apple introduced last week might sound attractive. But there’s a better gadget deal in the pandemic: the iPad.

Remember the iPad? You would be forgiven if you had forgotten.

Apple unveiled a new entry-level model of the tablet computer last year for $329. Yet it barely got a mention at the company’s glitzy product event in September, when Apple highlighted new iPhones that cost $699 to $1,099. The iPad, which always seemed like an optional accessory sitting between your computer and smartphone, has long been treated as that “other” device.

Now it’s time for us to reconsider the iPad. Last week, I wrote about how the coronavirus had revealed our most essential tech and weeded out the excess. The tech we have turned to over and over boils down to a computing device, communication tools, entertainment and an internet connection. The iPad delivers on all of those needs even better than a smartphone.

With a bigger screen than an iPhone, the iPad excels at videoconferencing with apps like FaceTime and Zoom, and it’s great for watching movies and programs on Netflix and YouTube. When you attach it to a good keyboard, it becomes an excellent budget computer with a zippy internet connection for browsing the web, writing emails and composing documents. All for half the price of a regular iPhone.

Initially, I preferred doing video calls on my office-provided laptop because the screen angle could be adjusted. But after about a week, I realized that video calls on a laptop were a lousy experience. They are a power sucker; a half-hour call on Google Hangouts used 25 percent of my laptop battery.

What’s more, security researchers have found that Zoom, the most popular video chatting app, has major security vulnerabilities on computers but not on mobile devices like the iPad. That’s because mobile apps operate in a more restricted environment with limited access to your data.

This made me eventually shift all my video calls to the iPad, which was by far a better experience. The iPad has much longer battery life than a laptop. And compared with a smartphone, the tablet has a big screen for video calls and can easily be propped up with a protective cover.

My wife and I recently used an iPad for a two-hour FaceTime call with my brother-in-law while we played a video game together. At the end of the session, the iPad still had more than 70 percent of its battery remaining.

After I started doing video calls on the iPad, many of my work tasks also began shifting over to the tablet, including composing email, taking notes and even doing expenses. I appreciated the device’s prolonged battery life and preferred the way apps took up the full screen, which helped me concentrate on tasks.

Not all credit goes to the iPad alone. The gadget has only a virtual keyboard, and using it to type on a slab of glass is no fun.

Fortunately, I had researched several iPad keyboards before the pandemic and settled on the $100 Logitech Slim Folio keyboard, which was simple to attach. Typing on it feels the same as using a normal keyboard, and its case protects the tablet while propping it up.

I still do most of my writing on the laptop because the software is more suitable for multitasking. But I can do a surprising amount of my job on the tablet thanks in large part to finding the right keyboard.

I normally read lots of books, but lately I’ve been in the mood to shut off my brain by reading comics. The Comixology and Comic Zeal apps on the iPad make digital comics a better experience than reading in print: You can zoom in on individual panels, plus the screen is bright enough that you won’t need to turn on a reading lamp.

While I prefer watching video on a television screen, it has been nice to have an iPad to stream an HBO show while my wife is using the television to watch “Love Is Blind.”

I also now spend several hours a day watching YouTube videos about everything from baking to D.I.Y. home improvement. Thanks to this new obsession, I finally optimized homemade pizza dough, learned how to install a part in my motorcycle and even managed to install a bidet for my toilet. The iPad has been a great video-playing companion through this journey.

  • Updated June 22, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


So why the iPad and not another tablet computer? After all, many of the same tasks can be done on cheaper tablets, like Amazon’s $50 Fire HD 8.

Yet those other devices are generally much slower and have inferior screens. The iPad is ultimately the best tablet on the market.



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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.