What’s on Your iPad – with Robert Stephens

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First Home Screen

This is the start of what I hope will become a regular series here at iPad Insight – What’s on Your iPad. I love seeing how others get the best out of their iPad, which are their favorite apps, their most-used productivity apps, and more about their iPad usage.

I’m very happy and grateful to have Robert Stephens as my first subject for the What’s on Your iPad series. Robert is the founder of the Geek Squad and the Chief Technology Officer for Best Buy. A man who knows his tech and knows how to put it to good use, as you’ll see from his thoughtful answers below. So here we go – questions are in italics with a grey background, Robert’s answers are in block quotes:

Which iPad model do you use? (original or iPad 2, WiFi or WiFi + 3G, storage size) Any particular reasons for choosing this model?

iPad2 32Gb WiFi only. I use only WiFi because I have iPhone tethering plan, which simplifies and avoids the need to carry a hotspot or pay for 3G

Do you use any sort of case with the iPad? If so, which one/s and why?

Only the iPad Smart Cover. I agree with Steve Jobs when he said "We put all this effort into making the iPad 2 so thin and people thicken it up with a case". I also like the wear and marks that the aluminum back acquires over time.

What’s on your iPad dock currently? Do these apps pan out as your most frequently used?

I am rigorous about home screen, folder and dock real estate: Mail, Calendar, Google Calendar shortcut (I use 7 different Google calendars), Google Mobile app (I use Google services), GV Mobile+ (for Google Voice), and the best twitter iOS client, Tweetbot which I use about every 300 seconds.

A note about Google: One may be wondering if I use so many Google services, why not just use Android? iOS is better, Apple hardware is better, and I actually am using Google’s apps less and less. I switched to Evernote Premium from Google Notebook when Evernote kept investing and developing their single focus. I only use Google Voice for voice transcription because they STILL don’t support MMS, or international SMS. iMessage has now overtaken that. With iCloud, I predict further erosion of Google cloud apps unless they invest and improve.

What are some of your other most-used apps / what’s on your first home screen? (and any reasons why you’d like to offer)

Top Home screen apps:

YouTube – I play lots of vids for meetings and demos. I also use the Playlist function a lot for when I listen to lectures via YouTube in my car.

Gmail Shortcut – Mainly when I need to deep search my mail archive
Keynote – nothing is more reliable than an iPad for presentations via VGA or AirPlay

Evernote – My go-to note keeping app. Worth every penny.
Weather Bug – Best weather app

Epicurious: I do the cooking in my house.

News Folder:
Instapaper for offline (although when Readability iPad launches, I predict they take over), Zite

Flipboard: Nuff said, although the iPhone app is so well done, that it is the first app that is even better than the iPad app which is great. Tip: next time you attend or track a conference/hashtag, make a Flipboard channel just based on hashtag – makes it much easier to follow.

Social Folder:
Fb, 4Sq, BeeJive (Best IM app), Yammer, HollerGram (instant cue cards), Google+, StumbleUpon, Path, Stamped, GroupMe, Pinterest, Evernote Hello)

Kindle App

Food Folder: (Open Table, LocaVore (find local farmers markets and what’s in season near you), Chipotle, GroceryIQ (seamless tablet, mobile sync for grocery list), Hello Vino (wine pairing advice), Fromage (cheese wine pairing), Cor.kz (wine library database), Punchfork, Proof (whiskey/scotch app)

Writing/Notes Folder (apps that are used for note taking, brainstorming, pure writing for different modes)
BlogPress – allows for drafting blog posts to most sites
Dragon Dictation
Pages
GoodReader – great all around document reader, allows markups
iThoughtsHD – best mind mapping app
PDF Expert – Best PDF app: sign documents, merge/extract pages into new document. Worth every penny.
iA Writer – amazingly simple writing app – with cool focus mode.
SoundNote – record audio, but also lets you take notes. Links the time to when you took the note, allowing you to hear what was said when you typed
Cards – Apple’s amazing letterpress cards app.

Sonos: Best app for the best home audio system

Pulse News – Best RSS news reader

Reminders: I love Apple’s reminders app

iMessage: works across all iOS/OS X devices. Unified messaging.

iPad Home Screen

How do you arrange your home screens? Do you use folders at all / heavily?

Yes, I use folders heavily, but I also prune dormant apps I do not use. 

What are some of your most used productivity apps on the iPad? Any that you use for work?

Evernote – I’m even liking Evernote Hello
PDf Expert – Sign documents. Death to Paper!
Storify: Love the new iPad app. Lets us Finally (!) curate and assemble cohesive narratives.

Do you read any newspaper or magazine apps on the iPad? Do you subscribe to any?

I use Tweetbot, then Readability for offline reading

How much, if any, book reading do you do on the iPad?

I am buying a shitload of books now. I love carrying dozens of them with me because I don’t know what I feel like reading tomorrow. I hardly watch TV anymore.
Routine: I read the NY Times Book Review every Sunday and download kindle samples for the books that are added to my "ToDo" list.

Any favorite iPad games or fun time fillers?

Hardly have time for games. I like Words with Friends and vintage arcade games, like Galaga. But there is still no PURE Galaga remake.

Have you got a ‘hidden gem’ type iPad app that more people should know about?

Fancy – beautiful browsing app
TweetBot – best Twitter client bar none
HollerGram – fun app to make a quick sign
iThoughtsHD is an amazing brainstorming app.

Any killer apps you think are missing from the iPad App Store, apps you’d love to see come to the iPad?

Tumblr needs an iPad app – and it should work and look like Storify

Storify is arrived today – and i think its kind of curation app will be big

iPad Lock SCreen

Do you tend to pay much attention to your home or lock screen wallpaper? Change it up often?

Hardly ever.  Since iPad one, my lock screen is Trinity Library in Dublin, and my home screen is Venice.

I want to give a huge thanks to Robert for doing this with me, and for providing such great answers and insight on the way he uses the iPad. These answers have definitely given me some ideas and I just find it fascinating to see how much people get out of their iPads. I hope you all will find this useful too. Oh, and damn that Trinity Library shot is beautiful.


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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14 thoughts on “What’s on Your iPad – with Robert Stephens”

  1. I am so happy to see your reason for having the wifi only. I now have the iPad 2 wifi+ 3G, and I plan on getting the iPad 3. I also have the iPhone 3GS. Please help me understand your reasoning, for wifi only, what does tethering plan mean?

    1. Hello Ervin,

      The tethering plan means that he shares his iPhone data plan with the iPad.

      When tethering, iPhone generates a wifi signal that can be then be received by iPad.

      Not all carriers allow tethering, you should contact your carrier to see if you may do the same.

    2. With the tethering plan on the phone you can use it as your 3g access. No need to pay the additional for a separate plan unless you don’t carry your phone with you. Tethering is just a less expensive solution.

  2. By tethering, I presume Robert means his iPhone is set up as a mobile (wi-fi) hot spot. You can share the connection with up to 5-devices. The feature can be added (at an extra cost) with your mobile carrier (AT&T or Verizon).

  3. Hey… I’m not big or famous but I would love to volunteer for a future episode of “what’s on your iPad”. If you’re interested, drop me an email :-)

  4. Thanks guys, I’m calling AT&T in the morning, and see what they have to say another question what do you guys have iPad 3G, wifi, or 3G + wifi and why

  5. I will volunteer. Send me an email. I think this is great. It’s always nice to see what other people are using.

  6. I realy enjoyed this article. My only problem with these best practice interviews that I can find more must-have-applications against my budget… :-)

  7. GPS apps will not work without a 3G iPad if I remember correctly. I’d rather have it & not use it than need it & not have it.

  8. Patrick, thanks for this article man, we want more!!! Knowing what famous people do with their iPads is like watching E! Loved this!!,

  9. Glad to see that some of you enjoyed this post. I definitely plan to make this a regular series, and I’ve got quite a few interesting people lined up to do these – so stay tuned as they say. :)

  10. I’ve never agreed with someone more in my life!! The below statement pretty much sums up my every day experience right now. From moving to Evernote to the AndroidOS just not pulling it together… great job

    “note about Google: One may be wondering if I use so many Google services, why not just use Android? iOS is better, Apple hardware is better, and I actually am using Google’s apps less and less. I switched to Evernote Premium from Google Notebook when Evernote kept investing and developing their single focus. I only use Google Voice for voice transcription because they STILL don’t support MMS, or international SMS. iMessage has now overtaken that. With iCloud, I predict further erosion of Google cloud apps unless they invest and improve.”

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