There. I said it. I am addicted to apps. I browse the App store in much the same way that I browse Amazon for books - never a chore, always a joy.
But it’s not just any-old apps. For more years than I care to remember, I’ve been in search of the 'perfect’ app to organise my working life, much like I’ve been in search of the ‘perfect’ handbag (a somewhat more expensive enterprise).
Finally, I’ve reached the conclusion that there is no single program or app that’s going to do everything that I need - but there are a lot of really fantastic programs that fulfil specific tasks - be it note taking, writing, getting stuff done, organising files… it’s a long list. They’re clever; they look amazing - and they just work.
Often, when I find one of these, I’m so impressed that I need to tell someone about it. Anyone. Sadly, the cat isn’t interested and even I concede that it makes for poor dinner conversation, so WHAT LUCK that I have an outlet here! Not before time, I will start to post some of the nicer apps that I stumble (or have stumbled) across. They won’t be perfect for everyone - indeed, they may not be perfect for me for longer than a few weeks - but they have something about them worthy of note.
And so - behold - the app that has prompted this very post today: Duet.
Duet is available for both Mac and Windows users (I’ve been working with the Mac version) and it allows you to connect an iPad to a Mac and then use the iPad as a second monitor. It's developed by a team of ex-Apple engineers so of course it looks lovely - but for me, the real beauty lies in its simplicity. Duet has one job to do and it does that job really, really well - no faffing and no complicated setup:
(1) Download and install the iPad app.
(2) Download and install the Mac app.
(3) Connect the iPad.
And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: why bother? Why not just use an actual second monitor?
But you see, that’s all very well if you’re safely tucked up in your office with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to monitors, cables and space - but what if you’re not? What if you’re grabbing a couple of hours at the kitchen table with your laptop, or camped out in a coffee shop in a desperate bid to drag some human contact into your freelance bubble? You *think* you won’t need a second monitor - you’re just doing some admin that’s perfectly easy on a laptop - but before you know it you’re switching back and forth between spreadsheets and emails and the web and it all gets a little bit chaotic...
With Duet, your iPad behaves exactly like any other second monitor - you can drag windows over to the iPad and use them perfectly normally. I do this (still) with the same level of awe that I get when I beam a film from my ‘phone to my TV and it’s flawless - I like to think that I’m technically savvy and yet somehow a tiny part of me remains convinced that fairies must be involved.
I’ve been using Duet for a month or so now and it’s become a key tool for working away from the office.