About a week ago, I took delivery of a new M4 iPad Pro. My old iPad, a 2017 model, lasts about an hour on battery life, and the Pencil is starting to get laggy. Now seemed like a great time to upgrade.

In the past couple weeks, I’ve really enjoyed my time with the iPad. But I’m going to return it, because it’s not a tool I can use to get my work done. I wrote about this in 2020, and the situation hasn’t changed. (In fact, it’s more true for me now than it was then; I’ve added audio and video production work to my plate, and I need Mac-specific tools more than ever before.)

I’m not upset about this. My brain is most compatible with macOS, it turns out. I like having many windows open at once, and I like having a file system. Every time I sit in front of the iPad with its Magic Keyboard attached, my brain tricks itself into thinking I’m sitting in front of a capable laptop, and then I waste hours of time not doing my actual work. So the iPad Pro is going to go back, because there are many other interesting ways to spend that $2,000.

What this did make me realize is that the tools don’t matter. As makers, creative pros, we can use whatever we want to use. If we like fancy pens and paper, use them (you will not be the reason that our forests disappear”). And if you like iPads, use those, if you can.

That being said, it’s our responsibility as makers to discern the right tool for the job. Two weeks ago, a plumber came to our home to fix an issue with a toilet. He did not need to use a hammer to fix our toilet, and thank goodness he didn’t try! (Imagine the thunderous crack of a hammer colliding with porcelain.)

Instead, the plumber used a screwdriver and a couple minor objects unique to his trade. He disassembled a couple things, replaced a part, and put it all back together in under twenty minutes.

Let’s pretend, though, that the plumber always admired the shape of hammers and the satisfaction he gets when he swings one. If he were a little off his rocker, he might attempt to use a hammer for all his work. Even an outside observer would recognize this as problematic.

I think I feel similarly about the articles I’ve read in which folks suggest the iPad virtualize macOS as a sort of escape hatch” for Apple (Steve Troughton-Smith put it best). I’m sure I would love macOS on an iPad. I’m not arguing with that. But, to continue with my tool metaphor, let’s call a spade a spade and deal with the object as it is. Let the iPad be an iPad.

One other thing I’ve been thinking about is the continued movement to digitize everything in our lives. The a‑ha moment for me about my iPad came when I realized I can just sketch wireframes for my clients on a piece of paper. Not only is the tool I use for wireframing irrelevant to my clients, but the increased focus I’ll get from paper’s inherent limitations (no wifi!) is a boon in the context of work.

Or, to put it another way, does every room need to have a computer in it? We are so addicted to computers. New computers promise to work better in daylight and remove blue light in an effort to suggest, I suppose, that you can use their product anywhere, anytime — or more aptly, everywhere, all the time.

Perhaps we need to get better at saying no thanks to technology that doesn’t dramatically improve our lives.