After initially being underwhelmed with Apple’s M4 iPad announcement, I decided to replace my 13” six-year-old iPad Pro with a new 11” iPad Pro based on positive reviews. When I bought the 2018 iPad Pro, I hoped it would evolve into a highly capable machine, potentially replacing my need for a Mac. Unfortunately, this didn’t materialize. It was great, but as others have mentioned, the iPad remains limited even today. Over time, I reframed my view of the iPad as a great companion device. However, in reality, I rarely traveled with my 13” Pro alongside my MacBook Pro; it felt like packing two laptops.

I’ll save reviewing the device itself for the pros, other than noting the stunning OLED display and overall finish of the device. I chose the silver/white model this time and have no regrets. A smaller bezel would be welcome, though!

The iPad is a great companion device for most of my daily tasks: Slack, email, slide decks, and general communication. However, there are times when I still need my MacBook. For example, did you know iPads can’t open DMG files?

My setup

I’ve managed to get a setup I’m pretty comfortable with and even enjoy working with as an alternative to a MacBook Pro. It consists of the following:

Stage manager

Although Stage Manager has been out for some time now, my previous iPad lacked this option, so I had no experience with it. I find it a joy to use, especially when using an external display. There are definitely some oddities, particularly around duplicate windows from one app, but the grouping concept and window positioning feel very natural to me.

Setting Up Figma on iPad

This is definitely more painful than it should be. On macOS, I exclusively use Figma’s app, but unfortunately, they don’t offer a functional app for iPadOS. Initially, I started using Figma within Safari. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked fine. I noticed some missing font warnings from within Figma. At Tines, we use system defaults in-product and design with SF Pro, which I needed to install.

Custom fonts on iPad

Back when I was exclusively an iOS designer, I used an app called Anyfont — a hacky way to get custom fonts onto iOS using configuration profiles. Sadly, in 2024, this remains the only way to get custom fonts on your iPhone or iPad. All I needed were the SF Pro OTF files, and I thought I was ready to go.

But Apple only provides them via a DMG, which the iPad cannot open. So, I briefly hopped over to my MacBook, extracted the source files onto iCloud Drive, and then added them via Anyfont on the iPad. After that tedious process, I opened a recent design in Figma, only to find I was still missing fonts!

Unfortunately, I then learned that Figma can’t access local fonts on an iPad, and they recommend using Google Fonts instead 🤯. Not keen on changing our entire product’s typography for my desire to work on an iPad, I looked for another approach and found Figurative, a third-party ‘viewer/browser’ for Figma that can access custom fonts.

Figma Creator Micro

After the initial hiccups, this setup is working pretty well. One requirement I found is the Figma Creator Micro from Worklouder for an easy way to zoom the canvas, as cmd-scroll won’t work on the iPad. I’ve also programmed useful shortcuts for my workflow, and the zoom wheel and undo/redo knob are lovely ways to work.

Lastly, and not Figma related, the Apple Pencil Pro feels like magic.

Last week I opened up Deliveroo and proceeded to order some dinner. Nothing too unusual, except this time I noticed a Pay with Klarna option. For those that aren't familiar Klarna is a buy now pay later service, offering the cost of a product to be split into 3 payments. Aside from merchant fees, Klarna makes money when customers opt to, or need to extend credit terms or miss a payment.

Deliveroo has questionable business practices at the best of times, and perhaps I expected too much from them, but there is something seriously fucked up about offering the option to spread payments for food on a platform like Klarna. Food insecurity is a major problem for many people. I hope there was some pushback within the product team as they considered the ethical implications of a buy now pay later option for something as basic as food.

One of the core principles guiding our product decisions at Tines is enabling builders to create amazing things with the platform. In the early days, the product was a little unforgiving. But over time, with features like copy/paste, undo/redo, version history and change management, we're building out a safety net that aids exploration and experimentation. As you progress, things you build in the product will inevitably break, and you'll learn from that. Most of these features are table stakes for products today, built on the convention afforded to us by modern computing. There are few things worse than hitting cmd-z and nothing happening.

That brings me to a similar tangent with our team. On the design team, we work knowing with confidence that we can try something out. Something that in all likelihood won't work, and that's fine. Because sometimes, just sometimes it will work or at the very least open a door to another approach we would never have discovered. We need to feel comfortable with being wrong. It's non-negotiable that the environment fosters risk-taking and

In an industry where KPIs, metrics and dogmatic processes dominate, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the nature of product development. Our team is supported and encouraged to take risks. Sometimes those risks will pay off, other times they won't, but regardless of the outcome it will lead to a better product, and I suspect happier designers.

Apr 15, 2022

As designers, our happy place is working on complex problems every day. Problems that require a great degree of domain knowledge. However, one of the greatest perspectives comes with distance. The unfamiliar have a curiosity that will pull threads on a basic premise or supposed truth. They can see a broader scope with more ease.

Consider letting a solution rest and coming back days later. Give yourself distance – get outside the details and you will likely critique your work more objectively.