Hello everyone, in September I will enroll in a university course in foreign languages and literatures and I wanted to ask how iPadOS works with VoiceOver with a Bluetooth keyboard and a Braille display in managing files from OneDrive, reading and editing word files or reading pdf compared to a PC with Windows and a screen reader such as JAWS or NVDA. Are there any keyboard commands on iPadOS? Are all the features of the desktop version available? Are there shortcuts to access ribbons, like on Windows Alt + H to go to ribbon home? How is file management on iPadOS compared to that of a PC? Is it easy to read and search PDF files? Can you switch applications like on Windows with Alt+Tab? Are there problems with Braille on iPad? Thank you.
This topic comes up from time to time. I suggest you search for iPad laptop replacement on this site. And Google in general. For example here is an example blog David Goodwin wrote: https://www.applevis.com/blog/scratching-itch-48-hours-2018-ipad-pro-smart-keyboard-folio
In short you will find an iPad is not a true laptop replacement. It's a useful device but I for one would not want to tackle college using it as my only computing device. But to each their own.
Were this between a full-size Mac vs a Windows laptop, I'd say go with whichever system you're comfortable with. It absolutely can be done on the Mac side, although sometimes Word can be a bit finicky and given Microsoft is going the PWA route I highly doubt they'll be making anymore updates to the native Mac office suite anytime soon, let alone accessibility focused ones. However, an iPad is not a laptop replacement no matter how much they try to market it as such. Even if you can edit and manage files on the device, learning management systems are going to be a right royal pain to manage on a mobile device. So between the two, I say hold onto the iPad for everything else, but definitely use the Windows laptop for university if it's what you already have. If anything, get NVDA Remote on your iPad so you can still have an ultra-compact solution if that's what you're after, while still having access to your Windows laptop.
Quite honestly, if you're doing foreign languages I personally think a Mac would be easier as you won't be hunting down voices and language packs constantly.
With the m1 MacBook Air being 999, it would be a comparable setup with the iPad plus keyboard combo depending on which iPad and Mac you get. I personally use a MacBook Pro but that's because I do other things other than just foreign language but I do a lot of foreign language stuff.
I like iPads. Well, at least the concept of them. Every time I look into doing this, I just can't justify it with the available feature set, and as good as Braille on iOS is, I find Braille with NVDA and JAWS to be better. You'll also get access to the full-fat versions of Microsoft apps, if that's what you'll be using.
Do what's best for you
I personally could justify the cost of an iPad because I needed a separate device for my messaging apps I use for work – I wanted them off of my phone.
I am very productive on my iPad + Braille Display + keyboard: I've closely read and searched dissertation chapters and I've written and edited Spanish papers. Be advised, though, that it took months for me to discover workarounds and a workflow that was acceptable. I certainly do not rely on Microsoft Word or any app that works perfectly on Windows.
Braille support on iOS does not have an independent focus, so you would need to get used to that. Given time constraints, the rigor of your coursework, and the sheer quantity of work that you'll need to produce, learning how to use the iPad productively is not a good use of your time.
As a secondary device, it's excellent. You really do not want to be restricted to an iPad-only workflow. I haven't turned on my Windows computer in weeks, but nonetheless I still want access to as many ways of completing my work as possible.
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