Podcast

Talking iPad for digital planning and creativity with KDigitalStudio on the AppleInsider podcast

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On this special episode of the AppleInsider podcast, Kirstin of KDigitalStudio describes how she went from Chemistry major to full-time YouTuber and producing digital planners in just a few years with only a base-model iPad.

While studying chemistry in preparation for medial school, Kirstin saw another student taking notes on iPad with Apple Pencil and knew she had to try it. Skipping class the next day she went to a local Best Buy and bought a base-model, 6th generation iPad.

Kirstin saw there were a lack of digital planners available for iPad, and went on to create and teach others how to use them on YouTube. Her channel, KDigitalStudio quickly grew over just a few years and Kirstin became a full-time content creator.

We discuss her journey to full-time YouTuber, current setup with M1 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro, and the apps she uses most for her business. Kirstin also shares her wishlist for future iPad hardware and thoughts on iPadOS 16.

Interview transcript with KDigitalStudio

Stephen Robles

Welcome to a special episode of the AppleInsider podcast. Today, I have a very special guest. Kirstin runs a YouTube channel where she really looks at iPad productivity.

She transitioned to it just a few years ago and has really grown the channel to a great audience. You know, she has videos with over a million views over a hundred thousand subscribers.

So I want to talk to her about iPad. Kirstin, thanks so much for coming on.

Kirstin

Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Stephen Robles

So I was watching some of your YouTube videos and it looked like you experimented with the iPad while you were in school, studying chemistry. Did, are you still doing anything in chemistry? What are you doing there?

Kirstin

I actually graduated with my degree in chemistry. I went to UNC, so go heels. Um, and yeah, I'm actually not doing anything with the chemistry degree. Funny enough, you know, with the pandemic and everything. I think that's happening more often now as people are going in with an idea of what they want to do.

And then something happens along the way and end up doing something completely different. So it's kind of my story with that. Kind of went full time with YouTube and KDigitalStudio.

Stephen Robles

That's amazing. What were you hoping to do with the chemistry degree previously?

Kirstin

So, previously I was looking into, med school.

Kind of a long journey. And I chose chemistry instead of biology, cuz I was like, oh, I really like chemistry. And it was super difficult, but it was rewarding and I'm happy I finished it.

Stephen Robles

That's awesome. Well, congratulations. And yeah, I took chemistry in high school. All I remember are moles. I don't know what they are or what they do, but that's all I remember.

So now you've become a full time content creator, like this is your gig. And so, in one of your videos, you talk about why your iPad is your main computer, and you talked about how you tested it in school, you were in school and you did a lot of drawing and stuff. Things I like about your story is you bought the cheapest iPad you could.

You know, a lot of times AppleInsider audience. And I know me personally we're like, all right, well, I'm gonna get the pro this and the pro that. And that's what I need for, for whatever. But talk to me about what made you decide to try the iPad and what did you discover after integrating it into your schooling.

Kirstin

Funny enough, I was sitting in my biology lecture. I had over 400 student, there was this one student that I sat next to who had an iPad, who was annotating their presentation slides for that biology lecture. And I was like, you know what? That's actually really smart.

Like being a chemistry major, you're gonna have pages and pages of mechanisms that you draw out. And so I was like, okay, like I could really benefit from an iPad. But being a student, I was like, okay, I can't invest in the high level iPads at the time.

So, what I did was I actually skipped lecture the next day and went over to Best Buy, bought the cheapest iPad, which was the iPad 6 Generation at the time and the Apple Pencil.

And then I came home and I was like, life changed forever. So I started taking digital notes like that for my classes and lectures, and kind of grew from there for the iPad.

I think a lot of people start that way as they get the iPad for digital note taking or web consumption, something like that. And it ends up kind of snowballing into something more.

Stephen Robles

And so, what made you decide to start making videos on iPad productivity?

Kirstin

Oh, okay. So for that, so I had my textbooks on my iPad at that time, which was really helpful, had all my digital notes. But I didn't have my paper planner on the iPad. And so I really liked that kind of tactile feeling of writing out my to do list, writing out my appointments and whatnot.

And so I was like, how can I bring my paper planner to the iPad? And so I actually opened up Keynote, which is the Apple first party app for presentations. Made something that looked like a planner, hyperlinked it altogether.

And then I spent like a full 24 hours to stay up all night, creating it. And I was like, there's nothing on YouTube about digital planning on the iPad, how to create a digital planner.

So I was like, okay, let me just pull out my iPhone and film me on the coffee table of my like 200 square foot college apartment to film how to make a digital planner. And I just ended up posting it and I wasn't expecting kind of the feedback that I got at the time.

Stephen Robles

That's amazing. And now, I mean, many videos later, over a hundred thousand YouTube subscribers.

And that's what you're focusing on. You're trying to help people use the iPad as their productivity machine. Is that right?

Kirstin

Yeah, exactly.

Stephen: That's awesome. So now I don't imagine you're still using that 6 generation iPad. So what is your daily driver iPad now that you're working on.

Kirstin

So my favorite iPad, the one that I use the most is actually the 12.9-inch and iPad Pro.

It's my baby. I've tried out other iPad models. I've had the, privilege to try out other iPad models, but this one is still my go to, I love the big screen, the second generation Apple Pencil. Kind of a beast and I love it.

Stephen Robles

Now I, I talk a lot about the iPad mini because I have the M1 12.9-inch.

Love that. And I also really like the mini, just because as you probably know that 12.9-inch gets heavy if you're not using like on a desk.

Kirstin

Right, right. That's another reason why I like the mini. Yeah. Just kind of the opposite really.

Stephen Robles

Exactly. But I will say if someone's gonna get one iPad, which I would be curious your recommendation. If someone's gonna get one iPad today in 2022. One I'd probably wait for the Fall, cause there's probably new iPads coming, but if they were gonna choose one model, what would you recommend for people?

Kirstin

I always end up recommending the air. I think it's the perfect middle ground for people and I think the iPad pro or the iPad meets kind of a more niche audience.

But the air is kind of that good middle ground.

Stephen Robles

So being a content creator, you're making lots of videos. Are you also editing your videos on an iPad or do you jump over to your Mac for that?

Kirstin

I do actually jump over to my Mac, but that's cuz I'm obsessed with Final Cut Pro and it hasn't come to the iPad yet.

So if I wasn't so like into final cut, then I'd probably end up using Luma fusion or something similar on the iPad.

Stephen Robles

Yeah, I love Final Cut also. I use it for work and my own channel. Now, if you could get final cut on the iPad, would that be like your solo device? Would you go to your Mac for anything at that point?

Kirstin

Honestly, I don't think so. I think the only thing keeping me on the Mac is Final Cut.

Stephen Robles

Maybe Apple's listening. You never know. Maybe it'll finally come. Now I'm curious so iPadOS 16, the beta is out right now. It'll be available to everyone this Fall. And Apple makes a big deal about multitasking seemingly every year and every year we dive in there to see what's different. This year it's stage manager.

And so I'm curious if you've played around with Stage Manager, especially obviously the M1 is the only one that can run it right now. M1 iPads. But what do you think about Stage Manager so far?

Kirstin

I think it's funny that you bring up Apple always kind of focusing on multitasking on the iPad every year, because I'm not a huge multitasker myself.

I like to have one screen focus on one thing at a time. So, but I think it's interesting. Yeah. For Stage Manager, at least I, I like how they're giving their consumers the option. So you can actually turn on Stage Manager. You can default to kind of the old multitasking version, but with Stage Manager, it definitely gives people more control over overlapping windows, choosing what's visible on their screen at the time.

I think a lot of people like the fact that they can resize the windows to how they want and have different groups of apps. So if you have a certain workflow, you can have those apps open automatically at the same time, if you click on them. And I think they're listening to people who really like using their iPad kind of more like a computer, cuz it kind of reminds me of the desktop setup on a Mac as far as the windows.

Stephen Robles

Sure. Do you use extra monitors with your iPads at all?

Kirstin

Nope. I'm kind of a sole iPad user. iPad creator.

Stephen Robles

Yeah that's the same for me. And, and that's why, I mean, the multitasking, I don't typically jump in there very much. I mean, Stage Manager, I'm probably not gonna use it. I would do split screen at times.

What I'm really hoping for is some more of that, power features in the background. I talk about it all the time. Are there any power features that you are hoping to see maybe at WWDC or any features that you hope Apple adds in the near future that helps your workflows?

Kirstin

Honestly, that's a good question because I started out with the cheapest iPad at the time.

And every time I try out a new iPad, I'm like, oh, they have stuff that I didn't realize I needed or would use. But honestly, there's nothing like super on the top of my list. Like I need this on the iPad just because I think the iPad is already so versatile and I haven't really run into restrictions with my workflows, I mean minus final cut.

If anything, probably that, but they did add a lot of new iMovie features that are really interesting as far as their storyboard features and stuff. So that's kind of a cool addition. And that they're at least thinking about more of those kind of nice little features that just make Apple work like Apple works.

Stephen Robles

Do you use it with the Magic Keyboard or no?

Kirstin

The iPad, yeah. A lot of times, on iPad, I'm mostly an Apple Pencil user, cuz I really like that tactile feeling. It's kind of the main reason why I got the iPad, but whenever I do feel like kind of going for more computer style approach, I will use the magic keyboard.

Stephen Robles

Is there anything that you're hoping for from a 3rd Generation Apple Pencil? Because that's one of the accessories we've had probably the longest, you know, it came out with the 2018 iPad Pro. So we're going on four, five years now with Apple Pencil 2nd Generation. Anything you'd hope for an updated version there?

Kirstin

Right. I honestly don't see how they could update it anymore. Because the 1st Generation was a huge jump and then going next for the Apple Pencil, I don't know how they could make that any better. Cause it works for me. Maybe if they released their own accessories for it, like pencil grips or pencil cases.

I do use those on my Apple Pencil, but as far as like the actual features within the Apple Pencil, I think it's phenomenal. I've actually turned off one of the features on the Apple Pencil. The double tap to switch tool or erase. Cause I would accidentally hit that. So I think any other features they add might honestly be overkill for me at least.

Stephen Robles

Yeah, maybe flip it around and let the eraser be an eraser. That'd be nice.

Kirstin

A full pencil experience.

Stephen Robles

Yeah, exactly. One time, I did find that the tip sometimes it'll come unscrewed just a little bit. And I'll wonder if my Apple Pencil is now broken. Has that ever happened to you where the tip just gets a little loose?

Kirstin

Yeah. Sometimes I'll just be writing and it kind of just has a little seizure or something and I'm like, okay it's the tip, let me, stop and tighten it.

Stephen Robles

Change that out.

Is there anything you're hoping for in another iPad model? I mean, the M1 12.9 inch iPad Pro is great. Um, are you hoping for mini-LED in the 11 inch or any other features?

Like an SD card slot, although that will never, ever happen. But anything that you might be hoping for in the next iPad model?

Kirstin

Honestly, I am super easy to please, if Apple was like, okay, we're gonna come out with iPad Pro 2 or something and be like, okay, I'm sold. And it could be the exact same, just a different color.

Like, I'm just so easy to please like the M1 iPad Pro as it is now is perfect for me. Maybe if they had more color options or something. But yeah, I love the iPad the way it is. I will say though that if they decided that they wanted to go super pro level and make it even bigger, I would not be opposed to that. Like a 14 inch or like an iPad Pro studio. I would love that.

Stephen Robles

Okay? Yeah, cuz there are rumors, supposedly that there may be a 15-inch or larger iPad might come down the road.

So you would totally jump on whatever larger size they launch?

Kirstin

Yeah, I totally would love that. Lately I've been loving the bigger screens. So iPhone Pro Max. The 16-inch MacBook. I've been loving bigger screens lately. So I would totally jump on that for iPad.

Stephen Robles

Do you have the 2021 Pro the new body style and everything?

Kirstin

Yep.

Stephen Robles

Oh, nice. Did you get the M1 Pro or M1 Max?

Kirstin

I got the Pro.

Stephen Robles

I have the 14-inch M1 Pro and I totally love it. Curious, so you got a great MacBook Pro there, you know, your iPad Pro, but aside from Final Cut, is there anything that draws you back to the Mac. I know once I got the remodeled MacBook Pro, I wanted to use it more.

Cause the screen was so good. You know, the ProMotion on this larger screen. So fast. It actually has an SD card slot. It's amazing. I mean, did anything draw you to the MacBook now?

Kirstin

Yeah, it's really just Final Cut Pro and then the fact that a lot of the Adobe Suite kind of like the light version on the iPad.

So there's few features there that are missing on iPad, but that's not necessarily because of iPad, but Adobe and possibly the restrictions there with memory and ram, but that's really it. And I've just been loving the bigger screen. So I was like, oh, I'll just offer the 16 and I'll hold onto this MacBook for a while.

Stephen Robles

For sure. Your iPad productivity got lots of videos on apps that you use and recommend and also Shortcuts. So I wanted to hit that first. Are there any Shortcuts that you find really useful?

Kirstin

So Shortcuts is still kind of like untapped potential for me on the iPad.

A lot of the Shortcuts that I use on the iPad are to operate kind of the smart home that we've moved into. So we actually have Alexa installed in the ceiling and our TVs and flips queue. So I've actually been using the iPad a lot, kind of like a home hub.

Stephen Robles

So, so usually a smart home. I mean, we have a show on the AppleInsider network called home kit insider.

So it sounds like you did not go home kit with the smart home. Is that right?

Kirstin

Yeah. Did not go home kit went all like manual Shortcuts. It's nice being able to not have to go into a specific app like Philips Hue or something like that to turn off and online. So I can just add the Shortcuts directly to the home screen of my iPad or see the cameras from the iPad.

Tap, start Roomba or something to start the Roomba.

Stephen Robles

Yeah. Robot vacuums are not in home kit just yet so I feel you there. Alright, so when it comes to note taking, obviously that's kind of how you got into it taking handwritten notes. What apps do you recommend for people who just got an iPad or they're looking to get one and they wanna use it for note taking. Maybe it's students starting school this year in a month or so.

What do you recommend for them?

Kirstin

There are so many great note taking apps on the iPad. Like every year, there's always a new note taking app to try. I first started out with Good Notes. So that's what I'm used to, and that's what I stuck to, throughout the years. But now there's a lot of great free note taking apps to try.

Colon note is a great one, cuz it has so many features and the developer is very responsive to feedback and really kind, always adding features and that's free. And then there's obviously Notability I think, kind of the top note taking app that people think of whenever they think of digital note taking.

There's also NoteFull, which is a new note taking app that has a lot of great features. There's just so many, you could just type in notes in the app store, download any of them and almost guarantee that you'll like them or like the features that they offer.

Stephen Robles

One of the other kinds of apps that's really big now is kind of database/mood boarding, mind node type apps.

And I think you have a video on Milanote, is that kind of your go-to for planning like that? Are you a Notion person as well, or any other tools there?

Kirstin

Yeah. I use a combination of a lot of tools kind of just depending on my mood and what the project is. So for Milanote I've been using that a lot for the home renovations.

So I can access that from my iPad and have kind of links of things that I might wanna buy or pictures of whatever plans or projects that we wanna do. And then I can write out my to-do list through Milanote, and I really like it. It's super visual. And obviously I'm a really visual person with the Apple Pencil, so having Milanote for that.

Notion is kind of my project management, where I organize and plan out and script all of my videos for YouTube and my products for my digital shop. So kind of use that for project management and Milanotes, kind of the visual behind those projects.

Stephen Robles

Gotcha. So Notion, do you treat that as your task list or do you have another app, like things or do you just use reminders?

Kirstin

So I do use Notion for some of my task list, but what I use mostly for tasks and to do is actually kind of manually writing that down, using my digital planner on the iPad. Using the good notes apps, like having control over what pen colors I use or what images and being able to write that all out kind of old fashioned, but not old fashioned cuz it's iPad and Apple Pencil.

Stephen Robles

So what is, I mean, so one of the things I use things for some things and to-dos, and I use reminders also and you know, the biggest benefit is actually getting that notification reminder of letting me know it's time to do that thing.

So do you not really operate that way? Do you not like get reminded by your notifications at all?

Kirstin

I only use Apple calendar or Google calendar for important things where it's like, okay, your mortgage is due, better pay it girl.

But for things like meetings or just something where I'm not super concerned I guess I just write it down in my digital planner, something I look at everyday. Just check it and pull it up.

Stephen Robles

Sure. Do you utilize focus modes at all as you're creating video planning? Any of that?

Kirstin

Yeah. Focus modes was huge for iOS or iOS 15. It was kind of the star of the show. And so, um, I do have focus modes for driving. I have it for workouts, so it only shows the page with all the fitness stuff, Apple fitness. And then, um, I have one for work mode, so it only shows kind of the apps that I use for my workflows for YouTube or when I create digital product.

So those are kinda the main focuses that I use or foci.

Stephen Robles

I think English grammar, I think you can go either way. But so you mentioned Apple Fitness+. Are you kind of all in on that? Is that your main, like exercise, routines, Fitness+?

Kirstin

Yeah, I dabble in it a little bit. Yeah, I went full in, was kind of the full year, so kinda sticking it out for now.

And it integrates with Apple Watch, which is great. So being able to use that, and then I can use my iPad as my screen. I actually would bring the iPad mini. I used the iPad mini and kind of propped it up on the workout machines or stuff. And it worked out really well.

Stephen Robles

Yeah, so it's good for that. Portable entertainment kind of thing.

All right. So you're running the beta on how many devices I'm curious.

Kirstin

I actually only have it on the iPad Air right now.

Stephen Robles

Okay. So you're not running the beta on your main iPhone or anything?

Kirstin

No, no, no, no. No main devices.

Stephen Robles

Yeah, I was tempted only because I use a lot of focus modes, but the focus filters, which will allow you to turn on or off certain email accounts.

And apps will be able to plug into that too. That, that almost tempted me to do it. And the custom lock screens, I was close with that public beta that just came out. Were you not tempted by any of those features?

Kirstin

Oh, I did actually download iOS 16 on my old iPhone 11.

Stephen Robles

Oh, okay.

Kirstin

I did download it on there.

Yeah. In the iPad air. I kind of messed around with it a little bit, but I feel like I'm just so like, I love Apple's design and so kind of the traditional lock screen I was completely fine with. So I'm not sure I'm gonna go all into the customization. So I'm, I'm easy to please Apple. So if you're listening.

Stephen Robles

This is good for maybe our audience to hear cuz a lot of times when you're in like the super, I would say techy world. I don't know if nerdy is a good word.

But you know, we're always really critiquing, like, what's the cutting edge, what is next and all that. And, and I'm sure there are many users out there doing great work, like doing creative work, doing video production.

And like the current products are great and, and many people love them. So it's probably good to hear.

Okay. Well, let's do a little lightning round. Do you listen to podcasts first of all?

Kirstin

No, I actually don't.

Stephen: No, you don't listen. Oh my goodness! Well, this will be the first, cuz you're actually on it.

Okay. Well the first question is gonna be, what speed do you listen to podcasts? But maybe I can ask you what speed do you watch YouTube videos in?

Kirstin

I actually watch in 1X everything at 1X. I know that's probably weird for people now, cuz I know if people are going 2X speed and whatnot, but sticking with 1X here.

Stephen Robles

I'm a big 1X listener to podcasts for sure.

Some tutorial videos on YouTube, I'll do 2X just because, you know, they can get pretty long. So when you're using your Mac, is it a mouse or a trackpad?

Kirstin

It's a trackpad.

Stephen Robles

It's a trackpad. And when using the trackpad, are you a natural scrolling or unnatural scrolling?

Kirstin

Natural scrolling.

Stephen Robles

Okay. Natural scrolling. Very good.

And what's your, now I saw in one of your videos, it looked like you were using Chrome on your iPad. What web browser do you use on your iPad and on your Mac?

Kirstin

I use Safari on my iPad and I use Chrome on my Mac.

Stephen Robles

Okay. Now, now wait a minute. Why? Now I understand Safari on the Mac.

You know, there's a lot of websites that, especially with Safari's like privacy and like JavaScript blockers, like sometimes certain websites just don't function properly and I'll jump over to Brave sometimes. But, why, the distinction?

Kirstin

So I don't know if it's just that I got kind of stuck in my old ways here, but I've always used Chrome on computers.

SUm, so before I like switched over to Apple and Mac, I was using Chrome. So I kind of just naturally kept using Chrome over on my Mac, but with my iPad, Chrome, isn't automatically there. You know, so I can just use Safari. I downloaded Chrome on my Mac because I was used to on the other computers, but I hadn't used the tablets before.

So when I had the iPad, I just automatically went to Safari and I just feel like Safari works a lot better on iPad than Chrome. I'm not sure what it is with Chrome on iPad, but, yeah, Safari is key.

Stephen Robles

Yeah. And on iPad and iPhone, our listeners might not know this either Apple doesn't allow other, website web browser engines to actually run on iPhone and iPad.

So when you download the Chrome browser, it's actually just using web kit, which is Safari's rendering engine. So you're really just getting like a Chrome skin and like your Chrome bookmarks will sink, but that's about it. So on the Mac, it's actually a different engine, you know, uses the chromium engine.

So just, just a little, a tease there, but I would recommend if, if you try tab groups, do you use tag groups on the iPad at all?

Kirstin

Yeah, I do.

Stephen Robles

Yeah. Tag groups is pretty sweet because it syncs to your Mac. I'm just throwing that out there. It's you should try it. It's pretty cool. Um, but okay. Now on your Mac, where's your dock, what position?

And do you auto hide?

Kirstin

It's at the bottom and I don't auto hide. Bottom center.

Stephen Robles

Okay. Do you have the, magnification effect on the dock icons?

Kirstin

Nope.

Stephen Robles

Okay. Okay. And scale or genie effect?

Kirstin

Genie effect.

Stephen Robles

These are very important questions. I ask everyone. Everyone's very different about this.

Especially people who use external monitors and such.

Kirstin

Very particular about which features in the interface that you use.

Stephen Robles

Exactly.

Kirstin. It's been, a pleasure having you. Everyone needs to go to KDigitalStudio on YouTube. You should subscribe to YouTube channel, great, productivity for iPad and, and a bunch of stuff.

And then also your website, tell us what would people find there?

Kirstin

So on my website, you can find pretty much anything or everything that you want to know about iPad creativity and digital planning. If you want to dive a little bit into digital planning or digital creativity, I do have tons of freebies on there for digital planners and procreate brushes and digital stickers.

So you can kind of dip your toes in without having to kind of invest or put your money up front before, heading over into the shop where you can also find kind of more premium versions of the digital planners and products that I create, but I'm chronically online.

So you could probably find me anywhere.

Stephen Robles

Chronically online. That's a good way to put it. Well, Kirstin thanks so much for coming on the show. Our listeners can find links to, your YouTube channel and your website in the show notes. and of course we'd love to hear your feedback.Kirstin is also on Twitter. We'll put that in the show notes as well. Thanks again for joining us.

Kirstin

Awesome, thanks for having me.

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