Category Archives: iPad

iPhone+ Speculation

Potential new iPhone looks plausible to provide a range of sizes.

Marco Arment does the math for screen sizes that aren’t disruptive for IOS app developers.

iPhone+ Speculation

Which one would you prefer?

Seems to me that likely most popular combinations are:

1. current small iPhone with full size iPad ( I am quite happy with this combination of sizes)
2. current small iPhone with iPad mini ( a lot of people seem to be going for this)
3. iPhone plus with full size iPad (going with largest highest quality screen for each model)

May be less likely that people want the largest iPhone and smallest iPad together because they are close in size?

iPad in 2012

What to do with your new iPad

iPad3 Views
Congratulations, one of the most important decisions is to start something new and your decision to buy an iPad is the start of something good that can provide you with hours of enjoyment and accomplishment. When it was first introduced the iPad was misunderstood and compared against the specifications of previous computers. Since then it truly has ushered a breakthrough in how we interact with computers and as the software has developed the debate over whether it was just good for consumption of games, movies, books, and music vs. also being capable for creative productive work has been answered by the improvements in the iWork and iLife software from Apple and the many third party apps in every category you can imagine. New innovative apps are introduced every day to make the iPad a multifunctional multisensor device that truly provides new ways of expression and enjoyment.

Buying an iPad

First you have some decisions to make regarding which model to choose:
– iPad2 vs the new iPad which I will call iPad3 or even the rumoured iPad (Mini or Air model available this fall?)
– Wifi only or Wifi with cellular
– Amount of storage (16GB, 32GB, 64GB)

iPad2 is still sold for people who want the currently most affordable iPad. If this is the most important criteria for you then you might want to wait and see if the rumours of an iPad Mini/Air introduction this fall are true. The iPad mini is rumoured to have a smaller 7" screen and a price which might be as low as $200. The iPad2 is available for $419 but when compared to the iPad3 it is not as fast, doesn’t have as high resolution screen, and can’t run Siri which is Apple’s new voice control technology that is the start of another new way to communicate with computers. The iPad3 is $519 in the base configuration with 16GB storage and Wifi networking.

Your second major decision is to determine whether you want Wifi only or also want cellular networking for $200 more. Cellular networking has advanced to use Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology which gives you broadband speeds when roaming about the city. This will cost you about $20 per month for a data plan on top of what you are already probably paying for an iPhone cellular contract. What this gets you is mostly ubiquitous always on connectivity as opposed to connectivity only when you are at home or at some fast food and coffee shop hot spots.

Your third decision is how much storage you want. Usually the more the better especially if you want to store a lot of apps, music, photos, movies and documents. If you have a desktop computer you can reduce your mobile storage needs somewhat by shuffling information back and forth between computers. If you are thinking ahead to reselling your iPad when a new model comes out each year it might actually be beneficial to get the low storage model because it is easier to resell to late adopters who want the lowest entry price to the iPad experience.

What is Included

What really makes the iPad tablet so useful is that it allows you to use a touch interface to interact with software more directly and the iPad itself at its best recedes into the background as a thin piece of glass that acts like a window into a dedicated software app. Out of the box you have:
Safari web browser (this is a top mobile browser whose usage is a testament to its effectiveness on mobile devices)
Contacts (basic but functional database for organizing people and company information)
Calendar (schedule events and also will list your todos)
Reminders (list of todos that can notify you when they are due)
Maps (search for locations and get directions for getting from a to b; Apple version replacing Google version in IOS 6)
Mail (integrated mailbox for managing multiple email accounts)
Photos (Organize view and show your photos)
Camera (snap photos or videos with the camera that is always with you)
Notes (basic note taking that syncs to Mac and iPhone)
Messages (texting and messaging which can work with or replace text messaging from a cellular carrier)
iBooks (only one book included although some additional ones are available for free)
YouTube video player (although this will be replaced in the new IOS6 software this fall with a Google version)
Music (this app has the functionality of a premium ipod)
Podcast (create your own custom radio station with this app that was recently separated from the music app)
All in all the iPad has enough software for it to be quite functional in its original configuration.

App store

There is a lot of software apps available in the app store for free or at a small cost which usually ranges from $1 to $5 dollars. There are three categories of software:
– iPhone software
– iPad software which often is referred to as the HD version
– Universal
iPhone apps will work on the iPad either in their original size or doubled to fill the iPad screen but it is preferable to purchase the iPad optimized version when available or the universal version which can be run on both devices as a single purchase.

The recommended systems approach is to document your requirements so you can use these criteria for picking the app that best meets your needs. Although there are lots of inexpensive or even free apps in every category, each app you try and have to learn to be proficient with it carries a time cost that can be significant even though iPad apps tend to be easy to use and mostly intuitive. An example of an app feature comparison is Brett Terpstra’s exhaustive text editor comparison. The iPad has a very rich selection of text editors to chose from. This allows you to use the best tool for the job but it is desirable to simplify your workflows by limiting the number of apps of each type that you use.

Free Software

There is a lot of software to choose from in the app store and one of the weaknesses of the store is that it is hard to find the best software because there is often multiple choices for each type of app and they can have similar names. Some really excellent software is available for free:
Simplenote is an enhancement of the notes app that can sync text documents with versions on the web and other computers
Instapaper lets you save pages for reading later and improves the reading experience by removing visual clutter that distracts from the content
Evernote can save fully formatted documents that include pictures and keep them in sync with versions on other computers
– There is a wide variety of fitness and food apps of which my go to selections are MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and SportsTap.

Paid for Software

Some iPad apps can be purchased outright and others have free versions with in-app purchases to upgrade to a premium version or to pay for extra features:
Keynote presentation software that now syncs with the Mac version using iCloud
Pages formatted document app that now syncs with the Mac version using iCloud
Numbers spreadsheet app that now syncs with the Mac version using iCloud
iThoughts HD is a very powerful and flexible mindmapping outliner for organizing and viewing ideas
OmniFocus is a premium ($20) task manager to organize and tracks thing you want to get done
OmniPlan is a full fledged project management app
OmniGraffle is an expensive ($50) premium diagramming app
OmniOutliner is a outlining app for organizing documents
Textexpander touch lets you type in abbreviations that expand into frequently used phrases – saves typing
Launchcenter Pro is a way of activating app actions with a couple of taps – very efficient
Scanner Pro usese the iPad camera as a scanner and Docscanner provides iPad Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
GoodReader, iAnnotate, PDFpen all let you manage, annotate, and work with PDF documents
iPhoto and iMovie provide the capability for editing photos and movies right on your iPad
Soulver does text and calculations so you can document the rationale for your calculations
Bento is a general purpose database with all sorts of templates you can customize to your needs
Mr. Reader is an attractive RSS reader with an interface that effectively utilizes the iPad’s strength as an article reader
Diet Coda, Blogsy, and Posts are all very capable for publishing to your blog or web site
Facebook, Tweetbot, LinkedIn, and Google+ are apps for social networking with your iPad
Audiomemos, Dragon Dictation, GarageBand, Magic Piano, and Soundslate are examples of audio apps in addition to many writing apps that have built in audio support.
YNAB and iBank are my favorite financial management apps

Many more apps could be listed as Apple says, “There is an app for that”. The examples provided are some of the ones I have found to be most valuable.

In February 2010 SharpBrains did a review that gave the iPad a thumbs up for brain fitness value. The iPad has matured since then with two new hardware versions and several software revisions including the introduction of a large number and variety of quality apps in the Apple store. It has realized a lot of potential as a tool to expand the mind and create all sorts of productive digital works. Here are the original criteria that were used to evaluate the iPad as a brain fitness tool:
– Powerful personal task manager (basics included and powerful versions from 3rd parties e.g. OmniFocus, Things)
– Graphic Organizer (notable 3rd party example is OmniGraffle and Apple has provided Keynote)
– Powerful outliner (notable 3rd party examples are OmniOutliner and iThoughts HD)
– Several dictionaries/thesaurus (e.g. Wordbook XL, Blends, Terminology) are available from 3rd parties
– User activity monitor (this area still needs improvement but there are several 3rd party apps like Toggl for time tracking)
– Integrated self testing system: Third party app Mental Case is a learning system utilizing flash cards that can be developed or downloaded from online sources
Major Cognitive Features:
– System Integration and syncing (this has improved over time especially with system software upgrades and iCloud)
– Rich annotation framework (Pages has improved and there are many PDF markup apps)
– Collaboration has been enhanced with the syncing capabilities and sharing features of recent IOS updates.
– Attention protection (this is an area that has new features in IOS 5 notifications and more planned in IOS 6 like do not disturb)
– Affordable rated content (There is a lot of content available from the iBook store, iTunes University, and Amazon)

Improvements Needed

The main areas where improvement is needed are:
– System Integration and syncing: iCloud has been improving and has largely been incorporated in Apple’s own apps but it is notable that many 3rd party developers have not yet included iCloud syncing or have already developed their own syncing technology. Information transfer was a weakness of the original iPad which was limited to iTunes tethering to a Mac or transfer of files through email. Over the air syncing has been developed for Apple apps and iCloud has been used by some developers (e.g. IAwriter and ByWord) but others, most notably the OmniGroup, have yet to develop their own document sync solution because they don’t see iCloud as meeting their requirements. Another example is the recent revision to the Drafts app which chose Simperium syncing as implemented in the Simplenote app. Other apps have used DropBox folder syncing technology.
– Annotation Framework: Annotation has been limited by lack of standardization in the use of PDF. Not all PDF annotation is recognized in all PDF apps. Annotation also could be improved to be more interoperable and social for eBooks which have different formats such as Apple using epub and Amazon using mobi. This is also complicated by digital rights management protection which creates silos of content that aren’t easily transferrable.
– User activity monitor: Privacy is a concern so this area has probably been avoided in order to sidestep privacy complaints. This has lead to the currently clumsy and highly manual time/activity tracking processes due to lack of system support.
– Collaboration has been complicated by Apple’s initiative to simplify the filing system and to create application silos and sandboxing for security. The challenge is to retain simplicity and security while still having the flexibility to share information between apps.
– Interface evolution: Siri is an important part of expanding the interaction that can be done through voice recognition. Currently Apple’s version of voice dictation is very limited by only being able to do short segments at a time and the rollout of Siri has been restricted to the iPhone 4S until IOS 6 when it will be available for the iPad 3.


Although the screen keyboard is quite functional and works well for portability there are many keyboard and stand accessories available when extensive typing is planned. An excellent combination is the Origami case/stand with the Apple bluetooth keyboard.
iPad Origami workstation


Two recommended references are the “iPad at work” ebook by MacSparky which provides in depth descriptions of software for doing real creative work with the iPad and the SCOtutor video tutorial series by Don McAllister which provides training on how to use the iPad and IOS software most effectively.

iPad at Work

A recurring theme in my blogs is how personal learning and training can be the best way to get more efficiency, effectiveness, and enjoyment out of your systems (after you have chosen the best products to work with).

MacSparky’s book, iPad at Work, explains in detail how to get more value from your iPad. If you were wondering whether the iPad, the product that reinvented the tablet, is really worth it, this book will give you plenty of reasons why it is. It describes with clear straightforward explanations how you can do more with your iPad and lays to rest the myth that iPads are only good for content consumption. There is plenty of creative generative content creation that can be done on an iPad.

I also recommend his excellent Mac at Work book that has lots of workflows using both Apple and third party Mac software.

David Sparks (aka MacSparky) is a lawyer who has all kinds of experience and good judgment/taste that is applied to using Macs and iPads more effectively.

David Sparks

He also has a Mac Power Users podcast with his sidekick Katie that I listen to regularly.

5x5 podcast Katie Floyd

If that is not impressive enough, MacSparky also does some excellent screencasts on OmniFocus which is my favourite Getting Things Done (GTD) application (on Mac, iPad, and iPhone). The extreme power of OmniFocus can be life changing but that only happens if you learn how to include it in your regular workflow habits. Achieving its benefits is greatly enhanced by MacSparky’s free video training on how to use its features to full advantage. He provides his own proof of its effectiveness by getting so much done enriching the Mac and IOS community in addition to a full time job as a lawyer.

Scrivener on IOS in 2012

Scrivener is an excellent application on Mac (and recently on Windows) for all sorts of long form writing.

Limited syncing with Simplenote and Index Card on iPad are supported but what many users have been craving is full synchronization with an IOS version of Scrivener. Dreams do come true as an IOS version of Scrivener is being targeted for delivery in 2012. It will be a universal app for iPad and iPhone and it will be very interesting what features are provided on the different sized screens with touch interface.

iPad Retrospective

With the iPad2 set to be introduced tomorrow it is a good time for a retrospective on how it has been used and how views about it have changed.

John Chandler has a retrospective on his blog that goes through the stages of his iPad thinking and usage. It has been his constant companion, unobtrusive tool, and has helped focus on one thing at a time. It also became more than a media consumption device. He has found that the portable MacBook Air has reduced his iPad usage so it is more a device for augmenting not replacing his laptop.

I was eager to show that the iPad could be more than a consumption device and with all the great software that has been developed this has been borne out. My favourite is OmniFocus with the iPad version arguably better than the Mac Version which is playing catch up. Syncing has become extremely important to me as I continue my workflows from Mac to Mac to iPad to iPhone and on again. I have been really impressed with Simplenote even after purchasing and trying the many other note taking iPad/iPhone apps. I like free but I am seriously considering getting the premium versions of Simplenote and Dropbox to further extend my syncing workflows. The whole experience has also got me to be a big proponent of multimarkdown text for writing. Textexpander syncing has become a mainstay that I wouldn’t want to go without. I am a big fan of mindmapping and iThoughts HD is a no compromise version for the iPad.

I haven’t used drawing apps as much as I would like to. I have some really good ones like Omnigraffle and Sketchbook Pro but I just haven’t got into using them as much as I have writing.

It has been very pleasant seeing the innovation in new types of apps at such affordable prices. There are so many excellent apps that the biggest issue is finding and choosing which ones to get.

I have pretty much converted over to reading books using the Kindle App as they are portable, affordable, there is good selection, and they are instantly available. I wanted to use iBooks but the price seems higher and the main problem is the limited selection. I am evaluating graphic support as I am noticing that most of my Kindle books are almost all text. I suspect iBooks could have better graphic support and text formatting but if they don’t have the titles I want what can you do? Ebooks still have a lot of evolving to do as simple things like copying text snippets and sharing notes are not as easy as they need to be.

I have found the iPad to be very responsive and I really like that each app goes full screen so you can focus on one thing at a time. It is amazing how well the software works even for fast switching given the relatively small amount of memory. Apple really needs to work on syncing though, because transferring files via iTunes just isn’t any good. It works but it creates too much friction as it distracts from just getting things done. Many apps use Dropbox but this should become a built in system capability. The poor transfer capability has limited my use of Apple’s iWork applications. I have purchased Printopia for printing directly from my iPad but I haven’t really used it yet.

One decision I spent some time considering was whether or not to get 3G networking or just stick to wifi hotspots. I am glad I picked 3G as I have used it a lot and Rogers has a sensible plan for combining iPhone and iPad data usage.

I haven’t found the lack of camera to be a big deal as I always carry my iPhone with me and can easily transfer photos to the iPad.

I found the Apple case has met my needs although it does tend to look dirty and it isn’t as stylish as some of the third party cases. I also purchased the charging stand but this was a waste of money as it rarely gets used because I would have to take the iPad out of its case. I would still like to find a good stand that I can use without taking off the case. I like the iPad writing apps so much I would like to use a stand and wireless keyboard sometimes instead of always using the onscreen keyboard. I haven’t used the display adapter but I saw it being used yesterday and I would like to start doing that too.

All in all I am very happy about my iPad purchase as it has served me well. We will just have to wait and see if version 2 enhancements are significant enough to tempt an upgrade. I haven’t seen anything in the rumours yet that will cause me to advance a purchase before iPad 3. This is more a testament of how good the iPad 1 is rather than a critique of the yet unreleased iPad 2. Most of the enhancements I am looking for are software updates that should continue to run on the original iPad.

Why it is Hard to Compete with iPad

Marco Arment in addition to being the developer of the excellent “read web pages later” instapaper app and web service is a first rate analyst who has written a number of insightful articles about the tech industry. His latest, “There Really isn’t much of a Tablet Market”, establishes a very solid context for viewing would be tablet competitors to the iPad. In short its not the device – it is the ecosystem and mostly the software integration that makes the market.