Tag Archives: iPad

Update from iPad Air 2 to iPad Pro?

I have an iPad Air 2 . The iPad Pro is now available. Should I upgrade?

A number of iPad users are asking that same question.  There is no stock answer. As with many upgrade decisions,  “It all depends” holds true once again.

For myself, my reason for contemplating an upgrade is the addictive desire to be on the cutting edge. I need the new tech because it is new.

But when I step back an review my use of the iPad, I have difficulty justifying the leap forward. My use of the iPad Air 2 is media consumption; email, video, web browsing etc. Not really a productivity thing. In fact, I have never quite worked out a good workflow for use of an iPad as a productivity device. I suppose I am too entrenched in thePC-based paridigm to  devise a suitable alternative that incorporates the iPad. Too much “sand boxing” going on, i.e., I want to search for my data, select it and then select the tool I want to use to manipulate the data. I want to share a file among many tools, but I don’t want to be forced to store the file in the “cloud” in order to do so. Sometimes the sun is out and the “cloud” is gone (no wi-fi).

With the iPad Air 2, I get some of the “goodness” in that iOS 9 provides the split screen, multitasking view which I find very useful. The iPad Pro would, in this case, provide more screen real estate for the side-by-side apps. But there’s not really anything else that entices me to make the move.

I say this with a brave face and resolute conviction, but, that adiction is tingling in the shadows of my mind.

 

iPad mini 3; Is Touch ID Enough for You?

 

Apple rolled out the new 2014 lineup of iPads. The star of the show was the iPad Air 2. With more RAM, faster CPU and GPU, the iPad Air 2 is a step up from the iPad Air.

But what about the iPad mini 3?. The only new feature available on the mini 3 is the Touch ID sensor on the Home button and the addition of the “gold” color scheme. The rest of the specs remained consistent with the previous generation (now called iPad mini 2).

Of the 2014 changes to the mini, the Touch ID is the most compelling. In my estimation, save the money on the iPad mini 3 and buy the mini 2.   it appears that the iPhone 6 Plus is weighing heavy in the minds of the Apple folk in Cupertino. There might not be an iPad mini 4.

 

2013 MacBook Air as new Desktop

MacBook Air 11.6" mid 2013
MacBook Air 11.6″ mid 2013 (Photo credit: Moridin_)

In early July, I purchased the new 13″ MacBook Air to replace my 2008 unibody MacBook. The MacBook, as have other Mac laptops in that past, had migrated to a family member to replace a failed Windows machine (BTW, all the Apple laptops are still functioning; even a 2005 iBook).

As I had done in the past, I put the new Air in my laptop bag. If my usage patterns remained the same, it would see the light of day on an infrequent basis. It was my “I can’t get to my desktop” machine. You know, the family comes for a visit. My office turns into a bedroom. I can’t get the my trusty Mac Pro (2006 edition) and the iPad is just not quite enough.

But, there was something different. This was my first introduction to a PC equipped with a solid state drive (SSD) and the battery life was amazing to say the least. Not to mention that I could take advantage of Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Alas, the powers at Apple determined that my Mac Pro needed to be marrooned at Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Still a touchy subject with me. The Air provides the promise of future compatibility with later versions of the Mac OS.

However, my vision limitations still requires the use of an external monitor for  longer sessions. I can use the small laptop screen in tandem with Mac OS X accessibility features for a short time, but long sessions necessitate the external monitor.

Well, I am attempting to cultivate the MacBook Air into my new desktop machine. My intended setup includes:

  • the MacBook Air (kinda seems an important part)
  • mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable (happened to have one handy)
  • Gateway 24″ LCD monitor. Getting “long in the tooth”. I want to replace it with a new LED monitor at some point.
  • Apple Magic Mouse (again; had one gathering dust in my desk drawer). I use the Magic TrackPad for the MacPro. If all goes well, I will switch them around.
  • Logitech K750 Solar keyboard. Right now, I am “sharing” the keyboard between the Mac Pro and Air by switching the wireless uSB receiver. I am considering purchasing the Logitech Easy-Switch Bluetooth keyboard for a multi-link capability, but I like the full sized keyboard with the numeric keypad. Yes, I had tried Bluetooth keypads, but never had much luck with them.

My new desktop is up and functioning, but I am lacking USB expansion. It’s also a little inconvenient to plug everything up to use and unplug everything to go mobile.

Now enters the next piece of the puzzle; the LandingZone 2.0 Pro Dock for the MacBook Air. It’s supposed to arrive on Tuesday. Looks promising. The LandingZone dock provides a dedicated mini DisplayPort connection, Gigabit Ethernet and a powered USB 3.0 hub. Just line the MBA up and snap it in place. There were other docking solutions that I considered, but most required you to stand the Air on it’s side pointing vertically toward the ceiling. Not much help if I wanted to open up the lid to activate the onboard display, keyboard or touchpad.

 

 

 

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The Continuing iPad Keyboard Chase

I had been hearing of the upcoming release of a new iPad Bluetooth keyboard from Logitech. This, of course, peaked my internal craving for new technologies which is clearly evident when in comes to iPad related accessories.

On Saturday, I was strolling through the various displays at my local Best Buy store when I turned a corner and there it was; a cardboard stand adorned with FabricSkin keyboards.

I am certainly aware of my continuous battle between “Want” and “Need” in the realm of technology and the great tendency for “Wants” to masquerade as “Needs”.

At the time, I was ocillating between the use of the Logitech UltraThin  keyboard and the Apple Wireless keyboard/Incase Origami combination. Both are good solutions, but each lacked something. The Logitech ultraThin lacked the protection I wanted for my iPad. The Apple/Incase combo allowed me to use a separate protective case for the iPad, but lacked some basic function. Most notably was a simple On/Off switch for the keyboard. It’s somewhat embarrassing when a cool tune starts playing from your briefcase when the Apple keyboard’s media button gets bumped because the keyboard wasn’t officially “off”.

Well, “Want” kicked “Need” out the door today when I walked out of the Best Buy with the FabricSkin tucked under my arm (after I paid for it, of course). The case paired easily with the iPad; no “pin” was requested. The case is currently sitting next to me charging up; getting ready for it’s debut at work in the morning.

The case addresses the two basic issues noted above. The FabricSkin is a case completely enclosing the iPad. Like the Apple wireless keyboard, it doesn’t have an On/Off switch, but it has something better. When the iPad is placed in “typing” position, magnets within the case detect the positioning and the keyboard is turned on. When the iPad is moved from the “typing” position, the keyboard is turned off; kind of a “set it and forget it” operating mode.

My test typing at Best Buy and here at home seem fine, but the true test is typing notes during my day-to-day use of the iPad at work. Will I have to search for keys more than I touch type? Time will tell.

The one downside currently is the price. At $149.99, the case seems a little overpriced. But “Want” didn’t care about that.

 

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Disappointments with Apple 2012

Just a quick post to air my Apple disappointments for 2012.

  1. Another OS Abandonment
    Once again, Apple abandoned a number of older hardware with the release of OS 10.8 Mountain Lion. Chief among the cast-offs was the original Mac Pro 1,1 (2006). I had updated mine in January 2012 to 18 GB RAM and an ATI Radeon 5770 HD only to learn later that the final OS release would not support the hardware.

    Prior to this letdown, I survived the PowerPC layoff caused by OS 10.6 Snow Leopard.

    I will continue to slog on with OS 10.7 Lion; event though the Messages beta was pulled. My Mac Pro had too many productive years still remaining. My hope would be that either Apple would relent with OS 10.9 or that a workaround would be available that didn’t take 30 steps to accomplish.

  2. iOS Accessibility – Keyboard Themes
    I don’t want to jailbreak my devices, but Color Keyboard may force the issue. All I want is the ability to change the color theme for the on-screen keyboard in order to aid my impaired vision. On my iPad, I want black keys with white letters. I know. I can get this effect by using the High Contrast settings in Accessibility, but that also affects the entire screen which I do not want.

    The jailbreak app Color Keyboard shows that this feature is entirely possible. Why, oh why Apple can you not provide such a simple request?

  3. iPad mini – No Retina Display
    Don’t get me wrong. I certainly enjoy my iPad mini, but a Retina Display would have been nice
    .
  4. iPad 4
    I understand that technology marches on, but I had hoped that my iPad 3 would have been “cutting edge” for a few more months; at least until 2013.

Not a long list, but important to me nontheless.

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iPad mini; The 7″ Tablet for the Holiday Season.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Having used the first 3 versions of the iPad, I have a good “feel” for the 10″ (9.7″ to be precise) Apple tablet. The 3rd Gen, with Retina Display, provides a great option for viewing text, reading books, magazines, productivity tasks,  and watching videos.

On a lark, I recently purchased an Pad mini (the Mini). I was impressed by the quality of it’s fit and finish; the thinness and reduced weight. I didn’t “need” the mini, but I “wanted” the Mini. For that, I named this new addition to my iPad family “toomuch”.

 

Apple Introduces iPad Mini... and some new com...
Now that I have used the smaller edition of the iPad for two weeks, it makes the ideal media companion. All of the iPad apps work as expected. The lack of a Retina Display does not affect the overall usability of the product. And the small size makes the Mini seem like a more personal device. My iPad is still the “workhorse” device, substituting for a laptop on the road and assisting me at work, but the Mini is the device I reach for at home when checking email, social networks, viewing video, etc.  In fact, I was surprised in how many areas the Mini supplanted my use of the iPad.

My interest  was fueled by the smaller size. I had toyed with the idea of getting a 7″ tablet for some time. I came close to purchasing the 1st generation Amazon Kindle Fire. Later I considered the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. I chose the Mini for a number of reasons

  • Thinner and lighter
  • Better Accessibility features than the competition
  • Larger screen (7.9″) than the competition.
  • Great performance and battery life
  • Already have an established iOS/iPad eco system

In other words, what you expect from an iPad in a smaller, more personal incarnation.

For those of you in the holiday tablet shopping scene, consider the iPad Mini. While it’s price tag is higher than the competition, it certainly does not disappoint on the overall experience; a perfect entry level item in the iPad family.

 

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iBook Reborn

There’s been a lot of rumor and speculation surrounding the release of a smaller device to fill a niche between the iPod Touch and the iPad. The device is usually referred to as the “iPad Mini”.

5-9-12, iPad Mini Legal Pad

However,  there is another naming possibility; a name that held a prominent place at Apple; a name that was rumored for the original iPad before the iPad was. That name is “iBook”.

Yes, I know that Apple recycled the “iBook” moniker when it opened the iBook Store, but that was a “software only” use of the name.

The first Apple laptop I owned was the iBook. I still have that machine, running OS X Leopard. Occasionally, I bring it out, dust it off and start it up. Still works fine.

A 1st generation Apple iPad showing i...

The obvious market for the new device is direct competition with the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and the Asus Nexus 7, i.e., it will compete in a market area generally understood as eReaders. What better name than iBook for the Apple eReader.

Of course, Apple marketing is most likely considering the “halo effect” available if “iPad” is linked with the new offering.

 

 

 

 

 

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iPad Keyboarding With A Twist

I’ve searched the world over for the perfect iPad keyboard. Turns out that it’s like most things in life. It was in front of me all the time.

Since my first iPad (April, 2010), I have been searching for a external keyboard solution that provided both a great typing experience and a simple and elegant usage model.

ZAGGmate Case + Keyboard for iPad

For the original iPad, I settled on the ZAGGmate Keyboard/Case combo. It worked well, but I never considered it a case. The inset keyboard seemed to be somewhat confining when typing. I don’t know how much the “confined” feeling was actual or perceived due to the shape of the enclosure.

When I purchased the iPad 2, my first keyboard was the iPad 2 version of the ZAGGmate (actually manufactured by Logitech). It still had a “confined” feel to it, but it served me well.

Staying with the ZAGG family of keyboards, I moved to the ZAGGKeys Solo

ZAGGKeys SOLO

keyboard. This keyboard lacked the confining enclosure. The keyboard provided a flat typing surface with chiclet key spacing.  A good keyboard, but like all the other ZAGG models, there was no slant to the typing surface.

All these keyboards have moved on and found homes with other iPad users.

Logitech Wireless Keyboard for iPad

My next keyboard candidate was the Logitech Wireless Keyboard for iPad. This keyboard, unlike the others, provided a typing slant. The keyboard had a nice feel to it. No complaints for the keyboard. The one complaint I had was the companion case. The case  was somewhat cumbersome to deploy. The case provides a  flip-out, plastic  connector that snaps in place. The snapping into place activity and the unsnapping to close operations were not enjoyable. I always had a fear of breaking the plastic clasp.

Now we come to the latest, and best, keyboard I have used with my iPad; the Apple Wireless Keyboard. I recently “retired” my Apple Wireless Keyboard for use with my desktop for the full-sized Logitech Solar Keyboard K750. This left

Incase Origami Workstation

my Apple keyboard on the sidelines. While strolling through a local Apple Store, I noticed the Incase Origami Workstation keyboard case. The case is designed to work explicitly with the Apple Wireless Keyboard. The case provides two velcro straps. Using the straps and the “origami” folding action of the case, the Apple keyboard can be quickly and EASILY deployed or placed back in the stowed position.

Now my favorite keyboard and favorite device are paired. It just took that Origami “twist” to bring them together.

 

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Please Sir…Can I Have Another?

Three versions of the Apple Tablet have been release and I have purchased each 64 GB/AT&T/Wi-Fi model  on pre-order.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

When the iPad 2 arrived, the original iPad went to live with my youngest daughter. Being an Apple aficionado, like myself, I knew the old iPad would find a loving home and a useful life.

Over the past year, the iPad 2 served me well, both at home, work and play; mostly play. As the launch date for the new iPad approached, I suffered through the “buy/not buy”  struggle. Perhaps “suffer”” and “struggle” are a bit strong. I thought about it…once…briefly…I think.

The new iPad arrived in all of it’s retina display glory. The plan was to pass the iPad 2 along to my wife. She was laboring along with an old Dell laptop running ancient Windows.

That lasted until my wife and I visited said daughter in April. Soon after, the iPad 2 made it’s way to my daughter and the original iPad continued it’s useful existence in the hands of her roommate. My wife an I returned home, sans iPad 2. She moved back to the old Dell laptop, the dog ate the Backspace key off the laptop keyboard and we arrived at the service department at a local Ford dealership the Friday before Memorial Day. (One of those whirlwind re-cap scenes in the movie)

Box of a recently purchased white iPad 2.

As we waited for the crew to complete the maintenance, my wife leaned over and whispered, “I need an iPad. One that you won’t give away. And I want White, not Black.”.  We arrived home that day with a newly serviced automobile and a White iPad.

I need to begin planning for next year.

 

 

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iOS Accessibility. More Is Needed.

As a low-vision user of iOS devices (iPhone and iPad), I use Accessibility features quite extensively.  The two most often used features in this category are VoiceOver and Zoom.

I use VoiceOver most frequently for tasks such as

  • Reading Mail Message headers
  • Reading Twitter Timeline messages
  • Selecting on-screen controls to determine button functions within an app
  • Reading on-screen text without needing to zoom in

These four workflow items are indispensable to me. The frustration is that VoiceOver function is not consistent from one app to another. For example, in iBooks, I can read the text of a book using VoiceOver, but I can’t perform the same function in the Amazon Kindle app. When I tap the screen in the Kindle app, all I get is a sound effect telling me I tapped the screen. Not much help at all.

VoiceOver

The same can be said for other iOS apps. In social networking, the Twitter app supports VoiceOver, but other Twitter client apps do not.

It would be greatly appreciated if VoiceOver worked consistently across the iOS experience instead of the “hit or miss” patchwork that a currently exists. This sketchy support makes it difficult to purchase apps. It would be nice if the app page in iTunes had an Accessibility compliancy section so I could more easily determine if the app supports features such as VoiceOver.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02:  Apple CEO Steve...

Another shortfall is the on-screen keyboard. With my particular visual difficulties, the on-screen keyboard would be more effective if the key was dark and the lettering light in a look similar to the chic-let keyboards on a MacBook Pro. You can achieve this effect in Accessibility by manipulating the screen contrast, i.e., a reverse video effect. This changes the keyboard, but it also changing the entire screen. I don’t want to change the entire screen; only the keyboard. Come on Apple, you let me change the keyboard layout. Let me change the default color.

CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Apple's Senior Vi...

Yes, I know Apple, your company is a leader in making the technology experience available to a wider group of people. Apple is eons ahead of Amazon. Apple has added Siri to the iPhone 4s and dictation for the iPad. But, there is still more than can be done.; some which should be relatively simple to accomplish.

 

 

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