iBooks vs GoodReader for PDFs

June 26, 2010

GoodReader used to be one of my favorite iPad apps, but iBooks 1.1 just blows it away for reading PDFs

  • Sync via iTunes is much easier and nicer
  • Way easier to get an overview on a document – fantastic thumbnail view and contents pages
  • Bookmarks
  • Feels lots faster – search, moving between pages, etc
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The true Achilles heel of mobile Safari

June 18, 2010

Figured out something today: even though Facebook in Safari is great, I still actually need to keep the mobile Facebook app on my iPad.

Why?

Because otherwise I can’t upload photos to Facebook!

Safari doesn’t have access to a media/file browser to enable users to upload to websites. Any “upload” button that appears on a website like FB is usually made inactive. This is particularly weird, because Apple clearly has the code for a media browser just sitting around – it’s right there in iWork. Even non-Apple apps (Facebook, Twitter clients, etc) make a media browser available to users, so why not Safari?

This seems like a much bigger deal to me than Flash not being available (esp. when you can upload photos straight to the iPad via a connection kit). There are several workarounds to this problem, but why should I have to use any of them, when an “upload” button is just staring me in the face?

iPad camera connection kit

June 14, 2010

iPad camera connection kit arrived in the mail a couple of days ago – it’s brilliant.

  • Recognises connection instantly and launches Photos application
  • Transfers are fast
  • Can transfer from iPhone to iPad (and then back to computer)
  • I’ve heard that it can be used with a USB keyboard, but this doesn’t work with my Apple keyboard (requires too much power)

My only complaint is the limitation on what can be done with the photos after they’re transferred to the iPad (i.e. almost nothing), which reinforces my strong belief that the iPad needs more iPhoto/Aperture functionality. Hopefully this can’t be too far away, now that iMovie exists.

When you shouldn’t use an iPad

June 13, 2010

I’ve discovered something weird about owning an iPad: you want to use it all the time, even when you’d think an iPhone would be more convenient e.g. I use the iPad (stored in a bag) to listen to podcasts while I’m just walking along.

Maybe it’s because the battery life is so much better? Whatever the reason, I naturally find myself using the iPad as my “go to” device and hardly use my iPhone at all anymore.

I’m thinking of taking conscious steps to change this behaviour, however, because the iPhone is clearly better in at least a couple of scenarios:

  • Walking along, listening to podcasts/music, because otherwise I just can’t hear incoming phone calls (not a good thing, when your wife is 37 weeks pregnant).
  • On an exercise bike. The iPad is a bit too heavy for this (on the other hand, if there was some kind of convenient stand/holder…)

Magazines on the iPad

June 9, 2010

I’ve started purchasing magazines on the iPad – one issue of Time and one issue of Men’s Health so far. Both are excellent. I’m sure that others would disagree, saying that they’re too much like physical magazines and that they should be more “interactive”. This doesn’t bother me at all. Both allow me to jump directly to any page I like, have beautiful layout and are reasonably priced. These are the 3 things (plus, of course, interesting content) that are truly fundamental.

I did learn one very interesting thing – I didn’t need to provide my credit card, just my Apple login, exactly as though I was purchasing via iTunes! Simplest online purchasing experience I’ve ever had.

Only one problem remains: getting the content I really want in a magazine subscription. e.g.

  • Cooking magazines (esp. MasterChef Australia)
  • Home architecture/interior design
  • Parenting
  • TV guide (my wife reads the articles)

iPhone 4 = great news for the iPad

June 8, 2010

The iPhone 4 announcement at WWDC by itself didn’t really mean that much to me. Practically speaking, the only thing I won’t be able to do with my 3GS is video calling, which I don’t think I’d use anyway. The rest was just quality bumps – thinner, better camera, greater pixel density, etc.. All well and good, but I can hold out for the iPhone 5.

However, there was a lot of great potential news in there for iPad owners (I’m thinking of the now inevitable iPad specific apps/updates, but we’ll still be able to use the iPhone versions in 2x mode):

  1. FarmVille app – I can finally justify an iPad purchase to my mum
  2. PDF viewing capability in iBooks. Hopefully this means I’ll be able to sync PDFs directly from iTunes, rather than having to drag and drop them via a wireless GoodReader connection. Also, I’ll be able to take notes and flip pages from left to right, instead of top to bottom.
  3. iMovie (yes!) – wasn’t expecting this to arrive so soon
  4. FaceTime. Just because the iPad doesn’t have a camera doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to see video being sent to me (i.e. one-way videochat, two way audiochat). I’m pretty sure that iChat on the Mac works this way. Still hoping for a great webcam attachment though (I’ve heard of one being created, but I’m a little iffy about it).
  5. And of course all the iPhone 4 things we already knew about – folders, multitasking, game center, etc..

iPad as a navigator using Google Maps

June 4, 2010

I was sitting in the passenger seat while my wife was driving using our TomTom One navigator. Decided to do a little experiment and run the iPad’s Google Maps app simultaneously to see how they compared. The iPad was much nicer in ways that I would never have thought of before:

      

  • The keyboard was far better – easier and faster to enter destination info
      

  • The quality/resolution of the map was far better – esp. much crisper text and I could see all the roads (and most places of interest) clearly labelled. The page looked like it came straight out of a street directory, as opposed to the TomTom’s cartoon-like map.
      

  • The screen was larger, so I could see more of the map and get a better overview. More than that though, on the TomTom the map continually shifted around to keep the pointer near the center of the screen, while on the iPad the map was static and only the blue dot moved, which I greatly preferred.
      

  • Never knew that Google maps gave current traffic information. On the TomTom this requires a subscription service.  

I just wish it was possible to download all the Google maps of Sydney and store them locally. If Google sold maps of individual cities, I’d definitely buy them and use the iPad as a navigator all the time (for those interested, a 15 minute car trip consumed 100MB over 3G).

Best Twitter client for the iPad

June 3, 2010

On the iPhone I use TweetDeck, but the iPad version seems to be somewhat broken by comparison – doesn’t refresh properly, no Facebook column, can’t mark tweets as read, etc..

Twitterrific, on the other hand is simply brilliant on the iPad. It’s particularly interesting in one key respect: it really lets me focus on one column at a time. Other iPad developers would learn a lot by looking at how Twitteriffic embraces the whole iPad UI paradigm – uncluttered, immersive and very straightforward navigation.

Telco greed

May 31, 2010

I was going to post the following just before Vodafone read my mind and announced it’s great $150/12GB/year plan (which I’ve since joined – I’m currently averaging about 20MB/day on the road and I’m very happy). Eventually decided to post it anyway, since the underlying message still applies.

The greed and/or cluelessness of the telcos is just astonishing. Both Telstra and Optus are offering iPad plans starting at $20/month, which to me clearly demonstrates that they don’t understand the iPad market at all.

The basic assumption should be that iPad owners already own both a computer and a smartphone. This means that the average user probably already has WiFi at home and mobile internet via their phone.

The main scenario for iPad 3G usage while on the road is low bandwidth – Twitter, Facebook, web browsing, checking Gmail. A lot of users aren’t going to need anything like 1 GB/month. People are going to watch online video and download music on their significantly faster and cheaper home network. I currently use my iPhone for twitter, FB, etc., but the iPad experience is just nicer (not $20/month nicer)

The plan that makes sense is $120 for 12 GB that DOESN’T EXPIRE (or expires in a year).

iBooks is available

May 26, 2010

Last night iBooks became available in the Australian app store. At the moment there are only a tiny handful of books available (all free) in the iBooks store and of these I only found three that I was interested in downloading.

However, even with just these three books I’ve found the iBooks experience to be simply amazing. When you suspend a page midway through turning you can actually see the text showing through the back side! Only Apple would take the care to program in this level of user interface detail and that’s why I love them. Can’t wait for the store to go online for real.