Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

March 22 2017

05:12

The iPad Air is Dead. Long Live the iPad.


Well, my prediction early last month that the iPad Air line would be retired was half right. The name is now gone, but I thought at the time that Apple would shift to an all Pro iPad lineup this Spring. However, thanks in part to the comments of several users of non-Pro iPads, I came to see how short-sighted that opinion was, and how many potential users it would leave behind.

Thankfully, Apple is a lot smarter than I am. As such, a lower-cost tablet still endures, just with a different name and a little different shape. However, this wasn’t all that went down yesterday. Apple made a few interesting, if low key moves, and changing up the Air 2 was just one of them. Here are a few of the highlights and interesting details from yesterday’s news.

The End of the Air

All of the rumors the last few weeks indicated that Apple would keep a lower cost 9.7″ device in the lineup, so the “new” iPad that was released wasn’t a surprise. It also wasn’t a shock that this “announcement” was little more than an update to Apple’s online store and a few comments to key press outlets. However, despite the absence of fanfare, this new device is a unique departure from the norm for Apple. They gave the iPad a processor bump and a brighter screen, but also made it closer to the size of the original iPad Air and removed the screen lamination and outer coating. Also, while the rumors of the new iPad coming in at $299 were a little off, Apple did manage to get the price down to $329 in this feature trade-off.

The combo of adding size and weight and lowering the price of a newly released device is definitely a new direction for Apple. The only time the iPad has ever increased in size from model to model was the iPad 3, and that was to accommodate the Retina Display feature. Apple going bigger and heavier in the service of lowering the price is definitely worth noting, especially in light of three years of falling iPad sales. This may disappoint some, but most of the potential buyers who care about such features will likely prefer a Pro model, anyway. In all honesty, there previously wasn’t enough separation between the Air 2 and the iPad Pro line beyond Pencil support. Now we see two distinct iPad lineups forming, which should make marketing them easier and hopefully less confusing for customers.

The Mini 4 Gets Mightier

I’m not quite sure what to make of Apple’s positioning of the Mini, and what it means for the future of this size iPad. While the outdated Mini 2 exited stage left, as expected, the Mini 4 remains. That wouldn’t be remarkable news on its own, but instead of just lowering the price of the existing 32 GB model to that of the new iPad, Apple did away with that model, made the only storage option 128 GB, and kept the price at $399. I guess this is a discount of sorts (the 32 GB model was previously $399), but it seems odd that a smaller form factor device would cost more than its new 9.7″ cousin. While the positioning of the iPad seems to clarify Apple’s product catalogue, this move makes a little less obvious sense to me. I’m sure there is a reason for this move. I’m just not sure what that reason is, yet.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if the on-again, off-again rumors of an iPad Mini Pro come to fruition after this shift in the Mini 4 specs and pricing. Apple already has two differernt iPad models at the 9.7″ size, so I don’t think this release is reason to write off a potential Mini Pro, just yet. Stay tuned.

Enjoy these Clips

There had been some recent rumors of Apple getting involved in social media again, but thankfully reality is far better than rumor in this case. Rather than go back down the path of trying to create some kind of small-scale social network as they did with Ping and more recently, Connect, Apple will be releasing a video and photo editing and arrangement app called Clips sometime in the next month.  Rather than attempt to re-create what makes Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other social media and messaging platforms unique and popular, Apple is leveraging its on-device photos and video experience and library, and delivering an app that works with the services you already use.

This is a smart move for Apple, as it is their best way to get involved in the creation of social media “stories,” without trying to beat established players at their own game. However, there will be some built-in advantages to sharing stories with others using one of Apple’s biggest lock-in features, iMessage. Apple struck a smart balance that plays to their strengths and minimizes weaknesses.

Other things to note about Clips are the mid-cycle release of the app, which will  hopefully be a continuing trend with Apple. We had the late release of Portrait Mode for the iPhone 7 Plus Camera last year and now this app. Hopefully these releases point to an Apple that is a little more iterative, and less dependent and locked into three or four defined event windows.

I think it was also a savvy decision for Apple to release Clips as a stand-alone app, rather than try to shoehorn its features into either Camera or Photos. Both of those apps are simple and easy to use, which has always been a big selling point of the iOS experience. Apple has had issues coming up with the right balance of exposing new features without negatively impacting the interface in the now VERY crowded iMessage app. Many of the effects and App Store features that came in iOS 10 are difficult to find without instructions or guidance. By making Clips a free, but separate app and UI experience, Apple avoids the issue of its features either being buried and too hard to find for those who want them, or in the way for those who don’t.

Amateur Hour

The iPad Pro lineup was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s proceedings. I think it is obvious that a new device like the 10.5″ model that is rumored would warrant its own Apple Event, even if it is smaller, or the stage is shared with new Mac releases. However, after seeing Apple’s online Store go down for updates, I was curious whether the rumored spec bumps for the 12.9″ and 9.7″ Pros might be released yesterday, as well. It is likely that these updated Pros won’t offer anything more exciting than the lower-cost iPad did in terms of changes. However, with all of the different devices and accessories that were released or upgraded yesterday, it is likely that Apple just decided to pair the 12.9 and 9.7 with the new Pro model to space things out a little bit and keep the marketing and product messaging separate.

While a few media outlets chose to use yesterday’s modest release with little or no fanfare to make a statement about how boring tablets have become (I’m looking at you CNet and Fortune), I personally think that is overstating the issue a bit. With three of four more iPad Pro devices still to be announced, almost certainly at a staged event, I don’t think we can use a rollout of such modest upgrades to draw any sweeping conclusions. Even though iPad sales are obviously in decline at the moment, the fact that Apple will have at least five, and possibly six devices available after its upcoming event gives us ample proof that they are still committed to the platform. Apple’s aggressiveness and departure from their typical device marketing and design strategies with the lower-cost iPad also show me that they are listening to what the market is saying. Hopefully a combo of the iPad with new Pros will be enough to spur some upgrade sales and turn the tide back in the right direction.

What do you guys think of the new iPad? At $329, is this a device that you would upgrade to from an older iPad? Are any iPad Air 2 users feeling let down by the new iPad’s trade-offs? How about the Mini 4 with 128 GB for $399? Is this enough to get you existing Mini users to pull the upgrade trigger? Is anyone out there excited about Clips? Let us know in the comments section below, on Flipboard, or @iPadInsightBlog.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | 5 comments | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: clips, iPad, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, ipad event, iPad mini 2, iPad Mini 4, iPad Pro

March 21 2017

02:55

Coming Attractions- What New iPad Features Would You Like to See?


The rumor mill is churning hard and fast now as we get closer to an inevitable Apple Event. However, with most of the stories just repeating variations on the same models and basic features, this is a good time to step back and see what other new features that users may be looking for in the new crop of iPads. Whether hardware, software, or both, there is no better time than a hardware refresh to consider what we hope Apple is cooking up in Cupertino.

Pencil This In


I have a few fairly modest upgrades and features I would like to see Apple release in the near future. I’ll lead things off with a very small but useful feature that should be a simple add for all iPad Pros, not just the newest models. I want to see Apple add a battery status for the Apple Pencil to the Status Bar any time it is connected to an iPad. I know there is a way to view the battery level via a Battery Widget that can be added to the Notification Center Widget Screen, but that’s always two swipes or a press and swipe away from where you are working. There is no reason that Apple can’t add a battery indicator next to the Bluetooth icon, similar to what we get with other Bluetooth 4.0 devices such as headsets and headphones.


This feature request is obviously on the less ambitious side, but for anyone who uses the Pencil often, it would be very useful and much more intuitive than the current method of monitoring battery life, especially during extended use. Come on, Apple. Pick the low hanging fruit.

Touch and Go


My second request, which is both more common and more difficult, is the addition of 3D Touch to the iPad.. I’ll preface this by saying that I personally believe we will get 3D Touch on the new 10.5″ iPad Pro. With the coming 10.5’s newer design and edge-to-edge screen, there is at least a decent likelihood of this feature finally making it to the iPad lineup. Also, this fits with Apple continuing theme of slowly rolling out new features, such as Retina Displays, TrueTone Color, and TouchID, as component costs and the supply chain allow. Well, at least allow within Apple’s target profit margins.

Unfortunately, I have my doubts that the rumored refreshed 12.9″ and 9.7″ models will get the full 3D Touch makeover. I hope they do, but I’m not convinced that it will makes sense to roll out past the one model this year. This won’t matter to a lot of users, as many dismiss the usefulness of 3D Touch as a gimmick. However, I actually enjoy using the 3D Touch features, especially the quick access to widgets on the Home Screen. I think this feature specifically would be very useful with the larger screen of the iPad.

Making a Connection


My third suggestion is for Apple to move to an improved Smart Connector design. I won’t dispute that the concept of this feature is solid. Unfortunately, I believe that the design and execution have hamstrung what should be a strength of the iPad Pro lineup to this point. What makes me say this? Just look at the Apple accessory ecosystems for some of their other newer hardware designs. They have already met with robust support from third parties. The Apple Watch has no shortage of band and docks available. The Apple Pencil has covers, clips, and holders galore. How many third party accessories have we seen that support the Smart Connector? The lack of support relative to other Apple products speaks volumes.

This was easier to dismiss when only one iPad Pro supported the Smart Connector feature, but that reasoning doesn’t hold water anymore. Slowing sales of the iPad could also be to blame, but there are still plenty of cases and other accessories for the Pros. I think the fact that ZAGG, Brydge, and New Trent, all longtime iPad keyboard case manufacturers, decided to stick with Bluetooth for their iPad Pro designs is telling. There have been reports and rumors floated that it is difficult to make accessories work with the connector, as the alignment has to be perfect, and the connection absolutely stable at all times. Considering that there are plenty of other accessories for the iPad Pros, I think this theory carries more weight.

Despite the initial struggles with the Smart Connector, it is definitely a concept worth Apple investing in and improving. If they could tweak the design to be more forgiving with charging docks and keyboard cases, and make a solid case to accessory manufacturers on how these improvements will make their designs sucessful, I think adoption would quickly pick up.

Also, another welcome addition would be allowing third parties to design swiveling hinges for keyboard cases, with a stationary Smart Connector in the center. This would make a case with the same positioning options as the ZAGG Slimbook possible with the Smart Connector’s direct connection to the iPad. I would absolutely LOVE to see this, as the ease of adjusting the iPad’s angle while docked is a big reason why I stick with my Slimbook. However, Apple will have to loosen the reigns on their on their design requirements before that happens.

These are just three modest feature and upgrade suggestions that come to my mind, These are things that would make my iPad Pro more of a pleasure to use than it already is, and ultimately, those are the kinds of things I want to see Apple adding over time.

How about all of you? What kinds of hardware or software improvements or upgrades would you like to see Apple roll out in the coming weeks, or even as far out as WWDC as we move toward iOS 11? Inquiring minds want to know. Drop us a line in the Comments section below, on our Flipboard channel, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii

.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: 3d touch, Apple Pencil, brydge, iPad Pro, new trent, smart connector, touchid, Zagg

March 16 2017

03:49

As The Rumor Mill Turns- The iPad Mini Pro is Back in Favor


As we get closer to impending iPad announcements, the rumors are slowly giving us a more accurate picture of coming attractions. The reports of a 10.5″ Pro device have been loud, clear, and consistent, and are still pointing to a new SKU in the iPad line. This is as close to a full-on device leak as we can get, so the 10.5″ model looks all but certain now.

We’ve also heard consistent rumors of a refreshed 12.9″ Pro, although the timeline of release still seems to be up for debate. It may be coming later in the Spring, but I feel confident that it IS coming. There are also plenty of reports on 9.7″ devices, but it’s hard to be sure whether these refer to a lower-cost iPad Air 2 refresh, an upgrade of the 9.7″ Pro, or maybe even both.

While there has been plenty of ebb and flow to the rumors of the devices listed above, the rumors relating to the iPad Mini have differed and changed the most to this point. There were references to a Mini Pro late last year, but those had quieted by the new year when I wrote about iPad rumors back in early February. One of the next reports had the Mini firmly back in the picture, only to be contradicted again in a subsequent batch.

Today, there are fresh reports from Greek site TechValue (the linked article is in Greek. This BGR article gives a synopsis in English) that once again include a reference to an iPad Mini Pro, along with three other models: 9.7, 10.5, and 12.9. The fact that there will be four new models looks very solid right now, as a report from marketing firm Fiksu says that four new models are showing up in analytics logs breaking down use in the Cupertino area, and that sightings have been increasing. While this report doesn’t prove that a new Mini Pro is coming, it does lend a lot of credibility to there being four new devices. If nothing else, this definitely increases the odds for a new Mini,

This rumor of a coming Mini Pro actually makes a lot of sense. With iPad sales continuing to slump, lower-cost models to round out the lineup are a necessity. Still, while we have seen reports of a $299 9.7″ device, there haven’t been any rumors at all regarding the existing Mini 4 or a similar update to it. However, we also know that the current Air 2 and Minis are selling in higher numbers than the Pro models. As such, it stands to reason that a Mini WILL continue to be a part of the iPad family. The absensce of any rumors of a continuance of the standard Mini lends credence to the rumors of a Mini Pro, as inconsistent as they may be.

I also have to admit that I didn’t realize how much of a following the Mini form factor still has until several readers responded to a recent article I wrote. A few specifically mentioned wanting a Pro model with Pencil support, so these rumors this late in the game should be welcomed news for them. It seems I was VERY misguided when I predicted the demise of the Mini back in February. However, I’m happy to admit it if it means Apple is releasing four new iPad Pro devices. That would show ample evidence of Apple’s continued commitment to and support for the iPad family of devices.

Many of you responded to tell us about your preference for the iPad Mini form factor last week. What do you think about these new iPad Mini Pro rumors? Are you buying them? Are you excited? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below, on our Flipboard channel, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii. I look forward to hearing from you.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: iPad mini, iPad Mini Pro, iPad Pro

March 13 2017

03:07

NCAA March Madness Live Returns


It’s that time of year again. Spring is closing in, and one of the best sporting events every created by man is about to tip off. The brackets have been announced. Potential Cinderellas are searching for the right slippers and the hopes of many bubble teams have been burst. People are furiously researching teams like UNC-Wilmington and South Dakota State as they look for the perfect upset pick that none of their friends will see coming. Office work will come to a screeching halt on Thursday and Friday in the name of basketball. It’s time for MARCH MADNESS!!!!

In case you couldn’t tell, I am a huge sports fan, and this just happens to be my absolute favorite sporting event. My two favorite teams, Memphis and LSU, were mediocre and downright awful this year, but you know what? I don’t care. I will STILL be watching. I always do, because March Madness ALWAYS delivers. The drama and upsets of the first two days of this tournament truly make it unique among major sporting events. 52 games in 2 days, and it’s all here in one app. The NCAA’s official March Madness Live app has been around for many years now in various forms, serving up live tournament action, stats, and brackets all across iOS.

I have to admit that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this app over time. There have been years where it was lights out, and others where the developers seemingly randomly removed features, such as the ability to listen to radio feeds rather than streaming video for use in the are and on the go. I LOVE this feature because it allows me to keep up with the action while at work and on the go when video isn’t a good option. This can also save you a lot of data usage, depending on what kind of data plan you are using. So, the developers have really rubbed me the wrong way a couple of years when they inexplicably decided to take it away.

This year’s March Madness Live has the radio feeds, and also has apps for iMessage, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. You are literally covered across the board…if you have a cable or satellite plan. The NCAA makes the majority of its revenue on this one event, so there is no way there are going to give way to cord-cutters until they can be sure to replace all of their existing income. Until that day, don’t expect any free basketball except on CBS.

March Madness is a free app on all platforms, and will help you get closer to all the tournament action. It is a life-saver if you can’t get to a TV when your favorite team is taking the court, and also makes for a perfect second screen experience, allowing you to watch all of the other games while you keep the one important to you going on your TV. And if you have an Apple TV, you can even use the app to watch there, if you choose. The app also doubles as an effective tourney bracket manager if you want to play on cbssports.com. All around, this year’s version of March Madness Live is looking good so far. Get it now and gear up for the best week in American sports.

NCAA March Madness Live is available on the App Store for free, and works across all currently supported iOS devices.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: March Madness, march madness app, NCAA, ncaa march madness, ncaa tourney

01:41

I Really Hate Apple Keyboards


Several years ago, before I ever got my first iPad-specific keyboard case (the Logitech Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard by ZAGG for the iPad 2), I purchased an Apple Wireless Keyboard to see what it would be like not having to type on the screen of my original iPad. Even though it was a little awkward to carry around with what was supposed to be a mobile device, I still absolutely loved this keyboard. The layout and key spacing were perfect. The action felt good and the keys were responsive. The battery life was great, even if it ran off of actual batteries. It worked very well for me at the time.


Eventually I found the Incase Origami Workstation, which doubled as a protective cover for the keyboard, and then folded out into a stand for the iPad. This was a perfect setup for me at the time, and it got me writing more on my original iPad and early on with my iPad 2.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. It’s been a while since I’ve really had a need to try out an Apple keyboard, as there is absolutely no shortage of keyboard cases out there for every model of iPad, and I am a Windows user on the desktop, so there is no reason for me to use an Apple keyboard there. However, I noticed an Apple Smart Keyboard for the 12.9″ iPad with an Open Box discount at BestBuy a few days ago, and decided to take advantage. I had heard polarizing viewpoints on this accessory for over a year, as people either seemed to love it or hate it. I figured, why not give it a try at a little cheaper price and see how it goes after more use than I can stand looking at a demo at the Apple Store.

Haters Gonna Hate

I guess I’ve already tipped my hand, but I definitely fall in with the “hate its.” I honestly can’t understand the design of the “Smart” Keyboard on any level. It’s as if Apple stood by and watched Microsoft make early mistakes with the original Surface and Surface Pro (most, if not all, of which have been corrected since) and didn’t learn ANYTHING from them. The biggest knock on the original Surface Touch Cover keyboard was that no one wanted to type on fake keys with poor response. Their newer Type Covers reflect how much they learned from user feedback, and responded with appropriate design changes.They also evolved their keyboard designs QUICKLY, which is key. Now Surface users have a couple of really solid mobile keyboard options because of it. Unfortunately, using the Smart Keyboard makes me feel like Apple decided to re-invent the wheel, and ended up making something that works and responds like an original Surface Touch Cover. Too bad they effectively knocked off a colossal flop of a keyboard.

All kidding aside, I do have what I feel are legitimate gripes with this accessory. The fabric covering acts as a barrier that dampens the feel of the keys. I understand that Apple must have had some reason why they felt this design was superior. However, MANY other keyboard manufacturers have been making iPad keyboard cases with plastic keys for years and designing them work without issues for seven years now. The fabric seems like a solution in search of a novel problem that unfortunately causes other problems of its own.

Another issue with the Smart Keyboard is that it leaves the back of the iPad exposed when folded up. Again, this design decision seems to have been made in the interest of thinness, rather than functionality. Now, I have had and used devices like this on past iPads, such as the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case for the iPad 2/3. I really liked that case, because it was not only thin and light, but it gave solid aluminum coverage to one side of the iPad. More importantly, it also delivered a great keyboard with amazing battery life. You see, that’s the key to this situation. If you are going to take something away or have a trade-off of some kind in your design, you need knock it out of the park in the areas where your accessory is focused. If the Smart Keyboard served up a best in class typing experience for the iPad, I would absolutely accept the trade-off of no rear protection, the way that I did with past keyboard covers. Unfortunately for Apple, it isn’t a best in class experience. Not even remotely close.

Thinner

For me, the real issue here is Apple’s overriding obsession in all areas of their laptop and mobile business- thinness. No device can EVER be too thin or too light, even if that comes at the expense of battery life, or in this case, outright functionality. The only thing that the Smart Keyboard gets right is being thin, and that just isn’t all that compelling. The bottom line is that the response and feel of this keyboard is really below average, and doesn’t hold a candle to the third-party competition on their own devices, much less anyone else’s.

This Smart Keyboard is going back to BestBuy to become an Open Box special for another sucker as soon as I can get it there. Again, I just can’t believe that this accessory passed through the QA and marketing departments at Apple and made it to market the way that it currently stands. Apple touts the iPad Pro as a competitor to the traditional laptop for the modern student and professional, but that kind of work often requires a high quality physical keyboard. For someone like me who is actually using their Pro for just such tasks, the Smart Keyboard is more of a hinderance than a help. It doesn’t hold a candle to my ZAGG Slimbook, even with all of the additional size and weight that keyboard case adds. I’ll take the better keyboard and increased flexibility every day of the week and twice on Sunday, thank you very much.

More Mundane than Magic

Unfortunately, Apple’s quest for thinness isn’t limited to the Smart Keyboard. Their Magic Keyboard, the follow up to the original Wireless Keyboard that I mentioned at the beginning of this article, is also super small and light. Thankfully, it is a MUCH more sucessful keyboard than the Smart Keyboard, offering a far superior typing experience. However, most of the complaints that I came across online had to do with wanting a larger version of the Magic Keyboard, with bigger keys and a little more space. The keys also have a very low profile, which just isn’t necessary on what is supposed to be a full-sized wireless keyboard. Again, we see design decisions made for the sake of thin and light before device-specific functionality.

I would love to see Apple go back to the drawing board and create a keyboard case that is truly worthy of the iPad Pro moniker. They don’t have to get rid of the Smart Keyboard to do it, either. By all means, keep that one around for those who want it, but how about at a more reasonable price going forward. Then take a page from Microsoft’s book, and release another version that is geared toward greater productivity, even if it is a bit bigger and weighs a little more. A keyboard case with the “soul” of the old Wireless Keyboard and half of the portability of the Smart Keyboard would absolutely set the standard for the iPad Pro. Come on Apple. Myself and others like me are ready and willing to fork over our cash for this bad boy. How about giving us something worth spending it on this time.

Do you have an opinion on Apple’s Smart Keyboard? As widely as I’ve seen the opinions on this accessory differ elsewhere, I am sure many of you will disagree with me. That’s fine. Tell us why! Please let us know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii. We would love to hear from you.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Apple Magic Keyboard, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Smart Keyboard, Smart Keyboard issues

March 09 2017

03:30

Size Matters- Who Prefers a Smaller iPad?


On Monday, I asked if anyone cared about the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and many of our readers took the time to tell me that they definitely do (and a BIG thank you to all who took the time to join in the discussion). I was actually surprised at how much enthusiasm was expressed for the device. I see now that I’m not alone in preferring the larger size of the original model, and that several fellow users have some really cool and unique use cases for which the larger screen is advantageous. It’s always great to share experiences like that and learn from fellow users. The 12.9″ model may not have as much Apple marketing push behind it these days, but it is obvious to me that it should continue to have a place at the iPad table.

Shifting gears, I would now like to hear from everyone who either isn’t using the 12.9″ iPad, or who currently is and may be re-thinking what size works best for them. Right now we have a 9.7″ version that is thinner, lighter, and less expensive. For those of you who have this model, what are you using it for? What do you think of it? What are some specific advantages and use cases that highlight its form factor? Inquiring minds want to know.

Any amount of variety is better than none at all, but we all know that more iPad choice may be coming very soon. I’ve already heard from a few users who are curious about the potential 10.5″ model that looks like all but a sure thing now. Are any of you with a current iPad Pro looking for some middle ground? Are some of you considering a Pro, but waiting to see what this new model will bring to the table?

Also, is anyone interested in the rumored $299 9.7″ iPad Air 2 revamp? For those who don’t need Pencil or Smart Connector support, that is a pretty inviting entry-level price for a new Apple tablet. I’ve already heard from a couple of users who have older devices that still meet their needs, and know several more personally. Would this price point be enough to sway you towards an upgrade?

Last but not least, are there any iPad Mini/Mini Pro holdouts among us? I wrote this model off in an earlier article, but the device is evidently still selling better than the 12.9″ Pro, so I guess there is still something to be said for a small form factor at a cheaper price. If Apple were to release an iPad Pro Mini, which has come and gone through the rumor mill (but is currently back on the outs again, it seems), would any of you be interested? While the Mini really doesn’t appeal to me that much, the thought of having the closest thing to a digital steno pad with Pencil support is at least interesting.

Thank you to all of the readers who commented on their 12.9″ iPad preferences and use cases earlier this week. I hope we will hear from those of you with a different point of view this time around. If you are a fan of any of the smaller iPads above or have an interesting use case you want to share, please let us know in the Comments section below, on our Flipboard channel, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii. I look forward to more lively discussion.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | 2 comments | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: 12.9" ipad pro, big ipad pro, iPad Pro, iPad Pro 12.9, ipad pro upgrade, new ipad pro

March 07 2017

03:15

Size Matters- Does Anyone Still Care About the 12.9″ iPad Pro?


When the 12.9″ iPad Pro was released in November of 2015, it definitely caused a bit of a stir. A device with a larger screen than many laptops, new multitasking features, and advanced stylus support demanded that we rethink what the iPad was and what it could be. Considering that the momentum had last swung in the opposite direction with the release of the iPad Mini and its successors, the iPad Pro was a definite departure from the norm. I’m pretty sure that is exactly what Apple wanted at the time.

However, as time has gone on, we have gotten a 9.7″ version of the Pro that seems to have taken the spotlight off of the original device. We also can’t ignore the fact that iPad sales have been in continuous decline since before the 12.9″ Pro was released, and that we may soon have a new device with an in-between screen size. Has Apple lost interest in the original Pro, or is it possible that they think (or research is telling them) that it is just too big?

All that said, I’m wondering where the 12.9″ iPad Pro fits into the lineup now. I understand that it is a LARGE device and it obviously isn’t as portable as the 9.7″ Pro, especially when you put them both in cases. However, there really is something to be said for a mobile device with enough screen real estate to easily multitask on, or run Duet and turn it into a very usable secondary monitor. The big boy can handle some things that smaller iPads will struggle with.

As for my own experience, I have stuck with the 12.9″, even after taking a hard look at the 9.7 when it was released. It really fits the way I want to use the device now. I have the iPhone 7 Plus, so I’ve got a pretty good size screen on my phone, and it goes everywhere that I do. I don’t need the iPad to fill those kinds of roles. I use mine as a hybrid computer, especially for various tasks at work.

My Pro gets a lot of run as a video player, and it is really hard to beat in that regard. I spend a fair amount of time on the road for work, so it is very handy having a big screen Netflix player with great speakers with me. My work laptop is pretty much all business, all the time, and I like it that way. I actually prefer to have a separate larger device for my personal use, and the Pro takes care of what I need to do effectively. I also use my Pro as a second screen quite a bit on the road, whether connected to my laptop via Duet, or just as a document viewer and email machine so I can keep my laptop focused on a specific work task. In both of these use cases, the larger size actually works in my favor more than the size and added weight work against me.

A fast growing use case for me is what I am doing right at this moment- writing. I have used various Bluetooth keyboards and keyboard cases with my past iPads and used to do a lot of blog post drafting in the past. However, that was about the extent of what I could do with an iPad at that time. These days I alternate between a ZAGG Slimbook keyboard case and a more traditional case/stand with a full-sized but portable Logitech K811 Bluetooth keyboard. These keyboards paired with the WordPress app have become my weapon of choice for all of my personal writing, and even some of work. All but one of the articles I have posted here and at iPad Insight have been written, edited, and published using only my Pro. With the right keyboard, this size iPad Pro is just a killer writing machine- a downright pleasure to use. The screen size also allows plenty of room to pull in the Mail app or Safari to grab bits of information, copy links, and do research for whatever I’m writing, which I think is the biggest reason that I like the 12.9″ model.

I could go on with other ways that I use my iPad Pro, but that will keep for another day. I am more interested about what you, our readers, think about the 12.9″ iPad Pro. Do you have the big iPad Pro like me? If so, what has your experience been? Is there anyone who traded down to the 9.7″ model when it came out? If so, are you happy with your downsize? Are any of you strongly considering moving to the 10.5″ device, if it is more than just a rumor?

Sometimes the 12.9″ iPad Pro feels like the odd man out device these days. With the iPad refresh rumors regularly repeating that an updated 12.9″ Pro is coming, I feel more confident that it is at least hanging on in Apple’s plans for now. However, I still wonder about its long term future, which is a big reason why I am interested in hearing what all of you out there think.

Have an opinion on the 12.9″ iPad Pro? Please let us know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii. We would love to hear from you.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: 12.9" ipad pro, big ipad pro, iPad Pro, iPad Pro 12.9, ipad pro upgrade, new ipad pro

March 02 2017

05:32

Deals: ARMOR-X 2-in-1 Tablet Stand at 40% off

Today’s featured deal is perfect for anyone who is looking for a “hands-free” option for displaying their iPad or iPhone.  We do so much with our iPad’s these days–from reading recipes to watching movies, to playing games.  Even a newer, lighter iPad can get heavy after holding it for extended periods of time.  Fret no more, because now there is an solution to your problem, and it’s called the ARMOR-X 2-in-1 Tablet Stand.  For a limited time you can pick up a your very own at a discounted price of 40% off.  It’s a great deal that will run you only $29.99 – instead of its standard price of $49.99.  Here’s some info about the ARMOR-X,  and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Tablets just aren’t the most conducive to multi-tasking. Following recipes, watching an instructional video, reading while you work out – these things just aren’t simple when you have to hold a tablet in one hand. The ARMOR-X 2-in-1 Tablet Stand simplifies it all, giving you a sturdy aluminum stand that can be set up just about anywhere, including on your wall. Easily collapsible for transport to the gym or on extended trips, and completely adjustable for any activity, this stand makes using your tablet hands-free a complete breeze. Stop juggling your tablet while you try to get things done – let this stand do the heavy lifting for you.

  • Adjustable for the perfect viewing angle & compatible w/ most tablets
  • Easily attaches or is removed from a wall mount set up to a stand
  • Rotatable 360 degrees to establish any orientation
  • Folds compact for easy storage & portability

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.


© Renkman for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: iPad Accessory

04:07

Apple is Setting Stock Records. Again.


Apple was doomed. Then they set stock records and became the most valuable company in the world. Then the price fell and they were doomed again. We were assured that they couldn’t innovate anymore. Then Phil Schiller told us Apple “can’t innovate my ass” (ironically while announcing a computer that would go three years without an update).

The price has gone back up and come back down, again. Then Apple drove a stake into the heart of the venerable old headphone jack by removing it from the iPhones 7 and 7 Plus in spite of the howls of the all-knowing tech press. Surely this would be their undoing, and iPhone 7 sales would absolutely tank, right? IPad sales were already well off their peak in 2013. Can we finally say it? Is Apple really doomed this time?

Adding fuel to the media’s fire, on February 1 Alphabet passed up Apple to become the most valuable company in the world. Unfortunately for the folks that now run Google, their bragging rights were extremely short lived. Apple’s quarterly earnings hit on January 31, and they were impressive. iPhone sales weren’t just good. They were up 5% over the previous year, which is rock solid. Apple actually broke records for earnings per share and revenue per share. Then, on February 3, they passed Alphabet again on their way back up the ladder. Nope. Not doomed.

Apple has kept the party rocking over the month since, culminating in the news today that their stock has once again hit an all-time high at $139.78, up from a previous high of $137.11. That previous high came just last week. Over the last week, it has also come to light that Warren Buffett’s investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, has doubled its investment in Apple here in 2017. Maybe I’m wrong, but that sounds like good news to me.

Based on the continued good news and upward trajectory, expect Apple to continue to set stock records for the near future. Sales and profits might recede over the second and third quarters unless the new iPads drastically change the sales trajectory that the category has been on for the last three years. With all of the rumors of the coming iPhone 8 abounding and even crossing over into the mainstream media, existing iPhone sales are almost certain to slow down, as people who can wait for the latest and greatest will do just that.

However, even if AAPL takes another tumble from the top of the world’s markets in the middle of 2017, don’t bet on prices staying down. If nothing else, Apple has proven time and time again over the last decade that they understand what their customers want, and know how to deliver the goods. The tech press looking down from on high may not agree, but they’ve been wrong about Apple before. MANY times before. Whatever happens in the middle of 2017, expect the fourth quarter sales after the release of the new iPhone to be through the roof, yet again.

What do you think of Apple’s prospects to keep the money flowing and their stock rising in 2017? Please let us know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: APPL, Apple is Doomed, Apple Sales, Apple Stock, Apple Valuation, iPad sales, iPhone Sales

March 01 2017

12:00

Will a Lower Cost iPad Air Boost iPad Sales?


As we close in on the month of March, which seems almost certain to hold the promise of an Apple Event, the rumors of new iPads continue to abound. However, in the last week or so, they seem to have taken a turn. While there is growing certainty that there will be an event in March, whether we will actually get iPad hardware that soon is now being called into question.

The latest reports from several sites, including AppleInsider and MacRumors have the new 10.5″ and 12.9″ iPad Pro arriving sometime between May and June. While I think we will still hear details about the new device and the refresh of the OG Pro at our rumored March event, it looks like we may have to wait to lay our money down for new gear. While this is disappointing for us fanboys, it may also be by design.

With these potential delays in mind, I am left to wonder about the good old iPad Air 2. When the earlier rumors of a lower cost 9.7″ iPad came around late last and earlier this year, I wrote that this device was likely just the 9.7″ iPad Pro as it stands now, with a slight price drop. It is a newer device than the 12.9″ Pro, and it certainly seems like the rumored 10.5″ model is destined to take its place, since they have the same body size. Rather than refresh it now, why not just drop the price and try to grab more sales for a Pencil-enabled device? Because of this prediction, I assumed that the Air 2 would be phased out, leaving only the iPad Pros and maybe the current Mini left standing.

However, indications over the last week are that Apple actually will realease a slightly updated 9.7″ iPad Air at an even lower price point. This device is rumored to retail starting at $299, which is a full $100 off the current price. With iPad sales and profits having steadily fallen for three straight years, this move makes sense. It makes even more sense in light of the fact that, despite the features and power of the current iPad Pros, the Air 2 and Mini still outsell them. Keeping both the Air 2 and Mini around as even lower priced options seems like a much better idea than I originally thought in such a price-sensitive market.

One interesting thing about the rumors of iPad Pro delays and iPad Air price drops is whether Apple would go ahead and release a “new” lower priced Air in March. I say new because, even with a $100 price drop, I feel pretty certain that Apple is going to at least slightly bump the specs to freshen up this tablet. With buyers left waiting a while for new Pros, many of whom have been resistant to their higher price tag over the past two years, it is possible that Apple will use an exclusive release window for an updated Air to try and give iPad sales a shot in the arm. If so, I certainly hope that it works. If not, then Apple may really be fighting a losing battle trying to turn the tide of sales back to at least even.
Another time to watch iPad sales, and specifically sales of this rumored Air, will be around the Holidays of 2017. The new iPhone will be released and in full production and sales glory by then, but I wonder if Apple is willing to get aggressive with Air pricing, or at least allow retailers to, to spur sales. A $249 sale price (or an equivalent or greater gift card bundle at a retailer like BestBuy) for what would still be a powerful device may get the interest of people who are still using iPad 2s and original iPad Minis. There are more of those people out there than you think.

Considering how long the iPad upgrade cycles have proven to be, how few legitimate competitors there are left to take on the iPad, and how expensive most of them also are, there is a legitimate opportunity to move a lot of new iPads into exiting users’ hands. Considering Apple’s big push into the realm of services and the increasing revenue they are generating for the company, keeping iPad users happy and in the ecosystem is more important than ever. So, be on the lookout for a lower-priced Air refresh at Apple’s upcoming event. I have a feeling this rumor has long legs.


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: apple march event, iPad Air 2, iPad March Event, iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini Pro, iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 12.9, iPad Pro 9.7, iPad rumors, low cost 9.7 iPad

February 28 2017

07:15

iPad App of the Week: Quadro

Who doesn’t like great iPad apps? At iPad Insight we definitely do. With that in mind, we offer up a quick review of an excellent iPad app, or a few great iPad apps, here each week.

Our picks for Best iPad App of the Week are published here every week.  Check out all out picks below and you’ll soon have a collection of stellar apps for your favorite tablet.

This week’s pick is Quadro by Actions.  Quadro is a advertised as a smart controller for your MAC and WINDOWS computer, something akin to an external Apple Touch Bar.  Kinda, sorta–but much more than that.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad yet.  One thing I do know, is that I had never heard of Quadro and I found the concept to be intriguing enough to give it a try and let you decide if its an app that would work for you.

With Quadro you can create touchable shortcuts to accomplish any digital task.  You can launch every application and all of their actions–and even automate them.  You can also perform online researches, manage your communications and _tons_ more.

The idea with Quadro is to simplify and empower computing tasks, streamline your workflow to help you stay focused and be more productive.  Creating an efficient and easy way to interact with your computer is the goal, and I think you can get there “if” you spend enough time with the app and personalize the hell out of it so that it interfaces with your workflow in a meaningful way.


Quadro is ideal for
– speeding up your editing workflow for Audio, Video, Photography, Design
– quickening the change of context, from task manager to chat, from documenting and note taking to web browsing
– boost your online search experience with search automations
– automating cross-platform and cross-application tasks and data transfer
– making the process of learning software super-easy


Control your native or web applications with our many included free presets (find the list at the bottom), or activate Quadro premium and customise its functions and look to fit your necessities and reflect your style.  Create your own control palettes for softwares and tasks you use the most, set up your own shortcuts, and when you are done don’t forget to share them with your peers.

Additional Quadro features include…

Features:
• Control your favorite apps thanks to 100+ built­-in interface presets
• Connect via Wi-Fi or USB
• Add or remove functions from your personal interfaces
• Customise how actions look
• background (with colors, gradients or custom images)
• size (7 dimensions)
• icon (use symbols or artworks, 1600+ included)
• Create new interfaces from scratch for native and web applications
• Add multiple screens to a single interface to keep your tasks organized
• Easily create macro sequences and automate your workflow
• Type from your device to your computer with Keyboard
• Glide and select text with the Smart Arrows
• Launch nested actions in a snap with fluid gestures
• Immediately recall your most used applications thanks to the Favorites section
• Automatic connection to known computers
• Share and install interfaces with a simple link
• Long-press an action to get information about it

After you spend some quality time with Quadro it’s apparent that there is a lot going on–perhaps too much at first look.  The app  certainly isn’t for everyone.  However, with the built-in ability to personalize all of your control screens as well as their appearance, layout and color, it certainly is an intriguing offering for repetitive tasks, as well as a concept worth your time to try it out.  It’s a free offering to get started .

Here’s an App Store link for Quadro. Compatible with iOS 8.0 or later, Quadro for iOS is a universal app that works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and is compatible with OSX and Windows.  It can  control every native and web application and includes 10 categories of actions and a smart keyboard.

If you’re interested in more great iPad apps, check out our Best iPad Apps section!


© Renkman for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | 2 comments | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags:

February 27 2017

01:06

Going Native- Back to the Mail App


A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the iOS Notes app and all of the improvements made to it over the last few years that brought me back to it. Now its time to turn our attention to the iOS Mail app, which has also gotten some recent love from Apple over the last two years. Looking back, Mail was one of the lynchpin apps in the early iPhone OS, and once it received Exchange email support in year 2, it really was the standard for email on a smartphone. This would continue for a couple of years, until Google finally got its act together and started shipping a good version of Gmail with Android.

Despite iOS Mail showing its age as the years saw few changes or improvements, it took some time before competitors were able to make significant inroads on iOS. There has been a stand-alone Gmail app since 2011, but the early versions were very disappointing, and didn’t hold a candle to the Android version. I briefly used this app, but it just wasn’t good enough or stable enough to supplant Mail. Google didn’t release a version truly worthy of the Gmail name and reputation until a few years later, which was too late for me. By that time, I had jumped on the Mailbox bandwagon.


Mailbox was the first third party email that gained a spot on the Docks of my iPad and iPhone. Since it only worked with Gmail early on, and I use Exchange for email at work, it was never a complete replacement for Mail. However, lack of Exchange support was the ONLY reason it didn’t become my sole email app. Mailbox was notable for bringing the Schedule feature that is now very common to iOS, and also added the pull down to refresh feature that every app seems to have copied.

This app seemed to be headed to the top until Dropbox swooped in and snapped the company up in March of 2013. After a couple of years of business as usual, development slowed down and Dropbox eventually pulled the plug on the email service and app. Its features live on in many other apps, but Mailbox’s end is unfortunately a common tale in the App Store. When a larger company acquires and app and its development team, they often have different designs in mind than the app’s original purpose. Unfortunately, it is all too common for users to get left out in the cold in these “aqui-hires.” Apple’s purchase of Siri, which was once a successful stand-alone voice search app, is another prime example.


The next app that I ended up moving all of my email accounts to is an example of the opposite situation. In 2015, Microsoft purchased the popular email app Acompli, to the chagrin of many loyal users. However, instead of killing it, they simply rebranded the app as Outlook for iOS, and then put significant time and money into improving it and adding new features. Microsoft also purchased the popular calendar app Sunrise, and integrated it into Outlook, turning it into a full Personal Information Management app.

I already have a preferred Calendar and Task app in Pocket Informant from Fanatic Software, so that part of Outlook never interested me. However, the mail features were exactly what I was looking for at the time. Outlook took the best features from apps like Mailbox, with scheduling, customizable swipes, and pull to refresh. However, the best part was that, where Mailbox was limited to Gmail for a significant portion of its life, Outlook worked with every email service imaginable. It was capable of being a full iOS email replacement, and it served in that role for me for a couple of years.

Just like with the Notes app, I made note of recent upgrades from Apple as they were announced. However, I still rarely used the app after the release of iOS 10. What got me to take a hard second look at Mail was a run of issues that I experienced with Outlook. I started having some problems with lockups and crashes in the app over a month, which went from an annoyance to a legitimate hinderance to use. I manage the majority of my work email on my iPhone and iPad, so this was not something I could just overlook. I also had a LOT of problems with the Watch version of the app over an even longer period, which I had used extensively to triage and delete incoming emails without having to get my iPhone out.

The last straw for Outlook, at least as my primary email app, was when it failed to show some standard forwarded content that I needed in an important email. The sender sent me this particular email two or three times, even trying different email accounts, but nothing worked. Then I opened the same email in iOS Mail, and I noticed that the content I needed was shown properly. It wasn’t the sender or my account’s fault. It was my app’s fault. After over a month of problems, this was the last straw. When it comes to work email, failure isn’t an option, so cool features and a nice app design only go so far. If one thing can be said for past versions of iOS Mail, they were reliable. However, when I dug deeper, I found that there were actually features and improvements that I hadn’t used that made it much better and easier to use than in the past.

Just Pull Down

The first feature was actually an existing one that I had actually used before, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why Microsoft never added it to Outlook. The ability to swipe an email draft that you are working on down and out of the way, and go look up additional information in other emails is a no-brainer. In fact, you can have multiple drafts open at once and move between them using this feature.


For whatever reason, neither Outlook, Gmail, or Google’s other email app Inbox have this incredibly handy feature. There were a actually few times I used iOS Mail to compose a message after I had switched to Outlook because I knew I would need this feature. Now that I am using Mail again, I find that I use this often with it always in front of me.

Cold-Filtered for Smoothness

The next upgrade to Mail that I am finding very helpful is the enhanced filtering features that have been added. This used to be a weakness of the app in the past, but Apple turned it into a strength in iOS 10. Now there is a filter button in the bottom-left corner than can be set up and adjusted however you prefer.


I keep mine set up to show unread email by default, but by tapping the blue text under “Filtered By” at the bottom-middle of the screen, you are taken to a setup menu where the behavior of the filter button can be altered.


You can see here that the setup is very flexible, with options to include or remove any email account, unread emails, flagged emails, how the email is addressed, attachments, or your email VIPs. Whatever changes you make are saved, so they can be reused until adjusted again. Having one-touch access to your preferred filtering is a VERY welcomed addition, and actually beats out Outlook’s email filtering, which is less flexible, and takes two taps to enable.


Apple also added quick links to several different filtering categories that can be enabled and added to the main email navigation menu. These links give you access to common items, such as flagged or unread emails, emails with attachments, emails from today, drafts, all sent messages, all trash, and others. Unfortunately, users have to know to tap the Edit button at the top of the navigation menu to turn these links on, which isn’t exactly intuitive. I remember hearing about these new features when iOS 10 was announced at WWDC 2016, but by the time I started using Mail again, I had forgotten about them. I happened upon them days later while re-organizing the order of my email accounts in the navigation menu. There they all were, sitting idle since they are disabled by default. If a guy who writes about iOS has to go hunting for a feature, you can bet many users will never know about it. Whether it’s a quick intro video or having them turned on instead of off by default, Apple needs to make this handy feature more prominent.

SkyNet Awaits

Another feature that Apple is beginning to roll out across its native apps is AI enhancement. In some cases, it is Siri recognizing forms and fields and giving you one-touch selection capability from the keyboard. In the case of Mail, it is mostly related to recognizing emails from contacts, and finding differences between the information in their emails, and what you have in Contacts.

This is a small start, but hopefully it’s also a harbinger of good things to come. Apple has made plenty of statements about their recently expanded work on Siri and AI that can both search your data and take actions, but also preserve your privacy. Apple has a lot of our information, and since most of their searching is happening on-device, they actually can have access to much more that isn’t in iCloud. They also know good an well that they are playing catchup to EVERYONE at this point, so they can’t sit on this. The AI features in Mail absolutely have to be expanded in iOS 11, but everyone has to start somewhere. I would be more critical if Apple had been more ambitious and had added something less reliable. Starting small with something that works well is a smarter move.

Pulling the Thread


Another addition to Mail in iOS 10 is message threading. Here is another feature that pretty much all of the competition has added over the last few years. It’s good that Apple has FINALLY gotten its act together and put this feature in iOS Mail. One handy feature of the app’s threading capability is that it can be disabled for those who don’t prefer it.


Users can also determine how messages are ordered, and if emails from other folders appear within threads. As many back and forth project emails as I receive for work, this feature is a must for me. I need to be able to see both the ones I’ve recieved and my responses in chronological order. It’s good to see Apple finally catching up in this department.

Sliding Into Home

Another subtle addition to Mail that shows up on the iPad Pro is the ability to move to a three window design, with the navigation menu anchored at the left. Below you see Mail with the nav menu hidden.



And above you see it anchored. This allows you to easily switch between folders and accounts with fewer taps. It is a smart use of the extra screen space on the iPad Pro that I find very useful. Conversely, this is another feature that Microsoft has chosen to not adopt in Outlook. Its nav menu comes in from the left, but disappears as soon as you make a selection.

Nobody’s Perfect

While I am largely satisfied with the experience of going back to Mail as my primary email app on my iPhone and iPad, there are still a couple of issues that keep me from being completely satisfied. First off, even though Mailbox showed the way on Scheduled email over four years ago, and pretty much everyone else has adopted the feature since, Apple has stood fast and has refrained from adding it directly to Mail.

I realize that I can use Siri to trigger a Reminder for an email, which is at least something. However, the only way to do this is to use my voice with Siri. That isn’t always ideal, especially in a work environment. Even if Apple just added a Share Sheet icon to the Email viewer where a Reminder can be added manually, it would fill the gap pretty effectively, assuming Apple let’s users know the feature is there. However, until that time, Microsoft and Google still have a leg up in this department. When I have to Schedule an email for later, I usually fall back to Outlook, which I still have installed. I am hoping this is addressed in iOS 11, so I can go with Mail exclusively in the future.

The other drawback with Mail actually has to do with my use on Apple Watch. While I appreciate the full feature set that Mail offers on the Watch, including the capability to respond to messages, triaging incoming email is actually more difficult than with Outlook. All I want to see with notifications on my Watch is the subject, sender’s address, and maybe a brief snippet of the message.

If I want to read it and resond, I will usually open it on my phone. My preferred notification setup is what I get with the Outlook Watch app, followed by options to Schedule, Mark as Read, and Delete the message. With Mail, I have to scroll the length of the message to Delete from the notification.

It is generally faster to tap on the notification to open the email in Mail, Force Touch to bring up the options, and then tap Delete. This is a small thing, but for people like me who get a lot of email that can be scanned and deleted quickly, the extra taps and scrolling are tedious and add time to a process that should be smoother. Unfortunately, the only option for notifications for Outlook on the Watch is to mirror what’s on the iPhone. I don’t want duplicate notifications on my phone, so I am just putting up with the notifications served up by Mail for the time being. Again, it isn’t the end of the world, but this is something I hope Apple will address in watchOS 4.

Another update that I would like to see that would rival some of the actionable notification features we see on Android would be the ability to make quick email responses from within a notification. We already have this capability in Messages, and also inside the Mail app on Apple Watch. The ability to make quick replies would even out the feature set in iOS, and save some time for those of us who need this often.

Mailing it In

I took a look at my path going back to the iOS Notes app first a couple of weeks ago, because I feel that it has seen the most positive changes of any iOS app over its lifetime. However, I think Mail is right there with Safari, battling for second place among the other native apps. Multiple filtering additions, the beginnings of AI assistance, flexible message threading threading, and the three pane layout option on the iPad Pro are all significant updates that make the app both faster and easier to use. Hopefully Apple will add enhanced message scheduling, the ability to respond to messages within notifications on the iPhone and iPad, and easier notification triage options on Apple Watch in iOS 11. Until then, despite the fact that it isn’t perfect, Mail is the best app for me right now. Hopefully Apple will make the necessary changes to stay ahead of the competition going forward.

I am curious to hear the experiences of others with Mail recently. Is anyone else out there using Mail over other offerings like Outlook or Gmail? Has anyone left another product and come back to Mail, like myself? If so, let me know in the comments, or feel free to respond on Twitter @iPadInsight or @jhrogersii.

 


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | 10 comments | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: apple mail, Gamil for iOS, Gmail, ios 10 mail, iOS mail, Mailbox, Mailbox for iOS, Microsoft outlook, Microsoft outlook for iOS, outlook

February 26 2017

20:44

How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication for your Apple ID on your iPad

2-Factor Authentication_iPadInsight

If you’re running the beta for iOS 10.3 on your iPad then you’ve most likely already received a push notification from Apple encouraging you to enable Two-Factor Authentication for your Apple ID.  Apple began pushing these persistent notifications sometime yesterday.  Simply opening them and dismissing the notification does not clear it.  In addition, if you have badges activated for your Settings App, it will continue to display a notification even after it is confirmed/read.

Although this may seem a little heavy-handed by Apple, it’s in you best interest to be a safe as you can, and it only take s few minutes to enable two-factor authentication on any of your iOS or macOS devices.  I took the plunge last night and set it up on my iPad, iPhone and Mac–and here’s how I did it.

How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication

IMG_0112

In my situation, I enabled two-factor authentication via the notification I had discussed earlier.  However, you can be proactive about it and take action without being prompted by opening the Settings App on your iPad and underneath the your Apple ID header select Trust This iPad.  IMG_0113

At this point, you enter your Apple ID password and Apple will send a verification code to your assigned trusted device so that you can activate two-factor authentication.

IMG_0114

Once the message is sent to your trusted device so that you can complete setting up two-factor verification, you simply need to enter in the six digit code on your iPad.  A trusted device is an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch with iOS 9 and later, or Mac with OS X El Capitan and later that you’ve already signed in to using two-factor authentication. Trusted simply implies that Apple has been able to verify that it is yours and can be used to verify your identity.  If for some reason the code is never delivered, you can have it re-sent form the pop-up page.

IMG_0115

This actually happened to me, and it was easy enough to work around and still get the code I needed.  In addition, if you didn’t receive your verification code, you can also use a Trusted Phone Number.  A trusted phone number is a number that can be used to receive verification codes by text or phone call. You need to verify at least one trusted phone number to enroll in two-factor authentication.  A trusted phone number is especially helpful if for some reason you temporarily can’t access one of your own devices.

IMG_0116

Why is Two-Factor Authentication Important

Security, security, security!

Because your password alone is no longer enough to access your account, two-factor authentication dramatically improves the security of your Apple ID, and by extension, all the personal information you store with Apple.

By using two-factor authentication, your account can only be accessed on iOS and macOS devices you trust.  When you want to sign in to a new device for the first time, you’ll need to provide two pieces of information—your password and the six-digit verification code that’s automatically displayed on your trusted devices.

One and done–no need to worry about having to utilize the authentication process again, unless you sign out of that device completely, need to change your password, or erase the device.  In addition, when you sign in on the web you can choose to trust your browser, thus eliminating the need for a verification code the next time you sign in from that specific computer.

 


© Renkman for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Beta, Security, Two-Factor Authentication

February 24 2017

03:18

Deals: Nifty C PowerPod Battery Pack for USB-C/A Devices

f65372c0cf4354f9e9a6b8ed52dcd4408e0fb96c_main_hero_image

Today’s featured deal is a multi-use battery back up option for the growing number of USB-C/A devices out in the wild.  Even with a movement toward a universal standard for charging, there are still a variety of charging needs and connections for the most popular mobile devices and laptops.  Wouldn’t it be great if you had a little help in situations like these where you didn’t want too have to carry a different cable for each and every device that you might need to top off the battery?  Now you have an option that charges both USB Type A & C devices, as well as fishing the process at an accelerated rate.  For a limited time you can pick up a Nifty C PowerPod Battery Pack for USB-C/A Devices for only $49.99 and start charging your devices with ease.  Here’s some info about the Nifty C PowerPod Battery Pack and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Chargers are included with just about every new tech device these days, but what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another, and nobody wants to carry snakes and snakes of wires around all the time. With the PowerPod from Nifty, you’ll get a high-powered charger with USB Type A and Type C compatibility, allowing you to power most smart phones up to six times faster, and other USB devices like GoPros and vaporizers up to nine times faster. Charge your devices on the commute with the PowerPod, and it’s the only charger you’ll need all day.

  • Qualcomm Fast Charge 2.0 charges iPhone 7 up to 4.5 times faster, Google Pixel up to 3.3 times faster & adds hours of power to laptops
  • Compatible w/ the brand new, USB Type C MacBook Pro
  • Packs up for travel easily

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.


© Renkman for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Fast Charging, USB Type A, USB Type C

February 21 2017

13:00

New iPads on the horizon–the latest Apple March event rumor roundup

iPad_Pro

March is just around the corner, and with it comes the wish lists and rumor-mill pre-game shows leading up to a probable Apple Event. The spring time is when we have come to expect new iPad announcements that often include accessories with with some occasional iPhone goodness sprinkled in for good measure.  This year appears to be no different.  In fact, this year might actually be one of the busiest spring Apple Events in recent memory.

All the usual, mostly reliable suspects are chiming in, and many of them have been predicting very similar announcements.  Tops on the list of predictions is the release of a new iPad screen size in the lineup.  The size reference to this new iPad size varies somewhat, but it is expected to be in the 10.5″ to 10.9″ range, with the latest supply line leaks suggesting more than likely to be 10.5″.

Edge-to-Edge Design

This new iPad will have an edge-to-edge screen design that allows it to still have the same “footprint” as the 9’7″ iPad Pro form factor.  In addition, it is also rumored to be void of an actual home button, potentially giving us a preview of what to expect with the 10th anniversary iPhone next fall.  Shipping of said iPad may not be at the same time as the rest of the updated iPad Pro lineup, though there is little chatter about that info currently.

iPad Pro

The Japanese tech site Mac Otakara is reporting that although the new iPad will have an edge to edge design, a larger portion of the top bezel will remain in order to provide space for the front-facing FaceTime camera.  This seems a little odd, as Apple typically doesn’t feature products that aren’t uniform in design–we shall see.  The 12.9″ model is predicted to have an upgraded camera and True Tone display previously saved for only the 9.7″ model, we might not see any “new” features or even chip updates to the 9.7″ version.  It is possibly/probable that the 9.7″ will now become the affordable option with the 10.5″ iPad displacing it as the Pro version.

“New” iPad mini Pro?

Finally, and perhaps the most skeptical rumor to be presented is the upgrade of the 7.9″ iPad mini to the Pro line-up.  Not updated site the release of the iPad mini 4 in September of 2015, the iPad mini is the least popular version of the iPad, especially since the introduction of the Plus model iPhone.  Unless this is an Attempt by Apple to advance the 7.9″ iPad one last time into the Pro market by updating the camera, display and chip set as well as adding a smart connector, I’m not sure we expect to see the 7.9″ getting any love come March.IPadminiTypically the most reliable measuring stick for new hardware release info has been from monitoring Apple’s supply chain for leaks.  With this in mind, there is currently no one better at interpreting that info than KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.  Ming-Chi Kuo has been reporting since last summer that Apple is planning a three-headed monster attack for the iPad Pro including model screen sizes of 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch for 2017. He has never mentioned a updated version of the 7.9″ model, and we tend to agree with him.  He goes on to suggest that the new 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models will most likely be updated to a new Apple A10X processor, and the 9.7-inch model will feature an A9X chip.

So what do you think?  Do any of the new iPad rumors get you excited about new iPad’s again?  Are you in the market for an upgrade?  We would love to hear what you think in the comments section below.


© Renkman for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: iPad mini, iPad Pro

February 20 2017

03:30

Apple Releases Four New iPad Pro Ads

IPad Pro

Over the last few days, Apple has released four new iPad Pro ads that take the messaging for the line in a little bit of a different direction. Where the last ad from six months ago compared the iPad Pro to a computer by showing off ways that it could perform similar tasks, but in a more portable and easier to use package, the new commercials are all about contrasts between the two.

Here is the previous commercial, What’s a Computer? for reference:

And the four new ones:

Better Than a Computer


Don’t Hunt for WiFi


Do More with Word


No PC Viruses


Apple is going back to highlighting some of the unique advantages of the iPad, with the focus of the commercials placed on the availability of built-in LTE, the fact that viruses aren’t really an issue on iOS, and the capabilities of the Apple Pencil.  Honestly, I REALLY like this shift in strategy. It’s a losing battle trying to position the iPad Pro head to head against a computer on the PC’s home turf. While a device like the Surface Pro is a full-fledged computer with tablet features added, the iPad is better positioned as touch-first tablet with computer features added to show it in its best light.

Another interesting aspect of these commercials is the fact that they come almost a year after the release of the 9.7″ iPad Pro. Apple isn’t in the habit of doing commercials for product categories that are about to be upgraded, rather waiting until after updates are released and featuring the updated products. As such, it will be interesting to see how these commercials line up with all of the iPad rumors out there now, or if they indicate a potential delay in the release of any new or updated iPads.

What do you think of Apple’s new iPad Pro ads?  Feel free to let us know in the comments section below, on our Flipboard page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.

 


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Apple Ads, iPad, iPad Ads, iPad Pro, iPad Pro 12.9, iPad Pro 9.7

February 19 2017

05:50

The Challenging State of the Tablet Market


Before Apple’s stock price soared to even greater heights this week thanks to strong iPhone sales, growing services revenues, and rumors of spectacular devices to come, we got the bad news about iPad sales. During Apple’s quarterly sales call two weeks ago, we learned that sales were down 19% percent and revenue down 22% over last Q1, meaning not even the impressive iPad Pros have been able to overcome the forces of market saturation, slow upgrade cycles, and the encroachment of large screen smartphones.

Tim Cook keeps telling us that Apple remains committed to the platform, and to their credit, Apple has kept adding form factors and features to the lineup (and we hear more are on the way). However, the iPad’s glory days seem a distant memory, and it is now clearly a secondary device to the company’s true money maker- the iPhone.

It’s Tough Out There for a Tablet

What we tend to forget is that, while iPad sales are down, at least there ARE sales. Things are a whole lot worse for everyone else making tablets. Maybe I should have called this article, The Challenging State of THE REST of the Tablet Market. Remember the days when BestBuy had a double isle devoted to Android and Windows tablets from companies like Lenovo, Asus, Acer and Toshiba? Remember the Nexus 7?

IMG_0111

I do. I actually owned both models, and really liked the second one. I hate that Google got bored and abandoned the form factor, because they have the clout to sell more than any of the aforementioned manufacturers.

Sadly, those days and devices are long gone. What’s the point of a tablet isle at BestBuy when there’s little left worth putting there. The Microsoft Surface (which we will get to in a moment) and Amazon’s tablets get their own areas, along with Apple of course. Samsung has a large section in many stores, and they may have a couple of tablets on hand, but the majority of display space is reserved for Galaxy phones and wearable devices. The only other thing I could find during my last visit to BestBuy was a small section of a shelf labeled “Value Tablets.” They were all BestBuy’s house label, Insignia. Blech.

Many of the companies mentioned above still make tablets, but if you look through their offerings, they usually revolve around smaller screen sizes and cheaper prices. At this point, Samsung and Amazon are the only companies making larger screen tablets with features that come anywhere close to the iPad, but gone are the days when they actually tried to compete with it. For all their size and money, even they still primarily focus on the 6″ to 8″ sizes. So don’t feel too badly for Apple.

When is a Tablet Not a Tablet?

IMG_0112

So what about the Microsoft Surface? It’s gone from the butt of jokes and being called an iPad on NFL broadcasts to a mature device that has the respect of the tech community. The devices in the Surface lineup may not be a massive mainstream sales successes, but they have gained enough mindshare to be viewed as equal to or better than the iPad by many, especially enterprise users. However, is the Surface really the same kind of device as the iPad? Personally, no matter how it is designated, I don’t think it is.

I’m a Windows user, and I currently use a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2, which other than the detachable keyboard, is a similar device to the Surface in many respects.

IMG_0113

It is touch enabled, thin, light, and has a flexible design that allows it to be used in different ways. However, like the Surface, it is NOT a tablet. Not in the truest sense. It is a laptop made to be more portable and to work better with touch. More importantly, where the iPad is a device that was built from the ground up to work using touch input running an OS built to focus on touch, the Surface is based around an OS that still sits straddled between the future and the past, and for which touch is still a secondary form of input. A removable keyboard and built-in kickstand don’t adequately cover over that in my book.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t really use any of the “tablet” features of my Yoga, but I love it as a laptop. I use it all day, every day at work, and rarely have a complaint. I also still have my 4 year old original Yoga as a backup machine. It still boots up in less than 10 seconds and works very well. The only reason I moved on as soon as I did was because it had a smallish 128 GB SSD. The thing is, at 13″, neither is a great tablet with the screen folded back with the keyboard on the bottom, running mostly desktop apps. Like my iPad Pro, it is very good at performing the tasks it was designed around, but is less ideal for things that fall outside of that scope. It will still work for them, just not as well.

So, while Microsoft has definitely established itself as a force in portable touch computing, I still wouldn’t classify the Surface in the same category as the iPad. There is overlap between the two, especially with the iPad Pros, but there are still more differences than similarities at the OS level, where it counts. However, those differences do cut both ways. Whether the Surface is really the same as an iPad, it’s more traditional OS does give it advantages, especially in the business and enterprise markets. Companies don’t have to re-imagine interfaces and redesign workflows to roll out the Surface in their organizations like they often to with the iPad and iOS.

However, you view Apple and Microsoft and their devices, one thing is true. The iPad and Surface have combined to cover the touch market and squeeze the competition hard. I wouldn’t expect to see much marketing and innovation beyond larger competitors like Amazon, Samsung, and Google. They can afford to stay in the game, where it just won’t be worth it for most companies. But at this point, it will be hard for any of them to make a big move against them.

Market Forces

What does the future hold for the iPad and that tablet market as a whole? It seems there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the product category right now. Maybe Google will get back in the game with something similar to the Nexus 7. It’s worth it to Amazon to stick around and at least tread water in the tablet game, because their Fire devices serve as a gateway to online sales and their services, so they likely aren’t going anywhere. Samsung is large enough that they can afford to produce tablets that don’t move in massive quantities. They seem to be focused on having a broad portfolio of devices that cover all shapes, sizes and price points, and keeping a full compliment of tablets fits with that philosophy.

Barring a sizemic shift in the technologies that go into tablets, it’s going to be VERY difficult for anyone else to gain enough traction in this market to be worth jumping into it. However, one interesting outside player who could shake things up a bit is Nintendo.

IMG_0114

While their focus is obviously squarely on gaming, there could be enough crossover with the portable/home gaming console hybrid Switch to draw some gaming-focused tablet users away. It will certainly be interesting to see if they can make headway taking the same approach as Microsoft and coming at the market from a different direction.

Whatever the future brings, there is no doubt that the tablet market is a far different challenge today than it was from 2010-2013. It’s hard to say whether something or someone can re-invigorate sales, or if tablets are going the way of the PC, with a glacial pace of innovation and long upgrade cycles. However, this much is clear at the moment- when it comes to touch-enabled devices, it’s Apple and Microsoft and everyone else, and it is hard to imagine that changing any time soon. With the market virtually all to themselves, can they generate the sales and profits it will take to support the R&D necessary to keep the category moving forward.

What do you think about the state of the tablet market? Will sales bounce back, or continue to be erratic? Will Apple’s iPad Pro eventually stoke the fires again? I would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.

 


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Amazon Fire, Apple iPad, iPad, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Surface, Surface Book, tablet market

02:05

Deals: iDelete Cleaner Pro for iOS, 3-Yr Subscription at 61% off

267b09ddb38634c104a4967c8ea68c31f38ca524_main_hero_image

Today’s featured deal is perfect for anyone who is looking for a little piece of mind in keeping their Apple devices running efficiently and smoothly.  You now have the opportunity to safely clean your Apple devices and keep them running like brand new.  The key to this process is removing temporary data files leftover on your devices that can slow hem down.  Now you have an ally in this battle called iDelete Cleaner Pro.  For a limited time you can pick up a 3-year subscription at a discounted price of 61% off.  It’s a great deal that will run you only $19 – instead of its standard price of $49.  Here’s some info about iDelete Cleaner Pro for iOS. and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Just like a computer, your iPhone slows down with age and use, which is why iDelete Cleaner Pro is important for fine tuning your phone’s performance by cleaning up the excess temporary data on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. All of these devices perform their own memory saving functions, but temporary files are not always deleted automatically or correctly. That’s where iDelete Cleaner Pro comes in with its innovative search and collection algorithm to detect and effectively clean up useless junk data, caches, log files, and more to get your Apple device back up to optimum speed.

  • Start the data cleaning process safely w/ just the click of a button
  • Clean junk data, caches, log files, downloads, data of 3rd party apps & more
  • Overwrite temp files by using the ISM 6.2.92 deletion procedure certified by the Australian Ministry of Defense
  • Examine detailed cleaning reports to ensure data was deleted & cleaned
  • Receive 3 years of updates & support

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.


© Renkman for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags:

February 16 2017

04:10

Going Native- Back to the Notes App Revisited

I got a few comments on my original article from Flipboard and Twitter that touched on details I thought were interesting and worth bringing back to the site. Before diving in, thank you to all reached out, and I hope to hear from you again. 


First off, the consensus among users I interacted with was that OneNote has a really strong feature set, especially considering that it’s free to use on iOS. However, the responses were mixed on sync performance. Most reported that it worked great for them, but a few others had similar experiences to me. Any app, especially one as flexible and widely used as OneNote can work great for most users, while the bugs and pitfalls hit the rest of us. Considering the widely positive reviews of the app, my experience is more likely an outlier. However, after problems strike a couple of times, the old saying applies- “Once bitten, twice shy.” However it is good to bear in mind that BOTH can simultaneously be true. 

Second, I had several commenters mention the relatively new note taking app Bear. I have to admit that one slipped by me on its way to the App Store. 


However, it has garnered a fair amount of acclaim since its release early last November, including an App Store Editor’s Note from Apple on its App Store page. After reading the comments and a few reviews, I am going to give it a go myself. I’m not thrilled about paying for the ability to sync, but at only $1.45 monthly, I’m not going to complain too much. Evernote Premium was more expensive and I paid for it for over a year. I will post my own review of how Bear stacks up against iOS Notes and Notability in the near future. 

One of the last comments I got came to my Twitter account (jhrogersii), and was the most interesting of all of them. The commenter also mentioned the Bear app, and that he had switched due to recent sync issues with iOS Notes. I have never been affected by any sync issues with Notes, and frankly hadn’t heard anything about this, so I was intrigued. When I asked him what he was referring to, the gentleman sent me a link to a forum thread at macrumors that detailed iCloud sync issues that evidently plagued a LOT of people for a long period of time. It was pretty eye-opening. 

It looks like these problems have been cleared up for most users in recent iOS updates, but such an issue calls into question one of my primary points about going back to iOS Notes. I made a big deal about how dependable it was. My exact quote was, “It NEVER fails.” Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. At least not for all iOS users. 

If you are a user of Bear and have some good tips as I get started with it, or if you were also affected by Apple’s recent Notes sync issues, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to give me a shout in the comments section below, on our Flipboard page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Evernote, iCloud, IOS Notes App, iPad, iPad Pro, Notability, Notes, Notes Apps

February 13 2017

06:02

Going Native- Back to the Notes App

Notes_1

At one time, I had pretty much forsaken the iOS Notes app. Other than taking down to-go orders and a few other random thoughts on the iPhone version, I had pretty much stopped using it a few years ago. I hardly ever used it on any of my iPads. I had Evernote and kept almost all notes that I took there, whether for personal or work use. I even had their paid Premium service for over a year so I could upload more content for work notes. Since it was completely platform-agnostic and easy to get data into and out of, I just assumed at the time that I would stick with them long term.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Evernote was once a darling among cloud-based services and was regarded as a successful and stable company, along with the likes of Dropbox and Box. However, the luster started to fade a little over a year ago, as Evernote’s apps and services began to stagnate, employees began to leave the company, and even CEO Phil Libin either left or was forced out (depending on who you ask). All of the negative tech press surrounding them and their future got me thinking. Not wanting to be locked into what could now be a declining or dying platform, I decided to start looking elsewhere for a primary home for my notes.

I started with Microsoft’s OneNote, and thought I had quickly found my solution. There are free tools available that will migrate all of your notes from Evernote over for you, and so I thought this would be an easy transition. However, I had several sync failures that occurred at very unopportune times that quickly soured me on the experience. In two especially bad cases, I was attempting to use OneNote to take job site notes for a quote, and opened a note only to find it blank and the app unable to retrieve the original content so that I could add to it. Considering that I had taken the original note on the iPhone, I found this to be absolutely unacceptable. I had never experienced this with Evernote or other note taking apps, and just couldn’t afford to waste my, or even worse, a customer’s time in the field. Features don’t matter if an app breaks down when you need it.

I have also used the popular app Notability to take notes for a few years now. It has one of the strongest and most complete note taking feature sets, especially for iPad, and is also very easy to use. However, I have typically used it more for stylus input, taking sermon notes at church, meeting notes (it allows you to record and take notes with recording bookmarks), and notes that require annotations or highlighting, so it is more of a specialty app than the tool I use everyday. It also works very well with the Apple Pencil, so Notability is usually my go-to app whenever I use it.

Notability

However, the issues I had elsewhere did push me towards using it a little more. While there is a version available for iPhone, the app isn’t cross-platform, and the ability to sync data out is limited. Notability can share data with MANY cloud services or sync to iCloud, but the files you get out are just static versions of what you create in the app, so there are limiting factors. It has become my go-to when I need more features and horsepower, but it still isn’t my first choice for taking Notes everyday.

This is where the realiable old Notes app comes back in. One of the main reasons I went with Evernote over the early versions of Notes is because your options for syncing back then were extremely limited. Basically, you could email your Notes out to yourself, but that was about it. That was a big reason why I largely ignored the app early on. The syncing situation changed when iCloud came along in iOS 5, but I was so far down the road with Evernote at the time, and Notes was still so lacking in features, that it didn’t make a big difference to me.

A big reason why I gave Notes a second chance last year was because of the upgrades that Apple rolled out in iOS 9. They gave Notes an across the board upgrade, adding the ability to use different fonts and text alterations, bulletted and numbered lists, checklists, add photos and images, and even digital ink with your finger or a stylus.

Notes_2

While it didn’t quite measure up to what Evernote and Notability offer (different backgrounds, integrated sound recording, etc), I decided it was close enough to start using it again. As I did, it slowly worked itself back to the 1st Screens on both my iPad and iPhone.

The primary reason that I went back to using Notes is that it is ultimately the MOST reliable note taking app on iOS. It NEVER fails. If you take a note on your iPhone, it’s there, and never leaves unless you delete it. If you have iCloud sync turned on, it will show up on the iPad in short order. If you make changes, they reliably sync across. I have never once experienced a failure or had to wait for something to sync in the field. I now take all of my field notes for job quotes with Notes because of this. I can embed pictures of whatever I find and quickly add whatever text or annotations that I need. It is super fast and completely reliable, and in the field, those are priorities 1-100. No cool feature or fancy background can top that.

Another reason that I have trended toward using Notes for more and more tasks is that, like Evernote, it is very easy to search for content.

Notes_Spotlight

Evernote does have a leg up, in that it can search images and digital ink rather than being limited to text (a big reason while I still use it for a few select things). However, the search function built into Notes is also very good at finding text quickly. Even better, both Notes and Evernote work with Spotlight’s ability to search within apps, making finding content spread among the two very easy.

The feature that has really solidified Notes as a primary app that I use on a daily basis is sharing. What was once a glaring weakness for the app is now a strength. When Apple released iCloud.com, Notes instantly became a de-facto cross-platform app. While web access to your content may have drawbacks in comparison to a native app, it still works reliably for me. I am a Windows user at work and at home, so this is not inconsequential. I would have to sync out a Notability note as a different, static file type to get access to it on a Windows machine. I can access my Notes content directly, which is an important distinction. As for OneNote, again, I thought this would be the best solution for me, since I am a Windows user. However, I never got either of the two Windows apps that I tried to properly sync everything from my iOS apps. It’s too bad, because it did look like a very good app and service, feature-wise.

Notes’ ability to share got another boost when Apple opened up app extensibility in iOS 9. Native apps like Notes got this feature immediately, and it works really well. If I use Notes as a starting point for taking a note on something, and I want to share the content, it’s very easy to do.

Notes_Sharing

I can share it directly with other iOS users, subscribing them to any change that I make to the note, or I can send the note as it stands out to them using Mail or iMessage. However, the feature that I like, and have used on several occasions, is the ability to transport the content of a note over to Evernote. If I need the information in another app for something that I’m working on, getting it there is a breeze (at least for apps that build Notes share sheets into their apps). It also works very well the other direction, as I can send the content of notes from other apps to Notes, and even choose whether to create a new note, or append the information to an existing note.

Evernote_Share

The native Notes app on iOS has probably come further over the last 10 years than any other native app. Safari is probably its only competition in this regard. I won’t go as far as to say that it is as feature complete as it could be. I am still hoping for the day that Apple wises up and merges the Voice Notes app with Notes to make one central iCloud synced location for all Notes. However, with the improvements that Apple has made over the last five years, Notes is good enough to meet the daily needs of most users. It’s even good enough to meet some of the needs of a power user, like myself. There’s a lot to be said for the combo of speed and reliability. At the end of the day, that’s what brought me back to it.

I am curious to hear the experiences of others with Notes. Is anyone else out there using the native Notes app? If so, what are you using it for? Has anyone left another product and come back to the fold, like myself? If so, let me know in the comments, or feel free to respond on Twitter @iPadInsight or @jhrogersii.

 


© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. | Permalink | 3 comments | Add to del.icio.us
Post tags: Evernote, iCloud, IOS Notes App, iPad, iPad Pro, Notability, Notes, Notes Apps

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl