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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.


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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.

 


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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.

 


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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

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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.


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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


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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

February 12 2017

08:00

Review: iFrogz Impulse Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Impulse

In my opinion, one of the best features of any mobile accessory is versatility. I spend a lot of time on the go during the day, and do a fair amount of travelling for work, so earning a place in my gear bag is a badge of honor, and it usually requires a certain measure of versatility. The more bases a device or accessory can cover, the better the chance that it holds a spot there.

In the past, versatility was a given with headphones and earbuds. You plugged them into a jack and they just worked. With Bluetooth headphones, there came more freedom of movement, but with the conditions of only being compatible with certain devices and limited battery life. Now, iOS users are faced with even more complications with the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack going forward, with several other smartphone manufacturers now making the same move right behind them. If you own both an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus and an iPad, complications with earbuds or headphones will ensue.

Beacuse of the growing fragmentation in mobile technology, especially at Apple, I have grudgingly been carrying around 3 pairs of earbuds since I got my iPhone 7 Plus. This isn’t the end of the world, but at the same time it’s still pretty ridiculous that I have to. One pair is the set of EarPods with Lightning plug that came with my iPhone. The second is an older set with the traditional headphone jack, which I keep to use with my iPad Pro and an LG Android tablet. I also have an inexpensive Bluetooth set that I keep in my bag for when I am running errands, exercising or practicing on my drumset.

I’ve been on the lookout for solutions to to cut one or two of these sets of earbuds out, so when I read the description of the iFrogz Impulse Wireless headphones, I was very intrigued. Here was a set of headphones that could be used both wirelessly or wired, through the use of a 3.5 mm aux cable. These headphones have the ability to work with virtually any device, and because using them with the cable doesn’t require battery power, you aren’t limited by the battery life of other exclusively wireless sets. Let’s take an in-depth look at this intersting hybrid.

Build Quality and Form Factor

 

IMG_0076

The Impulse headphones come in black with red accents or white with tan accents. I reviewed the black and red model, and it has a stylish but subdued look. This isn’t just another set of Beats knockoffs, either. ZAGG did a nice job designing a clean look that isn’t just derivitive of other major headphone brands.

Impulse_folded

The Impulse also feel solid in the hands, without being too heavy to be comfortable to wear for an extended period. This is good, because they aren’t exactly small. They do fold up, making carrying a little more convenient, but they still have some bulk. However, the positive side of this tradeoff should be added durability. One small disappointment was that the Impulse don’t come with any kind of carry bag or cover. However, in this price range, that is forgiveable.

A big plus that I appreciated while wearing the Impulse was that they are quite comfortable. They have ample padding on both the headband and the earcups. During my testing, I wore them for all but a minute or two here and there for over 4 hours, and didn’t have any issues with discomfort.

The sides also both flex outward and extend downward to give ample room for even quite large heads. Mine isn’t exactly small, but with the sides fully extended, I can fit a hand between my head and the headband. Finding a comfortable fit shouldn’t be an issue.

The only negative I found in wearing the Impulse was that the paded AeroFoam cups can get a little warm on the ears after having them on for 30 minutes or more. However, it wasn’t unbearable by any means. I didn’t really notice while wearing them, but rather after taking them off. However, the thickness of the pads actually does serve a purpose, as ZAGG claims that they offer “Passive Noise Isolation.” Normally I would suspect such a phrase to just be marketing-speak, but in this case, there is something to it. More on that in a bit.

Sound Quality

A set of headphones can have the best design, fit and finsh in the world, but what really makes the difference is what they sound like. I’m going to preface my comments here by saying that I’ve been a musician for 30 years, and I listen to a lot of different styles of music, so I may be pickier than the average bear. Also, there is a difference between the quality of the sound, and how the headphones are tuned and that sound is balanced. All that said, I like the way the Impulse sound for the most part, and think they perform very well considering the price range. They are not going to satisfy hard-core audiophiles, but frankly, nothing in this price range will. As for the balance of the sound, like most consumer-grade headphones these days, they are tuned to favor bass. Frankly, it’s a bit much for my personal taste, but based on the popularity of Beats and other similar brands, the balance will probably be great for most people.

I actually do like beefier than average bass, but the Impulse just go a bit beyond that at the expense of some definiton in the mid range. If you listen to music with a wide dynamic range, you will notice that some parts of the music may not stand out as much as you might prefer. However, in my testing, I found that using the Treble Boost under the iOS EQ settings actually does a suprisingly good job of balancing the highs and punching up the mid-range definition just enough.

Impulse_eq

With this on, I found myself much happier with the balance of sound. Bear in mind that audio balance is a very subjective thing, so your mileage may vary. To me, the quality is more important, so ZAGG got it right where it really counts. Also, while I focused on music while demoing the Impulse, I also tried them with plenty of shows on Netflix and listened to several podcasts. The sound quality of movies, TV, and spoken word content is great, as well.

One more point on the balance of the Impulse. While the bass may be boosted a bit too much for my taste, it still sounds great. I listened to some music that would push the bass a bit to see if any distortion occured, because that is common with many consumer-grade headphones. Some examples were the Tron: Legacy soundtrack (not only heavy on bass in many areas, but amplified bass with a full orchestra) and a few dubstep and rap tracks that I knew would test the limits of the headphones a bit. The bass didn’t distort or crackle, no matter what I threw at it.

As mentioned previously, ZAGG claims that the Impulse have “Passive Noise Cancellation” via the padded AeroFoam ear cups. Believe it or not, this actually works quite well. The Impulse do a great job of isolating you from the outside world and immersing you in what you’re listening to. This pays off in terms of sound quality, as well. One thing I noticed when listening to a few more intricate tracks is that the background details and sounds that often get lost using consumer-grade earbuds are REALLY present. I noticed an example yesterday was while listening to Tron: Legacy. During the quiet beginning of the track titled “Finale,” you can hear the breath sounds of the orchestra’s wind players as they prepare to play several long notes. This is a sound I remember well from many years spent on stage playing in concert bands and orchestras. I went back and listened again with my earbuds, and you can hear this if you know its there, but with the Impulse, these sounds details are really up front and present. I’m actually a big fan of these kinds of “environment” sounds on recordings, such as the sound of piano pedals being moved, as they add an element of depth and realism to a recording.

I’ve been using earbuds almost exclusively lately, so re-listening to some music that I like with the Impulse headphones and hearing new and interesting details was welcomed. I will say this in closing here- they may not have Active Noise Cancellation, but they actually do a better job than a $100 pair of Sony headphones that do that I’ve had for the last 6 years. Not only do the Impulse block out almost as much sound as my Sonys, but the I also found the clarity at the high and low ends to be far superior. Despite my music snobbery getting in the way a little when it comes to balance, I really came away a fan of the sound quality.

Going hand in hand with noise isolation is volume. This is definitely NOT a problem with the Impulse headphones. They can deliver more than enough, whether via wired or wireless connection. I think the level of noise isolation helps reduce the need for pumping up the volume, but whatever the reason, I rarely got above halfway on the iOS volume level bar.

Another item to be aware of in terms of sound quality is that using the 3.5 mm aux cable for delivers slightly better sound quality than Bluetooth, in my opinion. This isn’t surprising, as a wired connection should always deliver more fidelity than wireless. However, I wasn’t sure if it would be the case here since these are clearly billed as Bluetooth headphones first. Other things I noticed were that the bass is a little less inflated in the mix through the wired connection, and that the volume is about two clicks higher than the same level using Bluetooth. This is probably because whatever signal processing the Impulse are doing when connected through Bluetooth is turned off when the cable is in use. However, I woundn’t say the difference in sound quality either way is extreme. It was just enough to notice, but the Impulse sound good via both the aux cable and Bluetooth.

Controls and Operation

One of the typical drawbacks of giving up wired headphones or earbuds for wireless is the loss of the easy to use controls that Apple always includes on its EarPods. Thankfully, ZAGG has included easy to use on-ear controls for Play/Pause and Volume Up and Down, in addition to the obligatory Power Button.

Impulse_bottom

Play/Pause is on the bottom of the right earpece, with the Volume Up and Down buttons on top of the same. The buttons are large, and easy to find by feel, making them easy to use. It was particiularly smart to have the Volume Up and Down buttons on opposite sides of the headband, making it virtualy impossible to confuse them.

Impulse_right

The Volume Buttons double as Track Forward and Track Reverse with a long press, which keeps you from having to go back to your device to manage your music.

The Play/Pause Button also doubles as an answer button for phone calls. This is definitely not the primary function of a set of headphones, but most wireless sets do include this as a feature these days to do away with the hassle of having to take them off to answer a call. The call quality didn’t blow me away, but it is perfectly functional, and I didn’t get any complaints from people on the other end of the line.

The one disadvantage I found here was that there is no way to trigger Siri using the Play/Pause Button. This is an odd ommission, considering that ZAGG added the ability to make phone calls. It is also interesting that you CAN trigger Siri using the included Play/Pause Button on the 3.5 mm Aux Cable.

The Power Button is on the bottom of the left earpiece. As well as powering on the Impulse for Bluetooth listening, a long press when powering on will trigger Bluetooth pairing. I know Bluetooth has earned its bad rap for connection and pairing issues, but the pairing process here was seamless on every device that I tried it.

The Impulse charges via a standard Micro USB port, making it easy to share chargers and find cables. According to the specs, it takes 60 minutes for a full charge.

Since the Impulse use Bluetooth 4.0, you get both the connection status and the battery level displayed on the status bar of your iOS devices.

Impulse_bluetooth

Another feature that I found very handy is that, not only do the Impulse store connections to multiple devices, but they will also alow simultaneous connections to both the iPad and iPhone. I can watch Netflix or listen to music using my iPad Pro, but still take a call using my iPhone.

While you can use any 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm aux cable to connect a device to the Impulse, the included cable has a couple of nice features that I appreciated.

Impulse_cable

First of all, I like the fact that ZAGG included a Play/Pause button, as none of the headphone’s controls work with a wired connection since they aren’t powered. The only drawback is that you lose your volume and track controls, but something is better than nothing. You also get a mic for calls and Siri that is closer to you on the back of this button, helping in both cases.

The second thing I like about the included cable is the integrated cord manager. This is a small thing, but its a small thing that someone took the time to design well. Plenty of cables come with a velcro or plastic strap to keep it wound when not in use, but the one included here is actually molded around the cable, so it doesn’t move. It also comes with a magnetic closure, so it’s quiet and it won’t get matted or wear like velcro. Again, this is a small detail, but part of what separates good design from great design is how you handle all the small things and bring them together.

Last, and most definitely not least, is the combination of Bluetooth range and battery life. Both are exceptional. I did a test in my 2000 sq ft house, placing my iPad Pro in my bedroom in one corner of the house and walking away from it slowly to see how far I could get before running into issues. I never completely lost the connection, but it did start to fade in and out a bit when I got to the kitchen on the opposite side of the house. I then had three walls and more than the specified 30 feet in between me and my iPad, so the test was successful in my book. This was very impressive to me, because I have a couple of Bluetooth 4.0 headsets that won’t hold a connection that same distance.

As for battery life, I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of this yet, but that’s a good thing. I have been testing the headphones on and off for a week, including a couple of long stretches of multiple hours. I have only charged the Impulse once in that time, and after intermittent use through the week and extensive use yesterday and today, I am still showing around 50% on the iPad’s status bar. The specs state 5 hours of working time on Bluetooth, and based on my experience, I don’t think that number is inflated.

Value

There is no shortage of options for Bluetooth headphones on the market today. However, there are very few others that give customers the choice between wired and wireless use. At $59.99, the iFrogz Impulse Wireless headphones are a solid value considering their balance of versatility, features, and good sound quality. I have personally found that the even though the balance of sound isn’t what I would subjectively choose, I’m sure the majority of users will likely be just fine with it. Still, this doesn’t detract from the quality of the sound, which I think is very good in comparison with other, even more expensive competitors.

Pros:

  • Very good sound quality, whether using Bluetooth or wired connection
  • Easy to find and use on-board controls
  • Great versatility, with the ability to listen from any devices via wired or wireless connection
  • Ample volume
  • Better than average noise isolation without active noise cancelling
  • Battery life is very strong
  • Wired use bypasses any concerns with battery life
  • Connect to multiple devices via Bluetooth

Cons

  • The balance of sound is skewed toward the bass end, especially using Bluetooth
  • Your ears can get warm during extended use
  • Even folded, they are a little bulky
  • Not able to trigger Siri via Bluetooth (works via the included aux cable button)

Conclusion

Apple got everyone thinking about headphones last Fall when they removed a jack we’ve all taken for granted in our mobile devices over the last decade. Between Beats and their AirPods, they certainly have their own solutions to the new problem of listening to music on their devices while charging. However, the problem of no headphone jack in one device also affects others by default. In this case, it’s the rest of Apple’s lineup and thanks to the wide reach of the iPhone, the rest of the mobile technology industry. If you are carying around the EarPods that come with the iPhone 7, good luck plugging them into anything else besides another iOS device, and even then, you can’t listen and charge on that device with them. And if you are using standard wired earbuds or headhones, you had better remember the dongle Apple included in the box for when you want to listen with your iPhone.

With the prices Apple and others are charging for their solutions to the removal of the headphone jack, there is ample room for other accessory manufacturers to offer more afordable solutions. Anywhere below the $59.99 pricetag of ZAGG’s iFrogz Impulse Wireless headphones, I would typically expect cheaply made knockoffs with marginal to poor sound quality. I was honestly surprised that the Impulse are as good as I found them to be at this price. They really deliver a high level of value, and in my opinion, punch far above their price category. I opened this review talking about the value of versatility, and the iFrogz Impulse Wireless Headphones have that in abundance. If you are in the market for a set of headphones that will work across all of your Apple gear, as well as other mobile devices, and don’t require audiophile-level sound quality, take a look here first.

The iFrogz Impulse Wireless Headphones are available from ZAGG for $59.99.

The iFrogz Impulse Wireless Headphones were provided for review on iPad Insight by ZAGG. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 


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Post tags: Airpods, Earpods, iFrogz, iFrogz Impulse Wireless Headphones, Impulse, Impulse Wireless Headphones, iPad, iphone, iPhone 7 headphone jack, Zagg

February 10 2017

04:50

Deals: Zendure 40W Max A-Series 4-Port USB Travel Wall Charger at 17% off

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Today’s featured deal is perfect for anyone who travels abroad and needs to ensure that they can still charge all their devices no matter what country they are visiting.  Equipped with both UK and EU adapters, you will have the convenience of charging all your electronic devices no matter what your travel pends are.  For a limited time you can pick up your Zendure 40W Max A-Series 4-Port USB Travel Wall Charger at a discounted price of 17% off.  It’s a great deal that will run you only $32.95 – instead of its standard price of $39.95.  Here’s some info about the Zendure and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Engineered for the world traveler, this wall charger is equipped with UK and EU adapters to plug into just about any wall outlet in the world. With one QC high-speed, and three 5V/2.4A ZEN+ USB ports, this adapter can charge your smartphone, e-reader, tablet, smart watch, camera, or any other 5V USB chargeable device in a jiffy. You’re going to want your devices charged up and healthy while you’re traveling, so travel smart with Zendure.

  • Lightweight & easy to travel w/ & compatible w/ power outlets throughout the world
  • Charges up to four USB-compatible devices at once
  • Delivers Quick Charge 2.0 for all Quick Charge compatible devices
  • Equipped w/ a multi-faceted protection system to reduce the risk of over-powering, overheating, & short-circuiting

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


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Post tags: Wall Charger

04:39

Location Services on your iPad; what you need to know

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 11.37.26 PM

When it comes to electronic devices, especially mobile phones, the big big buzz word these day is privacy.  Makes sense, it’s a big deal.  Almost as important as privacy is how you mange your privacy settings.  Personalizing settings to fit your lifestyle and needs can be cumbersome and consuming.  If users are confused or overwhelmed they are much less likely to reap the benefits of being able to keep their information safe and private.  When privacy is sacrificed at the hands of convenience bad things can happen to good people.

One of  the more configureable settings on your iPad that can impact your privacy is Location Services.  Location based services are a hot topic because they can be very helpful in predicting our needs and preparing us for upcoming events.  However they can also become intrusive if given too much access–it just depends on what your expectations are and how informed you are from the beginning.  To make it easier, let’s walk through his to configure Location Services your iPad.

Privacy Settings on the iPad

Here’s how you configure your own Location Services on your iPad.  Start by opening the Settings App–> Privacy–> Location Services.  If not already on, slide the tab over to activate.  Location services use Bluetooth and crowd sourced Wi-fi locations to determine your location, so obviously these settings need to be turned on as well to best determine your location.

Location-Services___Privacy

To share your location with other members of your Family and friends in Messages and Find My Friends. Once you open this option up you can select which one of your available devices you’d like to share your location from.  By enabling Location Services on you iPad, you are essentially granting consent to having your info transmitted, collection, maintenance, and processed by Apple and its partners.  Rest assured-all data is anonymous and Apple will not share or sell your data with outside agencies

Granting Individual Apps Permission

As you progress through and grant different apps permission to use your location, they appear in a running list on the main Location Services page.  Its at this page where you can adjust when each app uses you location.  Options range from While Using, Always and Never.  These can be adjusted as often as you like at anytime you choose.

Location-Services

In addition, an arrow will appear next to the app in the list to indicate when your location was most recently used.

  • A purple icon (arrow) indicates that your location was recently used
  • A gray icon indicates that your location was used within the last 24 hours
  • An outlined purple icon will indicate that an app is currently using a a geofence ( a virtual perimeter around a location used to notify you when you arrive or leave a location)

Lastly, you can also configure a variety of System Services that use location services to collect information.  They include the Compass, Find-My-iPad, Alerts, iAds, Time Zone, Share My Location, Spotlight suggestions, Wi-Fi Networking, and Frequent Locations.  This is also a very good place to start when you are looking to improve your battery life as you will be able to monitor usage.


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Post tags: Location Services, Privacy, System Services

February 05 2017

05:02

How to watch Super Bowl 51 on your iPad

super-bowl-51

The most watched sporting event of the year and popular American Tradition–the Super Bowl is back again tomorrow as the Atlanta Falcons get set to take on the New England Patriots.  This is the 51st version of the contest which brings the official branding back to being represented by roman numerals.   The use of LI looks pretty awkward, and is not immediately recognizable by many, but tradition is tradition, no matter how out of place it may seem at times.  If you’re not spending the evening at a sports bar or at a friends house and you’re actively looking for an alternative way to watch the Super Bowl, we’re here to help.  This year the Super Bowl will be aired on FOX.  In addition to the main event FOX will also air all the pre-game build-up and analysis starting at 1:50 pm EST.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 11.45.00 PM

To watch/stream the Super Bowl live on your iPad you have a couple of options.  FOX will provide a live-stream for anyone wanting to watch the game, even if you don’t have a cable or satellite subscription.  To take advantage of this opportunity you simply need to download the Fox Sports Go app from the App Store on your iPad or open your favorite browser and point it to FoxSportsGo.com.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 11.44.01 PM

When you launch the app you are greeted with a splash screen that has all the Super Bowl events running across the top of the screen in the Featured area.  Clicking on any one of them prior to the start of the broadcast will elicit to two options.  You can either set a reminder for when the event will start, or you can share the event via your favorite sharing tool on your device.

IMG_0110

Lastly, if you’re like me and lucky enough to live in one of the following markets you can also watch a live-stream of the Super Bowl on DirecTV Now.

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Charlotte
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth
  • Detroit
  • Gainesville
  • L.A.
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • Tampa
  • Washington, D.C.

 


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Post tags: football, FOX, iPad TV streaming apps, Sports, Super Bowl LI

03:16

Deals: Plugies Magnetic Charging Cables at 30% off

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Today’s featured deal is perfect for anyone looking for a quick and easy charging solution for their mobile devices.  Designed for either Lightning or Micro-USB connections, you no longer need to fumble in the dark when you need to plug in your phone or tablet.  With a simple magnetic connection it’s never been easier to start charging your devices.  For a limited time you can pick up your Plugie Magnetic Charging Cable at a discounted price of 30% off!  It’s a great deal that will run you only $27.99 – instead of its standard price of $40.00.  Here’s some info about the Plugie and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

You know the snap-and-charge design on MacBooks that you love (well, loved anyway) so much? Imagine having that convenience with your phone charger, too. Well, you can! Plugies are impressive little adapters that live in your phone’s charging port so you can snap the magnetic cable in whenever you want, no fuss. Don’t tug your phone off the table by accident again, help yourself out with an easily detachable Plugie.

  • Charge your phone in a simple snap
  • Adapt a standard cable into a magnetic cord w/ the included adapter
  • Enjoy your cable for longer thanks to its braided nylon & anodized aluminum casing
  • Eliminate standard cords from your life – Plugies live in your phone
  • Organize your cable w/ the silicone strap

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


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Post tags: Charging Cable, Lightining, Micro-USB

February 04 2017

21:48

Review: 360 Gripstand by Lynktec


Like so many smartphone and tablet accessory categories, stands have become exceedingly commoditized. If you don’t know what I mean, I dare you to search for “iPad Stand” on eBay or Amazon and see how long you can stand browsing the never ending list. Half of what you will find there probably comes out of no more than 5 factories in East Asia.

For all the difficulty in finding a good device stand that is versatile and stands out from the crowd, it’s an accessory we all find ourselves in need of at one time or another. I’ve had several over the years, but they all had flaws. They didn’t last. They would only work for certain devices, or in certain use conditions. Frankly, I had never owned one that I was really all that happy with. That changed when I got Lynktec’s 360 Gripstand.

I’ve actually had the Gripstand for over a year now, so I have had ample opportunity to put it through plenty of paces with a variety of devices in a lot of use cases. It has been up to the task at all times, and is by far and away the most versatile device stand that I’ve ever used. Its combination of versatility, portability, and quality constructions means it has a permanent place in my mobile gear bag.

Getting a Grip

The Gripstand lives up to its name thanks to its innovative microsuction grip pad. The stand comes with a thin vinyl cover that protects the pad when not in use. Simply peel the cover off, and then firmly press and hold the microsuction pad to the back of your chosen device to be sure it is securely attached.


When you are done using the Gripstand, simply peel it back off of your device, holding the flared edge at the top of the base, and re-attach the vinyl cover to protect the microsuction pad.


The pad sounds similar to adhesive when removing from a device, but rest assured it is not. That is just the suction releasing as you put pressure on it. Because it relies on suction, the Gripstand can be attached and removed as often as you like. Again, I have been using it for over a year, and it is still working great for me without any degradation in capability. The only issue that I have run into was that the microsuction pad will incrementally pick up dirt and debris from the back of your devices. To remedy this, just wash the pad with water and gently wipe away any attached debris. Once the pad dries, it is ready for action again. I have only had to do this two or three times since I’ve had the Gripstand.

Covering all the Angles

Another of the standout features of the Gripstand is also revealed in the name- 360, as in 360 degrees. Since the hinge for the support arm is located at the top of the base, it has a full 180 degrees of motion, and the hinge has enough resistance to hold its position where you locate it. This gives you complete control over your device’s viewing angle.


The 360 degrees actually comes from the rotating base that the support arm is attached to. The base can rotate all the way around, locking into place at 45 degree intervals.


This gives you the flexibility to change the position of you device without having to detach and re-attach the stand. For example, you can go from watching a movie in landscape mode on your tablet to reading a document in portrait orientation by simply rotating the support arm around.

Taking a Stand

The feature of Lynktec’s 360 Gripstand that really puts it over the top for me is its versatility. It will work with almost any tablet or smartphone. In fact, what you can stick it to is really its only limitation. There are certain device cases and types of surfaces that the pad does not adhere very well to. On its product page, Lynktec states that works best with smooth surfaces, and that it isn’t suitable for use with textured surfaces or cases.

I can say from my experience that the Gripstand works great in most circumstances. I have used it with three different Android tablets that have either soft-touch plastic or finely textured hard plastic backs. In all three cases, the Gripstand microsuction pad worked just fine. I can also say that it works perfectly with my clear iPhone 7 Plus case, and I never had any issues with previous devices, such as the iPad Mini or a 9.7″ iPad Air 2.


The only device I have had any issues with is my 12.9″ iPad Pro, however this is only if it is in the cover that came with my ZAGG Slimbook Keyboard Case. At 12.9″, it is definitely on the large size for a stand this size. However, the Gripstand will actually hold it just fine without the case at typical angles for viewing content. I wouldn’t trust the Gripstand to hold a 12.9″ iPad Pro at an angle suitable for typing on the screen, because all of the weight of the devices, plus the pressure of your typing are bearing down on it. However, I see that as less of a shortcoming of the product than a legitimate limitation based on the size of the stand. Considering that smartphones are growing in size and that there are more of them than tablets out there, the size of the Gripstand is likely just right, even if it isn’t perfect for the large iPad Pro.

Another aspect of the 360 Gripstand that wins it points for versatility is its portability. Because it uses the microsuction pad for attachment, there is no extra folding cradle or bulky hardware to hold your devices. There is just the pad and support arm and no extra bulk or fluff.

IMG_0055

The plastic of the base and aluminum of the support arm are sturdy, but lightweight, and the Gripstand folds flat, easily fitting in a purse, cargo pocket, or gear bag.

Conclusion

There really isn’t a drawback to the Lynktec 360 Gripstand that I can find. It will work for the majority of smartphones, tablets, and e-readers, and considering its innovative design and quality construction and versatility, is priced appropriately at $39.99. About the only thing left to say is, If you are looking for a device stand, start here. As long as your device doesn’t have a uniquely textured back, or you don’t use a case that the microsuction won’t adhere to (and you aren’t willing to remove on occasion), then the 360 Gripstand should meet your needs.

The Lynktec 360 Gripstand is available from Lynktec’s site (Here), or from their Amazon store (Here).

 

The 360 Gripstand was provided for review on iPad Insight by Lynktec. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 


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Post tags: iPad stand, iPhone stand, Lynktec, smartphone stand, tablet stand

13:48

What’s Coming Up at the Next iPad Event?

IPad Pros

As we close the book on January, the rumors of a March Apple event centered on the iPad are coming fast and furious now. There are multiple reports of a new iPad Pro in a different size, an Apple Pencil refresh, and potentially some other Apple device updates, as well. With the iPad line progressively trending away from the Air and Mini and toward the Pro line over the last year, this next event should give us some clarification as Apple’s intentions for the tablet category going forward. This will be especially interesting given the continuing declines in year over year sales and profits for the iPad line that we recently learned about during Apple’s quarterly sales call.

Endings before Beginnings

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 8.46.19 AM

One thing seems to be clear as we head toward the next Apple event. It looks like both the iPad Mini and Air are headed into the sunset. The Mini 2 was released in November 2013 and the Air 2 in October 2014, so they have fallen far enough out of date that it no longer makes sense for Apple to keep them around as they currently stand. With the release of the 9.7″ version of the iPad Pro, the Air 2 already looked to be heading into the sunset. With the 9.7″ Pro coming up on its one year anniversary and a new device potentially on the way, a price drop could be in order, eliminating any need for the Air 2.

The Mini 4, which was released in September 2015, could potentially hang on for another year as a value option in the iPad lineup. However, while the Mini made a big splash when first released, the increasing size and capability of Apple’s iPhones quickly undercut its popularity and sales. Based on a combination of this and one of the rumors going around (discussed in just a moment), I personally think we will see the book closed on both the Air and Mini lines permanently.

All Shapes and Sizes

IPad Pros

As we get closer to a potential event in March, the news coming from the supply chain is starting to coalesce around a few recurring themes. The one repeated most by noted supply chain watcher and analyst Ming-Chi Quo, as well as Digitimes (link is limited to Digitimes subscribers), is that we will get a new 10.5″ iPad Pro. It seems that this device will be the same size as the current 9.7″ iPad Pro, but similar to the rumors of the upcoming 10th anniversary iPhone, will have an edge to edge screen with no bezel and no Home button. If this is the case, the new Pro will give us a preview of Touch ID functionality built into the screen, and for what an iOS device with no Home Button will look like. If this new iPad Pro size is announced, I think my earlier prediction of a reduced price 9.7″ Pro from last year will go hand in hand with it as a value offering.

While the 10.5″ Pro rumor is the one with the most traction right now, it isn’t the only one out there. Another that seems to have legs is an updated 12.9″ iPad Pro. There hasn’t been any mention of an edge to edge screen at this size, so if this upgraded Pro is announced, it will probably just be a spec bump. Another enhancement that has been mentioned is the addition of a True Tone display, which made its appearance in last year’s 9.7″ Pro. With the original 12.9″ Pro coming up on two years old, I have a feeling that it disappear from the lineup in favor of the new model.

Another rumor that seems to be tapering off as we get closer to March is that a Pro version of the 7.9″ Mini will make an appearance. The waning popularity of this form factor may point to it being a prototype that Apple decided to not be put into production. However, the addition of Apple Pencil support for such a device would actually be pretty intriguing. The Mini is closer to the size of a traditional notepad, and it would undoubtedly cost less than the rest of the Pro lineup.

Pencil This In

Apple Pencil

Another rumor that seems to be gaining steam as we move along is that Apple will be releasing an updated version of the Pencil.  However, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on new functionality or what exactly will be upgraded over the original. One potential improvement could be extended use capabilities throughout iOS, rather than just in certain modified apps. This would bring the Pencil more in line with the stylus that  Samsung includes with their Note line. An Apple patent from 2015 also points toward embedded magnets that would allow the Pencil to attach to the iPad, but those are really all we have beyond our imaginations at the moment.

One interesting detail on the Apple Pencil is that after this coming event, there is a good chance that the entire production iPad line will finally support the accessory. This could actually be important for the advancement of support for the Pencil, as it was only supported by one device initially when released two years ago, and two for the last year. As is the case with 3D Touch on the iPhone, Apple has been slowly rolling out support for the Pencil, but this unfortunately limits the available number of users, which also limits opportunities for developers to take advantage. With iPad sales in need of a push, more developer weight behind the Pencil certainly can’t hurt.

This is only the beginning of the rumor run up to Apple’s next event, and we will certainly learn more over the coming weeks. Based on what we know right now, my personal prediction is that there will be an event in mid to late March where we will see a new 10.5″ screen iPad Pro with the same screen and Touch ID technology that we expect to see in the coming iPhone, a refreshed 12.9″ iPad Pro, a price drop for the existing 9.7″ iPad Pro, and the release of a new Apple Pencil. While I would love to see a Mini with Pencil support, I just don’t think the market is there for Apple, and he recent sales numbers seem to highlight that. Adding Pencil support to the upcoming iPhone would address the same need, and would make the tech more widely available, in the long run. Despite a couple of great Apple devices potentially heading into the sunset, this should still be a great refresh and completion of the iPad Pro lineup that covers most of the bases, and proves that Apple hasn’t given up on the device by a long shot.

Are you impatiently waiting for a new iPad Pro, or are you done with Apple’s venerable tablet line? Let us know what you think in the Comments below, or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @jhrogersii.


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Post tags: apple event, Apple iPad event, apple iPad rumors, apple march event, Apple Pencil, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro, iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 12.9, iPad Pro 9.7

January 30 2017

05:19

Quick Look: Zenkit, an alternative Product Management tool to Trello

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The idea of productivity can best be described as a tug of war for me.  What I mean by that is that I strive to be a productive person, but often get caught up in finding the most productive way to be productive–which in turn, isn’t very productive at all.  I’m an early adopter by nature, and love to try new apps, among other things.  So when I read about Zenkit, and the similarities it had with Trello, I immediately became curious.

Self described as a product management tool that grows with you, Zenkit is beautifully designed and easy to use.  So this begs the question–why switch from Trello if it has been working perfectly fine for you?  Just like with any other platform that experiences  great success, and is then purchased and made part of a larger collective–there is real concern that Trello will have one of two eventual outcomes.  Either the application will fall off the radar by its new owners and be left to gather dust–or it will evolve or morph into something very different than what it was originally designed to be.

zenkit-background-lgRegardless of your concerns, or lack thereof, Zenkit is worth a look, and here’s why–tasks can be visualized in a variety of different ways, and can switch back and forth as desired, even after the initial set-up process.

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Those familiar with Trello will feel right at home with the Kansan view, as it is the default way to view your management categories in Trello.  The creators of Zenkit know this, too, and have created an import tool and YouTube tutorial to help make the transition even easier.

Even though I have found it to be very intuative already, Zenkit has done a spectacular job of demonstrating how to navigate all the features on its website with a tutorials/guide page.  Here you will be introduced to all the basics as well as some more advanced features like Collaboration and Formula Fields as well as setting up references between collections and performing bulk actions.

Pricing starts at “Free” although there are several paying plans that offer more storage, increased collaboration and early access to new features.  In addition there are options for Educational Institutions and Nonprofit organizations as well as Enterprise.

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The only notable drawback that I have encountered in my early stages of testing, is that there isn’t a dedicated iOS app–however, one is on the way.  iPad and Mac users still have access via their browsers, but Zenkit currently will not load on mobile devices like your iPhone.

 

 

 


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Post tags: Trello, Zenkit

January 27 2017

02:59

Deals: Private Internet Access VPN 2-Yr Subscription at 63% off

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Today’s featured deal is perfect for anyone looking to use their  internet connection in complete anonymity, especially when using public Wi-Fi and all the pitfalls associated with security issues and digital advertising.  With a dedicated VPN, you can have the safety you desire and protect up to 5 connected devices at the same time without any restrictions.  For a limited time you can gain access to a Private Internet Access VPN 2-Yr Subscription at an incredible discounted price of 63% off!  It’s a great deal that will run you only $59.95 – instead of its standard price of $166.00.  Here’s some info about Private Internet Access VPN and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Block hackers and government spies, even when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi, thanks to Private Internet Access. High-level encryption ensures you’ll put an end to incessant digital advertising, while IP cloaking gives you access to the Internet uncensored from anywhere. With Private Internet Access, the only gateways to the outside Internet are the ones you open.

  • Prevents data mining so you can browse anonymously
  • Blocks ads, trackers & malware w/ the new MACE feature
  • Connects instantly w/ one-click installers
  • Masks your location w/ IP cloaking
  • Allows the use of 5 devices simultaneously w/ unlimited bandwidth
  • Protects your identity w/ several layers of privacy
  • Bypasses censorship filters so you are free from geographic restrictions
  • Stops traffic w/ a kill switch if the VPN connection is unexpectedly terminated

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


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01:01

Reflecting On The Past Year of Apple Pencil Ownership

When I first bought the Apple Pencil in late 2015, I thought I’d bring it everywhere. It was one of the coolest iPad accessories I’d ever seen, and the low latency and high accuracy for drawing and handwriting was just unbelievable. I’d used a lot of third party stylii — including the Pencil by Fifty Three — before the Apple Pencil’s release, but none of the competitors even came close to Apple’s product.

What I thought I’d use the Pencil for

I thought the Pencil would open up a whole new world of iPad usage for me; I was toying with the idea of bringing a paper notebook with me everywhere, but the Pencil and iPad Pro seemed like an amazing alternative.

Evernote had introduced their handwriting capability by that point, which allowed me to insert an entire screen’s worth of doodles or writing into a note. What’s more, these handwritten notes could also be detected by Evernote’s OCR, so that I could search for my handwritten notes later on.

This sounded amazing, but the issue for me was that Evernote’s handwriting module was never paginated. Instead, each new drawing was center-aligned in the note, like a new picture. This makes sense for a single drawing sharing a page with typed notes and imported pictures, but it never felt natural to me to swipe vertically through several screens of handwriting.

Evernote’s handwriting engine was based on Penultimate (which they purchased a few years ago), and Penultimate still features a paginated interface for its notebooks. I spent a few weeks trying Penultimate, OneNote, and Paper as notebook replacements, but none of the apps stuck for very long as a substitute. A real notebook was simpler and easier.

Some part of this may be my iPad Pro’s size — at 12.9 inches, it’s really more the size of a small sketch book than a notebook. It’s not something I can casually take out of my bag and doodle a note on.

What I actually used the Pencil for

When I do take the time to sit down and drawing on the larger iPad Pro, it is still a really wonderful experience thanks to the Apple Pencil. I create occasional diagrams for work and export them to PNG with full transparencies, and Procreate makes that a breeze to do. I’ve also used Paper note for notes, but for little sketches. It’s fun to swipe between the pages after a few months and see the different designs I’ve come up with.

However, these really are my two major activities with the Pencil: two different types of drawing. I’m glad that I got a Pencil because I really wanted to check the technology out, but like with this iPad Pro, I don’t think I’ve really gotten my money’s worth from the purchase yet.

I think the Pencil, like the Smart Connector on the iPad Pro, is ultimately under-utilized technology. It’s the kind of accessory that could really change the way I accomplish major tasks on the iPad. If iOS supported 3D touch via the Pencil, I could browse in Safari by tapping harder on a link to open it in a new tab, or lightly tap on a link to get a small thumbnail preview before really loading the page. Better Pencil integration could also be used in PDF apps to switch between flicking to scroll, and tapping harder to enter an “annotate” mode. It will probably be incredible for Lightroom touch-ups, but we’re still waiting on that update.

Underutilized

My point is that, although the Pencil already does a lot to realize the potential of apps like Procreate and Paper, I think there are far broader uses of the accessory that could generate a lot more sales for Apple. As much fun as this accessory has been to use, I don’t think I’ll be buying the next version until Apple really takes the time to think about how the Pencil enhances the iPad experience as a whole.


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January 22 2017

22:12

iPad App of the Week: Amazon Prime Video

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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 Amazon Prime Video by AMZN Mobile LLC.  I have been an off and on Amazon Prime user for years.  Typically, I start my subscription again when there is a one month free deal incentive and then cancel before the month is over.  However, this year I left it in place for a couple of months through the holiday season to save on gifts for the family.  Last weekend my subscription was set to auto-renew again, and I was prepared to end it for now.

Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off by a day and was charged the $11 for another month.  I was a little flustered at first, since I really didn’t have any immediate use for it, and I already have so many monthly reoccurring charges.  Then one day when I was on Amazon looking at a product on sale and noticed in the upper corner an add for the 3rd season of the Amazon Original series, BOSCH.  What was this?  I have read most of Michael Connelly’s BOSCH books and love them, so I was thrilled to see that included with my Amazon Prime account I had access to a vast library of video and TV shows for free.  Maybe this Amazon Prime account was more valuable than I had realized?
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Amazon Prime comes with a few caveats that I never pursued–until now.  In addition to  unlimited, ad-free access to hundreds of Prime Playlist, and unlimited photo storage, you also have unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes.

Additional Amazon Prime Video features include…

-Download movies and TV shows over Wi-Fi or cellular to watch anywhere, anytime.
-Prime members in India can enjoy hundreds of top Bollywood and regional Indian hits like Sultan, Baar Baar Dekho, Kabali, Dhoom series and more!
-View IMDB data about the actors, songs and trivia related to your videos during playback with X-Ray
-Stream the first episode of select TV shows for free. First Episode Free videos include advertising before and during your videos
-Watch on your Apple TV using AirPlay (requires Apple TV 2nd generation or later) (US only)

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-Access hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes you bought or rented including new release movies or the latest TV programming, with the ability to download titles for offline viewing (US only)
-Watch on your TV using HDMI and your Apple Digital AV Adapter
-Stream the first episode of selected TV shows for free. First Episode Free videos include advertising before and during your videos (US only)
-Add videos to Your Watchlist from any Amazon Prime Video compatible device for later viewing
-Start watching the next episode of the show you are currently streaming automatically with Auto Play.

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Here’s an App Store link for Amazon Prime Video. Compatible with iOS 8.0 or later, Amazon Prime Video for iOS is a universal app that works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It’s a free service for all Amazon Prime Users, with no additional costs other than the monthly membership you’re already paying.

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


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Post tags: Streaming Video

January 21 2017

03:19

Deals: Extra-Long MFi-Certified 2-in-1 iOS/Android Charging Cable 3-Pack at 72% off

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Today’s featured deal is perfect for anyone who has a family that enjoys using iOS as well as devices that might need a micro-USB connection to charge.  With an extra long cable measuring 6ft long, you have additional freedom and the piece of mind associated with using a MFi-Certified charging cable.  Now for a limited time, you can pick up a (3) pack of Extra-Long MFi-Certified 2-in-1 Charging Cables at 72% off.  It’s an amazing deal that will run you only $21.99 – instead of the standard price of $80. Here’s some info about the Charging Cable, and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Finally a gadget to help Android and Apple lovers live in harmony has arrived! This handy 1.8-meter MFi-certified charging cable will keep your trusted devices powered from a distance, so you won’t be stuck slouching over a pesky outlet. This must-have cable is compatible with both Lightning devices and micro USB devices, so a difference in platforms won’t be the difference maker in your relationship.

  • 1.8 meter length allows for convenient charging & use
  • Lighting & micro USB compatibility for use w/ almost any chargeable device
  • Connected tip for easy use & accessibility no matter the device
  • Set of 2 iOS/Android charging cables for the price of one!

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


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Post tags: Charging Cable

January 20 2017

01:39

Reflecting On My iPads Thus Far

I have to admit to feeling a bit like Goldilocks while writing this. I skipped the very first iPad in 2010, but since then I’ve tried iPads of all sizes in an attempt to find the right fit for me.

iPad 2

The iPad 2 felt good, but it was still a bit too heavy at 1.3 lbs. for the one-handed reading I had in mind. My wrists would start to hurt after a while, and it was difficult to turn the pages in iBooks while balancing all of that weight. The big revelation for me was the Smart Cover: I was blown away by how much function was packed into that simple Origami-inspired design. It was a screen cover, a viewing stand, and a little keyboard prop — all in one. The original Smart Covers for the iPad 2 were heavy, but I loved that they included a leather option that really lent a touch of class to the whole device. No Smart Cover design since has been quite as luxurious (though they’ve somehow managed to get more expensive).

iPad mini

When the first iPad mini was announced, I snapped it up because I was absolutely obsessed with reducing the weight of my everyday carry. The first iPad mini was 0.7 lbs. and much easier to hold in one hand for reading. It worked well for books and web pages, and it could fit right into a coat pocket. I loved all of those aspects.

What I didn’t love was the writing experience, and I was doing a lot of writing back in 2012. Placing the keyboard on the desk required me to keep the iPad mini at a certain distance, and there was always a struggle between typing comfort and basic screen legibility. Keeping the iPad mini on the desk was easier to read, but less comfortable for typing. Pushing the screen farther away made it easier to type on my attached Bluetooth keyboard, but much tougher to read more than a few lines of my text.

iPads Air

The Air solved all issues of comfort for me. I owned both the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2, and they were similar in terms of weight (around one pound) and size (a 9.7-inch display). The first iPad Air felt miraculously light for its size, and the Air 2 improved upon that with more speed and the addition of TouchID. Pairing the Air 2 with a Bluetooth keyboard was a dream for mobile writing.

These iPads didn’t have anything wrong with them hardware-wise — but it was ultimately the introduction of iOS 9 and Split View that drew me away from the 9.7-inch form factor. There were so many ads about how great it was to be able to work in two apps at once, and the taste that I had during the iOS 9 summer beta whetted my appetite for a vastly improved computing experience on iOS. I had been spending most of my time over the last few years on the iPad, treating it like my primary computer, and I felt like I was on the cusp of something amazing. Multitasking was going to get way better on the iPad once all the developers embraced the magic of Split View, and that’s really what got me to trade up to an iPad Pro.

iPad Pro

My biggest, most expensive bet was this 128 GB 12.9-inch iPad Pro that I own right now. It was heavier, but still light, considering the sheer size of the screen. I felt positive that developers would get excited about the new possibilities of the platform and embrace extra panels and Split View arrangements. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen — and as of January 2017 — still hasn’t really happened. Apps like Google Hangouts and LINE still load up in full screen, even though they have iPhone apps that help form the basis for a functional Split View mode. Facebook still doesn’t display properly on the larger screen. As much as I still enjoy using iOS, it’s exasperating to see amazing new features demoed in betas, and then have only a small portion of the developer community actually embrace them.

I’m still tempted to downgrade in size when the next set of iPads comes out, but don’t feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth from this current iPad Pro yet. I’ve used it for photo editing, written close to a hundred articles on it, and have used it as an all-around entertainment system at home. However, given the sheer price of the kit ($1700 for the iPad Pro, Pencil, and Smart Keyboard), I think I’ll be sticking with it for at least one more year. My bet on multitasking and a larger screen hasn’t paid off in the long term for my own productivity, so I’m going to give the iOS development cycle a while longer to catch up.

If Apple is going to start treating and pricing iPads like full-fledged computers, I should start treating the investment like that as well. I don’t trade up in MacBooks every single year (it’s usually every three years), so I’m thinking this iPad Pro will be my tablet until at least 2018.


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January 19 2017

05:34

How to use Single Sign-On to watch pay-TV on your iPad

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Back at WWDC last June Apple announced a major update to Apple TV that leaned heavily on the use of Siri for search in addition to features like Live tune-in and the ability to manage Home Kit accessories. They also revealed a new single sign-on capability that allowed customers in the US to authenticate all the video channels from their pay-TV providers by only having to sign in one time.  After the initial sign-in/on customers will be able to watch all of their compatible network-TV apps without having to re-authenticate each app as long as they didn’t sign out.

The initial roll-out started last fall.  However, the networks participating have been growing at a slower pace than I had originally expected.  I had all but forgot about the new feature, and wondered after originally being excited, if I would ever really use it.  That being said–I decided to go through the process of setting it up and giving it a go.

How Does Single Sign-on Work?

So the idea here is simple–if you have a pay-TV service such as DIRECTV, like me, you will have access to all available content that has a dedicated app that you currently pay for as part of your service.  This is made possible because you are allowing third party apps to access and exchange information with your TV Provider about your TV subscription account.  By doing so you gain automatic access with a Single sign-on because this information is stored on your device.

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In addition, if you have iCloud Key Chain enabled as I do, a copy of this info is stored in your iCloud account allowing your account to synchronize all your iOS devices.  For this process to continue you need to remain signed in on your device.  When you sign out you’ll also sign out of all apps that use your account on all your devices that use the same iCloud Keychain.

Setting up Single Sign-on with your iPad

Although the Single Sign-on was/is probably best designed for watching via your Apple TV, you can also use your iPad or iPhone in the same manner.  Setting up your iPad is easy and will allow you to enjoy immediate access to your favorite video channels, and here’s the kicker– if they are included as part of your pay-TV subscription.

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To start, open your Settings App and scroll down to TV Provider.  Selecting and signing into this option will give you access to TV shows and movies in apps that are supported as part of your pay-TV subscription.  Once signed in, revisiting this section will give you the option of signing out of your account–I already discussed what happens as a result of that action.  Furthermore, you can also select the Find More Apps tab that will launch the App Store and take you to your pay-TV provider’s app page.

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Here you can view/download all apps that are available as a subscriber as long as you are running iOS 10 or later.  That’s a quick and dirty summary of the process. If you can’t find your pay-TV provider, new ones are continually being added to the list.  Any network-TV app can take advantage of Single Sign-on, and hopefully more continue to jump on the band-wagon.

A current list of Single-Sign-on providers is available on Apple’s Website.


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