- monthly subscription or
- one time payment
- cancelable any time
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
No one needs any reminder of Apple’s controversial (or courageous, if you take their word for it) decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhones 7 and 7 Plus. However, as with everything in technology, we all adjust and move on. Apple was good enough to include a Lightning Headphone Adapter in the box with the newest iPhones, but that still leaves us with the issue of how to play music or audio and charge a the same time. Anyone who listens to music or podcasts in the car via an Aux port in their car audio system like I do knows this is not a trivial matter.
Such decisions to change or remove functionality just opens the door for third-party accessory makers to fill in the gaps. A common accessory we are seeing this year is Lightning Headphone and Charge combo dongles, and our Deals site currently has a special on a good one. The 2-in-1 Lightning to Headphone Jack Charging Cable from Sky Innovations is avaible in a 3-Pack for $21.99. When you consider what the major accessory companies like Belkin are charging for a single such adapter, this is a solid value.
The 2-in-1 Lightning to Headphone Jack Charging Cable 3-Pack from Sky Innovations is available for $21.99, 56% off the retail price of $49.99 for the next two days.
You may have bought an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus and resigned yourself to a life of losing AirPods and other wireless headphones as you navigate life without a jack. Well, buck up! These 2-in-1 cables allow you to charge your iPhone 7 while still plugged in with your favorite headphones. Just plug it in and you can use one side of the adapter to plug in your wired headphones, and the other to send a charge to your phone from the wall. All your bases are covered.
Use your existing wired headsets or headphones w/ your new iPhone
Enhance audio experience by allowing wired listening
Charge your phone while listening to music w/ attached Lightning adapter cord
Plug into iPhones as far back as iPhone 5 for backwards compatibility
I don’t usually follow Kickstarter that closely, but this is the second notable item for the iPad Pro that I’ve seen this week. While this product has a higher price tag, and will likely take more effort, time, and money to build than the PaperLike screen cover we looked at previously, it is definitely worth consideration. It looks like a creative solution to a problem many users have with the Pro.
One of the biggest issues with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combo is how to carry and charge the Pencil. As all of us Pro users are well aware, there is no built-in way to carry the Pencil with the iPad Pro. Since the Pencil performs so well, this is really the biggest complaint with it. As for charging, while I don’t have a big problem with plugging the Pencil into my Pro’s Lightning Port to recharge it, there are many iPad users who don’t like this arrangement one bit. It has taken a while, but now we have a contender to fill both of these roles simultaneously. If it gets funded and makes it beyond the vaporware stage, the ProBack could beocome an instant buy for many 12.9″ iPad Pro users.
The ProBack isn’t the first case or cover to come with some way to hold an Apple Pencil. However, this cover is slim enough that it is still compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard, which definitely makes it unique.
What really sets the ProBack apart is the ability to recharge the Apple Pencil while docked in the cover. It even has a magnet on the top corner to hold the Pencil’s cap while it is charging. It is the first iPad Pro case to offer all of these features in a single package.
With any Kickstarter or GoFundMe that involves hardware, there is always risk that the product will never be delivered. However, the ProBack does seem to have made it well past the whiteboard phase already. This is what the Studio Tika team has to say on their Kickstarter page:
All our manufacturing processes have been validated. The production molds for the 12-inch iPad Pro have been successfully completed and tested. We are ready to start mass production immediately upon a successful campaign.
There are also pictures and video of their working design and production prototypes, so this looks like a company that will be ready to head right into production as soon as they are funded.
The main drawback I see with the ProBack right now is that the Kickstarter only covers the 12.9″ iPad Pro. I have a feeling that Studio Tika might consider a 9.7″ version if this product gets funded, but I guess this is a one step at a time process.
The ProBack is currently $39 for one and $70 for two on Kickstarter. This is 20% off of their planned retail price of $49.99. Considering what iPad Pro cases and accessories from major brand manufacturers cost, I don’t think this price is out of line considering what the ProBack claims to deliver.
I am still on the fence with this Kickstarter. I funded the PaperLike, and heard from a couple of our readers who did, as well. However, $39 is a bit more money, and there are no guarantees what changes will come with Apple’s rumored iPad Pro hardware updates, which should happen in the near future. This has given me some pause. I haven’t pulled the trigger on the ProBack yet, but I still might.
The ProBack has garnered $6,842 and 111 backers as of the time of this writing. That isn’t bad, but they do still have a ways to go to their $25,000 goal. However, there are still 28 days left, so there is still plenty of time for them to get there, especially if word about the product’s possibilities gets out. That’s the reason I’m writing about a second Kickstarter this week. I wouldn’t do it if the ProBack wasn’t very intriguing.
What do you guys think of the ProBack? Are you interested? Interested enough to fund the project? Not floating your boat? Been burned before and done with Kickstarter? If you aren’t going to fund it, does the ProBack look interesting enough that you would share this Kickstarter on social media and tell others about it? I’m very interested in knowing what all of you who responded about how you use your 12.9″ iPad Pros earlier this year think about the ProBack. As always, you can leave your thought in the Comments below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.
I vividly remember reading Mat Honan’s horror story in Wired magazine about being hacked and having his devices, some of which wheren’t backed up, wiped out and his social media accounts taken over. I also haven’t forgotten that one of the players in that very complex chain of events that lead to the unraveling of his digital life was Apple They were hit with a social engineering attack that ended up being the last dominoe to fall, giving the hackers free reign over Mr Honan’s Apple devices, and in turn, all of his information. The fact that Amazon, Google and Apple were ALL involved in this hack in various ways was definitely eye-opening.
Since that high profile hacking in 2012, all of the above have made great strides in the tools they offer to keep our accounts more secure. All now offer two-factor authentication of various types, which is one of the best weapons against having your accounts hi-jacked by someone who doesn’t have physical access to one of your devices. Combine two-factor with a fingerprint sensor like Apple’s TouchID, and you have a relatively easy path to enough security to head off most attempts to get at your Apple account.
For those who may not be familiar with the concept of two-factor authentication, it is simply a two step process for logging into an account. One step is almost always your traditional password that we all know and love. The second step depends on you actively acknowledging that you are making the log in attempt, but the method can vary. Facebook has a number generator inside their app that provides randomized codes. Google uses the same concept of random codes, but uses various apps to generate them. Amazon gives users the option between a phone call, a text, or an authentication app. Apple offers the option of either traditional text messages to a phone number, or a code sent directly to a device that has been designated as being “trusted.”
One thing to note about two-factor authentication is that it rarely, if ever, applies to all logins. Maybe for secure sites, such as bank or billing account sites, but in the case of Apple, it only comes into play when you need to access the iCloud web interface or the Apple ID management site from your computer, or perform certain critical logins or log outs that could compromise your account. There is always a compromise that has to be struck between security and convenience, and that finding the right balance to keep the highest number of customers secure, yet still happy with the usability of your devices is the key. Having two-factor there for when you need it for protection, but letting the much more customer-friendly TouchID handle the heavy lifting of the day-to-day grind was a smart move on Apple’s part.
To turn on what Apple refers to as Two-Step Verification, you will need to go to the following address: https://appleid.apple.com/#!&page=signin
This is Apple’s site for all Apple ID setup or changes, and the central hub for managing your main Apple account.
After logging in, you will see the following menu below.
Click the Edit button to the right of the Security section, where you will find the Two-Factor Verification menu.
Simply follow the prompts to turn Two-Step Verification on, and you are on your way. First, you will be asked to set up Security Questions and Answers. Next, you will add a Trusted Phone Number, which will be verified with an SMS message with a four digit code. You will also be given the opportunity to set up other Trusted Phone Numbers and/or Trusted Devices. Last, you will be prompted to set up and confirm a Recovery Key. This is your access of last resort if someone tries to hack your account and you have to reset your password. BE SURE TO SAVE THIS IS A SAFE PLACE YOU WON’T FORGET. Sorry for the yelling, but just search for what happens if you can’t find it when needed? Because of hacks like the one that hit Mat Honan, Apple has a 0 leniency on this point. They WILL NOT help you if you lose the Recovery Key.
Once you confirm your choice to Enable Two-Step Verification, you are all set. From here on out, when you log into the Apple Account management page, you will see the following:
Pro-Tip: If you want to be as secure as possible, you need to opt for using a Trusted Device, rather than a Trusted Phone Number to generate your access code. If you use a phone number, the text message and the code in it will be visible from an iOS device’s Lock Screen.
If you use a Trusted Device, the message will appear as follows:
As you can see above, you must unlock your device before you can view your code using this method, making it more secure. Even if someone had your Apple account AND your phone, without the passcode, they wouldn’t be able to get into your account to reset the password.
Speaking of Trusted Devices, be sure to keep yours up to date as time goes on. It is easy to forget to add and subtract from this list as you upgrade and move on from iOS devices. I know because I had an issue with my iPhone this week that necessitated going into Recovery Mode, wiping it out, re-loading iOS, and then restoring my backup. Somewhere along the way, I had to provide a code, but my phone, which was still inoperable at the time, was the only current Trusted Device. I had to send the code to my wife at work and wait for her to respond. As soon as she got me that code, I added my iPad Pro as a Trusted Device so this wouldn’t happen again.
Adding a Trusted Device after the fact is easy enough. This can be done from the same Security menu we looked at before.
You can see above that, if you have a device under your iCloud account that hasn’t been set up as Trusted, you will get a message telling you haw many are available. There is also a reminder here that devices must be set up to work with Find My iPhone to be set up as Trusted.
It’s difficult to put the proper priority on security until the time comes that you get burned. I got a small, but thankfully not very severe, reminder of this fact two days ago. It woke me up to the fact that I need to be doing more, and staying on top of all my accounts. Heed the words of good old Ben Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is wort a pound of cure.” Thankfully, Apple and others have made these tools, such as Two-Step Verification, pretty easy to use, so it’s not difficult to take advantage. My personal advise to you is to set up two-factor authentication on every account that you can, and then make reminders to check in on each periodically to be sure they are working when that bad day when you need it finally comes.
What do you think Apple’s security tools, including Two-Step Verification? Do you have it set up? If so, what do you think? Have you had any issues? If you haven’t set it up yet, is there a reason that keeps you from pulling the trigger? Let us know what you think here in the Comments, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.
Internet security has never been more important and more prevalent than right now, as seemingly every day brings us fresh reports of new security breaches, cyber-attacks, and unpatched exploits. We also continue to be bombarded with stories of user tracking by ISPs, advertisers, Google, Facebook, and our own and other governments.
The World Wide Web is a wild and woolly place, but there are plenty of things that you can do to protect yourself, your data, and your Internet privacy. One of the easiest and most effective is using a VPN while surfing, and the Private Internet Access VPN from London Trust Media is one of the best values you will find. For $59.95, which is 63% off the normal price of $166, you get unlimited browsing for up to 5 devices. This VPN works with OS X, Windows, Linus, iOS, and Android, so no matter what devices you have or where you surf, you are covered.
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“While many VPN providers say they do not log their users’ activities in order to protect anonymity, it’s not often their claims get tested in the wild. However, a criminal complaint filed by the FBI… notes that a subpoena sent to Private Internet Access resulted in no useful data being revealed about a suspected hoaxer,” Torrent Freak
Prevents data mining so you can browse anonymously
Blocks ads, trackers & malware w/ the new MACE feature
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Bypasses censorship filters so you are free from geographic restrictions
Stops traffic w/ a kill switch if the VPN connection is unexpectedly terminated
A recent Kickstarter campaign caught my eye that I thought might be of interest to several of our readers. The PaperLike screen cover from Jan Sapper is exactly what it sounds like- a simple screen protector-like cover for both models of iPad Pro. It is made of a proprietary film that gives the screen a feel closer to that of paper when using the Apple Pencil. It’s a very good idea that I was surprised to learn hasn’t really been addressed by any mainstream accessory manufacturers to this point.
Many designers who use the iPad Pro in their work say that the feel of the Pencil on the Pro screen is as good a drawing experience as you will find. However, for those like me who don’t have the steady hand of an experienced digital artist or designer, the ultra-smooth feel of the iPad’s screen can be a little too much of a good thing. I personally find control to be more difficult than with traditional pen and paper, so the PaperLike sounds absolutely perfect for me.
As you can see in the photo above, the PaperLike also cuts down on screen glare. It remains to be seen if there is any negative impact that comes with this, as some matte screen protectors can mute colors or reduce screen clarity. However, if it cuts glare with little to no negative impact, then I will very pleased. The description on the Kickstarter page also states that the PaperLike cuts down on smudges and other finger marks. This is a problem for many good and/or expensive screen protectors, so if the PaperLike can roll all of these features into one affordable cover, I will be very impressed.
I am usually very hesitant when it comes to Kickstarters. I have good reason, as I backed the Ouya years ago, and was pretty underwhelmed when I recieved the final product MONTHS later. However, this particular campaign is already fully funded 10 times over, and is a much more modest product than many of the more ambitious gadgets we have seen in the past. We are only talking about a screen film in two sizes- one for the 9.7″ iPad Pro, and another for the 12.9″ model. This should be much easier to pull off than other campaigns that have famously failed, or didn’t meet expectations.
As always with a Kickstarter, buyer beware. However, at only $18 or $20, depending on screen size, you don’t have much to lose. And if this product fits the description, it will be a very useful accessory for may iPad Pro users. The estimated delivery time is June, so I am going to take the plunge myself, and back the 12.9″ version. If it does arrive at my doorstep as planned, I will be sure to write a full review on it.
The details on the PaperLike Kickstarter campaign can be found here. If anyone else takes the plunge, be sure to let me know in the Comments below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.
As iPad rumors have cooled in the wake of the release of a new device and a wait until the release of rumored devices possibly still to come, another oldie but goodie has popped back up over the last couple of days. There have been Apple and Disney merger, purchase, and partnership rumors going back several years, but they have really picked up some momentum this week.. We all know Apple has a massive $200 bilion plus pile of cash (although most of it is currently trapped overseas), and that they are starting to look for and produce their own media content, including video. Both brands are also iconic and synonymous with quality and attainable luxury, so the companies do align in certain areas, which is probably why these rumors make sense in a lot of ways.
Everyone knows that Apple wants to get into video, but it takes time, patience, and a LOT of investment to make this happen. So many in the media have taken shots at Apple for starting out with Planet of the Apps, but conveniently forget that Netflix started with Lillehammer and Amazon with throwaways like Alpha House. Starting with a modest and manageable budget to figure out systems and costs are a smart way to go. Shows like House of Cards and The Man in the High Castle, and the chops and experience to make them and promote them, don’t just appear out of thin air. The process has to start somewhere.
However, Apple buying Disney could set the online video industry on its ear. As successful as Netflix and Amazon have been, they are NOT Disney. The trick for Apple would be not killing the goose that laid the golden egg by suddenly walling off all of Disney’s content. That would be a huge mistake, However, if they can strike the right balance of keeping Disney properties available everywhere, and incentivizing their many fans to sign up for Apple Music and buy and Apple TV to gain access to great exclusives and the massive back catalogue, then they can reap a brand new windfall of profits from both their own and other sales channels. On that note…..
“Evergreen” products are what every business longs for, but few tech businesses can manage to produce. By their nature, their business models are based on getting rid of the old and constantly re-inventing and coming up with new ideas. Disney, however, has a wealth of evergreen content in their back catalogue that never has to be touched or updated to keep on selling. They have become the masters of artificial demand, by doing things like only releasing back catalogue movies on DVD, BlueRay, or digitally for short periods before taking them back off the market. They have millions of adoring fans who keep coming back for more. Think of what Apple could do to bolster their products and services by making some of this content Apple-platform exclusive. Not all, if they are smart, but some. I can guarantee you that if Apple pulled Disney content from other online streaming services and offered unlimited access to select content via an Apple Music subscription, it would instantly drive subscription sales up.
This can’t be understated. Apple would be buying a company that makes some of the most popular movies in the world, has access to directors, producers, etc that it would take Apple years to get to on their own, and already runs multiple television and radio networks. Once through the inevitable transition period, all of the growing pains that would come with building up in-house movie and TV capabilities on their own would be gone.
This is another one of those things that is very hard to buy. In the case of buying Disney, the very hard comes in terms of what I’m sure would be an insane price tag. But if Apple were to make this happen, then they would have instant credibility in media sales and production. They would need to prove that they can handle the transition properly, and manage Disney’s precious assets correctly. But barring a catastrophe, they would have complete credibility in the movie, TV, and radio industries, and a leg up on all other tech companies who are getting into, or who are already established in media.
Here is an other area where, if Apple played their cards right, they could really push one of their platforms forward. Since its release, the current-gen Apple TV has struggled to carve out much of a name for itself. I have one, and it is a really good, solid device. Unfortunately, the App Store for the TV hasn’t taken off like Apple expected. However, bolstered by a game catalogue that would include a plethora of Star Wars options, Apple could make a second push to become a secondary/lightweight video gaming platform.
I think all of the tech media agrees on this being the biggest advantage for Apple in doing such a large deal. The fact that the majority of their cash stockpiles are overseas means that they can’t use that money for deals in the US without paying an absolutely insane amount in corporate taxes. Enter current President of the United States Donald Trump, and his much more corporate-friendly policies. Apple and Tim Cook have been very careful to keep their disagreements on Trump’s social and foreign policies civil and limited, and to stay engaged with him and his administration on tech and corporate policy. I don’t think this an accident. They must see his Presidency as an opportunity. Whether it is Disney, another large acquisition or merger, or many smaller ones, look for Apple to make moves to bring their money home over the next four years.
These are obviously VERY profitable and popular businesses for Disney, but does Apple have any interest in running them? They are likely very profitable, but they are FAR outside Apple’s core businesses. This would be a very big question if Apple purchased Disney. Would they spin these off into a separate company, or just keep things as they are and reap the profits, but also have the responsibility to keep them profitable and up to date?
Apple already has a massive retail presence at a time when a lot of brick and mortar stores are struggling. Would Apple want to carry all of this additional retail space over into this new deal, or would they want to sell them off? Or, would they use them as a way to grow their reach beyond full Apple Stores? Maybe this one could go either way, but it is still a big question mark as to how they would handle the addition of such a large retail division.
There is no mistaking it. This would be the whale. The big fish. This would wipe out most, if not all, of Apple’s cash reserves. As such, if this move didn’t work out as planned, it would really set Apple back. They have used their large cash reserves to guarantee massive parts orders for the assembly of their devices overseas, and and keep a lot of the competition at a disadvantage. They have been able to pay up front, and offer vendors the guarantee of payment for their products and services with cash on hand. Apple wouldn’t have that same advantage anymore after a purchase this large.
I’m not even going to try to prognosticate what would be positive or negative for Disney. I frankly don’t know the company well enough to have a good frame of reference. As such, if there are any Disney fans reading this, I would love to get your takes on the positives and negatives for them. However, as far as Apple is concerned, I’ll believe it when I see it. I think there are more good fits and advantages than obvious disadvantages. However, a couple of the disadvantages, such as a potential loss of purchasing leverage, and having to take on a lot of Disney’s businesses that don’t really fit, are significant. No matter the advantages and disadvantages, Apple has NEVER shown any real interest in making massive deals like this. They have always preferred to buy up smaller companies that compliment what they are already doing, so a move like this would be completely out of character for them.
Still, it is interesting to think about all the possibilities of two companies like Apple and Disney that do compliment each other in a lot of ways coming together. I’m very interested to hear what all of our readers think about a potential Apple-Disney partnership. Would it be an amazing marriage that boosts the fortunes of all involved? Would it hurt Apple in the long run? Would it fundamentally change everything about Disney? There is just a LOT to unpack here. Feel free to tell me what you think about it in the Comments section here, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.
The Rundown- A quick overview of the week, and a look at some things coming soon.
Posted by iPad Insight on Friday, April 14, 2017
Follow the link above to the first of what will be a recurring feature here at iPad Insight. I will be periodically recording Facebook Live video recaps of what we’ve been covering recently, and taking a look at some things that are coming up on the site. Since this is the first time, I would welcome any feedback that you may have on what we are covering, things you might like to see covered or reviewed, and any other feedback that you may have. I would love to be as responsive to what you, the readers, want.
In this first installment, I talk about:
And I talk about a couple of things coming up:
Again, please let me know if you have any feedback or requests. You can reach out in the Comments section here, on the post on our Facebook page, on Flipboard, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!
An Apple Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro
A set of Apple Airpods
An Apple Pencil
An Apple Classic Buckle Leather Strap
The total retail value of these accessories is around $600, so what do you have to lose? These items are the real thing, and some of the best of Apple’s own accessories for the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch.
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Even as “unlimited” data plans are now making a roaring comeback, the majority of iOS users are still on either tiered data plans, or have data thresholds past which they get their speeds throttled. However, with the use a few features built into iOS, and various free data monitoring apps, it is possible to stay on top of your monthly usage, and to know exactly where your hard-earned data is being used.
It’s a little hidden, but iOS does track your Cellular Data usage. Go to Settings-Cellular to see the usage for the current period and your roaming data for the current period. More on this is just a second.
Below that, you have all apps that are capable of using Cellular Data listed. The current period data usage for each app is shown here, along with a toggle switch that allows users to turn off the tap for any app that they don’t want using data. There is even a listing at the bottom for any apps that might have been uninstalled during the period. Very nice.
These are incredibly useful tools…..if…IF you keep track of your monthly data plan and act accordingly. I was reminded of an important lesson after going over my data cap a year or so ago. Unfortunately, iOS currently doesn’t have any method for automatically resetting the Cellular Data Usage period. If you don’t do this yourself, the numbers you see here really won’t tell you anything for the current month you are in.
It is also worth noting here that, after a thorough search, I found out that short of Jailbreaking your iOS device, there is no built-in way for third-party apps to detect data usage for individual apps. Well, at least not without jumping through some pretty major hoops. There is an app called My Data Manager from Mobidia Technology on the App Store that creatively uses a VPN to track and record the traffic from each of your apps. Unfortunately, this not only puts a heavier load on your device in the background, but it can also result in slower than average data speeds, and even an increase in your Cellular Data usage. My recommendation is to stick with the current solution until Apple either adds better tracking, or opens the app-specific data up to developers.
I and many others would appreciate the addition of features in iOS that would help in tracking data use per app. However, until that time, it is possible to handle this yourself. If you scroll to the bottom of the list of apps under Settings-Cellular, you will see a button to Reset Statistics.
Just tap this button to reset all Cellular Data usage counters. This will also reset your call time counter for the period. It also gives you a date and time stamp for the last time this was performed.
All you need to do now is consult your wireless bill, carrier app, or your carrier’s online account management interface, and find out the end date for your wireless plan’s monthly billing. As long as you reset your usage on or near this date every month, then the numbers you see on this page will help you in finding out where your data is CURRENTLY going.
This is just too easy to forget, even for the most interested and organized of users. As such, I recommend setting up a monthly reminder late the night before your data rolls over, or early the morning of, depending on your preference. I used Reminders for this because it is built-in and very reliable for these kinds of simple notifications. However, any app capable of generating a reminder or appointment notification will do. This isn’t foolproof, but it will go a long way toward helping you stay on top of this feature of iOS, and making the data here work better for you. I set a reminder for myself several months ago, and I haven’t missed resetting my data stats since. If I can do it, anyone can.
While we are here, it is worth noting that the Wi-Fi Assist feature just above the Reset Statistics button can be a cause of high Cellular Data usage. When Apple unveiled this feature in iOS 9, it immediately caused a tempest in a teapot. You know. One of those Apple-centered “-gates” that the tech press just LOVE to cover every time a new version of iOS is released or a new Apple device hits the shelves. However, I guess their gleeful coverage of Samsung’s Note 7 debacle proves that it isn’t that they love bashing Apple as much as they love bad tech news that drives clicks.
Back to the topic at hand. Apple left the parameters of this feature a little to loose at release, so that every time a user’s Wi-Fi signal dropped below a certain threshold for a very short time, the apps or services in use would start using Cellular Data rather than Wi-Fi, Since the beginnings of the iPhone, once an Apple mobile device was connected to Wi-Fi, it had ceased to use Cell Data. This feature changed this foundational principle of iOS and confused many users in the process. Suddenly, many early upgraders were burning through large portions of their monthly data allotments in days, even while connected to what they thought were stable Wi-Fi routers.
While Apple’s intentions to help users get a more stable and seamless online experience were noble, the implementation was lacking. Wi-Fi Assist just hadn’t been tested thoroughly enough, and that was exposed when it was released to millions of early iOS upgraders. While I am sure this feature has been tested thoroughly since its bumpy roll out, and has been updated to work better over time, you know what they say. Once bitten, twice shy. I don’t need Wi-Fi Assist, so I don’t think I will ever turn it back on.
That said, if you do have issues with weak Wi-Fi, this feature may help you. Just keep an eye on your data usage, and if you run into issues, turn Wi-Fi Assist off and see if that helps stem the tide. It is also worth noting that, if you have Wi-Fi Assist turned on, iOS keeps a data usage tab on it, just like all of the other apps and services. That makes it easy to know if Wi-Fi Assist is using more of your data than you think it should.
At the bottom of the list of apps in Settings-Cellular, there is also a button to show the Cellular Data usage for iOS’ System Services.
This is very useful from a reference perspective, but unlike in some previous iOS versions, you can’t disable any data usage from this menu. Anything that can be turned off has been moved up into the list of apps, or in the case of iCloud Drive, just below it.
All in all, Apple has given users a pretty robust set of tools to track data usage. What we are missing is the ability to reset the usage total at a fixed interval. However, as long as you are willing to take a little initiative, the tracking that’s provided should be all your need to stay on top of things.
If Apple’s built-in tools aren’t for you, or if you would just like an easier way to get to this data, there is no shortage of apps in the App Store that will handle your data tracking for you: DataMan, DataMan Next, Data Usage, Data Usage Pro, Data Count, Data Manager, the aforementioned My Data Manager, just to name a few. The list goes on and on.
I don’t typically use an app for tracking anymore, but I do have Data Usage Pro installed on my iPhone.
I actually used it to track my Wi-Fi usage when Comcast put its initial cable data cap at only 300 GB per month. With a family of five, including 3 kids who love tech and were home for the Summer at the time, that 300 GB came and went fast. I chose Data Usage Pro because I could set limits and billing rollover dates for both Wi-Fi and Cellular, and it keeps a running history of your data usage for each month which can be exported for long-term storage and analysis. Like most apps in this category, it also has a widget, so you can keep tabs on data usage without opening the app. Not bad for a free app.
If you are interested in using an app for data tracking, I would recommend starting out by trying all of the free ones. Other than interface and a few features here and there, there won’t be a lot of difference between them all. If one of them doesn’t do it for you, there are several in the $.99 range that may work a little better. As for my use of data tracking apps, Comcast raised the cap to 1 TB per month, which I GREATLY appreciated. We haven’t had any issues since, so I haven’t had any need for an app since then.
While most of the data tracking apps have some form of notification to let you know you are approaching your data cap, nothing beats getting this information from the company that is actually doing the counting and charging. Most of the cellular carriers have some mechanism to notify you that your data cap limit is approaching. I am an AT&T subscriber, and they give users several notification options right from their iOS app.
As you can see here, users can decide at what point they get alerts, and who they go to. The alerts show up as text messages for the users they are turned on for, and also appear as a notification in the AT&T app.
If I get a 75% notification from AT&T, then I know it’s time to go check my data usage per app in iOS, and that usually keeps me covered. 99% of the time that I go over my cap it is work related, and they are kind enough to reimburse me for the $15 overage fees, so this has rarely been an issue for me.
One of these days I will likely switch my family over to an unlimited plan. However, AT&T’s more affordable unlimited family plan doesn’t allow tethering, which I absolutely rely on for my job. The tier that does allow it is ridiculously expensive, but it is difficult to walk away from AT&T because my company also gets a decent corporate discount through them. So, for the time being, I am writing this article based on current personal experience. I may be counting bytes for a while yet along with many of you. At least we have the tools to stay on top of it with very little extra effort.
Are you still using a tiered data plan, or have you taken the plunge and gone unlimited? If so, let me know what you think. Do you have any tricks or apps for data tracking that weren’t mentioned here? Feel free to let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.
© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. |
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Post tags: cell data, cell data tracking, cellular data, cellular data tracking, data tracking apps, ios data tracking apps
There is no shortage of stands made for various models of the iPad, Pro models now included. However, finding ones of good quality for an iPad Pro that can help you get real work accomplished is a different story entirely. Into this vacuum stepped the DraftTable. This was the first stand designed with the original iPad Pro in mind, and it is built for real work. It has unique features, such as wide-angle adjustment and spring-loaded hinges. Also, while it is primarily designed with the iPad Pros in mind, it will actually work with other iPad models, as well.
Quality construction and great design don’t come cheap, but with a device like the DraftTable, you get what you pay for. Normally $99.99, the DraftTable is currently on sale for $82.99 for six more days. Follow the link to our Deals site, and get this deal while you can.
Veteran designers are familiar with the difficulty of finding a stand that’s compatible with iPad Pro, which is why DraftTable was created in the first place. The first adjustable stand made for iPad Pro, DraftTable features wide angle adjustment and spring-loaded hinges that allow for easy changes. Plus, it’s compatible with all smaller iPads as well. No matter how much pressure you put on it, DraftTable will be up to the task.
Makes iPad Pro more ergonomic & better to work on, remaining sturdy while you work on it
Works w/ iPad Pro as well as all smaller models as well
Turns iPad Pro into a Wacom Cintiq-like input for Mac
Included gel wrist support & pencil stand give you a complete, comfortable setup
Folds flat for easy transport anywhere
I am a huge sports fan, and have been since I was a child. I played a few when I was younger, and I still watch just about any team sport you can think of in some amount today. As we head into the middle of Spring, College Baseball is going strong and the Major Leagues had their Opening Day just a week ago. As such, it felt right to break out a little National Pastime parlance to describe Apple’s newest addition to the iPad family.
Just about everyone recognizes a Home Run product as a big hit. That’s a phrase that just easily transcends the bounds of the sport of baseball into everyday life. The terms Home Run and Grand Slam just resonate. They simply mean what they say. The vast majority of Americans know exactly what you referring to if you say that a product is a Home Run, or even better, a Grand Slam. However, what do you call something that isn’t a Home Run?
A Base Hit or Single doesn’t need too much explaining, either. That is a hit that earns you one base in the sport of baseball. It is the equivalent of a simple, everyday positive accomplishment. Well, the new iPad may not be a Home Run, but it’s definitely more than a Base Hit. That’s why the Stand-Up Double came to mind when I was thinking about my impressions of the deivce after a week of kicking the tires. A Double is a hit that is deep enough to get you two bases, and a Stand-Up Double means that the ball was deep enough and you were fast enough to not be forced to slide to beat a throw to the base.
A Stand-Up Double is an above average accomplishment that earns you a tip of the cap from your peers and fans. It’s a solid play that may not make a highlight reel, but will help your team get a win. It’s the mid-sized sedan of baseball plays, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just moved on from a 2010 Chevy Impala as a work vehicle, so I know of what I speak. It wasn’t spectacular. It wasn’t blazing fast. It was plain, old white with gray interior. It was the quintessential fleet car. However, it made it over 175,000 miles in service to our company in 7 years, and got great mileage and hardly ever had any service issues beyond the necessities of tires, oil changes, and brakes. I also had an 07 Impala before the last one, and it made it over 230,000 miles before we put it out to pasture. There is something to be said for solid dependability.
This is EXACTLY how I think of the new iPad. Solid. Dependable. Reasonably priced. Unspectacular. It gets the job done and then fades into the background. For anyone who likes to buy the latest Apple gear, this device probably isn’t for you. If you currently own an Air 2 or a Pro, it DEFINITELY isn’t designed with you in mind. Like a Stand-Up Double, the new iPad isn’t making the highlight reel alongside the Home Runs and Grand Slams of the tech world. However, don’t get me wrong here. None of this is meant to be negative. This device doesn’t need to impress us Apple nerds who are compelled to own the latest and greatest at all times. After using it for a week, I feel like it will hit the mark just fine for those who it IS aimed at.
I’ve said in a few articles leading up to this one that I think Apple is using this new iPad to draw a clearer line between its pro and consumer tablets going forward. The Air 2 was an iterative, but brilliant culmination of everything the iPad had been up until that point. It’s combination of screen, processor, weight, size and TouchID made it the best tablet of its generation, bar none. And when the original iPad Pro was released, it was set apart as much through its larger size as the new Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility.
However, when the 9.7″ Pro came along, that line was blurred significantly. The two devices were virtually identical in size, and also weren’t too terribly far apart when it came to specs. Other than the True Tone screen technology and the Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility, the only other differences were mere spec bumps. And price. While those of us who use the Pencil and/or the Smart Keyboard may see the justification for the Pro’s higher price, I understand why others may not understand it, and be confused as to which is the best to fit their needs.
With its combination of modest steps forward and interesting steps backward, the new iPad is much more clearly set apart from the iPad Pro line. The size and screen, while perfectly fine, are now a clear step down from the Pro line. However, by bumping the processor up to the A9, the RAM to 2GB, and the screen to a higher brightness level, this tablet is still going to feel like either a substantial upgrade or a great start for many users. Also, the new price of $329 makes the trade offs between this iPad and the Air 2 even more acceptable. In my opinion, Apple struck a really nice balance between adding the features this device needed, and removing what was a little less important in the effort to cut the price to a more budget-friendly level.
So who is the new iPad for? Definitely not me. It’s a clear step down from either iPad Pro, so any owner of either device who is happy with it probably won’t be all that impressed. iPad Air 2 users may go either way, depending on how attached they are to its better screen and slimmer size. Those who appreciate the cheaper price tag and processor and memory upgrades may end up moving to the iPad at some point. It will just depend on the priorities of each individual Air 2 user and when they decide to upgrade. I’m guessing that most will stand pat or move toward the Pro at some point.
This new iPad is very clearly aimed at two groups of people: new buyers who have never owned an iPad, and existing owners of the original iPad and the iPads 2, 3, 4, and Air. For new buyers, the value proposition of the lower $329 price tag should be a big draw. For existing users of older iPads, this new model represents a solid upgrade. For those of us who use Air 2s or Pros, it can be hard to put ourselves in the shoes of other users, but it’s good to remember that, for someone who has been holding onto an iPad 2 for several years, the new iPad is a big step up at a more affordable price.
After using the new iPad for a week, here are a few brief observations about the device and my experience with it:
At the end of the day, the new iPad may not be a Home Run, but that’s ok. It doesn’t need to be, at least not for us power users. While I was thinking about this, I recalled an old NBC advertisement for network show re-runs over the Summer. It went something like, “If you missed it the first time, it’s new to you.” Well, for the two segments of buyers that the new iPad is aimed at, it will feel new to them. It won’t seem like a compromise or a device of trade-offs because it won’t be. They will be getting access to the latest version of iOS and hardware features they haven’t had before. For them, it will be either a new device that is better than what they had before, or their first iPad altogether. If we judge the new iPad by this measure, then it comes out standing on second base with a clean jersey. I tip my cap to Apple for making a fine play with the design and marketing of the new iPad.
What do you think about the new iPad? Does it interest you? If so, I’d love to hear what you find most appealing about it. If not, what do you think of it as a device for new users or upgraders? Do you know anyone for whom the new iPad would be a solid upgrade? Let me know in the Comments below, on Flipboard or Facebook, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.
© jhrogersii for iPad Insight, 2017. |
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Post tags: 5th gen ipad, 5th gen ipad reviews, 5th generation ipad, 5th generation ipad reviews, Apple iPad, iPad, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, ipad reviews, new apple ipad, new iPad, new ipad reviews
The total retail value of these accessories is around $600, so entering this giveaway is a no-brainer. Also, these aren’t third party or cheap knock-off products. These are the real deal, and some of the best of Apple’s own accessories for the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch.
Sign ups for this contact end in 13 days, so don’t delay. You can sign up for The Elite Apple Accessories Giveaway right here. Good luck!
In the first installment of the iOS 11 Wishlist, I took a look at some ways that Apple can improve its existing Multitasking app selector on the latest iPads. This week, its time to look at a feature that is long overdue, but may finally get the attention it deserves- User Accounts.
Separate User Accounts has been one of the most common unfulfilled requests for the iPad for the last two or three years for a couple of reasons. FIrst off, all of the competition already has some sort of User Account system. In fact, both Android and Amazon’s skinned variation of the same have both had this feature for a while now. Of course, Microsoft’s Windows has had this feature for decades, and since the Surface runs full Windows, it has the advantage of such proven power user features. Whatever the case, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that Apple is very late to the party here.
The other reason that User Accounts keep coming up in reference to the iPad is because of how tablets are typically used. A new lower-cost addition to the lineup aside, iPads aren’t exactly inexpensive. They never have been, and likely never will be. As such, they tend to be multi-use devices among families. Raise your hand if your significant other loves to hog your favorite tablet, or if your kids get a WHOLE LOT more screen time on the family iPad than you do. We are using them the way we used to use traditional computers, because they now handle a lot of the simple tasks that PCs and Macs used to be charged with in the home. Things like web browsing, email, gaming, bills and budgeting, and video and music streaming are just easier on a portable, instant-on device that has great battery life.
Unfortunately, there are issues with several people mixing and matching tasks, apps, and information on one device. How do you keep a good handle on parental controls for younger children without driving yourself crazy? This becomes an even greater challenge with children of different ages. How about keeping apps and data segregated in a situation where you may have multiple iTunes and/or iCloud accounts? It can be a real mess.
These kinds of issues are the very reasons that User Accounts have existed for many years on both Windows and the Mac. They are also the reasons that Google and Amazon put in the work to get ahead of the game and beat Apple to the punch on this feature. So why has Apple held off implementing this in iOS thus far? I have a theory that seems fairly obvious. Apple decided to focus their efforts on higher-end users with their iPad Pro devices the last two years, rather than the home users who had already stopped buying or upgrading their tablets in droves. These users are going to be less likely to be sharing devices, so a separate User Accounts feature simply became a lower priority. Unfortunately for Apple, the Air 2 and Mini 4 remained their best selling devices, despite all of the marketing and push being behind the iPad Pros.
With the release of the new iPad, I see a shift starting to take shape. I think that Apple is drawing a clearer line between its consumer and professional tablets, and is renewing its focus on the more price-conscious side of the market. The Air 2 was too close to the 9.7″ Pro in features and size, and too expensive because of it. Based on what I have seen while briefly testing the device recently, it is clear that Apple is now trying to strike the best balance between solid performance and features and cutting the cost to a point where both existing iPad users and potential new ones will pull the trigger. With this renewed interest in the consumer end of the tablet market, I am hoping that User Accounts will become a high priority for iOS.
There is another reason to hope that User Accounts will be coming to iOS soon, as well. In a small way, they already have. Apple is also positioning the new iPad as their primary device for the education market. They have been taking a beating at the hands of cheaper devices like Chromebooks, but this response looks like it should help at least stem the tide. However, even before this year, Apple was thinking about the features it needed to implement to continue to compete in the classroom. They released the Shared iPad feature in iOS 9.3, which includes the ability to log in using separate User Accounts on an iPad.
However, this isn’t quite what typical users who want this feature have been looking for. It has to be managed through an education market- specific server and an external application for classroom use. As such, while the accounts are cached on the device for faster switching between users, they do not actually exist on the iPad. While the Shared iPad feature is a good step in the right direction, it is just a step. It is more of a work-around to solve a specific problem for the education market than a true solution.
That said, the existence of Shared iPad along with the release of the new iPad, a device obviously designed with the consumer and education markets specifically in mind, points to the possibility that this feature is coming soon. I personally predict that User Accounts will become a more fully-baked, on-device feature of iOS 11. This isn’t make or break for Apple, by any means, but it is definitely one of those features that iPad users have been waiting a long time for. It’s time Apple. Make it happen.
Would separate User Accounts on the iPad and other iOS devices make your life easier? Is this something you have been patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for in iOS? Let me know what you think in the Commensts section below, on Flipboard, Facebook, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.
Just like last week’s tip on controlling the iPad’s cursor for selecting and editing using Trackpad Mode, the iPad’s multi-touch navigation features are easy to miss or forget about. In fact, I hadn’t used this feature in a couple of years myself. Since I use a Bluetooth keyboard so often, I tend to use the available keyboard shortcuts to switch apps and return to the Home menu. Thanks to @skrimaging for the great suggestion via Twitter to highlight this feature.
There are three navigation gestures available, using either four or five finger motions. For the first gesture, from within any app, pull your fingers in toward the center of the screen to exit the app and return to the Home screen. An example of this gesture can be seen in the photo above.
The second gesture is a four or five finger swipe left or right between open apps. This motion doesn not open the App Switcher, but simply moves from app to app in a linear fashion. It can only be done within an app.
The third and final gesture opens the app switcher with a four or five finger swipe upward across the screen. This is the only gesture of the three that can be performed from the Home screen, elsewhere in Springboard, or from inside of a Folder.
These gestures are controlled from the Settings app, under the General-Multitasking menu.
For users of keyboards and keyboard cases like myself, these gestures may have limited usefulness. As I said at the outset, I didn’t think of this as a tip because I haven’t used them for a long time. However, I know there are many more users who are multi-touch all the way, and for them, gestures that can save you from having to constantly go back and forth to the Home Button are a great way to streamline navigation.
Thanks again to @skrimaging for the suggestion to cover this tip. I continue to be open to any suggestions for future tips, features, or questions for futures Tips and Tricks articles, so keep them coming. Whether it is something you want to hear more about, or a tip you already know about, but think will benefit other users, drop me a line in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Today’s deal is perfect for those who want to take their music on the go, and want more umph than a small wireless speaker can deliver. The G-Boom Wireless Bluetooth Boombox delivers big sound and solid battery life in a rugged, but still very portable package. iLounge’s “Speaker of the Year” serves up seven hours of sound on the go from virtually any device that can hold a tune. Between Bluetooth and a standard headphone jack, the G-Boom has you covered.
The G-Boom Wireless Bluetooth Boombox is on sale for $84.99 (normally $100.00) for the near five days. Move fast and don’t miss out!
Portable Bluetooth speakers sometimes succeed more at being portable than being powerful music makers. G-BOOM is the exception. This Bluetooth powerhouse can deliver quality, loud sound for up to 6 hours without an outlet in sight.
Named “Speaker of the Year” by iLounge
Pumps out big sound in a rugged, portable package
Built w/ rugged housing structure, a protective rubber base & an integrated handle for easy carrying
Plays for 7 hours straight w/ built-in rechargeable battery
Powers up via the AC adapter
Connects to any device w/ a standard headphone jack via a audio cable
Can be wirelessly controlled from your mobile device or physically via playback buttons
Delivers powerful sound through a 2.1 speaker configuration (two full-range drivers & one tweeter), dual rear-firing bass ports, and MAXX AUDIO digital sound processing for optimum bass
With the new iPad just released, I expect that we will have some first-time iPad users stopping by looking for help with their new devices. Also, some of you who may be upgrading from an iPad 2 or 3, or an original iPad Mini may find some of the tablet features in the latest version of iOS unfamiliar. With more new iPads likely still on the way, this is a good time to get back to some basics and brush up on some of the handy features of the current iPad lineup and iOS 10. As such, I will be posting a new Tips and Tricks article each week for a bit. For this first installment, I want to take a look at an unsung feature that came to us in iOS 9.
Have you ever wished that you could connect a mouse to your iPad, even just for a few particular tasks? Have you ever found yourself irritated or distracted having to look up and touch the screen to move back and edit text that you can’t easily reach with a few strokes of the Delete key? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, then today’s tip is for you.
In iOS 9, Apple added a handy, but somewhat hidden feature to the on-screen keyboard of the iPad. By pressing on the keyboard area simultaneously with two fingers, you can trigger Trackpad Mode. This mode mimics the same kind of gesture control that Macbook or Magic Trackpad users will recognize from using their trackpads. iPhone users with 3D Touch-enabled devices may also recognize the similarities between this and the Trackpad functionality on those devices. The difference is that the iPhone version relies on using a harder press with 3D Touch, while that feature has not yet come to the iPad. It is also not available on older iPhones, despite a brief appearance in some iOS 9 Betas.
You will know you have triggered this mode when the letters or numbers on all of the on-screen keyboard’s keycaps disappear. The cursor will also highlight slightly. The key (pun intended) is to be sure that both fingers contact the screen at the same time.
Keeping your fingers in contact with the screen, move them in any direction, and you can now control the placement of the cursor in the text you are working on. One thing to note is that you need to begin the gesture inside of the borders of the keyboard to trigger Trackpad Mode. However, once you do, you can move beyond the bounds of the keyboard if you need to. Trackpad Mode is disengaged as soon as one or both of your fingers come off the screen.
You can also use this feature to highlight text. When you first engage Trackpad Mode, pause for just a moment before moving your fingers. Now when you move, any text that you pass over will be selected.
This is faster than the traditional method of triggering a select slider by tapping and holding on the screen and then dragging, as you don’t have to be perfect in where you tap to place the cursor in the exact spot that you need. As with a mouse or trackpad, you are in direct control of where the cursor goes in this mode.
You can also use a little shortcut to select smaller bits of text. After positioning the cursor when you need it, follow that with a single two-finger tap on the screen to highlight the word that follows. Two taps will then highlight the following sentence, and a third will capture the entire paragraph. This is a really well thought out power feature that allows for targeted text selection that is even faster than what you can do with an external keyboard.
Speaking of keyboards, those of you who use a Bluetooth or other external keyboard like I do can also use the Trackpad Mode feature, as well. With your keyboard connected to the iPad, just do the same two finger swipe gesture anywhere on the screen to enable Trackpad Mode.
Text selection also works the same as above. However, one thing I did notice in my testing was that it is a little more difficult to trigger Trackpad Mode using this method than with the on-screen keyboard. Any two-finger swipes on the on-screen keyboard are recognized, even if the fingers don’t contact precisely at the same time. Both fingers have to touch the screen at the EXACT same time when using an external keyboard.
An alternative method for using Trackpad Mode with an external keyboard is to trigger the on-screen keyboard when you want to use it. Like many Bluetooth keyboards that are designed with iOS or Android in mind, my Logitech K811 has a shortcut button to bring up the on-screen keyboard. This is normally used for things like selecting emoji, but it also works well for making Trackpad Mode a little more user-friendly with an external keyboard.
Trackpad Mode is a unique feature that gives iPad users this advanced capability to directly control the cursor without the need for 3D Touch. It may be the closest we will ever get to mouse functionality on the iPad, but I’ll take it, as it is definitely better than nothing. It makes documenting editing SO much easier, cutting down on all of the hunting and tapping required to edit your work. Even with the arrow keys, key combos, and shortcut keys available on my Bluetooth keyboard, I still use Trackpad Mode often while editing because in many cases, it is both faster and easier to use. Unfortunately, this is also a feature that is very easy to miss if you haven’t seen or heard something about it. That is exactly why I started my current Tips and Tricks series here.
Are there any Trackpad Mode users out there? What do you think of it. Alternatively, is this the first you’ve heard of it? Either way, I would love to know what you think. I am also open to any suggestions for tips, features, or questions for futures Tips and Tricks articles. I would love to hear them! Whatever you have to say, there are plenty of places to find me. Hit me up in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii. I look forward to hearing from you.
Have you ever tripped over a short mobile device charging cord, or had someone trip over yours? It’s easy to do when outlets aren’t in a convenient locations, especially in public places like airports or your local coffee shop. What Apple did for laptops with the MagSafe, ARMOR-X is doing for all of your mobile devices. This cable has a magnetic connection right at the charge connector that stays in place during normal use, but can break away quickly if stress is applied, protecting both the cable’s charge connector and more importantly, your device.
These magnetic charge cables are availble in silver or gray with either a Lightning or microUSB end, so it will be compatible with most of your mobile devices. All of the cables are 3.3″ in length are capable of 2.4 Amp Fast Charging. They are available here for $19.99 for one, which is 50% off the normal retail price of $39.99, or in a two-pack for $34.99, down from 79.99. This deal ends in six days, so act fast!
One cable to resolve all your charging needs forever… wouldn’t that be great? Well, here’s a start. These magnetic cables are cleverly and durably designed to magnetically clip on any type of adapter you need. Built with a tough, fray-resistant nylon cord and a smart magnetic tip, these cables will last as long as you need them, and will prevent your clumsiness from tripping and knocking your phone onto the ground.
In my opinion, multitasking is the single biggest feature that has been added to the iPad since its more humble beginnings in 2010. While it was certainly possible to use earlier iPads as tools for creation, rather than just consumption, it was this feature that allowed users to take the greatest advantage of tablet’s the screen real estate and increasingly powerful processors. For me personally, this is the feature that makes my 12.9″ iPad Pro more than just an oversized tablet. As much as I love using the Apple Pencil, I use multitasking multiple times a day, every day.
As easy as it is to slide an app in or open a pane on the right hand side to multitask, and as well as these features work once the app is ready to go, getting to or changing apps is cumbersome, at best. At worst, if you have a lot of apps installed, it is a giagantic pain. If Apple wants users to take its iPad Pros more seriously as a primary computing devices, then revamping multitasking app selection needs to be priority one in iOS 11.
For those of you who may be using an older iPad and haven’t used the iPad’s multitasking features, it certainly isn’t hard to explain. First you pull in the multitasking pane from the far right of the screen.
Then, similar to pulling down the Notification Center shade in the main window, just swipe down from the gray oval at the top of the multitasking pane, and a single file list of every compatible app on your iPad appears in a single file list.
I understand that this was a very easy way to implement multitasking initially. Early on that first year, only a handful of third party apps were compatible with the new multitasking features, so it wasn’t as cumbersome to use. However, as the iPad Pro lineup has grown and time has gone on, the majority of iPad apps that are kept up to date have been updated to add this important feature. For users like myself, that list can be quite long these days. I’m certainly not saying that the current interface is unusable, just that it’s due for a fresh coat of paint that makes the experience work better.
There are several things that Apple can do to address the frustrations with choosing apps in the multitasking window. Let’s take a look at a few:
In keeping with the title of this article, the intent here isn’t to whine and complain about opening apps for multitasking. Rather, the goal is to point out areas in iOS that could use some improvement and suggest some good ways to do it. With WWDC and the reveal of iOS 11 around the corner, this series will continue through the coming weeks, as we look at other areas of iOS that could also use a little TLC. Do you have some suggestions on how Apple could better handle app selection for multitasking? How about suggestions for any other areas of concern that you would like to see addressed in iOS 12? Let me know in the Comments section below, on our Flipboard channel, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog or @jhrogersii.
Today’s featured deal is for anyone who wants to take their iPhone photography to the next level. There have been all manner of camera lenses for iPhones dating back to at least the iPhone 4. The issue with these lens kits is that they very often get in the way of using screen protectors or cases in tandem. Ztylus has designed a system that solves those problems with a full coverage case with a mount for a snap-on lens storage system. This holds four different lenses: wide angle, fish eye, CPL, and macro, covering all of the major bases to expand your iPhoneography possibilities.
For a limited time, you can get the Ztylus Revolver Lens Kit for iPhone 7 at a 15% discount. That brings the price to a very reasonable $84.95 for either the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.
You may have heard that the iPhone 7 has a pretty great camera. Well, with a Ztylus Revolver Kit it’s a downright extraordinary camera. This CES honoree has artfully combined a durable case and the latest RV-3 4-in-1 Revolver Lens attachment with a redesigned, sharper than ever optical performance. It’s four fresh new lenses in one, a case, and a screen protector all at once, making the Revolver Kit ideal for the mobile photographer in all of us.
2016 CES Innovation Award Honoree
2015 CE Week Best in Show Award
“This is a winner, worthy of our strong general recommendation,” iLounge
Smart-flip technology allows lens to flip out & automatically lock into place
Four lenses include fisheye, wide angle, CPL, & macro lens to vastly enhance your iPhone camera’s capabilities
Integrated metal kickstand makes landscape photography or setting up selfies easier than ever
Case provides all around protection & raised lip protects your display screen when you set the phone face down
Cutout on the case allow for easy & comfortable access to all of your ports & controls
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When I saw the news that Apple had acquired the DeskConnect team and their very popular app Workflow last week, I was excited. This seemed like a perfect move, especially as the early battle for supremacy in Home Automation (which for someone like myself who works in Industrial Automation is still kind of a joke, but that’s a topic for another day), begins to really heat up. Workflow is just the kind of app that can string together the functionality of many different iOS apps and connected services in a way that still obeys Apple’s App Store rules. This seems like the perfect engine to both run Apple’s future Home endeavors and help iOS power users achieve greater flexibility. Apple lead off their leadership by making the app free, which prompted plenty of new downloads.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Apple to put a damper on the good vibes. Almost immediately, the negative App Store reviews and complaints began to flow in as existing users discovered that Apple had removed the ability to link to most useful third party apps and services, most notably Google’s, after an update. Bear in mind that these are existing paying users. No matter how Apple chooses to spin this, and knowing them and how their PR works, they may not even bother unless the complaints become an outright uproar, it’s still a bad look.
For any of you about to hurl insults at me for blindly attacking Apple, this is where I step back a little bit. I am one of the paying customers who bought Workflow a while back, but I never used it extensively or came to rely on it on a daily basis. I have used it for a few things, but like IFTTT, I have never really had the time or inclination to dig in and take full advantage of all it could do. As such, I’m not one of those who feels personally put out by Apple’s decision to remove functionality from the app. I also understand that Apple just put X number of their billions in cash on the line, so Workflow is theirs to do with as they please. Since I’m not passionate about either side of the argument, I feel like I have at least some level of objectivity. For me, this is more about unnecessary negative PR, and the perceptions problems these instances sometimes create for Apple.
Many of you may draw parallels between what is currently happening with Workflow and the situation with Siri a few years ago. For those of you who weren’t iOS users before 2011, you may not remember that Siri actually began as a stand-alone search assistant app that tied in to many third party services, such as Fandango and OpenTable. Apple purchased the app, brought in the team behind it, and immediately began to integrate the technology into iOS. However, that is where the similarities end, for now. Apple actiually kept the Siri app alive as is was for a while after they purchased the company and began development of Siri for iOS. They also left the third party integrations alone during that time. However, the biggest distinction was that Siri was a free app, where millions of users have put down money on Workflow. There are also many Workflow users who have spent a lot of time and effort creating and sharing actions that take advantage of the power in the app. These two distinctions are the root of the backlash against Apple.
The situation with Workflow reminds me more of the uproar over a similarly tone-deaf decision last year to arbitrarily brick iPhones that had TouchID sensors swapped out during a screen replacement. In both cases, Apple took the road less popular somewhat arbitrarily and without any warning to users of the potentially negative impacts to them. In the case of replaced TouchID sensors, Apple engineers did have a valid reason to take some action, as the secure store in the device could become compromised if they don’t do the repair themselves, and pair the new fingerprint sensor with the device. However, bricking the entire phone without any warning, rather than just disabling TouchID, was an extremely poor decision that totally ignored the interests of users. The decision to immediately pull functionality from Workflow without warning was less severe, but similar in how tone deaf it was to the interests of existing users of the app.
It is possible that Apple didn’t pull the ability to connect to third party services as arbitrarily as it seems on the surface. I have seen theories floated that it has to do with legal negotiations and/or new approval processes for third parties to use Workflow going forward. Considering that DeskConnect was a small, nimble organization that was going to add any connection they could to every app and service possible, and Apple is massive and one of the most profitable companies in the world, this kind of additional scrutiny and processing doesn’t seem at all unreasonable. However, even if we give Apple the benefit of the doubt here, what harm would there have been in telling users about it in the App Store update notes? Or, how about an explaination paired with a short grace period before such measures take effect? Such measures would have given the quick-fire tech media and users with an ax to grind a lot less ammo to work with.
All the negativity and wondering what Apple is up to aside, this situation will eventually be smoothed over and forgotten. The TouchID issue last year was, and only gets brought up as an example of Apple PR gaffes these days. Eventually, the acquisition of DeskConnect and Workflow should become a big positive for Apple and its users. It’s easy to see how the app we know today could become a central hub for the app extensibility features we are used to using inside of each app via their Share Sheets. The ability to then string the actions of multiple apps together would give iOS users access to power most have never enjoyed from a single user interface. An expansion of Workflow could become a powerful tool that helps push iOS forward as a modern computing platform, especially in the hands of power users. Long term, the outlook for Workflow and iOS users is good.
In the short term, I hope that Apple will take the time to smooth things over with existing Workflow users. These are just the kinds of users that they need to cater to and keep solidly in the iOS camp. These are power users who are looking to push iOS to its limits and do more with it. Apple should want Workflow users to be singing their praises, continuing to use the app and evangelizing it to others. Hopefully, it’s not to late for them to backtrack a bit and at least offer some explanations for their changes to Workflow and keep its users in the fold. As I said before, Apple is fully within its rights to do whatever it wants with its intellectual property. Its just odd to me how little Apple seems to now regard such power users, both on its iOS and Mac platforms.
I don’t think there is any way for those of us on the outside to understand why, but it just seems like there is a disconnect between those making some of the lower-level product and feature decisions and the leadership and public relations departments at Apple. In such a large organization, EVERY decision is picked over and scrutinized by both the media and users, so every move has to be thought out in that light. Hopefully Tim Cook’s Apple can strike a better balance between their corporate interests and those of users going forward, and avoid unnecessary bad press and negative reviews from devoted users in the future. A little more common sense injected into their corporate DNA would go a long way.
Are there any Workflow users out there? If so, I would love to know your thoughts on Apple acquiring DeskConnect, and whether it has had a positive or negative impact on you. What do you think about the long term possibilities? Let me know in the Comments section below, on our Flipboard channel, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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