All posts by jhrogersii

Review: ZAGG Screen Guarantee Plan


Raise your hand if you’ve ever broken your iPhone’s screen? If you don’t have your hand raised, you are probably either new to smartphones, or lying. I’m as careful a mobile device user as you will ever find, and I managed to make it 15 long years, using PDAs, early smartphones, and then all the way up to the iPhone 5S before I finally joined the club. All it took was leaving the bottom part of my case off for a few minutes to do me in. I dropped my 5S on the concrete floor of a mechanical room, and the next thing I knew, I was out $150. Ouch.

I also didn’t have a screen protector on at the time, so as you can likely imagine, I haven’t been without one on any iPhone I’ve owned since. As such, I’m always on the lookout for the latest new designs, especially in glass and hybrid protectors that add additional protection. When I saw that ZAGG was offering a Screen Guarantee Plan with their latest top of the line screen protector, I took notice. ZAGG is the biggest and most respected name in mobile screen protection, so if they are willing to put a money-backed guarantee on your screen, then it’s a big deal, and worth taking a look at.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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Ten Years In- Part II: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?

IPhone Lineup

In Part I of Ten Year In, we talked about Steve Jobs’ iconic original iPhone announcement in January of 2007, and how it looks in the light of history. Ten years is a perfect time to look back at where it all started. Now let’s go from there up to the present. Where are we now, and how did we get here? Let’s take a look.

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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.

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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.

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Ten Years In- Part 1: A Look Back at the Announcement of the Original iPhone

iphone

It snuck up on me. New iOS devices have come and gone, new features have been revealed (and in a few notable cases, removed), and a titan of the electronic age has passed from this world. However, until I got reminder a couple of weeks ago while listening to Leo Laporte’s TWIT podcast, I had forgotten that we have officially reached the ten year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ tour de force announcement of the iPhone. There is something momentous about the passage of a decade, especially in the fast-moving realm of technology, making this a perfect time to both look back at what was, and also forward to the future.

A Personal Note

In a personal sense, what stands out to me is my own hubris at the time of the announcement. I certainly wasn’t alone in this, but it makes me laugh at myself a bit in hindsight. I had heard the rumors. I knew about the impending announcement of a big new piece of Apple hardware. However, even though I had dipped my toe into their ecosystem for the first time with a couple of iPods, I wasn’t interested. Not even a little. I was a longtime Windows Mobile PDA and Smartphone user with all of the accompanying apps and accessories. I was on XDA Forums when the original XDA actually existed, and Android was still just a glimmer in Andy Rubin’s eye. I had modded firmware and hacked and skinned, and anything else possible. I was so disinterested in Apple’s inevitable phone, that I didn’t actually see or hear Steve Jobs’ presentation until a few years later. I read the early reports on the event, and then the pre-release reviews later on as the release approached, but my interest in a new platform with no ability to load applications was lukewarm, at best through the majority of 2007.

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EA Aquires iOS Games Developer Firemint

File this under disappointing news of the day. According to TechCrunch, EA has purchased the very popular Australian iOS game developer Firemint. The company boasts a workforce of 60 employees, and is best known for their games Real Racing 1 and 2, and Flight Control.

All of these titles had a high degree of polish, and have been updated several times since their respective releases. In fact, Real Racing 2 HD saw a notable update a couple of weeks ago that added 1080p video output using Apple’s new Digital AV Connector and an HDMI cable. It was the first game in the App Store to include this feature.

That is what bothers me the most about this news. Firemint was a developer known for pushing the envelope of what iOS devices can do. Real Racing 2 was one of the first games in the App Store to really show off the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, and I have already mentioned their latest innovation on the iPad 2. These innovations are what mobile platforms need, but unfortunately, innovation certainly isn’t one of EA’s hallmarks.

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Review: Disney’s Princess Dress-Up: My Sticker Book

 

Over the last couple of months, I have had the opportunity to check out a few Disney Digital Books. I have always been very impressed with what I have seen. My four year old daughter, Sadie, has absolutely loved them, as well. Of course, none of that is a big surprise, considering Disney’s reputation for high quality content, whether it be film, print, or digital.

As much as Sadie loves the others in the series that we have tried, there are two things that she definitely enjoys even more- princesses and stickers. Well, this week we found the perfect Disney Digital Book for her. In honor of Friday’s Royal Wedding in London, England, Disney has released a 2.0 update to their Princess Dress-Up: My Sticker Book adding several new features. As soon as I saw this announcement, I knew it was time to call my little assistant into action once more.

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