About Thomas

My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

Review Update: Logitech Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-On Keyboard for iPad Air

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Given that software keyboards are still buggy as hell, I’ve really had the chance to put the Logitech Ultrathin to use full time, and the conclusion in my iPad Ultrathin review still holds true for me.

The battery has never died on me, and I only remember having charged it once in the last eight weeks. The rubber feet are still sticking nicely to the bottom of the case, which is a good sign of overall durability. There’s really no downside to using this particular case with my Air 2, even though it’s technically designed for the original iPad Air. Most of all, the keys are still a delight to use. They’re springy, responsive, and very comfortable in continued use.

The only thing I still want changed at this point would be a sort of auto-wake switch in the form of a pressure sensor or a magnet. Credit really goes to Belkin for inclusion of that feature in many of their keyboard cases, and it has me hooked. Undocking the iPad from the keyboard and having Bluetooth automatically disconnect just feels like magic. It’s a great piece of smart design that makes the keyboard work for me, instead of forcing me to conform to the keyboard. If Logitech could add that feature to the next version of the Ultrathin, I think this would be a real 10/10 design.

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Cool iOS Detail: Swipe Right To Preview More While Searching Photos

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Here’s a little Photos app detail that I hadn’t noticed until I’d loaded my iPad with enough photos that I actually *had* to use the search function to find what I was looking for. When you search for a set of photos — by describing an album name, place, or date — the Photos app will show a single thumbnail to represent each search result it displays. Tapping on a single set of search results will load up a filtered view that shows only the relevant pictures. However, if you swipe right on the search results, you’ll see that you can actually “peek” into more of the results without having to tap on any of them. It’s a nice easy way to quickly sample more of the results without having to reset your search.

This isn’t any sort of game-changing feature, and I actually think it’s more useful on the iPhone with its limited screen real estate, but it’s a great example of the delightful little details that Apple includes in iOS. I like that some things are included not because they add incredible utility, but simply because they’re plain fun to discover and use.

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Penultimate 6.0.1 for iPad

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Penultimate 6 has had a pretty rough start. I like the cleaner look of the app, which matches iOS 8 a lot more. It’s also a good step to represent each notebook as a giant scrolling list of pages, which makes more sense in a digital format.

Unfortunately, the praise ends there.

Penultimate is marketed as this tech-laced love letter to the art and form of handwriting, but there are other apps that do a much better job of simulating the feeling of putting pen to paper. The writing experience in Penultimate just isn’t smooth on my Air 2, and the Jot Script can often miss strokes as I try to write in Drift Mode.

I really want to love Penultimate, but have always been disappointed with, even back before Evernote bought it. It’s a great concept and could do wonderfully with Evernote’s handwriting recognition, but their inking engine just seems nowhere near as good as some other apps. Paper and Noteshelf, for example, do a much better job of quickly drawing smooth lines.

It’s good that Evernote is acknowledging what a bungle the initial 6.0 update was and I’m glad to see them responding so quickly, but until the engine itself is overhauled, I just don’t see any use for Penultimate on my iPad. I’ll be sticking solely with Paper until something better comes along.

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PhotInfo for iPad Provides Metadata Within Photos App

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I’ve honestly forgotten where I heard about this app. I found a note in my Drafts app with just one word, “PhotInfo”, and decided to look it up on Google.

Boy, am I glad I did!

PhotInfo is an iOS 8 extension that helps bring metadata to the Photos app, which is really quite handy for figuring out the resolution of pictures I’ve stored or received on my iPad. Doing this on a Mac or PC is pretty simple, since most desktop photo viewing applications will list the resolution and file size in some sort of dialog window. Apple’s own Photos app, however, can be pretty sparse on those kinds of details. Before PhotInfo, my best way of quickly finding out the file size of a given picture was to insert that photo into an e-mail to myself, and tapping on “Actual Size” in the sizing options. It worked, but it was silly that I even had to do that.

Once enabled, PhotInfo’s extension makes things so much simpler. All I have to do is select a photo in the Photos app, tap on the Share button, and tap on PhotInfo. The resulting dialog box is detailed in the screenshot above, and this added capability was totally worth the $0.99 purchase.

There’s actually an entire interface within PhotInfo that shows EXIF and TIFF metadata, but the extension is really all I need. If you frequently need to check the file sizes and resolutions of images on your iOS device, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of PhotInfo.

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The Sad State of Third Party Keyboards On iOS 8

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One of the absolute most exciting things about iOS 8 was its announced support for third-party keyboards in almost all areas of the OS. There are some limitations. Every time you reach a password field, the default Apple keyboard pops up just to make sure users enjoy maximum privacy. Voice dictation through Siri, which got a lot better and more responsive with iOS 8, is only allowed on the default keyboard as well. Then there’s the lack of any ability to split the keyboard up for quick thumb typing, as is possible with Apple’s keyboard.

However, with all that said, I think there’s a lot of room for growth, innovation, and amazing utility in the third-party keyboard space on iOS. Fleksy was one of my favourites in the first few weeks after iOS 8’s launch in September, but for the past few weeks, I’ve stopped bothering with any third party keyboards at all. Unfortunately, every single keyboard I’ve tried is just too buggy. It’s hard to say how much of that is on keyboard app developers and how much is due to bugs in iOS 8 (though I’d bet more on the latter), the fact of the matter is that keyboards tend to crash a lot on a daily basis. I can launch Safari, type in a URL, return to Messages, and have no keyboard. I can swipe down on a notification to respond to something, start to type a word, and have the keyboard literally disappear from underneath my fingertips.

Then there’s the level of inconsistency on an app-to-app basis. I might have Fleksy active in a chat with my girlfriend in Messages, but then have Apple’s keyboard show up when I respond to my sister (without even leaving the app).

All in all, it’s been a very frustrating experience trying to use third-party keyboards. I’ve spent most of my time with Fleksy, Swiftkey, and Swype, and as of a few weeks ago, I gave up trying to use them full time. Even on the latest iOS 8.1.1 beta, keyboards are still buggy and crashy on a daily basis. I’ll inevitably try Fleksy out with each of its updates and with every new iOS update, but I have to say, the reality of third-party keyboards nearly two months after the release of iOS 8 is disappointing.

Oh, and thank God for Bluetooth keyboards!

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iPad App of the Week: VSCO Cam for iPad

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 weekly picks for Best iPad App of the Week are published here every Saturday. Check out all out […]

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Things 2.5 for iPad Gets Flattened

Things for iPad is the final app in the Things suite of GTD apps to be flattened and re-designed for the more modern look of iOS 8, and it was definitely worth the wait. The app is even more gorgeous than it was before, and the subtle animations really pop. Things 2.5 does more than […]

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The Pencil iPad Stylus Now Supported in Sketchbook Mobile

Fifty Three announced yesterday that their Pencil stylus now works with the superb Sketchbook Mobile app for iPad. This allows a lot more flexibility for users of the Pencil stylus: the Paper app provides a great place for doodles and sketches, but Sketchbook Mobile takes it a step further by providing layer support for more complex images. I’ve written […]

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The Best iPad Calendar Widget Comes From Fantastical

I’ve only got two widgets active on my iPad right now. The first is the Yahoo! Weather widget, which I use because of its glorious photography and 1.5-day forecast, and the other comes from Fantastical for iPad. Fantastical was a relatively late addition to the widget section, but that’s because the developers really took the […]

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