Category Archives: Cool Things

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

iOS 8 search in photos app

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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New iPad TV Ad – Jason’s Verse

This is my favorite iPad ‘Your Verse’ ad so far.

Jason Hall inspires thousands of people to witness the revitalization of Detroit from two wheels. As the cofounder of the Slow Roll city bike ride, Hall taps into his community spirit and his iPad to turn an idea into a movement.

Cool idea, cool ad.

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Quick Look: Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

The Belkin WeMo Insight isn’t an iPad-specific accessory — its companion app is really designed for the iPhone — but I’ve been using it across both of my iOS devices anyway. The WeMo Insight is part of Belkin’s WeMo suite of home automation accessories, and the Insight works like an AC adapter that allows you to wirelessly switch an attached device on or off.

The Insight does this by logging onto my local Wi-Fi network and cutting or providing power based on incoming network signals. This allows me to control power to a single piece of equipment — be it a lamp, coffee maker, or space heater — with a single tap inside of the WeMo app. That’s already pretty cool, but Belkin went a step further and added support for IFTTT and a set of timed triggers.

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Cool Things: Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskine

This Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskine really looks impressive, from the concept through to the slick set of features. It’s not for me because after years of pounding away on mobile and full-sized keyboards my handwriting is shockingly terrible and all but unreadable. For anyone with even barely legible handwriting this might be well worth a look.

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Cool Things: ZEN 3-in-1 Stylus / Pen

Zen Three in One

I’ve tried out a good number of styluses for the iPad over the last few years – and they were good, bad, and mediocre. I’ve yet to find one that I continued using for more than just a brief tryout period and it’s been a long while since I felt excited about a stylus.

The ZEN 3 in 1 looks like it might be worth getting a little excited about. It’s a Kickstarter project that was successfully funded a couple days ago and more than doubled its funding target. It looks to be priced very competitively, starting at around $40 MSRP when it comes to market.

I’m far (far!) from an expert on the design and production of styluses, but the details on the ZEN 3 in 1’s Kickstarter page still strike me as impressive. The makers of it have been kind enough to offer me a review unit – so I’ll soon get a chance to see if it’s as good as it looks.

You can see check out all the technical details and watch a video demo at the ZEN 3 in 1 Kickstarter page.

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Cool Things: Monstero iPhone / iPad Cases Designed on an iPad

Monstero Cases

Monstero is a new line of smartphone and tablet cases from Indonesian design Monez Gusmang. The one on the left in the photo above is called ‘The Kuin’. It’s notable because it was designed entirely on an iPad, using ‘finger only’ and no stylus.

Quite a nice result I’d say.

The cases are available for the iPhone and a few other leading smartphones (including Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note devices) and also for some iPad models. The price for the smartphone version is around $21.

You can see more detail on these at Gusmang’s website.

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Cool Things: President Obama Filming Students with an iPad

President Filming with iPad

We’ve seen before that President Obama is an iPad user, and this week he borrowed one to film students and a teacher during a classroom visit at a middle school in Maryland.

The president was at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland – as part of the ConnectED initiative to provide students with greater access to high-speed internet connections. The classroom has a number of iPads in use by students and President Obama did quite a good job doing a short video with the iPad.

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Cool Things: Google’s Vic Gundotra Loves the new iPad TV Ad



This post caught my eye on Google+ this morning. It’s from Vic Gundotra – Google’s Senior Vice President, Engineering – who’s one of the most consistently interesting people to follow on Google’s social network.

Just in case you can’t see the screencap above very well, Gundotra talks about his love for the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ and its themes – and then goes on to say this:

Anyway, I have to (painfully) admit that Apple’s latest ads touch on these themes (and directly quote from the movie) and hence have become my favorite ad of the year.

Carpe Diem

Nice to see one of Google’s top guys getting past all the Apple vs Google religious war nonsense. It’s also cool to see that Google is doing some great TV ads lately for the Nexus 7 and for Chrome.

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Cool Things: Now You Can Gift an iBook on the iPad

iBooks Gift a Book

If you’re looking for some last minute (ish) ideas for holiday gifts, here’s another option worth considering – gift someone an iBook, right from your iPad.

Apple has recently enabled the gifting feature in iBooks on iOS – so it’s easy to do with just a few taps.

Gifting an iBook works just like gifting an app. Once you’ve got a selected iBook open, you tap on the Share button at the top right of the book’s info page – and then tap the Gift button. From there you enter the recipient’s email, any message you want to add, and select whether to send Today or on another date, pick a design for the gift notification, and make your purchase.

A nice way to share the gift of reading on an iPad – hopefully along with some great printed books as well.

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Cool Things: Walt Mossberg’s Top Products in 2 Decades of Tech Reviews


Walt Mossberg, one of the most widely respected writers on technology for as long as I can remember, has published his last article for The Wall Street Journal this week – and it’s a great read. Mossberg’s has been covering persona; technology for the WSJ for more than 20 years, and his last column offers his selection of the 12 personal technology products that were most influential during that timespan.

The iPad is one of the selections and Mossberg has this to say about it:

With this 10-inch tablet, Apple finally cracked the code on the long-languishing tablet category. Along with other tablets, it is gradually replacing the laptop for many uses and is popular with everyone from kids to CEOs. Developers have created nearly 500,000 apps for the iPad, far more than for any other tablet.

The list is full of great picks – from Apple’s Newton to Google Search, Windows 95, and Android. Here’s the criteria that Mossberg used in making is choices:

First, the products had to improve ease of use and add value for average consumers. That was the guiding principle I laid down in the first sentence of my first column, in 1991: “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it’s not your fault.”

Second, I chose these 12 because each changed the course of digital history by influencing the products and services that followed, or by changing the way people lived and worked. In some cases, the impact of these mass-market products is still unfolding. All of these products had predecessors, but they managed to take their categories to a new level.

Check out Mossberg’s piece for his excellent rundown of these game-changing personal tech products.

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Cool Things: Pad & Quill’s New Leather Bags Collection

P&Q Leather Bags

The Messenger

I’ve written about and reviewed a number of iPad cases from Pad & Quill over recent years. They’re handcrafted cases that are always striking looking and exude quality.

Recently the nice folks at P&Q have extended their line and now offer a series of leather bags that are just exquisite looking. Although these are not strictly iPad accessories – they’re more versatile carrier bags for a number of purposes – they can certainly accommodate a laptop, a trusty tablet, and quite a few other essentials.

I love the look of all three of these bags, but I am particularly taken with The Messenger Bag. Here’s a slice of its introduction at the P&Q site:

Too accomplished for a nylon bag, way too far from the grave to consider a briefcase, the Pad & Quill Messenger Bag is just the carrier you need. Crafted battleship tough-enough to become a family heirloom, the substantial full grain American cowhide leather and hefty twill woven waxed canvas will age, mar and inevitably record an ever evolving story of your daily travels – even if they are just to work and back.

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