Category Archives: General

6 Things I’d like to see from the iWatch

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Having followed and used Apple and Google products for a while now, the generalisation seems to be that Google is the risk taking young tearaway, often coming up with awesome ideas, but implementing them in a slightly haphazard manner and Apple takes these ideas, refines them like a wise old hand and releases something that works pretty flawlessly. Take the classic Android vs iPhone. Many of the features that Android has have been around ages before Apple implemented them on the iPhone. For example, Android implemented face unlock a while back, which was fun, not that secure and was more hassle than putting in a PIN. Apple refined that idea of using a part of your body to unlock your device with Touch ID, which by all accounts works pretty flawlessly. Fingerprint ID, is of course nothing new, it’s just no one had implemented it in such a refined way until the iPhone 5s. Other people come up with the ideas, Apple converts them into something the everyday consumer can find useful.

This is how I’m feeling about the upcoming iWatch (assuming the rumours are true, and I’ll call it iWatch for the duration of the article). Tech on your wrist is nothing new. Dick Tracy started it, Pebble took it to the next level, Samsung took it back a few steps with Gear, Android Wear seems interesting but underwhelming currently (although Google asserting control over the OS is a positive thing). This all makes the iWatch an interesting prospect because I’d like to think that if Apple do release such a product, they will do so without compromise in it’s function.

So, this is what I would love to see in a possible iWatch device, in no particular order:

1 – The main emphasis on fitness. 

There is talk that the device will have up to 10 sensors which will monitor a variety of things during your day and night. Apple’s trump card for this would surely be firstly, accurate sensing, and secondly some kind of sensor that is completely different to anything else out there. Maybe something that would provide analyses of your sweat – or even urine? OK, maybe I wouldn’t want to take that step, especially if the device is expensive. I wonder if you can get insurance for that sort of thing….

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When Did Video Calling Become So Easy?

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It occurred to me recently, after chatting with a couple of friends in Portland using my iPad, that video calling has actually become a regular and casual part of my life. It took a while to get here though.

There have long been ads for Rogers video calling on the subway, but they was restricted to cellphone calls over 3G, and there was a long time where many cellular devices still lacked a decent front-facing camera (if they had one at all). Video chatting has been around on the PC for a while in the form of “Skype dates” or meetings, but they were most often (and still are) scheduled events because they usually involve two parties logging onto a service and then making contact.

These days it has become trivial to start a video call with someone. That’s because of always-on services like FaceTime and Google Hangouts, where you can log in once and always be reachable, pending an Internet connection.
I don’t do it all the time, but it feels easy enough to ring someone up to check if they’re up for a video call. If they’re busy or don’t feel like being on camera, they’ll decline and message me back.

That’s significant because few of my friends are techies, so the fact that this has caught on with them means that this isn’t just me getting excited about the possibilities of technology to enhance our lives. This is one case of the future already feeling like it has come to pass, and I forgot to mark the exact date it all happened.

The downside of all of this is that video calls often ring across my Mac, iPhone, and iPad simultaneously, and answering the call on one device often leaves the other two ringing for a few seconds more…but I’m hoping someone smart will get to that at some point.

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My Biggest iOS 8 Wish: Way Better Auto-correction


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Federico Viticci of MacStories recently unveiled version 4.0 of his website, and it’s gorgeous. One of the articles he chose to publish alongside the new design was a set of iOS 8 Wishes. I agree with most or all of the items on his list, but I think there was something missing. One of my major teeth-gnashing issue with iOS is the keyboard, which is in dire need of some loving.

The split keyboard that was added in iOS 5 was a crucial step in making data entry on the iPad more pleasant, but the whole way that auto-correct works on iOS is still far too obnoxious. I’m getting better at touch typing on my Air in landscape mode, and yet I frequently feel like I’m being punished for flying too quickly along the keys when auto-correct swoops in at the very last second. Carefully spelled names (e.g. Connelly) are suddenly changed to completely ridiculous little phrases (e.g. “comely it”), and I end up having to break the flow of my writing to head back and correct stupid typos caused by auto-correct.

I take issue with how auto-corrections are displayed. It’s workable in apps like iMessage — where the text I’m typing is situated directly above the keyboard — but it can be a real pain in the app (heyo!) when the text is any higher up on the screen. Does Apple really think it’s ergonomic or efficient for me to lift my fingers off the keyboard, dismiss a hilariously small auto-correct pop-up with a tap, and return to typing? The Blackberry, Android, and Windows Phone 8.1 OSes all feature keyboards that intelligently show auto-correction possibilities in close proximity to the keyboard, which just makes sense to me. It’s so much easier to dismiss erroneous corrections that way. The keyboard is usually where your eyes are focused, and your fingers are obviously directly above the keys as you type.

One of my biggest wishes for iOS 8 — right alongside better hardware keyboard support on the iPad — is for the system keyboard to get more than a fresh coat of paint. I think auto-correct needs a major overhaul on iOS, because it doesn’t just work. More often than not, it just works me over.

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Review: Marvel Unlimited 2.0 for iPad

Marvel Unlimited promises a Netflix-like all-you-can-eat subscription to a library of Marvel back issues. I find this idea far more appealing than spending $2–3 for a digital comic within ComiXology, so I decided to give Unlimited a shot last month.
While I really did want to write a glowing review of a service that provides me with far more comics than I can handle, it has to be said that Marvel Unlimited has its issues.   

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5 Under $5 – iPad Games, March 15

Disclosure: These games were independently observed or purchased by the post’s author. For more information on our site’s review policies, visit the About page.

Games Featured This Week:

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Cool Things: Latest Dish ‘The Hopper’ TV Ad Featuring an iPad

I think all of The Hopper ads for Dish are very funny, and this latest one with an iPad and the live police chase is great.

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Two Years Gone, Steve Jobs Still Sorely Missed

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Two years ago today I heard the news that I guess we all knew was coming, but that still felt deeply shocking. The news that Steve Jobs had passed away.

Of course, he’s still sorely missed by Apple fans and so many others round the world – not least by those of us who daily enjoy the fruits of some of his great labors. In my case, the iPad and the iPad mini are chief among those.

I still have vivid and fond memories of Jobs’ unveiling of the iPhone back in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. With all due respect to Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, and other top Apple execs, Apple events these days just don’t hold a candle to the ones when Jobs was leading the presentations.

He’s in my thoughts today, and the iPad and other Apple products will keep him there for a long time.

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Where to Follow Apple’s iPhone Event Live Today

iPhone Event

Today Apple is expected to announce the next generation of the iPhone – at a live event that starts at 1:00PM Eastern. It’s widely expected that Apple will unveil the iPhone 5S and also a lower cost new model dubbed an iPhone 5C by rumors and tech pundits.

There is little to no expectation of hearing any new iPad news today from Apple – but there are still a number of reasons for iPad users to be more than a little interested in today’s Apple event. For starters, we’re likely to hear the latest on iOS 7 and when it will be released. We may also hear about new models or new initiatives for Apple TV. And of course, we’ll also get a good feeling for how impressive, or not, the new iPhones are.

I’ll certainly be tuning in to the event.So, what are the best ways to follow it live? Thus far, there are not as many big sites planning live blogs as I’ve seen for many past Apple events. The two best I’ve seen and that I will follow along at are these:

Engadget: these guys have been live blogging Apple events for as long as I can remember, and do a great job of it.

The Verge: great all-round tech site and their live blog coverage of recent Apple events has been very good.

I am also hoping that Apple may announce they’re live streaming the event at some point this morning, as they have with several of their most recent events of this type. If they do, I’ll update this post with a link to their live events page.

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Happy 4th

4th of July Labrador

Happy 4th of July to all of you who are in the US.

Hope you’re all having a great day of sun and fun, barbecue, fireworks, and silly decorations on dogs.

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Happy Birthday to 2 Great Services: Evernote and Google+

Google Plus and Evernote

This week marks the birthday of two great services that I love and use heavily on my iPad and elsewhere: Evernote and Google+.

Evernote has been a stalwart for me since back in 2008 – on the iPhone and Mac, clipping from the web, and just about anywhere I’ve needed it. To say it’s a powerful and feature-packed notes app is still not coming close to doing it justice. I’ve seen Evernote spoken about as a ‘second brain’ sort of service and I have gotten that sort of benefit from it over the years. It remains a fixture for me across all my devices and is still constantly improving and adding features.

Google+ is only two years old, and it feels like that time has flown by, as they say. I was lucky enough to get an invite from +Louis Gray on the first night the beta became open to invites and I’ve been enjoying the heck out of Google+ ever since.

Yes, I’ve read all the reports of Google+ being a ghost town, and I think they’re complete nonsense. It has become easily my favorite social network. It is superb for lively and intelligent discussions on just about any topic under the sun, has a great range of topic-specific communities where you can focus in on areas of interest, and Hangouts for connecting via video with anything from one to hundreds of people. I have lots of good discussion every day via my personal profile and the iPad Insight Google+ page.

Here’s wishing both of these great services many happy returns.

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Microsoft Office Finally Comes to iOS, but Not to the iPad

Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers

Towards the end of last week Microsoft brought a version of Office to iOS for the first time – while leaving out an iPad version. Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers (catchy name!) is an iPhone only app for now, and is ‘the official Office companion optimized for your iPhone’.

Here’s a little more of the App Store description for this new Office Mobile app for iPhone:

You can access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents from virtually anywhere. Documents look like the originals, thanks to support for charts, animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes. When you make quick edits or add comments to a document, the formatting and content remain intact.

The one big catch on this app is that it requires an Office 365 subscription to use it. For home users those start at $100 per year. Compared to the $20- 30 range for a number of Office compatible suites on iOS (like QuickOffice, Documents to Go and Apple’s IWork suite) that’s a very steep cost. If you really *need* official Office compatibility and rely on Office docs heavily in your job, I imagine it’s not an issue – but I wonder how that’s going to go down with more ‘casual’ Office users.

Microsoft is also coming into this market on iOS very late. And they’re still offering no iPad version – which ties in nicely with their TV ads mocking the fact that an iPad can’t run a Powerpoint app. I still think Apple has the last laugh here – as I don’t see a lot of prospective new tablet buyers finding Powerpoint a killer feature and Microsoft are leaving potentially billions of dollars on the table by not selling Office on iPad and iOS.

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