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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, my prediction early last month that the iPad Air line would be retired was half right. The name is now gone, but I thought at the time that Apple would shift to an all Pro iPad lineup this Spring. However, thanks in part to the comments of several users of non-Pro iPads, I came to see how short-sighted that opinion was, and how many potential users it would leave behind.
Thankfully, Apple is a lot smarter than I am. As such, a lower-cost tablet still endures, just with a different name and a little different shape. However, this wasn’t all that went down yesterday. Apple made a few interesting, if low key moves, and changing up the Air 2 was just one of them. Here are a few of the highlights and interesting details from yesterday’s news.
The rumor mill is churning hard and fast now as we get closer to an inevitable Apple Event. However, with most of the stories just repeating variations on the same models and basic features, this is a good time to step back and see what other new features that users may be looking for in the new crop of iPads. Whether hardware, software, or both, there is no better time than a hardware refresh to consider what we hope Apple is cooking up in Cupertino.
Apple was doomed. Then they set stock records and became the most valuable company in the world. Then the price fell and they were doomed again. We were assured that they couldn’t innovate anymore. Then Phil Schiller told us Apple “can’t innovate my ass” (ironically while announcing a computer that would go three years without an update).
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the iOS Notes app and all of the improvements made to it over the last few years that brought me back to it. Now its time to turn our attention to the iOS Mail app, which has also gotten some recent love from Apple over the last two years. Looking back, Mail was one of the lynchpin apps in the early iPhone OS, and once it received Exchange email support in year 2, it really was the standard for email on a smartphone. This would continue for a couple of years, until Google finally got its act together and started shipping a good version of Gmail with Android.
Every once in a while I like to take stock of the number of cross-platform apps I’m using. On the one hand, this overview helps me look at how ready I’d be to move platforms, but it’s also a very pragmatic peek at how much I really rely on Apple’s ecosystem of apps and services. I’ve split this list into two parts, the cross platforms apps, and the apps that are still iOS / macOS only.
Cross Platform Apps
Evernote (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android)
For the umpteenth time, I’m back on Evernote, and I find I’ve been able to think more clearly because of this. I don’t like how they keep trying to up-sell me on Premium when I’m already a Plus member, but having my notes accessible on most any smart device or computer is really amazing. This is a huge selling point for Evernote, and their apps across each platform are improving.
Last week’s post about the 12.9-inch vs. 9.7-inch form factor got me thinking about the what would make the iPad more comfortable for long term work. I came back to the idea of a mouse and how it enables me to use more complex sets of on-screen controls, without all the overhead of remembering a ton of keyboard shortcuts. I do love my keyboard shortcuts, but they’re not a do-all replacement for controlling apps.
It struck me the other day that one (seemingly) simple change to the iPad, especially the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, could be the addition of a pointer. Mouse or trackpad support would be fine.