Category Archives: Utilities

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Review: Nintype Keyboard for iPad

 

 

Nintype is an incredible keyboard concept, and I think it could prove to be one of the very best ways to type on a tablet screen. I’ve always thought that an awesome touchscreen keyboard would involve a mix of tapping and swiping, which is exactly what Nintype offers. But the most innovative feature of this keyboard is that it can accept taps and swipes within the same word.

Other keyboards like Swype require that you complete an entire word by tracing a single line through multiple letters for a single word, which can be very clumsy for words that are longer than five characters long. Nintype addresses this by allowing me to write by using combinations of taps and swipes, in whatever order I like.

For example, typing the word “keyboard” starts with a tap on the letter “K”, then my left thumb taps “E”, my right thumb traces a line from Y-B-O and then my left thumb finishes by tracing through “A” then “R” then “D”. Working with Nintype is a lot like learning a dance. There’s a rhythm and order to the process, and it’s confounding to witness for the first few minutes. However, the really impressive thing is that this idea actually works out in practice… and it’s really fun to use.

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Quick Look: Weafo sharing utility for iPad

Weafo-Sharing-Utility-app

We all have the need to transfer files between our devices from time to time.  Sometimes it’s easy, and we have a number of viable options available to us.  Other times, not so much.  Perhaps our files are too large, or too many in number for the usual methods we use.  For times like these we now have a new option available to us, and it’s called Weafo.  Well, actually it’s called Weafo – Transfer voice memos, pages, keynote, csv files and other contents instantly via WiFi, but we’ll just call it Weafo for short.

The premise is simple.  With iOS 8, you now have the ability to share files, pictures, voice memos, etc via Apple’s new extension share feature.  Some of the more notable features in Weafo include…

  •  No need to open any app, just use iOS8 Share Extension to transfer files.
  •  Transfer everything: Excel, pdf, word, power point, link, text, map, image, contacts, notes, sound, video etc…
  •  Easy to Use: No need to install app on your computer(or other devices) just open a browser and enter the IP address Weafo gives you.
  •  LARGE Size Files: Transfer large size files fast and simple
  •  Cable Free: Transfer files to your computer without using USB cable.
  •  Group Transfer: You can transfer files to more than one device simultaneously.
  •  Weafo Compression: If you want more speed, if you want to stay organized, Weafo compresses several files into a single ZIP archive for you.
  •  Safe transfer: You can set a password before start transferring to prevent strangers access your data.

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Quick Look: PhoneExpander, an easy way to free up space on your iPad

PhoneExpander-for-iPad

How often do you synch your iPad and find that the largest portion of storage is reflected by the ominous “other” category?  What the heck is this category, and why does it take up so much space?  Enter PhoneExpander–a tool that you run on your Mac to help clear space on your iPad or iPhone.  PhoneExpander is made up of a collection of different tools that help clear out different kinds of data.  Once PhoneExpander identifies what kind of media is stored on your iPad, you will be able to pick and choose what you want removed.

How to use PhoneExpander 

PhoneExpander is currently in Beta.  Now while this means that it isn’t the final product–one benefit is that it is free to download and install on your Mac.  You can also enable the auto-update feature to keep your version running the latest available product.  Once you download the file, all you need to do is connect your iPad to your Mac and launch the app.

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Once launched, you are greeted with a splash-screen that asks you to register your beta with your email address.  The purpose for gathering your email info is to inform you when the final version is released, and for you to opt in to receive info about additional products made by the folks at NiceMowhawk.

Next, you are greeted with the PhoneExpander app control panel.  Here you have several options.

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  • You can clear temporary files that apps store on your device
  • Select and quickly remove large apps that are taking up large amounts of space on your iPad
  • Select photos and videos to back-up to your Mac
  • And coming soon you will be able to remove unplayed songs from your music app

All of this is possible through the PhoneExpander app running on your Mac.  You never need to launch or interact with iTunes during the whole process, making it faster and easier than ever to remove unwanted apps, pictures and temporary files.

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Quick Look: Fleksy Keyboard for iPad

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Here’s the dream I’ve had for the iPad for a few years now: I head to a café and pull the tablet with its Smart Cover out of my bag and start to write. I don’t just mean write emails, but write little stories and blog posts over a period of an hour or two. I want to be able to forget I’m using a tablet touchscreen to write. I want to be productive and comfortable while I type.

Out of the keyboards available at the launch of iOS 8, I think Fleksy is the closest to realizing this dream, and $0.99 is a laughable cost to pay for the efficiency this keyboard brings to the iPad.

Incredible Typing Experience

Fleksy doesn’t have any sort of swipe integration, but it does have gestures embedded into the keyboard. You swipe left to erase the word you just wrote, swipe right to add a space, and swipe down to select from auto correction suggestions. Fleksy definitely has a learning curve because you can still correct the previous word while you’re typing a new one out, but it really flies as a touch typing keyboard after a bit of practice. For once, I feel like auto correction is working for me, instead of against me.

I also think this is the best fit for typing because it’s the closest keyboard for mimicking the speed of typing on a physical keyboard. Swiping with Swype is great on my iPhone but it’s just a bit too much screen space to cover on my iPad’s 10″ screen. Touch typing with six fingers just feels more comfortable than any other software keyboard I have ever tried, and it’s proving to be more comfortable as well, since my hands never have to wander very far from the keys to make corrections.

Issues

The only major improvement I want at this point is easier access to numbers. I want to be able to tap and hold keys to enter numbers and symbols. At the moment these are all hidden in a different view of the keyboard, whereas other third party keyboards make these keys available via gestures. There’s also no gesture or button to hide the keyboard, which is a strange oversight.

Conclusion

Keyboard are definitely still a little unstable on iOS. Sometimes they’ll crash between apps or stop working altogether, but I think that will be fixed by an iOS update sooner rather than later. Even if Fleksy was the only one available at launch, I’d already be very happy. It’s leaps and bounds better than QuickType, and I love the simplicity of being able to pull the iPad out and write without any additional accessories.

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Activity Monitor Touch – a Bit Like Having Activity Monitor on Your iPad

Activity Monitor Touch for iPad

Activity Monitor is an essential utility on a Mac that gives you a wealth of real-time information on CPU activity, memory usage, disk activity and more on your Mac PC. Activity Monitor Touch brings the look and feel, and some of the functionality, of Activity Monitor to the iPad (and iPhone).

Activity Monitor Touch has four sections, all easy to get to in a single tap on its bottom nav bar: Info, Usage, Battery, and Process. Here’s what each shows you:

Info: Basic system info for your iPad – the device name, UDID (Unique Identifier), OS version, capacity and more. It also shows a snapshot of current system status with details like Uptime, free (program) memory, free space, remaining battery percentage, and WiFi connection status / details.

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iChromy – Chrome Style Web Browser for iPad

iChromy web browser for iPad

iChromy is new browser app for the iPad that promises to bring ‘the best of Chrome’s interface and speed to the iPad’. I’m a huge fan of the Chrome browser on my MacBook Pro desktop; it’s my every day primary browser on the Mac, usually with a crazy number of tabs open all day long (26 as I write this post). I find it to be blazing fast generally and much, much faster than Safari.

So as soon as I saw iChromy hit the iPad App Store I was very interested and very keen to see whether the app could do a good job at bringing a Chrome-like experience to the iPad. I’ve had it on my iPad for a couple days now and have used it quite a lot. So far, I’m quite impressed with it.

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Review: LogMeIn Ignition for iPad

LogMeIn Full Screen View
View of my laptop's desktop via LogMeIn Ignition.

In Countdown to iPad – iPortal (Use Case 45), we explored how an iPad could be used as a portal into and onto other computer platforms. LogMeIn Ignition remote access software gives iPad that ability. Continue reading

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Desktop App = A Little Bit of ‘Multitasking’ on the iPad

Desktop iPad app

New Desktop app lets you ‘multitask’ on the iPad

OK, so this is not real multitasking.  Let’s get that out of the way right off.  The new Desktop app for the iPad does not suddenly make it possible to run multiple apps at once on the iPad.  But … it does let you use a series of useful widgets within the app itself that will allow you to multitask while using it.

So, for example, you can have a Maps widget open at the same time as a Calculator widget when trying to calculate a journey time. Or have a browser widget open at the same time as one for composing a new email, and copy and paste between the two and send a mail without leaving the app.

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Review: PhotoFramePlus for iPad

PhotoFramePlus for iPad

PhotoFramePlus for iPad is an app that helps you turn your iPad into a lovely digital picture frame when it’s not in use – with a clock and calendar added into its display.

I love the idea of using the iPad as a photo frame when it’s not hard at work, I’ve been looking forward to this app since I first heard it was coming to the iPad, and I bought it and installed it as soon as I had a chance.

Sadly, although the app ‘does what it says on the box’ it is a disappointment to me in its 1.0 version.  Read on for some quick reasons why …

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Quick Look: iDisplay for iPad

iDisplay

*** Warning: This post is being written while deeply frustrated and outright pissed off at how much time I’ve wasted this morning with this app – so take it with as many grains of salt as needed.

iDisplay for iPad sounded like a nice idea – a neat way to display apps running on my MacBook over on the iPad’s screen.  A great place to put Twitter, an IM client, or whatever else seemed handy at different times.

Unfortunately, my experience with the app has been somewhere south of horrendous and it has been removed from my iPad and my MacBook Pro.

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