Category Archives: iPad Apps

Quick Thoughts on Evernote and the Competition

evernote plans

My Evernote Premium subscription just ran out, so it has come time for me to reconsider whether or not to continue using the service. Evernote hasn’t made any mis-steps recently, and I’ve actually found it quite useful at work.

Evernote Plus costs $30 USD per year, and would give me the offline access to my notes that I require. It has 1 GB of upload capacity per month, which is quite a lot for my needs. What it doesn’t do, however, is have the PDF annotation features, which can be handy in a pinch.

If I want everything that Evernote has to offer, I’m looking at Evernote Premium, which is about $60 USD per year. It’s double the price of Plus, but it does let me search all the attachments inside of Evernote, and provides a whopping 10 GB of uploads per month.

These really aren’t crazy prices as far as I’m concerned, but given the increasing number of subscription services I’m using, I thought I’d at least examine whether or not I could live without Evernote. $10 for Lightroom, $10 for Dropbox Pro, $10 for Apple Music, and $5 for 200 GB of iCloud Storage is quickly adding up. So I’ve decided to think a little bit about what makes Evernote so valuable to me.

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Reconsidering Lightroom Mobile 2.2

I spent a month last Fall trialling Lightroom Mobile as a suitable alternative to Apple’s iCloud Photo Library. Lightroom drew me in because of its advanced editing controls, options to quickly reject pictures I didn’t want to keep, and the synchronization of edits across all of my devices (which is a surprisingly rare feature even in 2016). However, there were two aspects that put a full stop to the whole Lightroom trial: the export resolution and the resolution of synced images.

It was disappointing to find out that, although I could edit my photos to a far great extent than with Apple’s Photos app, Lightroom would export those photos at a far lower resolution.

I thought that the resolution limit was probably caused by the size of the photos that Adobe allowed to sync to Lightroom Mobile. Even if I uploaded photos straight from my camera to the iPad, Lightroom would compress everything into their proprietary Smart Preview format, which has a maximum resolution of 2048 pixels on the long end. When I compared that to iCloud Photo Library, which can sync full resolution photos to all of my iOS devices (provided there’s enough storage), it quickly became clear which solution I should stick with. I killed my Lightroom install and moved everything back to iCloud Photo Library.

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Switching back to 2Do from OmniFocus 2

 Returning to 2Do  

I can’t help but feel this is a bit of a “me too” move, but I’ve transferred my tasks from OmniFocus 2 back to 2Do. Federico Viticci of MacStories and Ben Brooks of The Brooks Review recently wrote about their reasons for switching over as newcomers to 2Do, but, to me, it feels like coming home. I’ve long enjoyed using 2Do for task management, but went back to OF2 for a while because of a months-long obsession with night mode.

However, with the advent of Night Shift in 9.3 (which warms the colour temperature of iOS screens in the evening), night mode is no longer paramount in the apps that I use. I’m finding that the warmer tones are making night reading more comfortable, and so I don’t really feel the harshness of the light as much.

My ideal is still to have both Night Shift and a night mode function in an app, but in the absence of the latter in 2Do, I take comfort in knowing that Night Shift will be baked into iOS from 9.3 onwards. Because it’s an OS level feature, I won’t have to worry about 2Do requiring a future update to support it.

As awesome as OmniFocus 2 is, I returned to 2Do for 2Major—er, two major reasons:

  1. The treatment of “Today”
  2. Feature parity across all apps

I’m picky about how I define “Today”. I want a Today view to show tasks that are due (or overdue), but also tasks that are starred or flagged as important. I like the flexibility of this workflow because I can plan specific tasks ahead of time by assigning due dates, but I can also add tasks to my Today view just by flagging them.

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iPad App of the Week: PDF to Word

PDF-to-Word

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 picks for Best iPad App of the Week are published here every week.  Check out all out picks below and you’ll soon have a collection of stellar apps for your favorite tablet.

This week’s pick is PDF to Word by Cometdocs.com Inc.  PDF to Word is an application that makes it possible to turn all your PDF texts, forms and tables into editable Microsoft Word documents.  Once you import and open your PDF from within the app it is sent to servers that quickly convert the document.  Off-site conversion is necessary for two reasons–to keep your device from being slowed down by the process, and to allow for quick conversion on dedicated servers.  When the process is complete, the new file is downloaded to you iPad.

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Still Waiting For A Decent Instagram Solution for iPad

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[I’ve been meaning to get to this for a little while now, and it’s not news about Hootsuite; it’s really more of a rant about Instagram because I’m having more fun with the service now.  I also thought it deserved some follow-up since we had a number of very helpful commenters chime in on my last post.]

I got really excited when  I first heard that Hootsuite could schedule  Instagram posts, but that feature isn’t quite what it’s touted to be. Hootsuite did gain the ability to add streams, posts, and searched hashtags as columns, but it doesn’t actually post anything to Instagram from within the app.

What Hootsuite can do is schedule posts and place them into a queue with the text already in place; later on, at the appointed time, you’ll then head to that queue and use the iOS share feature to copy that text and picture into the Instagram app (which you must have installed). This is decent for users with a single Instagram account, but it isn’t useful for managing  multiple brands across different Instagram accounts — which is what I had wanted it for. Hootsuite is also only optimized for iPhone users, as there is currently no iPad-optimized version of the official Instagram app. If you want to schedule posts from the iPad, you’ll have to use a blown-up version of the iPhone app.

This is disappointing, although it isn’t Hootsuite’s fault. Instagram has relaxed when it comes to content (no more square picture restrictions!), but they still insist that content has to be posted straight from their own app. So, until that changes, all that social media management apps like Hootsuite can do is essentially ease the pain of cutting and pasting content into Instagram.

It doesn’t make sense to me that the iPad is treated as a second-class  device in the Instagram world. Visual apps thrive on the iPad, and browsing experiences, especially pictures, are much improved on the larger display. It’s really surprising to me that, given the popularity of the service, that Instagram still has no official presence on the iPad.

 

 

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Dispatch Email App Hits The iPad

Dispatch 3.0 for iPad

I originally bought Dispatch so that I could triage emails on my iPhone a little faster for work. I make heavy use of flags for emails, but I find those often aren’t enough for me, as they don’t have any categories or due dates attached to them. The differentiating factor for Dispatch was that it could share (“dispatch”) entire emails and send them to other apps on my device, which was really handy for quickly turning emails into tasks in Things or 2Do. The catch was that Dispatch was iPhone-only when I bought it, so I couldn’t take advantage of the larger screen on my iPad at work.

That has changed with today’s 3.0 update, which turned Dispatch into a universal app that works on iPhone on iPad. As a result of having owned the previous iPhone-only version, I gained Dispatch on the iPad for free.

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2Do with Push Sync is Live!

2do push sync update

It took a little longer than the stated two weeks, but 2Do with Push Sync is now live on the App Store. I tested the sync speed earlier this morning at work while I ticked tasks off of my content calendar.

The sync isn’t instantaneous, but it’s reliable. I can complete tasks on my iPhone and have a completely updated 2Do list when I get back to my iPad a few minutes later. I’ve come to expect this kind of data sync from my iPhone and paired Apple Watch, and it’s really great to have it in one of my favourite universal apps.

2Do wasn’t the first to do push sync — OmniFocus and Things got there first — but adding the feature to 2Do really helped to tighten up one of the few remaining weak points of the app: sync speed and consistency. Things is still top notch in terms of syncing speed, but 2Do has closed the gap considerably with today’s update. It has made a great app even easier to rely on.

The only thing that will require some getting used to is the shift of the “new task” button’s location to the bottom of the screen. This makes a lot of sense on the iPhone because you previously had to reach up with your thumb every time you wanted to add a new task, but I’m not sure it fits as well on the iPad where you’d use the device in two hands. I wouldn’t even register this as a complaint — just an observation of how changes can be applied to universal apps in a way that caters more to one device type (the phone) than another (the tablet).

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Final Fantasy VII Now Available For iPad

final fantasy vii ios

Final Fantasy VII arrived earlier this week, and early reviews on the App Store are calling it a pretty good port. The game first debuted in 1997 and sucked up hundreds of hours of my childhood, and it’s mind boggling to think that it’s now playable on a 9.7″ tablet instead of a dedicated console.

 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the game supports third-party Bluetooth controllers, so you’re stuck with touchscreen controls if you’d like to play. However, there are a few niceties that have been added to this iOS adaptation:

  • Manual iCloud saves (or should I say Cloud Saves?) are supported, so you can  start the game on the iPad and continue on the iPhone.
  • There’s also a Max Stats feature cheat code that’s built right into the game. Final Fantasy VII has a fantastic story but takes a ton of time to work through, so this is an interesting way to  experience it without sinking all of your time “grinding” (levelling up your characters).

FFVII features a ton of gameplay for $16 and is ideal if you’re using your iPad as your main gaming console, or if you just want to relive a classic. Just be aware that you’ll need at least 4 GB of free space in order to download and install the game, so 16 GB device owners beware!

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Trying Out OneNote for iPad

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I’ve continued to use the Notes app in iOS 9 and it’s been a great, simple scratchpad for ideas and compiling research links. However, the kicker is that it’s just not accessible on my work PC. The Notes app is available as a beta within iCloud.com, but it’s not nearly as powerful as the version on my iPad.

However, a coworker recently turned me onto another cross-platform possibility: OneNote. I’d never really considered OneNote before because I thought it was best used by students. My sister did some incredible stuff with OneNote in her psychology courses, but I hadn’t realized that you could store files within OneNote in much the same way that you can with Evernote.

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Overcast for iPad

   
I’ve started to listen to podcasts again, but the first-party Podcasts app from Apple is still a little buggy as of beta 4 of iOS 9. Beta 5 did come out yesterday  and it may have fixed the issue, but it actually doesn’t matter to me any more because, in the interim, I ended up buying Overcast.

What I really like about this app is the gigantic set of buttons, and the spacious, non-standard layout. There are more ornate podcast apps out there, but there’s a beauty to the simplicity of the icons and white space present in Overcast. Subscribing to podcasts is dead simple if you know the name of the show you’re looking for, and the interface makes it easy to find new shows by category or podcast network. This doesn’t sound remarkable but it’s a lot cleaner than the default Podcasts App, which prompts me for a URL whenever I want to add a new show.

The funny thing is that I didn’t actually need to buy Overcast. The basic features  in the freemium version are quite enough for me, as all I really need area list of shows and a way to download new episodes automatically.  Smart speed can cut silences out of recordings and Voice Boost enhances the listening experience, but I just haven’t felt the need to use these features so far. I’m simply content to use the incredibly clean and post-iOS 7 interface.

The main reason I decided to pony up for the $5 in-app purchase is because I want to see more indie apps like it. I’ve read enough articles at this point about the viability of being a developer on the App Store, and so I want to make sure I’m actively supporting the software I really enjoy using.

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