Much has been said about the lack of new features in iOS 9. Many refer to Apple’s latest software update as more of an under the hood refinement. iOS can definitely benefit from a tune-up, with a greater concentration made in making the the OS run more efficiently. Too often with each new iteration, consumers, and especially tech writers, get caught up in the bullet list of new features and capabilities. We tend to forget that none of that really matters if the OS is slow, buggy and uncooperative. Having said that, there is no way that Apple would miss an opportunity to introduce at least a handful of new attributes for iOS. After digging around I made a wanted to share (5) of my favorites.
Pixelmator 2.1 includes a few housekeeping changes: iOS 9 support with bona fide Slide Over and Split View. On the surface, this is already enough to change the way you use Pixelmator on an iPad Air 2. Once the WordPress app is updated to support iOS 9 multitasking, I can see myself running WordPress right alongside Pixelmator as I finish up longer reviews.
However, the larger change to my workflow comes in the form of the “Save to Photos” feature. This is a big one, folks.
Previously, opening one of my photos within Pixelmator would create a copy within the app, and saving that photo to my camera roll would create another copy. I’d then have two such photos in my iCloud Photo Library — the original and the edited version. Pixelmator 2.1 changes things around by letting me save edits to the existing photo in my library. No more duplication. What’s more, these changes are non-destructive and completely reversible from within the Photos app. If I decide tomorrow that I don’t like my changes, I can edit that picture within the Photos app and tap the “Revert” button to go right back to the original.
I’m taking a step back from iCloud Photo Library. I had chosen to go all-in and place over 12,000 photos and 500+ videos (35 GB of data) into the service, but it hasn’t been working out. I’ve been taking a lot more pictures since I purchased my Sony A6000 earlier this year, and the resulting 24 MP shots are taking up a lot of room on my Mac and iOS devices — enough that I’m consistently getting storage warnings while I use them. So I’m opting for a hybrid system for photo and video storage that utilizes iCloud Photo Library for recent photos (the past 5 years) and Dropbox for everything else.
“Optimize iPad Storage” isn’t Optimal
In my Four Month Update post I discussed using iCloud Photo Library’s “Optimize iPad Storage” settings. This setting dynamically downloads full-res versions of your media, thereby saving space on devices where there isn’t enough space for your full photo library. The optimize settings were working well earlier this year, but the performance has since deteriorated. Pictures that aren’t stored at full resolution can take anywhere from 1–10 seconds to load on LTE, and loading times that last more than a few seconds just kill the buzz when you’re trying to show vacation shots to friends.
There’s a lot that you can accomplish within the Photos app on your iPad on iOS 8:
- Built-in tools help edit the exposure, contrast, saturation, and more with non-destructive edits
- Videos in the library can be trimmed so that you’ll always fast forward straight to the best parts
- Third-party photo extensions can spice up images, or even show you the EXIF information of your shot (e.g. ISO, shutter speed, etc.)
- Photos are auto-sorted by Moments, Collections, and Years; but you can also create albums out of hand-picked collections of pictures and videos
However, Faces are still strangely only half-supported on iOS. I love this feature on the Mac because it helps me identify and tag the faces of friends and family in my shots. The first few times require some manual tagging, but the algorithm quickly picks up on who “Po”, “Nicole”, and “Leona” are, and their names start to appear automatically as suggestions for me.
Unfortunately, aside from albums, there isn’t any way to tag sets of pictures on iOS — but don’t worry, as long as you’ve got a Mac, specifying Faces in Photos for OS X will sync that same metadata over to iOS. The only catch is that you’ll have to search for the names in the search bar, because they won’t appear as albums on your iPad.
There are two main methods for capturing text while using your iPad. One way is by using Siri to carry out an ever growing variety of commands and tasks. The other method is through dictation accessed via your iPad keyboard. While Siri is a perfectly capable tool to use for dictation, and might be your preferred way to capture text, we have found that our favorite digital assistant especially shines when asked to answer questions and perform tasks. Thomas recently wrote about some of his favorite uses for Siri on his iPad. Dictation, however, is more of a quick and dirty way to collect your thoughts and have them transposed right onto your iPad screen whenever you typically would need to enter text in an app. Think of it as an alternative to typing. While a very helpful tool, there are some initial challenges to dictating effectively on your iPad or other iOS device. The manner in which we speak doesn’t always translate exactly to how we write–or even how we collect our thoughts. As a result we’ve collected some tips to help you be the most efficient at using dictation.
With iOS 8, Apple expanded the iPad’s ability to share information in many different ways. This has long been a frequently requested feature that was already available on various other mobile platforms in one form or another. Sharing information and data, in any form, can be a very useful tool for all iPad owners. I want to discuss three of the best ways iPad users can share information, and the processes they can use to make this possible.
To use Apple services you need to start with an Apple ID. Your Apple ID is based on an email address you would like to associate with your account. Your Apple ID is your gateway to adding all kinds of content to your iPad, including Music, Apps, Movies, and Books. When you set-up your Apple ID you have the option to also use the same ID for your iCloud services account. However, this isn’t a requirement. You can also choose to set-up one Apple ID for for iCloud services, and a separate account for your iTunes, App Store, and iBook Store purchases.
Confused yet? Apple recommends creating one ID for both services to eliminate some of the confusion. They caution that using multiple Apple IDs might be confusing and might cause issues with accessing purchased content or using some services. However, in the event that you still want to keep your services separate, he is a quick and dirty how-to.
Security–it’s on our minds more than ever before. It seems like there isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t hear about some new exploit that allows someone to hack your most personal information. With our mobile devices containing more of this information with each new iteration, we need to stand up, take notice and do something about it. Through our own due diligence we can monitor some of this information. But what about our devices? What can we do to keep our iPads, and our data more secure?
One of the more useful ways to get the most out of your iPad is to set-up iCloud during the initial set-up process. Although if, for whatever reason you don’t, you can always come back to the set-up procedure at anytime in the Settings app on your iPad.
Update your iPad to the latest version of iOS
Making sure your iPad is running the latest version of iOS is the best way to ensure it is running at optimal performance. With every iOS update, even the incremental ones, Apple increases functionality of the device, by fixing bugs in the OS and making it that much more efficient. To check that you are running the most recent version of iOS, go to the Settings menu, select General–> Software Update. If there is a newer version available, follow the directions to complete the process.
I tend to use Siri a lot more on my Apple Watch and iPhone 5S, but there are still some great uses for it on the iPad. Apple wasn’t exaggerating those numbers during WWDC either: Siri really has gotten a lot faster over the past year — especially during the last few months. So if you’ve dabbled with Siri before but found the service a little too slow, I suggest you give it another try.
Incidentally, you’ll notice that I reference Siri as a “he”. That’s because I’ve chosen the male British accent for Siri, which makes me feel like I have my own version of Tony Stark’s Jarvis AI.
Now, without further ado, here are a few of my favourite uses for Siri on the iPad:
This is a bit more of a niche tip, but it could save a bit of pain for those who import camera photos onto the iPad. As I’ve written before, iCloud Photo Library is a great way to mirror your personal photos and videos across all of your iOS and OS X devices, but it requires Wi-Fi in order to update.
This means that the camera pictures I import to my iPad using the Sony PlayMemories app won’t propagate to other devices until I access Wi-FI network.
In these circumstances it can be tempting to forego the wait and just use AirDrop to transfer pictures to my Mac or iPhone, but I’ve found a pretty annoying issue with this process. iCloud Photo Library doesn’t seem smart enough to realize that the imported photos from the camera are the same photos that I’ve AirDropped to one of my other devices, so I’ve ended up with duplicates in my library: one set that was initially imported from the camera to the iPad, and the other set that I Airdropped from iPad to iPhone. Both sets end up in the library once all uploading is completed.
It takes a while to notice this because iCloud Photo Library needs some time to upload multiple 24 Megapixel JPEGs, but after a few instances of this, I realized that AirDrop was the culprit.
So my current camera workflow is as follows:
- Import pics to iPad using PlayMemories
- Wait for iCloud Photo Library to transfer the pictures to my other devices
This means I can’t easily preview the photos on other devices while I’m out and about, but it’s a cleaner process in the end.