We’re Still Defining The Tablet

The iPad Pro has a ways to go in terms of software growth, but based on this past week of iPad Pro reviews, Apple is setting the stage here. I’m reminded that software updates came to the iPad to add multi-touch gestures, split-screen multitasking, split screen keyboards (which disappeared on the Pro) over a number of years. These were not release features, but software iterations that came about as the world learned how to adapt to tablets. It’s reasonable to think that the iPad Pro is really just the first decisive step for the iPad as a main computer. But that’s not quite the focus of this post.

This year of giant tablets has made me question what a tablet is supposed to be. The most basic definition to me is that it’s a slate computer where the only built-in input device is a touchscreen. But having seen the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro this year, it occurs to me that we’re all still struggling to find a general definition. My dad uses his iPad mini as a second screen for movies. My mom uses her Air as a PDF reader and mobile newspaper. I use mine as a mobile writing machine, photo editor, and large web browser.

Horace Didieu’s video review really nailed what I was thinking when the iPad Pro was first announced: this isn’t really a tablet you’ll want to hold any more. It’s one that you bring from surface to surface, from a lap to a desk. I’m sure it can be cradled in the arm like a clipboard, but it’s not in the same class as an Air 2. It isn’t a one-handed reading device, or a 10-inch eBook for bedtime reading any more. Anything over one pound is just too heavy for me to use in those ways, and it wasn’t until the iPad Air that I really felt like the promise of the tablet was fulfilled.

But looking back at the use cases I cited above, and thinking on the way my friends use their tablets: people use tablets in a lot of different manners, so hinging the definition of a tablet upon weight and portability could be a mistake. My dad’s iPad doesn’t need to be particularly light if it’s mainly a repositionable screen. My mother’s iPad Air doesn’t need to be a certain weight to display PDFs on a stand — and it’ll do an even better job of it with a bigger screen.

Maybe the key to a tablet is its incredible flexibility. You buy a base iPad Pro and choose whether you want to buy an optional Pencil or Smart Keyboard. The thing works just fine on its own, and it’s actually optimized for use with taps of the finger. However, the existence of a first-party stylus and keyboard are statements from Apple that tablets can and should be used for more.

Apple seems to be saying that “tablet” can simply mean “lighter computer” in much the same way that “laptop” meant “portable desktop”. What I’m really curious to see is how Apple embraces other input methods for iOS over the coming months. I’d love to see them enable even more keyboard and Pencil integration to really bring the platform forward.

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Deals: Slim Universal Bluetooth Keyboard at 28% off


Today’s featured deal is especially useful for those who like to use their iPad as a productivity device, but dislike the typing experience the iPad offers. When there are dozens of BT keyboards out there to choose from, you need to stick out from the crowd.  This is where the Slim Universal Bluetooth Keyboard comes in, and now you can get yours at 28% off! It’s a great deal that will run you only $42.99 – instead of its standard price of $60!  Here’s some info about the Slim BT Keyboard and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Nobody willingly types on a tablet – until this keyboard swings in for the rescue. Only five millimeters thin, Slim can easily go anywhere your tablet goes with barely an ounce of extra weight. It connects via Bluetooth to any device and doesn’t mind your coffee habit – being completely spill-proof and all. With a gorgeous wood surface, Slim is the key to typing in style.

  • Works w/ any Bluetooth-enabled device
  • Perfect for late-night working w/ 5 level backlighting
  • Easy-to-charge w/ any micro USB port
  • Spill proof
  • Made of premium materials
  • Contains a long battery life, lasting for up to a week on one charge

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.


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Given Current iPad Pro Pricing, I’d Rather Buy a 512 GB MacBook

iPad pro

Apple has finally let the cat out of the bag: the iPad Pro is available for pre-order this Wednesday and is hitting stores later this week.

Here’s a recap of US pricing:

  • $799 for 32GB Wi-Fi
  • $949 for 128FB Wi-Fi
  • $1079 for 128GB Wi-Fi + LTE

[If you’re a Canuck like me, you can check out Canadian iPad Pro pricing was detailed on iPhoneinCanada.]

When the iPad Pro was first announced, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. The larger screen and stereo speakers are great, but the 1.5 lbs. device weight worried me. I like that the Air 2 is less than a pound in the hand, and I think that’s what one of the integral parts of its design: that you can hold it and use it in most any position, unlike a laptop.

In the weeks since the announcement, I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of talk about the iPad Pro. The best coverage came from Fraser Speirs, who had some hands-on time with the new tablet and discussed it on Out Of School episode 155. He says that much of the focus in iPad Pro apps has been on a giant content canvas. On-screen controls are around the same size as they are on the iPad Air 2 — there’s just a ton more space for the content. The 13-inch screen on the Pro provides enough space that you can run full iPad apps side-by-side, without any compromises on space or layout. It’s apparently a lot like having two iPads working side by side and communicating with each other.

I do think there is a good point about how immersive full-screen multitasking can be, but I find the pricing to be prohibitively expensive. If I were to get an iPad Pro, I’d want the 128 GB Wi-Fi version to store all of my photos on, and I’d also want to try a Smart Keyboard out. Factoring the 13% tax in Ontario, I’d pay nearly $1700 CAD for that combo. There’s definitely a lot of power, but that’s a paltry amount of storage for that price range.

At $1700 CAD, the iPad budget starts to compete with my “new MacBook” budget. I could pick up a top-of-the-line 512 GB 12-inch MacBook for $1800 (taxes included). That two-pound MacBook would be just as light and portable as an iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard, and it would also run applications in split-screen beautifully. I mainly tote an iPad around as a writing machine, mobile photo editor, and browser. A 12-inch MacBook could fulfill all of those same needs, and provide me with more power and automation on OS X. This certainly isn’t a big issue to Apple because they’re always happy to cannibalize their own sales.

However, as an iPad fan, I’m almost disappointed to not want one this year. I’m definitely curious about the iPad Pro’s feature set, but it’s is currently priced and specced like a full-fledged laptop when it isn’t quite there yet. With the kind of work I like to do and the files that I deal with, any device above the $1500 price point is going to a device that runs a desktop-level operating system.

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Deals: Pay What You Want for this Incredible iOS 9 Developer Bundle


Today’s featured deal is a little different than the typical deals we run here on iPad Insight.  This is an incredible opportunity to acquire a loaded iOS 9 developer bundle that includes Swift, Xcode & tvOS with 96+ Hours of Training and 100+ App Templates, and you decide the cost.

With the Pay What You Want bundles, you can get something incredible for as little as you want to pay while making the world a better place. And if you beat the average price, you’ll receive the fully upgraded bundle!

10% of the profits from your purchase will go towards Project HOPE, who delivers essential medicines and supplies, health expertise and medical training to respond to disaster, prevent disease, promote wellness and save lives around the globe.

Make the Top of the Leaderboard at ANY point during the sale and gain 5 entries to our exclusive giveaway! Make it onto the leaderboard at ANY point during the sale and gain 1 entry to our exclusive giveaway!

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.

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Quick Look: Evernote 7.9 for iPad with iOS 9 Multitasking and Drawing Tools

Evernote 7.9 for iPad2

Evernote’s latest update to hit the App Store brings two great features to the iPad: drawing and multitasking. iPad Pro and Apple Pencil support were also added, but I couldn’t quite test that yet, for lack of all the necessary hardware. I’ll just have to take their word for it.


Evernote now plays nicely with other split-screen apps on iOS 9, so I can have it loaded alongside Safari or Mail for taking notes. This is a very big deal and is really changing the way I use the app across my iPad. I like keeping Evernote as my active Slide Over app, so that I can swipe left from any screen and quickly access or search my notes. This feels comparable to having a desktop-level widget on iOS, and I can only imagine how cool it would be to have Evernote open full-time on an iPad Pro.

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Deals: NomadPlus Smartphone Wall Charger & Battery Pack at 37% off

NomadPlus-iPad Insight Deals

Today’s featured deal is especially useful for those who are always on-the-go, but who can’t afford to be without their mobile devices. We all need to charge our iPhones and iPads at some point during the day.  But what if you’re not going home, or an electrical outlet isn’t available? Now you don’t have to worry, because you can purchase a NomadPlus Smartphone Wall Charger & Battery Pack at 37% off! It’s a great deal that will run you only $24.99 – instead of its standard price of $40!  Here’s some info about the NomadPlus and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

So smooth, so attractive…it doesn’t get much better than the Apple USB wall plug. NomadPlus acknowledges the presence of true greatness—it doesn’t replace your charger, it makes it better. Slip it inside the NomadPlug and charge your phone and internal 1800mAh backup battery via wall outlet. When you unplug, NomadPlus goes from average wall charger to clutch portable battery. From the wide open roads to the wall, NomadPlus will keep you powered.

  • Fits perfectly w/ your existing Apple wall plug
  • Charges Androids & other gadget types w/ use of a compatible cable
  • Charges all iPhone models from standard Apple Lightning cable
  • Charges gadgets via a wall plug as normal, while also charging the internal 1800mAh backup battery
  • Powers your phones & gadgets on-the-go
  • Includes pass-through smart charging & overload protection

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.


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Quick Look: Subterfuge for iPad

Subterfuge for iPad 1

There are a lot of platformers, racing games, and puzzles on iOS, but there isn’t much in the way of unique strategy titles. People have tried to do real-time strategy games before, but games like Red Conquest just haven’t done very well (even though I thoroughly enjoyed that title). Subterfuge is a different take on real-time strategy because it’s basically turn-based in nature. Battles unfold over hours and days, instead of minutes.

But don’t worry: thanks to some really clever in-game features, Subterfuge manages to balance in-depth strategy with truly mobile and accessible gaming.

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The Treatment of Tethered Data on iOS

tethered data

I had a thought the other day about an issue with tethering: the receiving device doesn’t realize it’s on a tethered connection. When I used to tether my MacBook to the LTE connection on my iPad, the MacBook has no idea that there’s a nuance to this connection — that there’s a very limited set of 1 GB of data in the month, and not the 400 GB afforded to me through my home cable connection.

When I tether my iPad Air 2 to my iPhone 6S Plus, the iPad just thinks it’s on Wi-Fi, even though there’s a special icon to symbolize that the iPad is on a tethered connection. That’s interesting because it shows that there’s some recognition of the type of connection (tethered as opposed to a Wi-Fi signal from a router). But it’s too bad that this distinction is only visual, and not practical. iOS recognizes the tethered connection, but it won’t treat it any differently from a Wi-Fi connection at home.

At times this can be useful to ‘cheat’ the cellular download limits built into iOS (e.g., 100 MB maximum for app downloads over cellular). If I *really* need to download an application that’s over that 100 MB limit, the only way for me to do it over cellular is to share my iPhone’s connection with my Air 2. I like having the choice to sacrifice a large portion of my data plan to download a crucial app, when I’m in a pinch.

However, the way tethering is handled can easily work against me, if I’m not careful. If my iPad has a lot of photos to upload to iCloud Photo Library, it would be very easy for me to accidentally suck my data plan dry while tethering. There’s no indicator anywhere in iOS to show that an app is uploading or downloading in the background, so this could easily happen without my knowledge.

I think the tethering interface in iOS could use some tweaking. The ideal would be to have an iPad recognize when it was tethered to an iPhone and treat the resulting data connection as if it were cellular. But that might be too bold. A simpler change would be displaying how much data was used, per device, during a tethering session. This would at least provide some context about the current session and let me make more informed decisions about how to use my precious cellular data.

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Deals: The Tim Ferriss Round-the-World Giveaway


Today’s featured deal is especially useful for anyone who loves a  great adventure!  Enter now for your chance at one of three incredible giveaway packages that include a rare Q&A session with star of The Tim Ferriss Experiment, and author of #1 New York Times best seller The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss himself. They’re also throwing in some great tech gadgets and gear for a nice bonus. This is your chance to win the trip of a lifetime, pick the brain of Tim Ferriss—Productivity Guru & Author of The 4-Hour Workweek—and More!

Grand Prize: The Tim Ferriss Round-the-World Prize (worth $3,355.95)

1st Runner Up: The High-Flying DJI Drone Prize  (worth $1,034.95)

All hail the DJI Phantom 2–the king of the drones and a true aerial photography trailblazer. 1st Runner Up will take home a brand new DJI along with 7 or our top-selling tech essentials!

2nd Runner Up: The Tech-Savvy Tastemaker Prize  (worth $355.95)

Score the 7 gadgets you need this fall–all made by top innovators, all best sellers. Power up outside with a solar battery pack, charge around the world with one plug, and carry it all in the stylish FYL Bag.

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.

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My Update On Apple Music

Apple Music
If you had spoken to me earlier this month, I would have told you that I was definitely going to be leaving Apple Music and returning to Spotify. It’s not the fact that I don’t “own” my music, because $10 for unlimited streaming and offline access (as long as I stay a subscriber) seems quite fair to me. Rather, it’s the implementation of Apple Music within iOS 9 that doesn’t feel right.

Simple things like the difficulty I have in seeing the list of songs in my currently playing album. This was never an issue when I synced with iTunes or used iTunes in the Cloud. But tapping the three dots (•••) and tapping on the album art doesn’t always work. Sometimes I’m just brought to an empty album that reads *null*. Having this happen multiple times over the course of a week has definitely put a dent in my desire to explore the service further.

Then there are instances of the iTunes versions of songs being different from what I had in my own library. A slight remix, starker instrumentals — you notice very quickly when a song you’ve listened to for years is suddenly different. I swear the Lost In Translation OST on iTunes is different than I remember.

But then I thought about the alternatives. None of the nearest competitors, like Spotify or Rdio, can currently interact with Siri. That means I can’t utter commands like “play more songs like this” or “play the song ABC”. That only works in the first-party Music app, and I love having that convenience around.

Then there’s the fact that I own an Apple Watch, and although it doesn’t communicate with my iPad, it has quickly become one of my favourite ways to choose and pause my music. I could skip and pause songs that play from my Rdio/Spotify through the Watch, but there’s no interface to choose specific artists or albums. Once again, Apple’s own apps and services hold the advantage here.

I try to keep things iPad specific when I write here, but that doesn’t seem like the best way to discuss a service like Apple Music that is so integrated with all of the devices I own. That’s ultimately what is keeping me on as a subscriber, at least for the next few months, as I give the device a chance to improve. There are a number of kinks to work out, but it’s hard to beat how well the entire service is baked into iOS.

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Deals: Blumoo Bluetooth Universal Remote at 34% off


Today’s featured deal is especially useful for anyone who likes the simplicity and convenience of using their smartphone or tablet to control their home theatre system right from their personal device. Now you can purchase a Blumoo Bluetooth Universal Remote at 34% off! It’s a great deal that will run you only $84.99 – instead of its standard price of $130!  Here’s some info about the Blumoo Remote and how you can take advantage of this deal while it lasts…

Say goodbye to the days of lost remote-controls and cluttered electronic gear. Blumoo connects your smartphone to your electronic devices for complete access, literally at your fingertips. Control your home theater experience from the couch or around the house— Blumoo gives you 150-ft of powerful Bluetooth connectivity.

  • Universal control of the home theater w/ a simple, one touch system
  • Powerful music streaming functionality
  • Custom TV guide based on your service, postal code, and preferences
  • Easily upgrade your A/V equipment from your connected iOS or Android device
  • Apple Watch App now available
  • Automatically updates itself over the air adding new features, device libraries, and functionality
  • Controls over 225,000 A/V components
  • No complicated Wi-Fi setup or secondary connection needed

To see more details, and to place an order, visit this iPad Insight Deals page.

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