What’s on Your iPad: Martha Sperry

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Martha Sperry iPad home screen

What’s on Your iPad? A simple question but one that leads to some fascinating answers. This is another installment of our now-regular series of What’s on Your iPad posts. I enjoy these a lot because I love seeing how people put their iPads to use – and I find them a great resource for discovering new apps.

This week Martha Sperry is answering our set of questions. Martha is one of the many interesting people I’ve met on Friendfeed and Google+ and I’m very happy that she was able to take the time to do this. Here’s a little bio information on her:

Martha Sperry is a lawyer – artist – musician – blogger – tech lover with a deep appreciation for mobile devices generally and the iPad in particular. She has been fascinated with computers ever since she first learned how to program in Basic on a TRS Model III in high school. Her day job for more than 20 years has been as an attorney in the insurance industry (all of the answers in this article are her personal opinion and are in no way attributable to her employer). In addition, she writes a legal technology blog called Advocate’s Studio, cited this year by the American Bar Association Journal as one of the top 100 Legal Blogs on the ‘net. She writes a mobile app review Tumblr blog called Mobile App of the Day. She is a member of the faculty at Solo Practice University in the legal tech category, currently teaching a course on Google. She is also an illustrator, currently working on a graphic novel about the Battle of Britain and on a children’s book.

Here are Martha’s answers – questions are in regular text, Martha’s answers are in block quotes:

Which iPad model do you use? (original or iPad 2, WiFi or WiFi + 3G, storage size) Any particular reasons for choosing this model?

I have the New iPad (the 3rd gen), 32 GB WiFi + ATT 3G (because of the grandfathered unlimited data plan).  If I didn’t have that plan, I would have gone with Verizon for the free tethering. I happily was using the original iPad, same specs, up until a couple months ago and it is still going strong as my son’s device. I really upgraded for the retina display and the ability to run iMovie on it. I have the data plan because I use this as my mobile computer (instead of a laptop) and often need to work outside of WiFi, but still need connectivity. If you are mostly in the WiFi zone, I wouldn’t recommend the cost of it. 32 GB fits my needs at present, but I can imagine needing to upgrade at some point to the 64 GB model, if app sizes keep increasing.

Do you use any sort of case with the iPad? If so, which one/s and why?

On my new iPad, I use only a white Smart Cover – to match the white iPad. I had a Pad & Quill The Case for my original iPad. I have gotten away from covers – they mostly seem to get in the way. I carry the iPad in a shoulder bag inside a neoprene envelope, when I am not using it.

What’s on your iPad dock currently? Do these apps pan out as your most frequently used?

In my dock (which remains pretty static), I have Calendar, Terra Browser, Mail, Photos, App Store and Settings. I don’t have a method to the madness as far as what to include here, since I usually just Spotlight Search to find the app I am looking for. Settings and Terra tend to get used the most of the dock items.

What are some of your other most-used apps / what’s on your first home screen? (and any reasons why you’d like to offer)

Most used apps, in no particular order of use, include Facebook, Twitter, Feedly, Zite, Reeder, Docs to Go, Sketchbook Pro, smartNote, iAnnotate PDF, Superstash (for screenshots for blog posts), LogMeIn Ignition or iTeleport, Canon iEPP (for Airprinting to my Canon printer), Photogene, Fastcase (free legal research), Netflix, HBOGo, Dropbox, WordPress, and Blogsy. Now that I can, I am using iMovie more as well.

As you can probably tell, I do a lot of content creation on the iPad, hence the video, vector drawing, blogging, photo editing, and PDF and word processing apps. I also use the iPad for a backup portable for my day job as an attorney – hence the legal research, printing and word processing apps. I occasionally need to be able to get back into my desktop and I like both iTeleport and LogMeIn, so I use both of them. For content consumption, I watch movies and voraciously read my RSS feeds. While I am not particularly fond of either the Facebook or Twitter apps, they seem to be necessary evil gateways to those social networks – I haven’t really found a better alternative that has persuaded me to dump the official apps. Believe me, I have tried.

First home screen has folders for social, RSS & News, Traditional News, Notes, Drafting, Art & Sketching, Doc Reading, Books, Utilities, Photography, Reference, Music, Games, Education, Movies & Video, Messaging, Storage, Blogging and Music Making (like Animoog, Garageband, Shiny Drum and Virtuoso). These are the categories of apps I tend to use the most.

How do you arrange your home screens? Do you use folders at all / heavily?

I have all my apps in folders, as I have a lot of apps, and I tend to think in terms of folders. I also have the folders arranged in order of usage between page one and page two (I only have two pages on my iPad). Most used, obviously, on page 1 and lesser used on page 2. I am very visual too, and remember where apps are by where I tend to press the screen to get them. As a result, I tend not to move things around much. Worst case scenario, I use Spotlight search to find the apps I don’t use very often and can’t remember where they are stowed.

What are some of your most used productivity apps on the iPad? Any that you use for work?

Most productive apps are my pdf, word processor, blogging, photo and vector sketch apps noted above – iAnnotate, Docs to Go, Blogsy, Photogene and Sketchbook. iMovie is getting there, but I am thinking of trying out the new Vjay app that was released last week by Algoriddim. I also find that apps like Dropbox are great for moving content around. I really like to work with the iPad and often force myself to do so for various jobs, just so I can figure out workarounds for getting the same stuff done on the iPad that I can on the desktop. I find I usually am successful.

Any favorite art-related app titles? Or painting and drawing apps?

I have a lot of them. While Sketchbook Pro is my main drawing app, I also like Brushes, which I first used on the iPhone (and still use there). I also think that the new Paper app is on the right track with an interesting user interface, but I am not happy with the hidden cost of adding brushes within the app. Adobe Ideas is another great app – especially if you need only the basics and need to render quickly and easily. There is also a very cool app called iFontMaker that I have played with – it allows you to custom draw your own font. Great for making personalized handwriting fonts.

If you are interested in drawing on the iPad, you will want to check out styli – I have found the most accurate to be the Jot Adonit, but I also like the Alu-Pen. I also use brush styli too, to get different effects. Nomad makes really lovely brush styli.

For art appreciation, check out the Color Uncovered app from Exploratorium – its an interactive app that teaches all about color. Very fun. Also check out Art Authority to bone up on your Western Art History – very comprehensive and well designed. And, if you need to work with Pantone palettes, you probably want to take a look at myPantone which allows you to view and create palletes on the go. Art appreciators and design professionals are probably familiar with Phaidon Press – you can get the Phaidon Design Classics, rendered in 3D for your iPad. This is serious i-candy.

These apps cost money, ranging from a couple of bucks to well more than ten, so they are a bit of an investment relative to other iPad apps. But they offer great tools for artists and really are cost effective – have you been to an art supply store lately?

Do you read any newspaper or magazine apps on the iPad? Do you subscribe to any?

I don’t subscribe, although I have thought about subscribing to The New Yorker. I do occasionally read the AOL Editions app, although this is not a true magazine subscription. Likewise Flipboard, which I think is a lovely app. I also occasionally peruse the Google Catalogs app.

How much, if any, book reading do you do on the iPad?

I hardly do any book reading at all – not for lack of desire, but for lack of time. But, when I do read, it is usually via iBooks on the iPad. I average about one book per year. Sad, I know. So you could say that I do 100% of my book reading on the iPad.

Any favorite iPad games or fun time fillers?

Like books, I seem to have no time for games, although I definitely appreciate the tech behind many of the iPad games and I am continually impressed by what game developers can do on the iPad. My kids would be better experts in this area. My daughter loves Crayola Color Studio and Math Bingo. My middle son loves the racing games, particularly the Need For Speed series, and the various HD pinballs games like The Deep and Wild West. My oldest loves Infinity Blade 1 and 2 and FIFA 12. All of them love Minecraft and have been known to grab every iDevice in the house so they can play together on our WiFi. They also play the boardgames, like Life and Monopoly. I think all of these games are great. My game preferences tend to run to Bejeweled, Tetris and visual pattern type games, although I did enjoy playing around with the music game TapTap Radiation – very interesting visuals mixed with great music. For time wasting, I tend to spend more time in the music making apps that I mentioned above.

Have you got a ‘hidden gem’ type iPad app that more people should know about?

The app I find myself recommending most as a hidden gem is Aweditorium. I can spend lots of time just browsing through the music tiles and discovering all sorts of great music that I have never heard of. I love how this app mixes the music, background, images and videos – you can really get a lot about some lesser known artists.  And a perfect example of iPad-centric design.

Any killer apps you think are missing from the iPad App Store, apps you’d love to see come to the iPad?

Right now, I am anxiously awaiting the iOS version of Google Drive. I am a big Google fan (I teach an online course to lawyers about various Google products on a continuing education legal site). I envision switching most of my mobile Dropbox usage over to Google Drive once that app comes through. I also can’t wait until they make an iPad-specific Google+ app, although the newer iPhone version looks a lot better on the iPad than the old one.

Do you tend to pay much attention to your home or lock screen wallpaper? Change it up often?

Not often at all. Once I settled on the old iPad, I never changed it. My new iPad has Hokusai’s Great Wave on it – a personal favorite image that is also on my desktops, my paper journal and even as a tattoo on my husband’s right leg! So I don’t see myself changing it up anytime soon.

Huge thanks to Martha for doing this post with us. She’s a real renaissance woman with her broad uses of the iPad – from artistic to legal apps and productivity. I’m also a huge fan of her hidden gem pick, Aweditorium – which I put right at the top of our list for the Best iPad Apps of 2010.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out the excellent previous entries in the What’s on Your iPad series too.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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7 thoughts on “What’s on Your iPad: Martha Sperry”

  1. She should try tweetbot for twitter, and Goodnotes for PDF files…both are the best apps ever!

  2. Do you use any sort of case with the iPad? If so, which one/s and why?

    On my new iPad, I use only a black Brookstone cover when traveling because it comes with a handy Blue tooth keyboard. It’s light easy access and gives me more versatility. I carry the iPad inside a shoul­der bag with a iPad smart case , when I am not traveling.

  3. Someone gave me an excellent suggestion that I am passing on regarding lock wallpaper. Take a picture of your business card or setup a lock wallpaper that shows your contact information. If you misplace your ipad and someone honest finds it, they will know how to reach you to return it.

  4. Hi – Martha here. I like Tweetbot (and Pastebot and Calcbot) a lot and do occasionally use it, but haven’t tried Goodnotes – thanks for the suggestion! And great suggestion, Caren. And yes, Don, THAT Battle of Britain. All but cover done for first issue.

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