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Thoughts on Evolving to an iPad Only Future

Thoughts on Evolving to an iPad Only Future

I’ve discussed previously about how more and more people are going iPad only, or at least iPad Primary. People like Federico Viticci have famously gone iPad only, and educator Fraser Spiers wonders if a MacBook Pro can substitute for an iPad Pro.

More and more people are sharing their adventures and epiphanies in going iPad Only, or iPad Primary, and I thought I might share some links to some of those stories…

Drew Coffman discusses his thoughts on Living With the iPad Pro. Clearly Drew has found that the iPad Pro is the ideal computing device for his current needs:

The thing that excites me more than anything is that the iPad Pro is such a young platform. Even with its flaws, I’m still enjoying it more than any other computer I’ve ever used. There’s plenty of room for the iPad (and iOS in general) to grow—but I’m no longer using today’s technology while dreaming of tomorrow’s. I’m more than happy with what exists in the present.

Meanwhile, Khoi Vinh comes to the conclusion that he isDone with MacBooks, though not with Macs:

But now, in contrast to my iPad, my laptop seems altogether much more cumbersome than I prefer to deal with. It’s much, much heavier and bulkier than my iPad, especially when you factor in its power supply and a carrying case.

He is speaking as a designer who relies on the powerful features available in macOS, yet his conclusion is that the best place for the high-end desktop OS is on his desktop, where he can have a high-end computer…

When I think about where I’m most productive with OS X, it’s always at my desk, where I have a huge monitor.

This makes a lot of sense. No matter how good a notebook computer is, a desktop running the same OS is always going to be more powerful and more flexible.

Ben Brooks is another who has a clear view on Why iOS is Compelling

iOS is my everything place now. It’s not only always with me, but it’s always in sync with itself. What’s on my iPad is on my iPhone

Justin Blanton made a prediction on Twitter in 2011 that looks like it might be closer to the truth than fantasy…

In a recent post Justin provides an update on the evolution to iPhone-only

nearly all of my professional (and personal) consumption can be done enjoyably from my iPhone or iPad; and almost all of my professional output is channeled through either email or Messenger, also easily handled by my iOS devices.

Clearly he broadened his thinking to include tablet devices, but he is actually upping the game on his prediction – he now thinks that iPhone 8 will be the tipping point. I like that he talks about the ‘enjoyability’ factor of using an iPhone or iPad.

###Conclusion

Some of these above are going iPad Only, others are going iPad Primary (especially when mobile), and others are even moving to iPhone centric. The future of on-the-go computing is clearly going to be centred on nimble, portable devices like tablets and smartphones.

Notebook and laptop computers are far from dead, but the real place where a desktop OS like OSX or Windows delivers the greatest power will be on the desktop.

Completing The iPad Pro – The Smart Keyboard

Completing The iPad Pro – The Smart Keyboard

I ordered my iPad Pro just over two weeks ago – and it arrived here in Darwin just two days later.

At the same time I considered purchasing the Smart Keyboard, but the expected delivery was 4–5 weeks, so I decided to wait and see what other options would come onto the market. I ordered a Smart Cover instead, which shipped the same day, but was sent separately and arrived five days later!

When it arrived the smart cover had been damaged in the mail, so I called Apple who have refunded the cover, and then decided to go and look locally at a couple of retailers[1] who had the cover in stock. Arriving at JB Hi Fi at Berrimah, I was surprised to find that they had a half dozen Smart Keyboards in stock[2]. I decided to purchase one, and am really glad that I did.

Having been a happy user of Logitech keyboards[3] for previous iPads I had grown used to the extra row of iOS specific keys for navigation (home, app switch), search and system contols (volume, brightness, etc), and was concerned that not having these would somehow limit my experience. Similarly I was concerned that the extra bulk and weight might diminish the utility of the Smart Keyboard.

I’ve been using the Smart Keyboard for about a week now, and love it. It makes the iPad Pro experience one that it both versatile and complete. The iPad Pro combined with the Smart Keyboard is a notebook computer alternative that will work for me[4].

It is still only a week, so I am sure my opinion will evolve, but here are my current thoughts on the Smart Keyboard.

  • The convenience of the integrated keyboard with a Smart Cover is outstanding.
  • The experience of the built in pairing is excellent. Plug and go in real life.
  • The integrated charging/powering from the iPad Pro battery is excellent. One less charger to worry about.
  • The lack of the extra row of iOS specific function keys has not turned out to be an issue for me. I like the app-specific smart key approach, and look forward to more app developers[5] building in support for these. That CMD+Space brings up Spotlight (search) and CMD+Tab brings up an app switcher is a great experience as there is consistency with
  • Any additional bulk/weight is negligible when compared with the standard Smart Cover for the iPad Pro[6].
  • Proportionally the addition of the Smart Keyboard adds less bulk/weight to the iPad Pro than a keyboard case like the Logitech Ultrathin does to an iPad Air[7].
  • I’d like backlighting, but not at the expense of extra size/bulk, so I think a happy medium has been reached.

My thoughts are along the same lines as the Initial Thoughts on the Apple iPad Pro Keyboard by MacSparky, who said

…the Apple keyboard has the right amount of balance between minimal profile and working keyboard that I think it is the keeper for me.

All in all, I am really happy with the Smart Keyboard so far. It is an awesome match with the iPad Pro, and I am keeping the Smart Keyboard on 24–7 as a cover with an integrated keyboard[8].

My iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard


  1. There is no Apple Store within 2,500km of Darwin, but the local JB HiFi and Harvey Norman stores have good Apple stocks.  ↩
  2. They also had Pencils in stock. As at 24 Dec 15, the Apple Online store is showing 4–5 weeks wait for the Pencil and 3–4 weeks for the Smart Keyboard. Harvey Norman had 13 Pencils & 12 Smart Keyboards on display that day.  ↩
  3. Both the Ultrathin keyboard/cover and Keys-to-Go keyboards  ↩
  4. For several years the month of March has been my iPads of March experiment where I’ve attempted to use only an iPad (and iPhone of course) as my on-the-go device, coupling these with a desktop at home (iMac) or work (generally a PC). Each year the iPad has gotten closer to the goal, but the iPad Pro realises it for me.  ↩
  5. Looking at you, Byword.  ↩
  6. Especially noting that the iPad Pro is already a larger device.  ↩
  7. I haven’t seen any of the third party keyboards for the iPad Pro in the wild yet, so can’t comment on those.  ↩
  8. I have subsequently been able to take a look at the Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro. While it is a nice piece of kit with the function keys and backlighting, it is bulkier, and I honestly could not imagine using it as a permanent cover.  ↩
Fraser Spiers Asks If The MacBook Pro Can Substitute For An IPad Pro

Fraser Spiers Asks If The MacBook Pro Can Substitute For An IPad Pro

Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) asks the question Can the MacBook Pro Replace Your iPad?. In this article, Speirs focuses on the strengths of the iPad Pro, and then compares how the MacBook Pro meaures up. Some of his key points are interesting.

On the form factor…

The fact that the keyboard and screen are limited to being held in an L-shaped configuration seriously limits its flexibility.

Discussing input…

The MacBook Pro continues to be hobbled by its lack of touch input.

Considering battery life…

Despite their far greater size, and consequently weight, there is no MacBook Pro model that gets better battery life than the iPad Pro.

And on the topic of connectivity…

If you are a road warrior, the MacBook’s total lack of cellular connectivity options would be a serious hinderance to a cloud-based storage lifestyle in any case.

MacSparky on iCloud Drive Sync Improvements

MacSparky on iCloud Drive Sync Improvements

MacSparky discusses the recent improvements in iCloud Drive sync

The reason I’ve been so critical of iCloud lately is because I haven’t dismissed it.

This is in line with my thinking – I have expectations that iCloud can be a real enabler. But it is true to say that Apple has had an extremely ‘two steps forward, 1.8 steps backwards’ approach to its cloud based offerings.

I think we all need to be critical when Apple makes mistakes. They not always (even ever) publicly acknowledge their mistakes or the criticism, but their (recent) track records indicates that they do listen and act.

Putting the recipient last… With Let.ter

Putting the recipient last… With Let.ter

Email is one of the most important ways people communicate in the contemporary world, yet it is one that is often frought with problems, most of which seem to stem from a lack of attention to detail before hitting the send button.

Over at MacDrifter, Gabe Weatherhead discusses a simple concept:

The last thing you write is the recipient address

Gabe discusses writing using non-email apps like Drafts on iOS and nvAlt on OSX.

I also use Drafts to prepare up new emails on iOS (both iPhone and iPad), but have found what I think is an ideal for preparing new emails on the Mac – the wonderful Let.ter app.

Let.ter starts with a simple blank screen, with four easy steps.

  1. Enter a subject
  2. Write the body in plain text / Markdown
  3. Enter the recipient(s) email address(es)
  4. Preview and then send

In both Let.ter and Drafts I extensively use TextExpander so they are both powerful yet simple apps for sending email.

I think that the utility behind Let.ter is that it is truly minimalist, and that it allows the use of Markdown. But since reading Gabe’s post, I am also thinking that leaving the recipient address until last before previewing is part of what makes the app useful.

My Feed Wrangler 12 Month Anniversary

My Feed Wrangler 12 Month Anniversary

I can’t believe it has been a year that I’ve been using Feed Wrangler.

Feed Wrangler

Which means it has also been a year since Google Reader was shut down.

My use of RSS (Web feeds) has not diminished in the past 12 months—if anything it has increased, and continues to be an incredibly important part of my daily workflow.

I use Feed Wrangler as a back end sync service, and don’t actually use their website very often, and don’t even have their iOS apps installed.

Feed Wrangler is a great sync service, and I love that I can pick the apps that best suit me at the front end[1]:

I’ve tried others, including Reeder on OSX, which is good but I like that ReadKit also serves my Pocket and Pinboard needs. Similarly I’ve played with Unread on iPhone, but keep coming back to Reeder.


  1. Affiliate links. Thanks in advance 😉  ↩

Siri Performance Improvements

Siri Performance Improvements

MacRumors has today reported on a study by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster showing improvements in performance of the iOS virtual assistant Siri.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has regularly assessed Siri’s accuracy in terms of correctly interpreting and answering queries, has issued the latest version of his Siri report card, noting that Siri has continued to improve under iOS 7, particularly in terms of being able to properly interpret questions being asked.

My anecdotal feeling corresponds with this view – not only is Siri (I service I use daily) getting better in terms of the range of information being sourced, but it is doing a far better job of interpreting my inputs. When I previously asked it to call my colleague Mike Davey I would get a response along the lines of “Des, I don’t understand. What do you mean by call my baby?”. Now it gets Mike Davey everytime.[1]

Marco Armant (@marco) isn’t quite so enamoured:

This is good, but the biggest problem I always have with Siri is reliability, not quality of answers.

For a while I got a lot of responses indicating Siri’s apology for being down. I haven’t had that experience now in several months. My experience is more like that of Federico Viticci (@viticci):[2]

It’s still far from perfect, but I’ve been using Siri on a daily basis for phone calls, directions, and Wikipedia integration. I particularly appreciate how iOS 7 made Siri smarter in understanding pronouns, indirect speech, and verb conjugations.

Anyway, Siri is an important part of my daily iOS usage, and I generally find it to be reliable and constantly improving. And I still love finding Easter Eggs.[3].


  1. I know I could’ve trained it to interpret that name better, but I had never got around to it.  ↩

  2. Maybe the Australian Siri and the Italian Siri share the same servers, or at least use different servers than American Siri…  ↩

  3. If you’ve never asked Siri about the plot of the movie Inception give it a try.  ↩

Fires Near Me app featured on the App Store

Fires Near Me app featured on the App Store

Back in January I posted about the Rural Fire Services of NSW’s Fires Near Me app on what was a record temperature day in NSW, with a declared catastrophic fire danger. Fortunately the danger passed mostly smoothly.

Ten months later we are in the midst of a declared State of Emergency in NSW and that old post is still getting a lot of hits. I am pleased it might be helping to get the word out.

I just cruised by the App Store app and was pleased to see that Apple is giving the Fires Near Me app top left billing in the above the fold featured area for Best New Apps. Fires Near Me is not technically a new app, but it is great that people can find it quickly, on a day that has the very real potential for disastrous fire damage.

This is a small but important gesture by Apple, one that supports the incredible efforts of the fire fighters, police, emergency services personnel and the variety of government, private sector and volunteer organisations supporting their efforts.

Best wishes for a safe day for all those effected. Use the app, along with news services and social media to keep teack, and heed warnings. If recommended, leave early.

Pro Apps at tomorrow’s Apple event?

Pro Apps at tomorrow’s Apple event?

There is as expected a lot of noise going around about tomorrow’s Apple event.

Of course there will be new a new iPad – probably both a full size and an iPad mini with Retina. Theres likely to be new MacBooks and I think the long awaited MacPro is bound to get a mention.

OSX Mavericks will also be released.

Personally I am also interested in the app side of things. Updates to iWork for Mac are long overdue and much needed. Rumours have been circulating regarding iLife apps – particularly GarageBand.

But how about Pro apps. You know, to go with the new MacPro and the (new) MacBook Pro models…

I think we’re likely to see a new release of Aperture [1] and perhaps some surprises.


  1. Affiliate link. Thanks in advance  ↩

Thoughts on the Apple iPhone Events for September 2013

Thoughts on the Apple iPhone Events for September 2013

Just before going to bed last night, I checked my RSS feeds to see posts about Apple hosting a second announcement event next week, this time in China:

The invite is the same as the one for the main U.S. event, which leads us to believe whatever is announced in Cupertino the day before will be headed China’s way.

When I awoke this morning, the interest in the Chinese event had continued:

Apple has sent out custom invitations to Chinese media outlets for an event being held in China on September 11th, one full day after Apple’s normal press event on the 10th

Some may notice that these two posts were separted by sleep. Overnight. Yet both posts were issued during the same business day. But that was in America, and I am in Australia, and Australia is in a different timezone.

I make this comment, because the China event is not “one full day after Apple’s normal press event…”. It (the Chinese, presumably abnormal event) is, in fact, only about 9 hours after the Cupertino one. So the question of what will be announced, and which executive(s) will front each event is in itself interesting. I don’t think it will be just teleconference – Apple will have an individual executive at each location.

Subsequently, additional information has come to light about satellite Apple press events to be held in Tokyo and Berlin, as well as Cupertino and Beijing. Clearly things are getting interesting – Apple has not held satellite events in recent years.

So it’s time to look into the crystal ball and think about what might be announced.

Cupertino Core Event

iPhone

Last January I posted my thoughts on the rumoured low-cost iPhone. In that post I gave a 75% probability on the likelihood of such a low cost phone, with two major reasons:

  1. Migration of all on-sale iPhone devices to the Lightning connector.
  2. Migration of all on-sale iPhones to the iPhone 5 screen dimensions.

I predicted that we would end up with three iPhone models in late 2013:

  • The iPhone 5S (in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB[1] models)
  • The iPhone 5 (in 16GB) as a mid-range model[2]
  • The low-cost iPhone (probably in 16GB)

My thoughts are that this roadmap remains the likely outcome from next week’s event(s). We now have a probable name for for the “low-cost” iPhone – the iPhone 5C.

iPhone 5C

C probably stands for “colour” and possibly “China”. But not cheap. It might be low-cost, and will certainly be “cheaper”, but as Rene Ritchie says, there’s likely to be nothing cheap about the lower-cost iPhone:

Apple may not know how to (i.e. be willing to) make cheap products, but over the last decade they’ve proven they can continuously introduce lower cost ones when and as they choose.

The iPhone 5C will have all the key hardware features of the current iPhone 5, but will have a plastic case that has various colour options. I agree with John Gruber’s thoughts that the iPhone 5C will also have all the software features announced for the iPhone 5S:

Apple can withhold cutting edge software features from old devices; they can’t do that for brand-new ones.

I don’t expect any other hardware innovations (aside from the lower cost casing) over the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 5S

We will possibly see a champagne coloured iPhone 5S, in addition to black and white versions.

There will quite possibly be a fingerprint sensor on the 5S, and if this launches as rumoured, I think it will herald a potential major shift in security and usability of smartphones, and presumably later tablets when the next generation of iPad is launched.

I am almost certain we will see a bump in memory, with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models on offer.

In terms of wireless communications, near field communications (NFC) remains a possibility[3], as does improved WiFi with support for 802.11ac and improved Bluetooth support.

Battery life will likely further improve.

Apple TV

Something is happening in this area, with rumours of multiple deliveries of “set top box with communications feature” from China. I have no idea if this a new version of Apple TV if we know it, a new device or simply rumours leaked to keep Gene Munster and other pundits occupied.

An Apple TV that supports an AppStore and apps will come. I’m just not sure when.

iPad, iPod and Macs

Not at this event. It will be focused on iPhone and iOS7.

iOS7

It’s no secret that iOS 7 is to be released along with the new iPhone, and given the normal iOS beta release history, we may expect to see a Gold Master release immediately following the announcement, and the release to users a week or so later, prior to the release of the new iPhone models.

iOS 7 beta 6 was released on 15 August 2013. I would have thought that we were due for a new release by now, so maybe the current release is stable enough to be ready to go gold. At least for iPhone.

Some rumours suggest that the release of iOS 7 for iPad may be delayed as it may not be as stable on that platform, and so that developers can focus their efforts on a great release for iPhone.

iOS 7 sports many great new features, as well as a flatter design and new app icons[4]. iOS 7 is the biggest change in iOS since the release of the first iPhone, and I am sure that there will be a learning curve as well as strong reactions from many users – both positive and critical.

I am of the opinion that from time-to-time a fundamental, in-your-face change to the look and feel of a system is important to combat the perception of stagnation. The trick is to migrate that change whilst maintaining the core of the user experience and all the good stuff.

I am looking forward to seeing if there are any Siri-esque surprise features to come in iOS 7. I suspect there might be.

Satellite Events

I think that each satellite event will have a senior Apple executive (not a country manger) hosting it. Tim Cook will chair run the show in Cupertino, and do a satellite intro elsewhere. Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller and Jeff Williams are likely to play a role at the core event, or host at the remote location.

Each event will recap the products and offerings launched at the Cupertino Core Event, and then will provide something unique to that country/region.

One more thing – simultanous release of the iPhone to even more markets is highly likely.

Beijing

More emphasis here will be placed on the launch of the iPhone 5C, but there will likely be an announcement of a partnership with China Mobile.

Tokyo

Wondering out loud, but given that NTT DoCoMo has lost 3.2 million customers due to the launch of iPhone, perhaps it is time for NTT DoCOMo to relax it’s walled garden approach to a user experience.

Berlin

I have no idea what will happen here. It could be just a play to have live events in each major timezone, especially given that the IFA conference is in town, and there will be a lot of tech media in town already. And Apple may want to steal some media thunder from, say, Samsung[5].

Conclusion

A new iPhone 5S and a lower-cost iPhone 5C, supported by a legacy iPhone 5 in 32GB are likely to be launched, with simultaneous availability in major global markets.

iOS 7 will release quickly, at least for iPhone. I think we’ll see a surprise or two.


  1. My predictions about the memory bumps was wishful thinking, but I think them more than likely…  ↩

  2. I suspect now that the iPhone 5, mid-range model, will probably now be a 32GB model. But that’s just a guess.  ↩

  3. I wish I could call it a probability rather than a possibility.  ↩

  4. Some of which are more popular than others.  ↩

  5. Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 3 at the IFA event, and have just announced the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch immediately before the start  ↩

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