Apple has released iOS 6.1, the latest update to the operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. A minor change has been made to the lockscreen music controls – these are visible if your iOS device is locked, and you double-press the home button. Instead of displaying the time in a huge font, and the name of what you’re listening to below the slider, these small texts are above the fold, and the time is missing (it’s visible in the toolbar already, so it doesn’t need to be so big).
This lets you see more of your lockscreen wallpaper, which is, I guess, useful, but I’d much rather see more playback controls there: perhaps the shuffle and repeat buttons that you get in the Music app itself, or even the Genius button. Since I do use the lockscreen controls often when listening to music, it would be nice for those controls to provide the same access to features as the Music app. It would also be nice to be able to view lyrics from the lockscreen.
Posted: 1/29/2013 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPad, iPhone, iPod & iTunes Tags: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod | No Comments »
I like the idea of the Kindle, and the idea of the Kindle Paperwhite even more. Offering the ability to read both outdoors in sunlight, and indoors with a backlight, it seems like the best of both worlds.
Alas, having received a Kindle Paperwhite yesterday, I’m very disappointed. Not only is the backlight not very bright – not really bright enough to read indoors if there’s a lot of light – but it’s very uneven, with dark spots around the edges, especially at the bottom.
Here’s a photo I took of the Kindle Paperwhite next to the iPad mini, the latter showing a book in the Kindle app. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
As you can see, even in this small photo, the lighting is uneven at the bottom of the Kindle, and there is a very large difference in brightness (both devices are set to maximal brightness in the photo above). While the iPad mini won’t work in bright light – such as outdoors – I have a Kindle Touch for that. So that Paperwhite is being returned. It’s a good idea, but it’s just a bit cheap and poorly designed. Amazon should really do better with a device like this.
Posted: 11/23/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, books, iPad Tags: books, iPad, Kindle | 5 Comments »
I wrote yesterday about how the iPad mini is the future of the iPad, and using it for another full day has convinced me that this is going to be the case, at least for most users. (One friend commented on Twitter that, for him, the iPad mini is too small, as his main use of the iPad is for maps.)
There’s one difference that I immediately spotted between the two devices, and that’s the color balance. The new iPad mini has a yellowish tinge to it, and seems to have a bit less gamma. Here is a picture of my home screen, where you can see that the blue background shows a hint of green because of the additional yellow. (Note that both devices are set to maximum brightness.)
It’s hard to tell from photos of displays, especially because the color bleeds a bit around the icons, especially in the dock; it’s much more visible when you can look closely. Another example that may be more obvious is this shot of a page of a book in the Kindle app:
Again, you can see that the iPad mini looks a bit dingy compared to the iPad 3, but I think the yellowness is clear in this photo.
Finally, here’s a photo showing the iPad 3, iPad mini and iPhone 5. Since I shot this with my iPod touch 4th generation, the photo is much poorer, with lower resolution and less brightness. But you can see that the iPhone is clearly the brightest of the three, and it seems to my eyes the whitest of the devices. The iPad 3, compared to the iPhone 5, is slightly bluish (or, again, it might simply be higher gamma), and the iPad mini yellowish.
I don’t know if this yellow tinge is inherent in the iPad mini’s display, or if my unit has a problem with the color balance. If anyone else is seeing different things, please post in the comments so I can figure out if it is normal or not.
Posted: 11/4/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPad Tags: Apple, iPad | 5 Comments »
I love my iPad, but I have long grumbled about its weight. When you pick up a 10″ iPad, you know you have picked it up. At 651 grams, it’s a hefty device. I’ve always found it a bit too heavy for reading, and the 207 gram Kindle Touch is much more comfortable to hold, and its smaller screen is not a problem when reading books.
In the article I linked to above from July, 2012, I explained why I wanted a 7″ iPad. I use my iPad for consuming media and playing games, not for creating. The larger display doesn’t add anything for me, and the extra weight makes it a bit of a drag.
When I got my iPad mini yesterday (which finally has a 7.9″ screen), I realized that this is the iPad I had been waiting for all along. Not only is it smaller and lighter, but it’s thinness makes it feel like a totally different device. The lack of heft means that you pick it up easily, with less strain and gravitas than the heavier iPad. At 304 grams, it’s less than half the weight of the full-sized iPad, and, while it’s not that much thinner (7.2 mm compared to 9.4 mm), the difference is notable.
Following some of my fellow tech writers on Twitter yesterday, they all had good things to say about the iPad mini. It’s cute, it’s easier to type with two thumbs, and it’s much better for reading than the Kindle Paperwhite (the backlit Kindle) because the light is more even.
There are a couple of things that could be improved on the iPad mini. First, the display could be better. It’s better than the iPad 2, but not as good as the retina display of the iPad 3 and 4. This said, it’s fine for reading, even if the fonts aren’t as crisp as one might like. Apple most likely decided to forgo the retina display so they have a feature they can add to new year’s model, and I think this is a shame.
Second, everything on the iPad mini is just as it is on the full-sized iPad, but scaled down. I think that the interface could be re-designed so icons are a bit larger, and interface texts a few points bigger. There’s room to do this, but it does mean a different version of the interface than the standard iPad. Many interface elements have small fonts, which would be more readable at a slightly bigger size.
The iPad mini, which you can hold in one hand if you have large enough hands (as I do), is the right size and weight for usage on the go. It’s a portable iPad (sure, the large iPad is portable, but lug it around in your backpack, together with the rest of your everyday belongings, and you notice the weight). And it’s the future.
I will gladly predict that the iPad mini will become the standard iPad, and that, in the future, we’ll look back on the early full-sized iPads with a smirk, the way we look back at the first portable computers. If you already have an iPad, go check out the mini. If you don’t have either, compare the two. You’ll see that, unless you want to use the iPad to create – to work on images or videos, for example – there’s no reason to buy the bigger model. The iPad mini is really just right.
Note: See this post for some observations on color differences between the iPad mini and the iPad 3.
Posted: 11/3/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPad Tags: Apple, iPad | 8 Comments »
I’ve been an iPad owner from day one; well, month one. The first iPad wasn’t initially sold here in France, but I had a colleague in the US buy me one and ship it to me. From the beginning, I felt that the iPad was the computing device that I never had but had always needed. I had played around with a number of small computing devices over the years. I never owned a Newton, but for a couple of months, in the end of 1996, I used one when translating a manual for some Newton software. I owned a couple of Palm pilots in the late 1990s, but I found them too small. I wanted a device that I could use for applications, but also for reading books.
The iPad is certainly a revolutionary device, and was exactly what I wanted. It wasn’t the first tablet; there were a number of Windows–based tablets before it, but they were big and clunky. Just as Apple revolutionized the MP3 player when the company released the iPod in 2001, the release of the iPad did the same for tablet computing.
There are two things, however, that I dislike about the iPad. First, it is relatively heavy. At 651 grams, plus a bit more for a case, you notice it when you’re carrying it in your backpack. When you think about it, an iPad is roughly the weight of an average hardcover novel. Compare that to the smallest E Ink Kindle; at 168 grams – just 30 grams more than an iPhone – I don’t notice it when it’s in my backpack.
The other problem with the iPad is that it takes a long time to charge. Battery life is decent, but I find that if I play a few games, then read the news or a book for a while, my battery life can go down pretty quickly. Unlike the iPhone, which seems to charge extremely quickly, the iPad really needs to charge overnight to fill its tank.
As rumors circulate about a seven-inch iPad, I realized that this would be the perfect size for such a device. It would be smaller and lighter, and for most of the things that I use an iPad for, it would be sufficient. Not only would it be big enough to read and play games, but with the smaller display, it might have longer battery life (though the smaller size also means a smaller battery).
There are two uses for the iPad: creating and consuming. Many people use an iPad to create content: they write, draw, or edit documents that they or others may have made on a computer. If you’re fiddling with a spreadsheet, you want as much room as possible. If you’re writing an article, you may want a larger screen to see more of what you write. (Though in many cases, you could probably write just as well on a 7″ iPad.) However, if you are simply consuming – reading books, web sites and e-mail, or playing most games – the smaller display won’t be much of a problem. Sure, there are some games that wouldn’t work well on a 7″ iPad, and you may need to zoom a bit more to read web pages, but given the lighter weight, I think this is a fair compromise.
It’s no surprise that Amazon’s Kindle – both the E Ink version and the Android version, the Kindle Fire – are so popular. The people who buy these devices are media consumers, not creators. You don’t need a very big screen to read books. While I feel that the smaller Kindle is a bit cramped for reading, this is more because of the limited number of font sizes, and the poor pixel density. A 7″ iPad with a retina display would be far more practical for reading than an E Ink Kindle.
I think that if Apple releases a 7″ iPad, it will be a hit. It may cannibalize the larger iPad market a bit, but it may also attract owners of Kindle devices, who will see the better display and understand the disadvantages of the E Ink Kindles. I know I’ll buy one. There’s not much that I do on my iPad that I couldn’t do on a smaller model. Given the lighter weight, it would be much better for reading books, which is one of my main uses for the iPad.
What do you think? Would you buy a 7″ iPad? Vote in the poll in the sidebar to the right, and if you have any comments, feel free to add them to this post.
Posted: 7/9/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPad Tags: Apple, iPad, Kindle | 12 Comments »
I’ve posted an article saying why I wan a 7″ iPad, and I’ve put up a poll asking whether you would buy one or not. (Look in the sidebar to the right.) Feel free to post any comments you might have here. Is it a good idea? A bad one? Would you prefer a 7″ iPad, or do you want both?
Posted: 7/9/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPad Tags: Apple, iPad | 3 Comments »
I guess it had to happen. There should be a new rule: If content providers can collect analytic data about anything, then they will. Or, to put it more crudely, If they can watch you, they will. Welcome to the digital panopticon.
An article in the Wall Street Journal explains how Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble collect analytic data when you read ebooks. How far you get in a book, how fast you read it, whether you buy a sequel, and which search terms or highlights you use when reading a book.
Analytics is a technique that is used on the web, and with some software – notably that on mobile devices – to track what users do. You can see how long users stay on a web site, which links they click, where they come from and more. But for books? Do publishers really need to know how fast people read books? Or whether you read them straight through or flip back and forth between books?
Two things worry me here. First, that this data is collected without users being aware of it. It is said that this data is anonymous, but we know that this anonymity is not something we can take for granted. I checked on my iPad and my Kindle and saw no options to turn off this data collection. While I expect Amazon to follow my purchases in order to recommend other books or CDs, I find it annoying that they may be checking on how I read ebooks.
The second issue is more fundamental. Once you have analytic data, you want to do something with it. In order to justify the cost of crunching this data, and paying for people to analyze it, you need to have an objective. You need to be able to translate this data into actionable tasks. And what could the goals be? To go back to writers and tell them to write differently? Granted, for some mass-consumed books and genres, writers might be willing to adjust their styles, or the length of their books if they think they’ll sell more. But I think this is a red herring. Good books sell; bad books don’t. If a book is good, whether it is long or short, people will tell others about it. Gone With the Wind is a huge book, nearly 1,500 pages in the mass-market paperback edition. Should an author be prevented from telling the story they want because some metrics geek thinks it’s too long?
I think this is none of their business. The way I read should be private. I can’t see how this information will help me as a reader, or me as a writer. If this metrics collection is going to continue, readers should at least have an option to opt out.
Posted: 7/4/2012 by kirk | Filed under: books, iPad, Miscellanea Tags: books, ebooks, iPad, Kindle | 1 Comment »
I know, an iPad stand review is perhaps a bit limited in interest. Frankly, I wouldn’t have posted this if not for the fact that this stand sucks, and for the fact that, in spite of what Griffin says on their web site, it is not compatible with the current iPad (not the previous iPad 2).
The idea is nice: The Griffin Wavestand is a small stand that has a sliding bit of plastic that extends from the back to give enough room to support the stand. The stand has no-slip rubber on it, and works pretty well in staying upright. The problem, however, lies in the part of the stand that holds the iPad. It, too, has no-slip rubber, but the space is too deep. After tapping on the iPad’s screen a few times, the iPad slips back and eventually falls out of the stand. This occurs whether it is in portrait or landscape mode.
This stand probably worked fine with the original iPad, with its thicker body. But the beveled edges of the newer models don’t sit well in the stand. Griffin deceptively states that this stand is compatible with the iPad 2 and the iPad 3 (which Apple calls the “new iPad,” but this is clearly not the case.
Griffin, you suck. I’m returning this to Amazon where I bought it, and you have made me waste time having to deal with a product that simply doesn’t work.
To my readers: I’m looking for a simple, inexpensive iPad stand. I have an iPad dock, and that works fine for portrait mode, but not in landscape. Feel free to post any recommendations in the comments.
Posted: 6/5/2012 by kirk | Filed under: iPad Tags: iPad, stand | 4 Comments »