TapsBook App Review

This past Thursday, at the local Triangle Cocoaheads meeting, the creator of the app TapsBook showed his app and asked for feedback.  Sherwood (the developer) expressed that his love of photography and desire to tell stories with all the pictures he came up with necessitated a better way of build photo books.  The app is iPad only (sorry iPhone people), and allows you to tap and swipe your way thru building photo books that can be shared either on the web, on social media, or thru printing at your local Walgreens drug store.

I too take way too many pictures, and having just spent a few days at Kennedy Space Center watching the launch of the MAVEN mission, I thought this would be a great test.  I had recently used Google+’s AutoAwesome features to create some really exciting pictures of the launch, so TapsBook sounded like a perfect way to print a book of the picture.

As I mentioned above, it was iPad only, so I had to wait until I got home to test it. I hope they resolve this soon, as I don’t always carry my iPad with me, but the iPhone is my constant companion.  I was a bit surprised that the app was sluggish on my iPad Air, I had a full photo stream (1,000 pictures) and the UI stuttered a lot when working with the pictures.  I was able to grab a share I had created of the MAVEN launch and start working on the swiping up and down to say which pictures were the best.  So after getting over the sluggishness, I felt the design was pretty cool.

Modifying the pictures within an auto created storybook, did not work as I expected.  I had hoped I could just grab a picture and move it to a new location.  Also, the algorithm ignored the large group of pictures I had taken of the launch sequence itself.   It scattered the pictures over the last groups of pages, interspersed with other pictures.  I am sure I need to do a bit more study and hopefully I can correct this.  But given the ease of auto creation, I would expect an option to say respect sequence of the pictures.

When I wanted to share the book, it required that I create an account.  The app itself is free, but you are limited to 500 pictures uploaded and shared.  I get this, storage is not free and I respect that Sherwood and team need to get paid.  I also tried to print the TapsBook to Walgreens and was surprised by the 20 page limit.  I have never used their service, so I am sure that is a limitation of Walgreen and not of the app.

Overall, I think the app does well in making creation of picture books (or  stories) easy for most people.  It is free to start with, and if you find that you like it, I would certainly buy a subscription to support the developers and cover the disk space costs.  As for printing, my test book was 65 pages long, and I couldn’t choose which pages to cut, so I didn’t get that done.  Maybe I will find a good 20 page book to print soon.

I hope Sherwood and team come out with more apps, since the interface design is certainly intuitive.

One week with the iPad Air

I received my iPad Air this past Monday, and as promised, here is a little review.

I’ve had every generation of the iPad up to the 3rd Generation. When the 4th Generation came out, I could not justify the speed bump ad the only benefit. Nor could I justify the mini, since it was not Retina. So when the new iPad Air came out, and not only was significantly faster, but also included a significant weight decease, and the M7 chip, it was time to upgrade to a new device.

The iPad Air does not disappoint. The first thing I noticed is that it does feel incredibly light compared to the iPad 3rd Gen. The reduction from 1.46lbs to 1.054lbs is a major improvement. I read in bed at times, and the 0.406 lbs makes a huge difference when you are prone. The challenge with shaving off this weight means that once again older cases and stands may not work. When I went from the iPad 2nd Gen to the iPad 3rd Gen, most of my cases started getting a little lose. Now that the iPad Air is noticeably thinner both in depth and width, prior cases no longer work. I’ve always liked having a case with a keyboard built into it for writing blog posts, but due to Apple’s secrecy the supply chain has not caught up with the new design and new cases with keyboards are not yet available.

So what about the speed differences? For most people, you may not notice the significant speed update. Most people use the iPad to read emails and to surf the web. While page rendering is faster, it is not noticeable on most sites. If you are a gamer, the speed difference is amazing. Load times are noticeably faster, and game play is smoother. The new UI introduced with iOS7 is also much more fluid than on the iPad 3rd Gen.

Are there any other things that are noticeable? To me, not really. I don’t use the camera much, so I don’t notice that improvement, even though I understand it has been improved. The battery seems to be just as solid as before, and the fit and finish I decidedly Apple.

So should you upgrade? If you have a 4th Gen, I can’t think of any reason that makes makes it a critical upgrade. If up have a 3rd Gen, you will notice improvements, but even with selling my old one to Gazelle this was a $500 upgrade so if you are cash strapped I would say hold off. If you have a iPad 2nd Gen, I think it’s definitely time to upgrade. Apple is doing well with upgrade cycles, new phone every two years is a must, iPad every three is a must, and I would say if you keep your laptop to every four years up are in a perfect cycle. So what is the one device that Apple can put out that requires you to upgrade each year, now that their software is becoming free? Perhaps we will find out next year!

Did you pick up your new toy today?

I ordered a new iPad Air this morning. My day is back to back calls and I figured there was no way I would be able to get out to pick one up. I went to the Apple online store and it looked like I was going to be able to order one with in store pickup; however, when I went to checkout it indicated I couldn’t do it. So I checked when I could get it if I ordered with shipping, and the order said I could have it on Monday. So needless to say, it is ordered and I am looking forward to playing with the new device next week.

However, I did get a break for lunch, so I ran out at lunch and saw that the line at my nearest Apple store (over at SouthPoint Mall), had only 1 person in the line. I could have just picked it up then, but didn’t happen. So now I am waiting until Monday. I guess I’ll be okay.