A month of the iPad Pro!

It has been a month that I’ve had the iPad pro now, and I can say I love it. It is not perfect and I will go thru a few of the problems I’ve had with it, but let me go thru what I like.

1) The screen – yes it is an amazing screen. It is big, bright, and has an incredible resolution. I’ve been amazed at how well Apple has address the scaling issue that SO many apps have. (More on this later). I am able to use the screen for very long periods without eye strain. For movies and podcasts, it’s as good, if not better, than my 27 inch iMac.
2) The Apple Keyboard – it took me about a day to get used to the keyboard. After that I find that I am typing almost as fast as my desktop keyboards. I do find that very infrequently I incorrectly position my fingers, and then all bets are off. It is light, and the covering actually makes it pretty comfortable to type on. I wish that I could adjust the title on the keyboard a bit, as I’ve been developing a major case of carpal tunnel over the last few years, but when I have to do a lot of typing it is more effective than my other iPad keyboards I have used over the years.
3) Speed – one thing that is interesting about the iPad to me, it has always been fast enough. I know that this one is faster than my iPad Air, but do I actually notice the speed? Not really, but at the same time, I’ve not noticed any slowdowns. To that end, it is running well.
4) The Apple Pencile – I got mine, a few weeks ago. I played with a tiny bit. And overall, it feels good in my hands, but I don’t really use it. I don’t have much drawing talent, and I don’t have much need to “markup” documents. So for now, this is a neutral device for me. It’s nice to have, but don’t think the average person will need it.
5) The Weight – yes it is heavier than the iPad Air. But so what. I find that I can easily take off the keyboard, and carry it like a clipboard. The weight makes it feel more substantial, and it is substantial in all respects.

The not so go:
1) Apps – I know that most developers do not have tons of time to keep updating their apps to the latest Apple technology. If you, as a developer, have kept up with Apple’s Xcode changes and recommendations, then all is good. All you have to do is add new sized graphics and everything is fine. Your app can be resized and run in side by side mode. But, most developer haven’t done this. And so, much of the really cool functionality doesn’t work for the apps. My day job is a great example of this. The apps I need for day to day work – IBM Connections, IBM Chat, and IBM Verse – none of these apps are updated to use this funcationality. I hope this is resolved quickly.
2) Keyboard – Apple enabled exchangeable keyboard in a prior release of iOS. I have been using TextExpander on my Mac and my iPad for some time. Swapping to the TextExpander keyboard (and other third party keyboards) is frustrating when using the Apple Keyboard. The external keyboard and the software keyboard tend to get confused at times… I am sure a future update will fix this.
3) Network – Apple has had problems with their wifi software both on iOS and OSX over the last few years. I am finding this same issue with the iPad Pro. Very annoying.

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!

1st Announcement of this week

Well, Apple has done it again… They have messed with my upgrade cycle.  I had decided that I would be on a 1 year cycle for iPad upgrades, and they put out a new 4th Gen iPad before the year is up. The new A6x chip and the Lightning adapter are the things that will make me want to do the upgrade.  I currently have the 64gb AT&T LTE version, and it has been amazing for me.  I have no desire to upgrade to the iPad mini.  I had an iPad 2 and the retina display on my current iPad is too good to go back to 1024×768.  Had I never had the iPad 3, then perhaps it would be worthwhile, but I can’t go back.

iPad Mini

I do believe that the size and design of the mini will be attractive to a lot of people.  The new back design matches the design of the new iPhone 5, and that does look really cool.

But this isn’t the only announcement Apple made today.  The new iMac looks really sexy! Deceptively slim at the edges.  Not to happy that Apple continues to get rid of the DVD drive, but understand their approach and reasoning.iMac

As far at the specs, they are a nice refresh from the development machine I picked up last year, and the addition of the hybrid (AKA Fusion) drive, and the great way that Mountain Lion will automatically manage your apps for the best performance is a great addition.  If this would be your development machine, I can see it improving compile times dramatically.

The new 13″ MacBook Pro is a great upgrade for many and the Mac Mini, was refreshed nicely.

Was nice that Apple live-streamed the entire event.  Guess I will have to order a new iPad soon.

Quick update.. Apple has posted the video already for those who would like to watch the announcement.


Next Week is Big

Over the last month I’ve seen a lot of talk about the upcoming rumored iPad mini, Windows Phone, and Samsung’s latest device. All of these seem to be coming to a head next week.

October 23rd is Apple’s something little event, Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy Note II on the 24th, Microsoft Announces Windows 8 on OCt. 25th, and on Friday Windows 8 goes on sale. And just to keep it up, the following Monday on the 29th Google is expected to announce a new Google Nexus device!

Can’t wait to see the reviews on all this new tech and to see how it may impact my development plans.

WordPress on iPad

Well, as happens, the day job is consuming more and more time. Luckily the latest update to the WordPress for iPad app addresses many of the problems I’ve had recently. So I am able to write up a quick Huzzah! while getting ready for dinner.

I know work is getting busy when I don’t have time to download any new apps in an entire week. I tried this morning to find a good example of a DigDug game. The old Atari game where you would use a small pump and blowup fire-breathing dragons! Someone should make a good version of this.

Power, heat, and screens

I the last week since the launch of the iPad, there has been a lot of noise about consumer reports‘ report on the iPad being too hot. It appears they are quickly revising their story. As an owner of all three generations of the iPad, I can say I have not experienced the heat problem. It could be because I don’t run the screen at fully brightness, it could be that I don’t play the right games, or it could be some other reason.

I believe it is because the problem is restricted to a limited use case, which is not valid. From the things I have heard over the last week the use case is as follows:

  • plugin in your iPad to charge
  • make sure your screen brightness is turn all the way up
  • run a graphic intensive application like infinity blade II
  • wait for about 10-15 minutes
  • The great thing about the iPad, and tablets in general, is that it is a truly mobile device, you don’t hold it in your lap while it is plugged in. Laptops on the other hand, tend to be plugged in much more when using it around the house. I think that people who are experiencing this problem, are probably using the device wrong… To paraphrase an old doctor joke… “apple, my iPad is too hot when I use it wrong….’apple – well, don’t use it wrong.'”

    Book review – “learn iPhone and iPad cocos2d Game Development”

    Learn-cocos2d.com is the online home of the book “Learn iPhone and iPad cocos2d Game Programming” by Steffen Itterheim. This book is designed to help the beginning game programmer understand the cocos2d game library, which is a cross platform library that is targeted at 2d games.

    Steffen does a great job of introducing you to the basics of game development while also showcasing various game types. The includes not only development concepts, but also includes information on other libraries and resources to help you get started with graphics, audio, and marketing.

    Steffen includes not just code snippets, but working games that he uses to explain various concepts. Each of these are well commented and structured so that you can get started with your game.

    While Steffen focuses exclusively on iPhone and iPad programming, the cocos2d library has been made available for android also. So if you are looking at developing games, you should check out the book, and get gaming!!

    Review of new iPad

    I hadn’t planned on doing reviews of hardware on this site, but here we go,

    I’ve been using a new iPad for almost a week now, and the screen in incredible, but that is not the thing that I am enjoying the most. LTE support is amazing! My old iPad was a 3G device and that really did change my habits for using a mobile device. I tend to use my iPhone much less as a consumption device and almost never as a creation device. With the 3G on my old iPad I started using my iPad everywhere. Being able to grab a podcast or book right before boarding a flight means I carried less books and magazines on board.

    But with LTE I am now consuming much more, the speed is faster than my home network, and I am starting to use the device for more content creation. Having full access to my home machines, and data, means I don’t need everything with me, but I can get to it and use it. I am writing this blog almost exclusively on the iPad now.

    Yes, the retina display is nice… Really nice… But having true high speed access is going to change the game.

    Data Plans and App Size

    Was listening to MacBreak Weekly this week and heard Alex mention that the Apple store was changing the limit of over the air updates to 50mb which made a lot of sense given the new requirements that Apple has added to all apps on the app store.  From here on out you have to include both normal and retina quality images to your app.  If you are doing game development this is going to quickly get to very large files.  To test it out this morning I started a new Cocos2d template project – looking to see the impact to a Universal binary.

    There are now not only larger files but 33% (at significantly larger files given the 2x in screen resolution) more graphic files needed if you create all the images for iPhone, iPhone with Retina, iPad, and iPad with Retina.  We see that we will need every bit (no pun intended) of the data that we can get when doing updates over the air.

    The second issue that my test brought up this morning is the never ending battle with provisioning certificates.  The latest version of xCode installs in the Applications folder on your device.  So unless you’ve removed the original install of xCode in the Developer folder, you will find your self launching the wrong version of xCode, as I did this morning.  Next I went to provision my sample app to my iPhone and got the ” No unexpired provisioning profiles found that contain any of the keychain’s signing certificates” message.

    Now I am a member of the Developer program and I seem to run in to this problem every few months.  I guess I need to create a blog post which explains how to keep all this straight across multiple machines.  I had just fixed this on my iMac (the main development machine) back in November, but I haven’t done development on my MacBookPro in some time.  Oh well, time to figure all this out once again!

    p.s. Thank goodness for Stackoverflow.. Here’s the answer.