See also: Here’s What’s New In iOS 9At the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address on Monday, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, showed off new additions to the iPad’s repertoire that seem specifically designed to help users get more done with the device. If that’s the mentality going into the product category, it may be paving the way for a work-friendly tablet to finally hit the market before
Siri Smartens UpAccording to Federighi, Siri is getting a lot more intelligent. The well-coiffed exec showed off a demo of Apple’s digital assistant understanding natural language, letting users speak in their own words to get meaningful responses. So if you’re reading an email and ask your device to “remind me about this when I get home,” Siri will know exactly what “this”
Premium One, An iPhone/Watch Dockhttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/289346553/premium-one-dock-and-charge-apple-watch-and-iphone/widget/video.html A convenient dock for charging your Apple Watch is good; a dock that also charges your iPhone and iPad would be even better. That’s why the Enblue team created the Premium One, which does just that. The Power One comes in three models. The most basic is a simple Apple Watch charging stand; the most complex will also charge an iPhone 5 or 6 series (including the 6 plus) in addition to an iPad of the mini/Air/Air 2
When We Buy, When We Download, And WhyKnowing when people are most likely to buy or download apps, and reaching them in
How Surface 3 Stacks UpThe Surface 3 shares a lot of design choices
Microsoft introduced its Surface tablet earlier this week and the comparisons to the iPad are only beginning. As pointed out by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, one clever side-by-side is this one from ReadWriteWeb that looks at the unveiling of the Surface tablet and compares it to Steve Jobs's introduction of the iPad.
[Via Daring Fireball]
Last week's release of Paper for iPad was a huge boon to the cottage industry of third-party iPad styluses. It was hardly the first app for drawing or writing directly on the screen of an iOS device, but it struck a chord. It was just the right blend of skeuomorphic real-world design and familiar iOS gestures. I had never even considered a stylus before, but this seemed like my chance.
I travel the Internet in fairly Apple-obsessed early-adopter circles, so I went with the stylus I'd seen recommended most often: the Cosmonaut by Studio Neat. Studio Neat made the Glif camera mount, one of the most celebrated iPhone peripherals around, so it seemed like a safe bet.
The Cosmonaut arrived in short order in spartan, Space Race packaging. It's fairly wide to hold like a pen. It's black, grippy and dense, the exact same length as an iPhone. The business end exhibits the capacitive properties the touch screen requires: a soft touch that gives way gradually to pressure, just like a fingertip, but more precise.
I quickly found to my surprise that the stylus is a satisfying cursor for normal iOS activity. Launching apps, tapping around, pull-to-refresh, all the usual finger gestures felt pleasantly precise and snappy with the stylus. That's not its intended use, of course, but it's an enjoyable way to change up one's routine.
Unfortunately, it got frustrating as I tried to use the stylus for its real purpose. I am no gifted draftsman, but I found the stylus rather blunt and imprecise in my drawing forays using Paper. There's no question it was more accurate than the finger. Drawing with a finger on a glass screen feels clumsy and dully painful. But the stylus didn't feel like much of anything.
Since writing is my actual trade, I decided to give handwriting a shot. I was not thrilled with the results. It's very difficult to write small enough using this stylus, but perhaps the wide grip is the problem. There may be better styluses for writing on the iPad, and I'd happily take recommendations.
The Cosmonaut was still vastly better than writing with the tip of my index finger.
"If you see a stylus, they blew it," Steve Jobs once said. Surely that wasn't meant to demean Apple's Newton, a misunderstood but beloved device that paved the way for iOS devices. But after iOS, it was a different world. Apple's second mobile operating system nearly eliminated the friction between the software and the physical human interacting with it. It felt like touching and manipulating the actual pixels. A stylus would just be an inert barrier in between.
I did feel this barrier in my experiments, but I wouldn't say it's the fault of the stylus. My biggest takeaway from the experience is that the iPad itself is the clumsier interface. A stylus is one of the first tools humans ever invented. We have thousands of years of honed experience writing and drawing this way. We feel it with remarkable precision. It's the capacitive glass screen that's the inert barrier.
Writing and drawing depend on physical feedback, and the glass provides none. The abstraction is there when we touch the iPad with our fingers, too. There's no feedback at all, so the software creates illusions of feedback with sounds and images. Those are less compelling with a stylus rather than hands directly on the glass. But don't blame the stylus. A flat slate of glass is not a tactile work environment. It's great for abstract work, but not for real handiwork.
Not yet, anyway. It's too bad those haptic touch feedback rumors didn't pan out for the new iPad. But we know Apple's already thinking about the evolution of the computer as a tool in the hand.
Still, even the most tech-savvy people have to admit it when things work better the old-fashioned way.Discuss
I'm working in an empty conference room today, unable to partake in the national pastime of skipping work on baseball's Opening Day. I'm in a cinderblock building where radio reception is next to impossible, and the local radio station that carries Red Sox games, which I can normally access through Stitcher, has a game-long blackout on online streaming in place.
So far, however, that has not been a drag, thanks to MLB At Bat 12, an iPad app I downloaded just before the 1:05 p.m. start of the Red Sox-Tigers game in Detroit. The app is free, although subscriptions that unlock all of the features (including the ability to listen to every Major League Baseball game) run $2.99 a month or $14.99 for the season.
The first inning just ended but it's safe to say I'd pay as much as $2.99 per game, and I consider myself a casual sports fan at best. I'm listening to the call of the game by WEEI's Joe Castiglione and Dave O'Brien with crystal-clear quality. While I'm opting for the hometown coverage, I can also grab the Detroit feed and the Boston feed of a Spanish broadcast of the game.
I'm not going to spring for the $24.99 per month it would cost to watch the game on MLB.TV (I am, after all, supposed to be working). But I caught a few innings of the service's video broadcast of last night's St. Louis-Miami game and would gladly pay the premium if I thought I was going to want to watch a lot of games on the go.
I may also be willing to pay that extra coin if I had already upgraded to iPad 3. The biggest change between At Bat 12 and last year's At Bat 11 is that the newer version is enhanced for iPad 3's enhanced retina display.
Other features of At Bat 12:
- The app and the basic subscription are free. Basic subscribers can watch the game of the day and get access to MLB Gameday, the real-time box score that has also been updated for iPad 3.
- The app let's fans take "live look-ins" to in-progress games, regardless of blackout restrictions.
- The league-wide scoreboards have been redesigned to give better visuals and more up-to-date information.
I'm sold, and given the static-free reception and real-time statistics through two innings, I suspect I'll not only be using this At Bat 12 on the go but at home in lieu of my terrestrial radio.
Oh, and of course...Go Sox!
People love to use their tablets while watching TV. With so many different "second-screen" mobile apps out there, it's not always easy to know which are the best. Here's a look at our favorite app for finding related content while you're watching a show.
When the iPad first launched, I was skeptical. I had a MacBook and an iPhone. Why would I need this thing? Over time, I developed an interest in owning one, in part because I didn't have an e-reader of any kind and in part because I had the chance to play with the iPad a few times. I was hooked.
These days, I use my iPad constantly. Most of the time, I'm reading on it, but I also use it for watching movies, writing, communicating with colleagues, managing my finances and listening to music. I've also noticed that I no longer sit down on the couch in front of my television set without the iPad within arm's reach. I'm not alone. About 88% of U.S. tablet owners use the device while watching TV, according to the latest data from Nielsen.
The so-called "second screen" phenomenon has thus been born, with entertainment companies and independent developers coming up with new ways to supplement the TV-watching experience via tablets.
The Different Kinds of Second-Screen Apps
There are a few ways this is being done. One breed of apps focuses on the Foursquare-style check-in, allowing users to declare that they're watching a given show and interact with others. GetGlue and Miso are among the more popular choices in this space. Apps such as Yap.tv seek to make TV a more social experience by baking Twitter and Facebook into a TV Guide-style line-up of shows.
While a great deal of this tablet-based activity is totally unrelated to the TV content, a growing number of users are seeking out information that's relevant to the show and its cast. A typical example would be recognizing an actor on the screen, then using IMDb to verify that you had, in fact, seen them in a movie recently. Looking up Wikipedia articles on people and places featured on TV is another example.
The Best Choice for Finding Related Information While Watching TV
So what's the best app for finding this type of supplementary information? Perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to fire up the Web browser and start Googling, or go straight to IMDb. Thankfully, there are a few apps that curate this kind of information for us. One of the best among them is an iPad app called i.TV.
Not to be confused with the rumored-to-be-forthcoming HDTV set from Apple, i.TV is a second-screen app that takes on a few roles. Like any app of its kind worth downloading, it comes with all the proper social media integrations, including the ability to check-in via GetGlue. Rather than trying to be yet another Foursquare-for-entertainment app all on its own, i.TV aggregates check-in data from across Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue to calculate a more comprehensive tally of recent viewers.
The app is about more than talking about shows. It also lets users watch them, whether by queueing them on their DVR directly from i.TV or by finding clips and episodes on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and YouTube.
One thing i.TV does better than just about any other app of its kind is bring relevant information to the viewer's finger tips. It pulls in information from IMBb and Wikipedia, which is probably where you'd go to search anyway. It also aggregates recent headlines about the show's stars. For instance, when I'm viewing the profile for Breaking Bad, it shows an article from Huffington Post explaining that the actor who played Gus on the show is going to make an appearance on Community. Good to know.
The user interface for i.TV is nice. The navigation on the left is big and clear and the shows are laid out in a tiled array. Once you start tapping into individual shows, the UI makes use of the sort of sliding, overlapping panels made popular by Twitter's official iPad app.
The only drawback, at last for some users, is the fact that the app doesn't appear to have been upgraded for the new iPad's retina display. As a result, some graphics appear pixelated and the framed-in Web pages from Wikipedia and IMDb are slightly distorted until you pinch to zoom in on the text. Allowing these pages to be automatically launched in Safari would help alleviate this problem.
Overall, i.TV is a solid offering. It could use deeper social integration, but as far as apps that give viewers more context and information about a given show, this is about as good as it gets.Discuss
Since jumpstarting the tablet market two years ago, the iPad has found its way into a few distinct niches in our lives. Since its first generation, the device (and those like it) have been used heavily for content consumption: reading, watching video and, to a lesser extent, streaming music.
Tablets have since begun maturing into tools for content creation, including video editing and multitrack music recording. Despite early criticism of their limitations, tablets even help people stay productive at work.
There's little doubt that, in the future, these devices will be even more thoroughly integrated into our lives. For clues about how thoroughly, look no further than the emerging smart home market and the products that are already finding their ways into people's homes.
We're already seeing the tablet take center stage in "smart" household technology usage in the living room, for example. Your iPad can be used to control an Apple TV, effectively bringing iOS to the big screen. More commonly, tablets are used as second screen devices, on which users not only control the content they're watching, but seek out supplementary content and interact with others on the social Web. With credible rumors of an Apple HDTV still making the rounds, it's reasonable to expect the integration between television and tablets to grow even tighter.
Tablet-enhanced home entertainment is only the beginning.
Beyond the "Second Screen:" A Remote Control for the Whole House
As households are increasingly equipped with automation, smart TVs, energy management features and cloud-based security systems, tablets are becoming a sort of command-and-control hub, allowing us to dim the lights, open the curtains, engage the alarm or check in on our kids via video feed. All of this - and considerably more - can be done from inside the home or from halfway across the planet.
Control4 is a Utah-based company that builds the software upon which many home automation systems run. The company also operates a platform by the same name, for which developers can build apps that perform various tasks within smart homes.
In addition to licensing its software to thousands of electronics manufacturers, Control4 makes its own hardware and has an iPad app, which can be used to control security features, lighting, temperature and entertainment media. Want to turn on the dining room lights while you're out of town to make it look like the house is still occupied? Turn the heat on a few minutes before you get home? That's precisely the sort of thing that systems such as this enable.
As is often the case, when we say "iPad," we really mean "tablet," the market that will likely be dominated by Apple's beloved device for the foreseeable future. Along with smartphones, they will become the hub of any connected, automated household in the future.
Control4 offers its own tablet-like hardware, in addition to its iPad app. Comcast's Xfinity Home Security product, which is similar to what Control4 offers, can be controlled from an iOS app or from Comcast's own custom hardware. That device comes equipped with a cellular data backup connection in case weather or an intruder knocks one's broadband connection offline. Similarly, 3G and 4G iPads and Android tablets can be used to ensure that connectivity isn't an issue in an emergency situation.
Another central component to systems like this is their use of Web-connected video cameras for security. Home surveillance systems used to be prohibitively expensive, but advances (and price drops) in Web cam technology, coupled with the reliance on cloud storage for footage, have helped drive those costs down considerably.
Live feeds from cameras installed in and around the home can be viewed from proprietary touchscreen tablets such as those sold by vendors including Control4 and Comcast, or they can be watched remotely via apps for iOS and, in some cases, Android. This offers a sense of security to homeowners, and for teenagers, probably something more like terror.
Regardless of how you feel about it, the homes of the future will be more connected and automated. If you think your tablet or other mobile device feels like the center of your universe now, just wait until it can dim the lights, queue up the DVR and communicate with the WiFi-enabled refrigerator.Discuss
It's a bit of a role reversal at the college newspaper where I am the faculty adviser: I, playing the role of old ink-stained curmudgeon, keep insisting the students need to think about improving their website and developing multimedia reporting skills, while they insist they love putting out a dead-tree product each week.
They especially love designing pages, a pizza-fueled event that is repeated on nine Wednesday nights each semester. "Why?" I all but scream at them. "It's a skill that isn't going to matter in another couple of years!"
That's a tough admission for a lifetime newspaper junkie who still insists that two stacks of dead trees be dumped on my doorstep every Sunday morning. I thought I was older and wiser, and that I was, sadly, right. But after spending the weekend playing around with the Boston Globe's new iPad app, it turns out I may need to learn a thing or two from the kids.
The Globe is my hometown newspaper, the paper that made me fall in love with print journalism as an 11-year-old when I learned there was a world beyond the comics and sports pages. And, by way of full disclosure, I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream, writing regularly for the paper's business desk between April 2008 and January 2011. That was when even I, one of the last holdouts, had to concede the future for newspapers wasn't bright.
The Globe is also owned by The New York Times, which has its own slick iPad app. It looks and feels like a Web page and makes use of stunning video and photos. Sharing articles on Twitter, Facebook and email is easy and, because it is, after all, The New York Times, I just assumed that it would be the standard all papers would live up to.
Don't Retrain Page Designers Yet
The Globe, however, has gone in a different direction, essentially reproducing print pages in the iPad app. At first glance it looked archaic, like PDFs crammed into a too-small screen. But within seconds, intuition took over, and I quickly saw there was tons of functionality. I could zoom into articles and, once I clicked onto one I wanted to read, the reading interface was more like the eye-friendly Web page The Times delivers.
I can share articles on social media as easily as I can on The Times iPad app, but the Globe offers an added layer of interaction: a thumbs up, thumbs down button where I can register whether I agree or disagree with the article. I'm not sure how far the interaction will go, but it seems like a step in the right direction toward engaging readers.
Online, the Globe moved premium content behind a paywall last year. Casual readers can still access lots of free content (and lots of teasers for paid content) at boston.com, but the premium stuff lies behind the paywall at BostonGlobe.com (as a Sunday print subscriber, I get access to the premium site and the iPad app, even though the weekly Sunday print subscription is cheaper than the weekly online rate).
Having worked with many of the photographers who were learning how to shoot videos, I hope a lot of that video content makes it onto the iPad app. I didn't see any in the seven issues I read during the weekend, but it makes sense that it will end up on the iPad, and if I did have a complaint about the new iPad app, it would be that it still feels a little too much like a newspaper and not the multimedia-storytelling platform that it is.
Which is Better?
Here's my big problem: I love both apps. They both offer something unique in terms of reader experience. Most importantly, they deliver news in a way that is usable, which hasn't always been the case with their online cousins.
But - and this may be my antiquated bias to ink showing through - if I had to choose, I give the nod to the Globe. The reason is simple: I feel smarter after reading a newspaper cover to cover, as it exposes me to all sorts of articles I may not have read if I hadn't scanned the headline.
Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble has its fair share of critics, but there's something to be said about the Internet only exposing us to news and content we're already interested in, as opposed to content and news we should be interested in.
The Globe iPad app, which lets me sweep through the pages like a traditional newspaper, does a better job of giving me a balanced news diet - without the hassle of getting ink stains on my finger tips.Discuss
When I first unboxed the new 1080p Apple TV and plugged it in, I wasn't blown away. Having used a Boxee Box for the last 16 months, I've come to expect flexibility and a broad selection of content sources from my streaming set-top boxes. In fact, after several minutes of playing around with it, I was tempted to box it back up and send it back.
Then I tried AirPlay. Mirroring my iPad's display on the TV screen, I was suddenly able to not only stream any video I could find, but look at photos, browse the Web and view other apps on the big screen. If the Apple TV has a killer feature, this is it. Some of the device's biggest shortcomings - limited content, lack of a keyboard for text input, no Web browser - are instantly alleviated once you toggle that AirPlay switch.
While you can technically beam your entire iPad screen onto your TV using AirPlay, there are certain things that the feature is best suited for. For the most part, it's great for streaming video. When you're navigating the iPad's home screen, launching apps or trying to use apps that have fluid animations, there's a noticeable lag. It's really too bad. Google Earth, for example, would be cool on a TV.
What the feature is primarily intended for is watching video content, and it does that quite well. Even so, some apps offer a better experience than others.
It might seem too obvious to mention, but YouTube's iPad app is an essential one for the Apple TV. The same is true of its tablet-optimized mobile Web app. There is a YouTube app that ships with the Apple TV, but searching the world's largest user-submitted video site from a tablet is a much better experience than typing letters in one-by-one using the Apple remote.
Despite its tendency toward shorter videos, YouTube is quickly becoming a mainstay in many living rooms, as viewers turn toward the service for everything from music videos and funny viral clips to longer-form videos that are slowly making their way onto YouTube as Google gets serious about premium content.
Again, this is an obvious choice, but it shouldn't be excluded from this list. Like YouTube, Netflix is already included on the Apple TV, but the user interface is quite different on the iPad. Most importantly, one can navigate the app by touching and typing rather than tediously pointing a remote at the screen. Netflix subscribers who own an Apple TV and an iPad will probably spend quite a bit of time with this app.
In addition to its own Apple TV-style set-top box, Boxee offers an iPad app that includes some of the platform's best features.
Like the Boxee media player UI, its iPad app pulls in videos that are shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter, much like Flipboard does for written content. Another one of Boxee's most useful features is its "Watch Later" queue, which you can populate using its browser bookmarklet, Instapaper-style. If you come across a great TED talk, music video or mini-documentary during the course of your day and don't have time to watch it, just click the button.
The Boxee app also allows you to stream videos that are stored locally on your computer using its Media Manager. If you have a lot of video files, this feature helps make up for the Apple TV's lack of external storage.
ShowYou is another app that curates video content via your social connections, and it does a really great job of it. The UI is a little nicer than Boxee's and it takes better advantage of the screen's real estate by providing a massive array of recently shared videos on a grid, which you can navigate by swiping left or down.
ShowYou pulls off the social curation quite well, but this isn't all the app does. It also sports YouTube integration, lets you follow other ShowYou users, and offers curated categories of content like Art & Design, Comedy and Music. All told, there is a ton of video content packed into this one little app and it works exceptionally well on the TV screen.
While networks and cable channels struggle with how to offer content to tablet users without upsetting the existing order, PBS is a bit more liberal. Its iPad app features full episodes of many programs, including Frontline, Nova and News Hour. Conspicuously absent is the wildly popular Downton Abbey, which is normally available to stream online while the season is airing.
PBS doesn't make videos available indefinitely and the selection is somewhat limited, but they do a better job than most networks of offering content to tablet users without requiring a cable subscription to view it.
6. Al Jazeera (English)
As far as iPad apps go, Al Jazeera's is pretty bare bones. It doesn't have a slick, fluid UI that will blow you away, but rather its value is in the content it offers. In the United States, Al Jazeera English is not carried by most cable operators, even though the network has received praise from sources as unlikely as Donald Rumsfeld for its coverage of recent turmoil in the Middle East.
This app solves that problem, at least for iPad and Apple TV owners. The first tab is a live stream of whatever is being broadcast on Al Jazeera English at the moment. The other three tabs are just parts of the channel's websites framed into the app, and unfortunately not all of the video content found there is in a tablet-ready HTML5 format. Still, the live stream alone makes this app worth watching.
TED's is another well-designed, video-heavy iPad app that works well on the TV screen. Since some TED talks are on the longer side, they're even more appropriate for the "lean back" viewing experience.
The app itself is great. The content never expires and it can be navigated by recency, theme, tags or even adjectives like "courageous," "funny" or "jaw-dropping." You can also save your favorite talks locally so they don't need to be streamed.
8. Guardian Eyewitness
Video is the only thing for which the TV screen is well-suited. The Guardian's popular Eyewitness app is simply a slideshow of full-screen, beautiful news photographs from around the world.
In terms of functionality, you could hardly get more simplistic, but these images comprise some of the best recent examples of photojournalism and they deserve to admired on a big screen.
9 + 10. Rdio and MOG
Then there's music. More and more, people are using their Internet-connected TV as a sort of modern, household jukebox. Apps like Pandora are standard on many smart TVs these days, and streaming services like Spotify and MOG have been quick to develop their own apps for various Internet TV platforms.
Which app you go for will obviously depend on which service you're subscribed to. As far as user experience goes, Rdio and MOG both win for having developed form factor-appropriate apps for the iPad, rather than scaling up their iPhone apps. We wish we could say the same for Spotify, which is apparently still working on that particular feature.
Of course, if you already subscribe to Spotify, go ahead and use their app to stream music from your TV. It works just fine and a bad UI isn't exactly a deal-killer for an app whose sole purpose is to deliver sounds rather than pictures.Discuss
Let's be real about this. You can't do everything on an iPad. As Shawn Blanc pointed out the other day, you can't make iOS apps on it, for example. But you might be surprised by how much real work you can do on it with the right tools. If your work requires generally office-like capabilities, there are definitely iPad solutions.
Here are five road-tested apps for getting things done on an iPad. It's not meant to be a complete list, but it's meant to be a flexible one. These are tools that are not tied to any particular method of working. They'll help any digital worker stay sane and accomplish things, and you might find that the iPad is a surprisingly nice device to use for them.
This app just came out last night, but it blows away other drawing apps out there because of its clear interface and relative ease of use. If you need to brainstorm in free-form ways or sketch out ideas, this is the way to go.
It's still not the most natural thing in the world to draw on a touchscreen, but this app's brushes are careful and precise. It comes with a free fountain pen, and you can buy more brushes for $1.99 via in-app purchase.
The key to Paper is its natural gestures. You swipe up from the bottom to access your tray of tools, and you can swipe them out of the way for a full-screen, blank canvas to work on.
Undoing mistakes is a hard problem for iPad drawing, and Paper nails this. It uses a two-finger "rewind" gesture to let you step back smoothly in your drawing. Just wind it counter-clockwise to undo and clockwise to redo.
If drawing with fingertips still looks weird, there are styluses out there. I've ordered a Cosmonaut stylus by Studio Neat for testing, so look forward to that review if you think you might want a stylus for your iPad.
Byword is a plain-text editor, which is the most flexible way to write. You never have to worry about which version of Microsoft Word the other person has or anything like that. It syncs with Dropbox or iCloud, so you can have access to your documents on any device. You can also export files by email or through the documents folder in iTunes. You can even print from it.
It has a nice custom keyboard that lets you move the cursor around with arrows, a very helpful addition to the iPad's keyboard. It barely has any preferences, which is a good thing. You can choose from a few simple fonts, and you can turn auto-correct and spell-check on and off. But otherwise it's just a place to write.
Byword is great just for notes or drafts, but you can also use Markdown to format your text and produce full-fledged documents. Markdown is simple, human-readable markup that converts easily to HTML. Byword does that conversion automatically. So you can put bold, italics, headers, links and images into your Byword documents, preview them and export them as HTML just by tapping a button.
OmniFocus is serious software (note the price tag). There are clients for the Mac and the iPhone as well, all of which are equally expensive for their categories. But it's an unscientific fact that OmniFocus geeks like the iPad client the best, and you don't need all three to get things done.
Many pixels have been spilt about the uses and benefits of OmniFocus, so I'll be brief. The great thing about OmniFocus is that you can manage every single one of your life's tasks in it. It is, in an extremely basic sense, a "to-do" app, but it's no mere checklist. It allows you to organize your tasks by project and context, so you can keep your chores and your work projects here without mixing them up.
A project might be something like "RWW posts," "Big report for my boss," "Books to read" or "Fixing the car." Contexts are "Work," "Home," "Grocery store" and so on. A task can have a project and a context, so the "Work" context might include several projects. Contexts can even be associated with places, so you can view your tasks on a map.
OmniFocus has a forecast view, so you can see all the various tasks you have coming up, as well as a review mode, so you can check your own progress. Yes, it's a pricey app, but I think of it as an investment in using it. If you invest your time in OmniFocus, it will pay you back in sanity and accomplishment.
This one is further down the list because it's not retina-ready yet, but it still works great on the new iPad.
MindNode is for "mind mapping," which is a way to outline projects or ideas using tree-like diagrams. You start with a central idea, and you draw branches to ideas that follow. You can color-code them and move them around as you work. It's great for brainstorming or planning with more freedom than a text outline but more structure than a blank page.
MindNote supports a variety of export options. You can save as MindNode or FreeMind mind map formats, as OPML data, as a text outline, as a PDF or as a PNG image. So you can use this app's particular style of outlining but still share it with anyone on your team.
Trello is collaboration software that is totally, completely free. In his extensive review yesterday, Joe Brockmeier said it's "as easy to use as a whiteboard and Post-It notes." That's a pretty helpful way of imagining what Trello does. Every member of the team gets a column, and that person's tasks are a stack of short notes.
You should read Joe's review for the full run-down. But if you work with a team, this is a great way to keep track of who's doing what. You can even use it by yourself for a nice, two-dimensional way of keeping track of a few projects at once.
It's best in the browser. You can get to it through Safari on the iPad, but it's a little too clunky and slow to be useful. But the free iPhone version does the trick on the iPad.
What other apps do you use to work from your iPad? Share them in the comments.Discuss
You would think after creating Beeri, the folks from RedPepper would have run out of new beverages to conquer with their iThings, but you would be wrong. Today they have come up with the latest in apps that connect your drinks with your electronics called Hot Pad. The idea is simple: run an app that overclocks the CPU on your iPad and heats up the system enough to keep your cuppa Joe or tea warm while placed on top of that fine display. The overclocking generates heat, which has to go somewhere anyway. The app developers have even put an image of heat coils on-screen in case you aren't sure where to put your cup.
So you have turned your $600 iPad into a $20 warming coaster. But still, it is pretty neat. (I wanted to say cool, but well.) I am not sure that I would attempt this too often, as the image of a hot cup of liquid sitting directly on top of my iPad is enough to make me twitch.
Just point your mobile browser here and warm up! I doubt we'll see this as an approved iTunes app anytime soon.
Gmail users with iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads have to make compromises. They can use Google's Web-based mobile Gmail and Calendars, they can use Google's rather limited Gmail app, or they can deal with the pain of trying to make Gmail and Google Calendars work with Apple's built-in apps.
Setting up mail and calendar accounts on an iPad or iPhone isn't that hard to do. But for Gmail users, it's trickier than it needs to be. It's not hard to set up the basic accounts, but features like multiple calendars, "Send Mail As," contact sync, and server-side deletion of messages take some finagling. Fortunately, after a little bit of setup labor, it's possible to get completely up and running on Apple's iOS Mail, Contacts and Calendars with Google as the back end. Here's what you need to know.
Google does offer step-by-step instructions for setting up complete sync, but in true Google fashion, it's still in beta, and there are known issues. After years of experimenting, I've found a slightly more complicated set-up that, once finished, works better than Google's method. It's also much more reliable than iCloud sync, which I tried. Here's my prescription for fully functional Gmail and Google Calendar sync on iOS.
If you want to make sure everything goes smoothly, you might want to delete all your existing mail and calendar accounts that use your Gmail address first.
1. Set Up Google Sync For Your Device
This is the part few people know about. There's actually a website you have to use to turn on full Google syncing capabilities on your iOS device (BlackBerry and Windows Phone, too). It's located at m.google.com/sync/. On the device you want to sync, go to that address in Safari and turn it on.
There are a few options there. You can enable 'Send Mail As,' so if you use other email addresses from your Gmail account, you'll be able to use those aliases on iOS as well. You can actually add send-as aliases yourself from within the iOS mail settings*, but they won't look right to the recipient unless you turn them on here first.
Note: this checkbox merely enables sending from your other addresses via Gmail. To actually add your additional addresses to the built-in Mail app, you have to follow the instructions in the footnote of this post.
You can enable 'Delete Email As Trash,' which the normal Gmail account settings on iOS don't allow you to do. If you just create a Gmail account on iOS the easy way, your only option is to archive messages, which takes up storage space on your Gmail account even if you don't want the messages anymore. By checking this box, you'll be able to delete messages on the server side and still archive the ones you want to keep.
Finally, you can also select up to 25 of your Google calendars to sync to your device. Setting up Gmail the easy way in Settings only allows you to sync the one main calendar associated with your Gmail address. But what good is that? Google Calendars allows each user to create different calendars for different things. From the Google Sync website, you can turn all of those on, even shared calendars to which you've subscribed.
2. Set Up An Exchange Account For Calendars (And Contacts If You Want)
So far, we're still going by Google's book. The next step is to set up a Microsoft Exchange account - not a Gmail account - for your calendars (and contacts). This will allow you to accept invitations to events and make sure all your event reminders go off on your iPhone or iPad.
But after too many syncing problems, I no longer sync email this way. We'll address that in the next section.
Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and add an Exchange account. Enter your Gmail address in 'Email,' again in 'Username,' and enter your password. Leave 'Domain' blank. In 'Description,' instead of "Exchange," put in "Google Calendars." Then hit 'Next.'
On the next screen, a field called 'Server' appears. Enter m.google.com. After you save that, you'll see the radio buttons for 'Mail,' 'Contacts' and 'Calendars.' Turn on calendars and turn off mail. And before we proceed, let's talk about contacts.
Personally, I find Google contacts sketchy. I use Apple's address book for contacts, which is also what all other apps use, so it makes more sense to me to keep contacts there instead of in Gmail. I have contact syncing turned on for my iCloud account, and I don't use any Gmail contacts features. I know iCloud can be spotty, but contacts are the one thing that seems to always sync perfectly.
That said, if you use Gmail contacts, you can turn them on at this point to sync them with your address book.
3. Set Up A Generic IMAP Account For Email
Google's instructions don't take this extra step, but I promise it works better. Apple Mail's communication with Gmail can be iffy, and this is the best remedy.
In the Mail, Contacts, Calendars menu, you now have an Exchange account called Google Calendars for calendars (and maybe contacts), and you probably already have an iCloud account for other things. That's also where you'll sync contacts if you do it my way.
Now you're going to create a third account, this one just for email, but don't use the Gmail shortcut. It won't work correctly with all the Google Sync stuff we set up in step one. Tap 'Add Account,' scroll all the way to the bottom, and tap 'Other.' Tap 'Add Mail Account' on the next screen.
Fill in your full name, email address, password and description on the next page. I recommend 'Gmail' as the description.
On the next screen, fill in the incoming and outgoing mail servers. The incoming host name is imap.gmail.com. You must fill in your Gmail address and password again under 'Incoming Mail Server.' The outgoing host name is smtp.gmail.com. Normal Gmail users don't have to enter login info for outgoing mail, but Google Apps users (and some others) do. If you can't send mail after following the instructions in this guide, try adding your login info for outgoing mail and see if that fixes it. (thanks, commenters!)
You Did It!
I know. That was way too much work. But now you're all set, and your built-in Mail and Calendars (and maybe Contacts) apps should be syncing properly with Google. As far as you're concerned, it's all one unified account. All that black magic that got you set up can be a secret. In a Google-vs-Apple world, this is the best customer service we can get if we want to use both. But after all this annoying setup, it just works.
* How to set up more send-as addresses:
This is a geeky feature, so I made it a footnote, but if you have multiple email addresses you use for sending email through your Gmail account, this is how you set them up.
After you've done all of the above, go to the settings for your mail account. Under 'IMAP Account Information,' you'll see a field called 'Email.' It will have your Gmail address in it. To add more send-as addresses, all you have to do is put a comma-separated list of addresses into that field. The problem is, you can't type commas into that field.
So tap on the 'Email' field, copy the email address to the clipboard, and go to the Notes app or something. Paste it there, and then type all the email addresses you want to send from in the order you'd like to see them, separated by a comma and a space, like so:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Then copy that whole list, go back to your email settings, and paste the whole thing into that 'Email' field.
Next time you send a message, you'll see a drop-down menu that lets you pick which address from which you want to send.Discuss