Apple of my iPad

Having lived with my iPad for a whole year now, here's an update on the posts I wrote last year on why I delayed buying, and having taken the plunge my my first iPad experiences. You'll find lots of info below on the best Apple iPad apps to use and things I've learned in moving from a Windows to Apple operating system.

First off, how do I feel about my iPad, and Apple generally? Guess the image above sums it up... I love Apple and my iPad. Yes, I know there's a lot of people who don't. People who think Apple are too controlling, not providing USB or SD card slots on the iPad, not enabling Flash applications. People who think Apple are rip off merchants because of their prices and iTunes arrangements.

And I must admit, much as I crave an iPhone 5 due out this summer and had every intention of buying one to complete my mobile world, the £500 price tag is causing me to pause and think. Better to wait 'til next year when my current Virgin mobile contract is due for renewal and get one for £30 or £35 a month, with a free replacement every two years, methinks.

So why the passion? How about...

It's so flippin' lovely!

The build quality is superb. One year on the iPad is like new, feels like it'll last forever. And it looks beautiful. Definitely has a real WOW factor.

It's always ready!

No more switching the laptop/PC on and waiting while it boots up. No more unexpected freezes when you switch from one Windows programme to another or try to print. With the iPad Smart Cover you just lift the cover and the iPad wakes up immediately.

Every update is free!

There's nothing to pay for operating system updates. Think I've had two in the last year, both trouble free and there's now no need to tether your iPad to a PC since it all happens wirelessly. Compare that to Microsoft Windows, where you get regular security updates which gradually grind your PC to a halt. New Windows operating system released? Assuming it's worth upgrading to (not always the case) you have to pay all over again!

Similar story with apps... any updates to apps from Apple or associated developers are free, with Microsoft you have to fork out all over again for updated programmes.


No, I'm not getting carried away passion-wise. Just Keep It Simple, Silly. Apple simplify things really well. For example, got some photos to upload? Just insert the SD card in the Apple plug. The iPad recognises what you want to do, gives you the option to upload all or a selection, asks if you want to delete the uploaded photos from the SD card, then takes you to the album waiting for your next action. Want to enhance or crop a photo? Couple of clicks. Want to upload to Picasa? Another couple of clicks.

Yes, I know Microsoft lets you tweak everything to your heart's content. But really... wouldn't you rather have fun or be creative, not get knotted up about the colour of your Windows surround or whether you can just tweak that photo to get it from 99% to 100%?

I'm not going to kid you and say the past year hasn't been without it's frustrations. Apple's iPad photo app initially didn't have any crop or enhancement features, they came with the last update. And you still can't create folders to organise your photos. Initially takes a bit of time getting used to things like not attaching files to an email, but Apple's method of using links (e.g. from Dropbox, see below) works well and is much more sensible. And you can't send group emails and have to use a seperate app (see below).

I've also found the iPad keyboard a bit frustrating if used for a long time. A bit too unforgiving, no keys to move the cursor around, and after a while it's annoying to keep switching keyboards for numbers and other symbols. So I bought a TeckNet bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a protective shell for the iPad. Works really well and turns the iPad into an effective netbook.

So what apps have I found most useful for various functions? Here are my top picks...

Online storage

Dropbox has proved itself a winner. You get 2gb for free with the chance of more if you recommend friends or pay... unless you're going to store loads of music, photos or other files 2gb is fine. By storing files you want to share under the public folder you can easily send a link by email. Uploading is easy... just make sure you set the upload quality to original if you're storing photos. Really easy to find and view files so long as they're called something sensible. And many other iPad apps make it easy to upload or backup to Dropbox.

I've tried Evernote but had a couple of occasions when a file didn't upload as expected.

Word processing, spreadsheet etc

Bit of a frustration here. I'd love to say I wish I'd bought Apple's own set of apps... primarily Pages. Looks beautiful, lots of functionality and works well on the iPad. Trouble is, only works in portrait. So if you want to create a foldable A5 brochure from A4 paper (as I do occasionally) you're stuffed. Got to be an overdue enhancement.

What did I do instead? Bought Quickoffice Pro HD. Main decision factor early on was price, costing less than half Apple's equivalent. But annoyed with the developers. Their presentation in iTunes indicates you can insert images in documents... you can't. Neither is there any spellchecker, a big fault if you're writing for any length. An update did bring a word count, but in the twelve months since I bought the app there's been little serious development.

Don't try using a Quickoffice spreadsheet for anything remotely serious. I imported an Excel file and after a while found the data all over the place... appears when you insert a row not all of the data moves down one row as expected! And although I'm an expert user of Excel I still can't figure out how to use the Quickoffice functions. How on earth do you specify a range? I've given up and don't use the app.


No competiton here... it's got to be Blogsy! It's the one area that caused me to hold off and think very carefully about buying an iPad... could I easily blog from one? As soon the app was released I bought, and the developers have provided frequent Blogsy updates such that there's nothing to match it.

To do list and diary

Apple have updated their iPad Reminder app and provide Calendar as well. Unfortunately they're separate apps, and you need an iPhone to use sensibly.

Wunderlist is what I use, and it's pretty good at focusing you on what to do today and tomorrow. Also works across multiple platforms, so I can view and update on my iPad, Windows PC or Android mobile 'phone. Also has a smart widget for Android so I can have today's list showing on the home screen of my mobile. Small gripe since the iPad app crashes too often, but not much trouble to open up and continue.

Note taking

There's some really smart iPad apps allowing you to type, draw or speak notes, add images and links and to snap rough drawings of circles, squares etc into the real thing. I bought Notesplus and never used it. Also installed some free apps with similar functionality and never used them. Used Evernote for a while (see On line storage, above). In the end I'm happy using Apples own iPad Notes app for quick rough stuff, and Quickoffice/Dropbox for anything more important.

Feeling artistic?

Yes, I bought Brushes, as I suspect many other new iPad owners did when they heard David Hockney sing its praises. And although I still have good intentions and feel I could really create something special, never had the time so far to get to grips with it.

What I am finding really useful is Paper 53. Uploaded it for free a couple of weeks ago, liked what I saw and bought the use of all the pen/brush types. It's beautiful to use, so simple as well. The watercolour brush really caught my eye. Uploads images you've created to the iPad photo library where you can crop. Using it to quickly create eyecatching images for the blog. Brilliant app!

Personal finance

Researched a few apps before plumping for Accounts. Simple and easy to use, does everything it needs to, regular updates from the developers, backs up to Dropbox.

Group emails

One frustration is there's no functionality within the iPad email app to send an email to a group. Fortunately MailShot does that cheaply and quite well. Just make sure you add the group you're emailing to as the last thing before clicking Send. If you insert at the start of the email, when you send it sometimes only goes to the first person in the group.

Social media

If you want to read Facebook, Twitter, web pages and other media there's no better way than via Flipboard. Beautifully presented in magazine format, very smooth in use, nothing gets in the way of a good read.

Web browsing

I'm happy to use Apple's Safari browser. It's also had an update in the last year. But I often find web content I want to go back to again sometime. If you've upload the free Readability app and added it's bookmark you've got no problems. Just click the bookmark and the web page is saved to read later offline. Another brilliant app!

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...