More iPad musings…

One of the reasons I bought an iPad was to use it as a book reader. I figured I could save a few trees and save a bit of money as some Kindle books are a little cheaper than the paper equivalents. Fast forward a few months and I’ve not completed a single book on the iPad. In fact I’ve struggled to read more than the odd page of any novel. The iPad just isn’t working out for me in that role. I find it a little heavy, the screen reflection is shocking and I’m not particularly happy about doing things like reading in the bath or in bed with it. It just doesn’t work for me. Added to that, a comment Gwen Shapira made at OOW 2010 has come back to haunt me. It’s just too easy to get distracted on an iPad. How wise you are Gwen. 🙂

I’m toying with the idea of buying a kindle. It would certainly solve the weight, screen reflection and distraction issues. Whether it would feel “natural” to me is another issue.

I had a bunch of gift tokens from the last couple of Christmases, so I went out a few days ago and bought real paper books. Instant satisfaction and I’ve started reading again… 🙂



Android vs iPhone user base. Can I have some real comparisons please?

I’ve just seen another headline about how the Android user base has overtaken that of the iPhone in the US and it really irks me. Let me start by saying I’ve not got either, so this is not a disgruntled fan-boy post. Also, my argument is based on the situation in the UK market, so if the US market is very different I apologize.

My problem with this sort of headline is to do with the lack of clarity in these comparisons. How do the writers define smartphone? It seems where Android is concerned they just mean a phone that can actually run Android. I guess Android does allow for most of the functionality you would commonly associate with a smartphone. OK. So let’s assume this a a fight between iPhone and anything else that can run Android.

If I do a price comparison from one specific UK retailer, based on their “most popular” contracts here’s what I get:

  • iPhone 4: £139 one-off payment, plus £35.75 contract
  • Android: Free phone. £15.32 per month.

So why is there such a discrepancy? Because you can run Android on some very mediocre phones. In some cases the kit is inferior to the first generation iPhones. I would suggest the cheaper Android options, although capable of doing all the things associated with a smartphone, do them so badly (mostly due to very small screen size) that they shouldn’t really be called smartphones. They certainly shouldn’t be compared with the user experience of the iPhone 4 or the top end Android phones. Also, the basic Android contract listed above comes with no data plan, so it’s a phone with no internet connectivity. That’s right, you have bought a smart phone that is really not smart. In the UK market Android phones span the entire market from “cheap and cheerful” to expensive and bleeding edge.

So when I look at these headlines I have to question what is really being compared. If you buy an iPhone and only use it as a mobile phone you are a bit of a muppet. If you buy a bottom of the range Android phone and contract, I don’t think you should be included as a smartphone user because what you have is not usable in a manner that I consider a smartphone should be.

So what I would like to see is a comparison of people using iPhone 4 with people using “real” Android smart phones. In the UK at least, I think this would drastically alter the results.



iOS 4.2 on my iPad…

I upgraded to the iOS 4.2 the other day (the evening it came out in the UK). Steve Jobs reckons, “iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product”. Maybe I don’t use it the same as everyone else in Apple-land, but it seems just… kinda… no freaking different…

I really don’t understand how I can remain completely immune to the Apple marketing hype when I’m desperately trying to be assimilated. I keep buying their products and waiting for a Jobsian flash of magic but it’s just not happening. What have I got to do to? Marry the guy?

Maybe it’s like enlightenment and the more you try the harder it is to reach. I shall meditate for a month with my iPad balanced on my head, my MacBook Pro on my lap and my iPod Shuffle up my ass. Maybe then I will understand all the heavenly glory that is Apple, or maybe I’ll just get a sore ass… 🙁



SnagIt on Mac…

I wrote recently about UltraEdit coming to Mac. Another tool I ‘ve missed since my Windows days is Snagit. The default screen capture on Mac is OK, and Shutter and Gimp on Linux are both OK too, but none of them compare to Snagit in my opinion.

Today I got an email proclaiming that a production release of Snagit is now available for Mac and since I have a valid Windows License I get to use it for free on Mac. Joy.

It’s now installed and running quite nicely. Now if only they would do a Linux version… 🙂



iPad. Thoughts so far…

In one of my previous posts I mentioned I bought an iPad whilst at OpenWorld. Well it’s a few days old so I thought I’d write a little something about my thoughts so far.

I was originally very skeptical about the whole iPad thing. I switched from a 17 inch laptop to a 13 inch MacBook Pro to reduce the weight of the bag I was lugging round at conferences. At OpenWorld I got so sick the weight of the MacBook I decided to buy the iPad and I must say, from a weight perspective at least, it is a massive improvement.

Having not been part of the iPhone crowd I was initially very confused by the interface. Reading content was a breeze but editing and typing was truly arduous. Over the last few days I’ve got used to it and for the most part it is OK. I’m typing this blog post now using it. Having said that, without a separate keyboard it is not a good device for content generation. Simple text is fine, but cut & paste is a complete pain. Don’t even get me started on pasting hyperlinks into blog and forum posts. Too much effort.

Where it really comes into it’s own is for reading content. I’ve got Kindle for iPad and the books are really neat and easy to read. I’ve also moved some PDFs of the Oracle docs onto iBooks and they are much easier to read on the iPad than the Kindle. Very impressive. The screen does suffer in bad light compared to the Kindle, so if you are only going to read novels, then save a load of cash and use a Kindle. If on the other hand you want to browse the net, check emails and do some minor content generation, like blogging and twitter, then the iPad is great.

Two other factors that weigh heavily in it’s favour compared to a laptop are the instant on/off and excellent battery life. No more hassle at conferences and on planes. Just switch it on and go.

It’s early days, but I think this will now replace my laptop for everything except presentations with demos.



Laptop woes… (update)

I’ve just got my laptop back from being repaired at the Apple store. It is now quieter now than it was when I bought it. It seems apple can find a decent fan if they really need to. Fingers crossed now it will stay this way for a while.

Unfortunately I had to brave the Bullring Shopping Center on a bank holiday, so it will take me several months to recover from that experience… 🙂



Apple iPad… I just don’t get it…

I’ve been using a Mac for a while now and I’m still waiting for it to change my life. It’s no different for me than any Windows or Linux box. Just a box to run a browser and SSH sessions from. The only thing that distinguishes it from the other stuff out there is the box is really pretty. The content is no big deal. I don’t find it easier or harder to use than anything else. Tastes vary, but the OS is not particularly prettier or uglier than anything else I’ve used. Added to that, I believe the iPhone is just another smart phone, not a lifestyle. Now you know where I stand, here are my first impressions of the iPad.

The iPad looks like a really nice way to view information, but I just don’t see how it fits into my life. Of course my lack of understanding is explained by this quote from the advertising blurb.

“Exceeds your ability to understand”

I see. I’m just not clever enough to understand that I need it. I better not announce to the world that I don’t understand or I’ll prove I’m stupid. Isn’t that like The Emporer’s New Clothes? Well I for one don’t understand…

Here are some of the things I’m confused about:

  • No phone functionality? So I have to carry my phone and this around, but if I have an iPhone I can do most of this stuff anyway (but with a smaller screen), so what’s the point of having both?
  • No keyboard? I just don’t see it as practical to do any of the non-work stuff I do without a real keyboard. Of course I’ve not tried this screen, but typing on touch screens sucks. I need physical feedback to type at any speed. If I have to use a separate keyboard to feel comfortable, what’s the point? If you are predominantly a viewer of information, fine, but if you have to produce anything I can’t see this working.
  • No lid? How long is that screen going to stay unscratched? I can see those who have Compulsive iPhone Polishing Disorder going mad with this thing. Of course it’s great for the manufacturers of accessories who will no doubt produce a multitude of covers and lids.

So what does it do well?

  • It looks really neat for viewing existing content. Browsing, reading, casually information retrieval.
  • If you are a big traveller, it looks like an improvement over the Kindle for reading.
  • For travellers also, it beats watching films on an iPhone, but I’m not sure it is better than a laptop. Why? Well a laptop is free standing on the fold down table. I’ve got to hold this thing or rest it against something and risk dropping it if I fall asleep it’s going to annoy me. I see an opportunity for a iPad stand for plane tables. 🙂

My biggest stumbling block is many people I know would still need a phone and laptop if they bought an iPad, so what’s the point?

I’m torn between thinking it is cool and wanting one, but ultimately knowing it is pointless. I would consider having one in the living room, lying around so I can casually look something up on the net, or quickly check my emails, but that’s about it. The problem is it’s not as portable as a phone and not as flexible as a laptop. This middle ground always confuses me. I’m sure this will be a natural fit for some people, and this years accessory for others, but I just don’t get it…



Update: This is funny Next from Apple: The Pocket iPad.