I’ve used an iPad 1, 2, and 3 for writing, creating media, and reading, but last year I switched to an iPad mini and gave up that glorious retina display for a single reason: weight. This year, Apple shaved nearly 30 percent of the weight for the iPad Air, which I hoped would be enough to create the best of both worlds—a ‘full-screen’ iPad with room for touch typing in landscape and creating media, yet light enough to one-hand while reading. After spending a weekend with a 128GB silver iPad Air (T-Mobile), I think this is the quintessential iPad.
The iPad Air is a great improvement overall but, by and large, the dramatic weight loss and thinner bezel are the stars this year. These things are so important, Apple changed the device’s name so you can’t miss them.
I spent time this weekend using my iPad in my typical scenarios—tinkering with music and writing on my coffee table (including this post), laying on my back on the sofa reading, wandering around the house, and reading in bed. I’ve one-handed my iPad Air and done the “hey check out this neat thing” hand-off to Jessi that makes the iPad such an enjoyable, personal device for real-world sharing in the first place. In all cases, I haven’t missed my iPad mini or its weight. But it’s not just that the iPad Air is “lighter,” it’s that the new 1-pound weight makes it light enough to get under the one-hand threshold.
When it comes to typing, I tried to get used to touch typing on the mini but it’s just too narrow for me, even in landscape. I went on a hunt for an iPad mini keyboard and landed on the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini, but it still means I need an extra piece of hardware to turn on and keep charged for writing. Plus, it’s iPad-mini-sized, so it’s even tighter and more compromised than a netbook keyboard. I always preferred touch typing on a regular sized iPad, and I’ve been pretty happy to return to that with the iPad Air since I can now leave the house with an even lighter bag and do most of my daily work.
For portrait thumb typing situations, my small nerd hands are pretty happy with it, thanks to that thinner bezel. It’s oh so slightly less thumb-able versus the mini, but much better than the previous 9.7-inch designs. Losing a decent chunk of the left and right bezel helped a lot, and I’m already pretty used to it for the typical thumbing tasks in portrait.
@chartier Hows the battery life? hows the new edges feel on a bigger iPad, any different than the mini.
— Maximilian (@maxhasadhd) November 4, 2013
The iPad Air really does have the mini’s construction—curved sides with an angled edge around the top rim—so it’s comfortable in my hand for long periods. Battery life is characteristically great, though charging still takes noticeably longer than with a non-retina iPad. Not deal-breaker longer by any means, it’s just a little slower.
That’s a tough one, the iPad 4 is still a really good machine. If you are or plan on pushing it with tough work, it’s worth noting the iPad Air is twice as fast as the 4 and, as I mentioned earlier, just two-thirds the weight. If you’re really thinking about it, see what you could get for your 4 on eBay or Gazelle and decide if paying the difference for an Air is worth it.
@chartier Why does FedEX still have mine?
— Stephen Hackett (@ismh) November 4, 2013
Because you touch yourself at night.
@chartier Mini user here. Do I want to go back to the larger device? Primarily used for Kindle, comics, and web.
— Nemo Jones (@_NemoJones_) November 4, 2013
As happy as I am with the iPad Air’s size, the only thing that might be a decent reason for you is comics. I wasn’t really thrilled about comics on the mini, and maybe the upcoming retina version will help with that. But for me it’s partly the retina factor, but also the sheer screen size. The larger iPad simply feels more… immersive.
@chartier Does it get warm like the iPad 3 did?
— Chris De Jabet (@chrisdejabet) November 4, 2013
I haven’t noticed that yet, though I’ve only played a couple recent games for a few minutes; I haven’t done any lengthy stints of really pushing it hard.
@chartier How does it feel when it falls on your face?
— Benedict Fritz (@benedictfritz) November 4, 2013
C’mere and I’ll show you.
Yes, my last full-sized iPad was a 3, and I had some time to use iOS 7 on it before I handed it down to my mother-in-law. In short, the iPad 3 felt like it was struggling a little to run iOS 7, but that happens with some of Apple’s releases. With another minor update or two, or maybe 7.1, the iPad 3 and 4 should run it more smoothly.
That said, the iPad Air runs iOS 7 really well, noticeably much better in nearly every aspect. Apps start up faster, iOS features I don’t use often (like Spotlight search) don’t stutter, and long lists of media and cover art (Music and Videos apps) scroll like butter.
In 2011, Apple brought lessons from iOS “back to the Mac” to polish and further simplify OS X Lion with features like Launchpad. When I look at the big picture, Apple’s taken steps to reduce the user’s reliance on the Finder, and Launchpad is another good, fairly successful step towards that goal.
When I wrote that Apple was going back to basics in Lion for Macworld, I felt Launchpad was a smart way to help regular users sidestep the Finder—a thing they, and Apple, never seemed to like much anyway—and just get to work, but I didn’t have much personal interest in it. Shortcuts like ⌘-Space to open a productivity app like Alfred or LaunchBar have been second nature to me for years, and a quick ⌘-⇧-A in Finder is basically third nature. That’s a thing, right?
Over the last few months, I’ve been challenging myself to simplify my workflow. I want to remove both technical and mental friction anywhere I can which, for example, is how I found Evernote reminders can do good things for my writing habits. As I was tearing unneeded icons out of my Dock a little while ago, I noticed that I had not yet brought myself to remove Launchpad. I’m not sure why I kept it around, so my first reaction was to get rid of it. Per my custom for an app on Dock Death Row, I gave it one last try before flipping the switch, and now I totally get it.
With Spotlight, Apple gave us a laser-focused magnifying glass to peer beyond the Finder and get the precise file(s) we need. Launchpad chips away at one of the Finder’s other core purposes: to quickly see and start the tasks your Mac can perform. Much like looking at a bookshelf or craftsman’s workshop, Launchpad presents all the tools you have available in an organized way, then lets you pick one to get to work. There are no distractions like metadata, window chrome, or options to view them this way or that.
Plus, as someone coming from keyboard-driven launchers, Apple updated Launchpad in Mountain Lion to be the best of both worlds. You get to see all the gorgeous icons designers spend so much time crafting (instead of just a search box), yet you can use your keyboard, if you want, to sift through them instantly. It gets even more useful if you’re the multi-touch gesture type, as a four-finger pinch on a Trackpad triggers it no matter where you are in OS X.
Launchpad is a significant simplification of another facet of the Finder—launching apps and tasks. If you haven’t used Launchpad much, I invite you to give it a shot. Try the gesture out a few times or (re-)add it to your Dock, maybe spend a little time organizing your first page or two. Apple really was on to something with simplifying this core aspect of navigating OS X, and I’m glad it kept polishing.
The iPhone isn’t that great and the Android OS is woefully insecure. Come Jan. 30, if mobile users take a hard look at their devices and then look at the new BlackBerry 10, RIM could be in for a windfall.
- Rob Enderle, Why 2013 Is RIM’s BlackBerry Year, 2012
- BlackBerry strikes a “preliminary go-private deal for $4.7 billion” (translation: it’s selling to a Canadian insurance firm for parts and patents)
- Apple announces 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c units sold on opening weekend—nearly twice that of the iPhone 5′s opening weekend—and 200 million existing devices upgraded to iOS 7, double iOS 6′s release
I’ve spent a few weeks with iOS 7 and I’ve had an iPhone 5s for three days. Above anything else, this feels like the most intriguing—and so far successful—convergences of Apple’s two very different approaches to innovation that we’ve seen since the original iPhone.
The iPhone 5s is a shining beacon of Apple’s more common approach to innovation (yes, that’s Apple’s (PRODUCT) RED leather case in some of my photos). Some in the public and press believe that word means Apple has to turn our fundamental way of life inside-out with each new product. Those people don’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into actual innovation.
For the third cycle in a row, Apple released an enhanced, refined version of a predecessor (the 3GS was first, then the 4S). The iPhone 5s is an evolution of the iPhone 5 body with a wildly improved camera, industry-first 64-bit processor, a fingerprint scanner that might actually catch on, and other enhancements. There are major new features under the hood, but packaged in a phone body that has not largely changed from last year’s and, if you ask me, didn’t need to. Overall, it’s Apple’s tried and true method of innovation: release a great product, then make it even better.
iOS 7 sits on the other end of the innovation spectrum from the iPhone 5s. Sure, there are icons and home screens and a home button, just like there have been since 2007. But aside from the basic necessities to get into the ballpark of being an “operating system,” iOS 7 is a nearly a top-to-bottom reboot of Apple’s most important OS. Think about that.
The 700 millionth iOS device is expected to ship in October. With iOS 7, Apple essentially pulled a Windows Vista or Windows 8—it took a wrecking ball to an OS used by well over half a billion customers—and, as far as I can tell from the exhaustive reviews and overall sentiment so far, it did well. Yes, iOS 7 is a foundation. Yes, it’s a 1.0 and there are problems to solve. Yes, that icon you hate might need some time to mature.
If you consider the bigger picture, what is there for iOS 7’s debut is fantastic. New gestures, a simpler interface, and a cohesive design makes far more of the infrastructure and moving parts of iOS feel like they were cut from the same block. Not since the iPad’s introduction, but possibly even iPhone OS 1.0, have Apple’s mobile products been this interesting.
Apple recently released Logic Pro X in the Mac App Store. It’s the first major new version of any of its paid apps besides OS X since the Mac App Store became a thing and since we’ve all been begging and pleading for upgrade pricing and demo options for both App Stores.
Logic Pro X does not have a downloadable demo from the store or Apple’s site. It costs $200. The previous version that was available the day before Logic Pro X also cost $200. Apple balanced its price at a perceived value for both new and existing customers (Aperture, for example, used to be $300, now it’s $80) and, to my knowledge, none of its apps have ever gone on sale.
That’s it, there’s your answer. Apple didn’t use a blog post or an interview or a leaked memo, it spoke through action. I’m not sure I’m any happier with it than the rest of us, though there certainly are some advantages in terms of lowering customer confusion and support queries—one price, old customers and new, no questions about who qualifies for the extra special double upgrade super sale and who doesn’t and c’mon I bought it one day before your upgrade window pretty please ok fine you get one-star and I’m going to trash your name all over my Twitter.
Unless there is some sort of significant App Store regime change or a decision maker gets a bump on the head followed by an epiphany, upgrade pricing and demos are not coming to the App Store or Mac App Store. Adjust your App Store apps and business models accordingly.
Apple recently introduced a new App Store affiliate program with some great perks for publishers and developers, which David Smith outlines quite well. As I’ve been using it, though, I’ve noticed another benefit I didn’t expect: visibility.
Apple’s old program ran through LinkShare (and, for the lazy affiliates in the audience, still does through October 1), a decent enough affiliate service. But LinkShare’s website is dreadful, the service doesn’t see much in the way of updates, and, in particular, its affiliate links are hideous (tap-and-hold or mouseover to see for yourself). Readers can’t really tell where you’re about to send them, and any kind of service that understands and makes use of iTunes Store URLs (which usually begin with itunes.apple.com) is cut off
Among the many advantages of Apple’s new affiliate program, its URLs are clean in the sense that they’re plain itunes.apple.com with a simple affiliate token attached to the end. Readers who tap-and-hold or mouseover know they are now going straight to Apple’s store but, perhaps more importantly, computers and services can make use of them as well. Observe:
I forgot how useful Favs for iPhone is. Somehow it got deleted (probably iTunes) but so glad to get it back: https://t.co/tyIoyY64Ta
— David Chartier (@chartier) August 22, 2013
Twitter, for example, understands iTunes Store URLs and displays a little extra somethin’ somethin’ when you link them. Facebook, too:
Your App Store affiliate URLs can now play in these sandboxes and gardens while still participating in Apple’s affiliate program. Everybody wins.
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