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I’m an iPad fan. It’s true.

by alec on July 25, 2010

I’m sitting in the passenger seat of the family van at the moment, typing on the onscreen keyboard on my iPad (yes, my iPad). We’re cruising back from a house hunting trip for son Jon, who is starting his second year at McMaster University in Hamilton, about 5 hours from home.

The significance of this post is that the iPad in question is my iPad. After very publicly announcing I wouldn’t buy one in April, my (pick one) slavish devotion to new gadgets, desire to really understand what all the fuss was about, or trance-like attraction to all things made by Apple (that’s a tongue-in-cheek comment for those who don’t know me), saw me in Future Shop about two months later. I picked up the iPad 3G version, and began to play.

Much of the early emphasis in the news media on iPad was centered on media consumption – movies, music, and so on. I have never listened to a single music track, on mine, and I’ve only watched a few movies. So how do I use it?

  • Via 3G and Dropbox, I have instant access to every document on my PC. Over the weekend, while house hunting for Jon, I took notes on the places we saw, modeled prices with simple spreadsheets I constructed, emailed agents about pricing, checked web listings and more.
  • For many years now I’ve had a stack of books on my bedside table that are partially read because the only time I ever read is late at night. The days were simply too busy, and I didn’t have my book with me. Using Amazon Kindle, Kobo, or Apple’s own iBook, iPad has become my favourite way to read. I’ve read more books in the last couple of months than I had in the year prior.
  • The Google Analytics application for iPad is now my favorite way to get up-to-date web analysis on the iotum web properties – the Calliflower web site, and the actual Calliflower conference service web application. Put simply, Google Analytics HD is easier to understand and interpret than the actual web site, and with iPad it’s always with me.
  • Flipbook with News from the Globe and Mail, National Post, and Ottawa Citizen The new Flipboard, released last Friday, is possibly the most engaging mobile application I’ve ever used, on any platform. Using social media like Twitter and Facebook to surface and present news of interest produces an uncanny number of hits that are of interest to me. Moreover, Flipboard’s presentation is easy, engaging and pleasant to look at. I’ve abandoned all of the conventional news sites and other iPad news apps in favourite of Flipboard. It’s that good.
  • Calliflower mobile conferencing for iPhone works great on iPad as well.  While we haven’t produced an iPad specific version yet, the original Calliflower for iPhone is faster on iPad, and easier to use for text chat and other functions where a larger keyboard is a benefit.
  • And how about email?  On the iPad I can read, respond, view and edit attachments, all better than any other mobile email experience I’ve ever had.

It has become my constant companion. The experience is that transformative.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend who worked with me at Microsoft years ago asked if I was still using my netbook.  I answered honestly.

“Yes, it makes a great stand for my iPad when I’m at my desk.”


Skype on 3G mobile impresses

by alec on June 1, 2010

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Yesterday, using the newly announced Skype over 3G for iPhone,  I made a number of Skype to Skype calls on iPhone and iPad. The calls were made from my office as well as from the car.  Initial thoughts:

  • Crystal clear sound. Never have I heard that kind of sound quality on a mobile device.
  • Sound drop-outs. Yup.  Skype on 3G is great in a fixed setting.  However, while in motion it suffers as the car roams from one cell to the next.  It’s as bad or worse than an ordinary cellular telephony under the same circumstances.
  • Missing “must have features”. Bluetooth and Voice Dial.  You really can’t use Skype to make calls while in motion unless you start the call first, and then begin driving.  Ordinarily, I key my bluetooth speaker, which lights up the iPhone voice dialer and then I tell iPhone who to call.  Skype on iPhone is simply not well enough integrated with iPhone to do this yet.

All in all it’s an impressive technical achievement, as many have already written, and I’ll be using it a lot.

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