Tag Archives: iPad

“Should I upgrade to Windows 10?”

That’s a complicated question that a number of people have asked me. It’s free (for a while, at least), and your Windows PC is probably pestering you relentlessly to upgrade to Windows 10.

These days, “free” often means you’re paying with something other than cash — typically your time & attention (via advertising) or by relinquishing your privacy (by allowing 3rd parties to know about you, you relationships with others, and your tastes & interests). …keep reading “Should I upgrade to Windows 10?” >

iCloud migration resources

Like many people, I’ve had some issues with the migration from MobileMe (and .Mac before that and iTools before that) to iCloud, and as I happen to be the sort of person people come to with questions about this, I thought I’d collect a few useful links here:

iPad apps 9 months later

Back in June of 2010, I published “iPad apps: best I’ve found so far.” Time for an update.

Home screen

Here’s my current home screen, with the most-frequently used apps in the dock. The closer to the bottom-left of the screen, the more-often it gets opened.

iPad home screen


  • OmniFocus has replaced Things as my GTD-based task management tool of choice on the Mac, iPhone and iPad. It is indispensable.
  • Apple’s Mail app is used far too often.
  • Twitter is my current Twitter client, though I bounce back and forth between it and Twitterrific. I like trying lots of Twitter apps because there’s a lot of innovation going on in this space, and because it’s easy to jump from one to another. Ideally, though, I want to run the same app on Mac/iPhone/iPad, otherwise it gets easy to confuse DMs, @replies, etc. And that can get awkward.
  • 1Password. Stop reading and go get it. I’ll wait. Here’s a recent post on 1Password.
  • Safari, for those times I don’t need a secure log-in.
  • Notes apps — an entire folder full of note-taking apps.

Other home screen apps

  • Calendar, Contacts. There are no compelling reasons to replace these that I’ve seen.
  • iBooks. Solid. The reading experience is very good. Recent addition of Collections is welcome. Inability to copy passages from books is not.
  • Kindle. Amazon’s reader is kind of weird around the edges; getting books into it is easy, actually, but totally any other iPad process I’ve come across. Still, their book selection is excellent, and reading in the Kindle app is just fine. Lack of clipboard-export support is as frustrating as with iBooks.
  • Instapaper. Marco Arment’s little app that could. Send all the web-based stuff you want to read later to this service, then read it at your leisure on your iPhone, iPad or on the web. Might sound bizarre, but it’s awesome.
  • Reeder. My favourite way to consume RSS feeds. The fact that the icon is a different colour than on the iPhone (where it debuted) or on the Mac (where it’s different altogether) makes it quite difficult for my visually-oriented brain to actually find this app; I wish the developer would bring the icons into sync.
  • iPod. Yes, I acutally use this. Mostly for podcasts on the iPad.
  • Videos. Movies (mainly backups of my DVDs or Digital Copies from my Blu-Ray™ collection), videos I’ve shot myself and video podcasts. Awesome for the treadmill.

Notes folder

Ipad notes

  • Evernote is fantastic. Mac/iPhone/iPad/web. Sharable, OCR-searchable, GPS-enabled, awesomeness. Job-related notes go in here. Everything goes in here.
  • Penultimate. Just got it. Looks great. Looking forward to using it. Others, like Adobe Ideas, never really worked for me, and the Griffin stylus I have isn’t great for drawing (too much friction); a finger works fine, though.
  • PlainText, with Dropbox support, seems to be my go-to app for quick notes.
  • iA Writer is very nice. I’m not a writer, though, so I don’t use it very often.
  • Pages. Never use it.
  • SoundNote is great if you wish to record the audio in a meeting and be able to cue up what was being said when your typed something out. A revolutionary concept in note-taking, really. Can be handy, but get permission from meeting participants first — there is a creepiness factor otherwise.
  • Trunk Notes is a wiki-style editor with Markdown and Dropbox support. Never really use it.
  • TextExpander is especially great if you also use it on the Mac; it allows short, user-defined keystrokes to expand into longer strings of characters. Type “TII”, for example, and get “Tantramar Interactive Inc.” as output. Despite iOS not supporting the kind of background processes that would enable this on the Mac, enough apps have built-in TextExpander support that this turns out to be quite handy. When you remember it.
  • Notes, Simplenote, Audiotorium, Adobe Ideas (a drawing-based notes app), and Chalk (an iPad-only, web-based, drawing-oriented notes app from 37Signals, round out the notes apps.
  • WordPress, which used to be buggy, and which once deleted an entire post on me, sits here, languishing, until MarsEdit for iPad comes along. Are you listening, Daniel? 🙂


Ipad work

I have a conflicted relationship with most of the apps in this folder. In theory they’re all great. I never open this folder.

  • Daylite. Sigh. This might be awesome if I ever find the time to finish setting up a proper server for it.
  • OmniGraffle. One of the best apps I never use.
  • Keynote, Numbers. They’re great. I don’t need them.
  • Bento. Why do I keep imagining that I will need this one day?
  • Doodle. Website is all I need.
  • Insight. Please don’t make me use Basecamp any more.
  • LinkedIn. Website is more than I need.
  • CSS3Machine. I’m sure this would be handy if I was smart enough to figure it out.
  • AnalyticsPro. I tend to prefer Google’s web-based version, but this is sometimes handy.
  • dbd, Delibar & Bookmarks: Delicious apps. Delibar is my favourite on the Mac, but I think I would like dbd better if it supported multiple accounts. Maybe it does, but I haven’t figured it out if it does.
  • iTeleport. One of the best apps I never use.
  • Server Admin. I actually use this regularly. It’s quite good.


Ipad reference

  • Dictionary. The full, paid version. Love it.
  • Maps. Handy.
  • Google Earth. Don’t know why I don’t delete it. It demos well, but it’s useless to me.
  • Translate. From Google. Mind-blowing.
  • Star Walk. Real-time observational astronomy app. As someone who used to teach introductory astronomy at the university level, I love this app. The iPhone version is just as cool.
  • Soulver. Very cool concept. Never use it.
  • Wolfram. Very cool but hard-to-grasp concept. Is it reference? Is it calculation? Is it Q&A? Never use it.
  • iMDB. Use this far too often.
  • Articles. Award-winning Wikipedia app. Also great on the iPhone. Unnecessary. Get it anyway.
  • Google. Never use it (I use Safari’s built-in Google search bar instead)

Social Media

Ipad social

  • Twitterrific. On heavy rotation with Twitter.
  • Friendly. Because Facebook has said they don’t view the iPad as a mobile computing device. Also because their iPad app — were it to exist — would likely be as frustrating as their iPhone app. Or their website, come to think of it. Never mind.
  • Ego. Never use it. I never like what it has to say.
  • Stumbleupon. No time.
  • Droplr. A cool idea. Never use it.
  • Birdhouse. A place to save Twitter drafts. Uh, what are twitter drafts? (drafts are built-in to most clients now)
  • Echofon. Not on heavy-rotation as my Twitter client, but I like that it can sync my twitter stream’s read/unread status across platforms. Why do none of the others do this? Sadly not a killer feature, apparently. Still; not deleted.
  • Osfoora HD. Huh. Forgot this was here. Twitter client.
  • Tweet Library. Save your tweets, archive them offline. Handy, say, should you meet someone across the country and you want to review the timelines for a blog post…


Ipad games

Not much to say about games, really. I don’t play them often. But then can amuse people who want to see what an iPad can do. mondoSolitaire from Ambrosia Software is probably my favourite. Osmos HD is cool, awesome sound, and also available on the Mac App Store.


Ipad utilities

  • Dropbox. The glue that holds it all together. So many apps sync/store their data via Dropbox. Love, love, love Dropbox. Works on all platforms. Get Dropbox free here.
  • Awaken. Yes, my iPad and iPhone are my alarm clocks.
  • DisplayPad lets you use your iPad as an external display for your Mac. Stupidly cool, especially if you have an 11″ MacBook Air with a small screen, and already carry your iPad around with it. Requires a wifi network.
  • Pastebot. Copy and paste clipboard data between an iOS device and your Mac. Woah.
  • Calcbot. Because Apple doesn’t ship a calculator app for the iPad.
  • Napbot. Ambient/white noise generator. Handy for those with tinnitus.

iPad apps: best I’ve found so far

@savoieadam was wondering what to get for his iPad, which prompted me to post this (I’d been meaning to anyway, since people keep asking…) To keep this short, I’ll limit it to iPad-specific apps, and leave out the iPhone apps I’m using. As on iTunes, “+” indicates universal iPad/iPhone/iPod apps.

Productivity Apps

News Apps

  • bbc_news.pngBBC News + — best news app I’ve found yet.
  • NPR for iPad — very nice
  • Editors’ Choice (NY Times) — weird leading issue (extra space before last line of every paragraph) makes it irritating to use. Call me fussy; polish matters.
  • WeatherBug Elite — nice; not sure I need the map; still looking for the perfect weather app that does metric.


Social Media

Reference Apps

Downloaded, installed, deleted

  • GoodReader — bizarre interface
  • National Geographic World Atlas HD — what is this for??
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • Globe & Mail’s Globe2Go — indecipherable
  • NYTimes Crosswords
  • Tweeps
  • Reuters News Pro
  • Pulse News Reader

Anxiously Awaiting…

  • Reeder — currently in Apple approval hell
  • MarsEdit for iPad (unannounced, but fingers crossed)
  • Analytics Pro
  • Twitter (née Tweetie; for Mac and iPad) — currently in development hell
  • Billings
  • CBC Radio
  • CBC News app (mobile sites only get you so far…)
  • FlickIt Pro
  • Skype
  • Pastebot/Convertbot/Tweetbot
  • TED

…and why did Apple leave out…

  • a clock?
  • a calculator?
  • a notes app? (not that I like theirs…)
  • Messages? (could’ve included it on the 3G model…)
  • Compass?
  • Weather?
  • Stocks? (again, not that I’d use it, but…)

Handedness and the iPad

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about the iPad is how I’m left-handed on it.

Someone commented the other day that they found using a computer difficult because they were left-handed. That seemed odd to me, since I’m predominantly left handed and I’ve never found it to be a problem on a computer. It may have come down to the fact that they shared a computer with a user who had a right-handed input device like a curved mouse.

On the desktop, despite being left-handed with a pen (for writing or drawing), I’ve always been a right-handed mouser; can’t use a mouse with my left hand to save my life. But that also means I’ve always had room to the left of my keyboards for a Wacom tablet of some sort — the ideal switch-up if my right hand or arm gets tired.

After a couple of years using an iPod touch and a couple of iPhones, I’d never really noticed whether I use my left or right hand on them. I’d guess I use each about equally, especially since I’m a reasonably-proficient two-thumbed typist (in portrait mode, please) on those devices. I could be wrong, but that’d be my guess.

On the iPad, I seem to prefer using my left hand for a lot of input, even when it’s on the right side of the screen. It doesn’t feel awkward to do that, it feels natural. I think that’s interesting.

A device with a virtual keyboard feels natural. That somehow seems counter-intuitive to someone like me who’s used so-called traditional computers for more than 20 years. Like Steve Jobs said: on the iPad, it’s like touching a web page directly. The device gets out of the way. I naturally gravitate towards using my left hand, without even thinking about it.

I even find the keyboard pretty easy to get along with, especially as I become less conscious of it; it’s still not quite as fast as a physical keyboard, but that’s mainly a case of adjusting to the slightly different arrangement from the iPhone. I have no doubt this will improve with a bit more use (I’m writing this on my iPad).