Pages – iPad App of the Week

September 7, 2010

Pages – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is Pages.

Pages is the most beautiful word processing app ever designed for a mobile device. It’s the application you know and love for the Mac, completely reworked from the ground up for iPad. Documents look stunning on the bright, vivid iPad display. And writing is a dream with the large onscreen keyboard. You can use Apple-designed templates and Multi-Touch gestures to lay out letters, flyers, brochures, reports, and more. With Pages for iPad, it’s never been easier to create great-looking documents, all with the touch of a finger.

Pages has everything you need to create and share documents, including beautiful Apple-designed templates, easy-to-use formatting options, and advanced layout tools. Start with the perfect template and its matching styles. Or personalize your document using your choice of colors, fonts, and textures. Pages makes it easy to format your document. Style text, insert tabs, and set indents and margins with the streamlined style ruler. Use the Media Browser to add photos and videos from your Photos app. And make them look great with masks, shadows, reflections, and picture frames. You can resize, rotate, and move images around the page, and dynamic word wrapping automatically flows your text around them. Touch and tap to convert your document to multiple columns and insert tables to organize your data.

£5.99

Though it was always possible to type stuff on your iPhone or iPod touch, it was never really a wonderful experience and you wouldn’t want to use it for writing long documents.

When the iPad was released I was very keen to see if it could be used as a laptop replacement, especially during conferences and events. I do actually write a fair bit at conferences and events, either short articles for the blog or stuff for work. So I knew I would need a word processing app of some kind, as the Notes app wasn’t really going to hack it. Of course at the iPad release Apple also released their iWork apps, including the Pages word processing app. I do like Pages on the Mac so was interested to see if the iPad version would be any good. I actually purchased Pages (and the other iWork apps) before my iPad had arrived so I could use these apps straight away.

Rather than do an immediate review I decided to wait a few months to see how it fared. I have used Pages at home, work and at various events and conferences.

At the end of the day the key question is do I use Pages to write documents?

The answer is yes. I have used Pages to write a fair few documents and blog articles (including a first draft of this posting). I have also used it to draft e-mail and blog comments to avoid “losing” any text in case I needed to swap between Safari and other apps. I have used both the on screen keyboard and used an Apple Bluetooth keyboard.

As I attend conferences and events this academic year I expect the iPad to be my main word processing application.

Pages though is a lot more than just a simple word processor, if all you need is a simple word processor then the included Notes app is probably just fine.

With Pages it is possible to use different styles, fonts and weights. Allowing you to create formatted documents very easily. Though you will have to use the built-in fonts and you won’t be able to use your own.

Like its big brother on the Mac there are various templates to get you started, though nearly everytime I start off with a blank document.

Where I think Pages falls down is on document management, specifically getting documents on and off the iPad. For example in getting documents off the iPad you have three quite limited options.

You also need to remember to Export your document if you want to remove it via the file management part of iTunes! Sending via e-mail is often the easiest option, whilst iWork.com is really in my opinion still in beta and you will need a MobileMe account to use this option. There are three Export options, Pages, PDF and Word.

Once you have exported you can share that exported file via one of the file sharing Apps such as AirSharing.

Getting files into Pages is not that simple. Even if you copy files over through iTunes, you then still need to import them again into the Pages App.

Not sure why and not sure why it doesn’t do this automatically. You have to specific Pages in iTunes!

Import and export aside, the Pages App is quite powerful allowing you to bring in images, shapes and create graphs for your documents.

Overall I do like this App, it’s powerful, it’s flexible and it’s easy to use. I know some people will baulk at the £5.99 price tag for what is an iPad app, but come on lets be realistic, £5.99 for a word processor, that isn’t that bad. If you have an iPad I would recommend this app.


CameraBag for iPad – iPad App of the Week

August 31, 2010

CameraBag for iPad – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is CameraBag for iPad

A love letter to the analog era, CameraBag is the most popular iPhone photo filter app of all time, and has now come to the iPad. It instantly emulates photography’s most beloved and iconic cameras, film, and processing techniques.

CameraBag’s addictive approach skips hours of processing work and instead puts you in the role of an editor, flipping through a collection of polished, print-ready treatments, each with infinite variation. Simply choose the best one and save, e-mail, or upload it to popular sites.

CameraBag now takes full advantage of the iPad with a re-imagined interface, increased resolution, and innovative new features. The addictive Vary button offers a new take on the current filter each time it’s pressed, for infinite versions of each filter. It’s like telling CameraBag “Try the same look but make it a little different this time.” iPad users also get to mix and match aspect ratio and border styles across filters for fresh new looks.

£1.79

There are various image manipulation apps on the App Store. One type that is quite popular is the filter app. This isn’t an app for editing images, it is there purely to be used to apply filters to an image and then put the image somewhere.

Though the iPad doesn’t have a camera (unlike the iPhone) it is quite simple to get images onto the iPad, either through syncing with iTunes (and iPhoto) on your Mac or using the iPad Camera Connection kit.

I have used CameraBag on the iPhone and did buy it for the iPad. Unlike a lot of apps this is not an universal app and you need to buy separate apps for both the iPhone and the iPad.

This is a relatively simple app to use. Open the image, apply a filter, a border or crop the image.

You can vary the effect of the filter using the vary button.

Unlike other image apps, you can either save the image back to the iPad or e-mail it to someone (or a service if you can remember the unique e-mail for that service).

The filters are quite nice and work well.

This is not my favourite image app, but the simplicity does make it an easy one to use.


I have an inkling…

August 26, 2010

In many recent presentations I have given on e-books I have said that the way publishers market their publications needs to change. Just “digitising” traditional books as e-books is not necessarily the way forward for e-books.

If we look at other traditional media and see how they have evolved in new digital forms it may give us an idea about the future of books.

Watching films use to mean going to the cinema, sitting down through adverts and trailer before the main presentation, oh and popcorn. Through television, VHS rental, purchasing video tapes, DVD, Blu-Ray and now iTunes downloads, the way in which we consume films has changed. In many ways television has changed even more fundamentally. Digital TV means for many, many more channels and choice. A lot of TV series are now viewed by DVD box set over watching it when originally broadcast. Services such as YouTube, iTunes and BBC iPlayer have allowed us very different ways in which to consume television. Even with iTunes it is now possible to buy an individual episode of a TV series.

When we first started watching postage stamped sized video on our Windows 95 PCs, I expect very few of us had any inkling about how we would be watching video via our computer fifteen years later. It was very easy to consume video through physical media such as DVD or Blu-Ray, but it is now even easier to consume video over the web, either through iTunes or services like BBC iPlayer.

We use to buy music either as albums or singles, now with the iTunes Store or Amazon we can buy individual tracks from albums.

I am sure similar changes will happen with books, with e-books just been the start of this process.

One thing I have said is that publishers need to move away from the traditional approach of selling the whole text book as an e-book and start thinking about selling individual chapters to users, in the same way that we can buy individual episodes of a TV series.

I have said we should move away from digitised versions of print books and take advanatage of the digital medium with interactive content and media.

So I was pleased to see that at least one publisher, Inkling, is going to go down this road. As Gigaom reports:

The company believes the iPad — for now, at least — is the future of the textbook. Inkling’s software turns textbooks into interactive content, with video, hyperlinks between text and images, notes that can be shared between students and teachers, and even 3-D molecules that can be viewed from any angle.

In addition you can buy individual chapters or the whole book.

The company’s interactive textbooks can be downloaded by the chapter for an introductory price of $2.99 each, or the entire book can be downloaded and installed at a price of $69.99

This is just the start for digital textbooks.


Osfoora HD, for Twitter – iPad App of the Week

August 24, 2010

Osfoora HD, for Twitter – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is Osfoora HD, for Twitter.

Osfoora HD for Twitter is a blazing fast and clean twitter client for your iPad. Provides elegant and easy access to all of Twitter’s functionalities. Osfoora HD has all the features of Osfoora for iPhone and more.

With a gorgeous user interface, multiple account support, optional full landscape mode (customizable), text expander, boxcar support, twitter lists, nearby tweets, and the ability to tweet songs… using twitter becomes a joy!

£2.39

There are many Twitter Apps out there for the iPad some are free and some like Osfoora HD cost money. With the wonderful screen size of the iPad is that you don’t even need an App you can just use the web interface, the Safari browser works just fine. So why would you spend £2.39 on an App like Osfoora HD?

That’s a good question.

If you use Twitter only occasionally then you probably wouldn’t want to spend hard earned cash on a Twitter App, to be honest I am guessing if you are reading this review you probably are a regular Twitter user and as a result are looking for a tool that enables your use of Twitter to be easier and more effective.

The main reason I switched to Osfoora HD over the free Tweetdeck and the web interface was conversations. When I dip in and out of Twitter I often come across a conversation I don’t just want to know the end of the conversation I also want to know where it started. There may be a way of doing that on Tweetdeck, but I couldn’t work it out. On Osfoora HD all I need to do is click the blue conversation icon!

As with most Twitter Apps you can easily add images, via TwitPic or other Twitter image services, video. Unlike some Apps you can add multiple photographs to single posting if you want.

Yes I know that the iPad doesn’t have a camera, but if you have an iPad camera connection kit you can very easily transfer images from your camera to the iPad. When you add URLs you can “shorten” them making it very easy to add multiple long URLs to any Twitter posting. You can also add your location if you want to.

It’s also very easy on the App to either use the Twitter version of Retweet or to use RT if you prefer that method.

If you use Twitter a lot you may have more than one Twitter account, Osfoora HD allows you to add multiple accounts. This is something that is often missing from many free Twitter Apps.

It’s quick and easy to access searches or lists, though I do think Tweetdeck does this much better.

At the end of the day there is no real reason to buy a Twitter App for the iPad, however I find that using Osfoora HD makes using Twitter easier and more effective. I liked the App so much that I wanted it for my iPhone, this is one downside, unlike a lot of other Apps that you buy once and works on both iPad and iPhone, with Osfoora you need to buy one App for the iPad and one for the iPhone!


Teach with your iPad

August 21, 2010

A clever idea. Use a wiki to crowdsource good ideas on using the iPad to support teaching and learning.

http://teachwithyouripad.wikispaces.com/

Has (at might be expected) have a slightly American slant, but none the less still useful.


iPad of the Tiger

August 12, 2010

A few Music Technology staff at the college have approached me (as they do) and asked for some iPads to allow their students to create some music.

I have already posted some videos of others doing this.

This version of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger was recorded completely using iPad applications.

Created by photographer Jordan Hollender and musician Scott Harris.

There are some very interesting iPad applications for music and musical instruments, something we might look into at a later date at the college.

Found via TUAW.


BBC News – iPhone App of the Week

August 10, 2010

BBC News – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is BBC News

Get the latest, breaking news from the BBC and our global network of journalists.

By downloading the BBC News app you can view:

  • News stories by geographical region
  • News by category including business, technology, entertainment and sport
  • News in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic
  • Video including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go
  • You can also personalise the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

Free

The BBC News website is a wonderful resource and place for news on the web. The mobile version is okay too. Both versions do work on the iPhone and the iPad.

However the BBC News website does rely on Flash for video. The obvious solution would be, as other news providers have, build an App.

So the BBC did build a BBC News App for the iPhone and the iPad…

However…

UK media companies complained, so the BBC Trust said that the BBC News App would not be available in the UK, but they could make it available overseas!

Eventually after much deliberation and consultation the BBC Trust said that yes the App could be made available in the UK. Yay!

So what about the App itself?

Basically it is similar to the website, the news is divided into sections.

The advantage over the website is that any video is in h.264 format so it plays! Not all the news and video though on the main BBC website is easy to find on the App though.

The user interface is much more iPhone like than the website so making it much quicker and easier to use.

This is a really good App, just a pity that it wasn’t available in the UK for so long…


School of Medicine at Stanford University adopts iPad

August 2, 2010

School of Medicine at Stanford University has adopted Apple’s iPad so reports Appleinsider.

The School of Medicine at Stanford University has adopted Apple’s iPad, providing the device to all incoming first year medical students and Master of Medicine students.

The school cited four reasons behind the new program, including student readiness, noting that iPad “creates opportunities for efficient, mobile, and innovative learning.”

Stanford also noted “the flexibility of iPad technology,” noting that “iPad allows students to view and annotate course content electronically, facilitating advance preparation as well as in-class note-taking in a highly portable, sharable and searchable format.”

Access to information and “information literacy” was also a consideration, with the school pointing out that “students will be able to easily access high-quality information at any place, at any time (for example, images from textbooks on digital course reserve, image databases, journal articles, Lane Library’s various search tools, etc.)”

A fourth rationale was Stanford’s intent to go green, “replacing printed syllabi with PDFs is in line with the Sustainable Stanford initiative, which aims to build sustainable practices into every aspect of campus life.”

It is interesting to see the four reasons behind adopting the iPad. All of these reasons can be applied to laptops and netbooks. However where the iPad wins out will be efficient mobile learning with the instant on, excellent battery life and portability. The iPad is also quite innovative and they have achieved quite a bit of positive press as a result of this move.

Standford has always had good relations with Apple and are quite close to each other geographically.


It had all gone horribly wrong…

July 29, 2010

Sometimes you make a wise decision and sometimes you make a mistake.

When I ordered my iPad back on the 10th May when it was announced that it would be delivered on the 28th May I made the decision NOT to order the iPad Camera Connection Kit. My reasoning would be (based on previous experience) was that if there were problems with the delivery of the iPad Camera Connection Kit then my iPad would be delayed and I didn’t want that to happen. I also thought I wouldn’t have a problem getting one in my local Apple Store…

So how wrong was I?

Way wrong!

Both the local Bristol stores had sold out pretty quickly, basically within a day of the release of the iPad.

The online Apple Store suddenly went to a 4-6 weeks delivery time.

It had all gone horribly wrong…

I did consider ordering one from the online store, I could wait… but they wanted to charge me £5 for delivery that I wasn’t willing to pay.

I thought, I’ll wait four weeks and get one from the Apple stores in Bristol.

I waited…

I waited…

I checked with the Apple stores a month later and still no luck and no joy.

I checked the online Store and, still 4-6 weeks delivery and still going to charge me £5.

I waited…

So in the end I thought I really do want this connection kit for ALT-C, that’s at the beginning of September and that’s just under 4-6 weeks away.

On the 20th July I placed my order for the iPad Camera Connection Kit. By my reckoning it should arrive just in time for ALT-C.

First surprise was that I wasn’t charged for delivery, free delivery for the kit. That was nice.

Then in the e-mail confirming my order it said:

We estimate your order to be shipped by 5 – 7 business days.
I thought that’s not 4-6 weeks! Quick check of the website saw the 4-6 weeks had been reduced to 2-3 weeks.

Well that’s nice.

Then on the 24th July I got an e-mail stating my order had been shipped. It arrived on the 28th July.

Of course I needed to test it, so out with the DSLR and a quick picture later I connected the camera via the USB.

It worked a treat imported the image, I could then upload it using Osfoora HD to TwitPic via Twitter.

Well pleased and impressed.

Pity it took so long!


Using my iPad

July 28, 2010

Today I was in London for a Becta TEN event at the Apple offices. I decided that I would rely on just my iPad and not take a laptop with me. The lighter bag was certainly welcome.

On the train up I did some writing on the iPad using the on screen keyboard, which considering the small tables on the First Great Western trains means the iPad is not too big and certainly usable over a large or even a smaller 13″ laptop.

At the event itself I easily joined the Apple wireless network and decided to switch to my Bluetooth keyboard.

It was then very easy to add to the event via Twitter and check URLs and websites.

The battery lasted the day and the train to and from the event.

Overall another successful outing for the iPad.