Tag Archives: iPad

Microsoft Take On the iPad

Last night Microsoft announced their new tablet, the Surface. There is a good summary of the key points here: .

However it is an interesting move, as the article above says, this is a big change for Microsoft who aside from the XBox haven’t ever built hardware – you’ll never have seen a PC actually made by Microsoft for example. This however is how Apple have made their money and built their platform by tightly controlling everything.

There is still more we need to find out though, Microsoft haven’t talked prices, although we can take a fair guess that the price points will be competitive, and the release dates are a bit vague.

The other thing that may well cause confusion is that what they’ve announced is actually two machines, one is an ARM based iPad rival, the other is an Intel based PC that will be able to run normal Windows applications. Whilst you could say that Apple do the same with the MacBook Air which is a similarly portable computer, Apple clearly delineates the Air from the iPad.

Despite all the trumpeting, this is going to be a difficult sell for Microsoft, they are a long way behind, and maybe more so than in the phone market, iPad is synonymous with tablet, indeed much as people refer to vacuum cleaners as a Hoover, people refer to all brands of tablet as an iPad.

However it will certainly be a positive move if Apple has some serious competition, and whilst only time will tell whether this will be the tablet to really compete, this certainly seems to me to have a better chance as unlike Android and iOS devices there is a level of compatibility already with what is in use in corporate environments.

BBC News – Windows 8: Taking a look at Microsoft's latest operating system

If you’re wondering what all the fuss about is with Windows 8 it’s worth taking a look at this video from the BBC’s tech correspondent Rory Cellan Jones: .

You’ll see that what Microsoft are trying to do is produce an OS that will produce a tablet experience on iPad like devices, but also keep backwards compatibility with the familiar windows interface. Whilst it’s true that underneath MacOS X and iOS are the same, they are distinct entities, so on iOS you’re not going to find yourself dumped to a MacOS desktop which is something you’ll see in the video.

It remains to be seen how the average user will take to having both the Metro interface and a pointer based interface on the same device – certainly it seems like using old style windows touch based may be frustrating with small buttons designed for mouse clicking, as will using the Metro interface with a mouse.

Apples Newton MessagePad PDA at Twenty

Apples Newton MessagePad PDA at Twenty | Techland | TIME.com.

Before the iPhone, before the iPad, Apple had a first foray into the mobile device market, and it didn’t go all that well…

Great article by Harry McCracken reviewing the original Apple Newton Message Pad. Whilst the product may be considered a failure, the technology and trends it started can be tracked directly to devices and software we use today.

RIM is a ship heading for the rocks of a breakup

A great quote here from Guardian columnist Charles Arthur about where he thinks RIM, maker of the ubiquitous Blackberry is heading:

Heres what I think: RIM is heading for the breakers yard, as surely as a ship that has reached the end of its life. Within the next 18 months or so, the company is going to be broken up for its useful parts – BlackBerry Messaging, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, its customers. The gravity that is sucking it downwards is now inescapable; to switch metaphors, its a spaceship trying to get out of a black hole, but it hasnt got Scotty aboard.

via RIM is a ship heading for the rocks of a breakup | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

I pretty much agree with his assessment, much like Nokia, RIM failed to see the threat from the Apple iPhone, and then the Google Android phones that followed it, and whilst Blackberry handsets did seem to end up as the cool handset to own for a little bit, they are now struggling to compete in a changed market, much as Nokia is doing. The difference with Nokia however is that RIM have the double whammy of the PlayBook their failed foray into the tablet market created by the launch of the Apple iPad, where quite apart from releasing an incomplete product lacking basic functionality, they also failed to understand what end users wanted. I’m quite sure elements of the Blackberry will survive, but I doubt RIM will exist in it’s current form for very much longer.

Dear Steve

Dear Steve,

Yesterday we headed down to the opening day of your new store in Festival Place, Basingstoke. First off I have to say that after many years having to either head into London or drive a long way to find an Apple Store it is great having two within a short drive, with you having opened a store in the Oracle, Reading just last month. We did avoid the craziness in the morning but we had a great time none the less.

I went along with my two year old daughter, who has been using Apple products for pretty well all of her life. It didn’t take long for her to get the hang of the touchscreen interface on my iPhone, iPod and iPad, indeed now she expects most devices to have such a screen and gets frustrated when they don’t. This brings me to a first suggestion, your children’s area. Whilst it is nice having a low level table, and child sized seating, the devices there are all Mac’s. Although children do quite easily pick up the concept of a mouse and pointer, my daughter is much happier with the direct interaction of a touch screen – as you have said on a number of occasions recently, we’re living in a post PC world now.

Look where we ended up... As a result we went to look at the iPad’s which do have children’s software installed, but are all on tables at a very child unfriendly height. In the end my daughter asked for a chair, and one of your excellent staff kindly obliged with a stool from the Genius Bar.

As you can see from the picture that put her on just the right height to play some games on the iPad.

Games weren’t the only thing we tried. My daughter wanted to talk to Mummy, so we thought we’d try out another of the features of the iPad – Facetime.

We have used your video calling application quite frequently at home – calling between Apple products it seems to pretty consistently produce a better quality video connection than the most obvious competitor Skype, indeed in one situation recently Facetime made a connection easily when Skype couldn’t get through at all. However as I’m sure you’re aware Facetime only works over wi-fi.

No problem of course as your stores have free wi-fi. Looking at the strength display it had a full strength signal, however it fairly obviously was not a good internet connection, the demonstration iPad struggled to produce a reasonable picture with a decidedly low quality result. It would certainly be worthwhile investing in some faster wi-fi connections for the store to enable a good demonstration of this feature.

Anyway, one last idea which comes from my daughter – she would like you to provide beds at the Apple Store so she doesn’t have to go home. The store kept her occupied and entertained for all of a wet afternoon, and she didn’t want to leave! I did eventually manage to get her out and heading home, but I am sure we will be back.

Yours,

An Apple Owning Parent

iPad v Kindle – No Competition?

Earlier in the year when the iPad was announced and released, and with Apple struggling to fulfil demand, people were writing the Kindle off – another device that had got to market first and been beaten by Apple.

Strange as it may seem when the brand name iPod is interchangeable with MP3 player, there was a time when Apple wasn’t in the MP3 player market, indeed many pundits thought they were nuts to produce one (these are the same pundits who thought they were nuts to produce a smartphone, and nuts to produce a tablet PC of course), but produce one they did, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Pundits could clearly see the Kindle going the same way. Amazon had produced a Kindle application for the iPad and iPhone, and it almost seemed like admitting defeat.

Roll forward a few months and everything is looking a bit different. Amazon have released the next generation Kindle, and much like the iPad before it, they are again selling as fast as they can be produced.

It is an attractive package.

For a fraction of the cost of an iPad – the most expensive Kindle is only £149, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad, and a fifth of the going rate for the most expensive 64Gb 3G iPad – Amazon have produced a smaller, lighter device with an amazing claimed battery life of a month, throwing in free 3G international data, and even a web browser. Not surprisingly the pundits are now suggesting that the Kindle is ready to trounce the iPad, lining the two devices up for a competition.

But is there really a competition?

When you look at the Kindle, yes it may have a built in browser, but it is a very limited and basic browser – about enough to check your e-mail. Providing free 3G for full scale web browsing is clearly not the intention, and to be honest is not something Amazon could afford for any length of time. Quite apart from that, I doubt anybody would accept browsing in black and white these days. This is clearly a device built primarily for reading text, and as such with a fantastic e-Ink screen it’s ideal.

Whilst yes, the iPad has iBooks, and Steve Jobs made a big thing about it at launch, the iPad is not just an eBook reader. Yes you can use it as that, but you’re seriously underusing the device. The powerful processor and colour screen offer much more flexibility and power, so you can do things with books that a Kindle cannot – check out the Alice in Wonderland or Cat in the Hat apps in the app store for example. The Kindle can’t play games like the ever popular Angry Birds. You haven’t got an equivalent of iWork, Photoshop or any of the other popular apps. You’re not going to be able to watch a movie on a Kindle.

So there you have it no competition. Or should that be no competition? The two devices are pitching at totally different markets, the competition is entirely artificial. The iPad is much more of a general purpose device that just happens to be able to show eBooks. The Kindle on the other hand is a device designed primarily to read text, and does it fantastically well.

If you’re wanting to just read books, the choice is clear, don’t waste your money on an iPad, I’d be heading for the Kindle. If you’re wanting a more general purpose tablet device, get yourself an iPad, and thanks to the free Amazon app you can read your Kindle books on that too.

Kindles are available exclusively from Amazon, with iPads available from a number of stores both bricks and mortar and online. The links below will take you to the relevant pages on Amazon, and purchasing through these will help with the costs of running this site.

The iPad for Education

It’s no exaggeration to say that we love our Apple iPad. I have to admit to a little bit of skepticism when it was first announced, but having tried one out and subsequently purchased one it’s combination of superb battery life, form factor and general ease of use make it a lovely tool. Whilst iPhone apps have had to make a number of compromises to cope with the form factor, the larger size of the iPad really open up so many more possibilities. The ease of use can easily be demonstrated by handing our iPad to Lucy, who has no trouble finding her way around to what she wants – usually a video of “Big Chris” – the video of the Children in Need 2009 song.

As such, it is with great interest that I’ve been watching Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) – probably best known as the author of the excellent FlickrExport plugin for iPhoto and Aperture – as he has prepared for and successfully rolled out an Apple iPad to every child in the school where he teaches, through his excellent blog postings.

Admittedly, the school where he teaches is a small private school, so they have a good deal more flexibility in deployment, and much less in the way of costs and issues to deploy to an average state run comprehensive, however even taking that into account a big step like this hasn’t been without issues. However reading the postings has certainly left Beth (@tahbepet) wishing even more she’d had access to Apple iPad’s when teaching, not least as an English teacher some of the abilities in iBooks!

Fraser has already picked up a bit of coverage from both specialist Mac sites and more general sites – hopefully some more mainstream media will pick up the story and highlight what is a very interesting experiment in bringing technology into the classroom.