The iPad challenge #5

The whole idea behind the tablet was for me to increase my productivity. I wanted to improve my time outside the office and make myself more productive, more creative, more focuses on the things that matter to me. And in a way it worked quite great. 

I have a few articles in the working currently, which will hopefully appear hear soon. I discovered that I really enjoy typing in the iPad, and the fact that I can carry it around with me easily means I get the chance to type a lot, in all sorts of different situations. In the last few days I decided to take my tablet on a little road trip around town to see how it faces the real world. I wanted to give it a run for its (offline) money, so I started walking around up and down, tablet in my hand and eventually I stopped at a café. It was at this point that I realised a small flaw in my plan: before storing my laptop away for two weeks, it might have been a good idea to connect my tablet to it first so that I can have a couple of movies and other files that I need on it. 

As a device with no internet connectivity its functionality is rather limited. It’s still great for reading a book, but I kinda wished I had downloaded some magazine for the App Store or something. 

Checking the latest news on my tablet the same way you see it done in adverts wasn’t really possible. I mean, if I went to that café regularly and my iPad would automatically connect to their network, then yeah, but that kinda beats the point of it. It was still great that I managed to start working on this article and a few other bits of work that needed some editing. 

One thing that I was considering at one point was also pairing my tablet with a small, portable, (foldable?) keyboard for those sessions when I really want to get heavy on the typing. A quick look around Amazin confirmed that there are quite a few options but the pragmatic (and cheap) side of me tells me that I don’t need it beacause it will take away some of the portability that I so much like. 

I have to admit tho, that I did get quite a few awkward stares while I was sitting with a coffee next to me as I angrily and quickly typed the screen of my tablet like I was writing to save my life. So far nobody came over to ask me what the hell is wrong with me, but I have the feeling that most people are still used to see tablets being used as Ebook readers and Facebook machines rather than typing machines. 

So this leads me to a question: what gadgets or accessories do you have paired with your tabled or smartphone? 

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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in iPad challenge, Technology


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The iPad challenge #4

So today was all about getting as many things done as fast fas possible with my tablet as my brain is completely shattered after a long day of not-so-interesting meetings. Even now as I write this article all I can think of is the confines of my bed. 

One thing I still find it hard is to type efficiently while laying in bed. Because it doesn’t have the robustness of a laptop, it’s very hard to find a comfortable position that also holds the tablet in a writing one. But earlier today lying in bed wasn’t my issue, however getting things done was. I had a few emails to read and reply to which is no problem for the iPad, or any tablet I imagine. Next came up the first big challenge: I had to translate a text which I received via email as a odd attachment, them email the translated text back. Split screen here we go! 

So firstly I downloaded the odd and saved it in iBooks. I couldn’t be bothered to download a special pdf app. Next up I fired up Pages. With half a screen as a blank sheet of paper and the other half filled with the text I was trying to translate, I was making good progress and the experience was overall smooth. At first I used to jump back and forth between iBooks and Safari on the right hand side to have access to Google translate whenever a word didn’t quite come to mind. It wasn’t a bad approach, but I soon realised that I had my phone sitting right next to me and for a word here and there it just made more sense to use my phone as the translator. So I was back sharing my screen between Pages and iBooks. 

I even took the liberty of editing the format of my text to make it clearer to understand and follow. After about 10-15 minutes I saved the files as a Word document (ironic enough), attached it to an email and sent it. This was the first time I relied on my tablet for something that otherwise I would certainly do on my laptop. While the task itself might not be the greatest or most difficult one out there, it still proves that this little toy is capable of handling 2 documents and that you can edit the data in parallel documents. If you’re willing to sacrifice a few extra seconds, browsing the web for answers as a third window is also possible. 

With the weekend slowly approaching I plan some more multi-tasking abuse for my tablet to see if the extra money I spent on this device can also make me extra productive. Preliminary tests give the iPad mini a fighting chance

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Posted by on July 7, 2016 in iPad challenge, Technology


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The iPad challenge #3

Before buying the iPad mini I had spent quite some time considering weather or not I should go for its bigger brother, the iPad Pro (9.7″). Neglecting the price difference the main reason I decided to go for the mini was the form factor. And I know I’ve talked about this aspect before but regardless of what I’ve planned to write about, every time I pick up the tablet to do so, I’m left standing with a smile on my face and still amazed by how nice it feels in the hand. This thing doesn’t feel like a tablet; it feels like a travel book you might wanna take with you when you know you’ll be flying for 3 or 4 hours. It feels like the notebook you always carry around when you have meetings to just scribble your thoughts on, that one notebook we all had in uni in which we had bits and pieces from every module and then a lot of random shit we just felt like writing or drawing or whatever. Only in this case, when you open the cover, the notebook comes to life and you gain instant access to everything you ever wanted (aka the Internet). I like this practicality. 

Speaking of books and notebooks, yesterday someone interesting happened: after browsing YouTube for a bit and moving some apps around, I stumbled across iBooks. I never used this app on my phone. Ever. It’s in the folder with all the other Apple apps that I can’t delete (yet) but since I keep comparing my tablet to a wonder-book I decided to open the app. I found myself a free novel and started reading. I’ll blame this on the excitement of a new toy but I really found reading in the iPad a lot more enjoyable than I thought. 

It was close to midnight, I was in a dark room, Nightshift was turned on but the brightness of the screen was just right. I was able to fly through a few chapters and then go to sleep without any pain in my eyes. Maybe the book had something to do with it as it is a pretty light read, but if this tablet helps me read more during the year then I’ll call it a great investment. 

I’ve also restarted going through Flipboard and a few news apps which I haven’t touched in a long while. Mostly because I didn’t have the time anymore. First impressions are quite positive and follow the general lines I discovered so far: bigger screen means more space to spread the content, which makes it easier to read. 

On slightly less positive notes, I discovered a slight lag when typing long articles using Pages. Sometimes the keyboard will block and it will take about a second before what I was typing appears on the screen. Same happened once when deleting something. It seems to not have any issues in OneNote so far but I’ll keep an eye on that. Most likely it just requires a software update (which I’ve been purposely postponing) and then everything should be fine. 

I’ll keep you posted on how the typing experience evolves during the rest of the challenge and, just to make it interesting, I’m adding to the challenge the task of finishing the book I just started. At some point maybe I’ll actually have time to open Netflix and see how movies get along with the tablet, but right now I’m more excited using it as a book than as a TV.

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Posted by on July 6, 2016 in iPad challenge


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The iPad challenge #2

Since having a new tech toy in my life I discovered one thing: my life got really busy in the last few months. I can observe this by the little amount of time I have to actually play with my tablet and test it. Right now it really is an overpriced Netflix and Facebook machine only without the Netflix part. I still wasn’t able to watch a single episode or trailer on my iPad. Nevertheless, while it may be a glorified YouTube machine, it’s a small little machine that is great for typing. I can only imagine how great a Smart Keyboard type cover would have been for the mini. The bigger brothers have it, so why not show some love for the little one as well? But so far I am more than happy with the digital version: honestly I never thought typing on a tablet could feel so good and the wordflow is quite decent and more than enough for my standards (and needs).

Today I’ve mostly spent my time checking emails and still setting up the tablet. For some reason I’m really taking my time with this setup. I still don’t have all the apps that I want, the order is still (75%) a mess and it just feels like it’s taking forever to have everything in place. But I’m using the chaos as an excuse to try out as many different apps as possible.

One feature I really like and I’m trying to dig into is the split screen feature. When I got the tablet the only apps compatible with split screen viewing were the native Apple apps but as I kept downloading apps, more and more turned out to be compatible. One of these days I’ll have to check out the maximum extend of my multitasking skills, but until then I’ll just enjoy the possibility of having YouTube play on one half of the screen while I read or write in a totally different app.

Speaking of apps, the ones I used the most in the last few days were:

• YouTube – pretty standard YouTube player, exactly like the android or iPhone version, but then again what more can you ask out if it?

• Skype – nothing remarkable to add about Skype; works as advertised, connection and picture quality was good, however your camera stops if you try and use it in split-screen mode. You can still see the other person, but they can’t see you anymore.

• FaceTime – yes, I use FaceTime, and on the iPad it worked just as nice as on the iPhone (once I had all my contacts synced)

• Inbox – Google’s email client disappointed me a bit. I was hoping to see some extra productivity features or just some minor changes to adapt to the larger screen of s tablet, but the app is (as far as I can tell) an exact replica of the iPhone one. Which is not s bad thing, but I feel like they could’ve improved a bit.

• OneNote – I fell in love with this app the moment I opened it on the iPad! It makes so much more sense on a tablet than on a smartphone or laptop, it feels like it was created with a tablet in mind and the functionality it has over the smartphone is great.

I promise more apps will follow as I’ll try and push the boundaries of my tablet even further. Right now I feel like I’m only doing mundane things which, with a bit of ingenuity, could be done without a laptop just by using my phone, although I’ll admit the bigger form factor of the tablet is making things a lot smoother

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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in Everyday aspects, Technology


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The iPad challenge #1

Today was the first day of me living with my new iPad mini. Sure, yesterday was a great day for unboxing it, getting used to its form factor and setting up the parameters of this challenge… but today is when it all starts; and here a my first impressions:It’s a much more different experience from the iPhone than I would have thought. I’ve always imagined the iPad as an exploded iPhone, just a larger screen for the same apps and activities but in reality it feels totally different. Yes, the apps are mostly the same and I’m still setting up most of the apps I use on my iPhone as well as trying to discover some new ones to squeeze the maximum amount of productivity out of this little toy, but even the apps that I used on my phone feel new and different on the iPad. 

Pages, the Microsoft Word of the Apple world feels totally different on the iPad. The keyboard is really enjoyable to write on, especially in landscape mode. It feels like I’m writing on a sort of kids toy laptop, but at the same time I notice that I can pick up some serious speed really fast and then when I pick up my phone it feels so small and toy-like. 

Among the apps I was installing late last night was OneNote, the note-taking app from Microsoft. I’ve talked about it in the past, but it was never my favourite app. I used it as a default notes app back in the days I had a Windows Phone powered HTC, but not much since then. To be honest I think I only know s handful of people that willingly use OneNote on any of their devices. But as a first look here on the iPad mini it kinda made sense to me. I feel really tempted to give it a giant try to use that as my default go-to app. 

The larger screen is so far the thing that impressed me the most. I can do my writing, check my emails, search for apps and it never feels crowed. Everything is so relaxed and its feels like I have miles of space while the actual device in my hand weighs next to nothing. I like it because it’s really light and so far everything I tried doing with it (which I’ll admit isn’t much) just felt like s well organised page from a notebook. It felt like I constantly had extra space to see some more info or add a new tab.

I only had a few hours to play around with it today and that includes the time it took me to write this post. Most of the time was spent on downloading some of the apps I didn’t have time to yesterday and trying to arrange them in some sort of order. Unlike others, I don’t believe in having the exact same layout on all my devices so the apps and the order they’re in will be different on my tabled than on my phone.

So while it’s definitely a work in progress, here are some of the pros and cons of the day:

Pros: Great typing experience. Much bigger screen real estate and actually having the possibility to take advantage of that 

Cons: Kinda hard to write at full speed when lying on the bed. The soft/Smart Cover does not offer the same amount of support as the body of an actual laptop (but I guess I should’ve figured that out way before buying the tablet)

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Technology


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The iPad challenge #0

I have never made a secret the fact that me and tablets never fully got along. I always seen tablets as over-sized phones and never seen myself using one. But more recently I had a couple of articles debating the usefulness of tablets and even started considering integrating one in my daily routine simply because the way I consume media has changed.

But the question always remained in my head: is an iPad worth it or is it just an overpriced Netflix and Facebook device? So as I accurately predicted in my last post, today I bit the bullet and went out to buy myself a tablet. The aim of this is to challenge myself to replace my laptop with a tablet and see how I get along in the next two weeks. If it all works well I’m gonna keep it. If not, it goes on sale.

So today I woke up with a bad feeling in my stomach, but nevertheless I decided to stay true with my plan and get myself a tablet. I knew what I wanted to get, but I was determined to get the most out if my tablet buying experience: I wanted an iPad so I decided to go right to the source: the Apple Store!

I got in there and started wondering around the tablet section until a friendly guy came over asking if I need any help. At that point I told him straight that “I kinda want a tablet but I’m not sure I need one, so I need someone to sell the hell out of a tablet to me today and make me feel like my life can’t go on without one”. So the guy started talking to me about all the different iPad variants, features, specs, etc. and I did my best to seem surprised and ask more stupid questions even tho I knew almost all of those things from the millions of reviews and articles I read online in the last months.

Anyway, at the end of about 15-20 minutes, I told him that he convinced me: I was gonna get an iPad! Then I insisted that I go through the initial set-up training session. Not because I didn’t know how to do it but because:

  1. like I said, I wanted to experience every aspect of buying a tablet
  2. I wanted to fiddle around with it a bit sooner than just waiting to get home

So now that I’m the proud owner of a iPad mini 4, with 64GB of storage and a gold finish on the back. Why gold? Well I always loved black, so white phones, white laptops, white tablets for me always looked slightly weird, but since I was getting a tablet for the first time and I was already stepping out of my comfort zone, I decided to push it even further. Plus I kinda liked the gold finish on the back and around the TouchID sensor. Why the red smartcover? Well because I like red and I think red and gold go great together! I don’t have to explain myself to you!

The challenger

The thing this little toy needs to stack up to is this:

The champion.

My HP Pavilion laptop. It has double the screen size with 15.6 inches vs the 7.9. It was 4 times the RAM and a faster processor. It has all the multitasking power a laptop and Windows 10 can bring to the table, but I’ll admit for me, it recent months it’s been a bit of an overkill. I didn’t use it anywhere near its full potential. In the past I used to do some gaming and CAD design, but now things have changed.
The challenge

I will do my best to not open my laptop at all for the next 2 weeks. I want to see if my tablet and phone can fully replace my laptop and if so, at what cost. I will try to write every day as part of the #ipadchallenge to present how I used my tablet that day, what were the positive and negative aspects of the day and so on.

As a disclaimer, I’ll say that I will continue to use a laptop at work because the nature of my jobs simply requires one, but I cannot use it for any personal activity nor will I carry it home with me.

So with this final sentence, I will close my laptop, pull out the battery, place it on a shelf and start using and abusing my tablet. If there is anything specific you want me try during the next 2 weeks, let me know.

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Posted by on July 3, 2016 in Technology


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What’s a tablet good for?

ipad miniAround 6 years ago the world was (re)introduced to a new technological concept: the tablet. As it was initially unveiled, it was described as something in between your phone and your laptop; a better way to experience the Internet, a better way to look at pictures. But is it actually worth the money?

As a disclaimer, for this article I will focus mainly on the iPad. This is not because I turned Apple fanboy overnight, but simply because except maybe for the Microsoft Surface, it’s the only tablet in the market that actually made a noticeable impact. Android via HTC and Samsung had some good tablets, but they all faded away pretty quickly.

Probably no industry is changing as fast as the mobile industry. Technology is evolving so fast that you need a full time just just to track what’s going on. In recent years phones have gotten larger, processors faster, batteries bigger, Internet faster, laptops lighter and WiFi is now pretty much everywhere. So is the tablet any good?

Well that’s an answer I’ve been trying to find for myself for a few months now, but like many other questions, it’s not as simple as black and white. In order to get some sort of clarity out of it, I decided to put together a breakdown of the things I do most often on my mobile devices and see if a tablet could (at least in theory) stack up against it:

Browsing the internet:  This was supposed to be one of the tablet’s selling points. I’ll admit, in my case it varies. If I have to do some heavy research or multitask on several different tabs, then I will pull out my laptop, but for 90% of the time, if all I want to do is google something, search for a place or an information I’ll just take out my phone because it is the most convinient method and the one piece of tech I’ll most likely have on me. I can see a tablet being useful on some of these occasions but I doubt I’ll always have it on me.

Watching YouTube: Currently I’m so busy with my job and other hobbies that I sometimes don’t open my laptop from Sunday night until Friday evening or Saturday morning. If I ever watch YouTube it’s probably while having dinner or once I’m in bed when it’s too much of a hassle picking the laptop up, starting it and going on YouTube. Here I can see a tablet functioning quite well. Easy to move to the kitchen table, no need to wait for it to start up while I’m in bed and I can use my phone to text while watching a YouTube video. Win-Win.

Reading: Funny enough, I’ve never been a big fan of digital news. I have a couple of news apps, but I rarely open them lately. I don’t see myself as the kind that reads the news on an iPad, or books for that matter, but maybe the bigger screen of the iPad (when compared to my phone) will encourage me to pick-up reading while on a flight or something.

Text editing/creation: At work I go through hundreds of emails in a day, but once I leave the office, I leave the office world behind. My personal inbox has seen a significant decline in emails in the past year as more and more of my side-activities either faded away or as I simply moved on. I occasionally write blog articles (like this) and most of the time, I need to write them the second inspiration hits me; and it can hit me anytime! On a plane, in the queue waiting for boarding to begin, at 2 am when I’m in bed, at a traffic light, while walking in the park or around cities. Having a bigger piece of “canvas” to write on other than my phone is probably the biggest reason while I feel like I need an iPad. But thing is…I don’t make a living out of this. I don’t need this blog to live, I don’t write for important magazines or news agencies, I just sometimes write for myself. For serious articles I’ll most likely go back to my laptop, but quite a few of the articles on this blog have been written on-the-go, either from my laptop, or from my phone.

Streaming video: I might not have a lot of free time, but every now and then I like to stream a few episodes of a TV show from Netflix. Sometimes I’ll start streaming them on my phone during dinner and pick up on my laptop when I’m done. Other times I watched entire episodes on my phone because I didn’t want to turn on my laptop. Here a tabled would fit nicely, but I’m not that much of a Netflix addict so I’m still not sure if it’s worth it.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but there is a slight pattern in my classification. I mostly admit that a tablet would be useful in those situations where I either need a bigger screen or just want to use my phone for something else but at the same time I’m too lazy or don’t want to turn on my laptop. I guess in a way that’s understandable, but deep down I still don’t think it’s enough to convince me.

Walking away from the logical approach, knowing me, I’ll probably end up owning an iPad in less than a week from now, and just like I did with the iPhone, I’ll probably learn to love it and find more uses to it than I can now think of. However there is one question I’m curious about:

What do you use your tablet the most for?

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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Technology


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