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Posts tagged with "iPad"

Luna Display Turns an iPad into a Second Screen for Your Mac

In June, I sat in the crowded lobby of the San Jose Marriott hotel just across from the convention center where WWDC was being held. The lobby was crammed full of developers and other people tapping away on Macs and iOS devices connected to the hotel’s WiFi. I sat down with the Astro HQ team for a demonstration of an upcoming hardware product called the Luna Display, a tiny dongle that turns an iPad into a wireless second display for a Mac.

Hotel WiFi is notoriously bad and the Marriott’s, which was ambushed by thousands of WWDC attendees, was holding up, but spotty. The Astro HQ team pulled out a tiny nubbin and connected it to a MacBook Pro’s USB-C port. After starting the Luna Display software on the Mac and an iPad, they were up and running with the iPad acting as a second display. Despite the shaky connection, the iPad performed admirably. It felt like magic.

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Apple Releases iOS 11 and iPad How-To Videos

Apple has published a series of six short videos to YouTube highlighting the marquee features of iOS 11 on the iPad. Each of the how-to videos is about one minute long and shows how to use a new feature:

  • 'How to harness the power of the amazing new dock’ demonstrates how to add items to the dock, access recent files, and drag files into apps like Messages.
  • ‘How to mark stuff up with Apple Pencil’ shows how to mark up notes from the lock screen, Mail attachments, photos, and screenshots.
  • ‘How to manage and fly through your files with iOS 11’ is a quick tour of the new Files app, including how to use recents, favorites, and various cloud services.
  • ‘How to effortlessly scan, sign, and send a document with iOS 11’ shows someone scanning, signing, and sending a lease using the the Notes app.
  • ‘How to get more things done more quickly with multitasking with iOS 11’ explains how to share images in a Keynote presentation in Messages using Slide Over.
  • ‘How to get the most out of your hands with iOS 11’ demonstrates how to use two hands to drag and drop multiple images.

The videos do an excellent job of describing and demonstrating each new feature quickly and simply. With iOS 11 just weeks away, a little pre-launch education about its new capabilities on the iPad is a smart move by Apple.

You can view each of the videos after the break.

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The 10.5” iPad Pro: Future-Proof

There's something about the screen of the new 10.5” iPad Pro that feels immediately novel but quickly becomes normal, and something that seems obvious at first but reveals itself as a deeper change after a few days. As a heavy user of the 12.9” iPad Pro, I've been pleasantly deceived by this new iPad, and the more I think about it, the more I keep coming back to the display and the story behind its new form factor.

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PiPifier for iPad Expands Picture in Picture Support to More Safari Videos

An excellent new utility called PiPifier was just launched by developer Arno Appenzeller. PiPifier may sound familiar, as it was originally released as a macOS app on the Mac App Store. But now the app had made its way to the iPad.

PiPifier is a tool that enables viewing any HTML5 video using the iPad's Picture in Picture feature. It works as an action extension from the share sheet that you run within Safari. Simply load a site containing a video, then run the PiPifier action extension, and the video will instantly enter Picture in Picture mode. This is tremendously useful on sites like YouTube that do not support Picture in Picture by default, and in my testing has worked perfectly.

PiPifier is a free download on the App Store.


Readdle Brings Split View Drag & Drop to Their iPad Apps

In my iOS 11 wish list for iPad and concept video, I focused on system-wide drag & drop – a feature that could reshape how iPad users move documents and data between apps. Readdle, makers of the popular Spark and PDF Expert, aren't waiting for Apple to add a native drag & drop framework to iOS, though. Today, in addition to the release of Documents 6, the company is updating most of their iPad apps with a custom drag & drop feature that simplifies the transfer of documents between two apps in Split View. I've been testing this functionality for the past week, and, even if it's not system-wide iOS drag & drop, it's been enough to pull me back into Spark and PDF Expert – at least for now.

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iOS 11: iPad Wishes and Concept Video

iOS 11 for iPad concept.

iOS 11 for iPad concept.

(Full-res)

Once heralded as a promising sign of Apple's renewed commitment to the iPad, iOS 9 has begun to feel like a one-hit wonder.

iOS 9 represented a profound change for Apple's approach to the iPad. After years of stagnation and uninspired imitation of iPhone interface paradigms, iOS 9 allowed the iPad to explore the true potential of its large canvas; for the first time since the original tablet, Apple was creating new iPad-only features rather than adapting them from the iPhone. Split View, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture were drastic departures from the classic iPad interaction model that, however, perfectly fit the device.

As I concluded in my iOS 9 review:

This year, the iPad is getting the first version of iOS truly made for it. After too many unimaginative releases, Apple has understood the capabilities of the iPad's display and its nature of modern portable computer. Free of dogmas and preconceptions of what an iPad ought to be, iOS 9 fundamentally reinvents what an iPad can become going forward.

In a span of six months, the one-two punch of iOS 9 and iPad Pro redefined the concept of portable computer again, setting Apple on a new path for the iPad ecosystem. Or, at least, it seemingly did.

Since late 2015, Apple hasn't had too much to show for the iPad. A smaller version of the iPad Pro was released in early 2016, though the new device mostly adapted features from the bigger version to a more compact form factor, introducing inconsistencies to the iPad line in the process, such as the True Tone display (still exclusive to the 9.7" iPad Pro). iOS 10, while a solid upgrade overall, focused on iPhone users and lifestyle enhancements; for iPad users, iOS 10 was a disappointment that failed to build upon iOS 9. The first iPad Pro – launched in November 2015 – has lingered without updates, raising questions on the actual need for one of its marquee features – the Smart Connector that only Apple and Logitech have supported so far. And amid consistently declining sales, the company's only "new" hardware after the iPad Pro has been a lower-priced and rebranded iPad Air – a solid entry model, but another adaptation.

We haven't seen something truly new, bold, and transformational happen on the iPad platform in nearly two years. It's time for Apple to step up their game and continue pursuing the vision for the future of computing set forth in 2015. There's so much more work to be done with iOS, multitasking, and the redefinition of computing for the multitouch era. The iPad Pro can be a computer for everything, but it needs another leap forward to become the computer for everyone. And that can't happen without a serious reconsideration of its software.

The iPad needs another bold, daring step towards the future. With iOS 11, Apple has an opportunity to pick up where they left off with iOS 9, forging a new direction for the iPad platform.

Every year ahead of WWDC, I collect some of my thoughts about the current state of iOS and consider where Apple could take their software next. I've been doing this for the past several years going back to iOS 6 in 2012. I've referred to these stories as "wishes" because they encapsulate all the aspects I'd like Apple to improve in their mobile OS. Last year, we added a concept video to the mix. This year, I wanted to prepare something different and more specific.

iOS for iPhone is, I believe, at a point of sufficient maturity: aside from particular feature additions, I don't think there's anything fundamentally missing from the iPhone.1 The iPad now bears the proverbial low-hanging fruit of iOS. There are obvious areas of improvement on iOS for iPad, which is, effectively, two years behind its iPhone counterpart. The iPad's lack of meaningful software advancements allows us to explore deeper ideas; thus, in a break with tradition, I decided to focus this year's iOS Wishes exclusively on the iPad and where Apple could take its software next.

Like last year, I collaborated with Sam Beckett to visualize my ideas for iOS 11 on the iPad with a concept video and detailed mockups. This time, instead of showcasing our ideas as standalone concepts, we imagined a "day in the life" theme for the video, showing how enhancements to iOS for iPad would work in practice. Rather than showcasing random bits of possible features, we imagined an underlying task to be accomplished (planning a vacation in Barcelona) and how better iPad software could help.

I've been thinking about some of these ideas since iOS 9 (you can see a thread between my iOS 10 concept and this year's version), while others would be a natural evolution for iOS on the iPad. Once again, Sam was able to visualize everything with a fantastic concept that, I believe, captures the iPad's big-picture potential more accurately than last year.

Below, you'll find our iOS 11 for iPad concept video, followed by an analysis of my iPad wishes with static mockups. I focused on foundational changes to the iPad's software – tentpole features that would affect the entire OS and app ecosystem.

This isn't a prediction of what Apple will announce at WWDC; it's my vision for what the future of the iPad should be.

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The Long-Lived iPad 2

Every once in a while, an Apple device comes along that sticks around for a while without an update.

Jokes about the "current" Mac Pro aside, one such device that comes to mind for me pretty quickly is the iPad 2, introduced back in March 2011. It was finally taken off the market three years later.

While that doesn't seem remarkable today, it was an eternity when it came to iOS devices at the time. The iPad 2 was one of the first devices Apple kept around to fill a lower price point on its product matrix.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.

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“Apple Is Pushing iPad Like Never Before”

Fascinating research note by Neil Cybart on iPad sales and Apple's new iPad strategy:

Apple is making its iPad sales pitch to two groups: existing iPad users and long-time PC users. According to my estimates, there are 100M users still using older iPads (iPad 1, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad mini). A significant portion of these users are using devices that don't even support the latest iOS release. Management thinks simpler storytelling and an aggressively low $329 price will entice these users to upgrade to the new 9.7-inch iPad.

The fact that 100M people are still using older iPads demonstrates that the product provides value. Apple is also confident that users will see the significant improvement between the latest iPads and models from five to seven years ago. As for PC users, Apple thinks the iPad Pro line is capable of handling the vast majority of tasks currently given to laptops. Apple looks at the iPad Pro line, which includes Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, as a better solution for consumers than even the Mac. This is quite telling as to management's long-term motivation.

Strong iPad updates in this year's iOS release would certainly help Apple steer the iPad's narrative in a new direction.

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Pixure 2.2 with PanelKit

Pixure is Louis D'hauwe's excellent pixel art studio app for iOS that lets you create retro-styled illustrations. Pixure was already best suited for the iPad's bigger display, but the latest version 2.2 adds PanelKit – a UI framework created by D'hauwe himself to turn traditional iPad popovers into floating panels.

Popovers are a staple of the iPad's interface, and I was skeptical when I saw the first details of PanelKit in February. After testing Pixure on my 12.9" iPad Pro, though, I think D'hauwe is onto something – when the app is in full-screen, it's nice to be able to re-arrange a palette of tools so it doesn't hide your content. The best part, in my opinion, is that panels can be converted back to sidebars by snapping them to the edge of the display, which is a fantastic use of the iPad Pro's large screen. There's an argument to be made about PanelKit bringing the cognitive load of desktop window management to the iPad, but I believe that, for some apps (such as graphic editors like Pixure), floating controls that you can re-arrange around the canvas are necessary.

I'm testing a few iPad apps that try to optimize for the iPad Pro's screen with additional popovers and sidebars, and none of them feel as flexible or as intuitive as D'hauwe's app. If you're an iPad user, you should check out Pixure.

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