This week's sponsor

Automatic A smart driving assistant on your smartphone

Posts tagged with "iPad"

New Tricks for Old Dogs

Jason Snell, who's been a using a Mac for 26 years, has been trying to do as much as possible on an iPad Pro for the past few days. His takeaway is spot on:

That’s sort of how I view the iPad and the Mac today: One is not fundamentally better than the other, but the Mac is the one I know by heart. The Mac is the one on which I’ve built numerous scripts and workflows and shortcuts to make my work manageable. Leaving it isn’t something I can do lightly, and would need to provide large, tangible benefits.

As I argued in today's Connected, instead of continuing to spend time on discussing what is a "computer" and what's "better" for other users, perhaps we'd be better served by understanding what works for us.

This "Mac vs. iPad" debate is taking us nowhere. Today – right now – millions of people are using phones, laptops, and tablets as their computers. They couldn't care less about the traditional idea of a computer. Most of them don't even call them "computers" anymore. That's powerful and empowering. It gets rid of the weight of any preconceived notion of how technology should be used. For some, this change is uncomfortable. For others, it's liberating. And somewhere along this spectrum, there's the "computer" for each one of us.

As far as Apple devices go, I believe it'd be more interesting (and intellectually motivating) to talk about how OS X and iOS can improve in their individual areas and as part of the iCloud ecosystem. Exploring the present and imagining where we could go next, rather than telling others how they're supposed to get work done.

Jason's probably not going to stop using a Mac, and I'm going to keep using an iPad. No one's right or wrong here.

Use whatever works for you.


iPad 2015 Display Technology Shoot-Out

In their annual iPad display technology shoot-out, the experts at DisplayMate have compared the new displays of the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro to 2014's iPad Air 2. The result surprised me:

The nicest surprise this year is the tremendous improvement in the display quality and performance of the iPad mini 4 after the poor showings of previous minis – the mini 4 is now very impressive and breaks many Tablet display performance records. The iPad Pro has also made a strong entrance and first appearance.

If you're into this kind of technical overview, you may want to save a couple of hours to dive deep into this. Incredible research.


Working with an iPad from the Camino De Santiago

In late August, web developer Thaddeus Hunt and his wife decided to hike the Camino De Santiago in the Fall. Early on, Thaddeus chose to only bring an iPad Air 2 running iOS 9 to get his freelance work done while on the Camino. Back in August, he concluded Part 1 of his series with:

My hardware needs have been met, I will be traveling super light, and connectivity is no longer a concern… but quality web development is only as good as the tools you have at your disposal.

I mentioned above, that in my pre-prep there was very little that I could not accomplish with my current iPad and keyboard setup. But hardware has only been half of the equation. In truth, the software is where all the magic has been happening. Luckily, the iOS dev community has created some beautiful, highly capable tools that will help me accomplish my day-to-day.

Three months later, he has returned from the Camino with the results. Thaddeus assembled a solid setup of hardware and software, and I find his final thought to be a refrain among users who try to replicate their OS X setups on iOS:

As a freelance web developer with paying clients, I obviously found this setup to be a more than capable replacement for my 13 inch MacBook Pro while traveling. Depending on what you do for a living, your mileage will vary. I definitely recommend giving it a shot though. For the portability of the hardware and the singular focus of the software alone, it’s worth your time I think. You may be surprised at just how much you can get done.

You can read all the entries in the series here.


On Multiple App Views for iPad Multitasking

Clayton Miller thinks that iOS should offer a way to view multiple documents from the same app side by side in iPad multitasking:

It’s not too hard to imagine a solution that can leverage the app-centric paradigm of iOS into something supporting multiple documents from the same app. Apps and documents both share the metaphor of the window on the desktop, so why not let them share the iOS pane model?

In an application that supports it, the slide-over menu gains a new option at the bottom for the current app. Tapping that instantiates another view of the app, defaulting to the document management or “open” view. The underlying iOS process model would likely need an overhaul for this to become a reality, but it’s a necessity.

I like the concept he came up with, using the lower section of the Slide Over app picker to open a second pane for another document. But I'd go a step further and argue that users should have the ability to pin any view from the same app next to the current view, not just documents.

As I argued in my review:

One of the key aspects of Slide Over and Split View is that they cannot show two sections of the same app at once. Only individual apps can be displayed concurrently on screen: you can't split Safari in multiple views and display both views on screen at the same time. If you were hoping to manage multiple Safari tabs or Pages documents in Split View, you're out of luck.

Splitting apps into multiple atomic units for standalone views and documents seems like an obvious next step going forward.

If Apple brings the ability to split the current app in multiple instances for Slide Over and Split View, I hope they'll do it for any view available in the app. Documents are ideal candidates for this, but all apps would benefit from such addition.


iOS 9: The MacStories Review, Created on iPad

With iOS entering the last stage of its single-digit version history, it's time to wonder if Apple wants to plant new seeds or sit back, maintain, and reap the fruits of the work done so far.

Last year, I welcomed iOS 8 as a necessary evolution to enable basic communication between apps under the user's control. With extensions based on a more powerful share sheet, document providers, widgets, and custom keyboards, I noted that iOS had begun to open up; slowing down wasn't an option anymore.

In hindsight, many of the announcements from last year's WWDC were unambiguous indicators of a different Apple, aware of its position of power in the tech industry and willing to explore new horizons for its mobile operating system and what made it possible.

Following the troubled launch of iOS 6 and subsequent rethinking of iOS 7, Apple found itself caught in the tension between a (larger) user base who appreciated iOS for its simplicity and another portion of users who had elected iPhones and iPads as their primary computers. Alongside this peculiar combination, the tech industry as a whole had seen the smartphone graduate from part of the digital hub to being the hub itself, with implications for the connected home, personal health monitoring, videogames, and other ecosystems built on top of the smartphone.

WWDC 2014 marked the beginning of a massive undertaking to expand iOS beyond app icons. With Extensibility, HealthKit, HomeKit, Metal, and Swift, Tim Cook's Apple drew a line in the sand in June 2014, introducing a new foundation where no preconception was sacred anymore.

iOS' newfound youth, however, came with its fair share of growing pains.

While power users could – at last – employ apps as extensions available anywhere, the system was criticized for its unreliability, poor performance, sparse adoption, and general lack of discoverability for most users. The Health app – one of the future pillars of the company's Watch initiative – went through a chaotic launch that caused apps to be pulled from the App Store and user data to be lost. The tabula rasa of iOS 7 and the hundreds of developer APIs in iOS 8 had resulted in an unprecedented number of bugs and glitches, leading many to call out Apple's diminished attention to software quality. And that's not to mention the fact that new features often made for hefty upgrades, which millions of customers couldn't perform due to storage size issues.

But change marches on, and iOS 8 was no exception. In spite of its problematic debut, iOS 8 managed to reinvent how I could work from my iPhone and iPad, allowing me – and many others – to eschew the physical limitations of desktop computers and embrace mobile, portable workflows that weren't possible before. The past 12 months have seen Apple judiciously fix, optimize, and improve several of iOS 8's initial missteps.

Eight years1 into iOS, Apple is facing a tall task with the ninth version of its mobile OS. After the changes of iOS 7 and iOS 8 and a year before iOS 10, what role does iOS 9 play?

In many cultures, the number "10" evokes a sense of growth and accomplishment, a complete circle that starts anew, both similar and different from what came before. In Apple's case, the company has a sweet spot for the 10 numerology: Mac OS was reborn under the X banner, and it gained a second life once another 10 was in sight.

What happens before a dramatic change is particularly interesting to observe. With the major milestone of iOS 10 on track for next year, what does iOS 9 say about Apple's relationship with its mobile OS today?

After two years of visual and functional changes, is iOS 9 a calm moment of introspection or a hazardous leap toward new technologies?

Can it be both?

eBook Version

An eBook version of this review is available to Club MacStories members for free as part of their subscription. A Club MacStories membership costs $5/month or $50/year and it contains some great additional perks.

You can subscribe here.

(Note: If you only care about the eBook, you can subscribe and immediately turn off auto-renewal in your member profile. I'd love for you to try out Club MacStories for at least a month, though.)

Download the EPUB files from your Club MacStories profile.

Download the EPUB files from your Club MacStories profile.

If you're a Club MacStories member, you will find a .zip download in the Downloads section of your profile, which can be accessed at The .zip archive contains two EPUB files – one optimized for iBooks (with footnote popovers), the other for most EPUB readers.

If you spot a typo or any other issue in the eBook, feel free to get in touch at

Table of Contents

Read more

Twitter Aims to Unify iOS Apps, Updates its iPad App

Brendan Donohue, writing on the Twitter Blog:

Previously, Twitter for iPhone and iPad offered very different experiences. Now, Twitter apps on these devices will be more consistent regardless of which one you’re using. Starting today, iPad users will be able to create and see revamped quote Tweets, explore trending topics in search, visit product and place pages, and more. We’d like to tell you how we made this happen.

Although they shared some code, Twitter for iPad and Twitter for iPhone were originally developed and designed separately. Each app was tailored to its platform — but required a lot of extra effort to develop. All too often, this meant that Twitter for iPad features lagged behind other updates. To fix this, we had to rethink our approach.

The good news is that Twitter's iPad app is now mostly at feature parity with the Twitter iPhone app. The bad news is that Twitter's iPad app doesn't exactly use the extra screen space of the iPad efficiently, and instead is mostly just a scaled-up version of their iPhone app.

This is probably explained by the fact that Twitter has been working hard on rebuilding a solid foundation across all their platforms to ensure feature-parity, as they explain in their blog post. It may just be that they wanted wanted to get something out the door and (finally) update the iPad app and they didn't get a chance to fully adapt the design for the iPad. That might be naive of me, but I'm sure there are some at Twitter who recognise that this update still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a good iPad Twitter app and will work hard to continually improve it.

What we’ve got so far is a baseline to make everything work well. It’s been a huge effort to rewrite the system in place as seamlessly as possible. One of our first steps was building landscape support, which we shipped for the iPhone 6 Plus earlier this summer. From this effort, we learned a lot about how and when to adapt to changing conditions. This was the foundation on which we built our updated iPad support. Now, we have new tools that are more robust and allow faster iteration. Adaptive UI gives us the ability to support new devices and bring new Twitter features to people faster. But as you might expect, from time to time there are going to be some differences in features and functionality between devices. In the future, we aim to get Twitter for iPad and iPhone to complete feature parity.

Dispatch 3.0 Brings iPad App, Improvements to Actions and Snippets

Dispatch has long been one of the most powerful email clients for iPhone. Originally released by Clean Shaven Apps in 2013, Dispatch took a unique approach at managing email by relying on integrations with third-party apps, online services, and text snippets. In a pre-extensibility world, Dispatch was the only email client for iOS that could work alongside your todo or calendar app of choice, turning messages into actionable items that could talk to other apps on your device.

As more and more "modern" email clients started using proprietary server-side features for smart processing and limited external integrations, Dispatch augmented email on iPhone with the power of third-party apps. Even after iOS 8 and extensions, the team at Clean Shaven Apps didn't lose its focus: in addition to custom integrations, Dispatch was quickly updated to support the native share sheet so you'd have the best of both worlds.

Dispatch for iPhone had app integrations, advanced reply options, and little touches that made it a superior option for power users who wanted more than Apple Mail. With one major caveat: Dispatch didn't have an iPad app.

This is changing today with version 3.0 of Dispatch, released on the App Store as a Universal update that adds a proper iPad counterpart designed to take advantage of the bigger screen for even faster email management and triaging.

Read more

Apple Q3 2015: Tim Cook on iPad

From Jason Snell's transcript of Tim Cook during the company's Q3 2015 earnings call:

I am still bullish on iPad, with iOS 9 there’s some incredible productivity enhancements coming in with Split View and Slide Over and Picture in Picture, these things are incredible features. The enterprise business is picking up and more and more companies are either contracting for or writing apps themselves.

And I believe that the iPad consumer upgrade cycle will eventually occur, because as we look at the usage statistics on iPad, it remains unbelievably great. I mean, the next closest usage of the next competitor, we’re six times greater. And so these are extraordinary numbers. It’s not like people have forgotten iPad or anything, it’s a fantastic product.

I've said it right after the first beta of iOS 9 and I can only reiterate this after four betas and now that I'm playing with some iPad apps with new features: iOS 9 is a game changer on the iPad. There are several touches on iOS 9 for iPad that feel like Apple is truly optimizing for this device now. It'll be interesting to see the effect of new iPad software and hardware on sales next year.


How iPads Are Changing the Way We Visit Museums

Good story by Thomas McMullan on how iPads are changing the way we visit museums:

The majority of these projects have a distinct focus on children. Is it simply easier to convince kids to use iPads and apps in a museum? “Yes,” says Rice. “I can’t tell you how blown away I was by these kids. I think kids are totally comfortable with the technology, and I also suspect that they’re more disciplined than adults in looking around. Whereas the adults tend to look at their phones, kids are more willing to do what feels right at the time.”

Unrelated to iPads, but fascinating (especially given this week's events): Satoru Iwata interviews Shigeru Miyamoto on the Nintendo 3DS Louvre guide.