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Link: The Limitations of the iPad

M. G. Siegler writing on 500ish Words:

“But [the iPad] is actually my favorite device. Yes, you read that right. While I certainly use the iPhone far more than the iPad, I enjoy the iPad more. It’s just perfect for what I actually like doing — reading, writing, needlessly getting distracted on Twitter, and such. In fact, I like using it so much that I find myself very annoyed these days.

Siegler goes on to say that he’s annoyed at the iPad because it’s such a great device, but it still can’t fully replace his Mac. There are some things that the iPad simply can’t do, or can’t do well enough. I feel exactly the same way. My iPad is also my favorite device, and it’s frustrating that it’s still so limited sometimes. Recent years have brought some great improvements (like split-screen multitasking), but we still have a long way to go. Here’s hoping Apple prioritizes the iPad, makes it better, and allows it to fulfill everything we all want it to be. ••

Slide Over: Limited, but still Useful

It’s been about a month and a half now since iOS 9 came out.  In general, I like it a lot (except for the new app switcher), and everything is running smoothly.  Not the least of the new features of iOS 9 were the iPad multitasking features.  Unfortunately, the coolest ones – where you can actually run two apps at a time – are limited to the latest model iPad of each size (the iPad Air 2, Mini 4, and Pro).  However, there are two features that are supported on my iPad Mini 2.

The first is picture-in-picture.  This allows you to watch a video in a smaller window while using another app.  This is useful, but I don’t watch a whole lot of video on my iPad.  However, I bet it’ll be great watching movies on our next road trip.

The second feature is the one that I actually get use out of: slide over.  This allows a second, iPhone-width app to “slide over” the one you’re currently using.  Like this:


At first, I thought this wasn’t going to be very helpful.  The newer iPads can have one app take of that width of the screen all the time, with the app to the left still fully functional.  This seems way more useful to me, especially since my iPad case makes sliding from the side of the screen over and over again kind of a pain.  So going into this feature, I was ready to be disappointed.

But honestly, it’s still really nice.  By far the most useful thing you can do here is reply to messages without leaving the app you’re in.  This seemed redundant to me at first, since you could already do that with actionable notifications.  However, pulling down to reply with iMessage has been slow and laggy in iOS 9, so it’s not as useful anymore.  Also, you can only send one message in reply.  If you want to send more than one, or a picture, you’re out of luck.  However, with slide over, you can just pull the Messages app onto screen.  It’s not just a reply box, it’s the full Messages app (well the full iPhone messages app at least).  It works really well and then when you’re done you just tap on the app you were using before and it slides off the screen.  Neat.

It’s not without flaws.  If I’m watching a YouTube video, slide over pauses it, because the first app doesn’t really continue running in the background; it just freezes.  And again, if I’m having a conversation with someone, I have to keep pulling Messages onto the screen, instead of it just leaving it there.  In other words, I wish my iPad could use all of the new multitasking features.  But as a first step, slide over is definitely useful, and it makes my iPad better and easier to use. ••

Why More People Don’t (But Should) Use Windows Phone

I don’t think it’s any secret on this blog that I like the iPhone.  However, picking a smartphone is a matter of personal preference.  Obviously, Android is also popular choice.  Blackberry, not so much anymore.  There is, however, one more smartphone platform that doesn’t get a lot of attention, Windows Phone.  I think the reason some people are put off by Windows Phone is the fact that it’s very similar to Windows 8.  Many people do not like Windows 8 on their computers.  To a large extent, I agree with them.  The reason for this is because Microsoft designed Windows 8 primarily for tablets, and it just doesn’t work as well on a PC.  Honestly, though, I like what I see from Windows tablets, and, by extension, Windows Phone.  I’ve never owned a Windows Phone, but from the little bit I’ve seen, it looks like a pretty impressive platform.  The user interface is unique, the OS seems responsive, and the phones themselves have good specs.  There’s just one thing left: apps.  Windows Phone has a definitive lack of apps.  It’s really a shame too, because right now, Windows Phone is stuck in a feedback loop.

Why don’t more people use Windows Phone?  Because there aren’t many apps for it.  Why don’t app developers take the time to make Windows Phone apps?  Because there aren’t many users.  Like I said, this is too bad, since I think the platform has a lot of potential.  Fortunately, Microsoft has one thing going for them: deep pockets.  If Windows Phone is going to catch on, it appears it’s going to catch on slowly.  If any company can afford to wait this one out, it’s Microsoft.  Microsoft has tons of money coming in from sales of Windows PCs (which people continue to buy, whether they like Windows 8 or not), Microsoft Office, and the Xbox.  If Microsoft can continue to support the Windows Phone long enough for people to adopt it, they just might have a hit here.

This is exactly what I hope will happen, maybe it will, maybe it won’t.  I’m curious as to what kinds of phone you guys use.  iPhone, Android, Windows Phone?  Something else?  Feel free to leave a comment and participate in the polls below.  Thanks for reading!  ••

Technology on Campus

In the past two weeks I started my joint-enrollment at Atlanta’s Southern Polytechnic State University.  Basically, joint-enrollment allows high school juniors and seniors (me) to take some (or all) or their classes at a local college, and the rest of their classes at their high school.  The college classes give double credit towards high school, plus they still count towards your degree once you start going to college full time.  As a homeschooler, this is a big jump for me.  Not only has it provided an entirely different atmosphere for school, but it has also given me many new opportunities to (aha!) stare at other people’s phones.  This has also gotten me thinking about all the other various electronic devices used all over campus.  I thought I’d run through all the tech I have, and why each piece is or isn’t necessary on campus.

1.  iPod
As someone who still doesn’t have a smartphone, my iPod Touch is basically my go-to device when I’m leaving the house.  Fortunately, SPSU’s WiFi is pretty good, so the iPod is definitely serviceable.  If I need to make a note of something, or if I want to check my email or twitter between classes, this small, portable device really can’t be beat.  Of course, being small is also a drawback in some respects, which brings me to my next device.

2.  iPad
At home, there’s no question that I’d rather use my iPad Mini over my iPod.  The simple fact of the matter is that it’s bigger.  However, on campus, I don’t really use my iPod a whole lot.  Sure, I use it, but it’s mostly for quick things.  Therefore, I don’t actually bring my iPad to SPSU.  I had thought about taking notes on it (I opted for paper there), and I did bring it to the first day of classes, just in case I needed it.  Honestly though it’s just one more device to carry around (and worry about getting stolen).  I’m not sure I even touched it that one day I brought it, so that means it’s staying at home from now on.

3.  Laptop
This was the one piece of equipment that I knew for sure I was going to need.  A friend of mine (who’s a year older) told me that they do a lot of in-class writing for English, so you needed a laptop.  My English class is actually held in a computer lab though, so I don’t think I technically need the laptop.  However, I do prefer to use it.  For one, I’m used to it, and I know how everything works.  Secondly, if I use the university computers, I have to use a thumb drive to save all my work and take it home.  This immediately makes me nervous; I don’t want to accidentally not save my work and lose everything.  That being said, the laptop is definitely something that I will be using frequently.  It’s also nice because just in case I do need to do something that I can’t do on my iPod, I can boot up my laptop, since I don’t have my iPad.

Oh I almost forgot – what have I picked up staring at other people’s gadgets?  Well, I’d say there’s a fairly even split between iOS and Android phones (though I think Android has the edge).  Most of the laptops are PCs, but there is a mac or two here and there.  Finally, I’ve also seen a few iPads floating around.  It’s a pretty tech-centered campus, though that term may be redundant in and of itself.  ••

That Rock and Hard Place Comfy, Microsoft?

Is Microsoft in trouble?  If you follow the tech world, I’m sure you have an opinion on this.  Long story short, not many people like Windows 8.  They don’t like the fact that Microsoft made huge changes to the Windows interface.  The problem is, Microsoft didn’t have a choice.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s the scoop.

The Rock…
Opponents of Windows 8 say that they liked Windows the way it was.  For the most part, this is true.  But it won’t stay that way forever.  The iPad is becoming more and more popular, and with it, touch interfaces in general.  However, when it comes to computers, people like their mice and keyboards, so why would Microsoft mess that up?

…and the Hard Place
Eventually, the way I see it, tablets will take over, and many people won’t care about traditional Windows at all anymore.  As the iPad gets more capable, Microsoft’s clock ticks closer to the end.  Microsoft had to change Windows to meet the new norm: touch.

This is the sad part.  I think Microsoft could have done better.  Microsoft had the opportunity to really blow us out of the water, truly bridging the gap between desktop and tablet, but they didn’t (or couldn’t?).  Instead, they gave us two interfaces, one new, one old, awkwardly bolted together.  (Public Service Announcement: Make Windows 8 work like Windows 7 for $5.  You’re welcome.)  What’s in store for Microsoft?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that if they want to stay around, or at least stay relevant, they’re going to have to pull together and ship something good, something that looks beautiful and really works.

Fortunately, Microsoft is good at supporting products for a long time, so as for me and my desktop, we will use Windows 7.  ••