Snapseed is is a photo editing app for the iPad that takes full advantage of the iPad’s multi-touch interface and allows basic image editing as well as creative filters to be applied to images taken with any camera and imported.

Watch their introductory video tutorial for an overview. More video tutorials at the bottom of the page.

I have to say, I’ve not used my iPad to edit images but watching their intro video makes me want to. Fun stuff and very well designed.

[via Steve Splonskowski]

Apple updates iBooks app with ‘read aloud’ feature

Apple updates iBooks app with ‘read aloud’ feature

Help your children learn to read with the new read-aloud feature included in select children’s books from the iBookstore. The read-aloud feature uses a real narrator to read the book to you, and in some books, it will even highlight the words as you read along.

This is incredible news, not just for people who have a hard time with reading but also for people who are learning English as a second language and (hopefully in the future) for excellent readers who want to give their eyeballs a break.

[via Edward McKeown]

iPad vs MacBook Air for a serious photo trip

On the road with a camera, an iPad, and a Hyperdrive

Ben Long at Macworld does a nice job of framing the various issues of traveling (in Turkey) on a photo assignment with what sounds like a Canon 5D MK II (large RAW files), an iPad, and other tools for working with his images on the road.

Ben goes to great lengths to use an iPad by adding a folding keyboard and a HyperDrive (storage device for photos) but commenter “ekornblum” calls him on the portability factor with this insightful comment:

OK, let’s stop the madness.

The iPad 2 weighs 607 grams. The HyperDrive (including drive module & battery) weighs 298 g. The keyboard weighs 159 g. Combined that’s 1064 g, or 1.064 kg.

A MacBook Air 11 inch weighs… 1.06 kg.

It weighs less and is much more functional (faster processors, more ram, full fledged apps, higher res screen), and is smaller than all 3 of the above items combined.

Yeah, you only get 128 GB storage, but you could just add a regular external bus powered drive that’s about 200 g (smaller & lighter than the HyperDrive), so the weight difference is minimal.

Or a MacBook Air 13 inch weighs 1.32 kg and provides 256 GB, with even higher screen res. Once again, that’s only 256 grams more weight than the iPad, HyperDrive, & keyboard.

I gotta call silly on this one…

There are times when it will make sense to carry a computer running Mac OS to have better access to files and software and a real keyboard and it seems to me that this is one of them. Even an 11″ MacBook Air would be an improvement here but as the commenter says, there’s room for a 13″ model and one still has a lighter solution.

I think I might trust a service like DropBox or in the future, iCloud for storage rather than the HyperDrive which runs the risk of being stolen or breaking down on a trip. Or, why not just have a lot of CF cards and maybe some pre-paid mailers to send them home.

This is an interesting “problem” and no doubt there are many ways to handle it. Of course, first you need to book a trip.

Travel apps

I recently returned from Los Angeles, to Connecticut by plane. The routing was LAX to JFK. I was chatting with my friend Gary the morning I left and he wanted my flight number so he could track the flight (UAL 431).

I gave him the flight number and he searched and found the free FlightView app, downloaded it, installed it, and liked it. I noticed it has Apple’s iAds on the bottom of its screens and I’d pay the $0.99 to get the version sans-ads. For $3.99 there’s FlightView elite that notifies you of boarding times with push notifications as well as gives you maps and driving directions to airports on your trip. A competing app is FlightTrack which has a FlightTrack Pro version as well.

These apps go well beyond flight tracking and are general purpose travel apps that allow the storage of many of the details of a trip in a convenient form with those details updated automatically if times change. This got me thinking, why don’t I use an app like this?

Flight Tracker widget

I’ve been using both the OSX Dashboard widget Flight Tracker to check flight status but it doesn’t allow any trip information to be stored. So, I use Simplenote to keep track of this kind of stuff but my process is crude by comparison: I enter all the information and it’s not connected to anything; if flight times change I get notified by United via email and have to edit my travel list by hand. My guess is using an app for travel will make this process easier. Both of these apps can pull travel information right out of a confirmation email you get from an airline (in theory).

This is great stuff, I’m looking forward to messing with one or more of these on my next trip to LA in June.

3/11 Tsunami Photo Project

The 3/11 Project: Photographs from Japan, Helping Japan

The 3/11 Tsunami Photo Project is a new app featuring the work of fourteen photographers who documented the tragic aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The .99 app, published by Kodansha, is an innovative fundraiser as well – all proceeds from the project go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

iTunes Preview page: 3/11 Tsunami Photo Project.

An iOS app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch the proceeds from which will go to the Japanese Red Cross.

Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn ponders big Brazil move

Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn ponders big Brazil move

Tech companies are keen to sell to Brazilian consumers hungry for high-end electronics, but gadgets are often priced out of the market because of high production costs and import tariffs. Apple’s cheapest iPad, for example, retails for about $860 in Brazil, versus $400 in the United States.

India had or still has similar stiff import tariffs making it prohibitively expensive to sell even low priced electronics there.

iPhone needs to be burped to find MicroCell

We put an AT&T 3G MicroCell in our house and we now have five bars on both iPhone 4s in and around the house. We did this because we have very poor coverage here in Warren, one or two bars in the house most of the time.

The problem with this set up is that when we come home our phones will not let go of the weak local tower signal and pick up the MicroCell automatically. We have to turn the iPhone’s cellular radio off by putting it in airplane mode, then turn the radio back on by turning off airplane mode to get the phone to pick up the MicroCell.

This is not a once in a while thing, we have to do it every time.

It seems to me that this isn’t a problem with the MicroCell but a problem with the iPhone’s ability to determine that one signal is stronger than another and switch to it in the background. No doubt many of us have experienced this with wifi signals as well; you’re sitting right next to a wireless router but your device (iPhone, iPad, Mac or other wifi equipped device) won’t drop a weaker one it was connected to.

Somehow this seems similar to the problem iPad 2 owners are having picking up Verizon’s signal but who knows?

We were and are hoping to use our iPhones enough with the new MicroCell to consider dropping our landlines but this is certainly a bump in that process.

Do Books in the House Make Smarter Kids?

Patrick James over at GOOD found an old post on Salon and commented on it: Do Books in the House Make Smarter Kids?

Here’s Laura Miller’s post at Salon: Book owners have smarter kids.

While I’m not sure I see how being exposed to books can make one smarter, exposure to books can certainly make one more literate, worldly, comfortable with print material and seemingly if not actually educated (different from smarter).

If you happen to be comfortable in bookstores or libraries — if you’ve been to them many times before and know what to expect, what you want and where to find it, or if you know whom and how to ask and feel entitled to bother the staff with your questions — it can be difficult to appreciate how intimidating these institutions of print culture can seem to someone who has little or no acquaintance with them.

This is very true and as someone with a reading disability I can tell you that the thought of walking into a library and not understanding the card catalog and having to ask for help kept me out of libraries. However, once card catalogs went electronic and I could use them on my own I started to use libraries more. I still had a hard time reading, but at least I could find what I then struggled to read.

I think there’s also a class issue built into this that is self-perpetuating: people with education have books, TV, computers, and lots of ways of dealing with information in the house for kids to use. People with less education might have fewer tools available relying more on TV than books.

At the end of his comment Patrick asks:

I wonder how electronic books and iPads would factor in to a future study like this. Does being surrounded, physically, by walls with shelves of books play any role in shaping a child’s perspective? Or is it simply the access to literature that’s important?

One needs both: the physical World Book to thumb through and an iPad with an electronic version along with wikipedia. It’s a matter of familiarity: if one is familiar with books, how they work and how to use them then they’re one more tool for finding things out and when the iPad doesn’t cough up what one wants one can go to the book shelf, or, the iBook shelf.


Inkling signs with major publishers to bring 100 textbooks to iPad by 2012, no actual ink

I was talking with some friends the other day about their use of the iPad and they brought up an app/company called Inkling which I’d never heard of.

This company seems to get it completely: it’s not just a matter of putting digitized textbooks in the iBooks store or on Kindle, it’s about attempting to transform them to take better advantage of the iPad’s capabilities: multi-touch interface, networkability, and more.

I don’t know if Inkling will be the one to eliminate those enormous book bags students carry around or the considerably expense of college textbooks but there is certainly a great opportunity in this space and Inkling seems to be on the right track.


John Gruber’s take on the iPad2 introduction: The Chair.

Good iPad apps can make the iPad feel not like a device running an app, but like an object that is the app.

This is right on the money and is achieved by having a device that one holds in one’s hands, by having apps run full screen, and by creative use of the multitouch UI.

I watched the Steve Jobs iPad2 Introduction and I think Gruber nails it. Taking Gruber at his word that:

Last year, Apple’s take on the iPad seemed to be that they believed they had something good. This year, they seem to know they have something enormous.

it’s obvious that Steve Jobs who looks to be bravely fighting serious illness felt that he had to make this presentation. I teared up during the ovation he was given at the start; many in the audience thought it might be his last public appearance in a role like this which he excels at.

For what it’s worth, Steve Jobs gave me my first Macintosh at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1984. That computer changed my life. Jobs has changed a lot of lives with his products and the iPad will no doubt change millions more.

In a way, the iPad delivers on what Apple said the original Macintosh would be: the computer “for the rest of us” except its doing it in what Jobs called “the post-PC world.”

Yes, I’ll be getting an iPad2 for sure.

How OS X Lion Leads to the Next Computing Revolution

How OS X Lion Leads to the Next Computing Revolution

This is an excellent overview of how the next Mac OS X update, OS 10.7 “Lion” is moving Mac OS a bit closer to some of what users enjoy about the iOS (iPad and iPhone) experience.

This evolution in operating system hasn’t really affected Apple’s computer hardware yet and the new MacBook Pros Apple released yesterday are examples of that but the MacBook Air with its smaller solid state storage and less emphasis on raw processor horsepower is an example of it. Many (me included) were hoping for a bit more MacBook Air influence on the new MacBook Pros but no doubt that will come a bit later after Mac OS 10.7 is out for a while.

[via Steve Splonskowski]

Apple products and price sensitivity

Prepaid Touch Panels Could Be the Secret to iPad’s Success in 2011

I disagree with the premise even though its a fact that Apple prepaid for a huge amount of flash memory and now touch screens. The premise here is that people are choosing the iPad because of price and that competitors who didn’t pre-pay for components will have to use more expensive components and so, will be charging higher prices. This is true, the competition may cost more because Apple has bought components up front in bulk but also because Apple is manufacturing on a larger scale (they sell more units).

However, as we know with other devices Apple makes, when people want that particular device or want an Apple product because its compatible with their other Apple products price is not at the top of their list.

Example: rumor has it that Apple will be announcing a new line of MacBook Pros this coming week and I’ll be in the market for one. I’m not going to consider a Sony or Dell no matter how much they cost (the rumor is that they’ll be lower cost than current models but that’s not going to sway me). I’ve made a commitment to Mac OS since 1984 and that’s where I am.

The other piece of this is that I already have an iPhone and an iPad and have made an investment in iOS and collecting iOS apps for iPhone and current iPad. People like me would not jump to Android if Apple raised the price of the next iPad slightly. They probably won’t but the point is price sensitivity isn’t something I’m thinking about.

As in the computer world of old, price is meaningful for new users who haven’t made a commitment to an OS, to users who are considering moving from Windows/Android to an Apple device, or in the world outside of Apple where Windows or Android will run on a variety of devices one can choose from. But, once you’re hooked into the Apple world (for any number of reasons) there you are.

Is Mobile Affecting When We Read?

Is Mobile Affecting When We Read?

Fascinating piece with graphs on the reading habits of people who are consuming at least some of their reading material on computers and hand-held devices and using services like Instapaper and Read it Later to time-shift when they read things they find. The study is from Read it Later.

The flood of content disrupts us all day as if we have an maniacal paperboy throwing new editions on our doorstep every 15 seconds.

Yep, that’s about it.

I’ve been using Instapaper for a while now to save things I want to read later after the paperboy settles down or I get tired of picking up new papers, many times on my iPad.

When a reader is given a choice about how to consume their content, a major shift in behavior occurs. They no longer consume the majority of their content during the day, on their computer. Instead they shift that content to prime time and onto a device better suited for consumption.

Initially, it appears that the devices users prefer for reading are mobile devices, most notably the iPad. It’s the iPad leading the jailbreak from consuming content in our desk chairs.

And this is one of the important reasons I do not want to get another desktop computer: I don’t want the “best” computer in the house to be a magnet holding me in my office chair. I know this is a fallacy because I can collect things to read all day on the iMac and read it later on the iPad in a comfortable chair, but somehow I’m worried that won’t happen with me. Odd worry but there it is.

[via minimalmac]

Travels with iPad

I’ve been meaning to do a post like this for a while, sorry its taken me so long.

Traveling back from LAX to JFK (Los Angeles to New York) yesterday I saw the following:

In the United *Red Carpet Club (RCC): four 11″ MacBook Airs, one 13″ MacBook Air, twenty iPads (used with a mixture of Mac OS and Windows laptops), four 13″ MacBook Pros (some might have been aluminum unibody MacBooks) eight 15″ MacBook Pros, at least ten laptops of various brands running windows and four small netbooks of various brands. Too many iPhones to count.

I routinely use my 15″ MacBook Pro on a desk in the RCC because I like the keyboard and I have a wall outlet to plug into and desk space to spread out on.

* The Red Carpet Clubs have a yearly subscription price which can be paid for with miles or money. If you fly a lot these clubs (all major airlines have them) are an oasis of quiet, space to spread out, free coffee, juice and snacks, clean bathrooms, and calm. Wifi is free (via T-mobile) in the RCC.

On the plane, a 757 *PS flight: five 11″ MacBook Airs, at least fifteen iPads that I saw in use, at least five netbooks of various brands that I saw in use, and a variety of both Mac and Windows running laptops. There were also at least fifteen Kindles in use including by the woman sitting right next to me.

* PS = premium service which is a specially modded 757 with more first and business class and gogo inflight wifi. United only flies these planes from New York to LA and New York to San Francisco.

These PS flights are very popular with frequent travelers and I regularly see actors on them as well as the same business fliers. The types of people who use these flights, especially who have enough miles or money to be sitting in business or first class, usually have the resources to buy the computing tools they need so I can’t say that the 11″ MacBook Air has penetrated beyond the types of people who take these flights but I did notice that not everyone using one was a business man or woman in a suit, some were younger people in jeans.

The iPad has penetrated everywhere, across all demographics and across all computing platforms. And, this penetration hasn’t slowed down or peaked, it continues to grow. People in all classes were using iPads and Kindles too. I find it interesting that some who use Kindles don’t realize it has a radio because they fail to turn it off when the flight attendant announces that all electronics need to be turned off. This is both worrisome and wonderful: worrisome for the lack of knowledge, wonderful that the device is thought of more as a book, less as an electronic appliance (we hope). Of course, I have no clue how many iPad 3G owners are also clueless about this.

The iPad has made travel for me a dream. I can now more easily sit in coach without stuffing my pack under the seat in front because I don’t need access to it during the flight. All I need is my reading glasses, headphones, iPad, and a few Clif bars. I choose aisle seats and I can get to my pack overhead if I need to but so far I’ve not needed it. My 15″ MacBook Pro is in the pack overhead.

I buy the gogo inflight internet service for $12.95 which I’d like to see built in to the price of a ticket but that’s not going to happen until more people use it and the airlines are in the black. It’s easy to set up on the iPad: run Safari, click on any link and you’re redirected to gogo’s login. If you have an account connecting is a few clicks and you’re on. It helps to have set up the account ahead of time so you’re not typing credit card numbers on a crowded plane. Gogo has gotten better over time about making login easier. They could be better but it’s a snap once you’re used to it.

The downside of gogo as it is now is that watching streaming video is near impossible so using it to watch a Netflix movie or even a youTube video is rough (many choke points). I’m not sure if this is because so many people are now using the service on each flight or because the bandwidth of the service isn’t fast enough yet but it’s just not great yet. However, it’s fast enough for almost everything I like to do on my iPad: read my feeds with Reeder, push the stuff I want to save for later (video, for instance) into Instapaper, email articles to friends, check email and Twitter (the iPad Twitter client sucks) and watch movies I’ve already ripped at home on my computer.

Just a note: In my opinion RSS is a much more useful subscription service than Twitter. I’ve felt this for a while now but using both on the iPad cements it. I have no clue how people with Twitter accounts can be tracking thousands of feeds and actually keep up with them. I’ve given up on it really, use it more as a broadcast medium than a tracking medium.

I watched an Eric Clapton concert and The Taking of Pelham 123 (new Tony Scott version), stayed on top of email and read my feeds, listened to a podcast of a segment of This American Life I missed and read the New York Times’s latest headlines, all on less than 1/3 of the battery life of the iPad.

It was easy to pause, get up and let the folks sitting inside out to use the restroom and it was easy to pull the tray table down to hold a drink. The iPad is the ultimate travel companion and the only thing that would make my life better at this point is if Bose would put thicker and less tangly cables on their headphones (Triports).

Before I bought an iPad I was seriously considering a MacBook Air for travel but after a few trips with the iPad that desire is gone. I want the integration of iOS in a traveling device not to mention the long battery life. I was a fan of the iPad before I bought one and was late to adopt one, mostly because of my reluctance to own a computing device without a hardware keyboard. Now that I’m over that hump and because a lot of my interaction with both my computer and iPad and iPhone is via cloud-based services the iPad is just one of three devices I interact with the world through and on planes it’s the device of choice.

More about MagCloud

A nice overview of how the MagCloud publishing system works. As readers here know, a few of us have produced a MagCloud project: Wabi Sabi which was a lot of fun. We’re working on a few new issues of the magazine right now and one should be out in the next week or so.

MagCloud is a well designed web service from both a publisher’s and a reader’s perspective and the video above sheds more light on how the back end of the service makes the process work well.

[via Powazak]

More Schools Embracing iPad as Learning Tool

More Schools Embracing iPad as Learning Tool

It’s such a natural fit it makes perfect sense. However, as with early adoption of personal computers that didn’t always work out well, education tends to want to automate pieces of existing curriculum rather than rethink the curriculum to take best advantage of the power of the tool.

The iPad has many things going for it though that might make it work where older personal computers didn’t:

  • iOS is a simpler, more controlled operating environment
  • iPads are smaller and lighter and easier to take everywhere
  • There is now a wifi infrastructure that didn’t exist in the early days of personal computing
  • iOS apps are much less expensive than packaged computer software and more easily distributed

But, an iPad or a classroom full of them can’t make up for a less than great teacher or a less than great plan for using them effectively.

Time will tell.