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Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

New iPad Totally Awesome, but Two LTE Gotchas

March 25th, 2012

Like much of the rest of the folks who bought one, I’m really loving the New iPad (aka “iPad 3″). Yes, it really is that wonderful: instantly responsive and fluid, wonderful screen, and even without Siri, its dictation feature is a real boon when I’m writing small bits of text (for me, that’s when I’m marking up PDFs or design comps with feedback for work).

When I got the first one, in 2010, I wasn’t sure what sort of mileage I’d give it. While I was excited to get my hands on one, I didn’t really know how much I’d wind up using it after the “honey moon” was over, and it was no longer that shiny new thing. So I decided to exercise some fiscal restraint and pick just one of the available options for “upgrade” from the base model, between the storage bump (32G instead of 16G), or the mobile data option. Since I had already been happily using my iPhone heavily for on-the-go data access, I decided the extra storage space would give my buck the biggest bang.

Turns out I used the shit out that iPad over the two years that followed, but definitely come to missing the data connection option that I had eschewed on several occasions.

I skipped on the iPad 2, in part for fiscal discipline, but also because I had used the iPhone 4 and knew a Retina Display would be the irresistible iPad upgrade lure. Thank goodness that the 2012 iPad had delivered on that display, too, because the newer versions of all my apps had already started putting a noticeable strain on the CPU and RAM on my two-years-old iPad.

I put my order in for this iPad the day it was announced.

This time, I knew I’d use this thing heavily for the next few years, so I opted to max out the storage at 64G, and — being sick of AT&T’s shitty signal coverage on my iPhone — I opted for the model that supported Verizon’s LTE mobile data option.

Everything about this new iPad is brilliant, and I’m really enjoying having on-the-go data.

I won’t belabor the points about the smooth performance and the dazzling screen you’ll already have learned from other sources. They are indeed that good.

If you’re wondering whether I recommend you get one, the answer is almost certainly “yes”. If you’re similarly struggling, as I had previously been, between the getting additional storage or mobile data, I’m going to say most people would be better served by the mobile data option.

I do have two points of mild warning, however, both regarding the mobile data option:

  1. My high hopes for Verizon’s data coverage have been tempered by actual usage. Neither my iPhone’s AT&T 3G connection, nor my iPad’s Verizon LTE coverage gives me a lick of actually-usable mobile data throughput in my Time Square office. Both devices show many bars of “signal strength”, but trying to actually load content over the mobile data network gets me nothing but quality time with “Loading” spinners. While one can simply write off Time Square as a dead zone for data (as well as the prospect of finding any good food, or much else of particular value, frankly), I’ve also had data timeouts in other places in NYC’s boroughs. Perhaps I’d set my hopes too high, or maybe Verizon just had a surge in the load of new iPad-owner LTE traffic that they’ll adjust to over time. Time will tell.

  2. When data throughput is available on the Verizon LTE connection, it is very (very) fast. When coverage is available, my iPad’s Verizon LTE service is faster, in many cases, than the WiFi connection at my house which has a Verizon DSL Internet connection. So here’s the “warning” part of this point: be very wary of streaming any video content. Most video delivery services are designed to deliver lower-quality video to lower-bandwidth connections, and higher-quality video to higher-bandwidth ones. The trouble here is that the LTE connections are so fast that video streaming services deliver the highest bit-rate renditions of videos to your iPad. This will tear through the allotted data quota of whatever data package you’ve subscribed to far faster than you’d expect.

In any case, I’m delighted to be able to pull the latest posts from my RSS subscriptions into Mr. Reader while waiting for my coffee and eggs at brunch, or to review the tasks I’ve got in OmniFocus and ensure I’m working the latest sync of my data.

General Thoughts , ,

iPad 2 Display Prediction

December 30th, 2010

After reading this report from Digitimes, my Spidey Sense is telling me that Apple will forego a “Retina Display” in iPad 2, in order to:

  1. Achieve maximum supply volume,
  2. Place large enough bulk orders to minimize its component costs, and
  3. Sap the global 10″ LCD market of supply so that their competitors in the tablet market are forced into constrained supply situations, preventing them from competing with Apple at the iPad’s price points.

On a personal note, I’d be bummed to be right on this one; while FaceTime is quite spiffy, that Retina Display really is the killer iPhone 4 feature for me.

Predictions , , , ,

A Secret Agent Trick

April 14th, 2010

I recently discovered a neat little “trick” on my iPad (and iPhone): I’ve stumbled upon a way to listen to music streaming from Internet radio stations while I do “other things,” like check my email, take photos, or write text messages.

While iPhone OS 4.0 — due out this summer — will finally deliver the long-requested ability to allow users to listen to their Pandora or Last.fm radio streams in the “background” by virtue of its new “multi-tasking” capabilities, the solution I’ve stumbled upon works (in slight variations) today with any device running iPhone OS 3.x.

Although this little trick won’t work with Pandora, since you must be using a Pandora client to stream their music, you can use it with any radio station which exposes its MP3 or AAC music stream via a multimedia playlist file URL (which will typically end in .pls); basically any radio station you’ll find on Live 365, Soma FM, and more.

I’m a fan of Soma FM’s Secret Agent radio station, so we’ll use that for our example; feel free to try this out for any station you like.

The process is super easy, but slightly different between the handheld iPhone OS devices (eg, iPhone and iPod Touch) and iPads (for which it’s actually a bit spiffier), so I’ll take you through the steps for doing it on each one.

iPhone / iPod Touch

Launch Mobile Safari, and head to the following URL:

http://somafm.com/secretagent48.pls

You’ll see the following:

Safari fetches the PLS file URL

Once the playlist file is loaded, Safari will find the URL of the music stream, and start playing the music, and you’ll see this:

Safari has started playing the audio stream

Now — click the Home button and, say, check in on your email. Note that the music continues to play.

Isn’t that fantastic?

Just one caveat, though: you won’t be able to browse other websites in Safari until you click the “Done” button (top left), which — as you might expect — causes the music to stop playing.

One workaround is to use an alternative browser, like iCab, Opera Mini, or any of a number of other web browsers (some paid, some free) available in the App Store.

iPad

Things get a little cooler on the iPad. The steps to get you listening to the music stream are the same, but we can do a few more things once the music starts playing on the iPad.

Once the music starts to play, you’ll see this:

Screenshot of Safari playing the audio stream

Safari playing the audio stream

Note one key difference to note, however: unlike the iPhone’s Mobile Safari app, the iPad’s Mobile Safari continues to show you the browser chrome up top.

For starters, this means that you may continue browsing other websites in Safari on the iPad by simply tapping the tabs icon at the top:

A screenshot of Safari's tabs manager

Change tabs or create new ones.

What’s more you can actually create a bookmark for the radio station, so you can quickly listen any time:

Screenshot of Bookmarking

Create bookmarks for your favorite stations

But — and this is where I started to get a little verklempt — it gets just slightly more fantastic: you can bookmark it to your Home Screen.

A screenshot of creating a Home Screen bookmark

Now I can fire up Secret Agent FM from my Home Screen, just like Pandora or Last.fm.

Looks like the folks at Soma FM went the extra mile to specify a Home Screen icon for their website. Your mileage will vary with the availability of your favorite station’s dedicated icon for your Home Screen, however, depending on the site publisher.

Meanwhile, go forth and enjoy streaming some music while you’re sending those texts or reading the Times.

Check it out, Tutorials , , , , ,