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Sunday, May 16, 2010

iPad Review pt. 4: a few updates

This fourth short installment of my iPad experiences blog updates a few of my initial observations and some of my software recommendations.

One of my early complaints with the iPad was e way it didn't play well with many cloud services I depend on. As I suggested, though, 3rd party developers have been quickly addressing this shortcoming. Dropbox released their iPad client and it is awesome. Not only does it connect easily and fully, it allows you to open files in other iPad applications such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. That creates synchronized cloud storage with document editing capability. The only thing you can upload to Dropbox on the iPad, though, are images and video.

GoDocs is another piece of software that has given me the access I want to Google Docs. It allows me two browse my G-Docs files, download them for offline access, and it also uses the iPad's build in "Open in..." option to allow me to open files in any of the iWorks applications. Again, I can't upload files back to Google Docs (though I can use my Google Docs import email address to email files to Goggle Docs) directly, but at least I can now gab files and edit them.

Speaking of editing and note taking, Pages was recently updated to provide access to e menu bar in landscape orientation. That means I finally have a note taking platform with easy access to a list tool for when I want a bulleted list. Since it exports via email in default or .doc format if I want, it makes it very easy to get my notes into Evernote (using my Evernote mail-to address) or ores via email.

Twittelator Pro is still my best recommendation for Twitter on the iPhone or iPad. Nothing else offers the range of features and tools or does it so beautifully. Really, I can't imagine using any other Twitter client on either platform.

NewsRack is now my preferred iPad RSS reader, with full integration/sync with Google Reader. It is fast, full featured, and easy to use.

For Facebook I finally bookmarked the Facebook Web site and added it as an application icon on my desktop. That gives me the full featured Facebook experience rather than the limited iPhone application experience (which still isn't updated for iPad).

I have mentioned AirSharing HD before, and will do so again. This application allows me to print documents, email attachments, and email messages from my iPad by passing me through a running computer on my local network to a local printer. It works very well. I still wish there was direct print driver support, since this solution doesn't print Web pages or from some applications.

I have also settled on mSecure as my iPad password safe. This allows me to sync wirelessly with the iPhone and desktop versions of the application as well.

As others have also noted, the iPad camera connection kit not only works extremely well for cameras and media cards, it also provides unsupported access to some other USB hardware. The Apple keyboard I use with our Mac Mini, for example, works fine with my iPad when connected through the camera connection adaptor. I still see little reason to use an external keyboard with the iPad, but for those who want that option is is worth noting.

One final curious observation: I find that I routinely have trouble typing the word "the." something about my typing speed and/or the way I hit those three characters, but at least 50% of the time I get "e" instead of "the."

One final tip I picked up along the way: holding down the comma key will insert an apostrophe, which is faster than shifting to find that key when you need it. Of course, contractions can be left without the apostrophe and the iPad will autocomplete them for you, but for possessive words, this shortcut comes in very handy.

I still really like this new computing platform, and I think it is a good choice for many folks who would otherwise buy some form of full-featured computer. There are things it doesn't do, but they are few and getting fewer as vendors continue to upgrade their iPad applications.

- Kevin