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Whoops, I Bought An iPad Air (32GB, Space Grey)

By TechnologyNo Comments
Lit Up Reindeer I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a tablet for a while now. I wanted something I can access Facebook on, use to listen to Music and watch Films/TV Boxsets on while being in the living room with the cats.

When I saw the previous generation Kindle Fire for £99 on Amazon’s website, I wasn’t sure whether this was a Christmas offer or Black Friday offer. I wasn’t even sure if the Kindle tablet would be what I wanted. But at that price, I had to look into it.

So during my visit to Manchester Christmas Market (see Getting Into The Festive Spirit: Manchester Christmas Market) my friend and I nipped into Currys PC World to have a look at the Kindle.

I was looking at the newest Kindle the Fire HDX and the screen was just seven inches. So on the one hand the Kindle was cheap, but on the other hand the screen was far too small for what I wanted to use it for.

Undecided on cost or screen size, I spoke with my friend about it and then to mum. With some persuasion from mum, I decided to buy the much more expensive iPad Air (32GB in Space Grey). Whoops! Here are some obligatory photos:

iPad Air - Box New iPad Air - Case Boxed New
iPad Air - Cover Green iPad Air - Home Screen
iPad Air - Back

The reasons I bought the iPad Air were: bigger screen, compatible with my other Apple Products (iMac & iPhone 5), really light, great hardware specs (including better camera than most other tablets) and a massive range of Apps via the App Store.

I also splashed out on a cover. A cover, just covers the front of the iPad (the screen), costs £35, comes in a range of colours and is perfect for using the iPad at home. Whereas a case, covers the entire iPad (front & back), costs £65, comes in a range of colours and is ideal if you’re planning on taking the iPad out and about. Be careful when buying, as their package design is very similar.

I’ve had my iPad for a few weeks now, so I thought I’d give you my first impressions of some of the Pros and Cons:

Pros Cons
  • Light-weight, feels lighter than the average book.
  • Great Battery Life.
  • Charges really quick.
  • Compatible with my iPhone 5 charger and USB charging.
  • Like the Space Grey effect, reminds me of the Star Trek pads.
  • Easy to set up & use.
  • Always on, quick to check Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
  • Great Apps available on the App Store.
  • iPad specific Apps, to make the most out of the iPad Air.
  • Made for media consumption, whether it be: Music, films, TV Boxsets or ebooks.
  • Now comes with free Pages, Numbers, iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band.
  • It just works. No crashes at all (so far), not even Apps.
  • Silent operation – no sound of cooling fan.
  • Reasonable speaker sound quality.
  • iMessage & FaceTime.
  • Can be backed up through iTunes or iCloud.
  • Updates Apps Automatically.
  • Has Siri.
  • Find My iPhone – Works for iPad, so you can detect where it is if its ever stolen.
  • iPad as a device is expensive.
  • Doesn’t come with headphones.
  • Would literately be a blank canvas without the Apps on the App Store.
  • Covers are expensive at £35. Cases are extortionately priced at £65.
  • Made for media consumption – Feels difficult and slow to create things on the iPad.
  • Inhibits creativity and makes it less likely that you’ll spend your time creating something.
  • Pages, Numbers, iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band are all designed to help you be creative, but each takes up an awful lot of disk space.
  • iTunes doesn’t accept .avi files, so most of my movies can’t be played on the iPad. Have found a work around which I shall be blogging about soon, it’s just frustrating because I shouldn’t have to do this.
  • No way to access my wireless hard drive.
  • Doesn’t seem to want to link to my iMac through WiFi.
  • Missing the biometric security, the finger print scanner the iPhone 5S has.

One or two of the Cons might just be things I haven’t worked out how to do on the iPad yet. If you know how to do something that I’ve put on my Cons list, feel free to leave a comment.

The iPad Air 32GB Space Grey is available to buy on Amazon, on the Apple Store Online or on your local high street (at various retail outlets).

Write soon,

Antony

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iOS 7 – It Feels Like Having A New Smart Phone

By TechnologyNo Comments

iOS7 - Homescreen I downloaded iOS 7 for my iPhone 5 as soon as it came out. It made me feel like I had a new new smart phone in my hands. Now that I’ve had iOS 7 for over a month, I thought I’d run through some of the features I think are Good and Bad; alongside my overall impression and what others have said on Facebook & Twitter.

The Good Features (click the link or scroll down):
Control Centre
New Ring Tones & Vibrations
Create Custom Vibrations
Block Contacts
Automatic App Updates
Set A Song To Wake You Up
MultiTasking
Siri Is MASSIVELY Improved
Added Camera Features – Square Photo Taking and Effects
Photos – Organised by ‘Moments’
Improved Battery Life

Control Centre
A quick slide up on the home screen shows the new Control Centre. Apple have removed the steps to turn on/off Aeroplane Mode, Wifi, Bluetooth & Do Not Disturb Mode. They’ve also added Air Drop as a feature and quick access buttons for: Torch (new), Timer, Calculator and Camera. All great for timesaving.

iOS7 - Control Centre

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New Ring Tones & Vibrations
Apple have added some new ring tones that sound great. Along with some alternative vibrations to the default. The only problem with the new ring tones is that they are far too subtle to use for an alarm clock. Luckily the original tones are still on iOS 7.

iOS7 - New Ringtones iOS7 - New Vibrations

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Create Custom Vibrations
Creating custom vibrations is a brilliant new feature added in iOS 7. My iphone spends most of it’s time on silent while I’m at work. With this feature I’ll always know whose calling or who has messaged at work by the feel custom vibration pattern I’ve created important people.

custom-vibration-ios7-2

This feature isn’t the easiest to find. So to access it in iOS 7 go to:
Contacts – Select A Contact – Edit – Vibration – Create New Vibration.

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Block Contacts
Apple has finally realised that we all meet a psychopath or two in our lives. So Block Contacts enables you to block all calls and messages from a contact (or several). If the contact tries to call you – it will go straight to voicemail. I’m not sure what happens if they message or email you, as I’ve never had to block anybody. But this feature would have been very useful for me in the past. The downside is that the contact has to remain in your address book and that there’s nothing to stop the blocked contact from calling/messaging on another number.

block-contacts-ios7

This feature isn’t the easiest to find. So to access it in iOS 7 go to:
Settings – Phone – Blocked.

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Automatic App Updates
Simply switch on automatic app updates during the iOS 7 setup and the iPhone will keep all of the apps up-to-date. Another timesaving feature.

automatic-app-updates-ios7

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Set A Song To Wake You Up
We all need some inspirational music to wake up to from time to time. Apple has finally allowed users to set a song from the iPhone’s Music Library to play on their alarm App in iOS 7. It’s about time, users of other smart phones have been able to do this for years.

set-music-for-alarm-ios7

In iOS 7 Apple still doesn’t let users set songs from the iPhone’s Music Library as contact ring/message tones. Again this is something that users of other smart phones have been able to do for years.

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MultiTasking
Multitasking is much better is iOS 7. Double click the home button and there’s a preview of all the open Apps. If you tap on an App it will take you into it. To close an App you slide it in the up direction. You can close two Apps at a time by using two fingers.

multi-tasking-ios7

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Siri Is MASSIVELY Improved
Up until iOS 7, Siri always felt like a gimmick. I’d tried him a few times, but he really wasn’t very good or useful. Well in iOS 7 Siri is massively improved. Here’s a few screenshots of him telling me what he can do:

siri-ios7-1 siri-ios7-2 siri-ios7-3
siri-ios7-4 siri-ios7-5

Siri is nowhere near being perfect and still needs more work. I have a few personal gripes with it, but Apple are heading in the right direction. Siri just needs more development.

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Added Camera Features – Square Photo Taking and Effects
In iOS 7 Apple has added the feature to take square photos. It maybe handy for a profile pic, but I’ll be honest – I’ve never used it.

camera-features-ios7-1 camera-features-ios7-2

I do like the pre-taking effects feature (screenshot above). Apple has done a lot of work under-the-hood and the result is an improved quality of photos. It means less blurry photos on iOS7.

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Photos – Organised by ‘Moments’
Photos in iOS 7 are organised much better. Organised through ‘moments’ it is easier find the photo (or set) you’re searching for.

I haven’t quite worked out how to get yearly views or rename my ‘moments’ from their original date names. If you know, please comment.

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Improved Battery Life
A source of frustration in the past has been my iPhone’s short battery life. In iOS 7, Apple have managed, somehow, to improve the battery life. Very impressive.

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Now The Bad Features (click the link or scroll down):
iCal
Circular Buttons on Lock Screen
Notification Centre
iPhone Search
The Annoying Autocorrect

iCal
iCal feels less functional and looks cheap. It’s gone from being a really useful tool to being to something that’s more difficult to use.

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Circular Buttons on Lock Screen
Apple has brought out biometric fingerprint scanning on the latest iPhone. For those without the latest iPhone new circular buttons are used to unlock the iPhone in iOS 7. I’m not keen on the buttons as the circular design means less of a surface area to tap.

circular-buttons-ios7

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Notification Centre
The Notification Centre feels less efficient than before. This is because of events on iCal. If they have been marked as all-day ‘free’ events (most of the events on my iCal) they don’t appear on The Notification Centre. So it’s impossible to take a quick glance of where I need to be or what I’ve got to do today in the Notification Centre.

notification-centre-ios7-1

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iPhone Search
In iOS 7 Apple has made the iPhone Search feature more difficult to access. Rather than swiping left on the home screen, you have to swipe down. I often pull down the Notification Centre by accident.

The search results are less relevant and there aren’t as half as many results as there used to be. Essentially the search feature in iOS 7 isn’t as good as it was in iOS 6.

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The Annoying Autocorrect
The annoying autocorrect is unbearably frustrating in iOS 7. It repeatedly changes words, even after you’ve changed them back. So annoying in fact, that I’ve discovered how to turn it off.

auto-correct-off-ios7

To turn your autocorrect off, go to: Settings – General – Keyboard – Auto-Correction – Slide to Off.

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Overall Impression
I’ve spent hours on iOS 7 exploring the new ecosystem and am impressed with it. The good features outweigh the bad and it is likely to be Apple’s most successful operating system to date.

In my Technology Review: The iPhone 5 post I described the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 as being evolution rather revolution. I advised Apple needed to do some revolution when it came to the iPhone 6.

Apple has definitely done a revolution with iOS 7; it feels simplified and fresh. Apple has taken My Advice to Apple and seems to have listened to customers and developers in the beta testing of iOS 7.

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Thoughts from Social Media
The design has had a mixed response from my Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Some have said iOS 7 looks like it’s been designed by a 5 year old. Whereas other love the design. But what is noticeable is that more of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers have updated this year than last year.

Blog soon,

Antony

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Technology Review: The iPhone 5

By Reviews, TechnologyNo Comments
iPhone 5 White I recently upgraded to the iPhone 5 (white, 32GB) from my iPhone 4 (black, 32GB). The upgrade was free as I sold my iPhone 4 back to the network.

I was excited when iPhone 5 arrived and as soon as I got my hands on it I noticed it was a lot lighter and slightly taller than previous iPhones. But this excitement soon turned to frustration as I tried to transfer my Apps, Contacts, Photos, Music and other data over to the new iPhone 5.

First I tried to Backup my iPhone 4 on iTunes to Restore on the iPhone 5, but apparently when I’d set up the iPhone 4 I hadn’t checked a box in iTunes and it wanted to erase my iPhone 4 before it could Sync it.

I managed to workout how to Transfer my Purchases on iTunes, then I completed a Backup of my iPhone 4 and Restored it on the iPhone 5. I thought I’d cracked it; but then I noticed that all my Apps weren’t organised how they used to be on my iPhone 4. Now I know that my Apps being unorganised doesn’t seem like a big deal but I love Apps and have hundreds of them organised in folders. The folders help me find the right App quickly and efficiently. After browsing the web I finally found a solution an iCloud Backup & Restore.

The iCloud Backup & Restore was a slow process and once it had finished it had to download all my Apps again, but at least it put them in the right places. I had to sign into all my Apps (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) again and put my music back on. So the switch from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 was a right hassle and I couldn’t help but be disappointed with Apple who usually make things so easy.

Once it was finally set up I began to look for things I like. Firstly I like Siri the voice controlled Personal Assistant. Some of his answers to questions were funny and below are some Siri funnies:

Siri Funny Happiness Siri Funny Family
Above: Siri’s definition of happiness.
Above: Siri thinks of me as family.
Siri Funny Meaning of Life 1 Siri Funny Meaning of Life 2

Above: Siri defines Life 1.
Above: Siri defines Life 2.
Siri Funny Flirting Siri Funny Marriage
Above: Is Siri flirting with me?
Above: Siri and I discuss marriage and his/her gender.

I like the taller screen although I think Apple could have used the opportunity to make it wider as well. I thought the retina display in the iPhone 5 would make a massive difference to my user experience, but it didn’t. This is presumably because of the size of the screen.

The iPhone 5’s camera is brilliant and I particularly like the new panorama feature. The headphones look & feel revolutionary with the sound being of a excellent quality, but they do take a bit of getting used too. Apple’s experience of making hardware & software compatibile means that the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 work together to give a noticeable increase in speed. It also feels like Apps crash less often.

iPhone-5-Lightning-connector The Lightening Connector is slimmer and able to go into the iPhone 5 either way which is handy when trying to plug it in before bed in the dark. But it soon came a source of frustration as the new connection meant it now longer worked with my speaker/dock device. I bought an Apple Adapter, but unfortunately this only allowed charging and not audio transfer.

I eventually found a work around by plugging one end of a AUX Wire into the back of the speaker/dock device and the other end into iPhone 5 headphone socket. But this turned out to be the first of a few dislikes.

Since the iPhone 5’s launch a few months ago there’s still a lack of speaker/dock devices with for lightening connection, as well as other accessories (e.g. cases, car hands free kits, etc.). This is a disappointment as I hadn’t realised how often I listened to music on my speaker/dock device or how often I had my hands free set up in the car.

The positioning of the aerial in the iPhone 5 regularly causes interference with my stereo in my car. This interference lasts more than a couple of seconds and interrupts my enjoyment of whatever I’m listening to. Something my iPhone 4 never did.

The iPhone 5 touchscreen is less sensitive sometimes requiring multiple taps for it to sense what you’ve pressed. Although only minor, at times it is frustrating and is another of my dislikes.

We live in a world where we are required to multi task. Yet the iPhone 5 still doesn’t allow me to actively run multiple apps and flick between screens. This is something I dislike about the iPhone, especially as other phones can do it.

Many reviewers have dubbed the iPhone 5 as an evolution rather than revolution; I would have tended to agree with this statement if there had even been enough evolution to warrant the cost. As it is, the iPhone 5 was a huge disappointment from Apple with only very minor changes (not all of are which good!) from the iPhone 4. I would seriously encourage people thinking of upgrading to speak to people who have already upgraded/bought the iPhone 5 to hear about their experiences.

In a post coming soon I’ll give my advice to Apple around how to make the iPhone 6 successful, as well as my thoughts on what else they could be doing better.

Write soon,

Antony

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Iphone Essentials: Accessories & Apps

By TechnologyNo Comments

I’ve had my baby (my Iphone4 32GB Black) now for just over a month so I thought I’d share some Iphone Essentials. First the accessories.

Accessories
I’m always on the move so my essential accessories are the DURAGADGET Suction Car Windscreen Mount,1.2m Iphone Ipod to Audio system Aux socket cable and a cover.

The DURAGADGET Suction Car Windscreen Mount allows you to put your Iphone in a holder and mount it on your windscreen or dashboard. It comes with a in car charger so no need to buy one of those, but it is difficult to assemble when it arrives. No instructions were provided and it took several of us to suss out how it works. My advice pull the back really hard after taking the screw out. It needs to be noted as well, that the Iphone wont fit if it has a case on.

The 1.2m Iphone Ipod to Audio system Aux socket cable is an essential to plug in to your in car CD player, if your car doesn’t have an iphone connector.

I couldn’t find a cover online that was reasonably priced and that seemed durable. Instead I headed down to my local market and picked one up. Covers are an essential as Iphone’s get scratched easily.

Apps
There are thousands upon thousands of Apps out there, but some good and some not. So here’s my fav apps by type:

Blogging

  • WordPress
    Good Points: Excellent for uploading media and writing shorter blog posts.
    Bad Points: Unable to delete local drafts.

Music

  • Moodagent
    Good Points: Organises and plays your music based on the mood setting you choose.
    Bad Points: Doesn’t catergories all music, particularly if your itunes library has some “Unknown Albums”
  • Shazam (Free)
    Good Points: Listens to music through the speaker and tells you what it is, even provides a link to itunes.
    Bad Points: Can only listen to 5 songs per month in the free version, full version very expensive.
  • Gaydio Radio
    Good Points: Allows you to listen to gaydio radio on your phone.
    Bad Points: Only works if connected to the internet via wi-fi.
  • Galaxy Radio
    Good Points: Allows you to listen to a whole host of radios on your phone.
    Bad Points: Only works if connected to the internet via wi-fi.

News

  • The Guardian
    Good Points: Get the latest news including photos. Lots of customisation – the app can bring up the latest stories in their catergories.
    Bad Points: When it updates you have to edit your settings again.
  • BBC News
    Good Points: Displays news including photo and video. A button can be clicked to see BBC News live video streaming.
    Bad Points: BBC News is too internationally based news for me.
  • Pink News
    Good Points: Gay related headlines and news from Pink News.
    Bad Points: Too much advertising.
  • Metro UK
    Good Points: View the Metro Uk paper free via the app.
    Bad Points: None in my experience.
  • Manchester Evening News
    Good Points: Local news for my area.
    Bad Points: None in my experience

Weather

  • Met Office
    Good Points: Finds your nearest weather station and gives weather for the week, with weather at specific times on the day. Lots of graphical data such as uk maps. Also states if there is an official met office weather warning.
    Bad Points: None in my experience.

Reference

  • Google
    Good Points: Can use it to search Google internet. Links to other apps (such as Youtube, Docs, GMail, etc.).
    Bad Points: More likely to use the search bar for Google searches in Safari.
  • Dictionary
    Good Points: Searches for spellings and meanings on Dictionary.com.
    Bad Points: None in my experience.
  • Free Translator
    Good Points: Translates text from one language to another.
    Bad Points: Need to be connected to the internet, doesn’t speak the translation so you know how to say it.
  • Google Earth
    Good Points: can see maps and birds eye view, highlights key listings for businesses.
    Bad Points: more likely to use the maps app that comes with the iphone.

Games

  • Civilization Revolutions
    Good Points: Turn based strategy game, lots of features.
    Bad Points: Very expensive for what it is, only allows you to save/play one game.
  • The Secret of Grisly Manor
    Good Points: A great puzzle solving game.
    Bad Points: Short, once completed can’t really be played again – however worth the money. Rubbish story line.
  • Empire Story
    Good Points: A roman-style city. Brilliant graphics.
    Bad Points: You produce products in order to make money, if you don’t check back shortly after they’re done they “spoil” even things like armor.
  • Pocket Ants
    Good Points: Enjoy squashing ants with stones, freezing them with a freeze ray and much more. Game cheap.
    Bad Points: The game doesn’t really have a point.
  • Plasma Globe
    Good Points: Relaxing plasma ball, if you click start becomes a game.
    Bad Points: Gets boring after a while.
  • Geared
    Good Points: Highly addictive. All you have to do is make the gears turn the blue gears, not as easy at it sounds! Brilliant tutorial on the first few levels. A total of 80 levels. Social – you can play it with friends all telling the person with the phone where they think the cogs should go! FREE.
    Bad Points: None found.

Entertainment

  • Youtube
    Good Points: Watch videos on the phone. Comes installed.
    Bad Points: Mostly requires wi-fi connection.
  • TVGuide.co.uk
    Good Points: See what’s on TV now and next as well as an grid of the entire day with the ability to see listings for an entire week.
    Bad Points: Advertising.
  • Movies by Flixster
    Good Points: Cinema listings with it finding your nearest cinemas. Watch videos and read about films including reviews.
    Bad Points: None in my experience.
  • Cineworld
    Good Points: See film listings and order.
    Bad Points: Only useful if your going to a cineworld cinemas.

Pagan

  • Star Walk
    Good Points: See the stars live, all named including constellations. Zooming in and out and moving around the globe. Good to see your star sign and what influences are in it for astrology. Cheap as well!
    Bad Points: None in my experience.
  • Liber Umbrarum et Lux
    Good Points: Lots of information, intended to be a journal as well, allowing you to add your own entries. Free.
    Bad Points: Lack of images, difficult to find your own entries and impossible to delete theirs.
  • Pagan Gods
    Good Points: Some nice images, cheap.
    Bad Points: Although cheap, not worth the price. Some images of poor quality and the app store page only shows the handful of beautiful images there are. Only a small amount of information about the gods and goddesses and some clear inaccuracies.

Shopping

  • ASDA
    Good Points: Can send in details of receipts to see if you could of got the shopping cheaper at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose. You can also find local stores.
    Bad Points: Doesn’t compare some items and you can only submit receipts 24 hours after shopping.
  • RedLaser
    Good Points: Scan a barcode using your camera on your iphone to find cheaper prices online. Seems to work well on DVD’s, CD’s, Laptops, etc. so you can see the best price online. Free.
    Bad Points: Doesn’t work on the majority of groceries and doesn’t search supermarkets.
  • Amazon UK
    Good Points: See your wish list, recommendations for you, search for products, order products and track your order. Free.
    Bad Points: None.
  • Ebay UK
    Good Points: Watch items, see the status of items your buying and selling. Place bids. Free.
    Bad Points: Only useful if you use ebay.
  • Argos
    Good Points: Can shop and reserve to collect in store. Can find stores. Free.
    Bad Points: Takes a while to load, only useful if you shop at Argos.

Travel

  • NavFree
    Good Points: Free sat nav. Seems to work as well as other popular brands but free.
    Bad Points: Only useful if you have a dashboard or windscreen mount.
  • thetrainline.com
    Good Points: Can find the next train home, plan journeys. Even buy tickets – although I haven’t tried this feature.
    Bad Points: None.

Other

  • Dragon Dictation
    Good Points: Free. Tap a button and say what you want to type. Then it types it for you. You can then send the text as SMS, email, facebook, etc.
    Bad Points: It occasionally misses words or gets words wrong.

As with most technology there are constantly new apps in development and apps being updated. As and when I find new apps I like I’ll occasionally write a blog post keeping you up to date.

Write soon,

Antony

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