Category Archives: Mobile Technology

Mobile Technology

How did Apple defy physics in the new 10.5″ iPad Pro?

Stuffing clowns into a car
Stuffing clowns into a car

  
Hardware:

Many people are scratching their heads about how Apple managed to cram an iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch screen into a case that is only 9.8 inches tall. This new model replaces the “old” (last year’s model) iPad Pro which featured a 9.7 inch screen stuffed into a 9.4 inch tall case.

The answer is simple: Apple pretty much took out the margins (bezels) on both sides of the screen and raised the top by only .4 inches. The margins are the areas that allowed us to rest our fingers or palms on the screen yet would not activate the screen. It seems that Apple has improved the hardware and software to a point where the screen does not register misplaced fingers and palms. Bottom line: the new screen, in pretty much the old case, gives us 20% more screen “real estate” to enjoy sharper (i.e. higher resolution) images, and 50% brighter than last year’s model.

The new iPad Pro 10.5 retains all the quality of the original with an ingenious four speaker stereo system and side edge connectors for accessories like the super slim Apple Smart Keyboard. Upgrades to the device include a more powerful set of cameras (front and rear), the main CPU goes from an Apple 9x chip to an Apple 10x chip which boosts basic processing, resulting in an increase over 250% faster than the previous model, and graphic processing is over 400% quicker than before. Apple claims that all this new hardware will not affect the strong 10-hour battery life.

Other improvements include the availability of a full-size Apple Smart Keyboard and new cases and covers to accommodate the slightly taller body. The new iPad Pro 10.5 also has the fingerprint scanner home button and supports the Apple Pencil. Internal storage RAM begins at 64GB (up from the previous 32GB), and then proceeds to 128GB and a first-ever capacity of 512GB. The iPad Pro 10.5 is reported to have 4GB of RAM.

The old 9.7″ iPad Pro with 32GB and WiFi was $599, the new 10.5″ iPad Pro with 64GB and WiFi is $649. The old 9.7″ iPad Pro with 256GB and WiFi was $899, the new 10.5″ iPad Pro with 256GB and WiFi is $749. The new 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pro with a whopping 512GB of storage is $949. The “sweet spot” appears to be the 256GB WiFi model which packs a larger screen, faster processor, and a whole lot more for about $150 less than last year’s model. If you need the WiFi + LTE cellular models, add $130 to the WiFi-only pricing.

Software:

The new device initially ships with IOS 10.3.2. The bigger deal is IOS 11, which ships in the Fall with enhancements available only to iPads. These enhancements will primarily be in multitasking, screen splits (allowing two apps to run side by side in adjacent windows), an application launch bar at the bottom of the screen (similar to a Mac), and a “file” app which allows for controlling where files go (local or cloud). Finally, the updated IOS 11 allows for “drag and drop” for web links, photos, text, and more — from one app to another.

The Bottom Line:

Apple is concerned about the decline in tablet device sales. Consumers do not seem to be in a hurry to purchase newer models, unlike smart phones. Apple has given us a new device with a solid update to both the hardware and software of the iPad Pro line (there is also a 12.9 inch screen series). Even the price seems to be sweeter for the 256GB model. Both hardware and software seem to be moving closer and closer to the tablet form,replacing traditional desktops and laptops. Certainly a case can be made that tablets (especially iPads) make more sense for seniors – the focus of this blog. As always, your comments are welcome.

To check out the new 10.5 inch iPad Pro Click/Tap Here!

Apple’s IOS 10 Operating System: Mature and smooth – and it only took ten attempts.

IOS 10 Artwork
IOS 10 Artwork

Well, after ten versions Apple apparently has gotten it right with the IOS 10 operating system. An operating system (OS) – regardless if it’s Apple, Google, Microsoft, or others – is never really finished. It is always a work in progress; features are added, bugs are squashed, compatibility with third party applications (apps) is improved – the list goes on and on.

If the operating system developer had only one hardware device to write OS software for it might be easier to get it right. Writing OS code that works reliably on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV for current devices, as well as for older devices, is quite a trick. There are thousands of permutations. Getting it right is very difficult, time consuming, and R&D expensive.

Apple is just about the only hardware manufacturer that also writes its own OS software. Samsung, Lenovo, Sharp, HTC, and dozens of others hardware manufacturers depend on OS software written by companies like Google (who makes Android OS software) and Microsoft (who makes Windows OS software) to develop their operating system software. Yes, I’m aware that Google also manufacturers the Google phone and the Chromebook, and that Microsoft manufacturers the Surface laptop. But these are “one-off” machines.

A few quick examples of improvements in IOS 10:

1. A completely redesigned Maps app that is simpler, bolder looking, and easier to use. A major improvement in day-to-day use. Location accuracy is also much better.

2. You can now read voicemail messages as well as listen to them. The voice transcription is pretty accurate and predictable.

3. The Photos app now includes the ability to organize by faces and map locations. Now you can easily find all the photos of your children and your friends. The map locations allows you to see all the photos you took in a specific location (as determined by GPS).

4. Siri is now open to developers so that you can directly tie into services such as Uber.

5. The music app tied to Apple Music is greatly improved in look and feel (see an expanded description below).

6. The Messages app has gone crazy! It has its own App Store. Add stickers, GIF’s, emojis and more.

7. iPhones now support a “raise to wake” feature that lets you see notifications without having to push a button.

8. The ability to remove Apple default (stock) apps like Stock, Weather, and most others. They can be reloaded later if you wish.

One detailed example:

When Apple introduced the “Music” app two years ago it was a mess. Missing options (like sorting lists), difficult navigation going from one area to another, inconsistency of menus are just a few examples. For a company that had just introduced its new 30-million-track service, like Spotify, it was a lame first attempt.

Last year’s IOS 9 update was somewhat better – but still not truly Apple in look or feel.

This year’s IOS 10 update is much better; a simpler, more stark appearing interface is easier to understand and use, with black and white graphics and text, while color is employed sparingly for emphasis. Sorting by artist, album, release date, and more, is available throughout the application. Song lyrics are also available for most tracks. The star rating system has returned to the joy of many long time iTunes users.

On a different subject – creativity:

Apple has been criticized for a lack of creativity since the death of one of its founders – Steve Jobs. I’m not sure that criticism is deserved. Here are three examples of recent product innovations.

1. The Apple Watch (second edition), has met with success from the media, retail, and the user communities. It’s now water-resistant, has a faster processor, improved operating system (3rd generation), longer battery life, and a less expensive starting price.

2. The Apple “W1” Bluetooth audio chip was just released. It is used on the new Apple AirPod wireless headphones, and several of the new Beats (owned by Apple) brand of wireless headphones. The W1 chips offers:

  • a. Extreme battery life – 40 hours of playtime vs 2-4 hours of most other wireless headphones.
  • b. Extreme range (distance) – up to 300 feet vs 33 feet of most other Bluetooth devices.
  • c. Simple pairing (connecting) interface – works with any Apple IOS 10 device by simply connecting to your first device, and then the rest of your devices are auto connected (if you use the same Apple ID on all of your devices).

3. The recently introduced MacBook Pro laptops with a new OLED color touch-bar located above the keyboard that dynamically changes depending on the software app being used.

My bottom line:

Apple is not perfect; not even close. But in many ways, they have innovative design, solid manufacturing, and great (read: loyal) customer support. I admit to being an Apple “fan boy”. 2017 will see the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. It will be interesting to see what improvements and new features will be added to IOS 11. Stay tuned!

APPS: What’s on my iPhone/iPad right now.

Favorite IOS Apps
Favorite IOS Apps

A lot of my friends – and a lot of you readers – have asked me what apps do you recommend?  As an Apple “fan-boy” since 1978 I’ve used hundreds of apps on every Apple device imaginable. Over the years my long list of devices have included the Apple ][, Apple ///, Apple Lisa, Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

Quite frankly there is no such thing as the perfect app.  Every app developer thinks their app is the best.  Few are.  Even great ones like Numerous for the iPhone/iPad which had over 150,000 active users recently died an untimely death due to a lack of customer funding.  The history of computer apps (from an earlier term: applications) is littered with a few standouts and thousands of little purchased and little used want-to-be’s.

To give you an idea how big the market for apps is, consider that Apple has over 1,500,000 apps available for the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod Touch. There are more than 15,000 apps available for the Apple Watch. In less than a year the Apple TV 4 has grown from 40 apps to over 5,000. Apps range in price from free to a thousand dollars or more! The average price for an IOS app for consumer use is $1.99. I’ve never understood how a person who spends hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone or iPad complains about the cost of an app that costs only a couple-of-bucks and has a lifetime of free upgrades.

I’ve compiled a list of my all-time top ten favorite apps for your consideration. Each app I use almost daily and each provides a good mix of features, performance and reliability. Note that some are free, some require a monthly or annual subscription, and a couple are reasonably priced. The list is in no particular order.

All of these apps work on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Some also work on the Apple Watch, Apple TV and the Apple Mac.

Check out my Top Ten Favorite Apps by clicking here:  Tom’s Favorite Apps

You will be taken to my app page where you can read a brief overview of each App and then click on a link to open the app in the Apple App Store.

Enjoy! Comments and questions are always welcome. Tech support is available from each developers web site.

Here’s Why Image Counts: Tesla 3 vs. Chevy Bolt

 

Tesla 3
Tesla 3
  
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt
 

If you were in the market for a pure electric vehicle and the cost was the same would you buy a Tesla 3 or a Chevy Bolt?  A third of a million Americans just voted with their pocket books and the answer for them was a Tesla 3.

In comparing the two vehicles consider the following:

  • Both cost about $35,000
  • Both are total electric vehicles (no supplemental gas engines)
  • Both are made in the USA
  • Both have an electric range of about 215 miles
  • Each has a different “style” or “look” – I’ll leave which is more attractive to you, the reader
  • The Chevy Bolt will be available in late 2016
  • The Tesla 3 will be available in late 2017

If we are to believe that the two vehicles are so similar (except for that “style/look” thing) why are the following facts so dissimilar:

  • In the first week of ordering availability in late March of 2016 the Tesla 3 garnered over 325,000 pre-orders requiring a deposit of $1,000 each.
  • Since its January 2016 unveiling the Chevy Bolt’s parents (GM) has projected that it will sell 20,000 in the first year.

What?!?  How can that be??? How did the Tesla 3 beat the pants off of Chevy Bolt without any struggle at all?

Tesla basks in same sort of consumer “glow” as Apple.  Its high-end design, engineering, construction, fit and finish and a reputation for overall quality are admired by owners, and non-owners alike.  Consumer Reports magazine reviewed the original Tesla Model S vehicle and gave it the highest marks of ANY car ever reviewed.

The Chevy Bolt looks like it was designed by a committee on both the exterior and the interior.  While this is the company that brought us Corvairs and Vegas, it also brought us inspired vehicles like the Corvette Stingray. 

The Tesla 3 looks like a coordinated effort of a team that believes in synergy of both the exterior and the interior of the vehicle.  The Tesla 3 interior is of a minimalist design and the cockpit dash panel looks like an oversized iPad. 

To be successful in the long term, EV’s (Electric Vehicles) will have to be more than “boxes with wheels” that are re-engineered gas vehicles with batteries.  Only “clean sheet” electric vehicles that are designed from scratch will succeed.  And to totally succeed there will need to be nationwide electric recharging stations that can handle ALL the connectors from different EV’s and not just proprietary ones from one or two manufacturers.

We need to start thinking of personal transportation as “computers with wheels.” Those with out-of-box thinking like Apple and Tesla will most likely be the winners.  Can Detroit make the change?

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.  Thanks for reading Tom Gordon’s – The iTechGeezer blog.

“Say Hello To A Good Buy!” Definitely My Journal of Choice: DAY ONE Journal 2

  

I have well over 150 apps on my iPhone and iPad. Although, you may ask, how many do I really use? The answer: about a dozen. I’ve been using apps on Apple IOS devices for about eight years. I consider myself a software explorer and I’ve tried hundreds of different apps – some with the same purpose. For example, to find a solution for the best word processing app on my mobile devices, I’ve tried Apple Pages, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs. After more than a few attempts to find the perfect word processing app (by the way, there is no such thing), I’ve found the one that is “perfect” for me.

Over my lifetime of computing (since 1978), I’ve tried to find the perfect journaling software application for both “regular” computers (Mac and PC’s – desktops and laptops) and “mobile” communicators (IOS, Droid, and other smartphones and tablets). I love to record day-to-day events, as well as life, and, of course, traveling experiences. Although my diary (i.e., journal) contains my personal thoughts and pictures, I’m not too worried about security; yet I still employ a simple security system.

Here is what I look for in a journaling software application:

 1. The same basic software features in both versions (traditional computer and mobile computer)

 2. A graphical look and feel to the user interface, as well as what I can record and save on the application. I’m a visual person. I love photos, videos, and a certain look and style to my stuff.

 3. Easy, nearly automatic, journaling. “Click” a button, add some words and photos, save, share, back-up, done.

 4. Security that is safe and reliable, while not requiring a lot of effort to access my stuff.

 5. The ability to share my journal entries with others, (via email, Twitter, Facebook, or messages) or, rather, to keep them entirely private.

My absolute favorite journaling software program (App) is DAY ONE Journal 2 by Bloom Built, LLC. Here is a link to their website: DAY ONE Journal Web Site Home Page

Bloom Built, LLC released its latest version, DAY ONE Journal 2, just a few weeks ago and it is a standout! Here’s why:

 • Extremely graphical. You have the ability to associate up to ten photos with any journal entry. You can take photos within the app or add them from your photos library.

 • Excellent entry security. Use a four digit pin, or use the iPhone/iPad fingerprint sensor.

 • Journal entries can be GPS location-based. Use the associated photograph GPS or your physical location at the moment. There is a map icon that shows you where all of your entries have been made. This is incredibly useful if you travel often.

 • Entries can be tagged for easy grouping.

 • Entry dates are automatically added, but can be modified for both date and time.

 • Weather temperatures and conditions are automatically added.

 • You can have multiple journals. Personal, business, projects, organizations, etc.

 • Activity tags like stationary, walking, running, biking, eating, etc.

 • Step count (from iPhones)

 • Music, or rather, what is playing on your Apple Music player (note that this is the only player supported) at the moment you made the entry.

 • Entry URL lets you share this journal entry by providing the user with a link.

 • Standard IOS sharing menu for sharing to Twitter, OneNote, Pocket, Facebook, Apple Notes, and dozens of other sharing apps. You can also save to Dropbox, copy, print, and view as a PDF.

 • Organize entries by map location, date(s), and photos.

 • Entry is synced over iCloud to all devices. Backup is daily and automatic. It is date and time stamped as well.

 • Text styles, as well as, type formatting, lists (bullet and numbered), HTML view, and other styles.

 • The Apple Watch is supported and journal entry is easy by using user defined “stock” entries, or voice dictation into the watch and even photo journal entries can be made using the watch.

 • DAY ONE Journal 2 is available for IOS: $4.99, or the Mac: $29.99 – A reasonable price for pretty much the ultimate in journaling (“Say Hello To A Good Buy!”)

If you like journaling, this is the app you need. Start a journal entry on any device, and then edit and update the entry from any device, anywhere!

If you have a question or thought, post it in the comments section . Thanks for reading, come back soon! Best, Tom Gordon

For Seniors: Should I buy a new computer? NO!!! Here’s what to do…

Just Say No
Just Say No

As an adult child of a technology challenged parent, grandparent, senior uncle or aunt this was a question I was asked more times than I can count.

THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”

In the “good old days” (prior to 2010) of personal computing the Senior was asking if they should they buy a new desktop or laptop. The standard answer in those days was to recommend what we used (Windows or Mac) and brand (probably HP, Dell, Gateway or Apple.) After all if you were happy with what you were using then they should be happy – right? Plus you KNEW that you were going to have to provide tech support for whatever you recommended – right?

THE “BETTER NEW DAYS”

Today (2016) we have many more options than ever.  Smartphones, e-Readers, tablets, smart watches – and of course old style “iron” like desktops and laptops are still available, but are catching dust at your local Best Buy store.  Certainly devices like smartphones and tablets are more portable (mobile) then moving around a desktop computer and monitor or a 4 to 6 pound laptop (yes I know you can buy under 2 pound laptops.)

DISCLAIMER: WHY TRUST MY OPINION?

I’m a little unique as a computer consultant – first I’ll be 70 years “young” in just a few months.  Second, I’ve been messing with PC’s and mobile devices since 1978 (perhaps before you were born.) I’ve spend thousands on PC’s, Mac’s – plus Newtons, Palm Pilots, iPods, and dozens of other mobile devices.  I’ve taught mobile computing classes during my corporate life, community Ed, consulting, and as a “Nook” trainer at two Barnes & Noble stores.

For the last few years I’ve become an Apple “fanboy.”  The deeper I’ve jumped into the Apple “pond” the more sense it’s made to me.  Yes, Apple products are probably more expensive but … the quality design, construction, store service and depth of support from the Apple ecosystem is IMHO superior to PC’s and Droid’s.

SO BACK ON POINT: WHAT SHOULD I BUY?

 If you want to make your mom, dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Betty or Uncle Fred happy; and quite frankly off your back for support? Here are my recommendations:

  • Device: An Apple iPad Air 2 (click here: Apple iPad Air 2) or later. The iPad mini (the Baby Bear) is too small for most Seniors to use and read comfortably on. The iPad Pro (the Father Bear) is too large to hold comfortably on a couch or in bed (not “huggable”).  The “standard” iPad Air 2 (the Mother Bear) is JUST right in terms of size (like holding a book or magazine) and weight (less than one pound.) It’s “very huggable” just the right size to read on the couch, the plane, and in-bed. The ultra-high resolution Retina screen is extremely sharp and clear.  Very easy for Senior eyes to read articles, books, magazines on.  DON’T be tempted to buy the 16GB model – both of you will be unhappy when your favorite Senior calls you late one evening and states… “My iPad says I don’t have any more room to store my photos?”  Buy the 64GB WiFi or WiFi/Cellular model.  It is well worth the difference in price. Also pay for the Apple Care Plus warranty program that even covers breakage (stuff happens!)
  • System Software:  There simply is no better mobile operating system available today than Apple’s IOS.  It is secure, fast, reliable, mature, robust and very easy-to-use.  Annual upgrades and frequent minor upgrades (both FREE) provide a device that is trouble free and also provides a few years of “future proofing.”
  • App’s: The Apple App Store provides millions of low cost or free software apps.  If you look at what most Seniors want to use a “computer” for it is the following: eMail, photos, web surfing, games, Facebook, reading books/magazines, and listening to music or watching a movie – all can be found on included software or on the App Store.
  • Additional Hardware: Your Senior is going to want a keyboard and a cover/case for that new iPad Air 2.  After trying many different brands the one that I would recommend is the Logictech Type+ keyboard case (click here: Logictech Type+). This keyboard is very sturdy, easy-to-type on, and gives good protection to the iPad Air 2. If your Senior needs a new printer then most any HP “e-print” ink-jet printer will work well.  This printer will work with Apple’s “Air Print” feature on the iPad Air 2 for truly wireless, no configuration printing. A good place to start is the HP Deskjet 2540 All-In-One which provides printing, scanning, and copying for a street price of around $75-$80 (click here: HP Deskjet 2540 AIO)
  • Family Sharing: One of the best reasons for buying an Apple device is Family Sharing.  This allows your extended family member to legally share movies, books, music and apps with the rest of your Family at little or no additional cost for almost everything. Learn more here: (click here: Apple Family Sharing) Just remember that all charges for media come to your credit card! (They will pay you back I’m sure!).
  • Combine with an iPhone: Plus, if your Senior is in the market for a new cell phone, then almost everything above also works with a new iPhone.  Thanks to Apple’s iCloud service calendars, emails, to-do reminders, photos, music, backups just works and “syncs” to one another.  No double entry!
  • Training:  There are dozens of options for Seniors to learn how to use their new iPad Air 2.  Apple Stores provide one on one and small group classes.  Many community Adult Ed and Senior Centers provides classes. There are MANY 3rd party “How To” books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.  Pick paper books (not electronic books) and look for ones with lots of pictures (not lots of text) and may be titled “iPad Air 2 for Seniors” or one of the “Dummies” series books.  Check the published date (inside a few pages) and make sure it is less than two years old.

Finally: Who is going to provide support?

The natural and normal response is YOU.  I mean they ARE your parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle – correct? Well yes, and you probably should.  But the best thing about buying an Apple product is that it comes with Apple Support.  USA based, and FREE – two magic words for Seniors.  They can go into any Apple Store (regardless of where you bought the iPad Air 2) and get help.  They can also call, “chat” or e-mail with Apple hardware and software support. For more information (click here: Apple Support).

Wrapping it up

Save yourself hours of time, effort, grief, anxiety and more!  NO they don’t need a new desktop or laptop!  They need YOU and a new iPad Air 2 that becomes their new “laptop.”  Good luck and happy Senior computing.

Comments, and questions are always welcome.  We appreciate you sharing this blog post with others.  Print it out and give it to your “Senior” family members.

Tom Gordon – the iTechGeezer

    Part Two: Apple iPad Pro review. Gotta Love It!

    Photo credit: www.seattletimes.com
    Photo credit: http://www.seattletimes.com

    WELL… I’ve been using my new iPad Pro for a little over a month so here is the follow-up review I promised you in my first review.

    Overall:

    If you get no further than this paragraph I can tell you that it’s a great tablet – and for me a definite candidate to replace a laptop.  Add a keyboard and you are all set!

    Here are just a few things that I think makes the iPad Pro “special.” –

    • Magazines:  Viewing digital magazines, especially through App services like Magzter, are absolutely stunning in landscape (horizontal) two-page mode. Super clear photos and text makes it just like reading a paper magazine.  Save a tree and go digital if you love magazines.
    •  Split-Screen: I’m using this feature right now as I type this blog (also shown on the photo above.)  The left side of my screen is using the app WordPress (my blogging software), and the right side of my screen is using Microsoft OneNote my note taking app that I have my blog outline on.  Both apps are “live” (multitasking) and easy to use side-by-side. Very handy for comparisons and reference work.
    • Apple Smart Keyboard: Was definitely worth the wait! Very usable.  Perfect full size key spacing.  Foldable stand for typing, viewing videos, and also protects the front of screen when not in use. Very thin (but yet sturdy) and lightweight. No need to pair or worry about battery charging the keyboard. Special magnetic connector handles charging and connection – very cool technology!
    • Apple “Pencil”: Again this device was definitely worth the long wait!  Comfortable “in-hand” to use for long periods. Works great as a simple stylus (especially if you have pudgy fingers) and as a drawing and painting tool in the growing list of apps that support it.  Although I’m not an artist, I am a photographer and use the Apple Pencil as a tool to help in selecting small areas for photo retouching and other chores.
    • Sound System: Apple really went all the way in producing undoubtedly the best sound system ever in a mobile device.  Powerful, yet clear, speakers on all four corners of the iPad are simply outstanding.  No matter which direction (orientation) you hold the iPad, the bass and midrange come out the bottom speakers, and the tweets come out the top speakers.  Now that’s innovation!
    • Power and Speed: Everything simply works faster on the iPad Pro. Opening apps, changing apps, split screen, games, video, all work at laptop class performance.  The new Apple a9x chip (the fastest Apple makes), more powerful GPU chip, faster WiFi, and 4GB of RAM and much more make this device truly a joy to use on an everyday basis.
    • Video: Better than watching a 13″ HD flat-panel television!  Great for bedroom, kitchen, workshop, porch, etc.  Use it to watch movies, YouTube, even network TV with the new CBS All Access app.

    Finally… Are there any downsides?  After several weeks the ONLY thing I miss is be able to snuggle with it on the couch or in bed.  It just a little too large to hold for long periods of time. And yes it is a little pricey – but in my humble opinion is worth the money when you consider the features and technology.  Perfect for the artist, designer, wordsmith or aspiring business person.

    Let me know if you have questions!