Friday, April 15, 2011

Wallpapers and iPad interface

It's strange to me that even now, a year later, iPad still does not let you select a different wallpaper for each app screen you have. It would be more fun, and it would be easier to navigate because you can tell in a split-second which screen you're on.

And personally I'd like more personalization of the interface in general. I realize this is tricky, since the power of the iPad is that it's so simple to learn. But there could be a "Advanced Interface" (with a warning) setting somewhere, which when set would let you use smaller icons, or nested folders in columns, a real file system, or... whatnot. My main issue is that despite folders, it is still too difficult to find the app that you need, instantly. There must be better ways.

Oh, by the way, I found a nice interface modifier. Well, actually, it's just wallpapers which make it look like the icons are sitting on shelves and such (this illustrates how little you can do to "customize" the interface, basically nothing). But it's cute. It's called Pimp Your Screen.

Here's just one wallpaper. There are many, many, in many styles. Most are more colorful and wilder than this one.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The new Blackberry Playbook

An early review of the Blackberry Playbook, a name which has many people puzzled, since more than any other tablet, it's meant for work, not play!
It's interesting in that it's the first serious tablet which runs neither iOS nor Android, but a third one, Web OS.
It seems to have nice hardware and interface. The issue is then if it can attract enough developers to get a bunch of interesting apps.

Update: There are a lot of "buts"... here's David Pogue's review

Tablet computer powerful tool for kids with special needs

[Thanks to John M for links today.]

Tablet computer powerful tool for kids with special needs, article.
Since he got the device, “Cade has definitely become more communicative and is independently trying to say new words that he was previously only signing,” says Mary Lewis, special education teacher at the Anne Carlsen Center.

iPad 2 shortages delay paperless meetings

iPad 2 shortages delay paperless meetings, article.
European companies, including at least one Swiss multinational, are being forced to delay a move to paperless board meetings because of the shortage of Apple’s recently launched iPad 2 tablet device .
Company secretaries in Europe and elsewhere quickly embraced the original iPad and a specialised iPad app called Boardbooks from Diligent, a New Zealand-based software developer, as a money and time-saving alternative to sending out bulky packages of board papers to directors each month. [...] “Almost all of large organisations are now requesting their board papers on the iPad. The big problem Apple faces in the short term is meeting enterprise demand for the devices,” he said.

And I think this market, perhaps more than anything, will push the need for an "iPad HD", with a larger screen with higher resolution. It's really necessary if they are to show a full letter-sized documents with many details.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tablet uses

From a new survey, it seems that games are dominating in tablet use. I guess that's not surprising. I was never interested in gaming, but clearly I'm in a minority. (I have tried many times, but it just doesn't hold my interest beyond ten minutes.)

What I like though is that ebook reading is at a healthy 46% of tablet use. And if you add web article and e-magazine reading to that, that becomes a very respectable usage stat.
I don't know why, but for me, a tablet/reader ads some power to reading it didn't have before.

The survey also showed that 82% of the 1,430 users surveyed used their tablets mainly at home. I've touched on this before. I wonder if this would change if the iPad were to weigh, say, 300 grams only. Dunno. But I think it speaks of the power and usefulness of tablets that they are being so much used even when there's a perfectly good desktop/laptop computer right nearby.

Photo by Eolake Stobblehouse

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Digital natives

I won't go into the convoluted arguments of this article, but I just really liked this graphic.

...Well, maybe a little:
It just seems clear that we learn best when we're the youngest, and the neural paths have not yet stiffened. So obviously youngsters have a much easier path to travel with new technology.

The upcoming bounty of graphic rich ebooks

Science-fiction (almost) article on my mainstream blog.
The advantages of ebooks in the graphic-book arena are manifold indeed. Or will be.

iBooks, the mystery

I still don't get it: why is iBooks not on the Mac too? Why can't I read my iBooks-purchased ebook on my Mac (or indeed Windows machine)?

Also, why is the iBooks store separate from iTunes, which otherwise is a mish-mash of all kinds of stores. And why is the apps store separate from both of them?

Why can't I buy ebooks from my Mac when I can buy music and TV shows and movies, not to mention audiobooks?

Why is "iTunes" a completely different beast on my iPad than on my Mac? On my Mac it plays music, on the iPad, it only buys it. If I want to play music on the iPad, I have to use the "iPod" app. It can play video too, but so can iTunes, and so can the "Video" app, god knows why that one exists exists at all.

Confused? You probably will still be after Apple's next OS update.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photoshop CS5 Interaction with Tablet Devices

Apple fan or elegance fan?

David Pogue said it already over ten years ago: people asked him why he is such an Apple fan. He thought it over and said words to the effect of: "I'm not really. I'm a fan of elegance. The moment somebody else makes a product which is more elegant and fun than Apple's, I'm there." 

Couldn't have said it better. (Well, maybe I did, I couldn't find the original article so I wrote from memory.)

I'm not an Apple fanboy. I have three machines running windows, I have a Dell Streak, I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-inch. They are all pretty good products. But they just don't have the same elegance and fun and beauty that Apple products have.

What makes this so incredible is that nobody comes even close to beating Apple in this. It's just so unlikely that our minds reject it and we begin to think that it must be "Apple Cool-Aid" or something which attracts people. It's just too big a thing to think that they consistently are running circles around everybody else in the user-experience arena, it doesn't compute.

I mean, have you held one of the new MacBook Airs? They are stunning. I've never seen anything come close to the beauty, the simplicity, the elegance, of these machines, and all done without sacrificing any power or usability (unlike pretty much all other small laptops). Amazing. 

Heck, I don't know why or how this is done, or how long it will last. But I don't see why I should punish myself and use inferior products just to prove that I'm no fanboy. Masochism is for suckers and tech writers.

Ad revenues and what it tells us about paywalls

Ad revenues and what it tells us about paywalls, article.
I’ve had this idea for the longest time that print magazines got more ad money not because of the influence they had but because they had convinced advertisers that they were worth more.
[...] If I’m right, then the real situation is that the print ad revenue bubble is going to burst. In fact, this might explain why so many papers have gone belly up in the past 5 years. They might have been used to an artificial situation which is going away.

He may have a very good point. There has never been any exact way to measure the effectiveness of advertising... until the web! So the fact that advertising has become much cheaper on the web may say more about advertising than it does about the web!

Of course one should take "measure" with a bit of salt: a potential buyer may not give the click-revenue right away, but he may come back later and buy, and this may not be counted as fall-off from the ad. There are complexities.