All Posts Tagged ‘ipad


Call that a collage?

Um, what the hell happened to mixel? An original, fun and highly sticky app for iPad has become something very, very different. It has gone from this:


to this:


The original mixel was a joy to use, to play with, to remix. The new version, the ‘just add pictures’ version?

Khoi explains that there were economic reasons for scuppering the development and maintenance of the iPad version, but it doesn’t sit well with me. He says that the app simply wasn’t social enough to be profitable. What were the hard costs of mixel that couldn’t be overcome? My suspicion is that it had something to do with the server/storage/web front end parts, that these costs weren’t offset by the (advertising?) revenue brought in by new users.

But I don’t buy it. The costs for the app were borne of the design of the app and the systems it required to function. If the design of the app requires an unsustainable mix of components, remix those components to make it work (see what I did there?). It completely fits with the ethos of the app, to feature an iterative, evolutionary development to make the thing work better, and not just simply for the users. I would have been happy for the social/web elements to disappear, or even get scaled back a bit, to even things up a bit. I’d love to see the figures for the app, to get a clearer picture of what went on behind the scenes, but unfortunately it’s well beyond too late, at this point.

As a formerly happy user, these two things are now apparent to me:

  1. I’m certainly not going to download and use the new Mixel (iPhone only, btw), and
  2. I’m not inclined to listen to the promises of the development/business team behind the venture, regarding the bright new future for this new mixel.

Now I know that I didn’t pour hours into the app in the first place, but some of that time now certainly feels wasted. It’s not possible to even continue using the app (by myself), since it depends on a combination of back-end servers to add the social bells and whistles. This kind of ‘pivot’ really gives me (no more than a mere user) a sincere distrust of the upbeat marketing spin from Lascaux.

As a first time effort from Khoi and co, I really enjoyed playing with Mixel.
The second version, though?

Not bloody likely.


★ Waving away the cloud

I really like iCloud. It syncs my contacts, my apps, my photos and more, all without really asking for much in return. But there’s one area where iCloud falls over repeatedly – and it’s an unacceptable failure for a service which (at face value) looks like yet another move by Apple to dislodge the MS Office behemoth from the default position in spreadsheets, presentations and documents. The failure I’m talking about, is Documents over iCloud.

At first, it seems like a dream come true. Syncing on an iOS device, just like dropbox for the mac. Sure it only works for 3 apps, but those apps are well designed, great to use and make for any must-have app list today. But the current implementation of this syncing is painful to say the least. I can’t count the number of times I’ve opened up (it seems to be worst in numbers, but I don’t use pages or keynote anywhere near as often), only to have the spreadsheet I want to work in ‘updating’ over the air. I can’t open, edit, delete the spreadsheet, and worse I can’t manually control the sync (there are no play/pause, or selective sync features to iCloud), so I’m stuck watching a file upload to the cloud with no recourse to prevent this. Up until now I’ve just given up and waited for it to sync, but it’s worsened to the point that I can’t even work on the single spreadsheet file I have on the iPad because it’s perpetually syncing to the cloud.

To make a bad situation worse, from time to time I’ll spot a mysterious ‘document deleted in other location’ message, with that one spreadsheet disappearing with no other explanation. Sometimes it comes back, other times I have to quit the, then reopen it for my document to reappear. The iCloud document sync behaves more like a beta level service, and it’s disappointing to see such an immature syncing service being touted as a big selling point for iOS 5. The sync service is just not good enough for me – I expect it will mature over time but right now it’s going to be turned off.

So today I made the call to cut off iCloud syncing for my documents. I’ve left on the sync for all other features, but documents are off the cards – at least for the meantime. You might think that the documents I synced via iCloud would be wiped from the machine, given their somewhat temporal status – but that the documents created on the iPad and then synced over iCloud would be kept on the device. Not so. This was the last slap in the face for my iCloud experience – after turning off iCloud sync, i opened to discover that all of my files had been erased, with a reassuring message that they were safely in the cloud. Not good enough.

I won’t be turning iCloud document storage back on anytime soon, once bitten, twice shy. I love dropbox, I love the rest of the iCloud features, just this one is so patchy and jarring it completely turned me off. I would love to hear if you’ve had the same experience, or if you’ve had a much better experience with the cloud.


★ To PC or not to PC

Shawn on the “iPad-as-PC” debate, piecing together the views both for and against, concluding with a resounding “Yay”;


Matthew Panzarino:
Look, tablets are PCs, get over it.

Andy Faust:
It’s replacing people’s needs for traditional computing environments in the home and office, and people are buying it in record numbers.

Wikipedia (from the definition of “Personal Computer”):
A personal computer (PC) is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator.


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes:
I agree with Moorhead, it’s time to stop the madness. If tablets are classed as PCs then why not smartphones? Or smartfridges? Or digital watches?

There’s plenty more in there, I’d recommend you read the article in full. Shawn goes on to make the argument that MG also made, an argument that doesn’t really sit that well with me.

That is exactly the point. There will come a time when the majority of consumers who are in the market for a new personal computer will consider (and buy) an iPad or other tablet rather than a laptop or desktop computer. And when that time comes, the debate about the iPad being a PC or not will be over.
The market will decide that the iPad is a PC by buying them instead of laptops and desktops.

I’d say the reason we’re in this situation is because the IBM/Windows/Wintel machines dominated the market in the 90’s, subsuming the definition of PC away from a general, all-purpose machine — to a box that ran Windows.

Claiming that the market will resolve this argument doesn’t fill me with much confidence.

Ultimately, I agree with Shawn that the iPad is fundamentally a PC. It’s the most versatile PC I’ve ever owned or used (perhaps with the exception of the 11# Macbook Air), but I still think we’re missing the bigger picture here. The real innovation in this post-pc world, the real game changer Apple has made with the iPad and the iPhone — is to introduce computing into contexts where before there was none.

For millions of people, an iPad is a perfectly good replacement for their laptop or desktop. They just don’t know it yet.

I actually don’t care if someone can’t see a reason to trade their current (desktop or laptop) PC for an iPad. I really don’t.

I do care, however, about the doctors now suddenly able to deliver news and information electronically when and where they need to. I do care about the construction site foreman who can refer to building plans or drawings without needing to dry them out first (I’ve actually seen this happen). I do care about the 12 year old app developers who have begun crafting software apps for the sheer fun of it (plus a little bit of pocket money).

If, today you look at the iPad and think: “now, that couldn’t possibly replace my current setup”, I’d also go so far as to say that you’re not even Apple’s target customer.

The iPhone/iPad/iOS combo has brought fun, interactive, experience based computing to places and uses nobody could have imagined 4-5 years ago. The iPad is a PC, but only because that’s all it can be compared to right now. Truth is, the iPad is so much more than a PC, and what we’re seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg.


★ Touch me

I’ve noticed this strange quirk happening lately, most noticeably when I’m on my laptop at work. I’ll glance up at the laptop screen, spot a link in a web page (perhaps one I’ve launched using a keyboard shortcut), and reach up to touch it. Not reach for the mouse, not reach for the trackpad (which is already halfway between my hand and the screen), but reach up for the screen itself. My brain is telling me that the right thing to do is to touch it.

I’d written off the concept of touch screens on laptops, after all, who wants to spend their time hovering an arm above a screen, won’t we all suffer from gorilla arm or stress injuries? Well perhaps not. I’d say that perhaps 20% of my time on the ipad goes to touching the screen for input (scrolling, swiping, pinching and so on), perhaps another 20% of it is spent typing with the rest of that time spent simply reading. Now that I’m using (and loving) the apple bluetooth keyboard, I’d say the time I spend touching the screen for that would be down to around 5-10%. The iPad is simply the most-read piece of media in my life, hands down (no pun intended).

Given how much Lion is shifting OS X towards iOS, perhaps the concept of a touch screen laptop isn’t so crazy after all. Nevertheless, the more I use the iPad, the more I expect OS X to behave the same — and not in the ‘i wish control and command were same key’ way you might experience when shifting from mac to windows. This really does give me reason to pause when it happens (a few times now), and realise that something quite profoundly different in the paradigm of personal computing is happening right before my eyes — and I can’t keep my eyes off it.


★ Tweaking that comparison chart

Marco posted this about a month ago — it’s a pretty decent take-down of the Amazon kindle fire vs iPad 2 comparison chart Amazon put up to promote the fire.

Kindle Fire iPad
$300 less than iPad 2
Volume Buttons
Needs Improvement
Very Stable
Home Screen
That was a small swipe. Did you mean to tap? Try again
Tap an app to open it
Magazine Reading
Infuriatingly Awful
Pretty Good

My copy+paste doesn’t do it justice.  I won’t spoil the punchline either, go check it out for yourself.


★ This child is only 4 1/2 years old.

Beth on Brushes from Fraser Speirs on Vimeo.

I wasn’t too impressed by this, until I heard Beth saying things like.. “daddy, how do you get…”

Just incredible. This child is only 4 1/2 years old, making fine detail tracing work on an iPad, using swipe, pinch, tap and a combination of those. Phenomenal. Where do you go with this? Do you;

  • A. make a quip about how she didn’t get the memo, or
  • B. refer to her using a bicycle for the mind, or
  • C. wonder if and/or when android tablets will be able to tell similar stories?

Hard to say. Nonetheless, I’m super impressed!


★ wildchords is awesome

I love this. A bunch of crazy finnish guys who love music and want to make the world more musical, have created a new ipad app called wildchords. It’s a game that makes learning guitar fun, and addictive.

It walks you through a number of guitar exercises and helps you learn. It’s aimed at would be guitarists of all ages, and is a whole lot of fun. The most amazing thing is that it just works. One more example of that ipad magic, it all just seems to happen.

Wonderful. Check out the video of the Ovelin guys presenting this at Slush 2011 (?). These guys had an idea, made something amazing and are really seeing incredible results.  Ambition tied to ability, really making great things happen.

Get ready to throw your wallets!