A few weeks ago, I wrote about the contents of my 7-inch Android tablet, and promised to share what’s on my iPad. So now I am.
In case tablets of any sort are still seen by some of you as either faddish or a waste of money, consider the following research from Staples, which has every reason to want to understand the buying and usage habits of its customers. It recently released the following research about tablet owners:
The average tablet user spends 90 minutes per day on their tablet. 88.3 percent of tablets are used on the road. 35 percent are used in the bathroom.
The average tablet user spends $34 on tablet apps.
By 2015 there will be 82.1 million tablet users in the United States.
The most common display size for a tablet is 10 inches. There are also 9-inch, 7-inch, and 5-inch displays. 54 percent of tablets owners are 34 and older. 80 percent of tablet users say that tablets have improved their work/life balance. 25 percent of tablet users are using printed books less.
(I demur on detailing my use of a tablet in the bathroom.)
Before getting into my iPad details, you might find it useful to see how I differentiate between the use of my 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and my 10.1-inch original iPad.
The Galaxy Tab is my working tablet, often taking the place of my laptop. It goes everywhere with me: meetings, interviews, out of town trips. I use it for checking email and calendar, news, the occasional Skype chat, communicating with my home computer for files I need. I also depend on the many Internet services provided by Google to keep me synchronized wirelessly with email, changes or additions to my contacts, etc.
At the recent CES electronics show in Las Vegas, I used it with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to write and file stories. My Android tablet is pocket-sized. And I can use a mouse with it. I find my iPad is too large and too heavy for traveling light, and it will not work with a mouse.
If you spend time writing for work or play, do not underestimate the need for a mouse. Having to constantly touch your screen for functions that you generally accomplish with a mouse is tiring and ergonomically stupid. Just adding this one function would have enormously improved the functionality of the iPad. (It’s available only through jail-breaking.) I’ll never understand why the late Steve Jobs banned it.
But the iPad as my leisure device . . . ahhhhh. That’s a very different story.
My iPad lives in my living room. I can disappear into it and enjoy a feast of information, beauty, music, video, and games on a level simply not yet possible on any Android device. It’s not so much Apple technology that makes it better as the iron grasp that Apple has on its ecosystem — the so-called “walled garden”: strict control over developers, hardware, software, delivery to consumers, and installation. And then there’s the sheer size of the Apple-only customer base, and only two formats to worry about: the iPad and the iPhone.
With 261 apps in my library, mostly iPad-specific, I have some of the world’s most beautifully developed multimedia experiences, be they games, multimedia books developed for the iPad, hybrid learning experiences, etc. While many iPad apps are now available for Android tablets — book readers, Internet radio, productivity suites and a variety of games — many of the iPad exclusives are simply brilliant.
I have large libraries of music, movies, and TV shows. I keep them on my PC computer and wirelessly stream them to my iPad through my home WiFi. Since my iPad “lives” at home, I see no need to store them on my device. For whatever reason, Apple has not set streaming as one of iTunes's functions, so you need third-party software to do the job.
(Yes, you can use iCloud for this service, but if you have large libraries of digital media as I have, storing that media in the iCloud would be time-consuming to "push" it there and expensive to maintain with annual storage fees paid to Apple.)
As a result, to see or listen to my media on my iPad, I depend on AirVideo ($2.99) for any form of video; and AudioGalaxy (free) for my music. For transferring documents, including photos, from my main computer to my iPad, I use LogMeIn Ignition (free).
This may be heretical, but I don’t care for iTunes as a system. I still use it to back up my tablet and iPhone — I find Apple's vaunted new iCloud synchronization to be far too slow. I also use it to feed my media to my Apple TV, which lets me watch or listen to my stuff on my living room HDTV set.
But since I also stream all my media to my Android devices, I have duplicates of all my media on my computer: one set is filed in the normal Windows media folders, and the other set in my iTunes library. In essence, I side-step iTunes whenever possible with this dual system.
Unlike my Android tablet, I don’t have one favorite or key app that I keep on my front page. Instead I organize my apps into folders that cover my range of interests. Dropping one app onto another creates a folder, and you can customize the name of that folder. Each folder lets you store 20 apps, and you can easily arrange them alphabetically, etc.
My interests run heavily in the direction of multimedia, so here’s a sampling of my folders, and what I consider the top apps in each category. Needless to say, all these apps can be found in the iTunes store. So many of my apps have duplicates in Android — Amazon’s Kindle Reader, Netflix — that they’re not worth mentioning. What is below, however, are apps unique to the iPad that ignite my senses.
Magazines for iPad, formerly Palimpset ($2.99) — A reader’s delight. Every day a new long-form magazine article is served up from quality sources, and the quality of the writing is usually brilliant. While you can choose/select articles you want, I find the concept of reading whatever is offered there exciting. I love being surprised.
Flipbook ($4.99) — Select virtually any publication in the Flipbook library and it unfolds like an animated magazine. You open Flipbook, see a series of squares with either a publication or an area of interest, and start reading. The “flipping” page turn animation is a pleasing feature. Sharing interesting articles with your Facebook or Twitter accounts is easy.
Zite (free) — Another magazine automatically assembled from your media choices, but this one feels more like a real news magazine. First come the top stories, gleaned from your multiple news sources, then there are sections fashioned around your interests. Some of mine include “Film & TV,” “Gadgets,” “Google TV,” and “Mobile.” You can choose from psychology and mind, music news and commentary, sports, business, investing, and more.
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