StayGo mini

StayGo mini USB-C Hub makes editing video and photos or polishing presentations on your iPad Air or iPad Pro much more convenient. How? By giving you four more ports to get things done. With a headphone jack, USB, USB-C and an HDMI port, you can connect and power your most essential accessories. Connect StayGo mini directly to your iPad or use the included 19-inch long cable to place the hub below your Magic Keyboard or HoverBar Duo. Maximize the power of your iPad with a StayGo mini… More here.

A decent idea and it looks like it is well implemented. Pricey, but a good way to utilise more of the power in the newer iPads that iOS sometimes hides a little too well.

Satechi Aluminum Stand and Hub for iPad

Also, while the Aluminum Desktop Stand is designed to leave on a desktop, the Aluminum Stand and Hub’s weight and overall design are geared toward mobility and use on the go. Not only is it light enough to carry around in a bag, but it also folds up into a very compact shape that is perfect for travel, as seen in the photos above.

I would personally recommend carrying the Aluminum Stand and Hub in a lightweight bag of some kind to keep the aluminum exterior from picking up scratches, but this combo device is definitely designed for use on the go… More here.

This looks like a decent product and even at $99 the use cases for it are impressive.

Silk

Relax, express yourself, and create mandalas and wallpapers. With the swish of a finger, Silk strands mingle and fuse, weaving together into wonderful works of art.

Silk supports all iPhones and iPads, is enhanced for 3D touch, and specifically designed for the Apple Pencil. Buy once, run everywhere!

A stunning app. You can check out the mechanics behind it here.

Is it time for Apple to ditch the lightning cable?

The PolyCharge is an interesting product and one that appears to offer many advantages. It is on Indiegogo so you will have to gauge the risks, but this kind of product is starting to make more sense every day.

Marques published this video recently and got me thinking about the lightning cable that is becoming a royal pain for me these days. My MacBook uses USB-C, my iPad Air uses USB-C, almost every other device I own uses USB-C and my iPhone uses lightning or wireless charging which is sadly currently lacking in terms of speed.

Marques believes that Apple is aiming for only wireless and I guess this is the future, but something tells me we will need to lose the lightning cable before wireless charging is up to snuff to be comparable in terms of practicality.

How good is the iPad Air?

I have owned the new iPad Air for a couple of weeks and have been more than a little impressed by the way it works. The design is sweet enough with modern sharp edges and it feels good in the hand, but as ever a case covers this and makes the choice of a new shape somewhat moot.

It is, however, the performance that has impressed me the most and it really does feel snappy at every corner. iPadOS helps this of course and I can only imagine how fast the new M1 powered iPad Pro would be, but it does feel as though macOS and iPadOS are starting to merge in many of the most important ways.

Potentially the newer iPads are MacBook replacements, especially when married to a Smart Keyboard, but still iPad OS feels and works like a mobile operating system that does not allow the openness of macOS and the ability to play with every file you may want to.

I must say that I have found it very useful in place of the MacBook recently for many tasks, but alas as a reading device it still stinks. The application of a Paperlike screen protector tops off what is a brilliant note-taking and drawing experience with the Apple Pencil 2, but the larger iPad form is too big, too heavy and the screen is not capable of being used in all conditions in a comfortable way. Otherwise it is a superb product.

Why people do not move from the iPhone?

If you go to this link on your iPhone you can experience what a Samsung Android smartphone feels like to use. It is a clever interactive website that attempts to offer a representation of how it would feel if you decided to move from your iPhone to a Samsung phone.

Android on my iPhone.

The problem for Samsung is that more people move from Android to iOS than the other way around, but it isn’t the case that this statistic is overwhelming. We have to remember that the vast majority of smartphone users have little allegiance to a particular operating system and within that a decent percentage barely understand much beyond the apps they want to use. This is not because of a lack of intelligence, it’s simply because they have better things to do with their lives.

For those of us who have nothing better to do or who use their phones so much that certain things become important there is a long list of reasons why it is hard to move away from the iPhone. Some of these are forced upon us by Apple, in good and bad ways, and some are simply because of the failing of other manufactures.

iMessage is often discussed as the killer iOS feature and rightly so. It is extremely reliable, as simplistically presented as you could wish for and it is divisive. The use of green and blue bubbles causes division immediately by effectively stating that you are either on a secure system that will cost you little to nothing (blue bubble) or you are using the less secure and aged SMS technology which can cost you extra through many mobile operators if you dare to include a picture (green bubble). The superiority of iMessage over SMS is stark and for those of us who have used it for many years the thought of going back to SMS seems crazy. And Apple ensures that iMessage is not useable on any other non-Apple platform.

Privacy is always a hot topic and the perception that iOS is more secure than Android is well known. It is true as it happens, but maybe not to the extremes that some people believe, but it remains one of the major reasons why I use a Mac and not a Windows PC, why I use an iPhone and not an Android phone and why I use an iPad in favour of… do other companies still make tablets?

Support is also very high on my list of reasons why I stick with Apple. This is forced by Apple in a good way because it is a critical differentiation to many other manufacturers. Where would I go if my Android phone broke or my Windows PC? I know people who have been through that process and the difference when compared to Apple’s retail footprint and online support is huge! These tools are important to me and I need them to work 99% of the time, and having efficient options open to me is vital should something go wrong.

Pricing is often thrown at Apple as a negative and on the face of it that appears to be a valid criticism. I don’t like how Apple limits certain memory options on iPhones and iPads to push you to buy the more expensive option (and Apple memory is strangely expensive compared to others) and it is often the case that the base point for Apple products precludes many from ever buying an Apple product. However, take a look at the flagship devices from the likes of Samsung and others, and you will see that the differentiation is not anywhere near as large as you may initially perceive. Also, and this is very important, the longevity of Apple products, particularly Macs, can make the initial cost much more viable. I have mentioned it a few times, but my daughter still uses my iMac from 2010 to write and to browse the internet every single day. Her iPhone is 4 years old, works perfectly, my son’s is 3 years old, has never had a problem, and so the story goes on with only my 2016 iPad suffering a big battery issue. I am convinced that the longevity of Apple products, and the many year support for OS updates, makes them excellent value when compared to the competition.

The ecosystem, which is often cited as a part of the legendary walled garden, is a forced feature from Apple that can be viewed as good or bad. As it has grown over time the number of ecosystem tweaks that bring all of your Apple devices together becomes very hard to break away from. iCloud, unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch, automatic copy paste from iOS to Mac and vice versa, AirPods switching between devices seamlessly, SMS and iMessages on all devices, automated backups, Apple One which covers all devices for the family and so the list goes on. The amount of fiddling and manual intervention to do the things you would otherwise have to complete multiple times every day is minimal.

Security, along with privacy, is another factor that I would find hard to leave behind. From apps that are checked before publication on the App Store to the plain fact that macOS is attacked much less often than Windows are cleared advantages in this regard. We do not have to deal with updates every few days like Windows and to this day I have never installed an anti-virus solution on any macOS or iOS device I have owned. The downside is a lack of flexibility that Android, for example, can offer, but I genuinely feel that I can do everything I need to on my devices and in a way that offers some peace of mind for good measure.

The Apple Watch can only work with an iPhone and while this is a forced restriction by Apple it likely helps to grow the number of iPhone users. I have used many other smartwatches from the likes of Garmin, Samsung, Fitbit and Huawei, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Apple Watch, as a daily wear smartwatch, is streets ahead of the competition at this time.

Stability also remains high on my list and the reliability of every iPhone, Mac and iPad I have owned has been extremely high. This, alongside, all of the above breeds a very high degree of loyalty simply because they work every day over so many years.

It is not about being an Apple fan boy or having any loyalty to the brand. Apple is a tech company like any other and likely just a capitalist organisation trying to grab as much money as it can, but there are so many reasons why it is a) hard to leave an iPhone because you have gotten used to features Apple does not offer to other platforms, b) hard to leave an iPhone because it is so ridiculously reliable and powerful enough to cope with anything you throw at it and, c) it works with all of your other Apple devices that have formed a protective cloak around it to stop you ever moving to the Android side.

What is the best digital note taker?

My iPad Pro (1st generation) is close to death. The battery is holding a charge for an hour at most, often less, and the cost of fixing it is prohibitive. I can get it done for £150 by a third party which is tempting, but part of me is loathe to spend such a sum on a device that will at some point become unusable. The fact that it is a 32GB model does not help because even with clearing out a lot of unnecessary content I only have 4GB spare.

So, if I was to consider a new device what would it be?

The iPad Air?

I have only recently started to appreciate the digital note taking abilities of the iPad, thanks to Notability and a paper-like screen protector, and have very much enjoyed just doodling ideas (watch designs mainly) and find it all strangely relaxing.

The new iPad Air is by all accounts exceptional, but at £549 (64GB) plus the need for an Apple Pencil 2 (£119) it is a big expense. Apple then pulls the trick of making me want the 256GB model because at some point 64GB will disappear quickly and so the cost goes up to £729 for the Air. Why no 128GB version? Greed on the part of Apple is my guess.

So, I would likely have to spend £848 to get an iPad Air with a decent amount of memory and the best note taking accessory. That is a lot of money, but I could expect to be using it in 4 years time.

The iPad or iPad mini?

For the standard iPad (128GB max) and an Apple Pencil 2 I would be looking at £448 which also feels high for a device which will likely not have the longevity of the Air.

The iPad mini (256GB) plus an Apple Pencil 2 would cost £668 which also feel high for a device that would not offer the screen real estate the other options give. What it would offer, however, is portability and that to me is a problem, with the iPad Air and iPad. I have never taken an iPad out of the house and do not see a point where that would happen. An iPad mini may at least get to see the sun now and again, but at £668 it likely will not get the chance.

The Boox Nova3 Color?

This device offers a lot on paper; a colour screen, pen input with excellent handwriting, the ability to read Kindle books, graphic novels, comics, Android apps and potential to use a variety of Android apps and games. The latter will of course be limited due to the e-ink system, but that is a lot of flexibility.

The size of the device may be somewhat prohibitive, but at £369 it offers a decent solution for note taking. The pen is included and 32GB could easily be more than 64GB on the iPad in terms of what can be stored.

Performance will be jarring at first and this technology is still in the early phase, but as a note taker it offers a lot.

A notebook?

My small notebook is working well currently, but I am being persuaded that digital notes could offer enough advantages to make them the way forward for me. I still have a sense that when something is written on paper it is real, it is there and it will never change, but I can do little with the words I have written.

Conclusion

There is no conclusion. I want a dedicated device like the Boox that I can carry anywhere, but then I see the flexibility an iPad offers and I get confused. I then think about my little notebook and the lack of stress it offers and my confusion continues to confuse itself further. Something tells me the iPad Air could win this one. Damn you Apple!

Reading on iPad vs Kindle

Is it better to read on your iPad or read on your Kindle? Today we discuss the differences between the two and which is better!

I expected the Kindle to win easily, but not in this video. He is of course wrong in a lot of what he says and forgot about battery life and reading in all conditions. Good video though.

iOS (Old School) icon set

Retrofy your iPhone with this pixel perfect icon and wallpaper set featuring more than 110 Mac OS ’84 inspired icons.

Each bespoke icon has been lovingly hand crafted using old school techniques – Steve Jobs would be proud! More here.

Nice set. Just need Apple to allow notification badges on custom icons now.

The iPad StudioDock

Magnetically attach and detach your USB-C iPad Pro 11” (2018+), iPad Air (2020+) or iPad Pro 12.9″ (2018+) to the elegantly designed StudioDock™ in portrait or landscape mode, and unleash the creative possibilities with a powerful desktop experience. No drivers required… More here.

Looks good, full of features and $399.99. Oh well, it looks good and is feature laden at least.