Category Archives: iPad

Apple’s Latest iPad Tutorials

A couple weeks ago Apple published some fun new iPad Pro videos highlighting various apps and tasks. Very well done and, as a bonus, the films were made entirely on the iPad. A couple days after posting the series they followed up by posting a neat behind the scenes video explaining what apps were used in making the series. The behind the scenes video was also made entirely with iPad Pro.

I wish they’d do several of these every month. And, while I’m making wishes, I wish they’d do a monthly series highlighting a professional of some kind that uses the iPad as their primary device.

A new way to create a presentation with iPad Pro:

A new way to take notes with iPad Pro:

A new way to go paperless with iPad Pro:

A new way to host your own podcast with iPad Pro:

A new way to design your space with iPad Pro:

Behind the scenes:

 

The iPad has grown up from a mobile device to a mobile computer

My Color Classic and iPad Pro as imaged by an iPhone 7+.

The beginning of Apple’s iPad story
In 2010 Apple initially positioned the iPad as a middle device between the iPhone and a laptop. The message was that it was a friendly, easy to use device for email, web browsing, Facebook, games, videos. As Steve Jobs demonstrated on stage, it was a casual device meant to be used by anyone lounging about their home. Sure, Apple offered up the Keyboard Dock and Pages so it could also be used for word processing but that was secondary.

I can tell you that for many in my family it became their beloved (sometimes first and only) computer. But for them, mostly non-techies, it was, literally, just a bigger than iPhone screen. They knew it was a computer and yet it was not intimidating. It was a computer without seeming too much like a computer and given those characteristics it’s not surprising that it was especially popular with the very young and with elderly. At least, that was the case in my family. They’re all still happily using iPads though most have since updated at least once or twice.

This was Apple’s opening story for the iPad and it was a simple one: An easy to use computer that didn’t seem too computery that would be a great second purchase for its iPhone customers. It was obvious to everyone that the iPad was, in many ways, a larger iPhone and it ran a mobile operating system.

From Apple’s perspective this was all well and good. For awhile.

For the first two to three years the iPad sold very, very well. And then it didn’t. Sales fell off and the media and Wall Street needed an answer Apple couldn’t provide. It was a mystery. And so many stories were told about why the iPad was no longer selling as well. From my own anecdotal experience I can simply say that iPads are solid, long-lived devices that perform well for causal use. If the primary consumers of iPads were non-tech iPhone users it would make sense that they would hold onto them for awhile. Non-techies do not purchase new computers every year. They hold on to them for 3 or 4 or even 5 years if they are still working.

Searching and finding a new iPad identity
The problem with a device intended for a general audience is that they buy the device then settle down with it. They want familiar and easy. They don’t read tech blogs and obsess over the latest and greatest hardware or os features. It’s just a device for them. So, while Apple was certainly still selling a lot of iPads they had passed the peak. Apple itself seemed to struggle with the purpose and identity of the iPad for awhile and only recently seemed to have gotten their footing.

It would seem that as Apple grew the power of the tech inside the iPad, namely the A-series of processors, they needed to begin expanding the intended user-base to include those that would benefit from the investment in faster processors, specifically, technically proficient computer users. The identity of the casual non-computer based on a simplified mobile operating system needed to shift. The iPad needed to become a computer. But Apple needed to strike a balance between it’s current, non-techie base and this new group of users. Too much complexity would be a problem for the established base, too few power features would be a problem for techies.

And so, in a constant tug of tension, Apple has been slowly iterating, layering new features into iOS that will enable power users to use the iPad as a computer while not overwhelming those that are used to its simplicity. And this is where we begin to see the emergence of the oft repeated variation of “you can’t do work with an iPad, they’re only good for browsing the web and watching YouTube.” Regardless of the constant repetition of the “can’t do real work on the iPad“ meme, the identity of iPad as a computer was beginning to emerge and this was not lost on users such as myself that wanted to believe.

In 2010, as today, I made my living as a freelance web and graphic designer. For me the iPad really was just a simple and casual browsing device. I bought the very first and loved it for the tasks as Apple had in mind. Though this was a device more for my parents and grandparents than myself, I nevertheless persisted in searching for apps that would let me edit the html and css of my websites or post to my blog. Surprisingly I found a few and they sorta did the job but for the first few years there was no chance the iPad could be my working computer. But I still loved the form factor and made use of it almost daily.

Slowly but surely Apple pushed forward the power of the hardware and the feature set up the os and in the fall of 2015 they released the first iPad Pros alongside of iOS 9. This was an important milestone for both hardware and software. It moved the device forward as Apple began telling the story of the iPad as a computer. With iOS 9 Apple introduced split screen apps and slowly a group of computer users began to take notice. It was easy to see an increase in podcasts and posts about people trying to switch. I think such stories go back to the beginning of iPad but there seems to have been a very noticeable up-tick in just the past three or four years.

And while the following year was a slow one with very few iPad features released in iOS 10 there was a noticeable hum of anticipation coming from a growing community of users that made the iPad their work computer. 2016 saw the release of a 9.7” iPad followed in 2017 by new 12.9” and 10.5” iPads Pro. More importantly, we saw the release of iOS 11 with many new iPad “pro” features and a renewed focus on new creative apps such as Affinity Photo.

It’s worth noting too that as Apple pushed forward with iOS and it’s own apps such as the iWork apps, iMovie and Garage Band, important third party apps were released as well. From well known productivity suites such as Microsoft Office to creative apps such as Procreate, Pixelmator and Graphic. The ecosystem of useful, computery apps was slowly but steadily growing. Of course there’s still more to do, especially with iOS, but Apple hasn’t left much room for doubt. We may not know the details of iOS 13 or any point releases before but we can be certain that new features, computery features, will continue to come.

In recent months there’s been a lot of anticipation and excitement around the rumored announcement of new iPads Pro. I think it says something that most of this excitement emanated from what is now an arguably larger community of users that consider the iPad their primary computer. On October 30 Apple held an event in which it did announce newest iteration of the iPad Pro and it seems now that there is finally a critical mass of acknowledgement that iOS and the iPad have indeed crossed a threshold. We humans like to argue and so I have no doubt that there will continue to be debate but the iPad as a computer is no longer a question.

It’s true that the form is, essentially, the same as the iPad of 2010. It is simply a touchscreen glass front side with an aluminum back and all the usual things that make a computer a computer on the inside: processor, graphics card, storage media, RAM, etc. Were you to see the original iPad and the newest iPad Pro sitting next to each other from across a room you might easily assume they were the same device were it not for the size difference. This is the fundamental beauty of the iPad, that it has emerged, after eight years, with it’s form intact but with its mission expanded.

Apple’s iPad Pro webpage

While the original iPad had more in common with an iPhone than a laptop, it’s now true that the iPad, especially the iPad Pro, is revealed as a computer that is what it’s user needs it to be. Imagine these scenarios with an iPad, sometimes hand held with a Pencil other times attached to a keyboard: a student sketching the differences between Monarch and Viceroy butterflies; a grandparent watching a slideshow of anniversary images; a business owner creating an annual report; a non-profit communications staffer editing a video; an author writing a novel. The iPad, in form and function, empowers it’s user to do what needs to be done. It’s simplicity allows it to be more. But do not doubt that it is a computer.

New-to-me iPad and iOS Sites and Podcasts

Thought I’d do a quick round-up of a few iPad and iOS sites I’ve recently come across.

In no particular order…

The iPad Guild is written by Chris Wilson who is using the iPad as his primary computing device. A very nice site illustrating how he uses the iPad, various tips and tricks and the problems he’s encountered.

Tablet Habit is an excellent site written by Jeff Perry who is the co-host of the Slab of Glass podcast. The podcast is cohosted by Christopher Lawley who also publishes the website
The Untitled Site. You’ll find a blog there as well as his videos which are published via YouTube.

Last, I recently came across a podcast about using iOS, In Touch with iOS which I’m really enjoying.

Creativity with iPad

I’ve used the iPad for a variety of creative endeavors over the years. From video editing to design projects to paintings of nebulae in deep space. It’s a fantastic creative tool and with the latest iPad, the Pencil is now available for the base model. Serenity Caldwell’s review of the 2018 iPad and the Apple Pencil released at Apple’s Education event is an excellent example of what is possible with this new device. Written, edited and completely produced using the new iPad. I’m a big fan of iMore in general and Serenity in particular. She’s always thorough and offers a balance of positivity and critique that I’ve come to appreciate. She really digs into what can be done with these devices and steps outside of the usual written review. Actually, she often writes a review too but she does’t stop with the written word. From her illustrated review of the Apple Pencil to this most recent review, she really explores the creative potential using the device being reviewed. With her current video review she also offers a detailed description of the process that she used. Very helpful for anyone wanting to learn more about how to create with their iPad.

Serenity also put together round-up of tips, techniques, apps and website resources for those that want to learn how to draw using an iPad and Pencil. I’m going to do a post soon about my recent exploration of lettering using the Pencil and iPad. I’ve long avoided handwriting in favor of the keyboard. My handwriting, never good, has only gotten worse. Via a tweet by Matt Gemmell I recently discovered a free video tutorial for brush lettering using the iPad and it’s been fun.

It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, of all the Apple computing devices I’ve owned the iPad is, by far, my favorite. Just a few years ago I never would have thought my favorite would be anything other than a Mac. 

How-to iPad with iOS 11

Last week Apple released a series of six iPad and iOS 11 How-To videos. I’ve also discovered, what may or may not be a new section of their website, How to do even more with iPad Pro and iOS 11 which not only has the new videos but also four sections for learning about the iPad:

I don’t spend a lot of time browsing Apple’s website unless I explicitly need information. Browsing around just now, via the above links, I’m impressed. This would be a great place for any iPad user to explore and bookmark. I’m particularly impressed with the iPad Apple Support page.

It’s good to see Apple promoting the device and the new features of iOS 11. I’ve thought for awhile now that Apple was doing too little to promote the features of the iPad and anecdotally this bears out in my observations of usage by the people around me. Very few of them are aware of what iOS and the iPad are capable of. While they get a lot of use out of their iPads it’s mostly a casual use. As has been repeated over and over, the iPad as a casual consumption device. For many that I have observed (my extended family all have them) that is indeed true. That said, it is also true that it is their main computing device. But it’s mostly for messaging, browsing the web, Facebook, email and games. Most of these folks are retired though so it makes sense.

There are plenty of kids in my family that are now in Junior High, High School and college. Most of them in fact. Will they be using iPads as their primary computing devices? With iOS 10 and now 11, they certainly could be. The hardware of the iPad is more than capable. And now with iOS 11, even more so. I’ve been out of the college world for 24 years but I know much of it remains the same. From what I’ve seen the iPad is not only well suited to that job it may well be the perfect device for it. The same goes for many other areas.

After browsing the above pages I doubled back to the Main Apple page and then visited the iPad main section. I wasn’t all that surprised that while the content is, of course, about selling iPads it is heavily weighted towards educating the reader about what the iPad can do. I’ve long thought that Apple needed to do more to demonstrate to the public what the strengths of iOS and the iPad form factor are but I’m beginning to realize that the website does this very well. The stores and staff also do this very well. In-store programs such as Apple Today are exactly what’s needed.

The only area that might still need improvement is television spots. The current ads are great in that they offer up an easy to grasp lesson. I’d like to see more of them in this style. A lot more. Just a simple lesson in using one part of the iPad. Currently the spots just end with large text, “iPad Pro” and I know this is very un-Apple like but I wish they’d include something along the lines of “Learn more at apple.com/ipad/howto”. They’ve developed a very helpful, educational website, why not do more to direct users to it? I don’t have access to broadcast television so I have no idea how often Apple airs ads. It would be great if they’d buy a lot of time each fall to educate users about the new features of iOS.

What the iPad Pro is capable of

The Matter of High-End iPad Growth

Nigel Warren (via Michael Tsai):

The iPad’s average selling price can be seen as an indication of whether the iPad has the potential to continue evolving into a more capable tool. If sales of the Pro line are weak, it’s a sign that Apple hasn’t succeeded in creating useful functionality that takes advantage of improved hardware. And if users don’t need improved hardware, Apple’s business model can’t justify continued iPad software development long term.

Nick Heer at Pixel Envy chimes in:

It has been remarkable over the past several years to watch the iPad’s skyrocketing performance potential, but it has been infuriating to see a lack of comparable software improvements. iOS 11 will help turn that corner, but I feel a lot of work remains to make the power of the iPad feel like it’s being put to use.

Yes, iOS 11 and then apps like Affinity Photo and soon, Affinity Designer. Also, the excellent multi-track video editing app, LumaFusion Pro. These apps are exactly the kinds of apps that push the hardware of the iPad Pro. There are, of course, other “pro” apps such as Panic’s Coda and Transmit that are used for professional purposes but which do not push the hardware in the same way. The point is though that these apps exist. Now. If anything, it might be said that what is increasingly needed is for Apple to really push the marketing of the iPad. All of them.

Regardless, I don’t think I’d call the state of iOS or available apps “infuriating”. There are things in our world for which that kind of emotion is warranted but it isn’t this.