Monthly Archives: June 2021

Finally, a smart discussion of pro apps on iPad

I recently discovered Cup of Tech podcast and gave a listen to episode 129 and I’m really glad I did. I found perhaps the best, most mature and informative discussion of “pro apps”for the iPad Pro. I think the quality of discussion is largely due to the fact that the podcast hosts are all developers and it’s reflected in the information provided by the discussion. They begin by discussing the apps that currently exist which might be defined as pro such as Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer and Procreate. They then move on to the usual mention of Apple’s pro apps specifically Final Cut Pro, Logic and Xcode. But then they go into an actual discussion of what needs to be happening behind the scenes and what might explain the lack of these apps that’s far. Specifically they go into a fascinating discussion of SwiftUI, Catalyst, and development process of those frameworks as it might relate to the complicated process of writing the pro apps. They don’t dig so far that a non-developer would get lost (I’m not a developer) but rather discuss the frameworks in terms of what they can currently do, current limits (in the publicly available versions) and what they can probably do behind the scenes (given new versions likely being used at Apple), and just a generally excellent discussion of the various considerations in developing complicated apps and in developing frameworks to produce those apps.

In other words it’s not just a brief and pointless repetition of the usual complaining but rather an actual exploration of what happens when a company has to build something complicated from the ground up.

The discussion begins at about 1:10:00.

Review: Logitech Combo Touch for the 12.9” iPad Pro

At the the core of my love for the iPad are the many possibilities that come along with a touchscreen tablet. I particularly enjoy the variety of keyboards and stands that make for the modular computing experience that seem to define this form factor. Whenever the subject of external keyboards and cases come up, it’s common for people on the internet to ask, why not just get a laptop? The simple and best answer is that I can’t remove the screen from a laptop. It’s permanently attached. And, along with that limitation, I cannot rotate a laptop from the horizontal position to a portrait position.

The options I considered
Of all the keyboard cases I’ve tried with all of my iPads since 2010, I think this Logitech Combo Touch may prove my favorite though it’s too soon to be certain. I’ve been very happily using Apple’s Smart Keyboard portfolio that I’ve really enjoyed using the past 2+ years and considered just updating that to a new one. In the end my desire for a trackpad and backlit keyboard led me to consider Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad, Brydge’s Max+ and Logitech’s Combo Touch. I chose the Logitech.

Comparing features
The outer material Apple uses on the iPad keyboards has not been durable in my experience so that was a strike against the Magic Keyboard especially at the price Apple asks. Add to that the missing row of function keys and it seemed I should keep looking. The Brydge Max+ was the next choice but was less protective along the edges of the iPad. And when removing the iPad from the Brydge to use hand held it would have no protection at all. It also costs more and would not be shipping till June. Lastly, Brydge has a mixed track record in terms of quality control. That left the Logitech which offered the best protection, earlier shipping and the least cost. Another plus with the Logitech was the built in kickstand for use with the iPad propped up without a keyboard. I also thought I’d like the textured fabric-like covering on the Logitech. The biggest drawback is that due to that kickstand design it has a very deep footprint and the reviews are mixed as to how that works in the lap.

It’s only been a week but here are some thoughts. I like the feel of this case just as I thought I would. The fabric-like texture is very nice, much preferred to Apple’s. It feels nicer and does not show oily smudges from contact with skin I’m really happy to have the iPad protected in a case that seems sturdy but I’ll note that it’s thinner and lighter than I expected.

The keyboard itself is excellent just as I’ve come to expect from Logitech keyboards. Now, I should say, I’m not that picky and am fairly adept at adapting to keyboards but this one feels very well made and I type well on it. The row of function keys is a very nice feature to have and happily has screen brightness, keyboard brightness and all the other expected functions. I’m super happy that holding the lock key in the top right corner functions as a Siri key. I like using Siri but don’t like reaching up to the iPad corner button. And Hey Siri sometimes has other devices respond rather than the one I’m using.

The trackpad works pretty well. I did turn off tap to click as there’s not much palm rejection going on and so the cursor jumps all over with the slightest touch. So, still getting used to the click to click as I’ve gotten used to tap to click with the Magic Trackpad I’d been using at my desk. But the clicking works very well in all areas of the trackpad. Also, there’s a two finger click to bring up the contextual menu and that works perfectly. Lastly, scrolling and all the gestures work fairly well and smoothly. All in all, the trackpad is excellent.

What about the deep footprint? Well, when I’m using in my lap I’m almost always in my tiny house with pillows nearby and my general habit is to have a pillow in my lap. This works perfectly with the kickstand folded all the way back to it’s lowest position then propped up on the pillow in my lap. If I need to adjust how I’m sitting or move the pillow or my legs it’s easy to just reach up and adjust the angle of the kickstand to keep it stable and at an angle I want. It’s not as sturdy as I would get with the laptop style of the Brydge but it does work very well though I can imagine scenarios where it does not work as well due to more limited space.

I love the iPad as both a tablet and a laptop. With this case and keyboard I can very easily pull the keyboard off the screen and still have my iPad sitting up on it’s own and still protected in a case. This is often what I’m doing when I just want to read or watch video. I can set the keyboard off to the side or even flip it backwards and reattach it as a base but with the keyboard deactivated. This last point is one of the most important of all because with this case the modularity of the iPad as tablet and laptop is at it’s best.