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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Down and dirty with the iPad Air 2

Setting up an iPad Air from the backup of the old one is fast

iPad Air 2 day

I made a wise decision to set the new iPad up from a backup of the previous iPad I was using and I was utterly amazed how quickly it was able to be nearly completely set up. I did make a little bit of a mistake in that it would have been better for me to have the iPad connect to iTunes and to go through the rest of the applications that I wanted to have added to the iPad. I already had these latest versions of iPad apps downloaded into iTunes and it would have been much quicker to install them on to the new iPad. The backup didn’t have all of the apps that I wanted for the new iPad. My previous iPad was only a 16 GB version and because of that I had taken many applications off due to the lack of space available. I was able to speed up that process somewhat by reconnecting the iPad to the iMac again and applications that hadn’t started to download to the iPad were then uploaded from iTunes. It didn’t really matter too much, on account of the fact that I was having to go out of the house anyway and I wasn’t planning to take the iPad out with me either. I could just let it do its stuff and it was ready for when I got back home.

More setting up to be done.

It was necessary for me to go into the settings for 1Password so that I could have touch ID enabled. In fact I also had to set up the Touch ID on the new iPad because my old iPad didn’t have Touch ID. I set this up so that I can use either my thumb or forefinger of my right hand and for the moment is just the thumb on my left hand. This seems to work quite well for me.

Loading up more applications

To celebrate the launch and delivery of the new iPad Air 2 the application Pixelmator for iPad was released today. I had already decided that I was going to buy this version of the Pixelmator application on account of it being such a good application on my iMac. It was the princely sum of €4.49 for Pixelmator for iPadand at that it is a bargain. I am looking forward to getting into that application and seeing what I can do with it creatively.

Cursor and Aperture

The camera on the iPad has now been upgraded to 8 megapixels and it is quite likely that I will use it to either take photos. I will also use the iPad to edit Spondicious Photos that come in through the Photo Stream. I have quite a few camera applications such as HDR, Paper Camera, Photo Sphere, Pro-Cam XL, Slow Shutter and there is another camera application called Camera Plus with AirSnap, which I want to try out. I have held back on buying that application because there is more than one application with nearly the same name and I want to make sure I buy the correct one. I went to the App Store for the Camera Plus application and the one to get is the one that offers the AirSnap. That lets you use one iOS device to control another for taking photos. It also does the thing with the focus that you see in the movies a lot called pulling focus. You have one part of the image in focus and when you pull the focus a different part gets the focus and it is a good story telling tool.

The camera is also going to be good for shooting video and I already have a couple of extra applications for shooting video. I have Movie Pro, Spark and Capture. Then I want to try out the application called a Replay as that was the application demonstrated at the iPad Air 2 Apple keynote. The iPad for editing video

Another great application that I have been meaning to try is the sky at night type of application which is called Star Walk 2. Where I live there is quite often clear skies and I would like to be able to look up into the sky and to have the constellations named for me. I can always look up and find Orion’s Belt and I know which star is called Betelgeuse, but I would like to know more. The iPad is such an educational device, it is amazing and this is a great example of that.

Security on the iPad for email

I do receive some email messages that have been encrypted and I need to be able to decrypt them on iOS. One thing I need to do is to add some of these certificates for my S Mime email encryption. I also have the application called oPenGP Lite which allows me to encrypt and decrypt both files and text. I do have to do the text within this application and not within the mail application by doing a copy and paste. It is pretty easy to do though and it is just handy to have the ability to do this sort of GPG encryption and decryption where ever I might be.

I also have an application called iPGMail and I might have a look at that again to see if it is going to be useful for email security on my new iPad Air 2. It’s a long time since I tried this application and I hope that in the meantime it has improved. I don’t remember it been particularly easy to use the first time around.


Games on the iPad Air 2

I don’t spend much time playing games on the iPad or on my Mac. It is, however quite nice to have one or two on there just in case. A game that I enjoyed playing before was Temple Run and I had a couple of versions of this. I had to stop playing it last time because it got too addictive. I also have a couple of word games on the iPad and one of them is called LetterPress.

My first impressions of the iPad Air 2

I decided to go with the 128 GB Silver iPad Air 2 and also have the LTE option. This gives me the SIM slot so that I can get better use of the iPad while I am out and about. I had to go down to the phone shop this afternoon to collect a new SIM card. I also have the Gig Sky SIM that I can use in this iPad when I go travelling to Ireland at the end of this month. I will be paying €11 per month for 1.2 GB. I had to do this with a separate account although I was expecting to get a special SIM card that only cost three euros per month and use the same data plan I have for the iPhone. It would have been quite handy to only have one bill for my data covering the iPhone and also the iPad. That didn’t work out, but the deal that I got isn’t too much different.

It’s a beautiful screen

Apple was correct in saying that the screen was improved over the previous retina screens. The new iPad Air 2 does have a particularly nice screen that is less reflective than the previous screens. I find this very useful for when I am reading books on my iPad. Even when I am using other applications it does seem that the images and text are almost floating on top of the screen. This makes my iPad Air 2 even more of a delight to use.

Is it a good upgrade to the iPad Air 2?

There are one or two people that are using the previous version of the iPad Air saying they don’t intend to update their iPad. They are correct to make a decision like this if they don’t find the need for the Touch ID or the new and improved camera. The weight of the new iPad is quite similar to the previous version. The faster chip on the new iPad is good to have, but you might not notice such a big difference if you are only changing by one iteration of the iPad.

I have jumped two or three versions of the iPad and for me it makes a huge difference and it is all worthwhile having. I have got the version that I can put a Sim card into and have mobile data and that gets me better GPS. Then there is also a motion coprocessor and so for me there are a number of good reasons stacking up to make this a good decision to upgrade to the iPad Air 2.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

My first impressions of the iPhone 6

Love at first Sight

It was love at first sight with Nymeria, which is what I have called the phone. I named her after the Wolf which was spiritually connected to the character Arya in the game of thrones book. I would have chose the name Arya, but I wanted something a little bit more exotic and Nymeria fitted the bill. It is the first time that I have got a white phone and along with the dimensions of the iPhone 6 it looks very slick indeed. It is very shiny and easy to hold and yet it feels solid enough also. You would have to be quite careless or stupid in order to bend it.

The battery on the iPhone 6

I feel a little bit disappointed with the longevity of the battery so far. I know that it is likely I’m going to be using it up more quickly because of using it a lot, with it being so new and shiny. At the same time it is quite a big change from the Samsung Galaxy S3 which I was using with a huge battery attached to it. I could easily get two or three days out of that battery and the only downside was the extra weight and heft for keeping it in my pocket. I am going to have to get an external battery that I can use to charge the iPhone 6 up during the day. On my first day with the iPhone 6 at work I got a low battery message at about seven hours, maybe seven and a half. I did have it plugged into my car charger for about 15 minutes during that time, but that didn’t really add too much to the battery.

So I’m going to have to buy another charger and cable as having only one lightning cable is not enough. Of course, I will get another cable and charger when I buy the iPad. I think it will be useful having another extra cable I can use for when I am in the car connecting it to the radio. The other thing about the iPad Charger is that it charges at a higher rate and it allows the iPhone to charge more quickly.

The battery on the larger version of the iPhone 6 is larger by about 1.6 times and people are reporting that it gives good use times for the phone. It did cross my mind a couple of times that maybe I should take this phone back and to make another order for the larger version of the phone. It would cost me about €100 to get the larger phone and then I would have the problem of it being too big for fitting into my pocket. So I have kind of decided that I’m better to keep with this one and I should save the money to put towards the iPad. My usage between the two devices will work out quite good in terms of being able to carry on with whatever work I am doing.

Buying more applications for use on the iPhone 6

There are one or two new features that come with IOS 8 that are like having new applications on the phone. There is the Hey Siri feature when it will listen to whatever you’re saying and do your bidding when you have it plugged in. For instance I just wanted to know how long before I need to have lunch before I get ready for work. I said the magic words and asked how many minutes until 1 o’clock and I was given an answer by Siri very quickly indeed. There are plenty of other useful things with this newly introduced feature. I quite like to ask it “What is the time” is when I wake up in the morning. I don’t have two peer into the bright screen with my eyes that are not quite ready for bright lights, in order to know what time it is. Siri even says good morning to me.

I bought a couple of bundles of applications which is a new thing in the iTunes Store. The one bundle was for some productivity type of applications starting with an application called Paste+ and there were a couple of other applications available with it that looked interesting. So I bought the whole of in the bundle as it seemed like good value and I would be able to use the other apps. I also bought a bundle applications for health and fitness and the main one that I wanted was Map My Walk. You use this application to record when you go for a walk and of course this morning with my dog walk I forgot to set it in motion. I need to work on building up my habits for using these applications. This application reports into a fitness information aggregator called MyFitnessPal. It is one of these applications like the Health App from Apple that will gather information from other applications. It then will give you a full report on all of your health activities. You can have applications that you use to record your food intake has information into it. It is also possible to have information sent to it from your Fitbit or from a set of wireless enabled scales.

The iPhone 6 is my remote controller for my life

I will be carrying this phone everywhere were I go for the next year and I want to get as much use out of it as possible. There are a number of applications that I have that will automatically record some of my information. Such as the Moves application which records the number of steps and it also records where I am taking those steps. On my first day with the iPhone 6 I can see how many kilometres I walked, for how many hours I walked as well as how many steps I took. It recorded that I was at work at the campsite and is also recorded my travel to and from work. This is quite a simple application which provides useful information. I have just found out that I can send the information from it to MyFitnessPal. It can sometimes feel a bit tedious adding the food that I eat into the application but at least with MyFitnessPal I can group foods together to be able to add them quicker. I often have the same thing for breakfast and I can record my eating for breakfast with just one entry.

Health App

The other interesting application for health is a chatty application called Lark. It looks at the information and has a messages type of conversation with you in order to encourage you with your exercising. It is quite clever in the way that it does it and gives you useful tips for living a healthy lifestyle at the same time.

The apps that I have used so far on the iPhone 6


I have loaded up a lot of applications because I own a lot of applications. The ones that have had the most use from so far have been Day One, 1Password, Overcast, the health applications I have already mentioned and TwistedWave. I wanted to use the Audioboom app to record one of my quick podcasts yesterday. The only trouble is that you don’t get a chance to edit the audio before you submit it. This is why I used TwistedWave instead so that I could cut out a few of my speech idiosyncrasies and where I had fluffed the words. TwistedWave is a very good application and I highly recommend it. I used Day One this morning to write my journal for the day and I did that while I was still in bed. Overcast is the application that I use to listen to my podcasts I am subscribed to. With it being so boring at work at the moment, I have listened to a lot. This could be one of the things that was killing the battery although there is a possibility that the location-based applications I have been using were having an effect upon that even more so.

A lot more things to use and find out about with the iPhone 6

This morning I set it up so that I can receive encrypted emails which was pretty easy. It is a lot more difficult if I want to send out encrypted emails using those same certificates. I also have a GPG application installed but I have yet to put on the encryption keys so that I can use it. It took me a little while to get used to the security features of the iPhone 6. The Touch ID is marvellous and it works very quickly when I put my thumbs or the index finger of my right hand onto the fingerprint sensor. I use this when I am opening the phone up. I also have it set so that it requires me to supply a fingerprint to get into 1Password or Day One. It is an excellent feature to have these extra layers of security. I now miss having this Touch ID when I pick up the iPad.

So this has been a quick post about my first impressions and I still have to spend time looking at how well it shoots video and takes pictures. The next things on my list to try out are the camera features of the slow motion video and the timelapse video. I’m going to get an elastic band and attach the camera to my rearview mirror in the car and record a video when I am driving to work. I have iMovie on the iPhone and I will give that a try too. I should order a mount for the car and what I would like to do is also have a mount for the bicycle and perhaps a boom pole. The boom pole is something making it useful for recording selfie type videos.