Commute

The wakening of a 5.30am alarm, time to get ready for another working day and commute into Central London armed with my mobile device of choice. From my home to the office is a gruelling 2 hours each way, making up 20 hours a week spent travelling so for getting work done and being entertained en route, my device of choice is the iPad Air.

In the beginning of my commuting days my time was spent listening to music on my iPad Air via the music app and watching the world go by. As time went by I started to become more aware that I should be using my iPhone for all my music and leave my iPad Air for catching up with tv shows that I had missed courtesy of BBC iPlayer or watching a movie from my iTunes library because of the larger screen. Since then I have found it much easier to store more information or apps on my iPad Air due to the increased storage space available by not having my music stored on it. 32GB definitely seems worthwhile in hindsight paying the extra bucks due to the increased storage.

While I get ready for my commute to work in the mornings, I generally have a nice hot strong cup of coffee whilst perusing the daily newspapers that I subscribe to which have been automatically downloaded to my iPad overnight. I generally have time to download a movie or tv show during my previous day at home or work for my journey as well via the iTunes app to give me a nice choice of content. Now I will admit that I was happy to spend on a subscription for my newspaper of choice, in spite of free publications that are available but the extra money spent ensures that I get to read my my favourite writers and articles each day presented on a device which highlights the experience of absorbing the news – that’s what it’s all about.

When the time for me to leave for work arrives, I make sure that my iPad is in its Belkin sleeve and in my carry holder along with my other work related files etc. I do not use an iPad case but I will come to that later. I have my iPhone plugged into my Sony headphones for the start of my journey to the train station. As mentioned, I am currently sporting a set of Sony over the ear headphones, which are not the most amazing set of headphones and certainly not a set I would recommend but for the price when purchased they were a temporary fix until I upgrade to quality set which I will review in due course.

Once I am on the train journey to London, I retrieve my iPad Air and start to read my daily newspapers. Once I have soaked up as much news as I possibly can, I will generally switch over to the BBC iPlayer app if there is a programme that I have not watched yet. My interests are mainly in watching previous or current episodes of Top Gear or a good tv shows that has been recommended to me by a friend or my wife. Watching movies on the iPad is fantastic with its gorgeous retina display showing off the colours and clarity and again highlighting the experience of in this case watching movies on the iPad.

Once we arrive at London, I will put my iPad in my Belkin iPad sleeve for the short distance from the station to the office. On my desk, I pair the iPad with the Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. Automatic pairing with the device has already happened by the time I sit down to work so I am ready to type straight away. Connecting to the office wifi and using the Bluetooth keyboard now ensures that my iPad is a complete solution for work with access to my documents and data stored in the cloud via services like Dropbox and iCloud, messaging capabilities with email and iMessage with my colleagues etc.

Belkin sleeve – I said I would come back to this and here is my reasons for why I use a sleeve and not a case. Firstly, I used to own an iPad Mini and had a case for that, it was great and it did the job. It was great for standing the iPad up when watching a movie but when it came to holding it when walking around sitting on the sofa surfing the web, it felt too bulky and not very nice to hold for longer periods of time. So now with my iPad Air, I don’t use a case – just the Belkin sleeve that protects it when I am carrying it around and when I need to stand it up for watching a movie or tv show, I now use this very good stand called a Stump Stand that supports it for just that.

My journey home from work is a backwards step process. I will listen to music or podcast on my iPhone during my walk to the station and once on the train I switch from my iPhone to the iPad where I will watch a movie or if I am not too tired from my working day I will play a game. I have 3 games that I am playing at present, 1 is GTA San Andreas (fan of the GTA series). Another is Real Racing 3 (big fan motor sport) and the last one is Minecraft Pocket Edition – purely because my 7 year old son is extremely into it on both his xbox and his iPad Mini and demands I play this game with him, we are currently building a small village!

After a short while I started to take note of my surroundings on the train and noticed the difference in peoples choice of time usage while traveling. Some would read a book, some would read a newspaper, some would do work on their laptop or tablet. It became apparent to me that the ones using a tablet were a good 90-95% of users with an iPad. I have noticed that more men seem to carry the iPad and more women carry the iPad Mini – just an observation. Also, I noticed that my fellow commuters who also use a tablet during their daily commute tend to use their time either playing a game of choice or watching a tv show and only a few tend to read using their tablet which is interesting.

During the timeframe of my commuting, It has become clear that more people are making the step towards purchasing a tablet and that society has accepted this as an improvement to their everyday lives.

I have concluded that the iPad Air is the perfect mobile device for my lifestyle and taking it to work with me everyday for use during the commute and for using it as my work computer at the office. It’s the best computer I have ever owned and I wouldn’t be without it.

Apple Readying Fix for Issues with Touch ID Fading

Apple Readying Fix for Issues with Touch ID Fading

Kelly Hodgkins:

Apple is preparing an update that will improve performance of the Touch ID sensor on its iPhone 5s handset, claims AppleInsider. Apple has tapped its AuthenTec team to eliminate “fade”, a term coined to describe the increasingly erratic performance of the fingerprint sensor that is experienced by some iPhone 5s owners.

After launching iPhone 5s last fall, Apple has continued to work with the original AuthenTec team to improve its recognition software and will release an update relatively soon, the source confidently reported. However, AppleInsider could not verify whether the update will ship as part of iOS 7.1, which is expected to drop in mid-March.

Issues with Touch ID surfaced shortly after the iPhone 5s was introduced, with owners reporting an increasing number of failed scans shortly after they enter their fingerprints. Deleting and rescanning a fingerprint only temporarily fixes the issue.

This is definitely a wide-spread problem. In fact myself and my good lady have both felt the need to ‘retrain’ the finger print record multiple times since purchase. We both often just unlock our iPhones by typing our pass codes in rather than using the finger print recognition. Apple definitely needs to improve this, so it’s good to see a potential fix is coming.

Best Read it Later Service

The Top Contenders:

Safari Reading List
Instapaper
Pocket

When it comes to reading articles on the web, certain factors immediately apply such as what type of device you are using, what browser is being used and whether you have time to read and take in the particular article at that current time.

A typical person will use their smartphone or mobile computer to read news headlines and will speed read through links on websites because they are on the go and it might not be convenient to read a whole article or page at that particular time. For this situation, there are services and apps available that allow you to ‘save’ any webpage or article to read it later.

The benefits of using a service such as these, especially when you are using the particular service in question’s app, are that it will essentially save a copy of the original article you were viewing in your browser or the app you were using for later, so you can catch up with all your saved articles at a time when it’s perhaps more convenient to read them.

There is also the benefit of when you do come to use one of these services or apps to view the saved articles, it will display the article in a more easy-on-the-eye font which you can also customize if you prefer. The majority of these services have other benefits as well such as ‘offline’ viewing – the article is saved whilst your device has a connection so that you don’t need to be ‘online’ to read the article. There are also ‘Pro’ uses which I will come on to shortly such as automatically sharing the article with other services and apps.

There are multiple services that offer a read it later facility but I am going to touch on what I feel are the strongest three services.

Safari Reading List

Safari’s Reading List is built into the browser on Mac and iOS and therefore Apple make it super easy for you send any web page you have open automatically saved within Safari for later viewing or ‘offline’ viewing. Access to this service is via the bookmarks icon in the Mac version or within the bookmarks menus on iOS.

Once a webpage is within Reading List, clicking or tapping on a page to view it is easy enough with the option of ‘Reader’ in the address bar available to format the web page to remove most of the html and ads which results in a more pleasing reading experience.

My issue with Safari Reading List is down to one thing – notifications. In as far as they aren’t any. When I was using the service a few months back, I felt I needed to be reminded that I had saved articles to read to refer back to and with Safari not displaying badges, I simply forgot that I had them.

‘Add to Reading List’ is also baked into most 3rd party apps, so getting your articles into there is well supported by developers. The support is great, it works well, it’s reliable but the lack of notifications keeps me from using it as my preferred service.

Instapaper:

Originally developed by Marco Arment, Instapaper is perhaps the oldest and best known of all the read it later services due to its fast, reliable and and concise design. Instapaper also benefitted by it’s universal adoption by many twitter services, websites, social networks and news feeds so it became very popular and although Marco sold on the service last year, it remains a powerhouse in it’s field.

If you are using a browser on a desktop PC or Mac or laptop, there is an Instapaper extension available for the most popular browsers like Safari and Chrome which can add a small button near the address bar which with one click, can add the currently open page – straight to your Instapaper account. On iOS there is a universal app for the iPhone and the iPad which you can use to catch with up with all your saved articles. Instapaper has a nice back-end feature that you can setup so that it will automatically share saved articles to various services like Twitter, Evernote, Pinboard etc. Frasier Spiers has a terrific workflow for saving web articles via Instapaper into Evernote.

The iOS Instapaper app currently has a couple of limitations that stop me from using it as my preferred read it later service. The first one is that it doesn’t quite take advantage of the new background updating feature of iOS 7 which means that it won’t automatically download the articles in the background. Instead it uses background location updating which ironically was one of the pioneering features in an earlier iOS version release which only updates and downloads articles once you have reached a certain GPS-enabled location like at home or at work.

Another useful feature that I like to have in the app is to maintain a constant badge icon to show how many articles you have unread in your Instapaper account. The app will show the badge briefly, but once you exit the app the badge notification disappears. I like to know at a glance exactly how many articles I have queued up or unread in my read it later service and unfortunately these 2 issues let the app down and stops me from using the app.

Pocket

Pocket for me ticks all the boxes I require.

It’s a popular service and I can see why. 3rd party support is again well supported by developers so most Twitter apps and news apps can ‘Add/Send to Pocket’.

The Pocket app on iOS really is fantastic. It’s fast, smooth and easy to navigate and manage with a great choice of fonts to use as your default reading experience. You can tick or swipe to mark saved articles as read which of course can update your Pocket account and sync read and unread articles across your devices.

Notifications are the killer feature for me. Fully supporting iOS 7’s background updating API, I am in love with the number of saved articles badge over the app icon on the iPhone and iPad. I can see at a glance how many I need to catch up on which of course is a great reminder. I can be in twitter, see a link that I want to research or read later, hit ‘Send to Pocket’ and by the time I have exited the Twitter app and gone back to the home screen, the badge as been updated on the Pocket app to reflect the change. My only wish is for a Mac app rather than having to access the site via Safari but considering I mostly use my iOS devices, there is no great need.

Pocket is a fantastic app with the notification badge being the killer and stand out feature. You can download it for free here.

OS X 10.9.2 Update Adds FaceTime Audio Calling, iMessage Blocking, Fixes Mail and Security Bugs

OS X 10.9.2 Update Adds FaceTime Audio Calling, iMessage Blocking, Fixes Mail and Security Bugs

If you have a Mac running OS X Mavericks, update 10.9.2 has been pushed to the Mac App Store, which adds several new features, fixes a variety of bugs, and namely fixes the SSL/TLS vulnerability that keep your web connections secure. On the feature side, 10.9.2 adds the ability to initiate and receive FaceTime audio calls, while also blocking individual senders on iMessage. Mail is named as having received a slew of bug fixes: compatibility improvements for Gmail’s Archive folder and labels are listed, as well as resolutions for a bug that prevented Mail from receiving messages from “certain providers.” The update will require a restart for installation.

Via MacStories

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S5

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S5

John Gruber:

The perfect phone for people with no taste. Garish design — both hardware and software. The gold version (shocker) is exactly what made people cringe when the gold iPhone was first rumored.

Water-resistance is a legitimate step forward in the state of the art, though. I know there’ve been other water-resistant phones, but none that will sell as well as the S5. This is one area where Apple is behind. A good solution to this problem, though, has got to involve something better than a flap over the USB port.

Plus issues with their storage:

Cult of Mac:

When you buy a 16GB iPhone 5c, you get 12.60GB of storage space left over after taking into account iOS 7’s default install size. Comparatively, the Samsung Galaxy S4 was the worst bang for the buck, storage-wise, in smartphones: a paltry 8.56GB of internal space was available to the user to store apps and media upon.

Even the S4, though, was roomy compared to the newly announced Galaxy S5. A 16GB Galaxy S5 comes with less than eight gigabytes of usable memory.

And what you can see is that on the 16GB model of the Galaxy S5, half of the on-board storage is used up before the owner even turns on the phone. It’s not quite as dire on the 32GB model of course (and remember that there’s a little bit of funky math anyway, and you never get as much storage as manufacturers say), and Samsung will quickly tell you that’s why you have the option to use a microSD card for expanded storage.

Which is true! You can install apps, media and more to the card in the Galaxy S5’s microSD slot. But they will never run as quickly or as well as they run on the Galaxy S5 itself. At the end of the day, a 16GB Galaxy S5 only has 7.86GB of usable storage to play around with.

WhatsApp To Add Voice Calling Later This Year

WhatsApp To Add Voice Calling Later This Year

Alex Heath via TechCrunch:

WhatsApp, the popular messaging service that was recently bought by Facebook, is adding a big feature in a few months: voice calling.

During a keynote at Mobile World Congress, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced that voice calling would be added in the second quarter of this year. The feature will be a free addition to the already free app.

WhatsApp has 465 million monthly active users, which is 15 million more than Facebook. The service’s huge international presence (it’s the largest mobile messaging service in Korea, for example) also helps explain why Facebook paid $19 billion to own it.

Just Do Something

Just Do Something

John Gruber reminding us on Apple’s focus in light of Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp:

This is the worst sort of advice, suggesting a complete ignorance of everything Apple stands for. (Jay Yarow loves it, of course.) Just buy something. Spend, spend, spend. Acquire. Buy all the spaghetti, throw it against the wall, see what sticks. Wrong. Apple’s model is about focus. Apple wasn’t joking about “a thousand no’s for every yes” — that’s really how they think, what they believe. That’s the DNA.

Only one thing Jackson suggests makes any sense: Apple perhaps acquiring Tesla. I don’t think that’s likely, but I think it’s possible, for two reasons: First, Tesla could be integrated into Apple’s core business — selling high quality, well designed products that work well together. If you can imagine Apple making a car (and I can), then you can imagine Apple acquiring Tesla to jump-start the initiative. Second, Apple and Tesla share a fundamental engineering problem; batteries.

But other than Tesla, who else would it make sense for Apple to acquire for billions of dollars? No answers come to mind. Certainly not WhatsApp — as I wrote last week, Apple already has exactly the messaging platform it wants: iMessage, with hundreds of millions of users.