Support SaysBrad
  • (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    Anker

    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

  • Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen

    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Artic Silver

    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

  • Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot with Pixelpoint, works with a lot of new drawing apps on iPad.

  • Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen

    The stuff I use to keep my iPad screen nice and clean!

  • Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Studio Neat

    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

  • Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot Pro is an awesome capacitive touch stylus for iPad & other tablets.

  • Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    FiftyThree

    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

  • Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Sportsman Supply Inc.

    Playing Cards for your password creation or poker game!

My Amazon.com Wish List
If you’re looking for an app, need personal or corporate branding, marketing material, an illustration, logo, sketch or design — there’s a Brad for that!

Entries in apple (24)

Tuesday
Mar102015

Thoughts on Apple Watch and MacBook

Thoughts on Apple Watch & the (new) MacBook

Do people still wear watches?

In all seriousness, I know that people do. I used to — but that was years ago. Simply, why wear a watch, that may or may not be accurate in timekeeping, when I have a smartphone with smart time? I’ve grown accustomed to checking my phone for the time when necessary. Yes, the process is slower than glancing at one’s wrist, but I don’t live a life that requires me to (nearly) instantly and frequently know what the time is. My guess is that that’s true for most people.

Of course, the Apple Watch does a lot more, but is it worth it?

But hey, it’s Apple, right?

Well, I might’ve bought into that logic when Steve Jobs was still at the helm, but the Apple isn’t ripe anymore; it’s lost its luster, and there’s some mold growing on it.

iOS 7 & 8 have had serious issues. Crashes, storage problems, battery life issues, WiFi connectivity issues, lag… in pursuit of doing more and looking prettier, Apple has killed the best feature of the iPhone and iPad — responsiveness.

My iPad 1 & 2 never felt slow. Swipe, open or close an app — it all felt instantaneous. iPhone 3GS felt that way, too, even after a new generation replaced them. Everything since has been disappointing; in particular the iPad mini and iPhone 5S. It makes me hesitant to buy a new Apple mobile product because it feels like I’m paying full price to beta test.

Form > Function

Stylish and slower. That’s the new Apple way, apparently. The new MacBook looks fantastic. Super thin, color options, streamlined everything.

Except now it has only one port (plus headphone jack), USB-C. So if you need to charge the notebook and use USB, you’re SOL unless you pay for an adapter. No more MagSafe power. The onboard processor isn’t likely to remain fast for very long. Also, instead of 720p (pseudo-HD), the new MacBook has a 480p FaceTime camera, a disappointing concession likely made to keep the screen ridiculously thin.

In total, the MacBook looks like a design ahead of its time; when the component manufactures catch up, I’m sure the super thin and light notebook will shine, despite its drawbacks. But right now, it’s like a concept car; visually stunning but impractical — perhaps too radical — for the current market.

And I see a similar thing with the Apple Watch — to an extreme.

The Apple Watch is an expensive toy.

I really wanted to like the watch. The concept is interesting and admittedly, I was excited when it was announced. Unfortunately, technical limitations and FDA rules and restrictions keep it from being the device that it should be.

Granted, I haven’t personally seen or used one yet. I admit, when I first heard about and saw the iPad keynote, I thought that that device wasn’t a great idea. So wrong about that. I’d like to be wrong about the watch, too… but that seems far less likely.

Tech reviewers and journalists have tested the device and only a few are really excited for it. Several mention feeling confused and underwhelmed, unsure of what the device offers for its price point. Several mention that the apps seem to load slowly and that the UI and buttons seem unintuitive.

It’s also a bit ironic that Apple convinced us that we need (want) bigger iPhone screens, only to turn around and essentially say: those screens are too big to be truly usable, what you want is a tiny one.

So the question for consumers is: are you willing to spend $349 - $17,000 for a wearable gadget with less than 24 hours battery life that does less than your iPhone and does it slower?

Note: I’m not trying to talk anyone dead-set on buying an Apple Watch out of buying it — it’s your money, do what you like with it. These are just my questions and concerns.

But I’d personally struggle with buying an overpriced first-gen device that doesn’t seem to add much value. If the watch is successful, Apple will inevitably release a Watch 2 that will do more, last longer and operate quicker (actually, I have doubts about the latter). And then a 3 and 4… or perhaps an Apple Watch Air.

And unlike conventional, dumb watches, the Apple Watch isn’t a buy-once, lasts-a-lifetime device. While we may be prepared to drop $200-500+ for a new iPhone every year or two, how many will want (or be able) to add another $350+ to keep the phone+watch combo updated? This in addition to the every 2-5 or so years between computer upgrades and 1-2 years for a new iPad.

Also, if you browse the [Apple Store], you’ll see that the watch bands aren’t cheap, and there’s no way to pick a Watch base model without a band — so if you want to personalize the Watch, it will cost you an extra $50+. Some of the bands are stupid expensive. I get that Apple may be attempting to position itself as a luxury goods brand, but it should be a tech company first.

Apple Watch: Functionality Restricted

Our stupid government has also contributed to handicapping the Watch.

The Apple Watch could have had all kinds of sensors that allow it to essentially offer diagnoses — but it can’t, thanks to the FDA.

It reminds me of [23andMe], a company that offered a DNA test that revealed genetic predispositions for all kinds of health problems (or benefits) for $99 — until the government kneecapped them for not paying up to satiate bureaucrats and cover special interest operating costs. Now their product is far less cool — it gives you info on your heredity.

The FDA would require from Apple boatloads of paperwork and millions of dollars for the watch to do more than give you general wellness information. Their stance is essentially this: we’re too stupid and impulsive to hear the truth about our own condition — an issue also faced by 23andMe during its short-lived battle against the Federal government.

The Apple Watch could’ve likely made preliminary diagnoses for everything from serious neurological issues to a common cold or flu.

That would be an incredible reason to wear it every day.

By simply tracking your normal resting and active heart rate, blood pressure and movements, it could determine when you’re off your game and notify you.

Instead, it’ll tell you how well your run went and when you should stand up at work. Great.

I hope I’m wrong about the Apple Watch and MacBook.

Won’t have to wait long to find out.

Are you going to buy an Apple Watch and/or MacBook, and if so, which model/s?

Tuesday
Dec162014

iCloud Drive Sucks: Apple is Screwing Up

Presently, iCloud Drive is unreliable crap.

If it’s working for you, I’m happy for you and hope that it continues to work well. For me and probably tens of thousands of other people, files appear, disappear, appear but won’t open, take days or weeks to sync…

It’s a mess.

I’ve been working on more substantial, long-form content for this site and other things, but since iOS 8 and Yosemite, I haven’t been able to reliably work on documents on my various devices.

I prefer to work in Ulysses III/Daedalus Touch, iA Writer Pro and Day One, and all three worked great before the switch to iCloud Drive. Now I’m having issues with all three.

  • Ulysses/Daedalus — None of my documents from Ulysses III show up in Daedalus on iPhone/iPad. Waiting for a sync to spontaneously occur yields nothing. Tried the reset troubleshooting instructions; nothing.

  • iA Writer Pro — Numerous documents aren’t listed on iOS. They are viewable when using the iCloud Drive folder feature, but are gray and won’t open. New documents take over 20 hours to sync — some have failed to sync entirely.

  • Day One — After waiting weeks and trying the troubleshooting methods repeatedly, the majority of the entries have synced across the various devices. However, 14 entries from my iPhone 5S wouldn’t upload for another few weeks, and finally synced today. During this time, entries would appear synced and then disappear a day later.

To be fair, a lot of the first-party iCloud Drive features are working okay. Photos enter the stream much quicker, and that’s nice.

Additionally, iOS 8 is problematic in general.

Shame on you, Apple. I’m really glad that I never moved beyond iOS 6 on my old iPad 2, because iOS7 ran and iOS8 runs so poorly on the iPad mini (first gen). My iPad 3 has issues with iOS8 as well; random lag and crashes. For the most part, the iPhone 5S handles iOS 8, but there are still random crashes and occasional device restarts.

In an attempt to beautify the OS, you’ve made it slower and glitchier. Turning off the fancy visual effects makes for a minor stability improvement, but overall, iOS devices haven’t seemed faster than iOS 6. When I first received the iPad 2, I was impressed by the lack of slowdown and minimal (if any) wait times. Now, idling has become the standard. In many ways, it feels like devices have taken a step back. I really miss Steve Jobs.

It’s as if these new iOS iterations are designed this way to force people to upgrade to the newest devices every year — and yet most of their phone deals with the major carriers are based on two-year contracts and upgrade cycles.

While it’s a nice idea to have synchronicity across devices with iOS 8, I’d prefer speed and reliability. Ideally both is best, but right now, that’s not reality. Also, Apple removed the Camera Roll in favor of a new organization system; while some may prefer it, it’s not optional. This seemingly small change has serious consequences for many apps and is far less usable for me.

Apple, please don’t be like Microsoft. Put your customers first and you’ll continue to stay on top.

If you try to put short term gains in profit and market penetration ahead of the user experience, put the desires of shareholders ahead of the needs of the consumer, your supporters will begin looking elsewhere. As I’m sure many already have.

Monday
Sep222014

Government can’t crack your iPhone? Don’t be so sure.

I was thrilled when I heard the recent Apple and Google announcements about privacy and government proof encryption…

At first.

So the government can no longer go to Apple and ask for some workaround to get into your seized iPhone or iPad. If you learned anything from Edward Snowden, you know that our government will stop at nothing to learn everything it can about you.

Why would they care, you might ask; why would they bother? Because they can, and no one is stopping them. When libertarian groups, Tea Party members and environmentalists are classified as radicals, how many degrees away are you from someone the government really doesn’t trust? When was the last time you knowingly broke the law, and how can you be sure that you’re completely law-abiding with so many on the books?

So now Apple has a new selling point. We won’t give the government access to your information, because we can’t. Unless it’s on the cloud.

But what about Touch ID?

TouchID is a fantastic feature that makes using the iPhone so much easier. Unlock the device by pressing and holding your finger on the home button. Make purchases in the App Store or iTunes without typing in your password each time. Doesn’t seem like much; maybe it saves ten minutes per year if you use your phone a lot, but really, it’s about user experience. It takes a little stress out of the device.

But if you’re arrested, the police take your fingerprints, don’t they? Now why couldn’t they use that to get into your phone after they have that warrant?

TouchID is a capacitive imaging device, not a normal optical scanner, so it’s a bit trickier faking it, but it’s hardly impossible.

Bottom line: don’t put anything incriminating on your phone or in the cloud, and don’t permit yourself a false sense of security, that you’re safe because Apple won’t share your secrets. They’ll take what they want, when they want it. And you should be concerned.

Sunday
Sep142014

September to Remember!

I wish that I had more time to write so I could share some thoughts about the new iPhone 6, Apple Watch, Pay and iOS8 (which looks amazing)… but being out here has really changed things. Aside from the usual things that I had to deal with in Oakland, there are these events and invites to things that come up, as well as free dinners almost any night of the week.

Of course, nothing is really free — most of these perks require some time at the tables or machines. But I did get to see the Air Races, Reno Collier and Larry The Cable Guy, as well as the Mayhem Showtime PPV event with Mayweather vs Maidana on a big screen while sitting in a very nice private booth I managed to snag.

Mostly, I’ve had to adjust to getting into a different mindset and thinking about things like inevitable gambling losses differently. It’s quite different when you live out of town and gamble maybe a few times per year; very different when there are major casino resorts less than one mile away.

One great side benefit is that I’ve been doing a lot more walking. It’s nice being able to leave the house without much worry about, well, Oakland things.

I still have a few art and design projects to finish up, and my birthday is on Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll get something neat! Like a $7K Royal Flush. Or something from my Amazon wish list. Who knows.

Life is much better here. But that definitely leaves less time to chat and rant about things on the internet. Hopefully I can find balance there, too.

Sunday
Apr272014

Reno is fantastic!

Instagram @bradtastic

I'm absolutely loving it here. I just wish I had more time and energy each day because unpacking is time consuming. I suppose I have too much stuff... in addition to everything from my previous place, a bunch of furniture from the office came with.

Still sorting and organizing a month in, but even with the still packed boxes everywhere, it already feels like home. Many friends and acquaintances from the Bay Area were puzzled by my decision to move here — some called Reno boring — they really have no clue. Reno has just about everything I'd want in a city, and it's not that far from Lake Tahoe.

I just got my iPad replaced at the local Apple Store, and it's running great. It's encouraged me to work on iPad art again! And hopefully I can finish a few projects that have been held up due to my health issues. Perhaps it's too soon to get excited, but the atmosphere here is overall, more comfortable. I've only had one migraine thus far!

Also, I'm hoping that I can refocus on writing as well. Writing is a depreciating skill, and I'm somewhat out of practice. Although I've outlined many different ideas, I haven't been able to focus on publishing decent content. The environment and atmosphere in my new condo by the river should be much more conducive — all around, I feel better here, for whatever that's worth.

Hopefully things are good wherever you are, too... but if not, consider Nevada!

Now, if only we could do something about Harry Reid...

 

Monday
Jan062014

Says Brad 2014!

Happy New Year! I’m excited about 2014.

2013 didn’t start well for me. I was sick throughout. I feel like I didn’t get much of anything done, like it was a lost year. Looking back at 2013, it feels like it went by before I realized it but simultaneously, it didn’t feel quick. Time feels quite different when you’re sick, and I was sick for probably more than half of the year, including the final weeks of December.

This year will bring more significant changes. I’m going to move out of California! That’s an exciting thing for me; a chance for a new beginning, to meet new people, and find new opportunities to learn, grow, and hopefully work. I’m hopeful that November’s mid-term elections will signal a shift in America as well, and I’m making every effort to get my political site up and running as quickly as possible to share some of my libertarian conservative ideas, specifically regarding controversial topics such as gay marriage and abortion. Far too often, people steer conversation away from these serious matters toward the mundane and inconsequential, all in effort to keep peace and to not offend. I think this is usually done with good intentions, I just don’t think it’s a feasible long-term solution, and has aided in alienating people and polarizing the country in ways I’ve never seen before in my life.

But enough of the serious and personal, onto Says Brad!

For about a month, I’ve been writing exclusively in Markdown, and I’m thrilled with this change. Two critical components that’ve made this pain-free and pleasurable: Daedalus Touch (universal iOS) + *Ulysses III* (Mac), and Byword** (universal iOS, Mac).

Ulysses III is so good that while I’m working on a full review, I’ve spent enough time with it to know — it’s indispensable for anyone interested in a fluid, natural, comprehensive and beautiful writing/note-taking environment. (That it syncs automatically with Daedalus Touch via iCloud is a huge bonus.)

I’ve never used a more beautiful writing app… or had as much fun. Ulysses III inspires me to write more, and helps keep me organized and efficient with everything neatly in one place, sans messy file folders and miscellaneous doc names.

Byword is a fantastic markdown/rich text editor that I’ve written about before, but I really only use it on my iPad and iPhone right now because it includes a markdown preview and live, in-line styling — and Daedalus doesn’t. It’s also possible to post to blogs from within Byword, but it’s an IAP priced at $4.99. I’d use it if it were included. (Having communicated with Daedalus/Ulysses debs, The Soulmen, I’m confident that Daedalus Touch will include these things in the future. If you have an iOS device, there’s no reason not to try Daedalus, as it’s now freemium.)

Switching to markdown has helped me to focus on content and forget about formatting. The text is clean and readable, links can be added in as reference-style footnotes, and words can be emphasized and emboldened without ever using brackets or clicking a toggle.

Blogging, 2014

Over a decade ago, I was happily posting to Livejournal without a care or concern for the underlying technology or the longevity of the platform. As a teenager, I just didn’t think about those things. This changed when a Livejournal admin censored me. I hadn’t been posting as frequently and had just undergone surgery to fix my shoulder (bad idea), and didn’t realize that they’d contacted me by email, instructing me to self-censor and remove someone’s full name. As I hadn’t replied, my site was shut down.

It wasn’t just that my content was pulled from public view. I was locked out.

My account had been suspended for violating one of their rules. I was cut off from my own writing, years of work, completely unavailable. I was lucky; able to save my site, discovering what had happened before my account was permanently closed, but the process alerted me to the fact that my content was not my own.

I decided that I was done with LJ. I didn’t like the fact that someone could put extra restrictions on my content and that those rules could change at any time, that I could lose my writing. Since then, I’ve been very concerned about terms of service and content restrictions and ownership. I used WordPress for several years and then stumbled upon Squarespace, and although I’m presently (mostly) happy with the service, I’m always looking at alternatives.

I think that both WordPress and Squarespace do a remarkable job at managing a full-featured website, but lately, I’ve been intrigued by the “just blogging” platforms like Ghost. I’ve been testing different services: Roon, Posthaven, Silvrback… I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on these services and hope that I can help someone pick his/her best fit blogging platform.

More in 2014

In the coming months, I’ll be adding reader-requested reviews of styluses, including a more-detailed review of Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus and thoughts on Pencil by FiftyThree. Also, some app devs have graciously provided copies of their apps for me to try and write about, so I’ll have that upcoming as well. I’m excited about another year of cool technology and discussing these things with you! (The latest Apple rumor is about an iPad Pro iOS/OSX hybrid device — I really hope that it’s Penabled, wouldn’t that be something?!)

In the interim, if you want to chat, send me a message at Twitter or Facebook! I hope you have a great year!

Saturday
Nov232013

The iPhone 5S is superb! Makes me want...

My view of Lake Merritt; Oakland, CA

Several days ago, I received an amazing gift — a new phone. For many reasons, I'd held off upgrading, leaving me with an iPhone 4. After years of use, it wasn't in great shape. Physically unscathed (mostly), but the battery life was seriously reduced and the device was just sluggish. After a lackluster experience with iOS7 on my iPad mini, I decided not to "upgrade" to it, but that didn't stop Apple from pushing the download to my phone and insisting the 4 could run it.

Because my iPad mini crashes constantly and is plagued with sluggish typing and random lag, I was skeptical about iOS7 in general. I'd no doubt that the new A7 was fast enough to handle it — my concern was with stability.

Crashing a game is one thing; crashing an art project and losing work, perhaps an hour of progress — that's entirely different. I'd lost sketches, vector work, notes, writing... it's destroyed the once beautiful iPad mini experience for me and I've been using the iPad 3 for basic things instead, just to get away from iOS7. I like the old notifications with the share widget. I don't mind the brushed metal and linen look.

Because of the iPhone 5S, I no longer hate iOS7 and can see the potential of a new iPad.

 

I read Anandtech's iPad Air review, and I'm super excited now. I can imagine working on the new tablet, switching between apps, browsing the web with more tabs, music playing on the device, Siri offering guidance... a bunch of things that I can't cleanly do on the iPad mini (non-retina). But I can on the iPhone 5S.

I can actually work on the iPhone 5S, multitask, read, write... it's more impressive than when I moved from iPhone 3GS to 4. At first, I thought my phone was defective because colors seemed really yellow and warm, and the pixels were clearly visible to me. For awhile I neurotically compared the iPhone 4 screen to the 5S — and then it dawned on me that the pixels are more obscure on the 4 because the capacitive layer sits above the LCD panel. The 5S' is built with the screen. Instead of glass > glue > capacitive touch > glue > LCD, it's glass > glue > screen. The colors appeared warm because my iPhone 4 was incredibly cool and inaccurate.

So far I have no complaints. The phone does what I want it to do. I can write, read and draw on it, talk on it, video chat, and take really nice photos. The image above was a quick snap from yesterday, unedited. I'm looking forward to finding new ways to be more creative with the 5S.

Perhaps the biggest thing is that I'm now really excited about new iPads. I'm still unable to decide between the models. I love the mini due to its lightweight frame and comfortable shape, but I like the retina display for art and design. Now the mini has the retina display so it should be a simple choice, but the large 9.7" iPad now has a lightweight, nice (mini-style) shape! The Anandtech reviews point out that the mini retina display is less color accurate than its larger counterpart, but the slight loss of color accuracy might be a fair trade for the portability and ease of use. I demo'd both at the Apple Store; unfortunately, the only drawing apps on their new demo models are Penultimate (without zoom) and Paper by FiftyThree, so I wasn't able to test the pressure-sensitivity and palm rejection of the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus.

Every time I think I'm leaning toward one or the other, I think of a reason to switch. I don't want both — I think next year's models will be a huge leap forward, and it's silly to split my time and attention between two tablets with such similar specs and hardware. There was a vast distinction between iPhone 5, iPad 4 and iPad mini — now the three main iOS devices all run A7 SoCs.

If you have suggestions or opinions, I'd really appreciate hearing them. I'm especially interested in reviews by iPad artists regarding touch sensitivity and drawing accuracy, as well as comparisons between iPad Air and Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) and Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid. $929 for 128gb iPad Air — very pricy...

Unfortunately, Android just doesn't have many great sketching and design tools apart from SketchBook Pro. Lack of Procreate and Paper is a negative, but having an active digitizer is also a big deal — impossible on iPad.

 

For now, I'm going to focus on maximizing my iPhone usage moving preparation. I wanted to write about some new art that I've been working on and blogging woes (considering migrating this site; looking at Squarespace 6 and WordPress), but that will have to wait for some other time.

Monday
Sep022013

Star Wars Pinball Free & Terraria iOS! Hardcore Gamers, Rejoice!

FREE! Star Wars Pinball by Zen Studios (universal, normally $1.99) — includes one table with two additional tables available as in-app purchases. If you own Zen Pinball, you'll probably want to unlock (purchase) the tables inside it instead, but since Star Wars Pinball is free (for now), why not play around with one of the tables and see if you like the game mechanics?

Light side or dark side?

I love pinball. It's not nearly as visceral and exciting as playing in an arcade in front of a real pinball machine, but playing on the iPad is pretty great — especially with the retina display. Much better than playing on the TV or PC.

Zen Studios has done a great job capturing the frenetic pace and unique physics of pinball in their sims, this app is no different. The Star Wars tables are stylish and well constructed — the sound effects, imagery and storylines feel authentic and will likely satisfy sci-fi fanatics.

 

Also on the App Store, Terraria!

Terraria by 505 Games (universal, $4.99) I've been waiting for this for a long time! (Still waiting for the Playstation Vita version... hopefully it's out soon!)

I haven't checked it out yet, but I have played desktop/console versions of the game (on Xbox 360 & PS3). It's a different take on survival/crafting, and isn't just a 2D version of Minecraft (iOS link). Terraria has a huge following and much has been written about it, so I won't go into detail.

The iPad has become an interesting games platform for hardcore gamers.

It's very exciting. Hopefully, more indie games and Kickstarter type projects will surface now that people are starting to take iOS seriously. Initially thought of as simply a casual games device, iOS now has games like:

*MAKE SURE to check system requirements before downloading these games. Many of them are ~2GB and require iPad 3 or newer.

I could go on for quite awhile, this list barely scratches the surface — this is just skim off the cream — there are dozens more fantastic games for iOS. If you have an iPad, you can't be bored! Look at that list; look at the App Store, check out all the great stuff available right now — know it's just the beginning. Apple will likely announce new iPads soon, and with next-gen devices come better games and new ways to interact with conventional gaming devices. A current example is Xbox SmartGlass — but I'm really looking forward to Ubisoft's Watch Dogs tablet mode multiplayer.

What games are you most excited about? Did I leave your favorite off of the list? Let me know!

 

Oh yeah, just in case...

Cut the Rope HD is free right now, too. Whatever.

 

Currently, I'm enjoying Dragon's Crown for PSVITA. There's been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the game since its North American announcement and early teaser artwork, but don't let that stop you from enjoying a superb side-scrolling action RPG. For an amazing breakdown of Dragon's Crown, check out HokutoAndy's Kinja blog and his site, Art-Eater.

If you want to play, add me at XBLIVE/PSN: rainfault — just include a little note to let me know a bit about you and how you found me. (Thanks!)

 

Saturday
Aug102013

Taking Notes on the iPad & iPhone!

Well — the groosoft sale that I'd mentioned was certainly short lived. Hopefully you picked up both amazing apps! If you didn't, that's a bummer, but let me explain why they might be worth your money.

If you're looking for text-only notes, check out my ThinkBook review.

 

Scrapnote Handwriting Scrapbook (iPad 2 & newer, $4.99)

Scrapnote is an amazing consolidation of productivity tools presented in an elegant package. It isn't the most visually stunning app, but it is powerful and straightforward — perfect for quick and dirty note-taking. Imagine Evernote, Skitch, Penultimate, Noteshelf, Pages and Adobe Reader features all in one app.

You say "scraping," I say "scrapping."

The main feature is its Scrap tool (a process misspelled as "scraping" in their materials). It's basically a clipper; take images, or even a stack of images, videos, text, (no audio, though) and insert them right onto editable pages. These objects can be drawn over and snap-aligned with guides (just like in Apple's Pages).

There are many practical note-taking uses for Scrapnote, but it can also be used as a presentation tool. Each notebook can be set as read-only — the app even comes with an example in the form of a detailed how-to guide. Scrapnote has several different handwriting tools (eraser, highlighter, pencil, pen) each with its own settings and properties, as well as a decent color palette (but no option to choose your own colors). Images can have custom borders (or not) and can be rotated and cropped (clipped, rather, as if set inside a frame) in-app, and text can be presented in various styles and fonts, with optional boxes and drop shadows.

There are some missing features. The major ones:

No zoom. It's a shame, because I could ditch my other handwriting notes apps if it had the ability to zoom into areas for more control. Well, almost, except...

No backup. This is so strange to me, because groosoft's $0.99 Jotter has iCloud sync. No backup makes this app somewhat limited in longevity, so hopefully they'll rectify that. iCloud and Dropbox backup would be preferred. Also...

No PDF export. Single pages can be emailed or sent to images, but the entire notebook cannot be easily presented together in a single file. Each page could be exported and backed up, but those documents would no longer be editable in-app.

Limited colors. The selection isn't bad or that small, it's just not ideal for me. This won't be an issue for everyone, and I'm sure someone out there prefers the simplicity of a set palette.

At the wonderful price of free, I couldn't complain much about these omissions, but for $4.99 — I expect more. If you're on the fence about this app, check out the "trial" version, Scrapnote Lite.

 

Jotter Handwriting Notebook (universal, $0.99)

I have no idea what "real tactile note app" means to groosoft, but I do know that the poor typesetting (look at "app" — "a pp") and misspelling scrapping (in Scrapnote) is indicative of oversight and carelessness... and that is concerning...

But for 99 cents, Jotter is pretty cool.

Especially as it's an iCloud-synced, universal app. Many of my favorite handwritten notes apps are iPad-only, limiting my ability to view and modify these notes on-the-go with my iPhone. The mobile-friendly feature makes it worthy of mention, and perhaps, a download.

Jotter has the same drawing tools and color palette as Scrapnote and has various background options (paper types) including lined/ruled, graphing paper, white, black, etc. — but the pages aren't arranged into notebooks, and images cannot be added into the documents.

However, you can use an image as a background.

For FREE, there's no debate about downloading Jotter. For a buck, it's still probably worth a try. There are other handwriting apps for iPhone, but most have similar issues and cost the same as or more than Jotter. The iCloud sync is a great bonus, and until Evernote makes Penultimate for iPhone (they really should), this is basically the only choice.

But still — no zoom. :-(

 

For iPhone handwritten notes, you could try Draw Pad Pro or Muji Notebook for iPhone — both offer zoom, and Draw Pad Pro is universal and has backup!

Draw Pad Pro is feature-rich and supported, but for some reason, it just doesn't feel right; it also isn't visually attractive, but there's something about the drawing tools and interface that doesn't work for me... so at $2.99, it's difficult for me to recommend (there are occasional discounts on it and it is free from time to time, however).

Muji Notebook is a text and handwriting notes app with a distinct Japanese esthetic and Japanese paper styles. So naturally, I like it (In general, I like Japanese design); but it is limited, and though there are iPad and iPhone versions, the two don't sync with one another. Muji is based on less is more; and with fewer color options, paper styles, and export options, it is a single-purpose tool with more style than substance — aimed at a niche audience. Still, the iPhone version ($3.99) is worth trying because the Muji zoom tool makes writing small, detailed notes a breeze. Developer/publisher Ryohin Keikaku offers trial versions: iPad Lite and iPhone Lite.

 

Final thoughts on note-taking tools for iOS

If I had to score these apps based on my needs, Scrapnote would earn 7/10 and Jotter a 3/5. Both are good, but need improvements to replace my go-to, everyday notes apps. If you've got a back-to-school iPad mini and automatic online backup isn't critical, Scrapnote is probably a worthwhile investment. If groosoft ever adds zoom and backup, Scrapnote would be an 8.5 or 9 out of 10.

If you have a favorite handwriting app for iOS that I haven't mentioned before, please let me know about it!

Also, if you're an app developer or publisher and would like an honest review and feedback, please get in touch. I'm easy to reach online! :-)

 


I've written about the wondrous — yes, magical — iPad, time and time again. I had had concerns that the device was just an overgrown iPod touch, but those fears were quickly dismissed by just using the original iPad for about two minutes. Since that life-changing day, I've dedicated a significant portion of my life and blog to it, and have written before about note-taking on the iPad.

Also, I let the superfloo.us domain expire, but nothing else has changed. Same content, says Brad.