Thursday, January 7, 2016

Laptop or Tablet?

Already in 2012 I had asked the question: Are We Entering the Post PC Age?. Then in 2013 I wrote about my experience with my iPad3 and my iPad mini. In 2014 I outed my apparent iMania, and in 2015 I kept quiet. Let us start a yearly tradition when at the beginning of 2016 I write about laptop or tablet.

This question has perturbed the Community since Apple's CEO Tim Cook presented the iPad pro as the replacement for the laptop. For me the continuing debate is just a tempest in a teacup: Computing is a field where everybody has his/her preferences according to her/his needs. So it is with Red Baron.

Starting from small to big my device to take notes in libraries or when traveling remains the iPad mini coupled to a Logitech keyboard. Although some people call the iPhone 6S plus a phablet due to it's huge display I never thought of it as a replacement for the small iPad. What made me change my phone was not the bigger real estate but the excellent camera of the iPhone plus. As a consequence I did not take a separate camera on my last year's trips to the Holy Land and to Berlin.

For working on my texts at home I now use the iPad pro connected to the Logitech keyboard instead of the iPad air. The bigger display of the king-size iPad is just gorgeous for surfing the Internet and the split screen arrangement lets me work on my English texts with the Linguee dictionary being readily available on the side.

The look at the home screen on my two iPads reveals some important changes between 2014 and 2016. Starting in the first row:

For managing my appointments, tasks and contacts I continue using Pocket Informant. All iOS calendars and tasks stay perfectly synchronized in iCloud on all my devices: Desktop PC, iPad pro, iPad mini, and iPhone 6S plus.

Having tried out many other Mail clients I eventually switched back to Apple's seamlessly integrated application. However, sending group emails is still not possible. Here I depend on Microsoft's Outlook on my desktop PC.

Of all those many weather apps for the iPad I chose Weather Pro HD, the most comprehensive one. I still keep Meteogram although it's local weather prediction has shrunk to two days only.

Wikipedia's icon was produced with iHomeIcon, an app that allows the user to program specific actions. My late son took the photo of Frederick the Great's monument on Unter den Linden on one of his trips to Berlin. Touching the icon will directly open my Wikipedia watch-list.

The second row starts with a special icon calling up Red Baron's Blogs.

Built-in Safari has matured considerable over the last two years. This browser is a must while most apps are addressing it by default. A few apps, however, allow me to switch to my favorite Chrome browser.

Badische Zeitung allows me to read the latest local news about Freiburg. On the next page another app will download the entire digital edition of the BZ. Since Elisabeth and I read the paper edition every morning I could add the digital subscription for a modest fee allowing me to stay abreast of Freiburg news when away from home.

Flipboard is one of the more sophisticated newsreaders.

Third row: Remember PhatNotes? PhatWare Corporation never extended the iPhone app to the iPad platform. In fact, Phatware has now stopped all support for this clever database application. In searching for an ersatz I looked for an app with encryption to protect my stored passwords. This is why Microsoft's OneNote has left its shadowy existence on my computers fulfilling perfectly my needs synchronizing my stored data on all iOS devices and my PC.

Nothing to add for Nebulous, my one and only just text-typing app displaying one row of programmable touch keys at the bottom of the screen including fast cut, copy, and past as shown on the screenshot above.

Apple's new Notes app has become my favorite to take quick notes synchronized with all my iOS-devices. The only b-moll is that the information is not readily available on my PC.

Linguee has replaced all my other dictionaries in iOS. It not only comes handy working on the iPad pro in split screen mode (sse above) but it also has the most extensive English-German data base. In addition German-English and French-English dictionaries can be downloaded locally and be used offline. A French-German online dictionary presently is in beta testing.

Facebook remains interesting for me since I adhered to a couple of German-American Internet portals as there are: German Community in Madison, The German Club at UV-Madison, The German Madison Freiburg Sister City Committee, German Wisconsin, The German School of Madison, Max-Kade-Institute for German-American Studies, German Culture, The German Way, German Heritage USA, and I like Germany. Facebook also serves the Academic Year in Freiburg (AYF) program to spread information to its students.

Forth row: Utilities groups speed testers (at home with Deutsche Telekom I now clock frequently up to 49 Mb/s paying for 50), unit converters, and other useful stuff.

Sport1 allows me to look at the scores of all major sport events and even follow the US baseball season.

PCalc remains my favorite and frequently used RPN-calculator.

Office contains the matured Microsoft's Office Suite, the pre-installed Apple Office Suite that I never use, and a couple of other text processors as well as PDF-converters.

I tried a couple of fancy alarm clock apps but eventually came back to the built-in Clock.

The permanent last row of icons starts with Photos. I carry around a couple of picture galleries on all my iDevices and photos of my most memorable events year by year from 2000 - the advent of digital photography - to 2015.

Evernote contains all my collected snippets of odd and sometimes even useful information I ordered into categories.

Status Board is a programmable app displaying your recent e-mails, upcoming events from your personal calendar, local weather, time, date, and information of selected news channels. This is an ideal app for a quick look of what is up.

Google gives me direct access to queries on the Internet.

No comments for App Store and Settings.

Coming back to the original question Laptop or Tablet my answer is clear. There are some tasks that are either not possible of difficult to perform on iOS-devices. On my desktop PC I use Microsoft Expression Web for editing my websites, I "photo-shop" my photos with Paintshop Pro, and for group e-mails I use Microsoft Outlook. Printing is still a pain in the neck with iOS and I do not like to leave my my printer powered continuously. At the end it turns out that I need both my PC and my two iPads.

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