5 iPad Power User Tips

Here are 5 things you may not have known about your iPad.

Go direct to notifications from the Lock Screen

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You can slide individual notifications to open the associated app instantly. Not very discoverable, but very useful!

Keep folders in the Dock

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Access your favourite apps from any of the home screens by keeping a folder in the dock.

Limit what your friends can see or do

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Lending your iPad out to someone? With “Guided Access” you can limit users to only one app, and even specify which parts of the screen will respond to touches. You simply triple-click the Home-button and enter your PIN to return to normal. Find this under “General > Accessibility”

Remind yourself where that app is

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Spotlight on iOS leaves a lot to be desired for when searching for apps. Thankfully it will tell you which folder an app is in, if any. Just check the column on the right – if there’s no folder mentioned, then it’s not in one.

Give presentations with a projector

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The iPad, along with Apple’s Keynote app can be used to give presentations. With the Apple VGA Adapter (or the HDMI adapter) you can display your slides on the projector, and view your presentation notes on the iPad’s screen. With the iPad 2 and above you can also display any app on the TV/projector.

Microsoft Surface – Initial Thoughts

I've been using the new Microsoft Surface running Windows RT this weekend, so I thought I'd post by initial thoughts. This was one borrowed from the office.

 

I'd installed Windows 8 on my laptop and my first thoughts weren't that good. The 'Metro' interface was vastly different to Windows 7, and having to right-click to get menus to appear seemed counter-intuitive. I couldn't even work out how to copy a hyperlink from the built-in mail client. Having now used Windows 8 on a touch device for the first time, it finally made sense.

 

 

Based on ARM, the Surface only runs apps downloaded from the Microsoft App Store. You get Office Home and Student bundled, although these run in desktop mode. The only reason I can assume they run on the desktop is because Microsoft didn't have time to port them to Metro (no simple task, I'm sure). It does however make the surface confusing, since the desktop only shows up as 1 app when you use the Metro task switching functionality, when in reality you could have 3 or 4 apps open on the desktop.

 

The unique trick that surface has up its sleeve of course is the Touch Cover – a cover similar to the SmartCover for the iPad, that is also a keyboard with a trackpad. The Surface goes from tablet to notebook with ease. (note, I didn't say laptop, you won't want to use this on your lap, it's too unstable). Windows RT can also run two apps side by side, and have multiple user accounts on one device.

 

So while the hardware is certainly unique and very useful indeed, Windows RT can be confusing. This is compounded by a lack of apps. I am typing this now on an iPad, because there is no software that I could find in the Microsoft App Store that will let me connect and post to WordPress. This lack of software will hopefully be a temporary problem, and once this gets fixed and Office comes to Metro, the desktop can be removed and this tablet can stop being a split personality.

 

If you forget the desktop, and forget office then you have a promising device for consuming media. Sometimes it feels a bit laggy, like when rotating the screen or launching apps, but only occasionally – most of the time it feels pretty snappy. Whether not people who have invested in content on Android and iOS will want to put that aside and buy content from Microsoft is anther question. In theory if you buy a film on the Surface, you should be able to watch it on your Xbox 360. Browsing the web is frustrating because there seems to be no way to set Google as your search provider – this really would be a deal breaker for me, because Bing just isn't as good, and not having decent search at your fingertips is like forgetting to wear a watch, you really miss it when it's gone. Favourites are also difficult to find (you have to focus the address bar, and then swipe to the right, they cannot be grouped into folders). I prefer the iPad here, but this is an early version of IE for Metro despite the version being 10, I'm sure this will improve with time.

 

So is the device for? It's not gong to replace a PC for power-users, and the lack of Outlook/Desktop software will probably off business users. That leaves casual home users (would-be iPad buyers) – though I wonder whether the lack of a 7 inch version might sway those users towards the cheaper iPad Mini or the Kindle Fire. One group who this is made for however is students. This device is perfect for taking to lectures, typing up coursework and doing research on.

 

Overall I'm impressed, though I think I'll stick with. My iPad for now (despite that fact it feels really old now) and wait and see what Surface version 2 looks like.

 

Get Android photos into iCloud Photostream via Dropbox

If like me you have an Android phone but also have an iPad, then you might find that getting photos you take on the phone onto the iPad a chore. Having photos on the iPad means you can take advantage of the beautiful screen and powerful software like iPhoto for which there simply is no alternative for on Android.

Yes you can use the built in Dropbox app, but it’s very clunky and doesn’t let you sort by date. With this solution, photos you take on your Android phone will appear in your iCloud photo stream, which is a far more elegant solution.

What we will do here is essentially make your Dropbox Camera Uploads folder the same folder as your iCloud PhotoStream uploads folder.

Note: I got this working by using my Windows 8 PC with Dropbox installed – it should work fine for Windows 7, and instructions will be different for Mac OS X but it should still be possible. Follow this guide at your own risk!

Step 1: Install Dropbox on your phone

If you haven’t done so already, install Dropbox on your Android device and make sure automatic camera uploads is switched on. This will create a new folder in your Dropbox called ‘Camera Uploads’

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Step 2: Install iCloud Control panel on your PC

I already had iTunes installed, so this was a case of running Apple software update and selecting ‘iCloud Control Panel’

Step 3: Remove the iCloud Uploads folder

Open the iCloud control panel and find the location of your photo stream on disk:

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Kill the any iCloud.exe and ApplePhotoStream.exe processes from the task manager, and then browse to your photostream folder and delete the ‘Uploads’ folder.

Step 4: Recreate uploads folder

Now the magic happens, open an administrative command prompt and create a junction that will recreate the Uploads folder, only showing the contents of your Dropbox’s ‘Camera Uploads’ folder.

Example:

mklink /J “C\:Users\Marc\Desktop\PhotoStream\Uploads”  “C:Users\Marc\Dropbox\Camera Uploads”

The first path is where I want the uploads folder to go, and second is where my camera uploads folder in Drobox is. Remember: you haven’t made to copies, if you delete from one, it gets deleted from the other.

Step 5: That’s it…!

Now any photo you take will be uploaded to your PC, from your PC it will be sent to iCloud. and from iCloud it will find its way onto your iOS devices.