As I got more comfortable using the iPad (though as I hadn’t yet got a case, I was very wary of moving it from my desk, not even wanting to carry it around the house for fear of Murphy’s Law), I dug into the default apps. Of course, having had an iPhone for over a year at this point, I was pretty comfortable with Settings, Messages, Calendar and so on. The really nice thing is the clarity of the new Retina display – it’s very sharp indeed – which makes reading appointments or contacts much easier than on the phone’s smaller screen.
This is brought home even more when using iBooks. As many readers will know, Project Gutenberg is a repository of free books, many of them classics that are now in the public domain. I’d already tried reading on the iPhone, having downloaded The Three Musketeers a few months ago. Opening the same book in the iPad (where it synchronized automatically after configuring iTunes) and then reading it was quite an experience.I’ve enjoyed reading enormously since I was a child, so I was somewhat sceptical about reading an e-book rather than a “real” one with its tactile experience. I have to say, though, I really enjoy the iPad as a reader too. Apart from the clarity of the image, it’s possible to read either in portrait or landscape layout (in landscape, the app displays two pages side-by-side, as you would get in a paper book). And it remembers which page you’re on, too! You can also search for word definitions and add bookmarks to flag pages you’d like to return to.
Apart from the clarity of the text on the iPad itself, e-books enable a richer experience should the book creator so design – as an example, the iTunes Store released The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine book at the end of 2011. Apart from the illustrations, there is an optional narration (so the book is read to you like an audiobook, while you listen and absorb the illustrations) as well as music from the original movie.
For those who’ve already started to buy their books from Amazon, there is also a free Kindle app for iPad. I have that installed, too, though haven’t used it much so far.
Apart from Mail and Safari, one of the first apps I downloaded, and which I use a lot on the iPad, is Evernote. This is a cloud service that is synchronized across all my devices – iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad and the Windows desktop on my test bench. It’s a fantastic app for capturing information that you want to keep – text, Web pages, photos that you capture with iPhone or iPad, audio notes (both iPhone and iPad have built-in microphones (and speakers and cameras, too)). It’s a great tool for ensuring you have access to information wherever you are – as an example, I capture information specific to a client in Evernote, in a client-labelled folder, so that I can refer to it when at the client’s location. No more relying on a memory that can let you down…
The next episode will discuss more of the excellent apps available for the iPad.