My Smartphone has Replaced these Things

I’ve noticed that I use my iPhone for a bunch of stuff that I used to have another device or system for. Here’s what I mean:

  • Paper plane tickets: I recently started using e-tickets with the iPhone’s Passbook. Works great, and I don’t have to carry rumpled-up paper tickets anymore.
  • Guitar tuner: I use Guitar Toolkit for that. It’s actually the most accurate tuner I’ve ever owned!
  • Metronome: I now have lots of app-based metronomes, so there’s no need for a hardware-based metronome anymore.
  • Drum machine: I tend to use drum machines for metronomes. On my iPhone, I use DrumTrack8, and on my iPad, I use DM1. Both are fabulous.
  • Alarm clock: I use the built-in Clock app, and it works great. No need for a travel alarm clock, or a hotel wake-up call anymore!
  • Bible: YouVersion from Lifechurch.tv. Coolest Bible app ever.
  • Camera: I still use fancier cameras, but for a simple point-and-shoot? My iPhone is great at that – as long as I don’t need to zoom.
  • Encyclopedia: What’s that? I have Google/Wikipedia/etc. In my pocket.
  • Newspaper: There are a TON of news apps. I do most of my iOS news reading via the Flipboard app.
  • Weather radio: I live in Kansas. I need to know when those tornado warnings go off. My TWC Max app from The Weather Channel goes off when the weather does.
  • Notebook: See my last post on iA Writer and Byword. But I still like a good Moleskine notebook and a pencil, too.
  • Calculator: the default iOS calculator app is always with me…
  • Calendar/Daytimer: Currently using Tempo and Any.DO for these.
  • Exercise book or video: Currently using the brutal YAYOG (You Are Your Own Gym) app. Pretty handy!
  • Voice recorder for reminders: There are a ton of apps for this, too. I frequently use Evernote for this.

Do you use your smartphone or tablet for things you used to carry around? Extra gadgets that did unique things for you? Share in the comments!

Notes on an iPad – IAWriter or Byword?

ALA 2013 is coming up in a few days, and I want all you iPad note-takers to be prepared! For the last year or so, when I take notes on my iPad, I’ve been using iA Writer, and it works great. But I’m not really fond of the font. And I’m apparently the only one like that – iA Writer’s “beautiful design” gets mentioned a lot. But it’s not my favorite.

So… I tried another app. Byword, to be exact. Here’s what I found.

iA Writer and Byword are pretty similar. They are both popular writing apps for iOS devices. Both sync to iCloud and Dropbox if needed. Both have handy keyboard extension bars for easy-to-access keystrokes (like colons, commas, etc).

And Byword gives me a choice of fonts – so my problem was solved with Byword. Yippie!

One big difference between Byword and iA Writer is the keyboard. Both have a keyboard extension bar, but iA Writer’s works better for me. iA Writer has punctuation shortcuts that I actually use, like dashes, colons, semicolons, and apostrophes.

Byword’s keyboard extension bar includes a LOT of cool functionality. It actually has three rotating bars, and even shows word count, which is very useful. The 2nd and 3rd bars have some punctuation, but  … well, not what I need. No dashes, colons, or semicolons. And it includes a bunch of shortcuts that I’d never really use – things like brackets and the star key.

The deciding factor for me?

The iA Writer keyboard seems to work better for me. On Byword, the keyboard looks pretty much the same as iA Writer, but it seems like the software behind the keyboard isn’t picking stuff up the same way iA Writer does. With Byword, I get missed keystrokes, misspellings, and a bunch of weird auto-corrects.

With iA Writer, the keyboard … just works. The only errors I get are from me and my fingers.

So – after testing, it looks like the only thing I don’t like on iA Writer is the font … and you know what? I can live with the font. I’m sticking to iA Writer for now.

For more info, here are some other articles comparing iA Writer and Byword:

Tablet users – what do you use when you type on your tablet?

iPads at the Airport

Like iPads, and think they could work in a public space? Check this video out! I recently saw a bunch of iPads at the Delta terminal at LaGuardia airport in New York, and took a short video of them. Here’s a link to some photos, too.

Basically, here’s what I saw – hundreds of iPads in the airport terminal gates, secured to tables with a cable. Each iPad had airport info, news, games, a restaurant menu, and web access apps installed. You could order items from the restaurant via a credit card swiper beside the iPad. No signup, no waiting list – just find an empty iPad and start using it. Here’s a couple of news articles written about this experiment.

The only real problem I saw was one of sorta gross smudges on the iPads. Thankfully, I also saw someone walking around, cleaning the screens.

iPads in the airportI think this type of setup could easily work in a library setting! Here are some starter thoughts on potential uses:

  • catalog-only computers
  • computer “overflow” – get out the iPads!
  • Simple browsing stations. Who needs PCs?
  • Complete mobile technology in the library – no PCs needed (with those handy self-service tablet checkout machines that were being shown in the exhibit hall at ALA Annual). Just check out an iPad, then take it wherever you want to in the library.
  • Out-of-the-building events
  • For staff, they could work nicely as roving reference tools.

Question – how does your library use iPads or mobile tablet technology? I’ll start: so far, we have some iPads that staff can check out for a learning opportunity, we have experimented with them for roving reference, and we teach a class on using an iPad. How about you?

Smartphones, Libraries, and your website

I was just looking at March 2012 statistics on my library’s website. Here’s what I saw:

  • 39,161 visits to our website in March
  • 3486 visits via a mobile device.
  • that means slightly more than 11% visited via a mobile device
  • Those devices? Mainly iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches – 57.89%
  • That fits with the web browsers that visited our site – 14.11% were Safari (think ithingies here)

Now look at Pew’s newest Smartphone Update, released on March 1: 46% of American adults are smartphone owners as of Feb 2012. There was an increase of 11% in just 9 months.

And check this out – it’s not just wealthy people getting smartphones:

“Nearly every major demographic group—men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, urban and rural residents, the wealthy and the less well-off—experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration over the last year. Overall adoption levels are at 60% or more within several cohorts, such as college graduates, 18-35 year olds and those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.”

So my question to you: are you designing for mobile? A mobile app, or a mobile website?

If you haven’t yet started building with mobile in mind, now is definitely the time to start – you are very close to alienating almost half your customers. They are interacting with their favorite sites online using their smartphone (think Facebook, Amazon, Youtube, etc.).

Wanna be one of those favorite sites too? Then you had better get that mobile site up and running FAST.

smartphone photo by Bigstock

Doing a Presentation with the iPad

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a presentation using my iPad, and it worked out pretty well! I used the iPad version of Keynote (Apple’s Powerpoint-like presentation software). Keynote has a handy-dandy presenter notes feature that is really easy to use, so your notes are on your screen, and your slides still appear on the LCD projector – in a much easier and user-friendly way than Powerpoint.

Guess what? The iPad version of Keynote does the same thing. The screengrab above shows the presenter notes view on the iPad. If there’s more text than shows on the screen, just use your finger to scroll down to the rest of the text.

You also use your finger to advance slides – just swipe the screen, and slides advance. Swipe the other way to go back a slide. Pretty simple to use!

Now – how did it work?

  • It was really easy to set up and use – I just needed to get the iPad VGA adapter, and plug that into our LCD projector. Then the iPad magically did everything else, so I didn’t have to mess with screen resolution compatibility, etc.
  • I was able to stand up in front of the room (I was presenting for the library’s Board of Trustees, who sit at a long table) with no podium – I just held the iPad, and finger-swiped away.

There were a couple of oddities, too:

  • If you stand with the iPad, you need to hold onto the VGA cable. Otherwise, the weight of the cable will pull iPad VGA adapter out of your iPad. Not good.
  • Finger swiping the slides felt a bit odd to me – I’m used to clicking a hand-held thingie to advance slides.
  • Most important – the on-screen slide appeared first, followed by the presenter notes, so there was a bit of lag time. It looked weird for a bit, so I was swiping back and forth, looking for the correct notes, until I figured out the 1 second lag. Once I figured that out, I was ok.

So – looking to do a presentation without having to lug around a laptop? You might consider using an iPad/Keynote setup – easy stuff!