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?

iPad – a Game Changer?

I don’t attempt to predict stuff very often, but I think this one’s safe – I think Apple’s new iPad is most definitely a game changer.

Why? Because it combines so many things into one handy, easy-to-use device. Just watching the video about the iPad and poking around on the website a bit, you find out all that the iPad will supposedly do, including:

  • web browsing
  • email
  • photo viewing
  • watch videos (even YouTube videos)
  • listen to music (it has iTunes built in)
  • buy and read ebooks
  • a cool map
  • note taking
  • a calendar
  • Contacts list
  • iWork (Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office) is rebuilt for the iPad, so you have word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software
  • The App Store works here, too, which opens up 140,000 apps that all do different things

And of course, it’s multi-touch. So instead of having to use a mouse or keyboard shortcuts to operate the thing … you just touch the screen. I’m just amazed that Apple seemingly rolled up a Microsoft Surface, a tablet PC, a video player, a netbook, an iPod, and an ebook reader, and came out with something light, cool, and truly unique. Except maybe the name – sorry Apple, but the iPad is a silly name.

Apple could turn this thing into a student’s best friend. Instead of carrying a heavy backpack around, students could use the iPad to carry all their textbooks (assuming Apple partners with textbook companies), any multimedia they need to watch, their word processor to write papers (or they could just use Google Docs via a wifi connection), multiple ways to take notes, communicate to classmates and teachers via email/IM/Facebook/Skype/etc. And still have their favorite photos, their grand music collection, and a couple of fun games with them, too.

How about for libraries? Think Reference Desk and roving reference here. It’s the same price as a netbook laptop. But probably easier to carry around, easier to show stuff to people, easier to make the text larger for people who need larger text (you just touch and stretch the screen with your fingers to make the text larger – just like an iPhone). And has a 178 degree viewing angle, so it would work well to show stuff to patrons.

Game changer? I think so … or maybe I’m just gushing at the cool new toy. What do you think?