In Praise of the iPad Air 2


Image courtesy Apple

With the release of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro late last year, and more recently the 9.7 inch version, much of what I’ve been reading recently has centred around the virtues of that larger 12.9 inch screen, or equally since earlier his month, the benefit of the “pro features” — namely the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil support for both sizes of the device.

I’m happy to admit in my links post two weeks ago, I myself extolled the virtues of “newest and shiniest”, however when it came to an actual purchase, common sense and a little objectivity thankfully ruled the day.

My previous iPad? A mini 2 – or as it was known at the time I bought it in November 2013, the iPad mini with Retina display (a 32 GB WiFi model). The mini served me well for over two years, until I made the decision late last year a little extra screen real estate and additional features of iOS 9 (read Split View) were probably something I could utilise quite well on my iPad. Having made the decision to upgrade, I was very tempted to immediately pick up an iPad Air 2 (64 GB) from the Apple Refurbished stock at a pretty decent AU$619, however given the timing, decided to wait until March this year to see what a new release might bring in the way of features and processing.

With that decision made, I had a few months to think about what I really needed in a mobile device, and with a pretty firm commitment to the Apple ecosystem these days, it was always going to be a 9.7 inch iPad. The only question being whether that would be a newly released version, or a pretty compelling iPad Air 2 on a reduced price tier. I was, of course, excited in anticipation of the “new”.

Exactly how do I use my iPad? In summary, I’d say I am a moderately frequent, yet low demand user. By that I mean it certainly gets a good deal of use, however most of that use relates to reading, writing and research; followed by email & social media; with some video content consumed on the way home during my afternoon commute (there’s no better way to wind down after work than with an episode of House of Cards or Vikings). Most of this use typically occurs on the couch at home, at my favourite cafe, or on a bus. By low demand, I simply mean I do no video recording or editing, gaming and only perform infrequent photo editing, with no actual photography. All activities which might be a little more demanding on the processing capacity.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, however I’d like to think this pattern of usage is not unique to me, and I think you can probably see where I am heading with this post.

What they’re saying

The larger model: iPad Pro 12.9 inch

Firstly, a comment on why I so easily ruled out the larger 12.9 inch iPad Pro. For what I use this thing for, it’s simply too big. A tonne of added features mean nothing if it won’t fit where you want to use it. I’m almost at the point where I laugh upon repeatedly hearing “I could never go back to the smaller size after using this 12.9 inch screen”. Well, if it fits where and how you use it — why would you? When was the last time anyone chose to buy a smaller TV unless they absolutely had to?

Believe me, I get it that Split View gives you two “full size” apps side by side; the 4 GB of RAM and A9X chip are fantastic; the Apple Pencil is great; and that keyboard — once “I got used to it”, works really well.

For me however, ruling the 12.9 inch size out was pretty simple, and in fact, it was never really in the hunt in the first place. Great device yes — just too big for how I want to use it, and at a base price of AU$1249.00, never really a consideration.

The smaller two: 9.7 inch Pro and Air 2

The recent release of the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, has brought even more comparisons between screen sizes on the Pro line, and to a lesser extent, between the iPad Air 2 and the corresponding Pro version. A quick scroll down the iPad comparison table on the Apple website will highlight the main differences between the two 9.7 inch iPad models, and my aim is not to provide an exhaustive listing here.

What I would recommend however, is when scrolling down said list, for every difference in specs or dashed line in the Air 2 column, ask yourself whether that will really make a difference to how you use the iPad. And I mean real differences — not just nice-to-haves.

A case in point for example is this, from CNET, admittedly not my usual tech reading source, though many have expressed similar thoughts. Here we have five reasons to pick the iPad Pro over the Air 2, stating “it’s what’s under the hood”. The article then cites:

  • More storage (32, 64 and 128 GB vs 16 and 64 GB for the Air 2)
  • Apple pencil support
  • That “Smart Connector” (with the Smart Keyboard it “means no more bulky batteries in keyboards”)
  • 4K video shooting, better selfies
  • Better audio

We then read, almost as an afterthought, about the A9X chip and M9 coprocessor with Hey Siri capability, and the True Tone display.

Writing on Macsparky (more like my usual tech reading), David Sparks, in a comparison with the Air 2, cites the better processor; the “pro features” (Pencil and Smart Connector); the camera; and better colour and sound. Also acknowledged here are the levellers — being the 64GB Air 2 storage and 2 GB RAM on both models, and introducing the article with the comment that neither is a bad choice.

Looking at the bigger picture, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of the above. Any review of a new device or model will always highlight those new features — otherwise what is the point of it at all. Again, objectively consider what sits before you, how you will use it, and the value proposition it presents.

Which is exactly what I did — before picking up a pretty good deal on a 64GB iPad Air 2 at AU$687.00 last weekend.

Ending up with the Air 2

With reference back to my use case above, let me outline a little further on how I ended up with the Air 2.

Firstly, the Pro model’s A9X/M9 chip/coprocessor. For me, this could have gone either way. Of course, for longevity of performance in future years, faster equals better. The 2GB of RAM (the same as the Air 2) probably swayed me towards the Air 2 a little here. I’d also note, for the way I use the device – I’ve never had any performance issues with the A7 chip on my iPad mini 2. Yes, the Air 2 is significantly snappier across all aspects of usage by comparison, however somehow I don’t think I’ll be hardly done by in choosing the A8X of the Air 2 over the newer A9X.


Ulysses and MindNode in Split View

Next: go and draw a line through everything which is identical between the two devices on that iPad comparison page — it’s an awful lot of lines. Only a few things remain, essentially those listed by CNET above. It is for you to decide whether they are worth it. I’m simply here outlining how for me, they are not.

I am certainly no tech writer (pretty clear), however what I am is a consumer with a budget, who carefully considered the options and ultimately purchased the best device for my needs at the best available price — I’d imagine the same as anyone. Given these considerations, what follows is simply my thought process before I ultimately made the purchase. Whether or not they able in your case is another matter of course, however I could not be happier after using the Air 2 over the past week.

The Numbers

Any real comparison surely must look at the numbers (read price) to some extent, and if the difference we’re talking was $50 or $60, or even say $100 then I wouldn’t be suggesting there is much of a decision to be made. That said, I also understand new technology comes at a cost. For reference, in Australian dollars, we have:

Model iPad Pro 9.7 (WiFi) iPad Air 2 (WiFi)
Storage 32 GB 64 GB
List Price $899.00 $729.00
Apple Pencil $165.00 N/A
Smart Keyboard $229.00 N/A
Total cost $1293.00 $729.00

Consider that final figure for the iPad Pro for just a second — particularly in the context of many reviews holding up the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil as some of the main reasons you should invest in the Pro model. It then isn’t “just a couple of hundred bucks” more is it? I say go for it if those are two accessories you could really get a lot out of, though to suggest the price is not much more, and have those as some of the main arguments for the Pro model I find a little misleading, and in many ways a little disrespectful — particularly to consumers prepared to spend the money if required, yet for which it would be a considerable stretch to do so.

I hear what you are saying — no one is forcing anyone to buy anything, and the cost of these accessories can be spread out, yet the tone is often one of you should, or in many ways it would be a mistake not to buy them. In this case, I simply don’t agree.

Of course I have not included the 16 GB Air 2 as the comparison above, which can be picked up even more cheaply, and there are a few very good discounted deals on the 64 GB model available at the moment.

Those points

So in looking at the points made by CNET above, were there compelling reasons for me to go with the Pro rather than the Air 2? Perhaps I have erred after all?

Remember – my thoughts based on my use case.

As far as storage is concerned, the Pro has more storage, yet at the same time less. I have never needed more than 32GB on my iPad mini 2, having never come close to the limits. If anything, it would have been the 32 GB model for the Pro, yet all of a sudden, I now end up with 64 GB and refer you back to the price comparison above. Not a bad deal, of course I could argue just as easily there will be quite a few GB wasted on me, though for the price, I’ll take it.

Regular readers of this site will of course realise, I love my pens and notebooks. For my handwriting, I am firmly embedded in the analogue world, however when it comes to drawing, I am utterly hopeless. My point? Apple Pencil support brings nothing to the table for me as far as features go. Given my fairly jarring lack of creativity with a standard pencil, the only possibility was taking digital handwritten notes with the Apple Pencil. Set aside my pens for that? Not for me.

On to the Smart Keyboard, which I admit to looking a little longingly in the direction of, though again, at the end of the day I cannot justify a purchase here given the price (remember we are talking the combined price of the Pro itself and the Smart Keyboard just for the benefit of this specific keyboard). I do use an external Bluetooth keyboard with my current iPad mini (laughable to some I know), essentially for the extra screen real estate it gives me when writing, however also find it more comfortable to so.

As far as my pattern of use is concerned, when out and about in my lunch break, if I know I’ll be sitting to write, the keyboard is attached just before I leave the office. If I’m not, or prefer to write by pen and notebook that day — it won’t. All other times it is Smart Cover only, as I prefer the iPad as thin as it comes. Although it is minimal, the added thickness of the Smart Keyboard doesn’t appeal to me as an “always on” cover, and I suspect I would find myself swapping it on only when I planned to sit and type as I’ve outlined above. A pretty expensive proposition for a three or four times per week occurrence.

The most likely scenario? Were I to indeed buy the iPad Pro I would most likely have purchased the Bluetooth keyboard I am planning to buy for the Air 2 anyway (at a third of the price), with the Smart Connector left out in the cold. True, there may be additional accessories which will utilise this capability, yet I cannot imagine any over the next few years that I’ll be kicking myself for missing out on.

As for the 4K video and better selfies? I’ve not too much to say here, having never taken a photo on my iPad mini let alone a video. I have nothing against those who do, and a better camera would no doubt be a boon for said people, however I am just someone who has always used my phone. Further I cannot remember the last selfie I took on either device, which is probably a similar boon for any of my followers on social media.

I also mentioned in my Wednesday links post a couple of weeks ago that if the Pro was my preferred purchase, the camera bump would be a non-issue, and after further consideration in writing this post, I’m even more certain on that point. If my iPad lays completely flat when not in use, it is face down on the Smart Cover, and when used, the flattest it will ever get is at the lowest Smart Cover elevation. I cannot come up with a scenario in my daily use where I’d notice it.

I have no doubt the four-speaker audio is a significant improvement on the Air’s two, however in the last 6 months I’ve listened to the audio on my iPad without headphones probably once or twice, and that’s because I was too lazy to get of the couch and go and get them. Again, just not something I’d use.

Finally, I don’t use Siri on my iPad, so the “Hey Siri” option doesn’t afford much benefit, and although I absolutely love the Night Shift feature in iOS 9.3, the True Tone display (while a nice touch), also isn’t a big drawcard.

In conclusion

I seem to have rambled along quite a bit here, however my intention was simply to say: if you are anything like me in how you use an iPad and are considering an upgrade, there is an awful lot to like about the iPad Air 2 in the context of the current iPad line up — particularly given the price. With my main criteria being able to access Split View, at a minimum the Air 2 was needed, however now two options (at the 9.7 inch size at least) are available if you are considering something similar.

For me, the iPad Air 2 is the perfect mobile device to get a few things done, as well as serving up everything else I consume online. The iPad Pro 9.7 inch? It would of course be the perfect device for the exact same thing — it’s just that some things are a little more perfect than others, and at $729.00 (or less with a good deal) for the Air 2, there’s never been a better time to pay a little bit less for that.

An Apple Morning


Of course there are plenty of other sites to give you the run down on this morning’s Apple event, and the following sentiment from Benny Ling writing at AppleTalk Australia summed things up for those in this fair country:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I will proceed to light my credit card on fire, thanks to how poorly the Australian dollar is doing

So, although this is not the blog for in-depth analysis, I did have a few thoughts as things unfolded, and here they are.

Order of Appearance

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is a non starter for me at the current time, therefore no big excitement here. With my current priorities and the status of my tech world, it just doesn’t really have a place. Of course that doesn’t necessarily infer it isn’t a great product, with some love given by Apple in the form of watchOS 2 and some updated watch colours and bands. I’m sure watch owners – current and future – will be pleased come OS 2.


Well the iPad Pro looks like a powerful monster, however is just a little on the large side for how I tend to use mine. All that power? Well, probably wasted on my text editor, web browsing, email, social media and an episode of The Americans on my afternoon commute. As I do write more and more on my iPad, an Air 2 is looking like a reasonable upgrade from my iPad mini 2 for a little more screen and iOS 9’s split view.. I’d imagine going from mini to Pro would be rather…well…jarring. Not a common transition path in any event though I expect.

Apple TV

The new Apple TV? Yes, thank you. Our second TV has been crying out for some content assistance in the form of a little streaming, and what better opportunity than to grab a new model Apple TV. The Siri remote looks pretty handy, as does the revamped UI which will now include Apps. I can confidently say this will definitely be a starter in our household in the not too distant future.


Then there were the iPhones of course. Having upgraded to an iPhone 6 last year – that is where I’ll stay, however my wife’s 5s is due for handing down to the kids, so I certainly had an interest in what is in store. The usual improvements in camera and phone internals, along with more enticing features such as 3D Touch (with an awful lot of Peek and Pop going on) and Live Photos1. Of course the new Rose Gold colour also made its debut, so eloquently described on a special early morning edition (by geographical necessity) of the Reckoner Podcast:

…the new colour pink – they call it Rose Gold but its pink

And finally, lets face it – my complexion is crying out…just crying out I say, for the new Retina Flash on the front facing camera. I’m sure I’ll look a lovely shade of rose gold.

So in the end, given the pre-event rumours, you’d probably say not a lot of surprises, however nice to see it all finally unleashed.

In Short

Australian Release Dates:

  • September 12; 5:01pm: iPhone Pre Orders
  • September 16: iOS 92 & watchOS 2
  • September 25: iPhone on sale
  • September 30: OS X El Capitan (?)
  • October: New Apple TV
  • November: iPad Pro

Pricing? Well apart from the iPhones, nothing to report here as yet, although I would add the paid iCloud storage tiers will improve in value — though where exactly they will land in $AUD per tier is still to be announced.

Further reading

Of course anyone can rabbit on precisely in the vain I have done above, however might I point you towards some more seasoned analysis (emphasis indicates sites which carry the Australian flag):

Reckoner: Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program Dissected (A new iPhone every 12 months – hmmm… the possibilities)

AppleTalk Australia: Apple’s September 2015 Event Wrap Up, Never-Have-I-Ever Edition

MacStories: iPad Pro: Our Complete Overview

MacStories: The New Apple TV: Our Complete Overview

six colors: Notebook: Apple’s newest product announcements

Or, if you prefer – by podcast:

Reckoner: Special Episode: Apple September 2015 Event

Upgrade: #53: Everything is Off The Charts

Clockwise: #103: TV Sandwich


  1. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say a little more storage space will be required for photos; I might as well use Apple Photos and iCloud; better upgrade my iCloud storage plan to cope; Apple makes up the drop in iCloud pricing at each tier through increased volume. Um…but I’m not. ↩︎
  2. I am hopeful the revamped Notes app will relieve me of my increasing disillusionment with Evernote ↩︎

The Reckoner Podcast Hits 100

It is no secret I listen to the odd podcast, and one of my favourites chalked up episode number 100 last night, and a hearty congratulations is in order. The Reckoner podcast provides a great weekly roundup of Australian technology news, and lasts the length of my commute, and at just under an hour – is the perfect length for a podcast.

Regulars Peter Wells, James Croft, and Anthony Agius are frequently joined by rotating guest hosts, and serve up a weekly dose of tech-based fact, opinion and humour. What I like most about Reckoner (both the podcast and website), is that topics and discussion are current and highly relevant to the tech goings on locally here in Australia. Admittedly, technology these days is a global entity, however regional differences continue to exist, and sometimes local relevance is lost if you usually follow a diet of overseas based shows.

Having been an avid listener since around episode twenty-something, I’m grateful my Monday morning commute is accompanied by a brief football roundup followed by an entertaining show, week after week. Here’s to another couple of hundred episodes, by which time I might have actually worked out how to implement one of Anthony Agius schemes for obtaining about half a decade’s worth of free Netflix – if government legislation or a T&C clause doesn’t stop him first.

So if you have at least a passing interest in Australian tech news, Reckoner is certainly worth an hour of your time once a week. Believe me – your Monday mornings will thank you.

Apple Music

After almost a month of the initial three available in the free trial period with Apple Music, I have confirmed my initial thoughts in relation to the likelihood of continuing to pay a subscription come the end of the trial period.

The short answer is no. The service itself? I do enjoy using it, and the user interface of the iOS app I find straightforward and simple to use, with the layout appealing. The reason I won’t be continuing with a subscription is largely a financial one, tied to the overall value I would (or wouldn’t as the case may be) get from such a service.

My Usage

More and more these days when I play music, it is often simply in the background, and beyond the types of artists or genre, I don’t really mind what that the specific music is. Prior to Apple Music, this was often one of the dozen or so iTunes Radio Stations I had created based on artists I enjoy listening to. I am not a big playlist creator, and am happy to hear something new or random in the genre I enjoy. Failing that, I am happy to listen to something from my own collection.

Will Apple Music change this?

To date, it hasn’t. Sure, I might miss the For You recommendations a little when the trial ends, for as I’ve mentioned, this part of the service fits the way I most often listen to music. That is, having offered to me an artist/genre/scenario, after which I’m happy to be surprised by what I hear. Of course the obvious choice here will simply be creating more radio stations, which is as simple as tapping “Start Station” from any artist or song in the service.

Looking at my Recently Played in the Radio Tab on iTunes is also quite representative of “Most Played” from the past few weeks as well. On high rotation has been The Mixtape, along with Beats 1, and my usual alternative Radio Station selections, be they genre or self-created based on artists.

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 7.52.51 am

I don’t have what you’d call a large collection of music, with around 8000 tracks, however I know what I like, and anything I discover through these stations or by other means can readily be purchased and added to my collection should I so desire.

With the audio output from my iPhone just as likely, if not more so, to emit the sounds of a podcast as it is music these days, the desire for an endless on-demand library just doesn’t have the same attraction it once might, and that compelling reason to undertake a monthly subscription seems a little further away.

Cost and Data

Another consideration not out of the question in all of this is simply renewing my subscription to iTunes Match. Although it may seem counterintuitive given what Apple Music has to offer, here we are talking $AU34.99 per year compared with the equivalent of $AU143.88 for a single membership, or $AU215.88 for the family option. If you will get a lot more out of Apple Music, and access to the extensive catalogue that is iTunes, I don’t think this figure itself is necessarily too expensive. However for someone who will only use it in a more limited fashion as I’ve described above, then it becomes a fairly expensive radio station.

So, with the first hurdle being the subscription cost (which is fair enough given the requirement to pay artists for their work, and whether or not this is enough is another discussion), perhaps a more significant barrier lay in cellular data plans. My current 2.3GB per month plan — more than enough for my day-to-day usage, often runs relatively close to its limit — and that is without a streaming service in moderate to heavy use. Overall, I am quite happy with my data plan and how I manage it, yet extracting full value from a music streaming service would require consideration of additional data add-ons or an entirely new plan — both at additional cost to what I am currently paying.

The Service

As I’ve mentioned, on the whole I like Apple Music both as an app and a service. I know there are many who have been frustrated with the app interface, and there are tales of larger problems involving loss of music doing the rounds recently, however personally I have found not found this to be the case. You’d also do well to read beyond the initial hysteria surrounding such issues and onto the resulting clarifications on exactly what did and did not happen in some of these cases.

Of course it goes without saying that playing around with cloud services and something like your entire music library without having a local copy backed up is, well… to put it politely — not the best course of action.

The available catalogue itself? Again, I’ve personally found no real issues — however within the first few days of the service launch, there was of course the usual “who can find an artist not on Apple Music and tweet about it first” epidemic. I do find these types of things a little tiresome, more for their tone than anything else.

So once the trial period ends, what will I have remaining to me? Looking at the What you get with your membership section: Beats 1 and the Apple Music Radio stations — both my own creations and those put together by Apple. This was the same as before, and when my iTunes Match subscription was current, I enjoyed these stations ad-free. I’ll most likely give it a run and see — perhaps my Match subscription would be worth it to eliminate ads alone.

Closing thoughts

I was not a subscriber to a music streaming service prior to Apple Music, so it should come as no surprise I will not be subscribed to one after this initial trial period ends either. In summary, my patterns of usage, cost considerations and general value I may gain from a paid subscription simply don’t add up to pushing the button, and to be honest I cannot really see that changing.

Probably something to mention also (as you well know), is that Apple Music is not the only option, and in such a crowded marketplace, there is quite a bit of value to be had in sampling the many other services on offer. This post was written whilst listening a very enjoyable Alternative station provided by the Australian owned Guvera streaming service.

So for the current time, I am more than happy to either listen to my own collection or be served up a selection of music from genre or artist based stations. For the times when this isn’t the case? Well, there are always one or two podcasts in my queue.

Podcasts I’d Burn Data For

Before a recent overnight business trip, I was running through my usual packing list to check all was in order, and upon planning my usual in-flight entertainment options, began thinking about the podcasts I cannot do without these days. Of course the episodes load automatically on our home network, however the timing of the particular trip in question would see certain shows releasing new episodes after I had left.

The mobile data plan on my iPhone is what I would call adequate, though not excessively large, and I usually avoid downloading podcasts or running app updates and the like when not on a network conserve some of my data (hardly urgent downloads in any event). However sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps that is overstating things just a little, however when away from home, Face Time and phone calls are —absolutely fantastic, however there is also nothing like having familiar voices fill the remaining void of silence in a solo-business-trip hotel room.

So just what are the podcasts I’d happily burn data for? In no particular order (except number 1 perhaps), the following are my favourites.

The Podcasts

The Pen Addict

broadcast_thumbnail_penaddict_artworkThey say: The Pen Addict is a weekly fix for all things stationery. Pens, pencils, paper, ink — you name it, and Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley are into it. Join as they geek out over the analog tools they love so dearly.

I say: What more is there to say really? All about pens and other related goodness every week. Definitely my favourite, and still going strong after 160 episodes. I’ve been religiously listening since about episode 34.

Try it if: Pen, pencils and paper are either a keen interest, or downright obsession for you. Wallet be damned.


cover170x170They say: Lore is a bi-weekly podcast about true life scary stories. The people, places, and things of our darkest nightmares all have real facts at their core. Each episode of Lore looks into a uniquely scary tale and uncovers the truth behind it.

Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.

I say: This is just fantastic entertainment. A really well produced podcast which highlights the creepier parts of true stories, with some legend, intrigue and folklore thrown in for good measure. My sister would really love this.

Try it if: You love those ghost stories people tell around camp fires at night.

Mac Power Users

broadcast_thumbnail_mpu_artworkThey say: Learn about getting the most from your Apple technology with focused topics and workflow guests. Creating Mac Power Users, one geek at a time since 2009.

I say: Although I’m not a power user myself, I have always subscribed to the adage that the only way to really learn is from those smarter than yourself. When it comes to Macs, both hosts and the many and varied guests fit the bill nicely. The best part about MPU is the way it covers everyday situations in a very practical and understandable way. Yes, there are other tech podcasts out there, however some are simply too geeky for me to understand. On a side note MPU also has your iOS devices more than covered was well.

Try it if: You love your Apple products, and desire some new and slightly nerdy ways to get the most out of them.


covered_show_artThey say: A conversation about books with the people who write them.

I say: Whilst the episodes can be a little irregular, that is not a concern to me. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Covered is listening not only to authors recounting their writing process, but reading from their own work as well.

Try it if: You have a keen interest in reading and writing, and would enjoy hearing how those who are very successful at that very thing, get it done.


broadcast_thumbnail_connected_artworkThey say: Connected is a weekly panel discussion on Apple and the impact of technology on our lives. With each co-host having a unique background — and accent — Connected provides a perspective that no other show can.

I say: As well as very diverse cultural backgrounds, the hosts also have very different perspectives and requirements around their technology usage, which leads to some lively discussion and analysis. Tech based — yes, however again pitched at a level that is enjoyable and understandable for a wide cross section of listener tech ability.

Try it if: You love your Apple products, and are keen to hear more on how they influence our lives from a technological, cultural, and at times philosophically nerd-ball perspective.

Dot Grid

FullSizeRender 15They say: (about The Nerd Uprising network): We think things are AWESOME, and we let it show. We’re all some kind of nerd. It’s time to own it. Dot Grid explores the intersection between the analog and digital tools we use.

I say: With those podcasts listed above largely based on technology and analogue pursuits, of course there must be one combining both. This is where Dot Grid steps in and fills the void very nicely. Some great interviews with talented individuals, whose work indeed encompasses both spheres of the analogue and digital — with a healthy dose of the creative thrown in.

Try it if: Bits and pieces from each of the above items in this list speaks to you in some way.


broadcast_thumbnail_cortex_artworkThey say: Myke Hurley is fascinated by the methods and tricks that CGP Grey uses to get his work done. Each week on Cortex, Myke will quiz Grey on how he remains productive, whilst producing YouTube videos that are seen by millions of people.

I say: New on the scene, and slated for an initial run of ten episodes, which I hope is just the beginning. Thankfully, not just another “productivity” podcast. Some real gems here, for example going from start to finish producing and uploading a You Tube video, or a somewhat humorous debate on the merits of various iPhone homescreen set ups.

Try it if: (a) You enjoy hearing about various aspects of productivity in a unique way, with very cut and dried opinion on what does and does not work in an area of great interest to many; and (b) you don’t mind going off and rearranging your iPhone home screen after listening to that episode.


podcast-art-205x145They say: We talk over the Australian technology culture news of the week with a rotating cast of hosts.

I say: For me, every working week starts with Reckoner. Hitting the airwaves every Sunday night, Monday morning’s commute to work is made that much easier with the accompaniment of these guys. Covering technology in general with an Aussie focus, a great bunch of hosts with topics to match.

Try it if: You enjoy discussion around technology, yet understand a local viewpoint on things such as metadata retention and website blocking legislation is as important — probably more so — as how you use the glances feature on your Apple Watch.

Tamper Tantrum

tt_iTunesAudio_1400x1400They say: Now hailed as “one of the world’s premier platforms for coffee bickering, brainstorming, and live speaking engagements,” Tamper Tantrum is delighted to bring an inspiring speakers to live & online audiences around the world.

I say: Again, with reference to my sentiments about MPU above, there are many aspects of the TT podcast which a heavily industry focused. Again, however, I’ve found this to be a great way to learn what those within the industry are talking about.

Try it if: As an outsider, the specialty coffee industry interests you. If you work in the industry you are most likely not reading this blog, and certainly would not need me to tell you about this podcast.

My app of choice

If you were wondering (and are at all interested), I listen to the above shows on Overcast, a podcast app released about 12 months ago. There are many great independent podcast apps on the market, or of course there is also Apple’s default option. Overcast does have some specific features, however in general it is well thought out, attractive and easy to use, and I have not been tempted to move to (or back to) any of the others which are available. Overcast also has an iPad app and can be used in a web browser, syncing your current play position on both if you are logged into your Overcast account. I must admit to using neither, as my iPhone is the simplest and easiest way to listen to podcasts.

Overcast’s Smart Speed feature tells me I been saved 25 hours in listening time beyond speed adjustments alone (Smart Speed works by cutting out the periods of silence in a podcast, reducing by a small amount the overall time taken to listen to an episode). Given the above list only contains the essentials, making the most of my available listening time is important. Using Smart Speed allows me to avoid bumping the speed up to unlistenable levels (now 1.25x at most; 1.5x plus in the past), yet still feel I am getting ahead a little in my queue. With upwards to 20 shows in my queue (although I often cherry pick episodes from the shows I do not auto download), any help clearing the list is welcome.


So, there you have it. My current favourite podcasts — which I would happily sacrifice cellular data for. Familiar voices speaking on topics I am passionate about, and listening to them brings me considerable joy while I learn a heck of a lot along the way. Podcasts are a fantastic medium, bringing entertainment, education and inspiration to a large number of listeners around the world.

If you haven’t dived in yet, I’d suggest downloading a podcasting app of your choice, subscribing to some shows and seeing where they take you — at whatever speed that might be.