Retiring my iPad 2

Well, this will be the last post tapped out my trusty iPad 2, with a new Retina iPad mini (Space Gray, 32 GB WiFi model) currently in transit. Although there has been a delay in my order, according to the shipment tracker, the much anticipated item has made its way from Shenzhen in China on Saturday (the day the order was placed) to Sydney, today, Wednesday 19 November. Surely it’s not such a stretch to think it might find its way to Brisbane in the next 24 hours.

In retrospect, this iPad 2 has served me well over the past 18 months, purchased after a rather disjointed initiation into the world of tablet computing through an Acer Android model I owned for approximately 6 months. Though it was some time ago now, I remember firing up my iPad for the first time and almost immediately noticing a more cohesive user experience, along with a seemingly endless supply of apps to choose from. Obviously things have changed on both counts since then, with the Android ecosystem having significantly improved, and the iOS App Store now actually having an endless supply of apps (well almost).

A lot has evolved with my workflows and information consumption over this time, with the iPad at the core of those changes. Probably the most significant was commencing this blog some seven months ago, in which every post is written on my iPad either in Byword or more recently Editorial, as iOS automation becomes more and more embedded in my writing workflow (more on my most used iOS writing apps coming soon). Prior to this, a key aspect of beginning this blog was learning to write in Markdown (achieved on this very iPad through an excellent iBook by David Sparks and Eddie Smith) , with the knowledge that much of my writing would be done on the iPad, and needing a time efficient way to write web content when not at my desktop.

These ‘creation’ workflows, along with my ‘consumption’ of information through RSS, Twitter, books, magazines and other multimedia, see the iPad at the centre of a good part of my non (day job) work time. I am expecting a smooth transition to the mini and am looking forward to the extra portability, improved performance, and of course the fabulous Retina display.

This iPad 2 has been an ever reliable companion, serving me well through a couple of major iOS software updates, always maintaining a level of performance commensurate with its fantastic design. I’m sure there are quite a few more years left in it for another user, however with fond memories, it is time for me to bid farewell to this old friend.

Was that a knock at the door?

Advertisements

Apple soft launches Retina iPad mini

Photo 26-10-2013 7 01 24 pm

So It seems later in November doesn’t mean late in November after all.

A certain amount of online interest was generated late yesterday afternoon when the Apple Online Store went offline, returning a short time later featuring the iPad mini with Retina display, shipping in 1–3 business days (16 or 32GB Wi-Fi models; remaining variations in 5–10 business days).

I have previously written about my intentions to upgrade to the Retina model from my current iPad 2, as it will better suit my mobile commuting and needs. The only concern is actually obtaining one, as all indications point to a very limited release due to constraints in the supply chain.

Obviously there are no surprises (apart from the release timing) in relation to the device itself, with the specifications announced last month when Apple launched the mini and its larger sibling, the iPad Air. All of the goodness is now common for both devices, including the A7 chip, M7 co-processor and 64 bit architecture. The mini now catching up to the larger version in both internal hardware and 2048×1536 Retina screen.

As yet there is no word on availability with retail partners, and my Twitter updates seem to suggest varying availability in Apple Stores country to country. I guess time will tell, however I will be visiting a couple of retail outlets today out of interest. In any event, it appears those who have deferred the iPad Air vs iPad mini with retina display purchasing decision now have to make a call (with the exception of those lucky souls who will end up with both).

The iPad mini with retina display is available for order through the the Apple Online Store now, starting at $479 AUD (16GB Space Grey or White Wi-Fi models).

iPads and Mavericks

Photo 26-10-2013 7 00 07 pm

Earlier in the week yet another Apple event unfolded, this time unveiling the new model iPads, Macs and immediate availability to download (free) the latest desktop operating system, OS X Mavericks. Though an avid iOS user for the past couple of years, I have only recently (about a month ago) picked up a Mac mini as our home machine, transitioning from a windows PC in the process.

Obviously with much still to learn and get my head around as far as OS X is concerned, I was happy to close the loop and begin living full time in the Apple ecosystem. I envisage many apps and workflows will function more seamlessly for having done so. As you would expect, “closing the loop” means everything with the exception of my work office because, as I have touched on in previous posts, the large corporate Windows network is certainly not going anywhere.

As is usually the case, there are many great reviews on the announcements made at the 22 October event, and the video can be streamed if you are interested. My main reason for tuning in to the excellent TUAW Live Weblog early on the morning of the 23rd (Australian time) was firstly to hear about the refreshed iPad line up, and secondly for an update on the availability of Mavericks.

iPads

Photo 26-10-2013 7 01 24 pm

Having mentioned in a post a few months ago of my plans to downsize my iPad 2 to an iPad mini when Apple next renewed the line up, I was particularly keen to see if what I was hoping for (and had split the rumour mill in the event lead up) came to fruition – an iPad mini with Retina display.

For me, that wish was granted, and I will be off to purchase a space grey, 32GB WiFi model once they hit the stores. The fact that the weight and thickness increased a little will not be a concern for me, as coming from an iPad 2 I will be improving on both counts anyway.

The features I am really excited about? Apart from the improved display, I am pleased Apple went with the A7 chip in the mini, as I had expected this for the full size iPad however thought the mini may have received an A6 instead. I am looking forward to a zippy experience with the latest processor and 64 bit architecture, which will scale well as developers begin to take advantage of this hardware in the future.

Was I tempted by the specs of the full size iPad Air? Most definitely, however the majority of my iPad use is comprised of reading, researching and some writing – much of which occurs on a bus (or a couch), along with watching TV shows when my brain requires a less intense commute. The iPad mini is a perfect fit, as I often do not have the space when sitting on the bus to easily (and privately) work on my iPad 2, and am looking forward to an easier time with the smaller form factor of the mini. There are also many times when I leave the office at lunch time to head for a cafe, and often think I should use the time to draft another post, however am often not keen to carry my iPad 2 with me. I am assuming the mini being easier to carry, will lower the resistance to picking it up as I leave the office.

I have long been eyeing the iPad mini as my next purchase, however in assuming Apple would refresh the line in the latter half of this year, preferred to wait for a new model. In thinking as to why, the improved performance was probably a bigger draw than the retina display, as it is something I will be using for at least another 18 months – a long time in an ever advancing tech marketplace where more and more processing power is required to effectively run these devices.

Although there are some who question Apple’s wisdom in maintaining the iPad 2 in the line up, I think overall it is a perfect fit, as there are now two clear entry level iPads (iPad 2, iPad mini) both with matching specs apart from physical size, and two top of the line devices (iPad Air, iPad mini with retina display), again with matching specs in differing sizes. It may also surprise some that the iPad 2 is still the most used iPad, more so than the 3rd and 4th generations combined. A full comparison of the final range can be seen on the Apple Store (Australian store link).

For a much more in depth look at what we have in store come release day for these devices check out a great review by Federico Viticci at Macstories.

Mavericks

Photo 26-10-2013 6 58 44 pm

As I mentioned above, I am starting from square one with OS X as an operating system, let alone providing you with any sort of in depth analysis of the Mavericks upgrade (officially OS X 10.9).

Probably the thing that stood out for me about the upgrade was the immediate release and the free price tag, which is a great thing for all mac users. Whether or not this is because there weren’t many new features to justify a paid upgrade is probably not that relevant, as most who have upgraded would have also done so with a $20 price tag.

So, as I head off to learn more on OS X and Mavericks myself, I highly recommend the following to educate yourself on the new OS:

OS X Mavericks: The Review – Stephen Hackett at 512 Pixels
OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review – John Siracusa at Ars Technica
OS X Mavericks: Tips, Tricks, and Details – Federico Viticci at Macstories

In addition to these reviews, a couple of other pieces worth reading include Federico Viticci’s Working with Mavericks After A Year of iPad, which provides an interesting look at both aspects of the announcements, and from Jim Dalrymple at The Loop, in Thoughts on the Apple Event. If you prefer to listen rather than read, The Prompt podcast, featuring two authors from the reviews above, is always an entertaining and informative look at recent events in the world of Apple technology.

In conclusion, what does it all mean? That is for you to decide, as far as your needs and available budget are concerned. For myself, a little forward planning in budgeting for the upgrade, means that by the time I offload my iPad 2 on eBay, the upgrade to the retina iPad mini will be reasonably painless.

Roll on “later in November” – Apple were a little vague about the release date for the mini, though I’m sure it will arrive eventually.

Riding the Upgrade Cycle

English: Apple iPad 2 launch.
Apple product launch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Technology moves at a rapid pace these days, and reflection on the various ways we use it is often bypassed in the search for, or acquisition of, the next ‘big’ or ‘shiny new’ thing.

As far as Apple technology is concerned, we are all supposedly waiting on the retina iPad Mini 2; iPad 5, and iPhone 5s (or however Apple specifically choose to name them). Even greater hype surrounds the possibility of an iWatch (again, whether or not this would be the name of such a product or if it even exists).

Why should we reflect on what we have, rather than what we may want to get? Simply because it is well worth considering whether upgrading will, in reality, better serve your needs. In posing this question, you may genuinely believe a newer model will enhance your productivity or be more useful to you, over and above upgrading merely for the sake of it.

There is no doubting the amazing power and capability of the current products on the market, which will become more so with even further technological advancement in the future.

However, it is worth remembering, if you are not using what you currently have to its full potential, a newer tool will not automatically bridge that gap for you.