Synchronising Gmail contacts with the iPad

One issue I’ve experienced from the start is the lack of built-in capability to synchronise your Gmail contacts with the iPad. This can be a pain if, like me you have come from Android and migrated to iOS, or if you’ve got your main contacts listed within Google servers.  There are apps that allow for synchronisation between the two devices but they’re not free and neither have been a straightforward affair.

There is a simple way which I have just discovered, thanks to the beautifully crafted Appstart, produced by appadvice.com and linked to by the iPads for education’s website, maintained by a consorium of Australian schools that trialled the use of ipads in secondary education. That involves setting up your Gmail account as a Microsoft Exchange server, instead of selecting “Gmail” in the list of email providers in the Mail app.

How to set GMail as an Exchange server

  • In Mail / Accounts select “Ad Account”, then “Microsoft Exchange” – instead of the built-in GMail account.
  • Enter your Google username and password, then hit “Next”
  • No comes the important part: on the next page you will be asked to enter a “Server” and “Domain”. For your email server, enter “m.google.com” and leave the domain field empty. Hit “Next”
  • On the next page you will be asked which Google services you want to sync with your device.  You can bring your Google Calendars and contacts directly on the device
  • Unless you want to delete all your existing Contacts and Calendars on your iPad, select the “Keep on my iPad” option when prompted
  • Once you’re finished, hit “Done” and you’ve managed to configure push notifications for your Google Mail account and get your GMail contacts synchronised across the devices.

Has anybody managed to get it to work?

Alternatively

Contacts sync for Gmail is the app I have used so far to import my GMail contacts onto my iPad but it requires manual synchronisation with the risk of resulting in duplicates an/or deletions of existing contacts on either device.

 

 

iPad 3: the tablet that will give mobile operators a headache

Via Scoop.itstrategyleeds

How Apple bypassed mobile telco companies while making a fortune on the back of their networks….
Via www.guardian.co.uk

Update for Android tablets coming soon

Those of you testing Android tablets ill be leased to know a number of manufacturers are about to release the next version of Android OS for their tablets, in particular Asus and Motorola. Find out more about what Ice Cream Sandwich brings here.

To upgrade your device to Ice Cream Sandwich:

  • Go into “Settings”, then “About” / “Software Update”
  • You will then get a message informing you that an update is available. If this is the case, make sure you are connected to wifi, then hit “Download” or “Download and Install”. Do not touch the device and let Android do the work for you. The device will eventually reboot and none of your documents / music / pictures will be lost
  • If you do not get that message while checking for updates, then try again later / the following day / week / month

Updates will roll out this quarter for the to above-mentionned manufacturers, while Samsung also promised the upgrade (without giving a timescale).

Ice Cream Sandwich does not bring a revolution but unifies the OS across phones and tablets. It is a worthwhile update, not least because it irons out bugs, brings additional functionalities, makes the system faster and supports Google’s celebrated browser, Chrome for Android. Once you’ve upgraded the device you can download it for free  from the Android market – the android version of Chrome supports many additional functionalities such as tab browsing.

It is sleek, fast and a much better alternative to the default browser. Oh, and it syncs all your bookmarks across Google services, such as Chrome on your laptop.

Save2pdf for iPad

An app that attracted my attention last night is Save2PDF for iPad which enables the conversion of emails, documents, contacts and webpages into pdf documents.  A key feature of the app is the merging of several documents into a single PDF file even if they are of completely different formats. Which means you could create a pdf document made of separate documents such as spreadsheets, charts, text, webpages etc.   This sounds really interesting..!

 

You can read about the app here – retailing for £3.99 I will test it in the next few days and report back on this blog.

iPad update – new iPad and updated iOS

Those of you testing the iPad should be able to update the device to iOS 5.1, the latest version of the operating system that was released yesterday following the official launch of the third version of the iPad.

What’s new

The highlight in yesterday’s announcement is the bringing of the Retina display from the iPhone 4S to the iPad, resulting in a crispier and sharper screen.  The processor has been updated to make it faster, a useful addition if you play processor-intensive games on the device (not that the old processor got in the way) – other than that, nothing to shout about, except maybe the built-in dictation software that can write emails, documents and notes as you speak (although from experience these never seem to cope very well with foreign accents!). With the release of the successor to the iPad2 came useful improvements to some of Apple’s apps such as Keynote, Pages and Numbers, as well as the release of iPhoto, a photoshop-type of app for the iPad.

To benefit from these improvements you will need to update your current device to iOS5.1.  To do so:

  • connect your iPad2 to iTunes on your laptop using the usb cable provided with the device
  • on iTunes on the laptop, go to your “Devices” tab, click “Check for update” and notification of an update will appear on the screen
  • Click “download” an let iTunes do the work for you – do not disconnect the device
  • After about 10-15′ your iPd 2 will be running the update system

Updated apps

If you had purchased Keynote, Pages Numbers or Garage Band before, go to the “Updates” tab on the AppStore on your device and you will be able to update those apps for free – they require iOS5.1 so it is important to first update the device to iOS5.1. before installing updated versions of Apple’s most popular apps. For a rundown of updated and new apps see this post

iPad2 or the new iPad?

Those of you interested in acquiring an iPad at the end of the pilot will be pleased to know that both the iPad2 and the new iPad will be sold simultaneously. In the past, the new version displaced the older one.  The new iPad will retail for £399 for the 16GB version while prices for the iPad2 will fall by around £70 to £329 – a good deal if you are not too bothered about the lack of retina display and the slower processor that characterise the iPad2.  Only those of you playing processor-intensive games may consider the new iPad. For the rest of us, the iPad2 will do very well..! You can compare the features and specs of both versions here.

What I found interesting in yesterday’s announcement is how little Apple has to do to keep selling them like hot cakes.  While 80 tablets were released in 2011 alone by 30 manufacturers, Apple still commands 62% of the global market for tablet devices worldwide. Samsung, probably Apple’s strongest competitor to-date, sold 6 million tablets last year, Apple sold 40 million.  Competition may come from Amazon’s Kindle Fire, a cheaper device sold in the USA. Other than that, there is not much to trouble Apple which is still widely expected to sell another 70 million iPads this year alone, which would give the firm 70% of the market. No wonder why they do not have to come up with revolutionary innovations to keep selling their devices…

Bookmark synchronisation across multiple devices

Over the past year I have used various tablets, running both Android and iOS. Although at first it feels like having yet another device, there are ways to set them up so that you can enjoy the same experience, whichever device you are using.  Having all your bookmarks synchronised across multiple devices is of great help if you are looking to minimise the inconvenience associated with the use of different devices.

 

Android tablets

Android tablets work best with Chrome, Google’s lightweight and probably best browser around. Your android tablet automatically imports your Chrome bookmarks and keep them in sync. If you are using a different browser (Firefox, IE or Safari) best to export your bookmarks as an HTML file, and import them into Chrome – even if you do not intend to use Chrome as your mainbrowser. As long as you set Chrome with your Google account, all your bookmarks will automatically appear on your tablet and be kept in sync at all times. So changes made on the tablet will reflect into Chrome, and vice versa.   Unfortunately the feature is not available on Android phones as they do not make use of Chrome, but the feature will be rolled out as phones get upgraded to the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich aka Android 4.0 for which Google has just released Chrome.

IPads

IPads work best with Safari, and you do not have to use a Mac to operate Safari – download Safari for both Mac and PCs running Windows Vista/7. Here too, you will need to import your favourites into Safari. To do so, first it is a case of exporting them from IE or Chrome into an HTML file. Then, double click the file and the list of favourites will appear in Safari. you can then arrangethem into folders in Safari. As long as you have downloaded iCloud your bookmarks will be kept in sync between Safari on the pc and Safari on the iPad.

 

Having all your bookmarks in sync across multiple devices is a winner and a real productivity boost.

The Guardian’s top 50 Android apps & Chrome to Phone (Android)

If you are trialling an Android tablet the Guardian has recently published its list of the 50 best apps for the platform. There is a bit of everything in it but many could be classified as productivity-enhancing apps. Check the list for yourself here and why not subscribe to their apps blog which reviews some of the newest and best apps on both iPads and android tablets?

Also worth downloading on Android is Chrome to Phone – recently updated, it allows you to send the content of your Chrome browser on your laptop to your android phone’s or tablet’s browser.  One app that I miss (an maybe the one I miss most) on the iPad. Watch the demo here

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