Some useful apps for the iPad

Hi guys I just thought I would update you all on some useful apps for the iPad that could prove to be very useful.

ReaddleDocs

The major problem I have had with the iPad since day one was not being able to download email attachments (specifically those sent through the university email account). The problem was that the attachments were usually in a zipped folder, and to gain access to these files you first need to open the zipped folder. An app called ReaddleDocs is perfect for overcoming this issue. It’s at a cost of £2.99 but it’s definitely worth it in my opinion, especially when I need to access seminar preparation material that has been sent to my Uni email account.

It’s simple! you install the app and it’s ready to use. You just click on an email attachment and it will download the zip folder into ReaddleDocs. Once it is in ReaddleDocs, click on the zip folder and it will extract the files/folder for you to gain access to them. Furthermore these can then be opened in other apps such as QuickOffice, GoodReader etc. If your willing to pay £2.99, you will find yourself downloading email attachments on your iPad, rather than using your laptops. If there is a free version available I would be interested in knowing about it.

     

Skitch

When I began using GoodReader I couldn’t figure out a way to open up photo documents to annotate, only PDF documents. Therefore I began exploring and came across this interesting app, which allows you to annotate any picture by adding text, arrows, shapes, a sketch option to draw using your finger etc. The above pictures of ReaddleDocs were annotated using Skitch. I found this app very easy to operate and there are probably many things you can do with this app, however I have a tendency to work things out on my own rather than follow an instruction manual. Check it out I think it was free but if it wasn’t it didnt cost much, after all it is me we are talking about here 😉

 

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iPad = Maximised Productivity

Introduction

The iPad has completely replaced all aspects of my note taking procedures, during lectures and seminars. I find it effortless to type notes at the speed that the lectures are being delivered.

Apps

Currently I am using 2 apps for taking notes – to begin with I type up my notes using the  built-in Notes application which is included on the iPad. I then copy and paste this into Quickoffice and save it in the folder relating to the module. I use this process because all the notes that are taken in ‘Notes’ are automatically saved as you write them, while as in ‘Quickoffice’ you have to close the document in order to save it.

Quickoffice

There is a minor problem that I have encountered with this application. The save function is poorly designed. First of all there are two methods of saving. You can either save a document as a word document or a PDF:

  • Word document

To save a word document you must click the close function and the select from the following options: Don’t save, save as, save, and close (in this order). The ‘don’t save’ function comes first, which is a bit of a surprise really because it is very easy to click don’t save since it is at the top of the list; this will mean you have closed your document and lost your work. If you do save the document it will still close after doing so (however you will have the saved file). Therefore when saving a word document the only way you can do it is by closing the document. If you want to back your data every 10 minutes, you have to close the document every 10 minutes and reopen it.

  • PDF

This can be done without closing the document. However the PDF, once opened, cannot be edited. The only way to make changes to it is by copy and pasting the contents into a word document. This can be quite irritating

Conclusion

If you are cautious about losing your work the only way around this is to save the document as a PDF every 10 minutes and then save the work as a word document once finished. This way if you accidentally click ‘don’t save’, you will have the PDF. It would still be much quicker if they had a save function built into the word document.

Annotating handouts

Unfortunately this is not for me. I have tried to do so and failed to be as productive as I was by just taking the notes directly onto the ‘Notes’ app. I have heard a few people mention that this works well for them, however after trying, i was very disappointed with my productiveness.

Paper handouts

I have stopped taking notes entirely on any form of paper handout. However I still collect the paper handouts just for reference, on a regular basis. In some circumstances I have avoided collecting them but I find this habit quite hard to break because I do find it easier to have access to paper handouts in comparison to electronic ones.

Transferring documents to the laptop

For word documents I tend to email them to myself and then download them onto my laptop. The annotated photos were uploaded onto Dropbox and then accessed on the laptop to be sent over. I haven’t worked out a way of uploading word documents from Quickoffice onto Dropbox (I am not sure this is even possible).

EDIT: Yes it is, will upload a simple tutorial soon! 

Using the iPad for assignments

For my assignments I used the iPad around 70% of the time. There were a few issues that made it difficult to use the iPad alone; however it proved to be very useful.

Debates and controversies assignments

The 400 word assignments were a walk in the park on the iPad. I read the case study and made a few notes on the iPad and then completed the assignment using the notes. The only problem was that I could not upload my 400 word blog onto the website through the iPad. I had to use my laptop for this.

The 1000 word midterm assignment was more difficult to do solely on the iPad. I carried out 100% of the research using the tablet and I downloaded all the research as PDFs onto ‘iBooks’ (included as standard).

The problem I encountered was writing the assignment while looking through the PDFs I downloaded. Usually I prefer to have them side by side instead of having to switch between a word document and PDF constantly. For this reason on this assignment I used the iPad for research and I used the laptop to write it. I did however take a few notes on the iPad while I was in university, if an idea came to my head.

In conclusion I definitely can say that the iPad has increased my productivity and has allowed me to use my spare time more efficiently. However I am still yet to find a solution that will allow me to use the iPad when writing assignments that require research. In terms of note taking, I don’t see myself being able to annotate PDFs as effectively as I can take standard notes in a word document format.

iPad – can it really change my views on tablets?

Before undergoing this project I always refused to be dragged into the iPhone, iPad hype. My view was that they were just fashion accessories that were cleverly marketed by Apple to weak minded people who tried to follow the crowd. The extortionate price tags on both products and the lack of features present in comparison to other companies, such as samsung, made me wonder why people even bothered. I would constantly try to persuade people to save themselves £20+ per month and just get a samsung, which has more features and better performance.

My original view on tablet technology in general was that tablets were just downgraded laptops with similar price tags (why pay so much for something that is so limited in comparison to a laptop that is capable of so much more?). They had no real purpose in my opinion because they are just oversized smartphones minus the phone (paying for less yet again!).

Being a tight fisted yorkshireman I would never have paid £300+ on an iPad to test whether or not I would find it useful. Therefore I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in this project because I would get to test the capability of this device without digging deep into my pockets (now I really do sound tight fisted!)

Originally I was skeptical about replacing paper based notes with the iPad. I went throught the whole of semester 1 taking notes in class and  revising from them, with success. I decided to commit 100% to this project and try to use the iPad to replace all of my note taking. I must say that my original, very strong, opinions have been downgraded. I doubted the capability of the iPad from the start and I take back some of the points I previously stated (SOME, I must stress).

I am really surprised by how responsive the keyboard is to fast typing. In every single lecture so far I have managed to take about 3-4 pages worth of notes (in comparison to 2 while using pen and paper). The interface is very user friendly and easy to navigate through (with some very useful shortcuts that I am accidentaly coming across day by day).

However, I tried to read a PDF off the iPad the other week and no matter how much you change the brightness, it still gives you that feeling you are reading off a computer screen which can be very tiring. This is something the Kindle has managed to perfect and something the iPad may need to work on. The iPad also has an annoying habbit of remembering where you have capitalised a letter. If you accidentally capitalise letters 1 and 2 in a word, when you try to delete the second one and retype it, the iPad will remember you capitalised it and you may end up doing the same mistake twice or more before realising you have to press the shift key.

Although there are some minor flaws, so far my expectations have far outweighed my original impressions. However I still have a strong view that tablet technology is very limited, when compared to computers and laptops (even netbooks). The iPad is, however, very convenient for what I am currently using it for. Will it be useful for anything else? I will soon find out.

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