Day 1,2 and the week’s highlights on the iPad2

The first day highlighted some major issues with the iPad. Although this technology looks and performs beautifully, is it practical when trying to concentrate on already difficult lectures? My thoughts so far suggest that it has done nothing but distract me. But then again, I am usually the same with all new technology. Maybe once the excitement dies down I will use it for more than games and music.

It might just be me, but I would love there to be a pen with the iPad. I downloaded an app that allows me to make notes, but it is difficult to use with my finger. If I could annotate lecture notes from the vle this would work.

The iPad has helped me with understanding certain topics. I was in a seminar on Tuesday, and I was searching the Internet for answers while joining in with group discussions. The speed at which I can locate information gave me an advantage when trying to understand the topic.

The second day with the iPad was much better. I have synced it with my iTunes, and have had time to get over its ‘shiny new exterior’. Today I have actually used it for practical reasons. It has been in my bag all day, and has only left when I need to for research, to lookup timetables or have a cheeky stalk on Facebook.

Practically it helps. It doesn’t seem like a necessity, rather an educational luxury that aids learning. Once you grasp the technology it makes life easier, however it’s difficult to pick up all the little tricks as there are soo many. Maybe by next week I will be a pro.

My only concern is that the iPad seems delicate. When it’s in my bag I am scared to knock it or even scratch it. I am contemplating getting a more protective cover.

Week 1- at the end of this week my opinion has changed greatly. Firstly I have bought a sock for the iPad, and this looks cool and protects it. Secondly I am becoming better at using the iPad, and therefore it has become more practical.

In uni I am using it to take notes, and at training I am using it to record videos for analysis. The iPad has a great video editing tool, which allows you to cut videos down to size very quickly. I haven’t yet used the iPad for music, but bbc I player is a regular app that I use.

Week one summary would therefore be – iPad so far so good!

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First impressions on the Galaxy Tab by Dave V

Dave here with a few thoughts….

From the start of this project I have come from the bias of being an iPhone user. Seeing as I have progressed through the iPhone 3g and 4, I have become used to IOS. Due to this, I believe that if left to my own progression, I would have bought an iPad in time. This project shall be interesting to me, to see if I can become converted to Android.

The tablet (Samsung tab 10′) has proven easy enough to use so far. On the whole, the operating system seems more similar to windows than apple. I found it very annoying that you have to use a Gmail account to use android store as I have no desire for a new email address. Registering for the store proved easy enough once this was done. The use of the store is much the same as the iTunes app store.

I have found the use of features such as the key code lock, changing your settings and importing the university time table to the tablet time table, to consistently require more effort than the IOS equivalent.

Upon receiving the tablet I decided to do a feature by feature analysis of this tablet vs the iPad 2. Though this tablet proves better on the majority of features, it proves less smooth to handle and completes like for like tasks slower, for example logging in to the Leeds portal, or searching and downloading an app.

Though I have found several negative features, I have still enjoyed the use of the tablet.

I have perhaps found myself using the tablet as more of a laptop substitute than an independent product in its own right. An example of this was when a friend commented – why are you turning off your tablet? I thought that I had completed the tasks I wished to use it for and had turned it off like you would a laptop. Their point was that you can let your tablet accompany you though your day, use the calendar more vigorously and incorporate it more in to your life like a smart phone. I suppose I have used it less often in this capacity due to owning an iPhone for so long and having gotten in to habits. The lack of 3G on the tablet leaves the phone superior in a large proportion of situations throughout my day, so I don’t think a direct substitute has been found just yet.

Any way I think I shall sign off for now…

Background and first impressions

by Nicolas Forsans

A week ago the first iPads reached us here in Leeds and this gave me an opportunity to have first hand exposur

e to the iPad. Being an Android devotee since the release of the first (decent) Android phone (the HTC Hero) about 4 years ago if I remember correctly I had a good understanding of how Android worked and what could be done with it.  I had

since acquired quite a few Android phones (the popular HTC Desire, its less popular little brother Desire S and more recently the one that led Apple to sue Samsung and everybody else: The white Galaxy S2). I had never thought much of iPads, mostly because of the lack of basic copy/paste and other functionalities when the first iPhones were released – functionalities that were provided de facto on Android. Then came the iPad and newer iPhones, but the way these devices are locked by Apple kind of put me off. Meanwhile the Android platform provided additional functionalities and a smoother user interface with every platform upgrade, from Android 1.5 (Cupcake?) to 3.x (Honeycomb) and the long awaiting IceCreamSandwich (4.x). From phones I moved to tablets, having tested the Motorola Xoom and Asus’s innovative Transformer – the one that comes with a detachable keyboard.

In short – I had never been tempted by iOS and the iPad.  The arrival, a week early of the School’s iPads 2 for our pilot project provided me with the perfect opportunity to get my hands on one.

The recent influx of Android tablets, the promise of cheaper prices with the arrival of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and a myriad of Asian manufacturers all going Android – all this provided us with a strong incentive to consider their suitability to a learning and teaching context, in addition to the iPad. This is what our pilot project is all about, and the thoughts of our 15 testers will be published on here over the next 6 months.

First impressions

Woww, there is no denying the product is stunning. John, one of our Pro-Deans at Leeds called it yesterday an “object of desire”. He’s not off the mark. The screen in particular is a pleasure to watch, and the on-screen keyboard is particularly good. And the device is increadibly thin and light to carry around. Too light and too easily scratched? maybe. I realised I would have to take super great care of it..!  These are the unique selling points of the iPad2. Then there are the apps, but with Android catching up with Apple in recent years the massive app catalogue may not be an element of differentiation for too long.

A quick look at Apple’s Appstore reveals a number of apps which I had used for a long time on my Android tablet so I am not in an unfamiliar territory. On thing I have noticed however: apps that I have used on Android tend to be more expensive on the iPad than they are on Android. In my opinion there is no economic justification for it. iPads have been far more popular than android tablets as a result of the late launch of the latter which, if anything, provide developers with  much bigger markets to spread fixed costs onto. This should result in lower prices on the iPad, not higher ones. The only justification I can think of is developers taking the view that Apple customers splash out more money than Android ones, given the price points used (retail prices) by Apple. If true, then I think it is a rip-off! It would be interesting to compare prices across both platforms for a sample of apps and check whether these claims hold true.

One of the first things I did after switching the device on is to customise it and add email accounts. This was a straightforward process, although what struck me is the way in which the iPad handles it in relation to Android. All settings, including app-specific settings are all together in a “Settings” section.  This took me some time to get used to – in Android, app-specific settings reside within each app, which makes more sense to me. Not a deal breaker though.

And then I was ready to go… and that’s when I started to feel disappointed at the way Apple locks the whole system. While the Android browser has loads of settings that can be user-customised (for example, to load a full version of a webpage in the browser as opposed to the default mobile version of it, to load or not external images, to take screenshots from the browser, to name a few) Apple has none, and so every single user has to use Safari in exactly the way. Gone was the ability to upload right from the browser a webpage to my Evernote account for future reference. I started to realise the flexibility provided by the way Android handles some activities and the ability for the user to customise his tablet experience is Android’s unique selling point – something I had taken for granted.  Doing some google searches revealed a number of workarounds to solve a few of these problems, some of them rather tedious to implement while others were more straightforward – details in future posts.

Finally the browser is a pleasure to use. Of course the lack of Flash support meant streaming audio and video programmes was no longer an option in Safari, something I had taken for granted on my Xoom. Media companies have found a way round: the app. Having downloaded the BBC iplayer and some other apps (iTele for french news, for example) solved the streaming problem in Safari. Happy I was, but also conscious I would have to change the way I work as clearly the iPad does not support some of the functionalities I had grown accustomed to on Android. Time will tell how quickly I can adapt to it and get back on track – as I tend to spend a long time  travelling by train each week my tablet is what enables me to turn dead time into productive one. So I will have to find workarounds…

On Tuesday I had to say good bye to my short term companion as one of our testers took it off me. Overall a very pleasant experience, so pleasant indeed I bought one on Monday night so that I could keep exploring it. Next step: download the wordpress app for the iPad and post my thoughts right from the device. Plenty more to say about my first week using the iPad, so until next time….. thanks for reading..!

Nicolas

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