Author Archives: WZ_NoStylus

Discovering great iPad art applications for creativity

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Let’s take a look at Enlight. I am constantly amazed by the quality of the iPad art applications we have available for making innovative, fantastic digital art. One of my favourite iPad and iPhone art applications has been iColorama. I find it’s quite easy to get into a situation where you enjoy using a particular application so much you forget to try some of the others. Especially with an application like iColorama which has such a breadth of tools and options you could spend weeks if not months exploring. I also find that using an application it’s easy to get into a situation where you are constantly using your favourite tools and effects. That’s not a good thing and we really don’t want our artwork to look all the same. We want our aunt to be original and different from everybody else’s. We also want our art to grow creatively and to have new looks and styles applied to the finished works. Us artists like to think our art is getting better and more interesting with each subsequent piece we work on. It’s always good to stretch the limits of our iPad art creativity with great iPad art applications.

Video recorded by the Enlight app as I made changes to the image I started with.

So it’s a good idea every now and again to put our favourite creativity application to one side and have a look and see what we can do with a different one. Sometimes we’ll be delighted and amazed by the other application finding techniques to give our artwork that something special. On the other hand, there are times when we pick something and wonder why the hell we have it on our iPad or iPhone. The poorer quality iPad art creativity applications are the ones which are basically just filters to apply on top of photos. There are rubbish applications meant for non-artists lacking creativity. The sort of applications are a simple application of a filter with no possibilities of making adjustments or masking certain areas off. Applications like this where you don’t have any ways to blend and manipulate multiple techniques or multiple photos and drawings should be avoided. I suppose one possibility would be to use one specific effect from an application and then move into something elsewhere you can really let your creativity have full reign.

great iPad art apps

Enlight iPad art application is now in the list of my favourite applications for creating iPad digital art. It’s an application that’s been languishing on my iPad for some time. I haven’t used it is an awful lot but I was prompted by an email I received. In this email there was a short tutorial on how to get the best from this application blending two photos together. It is possible to blend two photos together creatively in iColorama and also recently downloaded another application specifically for blending photos which goes by the name of Diana. That one is more of a one trick pony, but is a good option as part of a larger artistic workflow.

When you go used to using one application it takes a while to get used to another application. You have to finance where all of the tools are situated and what they can do. Fortunately with Enlight you have an area they called backstage in which as well as settings you have access to a tour and tutorials. Within the tutorial section you will find 12 tutorial showing you how to do a few different types of images. That includes mixing typography with pictures, adding text over images. Adding gradient colours to on-screen items and creating dramatic portraits using black-and-white effects and borders. Is Enlight going to be one of the applications you look at when searching for great iPad Art applications?

Canvas Menu

Over on the right hand side you have your menu items in a list. The first menu item is Canvas and within that you have just three tools. Crop, skew and refit give you some simple things and some amazing things you can do to your images. The cropping tools are simple enough where you can cut out areas from the edges of your photo you don’t want any more. You can crop completely freely by dragging in from any of the edges or corners. The other possibility would be to use the fixed ratios in case you wanted to have something 16:9 to use within a movie you are making for example. Or maybe you wanted it to be square for sending off to Instagram. Within the tools area there are other options such as vertical or horizontal flips, 90° rotations or straightening one or two degrees at a time.

Enlight Menus 1

Enlight Menus

Enlight Menus 2

Enlight Menus 2

Skew or De-Skew

From the skew menu it’s possible to skew images so that items within are straightened. An example of this would be if you are de-skewing a picture of a building so that it no longer looks as if it has any perspective. You can make it look as though you were dead centre and looking straight at it when you took your picture. From the distortion tool slide your finger to the right for the image to go convex and to the left to make it go concave. You’ll be left with your picture shape in the centre of the screen showing which parts will be kept and which parts will be discarded. If after playing with these controls you like what you have created tap on the checkmark to the right top of the screen. That will apply the changes you made to your picture.

Using Enlight app

Refit the Image

The refit option is a lot more interesting. Imagine you take a photo where you’ve got an interesting item on the left-hand side of the screen. There is another interesting item on the right-hand side of the screen and a boring space in the middle. With the refit option you can select the interesting areas by freezing them. You then slide your finger across the screen to crop away the part of the image in between the two frozen areas. I was amazed by this iPad art application technique. It is fantastic how well it works and you may choose to go vertically rather than horizontally if you wish. I was impressed by this tool within the Enlight artists application.

Basic Image Controls

Any of the great iPad art applications will have the basic image manipulation such as brightness, contrast and exposure. You get all of that in Enlight and you’ll find further options within the Basic, Details, Colour, Split Tone and Curves sections. So within Basic you can adjust brightness, contrast and exposure. With the Offset option you have a way to set an area such as a background either to be either just black or just white. Choose the setting you want to work with and slide your finger diagonally to make adjustments. When you have it as you want it hit the check mark/tick in the top righthand corner of the screen.

Curves in Enlight

iPad art apps

Within the clarity section you can sharpen, saturate or desaturate your image. It’s not necessary to apply these controls, settings or filter effects to the whole of the image there are masking tools. Use the masking brushes to apply or remove a masked area. Enlight also has a section called target which will apply a mask either as a spot which is re-sizable and movable across the screen. Or you can have mask which is linear, going in whichever direction you want it across the image. The other option would be to have a mirror type of mask. This gives you a central area which is affected by your image controls and settings fading out in both directions from the centre line.

Basically within these areas you have lots of fine control for you to do whatever you want with your image. The masking works well with the Apple Pencil. You have the chance to see what’s happening with your photo when you press the button towards the bottom right-hand corner which will give you a before and after you of the image.

Using the filters

Analog Effects

When you go to the analog effects in Enlight your first come across a whole load of presets. You can cycle through these presets if you wish and maybe there’s something there that will suit you just perfectly. Or you can change to the tools menu using the button in the centre of the screen at the bottom. From there you can get access to film effects where you can apply fade, grain, and intensity. For any of the settings within the Enlight art application you slide your finger from left to right across the screen to increase the amount of affect your giving it. Don’t forget you can also go into the masking area and as well as brushing on or off the mask you can feel all clear the whole image. There are also settings to change the size, opacity, feather and edge of the brush. This is what makes Enlight one of the great iPad art applications. You get a good deal of fine control over how your image is affected by any of your choices. It is more than just a simple app for applying filters or other little tricks to an image.

Changing the image to black-and-white or monochrome

You have available a whole range of black-and-white filters to apply to your image. Choose from the presets or going to the tools section to work with the controls directly. You can even filter the image based upon colours within if you want the black-and-white filter to work specifically on certain colours. In this same area of black and white adjustments you have other effects such as adding vignette or a grain. If you want to add borders there are a range of them available including plain black or white along with splotchy effects. It would be cool if it was possible to add your own border effects to this list. The only way around that at the moment is to add them using the mixer and blend tool.

Great iPad art applications

Going duo

This is all about using two colours and how you want those colours to be overlaid across the top of your image. Same as with some of the other effects where you can use a radial, linear or mirror distribution of the effect. Further adjust the distribution using masking techniques. Choosing the colours is easy by tapping on either colour one or colour two. This gives you a range of colours across the screen and in centre you’ll see there is a place where you can swipe upwards to access the infinite range of colours. Then all you have to do is to decide on how you want those colours to be blended. Same range of blend modes available in other tools in the application. Overlay, soft and hard light, multiply, screen and so on.

Tools Menu – Mixer, Reshape, Heal And Tilt Shift.

Mixer tool

This is the tool to use if you want to add other images to put on top all blend into the image you’re working on. You can choose blend modes of which there are eleven apart from the normal mode. Within the tools you can choose an erase tool which is handy if you want to erase a background. You can get really good control over which areas you erase by pinching to zoom in as close as you need to. I was impressed on how well I was able to delete a background when using my Apple pencil and the images zoomed in really close.

Reshape tool

Within this reshape tool you can move pixels around to refine just certain areas. For example, you might like to make somebody’s ears a whole lot bigger. You could turn somebody into a pixie by giving them pixie ears and they pointy chin. The reshaped tool does something similar but with a larger portion of the image. If you’ve taken something a little too far you can try pushing it back with the tool you use to reshape it in the first place. If that doesn’t work then there is the restore tool. With that you can just draw in any of the areas you want to put back to the way it was before you’ve messed it all up.

Heal tool

With the heal tool you can remove blemishes with a re-sizable round dot. I found that in some areas this can work quite well but in other areas all it does is just to blur wherever you had placed the tool. The patch mode gives you two circular areas. One area is where it will do a copy and the other area is where it will place the copy. It is just a clone tool by another name. It is quite good in that you can also add a mask to operate on the clone. This gives you excellent control over how this tool works on your image. You also have access to settings for controlling the brush.

Great iPad art applications

The blue image was blended on top with the Mixer tool and the circles are the Patch tool for cloning

 

Tilt Shift

This is a cool thing when you want to make a photo look like it is toy town or like a model village. It does this by making it seem as if you were using macro photography and having to deal with very short depth of field. You can use a spot focus, linear or the mirror mask to achieve the effect you are looking for with a specific photo.

Going artistic with Enlight

Urban artistic Effects

Choose one of the presets if you wish with fancy names such as Galactic, Paintsplat, DayGlo and Twister. These are basically a set of filters you can access in the tool section, backdrop. You can adjust the threshold, smoothing and restore. With restore you basically set how much of the underlying image you want to obliterate. You’ll find all of this in the Artistic – Urban section of the controls.

 

 

Painting filters – you have a wild section of painting filters. Some of these will completely alter your image so no longer looks anything like what you started with. You can however go into the basic settings and restore your original image which is a basic blending setting. There are also settings for lighting, style and surface. The surface settings give you a few textured effects which are interesting but nowhere near as many as you would find in iColorama.

Sketch filters – here you have a reasonable range of pencil and crayon styles. Lots of settings allow you to change the scale, rotation, threshold, transition and how it all affects the details of the sketching filter. It’s quite impressive the amount of control you have to change hatching, stroke and paper effects. It’s this control which takes Enlight from being a mere set of filters to apply to being an artistic tool for creative digital art producers. Creativity is all about experimenting, choosing and using whatever tools and processes you have at your disposal. There’s plenty available for all sorts of artists in this application.

Drawing with the Apple pencil in Enlight

You start with seven different brush tips available which doesn’t seem a lot at first look. You can go into the settings for the brushes and choose size and opacity. The brushes don’t react to the pressure you apply with the Apple Pencil. When using the ink style brush to make it fatter you just have to move the Apple pencil faster. In the brush settings you can set the size and opacity. Lines you’ve drawn can be erased. While the drawing implements are not as good as you’d find in application like Procreate or Pixelmator for iPad it is useful to have some of these tools within Enlight. This you’ll find these in the artistic, doodle section of the tools.

Painting with Enlight

In the centre of artistic tools you also have effects. This will allow you to draw bubble, hearts and Snowflake effects directly onto your drawing. There’s not a huge range of these effects available but they can be handy if you want to splurge some colours, shapes or grungy styles into your image. It’s all about making creative juices and making best use of the tools in great iPad art applications.

The making of memes

You can simply use the text tool to add text to wherever you want it within your image. There are a reasonable number of funds to play with. It’s easy to change the colour of the text and to add drop shadows if you wish. As usual you have access to blend modes and masking. There are also a small selection of fairly useless decals. If you’re looking to create a meme there is a specific tool using a large standard font. It puts a lump of text at the top of the screen and or at the bottom of the screen. This is a fairly dedicated tool and will be useful to some users.

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In the Painting section of Enlight where you choose the tools you want to work with. Surface will give you textures effects for your image. Also showing the types of text it is possible to add.

Textures added

Great iPad art applications -Texture added to Enlight image

You’ve been framed

The last tool available within this tool section on the right-hand side is the framing tool. You got a number of frames to select from. You get to make choices regards the width of the frame, the shape of the image and there are all sorts of patterns you can put into the background. The other option available is for making a collage. You can combine a number of photos or artistic work seem to an interesting arrangement.

The NoStylus verdict on the Enlight iPad art application

When I first opened up this application I assumed it was just for messing with photos and adding filters. After exploring and trying a few things out I discovered it’s far more useful than that. It’s a well laid out application in terms of the interface giving access to the controls you need to make your artistic choices. It isn’t a drawing and painting application but it is possible to do some of that within Enlight. I was particularly impressed with the refit tool where I could freeze certain areas and remove space in between. It’s good to have the blending tool available and useful in many of the other tools. The mixing tool for blending multiple photos works well especially when using the masking.

Sharing from Enlight

There are a number of sharing options allow you to share out to the usual suspects. Send your images to messages, email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There is a cool feature where you can save your Enlight working session as an animation. This is where you get to see the progress of your work from initial image through to the final piece. This gives you a video which you can save to your devices Photos library.

Enlight iPad art application

Same as iColorama you don’t get the layers you find in great iPad art applications like Procreate, ArtRage, Concepts or Graphic by Autodesk. No worries as you can always move images from and to Enlight to take advantages of other tools only possible to use in other great iPad art applications.

Great iPad art applications

Overall Enlight is a super application and I would highly recommend it for use by creative types. There are some limitations with what you can do with it, while at the same time there are a huge number of choices. I like the application and I can certainly see me using it much more often in the future. Great iPad art applications.

iPad artist

Good and Geeky iPad art book

Posted in iPad.

Third Party Keyboards in the Middle of the Night

Bit of a headache so I was finding it difficult to sleep. Got up to take a pill 💊 and have a look at my computer. Loving the Swiping Swype way of writing. It’s a great way to type quickly on the virtual keyboards. You don’t have to be that accurate with finding the keys as you Swype. The software behind it makes good guesses at what you wanted. Sometimes you have to choose one of the three alternatives given but it’s still excellent at knowing which word you wanted. I still prefer to use dictation but there are times when you have to be silent and third party keyboards are the answer.

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The third party keyboards of this type I’ve tried are Swiftkey, Swype and Fleksy. Possibly another I can’t remember the name of which had you swiping with both hands. I think the letters on the keyboard were even somehow hidden. It didn’t work for me anyway. I was flabbergasted by how the AI of Swiftkey was able to predict the next words for me. I showed the software blogs I’d written and other texts so it learned my vocabulary. I’m using Swype these days but I’ll give Swiftkey another try.

📷Making HDR Photos

I’ve been working on my HDR photos because I bought the Aurora HDR software. I already have Photomatix which is good but I think this Aurora is easier and better to use. The pictures I’m making are better images and less harsh. There is the influence from Trey Ratcliffe who is the master of the HDR style photo art in Aurora. In iColorama it is possible to get HDR effects but there’s nothing like using bracketed photos in a full on HDR editor on the Mac. Even so, with Aurora you can get great HDR photos using just a single RAW photo. There is just so much information in that type of photo format.

I’ve typed this last paragraph in with SwiftKey and I’m liking Swype better. Maybe I just need to persevere with this one for a bit longer. I do like the usage starts you get with SwiftKey. It tells me how much more productive I’m being and how many typos if has fixed for me. Have you tried any third party keyboards?

Third party keyboards

Disadvantages of third party keyboards

I like to dictate and you lose this functionality with third party keyboards. All is not lost though, with using Drafts app for inputting text you can do both. This is because Drafts has dictation built in though the actions.

When you get a word wrong you have to go back and do it again, there are two ways of doing this. In Swype the backspace will first of all delete the whole word, unless you tap on the dying area first. Then you can go back a letter at a time. Using SwiftKey it goes back letter by letter straight away. Sometimes it is better one way and sometimes better the other. I think I prefer Swype for that feature.

I wonder if one day Apple will make a swiping keyboard and Sherlock all the third party keyboards of this type? Probably not, but you never know.

Posted in iPad.

Loving my iPhone

I’m finding that having a larger iPhone is really very useful. I can do lots more things with the device and quite often I would rather do it with the iPhone rather than picking up the iPad. There are still things with the iPad is better at such as anything where I can use the Apple Pencil.

Loving the Apple Pencil too

Yesterday I was trying to do something with the Apple Pencil in the Photos app and it wasn’t working I was quite surprised. The mark up thing I think it is from Apple and I would’ve expected that Apple Pencil would’ve been supported. You can do the writing with the Apple Pencil but if you want to make adjustments to something like the magnifying glass effect then it doesn’t recognise the dots on the screen. You have to move back to using your fingers for making adjustments to positioning and to the size and to the amount of magnification.

lots of love to spread around

Loving the Photos applications on the iMac and on iOS. One of the best things about it is that I can send photos to other applications. Third-party applications that do amazing and fantastic things with my photos. On my Mac I’m using Intensify Pro and I’ve just also starting using Aurora for HDR photos. I’m half tempted to buy the upcoming pro version. The anything is, it will cost me around about €70. I’m not sure I fancy spending the money.

Posted in iPad.

Got The iPhone 7 and iOS 10 – Loving it!

Collecting from Barcelona

I thought I’d have a trip to Barcelona to collect the iPhone 7 although I normally have the new things from Apple sent to my house. The reason I did it this way is because it’s likely the couriers would not get the iPhone to me on the proper day. They always seem to have trouble finding our house. Also with me being at work there was going to be the chance that they might not arrive the next day or even until after the weekend. I just didn’t want to wait that long! Another reason for going to the Apple Store is because I thought it would be a trip out. I don’t get out very often and I thought the experience of collecting from the store on day one would be interesting.

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Queue of people waiting for the iPhone 7 in Barcelona

I elected to collect my iPhone at the appointed time of between 9 o’clock and a quarter past nine. All I had to do was to brave the driving on the motorway from my house to Barcelona. As soon I got onto the main road I saw there was a guy not paying attention to his driving. He drove the least two or three km looking at his phone rather than looking at where he was going. Where the road branches to the left to go to Barcelona this same driver decided to overtake myself and the car in front and had to cut in front of us so he could continue on the road to Gerona. That was just the first possible accident due to bad driving I saw on the trip. Later a car decided to undertake rather than overtake. This was as I was about to overtake a lorry and the car just managed to squeeze in the closing gap. This same manoeuvre happened again later and at the same time there was a car overtaking me on the outside going to pull back into the middle lane. It’s a wonder these two cars didn’t bounce off each other in front of me. Just another example of crazy driving. I was glad to get to my destination, the Barcelona Apple Store at La Maquinista. At least this location was on my side of Barcelona and they didn’t have to drive through to get to the other side or to the centre. I was lucky to get there in one piece.

I arrived at the La Maquinista shopping centre right on time and most of the shops were still closed. Walked to the Apple Store and I saw there was a queue Of about 100 to 150 people waiting in a fairly long looking queue. On account of having pre-ordered the phone I went to the front of the queue and found one of the Apple store staff. He directed me to another much shorter queue right by the front door of the store. She asked me the time of my appointment and pointed me to a queue of five people.I was waiting for around about 15 minutes before it was my turn to have the barcode scanned and be assigned to a personal shopper assistant. It was all very friendly and chatty with all of the Apple store staff I’d connected with so far. I was escorted to the back of the store where there was a pile of iPhones of various types stacked upon the counter. My order barcode was scanned again, maybe twice. The whole process wasn’t terribly smooth but it was friendly and it didn’t take long before I had my iPhone in my sticky little paws. I got the impression my personal shopping helping assistant was new and the job because he was struggling with the scanning of the barcodes. I had been instructed I should take my passport with me or other identification so I could prove who I was to collect the phone. It was checked. It wasn’t sufficient to be able to show my iPhone and open it up with my own fingerprint to access my order and collect the iPhone. I’m grateful that there was security in place to make sure that there weren’t any mishaps. I wouldn’t like it if I gave my phone to somebody else.

Resisted the temptation to open the box

Before I left the Barcelona shopping centre I needed to have some refreshments to set me up for the journey back home again on the motorway. I didn’t even get the phone out of the box to have a look at it while having my cup of tea. I was more interested in polishing off a nice chunk of carrot cake. I could have swapped the Sim from the old phone to the new one. Trouble is, I would then have had to connect it up to the Apple Store Internet to download iCloud information and applications. I still needed to use the maps application to give me directions to get back home again. It was prudent to use the iPhone 6 that was already set up and raring to go rather than messing around with a new one. The momentous occasion of the unboxing of the iPhone 7 will have to wait until I got back home again.

The queue of people waiting for an iPhone

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Setting up with iMazing

Using iTunes is one way of transferring everything from one phone to another. I’d heard good things about the application called iMazing. This would be a good opportunity to give it a proper try and see how it worked.

I was disappointed with the process. There has been an upgrade since using it to move stuff from the old iPhone to the new one and maybe I should have waited for that. Or maybe it should have been available soon as the iPhone 7 was out on the streets. I was expecting iMazing to bring in everything from the old iPhone and it only brought in some of the applications. I’ve had to spend time re-downloading many of the applications that were just sitting there with a note under the icon to say that they were waiting. They were like this for quite some time after the transfer from iPhone 6 to iPhone 7. I thought at some point in time they would just connect up to the Internet and download. I tried to reconnecting to the iMazing application to see if it was waiting for permission from the application to finish the job. I also connected to iTunes to see if I can bring the applications onto the device that way. It’s worked out best for me to bring them in using my mobile data which is much faster than my home Internet.

A bit of a mess.

The other thing that iMazing managed to mess up was the arrangement of the applications on the screens. I had many of the applications into various folders to organise them. And while some of the apps were put in the proper places, some were not. I’ll continue using this iMazing application to do the backups although I’m not going to know how well it’s going to work unless I do a restore from backup at some point in time.

 

iMazing

So who’s fault was it?

Since writing the first two paragraphs of this section I listened to a podcast where the people had a similar problem not using the application iMazing. The problem has come about due to something called “app thinning”. With this app thinning thing the downloads of the application within iTunes are not exactly the same as the ones downloaded being used on your device. This somehow saves megabytes in terms of downloads per app. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it was this that caused the problem. Maybe I’ll give iMazing a pass on this one. These people reported the same problems of applications not being in the organised folders as previously set up by the user. Also many of the applications were showing as “waiting” when you would have expected these just to have been moved directly onto the new device.

What I was expecting was to have the software do a complete clone of what was on one phone and put it onto the new phone. This didn’t happen but I got past the problem eventually. I think Apple are going to have to do some sorting out of this little difficulty so that we don’t have this problem every time we upgrade our phones.

iPhone 7 Plus first impressions

It’s big, it’s bold and it’s beautiful! I went for the gold version with 128 GB. It was the sensible choice considering the 64 GB is not available with this model. 32 GB would have been too few and the 256 GB would have been nice but too expensive. With the size I’ve gone for, it will be okay for the space. More storage is needed due to having the ability to take live photos. A whole day went by before I was able to do much with the iPhone. This was partly due to the debacle using the iMazing software and partly because I had to go to work. When I did find the time I was impressed with the Live Photos and I’m looking forward to taking more of these and sharing them. It’ll be interesting to see how easy it is going to be to share them with other people who don’t have devices that support the live photos natively. I think it’s possible for me to send a live photo in a message and the person at the other end will be able to tap on it within their messaging app to see the movement.

Pretend home button

It’s going to take some time to get used to the pretend home button. Rather than feeling a click from movement within the press of the button, the thing that comes from the tactic engine. It manifests itself across the whole of the device it seems. The feedback doesn’t have the pinpoint accuracy directly into the thumb from the button. It’s really did seem weird at first but I am getting used to it. I don’t think it’s going to take too long before it seems absolutely normal. TheyTaptic engine gets used for other things such as in Messages when you have fancy effects such as the laser or the fireworks.

The look and the feel

I’m having to use this phone without a case for the moment. I’m being extra careful with it due to its smooth edges and it’s filling a little bit like a slippery bar of soap in my hand. I’m scared to death of dropping it and breaking it in this first week of using it. It’ll be another few days before I get the cases ordered via Amazon. I was shocked, amazed and a little bit disgusted at the price of the bumper cases in the Apple Store. €45 is an horrendous price for a tiny bit of silicon. There are times when I think Apple are completely greedy even though I’m quite happy to pay the price for the iPhone. It may well be that you could buy an Android phone for a quarter of the price, but you wouldn’t have the quality, either in the device or with the applications to use. I know what I’m talking about after spending 18 months using a Samsung Galaxy 3. It’s a good job we don’t have to wait too long before the third party vendor’s come up with iPhone 7 cases at reasonable prices.

I went for the gold coloured iPhone and at first I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it or not. At least it’s not the horrible pink rose gold! Now I’ve got used to the gold colour I have to say I’m in love with the device and how it looks. It’s a gorgeous and I’m quite protective over my iPhone 7.

Picking it up and the lock screen appears

This is a feature which comes in conjunction with iOS 10. When you pick the device up off the table the screen comes alive straightaway showing the lock screen. You can then swipe across to the right to get to the Today Screen or you can swipe across to the left and get to the camera. When you get to the camera you can’t swipe back again, you need to touch the home button. There is a little message at the bottom of the screen which tells you to press the home button to unlock the device. Considering the useful things you can now do with the lock screen today widgets this is quite a good way of going about using the device.

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An example of Lock Screen usage

The good example of this is the Drafts application which has four icons. There is a + symbol, a new note icon, a microphone icon and icon that looks like a chopping block. Press any of these icons and you can use the touch ID, enter your pass code to start using whichever function you decided on. I do like to use dictation for creating text on whatever device. And I’m very pleased to see this microphone icon giving access to note creation by dictation. Drafts is an excellent application for throwing in whatever piece of text onto the device and deciding afterwards whatever it is you want to do with it. The dictation works very well in a dedicated dictation window. It is continually listening to you and there’s no time limit on how long you can speak for. When you’ve got enough text within your note you can click on the button create and hey presto.

In the lock screen today view you can edit your list of widgets. I have mine set up with Launch Centre Pro, Fantastical, Weather, Maps destinations, Reminders, Drafts, OmniFocus and Authy.

How I like my front page of apps

iOS Front Page of Apps

Arranging Apps

So I had a problem where all of my applications were scattered across the various screens of the device. The way I resolve this problem was to manually do the organising to get it back somewhere near right again. On the Maccast Adam Christianson had the same problem, but what he did was to run a restore from backup again. By doing that he was able to save himself a lot of time putting applications back in the places where there was supposed to be. It’s definitely worth while listening to some of the Mac podcasts and in particular I always recommend the Maccast. I first started listening to this podcast before I was even a Mac user. Then I bought my Mac Mini and I learned a lot from Adam while being a new user. I continue to keep on learning new stuff because he doesn’t concentrate on the spreading of the daft rumours about Apple. He also has a section where he will give hints and tips on how to do things with your Apple devices.

All sorted out

After spending time moving things around from place to place everything is where it should be. More or less! I made sure I had the most important, most used and most useful habitations ready to go first. It would have been better if the transfer of the old phone to the new phone had gone smoother. Having to fiddle about with stuff takes some of the shine of the getting a new iPhone 7.

I put iOS 10 onto my iPhone 6 and so I had a couple of days of experiencing the new operating system. The first thing you notice is the new way of logging in to your device. Apple brought this new way of logging in so that you could start making better use of the today widgets on the lock screen. A good many applications have created widgets giving you extra functionality as soon as you pick up your iPhone. You get to these widgets by sliding your finger from the left to the right which is available as soon as you pick the phone up. You don’t have to press any buttons to see the screen it becomes enabled by the motion sensors within the phone. If you swipe from the right to the left takes you directly into the camera which is pretty useful. You can still get to the camera by sliding up from the bottom of the screen to get panel to toggle things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, do not disturb, aeroplane mode and portrait orientation.

iPhone 7

iOS 10 Weirdness

From the same panel you get the flashlight switch, timers, calculator and a couple of other controls. If you slide from the right to left to get to the second panel you’ll see the now playing panel. This isn’t what I tend to make use of as I prefer to control the sound Now Playing from my iPhone using the Apple Watch. The controls in these two panels have been rearranged and better spaced out in iOS 10.

now playing

The look of the notifications

It’s possible to see the notifications on your phone from the lock screen. You just have to slide your finger down from the top of the screen. Those notifications will cover over the Today Widgets or the camera. You can’t slide back from the camera to the opening lock screen. You have to press the home button if you want to go back. The notifications are now as rounded rectangles and you can use 3D touch on them. For example, with an Instagram notification and 3D touch you can Like, Quick Reply Or View Post. Sometimes when you do the 3D touch what you get is the option to view post and nothing else. Maybe it depends upon what sort of notification is as to what options you get. From the notification screen you can also slide from the left to the right to see the Today Widgets.

The Today Widgets

This area is a highly configurable view of your favourite applications almost useful applications. I have set mine up with Launch Centre at the top followed by Fantastical, Weather, Batteries, Workflow, Reminders, Drafts, OmniFocus, Copied, Authy and there’s an option to edit. There’s a huge number of applications with these widgets available giving you quick access to doing specific favourite actions with your iOS applications.

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I particularly like the recent update to the Drafts application. The initial view gives you four icons. The + to start a new draft, the clipboard symbol which opens up drafts for you ready to type, a microphone symbol which opens up a view into the application where you can dictate your new note. Then there is the icon which looks like a chopping block with an arrow pointing into the cut. This icon will take you to the list of notes you already have in the application. My favourite of these icons is the dictation and it’s a fantastic way to get text into your device. It’s a much better way of using Siri to take notes and it just keeps on listening. None of this stopping and starting that you get when using the Siri from the keyboard. There is a pause button and then when you finished creating your notes you just tap on the word create. Every now and then it puts in three equal signs and in markdown this gives you a horizontal line. So maybe there is a limit to how much you can dictate into this dictation window in Drafts. What makes Drafts so amazing is the huge number of actions. You can take the text and post into social networks such as Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You could send it off to a reminder or to your Day One journalling application. Use text to create a new to-do in OmniFocus. It’s also possible to save it off to other notetaking applications such as to Evernote. Send it off to Dropbox or append to a text file in iCloud Drive. You can make your own actions or you can visit the action directory to download actions created by other Drafts users. That’s talking about just one of the today widgets and there’s lots more you can do.

Lock screen - Today app

Getting your stuff done

The today widgets area is all about getting quick access to your most used and most useful applications. Some of these you don’t even have to open the application from the widget to get the information you need. IOS 10 has made changes in the basic operation of how these widgets are shown on the lock screen making it more likely that you’ll use the functionality offered.

iOS Today Widgets

My most personal computer

I can tell you for sure that with the combination of the iPhone 7 and iOS 10, the way I use use my most personal computer has changed. Drafts is getting a lot of use and I’m making use of 3D Touch to quickly get into the most useful aspects of a number of applications. It’s becoming more about actions and getting things done with my iOS device than it has been about what applications are able to offer. Love it when I use the Swype keyboard in Drafts for quick text entry and still I have fast access to dictation from a keyboard action. Got that from the Action Directory.

Drafts App

Setting up the Apple Watch with the iPhone

As part of the setup process for the new phone I had to pair the watch from the old phone. It was kind of like having to set up the Apple Watch from new. When I paired it with the new iPhone all of the health data was still there. So all of the data I’d been collecting all the time I’ve been using the watch wasn’t lost. There was a sigh of relief considering some of the other movement of data from the old phone to the new phone hasn’t gone quite as well as I thought.

Apple Watch OS 3

This upgrade I did before I got the new iPhone 7. I didn’t really have a lot of time to get into it, but it is a huge change. One of the things I do an awful lot with the Apple Watch is to control what I’m listening to in my podcast listening app of choice. I was previously using Overcast and I recently changed to Pocket Casts. It doesn’t really matter which podcast app I’m using but with Apple Watch the now playing control has moved into the Apple Watch Dock. Because of this change I now have one extra tap to do to set pause or play on the now playing setting. I had the muscle memory of swapping from the bottom of the Apple Watch screen to get to the glances. This got me straight into the Now Playing control. Now I have to press the button on the side of the watch, and then have to tap on whichever application I want to use. The one I want is usually at the front but I still have to do one extra tap in order to do what I want to do. In practice it doesn’t really take much extra time, but it has taken some getting used to. Still loving my Apple Watch.

Getting the old iPhone ready to sell

When you’re getting an old iPhone ready to sell you have to do the job properly. Half of the job is partly done already with having to unpair the watch from the phone. You also have to turn off the find my friends or find my phone – One of the two things. All that is left to do to finish the process is to go into General in the iPhone preferences and tell it to do a full reset. This makes the phone completely free to use by some other person.

It only took me a couple of days to have the old phone sold to a work colleague. The had taken about a week to decide whether it was going to buy it or not and there was much haggling over the price. I chose a price which was reasonable as in it was cheaper than you would find on a site like eBay. The advantage for me was that I wasn’t going to have the hassle of having to deal with somebody I didn’t know. I didn’t have the hassle of having to spend the time setting up the eBay sales process. There was none of the bother to package the old phone into a box and take it to the post office and send it to someplace. I also didn’t have to pay the fees for the sale of the device on eBay or whatever other online store. It worked out that I was able to sell it for an amount which covered 1/3 of the price of my new device. I still had the box the iPhone 6 came in and I put in the charger which came from the new iPhone 7. I couldn’t find the original which was of the same type. It’s the small one which has the advantage of being easy to carry around but is not one that I tended to use anyway, so no worries!

Posted in iPad.

Managing Photos in Photos App

This morning I spent time with the application Photos and I was really quite impressed with the way I could have it find faces for me. The more faces you confirm as a named person the better it gets finding them. Because of this you need to go back to it a couple of times and allow it to look for more photos within your photo albums. It is funny sometimes at the mistakes it makes and what it thinks might be the face you are looking for. Most times it is very accurate and you only have to do a few clicks on the button to say this is not that specific person.

Hours can disappear

It can be a time suck to spend this time looking for things within your photo albums. I have over 18,000 photos in the application and because of that I could spend hours and hours and still only scratch the surface.

Better search facilities

I have noticed that the search facilities within the Photos application has got much better. When you put in a search term it asks if it’s a keyword or a word with in the description or something else before it goes off and finds whatever it is you’re looking for.

Machine Learning in Photos

There was talk from Apple to say that there was going to be some machine learning within the Photos application. This is where the computer looks for things in your photos and identifies objects. Later when you do a search for something such as horses, or beaches or trees it knows what to show you. I haven’t been able to confirm this is how it works yet but I’ll keep looking.

Keeping all the images in one place

The idea is that I’m going to keep all of the images in one place. I’ll keep hold of the original photos in the photo library. When I work on these photos and create a new images based upon the originals I’ll bring the new images back into photos as well. This means I’ll be able to use keywording and have better search abilities all within one app.

Specialised Albums

I often have images that I work with and create art from to make completely new pictures. I’ll be able to take up these images and keep them in specific albums. I can make an album where I have finished HDR photos. I’ll have another album that will be just for things that come from iColorama.Then there are other applications are use such as Affinity, Intensify Pro and Topaz Impression.Of course, there will be times when I won’t know exactly where to put these images because I might have worked on them in multiple applications.Maybe what I’ll have to do is to have an album in which I put all of my artistic creations. I can then use keywords so that I know which applications of use to create those images.

Using iColorama on the Phone

Posted in iPad.

iPhone 7 Plus Ordered! One Week to Wait

I didn’t have to think about it for too long or too hard. The iPhone I’ve got now is two years old and it’s time I upgraded. I had already put €500 into Apple gift cards which I was using as a way to save for the next thing. This could have been for this new iPhone 7 Plus or it could have been for a new iMac. In any case, I shall now have to start putting some money aside for the next desktop computer.

iPhone 7 Plus

Gold Colour 128 GB iPhone 7 Plus

This is the model I’ve gone for. I know that the new special one is the black and shiny or maybe the black and matte finish, but I just wanted something different from before. Never had a gold iPhone, nor ever thought I would want to buy one. I will be using the phone inside of a case and so probably it won’t make a lot of difference to me anyway. Unless I get a clear protective case it’s not going to be in view, whatever colour I get.

Going to Barcelona to fetch it

Gold iPhone 7 Plus

I thought I would go to the store to fetch iPhone 7 Plus because I wanted to see if there might be some sort of buzz at the store itself. I don’t suppose there will be somehow, but I’ll be glad to get my hands on the phone early in the morning. I won’t have the hassle of having to wait for the useless courier services to arrive and possibly missing me because I’m going to be at work. It’s not going to take me too long to get to Barcelona and back in the morning. I’ll get there, grab my new iPhone 7 Plus and maybe do a little bit of setting up while I’m there. I can make use of their Wi-Fi to get things started and I’ll have a cup of tea before I head back home again. I don’t have to be at work until 2 o’clock so it’s not gonna be a problem in terms of time next Friday morning.

Colours iPhone 7 Plus

Slightly Messy Ordering Process

I started the ordering process on the iPad because it is a large screen and possibly better to do an order of the iPhone 7 Plus. The difficulty was with adding my Apple gift cards to the order. It was asking for a pin number for each of the gift cards. That was going to take some time to type in each one of those, which is something like a 16 or 20 pin number. I had four or five cards to do that for, so it would have taken too long. There is a button to use the camera to scan codes and it didn’t scan the QR code on the wallet app from the iPhone. It wouldn’t scan the text of the pin number either. So then I had to resort to doing the order on the iPhone.

So I opened up the iPhone and the weird thing was that the Apple Store hadn’t been updated to being open ready for business for the iPhone 7 Plus. Strange because I had already been using it for two to five minutes on the iPad. After another minute or two it did become live. I’ll just have to learn how to be more patient.

Bright Screen iPhone 7 Plus

I didn’t have the Apple Store app properly set up on the iPhone. It was set to the US store rather than the Spanish store. So I had to go into the account and make changes to that and check to make sure that the bank details/visa card was all correct. As soon as I had done that I was able to go back into the front page and choose the bag containing the order I had already made on the iPad. It was then extremely simple and as easy as falling off a log to do the payment combining my Apple gift cards and the rest from the Visa. It was a little bit annoying having to put in my iCloud password two or three times. Why wouldn’t it let me use my fingerprint?

Things learned along the way

It seems it’s a good idea to do a test run beforehand to make sure everything is set up in the apps you plan to use. This is especially the case if you want to make sure you get in the first wave of orders so you have the device you want as soon as it becomes available.

Making use of the Apple gift cards is a good idea if you want to save for your next purchase. You just have to remember you can only do the order from the iPhone (unless you’re prepared to manually type in the pin codes for each of your Apple gift cards). It makes sense that the Apple Wallet application is only going to be available on one device. We are talking about money here and if there was lag in between the amount being available on different devices then some unscrupulous people might try to use the same gift card twice.

It seemed to make sense to me to try to do the order first of all on the iPad because it’s larger and perhaps easier due to the size. In the end I found it simpler and no trouble at all to do the ordering from the iPhone. The size of the screen you’re working on really isn’t an issue.

What to do next

I really like the case I have, to protect my current iPhone and I’m wondering if there is a version of it for the iPhone 7 Plus. I’ll have to go back through my Amazon orders to find the brand name for the case and have a look and see what’s available. On the other hand, as I have this nice new gold colour (gold is new to me anyway) maybe I’ll see if I can get a transparent case for iPhone 7 Plus. What I like about the case I have already is it has a kickstand at the back of it. It also has another part of the case which you slip the main part into. The whole thing then can be clipped onto your belt or trousers or wherever. There are occasions when I’m not wearing trousers suitable for putting the phone into the pocket, so this clip-on thing is quite useful.

Roll on Next Week

Barcelona Apple Store - La Maquinista

I still think I’m kind of crazy for picking the phone up in the Apple Store. But I don’t get out very often and I’m kind of looking forward to it. At least I can be sure I’ll have the iPhone 7 Plus in my hand probably eight hours to 24-hour’s sooner than I would otherwise. The courier services here are useless and my house can be difficult to find sometimes.

Posted in iPad.

Apple Watch Health Benefits – Lose Weight

One of the best things about using the Apple watch is to let it record your health data and the Apple Watch health benefits. It encourages exercise for 30 minutes per day, burn up a set number of calories and to spend time standing up so you’re not sitting down all the time. I have the activity app set as a complication on the face of the Modular watch face. I can see how the rings are going towards daily completion. The red ring is to show how many calories you burn during the day. The green ring is for exercise and counts how many minutes of your recommended 30 minutes per day you’ve done. Then there is the blue ring which shows how many times you’ve stood for at least one minute during the hour throughout the day. The first screen you look at shows the three rings together in one view. Swipe up from that to show more information. View the number of active calories you’ve burned, the total number of steps you’ve taken and total distance. I’m just looking at mine now and I can see I’ve walked a total distance of 1.26 km so far this morning. 11,831 steps by the end of the day and 8.76 km walked. Phew…!

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Sliding to get more information

Slide your finger across the screen from right to the left to move to the next set of information. First one gives the single view of the calories burned, slide up from that to see a graph of how those calories were burned during the day. With the same swiping movement from right-to-left move to the next screen to see your exercise ring. This shows when you have exercised to the level of at least a brisk walking pace. Once again if you slide upwards you get to see a graph of how that exercise happened during the day. Looking at my watch now I can see I got most exercise from going out walking the dog at about 10 o’clock. The next screen to the right will show how times standing for at least a minute in the hour during the day. Sitting down all the time is not healthy. Many people now recommend using a standing or walking desk. If you’ve been sitting down for most of the hour, a reminder will pop up at 10 minutes to the top of the hour to stand up. The watch will give a little beep when you have completed that one minute of being upright and upstanding. Well done, give yourself a pat on the back.

Apple Watch health benefits- Looking at the data collected

All of this information is also available in the iPhone Activity application. In the application you get information on how you’ve done during the day. Excellent to see how it stacks up over time. If I want to look back at my performance on a previous day I can check that out. In the achievements section you’ll see things like the badge for completing a perfect week of exercise or a perfect month of exercise. There’s always something to aim for to help reach your goal of physical perfection. There’s a section where it will show workouts completed. I haven’t been doing this for a little while because I forgot about it.

For the best Apple Watch health benefits keep a log of your exercise regime with the health app. I can see that in February of this year I did 23 workouts and most were outdoor walks. Seems I’m always out walking the dog! I must use these workouts again to return to the mindset of keeping fit. It’s also possible to filter the view of workouts. If I want to look at just the outdoor cycling, it’s possible. It’s possible to get more information about the workout. The app shows the number of active calories burned and the total number of calories used for the workout. View the total distance, average pace and your average heart rate for the exercise. The workout information either comes from the activity application or from other applications like the pedometer application. It’s easy for me to see I get a much better workout by going for a cycle ride. My average heart rate is up to 123 bpm. Obviously that’s suggesting cycling is better than walking for exercise.

Activity/+/+ and Pedometer/+/+

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Activity/+/+ is another way of looking at your activity rings from the Apple watch. I liked this application at first. Not so sure there’s much to be gained from way the information is displayed. There is less information overall, but you get a different view on the statistics. Tap on the statistics button in the top right hand corner to see the statistics for the move, exercise and stand rings. It shows you an average of the number of calories burned daily. It tells you when was your best day and how many calories you’ve burned on that day. Learn how many times you reached the goal. In my statistics I can see I’ve reached the goal 428 days out of 497 days. My best of consecutive days of achieving the goal is 301 days. Woo hoo only another 64 days to have completed a whole year of reaching the move goal. For Apple Watch health benefits maybe this application is worth having to augment the data viewable in the Apple Activity application.

Using Pedometer++

Pedometer – Counting steps

Another application available from the same developer is called Pedometer/+/+. This is a free application with advertising and is worth having for better information about the number of steps for the day in a graph. Get info about the number of floors have climbed. This works on any incline and not just by using the steps to go from one floor in a building to another. So walking up a hill gives some climbed steps in the graph. I like the red colour in the graph when starting the day and haven’t done many steps. At a certain point during the day it will change to an orange colour and only turn green when you’ve got past your daily step goal. My daily step goal is 10,000 steps and I can change that number in the settings for the application. Also in the settings for the application you can tell it to merge Apple Watch data. This is useful so you don’t double count the number of steps taken. I can start a walking session directly from the app to watch and it will record my heart beats per minute, calories and the kilometres walked. This information will find its way into the Apple activity application and give answers to questions about Apple Watch health benefits.

What’s the point of exercise?

The main point is to be healthy and secondary is to not be a lazy fat slob. It’s fine to record all of your exercise, but to do the job properly, also record the amount you eat. Losing weight is simple and easy – remember these four words – EAT LESS MOVE MORE. My problem is biscuits, they are full of fat and sugar. One big and successful move with that problem was just to reduce my ration by one half. Instead of having two biscuits with a cup of tea I only have one. No! I don’t drink more cups of tea during the day to make up for it either. My next move will be to half that ration again. Either I will eat half a biscuit per cup of tea or I will just have one biscuit every other cup of tea. I took the same approach with the food on my plate. I made the meals half the size they used to be. You’d be surprised at the level of exercise needed to work off the calories in one biscuit. Much easier to not eat the biscuit than spend the whole day exercising to pay for it.

Other health applications worth looking at

When I was fully into losing weight, I started by using an application called Moves. It did a great job of tracking exercise during the day and I think it gave extra encouragement along the way. Can’t remember everything about the app now because I’ve since changed to using an application called Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal. I connect this application up to the health application on my Apple iPhone. I track the food I eat, the exercise taken, weight, water drunk and my status. The status is where you add a progress photo and show how skinny you now look. Easy to record food intake because often you consume the same combinations of food together. Such as tea and biscuits or yoghurt and muesli. When I add the cup of tea, it will offer to add the biscuit to go with it. Easy to add a new food during the day not eaten before, scan the barcode and add to the list of foods. Later when you add the same meal on a different day, choose from the list.

Setting up a target weight

Apple Watch Health BenefitsSet up a starting weight and add a goal weight and this will set the number of calories per day. Connect devices to record your steps, I set it to track steps from the Apple Watch. It does a little sum starting with target number of calories minus calories for food eaten plus the calories for exercise. Basically, it takes into account the need to eat more on a day with a lot of calorie burning. So at the end of the day mark your recording activities and calories consumed record as being complete. The application gives an approximation of what you would weigh after a specific number of weeks if doing the same thing more or less each day. On the same page they take the chance to offer a premium service you can pay for. Get advanced tools, better analysis and no advertising in the application. It’s going well at the moment in free mode. I don’t need to start paying anything yet.

Map My Fitness apps

Apple Watch health benefits

There is a suite of other applications to link into this same application from the same company. Such as MapMyWalk+, MapMyRide+ and MapMyFitness+ these are all useful if you want to map a variety of activities and you can choose from running, walking, road cycling, mountain bike and more. They haven’t included cycling with an electric bike, yet. I work hard when I’m cycling on the electric bike, using the motor to make me go faster rather than only let me cycle easier. You’ll find a huge list of activity types including table tennis, shovelling and even wrestling. There’s something for nearly everybody. The brilliant thing about these apps with map in the title, is you do get a map. You can choose from routes you rode before or you can record a new one. Handy applications to help you keep your body in good shape! Use the social element within the applications to send messages to your social networks about what you’re up to. The Strava app is popular with cyclists. There are some great Apple Watch health benefits used in conjunction with the fantastic health apps on the iPhone. We will all be as fit as fiddles.

Strava app

Posted in iPad.

iPad Productivity Tips for Entering Text into iOS

iPad Productivity Tips

I think of my iPad as a proper computer. It is something on which to get work done. It’s a good thing to consider how you’re going to get your words into the device. Due to the mobility of the device I use it in various situations so what works well in one place is not so good in another. I use my iPad when I’m sitting in bed or lounging on the sofa. When I’m taking a break at work and sitting in the passenger seat of my car, that’s a good place to pick up my iPad. Sometimes I’m standing up and using the iPad, perhaps to send a quick message or create a note. So taking ergonomics into consideration, it’s a brilliant idea to have a number of different ways to write into the iPad. Let’s have a look at which is best for which job. iPad productivity tips

  • On-screen keyboard
  • A paired Bluetooth keyboard
  • Siri dictation
  • Handwriting recognition

The other thing to think about is whether you actually need to have words on a page. Perhaps one of the best Productivity Tips would be to record an audio or video message to communicate whatever you have to say.

On-screen keyboard

I like using the on-screen keyboard on the iPad. Some people think that it’s weird to type on glass and that it would slow them down. This is not necessarily going to be the case because of the predictive text. Predictive text is amazing because it means you can type in a whole word, however long it might be with just one tap. You just have to train yourself to keep an eye on the extra keyboard row to see if one of the three offerings is the word you’re looking for. It is also possible for the iPad to give you auto correction. This is not always a good idea as you can end up with some weird looking sentences that have no meaning whatsoever. There is also the auto capitalisation which saves you some taps on the keyboard for the shift key. Apple have done a super job of giving us a keyboard to help us find our inner poet or blog master. For the longer writings you will no doubt want to use a laptop or better still an iMac. You could write long pieces on the iPad though and especially the iPad Pro and with the right set up be quite contented with the process.

The onscreen keyboard of the iPad Pro in the app Ulysses

iPad Productivity Tips

 

Adding extra keyboards

There are a number of useful extra on screen keyboards to bolster your productivity. There are keyboards giving you access to emoji icons in case you want to communicate like a teenager. The application Copied gives you quick access to the last few things you put onto your clipboard. I also have an application called Hemingboard which is a fancy thesaurus. When I have a word selected and I want to change it for something more appropriate I can swap keyboards. Hemingboard gives me synonyms and antonyms as well as rhyming words. You never know when you might want to be poetical. The other keyboard I’ve just started using is MyScript – Stylus. This one lets me use my Apple Pencil to do handwriting onto the screen and have that awful scrawl turned into editable text. More about that later in these iPad productivity tips.

A Physical Keyboard – iPad productivity tips

For some people there’s nothing better than using a mechanical/physical keyboard. There are iPad productivity tips options suggesting type with our favourite keyboards connected to the iPad. Ergonomics comes into the equation once more and depending on the keyboards you’ll have to arrange how you set yourself up to do your typing. One thing I have found is that if you’re going to use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, it works better to have one specifically for using with the iPad or iPhone. If it’s already paired to a Mac then getting it to pair with your iPad can sometimes be a bit of a pain. You have to make sure it is fully disconnected from the other device first before you can set it up.

Sitting is bad for you and having a set up so you can stand up and write could be great for your health. Have a table at the right height and plonk the iPad on top with a keyboard. Maybe even go a stage further and have a walking desk so you clock up some kilometres as you write.

Bluetooth Keyboard options

I bought the Microsoft Bluetooth Universal Mobile Keyboard. It’s a great little keyboard which has an integrated stand to put your device at the correct angle. It does take a little bit of getting used to a smaller keyboard if you’re used to working with a full-size one. I bought a version that had a UK English layout and I could use it with an Android device or with Windows if I was crazy enough. The keyboard is light and easy to carry around and well worth having. If I was planning to do a lot more typing then I’d rather use the standard Apple Bluetooth keyboard instead. Handy set of iPad productivity tips regards using external keyboards with your iPad.

iPad Productivity Tips

iPad Pro Keyboards

I’ve only had a look at one of these and a little tryout in one of the Apple stores. It seems like a good way to have a keyboard connected to your iPad. It connects to the iPad using the special connector and you don’t need to worry about charging the batteries of a keyboard. The main problem I have with this keyboard is that it’s so expensive. My preferred method of inputting data into the computer is by using dictation. So I’m not likely to spend a huge amount of money to give me keyboard input.

Another keyboard to look at would be the Logitech which gives you backlighting on the keys. This can be particularly useful if you like to type in dark places or at night time. This does mean you have to charge the battery more often and it does weigh 725 g. If you’re going to go down this route then you might want to consider just buying one of the new MacBooks instead. It could be lighter than this combination of iPad Pro and an external keyboard. It’s all down to personal choice, the way you work with your devices and what software you like to use. The red version of the Logitech keyboard and cover does look rather nice.

Dictation – One of the best iPad Productivity Tips Ever!

Siri Dictation

Siri is there for answering all your questions, however daft they may be. Siri will also give you fantastic dictation capabilities for your iPad or iPhone. I have used Siri dictation to write a 1000 word article using my iPhone. It was the device I had with me at the time, so was perfect for the job. I was using it over 4G Internet connection so it was fast in operation. I found it incredibly accurate and efficient to write this way. It’s best to write your sentences two or three at a time and then look back at what Siri has written for you. If there’s a word it’s got wrong you only have to double tap on the word and replace it. I like this way of working and I do this quite often. You quickly get used to saying the punctuation commands like comma and the rest. Any sort of dictation is so much faster than using a keyboard of any sort even when you need to go back and make one or two corrections. In any case, when you’re typing you should also be editing your written work when you’ve finished. You don’t have to consider the time you spend editing after dictation as something extra, time wise in the writing process.

Dictation into Ulysses App

 

iPad Productivity Tips - Siri dictation

Now and then when using Siri dictation you will get back strange conversions of your speech. Don’t let this colour your view on how well the Siri dictation works. It just happens from time to time and the next time you work with Siri you will once again be surprised how well it converts speech to text. The good thing about using dictation is that you will get much better spelling. You do however have to watch out for the homonyms (words that sound the same, but mean different things)

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Dragon Dictation

400x40000bbGood iPad productivity tips – Dragon dictation on the Mac is absolutely amazing. I have just ordered the new version which is coming out the 1st of September this year. The new version is supposed to work faster than ever before and incorporate deep learning technology. This means it’s supposed to learn from the way you speak and the words you use, better than previous versions. I do most of my writing this way and it’s the only reason I would consider buying a Mac laptop to use as a writing machine. There are ways you can use the Dragon dictation on a mobile device such as your iPhone or iPad. Nuance have an application called Dragon Anywhere which I haven’t been able to try. This is because it’s not available in the country where I live. It’s only available if you live in the USA or the UK. It does work out quite expensive because you have to pay monthly for the service. I think it’s a better solution to use an audio application such as Twisted Wave and then to use transcription with Dragon for Mac. If you’ve already paid out for the Mac version and maybe upgraded a couple of times you’re not really going to want to pay out for a monthly service as well. Transcription of audio files works pretty well although I’m not quite as comfortable dictating in that way. I like to say what I have to say, write what I have to write and see the words appearing on the screen in front of me.

 

iPad Productivity Tips - Dragon Dictatioin

Dragon Dictation Application – there is another Dragon dictation application which doesn’t require a monthly fee. This application has been around for a while from Nuance and works pretty good. For best accuracy and performance use an external microphone, but you can also use the built-in microphone on the iPhone or iPad. This is so long as you hold the device so the microphone is close to your mouth. The first time I tried out this application was a couple of years ago and I was incredibly impressed. I was sitting outside in the street at a cafe and I could hear machines working in streets nearby. Despite this, the Dragon Dictation application worked stupendously well. Even better news is the app is free.

Unedited text from Dragon Dictation on iOS

Testing using the Dragon dictation recording application. I normally prefer to do this on the Mac but this works pretty well as well. You don’t get to see the words as they appear on screen and when you finish recording you tap the screen to stop. It is best to do this, say a few sentences at a time and then look back at how well the software has converted your words into text. The first editing option is to select a word by tapping on it and you have the option to delete it. If you need to do further editing you can bring up a keyboard and get right into the nitty-gritty of sorting out where the dictation service didn’t get it quite right. This section of text was dictated into the iPad and it didn’t get any words wrong at all. When you finish doing your dictation you can take the words and copy them to the clipboard or send them to one or two other places using the small icon in the top right hand corner. The results from this Dragon dictation application on the iPad is nothing short of impressive.

Handwriting recognition

Another choice available for entering text on the iPad is handwriting. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I can see occasions when it could be useful. I’m surprised the software can read my writing at all. I am writing this section with the Apple Pencil on the iPad and I’m learning as I go. I can split text and get rid of spaces as well as using the predictive text to help out when necessary. It’s possible to go back to earlier in the text to make charges when I spot a mistake later. I’m even deleting single letters to make corrections. I’m getting better with this type of text entry the more I use it. Speech recognition is much more useful because of the speed of entry. Can’t always have a chat with my computer, so using this does have its place. iPad productivity tips – This is being written using the MyScript Stylus keyboard option. I’m using it in the Ulysses writers software and it is available in whatever app where you can swap to another third party keyboard.

Turning handwriting into editable text

 

 

converting handwriting

MyScript Stylus

MyScript StylusI heard about this one from Alison Sheridan of the Nosillacast Podcast. I thought such software was a daft idea at first. So I thought why not give it a try and see for myself. I now think it could be useful in certain occasions. This is a keyboard add on which means you can use it in all your apps requiring a keyboard. After seeing what this could do I downloaded other apps from the same developer. When you have terrible handwriting you have to train yourself to write a little neater. Even with a looping script MyScript Stylus will do a great job of recognising the words. You write into an area where the keyboard sits usually and there are keys for Return, backspace and spacebar. Scroll with two fingers to see words just converted – Sometimes you have to fix mistakes. You might want to split, join, overwrite letters or words and there are two ways to delete stuff. There are reminders in the help section to show you how you do this editing with gestures. There are other settings you access from within the app. I’ll keep this 3rd party keyboard around for a while and see how much I use it. I also downloaded the application called MyScript Stack which is similar but not quite the same. You have to print each of the letters individually and they disappear from the screen quickly. It might be suitable if you write in this fashion anyway but it’s far better if you can write with cursive text if that’s what you’re used to.

There’s a help animation for the gestures

MyScript Sty;us

 

iPad Productivity tips

 

 

 

iPad productivity tips – Memo for handwriting recognition

I downloaded this application after seeing it in the list of other applications by the same developer as MyScript Stylus. So I started doing some handwriting onto the page and I wasn’t too impressed at first. Then I saw I could also add photos and I thought that was quite handy. There is also a tool for selecting what you have on the page. Once you have something selected you can export it out as an image or as text. If you export it out as text then it goes to an online service which does a pretty good job of changing it from handwritten scribble into editable text. That’s just for the part selected but it’s also possible to export the whole document. It’s not bad software for writing on the iPad and doing it with handwriting. Myscript Memo App

Handwriting into Memo

iPad Productivity tips - memo

Converted by the software

I’m not so keen on the way it only works in portrait mode. The conversion isn’t anywhere near as fast or as accurate as when using Nebo or the MyScript Keyboard. I will not keep this app around after I’ve finished this testing for this article. It does have a wrist guard so you don’t make marks in places where you don’t want them. Rotating and positioning photos is OK, but there are better apps to take notes like that. I’d recommend Nebo instead if you have the iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. Just noticed there is a personal dictionary option for the app to better recognise words. Not sure why that would be needed. It is possible to export all your memo notes to a MyScript file. I tried the Open In option and it didn’t do anything at all.

The selection tool in Memo

Just select a portion of your handwriting on the note to be converted if you don’t want all of your writing. You will have to wait a short while for the app to send off the image to the online service and send back the converted text.

Converting a selection

iPad productivity tips – Nebo

Nebo  is another handwriting recognition application. I like the way it works. You get a sheet to write on and the text gets sent to the server to be converted as you are writing it. You can see if your writing has been converted to the correct word or spelling in the conversion preview. As you see what you’ve written turn into editable text, the conversion preview lets export just that section. It’s easy to erase a word previously converted to text then write the word that is supposed to be there. I would suggest starting with the tutorial to familiarise yourself with the workings of Nebo. It will show you how to do lists, headings, highlighted words and how to delete letters, words and spaces. You’ll soon be up and running if you follow some of these iPad productivity tips.

Nebo App

iPad productivity tips

 

I prefer this app to the Memo app as you get extra capabilities. If you need mathematic symbols or diagrams then this is the app to use. I love the diagraming tools. Do the rough sketch of your diagram to have the shapes converted to circles, squares and triangles with completely straight lines connecting the elements. You put the diagrams into a container on the page meant just for diagrams. This way the app doesn’t get confused with what you are trying to do. Put words into the shapes you create if you want to. Select the container to copy or cut it to the clipboard or to convert anything not already converted. I successfully copied one of these diagrams I made this application and pasted it into the application Book Creator.

Diagram from Nebo pasted into Book Creator

iPad productivity tips - Book Creator

Nebo writing and drawing just works with the Apple Pencil and doesn’t work with your fingers. This is good because it means it doesn’t waste some of the space by having a hand rest guard. You can change the colour of the text you’re writing with. When the writing has been converted into text you get text in the same colour you’re using with the pencil.

The text appears on the page above your writing as you write. You still have to click on it to do the conversion. When it is converted the handwriting goes away and you just have the text. Or you can just copy converted text into the clipboard to put somewhere else in another app.

I like this application and I’m going to keep it around. I see it as quite useful to create diagrams as well as for converting handwriting into editable text. I might not be using it too often because I do prefer to create text with dictation. It’s a good thing to have the application there for the choice though. While the application is good for the handwriting conversion it may also be used to create stand-alone documents. The other export option is as HTML, but as far as I can make out that doesn’t really work. When exporting to another text based application it just comes in as a gobbledygook.

 

Posted in iPad Apps.

Apps to do one specialist job well

There are benefits to having an app that does one thing and performs that one purpose very well. The advantage is found in the level of detail given to performing that one specialist task. The developer of the application has considered in depth what’s needed to do a good job of that particular process. You’ll often find facilities and capabilities within these type of applications that you wouldn’t have thought were possible. When you’re working with applications in this way on your iPad or iPhone you have to consider your device as the one single tool box. Within that toolbox you can pick up and put down whichever tool to complete a series of actions to get the larger job done.

tray tool box DSC_2391

Tools in the toolbox

There will be occasions with some tasks where it’s nice to have everything all in one place. This saves you from having to remember what tool does which job. Sometimes it’s good to have everything in one application so processes can be done in the proper order to be the most effective. Sometimes one action will have an effect on other actions depending on which one is done first. This can be particularly true when working with images and you have a particular endpoint in mind. It is like when working on a photo with a filter and you put another filter on top. The second filter affects the photo as it was changed by the first filter. swap the two filters around and you get another finished version of your photo. If you do need to work with more than one of the tools from your iOS toolbox you might want to consider making notes as you go. This way if you have to repeat a process you will remember what it was you did the first time around.

Making use of the share menu

Using the share menu is the trick to using more than one application to get your job done. Do whatever you need to do in application number one and then use the share menu to send it to the next application to complete the next task. You can save things as you go which will be great if you need to go back a step or two. This is most definitely a good idea when working with photos in order to create a finished piece of art. Part of the process involves experimentation and seeing what happens if you do this or that to the image. Many applications have an undo button. So you can go back a couple of steps or more if necessary. If you’ve been working with more than one application then go back to the previous stage of the art process. It’s easy to make more than one version at any point in the creative process. For example, you could find it better to go back and use a darker version of whatever you’re working with because it blends better with the next process.

Comparison of Fused with other general art applications

The application Fused has a trick up its sleeve which makes it worth including in your iOS art creation toolbox. The best thing it does is to let you combine video and still photos to create something similar to a cinema graph. This is a bit like those photos you see in the Harry Potter movies where the subjects are alive within the photograph. When you’re looking at a photograph and some part of it moves and you weren’t expecting it, it makes it a lot more interesting. A video made in Fused on Instagram.

Which app do you use?

I like the watercolour brushes in Tayasui Sketchbook. Using Pixelmator for iPad is great for the fine detail when you zoom right in. The apps like Pixelmator and Procreate are brilliant because of the support for the Apple Pencil. I could use an app just because it has the blend mode I need for the artwork in progress. The App Over is just the job for adding text on top of photos. Fused has a good mix of blend modes and controls along with the video capabilities, but doesn’t have the Apple Pencil. When I want to erase a section of the image I can do that better in ProCreate or Pixelmator.

iColorama – Swiss Army Knife of Art Apps

iColorama art app

iColorama has a huge set of tools and doesn’t do multiple layers. You could do most of what you want to do in this Swiss Army Knife of the iOS art applications. I am not so keen on the drawing tools or the slightly cramped interface. You have to have all the menus to get at the power of the application, maybe they could be made smaller to get out of the way. iColorama does so much that I often forget where all the tools are and what they all can do. It has good masking controls and it is also possible to zoom into your drawing or painting. To discover the range of what you can do it’s a good idea to check out some of the recipes artists have used to achieve various effects. The Facebook group is busy trying techniques out and spreading the information on how they got to the finished art product. It is one way to quickly learn iColorma.

What are the problems you might run into?

The biggest problem you might run into is the size of the image you can work with. Maybe with one of the application do you want to use the maximum size is smaller than the size you’re working with on the other applications. This means it won’t be good if you want to blend two images together of different sizes. Generally you want to keep the image you’re working on at the highest resolution available.

There are so many different applications for doing a specific task that you might forget which one is the best for the job you want to do. I imagine most artists will have a set of favourites of apps to complete tasks in just the same way as they might have a favourite painting brush.

brushes

Nebo  is a super app for converting handwriting to text and I love the diagramming tool.

 

Posted in iPad.

Improve learning techniques with technology

I’m still learning things because I am a lifelong learner. I’m looking to improve learning techniques with technology because that’s the way I roll. Diving deep in the subject is one way of making sure you learn things fully. So if you’re learning to speak a new language then you should go to that country and be fully immersed. This means you go there without a friend so you have to make new friends who speak the new language your learning. No falling back onto using your present language for any of the time while you are in your new home. I’ve done this in Germany, France and Spain and when the need is there to communicate you do really want to work harder and improve. The deep dive into a subject like coding and programming you immerse yourself by committing to a specific amount of time per day. You can do the same sort of thing with your language learning when you’re back in your home country. Set a reminder in your Calendar application or in the Reminders application. This way you can create a habit and a daily learning streak. This is another way to improve learning techniques with technology. There are applications available to implicitly create habits and to count your daily streak for your habit. You’d be amazed in what you can accomplish by setting up such a system.

Memrise App

Cool app for learning new languages. I started with the web version of this service but it’s always nice to have it packaged into an application.

Memrise

Improved learning – you’re a student and it is a basic requirement

When I was a student in school and even when I was a teacher in schools it seems to me the how-to of learning is not covered. Teachers have expectations of students just following the instructions and doing the work. Students are expected to have a muscle memory or kind of just know what is needed to be a good student. I sometimes think it would be great for students to be taught how to make the best of their talents as learners. When learning something new pupils of the class would know it’s necessary to review material in class. This is the point of the homework. The tasks set is not just for testing purposes to see if something was learned. Homework tasks are for providing a repetition of the content. This is to make sure the content goes towards long-term memory rather than being immediately forgotten. This sort of repetition need to be done at intervals such as one day later, a week later and a couple of weeks later or maybe a month. We can improve learning techniques with technology, using it to schedule subject matter reviews. It will be possible with an application like OmniFocus to set a timetable whenever you have a new set of information to be learned. If students were to know why and how these methods would work they might be inclined to try them. Teachers just setting homework and going over things in class is just kind of hoping for the best. Maybe some schools do tell the students about the learning process and how to be successful as a student.

Lifelong learner – Always improving the mind

Many people when they finish school vow they will never ever read another book. Being forced to do it for so many years while being in education has the possibility of turning you off learning. I have spoken to people who are delighted to tell me that they can’t remember the last time they read a book. The most reading they would do would be to perhaps read a newspaper or more likely these days read something on Facebook or Twitter. These people probably don’t even like to read the operating instructions for a new device or machine like a washing machine in the home. This is why some technology has to be made idiot proof.

The world has changed and the job market has changed with it it is now necessary to be a lifelong learner. Being able to learn new things is absolutely vital to keep yourself relevant in the job market. It doesn’t have to be that difficult now we can improve learning techniques with technology. I’m learning how to code, do Swift programming with an application called Tapcoding. It has made a game of the learning process. You get access to further modules by completing a streak of a certain number of days. This way the application knows you are ready to move onto the next module in the coding process. I’m surprised it doesn’t also have a way of not letting you move onto the next stage unless you get a level of competency. A minimum number of questions right in the tests. What I do is to repeat the module if I get too many questions wrong. Or I will repeat the module if I get a question wrong and I don’t understand why my answers were incorrect. I also go back and repeat modules if when I’m working in a subsequent section I can’t remember one of the previous concepts from the lessons. It seems to be a plan is working finally on the way my brain works and it’s starting to make some sense in my head.

Posted in iPad.