Although the iPad has been out for two months now we are still waiting for a full-on professional photographer's workflow tool, something that can quickly allow the photographer to import a bunch of photos, tag them, sort them, rate them and reject the duffers, something like Photo Mechanic.
If you are not familiar with Photo Mechanic, this is essentially what it does, but its real strength lies in adding the essential IPTC meta information to photos that stock and other 'bureau' type of photographers need to include. It performs this key role very quickly once set up, and it does it well, without doing much else. So it seems a 'given' that the iPad could do this relatively simple task for the photographer in the field. Or can it?
A lot of photographers have obviously been asking this question, seeing the iPad as an obvious enhancement to their creative workflow, because the makers of the Photo Mechanic software Camera Bits, in fact the Founder and President of the company, Dennis Walker, has written an 'Open letter regarding iPad development'. The whole letter is here if you want to read it.
The tone of the letter is a little bit dismissive of the iPad, and of Apple's control over developer access to the iPhone OS that the iPad uses, but that aside, there are some interesting points made as to why Camera Bits, at least, will not be bringing a Professional photographer's app to the iPad any time soon.
Here are a few of the key points Dennis Walker made about his perception of the iPad's limitations for development, in his open letter:
Photo Mechanic running on a MacBook Pro can have as much as 4 GB of RAM available to it. The amount of RAM is key since that is what software relies upon to do its work. A 20 megapixel camera requires 60 MB of RAM, or about HALF of the RAM available to an iPad app, to hold a single uncompressed image in working memory. Therefore it is clear that a full version of the Photo Mechanic "application" simply isn't possible for these devices.
Accessing images from the Camera
On the iPad the photos must first be imported into the "photo library" using the built-in "Photos" app. Then you could presumably switch to a third-party app to browse your photo library and do your work. But right now it is impossible to create an app that works directly with the original photos (or movies etc) on a flash card. Everything must start and go through the built-in "Photos" app.
Unfortunately if you have actually used the iPad Photos app you will know this isn't a very friendly process if you take a lot of photos, are on deadline, and need to choose and ingest only a few photos for timely posting....The Photos app doesn't even show the filenames, eliminating a possible workaround....
Now that a photo is in YOUR library, you would think an app could read the photo in its original state – in other words, be able to treat the photo as a file that you can read and write to, just as if it were on the flash card you read it from. But that is not the case since all you get from the "image picker" are the PIXELS at full resolution....all of your Exif metadata from the camera, even the FILE NAME is gone: its only pixels.
Camera Connection Kit
We were able to connect a few different USB compact flash readers to the USB adapter of the CCK, but they only worked on some CF cards. Other CF cards would produce an "accessory uses too much power" error message when the card was inserted into the same reader. Also, when using the CCK part with the USB port and a cable to a camera or card reader, it is very easy to accidentally disconnect the CCK part from the iPad's dock connector since the CCK connector doesn't lock and it doesn't take much sideways force to break the connection...
The bottom line is that the requirement to use the iPad Photos app to access your photos on a flash card, plus the connectivity issues, means the iPad is not something that a professional would likely tolerate.
Towards the end of the open letter Dennis gets a bit more negative about Apple and the iPad and the tone sharpens a little. He goes on to suggest, for now, you get a NetBook running Windows and install their Windows version of Photo Mechanic, or wait for an Android based tablet with direct access to the memory card, but he does also put out a rally call to all photographers who want this functionality to request it of Apple.
Why we mention this?
Why are we, on a blog which is concerned with using the iPad creatively, covering a developer who says the iPad isn't worth developing for as it is?
Well, for a start, we are not blindly stating that the iPad is perfect at launch. We must remember though that it is a) only two months old, and b) a first generation device.
We also like to consider both sides of the issue and bring a bit of balance to the table to keep things interesting.
Any device this new to the market and with such a unique placement will take time to find its feet, that is only to be expected. We acknowledge that the iPad as it is will not meet everyone's requirements or wants for now, but future iterations probably will. We have already said what the vision for the future may be now that we have the iPad and dozens of me-too devices to follow. If you didn't catch it, take the time to read this post from a few days ago.
The spirit is willing...
The desire to use the iPad for these kinds of purposes is unquestionably present, from the users and potential purchasers through to the software companies and individual developers themselves, as evidenced by Dennis Walker feeling the need to address in his letter these questions and calls from his customers for app development. Dennis didn't end up saying 'never', he basically said 'not yet'.
There are obviously real and specific reasons why Apple have restricted third party access to the photos on the iPhone OS devices, whether this is for security, to ensure OS stability, or for some other reason, we simply do not know at the moment.
We might even have to accept the fact that the iPad simply was not made to do this kind of thing (especially processing massive RAW files), no matter how much we really want it to.
There is hope
What we are encouraged and impressed by is the creative uses many have put their iPads too already, and it has only been out in the wild for the last 60 days or so. There have already been developed many fantastic creative apps, optimising every ounce of power and ability from the iPad. We invite you to take some time to look around this blog and you will see many examples of apps and created content that show the potential of the iPad even as it stands today.
It can only get better in the future, maybe even enough to run Camera Bits' professional level app that is keenly anticipated by many, if they haven't been beaten to it by another developer already (see below).
Sort Shots offers an alternative
If you found your way here because you were looking for a Photo Mechanic alternative on the iPad, or if you do want to use the iPad for some of the functionality that Photo Mechanic seems to offer, you could try Sort Shots for the iPad. This app allows you to use the photos already in your photo library and create Tags, Ratings, Favourites and sort on any or all of these criteria.
Then you can quickly find the good ones, or all photos of your trip to Paris that are more than three stars with the colour Red in them, for example.
You can also upload selected photos to Flickr, Facebook, Picassa & Twitter for sharing with others or as part of your workflow.
If you try Sort Shots out and want to let us know what you think of it, please do so in the comments.
We let you know back in mid-March that Wonder Warp Software were planning to release an iPad specific version of their brilliant piano tutor software Etude. Well yesterday the Etude app was updated to a Universal app that will support both the iPhone/iPod Touch and your iPad, with device specific user interface and features.
The iPad version looks really nice and they have maximised the use of the screen space to show much more of the score at the same time.
Even better, if you already own the Etude iPhone version, your iPad version is free! Otherwise, the app will only cost you $4.99 (£2.99), which is a very good price when you consider that you can download all of the sheet music and songs to play for free, with premium, artist licensed songs coming soon.
There's more - Free Mac software
If you are on a Mac and want something to help create chord progressions or use as a teaching aid, you can get a free copy of Wonder Warp's SimpleChord desktop app. This software lets you look up piano chords and create chord progressions of your own, and supports an external midi keyboard too.
It also includes a midi export option for the chord progressions that you create in SimpleChord, and these midi files can then be used in Garageband very simply as a new track, ready for you to add the rest of your masterpiece, or just use it to practice with.
SimpleChord would normally cost you $12.95, so it is worth a tweet to spread the word. Details are here.
Just this last week it seems that the idea of the iPad as a device for creating content, something that we've been saying since the start, is slowly starting to sink in. Numerous reviews that were published in the run up to the worldwide launch last Friday cited painting and music creation as primary iPad activities alongside web browsing, book reading and gaming.
Robert Scoble recently published an article entitled, 'How the iPad is changing art and music'. Leading the article is a brief video interview (see above) with David Newman an artist who has taken to the iPad in a big way. David's art can be found on his personal Flickr page as well as on the iPad Creative, Art and Design Flickr group.
We would like to take this moment to thank David and the other 77 artists that have already added their artwork to the group. It is your skill and imagination that is slowly starting to turn the tide of thought.
If you are fortunate enough to be among the 2 million iPad owners but haven't yet used Apple's 'latest creation' to do something creative of your own what's holding you back? You have the device, you have the apps, you have the means to share your art, go for it! Oh, and while you're at it why not add iPad Creative as a permanent link to you iPad home screen. Or if you prefer a more social way of interacting with the team be sure to follow us on Twitter (@ipadcreative)
The Mac platform isn't going to be around forever, in fact, it may not even by around 5 years from now. No, the Mac will not be marginalised by Microsoft and its Windows homogeny, nor will it be thrown against the rocks by Google as it pushes Chrome and/or Android into every digital nook and cranny. The fate of the Mac rests in the hands of iPhone OS, more specifically the iPad.
There was a time when people assumed that the Apple II would always be around, many assumed that the Mac was a toy not a proper computer, an expensive gadget for Apple nuts and early adopters. It wasn't long however until it become clear that the Macintosh (as it was then called) was to become the very core of Apple.
The unveiling of the iPhone in January 2007 made the 23 year old Mac look old, in 2010 the iPad makes it look positively last century.
Going back to the Mac after prolonged time with the iPad is comforting, but it does leave you asking questions such as, "Why doesn't my £1000 Mac play back HD video as efficiently as my £429 iPad?", "Why don't Mac applications restart in exactly the same state like most iPad apps do?", "Where are push notifications?", the questions keep on coming...
If you doubt that Apple believe that the Mac has had its day, then I suggest you download a few Mac apps from the App Store... Of course, there are no Mac applications in the App Store. I would also refer you to the sneak peak headline on the Apple website shortly before the launch of the iPhone in 2007 which read, "The first 30 years were just the beginning". The transition will take a while — perhaps 5 years is a little too optimistic — but it will happen eventually and it will become quite clear to everyone that the transition is taking place once Mac sales start to drop off at the end of 2011.
It seems almost certain that monthly iPad sales will surpass monthly Mac sales from this point on. It will be interesting to see how Apple handles this. It is in Apple's best interests to make the transition as smooth and as profitable as possible, if buyers get even the slightest whiff of the notion that Apple is actively planning to put the Mac out to pasture then sales will dry up too quickly. There is another path that Apple could take...
Welcome to the iPad Pro
An iPad with a much larger screen and a significantly increased resolution — let's guess at 2048 x 1536 for the sake of existing iPad app doubling — with a industrial design that is specifically designed to reside on a desk, could command a higher price tag, enabling Apple to benefit from Mac sized profits. Battery life wouldn't be so much of an issue, so the iPad Pro could be packed with much more horsepower than the standard iPad. The App Store could include a section specifically for iPad Pro apps which would combine the ease of iPhone OS apps with the power and depth of today's Mac applications.
We appreciate that what we have outlined above is not the commonly held view, we would be interested in reading your thoughts on the future of the Mac and iPad, please be sure to leave a comment below.
In this the final instalment of our iPad case roundup we take a look at those cases which did not fit any of the other categories or that we felt we could not include in the previous posts. So far we have looked at Portfolio style cases, leave-on Skin or slim cases, slip cases/sleeves and more spacious Bags or Carry Cases.
Today's cases are more for fun really, although we would like a few of them for real. There are a few oddities, including a Do-it-yourself option for those on a really tight budget.
So we will kick off this final part of the series with:
It might seem a bit strange to want to wrap natural wood around a chunk of silicone and glass from Apple, but we like the idea a lot. And these cases look gorgeous.
If you have seen Substrata's wooden iPhone cases, you will know what to expect from this innovative custom woodworking shop from the Portland, Oregon area. The iPad cases are in prototype still, but the release date is slated for June, so surely not long to wait now. There are two models, the Sliding lid model and the Hinged lid model, the one we are looking at is the hinged lid (Box) case, as it seems to offer more protection and also has a stand action by folding back the front cover.
We like the curve of the wood on the bottom lip that gives the case when closed a lovely, smooth, tablet shape, that should slip nicely into your laptop or carry bag. You can sign up to receive news on the iPad case releases from Substrata on their site and you can also view a complete gallery of the prototype wooden cases here.
Spot the iPad case in this picture
Yep, it is the grey one in the middle that says simply 'Book' on the spine, but it is nicely camouflaged don't you think? Handmade by one guy in a studio in Minnesota, these 100% wool felt lined cases are made to look like an ordinary book from the outside. We like these a lot too.
The linen used on the cover provides an authentic book like appearance and the banding at the top of the spine, along with the realistic looking pages around the edge add to the authenticity of the camouflaging. The case combines the aforementioned felt sleeve internally with hardback casing to offer a good deal of everyday protection for your precious iPad.
The price tag is $89 and you can get the spine printed with custom text for an extra $5. Whilst not a bargain, the 'Book' is very unique and lovingly handmade with the best of materials. For a quality product that not everyone will have, we could go for this case.
There are quite a few DIY iPad case projects around the web, some of them actually quite good and others, not so! The idea of making your own iPad case appeals to us though, partly because of the challenge, but partly to save money if we're honest. Having recently spent hundreds of pounds on your iPad you are probably quite keen to save a few pennies on your accessories.
If you cannot afford the 'Book' case mentioned above, you can create something like it yourself with quite a bit of time and a certain amount of effort.
This project does require hacking a big hole out of an existing paper book, which feels a bit wrong to be honest. We have trouble throwing any book away still, but if you take the writer's suggestion and get a cheap, secondhand book that someone else was going to throw away anyway, then perhaps it is permissible.
We like this DIY project for the stealth aspect and because it is a fun and unique approach. The video below is from Ben, the creator of this project and how-to article, have a look and if you try it let us know how it goes by commenting below.
We hope you have enjoyed our series of posts on some of the cases you can get for your iPad. Whatever you use to protect and carry your iPad we would love to hear from you about your experiences and any recommendations you have for our readers, just leave us a comment below.
Just in case you missed them, here are the other posts in this iPad Case Roundup series:
I've recently been test driving a 3 (UK network provider) Mobile WiFi unit in conjunction with my iPad 16GB non 3G. On the eve of the UK iPad launch I'd like to share my thoughts, what impressed me and what annoyed me.
The premise is simple. The MiFi unit — about half the size and weight of an iPhone — acts as a bridge between 3's high speed 3G mobile signal and the iPad's WiFi antenna, effectively giving you much of the benefit of the iPad 3G but with a little more flexibility.
In practice MiFi does exactly this. I experienced no problems connecting to the MiFi and only a few issues in getting the MiFi to connect to 3's network. It's certainly not as instant as having a 3G radio built right into the device — the MiFi takes quite a number of seconds to get going — but then most iPad users who are considering the MiFi are likely to be connecting in fairly large clumps of time, whilst travelling to work on the train for example.
The range, battery life and physical sturdiness of the MiFi are just about spot on. I managed to get a good 8 hours of usage out of the MiFi and I don't recall ever going out of range whilst using it around the house and in the office.
I do have one problem with the MiFi
The user interface with its four colour-coded indicators, and tiny side buttons is a horrid. The MiFi should have just two buttons, one large and one small. A press of the larger button would boot up the mobile and WiFi connections, a press of the smaller button would disconnect/connect the the mobile signal. Add in a couple of spot LED's to indicate battery and signal strength and you're good to go. Instead operating the MiFi is a combination of long hold buttons presses whilst squinting at the seemingly random flashing lights. Yeah, it's not great.
UI issues aside, I can recommend the MiFi to anyone looking to connect an iPad, the occasional iPod Touch and any other WiFi only devices to a fast, reliable and cost effective mobile network.
There's no BBC iPlayer iPad app just yet, but UK iPad owners now have access to the 'big screen' version of the iPlayer website, this provides very high quality video streams at a decent bit rate. We haven't really got too much to say at this early stage other than to congratulate the BBC on providing a service to iPad owners from day one. We expect an iPad specific version of the iPlayer site to go live sometime this Summer.
International iPad owners looking to view the iPlayer video streams will need to get themselves a quality VPN connection, or move to the UK. ^_^
Okay, so perhaps you don't actually need an iPad, but honestly, once you've seen for yourself just how good your iPhone photos and videos look on that gorgeous IPS display you'll be dreaming of ways to fund your own an iPad, it's that good!
It's not rocket science, the iPhone 3GS captures photographs at resolutions that far exceed that of the iPad's display, hence even when your photographs are enlarged they still look sharp. Although the iPhone 3GS video capture resolution is less than the resolution of the iPad's display, the colour accuracy of the iPhone 3GS optics really come into their own, 3GS videos look vibrant and surprisingly sharp.
Where the iPad really shines is the style of playback.
When you decide to present a slideshow of all your favourite iPhone photos and videos the iPad takes everything in its stride and presents all the media in it's best possible format. For example, iPhone 3GS video captured is VGA, that's 640 x 480 pixels in a 4:3 format, the iPad display matches the 4:3 ratio of the iPhones video capture so it's a perfect fit! On the iPhone display you can either opt for black boarders on the left and right, or enlarge the video to fit the full width but sacrifice some pixels from the top and bottom. It works, but it not as pleasing as when viewed on the iPad. iPad hint: Do a reverse pinch to zoom in on any given part of your 3GS video full a closer look.
It's the little things...
Want to show a photo or video to someone sat opposite you? Simple, just flip the display and everything rotates to suit the new orientation. Worried that the sound on your iPhone video not being loud enough? Have no fear, even at full volume the iPad's twin speaker are surprisingly loud and clear.
In conclusion, if you have a large library of decent iPhone 3GS photos and videos, the iPad will allow you to share them with your friends and family in a quality and presentation style that was previously difficult to achieve.
So far in this roundup series we have looked at cases that deal with your iPad, and your iPad alone, whether that be Portfolio style, a leave-on Skin or slim case, or even a slip case or sleeve. Today we are going to consider cases which can carry your iPad along with all the kit that goes with it, and by this we mean the charger, connection cable, VGA cable, (your own) headphones or anything else you want to take along as well.
Even before the iPad was on everyone's radar, there were already a lot of bags around that could carry a netbook or other device with ~10" screens and, depending on your needs, you may find one of these perfectly suitable, but we have tried to concentrate our search on bags created specifically for the iPad.
So here we go, they are not all the same type of thing, but these are the top three carry bags that have caught our attention recently:
This $29.99 (£21) bag from Cocoon is a ballistic nylon sling bag with the usual outside pocket and carry strap, but which has some interesting features. First, it includes an external pocket with a clear plastic section for your iPhone, iPod or other device which allows you to see the device's screen, but importantly even allows you to use the touchscreen without taking the device out of the pocket. This is really useful for operating the iPod controls without taking it out of the bag or, for example, taking a call on your iPhone and using the screen without having to fumble around in your bag for your phone.
Another unique feature is Cocoon's patented design for keeping your cables, connectors, and even other devices organised inside the case. If you haven't seen it before, this is the description from Cocoon's website:
- GRID-IT!™ organization system – a rubberized woven elastic object retention system for gadget organization
- Ideal for organizing MacBook accessories, iPod, iPhone, BlackBerry and other digital devices
- Versatile Organization
- Endless configurations
- Designed to hold items firmly in place
- Back of GRID-IT!™ doubles as a mouse pad
The Grid-it is a bit odd to look at first of all but when you see it in action it makes sense, so we have found this little review video on YouTube from supersonik90 who has lots of reviews on her YouTube channel, check it out:
We like to recommend things sometimes that are a little less run-of-the-mill and, if you can bear the leather, the Collega can be used with handles like a mini-briefcase, or with the handles retracted like a 'clutch' bag.
We think that in Black and used with handles the case looks quite business-like, but Sena also supply the Collega in a Red Croc version too (pictured) which may appeal to a different type of user.
Looking very modern in styling, the Collega includes an outside snap-shut pocket which can carry your cables, charger, headphones, etc. and a very sturdy looking zipper around the main compartment.
Internally the Collega has a micro velvet lining for the main compartment which also includes a good dose of padding to protect your iPad in transit. We know it will not appeal to everyone, but if you fancy a more detailed look at the Collega have a look at Sena's site here.
Ok, this one does say 'iPad' in its official title, but it does also say that it will fit all laptops up to 12.1 inch, so we cannot honestly say that it was made only for the iPad. What this case does have is an internal pocket to coset your iPad in 10mm thick padding, along with a lot of extra room to carry more of your stuff than the other two bags above.
It has a double zip design that allows you quick access to just the iPad pocket, or you can unzip both and completely open up the bag to have total access to the contents. The internal lining comes in a choice of contrasting Green, Coffee or Azure, depending on your model choice, and if you have ever tried to find a black cable inside of a black lined bag in a dimly lit room, then you will know how useful that can be!
When it comes to getting around with the Transit case, you have the option of using a shoulder strap or the carrying handle on the top. The material used in the construction of the outer case is waterproof, adding a bit of all-weather protection for your iPad and accessories.
Overall we think this is a nice looking bag, with enough storage space in addition to your iPad to satisfy most users wanting to take a number of additional components with them to work or on day trips. You can check the website for more pictures and press reviews too.
As always, we found it difficult to narrow this roundup down to just three bags, so if you have any experience with another bag, or even one of these three, and want to let us know, please leave your comment below.
Don't miss the other posts in this iPad Case Roundup series:
We continue our roundup at the various ways of carrying and protecting your iPad with a look at slip cases. We consider slip cases to be any type of case which lets you carry around the iPad, providing at least a bit of protection, and allows you quick access to your device when it is needed, so nothing that stays on the iPad permanently.
Again, there are quite a few of these type of cases around, so we were looking for something practical but with a unique or interesting design to differentiate it a bit. We also wanted to avoid the multitude of wetsuit-like neoprene cases around, not that we have anything against them, it is just that they are so prolific and really fairly similar that we couldn't find any particular model we would recommend over the others.
So here are our top three slip cases for the iPad:
Although this $48 (~£34) hand made slip case by Byrd and Belle is also marketed as a Kindle case, the options do specifically mention the iPad size with a choice of Black or Brown leather, so we think it counts. Which is a good thing as the Reader Sleeve is a very classy looking case made from 1/8" thick 100% wool felt, which we want very badly.
It does, admittedly, look like a big felt envelope, but we like the simplicity of that look, and the contrasting, hand dyed leather fastening strap with a snapper on the front complete the minimalist approach to this particular slip case.
The stud on the back and the fastener on the front have been positioned so that your precious will not be harmed in any way, and the polishing properties of the felt will give the screen a bit of a buff too.
Apart from the 1/8" thick felt though, there is a not a lot of evident padding, so we wouldn't recommend drop testing your iPad in this case, but if you have a taste for sheer simplicity and lovely design, we think you will love it. Check out all the details here.
This not-leather-but-very-much-like-it case has been in our possession for a few weeks now and we like it. The material used is very close in feel and flexibility to very soft leather. There is also a bit of protection in between the outer material and the inner, which is reassuring and feels like it can protect the iPad from the scuffs and scrapes that it would be subjected to when carried in a bag along with your other essentials that you carry around with you.
The inner lining is made from a very soft material that we have no worries about scratching the iPad when in transit. The Maya II has three different stylings too, based on Pink, White and Black, with a contrasting pattern (including stitching) flashed across the bottom left corner on the front of the case.
This nylon flip case is basically a big envelope for the iPad (again) but we like it for its ease of use, strong, durable materials, and its simplicity again. Whilst it may not seem like much, The Express uses low power magnets to keep the outside flap closed when you have your iPad in place, and that simple magnet closure has proved fairly practical for other types of cases we have used in the past, and it is also dead fast to access the device when you need to. The ballistic nylon is easy to clean and water resistant too so it should offer further protection in that regard.
It is the accessibility of this case though that recommends it to us. We can imagine doing some last minute checking on the showtimes for our film, then slinging the iPad into this case, snapping the flap closed and slinging it into our bag on the way out of the door. That is a lot of slinging but The Express seems to offer a good amount of knock protection as well from the stiff outer panels that make up the 'envelope' case.
The Express retails for $34.99 (£29.99 on Amazon.co.uk pre-order), and there is a short video overview of the case below if you want to see more:
We could not recommend this case as one of our three picks because it is still not released yet, and we are not sure when, or even if, it will be available, but we really want one and think it would be an excellent complement to the iPad. What is this case you ask? It is the drawCase from UK based company Draw Limited.
They are not necessarily a case manufacturing company, they are a 'product and graphic design studio, based in Cardiff, Wales. But their website says:
The drawCase for iPad is the first of a range of cases to be launched by Draw. The idea for this range of products came about from the desire for highly functional and protective cases which were compact yet provide excellent impact resistance to handle the rigours of daily life.
We think the metal construction with internal shock padding and unique 'cap' design is really interesting so we are looking forward to seeing it for real, we are on the mailing list at least, more details and a place to register your interest are on the site.
We know there are loads of these slip cases out there, and we have only mentioned three (or four) of them, so if you are using one and would like to let us know about your experiences with it, as always, let us know in the comments.
Don't miss the other posts in this iPad Case Roundup series:
Our last 'not excuses!' post caused quite a stir, we are not making any promises, but there is a small chance that some form of old school arcade emulation may find its way onto the iPad soon. We'll be sure to update you with more details as the project nears completion.
In the meantime we turn our attention toward the area of music synthesisers. There is already quite an array of synth apps available for the iPad — hardly surprising as the iPad is just about perfect for music creation — however, all but a handful appear to be upgraded iPhone apps.
We think there is a place for music creation applications that are narrowly focused on replicating the distinctive sound of just one artist, perhaps even just one specific album from that artist. We'll use the seminal 1976 Jean Michel Jarre classic, 'Oxygene' as an example of how and why this should be done.
"I listened to all of Jean Michel Jarre’s albums obsessively, to the point of knowing every note by heart. His music accompanied me as I wrote « 2010 : Odyssey Two. His concerts are always a celebration of wonderment…" Sir Arthur C. Clarke
A truly defining album, not just of the 70s but also of Jarre's career. Oxygene proved that electronic music can be emotive, sweeping and even soulful. Oxygene Synth, a synthesiser app based on nothing but the musical equipment and production procedures that Jarre used to create Oxygene would be a sure fire hit and could possibly lead to a renewed interest in the music of France's most enigmatic musician.
Here's how we think it should work...
Authenticity comes first
Oxygene Synth should contain the full variety of analog synthesisers and other electronic instruments and effects that Jarre used when creating the original recording. This is vital to the whole endeavour, without the full range of authentic instruments and sounds the app simply wouldn't appeal to its target audience and would likely be seen as a cheap money grabbing exercise. We are no synthesiser experts but we do know that getting that authentic sound will require broad software emulation of the EMS VCS 3 analogue synthesiser, a 'portable' synthesiser use by Jarre, but also Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream and Portishead.
The full emulation of early synthesisers is a worthy endeavour, old beauties like the EMS VCS 3 and Yamaha CS-80 — a synth also used by Jarre, Vangelis, David Bowie, Keane and Coldplay — need to be preserved for future generations. Unlike many other classic instruments these synths are no longer in production. Interestingly, the Yamaha CS-80 has already been reproduced in software by Arturia using their TAE (True Analog Emulation) technology, a technique which allows for the accurate modelling of the behavior of analog circuits on a personal computer. We've contacted Arturia about the Oxygene Synth, we'll post their reply here.
Next comes music
Oxygene Synth should include the complete album as MIDI files. This will allow the user to examine the timing and nuance of each note and effect. A Smule Magic Piano songbook style interface would make for a wonderful way for the music keyboard novice to make quick progress, though ultimately a full musical keyboard and portrayal of the original physical controls should be presented.
The icing on the cake
So far we have the full array of sounds, the musical note-by-note breakdown of the entire album and a way for the inexperienced to recreate Oxygene. Adding video interviews with Jean Michel Jarre, tutorials, sleeve notes, poster artwork, album reviews, a 'making of' documentary and social networking hooks would really make the Oxygene Synth app shine.
We think there's a big future in this kind of app. The iPad is so much more than any other personal computer, it's more flexible, more personal, and in many ways more powerful. By the end of 2011 the installed user base could be approaching 30 million. Given the right price point and advertising — surely Apple would feature the Oxygene Synth app at a Steve Jobs keynote! — we are convinced that the Oxygene Synth would be a success.
We are currently attempting to get in contact with the man himself. Stay tuned! You can show your support for the Oxygene Synth iPad app by mentioning this article on your own blog or by tweeting about it on Twitter. Let's see if we can make this happen.
For general every day use of the iPad you could just 'go naked' as Apple intended out of the box. If you want a bit more protection however for your expensive piece of kit from bumps and scrapes without going the full on leather Portfolio route we covered yesterday, an iPad Skin or Shield might be what you need.
We have included in this category protective covers that you put on and leave on your iPad.
There are so many of these out there that it is actually very difficult to recommend just three, but below are the ones that caught our eye and that you may want to check out for yourself:
These two covers from Case-Mate provide good protection for the back and sides of your iPad, whilst offering some tactile grip similar to silicone cases. Case-Mate use a thermoplastic, flexible material to protect your iPad and we liked these cases because they are very close fitting possibly close enough to use a slipcase as well (which we will talk about tomorrow), but we also liked the unique approach to the design of these two types of cases with the checkered effect in the Checkmate cases and the circles on circles design of the Kaleidoscope cases.
The different coloured cases may not all be to your liking, but the Checkmate comes in Gray, Blue or Green, whilst the Kaleidoscope is available in Pink, Tomato (um, Red) and Aurora (Yellow). Thankfully you can visit Case-Mate's site and select each of the colours to see what they will look from several different angles.
Here are the features listed on Case-Mate's site:
- High performing, flexible, plastic-like material protects your iPad from minor impact and scratches
- Unique patterns and colors
- Lighter, softer and more resilient than silicone and rubber cases
- Access to all ports and controls
If you like the way your iPad looks and want to keep it that way, but do not want pretty colours or designs spoiling its look, then you could consider the clear protective case from Macally they call Metrolpad. Sounding a bit like a 1920's classic, this case looks nice, and has a few interesting features.
Here's the description from their site:
- Durable Lightweight Construction
- Hardshell Back Panel With Silicon Edge For Protection And Grip
- Open To All Connections And Controls
- Form Fitting Silicon Edge For Quick And Easy Removal Of iPad
- Clear Case To Display Your iPad In Its Original Appearance
Gelaskins / MusicSkins
We could not decide between these two purveyors of very nice and beautiful vinyls for the iPad, so we thought it best to tell you about both, and yes we know they are not the only two companies doing this, but we think the quality from these two is of a very high standard.
Both companies claim that the adhesives used for their vinyls will not leave a residue, and in our past experience on other devices that has been true mostly, except sometimes for some gunk trapped around the edges, but it was always easy to wipe off.
These skins allow you to make a really strong statement and express some individuality in amongst a rapidly growing throng of iPad owners.
Some of the designs at the Gelaskins site have really impressed us when we see the originality and richness of the colour renditions. We have bought a few of them for our iPhones in the past and we can back up Gelaskins reputation for good quality images and materials used in their vinyls.
If you haven't been there before, or if you haven't been there since they have started doing iPad versions, we would really recommend you have a browse around their site and see if anything takes your fancy.
Gelaskins also provide a vinyl for the front of your iPad if you want to use it, and you can download a matching wallpaper from their site too that matches up with the front decal, very nice if you want that kind of effect.
There are some very talented and original artists creating designs for them, and you can even become one of these artists yourself if your talent leans that way. You can always design your own if you cannot find something you like.
If you like the idea of using a fancy vinyl design but really love your music and want to show this off on your iPad, then you may be more tempted by the latest releases from MusicSkins.
Like Gelaskins, the MusicSkins site says it uses a special adhesive from 3M to leave no residue, also using high quality materials to create some scratch proofing for your device.
The FAQs even state that air bubbles will not be a problem on installation because "it has patented 3M air release technology which allows you to simply push the air bubbles out".
We are very tempted to spend quite a bit on the MusicSkins site, so browse at your peril, but really, it is worth a look and they say that iPad designs are available for any of the artists featured on the site.
We hope we have given you a few ideas for how you can provide fairly minimal, leave on protection for your iPad, and if you have any suggestions for Skins or Shields of your own then please, leave them in the comments.
Don't miss the other posts in this iPad Case Roundup series:
For Photographers, Designers and other visual artists, one of the most exciting things about the iPad must surely be the potential to use it as a digital portfolio. Some have tried this on the iPhone with varying degrees of success, but the small screen size is not really up to the task of replacing a proper printed portfolio in the hands of potential clients and/or employers, and there are some who say that the iPad cannot replace a physical, printed portfolio either.
Having seen how beautiful original artwork and photography can look in the iPad, we think it does have the potential to replace a printed portfolio for the more receptive client / employer, with the screen size being a close proximate to the form factor when held in the hand(s). These cases may also appeal to those wanting a more business-like way of transporting their iPad.
So here are our top 3 Portfolio style cases at the moment:
A quality case made from Eco-leather (involving a tanning process that impacts less on the environment), the Eco-Vue holds the iPad fairly securely inside a lovely suede (non-scratchy) interior pocket which fits all around three sides of the iPad with an open top side where you slip the iPad in.
The case is kept closed by an elastic strap, evoking memories of those portfolio cases many have carried around, or the desirable moleskin notebooks.
This is one of the most portfolio-like cases we have seen so far and the Eco-Vue looks like a class product, you can get a detailed look in several video reviews on YouTube.
As you can see here, the Eco-Vue cover also folds back so that the iPad can be stood up horizontally and used for viewing your media, held with a built-in hand strap, or even used with a little kick stand that flips out so that you can type on the iPad in 'table-top computer' mode.
Available in several materials and colours, this case admittedly looks a little bit odd with all of the studded poppers on the front, but these poppers are part of the case's unique design which enables your iPad to be set at one of five viewing angles, between 20 and 70 degrees.
By detaching the strap around the front, folding back the cover and snapping one of the poppers back in you select the angle you require. It is a nice implementation of the multi-view model.
Whilst not actually available yet, The Wallet by Happy Owl Studio is aimed towards those iPad owners who need to carry a few more bits and bobs along with them. A bit more 'business-like' in its stylings, The Wallet will be available around late June and yes, they are accepting International orders, although their site FAQ does say that they are talking to International distributors for their cases.
From the website:
The Wallet has pockets for cash and change, credit cards, business cards, pens, a stylus, a passport and a mobile phone. Plus, you'll still have plenty of extra space in the larger pocket for your MiFi, keys and more! Style and function united.
Happy Owl Studio is taking deposits of $15 towards the introductory pricing of $64.99 for this case which can be used in the usual landscape stand orientation and there is a version aimed especially at Female users of the iPad called The Clutch, available in Red or Blue, for the same price.
Deposits made are being used to determine the initial run quantities, so this might be a bit of a risk, but Happy Owl Studio have been promising these cases for a while now and demand seems to be high, so there is a good chance that you will get your case, but you have been warned, they are not real just yet.
Have you used, or are you planning to order, one of these Portfolio cases? Any thoughts about the cases we have chosen? Let us know in the comments.
Don't miss the other posts in this iPad Case Roundup series:
With the UK launch of the iPad only 5 days away, we thought it would be a good time to start looking at the options out there for new iPad owners when it comes to protecting their £400+ investement. The rest of the world has the added benefit of the user testing provided by our US friends on the iPad, its software, and accessories, over the last month. We get to see some real world experience with these things before we buy.
Why you need this roundup
Following the first flush of excitement after the iPad’s launch a few weeks ago, the realisation soon set in for many iPad owners that it is an expensive piece of kit, and that the more they use their iPads, the more valuable it becomes to them and naturally they want to protect their investment.
Added to that is the ‘book-like’ nature of holding the device and what to do with it when taking it on the train, bus, or when sat at a cafe trying not to show off (“Yes, it is an iPad. Ok you can touch it, but only once!”). Also there is the natural desire to use the iPad as a standalone viewer for various media, whether that is photos or artwork as a slideshow, for video or animation viewing (e.g. Netflix, ABC).
It is with these needs and necessary uses in mind that we decided to have a look at the state of play as far as iPad cases, bags and skins, especially as the iPad makes its way into consumers’ hands outside of the US this week.
One is never enough
There are actually a surprising number of bags, cases and other type of protection for the iPad already on the market, and it has very quickly become a daunting task trying to consolidate the list down to a reasonable size. It is also clear that, for many people and iPad usage scenarios, one type of case is not enough. Different cases may be necessary for different situations.
So we have decided to put our case roundup into five categories, and we will be listing our top three products in each category. Hopefully you will find something of use amongst these products we have discovered, and if you are really cash strapped after forking out on the iPad in the first place, we will even throw in a way to make your own iPad case.
Tune in tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, to see our iPad case roundup, beginning with Portfolio cases.
In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for something we really have to include, let us know in the comments.
One of the things that hits you hard when you see the iPad for the first time is the quality and clarity of the display. When we saw that screen we couldn't help thinking "Photos!".
Two of the main online photo sharing sites at the moment are Facebook (apparently the world leader in online photo sharing) and our favourite Flickr. You can check out our very own Flickr group for iPad artists here.
Recently, two apps have been released which aim to create a better photo browsing experience than the Facebook or Flickr websites offer to you in Safari on the iPad, so we thought we would let you know about them in case you are seeking creative inspiration, keeping up with your family, friends and contacts' images, or just want to spend some time browsing a few of the millions (maybe billions) of photos out there.
Flick Stackr has a very impressive list of features, most notably for us when wanting to share photos with others, is the ability to run in 'slideshow mode' and display it on an external monitor or TV via the iPad's VGA output.
The app also background caches photos in Sets on Flickr, hoping to deliver them speedily when you want them, rather than waiting for the photos to download when you select them, which can be a bit laborious in our experience with slow Internet connections.
For each photo you can see the comments, meta and GPS data associated with the image and also e-mail the photo (with e-mailing of multiple photos coming in the next update).
Another interesting feature is Stacks, which lets you mark photos and create what are really your own sets. This Stack is then saved to your device, but it is not saved on your Flickr account; useful for reviewing images later without having to create albums or sets on the Flickr's site.
If, like us, you have more than one Flickr account in the household, but only one iPad, Flick Stackr has you covered, allowing multiple accounts to be active at the same time. But you don't even need an account with Flickr to browse photos on the site, so this app can be used without being linked to an account as well.
Here is a full list of features from the website:
- For Flickr users: you can look at your own photos, your sets, your favorites and your contacts and their photos.
- Explore and browse Flickr groups
- Full screen photo browser that lets you swipe through photos and zoom by pinching. (Landscape and Portrait).
- Slideshow mode, including support for external displays (TV & VGA)
- No need for paging while looking at large photosets. FlickStackr does it automatically in the background. Photos are cached locally for fast access.
- Tags, exif and photo location viewing
- A unique feature is the 'Stack'. The Stack lets you mark photos from you or any other people.
This stack is saved on your iPad/iPhone, so that you can keep this list without having to publish it to flickr.
Useful when you want to review photos later.
- Support for having multiple Flickr accounts active. This is ideal for households sharing an iPad or for people
with multiple identities online.
- Search photos in Flickr : using keyword + geographic location.
Search public photos, or specifically owned by you or a person
- A flickr account is NOT required. FlickStackr can be used by people who just want to explore flickr.
Stacks and searches work without an account.
- Supports all iPad screen orientations.
- As a universal application, FlickStackr is also compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch 3.0+
It's not a bad looking app with some features that will make browsing around Flickr and working with images a lot easier than it would be on Flickr's own site and we think it has a nice set of features to recommend it over using the web interfacce, even for casual browsing.
At $0.99 (59p) from the app store it is definitely worth a try in our opinion. If you do try it, let us know what you think in the comments.
For those of you who are sharing photos on Facebook, Shacked apps have recently released an updated version of their Facebook focussed app Flickpad.
We have featured Flickpad because the developer has been quite creative in their use of the multi-touch interface on the iPad, aiming to serve up a different way of browsing your friends' and contacts' photos. As you will see from the video below, the interface starts off looking a bit like a pinboard with printed photos stuck all over it. This shows the photos shared by your friends today. From here the app gets interesting and offers some cool UI twists.
On the main screen you can drag and drop photos around. If you don't want to look at a photo you can literally throw, or flick, it off the screen and it is replaced by the next one in the queue. If you want to see a photo in more detail single touch on it and the view zooms in, from here you can see the comments, mark it as a favourite or share the photo.
Back on the main screen, touch a photo with two fingers to make it a favourite, including a cute little animation which folds the corner of the photo down, like bookmarking a page in a book to go back to.
Double-tap the photo (not the same as double-touch) to open the rest of the album that the photo comes from, and triple-tap the photo to see all the photos from that person. Tap and hold on a photo from the main screen to bring up a menu from which you can e-mail the photo to anyone (even non-Facebook people), mark that particular Friend's photos as seen, along with other options.
If you want to look at the photos from a certain Friend on Facebook you can search for their name in the search bar at the top of the screen and see all their photos.
An interesting feature is the date orientated interface, as you will see from the video, you can skip back a day or two, or you can bring up a spin wheel interface which allows you to go weeks, months or further back through your Friends' photos.
Of course, Facebook needs you to login first with your account, so it is not like Flick Stackr above where you can browse the photos without an account; but as you probably know, this is not really how Facebook works.
The developers say that Flickr browsing is going to be added soon, but we are not sure how much of this will apply to the slightly different way that Flickr is organised, so it will be interesting to try the app when Flickr browsing is added in the future. Flickpad is considerably more expensive than Flick Stackr at $4.99 (£2.99) and that is a 50% off Special. Flickpad version 1.5 is available on the App Store now.
Be sure to watch the video below for an overview of the Flickpad app, and let us know in the comments what you think.
Photojojo are a great bunch who consistently come up with creative ideas for using and making photos. Now they have sourced something that you can use on your iPad to declare your photo-geekery with these camera dial decals.
Photography is one of our passions, as you will know if you have been here before, so being able to declare our love of photography with our favourite Apple device is just bliss for us.
These camera dial decals come in two flavours, Canon and Nikon. Admittedly, only a photo-geek is going to know, or care, which one is which (hint: Canon don't have a Scene mode) but we think they look great.
If you are a Leica user (we are very, very jealous) or want a Nikon D90, Canon 5D Mk II, or 40D specific decal, you can go straight to the source and buy one of these decals off of the Etsy seller suzieautomatic.
One problem though, the International shipping is as much as the decals themselves, so we will have to order one for our MacBook Pros as well to make it worthwhile.
Along with some of the stellar drawing and painting apps for more serious artistic endeavours which we have covered here previously, there is a healthy stream of creative iPad apps specifically for children to engage with, and some of them look great.
If you are brave enough to let sticky little fingers touch your iPad, then Fox News' Tapped-in team have a nice little round-up of four drawing/colouring apps for kids in the video below.
There is a new episode of the Tapped-in podcast every few days, some iPad app and some are iPhone app focussed but the episodes are only ever a few minutes long so it worth a watch usually. You can subscribe to the video podcast here or on YouTube here.
We wrote about Korg's fantastic iELECTRIBE a few weeks ago and although we loved it, our only real criticism was the lack of export options, meaning that your beat creations were stuck on the device and couldn't be shared easily.
Well, just yesterday one of our favourite portable music creation blogs Palm Sounds gave us the heads-up on an update to iELECTRIBE which addresses the export issue. Korg has now added several export options including exporting a beat loop to your Mac or PC via the iPad file management interface in iTunes. This means it is ready for use in your desktop DAW, or you can solo a part from your track and export just that to your computer. You can also record a live performance and import via iTunes the same way.
From the Korg website:
iELECTRIBE Version 1.1.0 is now available! This update adds the ability to transfer audio from the iELECTRIBE app into a MAC or PC via iTunes, using CD quality wav files. This feature ultimately allows you to use iELECTRIBE patterns and performances in your DAW or video editing software. Current iELECTRIBE owners can update for free.
It is an impressive update and answers nicely the requests from users for an export option. The video below shows the export options in operation, they look great and very straightforward to use. We found the second part of the video particularly interesting where they record a track with live effects.
For those outside the US who have been patiently waiting for the iPad to launch Internationally, you are in for a bit more of a wait if you haven't already pre-ordered your new Creative device. It is being widely reported that new orders at the online Apple store are being slated for delivery 'by June 7th', with Pocket Lint quoting an Apple spokesperson as saying, "Demand for iPad has been off the charts. We are working hard to get iPads into customers' hands as quickly as possible".
Although another delay is annoying, that's only just over a week after the official launch date of 28th May, so it is not a major delay really. It does show that demand is high for Apple's new device in the rest of the world too, and if it carries on this way, we may be in for more delays as demand increases. So get your pre-orders in now before the wait gets any longer.
What a lot of people don't realise though is that this delay is for pre-orders, of course. There is still a chance, though, that you can get an iPad on launch day by pitching up at an Apple store and joining the queue. Nothing definite has been said about the stock levels that Apple's stores will have, as Pocket Lint says, and the estimates weren't entirely accurate for the US launch with many Apple stores left with stock afterwards, so there is hope for those desperate to get their very own iPad on launch day, two weeks tomorrow.
If you are planning to queue up outside an Apple Store on launch day we would like to hear from you in the comments. And if you are going to queue up, let us know if you can help us out by sending photos, video or e-mail comments from the queue for our Launch Day coverage.