Article, July 2012
A Free Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
By Larry Anders, Member, Tampa PC Users Group, FL
Larry (at) anders.net
I had been highly opposed to Apple products for years because of what I feel to be the small-mindedness of Steve Jobs and the Apple management by not making their code available to developers, which would allow software to be developed so there would be more choice at reasonable prices. If so, I'm sure there would be a Mac in my house instead of just seven PCs running various Windows operating systems.
Above, you'll notice I said "had" been. Then I purchased my first iPod, and I was hooked! I did not get the first version iPhone, but I have had the 3GS now for almost two years. It is about the 10th cell phone I've owned and by far the very best. I have been tempted to try an Android phone but so far have had no reason to give up the iPhone. The Apps for the iPhone make it an everyday challenge to find something useful, and typically for free. Why Mr. Jobs can't see that allowing all these people to develop software for the iPod/iPhone/iPad has made his products extremely successful is beyond my understanding. He has still kept control by not allowing anything to be installed except through the iTunes App Store. Even the free Apps. If something similar was allowed for the Mac, I think he would see the popularity of the Mac increase also. I just can't validate paying twice the price for software just because it's a Mac. It's good, but not that good.
For Christmas I was given an iPad by my wife and kids. Now, you want to talk about what I think is the best invention of the 21st century. Since December, I use my PCs at least 50% less. My iPad sits next to me on the couch when it is not in my hand. Email, Messenger and text messaging is with me now wherever I am, between the iPad and iPhone. The two are very similar, but the 9" screen on the iPad is much easier to read and work with.
The iPad comes with several built-in Apps, such as Calendar (to track your appointments), Notes (to keep lists of things), Maps (complete Google maps), Videos (to watch your favorite videos), YouTube, iTunes, App Store and Games. They also include Safari (Apple's Internet browser), Email, Photos (access to your photos, graphics and screen captures), iPod (for music) and Contacts. That's plenty to keep you going until you learn how to start downloading some of the thousands of Apps available, with more coming every day. If you're into anything, there is probably an App for it. Also, there are free Internet music-streaming sites that will allow you to listen to any kind of music whenever you want, with no hiccups.
The battery is excellent. With my constant use, I still get two to three days between charges, and the recharge is very fast.
Apple has also released iBooks, which will probably be a permanent fixture in the next iOS upgrade. In my opinion, it's one of the better (free) eBooks reader programs. If you're used to using Kindle, Google or any of the other readers, there is an App out there for that, too. I downloaded a free App the other day that makes 23,469 classic books available at your tap. And I did say free.
One App I especially like is the Dragon Speaking App, for both the iPhone and the iPad. There is no need to type. Just start the App, push Record and start talking. It recognizes when you stop, allows you to insert commas, periods and new paragraphs. When you're done with the dictation, tap Copy, then paste it wherever you want, or tap Email and it will send it directly into your email. Oh yeah, did I mention it was free?!
The iPad does not come with a text program, like the iPhone, but there are several free Apps that will take care of this problem. I use one that I am more than happy to pay for but see no reason to do so as the developers do not ask me to. There is a small nonintrusive ad area in the lower left corner and that's it. The same with Messenger.
I am currently using Dragon Speaking with a free App called Documents to create this article. Documents allows you to review and edit Word and Excel documents. I wouldn't expect to be able to work on some gigantic files. I expect a version of Word and Excel to be out soon, assuming Apple will allow a Microsoft App to infiltrate their domain.
Another thing I am really pleased with are Apps available for our younger computer users. My daughter and son-in-law both have iPads, so my 5-year-old granddaughter is well-versed on using the iPad. I typically get her to teach me some secret thing when she comes over on the weekends. I spent a lot of money for the overhead movie system in my Tahoe for her to be able to watch movies, etc., when we are in the car. Lately, though, she would rather have my iPad while we are driving around. There are some excellent educational Apps (free, of course) that help teach her to read, do math, draw and all sorts of other things.
In any case, as I have thanked Bill Gates and the team at Microsoft in the past for making computing enjoyable with Windows, I now need to thank Steve Jobs and the gang at Apple for heading in a new direction and once again making computing enjoyable. I can't wait for the 22nd century to get here!
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