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Review: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
December 22, 2013 | 11:11 am

coverI finished reading Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, which I mentioned in my post yesterday. I quite enjoyed it. Even though I read the news reports of the events it describes as they happened, you don’t get the big picture until you read a book like this, that looks back and puts everything together in the proper context. The book covers the development of the iPhone and Android phones, touches on the iPad and what it meant, goes over the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit, and then wraps up...

Voice Dream reader app can now play audiobooks
December 8, 2013 | 12:15 pm

Voice Dream reader appThe new version of the Voice Dream reader app, a superb iOS text-to-speech app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, can now play audiobooks, too. Even at $10, costlier than the typical app, Voice Dream is a Buy, capital B, at the Apple App Store. Voice Dream 2.9.2 can handle zipped MP3s as well as audiobooks in Daisy, thanks to help from a Swiss library organization, and navigation and general usability are excellent, just as in the regular text-to-speech mode for ePub files and others. Dozen of optional voices in common languages work with the app, and my favorite is the UK-accented “Peter” voice...

Does the death of the PC herald a closed-device future?
November 17, 2013 | 10:30 pm

GEDC1556Oh noes! They’re killing the PC! Mass computing devices face the dark future of tablets with restricted operating systems that limit what you can do and what apps you can install! We must all run about in panic! Except…no, I don’t think that’s right. The article I linked above on ZDNet notes: Here's what I see happening: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all want us to buy appliances, not PCs. An appliance is a closed box. It can only run the operating system they stick you with. It will only run the applications they approve for it. Apple and Microsoft are particularly strict...

iPad success secret: Building on the iPhone, and replacing laptops
November 5, 2013 | 10:47 pm

ipadWired is running an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Fred Vogelstein, looking at how Steve Jobs made the iPad successful when no other tablet ever had been. There’s an interesting parallel with e-readers in this story. No dedicated e-reader had ever been successful before Jeff Bezos pushed the Kindle, and likewise no prior tablet had ever worked until the iPad came along. The tablet computer was the most discredited category of consumer electronics in the world. Entrepreneurs had been trying to build tablet computers since before the invention of the PC. They had tried so many times that the conventional...

iPad Air: First Impressions
November 4, 2013 | 4:27 pm

ipad airI got my hands on an iPad Air for the first time this weekend! What were my first impressions? Well...a mixed bag. Is it possible to be both impressed and underwhelmed? First, the 'impressed' part: the Air is impressively slim and light. The Beloved did an impromptu weight test and assures me it's not quite as light as my Mini, but it is noticeably more comfortable to hold than my iPad 2. On the 'underwhelmed' front though, I really didn't feel like it added any features I didn't have already. The cameras made the iPad 2 a worthy upgrade from the iPad...

Enjoying tablets and smartphones? Thank e-books!
October 31, 2013 | 11:24 pm

The world has been changing a lot. In the 98 years my grandmother has been alive, we've gone from cars as rickety novelties on dirt-track roads to polished metal eggs on highways that span the globe; the Wright Brothers' first flight to putting people on the moon and machinery on Mars. And we've gone from mechanical clocks and automated looms as state-of-the-art in information technology to having powerful computer/photo/video terminals in most peoples' pockets. Even over the course of my own lifetime, the rate of advance has been remarkable. When I was in grade school. having computers in the...

How to get the most out of library ebooks via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise
October 18, 2013 | 6:26 pm

FireVergeWant to hear text to speech from free library ebooks on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual OverDrive app can’t do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? Also, what if you haven’t even bought an e-reading gizmo for library use, but want to? Which model to go with? In those cases and others, the guidance here is for you. Most tips will work even with low-cost, no-name tablets. But let’s pay special attention to the new Kindle Fire HDXes. They are among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can stomach...

Apple allows old iOS devices to install ‘last compatible version’ of newer apps
October 6, 2013 | 6:00 pm

ipadlatestappThis is a slightly old story, but I thought it was worth following up on when I had the chance. A few weeks ago, Apple quietly added a new feature to its iOS app store. It used to be that when you had hardware too old to run the latest version of an app, and you lost the version of it you had, you were out of luck. After OS 7 came out, for example, when I tried to update my 1st-generation iPad’s Zite app, I was told that the new one required OS 7. So if I...

LA stops letting high schoolers take school-issued iPads home after they easily bypass Internet lockdown
September 26, 2013 | 9:17 pm

Turns out the problem with issuing iPads to high school students, as LA is doing in a $1 billion program for its public schools, is…they actually want to use them for stuff other than school work. So finds the LA Times, which notes that it only took about a week for students to figure out how to remove the school restrictions on the tablets so they could use them for things they wanted to do, such as social networking or streaming Pandora. As a result, the school has halted its tablet roll-out program, at least insofar as letting students...

Run Windows and Mac apps on your iPad with Parallels Access
September 1, 2013 | 1:55 pm

iPadParallels has long made it easy for Mac users to run PC programs (and more) within OS X. Now, they’re letting you run Windows and Mac apps within iOS via the newly announced Parallels Access for iPad. With Parallels Access, you can remotely access your Mac and PC and run the programs as if they were made for iPad. Mac support is available now, with Windows access available as a free beta. Support of additional tablet devices is also in development, but the press release doesn’t state if this means iPhones or Android devices in general. Now, we don’t need to explain the...

Kindle Fire Surpasses iPad for Children’s Reading
August 29, 2013 | 9:31 pm

According to a new report by Digital Book World and Play Collective (love that name!), kids who read digitally now do so more on Kindle Fires than iPads: 27 percent on the Fire vs. 20 percent on an iPad. That's a switch from eight months ago when it was 20 percent Fire, 22 percent iPad. Not surprisingly, there's also been an increase in the number of children who have access to tablets. About 84 percent of children who read digitally have access to a tablet, up from 72 percent in January. All figures are for the U.S. only. My kid is way beyond this...

Latest IDC tablet figures cast doubt on iPad future
August 6, 2013 | 10:36 am

It may be a little early to start writing off Apple as the next fading titan a la Microsoft or Nokia, but the latest tablet sales report from the International Data Corporation confirm the impression that it's not all sunshine and apple blossom right now in Cupertino. The latest issue of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker shows the first recent quarter-on-quarter decline in worldwide tablet shipments, "as total volumes fell -9.7% from 1Q13. However, the 45.1 million units shipped in the second quarter was up 59.6% from the same quarter in 2012, when tablet vendors shipped 28.3 million devices." That three-monthly decline...