Fifth iOS 6.1 Beta Build Released To Developers

Today, Apple released the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 for developers for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation iPad, the iPad mini, and the iPhone 3GS/4/4S and 5.

Surprisingly, according to the hacker community, the fifth beta can be activated “without developer registration and has no release keys.” If Apple wants, it can very well release the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 to the consumers as the final version without making any changes. The beta also carries the build ID of a final iOS 6, and not that of a beta build.

iOS 6.1 will bring with it the ability to purchase movie tickets via Siri in the United States, new lock screen music controls, and the ability to easily report issues in the iOS6 Maps app. Other changes include the option to download music from the iTunes store over a mobile data connection, enhanced iCloud setup and other minor tweaks and enhancements.

Via – 9to5Mac

Apple iPad mini and iPad Coming To China On January 20th

Today, Apple announced that it will be bringing the fourth generation iPad and the iPad mini to China beginning from Friday, January 18th.

The iPad mini sports a 7.85-inch screen, a dual-core A5 chip, and a 5MP camera. Its bigger brother, the fourth generation iPad, sports a 9.7-inch Retina Display, 1GB of RAM, and a very powerful A6X SoC. Both the tablets will come with iOS6 pre-loaded, which Apple dubs as the most advanced version of iOS yet.

The iPad mini with Wi-Fi and Cellular model will set buyers back by US $459 for the 16GB model, and US $559 for the 32GB model. The 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi and Cellular radio is priced at roughly US $629, while the 32GB variant costs US $729.

The iPad mini and the fourth generation iPad will be available at Apple’s online store and retail stores, along with certain authorized resellers from this Friday in China.

Review: Notability Note Taking & PDF Annotation App


If you use an iPad and are looking for a great app for taking notes and annotating PDF files, then look no further than Notability. Notability is by far one of the best note taking apps I have seen and is the only one that has taken some of my attention away from Evernote. Unlike Evernote, it is not free however, it is only $1.99 and it is packed full of features.


In the picture below, you can see how Notability allows you to organize your notes into nice note books called categories and tabs called subjects on the left side of the page. In the top bar you have a simple set of tools. The “Edit” button allows you to rename, delete, and reorganize your notes and notebooks. The right pointing arrow button to the right of “Edit” will allow you to share a particular note. Notability will connect to your email, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, WebDav, printers, iTunes, and even other apps on your iPad. The second arrow button in the top right corner will allow you to import documents, PDFs, pictures, etc… from these connected services such as Dropbox. The final button in the right corner is used to start a new note.


Stylus and Finger Friendly

One of the few frustrations I have with Evernote has been the lack of an ink note on the iPad. An ink note will allow you to use a stylus, or your finger, to write on the tablet. Notability works great with a stylus. In the image below, notice the different colors of handwriting that was used as well as, the colorful sketches that were done. The ink in Notability is smooth as silk. If you press and hold on the pencil icon at the top of the note, you get several options for pen thicknesses, styles, and colors.

Ink Pen

Media Rich

Notability has the ability to insert a lot of media into a note. Below, you will where I inserted a picture of an apple pie I made. You will also see the little “plus” sign menu dropped down showing the different media available to you in Notability. Notice that I have a purple triangle inserted as a shape. I used the “figure” option to draw this into my note. You can also insert “Stickies” with all sorts of different paper colors and lines available. Another really cool trick is the “Web Clip” option they put into Notability. You can browse out to a web page and clip a picture of it into your note. This would be great if you were working on a website design team or if there is some important information on the web that you don’t want to lose. You will also notice the microphone icon at the top of the note. This allows you to make voice notes. This is excellent for those of us who work in construction and we want to give ourselves reminders as we walk through the initial stages of a project.

Media Rich

The Good:

For a $1.99, this app is fantastic. This app is fantastic for $10. It works very nicely with a stylus and it adds flair to your notes that a lot of other note taking apps just don’t do. For instance, the fact that you can pick lined or grid paper, or have color paper instead of plain white are great examples of the thoughtful additions Notability offers. It connects to most major cross browser cloud storage apps like Dropbox and Google Drive. You can also send you note in a variety of formats such as PDF.

The Bad:

Notability will let you create text boxes that you can type in and move around, but they are a little buggy at times. Sometimes selecting and deselecting the boxes is difficult and they will move around on you as well. It doesn’t integrate with QuickOffice so you can’t import a spreadsheet in as a spreadsheet. It wants to convert it using Google Drive. It is currently not available for Android.

All that being said, those very small flaws are the only reason I can’t give this a perfect score, but it is pretty darn close in my mind. Notability is a must have app for the student, project manager, or someone who likes to keep up with good notes. I am confident that they are working to add better capabilities to this already wonderful app. It’s a 4 star app going on 5 soon.


Review: The Willy And FrameShift Stands By Insanely Great Products

If you’re in the market for a stand for either your iPhone or iPad, you may or may not have heard of Insanely Great Products. Insanely Great is a smaller iOS accessory maker who specializes in handcrafted stands for both the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Its whole line of stands are made from extremely high quality materials, like aluminium and sturdy acrylics. Because of this, most of the stands manufactured by Insanely Great Products feature a very industrial look, something which I’m a huge fan of.

Insanely Great Products was nice enough to let me test out a couple of their stands: the Willy and the Frameshift. The Willy Stand is made for the iPhone, but can be used with pretty much any smartphone. The FramesShift is an iPad stand which works with most tablets and eReaders on the market. Below, I’ve written up an individual review for each product, giving you my opinion on whether or not I think you should purchase either of the stands for yourself.

FrameShift For iPad

The FrameShift is a pretty awesome stand for the iPad, though it’s compatible with most tablet devices. It’s constructed completely out of anodized aircraft aluminium, and is available in three colors: red, blue and black. All three of these colors look absolutely stunning, though I prefer blue. Since the FrameShift is made out of aluminium, you don’t have to worry about the stand breaking, denting or cracking. Also, all of the nuts, bolts and washers used to construct the FrameShift are standard, so if anything gets broken, you can easily replace the part yourself.

One nice thing about the FrameShift is how versatile it is. The stand’s arm can be configured in multiple angles, allowing for easier viewing of movies and typing. Because of this, the FramesShift can also fold flat, which is helpful when traveling. Also, the interior of the FrameShift is padded with rubber, ensuring that your iPad won’t come in contact with the Frameshift’s metal construction.

All in all, I’d be happy to recommend the FrameShift as an iPad stand, though the price is a bit steep at $99 USD. For the price, however, you’re getting an extremely durable stand for your iPad which should be able to withstand most any situation, whether you’re storing it in your messenger bag or watching movies on the airplane. The fact that the FrameShift can be used to position your iPad at pretty much any angle really seals the deal for me.

Willy For iPhone

Willy For iPhone

If you’re looking for a cheap and functional iPhone stand, the Willy is your match. The Willy is made out of a sturdy acrylic material and features a non-skid bottom, so you don’t have to worry about using the Willy on your nightstand or desk.

Your iPhone is held into the Willy using one of two suction cups. The secondary suction cup can be used to mount the Willy to your car’s dashboard, your whiteboard or even the bathroom mirror. One of my favorite uses for the Willy is for positioning my iPhone comfortably between my ear and shoulder when on long calls. When used on a table, the Willy is positioned at a perfect angle for hands-free movie viewing and FaceTime calling.

If you’d like to purchase the Willy for yourself, expect to drop $20 on Insanely Great Products’ website. With such a low price-tag for such a functional product, I have no trouble recommending the Willy to any smartphone user.

Disclosure: Insanely Great Products provided both the FrameShift and Willy for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

How iPad is Changing Education Big Time

iPads have disrupted the way we do things for the better. It has changed the way we work, read, learn, game, and communicate. In fact, the device has also changed the way industries complete tasks. One prominent industry that has adopted the device is education. The iPad is helping students learn better, improve test scores, and making learning a better interactive experience. Creativity is inspired among students because they are now learning on a device that motivates them. The amount of features and apps the device offers also helps get them more engaged with the content. In addition, iPads have replaced bulky textbooks and lets students easily access content they need anywhere. They don’t need to carry cumbersome laptops or bulky backpacks anymore.

Even though the use of technology in the education system has been discouraged, that is quickly changing thanks to the iPad. Let’s take a look at how the device is disrupting the traditional ways of teaching:

Updated Textbooks

A major problem with paper textbooks is how quickly the material becomes outdated. Due to this, students are forced to learn old material instead of current material. Also, since paper textbooks are expensive to produce and costly for schools to buy, they aren’t purchased frequently within school districts. These books are also very costly for students. With some textbooks costing more than $100, the price tag adds up quickly. If a typical student has six different courses, then they could easily end up spending $600 on textbooks alone. Also, a typical class has more students than sets of textbooks. This doesn’t help teachers or students in any way. The solution for this? Apple’s iPad. The cheapest retail version now costs $329 made possible due to the iPad mini. Apple may offer a discount on iPads in the future for education, but that has not been revealed yet. The company already offers discounted prices for Macs in education. For example, the $999 iMac for education.

Through the iPad, teachers are able to provide updated information, stories, and research for each session instead of using outdated printed material. Apple’s iBooks textbooks are ensuring that digital e-books are developed for all levels of students. The biggest impact is being caused via the form of textbooks.

Mobility in education 

Until recently, students had no option but to carry extremely heavy loads of textbooks to school every day for completing homework or following coursework, but the iPad eliminates this issue. The device’s light weight and extremely portable design allows students to complete their homework and learn from anywhere. They are constantly tuned into learning. For teachers, iPad has made it much easier to carry their course work with them on the go. This has already become a trend. Jackson Christian School in Jackson, Tenn., has virtually paperless classrooms. Students no longer carry binders and textbooks and teachers test students on their iPads.

New ways to increase productivity and organization

A common issue among students is keeping their notes and homework assignments easily organized. Either the paper has somehow disappeared or got thrown away by accident. This is partially due to students having grown up in a digital age. They are used to having documents automatically being saved on a computer and having them accessible at time. Finding something is as easy as clicking a button these days.

Say good bye to the traditional paper planner and say hello to new applications like iStudiez Pro and other content organizer apps have made it is easier than ever before for students to keep track of schedules and deadlines, complete homework, and even find their assignments and task lists. In addition, it has revolutionized note taking inside and outside of the classroom. No longer do students have to spend a lot of time and energy copying notes. Oh, another bonus point? Notes are actually legible!

In fact, a teacher at Garden City High School in Garden City, Kan. was actually taught by one of her students on how to use Notability, an iPad app that enables the user to take notes, record lectures, and annotate PDFs. It is the power of the iPad combined with rich apps that make all of this possible.


iPads are quickly becoming a PC replacement in school districts and universities because they are more economical than laptops that offer similar options. It has been proven that providing students with iPads is much cheaper than purchasing a whole new set of textbooks for each student from kindergarten through 12th grade. iPads are already overtaking PC sales in schools and with the new iPad mini, adoption of the device in education will rapidly increase.

Customized Curriculum

Every student learns differently, but the education system currently imposes a one size fits all method. Now with the iPad, the student can be in control, choosing how they learn, where, and when. In addition, the power of technology and the device enables the option of an app to be developed that can help create a customized learning experience for individual students. Yes, this is a bit far off, but it is totally possible. Students who struggle on a certain topic can receive more guided practice and teachers can spend more time with them, while other students continue to work independently as they master the curriculum. Students can also easily collaborate with peers as they go through the curriculum. Courses can be fine tuned for each student as they make progress throughout the curriculum, which would lead to education becoming a truly personalized experience – something that does not exist as of today.


The education system is in desperate need of change and iPad is one of the ways it is disrupting the way students and teachers do things inside and outside of the classroom. Combine that with applications, open education sources, or an online school like Khan Academy and you have a modern day teaching and learning environment. It’s also creating a desire for lifelong learning and creativity among students rather than just learning information for a grade.


American Kids Want Apple Products for Christmas

A new survey by research firm Nielsen reveals that  U.S. consumers aged 6-12 are very interested in purchasing Apple’s iOS products over the next 6 months. The new Nintendo Wii U claimed the #2 spot, but significantly fell behind the iPad. Apple’s iPod touch, iPad mini, and iPhone are rounded out the rest of the top 5 most wanted products for this age group. 48 percent of children surveyed showed interest in the full-sized iPad (up from 44 percent last year), and 36 percent in the new iPad mini.

Nielsen also surveyed people older than 13+ and discovered that the iPad also topped that list. However, the remainder of the 13+ year old list wasn’t as much in favor of Apple than the 6-12 year old group.

It sounds like it is going to be a massive holiday quarter for Apple.

Surface with Windows RT: Likes

After an agonizing wait, I finally got a chance to play with my new Surface with Windows RT, or as I will call it for sanity’s sake, Surface RT or simply, Surface. It has been a few days, and I thought instead of writing a full-fledged review, I’d focus on some key likes and a long list of dislikes. Nits that I picked. I discuss the likes here, and dislikes in a second post.

Surface RT

Overall, I really like the device. I was determined to evaluate its use as an iPad replacement in my house. To be clear, in our house, the iPad is used for Facebook, Twitter, web browsing (between my wife and I), and some Netflix/PBS Kids/kid games (our kids, 4 and 6 years old). We are not using the iPad as a computer, or a “creation device”. It is a pure consumption device, unless you call writing a tweet, “creation”.

In that use case, the Surface has ably fit in place of the iPad for the kids. The kids have enough games that they know of, and enough games that are new, that they actually like using the Surface. My wife has not used it much, but that is because at this point of time, she considers the Surface “my baby” so she is almost afraid to some extent, of using it. However, it is only a matter of time :-)

Last night, I saw my kids fight to get to use the Surface. Mind you, we got our second iPad 2 just so they can both have their own. So, despite having two iPads, they preferred to use the Surface. Granted, it could be a novelty thing, but still, it bodes well for me that they are actually liking the device with all its oddities, like the 16:9 aspect ratio.

I replaced my iPad too, almost

As for me, the Surface has almost replaced the iPad. The big gap at this point? Twitter app! I like Tweetro, but because of their recent issue with API token limit, I was unable to sign in on the Surface despite having used it (extensively) on my Windows 8 desktop. The other two big names, Rowi and MetroTwit are both far behind what I would call a basic Twitter experience, so to me they are unusable. I am forced to use the People app and Twitter website meanwhile, and that makes for a highly sub-optimal experience for a “power user” like yours truly.

The other small issue which makes me use the iPad when the PC is not being used, is access to my work email and calendar. My work has an app which allows me to access Exchange with native iOS mail, calendar and reminders apps. They haven’t yet provisioned it for Windows 8/RT.

Besides those two missing pieces, I am extremely happy with the device. I haven’t yet experienced some of the performance issues that many others have experienced, nor have I found any major app missing. It is thin enough, and light enough for me to use it like I used my iPad. (Important to note, my iPad has a strong Speck case which makes the iPad feel heavier.)

Windows 8 (and Windows RT)

Some part of why I like the Surface so much is due to Windows 8. For example, all my settings including my lock screen image, theme, pinned websites, favorites, web history, etc. automatically came through as I signed in with my Microsoft account. This is because I had set up my account and settings on my desktop PC earlier and set it up so all those settings were synced across devices via the cloud.

Also, thanks to Xbox Music Match, a service that is yet to officially roll out but works anyway, all my music was available on the Surface as soon as I signed in with my Microsoft account. This includes some playlists I created just the day before. Again, this is because my music was matched from my desktop PC (which in turn is connected to my home server where all my music, photos and videos are stored). In addition, I was able to impress some of my family members by searching for and playing a bunch of songs on-demand via the Xbox Music subscription service. While I have the Xbox Music Pass, the unlimited streaming (with some, ahem, limits) is automatically included with all Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.

The last thing I want to mention why I love the Surface and why I replaced my iPad with it? Office. I use Excel and Word in addition to OneNote, for various purposes. Things like tracking expenses, creating birthday lists, sending formal letters, etc. are all done on Excel, Word and OneNote. Having “real” Office on my tablet with a constant sync to SkyDrive (which allows me to collaborate with my wife for some of those items) is a huge benefit. Not what I would call the #1 reason to buy a Surface, but definitely a huge plus when considering a Surface over an iPad.

Suffice to say, I really like my Surface. I think it is money well spent, for my use of such a device. Having said that, there are issues I have with the device and I list them in my next post.

Apple Sells Three Million iPads in Opening Weekend

Today, Apple announced that it sold three million iPads since the launch of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad on Friday. The company did not give separate sales numbers for the iPad and iPad mini, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Usually, Apple doesn’t reveal sales numbers of particular device. Apple did say that the sales of the iPad mini exceeded initial supply though.

Apple today announced it has sold three million iPads in just three days since the launch of its new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad—double the previous first weekend milestone of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models sold for the third generation iPad in March. The Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of both iPad mini and fourth generation iPad will ship in a few weeks in the US and in many more countries later this year.

“Customers around the world love the new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We’re working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand.”

The company also said that while many iPad mini preorders shipped to customers, some are scheduled to be shipped later this month.

Certain Apple Stores Will Replace Less Than 30 Days Old iPad 3 With The Fourth-Generation One

Yesterday, Apple surprised everyone by announcing the fourth generation iPad with a much faster A6X SoC (System-on-Chip), a new Lighting port, updated LTE baseband and upgraded FaceTime HD camera. Refreshing a product within six months of its release is not something Apple is known for, and this move has clearly disappointed many existing iPad 3 owners.

If you got an iPad recently, you will certainly be feeling the burnt more. Thankfully, certain Apple stores will be replacing the iPad 3 for the fourth-generation iPad, only if the device is less than 30 days old. CNET reports that this is not a company wide policy, and so not all Apple stores will be replacing the iPad 3 for the new iPad.

Oh! and don’t think Apple will replace your third generation iPad for the new one if you give your for servicing due to some hardware fault. Apple has a big pile of refurbished iDevices, and will promptly replace your iPad with a third-gen iPad only.


Apple Unveils Fourth-Generation iPad with Lightning Connector, New A6X Chip

Today, Apple announced an updated version to its full-sized iPad. The new update brings in an updated processor with a faster A6X and a new Lightning connector which was introduced with the iPhone 5 last month. The new processor offers up to two times the CPU and graphics performance of the A5X, while maintaining 10 hours of battery life and the same design as the prior iPad. In addition, the new iPad now supports many new international LTE carriers.

The fourth generation iPad is offered in black and white and starts at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi models and $629 for the 16 GB cellular models.

Pre-orders for the new iPad begin on Friday, October 26 through the Apple Online Store in the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The Wi-Fi configurations will begin shipping November 2, with the LTE configurations following two weeks later in the US, and then following in other countries.