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Snapkeys Takes Innovative Approach to the Virtual Keyboard

By on Dec 27, 2012 in iPad |

For as long as the home computer has existed, there has basically been one type of keyboard. Although some may snap open in the middle for a more ergonomic set up, and others may feature a number pad for those who spend a lot of their time crunching data, the standard QWERTY layout is the norm. It’s the way people learn how to type, and obviously allows people to start using new hardware right away. Even if the operating system is different, the keyboard is blessedly familiar. But now there are tablet devices, those fantastic touchscreen computers that can do basically anything your laptop can do but in a magazine-sized package. They’re incredible machines, and rising sales declare their popularity is here to stay. Those touchscreen devices have caused some companies to rethink the keyboard, as the standard one just won’t do. Hence the birth of Snapkeys, a virtual keyboard that launched its beta test this week. Snapkeys has truly revolutionized the keyboard for this new touchscreen reality. Gone is the QWERTY layout most of us have taken for granted. Instead you’ll find a keyboard based on only four, semi-transparent buttons. These virtual touchpoints each represent three letters, basically the most common letters you might access. One of the keys provides the letters I, Y and T, the second gives you W, N and A, the third E, S and L, and the fourth the R, D and O. Any other letters you require would be reached by tapping a spot in the screen’s center. The translucent keys allow you to type without blocking any of the screen’s information, a very important feature and the real reason behind Snapkeys. You’d simply lose too much of your screen’s real estate with a full-sized keyboard. This virtual keyboard does come with a learning curve, but the bottom line is a more effective and pleasurable experience of your tablet device. Some of the things you can do with the virtual keyboard installed is see the instant results of a web search as you are typing or leave a comment on a YouTube video without having to toggle between screens. But how does Snapkeys translate your typing with so few keys? It’s built off of the same technology you’ll find in modern word processing programs. Basically it fills in the most common word choices as you type, just as your smartphone does. But it also learns your tendencies as you use it, so it will improve its suggestions and your typing speed after some time. Eventually Snapkeys would be able to type out the entire word once you hit just a couple of smart keys. You can also add slang terms or proper names to the Snapkeys dictionary, so it further improves to your needs. The end result, according to the manufacturer, is a typing speed of 45 words each minute, and an expected accuracy of up to 99%. That easily beats what you’ll find on the vast majority of mobile keyboards. Benjamin Ghassabian, the founder of Snapkeys and the company’s CEO declared that the trick was breaking away from the QWERTY design. The twelve letters you access through those four smart keys are used in upwards of 85% of your typing, making it much more efficient than the standard keyboard for mobile devices. Ghassabian felt you shouldn’t have to lose that much screen space, and the old keyboard was not made with this new reality in mind. Interested in trying this out for yourself? You may have to wait a little bit to get your hands on Snapkeys. It’s now in private beta testing in New York, Chicago and Austin technology centers amongst others. The public release will come next...

Groupon Unveils iPad App for Merchants

By on Oct 16, 2012 in iPad |

Groupon rose to prominence online during the past few years by partnering with brands to offer huge daily deals. They have helped small businesses regain traction in their local markets, even in the face of low consumer spending, and have given national chains some of their most successful promotions ever. But Groupon has had a rough go of it lately, as they’ve seen their online coupon sales steadily plummet. In response to that trend, and with an eye towards creating new markets, Groupon has announced a new iPad app designed to help merchants track customer purchases online. The new iPad app is called Breadcrumb. It is launching only in the United States as of now, and will be a subscription service carrying a monthly price tag of $99. Breadcrumb had already been released as part of a Beta test to a small group of businesses in New York. But according to Mihir Shah, who is Groupon’s VP of mobile and merchant products, it will now expand nationally. Breadcrumb is the main technology product of a startup based out of New York that Groupon purchased back in May. It’s quite similar to the service provided by Square, in that it allows business owners to accept credit cards. But in addition it will give merchants a number of other options, including the ability to accept reservations through the same portal. Based on further comments put forward by Mr. Shah, the goal is for Groupon to improve its relationship with merchants, and to focus much more on their needs than on consumers looking for daily deals. It remains to be seen if Groupon will ever become the one-stop shop supporting merchants through all of their transactions that the company clearly wants to become, but Breadcrumb is an excellent step down that road in any case. It even has specific solutions designed for bars and restaurants, allowing managers to make adjustments to their online menus, to split customer checks and even to organize the time-clock inputs from their entire staff. Breadcrumb will also work seamlessly with Groupon Payments, which is the company’s credit card reader. As with Square and the other technology companies that manage that work, Groupon Payments can record transactions on any credit card, with or without a swipe of the card itself. Given that much of this technology is currently in the marketplace thanks to several other companies that beat Groupon to the punch, how will the daily deals company perform? Their success or failure may hinge greatly upon the relationships they have built with local, regional and national brands. After all, if Groupon has helped a company make a significant amount of money with a successful sale, that company is more likely to use Groupon for its mobile credit card processing services. But there are many companies that have used Groupon just to see their bottom line hurt, by giving out too many coupons for too few future customers. Groupon’s only chance may be to show significant success in one region, and then rely on that buzz to grab a majority of the small business opportunities in that area. Only time will tell what the fate of this program, and Groupon will...

Apple Orders 10 Million Units of the iPad Mini

By on Oct 10, 2012 in iPad |

The gadget industry is all astir at the moment, and for very good reason. The times, as it’s been said, they are a-changin,’ and in a very big way. In 2007 Apple shook up both the comping and the mobile phone worlds by introducing the iPhone, which could easily be described (along with the recent glut of smartphone options) as an incredibly powerful handheld computer that just so happens to make phone calls. Then, in 2010, Apple rocked the mobile computing world once again. The first iPad was a tablet computer the likes of which nobody had seen before — a crystal clear display, incredible thinness, and Apple’s well-received internal mechanics and the groundbreaking iOS operating system. Since these developments, it’s no surprise that other technological giants have raced to catch up with the demand newly created by Apple’s revolutionary iPad. Fast forward to present day: the very end of 2012’s third quarter. Since the introduction of the iPad, Apple has released two updates, the iPad 2 and the revolutionary “New iPad,” featuring a stunningly high-definition Retina Display. Less than a month before the time of this writing, Apple has released the iPhone 5 to rave reviews, as many are calling it the very best smartphone ever made, and a marvel of modern manufacturing, to boot. Despite its present domination of the gadget industry, Apple is nevertheless poised to tighten its grip, with the rumored release of the iPad Mini this holiday season. Aimed squarely at the fourth quarter of 2012, the iPad Mini has been ordered by Apple to the tune of a whopping ten million units. Why the deluge of technology? Apple hopes to meet incredible demands, despite the relatively untested iPad Mini and its unknown levels of success or failure. Steve Jobs, having famously disliked the idea of creating a smaller tablet, would have likely never released the iPad Mini, but as Google and Amazon have released the Nexus 7 and the Kindle HD respectively, they’ve put some pressure on Apple’s stranglehold when it comes to tablets and gadgets. Each coming at a price point under $200, the Nexus 7 and the Kindle HD both offer competitively powerful specifications at the lower end of the market, therefore making themselves available to a much wider consumer base. The iPad Mini aims to meet this competition, with a 7.8-inch display and the same technical specifications of the iPad 2. Of course, this means that users of the iPad Mini won’t get that Retina Display that so many people love about the New iPad, but this might very well not matter. So long as Apple can offer the iPad Mini at a price point under $300 they’ll be able to compete with the latest gadgets and technology offered by Google and Amazon without any serious trouble. Either way, the fourth quarter will be an interesting one. Google and Amazon have already released their competition for the iPad 3, but with the announcement of the iPad Mini, it’s entirely possible Google may be readying their response. Rumors are suggesting that two new Nexus tablets are in the works, which will only provide some more interesting compeition in an already fiercely competitive...

The Future of Tablets in Education

By on Oct 10, 2012 in iPad |

The evolution of technology is truly inevitable in the age of information. Computers and the internet become an increasingly ingrained part of our lives each and every year, and the smaller and more portable the devices, the more seamless the integration. Technology has transformed the way entrepreneurs do business, how family and friends spread out across the world keep in touch with one another, and even how complicated surgeries are performed. And the impact on the educational system is becoming more and more profound. The United States has fallen behind other technologically advanced countries in a wide range of areas, and it may come down to technology to help solve the disparity. Some have suggested that placing tablets into our public school system could be the answer. Others have suggested that the costs of such efforts make it impossible. So what exactly is the future of tablet devices in education? Computing companies such as Intel and Apple are working alongside textbook company McGraw Hill, the Federal Communications Commission’s chairman Julius Genachowski and Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education to determine how tablets and other digital devices can assist teachers in the classroom. A quick look at the numbers shows that tablets could actually save schools money. The FCC has estimated that $7 billion is spent each and every year on textbooks in the United States. And no small percentage of those textbooks are seriously out of date, some by as much as a decade. If you estimate that the average tablet device costs around $250, and schools would enjoy a discount of around $100 per device due to bulk purchasing, the FCC believes that replacing the majority of textbooks with tablets would save schools as much as $3 billion per year. That’s an average of $60 per student in the United States. And the best part is that tablets would never be out of date, offering our kids the most current material our educational system can develop. But what about the infrastructure costs? After all, there’s much more required than simply placing the tablet in the classroom. Every school that integrates tablets would need to significantly bolster their IT departments. Public schools in New York City ran up against this problem last year, and ended up having to ban students from connecting their smartphones and mobile devices to their schools’ Wi-Fi networks. All of that traffic was maxing out the servers, causing crashes that would undermine any tablets used for education. After New York City spent over $1 million on tablets for their teachers, realizing that the infrastructure was unable to manage the expansion was a serious problem. Many districts are running up against steep budget cuts, so hidden costs can be devastating. Many teachers still feel that the growing pains are worth battling through. But research into the efficacy of tablet learning versus textbook learning has returned some mixed results. Houghton Mifflin, another textbook publishing company, conducted a study in which some students in a district in Riverside, California learned Algebra 1 through a traditional textbook and others used a digital version of the same textbook on an Apple iPad. They found the tablet-assisted students ended up with 20% higher standardized test scores. Another study performed in England found comprehension of wholly new information was lower on tablets versus traditional textbooks. It’s going to take more time and far more information to come to a final conclusion. For now, perhaps studying for a master of urban planning should involve traditional methods. But for kids in high school and elementary school, who have grown up with computer technology as an integral part of life, the results will probably be much more...

Is The iPad3 Serious About Photography ?

By on Mar 13, 2012 in Gadgets, iPad |

Apple have chosen to introduce the new iPad3 to the world by showing off its ‘stunning retina display’. The iPad3 is obviously being sold on its video and photography capabilities – but can the iPad line succeed as a real photographer’s tool?  Consumer research in 2011 suggested that a better camera would convince 29% of current iPad2 owners to upgrade their device, and attract 25% of first time buyers to the high-end of the iPad range. Recent research has shown that 19% of those surveyed were attracted to the retina display. It is, of course, a given that the iPad 3 will sell incredibly fast  to the average consumer due to the promotion of the retina screen as a market leader as well as the unparalleled cache of being the newest in Apple’s line. SpecificationsThe retina screen is a 9.7-inch,  2048×1536, display with a staggering 264 pixels per inch. With this standout feature alone the iPad 3 blows away – well, everything on the market in terms of display. The camera (which was nothing special in the iPad 2) has been upgraded to a 5 megapixel and renamed the iSight. Not quite as powerful as the 8 megapixel camera included in the iPhone 4s (of which more later), perhaps Apple are shy of putting a very powerful camera in an ergonomically imperfect ‘camera body’. iPhoto has also been added to the iOS to add the much needed image editing power.  There’s also HD 1080p video and a quad-core graphics card. All of these new features help to mimic the detail and clarity of human sight.  UseStats from photo sharing giant Flickr show that the iPad 2 barely features in a list of Apple devices most frequently used to upload photos to the Flickr network. It seemed to fall far behind the iPhone 4 and 4s as a photography device. Only 12,811 photos were taken on an iPad 2 and uploaded  in 2011. With these bolstered capabilities, Apple is obviously hoping that the iPad 3 can elevate the iPad line into the first generation of desktop-replacing devices.  DrawbacksWill the retina display attract consumers who are looking to use their device for e Books and gaming? The Kindle Fire might feel the pinch of the iPad 3’s retina screen and backlit lighting. Serious gamers might also be attracted to the fast graphics card and portability. The lack of a USB port for camera connection might continue to discourage photography professionals, even with the addition of iPhoto. The iPad is already a favourite portable portfolio for photographers and designers. Perhaps if it allowed users more flexibility to move their images around, as well as to view them, then it might truly be the perfect tablet for photographers.  In the mean time, the average consumer with an interest in photography might want to keep checking out iphone 4s deals. Robert Jefferson is an English freelance writer and he loves writing about iphone 4s deals. This article was written by a guest author. Would you like to write for...

iPad 2 Apps to Help Manage Your Money

By on Jan 6, 2012 in iPad |

Apple’s iPad 2 is the most critically and commercially successful tablet computer on the market at the moment. Part of the reason behind this is the wealth of applications available for the iPad 2. There are many apps designed to help you be more productive with your working day and organize your finances with ease, so here is a brief look at some of the best money management apps for the iPad 2. HomeBudgetHomeBudget is an iPad app that takes full advantage of the tablet’s large 9.7-inch display, giving you the ability to examine all of your household finances in one simple interface. You can check out your monthly expenses, see how much you spend on bills and calculate your income in order to work out a budget that you can follow. The app also gives you an overarching view of your recent financial information pulled from the past six months of activity, presented in a pleasing graph. PayPalMaking secure payments online can be tough from a tablet but with the PayPal app installed on your iPad 2, you can shop with greater confidence. The app lets you transfer money to online retailers, check your current PayPal balance and even send cash to friends and family. The app is free to download from the App Store, although PayPal users will appreciate that the company takes a percentage of each transaction it handles. PocketMoneyPocketMoney has one of the most visually engaging approaches to personal finance management of any iPad 2 application. It lets you enter information relating to as many different accounts as you like, from credit cards to savings and breaks down your budget into a variety of easy to digest formats. One useful feature of the app is the ability to set repeating transactions, which can occur daily, weekly, yearly and every permutation in between so that you are always one step ahead. PowerOne Finance CalculatorFor those who really know the financial industry inside out, this is arguably the best calculator of the bunch for your iPad. It lets you work out calculations and conversions of almost any kind, allowing you to determine the profit margins of your business or find out how much the loan repayments will be if you get a finance deal for your new car. You can convert your calculations into custom spreadsheets that are then simple to share with other people, which means that its main weakness is perhaps an overabundance of functionality that could make it confusing for first time users. iCurrency PadIf you are planning a vacation abroad or heading on a business trip, you will want to have a good currency converter at your disposal to make sure that you are getting the best rates available. There are plenty of different apps that feature this functionality, but iCurrency Pad is probably the best of the bunch thanks to a combination of an unfussy interface and exchange rates, which are updated in real time for enhanced accuracy. Sam is a freelance financial writer who has contributed to moneysupermarket.com and other sites. He is particularly interested in personal finance and how modern technology like the iPad 2 can improve your grip on a household budget. This article was written by a guest author. Would you like to write for...