Saturday, March 24, 2012

On traveling with my iPad

I've previously blogged about a substantive app that I found useful while traveling, but I also want to share some thoughts on a few other apps and the use of a wireless keyboard.

I borrowed a wireless keyboard from the IT department to travel with because I intended to try to use my iPad as a substitute for my laptop. In general, I found the wireless keyboard absolutely essential. I cannot imagine how folks "type" using the onscreen keyboard. I am able to use it for very short emails and for populating search bars, etc. but not for taking notes, blogging, or keeping up with work emails. The wireless keyboard solved this problem for me, and I've loved using it. I highly recommend investing in one if you intend to travel with your iPad and you want to use it in lieu of your laptop.

I did, however, find a few aspects frustrating. One of the major issues is the inability to use keyboard shortcuts. While I have not yet explored even close to a significant number of document apps, the ones I have used (GoodReader and CloudOn) do not accommodate the use of keyboard shortcuts. The second major issue I had with the keyboard is switching between using it and not. The iPad doesn't always respond immediately to disabling the wireless keyboard---in other words, if I'm not using the wireless keyboard and want to use the screen keyboard just to type a quick email or Facebook posting, for example, I don't always get the pop-up keyboard. This is the case whether I am pulling my iPad out of my bag after not using it for three hours or whether I have disabled bluetooth and disconnected the keyboard. Even after disabling bluetooth, I had to actually turn my iPad off for a few minutes, then turn it back on to use the on-screen keyboard. The only other issue I had with the keyboard was that in certain apps there is a delay between what you type on the keyboard and when it appears on the screen. This is a minor issue, but it requires that you fastidiously double-check your work and sometimes slow down to let the machines catch-up to each other.

Despite these glitches, again, I found the wireless keyboard to be absolutely essential.

Prior to life with my iPad, I regularly used a few apps on my iPhone while traveling. I have synced these apps to my iPad, and I wanted to share them here because I find them so useful. The first of these apps is "Currency," which as you might guess is a currency converter. This is essential for international travel---it helps with managing your travel budget and filling out expense reimbursement forms as you go. In fact, I can maintain an expense reimbursement form using CloudOn and update it as I go through my day so that when I return I don't have a huge pile of receipts to sort through and enter.

The second related app is JotNotPro. When I am traveling internationally for work, I regularly eat dinner and lunch with groups of colleagues to talk shop. Often each of us needs an itemized receipt but the restaurant is only able to produce one; this is especially true in many developing countries where receipts are handwritten. JotNotPro has allowed me to take a picture of the receipt and the app "scans" it and converts it to a scanned PDF of the receipt, which I can then email directly to my colleagues. When researching apps for my iPad, I read many recommendations for GeniusScan, which seems to be an app quite similar to JotNotPro. Always willing to try something new, I downloaded Genius Scan. I have used both apps while traveling in Dublin, and both work well. I will have to explore more whether one regularly produces better quality scans than the other.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great article, and I agree with you 100% on the wireless keyboard. Like you, I can type onscreen for short things, like tweeting or search bars, or a quick FB update…but anything longer? I’d likely smash my iPad out of frustration eventually. Also, for apps, Currency is great, and I really like GeniusScan. I’ll check out JotNotPro this summer when I’m in Italy for my anniversary. My favorite app of all is one my employer came out with a while back. It’s the DISH Remote Access app by DISH, and with it on my phone or ipad, as long as I have a wifi or 3G connection, I can watch live or DVR’d shows off my home receiver. It’s awesome for those long waits between flights, or just to kick back and relax in my hotel room after a long day of wandering.


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