Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

iPad v Kindle round 1

OK. First the declaration. I bought an ipad off eBay last Thursday – and I’ll write more about it later. But for the moment, let’s just say that the first device I’m turning to for almost everything is the new beast – *if* I can get it off my kids. My iphone and Macbook probably feel a little unloved at the moment. Which is why this post in the LA Times (and re-posted all over the place) rankles more than a little. In essence, the article quotes an expert saying that reading a kindle in bed is less likely to induce insomnia than an ipad:

Light-emitting devices, including cellphones and yep, the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert. Because users hold those devices so close to their face, staring directly into the light, the effect is amplified compared with, say, a TV across the room or a bedside lamp, said Frisca Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica.

My instinct is that our expert has not actually used an iPad in bed. Because when you do, you don’t hold it close to your face (like you would an iphone for example) because it’s substantially bigger and quite heavy. For bedtime reading of ebooks, my (four evening) experience has been that it’s best rested further down, on my stomach or thereabouts, with the font size adjusted to be readable and the brightness turned way, way down. I don’t think iBooks has a ‘nightime’ mode which reverses the type like some iphone apps, but something like it will no doubt come. My partner, reading her kindle with the light on, is far more intrusive (and the page turning click is incredibly annoying in the dead of night). But, YMMV. Besides, noting puts her to sleep faster than a game or six of solitaire on her iphone (yes, held inches from her face. Although apparently that can’t be happening, according to our experts).

I’m not saying that there’s nothing in “the e-ink is better for insomniacs argument”, but it’d be nice to see actual research, rather than opinion being passed off as research, no matter who it’s from. So wake me when the double-blind test has been done.

Tweets in the Library

Slightly off-topic, but news today that the Library of Congress is to archive all public tweets since 2006. From the ABC:

The US Library of Congress says it plans to digitally archive all of the billions of messages known as “tweets” sent on Twitter since its launch four years ago.

“Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive – ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006!” the Washington-based library, the world’s largest, announced in a message on its Twitter account at

“That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions,” Matt Raymond of the Library of Congress added in a blog post.

Alice for the iPad

This has been getting some attention all over the web this morning. It looks pretty cool. As things develop for the ipad, it’ll be really interesting to see how the *idea* of books expands. At one extreme is a TechCrunch suggestion that authors should be writing apps not books, which I don’t buy. This Alice seems to have a much cooler idea:

It’s not interactive to the point of annoyance and tackiness, but instead full of clever little touches

How an iPhone helped one reader…

From The Guardian, a nice piece about how an iphone made reading possible:

Recently, at the age of 57, I got an iPhone. Like many, I spent the first few hours loading up apps, including a Classics book app. Some weeks later, while mending a client’s computer, waiting for the blue line to progress slowly across the screen, I began reading…

The first title I selected was The Count of Monte Cristo. I raced through this on my iPhone in just over a week, my wife asking why I was continually playing with my iPhone. When I’d finished I enjoyed the story so much that I went to buy a copy for a friend. In the bookshop I was amazed. It was more than 1,000 pages! Had I been presented with the book in this form I would never have read it. It would have been too much like climbing a mountain…

iPad as eBook reader…

Now that Apple’s iPad is in the hands of several hundred thousand people, more details about day-today usage are trickling out. It’s hard to avoid the general comment, so I won’t point to any more of it. My own view is that the iPad *is* a game changer – one of the first devices designed to make its ‘technology’ disappear, leaving users to immerse themselves with whatever is ‘inside’ the screen. Which is why there’s no obvious file system, limited multitasking etc. It’s a valiant step towards making an invisible computer. But that’s for another post. For now, a couple of links to some eBook related iPad news. First, Andy Ihnatko:

… it’s just such a bloody good book reader that some folks will never wander far from its eBook functions. And why not? From one perspective, it’s hands-down the best book reader you can buy.

David Rothman over at Teleread:

Text-to-background contrast vs. E Ink’s? No comparison. The iPad shreds the Kindle and the others. And in standard room light, I do not feel any eyestrain so far and don’t expect to, even if I’m at the iPad hour after hour. That’s me. I know others would feel otherwise about.

And Joshua Topolsky at Engadget:

To say Apple is about to put a major dent in Kindleworld is an understatement. The iBooks app is one of the most beautiful and thoughtful uses of the iPad screen real estate on the device. It would be easy to rattle off a thousand words alone on how good of an e-book experience this is, but we’ll try to keep it brief considering how much there is to say about the iPad. Simply put, it’s a great e-reader with enough options to please even the most strident critic.

And one from Boing Boing…

Here. On the iPad’s eBook potential:

This is what we wanted e-books to be all along. Rich, nimble, and dense with image and sound and navigability, right there inside the flow of the story. And this is what we wanted the web to feel like all along. We just want it to work, and we don’t want to be aware of the delivery method while we’re enjoying what’s delivered.

The Reviews are in…

A couple of days out from when US buyers get their ipads, the favoured few reviewers speak. Mossberg, Pogue, Baig and Andy I. The verdict is pretty well thumbs up. Here’s David Pogue:

The iPad is so fast and light, the multitouch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget. Some have suggested that it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young; they’re absolutely right.

And the techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.

Where’s mine, Apple Oz?