Apple’s Weird Math, or the Weight of the iPad

I was looking at the specs for the new iPad Air 2, comparing its weight with last year’s original iPad Air. I’m unimpressed by the difference in thickness between the devices, but wanted to see how much difference the thinner iPad meant in terms of weight. On Apple’s page where you can compare iPad models, I saw this:


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(I’ve edited the above, so the images display right about the weight section, which is quite far down on the Compare iPads page.)

I you think for a second, you realize there’s something wrong with the math. The iPad Air 2 weighs 32 grams less than the original iPad Air; that’s almost an ounce, or 1/16 of a pound. But the difference between the two – .96 lbs and 1 lb – is clearly wrong. Last year’s iPad Air actually weighs 1.03 pounds, yet Apple rounds this down to a pound. For other models, they have un-rounded numbers: .98 lbs for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model of the iPad Air 2, 1.05 lbs for last year’s version. But last years Wi-Fi iPad Air is curiously an even pound.

I suspect that Apple rounded down last year, and, since they did so, they can’t change the weight, but a simple calculation shows their error. It’s odd; you’d think they’re want to better highlight the difference between the two models: 32 grams, or just over 1/16 of a pound, or, to be precise, 0.07 lbs. When you compare the two in the above graphic, if you aren’t familiar with the conversion (454 g = 1 lb – you’d think there’s less of a difference in weight.

This isn’t a big deal, but it’s a spec that’s clearly wrong (at least in pounds).

The iPad mini 3 is Not Worth the Money

Apple yesterday updated the iPad line, with a new processor, improved camera and an even thinner body for the iPad Air, and Touch ID added to both the iPad Air and the iPad mini. But the iPad mini 3 sees only the addition of Touch ID; everything else is exactly the same as the iPad mini 2.

Nevertheless, this new iPad mini costs $100 more than the iPad mini 2, which Apple is still selling, for the base 16 GB model. It’s hard to compare other versions, as the iPad mini 2 is only available in 16 or 32 GB, and the iPad mini 3 in 16, 64 and 128 GB.


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Nevertheless, that’s $100 for Touch ID, and for an iPad whose processor is already a year old, and which will have a shorter lifespan in terms of OS upgradability than, say, the iPad Air 2, which has a newer processor.

This seems like a ripoff. With Apple still selling the older model – and even the first iPad mini – it’s obvious that, unless you really need the storage, you’re better off getting last year’s model. You can even get a 32 GB iPad mini 2 for less than a 16 GB iPad mini 3. Touch ID is nice, but it’s not that big a deal, and not worth paying $100 for.

The iPad Mini Is the New iPod Touch

“Apple’s annual iPad event is upon us. The company is expected to release updated versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini, both with Touch ID, faster processors and perhaps new colors.

A year ago, it looked like demand for the iPad mini was on the cusp of potentially eclipsing that of the traditional 9.7-inch iPad. The iPad Air made a strong case for large-screen tablets everywhere, but the market definitely seemed to be trending toward the 7- and 8-inch ones that Steve Jobs so abhorred.

A year later, the scenario seems to have reversed itself yet again. At the end of 2014, tablet sales in general have slowed down (though I contend that the tablet is in no way dead). At the same time, large-screened phones (“phablets,” if we must) are taking off.

On the Android side, we’ve seen very clear evidence that the large-screened smartphones have started to eat into the sales for 7-inch devices. Even 8-inch devices (the size closer to the iPad mini), are impacted when phone screens approach the 6-inch mark.

After all, a 5.5-inch phone is in many ways closer to a tablet than it is to a smartphone. In talking with hundreds of iPhone 6 Plus owners for a recent story, a common refrain I heard from many was that “the iPhone 6 is going to make me use my iPad mini less.””

Christina Warren nails it in this Mashable article. Why carry around an iPad and an iPhone? If you use both regularly, it makes sense to swap the iPad mini and iPhone for an iPhone 6 Plus. While it’s not quite as big, it makes a lot more sense. Also, if you have an iPad with a data contract – which you don’t always need, since, depending on your cell provider, you may be able to use the iPhone to create a personal hotspot – you’re saving money on that subscription.

It’s not for me – neither the iPhone 6 or the 6 Plus – but I can see plenty of use cases where the 6 Plus is the perfect device for lots of people.

This said, a recent segment on the BBC News showed a hospital where the nurses were using iPod touches to record patient data, which is then centralized. The hospital has a much lower overall death rate because of the system. I think the iPod touch – or something like it – has a future in the enterprise, in areas where a touch-screen device is useful, but where cell access isn’t needed. It will be interesting to see if Apple addresses this market explicitly in the future.

The iPad Mini Is the New iPod Touch.

Duplicate Tracks in iTunes Cause Problems Syncing iOS Devices

My friend Rob Griffiths pinged me the other day. He had gotten a brand new iPhone 6, (and ribbed me about it), but was having problems syncing it. He could sync some content, but not movies; then some movies, but not all; then he couldn’t sync at all.

Rob took the extreme move of writing to Tim Cook, one of whose staffers read the email and reacted, quickly. It turned out, as Rob explains, that the problem was caused by duplicate tracks in his iTunes library:

“In the current version of iTunes/iOS, there’s a bug that only appears when you have duplicates of purchased songs. When encountered, a duplicate of a purchased song will (almost always) cause iTunes to silently stop syncing.”

This is interesting, in part because I get lots of emails about problems with syncing iOS devices, and I’d never found a cause. I’m not sure this is the only issue, because sync problems are multifarious. For example, in the few days that I had my iPhone 6, I had to restore it twice, because the device lost track of my music and showed it all as “Other” content. I’ve seen this occur in the past when syncs are interrupted, but this was happening to me with a new device, allowing it to sync completely.

Rob eventually scoured his library with Doug Adams’ Dupin, an app that finds duplicates in iTunes. (Read Doug’s write-up of the story.) I ran Dupin, and was surprised to find that I, too, had a number of duplicates, one of which was a full purchased album by Bob Dylan. I know I had never downloaded that album twice, so I suspect something odd going on behind the scenes in iTunes when it organizes libraries. And Rob is sure that he never downloaded his duplicate tracks twice, but what was interesting was some of them were older 128 kbps tracks with DRM, and some were newer versions; perhaps he upgraded them, at some point, and iTunes didn’t delete the older ones?

What is more likely is that these duplicates were added to his library when he chose to transfer purchases from an iOS device:


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I know I’ve done that at times, when I’ve updated apps on my iPhone, for example, and didn’t want to download them again in iTunes (since my bandwidth is limited). But why would it have, in my case, only transferred one album?

I wonder if this is just a bug with iTunes, or with specific iOS devices. Rob never had problems syncing his iPhone 5, and I saw sync problems with my iPhone 6, but my 5s generally syncs without any issues. So there’s some odd combination here causing the issue.

Whatever the case, if you do have sync problems with an iOS device, I’d suggest getting Dupin and scouring your library. It may save you a lot of headache.

How To: Prepare an iOS Device for Return, Exchange or Sale

If you ever need to erase an iOS device completely, to return it (as I’m doing today with my iPhone 6), to exchange it, or to sell it, it’s a simple process, but you need to make sure you do it correctly. You can’t just wipe the device in iTunes, using the Restore function; that will still keep it linked to your Apple ID.

2014-09-29 11.14.12.pngGo to Settings > General > Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll see a dialog asking if you’re sure you want to do this; if you are, go ahead. The device will erase everything but the OS, and you’ll see the welcome screen that you saw when you first set it up, or first installed the latest version of iOS.

But there’s another thing you need to do. In iTunes, go to the iTunes Store, then to your account. In the iTunes in the Cloud section, you’ll see a Manage Devices entry. Click Manage Devices, then check to see if your iOS device is listed there. Reseting it should delete it from the list, but it may not. Since you can only have ten iOS devices linked to your account, you may be near that limit, if you have a couple of Macs, an iPhone, an iPad, and a couple of devices for your spouse, partner or children. If you find your device there, click Remove.

That’s it. You can now return, exchange, sell or give away your device.

The iPad mini is a Book; the iPad Air is a Magazine

I wrote about my first impressions of the iPad Air yesterday, and posted that article about two hours after I got the Air. Later, I posted an update, saying:

new-yorker.png“Aside from the use of the iPad as a content creation device, which is not my use case, it seems to me that the full-sized iPad is a magazine and the iPad mini a book. You may disagree, but the size of the iPad Air, to me, makes reading magazines much easier. I can still read books comfortably — and surf the web, answer email, scan Twitter — but I find the iPad mini a bit small for non-responsive layout magazines, such as The New Yorker.”

This, to me, is the biggest difference between the two devices. Jason Snell, writing at Macworld, corroborated my thoughts, saying:

“In my past year as an iPad mini user, there were two kinds of reading that I basically stopped doing on my tablet: digital editions of print magazines and comic books. These are both formats that just work better with a larger screen, because everything is larger. The iPad Air’s screen is simply closer to the intended page size of those periodicals than that of the iPad mini.”

And that, to me, is the key difference between the two devices. Notwithstanding any type of content creation, or the mere desire to have a bigger display for reading web pages or playing games, the iPad Air, for me, is ideal for reading magazines; the iPad mini still shines as a book-reading device. Naturally, I use my iPad for more than just that, but, like Jason, I had stopped reading magazines on the iPad mini, because they were too small.

Looks like it’s time to catch up with those back issues of The New Yorker

iPad mini vs. Kindle Paperwhite

I like the idea of the Kindle, and the idea of the Kindle Paperwhite even more. Offering the ability to read both outdoors in sunlight, and indoors with a backlight, it seems like the best of both worlds.

Alas, having received a Kindle Paperwhite yesterday, I’m very disappointed. Not only is the backlight not very bright – not really bright enough to read indoors if there’s a lot of light – but it’s very uneven, with dark spots around the edges, especially at the bottom.

Here’s a photo I took of the Kindle Paperwhite next to the iPad mini, the latter showing a book in the Kindle app. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

As you can see, even in this small photo, the lighting is uneven at the bottom of the Kindle, and there is a very large difference in brightness (both devices are set to maximal brightness in the photo above). While the iPad mini won’t work in bright light – such as outdoors – I have a Kindle Touch for that. So that Paperwhite is being returned. It’s a good idea, but it’s just a bit cheap and poorly designed. Amazon should really do better with a device like this.