Walking on Air

iPadAir

‘Tonight, tonight, tonight, I’m walking on air

Tonight, tonight, tonight, I’m walking on air

You’re giving me sweet, sweet ecstasy

Yeah, you take me to utopia’

‘Walking On Air’, Katy Perry

The poetic words of Katy Perry’s ‘Walking On Air’ seem like an apt introduction to my review of the new iPad Air. But, before you read any further, some words of warning: if you are not prepared to read a gushing review of the iPad Air … you better stop reading now.

I have been using the Air for a couple of weeks now but it feels like we have always been together.

The hardware

The new model is a surprisingly impressive practical leap up from the previous iPad model and has received raving reviews. The reduction in dimensions does not appear earth-shattering when you look at the numbers, but when you hold the Air together with the previous iPad model, the change is immediately apparent and impressive. It is quite incredible that they managed to shrink the bezel, most noticeable shave almost 2 centimeters off the width of the device, without compromising the 9.7 inch screen size. The Air is a quite ridiculous 7.5(!) mm thick, down from 9.4, now literally thinner than a pencil:

However, where Apple has truly leaped forward with the Air is the significant reduction in weight, which makes the Air feel like a completely different device. The Wi-Fi + cellular model I use weighs a mere 478 grams (almost 30% down from the previous 662 grams)! During the first week of switching over to Air, I had a few freak-outs on my way to work thinking that I left my Air at home because my bag felt too light, only to realise that my trusty Air was in there, but weighing close to nothing.

Despite this reduction in size and weight, Apple managed to offer a 128GB model, which easily accommodates all my music, home videos, photos and documents from the past 15 years! The new 64-bit A7 processor has also made the Air noticeably faster. Ironically, I never really noticed the slight lag in response time on the previous model until I started to work with the Air. The Air, connected to Telstra’s 4G network, also seems speedier than its predecessor and handles large files with ease and incredible speed.

As one expects from Apple, the Air feels very solid and the screen is exceptionally bright. The sound has also improved significantly, so much so that I started to use the headphones for making FaceTime calls because even on the lowest setting it sounded too loud for the office. Having said that, it is fantastic for listening to music now, so much so that I stopped pairing it with speakers.

Finally, even though the Air is smaller, thinner and lighter, battery life has not been compromised at all. I still manage to get a full day out of the Air, even when it is used quite intensely throughout the day, taking notes, playing music, reading, browsing and creating documents.

The operating system

Many things have been said about iOS 7, the latest Apple operating system that’s at the heart of the Air, not all complimentary. iOS 7 even attracted a law suit by a disgruntled user! Change can be hard, but in today’s global environment I am surprised that so many people still try to resist change and progress.

Put simply, I am a huge fan of the new operating system but I don’t intend to offer yet another detailed review. A very good review has been published by Gizmodo Australia back in September.

From my daily, power user perspective, the design is clean and crisp, it provides all the functionalities I could ever need and it enables me to work and play seamlessly 24/7. In my experience iOS 7 is a significant improvement from the previous version, which was already well ahead of its competitors.

I also believe that Siri is perhaps one of the most unappreciated and under-utilised features of the Apple device universe! It takes a little time to get used to how Siri operates, but with enough practice you will get the hang of it and it can become a real timesaver for drafting short messages and emails, entering calendar appointments and creating reminders.

The App Store

To me, the other great strength of the iPad is Apple’s App Store. Together with the perfect hardware and a user-friendly operating system, the App Store creates a tech-trinity that’s hard to beat.

This is not the first time I write about my iPad, my favourite Apps and my social media secrets. These tools significantly contribute to my productivity by enabling me to work extremely efficiently around the clock and do much more in a fraction of the time.

I am quite confident that as things currently stand, an enterprising young lawyer could comfortably run an alternative model legal practice largely from an iPad, especially with the latest full iCloud integration of Apple’s Pages and Keynote Apps. The Store now also offers sophisticated knowledge, financial, document and legal practice management Apps by some of the best-known names in the business. However, if you are partial to Microsoft Office, an iPad App is in the works.

WordPress

The first App I’m going to highlight is the WordPress App, which I’m using right now to type this blog entry. I have been using WordPress for a few years now to publish my website and blog. The App enables me to maximise my time, adding, editing, updating blog entries on the go or on the couch, while watching TV. Who said that the iPad is a device merely for consumption, not creation?!

Twitter and Tweetbot

Twitter is not just about pop stars and trolls. For convenient, up-to-date news and information there are few real competitors to Twitter. I am a regular tweeter at my @stephensander Twitter account where I muse about legal, knowledge management, social media and technology developments and news.

I currently use the Tweetbot App on my iPad and iPhone, which is one of the most sophisticated and user-friendly Apps available. It syncs between devices and offers a convenient method of receiving real-time news updates and interacting with like-minded professionals. The right combination of news and professional Twitter accounts can keep you on the leading edge of news and information.

Feedbin and Reeder

Following the sad demise of Google Reader, which was a fantastic, free RSS feed aggregator from Google, I moved on to Feedbin. Feedbin charges a small annual fee, but effectively provides the same service that Google Reader did. It is extremely reliable and has a very easy to use desktop interface.

It also syncs with Reeder, a great App available for both iPad and iPhone, which makes managing your RSS feeds on the go a breeze.

Google Alerts

Thankfully Google Alerts is still around. Google Alerts is a great news delivery service that monitors the web for news and/or other materials according to keywords entered and then delivers an email update or pushes information into your RSS reader, such as Feedbin and Reeder, as soon as news breaks or information is published on that topic.

Between Twitter, Feedbin, RSS feeds and Google Alert you will be the first one to know when any relevant news breaks or other pertinent information becomes available.

Facebook and Google+

The iPad can also make managing all your other social media as easy as 1-2-3, even on the go. The Facebook Page and Google+ Apps are all you need to manage these two major social media platforms. There are also equivalent Apps available for your iPhone.

Documents and information management

There are a few other must have Apps that will assist you to keep your PDFs and online clippings and other materials archived and collated. For your PDFs you can’t go pass the Adobe Reader App and for managing your online clippings you must try Evernote.

With Adobe Reader you can keep and organise PDFs on your iPad and sync them with other devices using the Adobe cloud. You can also mark up and annotate PDF documents, complete PDF forms and add signatures to documents.

Evernote allows you to archive, categorise and easily search notes and online clippings. Once you start using this tool it will soon become an indispensable part of your professional life, with no information lost or misplaced ever again.

Legal Apps

If you are a lawyer, there are quite a few must have Apps for your iPad, including:

If you work in a non-commercial practice or engage in pro bono work, the following resources may also be of great use:

Note taking

Last, but definitely not least, you must buy a decent stylus (the Kaufmann stylus and pen combo is fantastic) and try note taking on your iPad instead of a paper pad. You will never look back!

I tried all the note taking apps from the Store and settled on Noteshelf. It has an interface similar to iBooks, and allows you to arrange as many notebooks as you like on a bookshelf. The notebooks sync with the cloud, so when you move to a new iPad your notes follow you. Another amazing feature is the ability to email any or all pages of any notebook directly from the App.

There are a variety of pens, pencils and highlighters available in the App for handwriting and I find note taking on my iPad far superior to the old pen and paper. I have been using this App for three years now and I would give it 11 out of 10.

And now, it’s time to walk on Air …

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