Tag Archives: apple

(Not) using the Apple Wireless Keyboard (Japanese layout) with iPad Air

I keep coming back to this issue of pairing and setting up an external foreign language external keyboard with the iPad Air. The problem is not that it outright rejects such a keyboard but that it depends on a particular app’s ability to recognise it or not.

Strangely enough Apple’s very own wireless keyboard for its own desktop computer does not work alway recognise the keyboard. Apple of course seems to know how to make its own software to work but that is lost on third party app makers so that buying apps which rely on keyboard input (productivity apps, for example) could mean your input method may have to forego keyboard hardware (or else rely on your memory of where certain punctuations are).

Of course if you are using the virtual keyboard this is not a problem. But that makes my purchase of an external keyboard (an Apple one at that) seem downright silly and a waste of money.

Still nothing beats a physical keyboard for the input experience which why we still want to buy one. The ability to be wireless is again part of the deal. The hardware – an iPad with its minimalistic external keyboard – is just so sexy.

So why is it that Apple can’t get the software or OS right, least of all its own?

Solution to problem with Japanese input in Apple Pages

Equipment used in this problem: iPad Air, Apple wireless keyboard (MC184J/B), Apple Pages app (2.2.1).

This problem occurs when you are using an external keyboard like Apple’s wireless keyboard on an iPad to input Japanese text into Apple’s Pages.

When zoomed at greater than the width of the entire page text alternatives for your input is off the left side of your page as in the image below. This makes it difficult to select which input alternative you want.

keyboard only

To work around this bring up the virtual keyboard. The alternatives are then displayed at the top of this. You lose a lot of screen space but at least it works.

virtual keyboard

Not sure why Apple has not noticed this problem before or even fixed it (where do customers go to make complaints and suggestions?).

Zamurai Mobile Whiteboard – Short Review

Back in the 1990s I was fascinated with electronic whiteboards. These things work like ordinary whiteboards on which you would write then press a button to print the content of the whiteboard for copying and distribution. It was better than taking a photograph, print or nowadays digital. The problem back then and still now is the prohibitive cost and that of the single format in the form of a physically printed page.

Now fast forward to 2014.

45NxYn2jsJgYg0yJNsFjOw-Zamurai_Logo_HorizontalZamurai Mobile Whiteboard is an app for the Apple iPad that works like a whiteboard for projectors. You simply write, draw or attach images to your tablet whiteboard space and it shows up on the big screen during meetings or in lectures. It is better than a whiteboard – electronic or otherwise – because you don’t need to physically be at the board. The physical act of drawing and writing is translated on to gestures you make on a tablet surface. It will also automatically be saved on your device as a note, or to be used in future meetings or lectures, or else can be saved for distribution later in various useful formats. Finally you can supplement it with image icons and digital images to make electronic whiteboarding just like old fashion displaying of photos and pictures.

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Apple Wireless Keyboard and iPad Air – Hands-on test

The other day I made friends with someone who had a similar approach to technology as me. He had bought an Apple wireless keyboard to go with his iPad.

As logic would dictate genuine Apple products should work seamlessly with their other products. But this was not the case.

Soon after I bought my keyboard I immediately found problems with compatibility. Not so much that it didn’t connect with the iPad but rather some apps just didn’t recognize the keyboard as Japanese layout (which is the country I bought the keyboard in). That really isn’t the problem as I also require Japanese. But not being to find characters because your iPad thinks you are using an English keyboard is really really annoying.

Thinking that this was an issue with the keyboard and Apple’s manufacturing error I went online to find a solution but to no avail. I gave up and continued to rubbish Apple for its lack of language compatibility.

But as I said, I made friends with this guy who had a similar to mine and asked him about whether he had this problem or not.

“No,” was his answer.

So this got me thinking: perhaps the problem isn’t with the keyboard but with specific apps.

So I went home and began testing all my apps to see which worked with keyboard and which didn’t. And these were the results.

Text-input-driven apps that didn’t work with the keyboard:
Gmail
Instagram
Facebook
Moleskine
Simplemind (mindmapping)
Blogger
Twitter

Text-input-driven apps that worked with the keyboard:
ALL Apple made apps (including Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Notes and Calendar)
WordPress
Tumblr
My Wonderful Days (journal)

Of all the apps listed Gmail and Simplemind are perhaps the most missed. It literally means I cannot write emails or produce mindmaps effectively with the keyboard hardware. The point of a keyboard is to make typing easier, as an alternative to the virtual keyboard. But since most of my work is done on the Apple apps and the WordPress app not all is lost.

And Apple are not the ones to blame for this since this seems to be a problem on the individual app makers’ part. So now I wish there is a list of apps out there that would tell me which apps are not compatible with Japanese keyboards. This would save me from buying unusable apps.

Surface Pro 2 or iPad Air?

Our family secondary computer has finally died. It was a 2007 Sony Vaio notebook running Vista. It had served us well. RIP.

This means we need a replacement, a new computer. So it was time to take measure of what is out there. The landscape has certainly changed since 2007. And my family’s tech has too. The Sony was replaced by a highly underrated Fujitsu Lifebook UH75 ultrabook (video) running Windows 7. It has lots of harddisk (500GB) and RAM (4GB) with a Core i5 weighing in at 1.4kg (3.08lb). It is a lovely computer to tote around – light, thin, battery life of 6-8 hours.

Anyway, as we both work we need more than one computer but not two computers. My partner doesn’t use her computer too often. So buying full spec computer seems silly. If we are going to plonk down this much cash we might as well get something which is going to be used more than just occasionally for work. So our two options were this – a tablet PC or a tablet. After looking at what was out there right now I came to the conclusion that it was either a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 or an Apple iPad Air. My reasoning was this: tablets are the way to go. The question left was do we need the full power of a PC for the two of us or can we get by with just a tablet. And this question can only be answered by weighing in our position now.

Two years ago I switched to an iPhone 4S from a (very cool but) not-so-smart phone. And my life changed. These things are in effect a very small iPads with phone and internet connectivity. I now use my iPhone as my primary tool for teaching using its camera, presentation app (KeyNote), connection to the web to show everything needed to the students. I do this for two or three straight classes with conservative battery use. It is a beautiful tool that I cannot live without now. The point is portable touchscreen tablets are the best things for teaching even if it is an iPhone.

And as you can see from my last post I also got more digital with the latest Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. This scanner is amazing. Everything I need can now be digitalized quick and simple. It works really for my iPhone, so I can see it will work wonders with a tablet.

But the do I need PC power in this now my secondary computer? One option is to buy the Surface Pro 2 and use it as my primary computer relegating the Fujitsu to (a very good) second fiddle. But then I would ask why do I need two computers? I only need one and something else to let me write notes occasionally. And as I said the setup with my iPhone is incredible. Apart from not having a keyboard I have been able to do a lot of things including writing notes and reports on my 4S. And yes there is no way I will revert to non-tablet notebooks. Touch-screen enabled computers are definitely the way to go.

That is why I had a long look at the Surface Pro 2. The problem isn’t that it isn’t a great product. Microsoft has made a fantastic computer. Arguably it is the best what I call “ultrabook tablet” out there at Xmas 2013. But it isn’t worth it to spend that much to replace my perfectly good one-year old notebook. I can live without touchscreen on my computer for now. In other words a computer has its place and a tablet is in different place. They serve sightly different lifestyle uses. Do I want a PC which moonlights as a tablet or the other way around. My iPhone as a very “mini iPad mini” gets more air time than my PC. It is that useful.

And the winner is …

You may have guessed by now that I have opted for the iPad.

The pros were:

  1. very light and portable
  2. will use a lot for things other than productivity
  3. fits between my iPhone and notebook in terms of being a lifestyle tool
  4. cheaper than the Surface Pro 2 setup (by about half even after buying the wireless keyboard and stand/cover)
  5. iOS is a great operating system. The workflow is excellent but not seamless)
  6. my partner needs to be introduced to the world of tablets

The cons were:

  1. not as good as a PC for word processing or spreadsheet (even with keyboard setup)
  2. can’t use “legacy” software (though much of what I need can be found as apps)

After considering all this we (I) decided the iPad Air was the deal. Apple’s Pages seems to work fine with some minor text alignment problems (along with Numbers and KeyNote it’s free with new iPad purchase). I also went with the Apple Wireless Keyboard (which works with my iPhone as well) and Smart Cover (which doubles as a stand).

The Surface though a great computer will have to wait until my PC breaks down. If the last computer was anything to by that would be another four years (sorry Microsoft).

Now I just can’t wait for it to arrive in a couple of days. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Apple Digital AV Adapter for iPhone/iPad

Wow. Who needs a computer anymore when you have an iPhone or iPad. With this digital AV adapter you can do your powerpoint presentations from your igear. Check out jetdaisuke‘s video on YouTube (sorry, in Japanese but you can get an idea of how it works).