Category Archives: iPad

Make Calling as Easy as Email

My office is wherever I setup my laptop, and many times I skip the laptop and depend solely on my mobile phone. This video shows how Avaya mobility solutions make it easy to keep your mobile workforce engaged.

Make Calling As Easy as Email from Steve Forcum on Vimeo.

Advertisements

The Burdens of Legacy

Historically, Apple products have led the way in retiring widely adopted, yet increasingly obsolescent, technology. When Apple introduced the iMac in 1998, the computer did not come equipped with a 3.5” floppy disk drive. At the time, Apple argued (correctly) that the utility of the floppy disk had effectively been replaced by CD-ROM due to expanding file sizes. The move was met with skepticism, as written by Walt Mossberg for the Wall Street Journal (click here for the full article).

THAT ONE GLARING design mistake in the iMac is that Apple decided to build it without a floppy-disk drive — indeed without any removable storage medium at all. That makes it very hard to transfer files between the iMac and any other computer.

Apple argues that the floppy disk is a dying product, too small at 1.44 megabytes to hold many of today’s bulky data files. The company says it expects most iMac buyers to add higher-capacity drives, such as Iomega’s 100MB Zip drive, or to transfer files via e-mail. But I strongly disagree. Many families today still rely on plain old floppies to back up or share small word-processing and graphics files with co-workers or schoolmates.

As we now know Apple was correct, and consumers let go of a legacy technology which they were using less and less. That gentle nudge to let go of legacy technologies has become part of Apple’s ethos, evidenced through the elimination of the CD-ROM drive, the wired ethernet port, and even their own 30 pin connector.

Courage

In the lead up to the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus launch, one of the most controversial design rumors was the removal of the 3.5MM headphone port.

While Apple has traditionally led the way in ushering users from legacy technology, this felt different. While I love the wireless Bluetooth headphones I use from Plantronics, I still regularly used 3.5MM headphones when the headset battery runs low, when I exercise*, Ito listen to music in my wife’s car, and for a whole host of other reasons. When reading the comments section on most blog posts, it seems I was hardly alone in his

During the product unveiling, Phil Schiller described Apple’s decision to eliminate the headphone port from the iPhone 7.

“Now, some people have asked why we would remove the analog headphone jack from the iPhone, the reason to move on really comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us.”

After making this questionable statement, Apple then announced wireless headphones for sale. For those who still prefer wired headphones, a pair of Apple branded “EarPods” with a lightning plug are included with every iPhone. To aid users in this transition, Apple also generously includes a Lightning to 3.5MM headphone adapter with every iPhone. While a welcome addition to mitigate this impact, this does however mean users cannot plug in headphones while charging their iPhones.

Confused Courage

Approximately one month after releasing the iPhone 7, Apple unveiled updates to the MacBook Pro. In addition to adding a new butterfly keyboard, giant touchpad and the all new Touchbar, Apple’s courageously removed all USB, MagSafe, HDMI, and SD card ports from the new MacBook. In their place are either two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports. While there are tremendous benefits to these new ports, Apple’s decision means users must carry a bag full of dongles to connect to use external displays, USB-A devices such as a presentation remote, or even to charge devices such as your iPhone.

Wait, what?

A Gentle Nudge or a Hard Shove?

In the past, Apple targeted legacy technology because it had reached the end usefulness. In the late 90s, the 3.5” floppy disk was becoming less and less useful. File sizes continued to grow, and CD-ROMs enabled users to more efficiently store and move these larger files. Apple’s decision to nudge users to give up this legacy technology reflected that reality, and paired it with benefits such as additional functionality in its place.

Apple’s latest decision to remove ports from their mobile and computer products resembles less of a nudge and more of a shove. While the iPhone and iPad continues to leverage Apple’s proprietary, and ubiquitous Lightning port for charging and data transfer, the MacBook uses an entirely different standard.

This means I cannot plug my iPhone into my MacBook to charge on the go. I can plug my Lightning “EarPods” into my iPhone, but they are not compatible with my new MacBook Pro**. The average usage of the USB-A port was not waning, and devices such as a presentation remote control do not gain benefits from this new standard.

The entire courageous migration feels forced and premature. The benefits gained with the forced conversion Thunderbolt 3 on my MacBook Pro is debatable. Audio delivered via the analog 3.5MM headphone port or the digital Lightning port on my iPhone is nearly identical***. The lack of cohesion between Apple’s mobile and computer products is haphazard and shows a lack of true strategy for the future of peripherals.

The industry will most likely follow Apple, but that doesn’t make this right. As a longtime Apple user, I respected the company for refusing to be burdened by the legacy of technology—however these changes took popular and well used standards and seemingly replaced them for little to no benefit to anyone other than Apple’s bottom line.

Have a new MacBook, and a bag full of dongles to go with it? Share your experience in the comment section below.


*Watch for my MacBook Pro review to be posted on the Utility Belt shortly.

** I can, however, use my good ‘ol 3.5MM headphones with my MacBook Pro since the port is still included with the laptop. #Courage

***At best, the audio is no different between the ports, however the Boy Genius Report blog has reported that in some testing, the lightning port under-performed it’s analog counterpart. (Click Here for the story)

Equinox…Assemble!

In the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark struggled against his former friend and business partner, Obadiah Stain, as the Iron Monger, to save the world from a hostile force equipped with his armor. At the end of the film, Nick Fury visited Tony and informed him of “the Avengers Initiative.” Over the course of multiple films, Nick Fury’s organization, S.H.I.E.L.D, began assembling a collection of super heroes with specific talents.

Individually these super heroes could fight their own battles, against enemies who their skill set aligned with*. Iron Man defeated Iron Monger, who tried to replicate his armor for evil purposes. Captain America fought the Red Skull, who like Steve Rogers was enhanced with the Super Soldier serum. Thor learned humility from Earth, and was rewarded with renewed access to Mjolnir to defeat Asgardian technology. Bruce Banner, as the Hulk, was able to defeat the Abomination, who also was given super strength from Gamma radiation.

Each hero defeated an enemy whose power matched their own. Nick Fury envisioned a time when an enemy would be too strong, or incompatible for one superhero’s powers. To solve this challenge, the strengths of multiple heroes would be required. In the movie the Avengers, we learned how a team of superheroes with specific skills could come together and blend those powers to beat an undefeatable enemy from the far reaches of the universe.

In the Avaya universe, we’ve had a string of superhero stories. Let me introduce you to them.

Scopia Desktop, a superhero video conferencing application whose superpower is the ability to instantly teleport teammates, suppliers and customers to a face to face meeting. Scopia Desktop defeated its hated rival, Budget Buster who’s evil powers made expense budgets explode.

Avaya Aura Conferencing, with it’s super strength to support hundreds of people talking and collaborating on documents with a single bridge was legendary. With that kind of power, it’s no wonder the nefarious TimeWaster couldn’t keep slowing down productivity and decision making.

When Captain Complexity and the Inbox Attachment Assassins, whose evil led to different apps and inboxes stuffed to the gills with shared files. The dynamic duo of Avaya Communicator, whose simple and consistent user interface made communicating easy, and its trusty sidekick Avaya MutliMedia Messaging, who’s Workstream collaboration capability fought off this threat to make team communications easy while reducing the amount of confusing emails sent among team members.

The newest superhero on the team, Esna Communicator had the most amazing superpower of all…invisibility. Hiding in plain sight in the web browser, Esna Communicator was able to stop its fierce rival Doctor Client Configurator, by embedding communications that work automatically into the Internet Browser.

Equinox…Assemble!

While these superhero applications fought specific challenges to getting work done, the time has come for our heroes to assemble. More than just a new name for our team of superhero apps, Avaya Equinox represents the merger of our apps where each strength is blended to produce a seamless user experience that solves the challenges your business faces.

In today’s post, I’ll touch on three areas where Equinox is different than anything you’ve seen from Avaya.

A Focus on the User

At it’s core, Avaya Equinox is an application which provides simplicity and consistency. It doesn’t matter whether you use an iPad, a Samsung GS7, a new MacBook Pro, or the new Avaya Vantage desktop device**, Equinox looks, feels and functions the same, which means less user training and faster adoption. This means lower travel and global roaming expenses, increased speed in decision making, and a more successful workforce.

A New Way to Work

In today’s smartphone equipped world, most conversations start silently. Messaging has overtaken voice as the starting point for almost all communications. Avaya Equinox was built to support this change.

Equinox Messaging delivers simple Instant Messaging and Presence (IM&P) between users. Chats can be promoted to a voice or video call with a single click. This means if you are driving, and text messaging isn’t appropriate, one click allows you to continue the conversation. There isn’t much magic there, most IM&P solutions can do this. Equinox Messaging really stands out for team based messaging.

Create a new chat room for your team to discuss a project. Invite additional members as necessary. Instead of clogging up everyone’s inbox with endless emails and attachments, upload files associated with the project to the chat room. This means if you need to reference these files again, they’re right at your fingertips in the project chat room, synchronized to all of your devices. If one member of the team can’t chat, one click builds a voice and video conference for all team members.

Conferencing Made Easy

Equinox Conferencing dramatically reduces travel costs with it’s easy to use audio & video conferencing. With Equinox Conferencing, your users can build a conference call on demand, or send a meeting invitation to participants. With a single click, participants can join using their Equinox enabled mobile phones, tablets, computers, or Avaya Vantage desktop device. If some users gather in a video enabled conference room, they simply dial the extension number for the Equinox Conference. External users can join using just their web browser with the Equinox Portal, powered by WebRTC.

Once the team is together, members can share documents, applications or a full computer desktop. This instant access to relevant information is the key towards faster decision making, improved performance, and increased customer service scores.

One Last Thing

Avaya Equinox is a product that has the power to rapidly and dramatically lower travel & global roaming expenses. Equinox brings teams together with the content that matters, improving decision making speed. Equinox also dramatically lowers the amount of email employees must deal with on a daily basis, improving employee engagement. All of these benefits can be potentially realized without additional software licensing costs.

Avaya Equinox is included with your Avaya Aura core & power user license bundles! Simply setup Equinox applications in your data center, on virtual or physical servers, and reap the benefits of this powerful solution.

Want to learn more? Contact your Avaya Representative or leave me a comment below.

Equinox…Assemble!


* There’s an interesting debate in the comic world that Marvel’s Achilles Heel is the lack of a strong and diverse set of villains. The villain each super hero fights against generally has super powers that mirrors the hero’s power. In DC terms, Batman is as popular as he is due in no small part to his diverse set of villains. 

** It’s really hard to describe the Vantage endpoint. Is it a phone, because it makes great phone calls with it’s DECT wireless handset? Is it a tablet, because it’s got a billboard sized screen, runs on Android, and has Equinox embedded into it? Is it a video conferencing unit, since you can jump into a video call with a single click? The answer is D, all of the above.  If you haven’t seen one yet, be sure to check them out here.

The iPad Pro

One of the most important gadgets is my 13” iPad Pro. It has become my daily driver, effectively replacing my computer. I’d like to explain why I love this device.

Hardware

It’s an iPad, so it comes with the same elegance as the iPad Air before it. It’s super thin, lightweight, and provides a huge canvas to work on. TouchID saves me from having to constantly type my password when logging in. If I lose it somewhere*, I can instantly locate it using the Find my Phone app, and lock or erase the device.

What really makes the iPad different than a laptop however is the battery life. While the MacBook has come a long way, the iPad Pro can comfortably run for over 10 hours on a single charge. Since I no longer have to carry a bundle of power cords, I don’t use a laptop bag anymore.

I have found two drawbacks to the iPad Pro hardware.

The first centers around Apple Pencil. Unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro, there is no way to attach the Pencil to the iPad. I keep it in my pocket, and habitually lose it for days, weeks, and one time months at a time. It’s a minor issue, but one Steve Jobs cautioned about during the iPhone launch when discussing the lack of a stylus.

The second, and more critical, is the lack of ports on the device. The only port on the iPad Pro is the Lightning port on the bottom of the tablet. In my new position, I will have to present to customers and business partners. While I could mirror my iPad to a big screen using Airplay, most enterprises have not adopted the AppleTV in their conference rooms. I can plug in an adapter to connect physically to a TV or projector, but I cannot plug in a USB presentation clicker. With the removal of almost all ports on the MacBook line of laptops, this will be an issue for any Apple user who regularly has to connect to a projector to present a slide deck.

Accessories

I use two primary accessories with my iPad.

Apple Pencil

One of the main benefits to the iPad Pro is the ability to use Apple Pencil to draw on the iPad screen. Unlike the cheaper stylus which try to mimic your finger size, the Apple Pencil behaves like an actual writing instrument. The latency between writing on the screen and seeing the “ink” is almost undetectable by the human eye, and this has enabled me to avoid the white board in meetings. Instead I will draw on my iPad, and then instantly share the drawing with those in the meeting. It’s like a portable smart board. My only gripes with Apple Pencil are how easy it is to lose, and this:

Apple Keyboard cover

Adding a physical keyboard to the iPad Pro is a must for anyone looking to use this as a laptop replacement. I purchased my iPad Pro right after the launch, and as you can imagine accessories like Apple Pencil and the Apple Keyboard cover were in short supply. I also have not had good luck in the past with Apple’s smart covers**, so it did not take much convincing for me to look at alternatives. My journey resembled Goldie Locks looking for the right bed to lay in.

I started with the Logitech Create keyboard case. While it does have a lot of benefits, such as a backlit keyboard, a row of function keys, and compatibility with the MagSafe connector, there are two MAJOR drawbacks.

The first*** was a frustrating latency which constantly caused either missed keystrokes or the iPad to act as if I were holding down a key. If a keyboard can’t keep up with your typing, what’s the point? The second issue, and frankly the more critical, was the design of the Create keyboard case actually scratches the screen of your iPad Pro. I stopped using the Create case before the scratching became dramatic, but it was frustrating to look at. Luckily Apple replaced my iPad under warranty, and explained this apparently is a known issue with the case. That said…the case is still on store shelves. It looks like it has a slight redesign to accommodate the Apple Pencil, but I would personally recommend caution with that accessory.

I then tried the Zagg keyboard case, which is VERY nice. Unlike the Create keyboard, the Zagg keyboard uses bluetooth for it’s connection to the iPad and is another device that needs to be charged, however Zagg claims the keyboard will operate for an entire year on a single charge. I’m not inclined to disagree, as I never recharged the keyboard during my stint with the case. The biggest drawback for me was the size. I love my iPad Pro due to it’s thin size and light weight. The Zagg case effectively turns your iPad Pro into a Macbook. It’s not the end of the world, but it wasn’t right for me.

Ultimately I ended up with the Apple Keyboard case, and it is hands down the best of the bunch. It keeps the iPad thin and light, it is very sturdy both when closed**** and opened. Unlike the new Macbook keyboards, the Keyboard cover still feels very natural to type on. And thanks to it’s magnetic connection, it doesn’t require any type of recharging.

Long story short…the company who designed the iPad also designed the best accessories for it. Who’d have thunk it?

Software

Like every other iPad before it, the iPad Pro runs Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS10. Apple’s “Post-PC” revolution is coming into focus with this iteration however. Coupled with the huge 13” screen, the multi-tasking feature added to iOS10 is really effective. As I type this post, my email sits on the right hand side of my screen. Instead of windows, I can have two apps share the screen real estate. This enables me to be much more productive, and I find I focus on tasks much better. The only drawback is the fact that the App must support multi-tasking vs. being a function of the OS. This creates an inconsistent performance, as apps such as Facebook can only be used full screen until their developer updates them to support multi-tasking. Since this feature is over a year old, and there are multiple apps that do not support it, it can be frustrating. Hopefully Apple solves this in the near future.

The other part of the software discussion centers on third party applications. Productivity apps such as Microsoft Office, Google Apps, and iWork are near twins of their desktop counterparts. I can easily open a spreadsheet, create a professional document or build a slide deck complete with animations without an issue. Where the iPad apps truly shine however is in the photo manipulation apps such as FaceTune. Coupled with the Apple Pencil, I can modify and clean up my photos with precision and an interface which never felt natural on the computer and mouse combo.

Summary

For most users, consumer or business, the iPad has effectively become a computer replacement. You can both create and consume content on the device. You can use it as a tablet on an airplane or as a full computer at your desk. And with battery life that can easily get you through the day, you don’t need to worry about finding a table with a power outlet at the coffee shop or airport.

Do you have an iPad Pro? Share your thoughts below!


 

* I clutch this thing like a newborn, so there’s zero chance of this happening. But for you non-geeks out there, it’s a nice feature to have.

** The magnet holding the cover in the closed position was always too weak in my opinion to keep the screen protected. I did however absolutely LOVE my brown leather Apple SmartCASE for my old iPad Air. It was outstanding both in looks and functionality.

*** This admittedly may have been solved with a software update since I returned the Create. Your mileage may vary.

**** I think the keyboard folded under the smart cover allowed Apple to use a stronger magnet. The Keyboard cover stays firmly in place over the screen, while the plain old SmartCover did not in my past experience.