Do you want a certain font from your computer on your iPad? Hit the App Store and search for Any Font. It’s a $1.99 app (last time i checked) that allows you to do just that. You can do a sync through iTune with it, but I tried loading a few .tff files into a folder on Dropbox, then opened them on the iPad. Dropbox, of course, can’t view them, but you “Open with…”, then choose AnyFont. The fonts appear in that app, you check them, hit install, and the app will bounce you through Safari to the Settings, where you will get a dialogue that looks a lot like the updater (probably is.) Install. Open up your Pages, or what have you and there’s your new font.

Is it worth $2? Do you need certain fonts to work with between your desktop, laptop, or what have you? Then yes. Otherwise…well, I’m gonna say “yes”, but I absolutely needed/wanted Bank Gothic on the iPad.

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OSX Daily has the scoop on the 16 best new features, but here’s a quick overview:

The big one: NO BLEEDIN’ iTUNES SYNCHING REQUIRED! Wireless synching and PC free setup are going to be standard. There was nothing more annoying about the iPad than buying this shiny new device and having to get it home to synch it up before usage. Nothing was more annoying than having to synch and backup the iPad everytime you wanted to pull a few songs for a quick outing.

The next big one: the addition of all the cool multitouch gestures that I’ve been using by making my iPad a development machine. The pinch to close and other gestures make the home button almost obsolete and really increase ease of use. It was stupid not to have included it in iOS 4.3

Notifications have been updated so that they can be accessed from the home screen and the lock screen. They are all aggregated together and when using the device, they do not interfere with app use.

The iPad will get a split keyboard to allow thumb typing folks an easier experience.

There’s a new to-do list system (Reminders) and a new chat engine (iMessage) and Twitter is being rolled into the OS.

Software improvements to cameras. Hopefully this can cut the suck down on the iPad cameras some.

The big disappointment: where the heel is printing for the iPad, Cupertino? All the new features are guaranteed to make the iPad even more of a laptop killer…save for the lack of wireless (or hell, wired!) printing. This is the only aspect of the iPad keeping it from smashing the rest of the personal computing market.

I had a chance to play with the iPad 2 at the university bookstore the other day (no waiting in line there!) and was impressed by the speed of the thing. I only ran a few quick tests — did a bit of typing on Pages, ran a YouTube video, and opened a few web pages: the newer iteration runs noticeably faster. It is also thinner and lighter, but I didn’t really notice that so much as I did the more beveled edging, which was less book-like and very pleasant.

I haven’t bought the new device because 1) I’ve only had the old one for a freakin’ year and I’m not swapping my pad every time they kick a new one out the door, 2) the old one works well enough for what I do that I’m not feeling the need to upgrade. Point of fact: I do most of my media cosumption on the iPad now, and even quite a bit of my production. I’d say between it and the laptop (a MacBook Air) I spend 60-65% of my computing time on the iPad. If I were running my old, heavy Dell Inspiron 14oo…it would be closer to 75% of the time with the iPad over the laptop, because it’s much easier to transport. The Air is light and comfortable enough that I drag it with me if I know I’m going to be doing some heavy typing. And 3) there’s a lot of reports of manufacturing defects with the iPad 2 — primarily in the screen, which is prone to backlight spillage and some color artifacts. Also, there’s a lot of reports that video on the camera is glitching.

So for me, I’m waiting for the iPad 3, rumored to be hitting the shelves in late 2011. I suspect most of the differences between the devices will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. Here’s what I’mhoping they’ll include:

This is the big one: No iTunes synching! The major Achilles Heel of the iPad is the need to — at least the first time and for software updates — synchronize with the bloatware we call iTunes. It seriously hampers the usability of the iPad, especially if travelling internationally, where you have to either get raped by AT&T on an international data plan, or jump through hoops with iTunes firing up another SIM card. (I went through this in Britain…it’s not hard, it’s just a pain in the ass.)

A shift to the Retina-style high resolution screens. The screen quality on the iPad doesn’t suck, but it could be better.

Instead of trying to give us a thinner machine, how about a bit more flexibility in functionality? I would like to see an SD or MicroSD card reader — even if it’s just the ability to access it through the camera adapters — and the ability to use the said devices for storage. (I use a high-speed 64GB SD Card as an extra drive on my Air, effectively increasing my storage by 50%.)

A shift from 3G to 4G. would be a good idea.

On the software side: What they hell were they thinking not rolling out the pinch to home and 4-figer swipe to change active apps? It’s so much easier to use and spares the Home button a ton of wear and tear. I fired it up by downloading XCode and setting the iPad up as a developer device. The addition of these multitouch features is an absolute must!

Printing Printing Printing! Apple has screwed the pooch a few times this last year. They were flanked by Google with cloud printing (which is great!), allowing you to print from the iPad. You have a few hoops to jump through, like emailing a file to your gmail account, but overall, it’s better than nothing. They lost out to Amazon on cloud storage, and honestly, earlier than that to Dropbox — which I highly recommend for online storage and sharing.

I really couldn’t care less about cameras and the other doo-dads, but the suggestions above I think would keep the iPad well ahead of any challengers that the other computer manufacturers might finally get out the door this year.

 

One of the big disappointments of iOS 4.3 was that Apple didn’t give us the multitouch improvements promised. Among them is the ability to four finger swipe to change between active apps, instead of constantly hitting the home button; a four or five-finger pinch returns you to the home screen, four finger swipe up reveals the active dock, and down returns you to the main screen. It’s brilliant and would cut down sharply on the wear and tear of the home button.

After reading about a work around to get access to these features (they are on your iPad if you have iOS 4.3, they just aren’t active), I gave it a try. You need to hit the app store (if you’re on a Mac, that is) and download Xcode 4 (or find a freeware version, if you’ve got the time to dig around.) It’ll cost you $5. It’s a big file (4+GB), so don’t get too impatient, and Air users don’t be surprised if your fan goes nuts during the install. Once it’s loaded and fired up, plug the iPad in.

It’ll be recognized by Xcode. Hit the “Use as Developer” button. It’ll ask for information. Cancel. If you get an error code, just close the window. Unplug the iPad.

Enjoy the extra multitouch features. They’re great.

Thanks not to Apple, which dropped the ball badly on AirPrint, but Google.  The new Google Cloud Print feature lets you set up your printer from your desktop or laptop (has to be a Windows machine for now, but they’re promising OSX support soonish), then you can print emails and attachments direct to your home printer, even if you’re not on your own network.

For printing Pages and other material, I emailed myself at the GMail account and printed the attachment. No issues. I haven’t tried websites, etc. but even if it doesn’t do that, it still just made the iPad a useable “laptop” to my mind.

I’ve had the new OS on the iPad for about a week, so it’s time for a quick review:  the upload went smoothly enough, but the installation kludged up at the synching of the files, requiring me to unplug the iPad from the computer and restart the later.  The iPad, meanwhile, figured out it could go ahead and fire up.  The installation takes a while — don’t worry about the iPad seeming to just sit there near the end of the loading bar for about 5 minutes.  From what I can tell on the various bulletin boards around the net, it’s normal.  There are some issues with iTunes deleting your music library reported; I didn’t have this problem.

The upgrade seems to have improved performance across the board.  The device is running faste r and smoother than I anticipated with one exception to the rule: Mail.  I have a gmail and two Comcast accounts the iPad taps and this seems to confuse the hell out of it if i get a fair amount of mail on any of the accounts.  The unified inbox is nice.

Multitasking:  it works.  Well.  I’ve had Safari and mail open pretty much constantly, but have also had various programs up and running at the same time, including GT Racing.  No slow downs.  For the gamer crowd out there, the PDF Reader, Pages, and Diceshaker programs, when open together let you swap back and forth between them very quickly: double tap the home button, tap the icon of the program you want and you swap back and forth speedily.  This was the improvement that made the iPad the perfect GM tool.

The downside — it does draw more battery power.  The one niggling complaint: you can’t just close out the app; you have to go to the home screen (one tap on the button), then double tap to get the multitasking bar up so you can shut down the app you were just in.  There might be another way and I haven’t stumbled on it, yet.

Air Print:  Disappointed! No, you can’t print to any printer not “Airprint enabled”, which means shitty HP products.  They’re supposed to be bringing more printers online, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up if you run anything not HP.

Folders:  In iTunes drag the app icons together to form folders based on “Entertainment: or what have you.  I like the ability to clean up my screen and group items, like games, together.  It just means you don’t get to do the cool swipe between home screens as much to impress your friends and people ogling the iPad.

Battery life:  multitasking draws off a few hours of run time on the iPad.  Not unexpected, but if you’re on a long international flight, you might want to invest in that Kensignton iPad battery/cover thingee I’ve seen on eBay — it’s supposed to add another 5 hours and a pound or so to the weight.  I’m just making sure that for long trips I’ve only got one program at a time up and running.

Overall, this was a serious improvement on the iPad, but if I’m anything to go by, Mail needs a serious update to run smoother.  I can’t wait to see the iPad2 come spring…

It’s been a truly annoying morning at Chez Rhymer — one of the worst offenders being my iPad.  The thing was refusing to synch with my laptop this morning.  iTunes (bloated crapware that it is) would find the device, start the synch, get through the backup, then hang on the synch.  The iPad would then go to sleep because of Itunes not responding.  iTunes, would then lock up because there was no iPad to find.  It did this repeatedly.

My steps:  change the charging/synch cable to another:  same issue.  Not the cable then.  I reinstalled iTunes — no change, BUT the warning I used to get when it would boot up asking if the firewall should allow it to get info from the internet stopped.

I take it down to the Apple Store.  Works just like you would expect a car at the shop to:  perfectly.  So now I’m thinking it’s a network/iTunes issue.

I head home and it synchs fine.  So I download the new iOS 4.2.  It stalls at the end of the install…while synching files again.  Sigh.  Now, iTunes goes nuts everytime I try to get it to talk to the iPad.  Finally, it synchs again and sets up my folders, etc. etc.  then stalls at the last minute, once again.

So:  not the cables.  No the network, because Safari and Mail are connecting fine at the same time.  Not the iPad, because after the update on the OS it’s working well (excellently, point of fact.)  So…once again, the issue for Apple hardware comes down to the bloated shitware that is iTunes.

So if you’re having problems, the fix seems to be perseverance, a lot of swearing (throwing things is optional), and in order — reload iTunes, restart the computer anytime there’s an issue with iTunes stalling, and probably some actively pummeling of your table/desk surface.  Or not buying a Mac.  (I didn’t have these issues with the Dell PC and iPad.)