Category: iPad

Basics: How to Activate Caps Lock on the iPhone and iPad

The iPhone’s keyboard has a Caps Lock feature, but you may have to first activate it in the iPhone’s Settings to use it. To test if Caps Lock activated, first try double tapping the shift key (the key with the up arrow, see image above) on the touchscreen keyboard—the key will turn blue to tell you Caps Lock is activated. If it doesn’t turn blue, you’ll need to go into the iPhone’s Settings to enable it. Just follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Video Instructions:


1. Open Settings:

2. Tap General:

General in iPhone Settings

3. Scroll down and tap Keyboard:

4. Slide the tab for Enable Caps Lock to On:

Now, when you double tap the shift key on the iPhone/iPad’s keyboard (the key with the up arrow), Caps Lock will be activated. To turn off Caps Lock, tap the key again.

11 Things You Can Do With Apple’s New Podcasts App You Couldn’t Before

The best thing about Apple’s new Podcasts app (free) is that it adds functionality to the iPhone that wasn’t there before. Managing podcasts was one of the last few things you still needed iTunes running on a computer to do. But no longer. Here are 11 things the Podcasts app lets you do on the iPhone and iPad that you couldn’t before.

1. Subscribe to podcasts on the iPhone/iPad

Previously you could browse, stream, and even download podcasts on the iPhone, but you couldn’t subscribe to a podcast. That had to be done using iTunes on a computer. But subscriptions can now be established on the iPhone. Subscribing, however, doesn’t mean your podcasts automatically download. That is a separate function you can also set up in the new app (see the next item in this list). Subscribing simply means the podcast will appear in your list of podcasts for quick and easy access, sort of like the Favorites feature in the iPhone’s Phone app.

2. Set up automatic podcast downloads on the iPhone/iPad

When a new episode of a podcast becomes available, it will automatically download in the background the next time you plug in your iPhone/iPad for charging.

3. View all your podcasts in an easy-to-browse tile view

The Podcasts app introduces a beautiful tile view that displays all your podcasts by album art. There is also a button to switch to a list view that not only lists all your podcasts, but displays the number of unplayed episodes for each podcast next to the name.

4. View a single chronological list of unplayed podcast episodes on the iPhone/iPad

This is one of my favorite new features. Going for a 5-hour drive and want to catch up on all your unlistened-to podcasts? Simple navigate to this list and hit the play button. Your unplayed podcasts will play one after another. Pressing the skip button skips to the next one.

5. Skip ahead 30 seconds to avoid commercials

Most podcasts these days rely on hosts reciting product pitches (“sign up for Audible and get a free audiobook!”) to pay the bills. Well, Podcasts’ new 30 seconds skip-ahead button is out to destroy that revenue model, muhaha! OK, it likely won’t do that no more than TiVO destroyed television commercials, but still, this is a nice feature for when those commercials become annoying or go on too long.

6. Skip backward 10 seconds

Previously, you could only skip backwards 30 seconds in podcasts. The Podcasts app changes that to 10 seconds. Which is better? I like 10 seconds because I usually tap this button to re-listen to something someone said a few seconds ago, not 30 seconds ago.

7. Play video podcasts at 1.5x, 2.0x, and 0.5x speeds

Previously, video podcasts had one viewing speed. Now, there are 4. That’s even 1 more than audio podcasts get (0.5x, 1x, 2x). I wouldn’t mind seeing that 1.5x speed for audio podcasts as well.

8. Set how many podcast episodes the iPhone/iPad keeps at a time

You likely don’t want an old podcast episode from 2009 taking up space on your iPhone. Podcasts lets you determine how many episodes are stored before they are automatically deleted.

9. Share a link to a podcast via Twitter or Text Message (and soon Facebook)

Previously you could share a link to a podcast only by email using the Music app. Now you can tweet your favorite podcasts using the Podcasts app. And I’m sure Facebook will appear with iOS 6.

10. Browse top podcasts with a swipe of your finger

The Podcasts app introduces a slick (but currently slow and buggy) radio-dial interface to browse the top podcasts in various categories. It’s cool looking but I have problems with it every time I use it. If you want to enjoy this app, I suggest avoiding using this feature.

11. Set a sleep timer for podcasts without using the Clock app

The iPhone has always had a sleep timer buried in the Clock app, but now you no longer have to leave the app you’re in to set it. The Podcasts app’s sleep timer can be found in the the new retro reel-to-reel tape player view. To access it, swipe up on the album art while playing a podcast, the reel-to-reel tape player will appear along with a sleep timer button.

Apple Releases Podcast App Into App Store

Apple has released an app called Podcasts (free) into the App Store that is basically a standalone app for podcasts in iTunes. It’s been rumored that Apple will be breaking up the many-headed monster that is iTunes into smaller apps, and this seems like an early indication of that happening.

With the app, you can stream and/or subscribe to podcasts, and browse around using top lists and categories. There is also a cool radio-like feature where you swipe your finger across a simulated radio dial (which looks really cool, great design) to listen to the top podcasts for a variety of categories. The categories of podcasts (tech, video games, automotive, etc) serve as the “radio stations.” Another cool feature is that subscribed podcasts automatically download when they become available, essentially removing the need for iTunes desktop software for downloading podcasts. < Podcasts is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

App Description:

Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Explore hundreds of thousands of free audio and video podcasts from the Podcasts Catalog, and play the most popular podcasts, organized for you by topic, with the all-new Top Stations feature.


• Enjoy all of your audio and video podcasts in a single app
• Explore hundreds of thousands of podcasts including shows in over 40 languages
• Try the innovative new Top Stations feature to find new podcast series in a variety of topics, including arts, business, comedy, music, news, sports, and more.
• Browse by Audio or Video podcasts, or see what’s most popular in Top Charts
• Tap subscribe for your favorites and automatically receive new episodes for free as they become available
• Stream episodes or download to listen while offline
• Skip forward and back using simple playback controls
• Turn on Sleep Timer to automatically stop playing a podcast while listening in bed
• Share your favorite episodes with friends using Twitter, Messages and Mail
• Optionally sync your favorite episodes from iTunes on your Mac or PC
• Sync your episode playback for seamless transition between devices

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Weekly iPad/iPhone App Provides Sales Circulars for All the Major Stores

One of the reasons people still buy a Sunday newspaper is for the huge pile of weekly store circulars that come with it. Weekly for iPad (and iPhone) by Twicular gives you access to those circulars for over 100,000 stores with no need to toss them out when you’re finished. It’s a pretty sweet app that can save a lot of hassle.

I’ve been trying it out that past few weeks, and can report that Weekly had the updated weekly circulars for every store located near me, even my grocery store. Kohl’s, Target, K-Mart, Home Depot, Jewel (my grocery), etc, were all there. Another thing that impressed me is that app sometimes had multiple circulars that appeared in different local newspapers for the same week, but which had different info and formatting. The circulars also downloaded fairly quickly.

You can zoom in and out of the ads. The image resolution is fine for reading, but of course, the more you zoom in the blurrier they get (the text is still readable though). If you want to clarify the information for a product, you can tap on it and a pop-up will appear providing more data. It’s clear that the developers are working with a service that scans the circulars and adds info for the pop-ups.

The other great feature is that the app lets you use GPS to locate all the stores near you, so you don’t have to enter in an address, etc. You can save products as a shopping list and then email that shopping list to yourself to remember what to buy in the stores.

My only complaint about Weekly is that it doesn’t save the ads for offline viewing (although you can save specific items in the ads for offline viewing). But for the ads themselves, you have to download them each time you want to view them. Hopefully they’ll add offline viewing as a feature in the future.

As mentioned, they support over 100,000 stores, but here’s a list of a few stores from the app description: Macy’s, JCPenney, Best Buy, Sears, Kohl’s, Jo-Ann Stores, Dillard’s, Old Navy, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Pet Smart, Sports Authority, Staples, Aaron’s, Lowe’s, ACE Hardware, True Value Hardware, Home Depot, GNC, Wal-Mart, Target, CVS/pharmacy, Walgreens, Family Dollar, RadioShack, Save-A-Lot, Kmart, RiteAid, Aldi, Office Depot, Michaels, SAFEWAY, OfficeMax, Albertson’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Big 5 Sporting Goods etc.

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Here’s a Simple Trick to Make the iPhone/iPad’s Reader Button More Useful

Reader is one of my favorite and most-used features introduced in iOS 5. If you’re not familiar, Reader is a feature of the iPhone/iPad’s browser that strips aways ads from a web page, enlarges the text, and fills the entire screen with the article to make it easier to read on the iPhone/iPad. You activate it by tapping a button that appears in the browser’s address bar:

But there is one huge annoyance with Reader: the button doesn’t appear until after a web page stops loading. This means, if you’re waiting for an entire web page to load, you can often wait up to several minutes for the reader button to show up, even though you can see the text of the article has loaded. The solution is simple:

When you see the article’s text and images have loaded, simply tap the X in Safari’s address bar to stop the rest of the web page from loading. The Reader button will then appear:

It seems like an obvious solution, but I admit, it took me a while to figure it out.

So why, oh why, do web pages seem to keep loading and loading sometimes? It often has nothing to do with the website you are visiting, but rather third-party advertisements that are attempting to contact other Internet services to pull in data. The good news is that websites are usually designed to load their own content first, and that’s why this tip works.

iPhone and iPad Apps That Stream Free Movies and TV Shows

There’s a growing trend of people who are canceling cable TV and instead going with free over-the-air “antenna” TV. Maybe that’s why there is also a growing number of iOS apps that provide free full movies and TV shows in the App Store. Check out a list of some of the better ones below.


Crackle is probably the premiere app when it comes to the quality of free movies and tv shows it provides. All movies and shows are free and uncut, although you do have to watch the occassional commercial. But hey, the content is free! The content changes every once in a while, but here’s a sample of what’s available right now:

  • Talladega Nights.
  • Panic Room.
  • Starship Troopers.
  • Resident Evil.
  • Baby Boy.
  • Deuce Bigalow: Eruopean Gigaloo.
  • Seinfeld.
  • And hundreds more.

Crackle is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.


Popcornflix specializes in free movies. Hundreds of free movies, in fact. The service has some good gems in there, but there’s also some straight-to-DVD stuff. Here’s a sample of what’s available on the service right now:

  • Descent
  • Easy
  • Biggie and Tupac
  • Dead Tone
  • Lymelife
  • Battle in Seattle
  • American Affair
  • And hundreds more.

Popcornflix is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.


The NBC app offers full episodes of a limited number of shows. Besides full episodes, the app offers NBC’s schedule, games, and other stuff, but really, we only care about the free TV. Currently available content looks like this:

  • America’s Got Talent
  • Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  • Days of Our Lives
  • Love in the Wild
  • Saving Hope

NBC is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

The CW Network

The CW Network iPad app screenshot

The CW Network provides you free full-length episodes, and there’s a lot of content in the app. You get the 5 latest episodes of everyone primetime show on the CW. Way to go C dub. The app streams shows like the Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, 90210, Hart of Dixie, America’s Next Top Model, and more.


The PBS app (iPhone, iPad) makes a lot of PBS’s best content available for streaming for free. The only problem I have with the app is it’s hard to find all the full-length content (you have to dig too deep into the app to find it). Here’s a sample of what’s currently available:

  • Frontline
  • NOVA
  • Nature
  • Antiques Roadshow
  • PBS Newshour
  • Zen (Masterpiece Theater)
  • And more.

NBC Nightly News

NBC Nightly News offers full episodes of, what else, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (and others). You can also watch individual news segments and skip what doesn’t interest you. I use this one a lot if I need to catch up on the news.

NBC Nightly News is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

Bloomberg TV+ for iPad

Bloomberg TV+ is a rare app in that it lets you watch the live broadcast of Bloomberg TV, a financial news network like CNBC. You can also access Bloomberg shows on-demand, like:

  • Bloomberg Rewind
  • Risk Takers
  • Bloomberg West
  • and more.

Bloomberg TV+ is iPad only.

WATCH Disney Channel

WATCH Disney Channel is one of those apps that requires you to log in to your cable provider (Comcast) to get the full content, but the app does offer several free full episodes of some of your favorite Disney Channel shows without signing in. There’s enough free content to keep your kids quiet for a few hours anyways. The available content rotates, but currently available are:

  • Jessie
  • Austin & Ally
  • Good Luck Charlie
  • Phineas and Ferb
  • Fish Hooks
  • Shake It Up

WATCH Disney Channel is a universal app for iPhone and iPad. There are also similar apps for Disney’s other sister channels as well.

NFB Films for iPad

NFB Films for iPad features over 2,000(!) free films, shows, and shorts. The content is all Canadian films you’ve (might) never heard of, but still, look around, there are some good documentaries and cartoon shorts for kids.

  • Cry of the Wild
  • Sexy Inc. Our Children Under Influence
  • Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows
  • William Shatner Sings O Canada
  • and tons more.

ABC Family

The ABC Family app lets you watch recent full episodes of ABC Family originals. The app even saves your place when you stop watching a video so you can start where you left off. Content rotates, but currently available are episodes for:

  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager
  • Bunheads
  • Jane By Design
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Switched at Birth
  • Baby Daddy
  • and more.

ABC Family is a universal app for the iPhone and iPad.

Review: Amazon Basics Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad

The Amazon Basics Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad ($45) really is designed “for the iPad” in the sense that it has several iPad-specific keys. A “home button” key works just like the iPad’s home button, bringing up the home screen when pressed and the iPad’s task bar when double pressed. The keyboard’s Spotlight Search key brings up, what else, the iPad’s Spotlight Search. The keyboard’s key arrangement also imitates Apple’s own keyboards, with special Apple keys like Command and Function, so it works great with Macs, too.

At $45, and with a slim, sleek profile, the Amazon Basics Bluetooth Keyboard makes for an inexpensive imitation of Apple’s own popular Wireless Bluetooth keyboard, which costs about $25 more ($69).

I took the Amazon keyboard for a spin for a few weeks with my new 3rd-gen iPad (and wrote most of this article on it), and compared it with the Apple Wireless keyboard, which I use on a daily basis. Check out my video and text reviews below.

Video Review

Text Review

Typing. I found typing on the Amazon Basics Wireless to be comfortable, but not quite as comfortable as a regular desktop keyboard. The keys are slightly smaller and more cramped than the Apple Wireless keyboard, but the tighter spacing did not impede my accuracy or typing speed.

Just like most modern Apple keyboards, the Amazon keyboard keys are very quiet, with none of the reverberating clickity clack of conventional keyboards (although some people do love their old-school clickity clack). If you haven’t used a modern Apple keyboard, the “Scrabble tile” style keys take some getting used to. There’s a flat, dead feel to them at first. But in the long run, you’ll discover the keys require a lighter touch.

Weight. The Amazon Basics Wireless is an extremely lightweight keyboard, the lightest full keyboard I’ve used. It weighs only 9.6 ounces. That’s a few ounces lighter than the Apple Wireless, which weighs around 11.5 ounces.

Size. The keyboard is 10.4 inches wide, 4.6 inches tall, and 0.7 inches in height. For comparison, the Apple Wireless keyboard is 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, and .75 inches tall. Both are small when compared to desktop keyboards. The Amazon Basics keyboard will fit easily into any bag and maybe even a large purse.

Special iPad Keys: The Amazon keyboard comes with some special iPad keys, each labeled according to their functionality:

  • Home Button key (F1): Pressing the Home Button key (F1) does what pressing the iPad’s home button does: brings up the home screen. You can quickly double press F1 to bring up the iPad’s app-switching task bar. The F1 key is decorated with the same rounded square as the iPad’s home button.
  • Spotlight Search key (F2). Pressing the Spotlight Search key (F2) brings up Spotlight Search on the iPad (are you starting to see a pattern?), where you can search for apps, contacts, etc, depending on what your Spotlight settings are. The F2 key is decorated with a magnifying glass.
  • Music/Video Controls (F3-F8). With this set of keys you can play, pause, skip forward, skip back, mute, increase volume, and lower volume. The keys are decorated with the corresponding track control symbols.
  • Battery Indicator (F11). The Battery Indicator (F11) key has a status light that will briefly glow green when you turn on the keyboard to let you know the battery is good. They key as an image of a battery on it.
  • Bluetooth Indicator (F12). The Bluetooth Indicated key (F12) has a status light that will briefly glow blue to let you know either if it’s searching for a connection or when its connecting.
  • The Keyboard key. Located next to the F12 key, this key simply has an image of a keyboard on it. Pressing it will bring up the touchscreen keyboard on the iPad (when available), and pressing it again will close it.

Key combinations. Some key combinations don’t work with the iPad, and some do. Command + i (italicize) doesn’t work, and Command + b (bold) doesn’t work either. But there are plenty of key combinations that do work. Here are a few.

Key combinations that do work on the iPad:

  • Command + c = copy
  • Command + v = paste
  • Command + z = undo
  • Command + a = select all
  • Command + Shift + arrow = select all text in a line and jump to beginning/end
  • Shift + arrow = select
  • Command + arrow up = move cursor to home
  • Command + arrow down = move cursor to end
  • Command + arrow left/right = move cursor to beginning/end of line
  • Option + arrow = places cursor at end/beginning of a word

Other Notes:

The Amazon keyboard for iPad has a nice on/off switch on the bottom of the keyboard. This is worth mentioning only because, annoyingly, the Apple wireless keyboard’s on/off button is poorly designed and can easily be accidentally pressed when stored in a bag, running down the battery.

The keyboard is powered by 2 AAA batteries. A pair are included with the keyboard.

The keyboard will also work with the iPhone and most computers, basically anything that is HID bluetooth-profile compatible. Because the key configuration is of the Apple (Mac) variety, there will be some awkwardness when used with a Windows computer (although still quite usable).

The keyboard comes with a 1-year warranty.


Review Summary

I can recommend the Amazon Basics Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad to anyone looking for a cheap, small, lightweight, but still comfortable bluetooth keyboard for the iPad. While the Apple bluetooth keyboard is slightly bigger, roomier, and has larger keys, the Amazon keyboard’s advantages are its cheaper price ($25 or more cheaper), its on/off switch (see my complaint above about the Apple’s on/off switch), and the fact that its keys are labeled with their corresponding iPad functionality (for example, the home button key has the home button symbol on it), which the Apple keyboard lacks.


  • Comfortable to type on.
  • Light, thin, and portable.
  • Special iPad keys.
  • Relatively cheap $45 price tag.


  • Keys are slightly smaller and more cramped than an Apple Wireless Keyboard

7-2-2012 Update: While everything in my review still stands as concerns using this keyboard with the iPad, I started to use the Amazon keyboard with my iMac when my Apple Wireless conked out and find it to be a terrible keyboard for that purpose. If the keyboard goes to sleep after not being used in a while, there is about a 5-second gap from when you type on the keyboard until the iMac registers anything. Often, what you initially type is lost or becomes jumbled. The Apple Wireless keyboard, on the other hand, always works the instant you start typing, regardless of how long you’ve been away from the keyboard.

The Best Stand for the iPad 3 Is Also a Case: the ZeroChroma Vario-SC (Review with Video)

I’ve tried several stands for the iPad and they’ve all pretty much ended up collecting dust. The problem with most iPad stands is lack of versatility—not enough viewing angles and they’re a hassle to lug around. So why spend 50 bucks on a stand that will mostly sit on your desk and rarely be used? That’s why ZeroChroma makes my favorite stand for the iPad. Except the ZeroChroma isn’t just a stand, it’s also a case.

The first thing I did when I got my new iPad was order the ZeroChroma Vario-SC case, which has a sweet built-in rotating stand. The stand can rotate 360 degrees and hold up the iPad in 10 different angles in portrait, landscape, or anything in between. I have used similar ZeroChroma cases with the iPhone 4 and the first iPad and have loved the added functionality the built-in stands bring to the devices. You’ve got to love an accessory that makes a powerfully useful device even more useful. The ZeroChroma Vario-SC is also compatible with Apple’s Smart Cover, hence the “SC” in its name.

Video Review:

Text Review:

The Stand. The ZeroChroma’s stand is attached to a circular piece of hard plastic that can be rotated 360 degrees. The fact that it rotates comes in handy more than you think, as you can use the stand not only on desks and tables, but also on uneven surfaces like a couch, bed, or pillow.

The stand itself is a hard piece of plastic with two rubber-covered tips. To use the stand, you pull it out with your finger. The stand “clicks” into 10 different angles (ZeroChroma says 11, but I counted 10). The stand is sturdy enough to hold up the weight of the iPad as well as a reasonable amount of pressure from finger taps. Of course, if you apply enough pressure, the stand will collapse, but for general use it’s fine.

Overall, the stand is awesome—the best I’ve ever used thanks to how versatile it is and the fact that it’s always there. Knowing that I can always have the iPad propped up at just the right angle has made me more likely to use the iPad for a variety of tasks, whether it’s propping up the iPad on a seat tray on an airplane or in the kitchen for using the iPad as a cookbook. Whenever I need to prop up the iPad, it’s just there. And at any angle I choose.

Smart Cover. The ZeroChroma is compatible with Apple’s Smart Cover. Both can be attached at the same time. The duo makes a good team, with the ZeroChroma protecting the rear and the Smart Cover the front. And of course you get all the Smart Cover’s benefits (auto-shutoff of the iPad’s screen when you close the cover and the microfiber interior which cleans the screen) in addition to the ZeroChroma’s stand. That’s a lot added functionality.

I did experience a few awkward moments where the Smart Cover interfered with using the ZeroChroma’s stand. Usually I could figure out a way to fold the Smart Cover so that it didn’t get in the way. But most of the time I found it best to temporarily remove the Smart Cover altogether instead of bothering with it.

There is one trick the where the ZeroChroma’s stand and Smart Cover work together to create a “laptop.” If you’re sitting on a chair without a surface to place the iPad on, you can lay the Smart Cover across your lap and prop up the iPad with the ZeroChroma’s stand, all without removing either accessory. I never liked using a laptop on my lap much less the iPad, but it’s nice to have the option.

Materials: Hard Plastic With Soft Plastic When the ZeroChroma isn’t on the iPad, it actually feels thin and kind of flimsy. Most of the case is made of a bendable soft plastic. The case is of the slip-on variety: you slip the case around the edges and corners of the iPad.

The stand section of the case, which includes the circular rotating part and the stand itself, is made of a hard plastic.

Protection? Simply put, the ZeroChroma is not a great case for protection against accidental drops. It’s much too thin to provide any but the smallest amount of shock absorption. Even with the Smart Cover, there’s not much protection there for accidental drops. The duo does, however, provide excellent total protection for other kinds of wear and tear (scratches and scrapes).

Grip. The manufacturer describes the ZeroChroma Vario-SC as being made of “Super-Grip” material. If by “Super-Grip” they mean the case is nearly as slippery as a naked iPad, then yes, you could call it that.

The only really benefit the case provides in this area is that the slightly textured plastic makes the iPad feel a little more comfortable in the hand. I’m not a fan of the new iPad’s sharp edges and cold metal backing, so any sort of material other than metal makes it feel more comfortable to hold.

Small complaints. The case does have a few other minor flaws. It’s a somewhat ugly case, with part of its rim missing to make room for the Smart Cover to be attached. And the protruding circular area for the stand is an awkward eyesore. The matte black color helps hide some of that awkwardness.

I also noticed that sides of the ZeroChroma did not fit as snug as I’d like and would occasionally slip off and have to be tucked back on. This problem is mostly due to the bendable plastic and not that the case is too big. I should clarify that the case itself doesn’t come off, just the side rims will bend so that they slip under the iPad’s sides.


Review Summary

This is actually the third ZeroChroma product I’ve owned. I’ve had their ZeroChroma Teatro for iPhone 4 and the ZeroChroma for the first iPad. So I’ve had years of experience using their case/stand combo (the stand design hasn’t changed much) and have found the added functionality so useful, it was the first thing I bought for my new iPad 3. I won’t say it’s a perfect case. It doesn’t provide great protection, and it’s not a great-looking case. It is, however, the best stand you can buy for the iPad.


  • Best, most useful stand for the iPad I’ve come across.
  • Rotating stand means you can hold up the iPad at almost any angle.
  • Compatible with Apple’s Smart Cover.
  • Stand is always there when you need it.


  • Not a great case for protection—not much shock absorption.
  • Kind of ugly.
  • Rim of case can occasionally become loose and tucked under iPad’s sides.

The Verge Reviews Styluses for the iPad

The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger has published a sweet review of several iPad styluses and created a nice video summary review to go along with it. He tested the styluses while using the new Paper iPad note-taking app.

His top picks are the Wacom Bamboo Stylus ($30) and the Adonit Jot Pro ($30), but cautions that no stylus offers a great experience, just mediocre in general, as writing on glass with a pen just wasn’t meant to be.

A Major Downside to the New iPad’s Personal Hotspot Feature

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the LTE connectivity of the new iPad and basically loved everything about it. The speed, the ease of use, all great. I especially loved how the Personal Hotspot was free (after you purchase the data plan, that is). But since writing that review, I found something that I don’t love about the Personal Hotspot feature: the fact that it automatically shuts off when the connection is not being used. A good Wi-Fi network this does not make.

Here’s the problem in a little more detail. If you turn on the iPad’s Personal Hotspot feature, you have around 90 seconds to connect a device to it before it stops broadcasting itself as a Wi-Fi network. Once you do connect a device like an iPhone and start listening to, say, the Pandora Radio app, you have to keep streaming data and never ever stop or else, after a few minutes, the iPad will shut off the Wi-Fi network, and won’t let you reconnect.

Basically, if you stop using the Personal Hotspot for only a few minutes, you have to go through annoying steps to reactivate it. You have to grab your iPad, open up the iPad’s Settings, swipe the Personal Hotspot tab to Off, then swipe it to On again. Each time. Annoying.

The only solution is to continually download data. I found that a radio app with a low-bandwidth radio stream works nicely. For example, a 32 kbps streaming radio stream uses only 14 MB per hour. Still, that adds up over time. If someone knows of apps that sip small chunks of data continually over time and that work in the background, leave a note in the comments.

What’s the reasoning behind making it work this way? From Apple’s perspective, you could argue that it’s battery life, but Anandtech’s tests show that the new iPad can last 25 hours as a Personal LTE Hotspot, probably a lot longer if it is simply in a broadcast mode and not downloading data. It’s more likely that Verizon wants to prevent congestion on their new LTE network. By limiting its functionality, Verizon keeps people from using it like a regular old Wi-Fi network/router. But still, we paid for the 2 GB of bandwidth, we should be able to use it how we want.