Apple doesn't give a shit about your kids

Apple doesn't give a shit about your child's education. But then, neither does any other tech company: they only care about what they can sell to schools and parents.

This likely isn't news to anyone reading this, but I feel like it needs to be said.

This morning Apple held an education-centric event at a high school in Chicago. They released a new iPad. With the exception of a processor bump and the fact that it supports Apple Pencil, it's very much like the last iteration of the iPad. They're selling it for $329 or, if you're a student or educator, it can be had for $299. Need an Apple Pencil? That'll be an additional $99. Let me reframe this for you: One of the most lucrative companies in the world thinks it's a grand gesture to knock $30 off the price of their hardware for anyone involved in book learnin'. But, if they want to make full use of the iPad's capabilities, it'll cost them another $99 to do so.

This, at a time when when parents are running crowdsourcing campaigns for classroom supplies and to keep schools heated during the cold months of the year.

The real reason that they've shaved a sliver of fat off their pricing is because they're getting bled to death in the education sector by companies churning out less expensive Chrome OS hardware. Google's Chrome OS might not be able to boast the wide assortment of quality apps that an iOS device does, but the operating system doesn't need high-end specs to run on. Read the rest

Kids struggling to hold pencils thanks to too much tech

Parents who load their tablets and smartphones up with fun educational apps for their kids to play with may actually be doing them more harm than good. According to The Guardian, spending too much time tapping and swiping away at touchscreens is leaving the muscles in many children's hands too weak to hold a pencil.

In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they're old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write. In order to correct the problem, some parents are going so far as to send their kids to pediatric occupational therapists, like Payne:

Six-year-old Patrick has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil in the correct, tripod grip.

His mother, Laura, blames herself: “In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys. When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.

Read the rest

A single unicode symbol can crash iPhone, iPad and Mac apps

Apple's been in the headlines over the past few months, for all of the wrong reasons. According to TechCrunch, their PR losing streak isn't going to stop any time soon.

TechCrunch reports that an IOS software development house has discovered that two unicode symbols, when inputted into a number of popular iOS apps, will cause the apps to crash. In many instances, once the apps crash, it's impossible to open them again. TechCrunch was able to recreate these crashes on a number of pieces of hardware running iOS and a Mac running the latest version of MacOS:

The bug crashes apps including Mail, Twitter, Messages, Slack, Instagram and Facebook. From our testing, it also crashed Jumpcut, a copy and paste plugin for Mac. While it initially appeared that the Chrome browser for Mac was unaffected and could safely display the symbol, it later crashed Chrome and the software would not reopen without crashing until uninstalled and reinstalled.

This isn't the first 'text bomb' issue that Apple's been confronted with. In January, it was discovered that it allowed a specific web address to crash any iPhone it was texted to.

Given that this bug effects so many different devices (all of which I use) I'm hoping that it gets sorted out fast.

Image courtesy of Pxhere Read the rest

How pros make gradient calligraphy on iPads

Calligraphers continue to explore the possibilities of portable tablets for enhancing their craft, and few are doing more than Ian Barnard. Here's his latest tutorial, turning handwritten script into a neon-like gradient.

Bonus video: just look at this hand-lettered banana:

How to do gradient & shadowed lettering in Procreate on the iPad Pro (YouTube / Ian Barnard) Read the rest

Gorgeous calligraphy using iPad and modified Apple Pencil

In addition to making amazing pen-and-ink calligraphy, Ian Barnard is great with an iPad and Apple Pencil. And the latter allows for do-overs if you make a mistake halfway (or more typically, on the final letter or stroke). Read the rest

Can you solve all 100 of these stylish, simple puzzles?

It's low-key; solving one hundred of these feels like an attainable goal. I mean, probably. Try it.

iSperm: sperm analyzer for iPad

Taiwanese med-tech firm Admits hopes to get FDA approval to bring its iPad-based livestock sperm analyzer to the US for at-home human fertility testing. Read the rest

Finally, Apple Watch available in stores this month

After over a month of pre-sales and online-only availability, the Apple Watch will finally be on the shelves in Apple stores later this month. Consumers will be able to touch and try on the watch and then actually take it home the same day. Not that selling exclusively online has hurt the product: Apple has had an estimated  7-million Apple Watch orders since its launch and expects to deliver 5-million watches by the end of the first quarter, which is double what analysts had expected.  And Apple has by far outsold what the iPod, iPhone and iPad took in during their first quarter. Yet another win for Apple! Read the rest

Stop the Belieber Invasion!

Justin Beiber, one-time YouTube star, then chart-topping heart throb, then TMZ regular. Justin Beiber, recently roasted by the cool kids of Comedy Central. And now Justin Beiber, blasted out of space, over and over and over. Read the rest

Reconfigurable click-brick characters in Sick Bricks online

I have a boy in grade school, and his whole world comes comes down to a few passions, which include Legos and iPad games. That's why I am vicariously excited for him about this week's release of Sick Bricks, a new mash-up of click brick toy and tablet game. Read the rest

iPhone 6 Plus is the iPad Mini Minus.

...and that's exactly what I wanted, because I'm not a big caller. But maybe it's time to switch to Android, because they already have stuff just like it, and with some meatier hardware to boot.

The above graphic, published by OSXdaily, illustrates Apple's new selection of phone sizes--and also includes the iPad Mini, which lacks cellular calling but now seems part of a consistent spectrum. As one of those people who often finds the iPad Mini a little too big, but the current iPhone too small, I figure that the 6 Plus will be what I'm after. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 4--slightly less wide than the 6 Plus, but significantly thicker--didn't quite sell itself to me, though that might be because Android is just not the language my thumbs speak.

Here's the specs for reference.

Tell me what to buy. (Yes, a Moto F3, I know.) Read the rest

Apple's big iPad problem: How do you convince owners to upgrade when their old machines work just fine?

I have a first-generation iPad that works well as a Netflix streamer, game platform, writing tool, and web and email machine. I have no desire to upgrade to the latest model. Rob Walker, writing for Yahoo News, reports that I'm not the only one who feels this way. "A recent report by Localytics concluded that 38 percent of all iPads in use — a commanding plurality — are iPad 2s," he writes.

So what does it take to make a device seem obsolete? I’d say there are two categories of answer. One is some sort of relatable spec improvement: Twice the memory that your straining laptop has, or the ability to hold three times more songs than your current MP3 player.

The other category basically involves aesthetics and form: A remarkably lighter object, a flashy new color that signals to the world you’ve got the latest thing. Apple is skilled at this, as the intense interest in the gold version of the most recent iPhone proved yet again. Indeed, the Macbook Air’s form-factor success even got an indirect nod in one of today’s few surprises: The new iPad is called the iPad Air.

Maybe these gambits just don’t work as well in the context of tablets. I’ve never bumped against the technical limits of my iPad 2. And since I don’t flash it in public very often, I’m ambivalent about whatever stylistic statement it may or may not make.

Apple's big iPad problem Read the rest

Students defeat iPad restrictions, LA school officials have a cow

The Los Angeles Unified School District has decided not to award 300 students for cleverness after the students figured out how to access YouTube and Facebook on the locked-down iPads the district gave them. Instead, the district "put an end to home use of the devices, and district sources say the misbehavior may delay the rollout of the full program." Read the rest

iPad app of 300 rotating animal skull photos

$0.99 buys you "beautiful 360-degree high-resolution rotations of over 300 animal skulls." Here's a chameleon skull. Don't miss the two-headed cow skull.

Skulls by Simon Winchester Read the rest

Best iPad stylus: Pogo Connect

I’ve been using this stylus like crazy and I am in love! It’s a touch sensitive stylus for drawing and painting on the iPad which works incredibly well. Because of its touch-sensitive capabilities, this is the first stylus that allows me to think of the iPad as tool for serious illustration. I love my Wacom tablet, but using this is a completely different and, in some ways, a much more direct way to connect to my work… especially once I’d found the right drawing app. I suggest Procreate, which is designed to take advantage of the Pogo Connect. Read the rest

Apple rumor watch: 100 designers developing wristwatch computer

Bloomberg reports that a team of "about 100 product designers are working on a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad." Read the rest

Video shows you how to jailbreak your iOS 6.1 device

This Cult of Mac video makes it look pretty easy to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad. What is a good reason to do it? If you have jailbroken your iOS device to do something cool that you couldn't have accomplished with a non-jailbroken device, please tell us about it in the comments. Read the rest

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