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Mirror iPad onto iMac

This was an amazing find! Since my iPad Pro has become my main device I wanted the ability to mirror the display onto my 27” iMac at work. Surprisingly, you don’t need to purchase anything! Simply use your Lightning to USB cable that came with your iPhone or iPad and plug it into the back of your iMac. Then, launch QuickTime.

Open QuickTime, then click File > New Movie Recording > Press the “down” arrow near the red “record” button, and set it to your iPad (or your iPhone). That’s it!

You can also record your screen for presentations if you want. It’s easy!

Now I can build my presentations, do my layouts and retouch photos using my iPad Pro with it all displaying on my iMac at work.

 

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Drawing with Pixelmator for iOS


I love drawing on glass and have been on a search to determine the best drawing app for the iPad Pro. Having downloaded about a dozen apps, clearly an app I like may not be one that you like because they all work differently and have different interfaces. At the moment, my top three drawing apps for iOS (in no particular order) are Sketchbook Pro, Procreate and Pixelmator. This post focuses on Pixelmator.

Pixelmator for iOS has a good reputation as a Photoshop replacement. Many reviews suggest Pixelmator is nearly enough. For my needs, it’s enough. I consider Pixelmator a Photoshop replacement on the iPad (as well as on the iMac).

At work, I use Photoshop on an iMac for manipulating photos. I may combine two or more images, color correct them, add or remove things, etc. Sometimes I add text to create a layout or ad. Sometimes I bring the newly created image into another application like InDesign or Illustrator. Pixelmator allows me to do almost everything I normally do in Photoshop on my iPad. Since Pixelmator was upgraded to version 2.3, I don’t think there’s ever been an instance when I could not produce the same work. (Unfortunately, I recently determined it does not support text on a curve.) 

The reason Pixelmator is MORE than Photoshop for me not just because it does what Photoshop does but because I love drawing with it. I don’t have a Cintiq at work. All of my digital drawings have always been done on iPad. The iPad Pro 12.9″ is an amazing device for drawing and Pixelmator is a great option for this.

Pixelmator has a generous selection of brushes. Unlike Procreate and Sketchbook Pro, Pixelmator eliminates most of the customization features. In other words, with Pixelmator, you select your brush, its thickness, opacity and color – that’s it. The other apps allow things like angle adjustments, jitter and pressure sensitivity curves. I found all this control too much of a good thing and constantly played with the settings. With Pixelmator, you just pick a brush and draw. Sometimes less is more!

Accidentally, I discovered how well Pixelmator integrates with iCloud. While Procreate and Sketchbook Pro gobbled up my iPad Pro’s storage space, Pixelmator only took sips. It stores everything in iCloud without fuss. Sketchbook Pro does a decent job with iCloud but not as efficiently as Pixelmator. Procreate only allows you to upload your drawings to iCloud manually.

Overall, Pixelmator is a winner! It does almost everything Photoshop does and offers an excellent platform for illustrators to indulge themselves without having to carry around a sketchpad. I love it and recommend it highly. It’s one of my favorite apps not only for what it does but for how productive it allows me to be. 

Managing Procreate File Sizes with iCloud


Procreate is a great drawing app for the iPad Pro. I enjoyed using it to complete several drawings. I selected Procreate because of its large brush selection and its capacity for multiple layers. Once you get used to drawing on layers you spoil yourself for lesser apps, like Adobe Sketch which is more limited in this respect.

Unfortunately, iPad space is valuable and scarce when you only have the 32GB version and I was unaware Procreate did not automatically back up your files. So Procreate became a space hog and I needed to do something about it. The solution was iCloud.

There are other storage apps out there like iCloud – Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. – but none are as easy to use as iCloud.

Procreate claimed the most space on my iPad by far. At 3.6GB the next closest app was Affinity Photo (another space hog) at just over 1GB. All of my other apps were below 500MB – most below 300MB.

iCloud cost 99 cents a month for 50GB so I upgraded from the free plan and created a folder called Procreate. This had to be done from my iMac but I hope this function will be available in iOS 11. Once the folder is setup, you can save your Procreate files by simply clicking Share Your Work and selecting the file type. I saved my files as .JPEG, .PRO and .PSD files. This way I am able to quickly share JPEGs via email, open files in Procreate and continue working on them OR open Photoshop files with all layers intact.

Once everything was backed up, I deleted and reinstalled Procreate. The space it claimed was reduced from 3.6GB to 113MB! Certainly, Procreate will continue to grow as I use it but for now, my artwork files are safe in iCloud and I can begin working on other projects.

Apple Pages as an InDesign Replacement


My iPad Pro is always with me. If it’s not in my backpack it’s on my couch, ottoman or night table. Recently, I needed to take a day off to bring my father to the doctor. I was in the middle of a project at work that was time sensitive – a creative slick to pitch a client. A file I’d normally create in Adobe InDesign was setup in Apple Pages in order to come along with me that day. It worked out very well

InDesign is nearly everyone’s ‘go to’ layout application on a Mac or PC. But InDesign is not available on the iPad (Adobe has a watered down iPad app called Comp that works with InDesign). So I built the file in Apple Pages based on a layout I had previously done in InDesign. Surprisingly, I was able to replicate it exactly – and quickly!

Once the layout was complete, I not only had a template for future work, I had the file that was due tomorrow on my iPad. Dad and I went to the doctor the next day and as we waited a handful of emails came thru asking for changes to the file. I was easily able to make all of the changes. Once complete, it was easy to convert the file to PDF and email to the team.

It was a pleasure using Apple Pages for page layout. I always just considered it a Microsoft Word replacement. But it’s much more! Once I discovered the Text Box option creating fluid layouts was easy. Amazingly, you can link the text and have it flow thru multiple columns – just like InDesign.

Ultimately, I was able to easily and efficiently complete the project on my iPad. Once I was back at my work desk I opened the file on my iMac in Pages – it was perfect.

InDesign is regarded as the standard when it comes to sophisticated page layout but Apple Pages is not too far behind with its wonderfully simple interface. For me, on this specific project, the features in Pages were all I needed to produce a professional looking advertising slick. Being able to take my work on the road on an iPad piques my interest further in learning more about Pages and how it can be used as a professional layout tool – at my desk as well as on the go!

Microsoft claims iPad Pro copies Surface Pro


Microsoft executive Ryan Gavin alleged the recently released Apple iPad Pro was copying the Microsoft Surface Pro.

“We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now, [but] when Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them [Apple]. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that.”

It’s difficult to take Mr. Gavin’s statement seriously especially since I’ve been using an iPad 2 (which came out in March, 2011) connected to an Apple Keyboard. As an iPad user, it was obvious to me Microsoft was copying Apple when they released the Surface, February 2013.

It was very exciting to learn an iPad could be connected to a keyboard. This pairing brought my productivity up as my iPad became my go-to machine for writing. Email, notes and ideas were easily typed out on my go-anywhere iPad.

Apple created a mobile device I could draw and write on. Heck, my iPad came with me on longboard trips around Mill Pond where I found myself sketching scenes with a rubber nibbled stylus.

When I began attaching a keyboard to an iPad I recognized immediately how versatile the form factor was and wrote about it on a few occasions. Here’s a post from 2012.

https://feithfocus.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/how-the-ipad-replaced-my-laptop-sort-of/

We’ve come a long way since then. It’s 2017 and even tho I’ve upgraded to an iPad Pro 12.9″ I’m still using an Apple external keyboard. It’s a great form factor – and I don’t mind at all that Microsoft copied it.

What I’d like to see in the next iPad


My iPad Pro 12.9″ has become my primary computer. I use it everyday for work and take it home with me every night for personal use. An Apple Keyboard (bluetooth) and Apple Pencil always come along, too. Here’s a breakdown of what I use it for:

* Email (Gmail)
* Writing (iA Writer)
* Spreadsheets (Google Sheets)
* Chart building (Apple Numbers)
* Note taking (Notability and Apple Notes)
* Photo retouching (Pixelmator)
* Page layout (Adobe Comp)
* Illustrating (Sketchbook Pro)
* Web design and Blogging (WordPress)
* Lists (Wunderlist and Clear)
* Reading (Apple iBooks)
* News (Apple News and Flipboard)
* Internet (Apple Safari)
* Storage (Apple iCloud and Google Drive)

My main computer (a 27″ iMac) has Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat – which I use for creating larger projects. On occasion I also use Apple iMovie to create and edit the videos I shoot on my iPhone. Otherwise, I’m usually facing my iPad Pro.

My job as Marketing Manager for an energy company allows me to be flexible with the hardware I use day-to-day. The iPad Pro lets me sketch my ideas and build layouts very quickly. I can stay at my desk, stand and work at a nearby table or go into another room. Often, during my commute into work via LIRR I’ll pull out the iPad Pro and sketch out an idea for an upcoming project.

Certainly, I am the exception to the rule at work. Most are using PCs (some Windows some Apple). If Apple wants the iPad Pro to become more mainstream in work environments, here are my suggestions:

Make the iPad a uniquely collaboration device

Others in the office have iPads. It would be nice if I could see who was online and share my screen with them. For example, if I was in Starbucks while others were at the office or home it would be wonderful to share my work with them easily without having to setup time consuming meetings.

Connect iPad to a larger screen

I love the 12.9″ screen on the iPad Pro. The device is small enough to easily slip into my bag (along with the Pencil and Keyboard) and big enough to make an impact during a meeting. And while I love writing, designing and drawing on the 12.9″ screen there’s something very nice about working on a larger screen (like my iMac’s 27″). If there was a way to connect the iPad Pro to a larger screen I might use it even more for larger projects.

Add a touchpad 

While the Apple Pencil is great for drawing I’m not always fond of poking at the screen while working on spreadsheets – which I do more often these days. A touchpad (right beside my Apple Keyboard) would be nice. I can toss it into my bag or leave it behind just as I do now with the keyboard.

Education on using iPad as a PC

I didn’t start using my iPad Pro right away as my main computer. I started years ago with a 9.7″ iPad 2 and worked my way up. Now that device stays at home primarily for streaming music (Spotify – because it’s free). During this time the Apps were not as powerful and I was unable to achieve professional results but that’s not the case anymore. The majority of iPad users probably use it as their secondary device but if educated on how much more it can do now compared to only a year ago, many would switch from their clunky Windows PCs and travel light like I do. In fact, my son uses a 9.7″ iPad Pro as his main computer at Binghamton University where note taking, research and writing reports is paramount. Here the iPad Pro is a perfect solution – better then a heavy laptop that’s less portable, has worse battery life and likely isn’t as speedy.

After working with iPads for years, I believe they are the future form factor for everyday computing. But it remains a niche product in most mainstream work environments. If implemented, my suggestions above might change that and many more might consider making the iPad their primary computer. I did, and I haven’t looked back since.

In Samsung’s case, karma is a bitch


In 2007, a few days before the iPhone was introduced, Apple filed design patents. In 2011, Apple sued Samsung for infringing on this intellectual property. Given the state of our legal system, this case has dragged on for years. Lawyers are paid to create diversions without regard to the case in point and courts entertain this folly. For example, Samsung argued the side-by-side photos showing the similarities between an iPhone and a Samsung phone submitted were altered. Lawyers argued about Photoshopping rather than how one company copied the others design. Apple should have just handed the court the phones for review. Clearly, they were (are) very similar – from shape and overall design to the icons on their screens.

Fast forward to 2016. Samsung is now the best selling mobile phone maker while Apple is number two. The phones are still extremely similar, Samsung having copied Apple’s design. Battles fought in court allowied the benefit of time for Samsung to fully pull off its theft leaving the market with nothing but similar products. No innovation here other than Apple’s original vision.

Companies both large and small should be respected for building careers for their employees. Most employees are not responsible for their employers mission. But when that mission involves stealing another company’s vision while the courts fail to act in a timely fashion, karma may play a role. Case in point for Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note 7.

Since August 2016, Samsung phones have been catching fire, injuring children (while playing games) and destroying cars (while left charging). The problem with these phones is so bad Samsung has issued a worldwide recall. They do not want anyone using the Galaxy Note 7 – their flagship phone.

I really don’t believe in karma. Many people and companies get away with stealing ideas, mistreating others, etc. But in this instance, Samsung needed more than just a slap on the wrist or to pay a fine (August 24, 2012 the jury returned a favorable verdict for Apple finding Samsung had willfully infringed on Apple’s design and patents awarding $1.049 billion in damages – the amount was later reduced but the charges stuck). Samsung’s rush to falsely prove they are an innovator in the mobile phone market resulted in a terrible oversight of quality control. Poorly designed batteries have been discovered to be the cause of the exploding phones. This manufacturing defect could have happened to anyone, but it happened to Samsung.

In Samsung’s case, karma is a bitch.