A $75 iPad stylus??? Am I nuts?

Some time last month I was listening to a Mac Power Users podcast, and co-host Katie Floyd mentioned that she had pre-ordered a $75 iPad stylus made by Adonit to work with Penultimate and Evernote. I was intrigued by the price: what kind of stylus could possibly justify a $75 price tag? Or did I simply hear that wrong? I’ve been using Penultimate and Evernote more and more lately, so I had to wonder if this stylus would be a good investment or a waste of money. Curious, I went over to the Evernote Marketplace to find out what I could.

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 1.23.08 PMThe Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition indeed bears a $75 price tag. And from what I could tell, the price tag might be appropriate. For one, the stylus resembles a real pen. No squishy rubber tip like the beloved Wacom Bamboo. In addition, the Jot Script doesn’t have the plastic disk found on the Adonit Jot Pro. The disk really helps you feel like you’re using a real pen on your iPad, but I’m always worried I’m going to break the thing off.

The Jot Script features a narrow, almost ballpoint pen like tip, as you can see from the photos at the Adonit web site. The Jot Script also features a very nice width, so it feels like a nice pen in the hand. For fountain pen users, it’s akin to the Lamy Safari or Sheaffer modern Balance pen.

What sets the Jot Script apart, though, is something called PixelPoint Technology. I’m not familiar enough with the inner workings of the technology to understand it, but from what I can tell the Jot Script uses a Bluetooth connection to sense what kind of iOS device you are using, and it adapts itself to the particular touch sense of the device’s screen. For example, an iPad has different screen sensitivity from an iPhone (sensitivity meaning something other than pressure sensitivity).

After reading all of this information, I was somewhat skeptical, but I thought I would take the plunge and see if the high price is truly justified. (Oh the things I do for my few dozen readers.) As I mentioned, I worry that I’m always going to break off the plastic disk on the Adonit Jot Pro. And, while the Wacom Bamboo has been my stylus of choice, the squishy rubber tip lacks precision and sometimes seems to “lose the connection” and not write at all on the iPad.

The Jot Script began shipping right around November 1, so it was waiting for me on Monday of this week when I returned from vacation. I won’t go into the details of unboxing, setting it up, or connecting it with particular apps. You can find that over at Adonit’s Get Connected page.

After just a few days of use, I’m almost a true believer. While I haven’t mastered the art of connecting the Jot Script to Penultimate yet (in terms of turning it on or turning it off), I have to say that the writing is far more accurate than I expected. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good for a stylus. I would say it is slightly more accurate than the Jot Pro I’ve used. It’s definitely more accurate than the Bamboo.

But is it worth $75?

In one sense, no. It’s better than the Jot Pro, but not more than twice the price of the Jot Pro. On the other hand, one could argue, you’re paying a premium price for a higher quality product. No plastic disk to fail/break/lose, higher accuracy in writing or drawing, and it’s a great design. In some ways, it’s like deciding to pick the iPad over an Android tablet. You pay a premium for the higher design aesthetic—and clearly many of us are willing to do that.

The premium price tag is going to prevent some people from trying the Jot Script, which is unfortunate. I think users need to spend more time with it than is possible when borrowing a colleague’s for a few minutes. It’s only after spending that additional time that the stylus starts to grow on you. (At first I was disappointed, but that disappointment faded away after a couple of days of use.) I predict, though, that those who are willing to move past the sticker shock will be pleased with the experience.

24 Hours with iOS 7

Although I’ve been playing with the beta version of iOS 7 for a while now, it’s always good to get the final product. Beta software can be buggy (sometimes the experience is so buggy you have to wonder if beta is used as in “beta than nothing”), and there are often changes at the last minute. Overall, my experience with the beta of iOS 7 was positive—although I did not install it on my iPad since that device is far more mission-critical on a daily basis.

Having had the golden master release installed on my iPhone 4S and my 3rd generation iPad, I can share a few thoughts.

First, the design overhaul is an improvement. It’s clear, crisp, and beyond the time to say goodbye to the silly “leather pad” look to the Calendar. Oddly enough, though, there are some apps that still don’t use the new user interface, notably in the keyboard. I wouldn’t remark on this if it wasn’t for the fact that these are Apple apps. (Find My iPhone, I’m talking about you.) The Google+ app also is stuck in iOS 6 user interface mode.

Second, I haven’t noticed any significant hits against the performance of my two iDevices. There are times when the keyboard input seems a little slow to catch up, but it’s not enough to make me head back toward iOS 6. Apps launch just fine, and I’m more than satisfied with the performance.

Third, Siri is finally ready for prime time. Siri can do a lot more for users now than she used to (the “she” part will inevitably become the subject of debate as there is now an option for a male voice). The only downside is that I suspect Apple’s servers are getting hammered with Siri requests as people try out the improvements. This should get resolved soon enough.

There are plenty of opinions and reviews of iOS 7 (such as Ars Technica, and David Pogue had a great one, but hell if I can find it on the New York Times web site now) that I refer you to. TechCrunch also has a nice article with iOS 7 tricks. (Did you realize there’s a built-in level in iOS 7?)

With iOS 7 going into general release, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of bug reports (like this one) that Apple will be inclined to fix quickly. Word has it Apple is already testing iOS 7.0.1. Stay tuned!

Should you use the iOS 7 beta?

A reader emailed me this past week to ask if she should use one of the various resources in order to start using the iOS 7 beta. I have her my quick advice, but I thought it might be worth sharing here in a little more detail.

There are two legitimate ways to gain access to iOS 7. One—the route I took—is to become a registered developer with Apple and pay the $99 annual fee that gets you access to all developer tools, including betas of new iOS versions. Now, I didn’t pay the $99 fee just to get access to the iOS 7 beta. I’ve been a registered developer for a while now and paid the fee a while back so I could try a few things. I’ve messed around with coding for iOS for a while just as a hobby, and I’ve come to learn that I’m not going to be releasing any apps any time soon. Coding has changed a lot since I learned to program in BASIC back in the 1980s. I’m way behind the learning curve.

The other route is to sign on with a service that charges you a small fee so that your iOS device becomes a registered developer device with Apple. (Google will help you find these. I recommend finding an article at a site like Gizmodo and hope that the folks there have weeded out the scams for you.)

So, if you’ve decided that you’re willing to start off down one of these paths, should you do it? My answer is “probably not.” Here’s why.

  • When you install iOS 7 beta on your device, it’s very much like restoring the device to the original factory settings. Your apps, your music, they all get wiped out. Even when you install a new beta version, apps and music you downloaded are wiped out. Playlists? Those are gone too.
  • You will have to update the iOS 7 beta as new versions are released because Apple puts an expiration date on the beta versions. If you don’t update before the expiration date, your device becomes bricked.
  • It’s beta software. It can crash, make it necessary to reset your iPhone, and apps may not work well with it.

Unlike many people, I use my iPhone mostly as a phone. The only non-Apple app I use regularly is RunKeeper. So, when I update the beta software and RunKeeper gets wiped out, it’s not like I’m having to reinstall 40 apps that I rely on for running my life. Indeed, I have specifically not put the iOS 7 beta on my iPad for this very reason. Ditto with installing OS X Mavericks on any of my Macs. (I don’t know if the wiping takes place on the Mac side, but I am not going to even chance it.)

Now, if you are like me an use your device for a couple of purposes, then you might not be too inconvenienced by dealing with the aftermath of a new iOS 7 beta installation. Because iOS 7 will be released sometime this autumn (my money says late October or November), the wait is not too much longer.

Five apps that make life easier

Bay Area lawyer Morgan Smith recently wrote about four iOS apps that make his life easier, and the article got me thinking. (Hat tip to iPhone J.D.) In the past I’ve over-focused on law-related apps without really realizing that non-law-related apps can also make life easier for attorneys. Here are some I use regularly.

  • Intellicast is the best weather app I’ve found. It’s usually the first app I open in the morning so I know what lies ahead for the day. Good data, well presented, and I don’t feel like I have to hunt to find a view I’m looking for (I’m talking to you, Weather Channel app). It’s free, which makes it even nicer. (iPhone version available)
  • Clock Pro HD features all sorts of different clocks: world time zones, alarms, cooking timers, a chess clock, even a metronome and sunrise/sunset and tide times. It costs $2.99 and I use it in place of an alarm clock. (iPhone version available)
  • Feedly with the demise of Google Reader I need something to manage and read my RSS feeds. This does a nice job, is free, and it looks great as well. (iPhone version available)
  • RunKeeper is my exercise-tracking app of choice. Not only does it use the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, it lets me set up specific workouts, use training plans, and more. The fact that it (along with the companion web site) is free is just icing on the cake (that I won’t eat!). (iPhone only)
  • Stativity integrates with RunKeeper (and a couple other exercise apps) to let you geek out about the statistics in your exercise. The people at Stativity were good enough to send me a code for a free copy (otherwise it’s $.99) that I’ve taken way too long to review. RunKeeper does a nice job of letting me see the big picture, but Stativity digs into the deep details to let me see more. I can’t imagine not using Stativity, but that’s because I enjoy looking at the stats (probably more than the exercise itself).

How do the last two make my life easier? The ability to look at my stats and accrued miles helps motivate me to get out and run. I can tell myself all the medical reasons I should do it, but it’s knowing that I’ll add to my numbers and I can look at the new data that gets me out the door. It’s bass ackwards, but it gets the job done.

What apps do you use regularly to make life a little easier? Leave a comment or write a blog post and link back to this one.

 

Thoughts on ABA TECHSHOW 2013

Beautiful (but chilly) weather for TECHSHOW 2013

Beautiful (but chilly) weather for TECHSHOW 2013

Where can you meet famous writers, podcasters, and listen to an Emmy winner sing “I’m on Twitter” (to the tune of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story) in the same hotel where Harrison Ford interrupted a physician’s speech in The Fugitive? If you were at the ABA’s TechShow 2013 in Chicago this past week, you know the answer. This was the first time I attended TechShow, and as I travel back home on the South Shore Railroad Friday evening my mind is still trying to process everything.

TechShow is broken into two main parts. The first are presentations from some of the real thought leaders in using technology in your law practice. The second is a sizable expo of vendors large, medium and small in size. There are also other components, but I really didn’t get a chance to partake of those. Had I done so, I think my mind would be even more boggled than it is now.

The networking opportunities are abundant, and I did not even scratch the surface. Part of it is that I can be a bit introverted in large gatherings. The other part is that I’m not really good at introducing myself to people in person when I really have not developed some kind of online connection with them. I felt OK saying hello to Ernie Svenson and Jeff Richardson from iPhone JD, but the only reason I introduced myself to David Sparks is because he all but insisted on his web site. I met a few other people that I will want to keep in touch with online (including Randy Juip, a guy who may be the coolest insurance defense attorney, despite his being a Univ. of Michigan fan). Next year I will hopefully feel a little more comfortable going up to people and socializing a bit more. I won’t call it a wasted opportunity, but I am sure many other first timers did better at the networking.

The expo is a great place to have your mind blown. I saw a lot of things that large firms would be likely to use, but not a huge number of things I would see our firm using. Perhaps we should, but I just don’t see it. I found some fascinating new ways to deal with depositions–specifically depositions. It was also cool to meet the great people behind TrialPad and TranscriptPad. Still, it’s good to see some of the types of things that are going on out there that are likely to be more mainstream in just a few years. The fact I was able to win a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon was a real treat. (My wife and I drank it on Saturday evening. It was terrific.) There were plenty of other giveaways of iPad minis, other tablets, and accessories.

The presentations were, overall, very good to excellent. As one who is pretty tech savvy, some of the offerings were a bit basic for me, but others were quite useful and offered ideas to work on implementing. I think next year it would be wise for me to stay in Chicago so I can hit the last offerings of the day without worrying about catching my train to get back to South Bend at a reasonable hour. Doing so would also let me socialize a bit more with other attendees.

The keynote address was perhaps the best event. New York Times columnist David Pogue talked about how technology is disrupting our world. He did so in a very entertaining presentation with lots of humor. If you’ve ever seen one of his presentations on YouTube, you know what I am saying. The best part, though, wasn’t the humor or the musical portion. It was being shown the absolutely mind-blowing things that are being done with apps on our phones. Enhanced reality (like being able to point your iPhone’s camera at Spanish words and see the English translation–ON the same surface, in the same font, and with the same background, all in real time, was stunning. Another stunner was the app that let’s you point the camera at a building and see who inside the building is on Twitter *at that very moment.* (Employers are already looking this app up so they can see who is violating the company’s usage policies.)

Overall, I am glad I went, but wish I could have done more. The throngs of people behind TechShow are not to blame for that. I need a chance to get my sea legs before I can really take full advantage of the offerings. Assuming things work out for next year, you’ll see me there. (And if you remember me from this year, please say hello if you see me next year.)