I'm a fan of having multiple web browsers on my Mac. I have Safari of course, but I also have Firefox and Chrome right next to it in my dock. So of course I had some interest in checking out the newly released Opera Mini Browser for iPhone. It's always nice to have a backup browser just in case you run into a website that doesn't display properly on your main browser/Safari. Although this is what I do on my desktop/notebook computers, I never actually thought I'd see Apple allow browser competition in on the iPhone/iPad platforms. Will wonders never cease? Opera Mini Browser is available on the App Store as a FREE download. My first impression when I downloaded it, but only had just a minute to play with it was that I didn't see any real advantage to it over Safari. Unlike your Mac or PC, Safari is not only the default browser, but it's tightly integrated into the iPhone OS (this is starting to sound familiar). So while you can certainly launch another browser and use it, the Apps are primarily going to open Safari instead by default unless Apple allows you to change this behavior some day.
It wasn't until I dug a little deeper into the features of this browser that I got really excited
Like I said, on the surface Opera seems just like another browser. Although they boast about it being faster, in my unscientific testing, which involved loading the same sites in both browsers, it only seemed to be about the same speed most of the time. Some sites loaded slightly faster, however many sites loaded SLOWER. Also at the small size looking at the full page, it's impossible to read anything until you zoom in. So at this point I wasn't impressed. Then I brought up the settings and that's when I said WOW! Opera gives me some of the features I've always wanted on the iphone like real tabbed browsing and a Search Feature (Find in Page) on the web page itself! VERY COOL!
Delivery Status on my iPhone is one of my favorite Apps. I get packages all the time from different carriers. With Delivery Status I'm able to easy track them and known when they are due to be delivered. So as you can imagine I was quite happy to see Delivery Status get updated for the iPad. The Delivery Status App is a singe App that is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. I love it when developers choose NOT to charge separately for the iPad Apps. The iPad update is amazing from a visual standpoint. Not only does it give you the traditional information about your package in the text display, but it actually shows you WHERE your package currently is via a very nice Map.
Works with your Mac or works alone
If you're a Mac user, you can also download the Delivery Status Dashboard widget. This Widget allows you to enter package information and check it via your Mac, and it also lets you sync this info via the Junecloud "cloud" so that all of your devices running this App are updated. So whether you enter your package information on your Mac or on your mobile device, the information will be in sync. The account is FREE on their servers. Usually when I receive an email letting me know that my package has shipped, I copy and paste that tracking info right into Delivery Status. Anytime I want to know where my package is I just fire up the App OR the Dashboard Widget. If you don't have a Mac, no worries. The App works great as a stand alone App and there is NO requirement to sync with the cloud unless you want to. Once the item has been received you can simply delete it from the App.
Like I said, this is a MUST Have App! In most cases it beats the Apps by the individual shipping companies.
I've been wanting a Native Netflix App since day one! Don't get me wrong, I know that there are lot's of good Netflix Queue managers out there for iPhone and iPod touch, however the one thing that they all suffer from is the ability to get in and manage your account. It's not their fault. They can only give you access to what Netflix allows them to give you access to. That being said I knew that a "Neflix" branded app would give me what I wanted. I was very pleasantly surprised to see the Netflix App introduced on the day the iPad shipped!
More than just a queue manager
Although I got what I wanted from a queue management and account access stance, the added bonus and probably the biggest reason to use the App is that you get the ability to stream Netflix movies directly to your iPad. That's right you have access to your "Instant Watch" queue and you can watch any movie you want any time you want directly on the iPad. Of course an internet connection is required since the movies stream and don't download. Once I asked a movie to start playing it started in about 20 seconds. The video quality was better than I expected. Maybe slightly less than DVD due to the compression, but certainly very watchable and to date no stuttering or stopping. YMMV based on your internet connection.
The Movies – Now keep in mind that you can't watch just any movie. It has to be one of the over 12,000 that they have available for streaming. Their hands are tied by the movie studios on what's allowed to be streamed and what's not.
Get it here from the App Store for FREE.
Opera, the browser maker, announced today that their version for the iPhone and iPod touch has been approved into the app store, bringing Opera Mini on as an alternative to Safari if you want and according to Opera, you will notice an uptake in speed, especially on slower networks when using the new Opera Mini.
You can expect a review coming shortly on this to test whether this is really as good (or better) as using Safari. You can get the free app from the AppStore.
One of my hopes for the iPad is that I would use it for presenting my photography to clients, friends and family members. While the built-in Photos App is great for doing basic slideshows, you can do so much more with Keynote including adding text, graphics, movies, sounds and wide variety of transitions and builds. While you can build presentations right on the iPad and include the photos in your iPad photo library, I'm most likely going to build most of my presentations in Keynote and the Mac and transfer them to the iPad to run in Keynote. However, If I need make any last minute changes or additions I'd most likely do those right on the iPad itself. I could also see using the iPad to do presentations on the road for work. Although I usually have software to demo on my Mac, sometimes those presentations start out with a slide presentation. Now I can see having the slides on my iPad and the software I'm demoing on my Mac. This way I could go back and forth between the two as needed.
Presenting from the iPad
Of course if you're going to present from an iPad you're probably going to want a way to hook it up to your projector. Apple sells a iPad to VGA adapter. I'll have a review of this adapter and other iPad accessories on my tech blog this week. The VGA adapter may disappoint some. Unlike your computer, it doesn't mirror everything. It will only display the Apps by Apple (to date). I've tried Keynote, YouTube, and the Videos App with great success. However, 3rd party apps like Netflix and ABC Player get no love on the big screen. So if you were thinking of broadcasting any of your other Apps or the Home screens to do iPad demos on the big screen, think again. However, for what the adapter was designed for it does a great job. I connected the iPad to one of my Epson projectors.
Getting your presentation on the iPad – Like I said I plan to do most of the authoring on my Mac. So the question I had right off the bat was how do you get files onto the iPad. I was fully expecting a WiFi transfer like so many other Apps do. However, Apple insists on making everything sync through iTunes including Keynote, Pages and Numbers documents. Once you have Keynote installed on your iPad and you plug your iPad into your computer, you'll see the special Keynote section in iTunes. This is where you can drag your documents back and forth.
Keynote goes for $9.99 here on the