iPod Touch Apps & iPhone Apps v. iPad Apps
One of the first items on my iPad to-do list was to install the Remote application. I had grandiose illusions that the Remote app would be a full screen beauty ready to take on a Sooloos touchscreen. To my disappointment the Remote app is still the same old Remote app. I can handle the same functionality at least until Apple has more time to improve the app. But, I can't handle the visual quality. Apps built for the iPhone and iPod Touch only are made to fit the small screen only. These app are not like vector graphics that can be resized without loss of quality. Upon launch of the Remote app, and all non-iPad apps, most of the iPad's screen is black. The app only consumes an iPhone worth of screen real estate. Lucky for us Apple included a 2x button in the lower right corner of the screen for just these applications. As you may have guessed the Remote app certainly doubles in size but the text is very pixelated and disappointing. The album artwork was equally undesirable. I actually prefer running Remote at its native 1x size with clear text and graphic even though the rest of the iPad remains dark.
In addition to the Remote application I tested many other non-iPad applications. They were all the same. At 1x they looked good. At 2x they were nonstarters. Fortunately the App Store clearly identifies the apps built specifically for the iPad. As I browsed the App Store this afternoon the iPad apps were listed with a tiny plus sign in the upper left corner of the listed price. These apps were also listed in a specific iPad section and each iPad app was clearly identified by the app developer as built for the iPad. As of this evening non of the usual remote suspects used by readers of Computer Audiophile have been give the iPad upgrade.
Windows Remote Desktop Off To Great Start
Windows users will be happy to hear there are a few really good remote desktop apps for the iPad. The one I am currently using is called WinAdmin, iPad Edition ($8.99). The most important part of a remote control app for me is speed. If the screen doesn't refresh quickly or my screen taps don't actually hit the PC until five seconds after I tapped the touchscreen then the app is out the door. WinAdmin is really quick. Some of this speed may have to do with the iPad's support of 802.11n wireless as well. Launching WinAdmin brings up a user configured list of remote controllable computers. This makes connecting very easy. If the server name or IP address needed to be entered every time the app was launched I would go crazy. Immediately after connecting to a computer the remote desktop consumes the full iPad screen. It really is like running Windows on an iPad. Tapping the start button instantly shoots the start menu upward. I used my recommended playback application J River Media Center v14 for a while without any show-stopping issues. Configuring JRMC for easy navigation via a touchscreen is a smart first step. Shrinking the size of each album cover and maximizing the size of the main JRMC window helps enable quicker navigation. Selecting the up and down arrows to scroll through album covers is not as difficult as it was using remote control apps on an iPhone. But, it can be a bit annoying because the arrow is smaller than one's finger tips. This makes it difficult to have pinpoint precision when selecting small items like scroll bars and arrows. Maybe a tiny Bluetooth® mouse would help people? There are no perfect applications and I am pretty happy with the pros and cons of WinAdmin.
Another promising remote desktop iPad app for Windows looks to be Jump Desk by Phase Five Systems ($19.99). I haven't downloaded the app yet so I can't give it a recommendation. It appears that other users are happy with its performance and feature set. Hopefully some CA readers will download this app in the next few days and weeks, and provide some feedback for everyone. Knowing me, I will probably run out of patience and download Jump Desk as well as many other iPad apps in the name of "CA research."
The iPad isn't the audiophile's dream device we all hoped for, but the future looks very promising. One must look beyond the initial "Giant iPod" and "Overrated" discussions by trying out some of the non-audio related applications. Doing this will provide a window into what's possible for us in the coming weeks and months. I've never read comic books in my life but after installing the Marvel Comics (FREE) iPad app I was amazed. The wonderful vivid colors and slick navigation is really something that shouldn't be missed. Apple's own iBook app is really neat and may be a great place for the multimedia Computer Audiophile book. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USAToday each have pretty good apps. A unknown app to me, but surely familiar to many readers, is called Kayak Flight. It's a very nice interface for finding flights and hotels. In fact I used the app to find a flight to San Francisco and hotel for April 21st - 23rd. I'll be speaking at Music Lovers Audio in SF and Berkeley. It would be great to see a strong Computer Audiophile contingent at the events and I would really enjoy meeting many readers from the area. Much more information about the events to come. Anyway, now that I've gone way off topic it's time to wrap up my first but certainly not last iPad article. Good times are ahead for audiophiles and iPads. I assure you :~)