Archive for iPad


Even if you haven’t seen Disney’s Frozen, I’d be willing to bet that you can sing along to at least one song from the film. If you have a child under the age of 10 (or you are a child at heart), you can likely remember the words to the entire soundtrack. With the new Disney Karaoke: Frozen app for the iPad you can take your regular ‘in the car’ or ‘in the shower’ singing a step further!

The app features music and film clips from the movie, allows you to sing along with all of your favourite characters, record your performance (complete with the original instrumental tracks) and create a gallery of your performances (that you can share with others). There are nine songs to choose from, including the award-winning Let it Go along with music videos taken directly from the film itself. The lyrics are displayed on the screen just as with traditional karaoke, so if you happen to have been living under a rock the past while, you won’t be at a loss for the words.

With a pricetag of $7.99, it may seem like an expensive app to test-drive –but I think there is only one question to ask before you purchase it: “Do you want to build a snowman?”

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60% of Teens Own an iPad

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There is no denying that the Apple line of tablets is the most successful. A new report surveyed 7,500 teens and asked them about what phones and tablets they have or plan to buy.

61% of teens now own an iPhone, compared to 55% from a survey conducted in October 2013 and 40% in the fall of 2012. When it comes to tablets, 60% of teens own one, up from 56% in the fall. When it comes to iPad tablet ownership group 66% of teens have one, 55% full-sized, 11% iPad mini. 18% percent of teens who don’t own a tablet expect to buy one in the next sixth months and of those prospective buyers, 66% plan to choose an iPad.

Last summer Samsung ran a campaign of advertisements that portrayed Apple users as being uncool. The plan seems to have backfired as iPads and iPhones are still the most popular out there.

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New research by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has revealed Apple, Amazon, and Samsung are the key players in the US tablet market,  controlling 43, 24,and 11 percent of the user base respectively. However, the market itself seems to be losing steam, with the slowdown being attributed to market saturation. The findings reveal tablet growth reached 37 percent, a 54 percent growth over 2012. A sizeable 53 percent of consumers stated they won’t buy a new tablet in 2014, while another 34 percent said they are yet to make up their minds. Nearly 67 percent of those who said they are unsure about buying a tablet claim to know very little about tablet devices. Thankfully for the manufacturers, tablet awareness as a whole is considerably higher in the US, with just 4 percent stating they’ve never heard of the devices.

Of the 53 percent who ruled out buying a tablet in the next 12 months, the majority (72 percent) said they are pleased with their current laptop or PC, while 42 percent said they aren’t attracted to tablet devices; another 31 percent said they don’t think owning a tablet makes much of a difference.

A common reason for many (47 percent of those who are unsure and 25 percent of those who said they won’t buy a tablet ) to not invest in a tablet was the high price, despite the fact that the average cost has dropped to $300.

As for particular brands, the iPad is on top with 32 percent claiming to use it daily. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note devices come in second with 24 percent claiming to use it every day. Kindle Fire makes up the third slot with 10 percent claiming to use it regularly.

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Office For iPad Already a Hit

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Microsoft’s move to launch Office on the iPad seems to be paying off rich dividends, with the app already featured among the top free apps for iPad. Word has emerged as the most popular at the No. 1 slot, followed by Excel and PowerPoint at the 3rd and 4th slots, respectively. The Office app is a free download but that will only allow for opening and viewing documents; an Office 365 subscription is required to do anything meaningful, including editing or formatting a document or creating one from scratch.

The Redmond-based company is also benefiting from a new and steady stream of income from Office 365 subscriptions that costs $9.99 a month or $99 a year. Of course, Apple is benefiting from a 30 percent share for every in-app purchase, creating a win-win situation for both Apple and Microsoft.

Microsoft, it seems, is open to adapting to a fast changing tech scene. As for the app itself, Office for iPad impresses with the features and functionality that it offers, all of which has been optimized for touch based operations.

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Office Mobile

Close on the heels of Microsoft launching its Office software suite on the iPad, the tech giant made its Office for Android free to use. Unfortunately, this only applies to Android phones and not tablet devices, enabling users to create and edit documents that earlier would have required an active Office 365 subscription. Interestingly, this latest move has made Android phones on par with their Windows counterparts so far as usability of the Office app is concerned.

Apart from the risk of losing subscription money, the Windows phone will now be deprived of a competitive advantage and may translate into adding greater adoption of Android phones. You can download this app today from the Good e-Reader App Store.

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Excel for iPad

Finally, Microsoft has launched its Office software suite for the iPad which brings to an end the years of speculations and rumors. Thankfully, the Office for iPad is a mature application compared to the almost half-hearted attempt that the Office for iPhone was. Users will have at their disposal many advanced features lacking in the iPhone app, such as the ability to add rows or columns in an Excel spreadsheet thanks to the iPad’s larger screen. Users will also get to choose from almost the entire range of fonts andformatting options as well.

The Office app – which offers Word, Excel and Powerpoint – though free, will require a subscription to use the advanced editing options. Right now, users are free to open and view documents but are required to have an active Office 365 subscription to edit or create a document from scratch. Microsoft is also offering a free 30 day trial of the Office app.

Overall, the launch of the Office app for iPad is long due, and it’s the first major move since the changing of guard at Microsoft. Now what remains to be seen is whether the Office app will be able to hold its own in the face of Apple’s iWorks app, which offers an array of features and most important of all, is free.

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Market research firm ABI Research predicts that tablet shipment is expected to reach 200 million units by end of 2014, which will mark a 20 percent increase in sales for the year. The report also stated it’s the developing markets that will be adding to the numbers this year, given the saturation that the more matured markets have already reached. As such, the bulk of new tablet sales in 2014 are predicted to come from the regions of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Buyers in North America have already invested heavily in tablets and are unlikely to buy new ones anytime soon. The ABI Research report has stated that tablet shipments in North America will drop below 50 percent for the first time since the segment launchede. Rather, it is the first time buyers from developing markets who are expected to lead the surge in tablet buying in 2014.

As for specific tablet brands, the research finding has stated the iPad is expected to hold on to its position of strength, with Samsung coming in a distant second. Others who are expected to emerge as serious players in the tablet segment include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Lenovo. Sony has stated they will focus more on tablets and other mobile devices this year after having washed their hands of the VAIO branded laptops. Tablets customized for use in a particular region are expected to catch up fast, which works in Android’s favor as it has already emerged as the biggest mobile device platform in 2013.

“One of the greatest opportunities this year is for development, manufacturing and marketing of tablets on a regional and even local level, which shakes up the vendor ecosystem of the past four years,” said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr while speaking to TabTimes. It is this that Orr claims is the biggest factor that is going to work in favor of Android given the wide customizability that the platform offers.

“You can easily offer the Google related services on an Android device and make it specific to a country or region. Or you look at places like China where Google services are frowned upon or perhaps not allowed at all, they can still use Android to create a new app ecosystem,” said Orr.

Another trend is the continued dominance of the mini tablets, led by the extremely capable iPad Mini. The retina display version has already proven to be a big hit and consumer preference is expected to remain swayed towards the 8 inch devices. This could be contrary to the efforts of some companies to launch bigger 12.2-inch sized devices, such as the Galaxy Tab 12.2 from Samsung.

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Microsoft is believed to be in a position of unleashing its popular productivity suite, the MS Office across iOS platform any day now. Experts predicts it’s no longer a matter of if, but when.   Microsoft stands the risk of losing market share of its Office software suite. The scenario in some ways is akin to BlackBerry holding on to making its BBM  to rival platforms for fear of denying its own smartphone range one of its biggest attractions.

Microsoft has been resistant to bringing a full version of their seminal Office system to touchscreen systems. The have basically alienated an entire new generation of users that have grown  up with iPads and Android tablets. Instead, most users gravitate towards less developed word processors.  These are either available free or charge a small amount and are less refined and elegant.

Overall, Microsoft has found itself at the crossroads of an important change in the computing industry that it helped shape years ago. However, its time they reinvent themselves and appeal to a wider demographic.  It is only a matter of time before the new Microsoft CEO pulls the trigger and establishes a definitive release date.

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Microsoft has come up with a cheaper but more personal alternative to its Office 365 subscription plans. Office 365 Personal, as the plan has been named, will cost $6.99 a month or $69.90 a year but will only be applicable to a single PC or Mac, and one tablet device. This is in contrast to the five PC or Mac devices (and five mobile devices such as a smartphone and tablet) that the Office Home Premium caters to, but costs a higher $9.99 per month or $99.90 a year. The new Office 365 Personal plan will be made available sometime in the spring and comes as a welcome choice for single users. Meanwhile, in another development, Microsoft has also announced a change of name for Office 365 Home Premium to just Office 365 Home.

“We’re committed to delivering a great Office experience to all of our customers and believe that giving you a choice about the Office 365 subscription that fits your unique needs is one way we can do that,” Chris Schneider, a senior marketing manager at Microsoft revealed in a blog post.  “We’ll have more details to share closer to availability.”

Benefits and features more or less will remain the same, which includes access to the latest updates when those become available. Users will also have an hour of free international Skype calls every month along with 20 GB of free OneDrive (cloud) storage. There will also be the option to have the service for just one month, in which case it will cost just $7. Users can still opt for the internet free standalone version of Office which will cost them $140. While there will not be any updates available, it can serve customers well enough if all they need is just basic computing tasks done.

Meanwhile, experts believe the Office 365 Personal could also be the precursor to an Office for iOS version. This has been rumored for a long time now; maybe the next announcement will be an Office version for iPad.

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Digital publishing has enabled self-publishing to become an industry force to be reckoned with, especially where text-based ebooks are concerned. But a new tool from Appzine Machine has made it possible for anyone with a desire to share their content to create and monetize their material into a digital magazine, available in the the Apple App Store, in order to reach the estimated 170 million iPad users who spend up to two and a half hours a day reading digital content.

“Appzine Machine is the first all-in-one solution that combines easy-to-use magazine building tools and world-class training on how to publish and profit,” said Len Wright, CEO of Appzine Machine, in a press release. “It is a fully turn-key system to help you earn monthly income, build your authority, or advertise your business.”

While the price tag of the platform does mean that not just anyone will be able to afford to publish a digital magazine, the easy DIY drag-and-drop aspect of the tool can make it worthwhile. Taking into consideration what the cost would be to have a digital designer create the finished product and upload it through a monthly-fee service like Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, the savings can accumulate quickly. Ideally, there is also a return on the investment in the form of royalties, as Appzine doesn’t take further fees after the cost of using the tool.

“Digital magazines open up a new world of possibilities for both new entrepreneurs and existing businesses. By combining the compelling content of a magazine with the interactivity of a mobile app, you can spread your message, drive revenue, and reach a growing audience of millions worldwide.”


Following the launch of the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s, the clamor for the next gen versions has already started to pick up pace. Now, rumors making the rounds are that Apple may have an early release of the iPhone 6 sometime around July 2014, instead of the usual September timeline that the Cupertino-based company usually has. Analysts at Mizuho Securities have stated Apple might advance its iPhone 6 launch schedule, basing its claim on the rise in activity among component suppliers based in Japan and China.

Apple is also reported to have assured a sapphire crystal glass manufacturer of profits by the middle of this year (the next iPhone is believed to come with a sapphire crystal display). However, some sources maintain that there is no reason to believe Apple will launch the iPhone 6 early. A September launch is perfect to approach the holiday season as the device will still be fresh enough to appeal to the holiday buyers; a launch in September will also allow Apple enough time to smooth out supply issues.

As for the device itself, the next iPhone is almost certain to offer an even bigger display to keep up with other smartphones of its genre. The current iPhone 5s sports a 4 inch display, which could be bumped up to 4.7 inches for the next version. An even bigger 5.5 inch version is also being speculated, though some believe Apple might carve out a separate niche for the bigger version instead of including it in its iPhone line-up. The phablet, or big screen segment, has already grown to sizeable proportions and Apple surely won’t want to miss out on having a contender there this time; Samsung’s iPhone, the Galaxy S5, sports a 5.1 inch display.

Display size apart, other areas where the iPhone 6 is sure to upgrade include a 64 bit A8 chip along with iOS 8, offering an enhanced smartphone experience. Apple is also expected to enhance the scope of the finger touch sensor in iPhone 6 to make it play a bigger role in its application for a more secure payment option and integration with more apps.

So far as the iPad Air 2 is concerned, experts believe it is expected to stick to its usual launch schedule of the fall of this year. In fact, analysts believe Apple might not launch a new version of the iPad Mini as well as the purported iPad Pro with 12.9 inch display to focus more on the iPad Air. Further, the iPad Air 2 could also have the touch ID sensor found on the current iPhone 5s, which no doubt will enhance its appeal even more.

Among everything else, Apple is also tipped to release the long awaited iWatch device this year. It’s another segment that has just started to boom and Apple surely will like to get in on it before it’s too late. Apple is already believed to have gotten interest from batteries from LG Chem. This is on top of earlier reports of Apple hiring fitness and other app developers to develop the iWatch.

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Android tablets are out on top, beating Apple for the first time ever and  by a comprehensive margin. Figures revealed by analysts Gartner show that Apple has had a 36 percent share of the tablet market in 2013, almost half that of the 62 percent share that Android has had for the same period. Android accounted for 121 million tablet sales in 2013, compared to 70 million iPads sold. In all, 195 million tablet devices were sold in 2013.

For Apple, the results were in spite of registering a growth over its 2012 sales where 61 million iPads were sold. That number translated to a 53 percent share of the tablet market. For the same period, Android accounted for 46 percent share of the tablet market, or 53 million tablets.

Apple can still take consolation from the fact that the iPad continues to be the single largest tablet brand, outselling others by a comfortable margin. Samsung came in second, having sold 37 million tablets to equal a 19 percent market share, a huge improvement over the 7 percent market it had in 2012. Asus made up the third slot, having sold more than 11 million tablets, which comes to 5.6 percent share. Surprisingly, Amazon, who started the affordable tablet race, managed to sell just about 9 million tablets in 2013. Its market share dropped to 4.8 percent from 6.6 percent in 2012, making it the only manufacturer among the top 5 to record negative growth rate.

As for reasons behind the rise of the Android tablet, it is the emergence of low cost entry level tablet options that appears to have done the trick. For the first time, consumers had a lot of affordable tablet devices to choose from. Fortunately for them, these tablets offered decent specs in spite of the relatively cheap price tag. In contrast, the iPad caters to the premium segment that makes it within the reach of a distinct class of consumers. However, the challenge before Android is to ensure the huge user base who has invested in an Android tablet gets to have an endearing user experience so that they remain within the Android fold.

Further, both Apple and Google will have to watch out for a resurgent Windows platform that has registered growth in 2013. Though still quite insignificant with 2.1 percent market share and 4 million tablet sales, it could make for a much better performance in 2014 on the back of rumors of a thoroughly improved Windows 9. Also, the emergence of improved low power chips have led to better acceptance of Windows tablet which is poised for a take off if Microsoft gets its act together in providing for an enhanced software experience over Windows 8.1.

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It is time we bid adieu to the iPad 2. The second gen iPad that was launched in March 2011 was kept alive to tempt those who preferred a cheaper alternative to the more current models. However, with it being priced the same as the iPad Mini, Apple it seems is finally contemplating giving the ageing model a final bow. The iPad 2 was available only in the base 16 GB Wi-Fi only version and is priced $399, the same as the starting iPad Mini version. However, with sales diminishing – only 5 percent iPad buyers opted for the iPad 2 during the last holiday season – it perhaps is the right time to retire the model once and for ever.

Nevertheless, it was really surprising the iPad 2 survived this long, three years since first launched which is quite a long when devices get antiquated in just a year. It has a user base of 38 percent even in the face of its more illustrious stable mates such as the iPad Air and iPad Mini. Also, the fact that it offered a low res display and an A5 chip did not deter buyers to opt for this model. Also, it was the first iPad model to come with a magnetic Smart Cover and was significantly lighter and thinner than the first gen iPad. Another first that can be associated with the iPad 2 is its incorporation of the face time camera that allowed users to make video calls with the device while also coming in the while color option on top of the traditional black.

However, now that users can have the iPad Mini with retina display for the same price as the iPad 2, there has been a marked decrease in demand for the latter, something that should be weighing heavily in the decision to brings the curtains down on the second gen iPad. Or maybe Apple could price it even lower and position it to take on the huge army of low cost Android tablets.

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