Video playback is an advertized staple of the iPhone, iPod and iPad user experience, and each device plays video beautifully. But if you’ve ever tried dragging-and-dropping video files onto one of these devices with iTunes, you’ve almost certainly seen the “… was not copied because it cannot be played…” warning at least once.
Apple keeps the supported video formats of its mobile devices (and Quicktime in the Mac OS) to a minimum. The reason is simple: by limiting supported video types, the company can keep the video playback experience of the iPhone, iPod and iPad predictable and optimized for the best performance. In a world of infuriating Apple lock-downs, this limitation actually does work for the user.
The problem and aggravation for most users is not in the limited support for video files on the device itself, but the lack of any meaningful conversion options in iTunes. If you try to drop a video file onto the iPad, for example, and it’s not compatible, you don’t get a window asking you if you’d like to convert it – you’re just SOL.
But there is a quick, simple and totally free solution to this problem: Miro Video Converter.
Want an iPad stylus that attaches to your iPad?
BoxWave has just released a new iPad screen pen called the mini Capacitive Stylus, and it does just that. Unlike the other styli available for the iPad, this one includes a tether which allows you to connect it to the iPad’s 3.5mm audio jack when not in use.
From the BoxWave web site:
“This miniaturized pen stylus sports a pocket size form factor, and works with all capacitive screens. No longer will you have to take off your gloves off on a cold day just to use your Apple iPad as the mini Capacitive Stylus enables you to use your Apple iPad without ever touching the screen with your finger! Its portable size makes it easy to carry around, and can be stored away by attaching to your Apple iPad’s 3.5mm headphone jack.”
There are also iPhone versions of the BoxWave mini Capacitive Stylus, though it’s unclear whether or not there’s any real difference between these and the iPad version.
Boxwave also makes a larger capacitive stylus that looks like a normal pen.
Here’s a little annoyance on my iPhone 3GS: once every couple of weeks or so I’ll go into the iPod app and select a song or podcast to listen to, but get no sound. The time display will countdown, but nothing comes out of the speakers (or headphone jack). This has been going on for some months, and occurs most often when listening to podcasts.
For example, on Saturday I decided to listen to TWiT’s Windows Weekly podcast on the iPhone (a weekend ritual). I went into the iPod app’s Podcasts section, scrolled down to Windows Weekly, and used the Get More Episodes… function to download the latest episode. iTunes opened on the iPhone to the Windows Weekly menu, I selected the May 14th episode, and the download began. The file was downloaded and added to the iPod’s podcasts listings.
So far, so good.
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A couple of weeks ago, the simply-named Wi-Fi Sync app hit the web, promising wireless syncing between the iPhone and iTunes on a Mac or PC. The video showing the app in action grabbed a lot of attention, and for good reason; wireless syncing between the iPhone / iPod touch and iTunes has been on the iPhone OS want list for years.
Well, today there’s bad news, more bad news and some good news on the Wi-Fi Sync front.
First, the bad news: Apple has – wait for it – rejected Wi-Fi Sync from the App Store. Yeah, I know… you’re flabbergasted. Why has the app been rejected? If you believe developer Greg Hughes (and I do), no good reason for the rejection was given other than to say that it “encroach[es] upon the boundaries of what they can and cannot allow on their store.” This vague, secretive, seat-of-the-pants approval/rejection scheme makes me want to pull my hair out (and I’m not a software developer).
Okay, so now for the good news, which is really more good-ish.
As much as an iPad in-hand can create an enjoyable and immersive user experience, there are times when you want to put the damn thing down and free both hands. iPad stands can allow just that, but until recently most of the products on the market were pretty dull.
But there are now two particularly interesting iPad stands available for purchase, the Twelve South BookArc for iPad and the Griffin A-Frame. The BookArc (left) is an offshoot of a MacBook stand available for some time from Twelve South. A solid piece of steel, this stand is designed for simplicity and elegance. The Griffin A-Frame (right), on the other hand, folds and twists into positions and configurations, each with a specific purpose for hands-off use of the iPad, and looks like an aluminum easel.
We hope to get each of these iPad stands in for review soon, but if you’re in the market for an iPad stand, take a look at each of these new offerings, and a couple of others, on our iPad Stands & Holders page in the iPad Accessories Center.