Future of iPad: Dual-app viewing mode, then J98/J99 ‘iPad Pros,’ multi-user support

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Facing slowing growth for the first time since the iPad’s 2010 debut, Apple is working on several significant software and hardware updates to reinvigorate the tablet over the next year. Apple is developing a dual-app viewing mode, 12-inch iPads codenamed “J98″ and “J99,” as well as support for multi-user logins, according to sources briefed on the plans. First planned for debut last year, the split-screen applications feature for the iPad could be introduced as soon as June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, while multi-user login support and the 12-inch iPads will apparently arrive later…

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Review: Apple’s iPhone Lightning Dock plays nice with iPhones, cases, and even iPads

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Four years ago, I wondered why Apple sold such seemingly simple plastic docks for $29, so I cut two of them in half to see what was inside. I was impressed: in addition to a larger-than-expected collection of electronic components, they were filled with substantial zinc plates that kept Apple’s devices standing safely upright, no easy feat since the docks kept shrinking every year. The only problem: most (but not all) of Apple’s docks have been model-specific and case-unfriendly, issues that were particularly pronounced in the official iPhone 5s Dock and iPhone 5c Dock. When Twelve South released the handsome multi-device and case-compatible HiRise and HiRise Deluxe, many people — including me — had no need for a more limited, Apple-designed alternative.

Somewhat belatedly, Apple has just released the iPhone Lightning Dock ($39), its first docking solution for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It’s not clear why Apple took its time releasing this accessory, which uncharacteristically has a 2014 date on the back of its box. But it’s the dock Apple should have released three years ago, delivering case compatibility, multi-device support, and the expected Apple minimalism. It has no back support for your iPhone, instead relying on a stiffened and modestly padded Lightning connector to hold your device on the traditional Apple light recline. And it also includes an audio-out port, which has been absent from all of its third-party rivals. Now that Apple has released the right sort of dock, should you consider buying one?…

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Review: Aukey’s 12,000mAh PB-N28 is the $25 battery that fully refills any current iPad

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Last month, budget charging accessory maker Aukey released PB-N30, the first external battery with a female Lightning recharging port. For only $15, PB-N30 seemed like a steal given its 3,600mAh capacity — just right for use with any iPhone — but wasn’t capacious enough for power-hungrier iPads. So Aukey has released PB-N28 ($25) as a solution for tablet users, remarkably equipping it with over three times the power for only $10 more.

PB-N30 is an upgraded sequel to the company’s older PB-18, which stuffed a 12,000mAh battery into an iPhone 5-shaped enclosure. While the new model’s capacity is the same, PB-N30’s USB ports jump from 2.1-Amp/1-Amp charging to 2.4-Amp/1-Amp support, and it has a more neutral design that neither sticks out nor knocks off an Apple product. Not surprisingly, it cuts a corner or two to achieve its super-low price…

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How-To: Choose the best stand or desktop mount for Apple’s iPads and Macs

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Apple currently sells more “laptop” than “desktop” Macs, but in reality, most Macs will be used substantially on flat surfaces — desks, tables, and sometimes nightstands. iPads are more lap-friendly, but also tend to get used upright, particularly for watching videos and access in the kitchen. Since I’ve spent a lot of time testing Apple device stands and mounts, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can choose the solution that best suits your Mac, iPad, or both at the same time.

Below, I’ve hand-picked options for different types of users, starting with passive MacBook stands such as Twelve South’s BookArc for MacBook Pro ($50). Made from Mac-matching aluminum with gray rubber inserts, BookArc is designed to safely hold a MacBook Pro upright so that its ports and SD card reader are easily accessible. Twelve South also sells a smaller version of BookArc for the MacBook Air, a bigger BookArc for the Mac Pro, and an earthy version called BookArc mod for fans of wood. That’s a rarity, as most Mac and iPad stands are designed to match Apple’s products, as you’ll see inside…

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Review: Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E7 triples any iPad Air’s run time with an insane 25,600mAh of power

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There are hundreds of external battery packs out there, and most of them are highly similar to one another: cosmetics aside, their capacities, features, and pricing tend to be predictable. Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E7 ($80) is a complete outlier. It has the highest capacity of any external battery pack I’ve ever tested, yet it’s priced competitively with products that deliver half as much juice.

If you have an iPad or plan to carry your iPhone around without access to wall power, Astro E7 is as close to a must-have battery as I’ve seen. Delivered in efficiently designed, eco-friendly packaging, it quickly earned a place in my personal travel bag, for reasons I’ll explain below.

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Apple’s Back to School sale returns to Australia and New Zealand w/ gift card promo

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Apple’s annual Back to School sale in Australia and New Zealand has gone live with a promotion for qualifying students to receive Apple Store credit with the purchase of a Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Similar to last year, the Back to School sale includes the usual education pricing on Macs and iPads, but this year Apple is including Apple Store gift cards rather than App Store gift cards like last year. Read more

Review: ZeroChroma’s Folio-Slide and Slide-Lid Keyboard expand iPad Air 2 stand, keyboard case options

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History suggested that iPad Air 2 cases would be far more numerous after January’s annual CES show, but due to unexpected production delays, there still aren’t many choices out there. But thanks to ZeroChroma, there are two largely bright spots on the horizon: a finished case called Folio-Slide for iPad Air 2 ($70), and an upcoming $100 version called Folio-Slide with Slide-Lid Keyboard, both of which I’ve been testing for the past week.

The basic version of Folio-Slide is the iPad Air 2-compatible sequel to the very best case I’ve tested for the original iPad Air – one I highly recommended in an iPad case and stand roundup last year. But this year’s version regrettably took a couple of design shortcuts in order to quickly reach the market, the details of which may or may not matter to you. On the other hand, ZeroChroma’s Slide-Lid Keyboard is a truly interesting new add-on that will really appeal to iPad Air and iPad Air 2 owners. Read on for all the details.

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9to5 Guide: The best iPad stands, docks, and cases with built-in stands

 

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iPads need stands. Whether you’re watching videos, long-form typing, or making FaceTime calls, it’s a chore to hold the iPad upright for extended blocks of time. To address that need, Apple launched the first iPad with regular and keyboard docks, but quickly gave up on them in favor of simpler folding lids called Smart Covers.

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If you’re looking for an iPad stand or dock, you can do better than that. We know because we’ve tested lots of options for Apple’s tablets. Following up on our guide to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus docks, we’re looking today at the very best of what’s out there for every iPad, covering four broad categories: simple portable stands, simple desktop stands, cases with integrated stands, and charging docks. Read more

Apple charting in Google’s 2014 trending searches, for both the right and wrong reasons

Google has put together its annual inspirational Year in Search video, and shared some of the trending searches across the year – with Apple making the charts for both the right and wrong reasons.

On the plus side, Apple took the #1 slot in consumer electronics searches, with the iPhone 6 ahead of rival smartphones from Samsung, Google, Motorola, LG and Nokia. Apple was also the only company to make three of the top-ten searches, with the Apple Watch at #8 and iPad Air at #10 …  Read more

Review: ScreenGuardz Pure protects the iPad Air / 2 with beautiful glass, but is it worth $60?

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If your iPad isn’t inside a case, one accidental drop is enough to shatter its screen or dent its body. That’s why roughly 80% of iPhone users use cases, and one of two good reasons (besides adding a stand) that many iPad users do the same. But the iPad Air 2 is changing things — it’s so thin that even Apple’s own Smart Case feels overly bulky, making more minimalist protective solutions highly appealing. If you could shave millimeters off of your encased iPad’s thickness, would you pay $60 just for a screen protector? That’s the question presented by BodyGuardz’ ScreenGuardz Pure, which invisibly covers the iPad Air or iPad Air 2 screen with a thin but strong layer of glass. Carrying a $60 MSRP through BodyGuardz, it’s currently on sale for only $50 through Amazon. Read more