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Posts Tagged ‘apps

iPad Mini Retina Review

Note: This review, isn’t going to go into detail about the iPad and its apps, this post merely serves to illustrate why I bought a new iPad Mini over the iPad Air.

Last year I bought the iPad 4, I would have bought the mini if it wasn’t for the fact the mini’s screen wasn’t a retina screen. I didn’t even give the mini much thought back then, other than to say that I would have bought one if the screen didn’t show those now out of fashion, computer pixels.

I already own an iPhone 4S and the MacBook Pro with retina screen. I had gotten use to this type of screen so why take a step back?

Jump ahead one year into the tail end of 2013 and Apple release the updated mini, but they love to give us, the consumer, some choice. They did this by updating the larger endowed iPad, cutting down its size and making it thinner and lighter. The weight reduction is quite significant.

While both tablets were out of stock, I played with the demo units in the Apple store. My arms still got tired holding both iPads while reading the web. This was something I didn’t think would still happen, obviously the arms weren’t as quick to tire while using the Mini. I remember holding the iPad 4 and then having to lean on one side or switch to the other during long sessions. I didn’t want a repeat of that.

My biggest worry though was screen size if I purchased the Mini, I felt like I couldn’t give up the 9.7 inch screen, would I miss out by going with the 7.9 inch option? Would Paper feel awkward to draw with? Would Baldur’s Gate be as immersive on the iPad 4? What about the smaller keyboard?

In the end, my thoughts switched to the discontinued Apple iBook line of laptops.

Back then there were two sizes of laptop and I remember owning the 12 inch version. It was cheaper, held the same amount of storage (with the right upgrade option), the 14 inch was always slightly faster than the 12 inch and to top it off, there was no advantage with the larger screen, they both had the same number of pixels, with the same resolution! Okay, the 14″ had a larger battery, but was it worth the extra weight?

The iPads today can almost be compared in the same way, in fact Apple markets the capabilities of the Mini as being equal to the Air, but just with a smaller screen. If you can deal with that, I would say splurge for the smaller one and opt for more storage.

I did exactly what I’m recommending to you and I can’t believe the iPad Mini has twice the processing power and there is 64GB inside this, (that’s double compared to my iPad 4) the combination of storage, size and the power present in my hand is simply awesome.

I’m also happy to say I definitely made the right choice, I can’t think why I was considering it so much. My gut feeling paid off and this one feels right for what I want to do. Both tablets overall are very portable, but the Mini more so, the experience is just more intimate. The screen on the Air feels slightly more awkward now, awkward in the way you can carry it in your hand, place it around the home or buying an accessory for it that will add even more weight and girth.

The product designer Dieter Rams once said, “less is more” and it certainly feels that way with the iPad Mini.

Written by jonathanjk

November 24, 2013 at 12:17

Posted in photography

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Learning German and the Paul Noble Language Institute

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‘Nobody Wants to Learn German’.

Supposedly people aren’t interested in learning German, Spanish and French are more popular when compared. A local college near me has stopped offering their german course and I had waited nearly two years to enroll on a Paul Noble language course.

No wait, that doesn’t make sense. If nobody wanted to learn German, why did it take me that length of time to get on the course? The title of this heading is pretty much the take away response from both the local college and Collins; the publisher of Paul Noble language courses.

It’s only with persevering with enrolling that I secured on place on the course. No small feat when classes are limited to eight students per class. It’s only after I turned up the Saturday that I discovered Collins were lying to me, they ARE releasing study at home versions this September, my situation was almost as confusing as trying TO actually learn German!

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Introducing JPG Podcast

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I’d like to introduce my very own podcast. Set up with two friends of mine, Alex and Adam (Alex can be found online here and here).

‘JPG’, which stands for journalism, photography and geek, is meant to be an extension of this website’s narrative; covering the same topics that I’m mostly interested. I’m getting to the point where I haven’t felt I should write about everything I come across and it is in my mind more engaging when two photographers discuss something like photography apps on the iPad/iPhone. Bringing Alex onboard helps in that sense.

We will be having irregularly timed podcasts, probably one or two a month (bandwidth permitting). Our aim isn’t to be an up-to-the-minute news show, there are enough of them  (and better ones) out there. Again the style of the podcast will be much in the vain of this website, longer analysis, reviews of photography apps and sometimes just a bit of geek discussion. My aim is to get the balance of serious discussion and light hearted discussion right. Overall I want all the topics to be fun, but to be informative at the same time.

The Podcast’s art work is still being worked up. Later today I will create some sort of Podcast page s well.

If you download and listen I hope you stick around as this podcast idea expands, the first show is a bit raw and unplanned (as the title alludes to), but I thank you for listening.


The first episode is titled – ‘The One Where Alex Didn’t Use a Mic‘ (iTunes link). (Non-iTunes link here)

An irregular podcast featuring your host Jonathan, with alternating guests Alex and Adam. In each podcast we’ll talk about what’s happening in the world of journalism, photography, mixed in with plenty of geek; where geek can bring almost literally anything to the discussion table. 

In our first episode we get to grips with podcasting while at the same time discussing what is probably the best iOS Photography Magazine on the Apple App Store in the form of ‘Once Magazine'(but most definitely the best magazine overall), Apple’s 25 Billion Apps promo, a slew of iOS photography Apps for the iPhone and iPad, a curious iPhone case, a music recommendation and a year’s break to Canada.

Show Notes:

Apple Promo Page

3rd Party App Countdown Site

iOS App – Once Magazine (iPad Only)

iOS App – F8 Magazine (iPad Only)

iOS App – 360 Panorama

iOS App – PhotoSynth

iOS App – Nostalgio

iOS App – PicStitch

iOS App – KinoTopic

4×5 Kodachrome Images from the 1940’s (photographs by Alfred Palmer) and also

The Collarbone (iPad only) (Tumblr Page)

‘Maybe it’s My Fault’ (Jordan Commercial, Youtube Link)

iPhone RangeFinder Case (Photojojo)

All music by Da Chip

Help to set up this podcast came from Donald Sinatra, podcast hosting by Libsyn.


Written by jonathanjk

March 1, 2012 at 13:47

Alrik Swagerman of Viewbook Interviewed

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The twelfth interview from a series of interviews with Photographers and iOS Developers alike.  All of them develop portfolio Apps for Apple’s iPad and iPhone in some way.  This interview is with Alrik Swagerman based in Rotterdam. Co-founder of the online portfolio service

Viewbook can be found at any of the links below:

Website, iTunes, Podcast, Twitter, Facebook,


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My photography portfolio has always been hosted by They are great hosts, never had a problem and I like the tools they offer for me to show my work. One reason why I chose them, was because their website worked on the iPad from the very beginning when it first came out. Some of their higher priced competitors didn’t, since they were an all Flash affair.

Now I’ve heard they are releasing their own iPad portfolio App! I’ll be reviewing it soon. I’ve been informed it’s free for existing users of Viewbook.

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Sigurd Kranendonk of XtraFolio Interviewed

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The fifth in a series of interview with various Photographers and iOS Developers. All of them develop portfolio Apps for Apple’s iPad. This interview is with Sigurd Kranendonk a professional photographer from the Netherlands talking about his app, XtraFolio.

XtraFolio and XtraFolio Lite can be found at any of the links below:

Website, iTunes, Twitter.

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Written by jonathanjk

February 15, 2011 at 17:59

Paul Freeman of FolioBook interviewed

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The second in the series of interviews with various Photographers and iOS Developers.  All of them develop portfolio Apps for Apple’s iPad.  This interview is with UK photographer/developer Paul Freeman of FolioBook.

PDF version can be found here: FolioBook Interview

Paul Freeman is a photographer and designer who started his career as a research scientist in Hewlett-Packard’s artificial intelligence research laboratory.  He has been involved in hypermedia since the late 1980’s.  A professional advertising and architectural photographer since 2003, his latest personal work is Space Lands ( His architectural work is featured at

FolioBook can be found at any of the links below. A PDF version of this interview can be found here: FolioBook.

Website, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook,


So with our first question what gave you the inspiration to write FolioBook?

I’ve been involved in both content creation and hypermedia for twenty years or so, when the iPad emerged I saw it as a way of doing some exciting new things with photography and hypermedia. A large part of it is the desire to do something really interesting with pictures on one of the coolest computers created so far.

And are you also a photographer yourself?

Yes, I’ve been some kind of a photographer since my dad introduced me to developing black and white at the age of 8, and a professional for the last few years.

Is this your first App for iOS?

No, there are a couple of others that I worked on as prototypes but decided not to release.

How easy was it to code in order to create FolioBook?  How long did it take to get FolioBook to Version 1?

In a sense it took me 20 years as I’m applying techniques and knowledge to the app that I started developing as long ago as 1989 when I first started thinking about electronic publishing. It took me about six months to learn enough about the iOS platform to attempt it. Apparently a nine year old can write apps, so its as easy as the app someone wants to create. I’m really a designer not a coder. When I say ‘designer’ I mean the internal design as well as the visual appearance. I’m more like the architect who builds the house than a bricklayer, but I can make a reasonable job of laying bricks when I have to.

You state it took you 6 months to learn enough about the iOS platform to eventually start coding for it. Is that something anybody could do or did your previous career as a scientist help you?

Let me break this down a bit. Any competent programmer can learn the basic structure of an iOS app in a couple of hours. In fact XCode can generate an ‘app’ for you in about 10 seconds, but it doesn’t do anything interesting. The thing that takes the time is understanding how to use the Apple libraries to achieve what you want to.  It took me 6 months to develop a certain kind of ‘skill’ which I needed to do what I wanted to do. I could have built a fart app in a day.

However you ask ‘is this something anyone can do’ and the answer to this is that no, not every one can do it. Good programmers tend to be born not made.  Anyone can learn the basics but not everyone can stick with it to become good at it.   Anyone can create some kind of drawing, but only Michaelangelo can create one of his drawings. Software is more like art in that technical respect than people generally realise.  In this respect it’s very different to plumbing or bricklaying.

Branded Home Screen

Do you write any other Apps for iOS?

No, one is enough for now, I want to leave enough time to shoot more work as well as gaze at a computer screen.

Will you write other Apps for iOS devices? More importantly, photography related ones?

Maybe. But for the immediate future Foliobook will remain the focus, though there may be spin-offs that are closely related to it.

FolioBook is a relatively new App in the App Store. Arriving after the release of 4.2. Did coding for iOS 4.2 make much of a difference compared to iOS 3.2?  7a. What made a difference in iOS 4.2?

No, not a lot of difference except that Apple has added a few nice additions to their API which makes it possible to do more interesting things with the media. Also some of the bugs in iOS 3.2 were removed, so that helped a bit.

How long did it take to write FolioBook?

I didn’t count. Lets just say I haven’t slept much since May 2010.

Where do you want to take FolioBook with future updates, where do you see yourself in a years time?

I like to keep the plans for Foliobook fairly close to my chest, what I can say is that the current version is only about 10% of the vision I have for the product.

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Quite a vision, you believe you have ample opportunity to take FolioBook beyond replicating the behaviour of a printed portfolio then?

Yes indeed.  You only have to look around the app store, eg: at something like ‘The Elements’ to see the potential.  The next release of Foliobook will include a video capability that we think is going to be ground breaking, at least in terms of  portfolio type apps.  I won’t say too much because I don’t particularly want to help competitors, but clearly an app like this has to handle many types of content not just still images. Some competing apps have given lip service to multimedia but have failed to make navigating it a pleasant experience. This will be the next step for us.

What do you as a Developer want to see in the next iPad, either to aid your Apps or just for your own pleasure?

More memory! Its quite ludicrous that there is about half the RAM on the iPad as the current iPhone 4, and that when my app starts its lucky to get 25Mb to start up in. For my own pleasure I’d like to see the device lighter in weight, with a warmer rear surface so that I can comfortably read an electronic book in bed.

This question is in two parts: Considering how new your FolioBook is, I’ve already seen FolioBook vs PadPort in discussions and Google search results. You have a competitor with a similar feature set. How do you see yourself differentiating from your competitor/competition?

It’s interesting you mention PadPort because I only became aware of their website shortly after launching Foliobook in August 2010.  I don’t consider them a serious competitor at this point as their feature set and usability is behind either Foliobook or Portfolio for iPad. Their intent seemed similar to ours, but when I came across them they had no software only an idea and a nice website/logo. It seemed to take them a long time to get to market, so I wondered if their aspirations rather outstrip their ability. I’m quite disappointed with their current release as it is buggy and doesn’t support portrait orientation.

I should point out that while Padport seems to have converged independently on a similar-ish interface idea that there is at least one other app which seems to plagiarise the basic presentation of Foliobook. While imitation is a sincere form of flattery, such developers should expect to face very robust competition.

Foliobook by the way was the second app in the market after FlexFolios and was the first app that tried to put the images first. Of the competing apps I see, Portfolio for iPad is a serious contender at the moment. The developer of that app has focused on getting the nuts and bolts right.  There is a general misapprehension that software is all about having a really unique idea, but an idea isn’t much use if the execution of it is poor. So far none of the portfolio apps are what I would consider ‘great’ and this is much to do with the details as the basic idea. My focus is on making Foliobook ‘great’ but that will take a little more time.

Slideshow View

But also, How do you see this market developing as we go forward? How do you see yourself differentiating from the competition in the future when there will be more competitors?  One reaction is to drop the price in order to compete and/or develop for another platform.  Are you concerned about the ‘race to the bottom’ and copycat apps affecting this class of applications? What do you think?

The differentiation will not be by cutting prices but by increasing value. Good apps will become more expensive, there won’t be hundreds of them because they require more investment than ‘joke’ apps like you find on an iPhone. Once an app is good enough it can charge double or treble what Foliobook costs today. To reprhase… how is it that people buy Apple laptops for twice the price of generic laptops running Windows?  Clearly price isn’t the right variable to focus on.

Are you a one man operation or is this a group effort?

It’s a group effort. When possible I spin off chunks of work to collaborators, but I have to stay in control so this is done fairly carefully.  I involve other developers when necessary and also a graphic designer as well as a usability consultant. In addition we have a couple of business angels beating on the door offering investment funds which we may need in future. And of course I have a cadre of top photographers who act as a focus group.

Where are you based and where have you seen the greatest uptake of FolioBook at the moment?

I’m based in the UK, the US is the biggest market. There are more iPads there than anywhere else, ‘Simples’!

I found the built in Photo Application lacking anything for a Pro Photographer, others will feel it’s good enough. Were you concerned of your App’s uptake by other Photographers before committing yourself to creating FolioBook?

No. Originally I developed it for myself as I wanted a way to show off work. Actually I developed a couple of different demo apps, showed them to some top advertising photographers over a coffee and they wouldn’t let me leave without promising to turn Foliobook into a product.  Some of the ideas in the other demo apps will be added to later versions of Foliobook.

Can you explain anything about the creation process behind your app? Did you involve other photographers or even editors to ask what they would want in a digital portfolio that attempts to replicate the printed portfolio and its presentation?

Already answered in part. However as a professional photographer trying to raise my profile I have a lot of experience with showing my work to agents, art buyers etc. So I know first hand about what is needed.


How do you see FolioBook existing alongside a printed portfolio?

I know some very highly paid photographers who have not sent a printed portfolio out for two years. For established people, often a web-link is all thats needed. Theres no rule. For some people there will be no point in spending £2000 on a pair of books bound by a craftsperson in Clerkenwell, it won’t get them the job.  Obviously it depends on to whom and in what context you are showing the work. In some cases you will be laughed out of the room if you don’t show a print portfolio, in other cases it just gets in the way and costs a lot of money. Also, increasingly the sort of people who need those expensive printed books will have to include motion in their portfolios, and until they figure out how to print a movie onto Photo Rag, the iPad will be the best option.

And just wrapping up, anyone notable who is using FolioBook?

Some top photographers using it include Michael Prince, Julian Calverley, and Brian Smith, though there are quite a few others of note who I haven’t asked for permission to mention their names. When the motion capability is added I think there will be some pretty interesting people who start to use it. The Foliobook Hall of Fame is a good place to see some of the fantastic work people are showing with the app.

FolioBook at the time of writing is priced at £4.99 and $7.99 on the Apple App Store.

A review written in conjunction with this interview can be found here.



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