Category Archives: iPad

PayPal Here, a card reader and app for taking payment on your iPhone or iPad finally comes to Australia, getting in before Square and Apple’s likely credit card system.

Some time back, I introduced a video from Square in my “IT for Psychologists” workshops which I offer in Australia. At the time, Square was just beyond being a startup.

Square offered a small hardware device which plugged into your iPhone headphone jack and communicated with its own app so you could accept credit card payments. The Square card reader “swiped” the card, and the money would soon enough be transferred to your nominated bank account.

The video still excites many of my colleagues even though it was made several years ago, and it’s yet to be made available in Australia. It’s been reported that Square has since enjoyed an investment from VISA after initial warnings of “security issues” from Verifone, a maker of card readers More recently, Square has expanded its wares to purposely include iPad-expanded abilities for point-of-sale businesses.

There has been talk of Square coming to Australia, where many psychologists use those old bank-leased card readers, which usually means you also need to have a landline, or a more expensive 3G model. Some like to use it because one bank has arrangements with Australia’s Medicare national medical health scheme, allowing payments to be made directly into the psychologist’s nominated account.

But for the many solo psychologists who work in multiple locations, these solutions are not particularly cost-effective, since one pays a monthly fee for the lease, as well as a percentage per transaction, a 30c fee, and other ancillary set-ups fees.

It’s essentially a monopoly situation, which I have rejected in my own practice.

For those who want to pay me by credit card, they receive ahead of their appointment, advice that credit card payments can be made via PayPal, with a surcharge of $5 to cover the fees I am charged (a little under 3%). This keeps the banks in their place.

The other electronic alternative (cash is certainly accepted; cheques are a dying monetary exchange system in Australia) is direct debit, where the patient can make an online payment from their bank account. Neither they nor I receive any costs for this transaction. For that reason, I have the apps of the most popular banks installed on my iPad, so patients can either pay at the end of the session using my iPad, or pay at home or their office. Many now use their own iPhone during the session to make their payment. Once they use my bank details, websites usually keep me as a preferred payee and those details don’t need to be entered a second time.

The case for an iPhone or iPad enabled payment system is a no-brainer. One wonders, what with the Samsung vs Apple trial currently under way, if Apple ever thought its iDevices would be used this way. After all, even in its own Apple Stores it formerly used Windows CE-based portable card scanning devices.

These were replaced, perhaps with a big sigh of relief, with iPod touch units and an EasyPay system, as its called. At left, is an Apple Store employee in Perth, Western Australia using one when I visited in June 2012.

The units incorporate both a card reader and a bar scan reader and after taking your money, a receipt will be emailed to your nominated address. If you’ve purchased before, your details will quickly come up from the server and speed up the process.

More so, you can now use an EasyPay app on your own iPhone to make your purchase without even sighting an Apple Store employee!

Apple’s modded iPod Touch showing the bard card reader in action, purchasing an AppleTV remote

Apple EasyPay app at work in the Apple Store

Returning momentarily to Square, some have mooted it might make an excellent acquisition for Apple, as reported in the New York Times recently, above.

What makes the NYT report incorrect is its report that the Square service is “a unique electronic payment service through iPhones and iPads”.

There are several competitors, not all of whom use a card reader. One is ICCPay, which I also mention in my IT workshops, below (Shame on the NYT for not doing its homework).

The app needs to be used with a gateway linked to banks, and for some people these extra steps may prove to be a hurdle.

With the next iPhone not very far away, others have suggested Apple has its own plans for an iPhone based payment system, using Near Field Communications (NFC). With iOS6 coming with a coupon and ticket app called Passbook, it may also be the case that Apple will later allow iPhones to act as credit card terminals, perhaps utilising technologies from its Apple Store EasyPay setup.

While all this is in the not-to-distant future, Australian and US iDevice owners have another system just coming onto the market from PayPal, called PayPal Here. Below, the US website announcing its availability.

The Australian PayPal site shows a “Notify me when it’s ready” sign but some time back when it was first mooted coming to Australia, I applied to go on PayPal’s waiting list. This was back in April. In recent weeks, I was notified things were on the move. Last week , apparently in preparation, my PayPal account was suspended, pending receipt of documents pertaining to security questions, including if I was at all politically connected to anyone in the public eye. Seriously. I had to fax or email documents containing my photo ID and birthdate, as well as documents showing my name and current address, such as a utility bill. I used my US Passport business VISA for the former.

This was accepted eventually, and I was in business, even though the small triangular card reader was yet to arrive. The free app was available to be used however. Doing this has drawbacks, though.

1. Entering card data manually, with a purchaser’s finger signature and three digit CVV, attracts a higher % commission (about 3%), and

2. It takes 21 days to clear into your PayPal account, plus a few more after that to go into your nominated bank account.

Fortunately, my card reader arrived by courier yesterday, after being notified by PayPal Australia to expect it in 3-5 business days. It actually came just a day or two after that email, with its courier tracking details.

Here’s what the container box looks like:

The box includes an adhesive label you can place at your business entrance

Here’s the physical unite – it measures in imperial terms, 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 2″ approx

Here are a number of shots I took with my iPhone showing the boxing of the unit. This might not quite match the unboxing of a new Mac, but still….

It’s nicely done, complete with the adhesive label to place on your front door, and PayPal’s local support number. I haven’t tried to reach support yet, but would think that anyone trying to compare various payment systems ought to incorporate a comparison of support parameters, such as time spent waiting, quality of answers, followup, etc.

Using the unit requires you to download the free PayPal Here app from the App store. It is set for the iPhone, but will happily expand to 2x appearance on the iPad without much pixelation.

There can be a problem with iPhones with cases which make full insertion of the card reader difficult which I have already discovered with certain cables.

The card reader, unlike the Square unit, contains a triangular cover which partially rotates and “grabs” the iPhone preventing the unit from swivelling. Again, with a thick iPhone case, this feature just gets in the way. I have  swivelled the unit, and held it for a successful card swipe, but clearly if one is to use it frequently, it might require the temporary removal of the case.

The app., by the way, allows you to practise swiping without incurring fees, and as a way to test the functionality of the card reader.

Let’s now go look at the app itself, which has a number of interesting features.

The first is the “Open for Business” screen, above,  which connects you to PayPal to show balances, as as well the means to input items and information about your business.

There are a variety of settings, above, where you can list your inventory and give each item a sale price, and keep a running total of items being purchased. It night be useful for a bar or restaurant,  for instance, collecting table orders.

Each item can have its own amount and description, above, quite useful for those working garage sales or fleamarket transactions.

The app also includes a handy calculator, above,  to keep a running total going…

The app also includes the option, above, of putting in your business information, including either your mapped place of business and/or your correspondence address, as in a post box.

There is also the opportunity to track sales figures, both past and pending, above.

Items sold may include not just physical goods, but services too which can be itemised. There is also for goods, an area to display a picture of the item next to its description and cost. The picture can be imported from the Photo app, as you can see, below.

The option to take a picture on the fly could turn out to be very useful in some circumstances. There also exists the option, like Apple’s EasyPay system, of emailing a receipt to the purchaser. Handy to develop a marketing list of email addresses…

There are some questions that remain however.

Will the card reader work with all cards, and what of worn cards? How well will it work with the next iPhone, if rumours of its headphone jack heading south to the bottom of the unit prove to be true? And what is its future should Apple release its own credit card system in the near future?

The beauty of the PayPal system is the small size and thus portability of the reader, the data safety via encryption offered standard by PayPal, the well thought out version 1 of its app, and the public’s general awareness of the PayPal brand.

It’s also relatively easy to use and navigate through the various app screens, and the costs are very good when compared to what’s already out there. While it’s currently limited to VISA and Mastercard credit and debit cards, the lack of AMEX and Discover might be a concern for some. Mind you, I can’t recall the last time a patient tried to pay for a session with AMEX.

I’ll  update this blog entry once I start to make some “sales” with the unit, and report back on its actual usefulness.

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As expected, iWork was beefed up for the new iPad, bringing Keynote closer to parity with its desktop older sibling. But don’t fret, Keynote users: I think we saw some hints of new features of the next Keynote for the Mac.

So the new iPad has been released (I ordered two of the top models), along with an updated AppleTV to take advantage of its retina display.

I will not at all be surprised when the tech pundits today boohoo the new iPad, from its failure to cure cancer through to its ungainly name, which I predicted would be the case in a previous blog entry, just because Apple can. And indeed likely enjoys playing the punditry for fools, while it laughs all the way to the bank.

Before I get to the main points of this blog entry, a couple of non-appearances are worth noting.

1. Where was Scott Forstall? I can’t recall an Apple keynote where the iPad and iOS were featured and he was not given a place on stage. Given he reports direct to Tim Cook, was this Tim’s way of further asserting his new CEO status? Or hopefully, a much more simple explanation.

2. Where was the much anticipated Microsoft Office for iPad which had the tech punditry all atwitter in recent weeks, once today’s keynote invitations had been sent out?

Instead, what we did see but not demonstrated were beefed up iWork apps, which like iPhoto for the iPad allowed Phil Schiller to drive home the message that “don’t let anyone tell you you can’t create on an iPad”. (You can see him refer to this at 1h:15m:20s, after you download the keynote podcast from the iTunes store ).

Indeed, Schiller emphasised the parity that now exists between iPad and Mac OS X devices like the iMac and Macbook since the Apple creative applications – iLife and iWork – now exist on both platforms with an extremely similar feature set.

I downloaded the Keynote update, now in V1.6, with the most important and obvious additions being  the near match between builds and transitions. It’s not quite 100%, and of course the iPad font set is still limited, so error messages may crop up after importing  desktop Keynote file with esoteric fonts.

In a previous blog post I had predicted that an updated desktop Keynote would not be released into the wild until there was much greater feature parity between the two versions, and this would require an improved iPad with respect to CPU and graphics. The hint Apple gave us that this was on the cards can be seen with the placement of the Keynote app icon in the tray for the keynote invitation illustration. I don’t know anyone who leaves Keynote there, myself included.

Which leaves desktop Keynote users to ask: : “Whither Keynote? You’ve not been updated for more than three years, so what gives?”

Clearly, much of the iWork team’s efforts have been directed to the iPad versions plus iBooksAuthor which also received an update today (V1.1) to account for the new iPad’s retina display.

There are clues however, and in today’s keynote I believe we saw hints that a new version – or at least some feature additions to the current version – are present.

Let’s go to the video replay…

In recent keynotes, Apple has been overenthusiastic about its use of the Anvil build, something which was last added to Keynote in a point update, as well as some new text builds. It’s been used when keynote speakers wanted to drop a bomb on us, so as to demonstrate “incredible” numbers of apps sold, or stores opened, or some other fact where expectations were crushed.

In the March 7 keynote, we didn’t see it at all. Perhaps it was a favourite of Steve Jobs, and here is Tim Cook asserting his status once more. If there was one build we saw quite often in today’s keynote, it was a variation of the “move” build, but this time two elements came in almost simultaneously, while pushing other elements no longer up for discussion, out.

If you have the podcast, go to 20m:14s, and here are some screenshots of what I noticed:

Here Tim is discussing how iPad users rate the device for various activities, such as reading books. He’s now going to discuss it as a favourite for playing games, so in the next click of his remote, the iPad image and text slide to the left, but not quite synchronously:


And now the new image and text slides in from the right, the text in the lead before the previous image has left the building:

And the rest now slides into place, the text once more leading the way:

And now the image aligns centred above the text:

Now, each of these could be performed with “move” builds – in and out – but some of these slides would require four of these, two each for text in and out, and two each of image in and out.

Because this effect was used several times in the keynote, I’m going to assert that it represents a new transition, similar to Magic Move, where you create each slide with its picture and text, and the transition does the work for you, such that you can control the delay and speed. Who wants to guess what Apple calls this new transition?

I suspect, however, this is was not the only transition. For some time now, I’ve been watching my AppleTV when it goes into screensaver mode. As with iPhoto, there are several very interesting ways that new photos can be brought in, including Origami. If you have an AppleTV, check in Settings for your screensaver options:

(Brian Burgess, at Groovypost.com has a nice set of screenshots and elaboration upon AppleTV screen saver options here).

When I noticed these in action, it caused me to wonder how nice they would be as additions to the Keynote transition set, especially as more people are using full size pictures, as well as multiple illustrations in Keynote.

I think I saw one new addition in the March 7 keynote, at 18m:22s:

It starts at the time Tim Cook has said Apple sold more iPads in the last quarter of 2011 than any PC maker sold all their PC products, and says iPads are “showing up everywhere in the daily lives of people”:

"It's showing up everywhere in people's lives"

What looks like an regular flip build out commences...

.. and we see the image on the flip side now...

Now more fully formed, but only occupying a section of the previous image's space, because...

.. a moment later it's joined by a second flipping image...

... which remains for a moment while the first flipped image now builds out with a flip...

... and now the second image begins its flip out...

... and now both images are replaced by four smaller images flipping in...

... and here is the final montage, this whole sequences taking about four seconds...

Now it’s quite possible to do all this with the current Keynote, but why would you? It’s not Apple’s way to make itself, and the user, work so hard, when it can create transitions to do it for you, with you merely selecting the images (or presumably, text).

I suspect there is one more new build or transition but the camera work was too poor to pick it up. It occurs about 20m:40s and here is the images I can grab but they are certainly uninformative:

Icons of the thousands of apps start popping in...

I suspect this popping of apps as a build in was in fact similar to what was shown at the Education keynote to introduce iBooksAuthor January 19th, and used the Object Zoom transition.

It’s a very underutilised effect, bit I did manage to use it myself at Macworld in January. See below.

If you think you saw some new Keynote effects, please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Hey, Apple: If you can stream Paul McCartney over iTunes Live on my AppleTV, when you can start streaming your keynotes live (like the one in a few hours)? Especially if you release an upgraded AppleTV – heck, I’d even pay a few dollars from my iTunes account and get up at 5AM rather than wait for the delayed replay

If Microsoft Office comes to the iPad, it will be the best of times and the worst of times.

It was but a mere coincidence that after my previous blog article here, entitled,

“If the expression “Give me the child aged seven….” applies to the iPad and Keynote, I’d start to worry if I ran the Microsoft Office marketing department: Lessons from a Las Vegas school”

the blogosphere somewhat choked with the “news” reported by The Daily that they had seen Office ported to the iPad. From there, many sites echoed the report, some saying The Daily had been duped, others pursuing Microsoft for comment only to receive a strange kind of denial, that more would be known in a few weeks.

That didn’t help the rumour mongering, because the time schedule placed it into iPad 3 release rumour territory. “What is possible”, some asked, “that Microsoft would appear at the iPad 3 keynote to demonstrate Office for the iPad?”

And what would they mean for Apple, for Microsoft, for Google Docs, for Android devices, and for humanity in general? OK, it’s not that big a deal, but for many it’s a serious business. After all, Office is responsible for much of those billions Microsoft earns each month, it is the default communication platform in the enterprise and many academic and military settings, and its placement on the iPad is certainly worth contemplating for its meaning.

If memory serves me correctly, the last time Microsoft took to the stage with Apple in the form of Steve Jobs — happy birthday, Steve 😦 — it was in the form of Roz Ho, from the MacBU showing a version of Office for the Mac.

These were never really stellar performances, and Office for the Mac was always a step behind the capabilities of its Windows brother. So those of us with long memories will greet any availability of an Office app with a yawn, as long as we are already using iWork equivalents, such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

There is one Microsoft Office product in the App store, and that is OneNote. There are other MS apps of course:

Do note, if you’ll pardon the pun, that OneNote is free, but limited to 500 entries. After that, to add more you must upgrade for unlimited notes by an in-app purchase of $14.99. This may hint at the cost of individual Office apps or we may see a bundled suite.

How Microsoft chooses to price and assemble Office will intrigue some for the next few weeks, given Apple showed its hand at the very beginning of the iPad Journey almost two years ago (less a few days).

The reviews for OneNote are not great in general, and indeed it’s competing against many very fine and not very expensive notetaking apps, including the free Evernote, as well as Notify.

It was the best of opportunities

For Microsoft, it must have come as an inevitable acknowledgement of the iPad’s market power to bring Office to it, while still developing its own tablet software with a full Windows 7 installation and a version of Office very close in capabilities to that of the desktop version.

That it will bring a denuded version to the iPad is a no-brainer, much like it has suited Apple and its iWork to do so while the iPad’s CPU and GPU grow in power with each new version.

So while the opportunity exists for Microsoft to add more millions to its coffers on sales of Office for the iPad, it may come at some cost. Some may ask if a Windows 7 tablet is needed if Office can be found on the iPad, and perhaps go without. Farewell potential sales.

But of course, it’s the full completely compatible version of Office on a Windows tablet as compared to a “thin” version on the iPad, so that may be enough to steer those in the enterprise away from the iPad to the Windows powered tablet.

For Apple, this is a further opportunity to move more iPads into the enterprise by giving users their default communication and productivity tools, hopefully equipped with extras such as tracking changes and easy cloud-based updating between iPad and desktop and laptop.

Does Apple care that its own iWork suite may go Missing in Action? I don’t think so. Its addition in the first place we were told by Steve Jobs was more of a “Can we do this” aspiration rather than a dagger plunge to the heart of Microsoft. And while Pages on the iPad has met universal acclaim, the same cannot be said of Keynote. At least we have seen several upgrades for the iPad version while the updated/upgraded desktop Keynote stays locked up, ready for the right moment to pounce.

Always remembering that Apple’s software and services exists to sell hardware, Office on the iPad will do more to sell iPads than iWork ever will, if I am to be totally frank about it.

Despite iWork’s two year head start, the iPad is still on an early adopters’ curve. This means there is still a huge market to penetrate and Office will help enormously. The best of times and opportunities will continue for Apple.

The worst of times and opportunities

But there is one downside to all this merriment, if one believes Office for the iPad is a good thing.

And it is here I write selfishly, although for me it may present opportunities too.

My concern is that once Powerpoint moves onto the iPad, the grace and finesse of Keynote will be a thing of the past, and we will see the continuation of the default Powerpoint style. Even while many in the presentation world are working diligently to rid the speaking domain of its dumbed down and empirically unvalidated knowledge transfer capabilities, Powerpoint on the iPad will set presentations backwards.

Yes, I know many will say “but it’s the user, not the tool“, yada yada. But if this is the case, why do 95% of the Powerpoints I witness bore me and most of their audiences silly, breach so many of the guidelines research-based multimedia learning informs us of, and even have end-users complaining when tasked to draw up a new presentation, something I don’t hear of with Keynote users?

So, yes, the best of times for Apple perhaps, and the worst of times ahead for audiences if Powerpoint on the iPad becomes the default presentation tool.

Let’s hope if Office is coming to the iPad, that Apple has lent some UI engineering effort to the MS development team, so we at least get apps that can stand up to scrutiny, look and feel more Apple-like than Microsoft, and “just work”.

I fear it’s all too much to ask however. Reflecting on my previous blog entry, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

With the hype over the next iPad growing, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed pundits, Wall Street Analysts and fantasists when they don’t get what they want when they want it.

A few days ago, my head swirling with rumours and pictures of alleged iPad 3 retinal displays, I posted this on my Twitter account (@lesposen):

For those of you with iPad 2s, the iPad 3 may be no big deal at all. Certainly, many of the blog posts and comments I’m seeing in my travels are asking if it will be worthwhile updating, perhaps uncertain of how much their iPad 2 will get on eBay.

For another population of iPad owners, those like me who have the original iPad, it’s really a no-brainer. After almost two years of ownership as a first adopter, I for one am truly ready to make a leap to iPad 3 territory.* This will be on speed and screen alone, much less anything else that so many rumour sites are either positing will happen, or are expressing in fantasyland wishlists, e.g special keyboards, USB connectivity, Siri (I will be very pleasantly surprised if Siri is included), etc………… (fill in the blanks with your fantasy).

Which leads me to think there is going to be an awful lot of disappointed people claiming FAIL! when Apple doesn’t deliver the goods. Which it won’t for a lot of people. Including those who should know better like tech pundits, and Wall Street analysts.

I’m predicting another “woe is me, Apple dropped the ball” post-release crying game when the iPad 3 is officially announced, possibly early March. We’ve seen this before of course with the iPhone 4S, when so many were of the belief – no, certainty – the iPhone 5 was next in line.

Of course, the rest is history. Despite all the lamentations, the iPhone 4S has proved to be a massive hit in the months after its release, and it’s still going gangbusters.

There’s a lesson here, and it’s an old, familiar one, which can be said in at least three ways:

1. Santayana’s famous quote:

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

2. Newton’s First Law of Motion:

Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.

3. A fundamental premise of psychology I use in my work:

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour

While phrase 3 may have had its origins in forensic psychology predicting criminal recidivism, it also has its place in self-harm assessment too.

You know, it would serve right all those fantasists ready to put the hate on Apple for not delivering what they wanted when they wanted for Apple to name it the iPad 2S (for screen), just for fun while it laughs all the way to the bank.

On a more serious note however, I will apply those three guidelines above, and suggest we will see better battery life, a retinal screen, and similar price points to current iPads. Meaning there is a likelihood the iPad 2 will remain a current model but not in 64GB unless the iPad 3 (or 2S 😉 comes in 128GB size, something no one has suggested with any strong evidence or conviction.

A 32GB wifi only model for schools (16GB would be just too small for textbook iBooks coming to market) priced under $300 – ideally, $249 – would hurt a lot of tablet wannabees powered by flavours of Android.

We’re a few weeks away from the much-predicted special announcement. The hype machine will ratchet up, the fantasies will be blogged about, the disappointment safety net will go unchecked in all the hoopla, and the Apple executives in the know will casually grin like Cheshire cats as they pass each other in the Cupertino hallways.

To paraphrase Mel Brooks: “It’s good to be the King!”

* I did a rough calculation of cost of ownership. Purchased July 1, 2010 or close enough, and say I update to iPad 2S on March 7, that represents 615 days of ownership.

The unit cost around AUD $1000 at purchase including an accessory or two. In that time, I’m estimating I’ve spent another $1500 on apps, books, and Telstra and AT&T 3G connectivity.

Doing the math, I’ve spent roughly AUD$4.00 (about USD$4.28 at current exchange) per day owning the iPad – about that of a coffee. I’ve achieved much more than $4 worth of satisfaction of ownership.