Using your Android or iOS tablet as a second monitor

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As we’ve seen pre­vi­ously (The more screens, the bet­ter — Our guide to mul­tiple mon­it­ors ), hav­ing more screens to dis­trib­ute your desktop across can be a huge bene­fit to your com­put­ing exper­i­ence.

And as you’ll have noticed in the title, if you’ve got a tab­let, you can even bring it into the mix, as long as you’ve got access to a WiFi net­work and have installed a few pieces of soft­ware. Lets take a look.

Apps
There are quite a few apps out there for Android and iOS, on both Win­dows and OSX. This post isn’t really about all the vari­ations avail­able, so to keep it simple, I’m using Air Dis­play by Avat­ron, which is avail­able for all four con­fig­ur­a­tions (Android (OSX/Win), iOS (OSX/Win)).

It’s a simple mat­ter to set up, just install a serv­er applic­a­tion on your desktop, and a cli­ent applic­a­tion on your tab­let. Con­fig­ur­a­tion took a minute or two and then I was shar­ing my screen.

MacAndroid.jpgIt’s about the net­work
The way these desktop-extend­ing apps work is they basic­ally fool your oper­at­ing sys­tem into think­ing you’ve just con­nec­ted anoth­er mon­it­or to the sys­tem. To your oper­at­ing sys­tem, the tab­let looks just like a mon­it­or, and is treated as such.

You can drag win­dows on to it, launch your computer’s applic­a­tions from it — it’s just anoth­er screen.

Screen with bene­fits
Ok, it’s not really just anoth­er screen. This new mini-mon­it­or also becomes a touch screen. Yep, you can tap on your screen, and the computer’s curs­or imme­di­ately snaps to the loc­a­tion you tapped. Which means all your mouse func­tions are also now avail­able on the touch­screen tab­let.

Port­able
For me, one of the best uses of a tab­let as an exten­ded desktop is when I pair my iPad up with my Mac­Book Pro when I’m on the go.

Ima­gine pulling up to your favour­ite table at your loc­al cof­fee shop, setup up your laptop, and next to it, your tab­let. Extend the screen onto your tab­let and poof! You are now über pro­duct­ive while being extremely port­able.

Refresh­ing
Since you’re actu­ally get­ting an exten­ded desktop sent through the net­work to your tab­let, don’t expect blis­ter­ingly fast screen updates. Depend­ing on the app and desktop, you can make Flash anim­a­tions appear on your device. In my case, I man­aged to get just under 60 frames per second in my highly un-sci­entif­ic HTML5 Fishtank fram­er­ate test :smileyhappy:

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Draw­backs?
No sys­tem is per­fect. Using the tab­let as a second screen requires a WiFi net­work con­nec­tion. This can be a bit tricky in some loc­a­tions where you’re only allowed one WiFi con­nec­tion per per­son.

Also, if there are mul­tiple WiFi net­works in the same build­ing, say at a uni­ver­sity, you must make sure that your devices are all on the same WiFi net­work.

Why?
Well, I like using the extra mon­it­or provided by my tab­let as a news desk, tweet mon­it­or and ref­er­ence desk. Yep, just a pass­ive dis­play that I can occa­sion­ally glance at that means I don’t have to Alt-Tab to check on stuff. Much less dis­tract­ing that way, I find. And it’s a port­able solu­tion to my mul­tiple mon­it­or addic­tion.

Thoughts?
Got a favour­ite com­puter and tab­let con­fig­ur­a­tion you want to share? Tell us about it and we’ll all learn some­thing!

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Reinventing the Walkie Talkie

walkie.jpgBack in the day, this kind of thing was what people used to talk to each oth­er over dis­tances, using radio waves. You were lim­ited by the power of the unit and the type and num­ber of obstacles between you and the per­son you were talk­ing with.

And gen­er­ally, your con­ver­sa­tion could be over­heard by any­one else using a sim­il­ar device.

Fast for­ward to this cen­tury and the digit­al data­phone. And this nifty Android & iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad app called Hey­Tell, brings the Walk­ie Talk­ie concept up to date.

Simple, but it works
Hey­Tell is a simple app. On an iOS device (I assume it’s sim­il­ar for Android), Hey­Tell uses your con­tact list to man­age con­tacts and invite oth­ers to the app.

Using Hey­Tell is drop-dead simple:

1) Select the con­tact to speak with

2) Push the ‘Hold and Speak’ but­ton
That’s it. The voice mes­sage is beamed to their device. They can talk back to you imme­di­ately.
And that’s the way it works. It’s not real-time two-way com­mu­nic­a­tion, rather staged deliv­ery of voice mes­sages… a great way to check in, update someone, when it’s not con­veni­ent or prac­tic­al to send out an email.

And it’s free (exclud­ing Inter­net charges).



This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Remote control your computer from your iPad

Some say that the iPad is a magic­al device. I won’t go that far, but it is kinda cool, though it does have its short­com­ings — espe­cially when you com­pare it to a desktop or laptop com­puter. There are just many things done much bet­ter on a com­puter than on an iPad, which is why it’s neat that there’s com­puter remote con­trol soft­ware for the iPad.

One of the easi­est I’ve found to use is Log­MeIn Igni­tion. Part of the Log­MeIn fam­ily, Igni­tion lives on your iPad (or iPhone, or iPod Touch, or Android) and allows you to con­trol any com­puter you’ve registered with the Log­MeIn ser­vice.

Here’s how the pro­cess works:
1. Get a free Log­MeIn account
2. Install Log­MeIn Free cli­ent soft­ware on every PC/Mac you want to con­trol
3. Register those com­puters with your Log­MeIn account inform­a­tion

If you stop here, you now have the abil­ity to con­trol any of your registered com­puters from any oth­er registered com­puter (that’s run­ning the cli­ent soft­ware), or through the Log­MeIn web inter­face (which is very slick!).

4. Install the LogMeIn:Ignition cli­ent on your iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad

And you’re done. You can now con­trol any of your com­puters via your iPad.

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Con­tin­ue read­ing “Remote con­trol your com­puter from your iPad”

Android, Blackberry or iPhone? Which is right for you.

Earli­er today I dropped in to the CityTV’s Break­fast Tele­vi­sion set to chat about the three main types of data phones.

Basic­ally we were look­ing at the data phones, and the types of people who each type of phone is best suited for — or not suited for 🙂




Here’s my notes from the early morn­ing chat:

Black­berry — Research In Motion — RIM
This is the ‘Go To’ busi­ness device. It’s the Star Trek com­mu­nic­at­or for the C suite set. You know you’re a black­berry type if you cov­et the device for the fol­low­ing reas­ons:

1) Huge busi­ness and gov­ern­ment pen­et­ra­tion — the key here is that most gov­ern­ment depart­ments and divi­sions, and the organ­iz­a­tions that do busi­ness with them have sim­il­ar tech­no­logy. They speak the same lan­guage, look at the same screens and share the same exper­i­ences.

2) Secur­ity — The Black­berry sys­tem is based on a pro­pri­et­ary serv­er tech­no­logy that routes all com­mu­nic­a­tion through a cent­ral serv­er sys­tem, man­aged by RIM. Black­Berry is basic­ally a totally integ­rated pack­age that includes phone, hard­ware, device soft­ware and hos­ted ser­vice, provid­ing you with a com­plete end-to-end email solu­tion.

3) Keypad — Though more recent mod­els use the touch screen inter­face sim­il­ar to the iPhone, the hall­mark fea­ture of the Black­berry over the years has been mini­ature chick­let-style key­board. This has caused numer­ous thumb-cramps over the years, yet some­how, the work of gov­ern­ment has been done. Go fig­ure.

Google’s Android
This is Google’s con­tri­bu­tion to mobile com­mu­nic­a­tions. If you remem­ber the old BASF com­mer­cial, Google doesn’t make the phone, Google makes the phone bet­ter. Google provides the oper­at­ing sys­tem, hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers provide the phone tech.

1)  You love the concept of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This lets you con­fig­ure the device to do exactly what you want, how you want.

2) You accept the risk of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This means that an applic­a­tion you add to your Android based phone could poten­tially cause you unforseen grief in the future. The Android store is open to any­one with min­im­al reg­u­la­tion and oversite. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

3) You enjoy being at the bleed­ing edge of tech­no­logy. There is no finer place to be, as long as you really, REALLY, know what you’re doing with this tech­no­logy. There are dif­fer­ent Android devices run­ning slightly dif­fer­ent fla­vours of the oper­at­ing sys­tem. Yet, you know which apps will and won’t work on your phone. Yes, you are an Early Adop­ter..

Apple’s iPhone
This is the gold stand­ard by which all oth­er data phones are being meas­ured. Apple has basic­ally taken con­trol of this mar­ket, and for very many good reas­ons. Apple has cre­ated the tele­phone appli­ance.

1) an out­growth of the iPod — the iPhone is much more than a music play­er with a phone glued to it. It’s really a full-blown data appli­ance that you’d expect to see on Star Trek, but not only in the exec­ut­ive suite of cor­por­a­tions — the iPhone is the device for the rest of us.

2) The Apple store enabled a safe envir­on­ment for developers and con­sumers to explore the digit­al applic­a­tion mar­ket place for mobile digit­al devices. Apple ran the store, and had the right to approve applic­a­tions avail­able in the store. Put­ting the Apple repu­ta­tion on the line, applic­a­tions had to be safe, main­stream-accept­able, and tech­no­lo­gic­ally sound. You’d not get porn, vir­uses, or faulty pro­grams from the store on Apple’s watch.

3) It’s a data appli­ance. It must work. Every time. All the time. Apple guar­an­tees it. Your mom and dad could use it, and that’s what Apple’s bank­ing on. You don’t need an IT depart­ment to sup­port it (like the Black­berry) nor have to deal with eso­ter­ic inter­faces and com­mands (ala the Android). It just works.