iPad 2: Protecting the back

Everybody loves Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad 2. But it doesn’t protect the back of the iPad at all.

Several companies have released “smart” back covers, such the SwitchEasy CoverBuddy, the Hypershield, the Smart Cover Enhancer and the Simplism Smart Back Cover. However these back covers aren’t cheap and, as far as I know, aren’t available in the UK yet so you have to add on international postage. Bah!

But now there is a huge choice of cheap back covers on Amazon UK. I wanted a clear cover to show off the iPad’s Apple logo, so I chose the LuvMac Clear Solid Gel Back Cover.

LucMac Clear iPad Back Cover

Less than £10 including delivery and it does the job well without adding much bulk or weight to the iPad. Recommended.

Aperture Albums in iTunes

I had an issue the other day where a couple of my Aperture photo albums weren’t appearing in the photos tab of iTunes, so I couldn’t sync them to my iPad.

The fix turned out to be: select the errant photos in Aperture and then click on the menu item “Photos > Generate Thumbnails”.

Some people recommend “Photos > Update Previews” as well, but it wasn’t required in my case.

Reset iPad Backup/Sync

Several times lately when I’ve tried to sync my iPad it’s failed to complete the backup stage, even after 10-12 hours. If you force-quit iTunes and try again iTunes will skip the backup with the error message:

“iTunes could not backup the iPad “Chris’s iPad” because a session could not be started with the iPad”

I did a little research to find a solution, here’s what works for me:

  • Quit or Force-Quit iTunes
  • Delete your old backup: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup
  • Delete all files from ~/Library/Lockdown and /var/db/lockdown
  • Reboot Mac
  • Reboot iPad (hold Home and Power buttons until Apple logo appears)
  • Run iTunes
  • Select Reset Warnings and Reset Cache in iTunes Preferences > Advanced

Hope this helps someone else.

iPhone Folder Icons

Apple’s iOS4 introduced folders to the iPhone. By dragging an app onto another one, either on the iPhone or in iTunes, a folder is created with a suggested, editable name.

Many of us have done just that. In my case, I kept my most-used apps on the first Home Screen and organised the apps into folders on the second screen, thereby reducing the number of screens from 12 to 2!

Then, this morning, I noticed a tweet from Don McAllister (@donmcallister) who pointed out this page about how to name folders with icons instead of text.

I started playing around with it, firstly by creating an Apple folder, then by attempting to use icons for all my folders. “Flying”, “Travel” and “Games” were easy, but I struggled with “Sailing”, “Photography” and others. Then I remembered I had installed Spell Number on my iPhone which enables emoji icons.

A few minutes’ later I’d created this. Whether I stick with it is another matter…

(Click to enlarge)

iPhone 4 folders
iPhone 4 folders

O2 micro sim Activation

iPhone 4
iPhone 4

I had a faff activating the micro sim in the Apple iPhone 4. The O2 page talks about activating the phone and activating the sim card and I confused the two.

After leaving the iPhone overnight with a screen message “Waiting for activation, this may take some time”, I realised I had to complete the O2 Sim Swap page as well. Three hours later it still hadn’t activated. So I removed and reinserted the sim in my iPhone 3GS which immediately came up with no service (deactivated successfully) then inserted the micro sim in the iPhone 4 which immediately activated.

Hope this helps someone else.

iPhone 4 Pre-Orders

iPhone 4
iPhone 4

Apple’s new iPhone 4 will be released on 24 June and it can be pre-ordered from tomorrow, 15 June. We still don’t know the UK pricing although the UK carriers have released their new dataplans. Based on the iPad dataplans I’m hoping that three will be competitive in which case I might switch to them from O2.

Rumours are that the iPhone 4 prices will be announced today.

What Every New iPad Owner Should Know


With the international iPad arriving soon, here are some things I’ve learned about the iPad over the last few weeks:

  1. The battery life is great. It will last all day and maybe two days.

  2. It needs a 2.1 amp charger as opposed to the 1 amp of the iPhone so your iPhone chargers won’t work. New iPad/iPhone chargers are now available which pump out the higher amperage. Most USB hubs don’t produce 2.1 amps so you’ll need to connect the iPad dock to a USB port on your computer or plug it into the wall.

  3. iPhone apps look horrible. The good news is most apps have already been updated.

  4. You can leave your laptop at home. Unless you’re editing video or doing some other heavy-duty project everything you need is on the iPad.

  5. iBooks are great and are in epub format, but if you buy your ebooks from Apple they will have Apple’s Fairplay DRM (digital rights management) embedded. So if you want to future-proof your ebooks buy them in Adobe Digital Editions epub format and remove the DRM so you can read the ebook on any device. Once the ebook is DRM-free, Calibre is a great program for converting ebooks from one format to another.

Business Card Holder
Business Card Holder
  1. You’ll soon discover that you need a few stands around the house to prop up the iPad. Griffin Technology make a great stand (see above), the A-Frame, but at $50 you won’t want more than one. Cheaper solution are (a) a business card holder like this one from Office Depot, only $0.69 so buy half a dozen and spread them around and (b) plate holders like this one.
Plate Holder
Plate Holder
  1. You’ll also need a case. I’ve got a Belkin Vue Sleeve at the moment but I’m planning to get the Marware Eco-Vue when I can get my hands on one.
Marware Eco-Vue
Marware Eco-Vue
  1. The 3G version also has a GPS.
Huawei E5830 MiFi
Huawei E5830 MiFi
  1. The UK data plans aren’t great. Consider buying a MiFi which creates a WiFi bubble wherever you are. I use a Huawei E5830 from three.co.uk and I pay £15 a month for 5 GB of data. There’s also this one which I believe comes already unlocked.

  2. Essential apps: Evernote, Dropbox, 1Password, GoodReader

  3. Not essential, but great apps: PCalc, WeatherBug Elite, NYT Editor’s Choice, The Guardian Eyewitness, NetNewsWire, Instapaper Pro, National Geographic World Atlas, OffMaps, London Tube, Star Walk, Urban Spoon, Epicurious, WunderRadio, Air Sharing HD, Print Central, AppAdvice, Kayak Flights.

Enjoy your new iPad!

[Update 27 May] Three have annouced the best iPad data plan by far: £15/month for 10GB, rolling monthly contract.