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My hunt for the right iPad model: Too small, too big, and just right



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Nine years ago it was easy to pick out an iPad as there was just one model to choose from with your only option being how much storage you desired. You had a total of three choices.

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  • Apple iPad Pro (11-inch, Wi-Fi, 512GB, Space Gray) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB, Silver) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad Air (10.5-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB, Space Gray) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad (Wi-Fi, 32GB, Space Gray) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad Mini (Wi-Fi, 32GB, Gold) at Amazon

Today, there are five current models, finish options, storage capacity options, and LTE (carrier options here too) or Wi-FI options so it’s a bit overwhelming trying to figure out the right one for you. This leaves you with 68 possible models to choose from in 2019. So you can understand why it took me three purchases to get to the right model for me.

Also: iPhone, iPad, and Mac buyer’s guide: August 2019 edition 

The current lineup that makes up these 68 options includes the iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Pro 11, and iPad Pro 12.8. There are perfectly capable older models still available too so if you want to save some money you can look at sites like Swappa for some good options.

While I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 as my daily work computer for my consulting engineering business, I do not find it to be the best tablet option even though it is perfectly capable of serving in that capacity. Tablets haven’t been a necessity for me, but I do find that the iPad helps me work more efficiently by taking away the redundancy of handwritten notes, adding search capability to my notes, and providing me fast and easily readable access to data.

Too small: iPad Mini 5

I bought the iPad Pro 10.5 in 2017, but then sold it to my oldest daughter as I found the Google Pixelbook to meet my home computing and ZDNet writing needs better at the time. The Pixelbook is indeed a great computing platform, but Android apps are still pretty terrible and it’s just not a very good tablet for portable use. The Pixel Slate is a nice piece of hardware, but suffers from the same terrible Android apps.

The iPad Mini was one of my favorite iPads so when I saw the new iPad Mini 5 released in March I ordered a Wi-Fi 64GB model in the hope that it would be a more portable note taking and iOS app device. I used it for some note taking, but it wasn’t very convenient to carry around the Pencil and I couldn’t comfortably take many notes on the 7.9 inch display.

I have a Galaxy Note 9 with an S Pen and find that to offer nearly the same experience as the iPad Mini with a stylus that is always ready and available in the phone. I eventually just ended up using the iPad Mini 5 to watch some video content on my commute and business travel and even those experiences were compromised by the small size of this iPad.

Too big: 2017 iPad Pro 12.9

A long-time Twitter follower and MoTR podcast listener offered Kevin and me a chance to buy his mint condition iPad Pro 12.9 before he put it up for sale to the public on Swappa. I’ve never used a 12.9 iPad and his offer of one with LTE and a whopping 512GB of internal storage was just too much for me to pass up, especially after feeling cramped on the iPad Mini 5.

The iPad Pro 12.9 arrived and when I opened the box I almost fell off my chair laughing at how ridiculously large the tablet was, particularly when held in my hands. Kevin mentioned that was his reaction to his older large iPad at first too, but with use he said he came to love it and used it as his main computing device for more than a year. Thus, I figured I would give it a shot because it certainly was a very nice piece of hardware.

The first thing I did after charging up this large iPad was install the iOS 13/iPad OS beta that adds a ton of capability to the iPad, particularly to the larger sized Pro version of the iPad. I wanted to test out the split view, side view, desktop Safari experience, and more to see if this large iPad Pro could replace the Chromebook as my primary home/writing computer.

iOS 13 works very well on this large iPad and I loved the ability to quickly swipe in and out of open apps on the large screen. I was also able to easily work in two apps at the same time, side-by-side. This is something I definitely could not do on the smaller iPad Mini.

I bought a Logitech case and keyboard for this big iPad Pro and it worked well in a desktop setup, but was way too big and chunky for carrying around the office to use on a frequent basis. It was almost too big to fit into my bike backpack pocket for commuting and took up nearly the entire small train table in front of me so that the person across from me had no table space.

After two weeks, I just could not use a device as big as the iPad Pro 12.9 in any other environment than set up as a laptop/desktop computer in my office. I didn’t get the chance to test it out on a flight, but can’t imagine it fitting very well on my coach tray so off to Swappa went the iPad Pro 12.9.

Just right: 2018 iPad Pro 11

While I understand that the 2018 iPad Pro 12.9 is a tiny bit smaller than the 2017 model, it’s still too big. My search then came down to the iPad Air or the iPad Pro 11 and for this decision I created a spreadsheet with different storage options and purchase options from the Apple Store and Swappa. I ruled out a LTE model since I already pay for service on two SIMs and don’t need another monthly service charge for wireless service.

My next decision was in regards to storage capacity. I think all Pro level iPads should start at 128GB, but Apple likes to only provide minimal storage and then charge excessively for increasing internal capacity. I watch movies and TV shows while commuting and traveling, but also don’t mind moving this content on and off the tablet. I don’t install many apps, I do not play games, and I never use the camera on a tablet except for video calling. Thus, I quickly decided to go with the minimal 64GB option on whatever iPad I decided upon.

The final choice was whether I wanted an iPad Air or Pro 11. The iPad Air is hundreds less than the iPad Pro 11 and I could also use my existing first generation Apple Pencil with it. While the iPad Air is the reasonable choice, it still has the old school look and feel with bigger bezels and a physical home button and I wanted a more modern tablet. I also have some issues with the skin on my thumbs so prefer the Face ID solution.

The iPad Pro offers Face ID, minimal bezels (for a tablet), standard USB-C port for charging, and a better Apple Pencil solution with wireless charging and magnetic attachment to the tablet itself. Thus, I decided to go with the iPad Pro 11.

I also bought a brand new sealed one on Swappa since Washington State charges nearly 10% for sales tax and the one on Swappa was already priced $50 less than the Apple Store. So, with tax, I ended up saving more than $100 buying it this way. I did buy the Apple Pencil 2 and a Smart Cover from Apple directly.

The iPad Pro 11 has now been in my hands for a week and I am loving it. It is the perfect size for commuting, use around the office, flying on planes, carrying around my house, and using as my home computer. The Google Pixel Slate review device died on me the day before the iPad Pro 11 arrived so it truly has been serving as my home computer. I wrote this article on the iPad with a connection to an old Microsoft Wedge keyboard I had lying around. My next search is to find the perfect external keyboard to increase its utility.

iPad OS, iOS 13 beta, is running well on the iPad Pro 11 and I am not feeling the squeeze when compared to the much larger iPad Pro 12.9. Apple offers a plethora of options for tablet buyers today and I hope you are able to find your perfect match in less time than I did.

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5 tips for brands that want to succeed in the new era of influencer marketing – TechCrunch



If I told you a decade ago that a spin bike would be a social community, you’d have had a good laugh. But that’s precisely what Peloton is: A spin bike with a social community where the instructors are the influencers.

Peloton is just one example of how social is being integrated into every aspect of the customer experience in an increasingly digital world. Whether it’s considering a new restaurant to check out, a movie to see or a product to buy, most people look at reviews before making a final decision. They want social proof as an indicator of quality and relevance.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust. Indeed, social validation is what social platforms are built on, so it’s a significant component of how we derive relevance online — and the deeper integration of social is changing the dynamic between brands and digital creators.

The shifting economy of creator monetization

Brand sponsorships are the holy grail for creators hoping to monetize their online influence. According to an eMarketer report, brand partnerships are still the No. 1 source of revenue for most digital creators.

However, digital creators have a lot more monetization options to choose from, thanks to Patreon, affiliate platforms, paid content platforms and platform revenue sharing, making it easier to earn a living without relying so heavily on brand sponsorships.

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As a result, creators are diversifying their revenue streams, which, for some creators, allows them to be more selective about the brands they work with. What’s more, creators aren’t reliant on just one channel or one form of revenue.

YouTube creators probably have the most diversified revenue, often combining brand sponsorships, subscription models, affiliate deals, tipping/donations, their line of branded products and revenue share. However, it’s important to note that not all monetization options apply to every creator. But with so many options to choose from, making a living as a digital creator is more accessible than ever.

Here are a few of the ways online creators can monetize their content:

Ad revenue sharing: Advertising is the most traditional form of revenue for online creators. With this model, ads are injected into and around the creator’s content, and they make a certain percentage of revenue based on impressions. However, the revenue split can vary based on the platform, and some platforms have a specific threshold creators must hit before they can participate in ad revenue sharing.

Affiliate marketing: Similar to advertising or a brand sponsorship, affiliate marketing is an agreement for a share of revenue based on products sold. This kind of arrangement generally works best when the creator has a blog, website or YouTube account. Affiliate links allow the influencer to proactively choose the products they want to talk about and earn from, rather than having to wait for a brand deal to come their way.

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Instagram’s TikTok rival, Reels, rolls out ads worldwide – TechCrunch



Instagram Reels are getting ads. The company announced today it’s launching ads in its short-form video platform and TikTok rival, Reels, to businesses and advertisers worldwide. The ads will be up to 30 seconds in length, like Reels themselves, and vertical in format, similar to ads found in Instagram Stories. Also like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment, and save them, the same as other Reels videos.

The company had previously tested Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia, then expanded those tests to Canada, France, the U.K. and the U.S. more recently. Early adopters of the new format have included brands like BMW, Nestlé (Nespresso), Louis Vuitton, Netflix, Uber, and others.

Instagram tells us the ads will appear in most places users view Reels content, including on the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore, and Reels in your Instagram Feed, and will appear in between individual Reels posted by users. However, in order to be served a Reels ad, the user first needs to be in the immersive, full-screen Reels viewer.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company couldn’t say how often a user might see a Reels ad, noting that the number of ads a viewer may encounter will vary based on how they use Instagram. But the company is monitoring user sentiment around ads themselves, and the overall commercially of Reels, it says.

Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model. But so far, Instagram is declining to share any sort of performance metrics around how those ads are doing, based on tests. Nor is it yet offering advertisers any creator tools or templates that could help them get started with Reels ads. Instead, Instagram likey assumes advertisers already have creative assets on hand or know how to make them, because of Reels ads’ similarities to other vertical video ads found elsewhere, including on Instagram’s competitors.

While vertical video has already shown the potential for driving consumers to e-commerce shopping sites, Instagram hasn’t yet taken advantage of Reels ads to drive users to its built-in Instagram Shops, though that seems like a natural next step as it attempts to tie the different parts of its app together.

But perhaps ahead of that step, Instagram needs to make Reels a more compelling destination — something other TikTok rivals, which now include both Snap and YouTube — have done by funding creator content directly. Instagram, meanwhile, had made offers to select TikTok stars directly.

The launch of Instagram Reels ads follows news of TikTok’s climbing ad prices. Bloomberg reported this month that TikTok is now asking for more than $1.4 million for a home page takeover ad in the U.S., as of the third quarter, which will jump to $1.8 million by Q4 and more than $2 million on a holiday. Though the company is still building its ads team and advertisers haven’t yet allocated large portions of their video budget to the app, that tends to follow user growth — and TikTok now has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Both apps, Instagram and TikTok, now have over a billion monthly active users on a global basis, though Reels is only a part of the larger Instagram platform. For comparison, Instagram Stories is used by some 500 million users, which demonstrates Instagram’s ability to drive traffic to different areas of its app. Instagram declined to share how many users Reels has as of today.

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Twine raises $3.3M to add networking features to virtual events – TechCrunch



Twine, a video chat startup that launched amid the pandemic as a sort of “Zoom for meeting new people,” shifted its focus to online events and, as a result, has now closed on $3.3 million in seed funding. To date, twine’s events customers have included names like Microsoft, Amazon, Forrester, and others, and the service is on track to do $1 million in bookings in 2021, the company says.

The new round was led by Moment Ventures, and included participation from Coelius Capital, AltaIR Capital, Mentors Fund, Rosecliff Ventures, AltaClub, and Bloom Venture Partners. Clint Chao, founding Partner at Moment, will join twine’s board of directors with the round’s close.

The shift into the online events space makes sense, given twine’s co-founders —  Lawrence Coburn, Diana Rau, and Taylor McLoughlin — hail from DoubleDutch, the mobile events technology provider acquired by Cvent in 2019.

Coburn, previously CEO of DoubleDutch, had been under a non-compete with its acquirer until December 2020, which is one reason why he didn’t first attempt a return to the events space.

The team’s original idea was to help people who were missing out on social connections under Covid lockdowns find a way to meet others and chat online. This early version of twine saw some small amount of traction, as 10% of its users were even willing to pay. But many more were nervous about being connected to random online strangers, twine found.

So the company shifted its focus to the familiar events space, with a specific focus on online events which grew in popularity due to the pandemic. While setting up live streams, text chats and Q&A has been possible, what’s been missing from many online events was the casual and unexpected networking that used to happen in-person.

“The hardest thing to bring to virtual events was the networking and the serendipity — like the conversations that used to happen in an elevator, in the bar, the lobby — these kinds of things,” explains Coburn. “So we began testing a group space version of twine — bringing twine to existing communities as opposed to trying to build our own, new community. And that showed a lot more legs,” he says.

By January 2021, the new events-focused version of twine was up-and-running, offering a set of professional networking tools for event owners. Unlike one-to-many or few-to-many video broadcasts, twine connects a small number of people for more intimate conversations.

“We did a lot of research with our customers and users, and beyond five [people in a chat], it turns into a webinar,” notes Coburn, of the limitations on twine’s video chat. In twine, a small handful of people are dropped into a video chat experience– and now, they’re not random online strangers. They’re fellow event attendees. That generally keeps user behavior professional and the conversations productive.

Event owners can use the product for free on twine’s website for small events with up to 30 users, but to scale up any further requires a license. Twine charges on a per attendee basis, where customers buy packs of attendees on a software-as-a-service model.

The company’s customers can then embed twine directly in their own website or add a link that pops open the twine website in a separate browser tab.

Coburn says twine has found a sweet spot with big corporate event programs. The company has around 25 customers, but some of those have already used twine for 10 or 15 events after first testing out the product for something smaller.

“We’re working with five or six of the biggest companies in the world right now,” noted Coburn.

Image Credits: twine

Because the matches are digital, twine can offer other tools like digital “business card” exchanges and analytics and reports for the event hosts and attendees alike.

Despite the cautious return to normal in the U.S., which may see in-person events return in the year ahead, twine believes there’s still a future in online events. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts, organizations are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to their events going forward.

“I don’t think there’s ever been an industry that has gone through a 15 months like the events industry just went through,” Coburn says. “These companies went to zero, their revenue went to zero and some of them were coming from hundreds of millions of dollars. So what happened was a digital transformation like the world has never seen,” he adds.

Now, there are tens of thousands of event planners who have gotten really good at tech and online events. And they saw the potential in online, which would sometimes deliver 4x or 5x the attendance of virtual, Coburn points out.

“This is why you see LinkedIn drop $50 million on Hopin,” he says, referring to the recent fundraise for the virtual conference technology business. (The deal was reportedly for less than $50 million). “This is why you see the rounds of funding that are going into Hoppin and Bizzabo and Hubilo and all the others. This is the taxi market, pre-Uber.”

Of course, virtual events may end up less concerned with social features when they can offer an in-person experience. And those who want to host online events may be looking for a broader solution than Zoom + twine, for example.

But twine has ideas about what it wants to do next, including asynchronous matchmaking, which could end up being more valuable as it could lead to better matches since it wouldn’t be limited to only who’s online now.

With the funding, twine is hiring in sales and customer success, working on accessibility improvements, and expanding its platform. To date, twine has raised $4.7 million.

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