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James Cull

Content Editor for AppStorm

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When Tony Blair was re-elected back in 10 Downing Street on 7 June 2001 after a landslide victory for his Labour party, his first speech at the University of Southampton reiterated his top priority, “education, education, education”. In short, his speech highlighted his party’s commitment to investment and reform in Britain’s lagging education sector, which had suffered under the “neglect” of the Conservative Party. His speech, I believe, rekindled the public interest in education — and also became one of his most memorable soundbites. Although I don’t support the Labour Party or their principles, I do credit Mr Blair for awakening the dormant giant that is education — and it shows nowadays.

Almost every major technology company has a page of their corporate website dedicated to education, touting how their products will “change lives” and “enhance basic classroom activities”. Microsoft‘s, for example, demonstrates a variety of its products, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 8, whereas Apple opts for a more device-orientated page, touting how its products such as the iPad and Mac allow pupils to “tap into their potential” and have “inspired learners”. OK, so it’s a bit cringeworthy, but you get the point.

And now, there’s a new area to focus on: educational videos. Sure, we’ve all heard of the likes of TED and the Khan Academy — both of which offer excellent material — but now, there’s a new kid on the block that wants to give these two a run for their money. Mobento describes itself as a “video learning platform” which not only has an outstanding database of videos for your viewing enjoyment but it also allows you to search within videos for the actual words spoken. To help me understand a bit more about this amazing product, I spoke to Sumner Murphy, the founder of Mobento — here’s what he (and myself) had to say.

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Just over a year ago, I wrote a feature on Mac.AppStorm entitled The Future of Email on OS X. I wrote it as millions of loyal Sparrow users around the world were expressing their discontent at Google buying out their favourite product — understandable, really — as development on the product stopped save for critical bug updates. And it shows — the “latest” version for OS X was released 10 months ago and we never did see the rumoured iPad client, which was a real disappointment.

So this got me thinking: both the Mac and iPhone have seen their share of “alternative email clients”, as I like to dub them, but the iPad has been strangely neglected. The iPhone has seen its fair share of alternative clients, from Dispatch to Triage, but none of these have manifested themselves (yet) into an iPad version. iPad users certainly want an alternative to Mail.app — in a weekly poll we conducted back in March, 73% of you felt that the iPad deserved a better client.

So, in short, what’s the state of alternative iPad email clients?

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You’d think the iPad had seen its fair share of note-taking applications, but you’d be wrong entirely. Last month, NoteSuite came along — and it really impressed me. I gave it a commendable out of 10 in our review from last month for its uncluttered interface, impressive feature set and ease of use. The developers of NoteSuite have certainly learnt from the problems that plagued Projectbook, the app’s predecessor and it is, in my opinion, one of the best iPad note-taking applications out there.

And now, thanks to the kindness of the developers, we’ve got 10, yes 10, promotional codes (each one worth $4.99) which we’re giving away to our readers!

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Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Hundreds and thousands of students around the world have graduated from high school and are currently loading up their parents’ cars almost to bursting point, raiding the kitchen cupboards for tins of soup and instant noodles and shipping off to either college or university, depending on which part of the world you’re from. It’s a difficult time for a lot of people but I believe university really marks the second stage in your life when you lave home, brush up on both your ironing and social skills, and discover what kind of a person you really are.

Besides the countless things you’ve got to think about, there’s one thing that is worth considering — should I get a new computer for university? There are hundreds of great deals out there for students looking to buy a new computer for their studies (including Apple’s very own, and very generous, education discount) but I believe that an iPad should be your essential purchase for university. As a recent graduate and proud iPad owner, I can truly say that I wouldn’t have survived college with one, and I found it indispensable on so many different occasions.

Here’s why.

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When it comes to Markdown editors, iPad users are pretty much spoilt for choice. From Byword to iA Writer, there’s something for almost everyone and each app boasts a myriad of features that makes choosing one a pretty lacklustre affair. I personally use Drafts when I’m working on my iPad, as I can use it for both scribbling down a quick note and typing a longer document and I’ve been a four-month relationship with Ulysses III on my Mac, which is simply awesome — I do pretty much all my writing on there.

So, you’d probably guess that when a new Markdown editor comes along, I don’t get that excited, right? Yes, that’s right, but there was a certain amount of mystery surrounding the release of Editorial. Federico Viticci has had his hands on the beta for quite some time now, and the developer Ole Zorn released a few pretty awesome-looking screenshots as well, which really started the wheel turning. Now, the final version is out — and it’s mighty impressive. Editorial has now become the Markdown editor on the iPad — and here’s why.

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Droplr is one of those solutions that not many people have heard about. When it comes to cloud-based storage, for personal use Dropbox really does rule the roost — and it’s pretty easy to see why. There’s plenty of free storage and you get more when you tell your mates about the service (I’ve already scooped up 4 GB through referrals, which isn’t too shabby), plus it works pretty much on any computer and on any mobile device. The API also makes it really easy for developers to integrate it into their applications, and there’s currently over 100,000 applications on the Dropbox platform across all devices.

So what about Droplr then? I first found about it through Tweetbot, one of my favourite iPad Twitter clients and since then I’ve used it for pretty much everything, from images to links and even videos. For some people, it may be a second option or an alternative to Dropbox (sharing is much easier, for example) and for some (me included), it may become your only stop for cloud-based storage. Here’s why.

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If you missed these fantastic articles from iPad.AppStorm this month, then here’s another chance to catch up on some of my favourite writing from the site in July. And remember, if you have any suggestions or you would like to share your favourite article with our readers then please feel free to post them in the Comments section below.

Enjoy!

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Back in June, we ran a series of 4 tutorials designed to give you a really simple introduction to Pythonista, the wonderful programming tool available on iOS. We’re really pleased to announce that we’re running the second part of this course, which started yesterday, throughout August and September to give you a deeper knowledge of Pythonista and to help you solve problems within Python.

In the meantime, we’d really like to get your feedback on what you thought of the first part of our Pythonista tutorial! Go ahead and cast your votes in the poll box on the right, and please feel free to include any additional comments in the section below!

This week’s sponsor is GroovBoard, an ingenious little invention that helps you to use your iPad on your knees.

AppStorm readers are entitled to a special 10% discount when ordering directly from GroovBoard! Simply use the code APPSTORM8 on the Checkout page.

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Our weekly poll is back, and this week we’re asking the important question: how exactly do you use iCloud on your iPad?

Ever since it was released back with iOS 5 in October 2011, the service has attracted around 300 million users as of April 2013 and with its tight integration with OS X, Apple have made it so much easier to keep data across all your devices in constant sync with each other. So go ahead and vote in this week’s poll (multiple answers are possible, of course) — we’d love to be able to build a picture of our readers’ iCloud habits!

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