iPads at the PARC

What is the relevancy of iPads in our (if we choose) technologically augmented lives? I believe more and more that mobile devices may be the go-to device of choice very shortly.

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm but as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. … PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people. – Steve Jobs, quoted in All Things D

The Performing Arts Resource Center (PARC) currently has eight iPads available for a three-day checkout. Based on an iPad survey from March of last year and our observations at the PARC, popular uses include PDF reading for classes, recording of a musical practice session, instrumental scale practice, video capture of movements/acting for choreography and theatre classes, accessing Moodle assignments, notetaking for classes and general email and internet connectivity.

iPads are lightweight, easy to carry, and powerful. Ideally, apps for mobile devices focus on very specific tasks rather than becoming feature bloated; the best ones can provide a specific, simplified, and aesthetically pleasing user experience. As they are touch-based, they open the door to entirely new kinds of user interactions, which spurs the creation of unique software (for example, iDensity, Notability, Kinescribe; see descriptions below). The iPad provides powerful functionality, not unlike a laptop. It has the ability to open/export and create most traditional file types used for word processing and audio/video recording. It can email, link to the cloud, stream music and video, and edit most media. Because of its small size, the iPad is a natural choice for classrooms if technology is desired.

The iPad tends to be my go-to device for everyday functionality like reading the news, internet surfing, meeting notes, PDF viewing and annotation, reading books while traveling (I can carry as many as I wish!), email, and media viewing and listening. I have used it as an instrument in performance. Musical instrument apps can be very tactile on the iPad. This is great for both simulating and providing an analog experience.

iPads are getting more and more powerful, and when you connect a Bluetooth keyboard to an iPad, you quickly increase your productivity by moving from a virtual keyboard to a familiar physical keyboard. The line between consumer recreational use and professional use is blurring in regards to use of the iPad. More and more filmmakers (film), writers (Bluetooth keyboard essential! writing), musicians (music), and visual artists (designers) are doing some or much of their work on iPads.

As the industry develops, iPad processing power is quickly increasing to desktop computer comparable levels. We currently have 4th generation iPads for check out at the PARC; this model uses the A6X chipset.

When Apple officially unveiled the fourth generation iPad, it boldly stated that the new CPU that has been thrown in has twice the processing power over the previous model. Well, it looks like the claim was spot on, as the tablet’s benchmark scores demonstrate. The iPad 4 with its A6X SoC managed to score 1757 points on Geekbench, which is a 111% increase in raw computations performance over the A5X running inside the third-gen iPad. In comparison, the iPhone 5, sporting an A6 chip scored 1571 points, while the iPad 2 with its A5 SoC got 780 points.iPad 4 Benchmarks

Apple is now up to the A8X chipset in the new iPad Air 2 that came out this fall. Here is a benchmark test through Geekbench.

As with our computer lab software, the PARC iPad software is focused on the performing arts, but we also have plenty of general-purpose apps. Below is a complete list of our apps and a brief description of their features.

Come by the PARC and check one out for a few days!

As always, if you have any questions, please come by my office in the PARC, room 329.



  • GarageBand: Apple’s midi/analog multi track recording DAW, now for iPad.
  • Multitrack DAW: Multitrack analog recording of instruments/voice, etc. Up to 24 tracks!
  • Guitar Toolkit: Tuner/metronome/scales for guitars/basses/ukeleles
  • iMovie: Apple’s video shooting and editing app
  • Kinescribe: Labanotation app
  • Moving Space: 3D visualization of the Labanotation scales
  • Forescore: Sheet music viewer for the iPad
  • iDensity: Performance-focused granular synth app for morphing imported/recorded or live audio
  • Subdivide: Advanced subdivision metronome
  • Voice Memos: One-button recording app for individual instrument recording/audio note taking, etc.
  • PDF Scanner: Take pictures of papers, magazines, photos, etc. and convert to PDF
  • GoodReader: PDF reader with many other capabilities, like annotations and file unzipping
  • iPhoto: Apple’s photo editing app
  • Pages: Apple document creation app that also opens Word docs
  • Notability: Handwritten, typed, and voice note taking app
  • Animation Desk: Powerful and comprehensive animation creator
  • Dropbox: File sharing via the Dropbox cloud
  • Google Drive for iPad: File sharing via the Google cloud
  • BlueFire Reader: E-book reader that is compatible with many library e-books
  • YouTube: View YouTube content
  • Vimeo: View Vimeo content
  • SoundCloud: Upload audio of any sort to your SoundCloud account
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