After blasting iPad Mail royally yesterday, I offer the a summary of a mail app bottom-line readers may prefer:
The app Print n Share advanced printing:
- Has a name too long to fit under its icon, and
- Is buggy and ugly, but
- Offers far better mail management capabilities than iPad Mail
- Allows you to print mail and documents directly from your iPad
- Spam control is marginally, but only marginally better than iPad Mail
In addition, I discuss shifting assumptions in the field of felinology (yes, that’s a word), the possibility of interspecies communication, the occasionally annoying behavior of one cat in particular and then I clarify what a certain proofreader mistakenly believes to be something I said earlier.
A long-winded intro for an app with a long-winded name
Jenny Manytoes has decided something’s up. Ever since I took her picture, she knows that she plays an integral role in this blog. Maybe it’s because I took the picture with my iPhone wirelessly connected to my iPad using an app called Camera. “That’s such a cool human trick,” she may have thought to herself. “I better see what he does with it.”
Impossible, you say. She’s a cat. She lives only for you (meaning Carol) to feed her and keep her litter box clean and provide her with a soft spot to sleep on the bed (that would be me). No, readers, you are operating from assumptions embedded in our consciousness by an older paradigm of animal behavior–that is, animals are dumb creatures that act in instinct.
If only scientists would study cat behavior in domestic conditions the way they studied Kanzi the bonobo and Koko the gorilla, they would know what cat rescuers learned a long time ago. Cats can do just about everything but shoot hoops and speak English. And the only reason they don’t speak English is because they want us to learn to speak Cat.
Since the day I took that photo, she hangs around whenever I pull out my iPad, even if that means pushing Leo, Zorro or Teddy Bear off their comfortable positions on my lap. Those of you who actually read this blog may remember me saying the most important advantage of an iPad is that it’s cat proof. I discovered this ceases to be true when I have the iPad docked in the keyboard on my lap desk and Jenny decides to mark it rub all over it with her cheek and knock it off its precarious connection.
If I use the onscreen keyboard, she simply jumps off my lap desk and climbs on my shoulder where she begins to sing in my ear. Let me tell you, listening to Jenny sing is like listening to the Ride of the Valkyries sung by tone deaf banshees on a scratched up 33 rpm album played on a 78 rpm record player.1
In my other ear is Carol telling me that maybe I should postpone the Flash blog I originally wrote for today’s entry. She thinks it makes yesterday’s blog “Mail Baggage” seems positively glowing by comparison. She suggested that maybe I should follow up a blog telling readers why they shouldn’t use iPad Mail with a blog telling them what they can use.
First of all, I never said readers shouldn’t use iPad Mail, I didn’t even mean to imply readers shouldn’t use it. What I meant to imply was that it sucks. Just because something sucks, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. Especially if you have no real alternatives.
Today, however, I bring the good news that there is at least one alternative. It isn’t free, like iPad Mail, but aggravation free mail is worth a few bucks.
I’ve been playing with Print n Share for advanced printing developed by EuroSmarz Ltd. That’s a long-winded name and it doesn’t even fit under the app’s icon on the iPad desktop. It’s also a lot to type into the App Store’s search field (but if you just type “print” it should pop up toward the top). The app is $7, but it’s $7 well spent, especially if you have a printer with a wireless connection.
Actually, if you don’t have a wireless printer, it’s $7 fairly spent, but still worth it. EuroSmartz also offers a $10 and $15 version under different names. I’ve downloaded the most expensive, Print Central, and currently I can’t see a noticeable feature improvement other than the ability to do some tasks more quickly.
Print n Share bills itself as a document management and printing program, but, to be honest, I was never impressed with its document capabilities and moved on to other apps for my documents and notes. Where it shines is email management. I moved iPad Mail out of my iPad dock and dropped Print n Share into its place. I now handle all my emails though Print and Share.
Before we start singing the praises, however, let me explain why Jenny Manytoes will never make biscuits on Print n Share:
Buggy and Ugly
Print n Share will quit on you. Most of the time, it will complete the task it was processing, and the crashes seem to happen most often when moving mail to a different folder. In addition, after browbeating iPad Mail about a lack of spam filters, readers who buy Print n Share would hate me if I didn’t mention that Print n Share has none either, although spam is slightly easier to manage.
Furthermore, the interface looks like one a Windows developer would develop for the Mac. This may seem trivial, and Windows users never get this, but Mac users do.
The main file window interface
Nor is the interface easy to intuit (another Windows application tendency). It isn’t so clumsy that I needed to read the marginally illuminating user guide to figure out, but it did require a basic knowledge of standard mail applications. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t already suffered through Microsoft Outlook will figure it out instantly. However, the learning curve shouldn’t be that steep; it should take a day at most to figure out the essential features.
So if you insist that your mail app have that sleek, elegant Mac-like look, I would save my money and stick with iPad mail.
That being said, Print n Share still beats iPad mail hands down in just about every other respect. I love design. I love good design. But I only thumb through well-designed magazines and books with nothing to read inside (unless the design is so exceptional I can’t resist). I want to spend my money on content.
Great mail management
I have to say mail management in Print n Share is pretty close to mail management in Macintosh Mail. You can create custom folders and subfolders and save mail as email, or as a document file. You can even open up web links embedded in your email directly in the app.
Print n Share doesn’t treat mail any differently than any other document. In fact, its folder structure is like the Mac Finder or Windows file system. Mail documents are mixed in along with text files, PDF files and images. (Just don’t save your emails as documents; Print n Share will strip the attachment and save the body only.)
Is this a good thing? I don’t have any problem with it. Since iPad will probably never have a finder where apps can share documents, it seems kind of superfluous to segregate mail and regular documents in Print n Share. If, however, you don’t think your mail should mix with your files, you won’t like it.
Print n Share allows you to manage mail along with your documents
Print n Share doesn’t restrict the number of mail accounts you can access either. Unlike iPad Mail you can have access to all of your PoP accounts as well as Yahoo, Google, MobileMe and just about any other email host.2 This is important to Carol and me because when we go on the road we both need to access email from our 3G iPad. It would be pointless to buy one if only one of us could access accounts.
Let me rephrase that. If Carol couldn’t have an account too, she would not have let me get a 3G iPad. This is part of the marriage negotiation process, which I’ve discussed in previous blogs. And I can’t really blame her. Well, actually, I wouldn’t have begun negotiations if I didn’t have this ace up my sleeve because I might have lost.
And she can’t really blame me for that.
Because I really, really wanted it.
Carol and I can use every email account we use with our iPad 3G
You can even move documents to and from iDisk. I point this out because I have yet to successfully retrieve documents using the iPhone’s iDisk app, and I can’t even find a way to post documents from my iPad.
You can copy files to and from iDisk
Wireless printing directly from iPad
Once you actually print from Print n Share you will understand why iPad users can’t believe Apple hasn’t built wireless printing capabilities into the iPad and iPhone OS. If these guys–who I suspect have a programming and development team a tenth the size of Apple’s–can figure it out (and they had it figured out for the iPhone long before the iPad was released I might add), then Apple’s development staff is either lazy or overworked, or they’ve already been transferred to whatever new device Jobs wants to stun the world with next year.
There is a catch to Print n Share printing. You have to have an application called WePrint running on your Mac or PC. Fortunately, it’s free to users. And you have to have a printer with a wireless connection if you want to print from your iPad (you can use a network printer without wireless, but you have to find the file and print from wePrint on your home computer, not from the Print n Share app).3
You can print from the iPad and monitor the queue on your desktop
Theoretically you can even print if your desktop isn’t running WePrint if you have a wireless printer, Bluetooth connection (should your printer support it) or 3G Edge. But I haven’t been able to make it work yet.
One click spam delete
Even though Print n Share has no spam filters, spam management is a little easier than with iPad Mail. If your mailbox is filled with spam, you can select every email and then deselect the handful you want to view. This is much more efficient than selecting fifty emails to delete one-by-one. If, however, you work with people who deluge your mailbox with memos on everything from the receptionist’s birthday to the planning meeting to discuss the planning meeting to discuss the planning meeting for the department meeting, you’re pretty much out of spam control options.
Unless you’re like me and treat those emails as spam too.
You can manage spam with the select all feature.
Then deselect the files you want to keep.
If you insist on using iPad Mail, you can use Print n Share to print attachments (not the emails). The “Open in” command will allow you to launch Print n Share with the attachment. Or so they claim. I’ve never actually tried it.
Shake the screen
One other neat little trick is the ability to make the interface elements disappear by shaking the iPad. The email or document you want to view fills the iPad window. To get everything back, shake again.
Apple should be embarrassed to face up to the fact that a third party developer can implement better mail management features than they can, especially when they’re about to realize the fourth generation of the OS. But the developers at EuroSmarz did exactly that. It’s far from perfect, and it feels clumsy next to the elegant Mail interface.
Jenny rates Print n Share
Jenny Manytoes would purr around this application.
1Those of you raised in a world with CD players might not get this reference. So I’ll take another tack. It’s like listening to someone drag their fingers down a chalk board with….Oh, crap, that’s right. Schools don’t have chalkboards anymore. Teachers use Power Point. Okay, you’re just going to have to trust me. It’s a sound that can’t be reproduced by modern digital media.
You might think, given that description, that Jenny’s voice sounds grating, and some of our friends have shared that opinion. Quite the contrary, Carol and I think it’s the most beautiful sound in the world, right up there with waterfalls in heaven. When she really wants to shine, she stands next to the fan and sings into the rotating blades to create a tremolo for which even Placido Domingo would trade a tonsil.
2The name “MobileMe” just cracks me up. After Mac users teased Windows people mercilessly for coming up with “Windows Me,” you would think Apple would have fired the guy who suggested this. Even worse, its 2010, so Apple can’t wiggle out with the “Oh, it really means Millennium Edition” excuse. MobileMe. I’m embarrassed to admit the Apple rep actually sold us on buying a family pack. “You can use it to back up your Pages files from your iPad without the hassle of iWork.com.” Yeh, right.
3Lest Apple beg off wireless printing because of the need for a parallel desktop app, let us remind them that the only way to sync files is through iTunes anyway. So they can add a print from iPad command to iTunes to all the other junk that seems to be piling up in the menu bar.
The Jenny Manytoes Rating System
Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
- When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
- When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
- When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
- When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
- When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad