Mobile computing

Curious about Astropad? I reviewed it for

Walk into a graphic design or photography studio and you’ll probably see a graphics tablet on the desk. With an app called Astropad you can use an iPad or iPhone as a graphics tablet for a Mac, painting and drawing with your finger or stylus. Astropad even supports pressure sensitivity with a compatible stylus or with 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. But how close does it get to using a Wacom graphics tablet?

To see what I think, read Review: Astropad, published on

Astropad review on

Read my overview of Adobe Comp CC in InDesign Magazine

Read my overview of Adobe Comp CC in InDesign Magazine

It’s a time-honored tradition to sketch a design idea on the nearest piece of paper, such as the back of an envelope or a cocktail napkin. You then have to take that paper over to your computer and manually translate the sketch into a document you can take through production to final output. Today, with Adobe Comp CC on the Apple iPad, you can design layouts by sketching gestures with nothing more than your fingers. You can then send that design directly to Adobe InDesign CC, Adobe Photoshop CC, or Adobe Illustrator CC as a fully editable layout, ready for immediate refinement and production.

I take a step-by-step look at this mobile and fully digital idea-to-production workflow in Issue 77 of InDesign Magazine. If you just want to read the article, Adobe has made it available as a free PDF at this link:
InStep: Adobe Comp CC

Here’s the whole issue (paid):
InDesign Magazine, Issue 77: Fresh Tips

The issue’s called Fresh Tips because it features a long list of genuinely useful InDesign productivity tips…I’m learning from them myself! In addition to my article on Adobe Comp CC, the issue also introduces the new Publish Online feature in InDesign.

The article is part of an issue of InDesign Magazine that you can buy as a single issue or as part of a subscription. You can download a free trial issue, and you can save $10 when you sign up for a 1-year membership by using this coupon code: friend.

InDesign Magazine is a bimonthly PDF periodical devoted entirely to Adobe InDesign and to the thriving community of InDesign professionals. With editorial direction by page-layout guru and author David Blatner and editor in chief Mike Rankin, InDesign Magazine brings you the in-depth features, reviews, and tutorials you need to master Adobe InDesign.

Rethinking the Pixel: It’s All Relative Now — article

How big is a pixel? It’s widely thought that a pixel is the smallest dot that screen hardware can physically display: One pixel is one pixel. That was safe to assume for over a quarter century because the pixel density of most of our screens was stuck between 72 and 120 pixels per inch (ppi) during that era, even while everything else about our computers got exponentially faster and bigger. But screens would finally make their move, and for designers that would change how a pixel is defined.

Want the whole story? Click the link below to read my article at
Rethinking the Pixel: It’s All Relative Now

Rethinking the Pixel: It’s All Relative Now

Should PC sales figures include tablets?

iPad image courtesy Apple Inc.

Reports from analysts such as Canalys raised a few eyebrows by saying that Apple reached over 20% share of the PC market for the first time in Q4 of 2012…if you count tablets. Canalys claims that one in six PCs shipped that quarter was an iPad, and that tablets as a group made up one-third of PC shipments in that quarter. In the same quarter, non-tablet PC shipments declined, continuing a long trend.

Many online commenters question the idea that tablets should be included in PC sales numbers. Unsurprisingly, some of the most vocal opposition is from the “specs, desktop, and keyboard” geek crowd who insist that tablets can’t do the job that a “real PC” can, and therefore you can’t count a tablet as a PC. That perspective may be technically sound, but may not be what matters to the market. And thinking of this as merely a specs comparison makes the questionable assumption that tablet sales and PC sales are functionally separate categories. For example, is Microsoft Surface Pro with full Windows 8 a tablet or a PC?

To get a better answer, think about this question from the point of view of a PC manufacturer (or as they say, “follow the money”). If you have a customer who buys a PC from you on a regular basis, but this year they bought somebody else’s tablet, your customer realized that many or all of their most frequent computer needs can be fulfilled with a tablet. That’s quite plausible given that so many of today’s applications are web-based and rarely require the full horsepower of a multi-core PC.

Tablets cut into PC sales to some extent as PC replacements, and to an even larger extent they can delay a customer’s PC upgrade cycle. That means tablets do not have to be technically equal to a PC in order to have a financial effect on PC manufacturers. Tablets affect PC sales as they are.

The bottom line, if you’re a PC manufacturer, is this: If your customer didn’t buy your PC because they bought somebody else’s tablet instead, then a tablet sale has to count as a PC sale…because a tablet cost you a sale.