Lightweight, easy-to-use app for university podcast access.

Looking for iPad/apps? You may want to reconsider…

Tablets are great tools for reading and learning on-the go. With that said, there are many reasons you should reconsider using AppleID/Itunes Store on that new iPad for the student on your list:

The Bad:

  • Itunes Store may show almost-pornographic album covers on the store front-page, even if you just brought it up to look for a specific podcast or movie.
  • The App Store provides a plethora of games (mostly timewasters), or services like news and weather that are easily accessible online, and can be added to home-screen with share button, and add-to-home-screen.
  • Connecting an AppleID and iCloud to your device is a significant security risk, as you are enabling Apple to remotely wipe your device. (See here for example).
  • Connecting your iPad to Facetime/iMessage supports a vender-locked-in protocol that only works on Apple devices, encouraging others to buy in to AppleID on their iDevices.
    • While apple has advertised end-to-end encryption, researchers actually found that this was not the case. In fact, Quarkslab reports that they found “AppleID and password going through this SSL communication. Yes, the clear text password… There can be a lot of good reason to send the password as cleartext, ssh does it for instance. But here, we dont see any reason for Apple to get our password.” (reference)
    • Like many preinstalled applications on tablets, it’s hard to remove iMessage/Facetime from your desktop if you don’t use it. Unlike most apps’ hold-touch-tap-x removal, you have to go to settings, restrictions, making it feel like you’re “missing out”.
  • Using apps from the Apple App-store using your AppleID enables Apple to see your history, and profile you based on which apps you use.
  • Buying apps from the App-store supports a sort of sharecropping, even worse than on traditional Mac and Windows machines. Unlike on Android/Ubuntu, there is no easy way to add in more repositories as with Software-sources or FDroid apps.
    • iOS uses signed apps from the App-store to make sure all apps have been approved by Apple as working correctly, before installation (In theory). In reality, this has not stopped certain hackers, but has rather stopped honest developers from distributing apps outside of the App-store on non-jailbreak devices.
  • You’ll only see browsers on App-store that use the Safari/Webkit engine, unlike Android (which has Firefox, Opera), or Windowphone (which at least has IE-based browsers, and Opera). Not having choice in browser technology results in degraded feature-set compared to others over time, and is not as secure, as any Webkit flaw would affect every iOS browser.
  • Syncing apps and music onto an iPad requires iTunes (unless you use VLC/other app). Itunes doesn’t run on Ubuntu, and runs slowly on Windows/Macintosh.

The Good:

  • Good resolution screen, you can drag-drop books from Ubuntu or add media files to VLC and other apps on iPads from Ubuntu.
  • Hundreds of great books are available for free download from Gutenburg, Noisetrade, and others.
  • iTunesU, Coursera, and others can be loaded on your tablet for learning on the go.
  • Playing videos on a tablet can free up a laptop screen for more complex research or programming – like having a second monitor.
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