My iPad came with a pathetic little quick start pamphlet. Basic iPad operation is somewhat intuitive, but not entirely by a long shot, and I’m a thoroughgoing fan of print manuals. I’ve always disliked online help, and of course it isn’t any help at all if you can’t access it because your Mac or iDevice is malfunctioning and is the reason you want to refer to a manual in the first place. In the very early days, Macs came with excellent hard copy manuals, but the rot was already setting in by the time I purchased my second Mac in 1993, and it’s been going downhill from there.
Third parties have identified an opportunity in a sizeable cohort of print-literate hard copy fans who prefer books that can be read or referenced without an electronic intermediary, even when the topic is electronics. David Pogue’s very successful “Missing Manual (The Book That Should Have Been In The Box)” series is a quintessential example, as is the “For Dummies” series. There’s also Pragmatic Bookshelf’s “Kung Fu” series, which deserves to be better-known.
Keir Thomas’s iPad And iPhone Kung Fu: Tips, Tricks, Hints, and Hacks for iOS 7 is one of the best iDevice manuals I’ve encountered, and somehow Thomas has managed to pack an astonishing amount of useful information—318 tips in all—into a volume with fewer than 300 editorial content pages that include a 20-page table of contents, a 24-page Index, plus several more pages devoted to acknowledgements, a preface, and ads for other titles in the Pragmatic Bookshelf Kung Fu series.
You’re probably at least vaguely aware that the term Kung Fu refers to a Chinese martial arts style or styles, but literally in Chinese, “Kung” means “work” or “achievement,” and “Fu” denotes high intensity; and “high intensity achievement” describes quite aptly what Keir Thomas has done with iPad and iPhone Kung Fu. It’s a no-nonsense, no-frills package of concentrated content, and even more remarkable in that it sells for a very reasonable $19.95 (even less at Amazon.com), at which price it’s more than a bit of a bargain.
Less than half an hour after first opening the book, I was doing stuff with my iPad I hadn’t previously been aware it could do, and if the iPad did come with a real user manual, iPad and iPhone Kung Fu mainly picks up where a proper user manual would’ve left off. However, since the Apple documentation is so impoverished, Thomas, who has authored more than ten books—including “Mac Kung Fu” and “Ubuntu Kung Fu” for Pragmatic Bookshelf—was pretty much obliged to first off cover iPad and iPhone basics in Kung Fu Chapter 1′s 48 pages. Up to and including “basics” such as device jailbreaking.
However, even if you’ve logged several years on the iPad and/or iPhone as I have, I’d be surprised if you don’t find some features of which you weren’t previously aware, or that needed the additional elucidation of those first 15 “basics” topics. And there are still 303 more in the meat of the book, the intent of which is to efficiently transform you from a beginner or casual user to power-user level on these machines. As the cover notes affirm, most of the tips, tricks, hints, and hacks described therein take only a minute or two to implement, but can literally change your life.
There are only two chapters in iPad and iPhone Kung Fu, the second being 200 pages long and divided into those 303 remaining tips, tricks, hacks, and shortcuts. Notwithstanding (or perhaps because of) his admirable talent for brevity, Thomas writes easily read conversational prose that still manages to get straight to the point.
iPad And iPhone Kung Fu is not intended to be a cover-to-cover read, although you can if you wish. However, it’s designed and structured primarily as a reference work; hence the two tables of contents and extensive index. You can just browse or dig for topics of particular interest to you. A 20-page sampler in PDF format will give you a taste of the content and format.
One of the two tables of contents classifies tip topics in general categories: office, maps and navigation, entertainment, system and security, calls, messages and connections, web and email, and productivity. That last topic particularly interested me, given that the iPad’s greatest shortcomings are in productivity space. Thomas shows readers tricks for using Apple’s iWork applications to edit and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as tips for using GarageBand to make tunes, and hints for how iMovie can create your latest blockbuster. He also reveals the secrets of th iOS version of Apple’s iPhoto image editing app.
Some selected samples of tips include:
- “easily select paragraphs, sentences, and lines” – 6
- “Copy items between iWork apps,” – 219
- “Get your longitude and latitude fix” – 106
- “take photos in burst mode” – 1
- “move right to left when taking a panorama shot” – 60
- “take photos like you would with a point-and-shoot camera” – 94
- quickly adjust color and brightness in iPhoto – 165
- “rotate and crop photos in iPhoto” – 290
- “quickly rip your CD collection for your iPad or iPhone” – 29
- “view lyrics while listening to music” – 43
- “create folders in the dock” – 33
- “print to any printer connected to a Mac or Windows PC” – 81
- “avoid wearing out the home button” – 13
- “fix crashes” – 184
- “Instantly switch to the last used app” – 239
- “quote only part of a message in an email reply” – 50
- “quickly type a period” – 63
- “dictate like a pro” – 287
And of course, plenty more. A few I was already familiar with; most were new to me even after three years of iPadding. You can browse the entire tables of contents at media.pragprog.com.
Author: Keir Thomas
Publisher: The Pragmatic Bookshelf
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN 13: 978-1-93778-572-7
Price: Print: $19.00; Ebook: $12.00; Print & Ebook: $24.00