Google Books PDF Test: iPad Air 2 With iOS 9

By now, iOS 9 should be on all demo devices at all Apple Stores. A quick way of knowing is to quickly double-press the Home button to call up the Card View. If it looks more like a carousel than a set of separated cards, then it’s iOS 9.

My first encounter with iOS 9 (click any image to enlarge):

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“Peek” view, where the leftmost app (Safari, here) becomes inactive.

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“Split” view, where both apps are now active (Safari and iBooks, here)

I announce it to the world:

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Well OK then, the people who Follow on Twitter. I sent out the screensnap of “Split” view, the second screensnap above.

“Peek” view is a bit of a trip, with the way it scales iBook covers and automagically reflows the text:

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“Split” view is, of course, better:

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Now onto the Google Books PDF action. I went with Surface Japan first. It’s a small download but a PDF that strangely requires a lot of horsepower:

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And BOOM:

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The first shock was that Apple’s WiFi was working very well. The second shock was that there was zero delay in displaying that cover. On the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 and the Insignia Flex Elite 7.85 — both with the speedy SmartQ Reader app — there is usually a long delay before that cover appears.

Not only is the iPad Air 2 some damned supernatural beast of a tablet, but clearly iOS 9 and iBooks have both been improved — giving more power to the beast.

But it is not yet all roses. Enlarge this screensnap:

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The Surface Japan text is blurry. It takes a little under a second for iBooks to render it to total sharpness. With SmartQ Reader on both Android tablets already mentioned, the text is immediately sharp.

I decided, what the hell, let’s go in for the kill by attempting to download what repeatedly failed under iOS 8.x, the full 290-megabyte PDF of The American Magazine:

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Since I expected this to take a while — and to really torment the shit out of iOS 9 and the iPad Air 2 — I decided to play with Surface Japan in two views:

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Enlarging the screensnaps will show the massive download began at 4:55PM. At 5:00 PM, shock:

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It was ready!

But then this …

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I expected it to open in iBooks while I had it open in one of the views. It didn’t. This delay could have been due to the very large size of the file.

When I went to the iBooks Library, success:

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Notice two things about the above screensnap: At the bottom, the thumbnails are still rendering — and this is the full 290-megabyte version, with one-thousand two-hundred and fifty pages.

To say everything went smoothly would be understatement:

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It all went damn well.

Portrait orientation:

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In Portrait orientation, that’s as large as a “Split” view that was possible. No 50-50.

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I could swipe between pages with zero delay and hop from page to page by tapping a thumbnail with zero delay!

None of you who haven’t been testing Google Books PDFs since the original iPhone came out can understand what a huge frikkin deal this is. iOS devices used to struggle to do even The People of the Abyss, which is just a seven megabyte PDF. So to see an iOS device speedily download and smoothly display a massive two-hundred-and-ninety megabyte PDF without any problems is just stunning.

Various views with one page:

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A different Portrait orientation:

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Were there some bugs?

Oh yes.

If I swiped iBooks to the left, to give the app on the right (Safari, in this case) full screen, iBooks would close the PDF and return to its Library. No big deal. When I re-opened the PDF, I was back where it closed — but all the thumbnails had to re-render. And that was no big deal because everything was still smooth and fast.

Another bug was when I tried to copy the YouTube URL for my video:

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Weirdly, it selected the “Share this video” text instead of the URL. Trying to copy that URL was absolute hell. I really really really hate — on both iOS and Android — trying to select text on-screen using a fingertip. It’s always frustrating. I’m at the point where I really want these on-screen keyboards to have arrow keys. Nudging the pointer one position left, right, up, or down, is just hell.

I know some iOS 9 users will tell me to put two fingers on the keyboard to put it into Trackpad Mode, but I had problems with that. If I lift my two fingers, it becomes a keyboard again. So am I supposed to keep those two fingers down and use my other hand to move the pointer? If so, grow me a fucking third hand to hold the iPad while I do that! Unless Apple is willing add a Trackpad Mode button to the keyboard, then the behavior should be changed to putting two fingers on the keyboard space bar to toggle Trackpad Mode on and off. And two fingers is not intuitive at all — I learned about it only because I read about it first in the Ars Technica review of iOS 9. Update Sunday September 20 2015: As Steven Troughton-Smith told me on Twitter — but wouldn’t deign to say here in a Comment — is that you never lift the two fingers, they are moved to manipulate the pointer. I tried this yesterday. It worked. I was expecting the trackpad to be a toggle mode, and then to use one finger. You know, like we use one finger on real trackpads.

And that was the entire iPad Air 2 Google Books PDF test: Surface Japan and The American Magazine.

Why just those two?

Because for large magazine-sized Google Books PDF, I want the iPad Pro.

For everything else, an iPad Mini-sized tablet will do.

And that will be the next post. How I tormented that iPad Mini 4!

For now, I repeat the too-brief YouTube video:

Previously here:

Google Books PDFs category

1 Comment

Filed under Google Books PDFs, Video

One response to “Google Books PDF Test: iPad Air 2 With iOS 9

  1. Bill

    Of course, the web interface to Google Books is in permanent zoom in iOS 9’s version of Mobile Safari.

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