Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tech Column: Your Tablet Computer Is a Window to a Better Place

by Bill Adler

If you're using your tablet computer to do email, write, display spreadsheets, tweet, read books, listen to music, or even watch movies, I'm here to tell you that you're using it all wrong. Sure, a tablet computer has all those useful functions for work and watching movies, but there's a secret, almost magical, thing that tablets can do.

Before I tell you what tablets can really do, I want to ask you a question, and I want an honest answer: What is your tablet computer doing right now? The answer is probably "nothing." What does your tablet computer do most of the day? I bet the answer is also "nothing."

What a waste.

That's not my answer. As I write this column, my iPad is a window looking out at Japan. An hour ago I was looking out over the Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica. Yesterday when I worked I would occasionally glance out my iPad window at Provence, France or a view on a planet in a distant solar system.

Apps turn tablets into windows that open on to stunning views around the world -- and universe. Right now my iPad is running Yoritsuki, an app that transports me to a Japanese inn where I'm looking out at trees, a garden, and a zenful pool. I've uploaded a picture of my window here: . Yoritsuki's view changes with the seasons and time of day. It's calming, peaceful, serene and lot more enjoyable to look at than the parked cars outside of my real window. You can get Yoritsuki here:

Magic Window, , is one of my favorite window apps: It has stunning time lapse scenes from around the world and it makes you feel like you're not at your desk in Washington, DC, but sitting in your house overlooking the ocean in Big Sur, California or watching a thunderstorm roll by in Castle Valley, Utah. Magic Window offers over 30 time lapse photography scenes, including cityscapes from San Francisco, Tokyo and elsewhere, for when you're in an urban mood.

Speaking of moods, if you'd rather look out at an alien planet, there's OtherWorlds where colorful, surreal landscapes await you: . Gaze out at a planet with changing red and purple mountaintops and enjoy where that view and your imagination take you. Should serenity be your desire, then what could be more relaxing than having a koi pond,, just inches away? If you've always wanted an aquarium without having to clean the tank, have it right at your desk with an aquarium app: When winter strikes you can have a roaring fire courtesy of Fire HD, by your side.

For your Android tablet find the living wallpaper your want. There's the Outer Space living wallpaper,, a fantastic aquarium, and more.

Many of these apps play relaxing music or ambient sound, but you can turn that off if you'd rather work to the tunes of Katy Perry or Bach.

The quality and detail in these "window" apps is phenomenal. They're works of art, developed by master app craftsmen. And two dollars to be transported to Japan or Hawaii isn't bad at all.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," . He tweets at @billadler.

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