5 Reasons Home Inspectors Shouldn’t Buy a WiFi Only Tablet

Free Wifi ImageIn addition to our smart phones, the world presented us with miracles better know as the tablet. Be it an iPad or Android tablet, the internet connectivity has been the latest in a technology boxing match. Is it worth it now to purchase a WiFi only tablet vs. a 4G LTE tablet where the internet is already built in? Well, the answer all depends on the user and their plans of using their tablet. However, listen up home inspectors! You may realize that for you, one is better than the other. Here are 5 reasons why you should not purchase a WiFi only tablet:

1. Internet Security

In today’s age, where most internet browsing happens in local coffee shops and cubicles, internet safety is a huge concern. Those who purchase the WiFi only tablet often shares an internet connection with those around them; complete strangers. Security is often a concern here, as it should be leaving your social network passwords and personal information vulnerable to the public. However, tablets that have 4G LTE interntet capability allows for a more secure internet experience. You aren’t sharing a connectivity with anyone using this option.

2. Internet Speed is faster with 4G LTE 

Now, let’s talk speed. Across a public WiFi connection, where those same strangers are sharing the connection, obviously your tablet will move a slow speeed. In comparison to the 4G LTE tablet, the WiFi only tablet’s connectivity will move much slower. A tablet with 4G LTE internet capability will be a connection to the Web that only involves the owner of the tablet.

3. You can complete your home inspection reports via 4G LTE networks 

Inspectors can produce inspection reports via 4G LTE, too. And it all depends on you will be using your tablet. Ask yourself, do I plan on taking my tablet out in the field? Or is this just for home use? More than likely, tablet users plan to commute and work in the field with their tablets. Therefore, paying the extra money for a 4G LTE Tablet may be worth it.

4. You can avoid tethering from your WiFi Device to your smartphone 

There is also an option of simply buying the WiFi only tablet and tethering it to your smart phone by using it as a mobile hotspot. Not a bad idea, however, there are consequences like draining your battery and overusing your data. So beware of that option. With a 4G LTE tablet, your internet is available to you without tethering.

5. Save time and pay the extra money 

Many would argue that the extra $120.00 and a monthly data plan is just more convenient. For inspectors, convenience and timeliness is key. A WiFi only tablet may cause a headache in the field considering possible internet connection issues and the security issues, too. While purchasing your tablet, consider these factors to determine which option best suits your needs in the field…Tap Inspect votes for the 4G LTE tablet.

So, why pay more for a 4G LTE tablet when there are free WiFi all over the universe? The answer is simple: A WiFi only tablet can jeopardize your internet safety and time in the field. Even worse, if you plan to tether your device to your smart phone, that can drain your battery and overuse your data.

For those users looking to only use their tablets at home, perhaps a WiFi only tablet is a better option. When talking dollars and sense, a built in cellular connection with the 4G LTE advantages will cost around $120 more including a possible data plan depending on your device’s carrier and plan option.

Battery Saving Tips for Home Inspectors Smart Devices

iphone-battery-low While in the field with your smart device, it is extremely important to watch your battery life so you can get your home inspection jobs done. That can be easier said than done considering the all the emails, text messages and phone calls that we receive. Just this daily activity on your device can drain your battery rapidly not to mention taking photo and publishing reports.

Doing small things like disabling the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and location services can help save your batter life.  You may also want to turn on Auto-Brightness and disable dynamic backgrounds. Try to set your messaging apps to manual as opposed to allowing messages to be automatically retrieved. Also, get rid of all unnecessary home screen widgets on Android devices to preserve battery life. On Android you can figure out what applications are consuming your phone’s battery in your settings tab.

Luckily, for Apple devices and Androids, there are battery saving apps available for download to help save your phone’s life and your life, too! Check out below some very common battery saving apps that can be downloaded to your smart device.

Easy Battery Saver: This is a manager app that is designed to extend battery life and optimize the overall using habit of your smart device. Downloading this app will help prevent a dead phone in while working on an inspection report.

Juice Defender: This free application can be downloaded and helps you manage common connections on your Android smart phones. Connections such as mobile data and Wi-Fi can be managed using Juice Defender with various preset modes that determine background synchronization and choosing the apps that can keep your screen on. Overall, these things help manager battery life.

Battery Doctor: This app is exclusively for iPhones and have been updated for iOS 7. It is easy to manage battery life and provide thorough information and tools for users to keep track of what is pulling their battery life. The app has five different menus providing very detailed information about the iPhone’s battery internal workings. It shows how much of your iPhone’s battery each of the running applications are using and offers instructions on how to suspend of these processes.

Battery Manager: Also for iPhones is this app that allows the users to select a usage time for a running application. Battery Manager will determine the amount of time your Iphone will last on battery for that particular application by allowing you to select any of the phone’s processes listed and use a slider to choose the particular amount of time the user will use that app or process. It is a way to micromanage your battery usage to maximize your battery’s efficiency.

When is it safe for home inspectors to update iOS

iOS update screen

Whenever Apple releases a new version our help desk gets flooded with the same type of support requests ‘Is it safe to update my device to iOS <insert newest version here>?’ Luckily there is always a few months between the announcement and the release of a new version of iOS to get informed.

Anyone who has owned an Apple device for a few years has likely experienced the ‘Kobayashi Maru’ or unwinnable scenario of iOS updates. Why is this?

Once you update your iOS there is no practical way to go back to an earlier version. If the update slows down your older device or crashes your favorite app there is no going back. You can pray for patience and that the developer will put out an update to fix the issue but that is about it.

If you do not update your iOS you will eventually not be able to install new apps or update your existing apps. All developers must select a minimum iOS version to support. As Tap Inspect and your other favorite apps add features and fix bugs you will eventually be left out unless you update your iOS to a fairly recent version.

Lastly, every major software update always, invariably, without fail breaks something. Apple can change or even eliminate features that developers use for their app resulting in crashing apps.

Those version numbers actually mean something and can help you decide when you want to update. For example in the current iOS version 7.1.1:

  • 7: Major revision (new UI, lots of new features, conceptual change, etc.)

  • 1: Minor revision (minor visual changes, some features added, collection of bug fixes)

  • 1: Bug fix release after the last minor revision

iOS version 7.1.1 and has had 7 different bug fix updates and one minor update over the last 9 months.(see full list here) For such a huge change in design and functionality that is not bad but it should tell you that a new major version is going to need several fixes.

So what is our humble advice? If you like to live on the bleeding edge go ahead and update as soon as you can and take your chances. There is no going back but you will have the latest and greatest.

Otherwise, home inspectors should wait for at least a few bug release updates (the third number of the version like 8.0.1 or 8.0.2). Or, If you are like me, wait for a minor revision (the second number of the version like 8.1 or 8.1.1) to give Apple and all your app’s developers a chance to fix the issues that have popped up before you have to deal with it.

How Inspectors can Take Better Pictures with an iPhone or iPad

Quality photos make all the difference in an inspection report, which makes it crucial to make your snapshots count. We noticed that we’ve covered other apps that can help you take great pictures, but we neglected to provide home inspectors tips on taking better photos without having to download extra bells and whistles. Let’s remedy that right now. Here are a few ways to take cleaner, clearer inspection photos with your iPhone or iPad.

Take Your Time

Step in, breathe out, and center your shot before taking the pic. Not only will your photo have less of a shaky cam effect, but taking the extra few seconds will give your device’s autofocus feature time to do its thing. In areas that have a high light contrast, as in part of the photo is incredibly dark while the other is incredibly bright, simply tap on which shade you’d like to highlight in your picture and your camera will adjust focus accordingly.

Use Both Hands

“But I need one hand to hit the button!” some home inspectors will say. Au contraire. Yes, you can take a picture on your iPhone or iPad by tapping the button at the bottom of your camera, but you can also take one by pressing the ” + ” button on the side of your phone (this is also the volume up button). Using the side button can help free up both hands, allowing you to take steadier, clearer pics.

Master HDR

Short for High Dynamic Range, this function is a miracle worker when it comes to shots with unusually high light contrast, like, for example, photos of an object in front of a sunny background. The HDR function basically takes three photos, each taken at different exposures, and creates an image composite that showcases the best aspects of each shot. HDR is only available on devices that run iOS 4.1 or above, but if your device is HDR-ready, you can use the function by opening your device’s camera as if you’re going to take a picture and tapping the “HDR off” tab at the top. Because you’re taking three shots instead of one, HDR pics take longer to capture, so steadying your device on something stationary could vastly improve the image’s clarity.


iPhone/iPad Tip of the Month: Home Inspectors Take Note

One of the cooler features the iPhone and iPad offer is the ability to dictate notes which, in turn, get translated into text. The fastest and easiest way to eliminate the time spent inputting comments, the Siri dictation function is a gem for home inspectors on the go. The first step to using dictation is to make sure it’s turned on. Head to “Settings,” then scroll down to “General.” Tap the “Siri” option and make sure that Siri is both enabled and that the language is set to English.

Now head to your latest home inspection. Open Tap Inspect, open a report, and tap on any place you would normally go to leave a comment. Instead of typing in your comment, tap the microphone button in the bottom left of the screen and say your comment aloud. Siri will turn your dictation into a written comment and voila! Time is saved, comments are written, and all is better with the world. Siri doesn’t nail dictation 100 percent accurately every time, so it pays to review your comment to make sure it’s exactly what you mean.

Take a look at this older video. The narrator talks about the iPhone 4S but the Siri tricks still work like a charm.