Tech round-up for July 7: Here comes Prime Day, the new iPad Pro models make me happy, Canada updates rule for drone flights

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, a closer look at the new iPad Pro models, including the perfectly-sized 10.5-inch edition, and Transport Canada provides new rules for the use of drones. But first, Amazon Prime Day approaches quickly. Are you ready?

Amazon Prime Day 2017 is on Tuesday, July 11

Amazon Prime is the online retailer’s subscription service. It costs Cdn$79 a year to subscribe, and benefits include free two-day shipping on many items, access to Prime Video, which produces shows like American Gods, Patriot, and Transparent.

Being a Prime member also means you get access to the deals that are part of the annual Prime Day sale.

Every category has something being sold for cheap on Prime Day. From Blu-ray box sets to camera gear to electronics to personal hygiene products, there will be something for everyone.

Many of the products that are steeply discounted are available in limited quantities, though, so it really is a “first come, first served” experience. In the days leading up to Prime Day you can visit Amazon and flag some things you’re interested in.

Amazon is also encouraging people to use its mobile app, and are offering app-only deals this year. You can get the app for Android and iOS.

I’ve been a Prime member for years, and I have to say that I save at least $100 a year in shipping costs.

iPad Pro’s two sizes make for more flexible tablet options

I need to say that it didn’t take long for me to love the first iPad Pro. The 12.9-inch screen was a delight for reading and watching videos. But I’ll begrudgingly admit that it was actually too big and heavy to be practical for how I used it.

The 10.5-inch model that Apple recently released solves that problem nicely. It’s light enough that I can hold it in one hand, but the advanced Retina display gives me the crisp resolution I want.

And the new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip means that the apps I run on the iPad Pro are blazing.

I’ve been testing out the new model for a couple of weeks, and I won’t go back.

The Apple Pencil, designed to work with the Pro line, is even more responsive on this screen. A light touch gives you thin lines, and pressing harder with the Apple Pencil gives you thicker lines. You can even shade with the edge of the stylus.

The obvious application is drawing and artistry, but the Apple Pencil can also be used to mark up documents or take notes.

Also available for the new iPad Pros are Smart Keyboards. This is an accessory that will draw comparisons to Microsoft’s Surface devices. Apple’s Smart Keyboard isn’t quite the same, though. It’s designed to be durable and to withstand things like spills, and the “spring” for the keys is created by the top layer of fabric.

It’s responsive enough, but Apple wanted this Smart Keyboard to be flat, which means its ergonomics aren’t ideal. You can type with it, but you won’t want to for long.

But that’s okay. Because I still think of the iPad as a tablet, and I still have a laptop for the keyboard work. I’ve not yet found that either device is good enough to render the other useless in my world.

And the iPad Pro line is Apple raising the bar again on what a tablet can be. It’ll get even better when the company releases the new mobile operating system, iOS 11, later this fall.

Transport Canada updates Canadian rules on use of drones

If you’ve got a drone, you shouldn’t need to be told to not fly it near airports. But just in case you need it in writing, Transport Canada has explicitly listed the conditions under which it is safe to fly a drone.

Larger drones, for example, need to be operated further away from “vehicles, vessels, and the public” (at least 75 metres if the drone weighs more than 1 kg).

The new rules are temporary while Transport Canada drafts new regulations for unmanned aircraft.

One thing that drone operators should also be aware of is that their actions are not only governed by Transport Canada. Drones also need to follow privacy and trespassing laws.

If you witness someone unsafely operating a drone, report them.


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