Sep 27, 2014

Random Thoughts on the iPhone 6

I've had my iPhone 6 for a little over a week now, which is just long enough to have some random thoughts on it. OK, they technically aren't "random" as I put some thought into them. If you're thinking about upgrading, mayb these will help you.

  1. Although I wouldn't want it to be any bigger, the iPhone 6's "bigness" has not been the problem I thought it would be. It fits my front pocket, even on a pair of jeans. Of course, I don't wear skinny jeans. If you wear skinny jeans,…well, just don't wear skinny jeans.
  2. The screen is actually more pleasurable to use at 4.7 inches.
  3. Touch ID is awesome. It seems small, being able to unlock your phone with your fingerprint, but until you do it, you won't truly appreciate it. It makes it a no-brainer to have the iPhone lock immediately when it goes to sleep or push the power button, making it much secure. Buying apps with Touch ID is also a joy over typing in your iTunes password. Touch ID will become even more of a benefit as apps use it in iOS 8.
  4. The step counter is a great replacement for a Fitbit or other fancy wearable pedometer. Also, the barometer in the iPhone 6 will measure your elevation, measured as flights of stairs climbed. It's surprising how motivating this is to keeping you moving more. I thought tracking your steps all day would quickly run the battery down, but that just hasn't been my experience. The M8 motion processor, the chip that handles measuring all this, seems to be very efficient with battery use.
  5. I've just taken a few pictures so far, but the photos are better than on my iPhone 5. Coupled with the iOS feature of allowing apps to give the user manual control over things like focus, exposure, and white balance, make it more powerful than many point-and-shoot cameras. By the way, if you want manual control over these things, I recommend using Camera+.
  6. Ok, this is not about the phone itself, but I like the leather case made by Apple. It gives you grip without making it hard to pull out of your pocket, doesn't add a lot of bulk, has a classy look to it, and seems to provide good protection. It's open on the bottom to allow you to dock the phone, something that will avoid a lot of frustration for you should you decide you want a clock radio or speaker you want to dock it in. And, it's leather, which means that as it scuff and scratches, it will still look good.
  7. This isn't out yet but I'm looking forward to Apple Pay. Fumbling through my wallet for my card to pay at Walgreens is going to be a thing of the past. I wasn't enthused about this feature initially because of security concerns. However, after hearing how Apple has implemented this, I realized it's actually more secure than carrying a credit card.

Apr 29, 2014

Take Pictures of Lightning with Your iPhone


Yes, it is possible to take a picture of lightning with your iPhone, without having to be the world's best guesser. In fact, there's an app that is designed for this very specific purpose. It's called iLightningCam and it makes taking pictures of lightning as simple as pointing your iPhone at the sky, assuming, of course, you're expecting lighning in the direction you're pointing it.

When you launch the app, it will walk you through a few steps to calibrate it for the time of day and the intensity of lightning that you're seeing. This helps it take a better picture. The app will also ask if you're planning on holding the iPhone in your hand or mounting it on a tripod. I usually choose to hold it in my hand and point it in the direction I've seen lightning. The picture above is one I took with iLightningCam on a recent stormy night. Not every photo came out this good but if you see a lot of lightning and can get several shots, you're likely to get a few nice ones.

The iLightningCam app is normally $1.99 but, as of this writing, is on sale for free. Grab it before the price goes up. Of course, don't go outside when the lightning is too close. No photo is worth getting electrocuted over.


Feb 13, 2014

Watch Whatever Olympic Event You Want on Your iPad or iPhone

With the time zone difference between the US and Soche, Russia, many people are sleeping or at work when most of the 2014 Olympic events are on. In prime time, NBC broadcasts replays of what they want you to see. But what if you want to watch snowboard cross live on your lunch hour or want to watch replays of curling instead of ice dancing? There's an app for that.

The NBC Sports Live Extra app is a universal app that allows you to watch both live events and replays of events, even curling. The video quality was good for me when I had a good internet connection. With the Retina iPads, you can get up to HD quality, depending on, of course, how much bandwidth is available to you. To watch most of the video, including the live action, you need to have an account with one of the listed TV providers and log in to that account in the app. The list of TV providers is huge, including much more than just the big boys, so there's a pretty good chance your TV provider is on the list.

If you are outside the United States, you are out of luck with this app. It only works in the US. If you are inside the US, you can watch pretty much anywhere you have your iOS device and a decent internet connection.