My Free Gift to You – Google Photos

GooglePhotosThere has been a lot of reflection on the best of 2015. Whether it be Tech, News, Photos, Music or just about anything else, you can find someone who has feelings about what was great last year. In thinking it through, I came up with one great thing that came around last year… Google Photos!

Now I know what you are thinking, “Yeah, Nate, I search Google Images all the time,” or “Yeah, I’ve used Picasa for years.” Well I am talking about a new service that Google rolled out that is a combination of all of their stuff.

Here are the basics:

  • It is a FREE app for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android
    • All you need is a free Google account which you should already have anyway
    • It is automatic – you just install and it starts backing up
  • It will back up ALL your photos and videos for FREE*
    • I have over 60,000 photos and videos uploaded between my computers and phone, almost 300GB
    • They offer the unlimited free backup if they can analyze your photos, which allows the search and creations
  • It autotags and organizes all your photos
    • Search for “Paris” and it will find all your pictures of Paris
    • It does automatic face tagging
  • It does “Creations” – automatic GIFS, movies, stories and stylized photos
  • You can set it to back up only on wifi and everything is private by default

I cannot explain how well this works and it is really fun to look through the creations. On Thanksgiving I took about 30 videos of my family bowling. What was I ever going to do with them? Who knows, but I felt pretty fancy with my Selfie Stick. Well all the videos automatically uploaded to Google Photos, and it spit out this gem, music and all…

I did zero editing, and how did I find it? Searched for “Bowling.”

Backing your stuff up is very important,you have no excuse not to do this. I hate getting calls that data is missing. Please take 5 minutes to get this done, and remember this should just be one part of your backup plan. Your data should be in multiple places, if you have Amazon Prime check out their photo backup as well (though feature limited). I also use iCloud Backup and suggest something like CrashPlan for all your computers. For about 6 bucks a month (1 buck for iCloud and 5 for CrashPlan) you can get a great back up solution!

Want something else that I enjoyed in 2015? Pick some of these up –

Posted in App Discovery, Favorite Apps, iOS, Photo/Video App, Productivity Apps, Software | Leave a comment

The Apple Watch. My Thoughts.

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor

Camera Remote Inception

Camera Remote Inception

My Watch Face

My Watch Face

"Apps"

“Apps”

I have had my Apple Watch for about 3 weeks now and have a lot of people asking how I like it. I figured it was time to type out some thoughts and observations so far (No I am not able to type blog posts from the watch).

A few disclaimers before I get started:

  • I have worn a watch as long as I can remember. The Apple Watch would be a lot more of a transition for a non watch wearer.
  • I’m a huge Apple nerd. I have purchased almost every iPhone on the day it comes out, since the first one in 2007. 
  • I had a Pebble Watch. For the last 8 months I wore a Pebble Smart Watch. It has limited functionality compared to the Apple Watch, but it helped the transition from ‘dumb’ watches.

Last fall when Tim Cook introduced the watch he said it was their most personal device yet. I have to agree with him, when people ask to see it there is an awkward wrist twist and not much to show. While I do believe that it is a revolutionary product, it isn’t as ‘demonstratable’ as many other gadgets.

I have tried to thinking of a good analogy for what I think the watch is. There was a time when TVs did not come with a remote, they worked, but it is hard to imagine life without them now. After just 3 weeks, that is how I feel about the Apple Watch. The watch requires an iPhone to function which I have no problem with. At this time I don’t think I would want something the size of a watch to replace my phone (but we said the same thing about smartphones and computers not too long ago.

Here are some various things that I think are important:

  • It is not just another screen to stare at endlessly. It is made for quick interactions, you know, like a watch. I can quickly look at my watch to see a notification and decide if I need to do anything with it. I have found myself pulling out my phone a lot less and getting sucked into all the distractions found there.
  • It doesn’t have real apps, at least right now. What it does have is extensions for apps on your phone, most of which aren’t real useful. Third party iPhone apps are very limited in what they can do on the watch, Apple says they will allow real apps later.
  • The Activity Monitor is a great way to get moving. Those of you that know me, know I don’t move much. With the watch it is really easy to set and track daily goals. It will also give you a gentle reminder if you haven’t moved in an hour to stand up and get the blood flowing. That has been huge for me, there are a lot of times when I spend a long time in my recliner. I just have to work on less trips to the kitchen when I do get up.
  • Battery life is better than expected. When Apple said that battery life would last about a day every one freaked out. I understand, this is a big change from the 5 years a standard watch battery will last. But people have an iPhone mentality on charging, it takes less than 2 hours to fully charge. So I sleep with mine on and then just charge it some point during the day when I don’t need it.
  • Square is the best shape. Again we think a watch should be round, but you know what doesn’t work well on round objects? Text. Try to write a letter on a round piece of paper, it is not efficient.
  • Is it waterproof? I have not tested the ‘waterproofness’ too much yet. Apple says to be very careful but the certification they got says you can put it in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. This Guy took it for a long swim and off the high dive without issue. I just figure I don’t need to risk it yet.
  • It’s the best Siri yet. Apparently Apple made some changes to Siri to put it on the watch and most people think it is much more accurate. I dictated a text while at a loud concert last night and it came through perfectly.
  • So what do I do with the watch?
    • Look at the time. It is a little weird that the screen is off when you aren’t looking at it but it’s not a deal breaker.
    • Look at notifications. Not having to pull my iPhone out every time there is a notification is great. I can take a quick look and decide if I need to respond and whether I can do it on the watch or need to take my phone out.
    • Control audio on my phone. With a quick swipe I can play, pause, rewind or fast-forward whatever I am listening too.

Final Thoughts: I really like the Apple Watch, it has smoothly integrated into my life. Yeah, $400 is pretty expensive for a watch, and I have to admit it isn’t something I need. But I do have to say that it has me spending a lot less time on my iPhone, something I think we could all use. I am excited to see what Apple does with the watch as well, remember that we didn’t even get apps on the iPhone for a year…

Questions? Concerns? Answers? Head on over to the Facebook page and let me know.

Further Reading: The team over at iMore has a ridiculously in-depth review over on their site.

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Last minute stocking stuffers for the iPhone lover on your list

iPhone-StockingChristmas is just a week away. I can’t believe it, I literally thought we had another week just this morning. Based on the statistics, there is a good chance there is an iPhone lover on your list. While a new iPhone would look great sticking out of the stocking, I am guessing the chances of that happening are about the same as a new Acura appearing in our driveway like the commercials suggest.

 

pill-case

There are plenty of ridiculous gifts out there too, I decided to do this list after seeing someone talking about this crazy accessory online. Why any one would want to keep their pill hanging off their phone I could not imagine. There’s also this iPhone case with skateboard griptape on the back, oh the chafing. Let’s look at some more practical options this holiday season.

 

Here are a few smaller items that any iPhone owner would love to see in their stocking:

Apple Lightning Cable

Apple Lightning Cables – $6.95

If you have a newer iPhone, you probably are short on the new lightning cables. These are authentic cables are only $6.95 at the time of this post (The price fluctuates but you wont find a better one). They don’t come in the fancy Apple box, but that price includes free shipping. It’s time to invest in a few more of these.


NomadKeyNomad Keychain $29 (15% w/ this link)

I bought a few of these back when they were on Kickstarter. I cannot tell you how many times the one I keep on my keychain has bailed me out when I needed a charge.


 

Anker ChargerAnker Lipstick Charger $19.99

Great small charger when your on the go, again, a life saver.

Here is a higher capacity unit for longer trips away from an outlet.


Gifts Under $20

ThinkGeek has all kinds of tech goodies!


300x300 iB85 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Speakers or headphones from iHome


Gift Guide

iPhone Protection


PC Case with Soft Sand Finish for iPhone 5/5s -  Brick Red

Monoprice.com for all kinds of iPhone accessories!


iTunes Gift Card

 

 

iTunes Gift Cards always work!

Disclaimer: You buying some of these items via the provided links might result in my receiving a few pennies in referral fees.

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Why I ditched my iPhone 6 Plus

The Space Gray iPhone 6 As I said way back in September, sight unseen, I preordered an iPhone 6 Plus. It was the ‘best’ phone that Apple announced and I knew it would be in short supply. I was right on the short supply, as of today Apple still says it will be 7-10 days before you can get the 128gb model. I received mine, finally, on Sept. 25th, I spent 3 weeks with it and had to say goodbye.

Getting back to the iPhone 6 Plus being the ‘best’ phone Apple released this year, well that’s a little complicated. The 6 Plus did have a few better features that I mentioned in that earlier post, but as I also mentioned, it is a really big phone. I decided after a few weeks of heavy use that it was just too big for me.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a really great phone and if you don’t mind the size I would recommend it to you. But since at this point you can get your hands on both models to get a feel, I would strongly suggest doing so. I had seen a few 6s, and had played with Dave’s, who wrote this post about his 6.

Also, if battery is very important to you, the 6 Plus battery is a huge improvement. I just decided that in my life that I am never more than 5 feet from power, I could make that sacrifice. I also have several external batteries, like this one, that are great in a pinch.

Since I was outside of the 14-day return policy with AT&T, I had to get creative on making the switch. In mid October the phones were hard to get so I turned to Craigslist. I posted an ad saying that I wanted to trade my 6 Plus for a 6. I had several people who had all kinds of ‘great trades’ for me but only a few that had the 6 I wanted. I talked with one and then we met up at the AT&T store to make the trade. It worked out really well, we switched SIM cards, made sure everything was working, and headed on our way. Since my 6 Plus was worth more we negotiated a fair trade, though there was a small issue I might bring up another day.

(Note: It’s always a good idea to meet somewhere safe and public when using Craigslist, I have heard some stories of people running off with iPhones.)

Once I had the 6, I instantly knew that was the better phone for me. It is a lot bigger than the 5s is but I think it is a very nice size. Besides the size, I am trying to think of any really compelling features of the phone over the 5s. I have used Apple Pay a few times and it is really amazing, but it isn’t everywhere yet. The camera is better, but the 5s is good too.

The iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus

The iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus

It will be really interesting to see how phone size plays out over the next few years. I know a lot of people who say they never want a phone bigger than the 5s and some that would use a full size iPad as their phone. But we do have options right now from Apple, just make sure you find the phone that works best for you.

If you would like to get a lot more in-depth with the iPhone 6, iMore.com has some serious coverage on their iPhone 6 page.

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iPhone 6 thoughts from a friend

As you know, which iPhone 6 to buy was a tough decision for me. I ended up preordering the 128 gig Space Gray iPhone 6 Plus. After having to wait a week after the initial release, I received my new phone.

Before I get to my thoughts and my final decision, I had asked my friend Dave, who runs the site ificionado, to share his thoughts on his new iPhone 6. He has a great perspective on the new phone that I wanted to share: (More from me soon!)

iPhone 4, 5, 6, 6 Plus

iPhone 4, 5, 6, 6 Plus

I was apprehensive at first when I heard that iPhone 6 would be larger than previous models. I loved the design of the iPhone 4 and thought it was the perfect size for me. When the iPhone 5 came along, I actually didn’t like the increase in vertical size and would have preferred Apple to keep the same design and concentrate on improving only the internal components.

But, now that I have had the iPhone 6 for a few weeks, I have learned to appreciate its larger screen size. The small bezel combined with its light weight and rounded sides make the device seem smaller than it really is. All of that, combined with the fact that its only 6.9 mm thin, make holding and using the device a joy. Oh, and let’s not forget the curved glass screen which offers users a very satisfying “swiping” experience.

Of course, there are things about the design of iPhone 6 that I do not particularly like. As with most Apple’s devices, iPhone 6 is somewhat slippery and can easily slide right out of your hand. Maybe it’s time for Apple to work on creating a material that has a bit more texture so that your fingers have something to hang on to.

Then there’s the camera. While I appreciate the improved performance and quality of the new camera, I’m not a fan of the protruding lens element. Sure, I could always purchase a case to take care of the problem, but I prefer my phone to be “au naturel.” This causes a problem when I set the phone down on my desk. I’m concerned that the camera will become worn or even damaged.

One thing that the iPhone 4 and 5 series phones had going for them, was their flat sides and smooth edges. That design choice gave these devices the ability to set upright, perpendicular to a flat surface. This allowed photographers to use nearly any flat surface as a makeshift tripod.

In contrast, the engineers at Apple have moved the sleep/wake button from the top of the device to the side. That, coupled with the rounded sides” makes it very difficult to place the device perfectly level. So much for hanging pictures with the built-in level now.

Do I wish there were an updated option in smaller size format? Yes I do. But, at the end of the day, the iPhone 6 is an engineering marvel that makes owning one a luxury that anyone can afford.

 

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