iPhone Web Sites

Recommendation: Hollywood Africans by Jon Batiste

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 01:12

I don't talk about music very much on iPhone J.D., but if you are looking for something truly amazing to listen to on your iPhone and you enjoy the piano, I strongly recommend that you check out the newest album by Jon Batiste called Hollywood Africans.  Although Jon Batiste has been playing music his entire life — he comes from a big music family in New Orleans — I suspect that most folks simply know him as the bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  But he is far from simply a TV personality; he is a seriously talented musician, and I often find my jaw dropping as I watch him play the piano. 

Before listening to the album, I recommend that you listen to the first 20 minutes of a great recent episode of NPR's Fresh Air podcast, in which Batiste sits down at a piano with Terry Gross, plays parts of some of the songs on the album, and explains what motivated him to create this album.  Click here to listen on the NPR website, or if you use the Overcast app to listen to podcasts, here is a direct link. Using just my Apple Watch Series 4 and my AirPods, I enjoyed listening to that episode last night during an outdoor walk.  As I used my Apple Watch to listen to Jon Batiste, I remembered that he was actually featured in a 15 second ad for the Apple Watch in early 2016; the link in my In the news post from back then no longer works, but you can still watch the video on YouTube at this link.

As for the album itself, every song is great, but I'll just mention the first two.  The first song is Kenner Boogie (Apple Music link), an original piano song that that will make you tap your toes and smile, all the while wondering how one person can play all of those piano keys so quickly with just two hands.  The second song is What a Wonderful World (Apple Music link), a song first recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1967.  That song has been performed and interpreted countless times, but I've never heard an arrangement anything like this.  Incredibly beautiful and moving.

I've seen Jon Batiste perform several times, and the first time I saw him was on May 1, 2005 at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, back when he was a teenager studying at Juilliard.  I only know the date because I was so impressed by his performance that I bought his first album, Times in New Orleans (Apple Music link), and my wife took the picture at the right of me doing so.  He was good back then; he is fantastic today.

Click here to listen to Hollywood Africans on Apple Music

Click here to get Hollywood Africans on Amazon

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 00:50

I was talking to an attorney this week about buying a new iPad, and I'll tell you the same thing I told him:  don't.  At least, not right now.  All signs are that Apple will introduce two new models of the iPad Pro in the next few weeks, and perhaps a second generation version of the Apple Pencil — which part of me hopes Apple will call the "No. 2 Pencil."  The speculation is that it will support Face ID, have smaller bezels, and perhaps even use USB-C instead of Lightning.  We'll see.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Virginia attorney Sharon Nelson discusses a recent incident in which the FBI compelled an iPhone owner (via a warrant) to unlock his iPhone using Face ID.
  • Nelson also discusses an incident in which police arrested someone for murder based on data from the victim's Fitbit — and it could have just as easily been an Apple Watch.  Her heart rate spiked, and then ceased to register at all, during the time that video surveillance showed that her stepfather was in her house.
  • California attorney David Sparks discusses Apple's announcement yesterday that 53% of users of iOS devices sold in the last four years have already updated to iOS 12.  Once iOS 12.1 comes out with the new Emoji I discussed earlier this year, I'm sure even more folks will rush to upgrade.
  • Speak of Sparks, yesterday I recommended his video field guide on using the Shortcuts app, and I also see that this week he experimented with replacing all of the icons on his iPhone's home screen with Siri shortcuts.  Interesting.
  • If you are looking for a place to find and download some interesting iPhone shortcuts, check out Sharecuts.app.
  • Don't be like Kanye West.  There are probably many ways one could apply that rule, but right now I'm referring to his Oval Office meeting with President Trump yesterday morning in which Kanye entered his iPhone passcode while a camera was filming him from behind — his first no-no — and then the entire world saw that Kanye's password is 000000, i.e. just six zeros.  Chance Miller of 9to5Mac has the details including a video clip.  Seriously, don't do that.
  • Speaking of iPhone security, Glenn Fleishman of TidBITS explains how two-factor authentication is improved in iOS 12, and also explains why you should try not to use SMS (text messaging) as a second factor.
  • As I noted above, the next version of the iPad Pro might have USB-C.  In an article for Macworld, Jason Snell analyzes what that could mean for users.
  • Zac Hall of 9to5Mac wrote a great overview of the types of HomeKit accessories that you can use to control your home with Siri, and he even recommends some of the best specific brands.  I continue to be a huge fan of the Lutron switches in my house, which I reviewed in 2015
  • Bryan Wolfe of the iDownloadBlog explains how to use the Live Listen feature of iOS 12.  Place your iPhone close to a source of sound, put on your AirPods, and then your iPhone will act as a remote microphone for your AirPods.  Useful if you need to hear something or someone but you are too far away to do so.
  • One of my favorite features of Apple Music is the ability to request a song by part of a lyric — Hey Siri, play the song that goes [say a few words in the lyrics].  Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac reports that this function will improve because Apple is now incorporating more lyrics from a company called Genius.
  • There was a horrible story in the news this week about a reporter who wrote for the Washington Post being killed while in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.  Reuters reports that information gained from the Apple Watch he was wearing might help the investigators to figure out what happened.
  • Here is a useful page on the Apple website which describes each of the status icons and symbols on the Apple Watch.
  • Security expert Rich Mogull happens to also be a paramedic, and in an article for TidBITS, he describes how the Apple Watch Series 4 may (and may not) help to save lives.
  • Matthew Cassinelli of The Sweet Setup explains why the 1Password app is so useful on an Apple Watch.  I agree.
  • Jesse Hollington of iLounge reports that today Apple is debuting Season 2 of Carpool Karaoke, including one episode featuring the Muppets.  It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights...
  • And finally, here is a video from Apple showing off some of the new features of the iPhone XS and XR.  That's one reason to watch the video, but another reason is that it does a great job of showing off Apple's new Apple Park campus:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Siri Shortcuts Field Guide by David Sparks -- learn how to create useful shortcuts

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 01:12

One of my favorite features in iOS 12 is the new Shortcuts app and its deep integration with iOS, allowing you to create all sorts of useful automations to be more productive on your iPhone and iPad.  There is a learning curve, and thus I'm sure that lots of iPhone users won't even bother to pay much attention to shortcuts.  But if you are smart enough to have made it through Con Law I and the Rule Against Perpetuities part of your 1L Property class, you are more than smart enough to use the Shortcuts app.  Even so, it helps to have a guide hold your hand while you get started.

California attorney David Sparks created what he calls a video field guide — a series of short video lessons, a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes — to walk you through the Shortcuts app.  The course is called the Siri Shortcuts Field Guide and costs $29, although it is currently discounted to $24 during the introductory period.  David gave me a free pass to the course so that I could check it out, and I'm super impressed.  Whether you are starting from square 1 or you have a general sense of how shortcuts work but want to learn more (which describes me), this is a fantastic resource.

You access the course in any web browser.  It was perfect to watch it on my iPad Pro, but you could also watch it on an iPhone or a computer if you prefer.

On the iPad, there is a list of chapters on the left.  I'm sure that David designed the course to go through each one in order, but instead I jumped around, skipping the chapters devoted to topics that I thought I already knew.  Sometimes I went back to watch that chapter anyway because I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought I knew.

The course does a great job of walking you through the Shortcuts app itself, and then it shows you how to do things with the app, including working with different types of information.  In each lesson, you see David's iPad screen as he is describing to you what he is doing.  There is a great interface for the videos; you can scroll your finger across the bottom to jump ahead or go back.

I particularly enjoyed the lesson in the Advanced Siri Shortcuts Tools section on creating and using variables.  Before this course, I had no idea what a Magic Variable was, but after watching David describe what they do and actually create a shortcut using Magic Variables, now it all makes perfect sense to me.

I think that the best part of the course is the last main section called Useful Shorcuts.  David walks you through 12 shortcuts that you might actually use, explaining how he created each one why he did what he did.  You can create the shortcuts on your own by following along with David, or you can just download the complete shortcut.

One such shortcut useful to lawyers is a date calculator.  The shortcut David created lets you count a certain number of days after a date or before a date, or even the number of days between dates.  For me, this is so useful that I even added a Siri command to it so that I can just say "Hey Siri, date calculator" to bring it up.  And now that I understand how the shortcut works, I can modify it to meet my particular needs.  Here is a very short video showing me using the date calculator shortcut that David describes and provides in the lesson:

Conclusion

If you have any interest in creating shortcuts to increase your efficiency and accomplish tasks, I highly recommend this video course.  And I especially recommend getting into this now.  What Apple has already done with the Shortcuts app is amazing, but I know that it will get more useful in future updates.  By getting your arms around this stuff now, you will be well-positioned to take advantage of the improvements to the Shortcuts app over the coming months and years.

Click here to get more information and to sign up for the Siri Shortcuts Field Guide.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Apple Watch tip: switch from grid view to list view

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 23:49

The Apple Watch has supported third party apps since it was first went on sale on April 24, 2015.  Unfortunately, however, because of the limitations of the hardware and the software, usability has been limited.  Graham Bower of Cult of Mac wasn't very far off the mark when he wrote an article in 2016 titled "Apple Watch apps kinda suck, but Cupertino hopes you won’t notice." 

Fortunately, with the new Apple Watch Series 4 and watchOS 5, I think those days are over.  Third party apps which have complications on my watch face or which are stored in my dock now launch pretty much instantly.  And just as impressively, even third party apps which I use less often and need to access by pressing the Digital Crown to see all of my apps now launch almost instantly, often under a second.  Moreover, with the speed of the Apple Watch Series 4, performance is high enough that apps are much more responsive.  As a result, Apple Watch apps no longer "suck," and I'm sure that Cupertino is happy for you to notice that.

All of this means that I'm starting to download more apps for my Apple Watch.  Some are more useful than others, but at least now all third party apps have the ability to be really good. Just to name one example, PCalc is a great calculator on the iPhone, but it is also a very usable calculator on the Apple Watch — much better than the Casio Calculator Watch I wore back in the 1980s.

   
As I have downloaded more apps to my Apple Watch, there are more apps to choose from when I press the Digital Crown on the side of my watch.  To make it easier to find the app that I want, I'm now taking advantage of a feature that was introduced in watchOS 4 last year:  the ability to switch from grid view to list view.  Grid view with its honeycomb layout is pretty, but unless you remember exactly where you placed an app, you will waste time searching around the screen to find it.  In list view, everything is alphabetical, and it is quick and easy to spin the Digital Crown to scroll to the name of the app that you want — something which is made even easier with the haptic feedback added to the Digital Crown in the Apple Watch Series 4.  You can now feel it as you scroll past every app in the list.

   
To switch from one view to another, simply press the Digital Crown, and then regardless of whether you are currently in grid view or list view, force press on the center of the screen.  This brings up a screen with the option to select either grid or list view.

If you own an Apple Watch Series 4, I encourage you to enable the list view so that it is easier for you take advantage of third party apps, even if you don't use them very often.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 00:15

I posted my review of the Apple Watch Series 4 earlier this week, and so did many others.  I particularly enjoyed the reviews by Jason Snell of Six Colors and Zac Hall of 9to5Mac.  Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac writes about the new-and-improved Digital Crown on the Apple Watch Series 4.  Also notable was the review by Joann Stern of the Wall Street Journal because of the video which accompanies that review; she hired a stunt woman to test the fall detection feature.  Even if you don't read the review, you should watch the fun video so that you can see how fall detection works without having to fall down yourself.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Presidential Alert coming tomorrow, October 3.

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 01:41

A few years ago, I wrote about wireless emergency alerts on the iPhone, and I explained that there are three kinds:  (1) emergency alerts issued because of an imminent threat to public safety or life, such as evacuation orders or shelter in place orders due to severe weather, a terrorist threat, or a chemical spill; (2) AMBER alerts for when a child is abducted, and (3) Presidential Alerts.  All three alerts arise out of the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, sometimes called the WARN Act, 47 U.S.C. § 1201, and more specifically the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program which was created pursuant to the WARN Act by the FCC working with FEMA.

When I wrote that post in 2013, I noted that no president had ever issued a Presidential Alert under WEA or similar prior systems.  And I also noted that while the WARN Act provides in 47 U.S.C. § 1201(b)(2)(E) that cell phone users may opt-out of emergency alerts and AMBER Alerts, a user may not opt-out of Presidential Alerts.  Thus, if you open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap Notifications and then scroll to the bottom, you will see that you only have on/off switches for the first two types of alerts:

Tomorrow, October 3, 2018 at 2:18 p.m. Eastern / 1:18 p.m. Central / 12:18 p.m. Mountain / 11:18 a.m. Pacific, FEMA and the FCC will conduct the first-ever test of a Presidential Alert.  Note that while the test will start at 2:18 p.m. Eastern, it will continue for 30 minutes, so if your iPhone doesn't get the alert right away, it may come at some other time during that 30 minute window.  (This test was originally planned for September 20, but it was delayed because of Hurricane Florence.)  The message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and the body of the message will say:  "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.  No action is needed."

If you will be in court or somewhere else where it would be inappropriate for your iPhone to make a loud noise, TURN OFF YOUR IPHONE BEFORE THAT TIME.  And if you are around other cellphones that make a loud noise tomorrow, now you know what is going on.

Hopefully the test will be deemed a success and we won't have to go through this again for a long time.  And also, my understanding is that the rumors are false, and President Trump will not begin using the Presidential Alert system to send all of his tweets to each of us.  At least, I hope those rumors are false.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Apple Watch Series 4 -- see more, do more

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 00:47

When I reviewed the new 2018 versions of the iPhone, I noted that this is just an "s" year.  There are definitely some nice new features in all of the new iPhones, especially for taking pictures, and if you want a larger screen or a cheaper iPhone X, it is great that Apple has three new models.  Nevertheless, this is not as big of an iPhone upgrade as we saw a year ago.

The opposite is true with the Apple Watch.  The Apple Watch Series 4 is the first significant upgrade to the Apple Watch hardware since the Apple Watch was first previewed in 2014 and started selling in early 2015.  Unlike 2014, when Apple wasn't really sure how the Apple Watch would be used, Apple now has years of experience and knows what people like most about an Apple Watch.  And those are precisely the parts of the Apple Watch that Apple improved.  I've been using the Apple Watch Series 4 for a week, and I am blown away at how amazing this device is.  I use it daily in my law practice, outside of the office for messages and entertainment purposes, when exercising, and pretty much all day long no matter what I'm doing from when I wake up until I go to sleep.  This is an incredibly useful device that I recommend highly to any attorney who uses an iPhone.

The iPhone X version of the Apple Watch

Last year, the iPhone X was a huge leap forward in the iPhone world because Apple figured out a way to make the screen go virtually edge-to-edge.  Thus, the physical size of the iPhone remained familiar, but the usable screen was larger.  You saw much more in the same amount of space.  Apple has applied the same design magic to the Series 4 Apple Watch. There are some changes to the physical size of the watch.  First, the new watch is slightly thinner.  It's not a big change, but it is welcome nevertheless.  In these pictures, my Series 2 is on the left and my Series 4 is on the right:

Another physical change is that the face is slightly larger, with 40 mm and 44 mm sizes instead of the former 42 mm and 38 mm sizes.  This increase is so minor that you probably won't ever notice it unless you put the new Apple Watch next to an old one.  In this picture, my old Apple Watch Series 2 is on the left, and the new Apple Watch Series 4 is on the right:

I've heard some people wonder if the increase from 42 to 44 mm means that a person who previously used a 42 mm should instead get the smaller 40 mm model.  Maybe for some folks this makes sense, but I suspect that most folks who have previously used a 42 mm will be perfectly happy with the 44 mm.  It's really not a big difference in physical size.

The real change to the size of the Apple Watch is that, much like the iPhone X, Apple has brought the usable screen closer to the edges of the watch.  As a result of the improvements, the new screen is now 30% larger.

This is a huge, noticeable improvement.  The additional information that you can see is fantastic.  For example, I've always been able to look at an email on my Apple Watch, but the size of the watch face severely limits how many words you can see at one time.  With the larger screen on the Series 4, I typically see one additional sentence on the screen as compared to the older models.  For longer emails, I'll have to use the scroll wheel to scroll down on either watch, but less scrolling is necessary on the Series 4.  The same is true for text messages and any other app which puts lots of information on the screen.  You see more, and thus you can obtain, and can act upon, the information more quickly.

Other apps simply expand to fill the larger screen so you get a larger watch face, larger controls for music and podcasts, etc.  For these tasks, the larger face makes the Apple Watch much easier and more enjoyable to use.  Here's a s simple example, but one which matters because I do it every day:  typing in my passcode to unlock my Apple Watch is far easier with the larger screen on the Series 4 with the larger buttons.

The larger screen also makes it possible to have new watch faces with many more complications.  The following picture uses the new Infograph watch face that Apple keeps showing off in its press pictures.  It has eight complications in addition to the time:

I am not sure if I am going to use the Infograph as it seems a little too busy to me, plus I prefer digital time over hands on a watch face, but I love that this is an option.

Note that even with the different screen and sizes, you can still use your old Apple Watch bands with the new Series 4.  That's good news for me because I love my Milanese Loop watch band, but it is $150 so I'm glad that I didn't have to buy a new one.

Faster

Early models of the Apple Watch were rather slow, which had a negative impact on usability.  But with each new generation, the Apple Watch gets faster.  The Series 4 is the first Apple Watch to feature a 64-bit processor, which Apple says is twice as fast as the Series 3 — which was 70% faster than the Series 2, and the Series 2 was 50% faster than the original Apple Watch.  Thus, if you are upgrading from an earlier version of the Apple Watch, this speed increase should be quite noticeable — especially if you are using something older than a Series 3.

At this point, you may be thinking "ho hum, it's faster, but every new model is faster."  Fair enough, but this time, the speed increase has real consequences.  With the Series 4, the Apple Watch has crossed over from being a device that operates so slowly that sometimes I just don't bother to use it into a device which operates so quickly that I have no hesitation to use the device to perform tasks.

Let's go back to that email example.  On my Series 2, working with emails works fine, but it is somewhat slow.  On the Series 4, working with email is lightning fast, just as fast as working with emails on my iPhone.  Because of this speed increase, along with the larger screen, I am working with emails on my Apple Watch far more than I ever have before.  I can very quickly triage my inbox by deleting the junk mail and mail that doesn't really interest me.  I can quickly read emails that do matter to me and then act upon them.  Responding to emails is still easier on an iPhone or iPad if I need to type something of substance, but if I just want to send a quick reply, the watch works fine.  And of course I can dictate or scribble out the words of a longer reply if I need to do so.

If your law practice is anything like mine, this is huge.  I get tons of email every day.  When new emails come in, with the Series 4 I can often deal with them faster on my Apple Watch than on my iPhone, in large part because the watch is right their on my wrist whereas I need to dig out the iPhone and then put it away when I'm finished.  Plus, when I pick up my iPhone, there is a greater risk that I will be distracted by some other app on the iPhone.  When working with emails on my Apple Watch, I get in and out more quickly and then get back to my work.  I had no idea before using the Series 4 a week ago that working with emails would be so dramatically improved thanks to the larger screen and the faster watch.

Here's another example where the speed has a direct effect on usability.  I have lots of lights in my house which are controlled by HomeKit,  It is handy to use my Apple Watch to turn lights on and off, sometimes by speaking to Siri, other times by tapping a button in the Home app on the watch.  On my Series 2, sometimes this feature worked OK, and other times it was so slow that it was painful.  With my Series 4 watch, HomeKit devices respond to my Apple Watch commands right away — as quickly as commands coming from an iPhone.  The speed increase means that I no longer hesitate to use my Apple Watch with HomeKit devices, and thus it is almost like HomeKit performance is an additional feature of the Series 4.

Cellular

Apple added cellular support to the Apple Watch Series 3, but I never owned a Series 3 so I've been using cellular on my Apple Watch for the first time this week.  Thanks to a new ceramic back, which reduces interference with radio waves, Apple says that cellular activity is works even better on the Series 4.

Before last week, I didn't think that this would be that significant for me.  After all, don't I carry my iPhone pretty much all the time?  But it has been been a nicer feature than I expected, especially when I've walked or jogged in a park to try to close my activity circles.  There often isn't really a good place to put an iPhone in exercise clothes, and with the Series 4, I don't have to.  I pair my AirPods with my Apple Watch, and then I'm off.  I've tested receiving and sending emails, receiving and sending text messages, and placing and picking up phone calls when my Apple Watch is using cellular.  It all just works.  It is so nice to know that I'm connected to the outside world in case someone needs me or I need to contact someone else – even though I'm not carrying around a heavy iPhone.  Indeed, I don't even feel the weight of an Apple Watch on my arm or AirPods in my ears, so I get all of this without feeling ANY extra weight at all.

Digital Crown

As part of the redesign, Apple made the Digital Crown on the side smaller.  I don't notice the difference in normal usage.  Apple also added haptic feedback when spinning the Digital Crown, and the clicks make a big difference.  It makes spinning the crown feel far more precise because you feel a click as each item is passed on the scrolling list.  If you haven't tried a Series 4 yet this might not sound like a very big deal, but in normal usage it is really nice. 

EKG

In addition to monitoring your heart beats, the Series 4 adds the ability to check your heart activity by running a simple EKG test (sometimes called an ECG).  Just put your finger on the digital crown, start the test, and you'll get results in 30 seconds.  I'm a lawyer not a doctor, but from what I've been reading for the last few days, this feature can help to save lives.

For example, here is a post on Reddit by a doctor explaining that the new Apple Watch can help to detect Atrial Fibrillation, which is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, and something that is experienced by up to 25% of people over 40 years old.

Note that this EKG feature requires a special app, which Apple says it will release later this year.  And for many folks, this feature will be unimportant.  But for some folks, especially those working with a heart doctor, this feature could be literally life changing.

Louder

The new speaker in the Apple Watch is 50% louder.  And the microphone was moved to the right side of the Apple Watch (the opposite side as the speaker) to reduce interference.  If you are using your Apple Watch to make phone calls or to use the new Walkie-Talkie feature, the improved speaker should help.  I usually keep sounds turned off on my Apple Watch, so this feature doesn't matter so much to me.

Fall detection

The Series 4 Apple Watch includes a more advanced accelerometer and gyroscope which can detect if you fall.  And if you fall down and then don't move for 60 seconds, the Apple Watch can even call 911 and your emergency contacts.  For folks above a certain age — or for anyone who can be clumsy — this looks like a feature that you hope to never use, but that you will very much appreciate if you need it.

Etc.

There is a lot more that is packed into the Apple Watch Series 4, including new watch faces, Bluetooth 5.0 (which I hope will improve communications between the Apple Watch and the iPhone), increased battery life for outdoor workouts when you are using GPS, and more.

Models

This is the first version of the Apple Watch that does not come in a more expensive Special Edition version made of high-end materials (gold in the first Apple Watch, ceramic in later models).  However, there is now a new gold stainless steel version of the watch.  You can also select the Nike+ version or the Hermès versions, which include different watch bands and a special watch face.

Apple no longer calls the aluminum version of the Apple Watch the "sport" model.  You just get an Apple Watch, and you choose whether you want aluminum and stainless steel, with stainless steel costing $300 more.  I prefer the look and feel of the stainless steel over aluminum, and I also like that the stainless steel version has a more durable screen — a sapphire crystal face, instead of Ion-X glass.  Even though I have hit the face of my Series 2 Apple Watch on countless objects over the yaars, I have never gotten a scratch.  My wife is far more poised and less clumsy than me, but her Series 2 aluminum Apple Watch does have some small scratches.

Conclusion

I was really excited about the iPhone X when it came out a year ago, and I absolutely loved using it for the past year.  I feel the same way about the Apple Watch Series 4.  The larger screen and the increase in speed make everything better.  Indeed, some features are so much better than I am using them far more than ever before.  The Apple Watch Series 4 is a huge leap forward.  If you have been thinking about getting an Apple Watch but were waiting for the right time, that time is now.  If you have an older Apple Watch and you already know that it is a useful device for you, upgrading to a Series 4 will be a huge improvement to what you already love.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 00:27

This is the best time of the year for the iPhone.  We have new devices, and the iPhone XS has been a real champ for me this week during a crazy busy week for me both at work and after work.  We are also seeing more apps being updated to work with iOS 12 and watchOS 5.  And CarPlay has been seeing some nice improvements thanks to more third party apps.  Here is the news of note from the past week:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: iPhone XS -- amazing screen, fantastic pictures, and more

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 01:16

Last year's iPhone X was, in my opinion, the most significant year-to-year advance in iPhone technology.  Apple found a way to almost defy physics, fitting a larger, beautiful OLED screen into a device that remained the same size in your hand.  Apple also added a second camera lens — a telephoto lens — which Apple previously only found space for on the larger Plus models.  Toss in the speed improvements and various other new features, and it was a major upgrade.  The 2017 iPhone X seemed like it was a 2018 iPhone X that we were somehow seeing a year early.  (And as if to emphasize that point, last year Apple introduced an iPhone 8, and then skipped number 9 to also introduce the iPhone X.)

How do you follow up on an act like that?  Apple actually has some experience in this area.  It adds nice but incremental improvements to the prior year model, and then to indicate that it is a less significant upgrade, Apple adds an "s" to the name.  Hence, Apple has introduced the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 6s.  An "s" year iPhone doesn't mean that there are no big new features.  For example, the iPhone 4S added Siri and the iPhone 5S added a way to authenticate without typing a password (Touch ID), and both of those features remain critical parts of the iPhone.  But in an "s" year, hardware changes are typically less noticeable.

That last sentence holds true this year in one way, but doesn't hold true in two other ways.  The iPhone XS, which I purchased, fits the mold of prior "s" year upgrades.  The hardware on the outside looks almost exactly the same, so the real improvements are under the hood.  But in addition, Apple made the iPhone larger in the iPhone XS Max, and Apple made the iPhone less expensive with the iPhone XR.  If you purchase either the iPhone XS Max or the iPhone XR, then you are getting a phone with obvious physical differences from the 2017 iPhone X.  This review focuses on the iPhone XS, but I at the end I also have some comments about the other two new iPhones.

The iPhone X

Before talking about the iPhone XS, I want to say a few words about the iPhone X, because I am sure that most of you who are considering a new iPhone this year are upgrading from a model that is at least a few years old.  Crossing over from an iPhone with a home button to an iPhone with an edge-to-edge screen is a major change.  And at least initially, perhaps not a welcome change.  Many attorneys (including my wife) have told me that they like having a home button; something that you can always press to exit from an app and go back to the main screen.  Additionally, there are real advantages to using Touch ID over Face ID.  For example, your face has to be in front of the camera, so you cannot just reach over to touch your iPhone to unlock it; you need to move the iPhone (or move your face) to the right position.  And while you can discretely unlock an iPhone using Touch ID while you are talking to someone else, the other person will notice if you stop looking at them and start looking at your iPhone.

Nevertheless, I think that the advantage of a larger screen is more than worth it.  I'm reminded of ten years ago, when I heard from countless attorneys who loved the small keyboards on their BlackBerries and Palm Treos, folks who said that they couldn't imagine typing on a flat glass screen.  I would always say that the space used up by a physical keyboard is wasted when you are not typing, resulting in a tiny screen that could be twice as large, allowing you to see more emails and other information.  The same is true today.  When you give up the space dedicated to the home button and the bezels around the edges, you have so much more screen real estate without increasing the size of the device.  I used this picture with my review of the iPhone X, and it sums up why I love, love the larger iPhone X, and now iPhone XS, screen — you get Line 8 and Line 9:

Learning to swipe up from the bottom of the screen instead of pressing a button involves a learning curve, and you do give up something when you move from Touch ID to Face ID.  But I think it is worth it, and I encourage you to keep an open mind about the change.  The large and beautiful screen on the iPhone X and now the iPhone XS is a delight to use, and my enthusiasm hasn't waned one bit even after almost a year of using it.  You can use a device that feels the same size in your hand, but you can see so much more on the screen, and the screen technology itself is so much nicer to look at.  The iPhone has always been about the touchscreen, and for the past year that touchscreen has been amazing.

Better photography

If you skipped over the iPhone X and are now thinking about getting the iPhone XS, one of the big reasons to do so is that you can take much better pictures with the iPhone XS.  Last year's iPhone X already did a great job of taking pictures, but there were circumstances in which it struggled, such as when you had lots of contrast in a picture with both bright and dark areas.

The iPhone XS is really impressive in these circumstances because of technology which Apple calls Smart HDR.  When you are talking about photography, a picture really is worth a thousand words, so here are some examples.  I took some pictures this weekend using both my iPhone X and my iPhone XS, and I think that the differences are pretty remarkable.  If you are using an iPhone even older than the iPhone X, the differences will be even more noticeable.  I did not do anything to correct the color, exposure, etc. in any of these pictures.  I did crop them a little.  In every picture below, the first picture was taken with the iPhone X, and the second picture was taken with the iPhone XS, in both cases using the normal 1x wide angle lens, not the telephoto lens.  You can click on any picture to see a larger version.

In this first example, I'm taking a picture of brick walls with a bright sky in the background.  The sky was bright enough that the contrast overwhelmed the iPhone X.  It is not until you look at the second picture taken with the iPhone XS that you realize that you are supposed to be seeing a roof of a house just over the brick wall.  And the color of the bricks in the iPhone XS picture better matches what my eyes actually saw.

Now let's go to St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans to look at a passing streetcar.  On a bright day, many pictures taken with the iPhone X are hazy, which causes the colors to be more drab.  The iPhone XS does a better job of showing the true colors of the green streetcar with its crimson accents.  You also see more color, and more detail, in the shadow on the grass created by the streetcar.  The text on the side of the streetcar is crisper.  The skin tones on the people are more accurate.  It is just a better picture.

As the streetcar passed me, I took another set of pictures.  Once again, the iPhone X picture is far more hazy, so the colors look worse.  I will admit that there is one small advantage to the haze in the iPhone X picture:  You see rays of light, which is an interesting artistic effect.  But the rest of the picture looks worse.  One noticeable difference:  the sky.  Over and over again in my pictures, I noticed that on a bright day you are far more likely to see the blue in the sky with the iPhone XS.  If you like a blue sky, get an iPhone XS.  (Note to Apple:  feel free to use that marketing line in your advertising.)

I even tried to save the iPhone X picture by using the edit feature in the Photos app to restore some of the green and crimson on the streetcar and the green of the grass that is washed out in the original iPhone X picture.  That helped, but it still didn't look as good as the iPhone XS picture; for example, I still couldn't see the blue of the sky.

As the streetcar started to head away from me and towards the French Quarter, I took one last set of pictures.  With the streetcar taking up less of the screen, I was finally able to see some of the blue sky even in the iPhone X picture.  But the shadow on the side of the streetcar and on the ground next to the streetcar was too much of a challenge for the iPhone X, resulting in a darker picture with fewer details.  But the iPhone XS handled this with aplomb. 

I think that these streetcar picture examples are informative because they reflect many of the pictures that I take with an iPhone in real life.  The times when I think to myself something like: "Oh cool, there is a streetcar, let me take a quick picture as it passes."  Because your iPhone is with you so often, the convenience makes it the perfect camera for those quick, unplanned moments in life in which you want to quickly snap a picture of friends or family or the world around you. 

Professional photographers use equipment and techniques to get the right amount of light for a photograph.  But in real life, you don't have all that fancy stuff, and often you want to take a picture when the light isn't that great.  As iPhone low light photography has improved every year, you are more likely to get a great picture to remember that special moment.  It comes as no surprise that the iPhone XS also does a better job with low-light photography, and thanks to the advanced processor, it is a big leap forward.  John Gruber of Daring Fireball has some excellent examples of both photos and videos in low light in this set on Flickr.  The video examples near the bottom are particularly impressive.

One thing that you notice in low light photos in which there is a source of light is that the source of light itself looks much better.  In the following pictures, notice how you can actually see the shape of the flame in the iPhone XS picture.  It is all just a blob in the iPhone X picture:

The iPhone XS also does a great job with videos.  I took some videos of my daughter playing soccer on Saturday, and they came out great.  The grass is green, the sky is blue, and the images are crisp.  Jason Snell of Six Colors may have figured out the reason that the video looked so good when he tweeted the following on Friday:  "Maybe the most bananas thing I've learned about iPhone XS is that if you shoot 4K 30fps video, it actually shoots 60fps with every other frame stepped up/down, and then stitches the frame pairs together on the fly to create extended dynamic range."  By the way, if you enjoy using your iPhone to take videos, I strongly encourage you to consider getting the Glif + Hand Grip by Studio Neat, which I reviewed last year.

Portrait mode photographs are pretty neat on the iPhone XS.  You can adjust the amount of blur in the background, an effect called bokeh, commonly seen in pictures taken with high-end SLR cameras.  I tried this with some pictures of my daughter, and it was nice to have this level of control.  As you blur the background more, you place more emphasis on the subject of the photo, and then you get to decide how much blur is too much.  Apple did a nice job with this.

Every year, there is new iPhone that takes better pictures, but this year Apple did an especially good job with the improvements.  What is most fascinating to me is that while the iPhone XS does feature a slightly better wide angle lens (the zoom lens is the same as the iPhone X), the picture quality is often substantially better simply because the processor inside of the iPhone is so much faster and more sophisticated.  The iPhone X was already a good camera, but the iPhone XS is much better.  If you take pictures with your iPhone, this is the iPhone for you.

Performance

Speaking of the processor improvements, the new CPU is faster and more energy efficient, and it includes a neural engine which allows the iPhone to handle even more sophisticated tasks.  Updating from an iPhone that is two or more years old to the iPhone XS result in a noticeable speed increase, with everything seeming much more responsive.  And even as compared to last year's iPhone X, the iPhone XS does a much better with complicated operations.  For example, the free augmented reality LightSpace app is much more fluid on an iPhone XS than on an iPhone X.  I rarely play games with sophisticated 3D graphics, but I have no doubt that those perform even better on the iPhone XS.

I haven't yet able to test Gigabit-class LTE, a faster version of 4G as 5G is still being developed, which the iPhone XS supports.  My carrier, AT&T, is bringing this service to New Orleans this year, but apparently, it isn't live yet.  In cities where it is available, Gigabit-class LTE should be about twice as fast as current LTE.

The iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XR

I stopped in my local Apple Store this weekend to see what the new Apple Watch Series 4 looks like.  (It looks awesome, and the one I ordered should be delivered soon.).  I also checked out the iPhone XS Max.  It looks just like an iPhone XS, only bigger, which makes everything easier to see.  However, it felt ridiculously large in my hand.  For me, the advantage of a larger screen isn't worth the tradeoff of the device being so much harder to hold, not is it worth losing the ability to use the iPhone with just one hand.  Having said that, soon after I tried out the iPhone XS Max, I ran into someone telling me how much he likes his iPhone 8 Plus, which is about the same size, so I know that there are people who like this form factor.  If that describes you, then the iPhone XS Max is a major leap forward because you get a crazy large screen in a device size that you are already used to holding.

If you want to spend less money but get most of the features of the iPhone XS, then the iPhone XR might be perfect for you.  In my September 13, 2018 post, I listed everything that you give up with the iPhone XR.  The feature that I would most miss is the telephoto lens, but if that isn't important to you, the iPhone XR looks like a very compelling device.  You can order an iPhone XR starting October 19, and devices ship and are available in stores a week later.

Misc.

There are a few other things worth knowing about the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max.  First, they come in a new color:  gold.  It is sort of a mocha/copper type of gold.  It doesn't appeal to me, but I'm sure that it will appeal to many folks.

Second, Apple says that the screen is even more durable.  Vanessa Hand Orellana of CNet did some drop tests, and the results were promising:  "I've done my fair share of drop tests in my time at CNET, and I've never come out of one without a broken phone.  Until now.  The iPhone XS didn't crack."  Hopefully none of us need to "test" this ourselves.

Third, the iPhone has dual-SIM support using a second eSIM.  If you travel intentionally, this could be very useful.

Fourth, Face ID is a little better on the iPhone XS versus the iPhone X.  In my side-by-side tests, sometimes it worked just as well, but other times Face ID worked better on the iPhone XS.  Every little bit helps, but so far this has not been a major improvement.  One important caveat — Face ID is a technology that is supposed to improve over time.  Is it possible that I'm really comparing an iPhone X with a year of learning my face against an iPhone XS which has only had a weekend, and will get even better over time?  I'm not sure, but perhaps.

Fifth, the sound is improved.  The speakers are much better than the iPhone X, with wider sound, so much so that the first time I played a video I was actually startled that this sound was coming from my iPhone.  And when you record video, the iPhone XS now records in stereo, so it sounds better.  Check out those John Gruber videos I linked above to see what I mean.

Sixth, the iPhone XS is more water resistant.  I didn't test this with my expensive new phone, but as I described in more detail in my September 13, 2018 post, Apple has increased the IP Code rating from IP67 to IP68.  And that's better.

Conclusion

Unless you are an early adopter who loves using the latest and greatest technology, I don't recommend upgrading from an iPhone X to an iPhone XS unless you want the larger size of the Max or if photography is really important to you.  But for everyone else, the iPhone XS is amazing, combining everything I loved about the iPhone X with even more nice features. 

With the large and beautiful screen of the iPhone XS, you can see more information on the screen at one time.  Whether you are reading emails, looking at a document, doing some quick legal research, or looking at a PDF file, you can be more productive than ever with the iPhone XS.  Sure, there will still be times when you want to instead reach for an iPad or a computer, but I have been able to do more with my iPhone X for the last year and the same will be true with the iPhone XS.  When you are done with your work, the iPhone XS is the perfect device for the rest of your life, especially if that involves taking pictures.

It is also nice that you get more choice this year.  If you want a crazy large screen, get the iPhone XS Max.  If you want to shave off some of the features that you can live without and save some money, get the iPhone XR next month.  But for the best all-around phone, I think that the iPhone XS hits the sweet spot.

My past year of using an iPhone X was my favorite year ever of using an iPhone.  I can already see that the iPhone XS is going to be even better.  If you are ready for an upgrade, you are in for a treat. 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 09/21/2018 - 02:37

Many of Apple's newest products go on sale today, including the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the Apple Watch Series 4.  (The iPhone XR will be available in stores starting October 26.)  Using the Deliveries app on my current iPhone, I've been monitoring my iPhone Xs this week as it went from Shenzhen, China to Anchorage, Alaska to Louisville, Kentucky, and as I type this it should soon be on an early Friday morning plane to New Orleans.  My own travel over the last few days has been far less interesting because my days have mostly been consumed with drafting appellate briefs.  This has been a crazy busy week in the world of iOS-related stories, thanks to the new version of iOS and watchOS that came out earlier this week, the numerous reviews written by folks who got early looks at the new iPhones and new Apple Watch, and tons of app updates to take advantage of the new features in iOS 12.  I've tried to select some of the most interesting items to feature in this collection of the news of note from the past week:

  • California attorney David Sparks posted a video review of the Elevation Labs Draft Table, a strong and sturdy stand that can tilt your iPad to various angles.  I like that it can be adjusted to different angles.  In my law practice, I mostly use my iPad Pro in two different angles.  First, when I taking handwritten notes, and sometimes when I am annotating documents, I prefer a slight tilt, and the Apple Smart Cover is perfect for that.  Second, when I am mostly reading things on the screen and doing some light annotation, I prefer a more upright position, and for that, I love the strong and sturdy Simplex Tablet iPad Stand by Thought Out (my review).  The Simplex only has one viewing angle, but I find that it is the only angle that I need other than the one I get with my Apple Smart Cover.  Whatever product you use, I think that getting your iPad in the right angle for the work you are doing is a key part of being more productive with an iPad in a law practice.
  • Suzanne Barlyn of Reuters reported this week that John Hancock, one of the oldest life insurers in North America, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance policies and instead will only offer policies that adjust the life insurance premiums based upon how much you exercise, as measured by a wearable device such as the Apple Watch.
  • To get you ready for your new insurance policy, let's start with some news items about the Apple Watch.  I wasn't surprised to see reviews of the new Series 4 Apple Watch this week by traditional media outlets, but I was surprised to see a review by Jon Hamm — yes, that Jon Hamm, of Mad Men — who talked to John Lonsdale of Men's Journal about his thoughts on the new device.  Hamm says:  "It’s not as chunky on your wrist, but the face is bigger, so if you have fat fingers like me, you can press those little buttons and it all works well."
  • Stephen Pulvirent of Hodinkee, who specializes in reviewing expensive watches, wrote a great review of the Series 4 Apple Watch.  The video which accompanies the review is beautifully-produced and informative.  Given his job, it is no surprise that he concludes by saying that he still plans to wear his Rolex most days, but he admits that he is going to keep a Series 4 charged and ready to go for certain days, and says that "Apple is on a trajectory where each new version of the Apple Watch gets more useful, cooler, more fun to wear, and we're on a path where at some point, it's just going to become indispensable.  And with the Apple Watch Series 4, Apple is showing us that that future is closer than we thought."  I've never owned a Rolex or other super-expensive traditional watch, and because I love wearing an Apple Watch so much, I'm quite certain that I never will.
  • Liz Plosser of Women's Health says that the new Apple Watch is a "powerful health and fitness accessory."
  • The new Series 4 Apple Watch looks amazing, but almost every Apple Watch model got better this week thanks to watchOS 5.  Alex Guyot wrote a comprehensive review of watchOS 5 for MacStories.
  • The other new Apple hardware in the news this week was the iPhone XS.  Rene Ritchie of iMore wrote a comprehensive review of the iPhone XS.
  • David Pogue of Yahoo reviews the new iPhone XS and, as always, includes one of his funny and goofy videos to go along with it.
  • Travel photographer Austin Mann shows that the new iPhone XS does a great job of capturing what people actually see with their eyes, thanks to the HDR improvements.
  • Former White House photographer Pete Souza took some amazing pictures for DailyMail with the new iPhone XS in Washington, D.C.
  • Almost every model of the iPhone got better this week thanks to iOS 12.  Jason Snell of Six Colors explains the improved search feature in Photos in iOS 12 which allows you to, for example, see pictures you have taken of dogs, and then refine that to just see pictures of dogs in the snow.
  • I love, love, love, love, love the deep integration of 1Password into iOS 12.  Ryan Christoffel of MacStories shows off how it works.  If you still don't use a password manager, now that iOS 12 is out, you really don't have an excuse.
  • Overcast was already my favorite podcast app, but it is now so much better with iOS 12 and watchOS 5.  I particularly love the ability to listen to podcasts using just my Apple Watch and my AirPods, which is great for doing tasks around the house without having to carry around an iPhone.  I haven't yet used this combination when walking or jogging outside, but I look forward to trying that out soon.  Zac Hall of 9to5Mac wrote a good review of what is new in Overcast on the iPhone and Apple Watch.
  • It's going to take me months to get my arms around the new automation that is now possible thanks to Siri Shortcuts and the Shortcuts app in iOS 12.  But as if that wasn't enough, Federico Viticci of MacStories figured out how to trigger IFTTT applets using Siri and the Shortcuts app, which gives you the ability to trigger hundreds of additional services and devices such as a Sonos, a Roomba, an online document, and more.
  • Steven Levy wrote a great article for Wired about the history of Apple's Infinite Loop campus, based on interviews with tons of folks connected with Apple.
  • And finally, here is a video produced by Apple which shows off the major new features of the iPhone XS in just one minute:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Initial reviews of the new iPhone XS

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 02:12

A few days ago, Apple provided select members of the press with an iPhone XS and an iPhone XS Max so that they could post a review yesterday, shortly before the 2018 versions of the iPhone officially go on sale this Friday.  Review units were given to John Gruber of Daring Fireball (review), Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch (review), Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal (review), Nilay Patel (a former practicing attorney) at The Verge (review), Raymond Wong of Mashable (review), John Paczkowski of BuzzFeed (review), Brian X. Chen of the New York Times (review), Lauren Goode of Wired (review), Todd Haselton of CNBC (review), and Scott Stein of CNET (review).  Here are my major takeaways from what these folks wrote after using the new iPhones for the last few days:

  • Many people found the camera to be much better than the iPhone X.  John Gruber was particularly impressed, and the photos that he provided as examples show that the iPhone XS produces noticeably better pictures than the iPhone X in situations in which HDR makes a difference — pictures in which you have both light and dark spots.  If you are taking pictures outside on a nice day, this may not matter very much.  But if you are inside with less light, this can make a big difference.  Similarly, Matthew Panzarino provided some stunning sample pictures and said that he thinks Apple "dramatically undersold how much improved photos are from the iPhone X to the iPhone XS.  It’s extreme, and it has to do with a technique Apple calls Smart HDR."  And Nilay Patel says that the "camera upgrades on the XS over the X are significant. The XS makes the X camera look terrible most of the time."  (Patel still prefers the pictures taken by the Google Pixel 2, but when I looked at his sample pictures, I preferred the iPhone XS picture over the Google Pixel 2 picture every time.  Just goes to show you that there is certainly a subjective element to an art like photography.)
  • On the other hand, some of the other reviewers were less impressed with the camera.  For example, John Paczkowski said that the iPhone XS pictures were better than ones he took with the iPhone X, and yet it was still "pretty hard to tell" the difference.  And Lauren Goode said that pictures taken with the iPhone XS were only "slightly improved from the iPhone X photos," although she did see a more noticeable improvement in portrait mode photos.
  • Considering that you can actually see how much better the pictures are in the reviews posted by folks like Gruber and Panzarino, I find myself believing that the iPhone XS camera really is a big improvement over the iPhone X, but only some of the time, and perhaps other reviewers were taking pictures in conditions in which the improvement was less noticeable.  As Joanna Stern noted:  "The smart HDR feature and new sensors did make for a more even and clear photo when shooting almost directly into brighter lights—plus crisper, more colorful low-light shots—but overall my photos looked similar to the ones I’ve taken with the X."  But she also found that autofocus and launching the camera is much faster.
  • If you like the idea of a bigger phone, the iPhone XS Max is a very nice bigger phone.  If you previously used a Plus model of an iPhone, then you know whether that type of size is too large for your hands.  But many reviewers, such as Brian X. Chen, said that after trying both, they preferred the iPhone XS size.  If you want an interesting perspective, check out the video at the top of the review by Joanna Stern in which she shows what an iPhone XS Max looks like in the hands of basketball player Gheorghe Muresan.
  • Only one reviewer, Todd Haselton, tested the improved water resistance of the iPhone XS.  He said that he put the iPhone XS "in a fountain about 1 foot deep for five minutes and it was totally fine after I took it out."
  • The screen on the iPhone XS supposed to be more durable.  Nevertheless, Joanna Stern reported that the screen on her iPhone XS Max cracked after “a minor fall onto wood."
  • The built-in speakers are noticeably better.  Raymond Wong says that there is more separation between the left and right channels.  And many reviewers noted that the sound is noticeably louder.
  • The iPhone XS is noticeably faster.  Raymond Wong notes that complicated games like Fortnite play better on the iPhone XS.  And Joanna Stern noted that even "[e]veryday actions are faster too — even just pressing the reply button in the Gmail app."  Several folks noted that Face ID is also faster and thus works better.
  • If you use a wireless charger, it will work better with the iPhone XS because the iPhone XS is more forgiving about where you place the iPhone on the charger.

My iPhone XS is supposed to be delivered this Friday.  In light of these initial reviews, I'll definitely be taking lots of pictures this weekend to see what I think about the improvements.  And I hope that I notice the speed increases in everyday actions, as Joanna Stern pointed out.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

iOS 12 will be released today, along with watchOS 5

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 01:05

Today, Apple will release as a software update the latest version of the operating system for the iPhone and iPad, iOS 12.  Apple previewed the features of iOS 12 three months ago, and you can click here to read what is new.  Note that I discussed the new version of FaceTime in that post, but Apple has decided to wait a little bit longer before rolling out the group FaceTime feature.

The feature that I am most looking forward to is Siri Shortcuts.  I like the Workflow app, and now that it is built-in to the operating system it will be so much more powerful.  I like that iOS 12 will recommend shortcuts to you, making this feature accessible to everyone.  But I'm especially interested to see all of the great shortcuts that power users will be able to dream up and share.

Moreover, when apps are updated to support shortcuts, they can become much more powerful.  Here's a great example.  I often wear my AirPods to listen to a podcast or music as I am walking through an airport to catch a flight.  Wit the TripIt app installed on my iPhone, I can say "Hey Siri, upcoming flight" and TripIt will (1) tell my my next flight number such as Delta 123, (2) tell me how long I have before the flight departs, (3) tell me the gate number, and (4) tell me the flight's status.  (Note that #4, flight status, is only available if you pay for the TripIt Pro service, but the other features work for everyone.)  That is precisely the information that I want as I'm walking through the airport, and if I'm wearing my AirPods, Siri can just talk to me without me needing to look down at my iPhone screen.  And this is just one example of what the TripIt app can do with shortcuts.  And TripIt is just one of countless apps that will be updated to support shortcuts.  This is cool stuff.

I'm also looking forward to the improvements to notifications.  In iOS 12, they are even easier to manage and organize.

It's always a good idea to backup your device before you install a major new update such as iOS 12.  Last night, I backed up my iPhone and my iPad to my iMac so that I would be ready.  The update is typically available around 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern, and I always recommend that you wait a few hours before updating because there have been a few times in the past when Apple had to pull an update shortly after release because a bug was discovered. 

watchOS 5

In addition to iOS 12, Apple is also releasing watchOS 5 today.  I discussed the major new features in this post.  There are fitness improvements, the new Walkie-Talkie feature, support for Siri Shortcuts, podcast support, improved notifications, and more.  Thus, if you already have an Apple Watch on your wrist, today it gets better.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 03:29

Early this morning, Apple started taking orders for the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the newly redesigned Series 4 version of the Apple Watch.  I placed orders for an iPhone XS and the Series 4 Apple Watch.  At the time that I placed my orders, the delivery date for the iPhone XS and the aluminum version of the Series 4 Apple Watch was September 21.  However, I ordered the Stainless Steel version of the Apple Watch, and even though I placed my order immediately when the Apple Store opened, my Stainless Steel model has a delivery date of September 28 to October 2.  For folks looking to get the iPhone XS Max, I see that it did not take very long for delivery dates to go past September 21 for many of the configurations.  It will be interesting to see what kind of demand there is for all of the new products announced this week and how far back the delivery dates start to slip.  And now, the news of note from this busy week in the iPhone and Apple Watch world:

  • One of the notable new features in the Series 4 Apple Watch is the the ability to perform an EKG.  Christina Farr of CNBC has an excellent explanation of this new feature and what it can do.
  • In addition to selling AppleCare+ for the iPhone, Apple has started a new insurance program called AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss.  As the name implies, this program will cover two incidents of accidental damage, theft, or loss, although there is a deductible.  Get more information on the Apple website.
  • Christina Passariello of the Washington Post talked to Apple's design chief, Jony Ive, about the new Apple Watch.
  • Last year, Apple announced the AirPower charging pad, but it still hasn't been released, and most references to it were removed from the Apple website this week.  Mike Wuerthele of AppleInsider has some theories on why.
  • Readdle makes some of the most useful apps for attorneys including Scanner Pro (which I use on my iPhone every week, and sometimes every day) and PDF Expert.  Killian Bell of Cult of Mac reports that the company's apps have now been downloaded 100 million times.  Congrats, Readdle!
  • You can now use ApplePay at nearly all 7-Eleven stores, as reported by Juli Clover of MacRumors.
  • It is widely known that Apple is planning to open its own video streaming service in the future.  Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac reports that Apple just won its first Emmy award for Apple-produced content, this one for Carpool Karaoke.  I suspect that this won't be Apple's last Emmy for a TV show.
  • If you own an Apple HomePod, it's going to get better next week.  As Ryan Christoffel of MacStories reports, the device will gain support for multiple timers, phone calls, and the ability to play a song if you don't know the name but you do know a line of the lyrics.
  • Geoffrey Fowler of the Washington Post discusses the challenges with recycling consumer electronics such as iPhones and iPads containing lithium-ion batteries.
  • In what almost seemed like a response to that article by Fowler, Apple's keynote featured a presentation by Lisa Jackson, Apple's Vice President in charge of environment, policy and social initiatives.  (She is also the former administrator of the EPA.)  Horace Dediu of Asymco discusses the most interesting aspects of Jackson's presentation.
  • And finally, Apple released lots of videos in connection with this week announcements, but today I'm just picking one that is silly and fun.  The opening video for this week's keynote address features someone running across Apple's new campus in Mission: Impossible style.  (As Roger Fingas of AppleInsider points out, Apple took some liberties for the path used by this runner.)  The video is entertaining, and also gives you some good views of Apple's new campus:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Why lawyers will love the iPhone Xs

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 02:41

There have been four times in the past when Apple has debuted a major new iPhone with a new hardware design, and then the next year has debuted an "s" model:  the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 6s.  These "s" models contain new features, sometimes even new hardware features, but the main emphasis seems to be on deeply improving the prior year's model.  Many lawyers have told me that they buy a new iPhone every two years and prefer to buy on the "s" year because that is when Apple really perfects each generation of iPhone.  Yesterday, Apple debuted the new iPhone XS (pronounced "ten ess"), and it fits this model perfectly.  The iPhone XS answers the question of what can we do if we take the basic hardware of the iPhone X, with that beautiful OLED edge-to-edge screen, and then deeply improve it.

One of the most notable ways that Apple has improved upon the iPhone X model is by releasing three different versions of the iPhone XS.  The main model adds the typical types of improvements that we would expect for an "s" model.  But Apple also introduced two other versions of the iPhone XS:  one for people who want an even bigger screen called the iPhone XS Max, and one for people who to save some money but still get most of the good stuff called the iPhone XR.  Add to this that many of the older iPhone models are still available for sale at cheaper prices, and there is truly an iPhone for everyone.

I'll start by discussing the improvements over the iPhone X that exist in both the main model and the larger Max model — and most of these improvements also exist in the cheaper iPhone XR model.

Performance

For a while now, Apple has been designing its own CPUs, allowing the company to create amazing processors which make the iPhone more powerful every year.  For the 2018 iPhone, Apple has added the new A12 Bionic chip.  As you would expect, this new CPU is faster and more energy efficient than prior models.  But to give the A12 an additional boost, Apple added a the Neural Engine, a part of the CPU dedicated to the task of machine learning. 

Thanks to the Neural Engine, the iPhone XS can recognize patterns, make predictions, and learn from experience, and do all of this while performing five trillion operations per second.  In other words, the iPhone is smarter and faster.  The Neural Engine is especially useful for the camera (more on that below), but also allows the iPhone XS to perform more sophisticated computations.  Augmented Reality should be significantly better on the iPhone XS. 

Obviously this makes the iPhone better for CPU-intensive apps like sophisticated games.  But even if you are just drafting an email to a client, surfing the web, or looking at photos, a faster iPhone is a more responsive iPhone, which always makes an iPhone more pleasant to use.

Speaking of making the iPhone faster, the iPhone XS also adds support for Gigabit-class LTE, a faster version of 4G as 5G is still being developed.  My carrier, AT&T, currently has Gigabit LTE in 141 markets.  Gigabit LTE should be about twice as fast as 4G, up to 400 Mbps.  In the real world, I typically see LTE download speeds of around 150 Mbps where I live in New Orleans, whereas if I am close to the Wi-Fi router in my house I see wireless download speeds from my cable modem of around 330 Mbps.  I'll be curious to see if Gigabit LTE is just as fast as Wi-Fi at my house — and significantly faster when I'm not close to the Wi-Fi router — after I upgrade to the iPhone XS.

Camera

It is truly amazing how far the camera on the iPhone has come in the last decade.  Apple says that the newest iPhone has the best camera yet.  It looks like there are only minor improvements in the camera hardware.  Just like the iPhone X, the iPhone XS has two 12 megapixel cameras on the rear, one of which is a wide-angle f/1.8 lens and one of which is a telephone f/2.4 lens.  I love having that telephoto lens on my iPhone X, and if you haven't used an iPhone with this feature before, you'll love it.  There are so many times that I am taking a picture with my iPhone and I want to get closer — such as when I'm taking a picture of my daughter kicking the soccer ball when she is across a soccer field from me.  For both pictures and video, that telephoto lens is a nice feature.

The main thing that is new for the iPhone XS in terms of taking pictures is that the CPU features an improved image signal processor which does a heck of a lot more   As Apple noted yesterday, what really makes the iPhone camera better is the computational photography.  The new the iPhone XS performs up to a trillion operations on every photo you take.  For example, the iPhone XS adds a feature that Apple calls Smart HDR, an improved version of HDR photography.  Apple VP Phil Schiller describes it this way: 

So let's say you're taking a picture and the camera recognizes you're shooting a subject and the subject is moving.  You go to press down on the shutter and you get a picture instantly.  It's called zero shutter lag.  What the A12 Bionic is actually doing is shooting a four-frame buffer so it can capture that critical moment.  But the A12 Bionic is doing even more than that.  It's also capturing secondary inter-frames at the same time.  And those inter-frames are shot at a different exposure level to bring out highlight details.  And it's doing more than that.  It's shooting a long exposure so it can get better shadow detail as well.  And when you're taking that picture it's analyzing all of those, finding out how to match up the best parts of each and merge them into one perfect photo.  That's Smart HDR.  It is a breakthrough, and it makes taking photos easier than ever to get beautiful results.

Apple also showed off a cool new feature when taking Portrait Mode photos — photos in which the subject of your picture is in focus but the background is blurred, similar to the bokeh effect you get with a high-end SLR camera.  There is now a slider to adjust the amount of blurring in the background, so you can decide if you want to see some of the background details, or if you want your subject to really stand out.

Although I normally think of using the camera to take pictures, the front-facing camera is also critical for Face ID.  Apple says that thanks to the advanced A12 Bionic CPU, Face ID is faster and works better on the iPhone XS.  It would be great if this was a noticeable improvement, and I can't wait to find out for myself.

Dual SIM

If you travel internationally with your iPhone, it is sometimes useful to get a different SIM card when you are in another country so that you can avoid expensive roaming charges.  The iPhone XS has a traditional SIM card but also supports a second eSIM.  When carriers support it — and Apple announced that many are on board — you'll be able to use two SIMs at the same time, and the iPhone will intelligently switch between them depending upon the circumstances.  Thus, you should be able to use a cheaper data plan in another country while still receiving phone calls when people call your normal phone number.

More waterproof

I'm sure that Apple would prefer that you not dunk your iPhone into the ocean.  But over time the iPhone has become more resistant to water, and this year the improvement is enough for Apple to increase the IP Code from IP67 to IP68.  The first number refers to how dust-proof the device is, and the iPhone X was already at 6, which is the highest.  But the increase from 7 to 8 is a noticeable increase in liquid ingress protection, to use the technical words.  With 7, a device can go up to 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes.  With the 8 rating, Apple says that the iPhone XS can go up to 2 meters deep for up to 30 minutes.

Apple isn't advertising the iPhone XS as something you are going to use on your next snorkeling trip as an underwater camera.  Having said that, there are plenty of IP68 cameras being sold on Amazon which specifically advertise themselves as being waterproof and designed for underwater photography.  In part, this is because there is a wide range of ingress protection which all falls under IP68, but I suspect that if you wanted to be daring and take an underwater picture with an iPhone XS, you may not damage your phone at all.

More importantly, if you accidentally drop your iPhone XS in liquid, there is a good chance that you can just let the phone dry out and then it will be fine.  Yesterday, Apple VP Phil Schiller said that the iPhone XS was tested in many liquids, including orange juice, tea, wine, and even beer.

iPhone XS Max

Before the iPhone X, I felt like I had an impossible desire.  I wanted a larger screen, but I didn't want the iPhone to be any larger so that I could continue to use it without stretching my hand too much.  The solution, as the iPhone X showed us, was to reduce the bezels so that you get more screen space than a Plus model inside of hardware that is the same size as a non-Plus model.

But there are some folks out there who don't mind the larger size of the Plus model, and for those folks, Apple has created the iPhone XS Max.  The iPhone XS Max is about the same size as an iPhone 8 Plus, but because of the edge-to-edge design, you get a larger screen.  While the iPhone XS has a 5.8" screen, the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5" screen.  That's not that far off from an iPad mini, which has a 7.9" screen.  While the iPhone XS has a 2436-by-1125-pixel resolution, the iPhone XS Max has a  2688-by-1242-pixel resolution.  (Both are at 458 ppi.)

In terms of physical size, the iPhone XS is 5.65" x 2.79" while the iPhone XS Max is 6.20" x 3.05".

iPhones with a Plus-size screen have been around for a while now, so I suspect that you already know whether or not you are someone who minds the larger hardware size.  If the larger size isn't too big for your pocket or purse, then spending an extra $100 for the iPhone XS Max might be perfect for you.

iPhone XR

If you like the idea of the iPhone XS but you don't want to spend $999 and up for the iPhone XS or $1099 and up for the iPhone XS Max, you'll want to consider the iPhone XR.  Apple didn't say what the "R" stands for, but I presume the idea is that it is one step below "S" and that sounds about right.  The iPhone XR has almost all of the new features that I mentioned above, plus almost all of the features which have made the iPhone X so great.  However, the starting price is $250 less than the iPhone XS:  $749.

Here is what you lose by saving that $250 over the iPhone XS:

  • Display.  Instead of the beautiful high-resolution OLED display with its rich colors and deep blacks, you get an LCD screen, which is the type of screen which Apple used to always offer before the iPhone X.  Apple says that the LCD screen in the iPhone XR is particularly good, but it still won't look as good as an OLED screen.  And while the iPhone XS can show HDR video, much like newer high-end TVs, the iPhone XR cannot.
  • 3D Touch.  You cannot push harder on the screen to bring up different options.  As a workaround, Apple says that you can tap and hold down on the screen for a certain amount of time to trigger the same options — not unlike the way it works on an iPad — and Apple even adds some haptic feedback to reinforce that you are using the substitute for true 3D Touch.
  • Size.  The iPhone XR is actually slightly larger than the iPhone XS with a 6.1" screen, but it is definitely smaller than the iPhone XS Max with its 6.5" screen.
  • Camera.  You only get one camera on the back, so you don't get the telephoto lens.
  • Less waterproof.  The IP rating is IP67, similar to the iPhone X.
  • LTE.  You just get regular LTE, not Gigabit-class LTE.

Having said that, it is not all compromises with the iPhone XR.  You also get one feature that you don't get with the iPhone XS (or the iPhone XS Max):  more colors.  While the iPhone XS comes in silver, space gray, or gold, the iPhone XR comes in blue, white, black, yellow, coral, and red.  And I understand from folks who saw the new iPhone XR in person yesterday that the colors are quite vibrant.  Keep in mind that if you are going to keep your iPhone in a case the whole time, you might not notice the color very much.

Conclusion

The new 2018 iPhones look to be great for any lawyer, or anyone else who is looking to get work done with an iPhone.  With the large, edge-to-edge screen, you can see even more of your documents, your email, etc., and the faster speed allows your iPhone to help you get your work done without getting in the way.  And thanks to the three different models, you can now decide whether you want to pay $250 less to give up a few features that might not even matter to you, or pay $100 more for an even larger screen. With all models offered in 64 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB capacities, you can decide how much space you want. (The 256 GB model is $150 more than the base price 64 GB model, and then 512 GB model is $350 more than the 64 GB model.)  And since I presume that you will also use your iPhone for non-work purposes, such as taking pictures of the kids, playing games, or using the latest Augmented Reality app, the new 2018 models are even better at those tasks.

If you currently use an iPhone X, you probably won't want to upgrade unless you enjoy having the latest and greatest.  But if you currently use an older iPhone, then you'll love using the iPhone X form factor, and as a bonus for waiting an extra year for the "s" model, you can get an iPhone which is significantly improved over the iPhone X with more options on size and price.

What am I going to get?  My current iPhone X typically has about 150 GB in use, so I know that the 64 GB model is not enough for me, and the 256 GB sounds just right.  I don't like a larger phone, but I do want that amazing OLED display.  Thus, I plan to get the iPhone XS in the 256 GB capacity, probably in space gray.

Apple starts taking orders tomorrow, September 14th, and devices will begin shipping on September 21st, for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models.  If you want the iPhone XR, you can order starting October 19, and devices ship a week later.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

New iPhone (and more) to be announced today

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 00:31

Today at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern, Apple will give a keynote presentation at the Steve Jobs Theater, part of Apple's new Apple Park campus in Cupertino, CA.  We will definitely see the 2018 versions of the iPhone, and I expect to see a new Apple Watch.  I'm sure that Apple will also say something about iOS 12, which Apple first previewed this past June and which I suspect will be released in the next week or so.

Other than that, I'm not sure what Apple will announce.  For example, I expect to see a new iPad Pro this year, but I don't know if we will see it today.  Sometimes Apple announced a new iPad and new iPhone at the same time, other times Apple holds back the iPad announcement until the next month.

Finally, it is always fun when there are surprise announcements, so I hope that something interesting is announced today that I wasn't expecting at all.

If you want to see the announcements live as they happen, click here to watch a live stream from the Apple website.

 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 23:47

Earlier this year, Apple announced a new iPad with support for the new Logitech Crayon, a stylus this is almost as good as the Apple Pencil for half the price.  Although the Crayon was only available for the education market, I said at the time that I hoped it would give rise to many new stylus options with the precision of the Apple Pencil.  The jury is still out on whether additional styluses are coming, but in a baby step towards that future, attorney John Voorhees of MacStories reports that Apple announced this week that the Logitech Crayon will be available for everyone to purchase, even if you are not in the education sector, starting September 12.  Of course, that is also the day next week when Apple has scheduled a big event at its campus to show off the new iPhones and who knows what else. The Crayon announcement makes me think that we may see a new iPad next week, and if Apple wants to show off even more new stylus options next week, I would certainly love that.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • The Lit Software blog features Arizona attorney Brian Snyder and explains how he uses his iPad in his law practice.
  • What will the new iPhones being unveiled next week be called?  John Gruber of Daring Fireball has some theories.
  • Earlier this year, I discussed a service called TeenSafe which restricts the ability of your kids to use your iPhone, but does so at great risk because you have to give the service access to your iCloud backup, which is a problem if the site is hacked — and sure enough, TeenSafe was hacked.  Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac reports that a similar product called mSpy accidentally exposed millions of passwords, text messages, contacts, call logs, notes and location data, etc. to the Internet.  I remain very suspicious of services like this.  Be careful out there.
  • Cella Lao Rousseau of iMore discusses some of the best watch stands for the Apple Watch.
  • Recently, a 15-year-old student tried to share with her mother a photo of a mock crime scene from a medical biology class.  She tried to do so using AirDrop, when she was on a plane, and instead she shared the photo with 15 other random passengers, as the plane was taken off.  The chaos that ensued resulted in grounding the Hawaiian Airlines flight for 90 minutes.  Michael Potuck of 9to5Mac has more details (including the picture).  Hopefully something like this will never happen to you.
  • I cannot tell you what features the new iPhones will have next week, but one thing that they surely won't have is support for the upcoming 5G standard.  I see iPhone 5G support in 2019 or 2020.  But that's not that far away, so it isn't too early to think about what 5G means.  I discussed the transition to 5G earlier this year.  This week, David Pogue of Yahoo wrote a good overview of what 5G means, and also created a nice video overview.
  • The Sweet Setup recommends photo editing apps for iOS.
  • Phishing attacks are increasingly common, and are especially dangerous for law firms because of the confidential information stored on law firm networks.  Many law firms have had to deal with major hacking attacks over the last few years.  Yesterday, the Apple Support account on Twitter posted a good, short video explaining how to look out for phishing attacks on your Apple devices:

Got a suspicious email or text? Don't click on any links or open any attachments. It could be a phishing scam.

Watch our video below to see more ways to avoid phishing. pic.twitter.com/YjIHCXbqxH

— Apple Support (@AppleSupport) September 6, 2018

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Dark Sky -- fantastic weather app, now with improved interface

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 01:23

Schools in New Orleans were closed yesterday, and many are still closed today, because for a while it looked like Tropical Storm Gordon was headed this way.  That storm instead headed towards the Mississippi/Alabama border, but it had me using my weather apps even more than normal.  Dark Sky has long been one of the best iOS weather apps because of its incredibly accurate to-the-minute forecasts for the next hour — so much so that many other apps rely on Dark Sky for their own data.  But the app was recently updated to version 6.0 with a new interface, plus it is even faster under the hood.  Especially with these improvements, there is no doubt that Dark Sky is one of the very best weather apps for the iPhone and iPad.

Accurate, minute-by-minute predictions for the next hour

One of the best features of the Dark Sky app is that it tells you whether you need to grab your umbrella as you walk out the door.  Dark Sky can figure out whether it is going to rain during the next hour at your precise location.  When you start the app, if there is rain in the next hour, you will see a graph similar to this one:

If the app tells you it will start raining in 8 minutes, you might as well start opening up your umbrella in 7 minutes.

This information is also useful if it is currently raining and you are trying to decide whether to wait for a gap in the rain, or if you should just go now because it isn't getting better any time soon. 

Great forecasts, with an improved unified interface

Many apps do a nice job of giving you forecasts for the new few hours and the next few days.  Dark Sky has always had accurate data, but thanks to the recent version 6 update, I really like the way that this data is displayed all in one place.

When you start the app, the app gives you a forecast for your specific current location, but you can quickly search for another location (and you can save up to six locations, allowing you to swipe left and right to switch between locations).  Clear icons and numbers tell you the current conditions.

Next, you see a map with rain indicated.  Dark Sky has always used an interesting style for showing radar information on a map; instead of the blocky tiny squares, the colors are smoothed out. 

Next you see the hourly forecast, provided in a fantastic interface thanks to the recent update.  A bar along the left side gives you a visual indication of rain (the color changes to blue).  Next you see the hour, the forecast information, and the temperature in a circle which moves left or right to show relative increases and decreases in temperature.  I love the way that Dark Sky now shows all of this information at once, making it incredibly easy to see when rain will start and stop over the next few hours and how the temperature will increase or decrease over the next 24 hours.

  
If you scroll down, you will see the forecast for the next week.  Again, the graphics are clean and the information is easy to understand.

If you tap on any day, you get hourly forecasts for that specific day in the same format that the app normally gives you for the next 24 hours.

Maps with radar

If you tap the Map button at the bottom of the app (or if you tap on the radar map at the top of the main screen of the app), you are brought into a map view.  You can zoom in or out to see precipitation, and you can tap a play button at the bottom to see an animation of the last three hours and the predicted next hour.  Again, the nice smooth animations which are unique to Dark Sky make it easy to see what is going on.

 

Time Machine

I usually use a weather app when I want to look to the future.  But if you need historical weather information for a particular location, Dark Sky can give you that too.

 

Apple Watch

If you use an Apple Watch, Dark Sky has a nice app which shows you much of the same information for your current location that you see in the iPhone app, except for the maps.

 

Conclusion

Dark Sky has long been the leader in accurate forecasts on the iPhone and other devices, and thanks to the recent interface update, it is now one of the best apps for presenting this information in a clean interface which quickly tells you what you need to know.  If you ever use an iPhone to pay attention to the weather, this is an app that you should own.

Click here to get Dark Sky ($3.99): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 02:09

Yesterday, Apple announced that it will hold an product announcement event on its campus in Cupertino, California on Wednesday, September 12 at 10 Pacific.  Jason Snell of Six Colors posted a picture of the invitation.  If you don't mind spoiling the surprise of learning all of the details on September 12, Guilherme Rambo and Zac Hall of 9to5Mac seem to have obtained some marketing images from Apple showing off the new iPhone and the new Apple Watch.  John Gruber of Daring Fireball speculates that those images may have been posted to a public Apple server by mistake, leading to the leak.  If that's true, there are some very unhappy people in Cupertino today.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Two factor authentication is a fantastic security method which I think will become even more prevalent in the future.  At my law firm, we use Microsoft Authenticator as a second authentication method for many of our firm's resources, such as remote access.  It works really well; using either an iPhone app — or easier still, a notification on my Apple Watch — I can confirm that yes, it really is me logging in.  This week, Alex Simons, Vice President of Program Management, Microsoft Identity Division, announced that Microsoft is rolling out Microsoft Authenticator as an Apple Watch app.  This means that even if you receive a push notification which requires a PIN or biometric, you can approve access with an Apple Watch.
  • Attorney John Voorhees of MacStories reviews the new version 3.0 0f Due, a task manager app.
  • Lisa Vaas of Naked Security reports that a U.S. citizen who is Muslim is suing US Customs and Border Protection for seizing her iPhone in an airport, copying all of the data on it, and keeping the iPhone for 130 days.  (via Ride the Lightning).
  • Zac Hall of 9to5Mac discusses using the HomeKit-compatible Lutron Serena Motorized Shades.
  • Michael Rockwell of The Sweet Setup explains how to use your iPhone and HomeKit devices to turn on the lights in your home whenever you or your spouse come home at night.
  • Jonny Evans of Computerworld has some productivity tips for the iPhone.
  • Kaitlyn Wells of Wirecutter recommends the best bag organizers to store all of your USB-to-Lightning cords, power adapters, and everything else you might want to carry around in a bag.
  • And finally, tomorrow, September 1, Apple is celebrating national parks around the world by giving you the opportunity to earn an award in the Activity app.  The graphic that you can earn was inspired by Redwood National Park's 50th anniversary.  If you do a walk, run, or wheelchair workout of 50 minutes or more, you get to add the below award to your digital collection.  I like these awards because they serve as motivators, even though we all know it is just a simple image.  If you own an Apple Watch, try to find an hour to walk tomorrow!

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Weego Jump Starter 22 -- jump start your car battery and recharge your iPhone battery

iPhone J.D. - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 22:28

Many of us keep handy an external battery that can be used to recharge an iPhone.  However, occasionally you need to charge another mobile device:  a car.  If you ever find yourself with a dead car battery, sometimes it is possible to find a friend with another car and jumping cables, but that is a huge aggravation and may not even be possible depending upon where your car is located.  The simple solution is to keep a portable jump starter in your trunk.  The Weego Jump Starter 22 is an amazing device that makes it incredibly simple to jump start your car, and as an added bonus you can use it to charge an iPhone or iPad.  This device recently saved my bacon, and I enthusiastically recommend that you get this device now so that you have it when you need it.

My story

Virtually all of us have had to deal with a dead car battery at some point.  Here is my recent story.  I own a relatively new car — a 2017 Honda Accord.  (Last year I wrote about how much I love the CarPlay in my new car.)  About two weeks ago, I drove my car to a store, but then when I left the store a few minutes later, my car battery was dead.  Fortunately, my wife was not too far away so she could drive to me so we could jump my car, but I knew that I wouldn't always be so lucky.  It seemed strange that this would happen to a relatively new car.  Did I maybe leave on a light overnight without realizing it?  For a while I had been thinking of buying a portable jump starter, and after this occurrence I decided to play it safe and buy the Weego Jump Starter 22 on Amazon that same day. 

A week later I had to fly to Florida for business for a few days.  When I returned to the New Orleans airport and went to start my car, once again it was dead.  This time, getting a friend to drive to me to jump my car would have been a huge nightmare.  They would have had to drive all the way to the airport, go into a pay parking lot, and even then I'm not sure how it would have worked because there were cars in all of the spots around me so I wouldn't have been able to get another car close enough to the battery in my car.  And to make matters worse, I could see that it was about to start raining in 15 minutes.

But I didn't have to worry about any of this.  I took the Weego Jump Starter 22 out of my trunk, hooked it up, started my car, and then I was on my way.  The whole experience took me less than two minutes and could not have been easier.  What normally would have been a disaster was instead incredibly quick and easy.

A few days later, I brought my car to the dealer, which confirmed that my battery had to be replaced, fortunately at no charge to me because it was under warranty.  Hopefully that is the end of this story, but if for some reason there is some other electrical issue in my car and I encounter a dead battery again, I'm not worried because I have the the Weego Jump Starter 22 with me.

How it works

Before I explain how it works, let me emphasize again how simple this thing is to use.  I am about as far as one can be from a car mechanic, and even for me, using this device was a breeze.

For example, the clamps on this thing are better than any other clamps I have ever seen.  Traditional clamps can be hard to fully open, and they open like a crocodile's mouth and can be difficult to attach to a terminal and sometimes slip off.  Weego has a patented innovation the company calls Smarty Clamps.  They open ultra-wide so it is simple to attach them to a terminal, and you don't have to squeeze very hard to get them to open fully.  Last year, Wirecutter rated the Weego Jump Starter 22s the best portable jump starter, in part because the "strong, easy-to-use clamps make a good connection on a variety of battery posts."  (The Weego Jump Starter 22 that I purchased has the same clamps; it is slightly more expensive than the 22s because it adds the ability to charge a cellphone, adds a 250 lumen flashlight, and it is rated IP65 so it is water, dust and dirt resistant.)

The Weego Jump Starter 22 comes in a metal box which looks like a lunch box and holds all of the parts.  It is nice to have something sturdy to hold it all together, and I just put the lunch box in my trunk.  It also comes with a holding bag if you want something even more compact to hold it all together.

The Jump Starter 22 delivers 1700 peak amps and 300 true cranking amps, which Weego says is sufficient for motorcycles, boats and 95% of cars & trucks on the road today — anything with up to a 5L gas or a 2.5L diesel engine.  (Weego also sells a Jump Starter 44 and a Jump Starter 66 which will work with muscle cars and big trucks — the types of cars which might laugh at my Honda Accord.)

The top of the Jump Starter 22 has a protective cover, to keep out water or dust.  To jump start a car, flip open that lid to expose a connector where you pug in the clamps.

Next, turn the Jump Starter 22 on, using the power button located on the bottom right side.

Next, you attach the black clamp to your negative terminal and the red clamp to your positive terminal.  If for some reason you get that mixed up and attach to the wrong terminals, the device will not send power and instead it beeps and lights next to the word "reverse" will flash.  So it is idiot-proof.

Next wait a second or two until you see a green ready light.  That means everything is good to go.  Start your car. 

Finally, you disconnect the clamps from the Jump Starter 22.  Once you do so, a charge is no longer flowing to the clamps, so you can disconnect the clamps from the terminals in whatever order you want.

All of the lights make it super easy to understand what is going on.  Also, four lights on the body of the device tell you how much power you have left.  I had all four lights before I jumped my car, and afterwards I still had all four lights.  It takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge the Weego Jump Starter 22, and Weego says that the device will hold a charge for at least a year, and it has 1,000 charge cycles. 

Unlike traditional jumping cables, you don't need to worry about the two clamps on the Jump Starter 22 touching each other.  The Weego only sends power when it detects that it is connected to a battery.  That, along with the reverse polarity detection, means that you don't need to worry about doing something wrong and creating sparks.

It was easy for me to find a place to put the device when I was charging my car, but if for some reason you don't have a good space, the device comes with a hook and lanyard that you could use to attach the device to the underside of your car hood.  You can also use the hook and lanyard in connection with the built-in flashlight to create a work light that lasts up to 14 hours.

The Jump Starter 22 comes with a USB-to-Micro USB charging cord.  It also comes with a USB car charger that goes into a car's power port / cigarette lighter, so you can charge this device while you are driving and when your battery is strong, and then it will be ready when necessary.

Charge your phone

Carrying a Weego Jump Starter in your car means that you never have to worry about a dead battery again.  But hopefully you won't need to use the device very often to start a car, and since the core of the device is a powerful battery, Weego also lets you use this device to charge your phone.  So if you drive somewhere only to realize that your phone is dead or low on power, just take the Weego Jump Starter 22 from your trunk, add a USB-to-Lightning cable, and you are ready to go.  (Consider storing a USB-to-Lightning cable, such as an inexpensive Anker PowerLinke cable, in the Weego lunch box so you have it if you need it.)

If the Weego is at full charge, you have 1700 Amps, which depending upon your iPhone model should give you somewhere from almost a full charge to multiple charges.  Weego advertises "up to 3 full charges" but obviously that depends upon which device you are using.  Weego also says that the Jump Starter 22 detects what kind of device you are using and "automatically provides [the] fastest charge to your phones, tablets & other USB devices," 5V or 9V at 2.4A output.

The Jump Starter 22 (without the clamps) has dimensions of 3.25" x 6.25" x .75" and weighs about 10 ounces.  You can certainly buy smaller external batteries to charge your iPhone, but the Jump Starter 22 is not intended to be the portable charger that you carry around and use every day.  It works great for the rare situation when you are away from the home or office and you need something to charge your iPhone or iPad right away — and then you are glad that the device is in your trunk so you can grab it and walk wherever you are going with something handy to charge your phone.

Conclusion

Having a portable jump starter in your car gives you peace of mind.  Everyone has a car battery die at some point, and with this device in your trunk, you'll never have to worry about being stranded or dealing with inconveniences when it happens to you.  And because of the excellent design of the Weego Jump Starter 22, it is fast and easy to jump start a car.  As an added bonus, you have a battery in your car that you can always use to charge an iPhone or iPad — which gives you even more peace of mind.

If you decide that you don't need an iPhone charger, and if you don't care about the flashlight and the IP65 rating, then get the Weego Jump Starter 22s.  It is cheaper, but the basic design is the same as the Jump Starter 22, including those fantastic clamps and useful status lights that walk you through using the device to jump a car battery.

Whichever model you get, this is a good product to get now, while you are thinking about it, so you have it later when you really need it.  You might need it for yourself, but even if you are helping a friend jump a car, it is going to be much, much easier to use a portable device like this versus getting your own car in the right position so that you can jump your friend's car using your own car.

Click here to get the Weego Jump Starter 22 from Amazon ($94.71)

Click here to get the Weego Jump Starter 22s from Amazon ($62.99)

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 00:26

Rene Ritchie of iMore explains why he believes that Apple's September product announcement will take place on Wednesday, September 12, just over two weeks from now, and says that we could see a larger version of the iPhone X, perhaps with Apple Pencil support, an iPhone 9 with a design similar to the iPhone X but with an LCD screen, an Apple Watch Series 4 with smaller bezels so that the physical size is the same but the screen is larger, an iPad Pro 3, new Macs, and more.  That's a whole lot of new Apple products that could be just around the corner.  Clear some space on your credit card.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Attorney John Voorhees of MacStories discusses an update to the Dark Sky app which I think greatly improves the interface of that weather app.  For a long time now, CARROT Weather has been my favorite weather app, but with this update, I've started to use Dark Sky even more.
  • Elizabeth Sullivan of PCMag reviews the Logitech Crayon — the $50 version of the Apple Pencil — and names it an Editors' Choice.  The Crayon is currently only being sold to schools, but I hope that will change in the future.  In fact, it would be fantastic to have lots of different stylus choices that all work as well as the Apple Pencil.
  • VPN software is used to keep your Internet use private, especially if you are using public Wi-Fi.  But according to Chance Miller of 9to5Mac, Apple has asked Facebook to remove its Onavo VPN app from the App Store.  While that app may keep your Internet use private from other people on the same network, apparently Facebook tracks everything that you do while using the app, making it a privacy nightmare.  Kudos to Apple for continuing to make privacy a priority.
  • Speaking of privacy, John Gruber of Daring Fireball links to a Digital Content Next story about a report from Vanderbilt Professor Douglas Schmidt which finds that while Google doesn't collect any of your personal data from the Safari web browser when you are not actively using it, a dormant Android phone running the Chrome browser sends information to Google 340 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Gruber also discusses the shake-to-undo feature of the iPhone, and notes that many people don't even know that the feature is there.  I don't use it often, but when I do, I'm glad it there.  Hopefully, you already know that it is there, but if not, you do now.
  • Zac Hall of 9to5Mac recommends HomeKit devices that you can use to monitor the temperature at your house.
  • Peter Cao of 9to5Mac shows off how 1Password is integrated into the operating system in iOS 12.  Juli Clover of MacRumors also wrote a good explanation with lots of pictures.  This feature looks fantastic.
  • Roger Fingas of AppleInsider reports that, from today through August 31, Apple will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation for every Apple Pay purchase made at an Apple store or on the Apple website.  And on September 1, there will be a special Activity Challenge on the Apple Watch.
  • Steven Musil of CNet reports that you can now use Apple Pay when you shop at Costco.
  • Ian Fuchs of Cult of Mac says that the free Highball app is an essential iOS app.  I agree; it is what I use to store all of my cocktail recipes. 
  • And finally, here is an ad for Face ID on the iPhone X that Apple debuted a few weeks ago which features a game show theme.  It is called Memory:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

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