Tag Archives: Editorial

Shot on an Apple iPhone 6S Plus – Pushing the Camera to its Limits – Editorial

The Apple iPhone 6S Plus comes with a reasonable camera capable of consistent and reliable shots time after time. But what if you want to do more with the camera. Thankfully, the A9 processor is extremely powerful which means with the right third party app you can create photos that push the camera to its limits.

For this post I have used to apps. ProCamera+ and Nightcap Pro. These are apps I use all the time and have purchased from the Apple App Store. None of the photos below have been post processed or edited with any filters or any app. These are exactly what the respective apps produced. If you want to view the full size version, just click on the photo.

First up is a shot of Exeter High Street using ProCamera+ in HDR Auto 5 (5 bracketed photos). Just look how dramatic all the colours are in this photo.

Up and down the High Street of Exeter #HDRBracketedx5

Another shot using the ProCamera+ app in HDR Auto 5. This is Exeter Castle and Northenhay Gardens in Exeter.

Views of Northernhay Gardens, Exeter #HDRBracketedx5

Still using ProCamera+ app in HDR Auto 5. Exeter Cathedral Yard. Again fantastic colours.

Views of Historic Exeter #HDRBracketedx5

Same as above for the next 2 shots. Some historic buildings in Exeter.

Views of Historic Exeter #HDRBracketedx5

Views of Historic Exeter #HDRBracketedx5

From what I can see, ProCamera+ works better with buildings than landscapes of fields, trees and plants.

Next up, ProCamera+ low light mode of Postbridge Bridge.

Postbridge Bridge #LowLightmode #ProCamera+

Now using Nightcap Pro long exposure mode. This was a long exposure of 30 seconds.

Postbridge Bridge #LongExposureMode #NightcapPro #raw

ProCamera+ Auto 5 HDR in Black/White HDR.

Postbridge Bridge #B&WHDR #HDRBracketedx5 #ProCamera+ #jpeg

Now I realised after taking the above shots, that ProCamera+ had JPEG quality at 85% and not 100%. It also has the option of saving photos in raw format. Nightcap Pro has this option too. So with all the next shots in raw lets see what we can do.

Nightcap Pro – 30 second exposure in Long Exposure mode. Tripod used.

Church of St Michaels & All Angels #Princetown #lowlight #NightcapPro #LongExposureMode #raw

Now with ProCamera+ Low light mode. Tripod used.

Church of St Michaels & All Angels #Princetown #ProCamera+ #LowLightmode #raw

And now with ProCamera+ Low Light HDR mode. Tripod used again.

Church of St Michaels & All Angels #Princetown #ProCamera+ #lowlighthdrmode #raw

Vast difference here.

Also remember with all the church shots it was near total darkness.

Nightcap Pro also is really excellent for photographing light trails, stars and the Space Station. It actually has specific modes for these items! Below is a quick shot with Nightcap Pro demonstrating light trails.

IMG_1003

So there you have it. With the help of alternative apps you can easily push the boundaries of the Apple iPhone 6S Plus camera.

Control your lights using your Apple Watch – How to – Editorial

Back in January 2015, I reviewed the Belkin WeMo Smart Light Bulbs starter kit. If you never read this review, I really think its worth a read. Click HERE.

As a quick refresh Belkin advertise the features of the WeMo Smart Light Bulbs as

– WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set includes 2 x WeMo Smart LED Light Bulbs (B22) and 1 x WeMo Link
– Connect up to 50 WeMo Smart LED Light Bulbs and control them individually or as a group.
– The set works with the entire family of WeMo products.
– Modular system. You can add additional WeMo LED Light Bulbs easily, any time
– Turn lights on, off, dim or create custom schedules.
– Simply plug WeMo Link into a central outlet in your home, replace your old light bulb with a WeMo LED bulb, and download the free WeMo app to any smartphone or tablet
– WeMo keeps you connected to your home lighting anywhere you are over Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G networks
– Bright, warm light similar to a 60W incandescent bulb. WeMo Smart LED Bulbs have a 23 year life expectancy

Well, I have had these WeMo bulbs in my lounge now for over a year. They are as superb as they day I got them. In fact, they have got better since there have been many firmware updates to help improve their reliability. At some point in time, Belkin has stated it will be supporting Apple’s HomeKit which will mean Siri integration. At the moment this is not possible so you have to use the official WeMo app to control the lights. However, this app does not have an Apple Watch application.

So how do you control the lights from your Apple Watch. Simply download 2 apps. IFTTT and Do Button by IFTTT. You then set up IFTTT and then Do Button by IFTTT. So download and install IFTTT app, and go and connect WeMo lighting as a channel in IFTTT. IFTTT gets permission from WeMo via the WeMo app. It is all a very simple process and you get clear on screen instructions from the respective apps. The whole process takes a minute or less. Then using the Do Button app create quick one button commands. In my case, I have grouped the 2 lights in the lounge, so I have 4 quick button commands. Turn lighting group on, turn lighting group off, dim to 10% and dim to 50%.

The Do Button app for IFTTT appears on your Apple Watch. You now can open its app, or have it as a Glance. Just press the big green button for the first 3 options you setup in Do Button for IFTTT. The Apple Watch app only displays your top 3 Do commands.

It really is super cool to dim your lights from your Apple Watch. When Belkin support HomeKit you will be able to ask Siri , “dim lights etc…”. At the moment only Philips Hue lights support HomeKit and Siri.

IFTTT is a very powerful application that links so many services and apps. I use it for a number of other connected devices and services. For example, when my Netatmo Weather station detects rain more than 0.1mm, it sends a tweet to the Princetown Weather Station Twitter feed, that rain has been detected.

IFTTT is a free app and cross platform so go give a try and see what more you can do with the current apps and services on your phone!

More information of the Belkin WeMo range – click HERE.

The New iPad Air 3 – Editorial

Apparently according to loads of rumours Apple is about to launch is March 2016 the next instalment of the iPad Air, the iPad Air 3.

The new specifications steer towards having the following improvements –

– 4gb ram
– 4K screen
– Stereo Speakers
– Better Camera with flash

– Apple Pencil support 

Are these features enough to make you want to upgrade your current iPad or tablet? For me I am going to say they are not enough but what about yourself?

Is the Samsung Galaxy S7 with a 12mp rear camera a wise move? – Editorial

With Mobile World Congress just around the corner, new smartphone leaks are everywhere. By now it should come as no surprise that the next Galaxy, the Samsung Galaxy S7 will have a lower resolution camera, dropping from 16mp to 12mp.

Samsung should be featuring their new “britecell” technology in this new 12mp sensor but I do have some initial concerns. Dropping the mega pixels down to 12mp with a f/1.7 may be a good thing if the pixels are larger and therefore let more light through. The trade off will potentially be with the extra pixel resolution when snapping an outdoor shot in good sunlight. Will you lose the ability to crop tighter into a photo?

Currently, I am testing the LG V10 which has a great 16mp rear camera. This produces high resolution photos that can be cropped and not lose too much information. At 12mp this option might diminish.

What Samsung is trading off is the ability to have a 12mp rear camera that will take stunning photos in low light as well as good lighting. In addition photos will be easier to process/share if the file sizes are smaller due to the rear camera just being 12mp and not 16mp.

So what matters more to you? 16mp or 12mp?

Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and ABC Pay – Are mobile payments going to get messy? – Editorial

Apple Pay made the first big splash into mobile payment acceptance as a mainstream option. Apple Pay offers a quick and easy way to use your compatible iPhone to make a purchase. When everything works, it is as simple as ABC. And it generally works every time.

It fails to work when the cashier hasn’t pressed a button on the till or the amount due is over £30. Lifting the limit for mobile payments over £30 really needs to happen immediately as its the biggest stumbling block for faster adoption. I don’t know the answer, but if you knew you were going to buy £50 in groceries, is it not possible to split the food into 2 transactions of £25 each, thereby getting around the £30 limit? If this is possible, why bother having the £30 limit in the first place.

The UK does not have Android or Samsung Pay yet. It is due to arrive this year and I am predicting for Samsung it will link up with the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S7. Samsung Pay is available in the USA, and in my opinion offers a better solution as the compatible Samsung phones can use both contactless and magnetic terminals, thereby being further accepted at more places instantly. Android Pay is also not available yet in the UK, but it is in the USA, and works similar to the concept used by Apple.

The world needs android pay to take off as most phones work with this operating system. This will push forward conversion across the industry regardless of platform.

So all seems rosy in the world of mobile payments? Not really. LG have thrown their hat in the ring saying they are going to launch their own payments system. Walmart too. Plus there are other large companies looking to provide mobile payment solutions. This is going to get messy as companies fight it out for market share and dominance. What we need is simplification. If its an iPhone you use only Apple Pay. If its an android phone then it should be just android pay and so on.

The problem at the moment is contactless payments like Apple Pay need transactions to include loyalty cards and vouchers. This is where it gets messy. Why should retailers share sensitive data with Apple or Google or Samsung? So what happens, retailers launch their own system so you could end up trying to remember which app you need in which store!

Another complication is that sometimes using for example Apple Pay is not the best solution. Take Wagamamas. MasterCard have an app that Wagamamas use that allows you to order food and drinks from your app. You can order more food during the meal too. And when finished eating, use the app to pay. It gets even better. Lets say you’re a party of 10. All 10 use the MasterCard app to pay for just the items ordered. The process of splitting the food/bill is a breeze. Of course the other benefit is the speed. No more waiting to order your food and drinks. And no more waiting for the bill to arrive. The benefit to the restaurant is a faster turnaround. The MasterCard app can be used by other places too. With its location settings on, it can alert you to a place nearby that accepts the app. There are other options too.

So at the moment, the options for mobile payments is just taking off and is looking like it is going to get messy before its gets refined!

What have been your experiences so far with contactless payments? Have you used another system or app that you would recommend?

Microsoft Lumia 950 – I’m Sorry – Editorial

I have featured and reviewed many of the Nokia Lumia phones. My excitement for the new Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL was huge. Why? I really like the Windows Phone tiled interface and with a few sacrifices and work arounds it was possible to use a Lumia phone as a main device. The other benefit was its first rate camera.

So yesterday morning I was out shopping and in Carphone Warehouse and low and behold they had a 950 on display and turned on. The 950 XL is not available to buy as I have already explained a few days ago. It is only available for pre order, due 19th January, due to Carphone Warehouse awaiting new firmware updates to remove the bugs. My plan was to purchase a 950.

So there I was using the Lumia 950. Oh such joy using seeing the tiled interface and Windows 10. Well that joy was over fast.

“I’m Sorry”.

I’m sorry but I have firmly decided that after my 20 mins play with the Lumia 950 I am not going to buy this phone. If Microsoft decide to send me one to review that will be the only way I will even consider spending any time with this phone.

In 20 mins with the Lumia 950 which was rebooted just to make sure it was at optimal performance, it seemed to lag worse than any phone I have used in over 12 months. It crashed 3 times, 3 times in 20 mins. We all know there is an app gap both in terms of names of apps and even if the app is on Windows Phone it is rarely with the same feature set. You could say I have been spoilt by iOS 9.2 apps and 3D Touch on the iPhone and this is so true. The diversity and quality of apps on iOS is huge. Android has a decent selection too.

I’m sorry that I have decided that I am not going to get a Windows Phone as I am not prepared to have a second rate app experience. Nor am I going to buy a phone that is clearly in BETA. Now there is nothing to say Microsoft won’t fix the bugs but what are they going to do with their app store which is a disgrace. The Windows store needs clearing out the rubbish and copy cat cloned apps.

Now I know that I am going to get a deluge of hate mail due to this negative article. I did last time I wrote something remotely negative. Well I’m sorry if you feel like acting like an idiot. But let’s face the truth.

The truth. Part of my decision making process was also based on what other people have said about the 950. I have followed carefully many window phone fans across social media. You expect their posts to be biased. The facts are that the hardy fans are not that happy. A devout fan has been posting photos with his Nexus 6 and not his new 950 for example. Why, he is not happy with the 950. Phones Show Chat Podcast went live yesterday and the 950 got discussed and not positively. The next truth is the camera is not ahead of the competition anymore like it always used to be. Samsung, LG and Apple all offer cameras of equal quality and ahead in many ways too.

Will I reconsider a Windows Phone? Maybe, as anything can happen in tech in 18 months. And 18 months is how long I think it will take for Microsoft to either change the fortunes of Windows Phone or call it time and revert to apps and services.

So I’m sorry there will be no Microsoft Lumia articles for the foreseeable future unless some major update(s) occur and change the BETA status of this phone to something more stable. In addition the price needs to drop too. The 950 creaked from its cheap plastic build. I have never felt so disappointed about a new flagship in ages.

Update – based on emails already received, some of you would like me to review this phone. Well if somebody would like to buy a 950 for me to thoroughly test and review then please get in touch. Contact details can be found in the about menu. 

The free EE Power Bar is now costing EE a bomb – The Financial Impact – Editorial

EE had a great idea. Offer its customers a free lipstick size battery power pack to all its customers so they could recharge their phones.

However, this has all gone terribly wrong for EE.

Updated 16 December 2015

We’re recalling all EE Power Bars. This is just a precaution, but we want to make sure all our customers are safe. If you have a Power Bar, you should stop using it straight away and hand it in to one of our stores.

We are taking this action because we are aware of a very small number of further incidents where Power Bars have overheated in circumstances that could cause a fire safety risk. Keeping our customers safe is extremely important to us, and that’s why we’re taking this voluntary and precautionary action.

We’ve identified a very small number of incidents where Power Bars have overheated.
What should I do? We’re asking everybody to stop using Power Bars and unplug them from their phones or tablets, and the mains. You should return the Power Bar to an EE store as soon as you can.
How do I get my £20 voucher?

When you return your Power Bar to an EE Store you will be given a £20 voucher if you are an eligible EE customer. One of the team there will give you instructions about how to claim your voucher. You’ll be able to redeem your voucher at accessories.ee.co.uk.
Where is my nearest store?

At the moment we are fully focused on the recall and we will make further announcements soon.

So this free gift now will cost EE a bomb. First of all there are all the notification costs in making sure all customers are contacted. There is then the PR costs of ensuring EE brand name does not get impacted. There is the actual financial cost of receiving and processing the faulty power bars. Next there is the cost of offering customers £20 vouchers. And with around a million customers impacted this is no laughing matter. And finally there is the product liability claims from customers that suffered injury and damage to their property.

Important! Have you updated your Apple devices to iOS 9.2 yet? – Editorial

Last week Apple released iOS 9.2. I posted details of all the 40 plus changes HERE.

Like all firmware updates, bug fixes are often included and iOS 9.2 included many of those. What is never declared is the critical nature of some of these bug fixes or how many users got impacted by the issues.

One area that effected a very significant amount of people was Apple’s iCloud, including myself. The range of iCloud issues was extensive, but let’s just say it wasn’t fun for me and many others.

However, the good news is iOS 9.2 fixes the iCloud problems so make sure you update when you can if you haven’t already. BUT. You may still get some issues so what you need to do on your iOS devices is sign out of iCloud, sign into your Apple ID on your device under the iTunes and App Store, view your account, accept any new agreement notices (if any) then make sure you sign out of the iTunes and App Store. What you are actually doing is refreshing your iCloud status with Apple’s servers. Now sign back in to everything again and you should be ok.

If you have been receiving popup screens to enter your Apple ID password daily, the above sequence should fix that as well.

What happens when you leave your wallet at home ? Apple Pay? Mobile Apps?

Yesterday started like normal except about one hour into to the morning I realised that my wallet was not in my pocket. 

Two swear words later and I realised I had left it at home. A year ago based on the day ahead I would have had to have driven home to pick up my wallet. 

But with the ability to use Apple Pay on my iPhone and along with other mobile and banking apps I was decided to see if I could manage to survive the day without my wallet?

During the day I went to specific places that had contactless credit card machines, which meant I could use Apple Pay accordingly. Whilst Apple Pay is accepted in a number of places it is not widespread enough yet but it is getting better. For example I bought some groceries in Tesco’s which accepted Apple Pay. However, some other Tesco stores I have visited do not accept Apple Pay.

I think once Samsung and Android Pay arrive in the UK, the adoption by retailer for contactless payment will accelerate, so I do hope we see these services asap.

I was not sure everywhere I was travelling too would accept Apple Pay, so for a backup I used my banking app at a cash machine, and withdrew some cash. You can’t beat hard cold cash!

Fortunately, I had enough credit on my Starbucks app to purchase an expresso and a piece of cake.

So throughout the day I managed quite well with just my phone and mobile apps. Then came the low fuel warning on the car so off to the nearest petrol station. Before I fuelled up I went and asked the cashier if they accepted contactless payments.

They didn’t.

So this was the time I had to use the cash I had withdrawn using my mobile banking app.

So by the time I got home, I had managed without my wallet. I reckon in another 12-18 months time carrying a wallet will not be necessary at all.

Has Adele broken subscription streaming services? – Editorial

Here are the facts from Adele’s new album 25 after just its first week of sales.

– UK – sold 800,000 copies.

– USA – sold 3.38 million copies.

Now lets add some meat to those figures. In the USA, 25 is the first album to ever have broken the 3 million mark in a week. It is also the biggest selling album in 2015 in the USA, with Taylor Swift’s 1989 selling just 1.8 million albums.

In the UK, the figure of 800,000 is more than the next 86 albums sales combined.

What is so significant of these statistics? Prior to release Adele announced that her new album would not be available on any subscription services, meaning you would have to buy it if you wanted to listen to it. People on monthly subscription services aired their discontent on social media but actually it probably fuelled the fire to engage people to go out and buy the album. Heck, there was even queues at HMV.

But what does this stance mean for future album releases and subscription services? It shows a weakness in the subscription model. The subscription model does not pay artists a fair share versus the potential earnings they might make from an album sale. Just think, there is no way Adele would have earned as much if she had allowed her new album to be available on subscription music services.

Do you think it was fair of Adele to ban 25 from being available from music subscription services?