Flipboard still wins as my news app of choice

I’ve been on the iOS 9 public betas for a while and I’ve had a chance to access the News app that Apple has provided but even though it’s pretty good it’s still not as good as using Flipboard.  I’ve been a Flipboard user since its earliest inception way back when I was using an iPad 2 (not to be confused with the Air 2).  There’s something about it that seems better regarding the experience that Apple hasn’t replicated yet.  I haven’t added all that many extra sources since I first started using it but I do end up browsing other sources when I have the time or there’s a particular topic that I find interesting.

The News app is only ok, I think the thing that I don’t like about it is the limited choices of where content comes from.  It’s also probably my own ignorance on how the app works.  I already had a kick a as news app so why should I change and set up another service to get the same news that I’ve been reading all this time?  I’ve tried using the News app on multiple occasions and every time I’ve found it a bit lacking.  Although I will admit that the place I get most of my news is my Twitter feed which I’m thankful that Flipboard supports.  What disappointed me a lot was the loss in ability to read my Facebook feed using the app but that was because Facebook changed the API and what you could access.

The real kicker though is that the app I still use a lot is the Zite app.  Zite was an app that was bought by Flipboard and recently there is an option to import all the things that you could read in Zite to Flipoard.  I still like the way the Zite service works, even better than Flipboard in my opinion.  It’s still one of my go to news apps for just reading stuff and it has a better way to get me articles that I generally wouldn’t have read otherwise.  I think more integration of features from the Zite app into the Flipboard app will finally get me to ditch Zite but until that time I’m going to continue t use both as my primaries.

I’ll still check out the News app every once in a while but since it’s part of the core OS, I probably won’t see any significant changes to it until the next iOS revision.  And therein probably lies the biggest weakness to native apps on iOS, they can’t be updated like all the other apps on the App Store, you have to wait until there is another iOS revision to see major upgrades to the service.  Maybe iOS shoudn’t pack all those apps into the core OS or they should make u[dates available via the App Store.  The iWork apps work that way although those apps can be deleted and the core apps can’t but maybe that’s an area Apple should consider in the future.

In the mean time I’m going to continue to use Flipboard for aggregating news since that’s what it’s good at and I like the interface the best.

iOS 9 Public Beta Test

I just installed the iOS 9 public beta on my iPad Mini 2 to try out some of the new features that were mentioned at WWDC 15.  I’ve only been able to really notice 3 different things right now but thats due to me only using it for a few hours.

1) The new app switching interface is kind of weird since its way dfferent from the old way of doing it.  When switching apps in iOS 8 the tiles of the apps still on popped up on the right, now it shows up to the left so thats a little different.  The way it looks is also different but that doesn’t bother me too much right now.

2) The Notes app is now way more useful with the addition of being able to draw and write in the app instead of just type.  You can also insert pictures and maps into a note which makes it a lot like Evernote or Notes Plus but now its a native thing.   The only thing holding it back is palm rejection for when you’re writing/drawing.

3) Coolest feature by far is the ability to watch a video in a smaller screen while doing something else.  For example I’m watching The Lego Movie while I’m typing this up.  So far this feature is limited to the Video’s app and I’m not allowed to use this feature with GPLayer wihch is what I use most of the time to watch videos.  I watch videos using GPlayer since it doesn’t require actually syncing photos from my iTunes library, I can just directly add videos to the app.

I hope the make the feature watch videos while doing something else extensible to other  video apps so I can continue to not have to add things to my iTunes library.  I’ll continue to test it only on my iPad snce my iPhone is more important to keep stable.   So far so good though!

I despise the “iCloud Full” error

I’ll freely admit that I’m a pretty heavy user of all things iOS with all the iPads, my iPhone and my legacy iPhones still being used in my home.  My iPhone 6 is awesome and I use it to constantly take pictures and video of things around me when I travel and when I’m at home but the kicker is that it eats up a lot of data and I’ve reached the max capacity for my free 5GB account.  I’ve done everything that I can to reduce the amount of storage that any other app I have uses on iCloud but there is nothing that I can do to reduce the amount of space I use on iCloud without removing pictures.

I’m a digital pack rat and I save everything that I take a picture of.  I’ve started using Google Photos which affords me unlimited storage for my pictures online at high resolution but probably not at the max resolution like iCloud.  That’s actually perfectly fine with me since I as able to upload and save all my photos that I kept on my computer and on my other devices.  I wouldn’t mind using up all of my iCloud storage so much if I didn’t get a pop up message everytime I started my MacBook Pro that my iCloud storage was full and I needed to make room.  This is a very annoying thing that occurs and there’s no way to just dismiss the message permanently.  It takes me to my settings and asks for adjustments and I just end up shutting it off.  That’s just small I know but still quite annoying.

I had this impression that I would be able to store all my photos and videos in iCloud without burning through my iCloud storage but after looking at the Apple website it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’m technically fine if I’m out of storage and it auto deletes my oldest stuff since I have a back up but at least let me permanently get rid of the pop up message so it doesn’t interrupt my workflow when I want to just use my laptop.

Maybe this is something that they are going to fix I’m iOS 9, I don’t know since it isn’t out yet and I’m currently using the public beta on my iPad alone so all the features aren’t rolled out es that are on the cloud.  I suppose I’ll have to wait until everything is officially released in October.  In the mean time maybe El Capitan for Mac gets rid of this annoyance.

iOS 7 Keynote was pretty cool

The Apple WWDC just kicked off this week and they were nice enough to show the keynote speech on Apple.com. There were a lot of great things around Mac and OSX (I’ll probably upgrade my MacBook when they release Mavericks) but what I was really interested in was the new iOS 7 that was announced. I’m a jail breaker for a reason because the native iOS has left out features that I want but with every iteration of iOS they give me less and less reason to jailbreak. iOS 7 is no different than the previous upgrades.

What was really compelling for me was notification center, the new toggles, and multi tasking. Notification Center became a lot like LockInfo which is my go to app for jail breaking. I love the ability to see my calendar and tasks on my phone and with the new iOS they have given me a reason to drop LockInfo from my must have apps for jail breaking. Just by looking at it, it has all the functions that I like about LockInfo and it looks way better (I don’t skin my LockInfo and just use it stock).

SBSettings is my second go to app because it gives me access to my toggles to turn on airplane mode, Bluetooth, and wifi just by swiping. This is another thin that has been solved. Instead of swiping the top of the screen I pull up from the bottom. The Apple version also adds music controls and access to some additional toggles that I don’t have with SBSettings. It looked super sweet on the live demo so I’m itching to try it.

Multitasking looks very familiar with its card interface. The interface closely mimics the multitasking interface used by webOS back when the Palm Pre was out on the market. Don’t get me wrong, I love the new interface for multitasking and before I got an iPhone 3GS I really wanted the Palm Pre but I was unwilling to switch to Sprint for it. I also like how the cards update in the background so it always has the latest information so that is going to be super useful.

The reason I will keep my iPhone jailbroken is because of My3G. This app allows me to use FaceTime over 3G. AT&T allows someone to use FaceTime over 3G but not if you’re on an unlimited data plan like I have. I am unwilling to switch to a tiered plan since I use a lot of data on my phone so if there is one thing keeping me tethered to jail breaking that is it. If I can get away with doing FaceTime over 3G without jail breaking I’m all for it but in the mean time I’ll keep my iOS 6 jailbreak. That doesn’t mean I won’t be able to enjoy iOS 7 by any means. I have a work iPhone that I possess so ill be upgrading that phone to fully test out the new iOS while enjoying the benefits of my jailbreak.

I guess I’ll be waiting until the fall for my software upgrade. Who knows, if the new iPad is truly awesome I’ll have iOS 7 on that device too.

Upgrading to iOS 6

This past week the new OS came out from Apple and I attempted to download it unsuccessfully on Wednesday. I was able to finally do the upgrade this weekend while I was at home. So far I’ve been selective on upgrading my devices and some just cant be upgraded at all. I’ve gone ahead and upgraded my work iPhone since that one has to be stock and my iPad 2. I originally had a jailbreak on my iPad 2 but there really isn’t a huge reason to jailbreak on my iPad 2 so upgrading it wasn’t a hard decision. I am surprised that the original iPad isn’t getting the upgraded OS but my old iPhone 3GS will be getting the upgrade but without stuff like Siri enabled.

I’m keeping my personal iPhone with the old OS and jailbroken so that I can continue to do FaceTime calls with my wife over 3G without having to move to one of those really weak tiered or shared data plans that they keep on pushing out. So far I haven’t had a lot of time to use the new OS on any of my devices because I was busy with my daughter and upgrading all the devices at home takes a lot of time since there are so many apps and data to restore on each device.

The things I do like are the we Siri commands that can be utilized but this only works on my 4S and not on my iPad 2. Was also successful in using passbook which is new at the airport this morning. I have to say that it’s mighty handy to have passbook, I’m waiting to see what other apps are going to support it in the future since it looks like it has the potential to be a pretty powerful tool if enough people jump on the bandwagon. The feature that I really want to try out is the new panorama camera setting on my 4S. I have a pretty good view of NYC at work so I’m going to see f I can try that out sometime this week.

I haven’t seen anything else that really stands out to me yet using the new OS. I think it’s just the same old thing that Apple has done all along which is keeping the user experience consistent as they move through the generations of devices. I know there are some things that will be hardware specific like LTE which I’m anxious to try out but I’m going to have to wait until my contact is up with AT&T before I can even consider buying a new phone. As it stands, there isn’t a compelling reason to upgrade my phones or my iPad unless some really killer feature comes out that says I just HAVE to get a new phone or tablet. Only time will tell though. Once I mess around with iOS 6 more, maybe I’ll find something worth blogging about.

100 Camera’s in 1 is super sweet

I recently came across a great app while I was reading my news feeds in Flipboard on my iPad. It’s called 100 Cameras in 1 which is a photo filter application. The application takes an original photo and adds 100 filters on top of the picture to make some really amazing looking photos. This app isn’t free like most of the other apps that I’ve used in the past. I did quite a bit of research on the app and read lots of reviews and decided to put down the $3 for the app.

I have literally thousands of pictures on my home computer that I’m eager to put filters on. One of the coolest things is that you can layer filters on top of each other making for an infinite amount of filters that can be added to a photo. There are even some controls that can be adjusted so that the picture itself or the filter can be adjusted to change the effect on the picture further. I’ve tried using the app with a few photos that I’ve imported onto my iPad using Photo Transfer (which is way better than syncing my iPads folders) to move pictures from my computer.

Another really excellent option is how you can publish the photos that have been created. It supports export to twitter, Flickr, email, and instagram to name a few. I have been exporting my photos to Flickr for the time being since it seems like a good place to put them so I can link them to my blog posts. I only have an upload limit per month in terms of bandwidth and not an actual limit on how much I can upload. I’ll insert some of my creations into this post just for fun and to showcase some of the filters I’ve used.

The first picture is of a sun set I took in Key West this year.  I added some filters to it and it looks pretty cool, not too far off from the original but just different enough to add a little bit of color and neat effects to the whole thing.  The second picture is of one of my cats that I used to have.  She was just sitting on the couch and I took a picture of her.  I added a lot of layered filters to this one and this old style photo is what I came up with.  I like how the effect was centered on her and then kind of made into one of those old time black and white photo’s.  I might try this with other cat photo’s that I have or I might start doing it with people shots too.  With my camera kit for my iPad, Photo Transfer for iPhone and iPad, I can move photo’s to my iPad for easy digital re-touching.  I will still keep some photo editing software on my iPhone but I think I’ll only be using it for Instagram really because they have cool built in filters that also add borders which is something that 100 Camera’s in 1 doesn’t do.  If they have more control over where the center of the effect is, that would be a great improvement as well as adding borders to the picture but I can do that using other apps after I’ve added all the filters and stuff to get the picture to how I want it to look.  I’ll be sure to be playing with this app for quite a while, at least until my iPad’s don’t work anymore.