Playing with Google Cardboard VR


My wife’s company is pretty cool, they gave her Google Cardboard VR.  There is a single Google Cardboard app on the iOS store thats from Google, all the others I was looking at were pretty neat but since they weren’t from Google I decided not to try them out.  The stock app to do VR with my iPhone was still pretty cool.  I was able to look at a museum, go on a boat and see a virtual whale jump out of the water, and look at objects and get additional info when I clicked the button on top of the cardboard viewer.  I’d take a picture of what it looks like when you look inside the viewer but I was lazy and didn’t feel like taking my phone out of its case and then powering it on, then using my iPad to try and take a picture.  There are plenty of people on YouTube that have probably done this already so there’s no need for me to do it. ūüėČ

VR is definitely cool and I wish there was a viewer made for my iPhone but the coolest ones out so far are the ones out for the Google Pixel phone.  I haven’t tried any of those out but the reviews are pretty good.  Maybe with the iPhone 8 they’ll come out with something similar.  The only trouble I had with the Google Cardboard viewer is the sound button kept on being pressed when I closed the viewer and I would lose the sound of the app I was looking at.  Doing some readjustment fixed it but it was just a minor annoyance.  I think I would buy something that would go with my iPhone that did VR, it would help pass the time while I’m on the road.  What would be cool is to couple this with FaceTime or something so that you can view what someone else was doing on their phone with the rear camera in VR!  I totally could do that with my family when I’m away and see my daughters school events “live”.  Even a video would be fine with me, it would make it feel like I was actually at the event.  That’s probably far into the future but it still would be pretty cool and I would be able to talk to my family about it when I got home or on the phone.

That will have to wait though, I have other techie purchases to make like maybe a desktop computer replacement if it finally dies.  VR is a toy, not a necessity.  Kind of like my Xbox 360 that I never play.

Aukey Ora iPhone Lens 

Just before vacation, my wife gave me a wide angle lens for my iPhone 7.  I had this on my wish list as something to enhance my travel photos.  I also bring my GoPro with me that takes things in wide angle but I have a lot less control over what and how it shoots.  It’s a pretty easy lens to use, all you have to do is clip it on, line it up to the camera lens, and start shooting.  

At first I really didn’t see any differences until I used a point of reference.  I used it this afternoon taking a picture of a mountain shot.  You can clearly see that the wide angle lens takes in more of the scenery than the regular iPhone camera lens.  You gotta struggle with it a bit to put it on and the iPhone has to be naked and not in a case.  I tried using it with a case on but the lens wouldn’t line up properly and the photos came up kind of crummy.  I’ll just have to be more careful with the lens and my iPhone when I use it since neither will have any protection if I drop it by accident.

There is also a macro lens included with the wide angle but I can’t see a reason why I would use it.  What would be useful later would be a telephoto lens so I can take zoomed in shots using optical rather than digital zoom.  I did test it out and the results were pretty good but I have to be really close to the subject to make use of it.

I am definitely liking this lens, it will be a new companion when I’m traveling for work and vacation.  Now to find places where I want to use it.

Aukey Ora Lens

Regular iPhone photo

Wide angle shot using the Aukey lens

Aukey macro lens shot

1st Week with the iPhone 7

I have completed my first week with an iPhone 7 and the phone itself is pretty kick ass. I don’t know why so many people complain about the home button, I like the new one that uses the taptic feedback engine at the bottom of the phone. ¬†It feels just like pressing down on the old home button on the iPhone 6 or 6s. ¬†I haven’t tried all of the new bells and whistles like the 4K video or splashing the thing with water (still probably not going to do it even though they say its splash proof) but the experience is what you would expect from an iPhone.

If you’re running any variation of an iPhone 6, its not going to feel all that different and thats a good thing in my view since its all familiar. Size and shape are the same for me since I only buy the smaller iPhones, I have small hands so I don’t need the one that looks like an iPad Mini because it gets tough to type on it. I think the thing I notice the most is the speed, this thing is speedy compared to an iPhone 6, and when I compare it to my daughters iPhone 4S, it makes the iPhone 4S seem like a flip phone.

I think I spent the most time trying to do a back up and restore from my iPhone 6 to the iPhone 7. ¬†There was some weird voodoo dance that I had to do so that all my data and apps would transfer over correctly (actually I had to delete all the backups of my iPhone 6, do a complete backup that took about 6 hours to complete overnight, and then do a restore to the iPhone 7 which took another 6 hours or so). ¬†The backup and restore process for iPhones is pretty terrible as an experience. ¬†I see a lot of bloggers say “just set it up as new” which is horse crap. ¬†I have over 200 apps on my phone (kinda excessive but I actually do use all of them) and re-downloading all of them and organizing them into folders is a PAIN! ¬†I have gotten the organization down so that everything fits on one screen. ¬†There are tons of apps nested in folders but the point of the exercise was to make it so I don’t have to swipe away from the main screen, just tap into a folder. ¬†Although my new preferred method is to just search or use Siri to launch the app of my choice.

Anyway, as iPhone storage gets larger and larger (this time I opted to stay at 128GB rather than move up to 256GB), the speed in which things backup and restore from iTunes drastically needs to improve. ¬†For someone like me that travels a lot and doesn’t have their home computer with them, this is one of the pet peeves I have that I have to almost give up my phone and run my computer all night or even all day and watch it slowly back up. ¬†Forget about it when I actually have to sync something, I just skip the backup and sync the new content since I don’t want to just sit there waiting.

The only gripe I think I have is the headphone jack being gone. ¬†I have lots of EarPods from the iPhone 6×2, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, plus extras that I purchased since I had a tendency to wash them in the laundry. ¬†I have bluetooth headphones but they kind of hurt my ears and don’t feel as comfortable as the EarPods do. ¬†I also might want to spring for the Bose QC35’s. ¬†I just know I’m going to lose the dongle that came with the 7 so I might as well get the best noise cancelling headphones that I can. ¬†The QC25’s are awesome, they totally shielded me from a crying baby that sat directly behind me recently and I hear the QC35’s are just as good but with bluetooth! ¬†The AirPods look nice as well and I could see myself maybe springing for those, but they aren’t out yet so I’ll have to do some more waiting and will probably watch a few reviews first too.

As for cases, my Otterbox and my wallet case fit the 7 just fine. ¬†I’ve opted to use the wallet case for the 7 like I did for my 6. ¬†There is a cut out for the headphone jack but that doesn’t mean anything really since sound only comes out of one speaker on the bottom on the right side like the 6 did. ¬†The other holes are just for decoration and aesthetics. ¬†This will also be the first personal phone that doesn’t have a screen protector on it! ¬†I know I’m getting brave! I experimented with not having one on the 6s that I use for work and so far (knock on wood) that screen has been just fine and its been through as much abuse as my personal phone.

Overall, the iPhone 7 is much of the same thing I’ve always experienced with iPhones. ¬†They pretty much work as advertised and have a nice smooth experience. ¬†Sure there are limitations here and there but as I get older I just don’t want to tinker with my tech. ¬†I will still get a an iPhone 8, and upgrade the Mrs. to the 8 as well since I’m sure the cameras and stuff are going to be stellar and make our SLR look like a sick dog in terms of picture quality and speed. ¬†The only area that it will still lack is optical zoom capability. ¬†Thats it! ¬†Done for the evening!

Got an iPhone 7 

I got a new phone for work, an iPhone 7.  One of the perks of my job is that I can get a new iPhone every year for the low price of $199.  The problem is that its carrier locked to AT&T, but the cost is offset by selling one of my older iPhones so its essentially free by the time everything is said and done.

I haven’t tried most of the new features or even set it up, I’m still researching ways to make this my personal phone and continue with one of my older phones as my work phone. ¬†I own an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s so its not like I’m hurting for equipment. ¬†I mostly want it for the improved camera tech and the image stabilization. ¬†I’ll probably finalize set up next weekend after I do some more experimentation and I also have to do some backups with my other 2 phones.

I can’t wait to start using this thing daily, its going to be awesome. ¬†I also can’t wait for iPhone 8, that one is definitely going to be my new personal phone and I’ll upgrade my wife’s phone too since she’s sporting an iPhone 6 and she’ll want the upgrade.

 

Google Photo’s is awesome at creating “stuff”

IMG_0166-PANO

I’ve been using Google Photo’s since it came out with the new version. ¬†I used to use Picasa occasionally ¬†but it was just a place to view the photos on my hard drive. ¬†I installed Google Photo’s on my iPhone, iPad, and my Mac so that all my photos could be uploaded for safe keeping. ¬†One of the cool parts about it is that Google Photos starts doing neat things with the photos it finds. ¬†The example I have in this post is a panoramic that Google Photo’s put together from 3 separate photos that I took while waiting to take off from Miami. ¬†I’d say it came out pretty sweet.

There are other things that it does like make short videos, turn things black and white, and make collages on its own based on the time the photo was taken or where the photo was taken.  It takes all that meta data from my iPhone that saves things like the location and date/time stamp and uses that to make smart albums.  I think that Apple is trying to do the same thing with Memories but minus some of the other cool functions that Google Photos does.

While Photos from Apple is pretty awesome, there are a lot of storage limitations because I don’t pay for iCloud storage and only use the free options so I can’t back up everything. ¬†I have well over 20,000 photos and around 1,000 videos and all that takes up a lot of storage. ¬†Google Photos is just one means of backing things up but the fact that it does cool stuff with my photos is just some nice bonus stuff. ¬†I also get the option to save the little creations from Google and I take full advantage of that, you never know when I’m going to look back on some of this stuff whenI get older and see how cool some of my pictures came out with a little bit of Google magic.

I’d post more stuff but its hard to do so on WordPress from Google Photos, it doesn’t like the share links that I use. ¬†I had to go around that problem by uploading to Flickr then using their share links after making the photo public. ¬†If I get more cool stuff like this, I’ll post it here or using Twitter to give it more exposure.

Trying out the CardNinja

IMG_2460

One of my goals is to try and eliminate my wallet and I think I’ve somewhat succeeded. ¬†Behold the CardNinja! ¬†I actually have a wallet case for my personal phone but the problem I had with it is that it only held 3 cards and maybe some money. ¬†That wasn’t nearly enough to replace my wallet, especially on the road when I have to bring my corporate card. ¬†I’ve more than once forgotten to switch out my personal and business cards which was getting a bit annoying. ¬†I also knew I didn’t want to buy a new wallet case for my work phone because I am most likely upgrading to the iPhone 7 for work and who knows what kind of case I’m going to need for that one.

I was browsing the interweb as usual and came across this gem when I was looking for deals on just whatever online. ¬†I bought a couple of these to try out. ¬†It just sticks to the case or the phone and can be peeled off later. ¬†The picture shows my work phone with my work credit card in it. ¬†So far its pretty snug in there and I don’t really notice the extra bulk of the CardNinja. ¬†The real test will come next week when I have to go flying for work to see how this thing holds up. ¬†I’m a little less gentle with my work cell but it still sports an Otterbox case which was more than I provided to my 5S which just had a screen protector.

Depending on how this works out, I might transfer back to the Otterbox case with the CardNinja for my personal phone and use my wallet case on my work phone. ¬†I’m trying to get down to the smallest footprint for work and home in what I carry. ¬†I’m still waiting for the day that almost everything is done by NFC or they just scan something on my phone screen, then I won’t need to carry all this crap with me anymore.

Finally used the Camera App on my Apple Watch

6a00e55225079e88340133ed129c9a970b-piIMG_9310-0This past New Years Eve I finally  found a use case for using the camera app on my Apple Watch.  We wanted to take a group photo and silly me I forgot my selfie stick!  Bad Asian!!  Anyway, I remembered that my Apple Watch is hooked up via Bluetooth to my iPhone 6 and that there is a remote camera app so that I can take photos.  I had to position the camera on a table and stand it up but what was cool is that I could use my Watch to  see what my iPhone was going to shoot.

I was going to use the 3 second timer but at midnight with a few 4 year olds, even 3 seconds was too long. ¬†I was able to shoot the picture just fine but what I didn’t know is that it shoots in burst mode to ensure that I get an awesome picture! ¬†I’m going to have to start using this app more and more when I want to take photos of things. ¬†I just need a mount of my iPhone so I can take awesome stills from hard to reach places and when i can’t see my iPhone screen.

I need the Apple Watch to be more useful, and downloading more apps is helping but I think the real usefulness would come with syncing it with my work phone but I’m not ready to take that step. ¬†I’ll keep it synced to my personal phone for now, besides I don’t want to see work emails on the weekends on my wrist anyway ūüėČ