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Wolfville, Nova Scotia


Filtering by Tag: iphone

iPhone 6S

Chris Campbell

It feels smooth and solid in my hand and while it's a bit bigger than my second iPhone, a 5S, I have to say that I'm adjusting nicely to my new iPhone 6S. I was relatively late to the iPhone bandwagon in getting an iPhone 4 in 2010 and heartily embraced it and with the camera and connectivity, it dramatically changed how I did a lot of things. While the intention wasn't to get a new phone right away as my 5S is still working great with no problems, an offer from Eastlink with a discount on my home internet and cable bundle made me switch as getting a new phone and saving money was an offer I couldn't refuse.

With my phone backed up to iCloud it's fast and easy to switch phones with just needing to log in to iCloud to have everything come back. Even things like volume level, wallpaper, and other settings all come back which keeps your new phone set up like your old phone. Since Apple Music and is now part of my online life it means that I don't keep music on my phone, but I've got access to everything that is there, so it frees up a lot of space on the phone (which is 64 GB --- twice the size of my old iPhone).

The screen is bright and the glass is smooth and feels softer (which is kind of weird but it's probably from only needing to press lightly on the screen). It's not as natural-feeling in my hand as the 4 and 5S were, but the bigger screen is much easier to read. Again, as with the other phones it's much faster and smoother. Things just seem to appear. The Touch ID button is significantly faster at recognizing a fingerprint so the screen unlocks instantly. So fast that I'm having to change my behaviour with the menu button as if I want to view the lock screen I need to touch the power button instead as the lock screen is usually skipped with my thumb on the menu button.

iOS 9 is lovely and the new system font works well for me. Siri is faster and a lot more accurate and with "Hey Siri" I find that I'm recording reminders and responding to messages through dictation. It's faster to launch apps by just asking for them too. One of the useful embedded features of iOS 9 is the way contexts can be saved when you are looking at something by asking Siri to remind you about it. If you are on a web page reading something you say, "Remind me about this" and a reminder that includes the bookmark of the page gets created. It's even cooler in my podcast listening app Overcast as I can be listening to something while driving and ask Siri to remind me about it and then in the reminder it will open the podcast and jump within the episode to where I added the reminder. In Instapaper I can be part way through reading something and add a reminder and then pop back into where I left off. That's useful when you are researching something and don't want to go to stray too far in looking things up. It's a great way to jump back to something later if you have to switch to doing something else unexpectedly.

The new and different feature with the 6S is 3D Touch which is challenging to describe and takes a bit of getting used to. It's a fascinating combination of hardware and software that creates the feeling that the surface of the iPhone is a button. So if you press a bit harder on the glass it feels like it clicks and something happens. The most useful aspect of this is to get a quick preview of a link in Safari or a conversation in Messages. If you want to go to the page or conversation you just press a bit harder and it pops open. Or if you want to do something quickly you can just swipe up and then save or, in Messages, quickly send a reply like "on my way" or something like that. The prebuilt responses grow out of your conversations, so if you text back "cool" to people a lot, that will come up, or if "okey dokey" is more your style, that will appear.

It's interesting to see how developers are using 3D Touch and my favourite and long-time Twitter client Twitterrific intuitively uses the feature. I can press on a link and get a preview of the web page, look at a user profile, a hashtag, a discussion, or a quoted tweet without having to open it up. It's fast and intuitive and as other developers add these features it makes everything just a little bit easier and faster.

The set of apps that I'm using a lot has remained the same for a while with Messages, Twitterrific, 1Password, and OmniFocus in the home row as I use each of them all every day. Other frequently used apps are Reporter (for collecting quantified self data), Lifesum (for tracking food and calories), Next (for tracking spending), Drafts (for drafts of notes or tweets), 1Writer (for notes), Spark (for email), Weather Line (for weather), and Fantastical (for my calendar). All the apps seem a lot faster on the new phone and most of them have added 3D Touch integration is useful ways too.

At this point in the development of phones and computer technology there is little more needed, so now we're in the phase where things are faster and easier. That's how it is with the camera which has a higher resolution and better performance in low light. For video you can shoot better slow motion and shoot video in 4K which is pretty sharp. The other photo feature is Live Photos which captures some motion around the moment that you press the shutter. It's neat but not that useful, but it's a little flourish that is cute.

The battery life is great and with the new "Low Power Mode" it makes it even easier to squeeze more battery life out of the phone by easily reducing the amount of background activity and notifications. It does seem to charge a lot faster than my 5S which is nice. Just a few minutes connected to a battery or the wall charger gives a 20% boost in power, so it doesn't feel as scary when the battery level is getting a bit low.

I've surrounded my phone with the minimalist Peel case which is relatively cheap and solid. I didn't get a case at all for my 5S and didn't have a problem, so I probably don't need one, but it's nice to have a bit of extra security and the case makes the phone a bit easier to hold without adding much size at all. The phone feels solid and it's still feels a bit big and awkward at times, but I'm getting used to it. The bigger screen is nice which makes things easier to see and read.

While my 5S was working great and my initial plan was to keep it for another year, I'm happy to have upgraded early to the 6S. It's fast and powerful and has seamlessly become part of all the stuff I do quickly. The best technology disappears and reduces the friction in what you are doing and that's exactly what my phone does as I connect with people, share things, and find things with it. What did I do before I had this magical little computer with me all the time?

A Decade of Flickr

Chris Campbell

While I was in Sackville for Sappyfest I was taking pictures with my iPhone and while taking a walk I remembered how the first photo that I posted to Flickr was taking in the same spot where I was standing. In looking at that photo again the date was just over 10 years ago. I joined Flickr in August of 2004. A decade is a long time and it's neat to look back at photos from the past and to think about how technology has changed.

The latest photo in that location from me is a panorama taken with my iPhone 5s. Panoramas are relatively effortless now as they are built-in. The stitching happens in the camera and you don't need specialized software to make them. I do like the way some of the panoramas made with a series of photos look. With the faster camera I should do some more of those as it is a neat retro way of creating images.

There is still something great about film and I have had a series of film cameras that I've used. There is the medium format Holga (with black & white and colour film) and the 35mm Zenit camera (also with colour and black & white photos). I need to take some more photos with them as many of the filters we apply to digital photos are trying to get back to the filmy looks from them. I've also taken some low-res photos with a Digital Harinezumi which is a tiny camera that creates images similar to the ones from toy plastic cameras.

While the first photos I took were film-based, the vast majority of photos on Flickr from me are digital. The first digital camera I had was a really lovely little Canon PowerShot A60 with a 2 megapixel resolution. Small and powerful, I carried it around with me a lot. Then upgraded to the even smaller and more powerful Canon SD600 with 6 megapixels of resolution and kept taking photos and posting them. Later that was upgraded to an SD1200 IS with a 10 megapixel resolution. The most recent digital camera is the Canon G11 which is another solid camera with a decent zoom lens and 10 megapixels of resolution.

But with me having an iPhone 4, it meant that more of my photos were being taken and posted with my iPhone since it was always with me. There was the Instagram phase with all sorts of square and low-res photos and then with the iPhone 5s it resulted in not doing much at all with the digital camera as the camera of the iPhone is quite amazing. So that's what I take photos with now and they go to the computer as a backup, but now they begin and end on the phone.

With the new iPhone app from Flickr it's even easier to upload photos as they go automatically, so there is an archive there. They're also backed up to iCloud, so they are in a few different places. Now if I want to have some processing or effects on the photos I'll use the VSCO Cam app and then upload those processed photos from the camera. If there is some more serious processing to do, that will happen on my MacBook Pro with Acorn and then I'll upload it.

The community that was part of Flickr was amazing and in the same way that you put lots of energy into different communities and interests, it's been the same there. My online energy seems to have moved more towards Twitter, but it's good to look back and remember what made something special. It's great to have a visual archive and I need to reach back into it every now and then to share more from there.

Over the past decade Flickr went from an independent company to being purchased by Yahoo. After the acquisition they were ignored a bit and many people left them and as things moved to my phone I was using it a lot less. But they've been steadily improving things on the site and the new app is quite great, so now I'm coming back and adding a lot more photos to the collection that I have there. Some things do seem to stick around as the world and technology changes.

iPhone 5S

Chris Campbell

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

Sports drinks and iPads don't mix. This was made very clear to me when I was rushing around one morning and I noticed that the bottle of sports drink in my bag had opened. I took out my iPad and it was soaked. The liquid was in the screen. It didn't dry out, so I scheduled a Genius Bar appointment at the Apple store to get it replaced. This was on Monday, September 23, after the iPhone launch the Friday before.

Arriving early, I asked if they had any of the new iPhones in stock, specifically the 32 GB Space Grey one. They had just received two, so that's why I have one now. There has only been one other iPhone in my life and that was the 4. It was a similar purchase on launch day when I wandered in to an electronics store at lunchtime to see if they had any. The 4 was a great phone and still works quite well. The interface with iOS 7 made my older phone feel new even though I only used it for a few days. But the 5S is really fast. So fast in that it almost seems too fast. Pages load quickly and the screen updates smoothly. With my whole smartphone life based around the iPhone 4, so my actual, hands-on iPhone experience has been relatively recent. But it is firmly part of my workflow, so having one is important. There was no pressing need for a new phone, but the combination of being out of contract and having my previous phone for over 3 years made it seem a bit more logical to upgrade.

The experience of buying things at the Apple Store is great and with my iPad repair the sales person and I multitasked between setting up the iPad and the iPhone. It doesn't take long and since my backups are with iCloud it was scarily fast to restore both. My wallpaper was back and all of the apps were there too (but it takes a while to actually download the apps onto your phone if you have a lot). Contacts and calendar are all there. My music is all backed up with iTunes Match, so I'll get that when I need it.

The thing I keep coming back to is how light it is. It feels like something fell out of my 4 and it's barely there in my pocket. It's an evolutionary design that feels quite similar, while being noticeably faster. Most of the time you're looking at the screen, so the speed is the big difference. The faster processor combined with the LTE network means that things happen really quickly. Email and Twitter updates just appear. The screen is slightly taller, so I noticed a few times that I wouldn't hit the right target near the top, but the size feels quite right.

The fingerprint scanner is really simple and works very well. Right at the beginning of setting up the phone you can activate it and it's a great way to increase the security of your phone. I didn't have a passcode on my phone before since it's a pain to have to stop and type it in every time you unlock the phone. But now phone is always locked, which is a very good thing. It's very rarely away from me at any time, so it didn't seem like a huge issue before. If you turn the phone off you do need to enter the passcode to unlock the phone when it is turned on again. The accuracy is very good to the point of being almost invisible. You just press the menu button and leave your finger there for a second or less and the phone wakes up and unlocks.

One of the great and frustrating things about Apple is that when they decide on something they usually move in that direction fairly rapidly. That's one of the reasons we don't use floppies any more and have phones without physical keyboards. So many technologies over the years have changed after Apple implemented them and during the changeovers we're left with things that we can't use in the same way. With my new iPhone I ran into that with the Lightning connector. All of my other iOS devices have used the 30-pin dock connector and now I have one device with the newer connection. After 10 years it's not that radical a shift to change connections, and I really love that there is no up with the connector which makes it a lot faster to plug in. With the 30-pin to Lightning connector it lets me charge my iPhone in the iHome clock radio by my bed or use it to play audio through my car stereo.

A surprise for me is how much I use Siri. I didn't have it on my iPhone 4 and while Siri is on my iPad Retina it isn't something that I used a lot. But with it on my phone now I find that I do set reminders and timers with it. That is especially great when I am driving and use my Bluetooth headset. It makes it a lot easier to capture things. The dictation also works surprisingly well and that is a great way to send a text while you are driving too.

The new camera along with the camera app is a fantastic improvement. The pictures are gorgeous and the new flash seems to work well. The video is amazing and with the slow motion mode shooting video at 120 frames per second it means that you can easily create some nifty slow motion videos of anything. It exemplifies a lot of what is interesting about this upgrade to the phone and the OS in that most of what is going on is hidden and you only start to notice things as you use it more. It's not as flashy or completely different as I thought it would be, but it works a lot better and the device really starts to disappear as I do things with it. It's just part of what I do.

iOS 7 is a huge change and the speed that it has been adopted is amazing. It's gorgeous and has very quickly become comfortable to me. It's amazing how quickly apps have updated and how some older apps feel dated now. The built-in Mail app is a lot better with some features from Mailbox working into it. The Notification Centre is similarly improved with a great view of today with a nice overview of what is coming up on your calendar for today and tomorrow. I like that. While visually the elements are flatter, there is a layered approach to the interface that provides a spacial orientation that lets you know where you are in moving into apps and back out into the Springboard. The combination of the new OS and the faster hardware really changes the way that it looks and feels with a smoothness that seems unreal. I love it and it feel like I'm in a sci-fi film with the tiny computer that I hold in my hand that lets me connect with the world.

Twitterrific 5

Chris Campbell

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My iPhone is a slab of glass and metal that can be a bit magical. A new app can change your perception of the whole device. The same thing can happen with services and websites too. It's a challenge for me to separate Twitter from Iconfactory's Twitterrific app. I started using Twitter early (back in 2006) and initially I used it with my pre-iPhone and on the web. But it was in January of 2007 that Iconfactory launched Twitterrific and that changed the way that I used and saw Twitter. The colour scheme and look are burned into my brain, so that's how I think about the different types of tweets. My tweets are green, replies are brown and direct messages are blue. I got into the iPhone game late (the iPhone 4 is my first iPhone), so I was able to dive right in with Twitterrific there and I loved it too.

With the right app it changes the whole experience. Above having a smoothly-functioning app, the Iconfactory create things that look great. With Twitter the actual content is relatively simple as it is text, so if you can display the text well, it's good. Combine that with additional functionality in terms of posting and viewing other content and it makes it all quite seamless and wonderful. Within Twitterrific they’ve innovated with features that have become standard and many associate Ollie, the icon for Twitterrific, with Twitter itself.

While others moved to more complex apps with multiple columns and accounts and looks, I stuck with Twitterrific on the desktop and my phone. This is software with an opinion about how it should look and work. I agreed with that opinion and I'm so glad that I've stayed with them. They have a point of view, but they listen and evolve and it's fascinating to see how it has changed over the years. Every major update had a few changes. It was all recognizable, but there was a bit of an adjustment period in getting used to some of the refinements.

The app keeps up-to-date with innovations in the operating systems without being too bleeding edge. The vast majority of my tweets have been created through it and I expect that it will continue. The sad spectre lurking over app developers for Twitter is that there is a finite limit to the number of people who can use their apps. It's complicated and most people who use Twitter won't know or really care about it. But it's sad for me as it means that things are moving towards a single web-based interface. I'm hoping that the space and tools enjoyed by more advanced users will remain for a long time.

My other fear was that with the changes that there wouldn't be another update to Twitterrific, but today there is a quite wonderful update for the iPhone and iPad. With version 5 there are no longer two separate versions, but just one. The interface is cleaner with new gestures. Swipe right to reply to a tweet, swipe left to see the conversation. That's nice and fast. It fills the screen more and overall is easier to use. I'm still trying to figure out the best combination of theme and font size, but right out of the box (app store?) it's solid and easy to use. There are three buttons at the top of the screen for the unified timeline, replies and direct messages. This makes it clearer what is going on and there are subtle and beautiful light indicators at the bottom of the buttons to let you know when there are new replies or DMs. You can pull to refresh and there is a delightful animation where you have to pull down and break an egg so a bird emerges and starts to fly.

One neat addition is adding locations to tweets (which had come and gone in various iterations) and continued easy ways to add photos to tweets. I haven't really used location that much with Twitter, but I think I will now. It's funny how having things added in a certain way can change your perception of them. I'm sure that there are other features that I haven't seen or explored yet that will be useful. Search has been improved which will make it easier to add other people and the usual solid sharing functionality is still there. It's a neat improvement to an old friend. Ollie, the Twitterrific mascot also looks a bit different too. He keeps getting bigger in the icon. He's the thing I associate most with Twitter and I'm so glad that he's still around and helping me connect with the world in short bursts.