iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 01:15

Walt Mossberg has been writing about personal technology since 1991, mostly for the Wall Street Journal, but more recently for Recode.  In his final column before he retires, Mossberg considers the future of personal technology.  For many years, it was all about computers.  Lately, the focus in personal technology has been the iPhone.  Mossberg thinks that ambient computing may be the next big thing, the idea that the environment around us is intelligent and responsive, sort of like Siri or the Amazon Echo, with more features, always aware of what you are doing or saying.  It is a fascinating piece that makes me think about what may be coming in the near future.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Florida attorney Katie Floyd and California attorney David Sparks released a great episode of their Mac Power Users podcast devoted to hidden iOS features.  They are joined by Clayton Morris, and the episode is full of great tips.  Worth a listen.
  • South Carolina attorney Justin Kahn notes that NotesPlus, a note taking app, was updated to version 5.0.  Notably, the update adds iPhone support.
  • Nick Statt of The Verge discusses the interesting background of Anker, a company that makes great accessories for the iPhone and iPad.  I'm a big fan of the Anker PowerPort 6 I reviewed in 2015, and I still use it every time I travel.  Anker makes lots of other great products too.  For example, I see that you can get an Anker PowerCore external battery with 10,000 mAh — enough to charge an iPhone more than three times over — for only $27 on Amazon right now.
  • Richard Thompson of The Advocate describes how Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans is using the Apple Watch to help patients with high blood pressure.
  • Mike Schmitz of The Sweet Setup explains how to remove the GPS info from an iPhone picture so that you can share a picture with someone else without also sharing the location data for the picture.
  • If you read my CarPlay review, then you know that I'm a big fan of the technology.  In the past, many Ford cars did not support CarPlay because Ford promoted its own Sync software.  Surprisingly, Ford announced this week that it is updating 2016 model Ford vehicles to support CarPlay, as reported by Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac.  It is rare for any car manufacturer to add new features to old cars, especially something like CarPlay.  This is great news for owners of those vehicles who have an iPhone.
  • David Pogue of Yahoo discusses the features in the new Samsung Galaxy 8 that are not on the iPhone 7, and indicates which ones are actually useful and might be nice to have on the iPhone.
  • Brent Dirks of AppAdvice discusses an update to the Duet Display app which lets you use an Apple Pencil to draw on your Mac or PC screen.
  • Buster Hein of Cult of Mac reports that a new FCC filing by Apple reveals that Apple has started testing 5G network technology with the iPhone, technology that could provide speeds up to 1Gpbs.  Wow.  And it seems like just yesterday I was excited to upgrade my Mac's modem from 28K to 56K.
  • Serenity Caldwell of iMore discusses a recent Stanford study on smartwatch health calculations.  The Apple Watch is best at monitoring heart rate, but all devices are less accurate at measuring calories burned.
  • For Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 18, Apple released seven videos showing how people with disabilities take advantage of Apple products.  Jim Dalrymple of The Loop shows off all seven videos on this page.
  • And finally, Apple unveiled a new part of its website devoted to convincing Android users to switch to iPhone.  The primary message is let folks know that the switch won't be complicated; Apple even has an Android app which moves everything over.  But the webpage, and associated short videos, also explain why life is better on iPhone.  Here is one example, which points out that Apple does more to protect privacy on the iPhone than Google does on Android:

 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Renogy E.LUMEN Solar Flashlight iPhone Charger

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 00:35

Five years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about Microsoft's decision to merge laptop and tablet computers into one device.  Cook said that he thought it was better to keep the iPad and the MacBook different devices, explaining:  "Anything can be forced to converge.  But the problem is that the products are about tradeoffs.  You begin to make tradeoffs to the point that what you have left at the end of the day doesn't please anyone.  You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user."  Sometimes convergence is great, like peanut butter and jelly.  Sometimes not so much, like Cook's theoretical toaster fridge.  One cannot help thinking about convergence when viewing the E.LUMEN, a multi-function flashlight made by Renogy.

Renogy was founded a few years ago by Yi Li while she was getting a Ph.D. in physics at Louisiana State University.  The company was created to sell solar products, first as a part of LSU's Technology Center, then it was based in Southern California, and now the company operates out of Ontario, Canada.  Renogy makes many different types of solar products, but one of its smallest products is the E.LUMEN.  The company sent me a free review unit, and I have been using it for the past week (as have my kids).

Solar power

The primary function of the E.LUMEN is to serve as a solar-powered flashlight.  Expose the solar panel on the side of the E.LUMEN to sunlight during the day, and you can use the flashlight at night, without having to worry about batteries.  The E.LUMEN rests on a side (it isn't completely round like most other flashlights) so the solar panel will stay pointing up towards the sun.

Renogy says that if the E.LUMEN is at 0%, it takes about 29 hours of sunlight to get back to 100%.  Renogy also says that the main flashlight mode of the flashlight can last 3-4 hours, but it lasted much longer than that in my tests.  I turned on the flashlight at 9pm one night, and it was still going at 7am in the morning, although it was much dimmer.  It took a few more hours for the E.LUMEN to be completely dead.  I then left it outside for two days, and it charged up again.  Unfortunately, there is no indication on the E.LUMEN of how much charge the device has, so I don't know how close I got to a full charge after two days outside.

Three Lighting Modes

The main flashlight has three modes, and each of those modes has multiple settings.

The headlight mode functions like a normal flashlight.  There are four settings within that mode, and you switch between them by pressing the main button on the flashlight.  The bright setting uses 3W of LED light to emits 200 lumens of light for 200 meters.  Press the button again to switch to a dimmer setting, press the button a third time to switch to a strobe mode (perfect for attracting attention, blinding an intruder, or hosting a disco party), and press the button a fourth time to turn off the headlight.

I'm not in the business of reviewing flashlights, but the E.LUMEN headlight mode seems very bright to me, and based on some research I did on the Internet, this output seems similar to other flashlights in its class.  The light beam is brighter in the center (and unlike some other nice flashlights, you cannot twist to adjust the size of the bright center of the beam).  It is bright enough that you will hurt your eyes if you look directly at it.  Unless you are leading a search party or exploring a cave, I suspect that you will find this to be a sufficiently bright flashlight.  It's certainly brighter than the others that I have in my house.

If you hold down the button for three seconds, you switch to the second mode, the white floodlight mode.  This mode illuminates 10 small lights on the side of the flashlight (around the solar panels) at 2W, 150 lumens.  This mode is nice because it gives you a wide range of light, which could be useful if you want to shine light over a wide area to get some work done, or if you want to light up the inside of a tent.  Press the button a second time to switch to a dim setting, and a third time to switch it off.

The final mode is the red strobe light mode, which I'm sure is useful for attracting attention in an emergency.  Presh the button a second time for a dim red strobe light, and a third time to turn if off.

iPhone charger

A solar-powered flashlight contains a rechargeable battery, and people use rechargeable batteries to charge an iPhone, so why not combine those two functions?  If you twist off the bottom of the E.LUMEN, two ports are revealed.  One is a standard USB port.  Plug in your USB-to-Lightning cable and you can charge your iPhone.

The battery is a 2,000 mAh Lithium ion battery with a 1 Amp output.  That should be enough power to almost fully charge an iPhone 7 once, or enough to charge an iPhone 7 Plus around 50%.

Charging an iPhone from a flashlight might seem a little goofy at first, but if you are camping or if there is an extended power outage, being able to use solar power to charge the battery and then charge an iPhone could be incredibly useful.

Next to the USB port is a Micro USB port, which is used only for input.  If you need to charge the E.LUMEN and either don't have access to solar power or want to charge it more quickly, just use any standard Micro USB cable (one is included with the E.LUMEN).  Unlike the 29 hours of solar power required to fully recharge an E.LUMEN, you can recharge via Micro USB in only 6 hours.

But wait, there's more!

Just in case a solar-powered battery/flashlight/strobe light/iPhone charger isn't enough convergence for you, the E.LUMEN has many more tricks up its sleeve.  One side of the top of the flashlight has a seatbelt cutter.  The other side has a high-strength, alloy glass-shattering hammer.  With those two tools, the E.LUMEN seems like a useful device to keep in your car's glove compartment. 

Also, the side of the E.LUMEN has a small magnet.  If you have something metallic and flat, like the side of a filing cabinet, the magnet is strong enough to hold up the flashlight.  So the magnet makes it easier to store the E.LUMEN.

Finally, the very bottom of the E.LUMEN has a compass.  It is on the part that you remove to expose the USB ports, so you could hold and use the compass without having to hold the entire flashlight.  I haven't had a need for a compass since I was a Boy Scout, and of course the iPhone itself has a compass app, but if you have a need for a small compass, the E.LUMEN has you covered.

Putting it all together

If you get trapped in your car in the middle of nowhere, you can use the E.LUMEN to cut your seatbelt off and shatter the glass window to escape from the car.  Then you can use the compass to get your bearings, use the red strobe light to draw attention to yourself and seek help, and if nightfall comes you have two types of flashlights to look around.  And if you haven't drained the battery by using the flashlight, you can recharge your iPhone to call for help.  Although perhaps using the phone to call someone for help should have been the first thing that you did.

Sure, that scenario is farfetched, but I have to admit that it does seem nice to have a flashlight with so many other functions — even if you never to use all of those functions at one time.  Best of all, the E.LUMEN feels like a nice flashlight in your hand.  It weighs 0.68 lbs, which is not too heavy but sturdy.  It is made of strong aluminum (remember, this thing is strong enough to work as a glass-shattering hammer) and looks like it can stand up to a lot of abuse.  The feel is somewhat similar to the feel of a Maglite flashlight if you have used one of those.  It has an IP54 rating, which means that it has reasonably good protection against dust, and it is OK for water to splash on it (e.g. rain), but you shouldn't direct a jet of water at it and you shouldn't let it go underwater. 

If you are looking to get a flashlight for camping or for your car, or even a flashlight that could be used during emergency situations in your house, the E.LUMEN seems like a great option to me.  You get all of the features that you expect from a traditional flashlight, plus lots of extra features such as an iPhone charger that could turn out to be quite useful in certain situations.  Using solar power on a flashlight can be good or bad depending upon the circumstances; you cannot quickly swap out batteries like you can with a standard flashlight, but you also don't need to worry about keeping (and carrying around) those extra batteries because you can use the sun to recharge.  In short, I was worried that the E.LUMEN would be a toaster fridge, but after using it and thinking about it for a week, I like the product and it seems more like a yummy PB&J.

Click here to get the Renogy E.LUMEN Solar Flashlight from Amazon ($24.99).

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 01:38

New York attorney Nicole Black discusses a new ABA Opinion (Formal Opinion 477) on legal ethics issues surrounding email and other methods of communicating with clients.  The bottom line is that you need to determine what is the right method of communication depending upon the sensitivity of the information, the risks of disclosure, etc., all of which requires a case-by-case analysis.  The lack of a black letter rule makes it harder for attorneys.  For example, you can't just say that unencrypted email is always appropriate, becomes sometimes it isn't.  So essentially, before you send any email or text, before you use Dropbox to share a file, and before you decide whether to meet in person or just use your iPhone, you need to pause and analyze what approach is reasonable for a specific communication with your client regarding a specific topic.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • California attorney David Sparks recommends adding a strap to your AirPods when using a bicycle.
  • South Carolina attorney Justin Kahn discusses a recent update to Microsoft's OneNote app.
  • Things is a powerful app for tracking your to do items (my wife uses the app every day), and this week it was updated to version 3.  Lory Gil of iMore discusses what is new in Things 3.
  • Mike Wuerthele of AppleInsider discusses the AT&T Call Protect app.  I reviewed that app earlier this year, and I still like it.
  • Steven Levy was given a tour of the new Apple Park campus and write a great article about it for Wired.
  • In an article for Macworld, Jason Snell discusses Apple's new Apple Park campus, noting that it is the last great Apple product by Steve Jobs.
  • In an article for Macworld, Dan Moren says that health is Apple's next killer app.
  • Christina Farr of CNBC reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook has been seen wearing a device that tracks blood sugar connected to his Apple Watch, a suggestion that Apple may be developing a glucose tracker for folks with diabetes.
  • Sarah Perez of TechCrunch notes that Apple is now doing even more educational classes at its stores and has launched a new website for the classes.
  • This one is really neat.  Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac walks through the steps to use the Photos app on an iPhone or iPad (this works better with a big iPad screen) to see a 3D view of a city with flags indicating photos that you took in different areas of the city.  I had no idea you could do that.  Very cool.
  • Jonny Evans of ComputerWorld shares 15 Apple Watch tricks.  One on the list that I didn't know about was the ability to turn the digital crown to gently illuminate the watch face, useful if you want to be discreet and/or are in a dark room.
  • Rene Ritchie of iMore tells the story of a man who was saved by Siri.  He was burned in an explosion and couldn't use his fingers to dial 911, but he was able to ask Siri to call 911 for him.
  • Last week, I noted that Apple released three videos with tips on using an iPhone to take photographs.  There are actually many more videos, and they are all collected on this page on the Apple website entitled "How to shoot on iPhone 7."
  • And finally, this week Apple released a new ad to show off the portrait mode feature of the iPhone 7 Plus.  The commercial was filmed at a barbershop right here in New Orleans.  It's a cute commercial.  One minor thing I noted — at the start of the commercial, you see a lawyer's office on the left side of the screen next to the barbershop.  I know where this commercial was shot (the Family Barber Shop at 8112 Oak Street), and while I haven't yet driven over there to confirm, I think that Apple digitally added the law firm sign over what is actually a yoga studio.  Indeed, according to the Louisiana State Bar Association website, there is no "Donald M. Taylor" practicing in Louisiana.  Interesting that Apple thought that the ad would look better if the barbershop was next to a law firm.  I guess it just shows you that everyone loves lawyers and wants to be near lawyers.  Here is the ad, which Apple calls Barbers:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Install iOS updates, even if they seem minor

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 22:50

Earlier this week, Apple released iOS 10.3.2 for iPhone and iPad.  Any X.X.1, X.X.2, etc. update is typically considered a minor update which adds no new features and just addresses some bugs and/or security issues.  Sure enough, the release notes for iOS 10.3.2 say that it "includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad."  You can get more details on the security improvements on the Apple website; where you will learn that iOS 10.3.2 fixes things like memory leaks that could allow an app to get kernel privileges, a flaw that could let an app execute arbitrary code, and a memory issue that could allow an app to cause a denial of service.  But the concept of "security updates" may seem so unexciting that I'm sure that many folks conclude that they don't want to waste the time installing the update.

This week we learned, once again, that security patches are important.  As noted in numerous news stories such as this one from the Washington Post, a few years ago the NSA developed something it called EternalBlue, a hacking tool that the NSA could use to access computers to help U.S. interests.  But the tool was stolen by hackers, and after the NSA discovered that, the NSA revealed the tool to Microsoft so that Microsoft could patch the flaw in Windows that the tool exploited.  Microsoft released that patch in March of 2017, but many computers had not yet been updated, and as a result ... well, I presume you heard about all of the computers around the world that were the victim of ransomware a few days ago, including a number of hospitals in London.  As the Post article notes:  "The malicious code at the heart of the WannaCry virus that hit computer systems globally late last week was apparently stolen from the NSA, repackaged by cybercriminals and unleashed on the world for a cyberattack that now ranks as among the most disruptive in history."

From a worldwide perspective, WannaCry may be one of the most disruptive cyberattacks.  But for Rhode Island law firm Moses Afonso Ryan, the most disruptive cyberattack was last year when a hacker took control of its computers and the firm had to pay a $25,000 ransom to get access to its systems again after three months.  Even worse, as reported this month by Debra Cassens Weiss in ABA Journal, the law firm lost $700,000 in billings due to the attack, and its business interruption insurer is denying coverage.

It is unfortunate, although perhaps unsurprising, for a law firm to be a victim of hackers.  I'm more amazed that the NSA — which must be one of the most security-conscious organizations in the world — could even be the victim of hackers.  If the NSA is vulnerable, anyone is vulnerable.  And as a side note, this is the sort of thing I was thinking of when I noted in the past during the FBI vs. Apple litigation that it was foolhardy for the FBI to ask Apple to create a backdoor for the government to access iPhones.  Even if a special key was created only for the government, and even if the government honestly tried to keep that key secret, the risk of it being accessed by bad guys is simply too great to ignore.

However, my goal today is not to reignite the FBI vs. Apple debate, but instead to point out that virtually all software and hardware can have bugs and flaws.  Fortunately, when these problems are discovered, they can typically be patched.  I don't think I've ever seen an iOS update that doesn't include at least some security patches.  Hopefully, iOS 10.3.2 wasn't patching anything as dangerous as the Windows flaw used by EternalBlue and the WannaCry virus, but you never know.  What I do know is that when Apple (or Microsoft or any trusted vendor) releases a security update, you should install the update.  Maybe you don't want to install it immediately, just in case the update itself has a flaw.  That happened in 2013 with iOS 6.1, in 2014 with iOS 8.0.1, in 2016 with iOS 10.0, and other times as well.  But Apple typically discovers those bugs very quickly, and then pulls the update until the issue is fixed.  Once an update has been out for a day or two, you can feel safe installing the update.  Of course it is always best to backup your iPhone or iPad before installing any update.  (I usually practice what I preach, but to be honest sometimes I just install the update and cross my fingers.)

If you haven't yet updated to iOS 10.3.2, it is time to do so now.  Open the Settings app, tap General, and tap Software Update.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 19:39

One of the most useful apps in my law practice is GoodReader, the primary app that I use to read and annotate PDF files.  The last major update was GoodReader 4, released in 2014.  Since then, the developer of the app, Yuri Selukoff (whose mother was a patent attorney), obtained a difficult-to-receive EB-1 Visa (reserved for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities) and moved from Moscow to San Francisco, as described in this interesting profile of Selukoff from last year on the Inside BlackBerry blog.  I was pleased to see a recent confirmation on the GoodReader Facebook page that Selukoff is hard at work on GoodReader 5.  There is no release date yet, but hopefully the reason for Selukoff's recent post is that the release date is coming soon.  Selukoff says in that post:  "It’s a huge update with a completely new design and new features, some you may not even know you'll want until you've seen them!  So fear not, and get ready (or for those of you who’ve been ready, stay ready) – GoodReader 5.0 is on the way!"  For all of us who use GoodReader in our law practices – and I know from the feedback I receive from iPhone J.D. readers that there are many of us – it will be great to see a major update to this essential app.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

How to convert an email into a PDF file on an iPhone or iPad

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 22:24

Sometimes an email loses its importance shortly after it is sent, such as an email asking you to go to lunch once the afternoon begins.  But other times, it is helpful or even necessary to preserve an email — perhaps even as evidence, such as an email to or from opposing counsel that is an exhibit to a discovery motion.  Here is a tip for converting an email message to a PDF file on the iPhone or iPad, so that you can then preserve that PDF version of the email.  The technique is similar on both the iPhone and the iPad.  And unlike the tip that I shared a year ago (which only worked on an iPhone that supports 3D Touch), this tip works on either an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 (released September 13, 2016) or later.

On the iPhone, start by looking at the email that you want to preserve in the Mail app.  At the bottom of the screen, the fourth icon is an arrow that you tap to Reply to a message.  Tap that button, and the third option is Print.  Tap the Print button.

 

Tapping print brings up the Printer Options screen.  Ignore the options at the top of the screen and focus instead on the print preview at the bottom of the screen.  Use two fingers to do a reverse-pinch on that image; start with your two fingers together and then pull them apart on the screen.  This tells your iPhone to enlarge that print preview to full screen.

 

Note that if you are using a newer iPhone that supports 3D Touch (iPhone 6s or newer), instead of doing the reverse-pinch gesture, you can just press down on the small print preview image to open it in the full screen print preview mode.  Whether you use 3D Touch or reverse=pinch is up to you; the result is the same.

This print preview screen shows you a PDF version of your email.  Now, you just need to do something with it.  If you look at the bottom left corner, you will see an share button (the box with the arrow coming out of it).  Tap that button to do something with the PDF file such as open it in another app (such as an app that handles PDFs), email the PDF file, save it to Dropbox, etc.

When you are finished doing whatever you want to do with that PDF version of the email, cancel out of all of the screens by tapping the arrow at the top left, then the cancel button at the top left.

Here is how to do the same thing on an iPad.  Start by tapping the reply arrow at the top right of the screen.  Then tap Print, the third option in the pop-up menu.

This brings you to the Print Options screen.  Again, ignore the stuff at the top and reverse-pinch the preview on the bottom part.

Now you will see a full-screen version of the preview of the document.  Tap the share button at the top right to see a pop-up menu of options, and choose what you want to do with the PDF version of the email — email that PDF file, open it in another app, etc.

Again, when you are done, just cancel out of the screens to return to the point where you are looking at the email in the Mail app.

Although particularly useful when working with emails, you can use this trick in other parts of iOS too, as long as you have the option to print something.  For example, if you have an image in Photos on your iPhone or iPad that you want to quickly convert to a PDF file, just select the option to print the photo, reverse-pinch on the preview, and then act upon the resulting PDF file containing the image.  Want to convert a note in Apple's Notes app to a PDF?  Just tap the share button while you are looking at a note, tap the Printer icon, and then follow the directions above. 

What if you are using an app that doesn't have a print function but you really want a PDF version of whatever you are seeing on the screen?  You can take a screen-shot of the current screen by pressing the power and the home button at the same time.  This puts an image in your Photos.  Then follow the instructions above to convert to PDF — choose the option to print the photo, etc.

Note that sometimes, in some apps, the resulting PDF file isn't perfect.  For example, if you are looking at a web page in Safari, you can tap the share button and then select print and then create a PDF file, but the resulting PDF file will often look very different than the website, sometimes completely stripping off the top of a web page.  You are better off using a dedicated PDF app that is made to do a nice job converting a web page to a PDF file.  PDF PROvider is one such app that can do this, but I know that many others can too.

But when it comes to emails, this simple trick typically does a nice job of converting an email to PDF format, perfect when you want to preserve that email or use it as an exhibit.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 05/04/2017 - 23:56

FBI Director James Comey was in the news quite a bit this week.  No, I'm not going to talk about him admitting felling "mildly nauseous" about how his actions affected the presidential election, but instead about his reigniting the old FBI versus Apple issue regarding the encryption of private data on Apple phones.  Natasha Lomas of TechCrunch discusses Comey's desire to force Apple to put a backdoor on iPhones to give the FBI access to encrypted data.  Comey claims that he isn't asking for a "backdoor," and instead just for a way for the government to bypass encryption to access secure data.  Um... that's what a "backdoor" is.  I'm opposed to these efforts (as is Apple) because any backdoor created for the FBI would surely be exploited by criminals as well (and I'm sure would also be requested by every other government in the world).  And when that happens, the whole purpose of encryption is defeated; the bad guys get access to your confidential data.  I know that every lawyer (and doctor, and priest, etc.) appreciates the value of protecting confidential communications and information.  Hopefully our government will understand this too and won't do anything short-sighted.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Legal technology consultant Brett Burney shares tips for working with documents and much more in a Q and A follow-up to his recent "Top 10 Apps for Lawyers" presentation that he did for MyCase.
  • Speaking of Brett Burney, New York attorney and TechnoLawyer publisher Neil Squillante discusses the Airmail app on the latest edition of the Apps in Law Podcast, hosted by Burney.
  • California attorney David Sparks discusses a recent attempt to use only an iPad when traveling.  Not to spoil the ending, but it worked for him until the last day when he needed to use a true computer to do track changes in Google Docs.  I never take a laptop when I travel, but when I have a situation like this in which a computer is required, I use remote access software on my iPad to do the task via my Mac at home or my PC at work.  The one that I use is called LogMeIn, but I know that there are less expensive alternatives that work for many folks.
  • Jeff Butts of AppAdvice discusses iPhone apps that you can use to monitor your speed while you are driving, including one interesting app that projects an image onto your windshield.
  • Jonny Evans of Computerworld shares a list of iPhone tips, many of which are rather useful and good to know.
  • In an article for Macworld, Dan Moreen analyzes the possibility of Apple creating a system in the Messages app that would let you send (or receive) money from someone else.  I hope Apple does something like this; person-to-person payments would be very useful.
  • Ben Bajarin of Tech.pinons discusses a recent survey of AirPods users finding 98% customer satisfaction. 
  • In a wide-ranging 11 minute interview with Jim Cramer of CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses lots of different issues — job creation, working with the Trump administration, artificial intelligence, the Apple Watch (and how it helped Tim Cook lose 30 pounds), AirPods, and more.
  • Yesterday for Star Wars Day, Lory Gil of iMore shared some Star Wars-themed iPhone wallpapers.  My family prepared for Star Wars Day last weekend by watching the Blu-Ray version of Rogue One, which was fun to see again, and last night my kids and I watched the new short videos in the Lego Star Wars show Freemaker Adventures.  I've always been impressed by the Lego Star Wars shows; they appeal to every age, and they are fun to watch.
  • Speaking of Star Wars, here is an amazing series of videos by Palette-Swap Ninja, a mash-up that tells the story of Star Wars set to the tune of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It's called Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans.  Bravo; very well done.  (Thanks to Jeff Gamet at The Mac Observer.)
  • And finally, Apple came up with a very clever way to showcase the Portrait mode feature of the iPhone 7 Plus, a mode that keeps your subject in focus but blurs the background, similar to what happens when you use an SLR camera.  In the commercial, the rest of busy Shanghai disappears when a couple uses Portrait mode.  Great commercial.  (And nice song, too:  Sing to Me by Walter Martin, with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.)

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Apple 2017 fiscal second quarter -- the iPhone and iPad angle

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 05/02/2017 - 23:36

Yesterday, Apple released the results for its 2017 fiscal second quarter (which ran from January 1, 2017 to April 1, 2017) and held a call with analysts to discuss the results.  Apple always sees a big decrease in revenue from its first to its second fiscal quarter because Q2 comes right after the holiday quarter.  This time last year, Apple has a particularly unfortunate Q2, with Apple bringing in less money than the previous year's Q2.  In 2017, Apple's second quarter was just fine, but compared to a year ago, "just fine" seems pretty darn good.  This was a solid quarter.  Apple's revenue was $52.9 billion, up from $50.6 billion last year.  If you want to get all of the nitty gritty details, you can download the audio from the announcement conference call from iTunes, or you can read a transcript of the call prepared by Seeking Alpha, or a transcript prepared by Mikah Sargent of iMore.  Apple's official press release is here.  As always, I'm not as interested in the financial details as I am the statements of Apple executives during the call that are of interest to iPhone and iPad users.  Here are the items that stood out to me:

iPhone

  • During the past quarter, Apple sold 50.763 million iPhones. That's down slightly from the 51.193 million iPhones that Apple sold a year ago and also down from the 61.2 million iPhones that Apple sold two years ago in its record-breaking 2015 second quarter.  But Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the sales last quarter were consistent with Apple's own expectations, and Apple actually saw more revenue from iPhones ($33.25 billion) than a year ago. 
  • Cook also noted that he believes that the large number of rumors regarding what Apple has planned for the next version of the iPhone are causing many potential purchasers to wait before buying a new iPhone.
  • By my count, as of April 1, 2017, Apple has sold over 1.162 billion iPhones since they first went on sale in 2007. 
  • Apple cited a survey finding a 96% customer satisfaction rating for the iPhone 7, 98% for the iPhone 7 Plus, and 95% for corporate iPhone buyers.

iPad

  • Apple sold 8.922 million iPads.  While that number is down somewhat from the 10.3 million iPads Apple sold this time last year, it is notable that the last time that Apple sold less than 9 million iPads in a quarter was way back in 2011 Q2, when the iPad was less than a year old.
  • Even so, Cook insisted that "iPad results were ahead of our expectations," said that "we believe we gained share during the March quarter in a number of major markets, including the U.S., Japan, and Australia," and noted that "iPad remains the world's most popular tablet."
  • To help you to see iPad sales over time, I prepared a chart that shows two things.  The blue line shows the actual iPad sales each quarter (in millions).  The green bars show the average of the current quarter and the prior three quarters.  I think that this chart is useful because while the blue line shows peaks every year in Apple's fiscal first quarter — the holiday quarter, when folks buy lots of iPads as presents — the green bars are more helpful for seeing iPad sales over time.  As this chart shows, the iPad was introduced in 2010 and saw a sharp rise in sales until the end of calendar year 2013 (the beginning of Apple's fiscal year 2014).  But from calendar year 2014 through today, iPad sales have decreased over time.  I think about this because I really love my iPad and I cannot imagine practicing law without it.  I want Apple to remain committed to the iPad, and the decrease in iPad sales over time makes me concerned that Apple will see less reason to invest in the future of the iPad.  Fortunately, I believe that Apple CEO Tim Cook himself is a big fan of the iPad, and hopefully this will encourage future growth.

  • Apple doesn't comment on future products, so of course didn't say anything in today's call about the future of the iPad.  The rumors are that Apple has some great new hardware designs for future iPads, such as an iPad with a very small bezel so that the usable screen size increases while the overall size of the iPad decreases.  And the rumors are that Apple has some great new software planned for the iPad, especially for professional users such as attorneys.  I sincerely hope that these rumors are true so that us iPad users can do even more with the devices.  And hopefully this results in an increase in sales to change the trend shown in the above chart, further encouraging Apple to devote resources to the iPad's future.  We'll see.

Other

  • Cook noted that Apple is seeing an impressive number of people using the Messages app.  During the Super Bowl this year, at one point folks were sending 380,000 messages in the Messages app per second, more than double from the previous year.
  • To be fair, though, Apple should share credit for that with the Atlanta Falcons.  (Sorry, but as a lifelong Saints fan, I can't resist that joke.)
  • Apple doesn't release specific numbers for Apple Watch sales, but did say that sales were almost double of what they were last year.
  • When asked about other smartwatch manufacturers pulling back from the market, Cook said:  "I think in terms of competition falling out and so forth, the watch area is really hard.  It in essence from an engineering point of view is similar to a phone in terms of the intricacies and so forth.  And so I'm not very surprised that some people are falling out of it.  But we're very committed to it and believe that, it's already a big business, and believe over time it will be even larger."
  • Apple doesn't release specific numbers for its AirPods wireless earphones, but Apple did note that one survey saw customer satisfaction at 98%, and said that demand for AirPods continues to exceed supply.  You don't really need Tim Cook to tell you that; just ask anyone who is still having difficulty finding a pair of AirPods to purchase.
  • Apple noted that its new Apple Store in Dubai is a "truly international store" with employees who speak 45 languages.
Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Upgrading to 1Password Families

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 23:22

I've written before about the benefit — or perhaps I should say necessity — of using a password manager so that you can use sophisticated passwords that are unique for each service and keep track of them automatically without attempting the impossible task of remembering each of these complex passwords.  My goal today is not to evangelize the need for a password manager such as 1Password but instead to address an issue for folks who are already using an older version of 1Password and are thinking about the benefits and procedures for updating to the latest version of 1Password, a subscription service.  When I upgraded my account a few weeks ago, I couldn't find much useful written on this subject, so hopefully any of you considering an upgrade can learn from my experiences.

The new subscription system

In late 2012, I started using 1Password as my password manager on my iPhone, and it was one of the best technology decisions that I have ever made.  A few months later, I bought licenses for my Mac (at home) and my PC (at work), allowing me to have all of my passwords on all of my devices.  Just over a year ago, my wife also purchased licenses for her iPhone/iPad and for her Mac. 

For over four years, I have used the product every day and enjoyed frequent product updates without ever having to pay for an upgrade after my initial investment.  But considering how useful this software is, I would have been happy to pay for an upgrade whenever the developer asked longtime customers to do so.  

Instead of charging for an upgrade, in 2016 the company introduced a new subscription payment structure.  Unlike the prior system where you paid one price for the "pro" version on the iPhone/iPad, one price for Mac, and one price for PC, with the new system you pay $36 a year to use 1Password on all of your devices.  I paid $88 in 2012 and 2013 for all of my different versions of 1Password on iPhone/iPad/Mac/PC, which I used for four years. That is sort of like paying $22 a year for four years, but that is largely because 1Password hasn't charged for upgrades every year or two like many other companies do.  (I think that the last 1Password paid upgrade was version 4 back in 2013.)

You can instead subscribe to 1Password Families for $60 a year, and this is what I did.  This package gives you accounts for up to five people on all of their devices.  Whether you consider this to be more expensive than the prior system or less expensive depends upon your particular circumstances.  If you are a new user of 1Password Families and have five people using 1Password, paying what amounts to $12 a year per person is a steal.

Speaking of the price, I'll also note that there are competing products such as LastPass and Dashlane which can be less expensive.  It is not my intention today to compare the products, but if you want a well-reasoned comparison I recommend the Wirecutter review by Joe Kissell written in December of 2016.  He concluded that LastPass was the best password manager for most folks because of its price ($12/year for a single user), although he noted in an update to that article that LastPass has struggled with some security vulnerabilities lately.  He also concluded that 1Password was the best pick for iPhone/iPad/Mac users who want to pay a little more for a better product.  Much like the decision on whether to use Lexis or Westlaw or Fastcase for your legal research, you need to consider cost and features and decide what is best for your needs.

Two more notes about pricing.  First, there used to be a free version of 1Password for iOS with only basic features, and you paid for the premium version to unlock all features.  It looks like that version if gone; if you download the app now, your first 30 days are free and then you need to purchase a subscription.  Second, when you do pay to subscribe, you can do so either using the 1Password website or in the app itself.  You pay more inside of the app, presumably because AgileBits has to give a cut to Apple.  The individual subscription is $3.99/month in the app (versus $2.99/month on the website) and the family plan is $6.99/month in the app (versus $4.99/month on the website). The website does make you pay for an entire year at once, but if you don't mind doing that you can save money by not purchasing the subscription within the iPhone app.

The benefits and changes

The subscription model for software, in which you pay every year for the advantage of always having the latest version, seems to be catching on recently.  For example, Microsoft has its Office 365 system that give you the latest software for PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad, and I think that Microsoft Word is a must-have for most attorneys using iOS.  As long as the price is reasonable, I think subscription models make sense for everyone; the developer has a steady stream of money so that it can pay for software improvements, and users get the advantage of frequent updates.

If you subscribe to 1Password as an individual, you get the same benefit that you get with other subscription services — the knowledge that you always have the latest and greatest.  I'll admit that with some software, you don't actually need the latest and greatest.  Speaking of Microsoft Word, I know some folks who do just fine with an older version.  But for security software like 1Password, it is obviously best to always use the latest and most robust version of the product.

If you use 1Password Families, in addition to the benefit of always having the latest version of the software, you get an additional benefit:  shared vaults.  Most of my passwords are personal to me and my wife doesn't need them.  But we also have accounts that we both access, such as bank accounts, credit card accounts, utilities, computer passwords, insurance accounts, passwords associated with our kids (such as their frequent flier accounts), etc.  In 1Password Families you can create one or more shared vaults and you get to decide who on the plan has access to each shared vault.  I created a single shared vault, and my wife and I currently have 25 items in that vault.  Syncing changes works great.  If one of us updates a password or adds some note about the account, the change is automatically synced to all of both of our devices. 

And remember, 1Password is more than just logins.  There are special templates to store social security numbers, membership information, secure notes, etc. and any of those can easily be added to a shared account.  You might have personal medical information that is private enough that you want to store it in a secure location on your iPhone, but which you would like to share with your spouse or other family member; a secure note is a perfect location for that.

Although I haven't tried the product, I'll also note that AgileBits now sells 1Password Teams, a service aimed at businesses that want to have some passwords shared to multiple members of different teams while also maintaining some passwords unique to each individual.  It's the same basic idea as 1Password Families, but with some extra bells and whistles for companies.

If you use a PC, which is what I use in my office, there are additional advantages and disadvantages of upgrading to 1Password Families.  The advantage is that instead of using the older 1Password version 4 for Windows, you get the interface of the new 1Password version 6.  The interface on version 4 was always confusing to me, so much so that even if I was in front of my PC, I typically turned to my iPhone or iPad to use 1Password.  Here is what one of the main windows looks like on version 4:

In contrast, version 6 of the Windows interface is very similar to what you see on an iPhone, iPad and Mac.  This interface is far easier to use, and thus I am actually using 1Password on my PC much more often now, and I am certainly enjoying using the software much more.

There is also one disadvantage to version 6 on a PC:  it doesn't support Internet Explorer.  It does support the Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers on a PC.  But if you need to use Internet Explorer — and there are a few court-related systems that I access which still work better on Internet Explorer — you need to manually copy your username/password from the 1Password app and then paste it into Internet Explorer.  That works, but it is less convenient. 

Why the omission?  I've seen this explanation on the AgileBits website:  "Since Internet Explorer doesn't have a modern web extension APIs, we can't reuse our extension code easily like we can for Chrome, Firefox, or other browsers. We have to build it from scratch and it would be a great thing to do, but right now we are focused on bringing 1Password 6 to parity with other platforms."  Keep in mind that Microsoft itself announced back in 2015 that it was phasing out its own support for Internet Explorer.  The future of Microsoft web browsing is its Edge browser for Windows 10, which 1Password is currently working to support.  I certainly see the logic of AgileBits having its Windows computer programmers focus on the future of Windows, not the past.  Just keep in mind that if you currently use 1Password version 4 in Internet Explorer on your PC, you need to decide if support for IE is more important to you than the improved interface of version 6 and the benefits of 1Password Families.  For me, it was an easy decision.

Online vault

There is another major change with 1Password Families:  you no longer use a third-party service like Dropbox to sync your accounts between you devices.  Instead, your passwords are stored on the 1Password servers controlled by AgileBits.

I'll be honest — this is the one part that made me hesitate at first.  One of the things that always made me uncomfortable about competitors to 1Password such as LastPass is that they stored all username and passwords on their own servers, which seemed like a tempting treasure chest of a target for hackers.  And this is not just a theoretical concern; back in 2015, LastPass announced that hackers had accessed and presumably downloaded this very information from their server.  (Here is an article from Wired describing the breach.)  LastPass believed that the data itself was appropriately encrypted so that the hackers would not be able to determine username and passwords from what the hackers downloaded, and LastPass told users that changing their master passwords was sufficient to be safe.  Hopefully that was true, but it was still scary.

In contrast, the old version 1Password stored usernames and password in the cloud but didn't do so on a single, central server.  Instead, each user would use their own cloud service, such as Dropbox.  I liked this because my own personal Dropbox account is a much less tempting target for hackers than a single online depository used by a security company for millions of users.

After researching what 1Password is doing, however, I am comfortable with this change.  While 1Password Families also now stores information on its own server, it uses an extra security measure that LastPass doesn't use.  The first time that you use a computer, iPhone, iPad, etc. to access the 1Password server, you need not only the username and main password (which is what LastPass uses), but also a 34-character secret key.  You are given this key when you first sign up for the 1Password.com subscription service, and 1Password recommends that you print out what it calls an Emergency Kit and keep it in a secure location such as lock box.  The image at the right shows you what one looks like.  The idea is that even if a hacker figured out your username and guessed your main password (perhaps because you had a really weak or otherwise guessable master password), the hacker wouldn't also have the secret account key so the hacker still couldn't decrypt the files and see your confidential information.

The use of a secret key makes it far more secure for 1Password to store your passwords online.  1Password explains it this way:  "Unlike your Master Password, your Secret Key does not need to be memorized, so it can be much longer and more secure.  It adds 128 bits of entropy to your Master Password, raising the total entropy of your encryption key far beyond the reach of current computing power.  There is no amount of money that can break the encryption produced by the combined strength of your Master Password and your Secret Key."  See this page on the AgileBits website for more information about the advantages of using a secret key.

You may be familiar with other services that use something called Two Factor Authentication, which means that to login you need not only something that you know (your password) but also something that you alone have (such as an app on your iPhone or other device that creates a number that changes every 60 seconds.  1Password believes that the use of a secure key is even better than Two Factor Authentication.  This page explains why.

I do not make my living worry about security, but 1Password does, and the company has been around long enough and has a strong enough reputation that I trust 1Password to come up with the most secure way to make its products work.  Indeed, another advantage of 1Password versus other password managers is that, as noted in the Wirecutter article by Joe Kissell that I mentioned earlier, 1Password's data format is publicly documented.  AgileBits explains to the world how its security works, encouraging smart folks in academia and elsewhere to second-guess the decisions made on how to best keep information secure. 

After studying all of this information, I am comfortable letting 1Password store my password vaults on its server.  And of course, the advantage of doing so is that it allows me to use the 1Password website to create a shared vault that my wife and I both use.  It is somewhat magical to update something on my iPhone and have it show up in the same entry on my wife's iPhone just a few seconds later.

The upgrade process

If you are not currently using 1Password at all and this post convinces you to do so, then just start fresh with a new subscription account, either a single-user account or 1Password Families, and everything will just work.  But if you are upgrading from an older 1Password account, such as one that used Dropbox to sync between your devices, here is some information on how that process works.

First, as noted above, I encourage you to purchase the subscription on the AgileBits website and not within the iPhone or iPad app.  It saves you some money.

Next, go into the Settings portion of the 1Password app on the iPhone and select Add Existing Account.  You then need to enter the web address for logging in go your specific 1Password.com account, your username, your password, and that secure key I mentioned above.

 

Fortunately, however, you don't need to type all of that information.  In the picture above of the 1Password Emergency Kit, you will see that there is a QR code on the page.  You can tap the Scan Account Details option in the 1Password app to use your iPhone's camera to scan that QR code.  If you didn't yet print out the Emergency Kit yet but you have another device, such as an iPad, you can just bring up the Emergency Kit on that device and scan the code.  After doing this, the only information that you have to type is your master password.

The app will next ask you to move all of the items from your current primary vault into a new 1Password.com vault.  Just follow the instructions to do so.

 

Next, follow the prompts to delete the old primary vault which you had been using.

 

If you own another iOS device, such as an iPad, you'll want to stop using the former vault on Dropbox (or wherever you kept it) and start using the 1Password.com vault.  At first I tried to do this within the existing 1Password app on my iPad, but after some trial and error I learned that the best solution is to just delete the 1Password app from your iPad, download a fresh copy of 1Password from the App Store, and then add your account.  Once again, I recommend that you scan the QR code to save yourself a lot of typing.

If you are using 1Password on a PC, you'll want to follow a similar approach.  Use the Windows control panel to uninstall your prior copy of 1Password 4, download the new 1Password 6 for Windows from the AgileBits website, and then log in to your new 1Password.com account.  Once again, there is a trick to avoid typing in all of the account details; read the Windows install instructions on this page from the AgileBits website for more info.

If you already have the latest version of 1Password installed on your Mac, you can follow the instructions on that same page to add the new 1Password.com account.  And again, there is a neat trick to avoid typing in all of the details; make your QR code appear somewhere on your Mac screen (such as in the email you received from AgileBits) and then drag a see-through window in 1Password over that QR code so that 1Password can "see" it.  Next, tell your Mac version of 1Password to stop using the former vault that you stored on Dropbox (or wherever).  In my tests, the easiest way to do that was to go the Preferences part of the app, click on Advanced, and then turn off the final option "Allow creation of vaults outside of 1Password accounts."

If you are using 1Password Families, you will next go to the part of the 1Password website associated with your account and send an invitation to your spouse (or whoever else you are adding as one of the five users).  Your spouse will follow steps similar to what I outlined above — or you can be a nice spouse and do all of this for him or her.  Next, create a shared vault to share with your spouse.

The final step is to talk to your spouse and decide which entries in each of your vaults to move into the central vault so that they are shared.  Often, my wife and I found that we both had an entry for an institution such as a bank, so we needed to determine who had the better entry and move that one to the shared vault, and the person with the weaker entry deleted their old entry to avoid duplicate items.  This was the most time-consuming part of the whole process for me, but it did have the advantage of helping me to clean up some older entries.

Conclusion

Upgrading to the new subscription-based version of 1Password takes both time and money.  If you don't have a need for 1Password Families and you are happy with your current 1Password setup, you might decide to wait to upgrade until AgileBits gives you a specific reason to upgrade, such as adding another feature that only works with new subscription service.

But if you and at least one other family member are going to use 1Password (or perhaps already use it), then I think it makes sense to upgrade now.  You'll immediately get to take advantage of the shared vault feature to share passwords, secure notes, and other important but confidential information.  And once you start the subscription, you'll know that you always have the latest and greatest version of 1Password on all of your devices.  Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if at some point soon, 1Password either stops supporting the older version, or limits features on the older version as compared to the current product which uses 1Password.com.  As a subscriber, you won't have to worry about that happening, and instead you'll know that you are always using the most secure and advanced version of 1Password.

Click here to get 1Password for iOS (free for 30 days): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 00:15

In an article for Above the Law, New York attorney Nicole Black describes how using an Apple Watch can reduce your reliance on your iPhone.  I agree.  For example, every day I use my Apple Watch to quickly glance at new emails and see if there is anything important, and also to quickly delete the junk.  If I need to act on the emails, I'll usually use the iPhone (unless only a quick response is required, which I can easily do on the watch), but it is typically far more efficient to see what is there just using the watch.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Debra Cassens Weiss of ABA Journal shares the news of Connecticut police charging a man with the murder of his wife, in part based upon data from her Fitbit fitness tracker regarding the time of day when she was moving around (which was inconsistent with the husband's story).  I could see the same type of thing occurring with an Apple Watch.
  • California attorney David Sparks reminds us that free is never free, and if you use a service that you don't have to pay for, keep in mind that the the provider of that service may making money off of you in ways that you are not thinking about.  For this very reason, I have a bias in favor of apps that cost money; I want to support developers so that they continue to make good apps, and I don't want the developer to be tempted to resort to unscrupulous tactics to make a living.
  • Legal tech consultant Brett Burney reviews iThoughts, a mind mapping app.  The video accompanying his review is both informative and entertaining.
  • Cameron Summerson of How-To-Geek compares the unlimited plans being offered by all of the major U.S. cellphone companies.  As I noted last month, I recently switched to the AT&T Unlimited Plan, and so far I've been very happy with it.  The knowledge that I have unlimited data has encouraged me to do much more with my iPhone, such as streaming more audio and video and using LTE when I don't get a good WiFi signal, and it has made my iPhone much more enjoyable to use.  My personal plan used to be 4 GB/month, and as I type this I see that I have already used 12.55 GB this month, and I still have five days left in my billing cycle.
  • Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac describes Apple's new "Today at Apple" program which will increase in-store classes for customer of Apple product at Apple Stores.
  • John Gruber of Daring Fireball explains that while Apple Watch sales may pale in comparison to iPhone sales, the Apple Watch has still be very successful for Apple.
  • Nick Guy of The Wirecutter describes the best Apple Watch chargers and stands.  His favorite is the Spigen stand which I reviewed in 2015.  I really like that stand too, and it is the one that my wife uses.  He also likes the Material Dock by Studio Neat which I reviewed in 2016.  I'm still using the Material Dock every night, and it is nice to have a convenient location next to my bed to charge both my iPhone and my Apple Watch.
  • Dan More of Six Colors explains how to purge your completed items from the Reminders app.
  • And finally, this past weekend was Earth Day, and Apple debuted an interesting page on its website talking about Apple's environmental initiatives.  Also, Lisa Jackson (who is Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, and formerly ran the EPA) appeared on John Gruber's The Talk Show podcast to discuss what Apple is doing.  It's pretty impressive stuff, and I'm proud to point out that Jackson grew up here in New Orleans.  Apple also released four short videos, each of which is amusing and worth watching.  They are called "Can a building breath?", "Can we produce zero waste?", "Do solar farms feed yaks?" and finally (and most memorable) "Why does Apple make its own sweat?".  Here is the sweat video:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Forecast Bar -- customizable weather app for Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 00:51

There are lots of different weather apps for the iPhone, and the competition has encouraged many developers to create unique approaches to the user interface.  Forecast Bar is a great weather app that lets you customize most aspects of the user interface.  Better yet, the app brings this customization to the Apple Watch, which I love because there are currently only limited ways to modify the interface of an Apple Watch. 

iPhone

The main screen of the iPhone shows you the city at the top, then has a rectangle with a summary, and then has information on upcoming days.  The weather data comes from Dark Sky, a reliable source of weather information including accurate forecasts for the next hour in your current location.

By default, the app uses a dark theme at night and a light theme during the day, but you can change that in the settings.

 

In fact, that is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can change in the settings. 

For example, you can control what appears in the the summary rectangle.  Do you want the summary to tell you about the next hour?  The next two days?  The next week?  Do you want icons included in the summary?  Do you want to real temperature or the fells like temperature?  Pressure?  Tomorrow's Forecast?  Wind?  Do you want information to appear on one line or on separate lines?  Etc. etc.

On bottom part of the main screen, there are rows with the forecast for upcoming days.  Tap any row to get more information.  And again, you can control what you see.  Do you want lines on a graph showing you temperature changes and precipitation?  Do you want hour-by-hour forecasts?  You get to decide what appears.

 

You can even change the style of the icons in the app.  I count 27 different icon styles that you can choose from.

 

If you have ever used another weather app for the iPhone and though to yourself that you wish that you could just see X and Y information, without having to also look at Z, there is a good chance that Forecast Bar will give you exactly that.

Apple Watch

The iPhone app is nice, but what attracted me to Forecast Bar is its Apple Watch app, especially the complications.  Using the iPhone app, you can customize what appears in each of the different Apple Watch complications which appear in different watch faces.  For example, in the smallest version of the Apple Watch complication — which appears on circular watch faces or the Activity watch face — you can decide whether to show the temperature, a weather icon, both the icon and the temperature, the chance of precipitation, or the UV index.  I thought it might be nice to show both the icon and the temperature, but number is a little small to read for my eyes.

 

If you use the Utility face, there is a place for an even wider complication at the top left, plus a place for a line of information at the bottom.  With the extra space, I think it is reasonable to use both the icon and the number together.  And you have lots of control over what appears in the text strip below the watch, such as temperature-high-low or a summary forecast.

 

The modular clock face includes a large area with three lines of text in the middle.  Forecast Bar lets you control each one of those lines individually.

 

I am still trying to determine which combination of information I like best.  One nice feature is that you can have one of the lines display your next appointment (or next to do item).  Before I started using Forecast Bar, I would use either the Calendar or Fantastical complication in that middle area.  With Forecast Bar, I can get the same information about my next appointment (in a more abbreviated fashion) while also getting detailed information about the weather.

 

I'm far from done with playing with all of the different configurations that are possible with Forecast Bar, and who knows which configure I will ultimately decide to use. 

In addition to customizing the face, you can also control how often the Apple Watch gets updated weather information from Forecast Bar on your iPhone.  The normal mode is about once every 45 minutes, but you can also change this to 30 minutes or one hour.  Faster updates just use up a little more of your battery life.  If you lift your Apple Watch to look at the watch face, it typically forces an update at that time too, but of course it is better if the current information is already there.  So far, I've kept mine set to Faster updates, and I seem to have more than enough battery to handle that every day.

Whenever you tap on the Forecast Bar complication, you launch the app on your watch, which has a lot of detailed information about the current weather and the forecast.

 

Swipe to the right to see a 12 hour forecast, then a five day forecast, then a radar image.

 

I am really amazed at the degree of customization for the Apple Watch.  I've never seen any other app — weather app or otherwise — that gives you so much control over the specific information in every type of complications on the watch face.

iPad

Forecast Bar also works on the iPad, using a layout similar to the iPhone, but the wide screen makes it easier to see detailed hourly forecasts.

I see that the weather should be nice for Jazz Fest this Saturday, but it looks like a rainy Sunday — which is not good news for all of us looking forward to the performances by Dr. John and Tom Petty that day.  Hopefully the Sunday forecast will change over the next few days!

But that's not all

The app also includes a widget for the iPhone and iPad.  You can configure alerts if you want to use those.  If you also use Forecast Bar for the Mac, and if your Mac is running, you can even configure the app so that when the Mac learns that it is about to start raining in the place where your iPhone is located, the Mac send a notification to your iPhone.  (I haven't tried this feature yet.)

The app also features what it calls a Time Machine feature, which lets you check the historical weather up to 70 years in the past, or you can see what the weather is predicted to be up to 70 years in the future.  I'm not sure how much faith to put in the fortune telling aspect of Time Machine, but I asked the app about April 30, 2016 in New Orleans, a day which saw the heaviest rain that I have ever seen at Jazz Fest, and sure enough the app reports that there was heavy rain in the afternoon.

Conclusion

Forecast Bar is a very nice iPhone weather app, and is an excellent Apple Watch weather app.  I hope that this app inspires other developers to do more with their own Apple Watch apps.  You can download Forecast Bar and use it for free for a week, but to maintain all of the features you then need to pay $2.99 a year for the iPhone version, or $4.99 a year for the iPhone + Apple Watch version.  (It uses the subscription model, so it automatically renews every year, but you can cancel at any time.)  It took me less than 24 hours to realize that I wanted to subscribe to the iPhone + Apple Watch version of this app, and I have really enjoyed using this app.

Click here to get Forecast Bar (free): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 01:49

I've been traveling this week, and one of my trusty companions is my set of AirPods.  I love being able to listen to music and podcasts, often using both AirPods, but when I want to listen to audio while also being able to hear the outside world, I just wear one of them.  I just got the audiobook version of Daniel Suarez's latest book Change Agent, and I look forward to using my AirPods to listen to that this weekend.  Even though AirPods have now been out for many months, they are still very hard to buy, as noted by John Gruber of Daring Fireball.  But if you think that they might appeal to you, I encourage you to buy a pair.  Jason Snell of Six Colors explains his thoughts after using AirPods for four months, and I agree with most of what he says, except that in my experience, my ability to use AirPods on a plane depends upon what I am doing.  For music and many podcasts, AirPods are loud enough even with the background noise of a plane.  But for some movies and TV shows, I agree with Jason that the volume isn't quite loud enough to overcome the background noise, so I instead use a wired set of headphones that fit more snugly in my ears and thus block out some external noise.  And now, the news of note from the past two weeks:

  • Legal technology expert Brett Burney recently gave a presentation called Top 10 Apps for Lawyers for MyCase.  You can watch the presentation and learn about all of the apps that he recommends in this post on the MyCase Blog.
  • Also on the MyCase blog, New York attorney Nicole Black writes about a presentation at ABA TECHSHOW regarding iPad Tips for Lawyers.
  • California attorney David Sparks discusses whether it is necessary to take a laptop when traveling, or whether the iPad is enough.  Except for the times that I have gone to trial, I have not travelled with a laptop since 2010, instead relying upon my iPad.  I'm out of town as I type this post, using my iPad Pro in split screen mode.
  • San Diego attorney Jeff Bennion discusses the dangers of using public Wi-Fi at a place like Starbucks.
  • In an article for Macworld, Jason Snell says that using ApplePay still feels like living in the future, even though it has been out for two years now.  I agree; every time I have the opportunity to pay for something with my watch, it still makes me smile.
  • In an article for Lifehacker, Thorin Klowsowski explains the basics of using 1Password, the password manager that I use every day.
  • I recently wrote about using Apple's CarPlay technology in a car.  If you have an older car and you want to upgrade it to add CarPlay, Luke Flipowicz of iMore recommends the best CarPlay-enabled receivers.
  • Tech journalist Steven Aquino reviews Apple's new Clips app.
  • David Pogue of Yahoo explains how to forward a text message.
  • And finally, Apple's new Apple Park campus is nearing completion.  Here is a cool drone video showing the state of the construction, both during the day and at night.  It looks very neat:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Keynote is free, and you should use it

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 00:18

Keynote is one of my favorite apps for the iPad.  It is a both easy to use and incredibly powerful, and it lets you create fantastic slides for presentations.  Best of all, it doesn't take much work in Keynote to create slides that are much better looking the standard PowerPoint slides that most other attorneys use, so when you use Keynote, your slides are more likely to grab the attention of your audience.  Moreover, it is very easy to give a presentation using Keynote and an iPad.  All you need is a small dongle sold by Apple to connect your iPad to either a VGA or HDMI cord that connects to a projector.

Since September of 2013, Apple has made its iWork apps (Keynote, Numbers, Pages) and other apps such as iMovie free for anyone who purchased a new iPhone or iPad.  I suspect that includes most of you, but as of yesterday, it now includes all of you.  As reported by Juli Clover of MacRumors, Apple has now made its Keynote, Numbers, Pages, iMovie and GarageBand iOS apps free for everyone.

If you want some help getting started with Keynote, three years ago I reviewed a e-book by California attorney David Sparks called Presentations.  That book has lots of timeless general advice on giving presentations, but also includeds a fantastic guide to making the most of the Keynote app.  New features were added to Keynote since David wrote that book, but I skimmed through the book again last night and most of the advice is just as useful with the current version of Keynote for the iPad.

As for the other apps that Apple made free along with Keynote, I don't think that Pages would be of interest to most lawyers — Microsoft Word is the word processing app that you want for your iPad.  But Numbers is a nice app for creating simple spreadsheets, and you can also quickly create some nice looking charts with the app.  I use Numbers for every chart that I use on iPhone J.D., and also for the charts that I use in my Keynote presentations.  iMovie and GarageBand are nice apps if you want to create a movie or music, and I've enjoyed using both of them just for fun, but I haven't had a reason to use either in my law practice.

For lawyers, Keynote is the gem in the bunch that Apple made free yesterday.  Whether you are teaching a CLE, giving a presentation to a client, or preparing a closing argument, Keynote for iPad is a fantastic app for creating and presenting interesting slides.  Now that the app is free for all, you should definitely check it out.

Click here to get Keynote (free): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Apple CarPlay -- view and control your iPhone from your car

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 01:37

At its developer conference in June of 2013, Apple revealed that it was developing a way to display information from an iPhone on a screen in a car.  In March of 2014, Apple announced that this technology would be called CarPlay.  The first car to use CarPlay was the Ferrari FF released in September of 2014.  However, automobile manufacturers were slow to add CarPlay support.  By January of 2016, there were 100 models from 21 brands that either already had CarPlay or which had CarPlay support coming later in 2016.  Today, there are just over 250 models from 41 brands supporting CarPlay.  Toyota and some other brands still don't support CarPlay at all, some brands only support it in one or a few models, and you often have to get a higher-priced version of a car model to get CarPlay support.  Add to this the fact that most folks go many years between buying a new car, and the net result is that the vast majority of people are not driving cars with CarPlay support.  I hadn't even talked to anyone using CarPlay in their own car until I started shopping for a new car earlier this year and I heard car salesman describe how they were using this technology.  A few weeks ago, I bought a new car with CarPlay — a 2017 Honda Accord (Touring) — so I have finally had the chance to try out CarPlay myself.  I absolutely love it, and I recommend that you look for CarPlay support the next time that you buy a new car.  You will want to have this.

How it works

CarPlay may be an option that you need to select on a new car, but the car itself has relatively little to do with CarPlay.  The car just provides some basic hardware — a color touchscreen, a button to control Siri, and traditional buttons to support audio playback.  In virtually all car models, CarPlay uses a USB port, and you plug your iPhone into that port using a USB-to-Lightning cable.

The cable means that your car can charge your iPhone's battery while you drive, which is nice.  But more importantly, the cord lets your iPhone control what is showing on the CarPlay screen.  You see, the brains of CarPlay comes from  your iPhone, not your car.  It is fair to think of CarPlay as just an external monitor for your iPhone, albeit one with touch controls.  It was smart for Apple to design CarPlay this way.  It means that Apple has complete control on the CarPlay interface.  It also means that every time that Apple updates iOS, it can improve CarPlay.  Thus, with CarPlay, your car becomes just an accessory for your iPhone.  A really expensive accessory.  If you own an Apple Watch and you use it to control your iPhone – such as using the Now Playing app on an Apple Watch to play/pause/FF/RW music coming from your iPhone — CarPlay is the same idea. 

Here is what the CarPlay screen looks like in my 2017 Honda Accord when connected to my iPhone 7 via a USB-to-Lightning cord:

Note that on the far left of the screen, there is a strip of buttons that says "Home" at the top, then some volume controls, and a "Back" button at the bottom.  That is not CarPlay; those are Honda-specific touchscreen buttons right next to the CarPlay screen.  Everything else in that center screen is CarPlay.

My Honda Accord also features some buttons on the left side of the steering wheel that can be used to control certain CarPlay functions:  a RW and FW button, volume up and down buttons, and a button that you hold down to activate Siri:

Some cars also have a physical knob that can be used to scroll through a list on a CarPlay screen, but my car doesn't have that feature.

Apple also makes a wireless version of CarPlay that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so that your iPhone can control the CarPlay screen and receive input from the car without a USB-to-Lightning cable.  I believe that the BMW 2017 5-Series is the only shipping vehicle that currently supports this feature.  I can see how this might sometimes be useful, such as for a very short trip when you don't want to bother with a cord, but I don't consider it a problem to plug in my iPhone to make CarPlay work.  In fact, I prefer plugging in so that I can charge my iPhone.  I've been using Bluetooth to play audio in my car since 2010, and while I could use Bluetooth audio without plugging in my phone, I virtually always plugged in my phone anyway just to charge while I was driving.  Thus, while I expect that it will be a while before we see more widespread adoption of the wireless version of CarPlay, I think that most folks would, like me, be perfectly satisfied with the wired version of CarPlay currently in use.

It is also possible to add CarPlay to an older car by purchasing and instlaling a video screen that works with CarPlay.  Note that some older and less expensive CarPlay screens use a resistive touchscreen, which means that you need to push and apply pressure to select an option on the screen.  Newer screens use a capacitive touchscreen which works when your finger makes contact with the screen without having to push down.  The 2017 Honda Accord has a capacitive touchscreen.

Using CarPlay

Starting CarPlay is incredibly easy.  Just start your car and attach your iPhone to the USB cable, and CarPlay starts on the screen.  If you were previously playing a song, podcast, etc., CarPlay will sometimes resume playback, but not always; I haven't yet figured out what makes that happen automatically.  If the audio didn't start right away, just tap the play button (the arrow) in the middle of the CarPlay screen.

It is my intention today to discuss CarPlay, not the Honda Accord-specific implementation of CarPlay.  Nevertheless, I will mention one minor gripe that may not exist on some other cars.  When I start my car, I first have to wait for Honda's built-in entertainment system to start, and then after that is done CarPlay can start.  As a result, it takes a good 20-30 seconds after starting the car for CarPlay to be fully operational.  No, that's not a very long time and certainly isn't a deal-breaker, but I'd be happier if CarPlay started far more quickly.  I've seen complaints about CarPlay starting slowly on other cars too so I know that this isn't unique to the 2017 Honda Accord.

CarPlay has a main app screen that you can access by tapping the home button at the bottom left of any screen.  From here, you see a list of apps on your iPhone that support CarPlay.  Swipe left or right on the CarPlay screen to switch between screens, just like you would do on an iPhone or iPad.

You can change the order of these apps by opening the Settings app on your iPhone and going to General -> CarPlay.

These apps are not actually living inside of that CarPlay screen; they are just projections from apps on your iPhone.  Thus, if you are using one app in CarPlay and you pick up your iPhone to switch to another CarPlay-compatible app, CarPlay will switch as well.  If you switch to an app that doesn't work with CarPlay, the CarPlay screen will stay on the home screen while you use that app on your iPhone.  Tap an app on the CarPlay screen and it will exit the app you had been using on your iPhone and will launch the corresponding app on your iPhone.  Thus, you cannot use one app on your iPhone while simultaneously seeing a different app on the CarPlay screen.

Whether you are on the home screen or using an app, there is always a thin bar in the left side of the screen.  The bottom shows you the time, Wi-FI or Cellular signal strength, and the home button.  The top of the screen has three buttons which correspond to the most recent audio, map and phone app that you have used.  There are many different CarPlay audio apps right now, but currently CarPlay only supports Apple's Maps app and Apple's Phone app.  Thus, those top three buttons will always show the Maps and Phone icons; only the third icon changes to show your most recently-used audio app.  The order of those three apps is based on how recently you used each app.  These three icons give you a way to quickly launch those apps without having to first go to the Home Screen.

Audio

Perhaps the best part of CarPlay is the interface that it provides for listening to audio in your car, using a CarPlay-compatible audio app on your iPhone.  For example, if you are playing music from the iPhone's built-in Music app, that app projects a corresponding Music app onto CarPlay. 

Every audio app supports a Now Playing screen.  Here is what it looks like when playing a song from the Music app:

The background displays (very faintly) the album art.  The on-screen controls are fairly self-explanatory.  If you are playing songs from a playlist, the top left shows you the name of the playlist; otherwise, it just says "Playlists" and tapping it will bring you to the list of playlists.  There are traditional buttons to play/pause/FF/RW.  Instead of those on-screen buttons, you can also use whatever hardware buttons are available.  In my car, there are buttons on the left side of the steering wheel.  It is nice to shuffle all of the songs on my iPhone and having the ability to quickly skip through any songs that I am not in the mood to hear by just pressing the FF button on my steering wheel.

Tapping the three dots at the bottom gives you the option to love or dislike a song and the option to create a custom radio station based upon that song:

Third-party audio apps can also take advantage of CarPlay.  I use Overcast to play podcasts on my iPhone, and there is a corresponding CarPlay version of the app.  Here is what the Now Playing screen looks like in the Overcast app:

I can see information on the podcast currently playing including how much time is left, podcast artwork is displayed in the background, and the FF and RW buttons can be used to jump forward or backward in a podcast.  Overcast lets you set how much; I have the FF button set to 30 seconds forward to help me quickly skip through commercials that I don't want to hear, and I have RW set to 15 seconds so that I can go back when I jumped forward too far.  The ability to FF and RW through a podcast using the hardware buttons built-in to the steering wheel is incredibly useful.

The Now Playing screen is the most important part of any audio app.  For that reason, there is actually a special CarPlay app called Now Playing that will quickly show you the Now Playing screen of your most recent audio app.  But audio apps can support other screens as well.  For example, in the Music app, you can also see a list of artists, playlists, etc. and select something new from there, and there is an Up Next screen so you can preview songs about to be played.

In the Overcast app, there are screens to let you select a different podcast, a different playlist, or a specific episode.

Apple has an Audiobooks app, and Amazon makes an Audible app, either of which can be used to play audio books.  It won't surprise you to hear that use CarPlay to listen to an audio book works much, much better than the books on tape that I listened to back when I was in college.

I have always enjoyed listening to audio from my iPhone in my car.  With CarPlay, the experience is so much better because the big screen makes it easy to see and control what I am listening too.

Maps

As noted above, CarPlay currently only works with Apple's Maps app.  I cannot think of any technical reason that Google Maps, Waze, and others wouldn't work with CarPlay, but considering that Google makes the competing Android platform, perhaps Google just doesn't want to do anything to improve CarPlay.

Fortunately, Apple's Maps app has improved substantially over the last few years, and it works well on CarPlay.  You can use Siri, your iPhone, or the CarPlay interface to choose a destination.  Then you get turn-by-turn directions, along with Siri voice prompts.

You cannot pinch to zoom in or out on the CarPlay screen.  Instead, you can double-tap to zoom in, and there are also plus and minus buttons on the bottom right to zoom.

While you are driving, Maps switches to a 3D view.

Much like the Maps app on the iPhone itself, Maps on CarPlay can even suggest certain nearby establishments such as gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores.  There is also a button to show recent destinations.

At night, Maps automatically switches to a darker interface.

The experience of using Maps in CarPlay is similar to the experience of using Maps on an iPhone when you have an iPhone in a prominent position using a car mount.  But with CarPlay, the screen is bigger and built-in to your car, and buttons are bigger and easier to tap.  Thus, it is a nicer experience.

Phone

Although CarPlay supports the Phone app, I haven't found it much more useful than just using the older Siri Eyes Free technology with Bluetooth.  To place a call in my old car, I could activate Siri, tell it to call my wife at home, and the iPhone would do so.  With CarPlay, the experience is very similar, except that now I can use the CarPlay screen to see what is going on.

CarPlay is more helpful when you are receiving a call because you can see the name of who is calling you on the screen.  I wish that CarPlay also showed the caller's picture.  When CarPlay was first announced in 2013 (back when it was still called iOS in the Car), Apple showed a demo of the technology in which a photo of the caller appeared on the screen:

I'm not sure why Apple didn't yet implement that feature.  CarPlay does have access to the photo portion of a contact; if you use the Phone app in CarPlay to browse your list of contacts, you see the person's picture in that part of the app (assuming that you assigned a picture to a specific contact).

Messages

My experience with Messages is similar to my experience with Phone:  the CarPlay screen adds a nice improvement over Siri Eyes Free, but it is not a fundamentally better experience.  

When I first saw the Messages app on the CarPlay screen, I thought that it might display the words of a text message on the screen.  But of course, that would be incredibly distracting for a driver, could lead to accidents, and would be illegal in many states.  Instead, the Messages app provides a way for CarPlay to read your message out loud, and a way for you to dictate messages.

There is not a CarPlay version of the Mail app.  You can still use the traditional Siri Eyes Free commands to work with your emails, such as asking Siri to read you your newest email, but nothing will display on the CarPlay screen.

Conclusion

The menus on built-in entertainment systems in cars are notoriously horrible.  Perhaps the best feature of CarPlay is that you get the good taste of Apple's approach to design on the screen of your car.  In my new car, there are lots of things that I could do on the built-in screen (listen to traditional radio, play a CD, listen to SiriusXM, etc.), but I suspect that over 99% of my use of that screen will be devoted to CarPlay.

For me, the ability to use audio apps — especially Overcast and Apple's Music apps — is by far my favorite part of CarPlay.  But the CarPlay screen is also very useful for Maps, and is somewhat nicer for other functions too.  And because CarPlay is controlled by the iPhone, I love that the technology can improve as Apple releases new versions of iOS and new versions of the iPhone.  After just a few weeks of using CarPlay, I would never want to use a car that didn't have it.  CarPlay works well, is very useful, and makes it much more enjoyable to drive your car.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 02:44

Yesterday, Apple released its new Clips app for the iPhone.  This fun, free app lets you create short videos to share with others via Messages, email or a social network.  Click here to download it from the App Store.  Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal explained how to use the app, but even more useful is the short video that accompanies her article showing you how to use the app.  Rene Ritchie of iMore also has useful tips for using Clips.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • You may be thinking that the new Clips app is only useful for people who are into Selfies.  That is certainly how Apple promotes the app, and I'm sure many folks will use it that way, to share videos of themselves talking about things on camera.  But you can also use the Clips app to send a message without using a photo or video of yourself, as I demonstrate in this short video:

  • Florida attorney Katie Floyd has tips for using iPhone apps and accessories to manage packages that are coming your way.  One of the apps that she discusses is Deliveries, and I use that one all the time.
  • Joan Feldman of Attorney At Work discusses recommended apps and other advice from this year's ABA TECHSHOW.
  • Rene Ritchie of iMore reviews the new Fifth Generation iPad.  As he notes, that iPad lacks many of the features of the iPad Pro, but the low cost will make it worth it for many folks.
  • In light of the recent decision by Republicans in Congress, in a party-line vote, to remove privacy protections, your Internet Service Provider can now sell or otherwise disclose your Internet browsing history, app usage, and other information that you might want to keep private.  Brian Fung of the Washington Post explains the vote.  You can potentially restore some of your privacy by using a VPN, so Mark Smirnitois recently updated his post on The Wirecutter explaining the best VPN options.
  • Zac Hall of 9to5Mac reviews the Nike+ Run Club app for the Apple Watch.
  • Joe Caiati of The Sweet Setup says that if you want to use your Apple Watch to track your sleep patterns, AutoSleep is the best app.
  • And finally, Apple debuted a new Apple Watch commercial this week called Live Bright.  The use of color in the commercial is really interesting.  Here is the video, which I'm fairly certain was not created using the new Clips app:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Watch Player -- sync and play podcasts on the Apple Watch

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 22:13

At some point in the future, I suspect that Apple will sell an Apple Watch with a built-in cellular connection so that it can connect to the Internet even it is not within Bluetooth range of an iPhone, and thus be more of an independent device.  Even now, there are certain things that you can do without an iPhone nearby, although you run into limits.  An Apple Watch can track your workout (and track your progress if you have a Series 2 with GPS), and you can even listen to music using just the Apple Watch and Bluetooth earphones (such as AirPods) if you first transfer songs to the Apple Watch.  But if you want to listen to a podcast, there is no built-in way to do that without having an iPhone nearby.  Of course, the absence of a feature is often a great opportunity for a third party developer, and Peter Knapp, a software developer in Germany, created Watch Player so that you can transfer podcast episodes to an Apple Watch and then play them on the Apple Watch even without an iPhone.  The app works well, and it is free to use (although in-app tips are accepted).

The iPhone version of the app has one main screen with four buttons across the top.  Use the button at the top right to select a podcast.  You can either search for a podcast by name, or if you have a specific RSS feed you can add that URL.

Tap on any podcast name to select specific episodes to download to your iPhone, which should happen very quickly on a Wi-Fi connection. 

The main screen of the Watch Player app on the iPhone shows all of the episodes which have been downloaded and are thus available to transfer to your Apple Watch.  A green button indicates that an episode has already been synced; a red button indicates that it has not yet been synced.

To sync episodes, open the Watch Player app on your Apple Watch and then press the sync button at the top right of the iPhone app.  Episodes will then transfer.  It takes a little while to do so.  For example, a 2 hour and 21 minute episode of The Talk Show (97 MB) took me about six minutes to transfer.

While the file is transferring, if you look at your Apple Watch screen you can see the progress as a percentage at the top of the screen.  The same percentage also shows at the bottom of the iPhone app during transfer.  The percentage is only updated when your watch screen is on, so if the screen turns off during the transfer, just tap once on the Apple Watch screen to wake the watch and update the progress indication.

 

Note that in the current version, you will see some bizarre numbers at the top of the screen at the very end of the transfer, due to the way that the app calculates the percentage.  Just ignore that and it will go away.

Once episodes are transferred, the main screen of the Apple Watch app will show you the available episodes.

Tap on an episode to see a screen where you can start to play the episode.  On this screen, you can also select to start the podcast at any particular point, useful if you have already listened to part of a podcast on your iPhone and just want to resume listening starting where you left off.

Once you press play, the podcast will begin.  If you have Bluetooth speakers attached to your Apple Watch, such as a pair of AirPods, then the podcast will play through that source.  Otherwise, you will just hear the podcast using the built-in speaker on the Apple Watch.  There is a large play/pause button in the middle, plus smaller buttons to jump forward or backwards five seconds at a time.  You can also adjust the volume.

Alternatively, if you are using Bluetooth speakers, you can use the standard Now Playing app on the Apple Watch to play/pause or control volume.  However, the FF and RW buttons in the Now Playing app don't appear to do anything when the Watch Player app is playing a podcast.

Tap the Watch Player icon at the top left of the Now Playing screen to jump to the Watch Player app.

I mentioned using this app while you are walking or jogging and you leave your iPhone at home, but it is also useful if you are listening to a podcast while you are just doing errands around the house and your iPhone is not in your pocket.  You can listen to a podcast using earphones connected via Bluetooth to the Apple Watch without having to stay in the same room as the iPhone so that the earphones are close enough to the iPhone to maintain a Bluetooth connection.

I also used this app when using a treadmill inside of my house.  Everything worked fine, but I didn't see any advantage to using Watch Player when it is easy for my iPhone to be nearby.

When you are finished with an episode, you can delete it from the watch one of two ways.  First, you can swipe across an episode title in the iPhone app to delete that episode, and then sync to the watch to remove it from the watch.  Second, in the Watch Player app on the Apple Watch, go to the screen for a particular episode (the one with the big Play button at the bottom) and force-press on the screen.  This will show the option to delete an episode.

Other options

My iPhone podcast player of choice is Overcast, and it has the option to speed up podcast playback by playing at a faster speed (I typically use 1.5x) and by removing longer pauses between words.  Watch Player lacks those features, and I miss them.  When you are used to hearing a person's voice at 1.5x speed, the voice---sounds---really---slow---at---normal---speed.  There is an Overcast app for the Apple Watch, but it is just a remote control for the iPhone.  That's a useful feature, but I wish that the Apple Watch app also let you download particular episodes to the Apple Watch.  Maybe that feature will be added to Overcast in the future, and if it is, I strongly suspect that I would switch from Watch Player to Overcast.

Just a few weeks ago, another app was released that does something similar to Watch Player.  It is called Watchcast, and it aims to be both an iPhone app for listening to podcasts and an Apple Watch app, meaning that you can sync your play position between both devices.  It has some features that I prefer over Watch Player.  First, the artwork for a podcast syncs to the Apple Watch, which I like to see.  Second, Apple Watch app lets you jump forward 30 seconds or jump back 15 seconds, better than the 5 seconds offered by Watch Player.

 

However, the current version of Watchcast  has a major drawback — no progress indicator for when you are transferring a podcast to the Apple Watch.  Transferring audio to an Apple Watch is very slow no matter how you are doing it; this is true even when you are transferring songs using Apple's own music app.  Thus, I consider seeing how much longer you have to wait pretty essential.  Otherwise, you wonder if it is doing anything at all and feel tempted to shut down the app and start over.  (Another, less important, issue is that Watchcast doesn't work with the Now Playing app.)  If Watchcast is ever updated to add a progress indicator, such as a percentage like Watch Player uses or even just a progress bar, then I'll take a closer look at Watchcast, but this omission makes the current version less appealing to me than Watch Player.

Conclusion

For now, Watch Player is a perfect solution to the problem of playing podcasts on your Apple Watch without having to also carry around your iPhone.  This past weekend, I went jogging on historic St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, watching the streetcars pass and looking at the beautiful live oak trees overhead.  My Apple Watch was on my wrist and my AirPods were in my ears, but I didn't have any other electronics with me.  Not carrying my iPhone meant that I was cut off from electronic communication with the world — no phone calls, text messages, emails, etc. — but that isn't necessarily a bad thing when you are exercising.  Thanks to the Watch Player app, I was able to listen to a brand new podcast as I looked at interesting houses on St. Charles Avenue built in the 1800s.

Click here to get Watch Player (free): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Apps in Law podcast -- why you should use 1Password

iPhone J.D. - Sun, 04/02/2017 - 22:13

Brett Burney makes his living helping lawyers make the most of technology in their law practices.  He is also a former chair of ABA TECHSHOW, very smart, and an all-around nice guy.  He recently launched a new podcast called the Apps in Law Podcast in which he interviews lawyers and other legal professionals about one of their favorite apps.  Each episode is short, focused, and full of great information.  For any iPhone J.D. reader who enjoys listening to podcasts, this is a good one and I encourage you to subscribe.

I mention his new podcast today because I was a guest on Episode 4.  It was hard to pick a single app to discuss — there are so many that I love! — but I selected 1Password because it is incredibly useful, a delight to use, and with all of the security issues that we read about in the news every day it is incredible important.  (My review.)  You can listen to Episode 4 in your web browser by clicking here.  But I recommend that you instead subscribe to the podcast using your podcast player of choice.  That way, you can hear all of the future episodes, and the three great episodes that have already aired:

  • Episode 1:  Ohio attorney Chad Burton discusses the Mail app.
  • Episode 2:  Maryland attorney Neil Tyra discusses Daylite.
  • Episode 3:  Illinois attorney Nerino Petro discusses Trello.

By the way, if you are trying to select a great podcast app for the iPhone, I recommend Overcast.  And if you want to learn more about Overcast, Brett just posted an entertaining video review of Overcast on his Apps in Law website.  Not only does that video show you the great features of Overcast, it also provides a brief history of podcasts.  So if any of you don't yet listen to podcasts, I recommend that you watch that video just to see what all of the buzz is about.

Thanks, Brett, for creating this podcast and for providing attorneys with such a valuable resource for learning about how to make the most of their iPhones.

Click here to subscribe to the Apps in Law podcast using Apple's podcast app: 

Click here to listen to Episode 4 of the Apps in Law podcast using Overcast.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 00:48

I love using my AirPods with my iPhone.  They weigh nothing, you don't have any cords to worry about, and it is nice to wear just one of them if you are half-listening to music or a podcast while you also want to hear what is going on in the outside world.  But some people prefer a soft rubber tip versus the hard tip of each AirPod, and even I will admit that I miss having buttons on a cord to play/pause, FF, RW, etc.  If those issues are more important to you than the advantages of AirPods, I've heard great things about Apple's BeatsX headphones.  Just this week, a friend was raving about them to me.  If you are in the market for Bluetooth headphones and you are looking at the AirPods, you should also consider whether BeatsX is a better choice for you.  To help you make that decision, this week Susie Ochs of Macworld reviews Apple's BeatsX headphones, and she really likes them compared to the AirPods.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: Time Jump -- data calculator for the iPhone

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 00:02

As a litigator, I frequently need to calculate dates.  I often just ask Siri to do the calculation — "Hey Siri, what is 65 days after April 4?" — but it is nice to see all of this worked out on a calendar, especially if you need to adjust dates.  Time Jump is a date calculator app that has a slight learning curve when you first start using it, but the app lets you do some pretty sophisticated date calculations.  The developer of the app sent me a free code to try out this $2.99 app.  I'm impressed, and I recommend the app for attorneys.

Basic features

You use Time Jump in landscape mode because the app mostly consists of a single screen with a calendar on each side of the screen.  When you start the app, both calendars are set to today.  If you tap a date in the future on the right side, the app calculates the difference between the days.  If you tap a date in the past on the left side, the app does the same thing.  (The calendar on the left always has to have a date on or before the calendar on the right.)  Change a month either by swiping up/down or left/right.

The main calculation done is the difference between the two dates.  If I tap March 30, 2017 on the left and April 25, 2017 on the right, Time Jump tells me that those two dates are 26 days apart.

Time Jump also tells me that those two days are 17 business days apart.  Business days are calculated by excluding weekends and, if you have any holiday calendars selected, by excluding holidays.   You can adjust all of this in the app settings, accessed by tapping the gear at the bottom of the screen.  For example, if your business week runs Tuesday to Saturday, you can tell the app to exclude Sundays and Mondays when calculating business days.

Date Calc

For me, the most useful function of any date calculator is the ability to count days in the future, which this app calls "Date Calc."  For example, let's assume that today I received a favorable decision from a state appellate court, and I want to know when the 30 days will run for my opponent to file a writ with the Louisiana Supreme Court.  Yes, I can manually count 30 days in my head (after reciting the "30 days has September" rhyme), but it is better to see it clearly shown and calculated on an iPhone screen. 

On the left side, I select March 30, 2017.  That's easy to do by just tapping on that date on the calendar, but you can also double-tap on the large number above the left calendar to bring up a date wheel to quickly jump to a specific date.

To select the number of days forward that you want to count, tap the top middle of the app, and a screen comes up to select 30 days.  (The default is to count by Days, but you can also count by Business Days, Weeks, Months, or Years.). 

Even before you tap done, you can already see the 30th day in the top right.  To see this day on a full calendar, tap done.  Here, I see on the calendar on the right that the 30th day is April 29, which is on a Saturday.  Thus, I know that the real filing deadline would be Monday, May 1. 

Holidays on a calendar are marked with a blue dot under the day, so if for example I were to see that the 30th day was on a day with a blue dot, I would know that the actual deadline is the following day. 

If you tap on a day in either calendar, the date is shown in a large number above that calendar.  Tap on that large number to see more information on that day, including an explanation of why it is a holiday (if applicable), the day of the year, the week of and the month of the year.

Holidays

Holidays can be complicated to account for in any date calculator, but they are handled very well in this app.  First, there are lots of built-in lists of holidays to choose from.  The Federal (standard) list includes all of the major holidays.  Tap the words "Federal (standard) to see the specific dates on that list, and you can manually turn on or off any of those holidays if they do not apply to you. 

The Federal (optional) list includes holidays they are typically not work holidays, such as Flag Day and Halloween.

There is also a full set of U.S. State holidays that you can optionally enable.  Here in New Orleans, for example, Mardi Gras is a work holiday for virtually everyone, and the Louisiana list includes Mardi Gras and Good Friday.  If you need to select a day as a holiday which is not on any of the app's lists, you can designate any other day using the Personal Day Off feature, which is fully described on the Time Jump website.

As a test, I decided to configure Time Jump to correspond to the court holidays of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans (New Orleans, LA).  There is a complicated Louisiana statute which governs holidays, La. R.S. § 1:55(E), but it is easier to just look at the page of the CDC website that lists the holidays.  To accomplish this, I turned on the Federal (standard) list which gave me most of the holidays (except that I needed to turn off Columbus Day which is not a holiday here).  Then I turned on the Louisiana list, which added Mardi Gras day and Good Friday as holidays.  Finally, I needed to manually add holidays for All Saints Day, the day after Thanksgiving, and the day after Christmas.

Your own calendar

In the Settings portion of this app, you can choose to show events from your own Calendar.  Doing so is a two-step process.  First, turn on the switch next to Show Events From iPhone Calendars.  Next, tap the words "Show Events Form iPhone Calendars" to select which of your calendars to show in Time Jump.

You will now see green dots on days on which you have events on your own calendar.  If you are like me, you'll have a green dot on just about every day.  But this is still useful because, for example, if you do a date calculation and determine a filing date, you can look at your calendar and see that you are already scheduled to be in a deposition all day long, and thus you can plan accordingly.

Conclusion

The interface of this app seems a little clunky at times.  For example, it took me a while to figure out that, in the app settings, you often need to tap on the words in the title of a setting to get more options.  That wasn't intuitive to me.  But I'm willing to live with the problems with the form of this app because the function is quite useful.  This app lets you perform pretty sophisticated date calculations, and the dual-calendar layout and indications of holidays makes it easy to figure out what is going on.  Time Jump is now my go-to app for date calculations on the iPhone.

Click here for Time Jump ($2.99): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Apple updates iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch operating systems

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 00:51

Yesterday, Apple released an update to the iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 10.3, and also updated the Apple Watch software to watchOS 3.2.  (Operating systems for the Mac and Apple TV were also updated.)  This is a minor update, but I encourage everyone to update their iPhones and iPads whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS because virtually every iOS update includes security enhancements.  It is always good to give your iPhone and iPad the best protection possible against hackers.  There are also a few new minor features, and here are the ones that I think that you may find useful.

Find My AirPods

If you own a set of Apple AirPods, you know that they are amazing, but also very tiny (when not in their case), and thus it is possible to lose them.  You might take one out of your ear and put it on a kitchen table, only to have it knocked to the floor, and then you will have to search for it.

Yesterday, Apple updated the Find My iPhone app to add support for finding AirPods.  There are two functions available.  First, if your AirPods are in their case, the app can tell you the last location where the AirPods were connected to the iPhone.  Thus, you might be looking all over your home for your AirPods, and this app can tell you that they are probably at your office.

Second, if one or both AirPods are out of the case and connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth, the app can play a chirping sound — it's not terribly loud, but loud enough that if you are quiet, you should be able to find them.  Because the AirPod has to be close enough to the iPhone to have a Bluetooth connection, this only works if you are in the same room as an AirPod (or maybe just outside of the room).  But in my above example where the AirPod rolls off of the table and on to the floor, that chirping noise might be enough to make help direct you to the corner of the room where the AirPod landed — or to between the seat cushions on the couch, or in the pocket of your jacket, etc.

This feature won't prevent you from losing your AirPods, but I can imagine many circumstances in which it might be just enough to save the day.

CarPlay Improvements

If you are fortunate enough to have a relatively new car that supports Apple CarPlay, there are now three icons on the left side of the screen that you can tap to quickly jump to the most recent media app (such as Music), the most recent communication app (such as the Messages app) and the most recent travel app (such as Maps).  This saves you the trouble of first tapping the on-screen Home button to go to the Home Screen and then launching the app.

New File System

iOS 10.3 features a new file system called APFS.  APFS has the potential to do all sorts of neat things such as making iOS more efficient and fullproof.  Here is an article from Rene Ritchie of iMore on APFS if you want to learn about all of the geeky details.  But you don't need to know any of that, and for now, you won't really notice any difference with the upgrade to APFS – other than the fact that this update takes longer to install because it is doing major brain surgery on your iPhone.

Settings — Apple ID

When you launch the Settings app, you'll see a new area at the top with your name and picture.  Tap that to get into many of your personal settings such as your Apple ID, and a list of all devices associated with your Apple ID.  There is some new information, but mostly it is nice to just have a central spot for all of this information.

If you tap in iCloud in this section, you'll get more detailed information on how your iCloud storage is being used.

 

Siri — Third Party Apps

In iOS 10.3, Siri can now has the ability to do more with third party apps.  Payment apps can now let you use Siri to pay or to check the status of a payment.  Ride-booking apps can let you use Siri to schedule a car.  Automobile apps can let you use Siri to check the fuel level, ask if the car is locked, turn on lights, and activate the horn.  I'm not sure if any third party apps are taking advantage of these new Siri features yet, but I'm sure that support will come soon.

App Updates

There are lots of minor updates to Apple's apps including Mail, Safari, Podcasts, Calendar, Music, iTunes, Maps, Keynote, Pages and Numbers.  Most of the changes look fairly minor or cosmetic to me, but there are some nice new features.  For example, in the Music app, on the Now Playing screen, you can scroll to the bottom and see what is coming up next.  In the Mail app, there are numerous slight interface changes.  In the Maps app, you can now search for parked car to see the last place that you parked your car.

Also, third party apps now have the ability to change the icon for their app.  You first need to give the app permission to change, but once you do so, the developer can let the app provide you with limited information just based upon the appearance of the app.

Apple Watch Theater Mode

Besides updating Siri on the Apple Watch to correlate to the Siri changes in iOS, there is only one big change to the Apple Watch, a new Theater Mode.  Swipe up from the bottom of the clock screen and tap the icon with the two masks to turn on this mode.  When it is on, your Apple Watch screen will not light up if you lift you wrist, thus preventing you from creating a distraction to others when you move your wrist during a movie or a play.  You can still use the watch by tapping the screen or touching a button, but you are far less likely to accidentally turn the watch on.  Also, this will silence your Apple Watch if it otherwise makes noise.  (I always keep my Apple Watch on silent mode anyway.)  Theater Mode is a simple improvement, but it is a great idea.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

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