At Home with Tech

Don’t let your gadgets kill your Zen. Byte back with your inner geek!

My Canon Elph is Angry at My iPhone 6 Plus

Is this a camera on the new iPhone or a phone on a new camera? The answer: Yes.  This ‘good enough’ camera lens attached the new iPhone 6 Plus is going to be a compact-camera killer.

Is this a camera on the new iPhone or a phone on a new camera? The answer: Yes. This ‘good enough’ camera lens attached the new iPhone 6 Plus is going to be a compact-camera killer.

I went on a short business trip to San Francisco last week and decided to leave my little Canon PowerShot Elph camera at home. I figured the few shots I might take could be handled by the tiny camera baked into my new iPhone 6 Plus.

After years of my total support for using ‘real’ cameras instead of phones to handle point and shoot needs… now, you might ask why I’m favoring a more limited smartphone camera over your typical PowerShot, which boasts a more powerful lens and sensor.

You could be muttering “sacrilege!” under your breath.
Or perhaps you’re saying, “It’s about time he figured this out.”

Either way, I was finally facing the same decision tree that millions have been considering since smartphones started sporting cameras.

Time to Break Up with My Canon Elph?
Up until now, I’ve remained completely loyal to the fact that better cameras take better pictures. And as it’s often hard enough to take a decent photo with the best of gear, why stack the odds against you with a more limited camera system.

You’ve got to admit, smartphone photography can’t possibly be as good as the real deal.

But it’s been getting better…

And remember, I held onto my iPhone 4S throughout the 5 and 5S years. So I didn’t experience the photo shooting improvements in those iPhones.

Fast forward to today…

This Smartphone’s Camera is Good Enough…
Guess what…?
The photos I shot in California with my iPhone 6 Plus looked pretty darn good.
Sure, its camera isn’t perfect…

  • No, the iPhone’s LED flash isn’t that powerful to give you enough fill to combat strong back light.
  • No, you still can’t zoom in without cropping out pixels.
  • No, you can’t easily play with depth of field. (not that I’ve figured out yet)
  • No, it’s not as sharp in low-light situations.

But under relatively non-challenging, photo-taking conditions… it does the job just fine!

Lots of Baked-In Tricks
Plus…

  • It can shoot time-lapse movies.
  • It records movies in slow motion at 240 frames per second.
    (None of my Canon cameras can do that!)
  • And I’ve really started to enjoy taking panorama photos.
    (which I know has been available for a while via iOS upgrades)
  • It has optical image stabilization.

And I can do basic photo editing/cropping right in the iPhone and then email or text the photo out. Again, this is not a new functionality… but it’s more useful now, because the photos are starting from a better place… I don’t have to do as much voodoo in Aperture to get these pictures ready for prime time.

Simply pointed out of my descending plane’s window, the camera on my iPhone 6 Plus was able to capture this cool nighttime moment over Manhattan as we broke through the clouds.

Simply pointed out of my descending plane’s window, the camera on my iPhone 6 Plus was able to capture this cool nighttime moment over Manhattan as we broke through the clouds.


You’ve Always Got a Camera in Your Pocket

Still better in so many ways, compact point and shoot cameras are downright boring by comparison.

No… I’m not throwing away my Canon collection anytime soon, but it seems clear to me that the more advanced camera on my iPhone 6 Plus can easily serve as a back up camera when I find myself unexpectedly needing one.

And to be honest, it can really start to take on some of my official photo taking needs when I’m just going for a few casual shots.

Time to Write the Obit?
Does my revelation (however late in the game) confirm a problem for Canon or Nikon… and other camera makers in the compact point and shoot market?
(DSLRs are still clearly superior.)

As it turns out, it does.
Last year, there was a 45% drop in compact camera shipments.
Whoah!! That suggests a huge problem.

Will compact digital cameras go the way of the deceased Flip camcorder and follow the trend of ‘good enough’ beats the need to carry around a second device?

How many of you have already abandoned your old digital cameras in favor of the space-saving, one-device solution for your pocket?

Evolve or Else!
It’s a grim picture for point and shoot cameras and for the few who still want to use them. But look on the bright side…

Now, you can refocus your available dollars on purchasing that more expensive DSLR or lens you’ve been coveting…

Hello, Canon 7D Mark II!

An Embarrassing Reason to Supersize It to iPhone 6 Plus

My new iPhone, sporting a black Tech21 case proudly displays how to increase its text size using iOS 8.  (Yes, some of us can’t pick out every period in a paragraph as accurately as we used to…)

My new iPhone, sporting a black Tech21 case proudly displays how to increase its text size using iOS 8. (Yes, some of us can’t pick out every period in a paragraph as accurately as we used to…)

I’m a newbie to the phablet world.
Just got myself my iPhone 6 Plus and so far… I’m a happy customer.

The slim giant hasn’t yet fallen out of my pocket or my hands, and I’ve really been digging the larger real estate of the 5.5” screen.

And all this, despite the fact that some of my friends who own older iPhones are making fun of that ‘huge thing’ I’ve got pressed up to my ear.
(Give them a little time… Big is clearly becoming the new small.)

But actually, all is not perfection in Florin. And I’ve got something to get off my chest…

I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed to admit this, but one of the major reasons I chose to supersize my iPhone 6 purchase has to do with the reality I’ve recently started wearing reading glasses.

How uncool is that?!
But hey, it happens to a lot of us at a ‘certain age’…

And to be honest, it stinks always having to schlep around your reading glasses everywhere you go.  But you kind of need them every time you make a move towards your smartphone’s home button.

Widen Your View
Life would be a lot easier if the screen’s displayed print could simply become a little larger, and Apple has good news here…

  • With iPhone 6 Plus and iOS 8, you can easily adjust the text size in ‘Settings’ under ‘Display & Brightness.’
  • There’s actually an entire ‘DISPLAY ZOOM’ section, which includes a ‘Text Size’ option.
  • You also get to goose the size of your app icons a bit if you select ‘Zoomed’ over ‘Standard’ when you tap on ‘View.’
    (Note that activating this setting nixes your iPhone’s ability to display your home screen in landscape mode. For me, that’s more of a parlor trick anyway.)

Sure, the DISPLAY ZOOM mode is also available on the standard iPhone 6, but you can’t see as much at one time on the smaller screen…
Thus, my reason for coveting my Plus.

More Zoom Options
Of course, Apple didn’t stop with only a couple of zoom settings. If you dig a little deeper in iOS 8, you’ll find a whole host of flexible options…

You can activate a ‘zoom mode,’ which allows you to zoom part of or the entire screen with a three-fingered double tap.

To set it up, go to:

  • Settings
  • General
  • Accessibility
  • Zoom

There, you’ll find other useful zoom choices, including ‘Follow Focus’ for your text cursor.

I Can See Again!
Apple has clearly put a lot of thought into text readability on iPhone screens…

Along the way, I’m sure someone at Apple said, “Hey, let’s market the Plus to all those millions of unfortunate middle-aged folks who can’t read the menu at the restaurant anymore.”
(happened to me again last Tuesday)

But Apple’s ‘culture police’ probably squashed that strategy quicker than Siri can say, “What?”
Instead, the glorious Retina HD display exists for more exciting uses:

  • To extend your gaming pleasure
  • To immerse you deeper in your movie viewing
  • To better display your magnificent photos

To be clear…
No one’s hiding the zoom functionality in iOS 8… but it’s not getting any real headlines either.

For me, regaining the ability to skim what’s on my iPhone without my reading glasses is news that goes above the fold.

And that’s not embarrassment…
It’s empowerment!

Saving the Sounds of Your Precious Voicemails

Are you tired of staring at your iPhone’s visual voicemails and wondering how to easily rescue them for your family history archiving needs?  You can MacGyver them out, but iExplorer has a better solution for you!

Are you tired of staring at your iPhone’s visual voicemails and wondering how to easily rescue them for your family history archiving needs? You can MacGyver them out, but iExplorer has a better solution for you!

My wife recently received her iPhone 6 Plus from UPS with great joy…
I bought it online a few hours after my 3am adventure to be among the first to preorder one.

So as a result, her Plus arrived a couple weeks after mine did.
(Actually, a few days earlier than Apple promised)

But this second Lester Plus was purchased in a much more civilized manner…
(No lengthy 3am digital dance during the first hours the new iPhone was ‘available.’)  It was just another calm 6:30am online transaction. Apple’s website was fully functioning by then, and I even had my cup of Joe within arm’s reach.

It was a snap and easily worth the extra wait for my wife’s iPhone to show up…
(I just didn’t want to chase stock availability and long lines for the next few months.)

Your Phone is a Time Machine
But before we activated my our second Plus, of course there were a few digital house-cleaning matters to attend to…

  • We eliminated the apps she wasn’t using any more on her old iPhone 4
  • Then deleted old voice mails, audio files and any mediocre photos
  • And did a full backup of her old iPhone’s data via iTunes
    (We’d use that backup to inject into her Plus.)

While going through some of the older media, we came across a few audio files that we definitely wanted to hold onto.
They were the sounds of our son my wife recorded when he was just a baby!
(carried over from her original iPhone 3GS)

Other precious moments to save were more recent voicemails from our now four-year-old ‘little man.’

And though the switchover to a new smartphone is supposed to be seamless, you really don’t want to play around with your priceless digital memories.
Especially around Halloween, you never know what horrors will appear
(or disappear)…

So I decided I’d better export those particular audio files before initiating the iPhone upgrade.

The Easy Way or The Hard Way?
Backing up the audio recordings was easy. They sync natively to iTunes.
But the voicemails were a different story. There’s no obvious way to save voicemails out of an iPhone’s visual voicemail ecosystem.

I’ve looked at this problem before and analyzed
three different ways to rescue iPhone voicemails.

During my initial research, I touched on third-party software to crack the voicemail code, but didn’t fully focus my attentions there, because I felt you shouldn’t have to pay someone else to release your own voicemails.

And the two do-it-yourself solutions suffered from the major problem of being really slow.

Now, as a father and a busy guy overall, I think I finally acknowledge that a faster solution is worth a few bucks.

iExplorer to the Rescue
So after a little more Googling, I took a closer look at iExplorer, a robust utility that allows you to easily export your files and media from your iPhone or iPad.
And yes, it also gives you easy access to those important voicemails and text messages you want to save…

So I proceeded to pony up $35 and downloaded the desktop software.

I plugged in my wife’s old iPhone…
Bam!
There were the voicemails we wanted.
Click.
Now, they’re in a new folder on my computer!
Click.
Next, I initiated a Time Machine backup.

And our precious voicemail files were speedily saved and backed up.
That was easy…

Now, to the task of activating my wife’s iPhone 6 Plus…!

Only Now, at the End, Do You Understand…
So is thirty-five bucks too much to shell out for a computer functionality you think should be free?

Yes, it’s a pretty penny, especially when you’re used to dropping only 99 cents on a new app.

But how much did you just spend on that new iPhone?
And look at all that time iExplorer just saved you.
And isn’t the price of dinner worth ensuring the safety of these priceless digital additions to your family history archive?

As my dad likes to say,
(which his father told him)
“You don’t get old for nothing!”

Thirty-five clams?
I’d pay twice as much…!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 170 other followers

%d bloggers like this: