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Tag: Apple Watch

How to Use an Apple Watch as a Remote to Snap a Better iPhone Photo

If you should come upon an amazing vista and desire a picture of yourself using your iPhone’s rear-facing camera, you can use your Apple Watch as a remote viewfinder to frame the shot. Here’s how.

I’ve often found when using my iPhone’s camera that one of my biggest challenges has been framing enough of the environment into a selfie pic. This has been especially difficult when I’m also trying to jam several people in. Sure, capturing all of the faces is hard enough, but if you can’t see where everyone is, the picture has limited value.

Of course, the solution is to move the iPhone to a distance beyond your arm’s length, which will get you the wider shot. But then, it’s not a selfie anymore. Well, not exactly. Let’s call it an ‘extended selfie.’

But how do you take the picture if you can’t touch your iPhone?

Camera Remote App
If you also have an Apple Watch, you can use it as a remote for your iPhone’s camera. The Apple Watch’s native Camera Remote app essentially controls your iPhone’s camera and offers a convenient 3-second countdown after you tap the shutter button. That should give you plenty of time after your look down at your Apple Watch and tap it to then look up at your iPhone’s camera in the distance.

Easy Activation
To turn on your Apple Watch’s Camera Remote app, you can simply proclaim to your iPhone, “Hey Siri, take a picture.” Or if it’s too noisy around you, you can also tap the app’s icon on your Apple Watch’s screen.

The Value of Using a Remote Viewfinder
This Apple Watch app can control the front or rear-facing iPhone camera. So that means you can take advantage of the better quality of your rear-facing camera for your extended selfie. That’s because even though you can’t see your iPhone’s screen when using the rear camera, you can still frame the shot using your Apple Watch. It effectively becomes a remote viewfinder.

Removing Yourself from the Picture
Using the Camera Remote app also opens up plenty of photographic options beyond selfies. If you’re able to position yourself far from your iPhone (but close enough to maintain the Bluetooth connection), you can erase your presence from the environment. And that should allow you to capture more natural moments.

Bring Along a Tripod
All of these options will give your iPhone photography a lot more flexibility. That said, you should also bring along a tripod. Propping your iPhone up against an object to get the right angle can be a really difficult and potentially risky exercise for your iPhone.

I know that using a tripod doesn’t exactly match up with the spontaneity of pulling your iPhone out of your pocket to take a quick shot. But a little Joby tripod with an iPhone grip should fit easily enough into any bag or backpack.

Shooting Beyond the Distance of a Selfie Stick
Yes, using a selfie stick can also help to get the shot you want. But performing this remote Apple Watch trick will offer even more opportunity to create a really great photo.

Just be careful not to put your iPhone in harm’s way… now that you no longer maintain physical contact with it. (I’ve have a tendency to do that with my cameras.)

To date, I’ve been successful protecting my iPhone while using it as a camera and found that using my Apple Watch as a remote viewfinder is a nifty tool to enhance my iPhone’s photos.

In Search of an Apple Watch Stand with a Built-In Charger

A third-party charging stand for your Apple Watch shouldn’t be hard to find, right? Well think again… Here’s what’s really out there…

I’m a big Apple Watch fan and have been happily wearing my Series 4 throughout this past year. But it’s also brought me two lingering problems to solve…

The fueling of my Apple Watch has been entirely reliant on the one magnetic charging puck that came with the Apple Watch when I bought it. If it breaks or I misplace the cable, my watch will effectively become a hockey puck within 48 hours.
(I don’t have the same challenge with my iPhone XS Max, because over the years, I’ve accumulated several backup cables and USB wall chargers through past iPhone purchases.)

The other ‘problem’ is the general clutter that both my Apple watch and iPhone creates when I’m charging them overnight on my nightstand next to the bed.

An Apple Watch ‘charging dock’ would certainly help clean things up a bit…

Assessing the Landscape
So, of course Apple provides the perfect solution… but at a premium price.

  • The official Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock goes for $79.
  • And a simple back-up Apple Magnetic Charger to USB Cable costs $29.


So, I did a little research to see what else was out there, and surprisingly, I found a fairly barren landscape…

Most third-party Apple Watch charging stands are just… stands.
(You’ve got to provide your own magnetic charging cable and USB power adapter.)

And nobody with any recognizable name is making their own magnetic charging cable for less.

There does appear to be a healthier market for ‘portable’ Apple Watch chargers with their own batteries for on-the-go travel… but that’s not specifically what I was looking for.

The Belkin Choice
I did find one name-brand candidate…

The Belkin is a simple, silver and white stand with a built-in Apple Watch magnetic charging module.

It lists for $79.99, but Amazon had it for $34.95.

The Value of Yesterday’s Model
It seems like this Belkin model was more in vogue a few years back and has been superseded by a dual charger design by Belkin that also handles an iPhone.

But I’ve got my iPhone XS Max imprisoned in its ‘bullet-proof’ Kevlar protective case made by Pelican. So my iPhone isn’t slipping easily into a sleek charger any time soon.

The Runner-Ups
After some intense research, I scrounged up two other choices to consider.
(The market is really almost nonexistent.)

  • Mangotek Apple Watch Charging Stand
    $46.99 on Amazon Prime
    This one looks a lot like the Belkin and also comes with a USB charging port you can plug your iPhone into.
  • UGREEN Portable Charger Stand
    $33.95 on Amazon Prime
    Its portable design flips open to become more stand-like if you want, or you can also use this black charger in its flat position.

While both stands are Apple MFi-certified, include integrated chargers and also receive decent reviews, at the end of the day, I decided to go with the ‘name’ manufacturer I knew.

Buying the Bargain
I presumed the Belkin’s price was cut by more than half, because it’s a relatively old model, and at only five dollars more than just the cost of the simple Apple magnetic puck, I figured it was a real bargain!


Now, I’ve got my back-up plan for charging my Apple Watch, and a little less clutter next to the bed…


Belkin Really Isn’t the Choice… Anymore
But as satisfied as I am with my Belkin purchase, there’s a major wrinkle…

As I prepared this post to share my happy story, I realized a disturbing reality that made me feel a bit like the last man on Earth… or the last man on Earth to buy this Belkin charging stand… because I think I am.

It’s not available anymore on Amazon.

And Belkin’s website lists it as having only a “last few remaining.”


So, I got a close-out deal on yesterday’s tech that there’s apparently no market for anymore…
(Hey, Belkin… Really?!)

I usually try to end these blog posts with a clear choice or solution that I can extend out to the world…

But for today, all I can really offer are my two runner-up options…
the UGREEN or the Mangotek.

Something is better than nothing…
(UGREEN and Mangotek are really the last two third-party stands with integrated chargers left standing.)

Of course, there’s always the option of going with the Apple-made dock.
It’s already perfect.

You’ve just got to spend more money…

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