Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category

ios-10-nimblechapps

So, iOS10 has finally dropped, it has bricked some iPhones but the majority have got away unscathed. We are still trying to decide what we think, but here are the changes this shiny new firmware will bring you;

iMessage – This is probably the biggest update in iOS10 with the ability to be able to draw messages with your finger and send the animation to someone else. You’ll be able to use rich links in Messages. Share a link and, as it would in Slack or Twitter, artwork and a precis of the article may be pulled in, so your friends can get an idea of what they are about to click on.

Bad news for the emoji haters as iMessage will now add emojis into predictive text giving you the option to swap full words for pictures. The death of the English language is nigh.

It has also been opened up to third party developers, meaning that there will soon be apps in the messaging service that can be used to order food, shop, book tickets and send people money within a chat. We are loving the iMessage Super Mario App.

supermariorunstickers-2-932x698

Voicemail Transcription – iOS is apparently going to put your voicemail into text so that you can glance at it without having to listen to it. It will be interesting to see how accurate this is.

Home App (HomeKit) – Finally the launch of the hotly anticipated HomeKit. Those of you with automated homes will be able to link most devices under one app which has always been an annoying thing with automation. HomeKit will allow you to quickly dim lights, tell Siri to turn up the heating and have access from the lock screen to do all of these. We are especially looking forward to seeing how this feature handles scenes which will allow at a click of a button or a few words to Siri and your room will be ready for movie night with a raft of set processes starting ie lights going off, Apple TV turning on and blinds closing.

apple-homekit-for-secure-and-reliable-smart-home

News – Redesigned and now looking simpler, the News app is the go-to for any news. Subscriptions have now been allowed so we assume Newstand will soon disappear. There is also a ‘Breaking news’ notifications from the app. You can toggle the feature from settings and even custom-tune the publications you wish to see pushed to your device.

Photos – Apple says it will use deep learning techniques to analyse faces, places and objects. The app can now draw together photos and videos that are linked by place, people and time and then automatically create reels and trip customisable short clips which Apple is calling ‘Memories’.

Siri – We have seen a deeper involvement with Siri in iOS10 with HomeKit making full use of voice control. But more interestingly it has been opened up to third party developers meaning that soon you will be able to ask Siri to check other apps other than Apple ones. A great step forward.

ios-10-siri

Feature Changes; 

•’Slide to Unlock’ has been removed, and instead you’ll see ‘Press home to open’. This will prompt you to enter your pass-code or will unlock the phone if you use Touch ID.

• Deleting Stock apps has been a real issue for some people and now you can delete as you wish. Enjoy the power!

ck2v-rfwuauc6oo

• Apple will now keep track of where you park your car so you don’t have to bother. Apple maps will detect when you park and automatically drop a pin so that you can find it later.

• Bedtime is the new clock feature which you tell what time you want to get to bed on a given night of the week, and your phone will let you know when the clock strikes that hour to remind you to get some shut eye.

ios-10s-clock-app-scores-dark-mode-and-a-nifty-sleep-analysis-feature

• The update will bring with it more than a hundred new and redesigned emoji characters with multicultural and gender types.

emoji

 

 

Advertisements

Following the successful launch last year, Photofast have raised the bar again with their new CR-8800. The MemoriesCable, for those of you that don’t remember, gave a new lease of life to iOS devices with low storage capacities and provided users – for the first time -with the ability to transfer files between iOS devices and an external storage medium.

The cable could also be plugged into any computer via USB to transfer content to the built-in memory and to be honest, it worked brilliantly. The companion app was a delight to use, with powerful copy tools, backup features and even a built in video player seemingly capable of playing all video codecs.

I couldn’t think of many drawbacks –  it really did bring removable storage to fixed storage iOS devices and it felt ground-breaking.

But there was one drawback.- only made so glaringly apparent by this new unit – and that’s true removable storage. More on that shortly.

Let’s get on with the unboxing!

The unit is very nicely packaged in a clear plastic box reminiscent of CD jewel cases:

img_1251

Anybody remember CDs? No? Nevermind…

The unit is absolutely tiny, only a little bigger than the micro-SD cards it uses:

img_1338

For comparison, here is the unit next to a 64GB Samsung Micro-SDXC card and adaptor that I bought for testing:

img_1271

Once plugged into your iPad/iPhone, iOS will prompt you to download the companion app, or, if already installed, to launch it.

The app used is the same, excellent One app from Photofast, first seen on the TechSpy in our MemoriesCable review:

img_0495

The same functionality is here as before, and I’m not going to go through all the features again, as we already have it in detail.

 

So what does the CR-8800 bring to the table over the MemoriesCable ?

True removable storage.

In my review of the Mio MiVue 518 dashcam, I had to use a USB card reader and a laptop to view the recorded videos on a larger screen. It was cumbersome but how often would I need to do that anyway?

The GoPro use case is much clearer. Let’s say I’ve gone out for a day mountain biking and I’ve recorded footage of my exploits on my GoPro. In the past, I would have had to finish for the day, go home and put the SD card into my computer before I could select and edit the clips.

Now I can do the selection and editing without a computer. Armed with just the CR-8800 and an iPhone / iPad, I can spend all day biking and recording, instantly discarding bad shots and editing good ones in the field (so to speak).

Other more mundane uses include DSLR video imports and AVCHD camcorder video imports, neither of which are possible using Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapter.

At only £32 at the time of writing, the CR-8800 is a steal. It’s well designed and comes backed with an established app with an extensive features list.

The CR-8800 is available now on Amazon

The Tech Spy rating:  9.5 /10

As an exclusive offer, The Tech Spy readers can get 15% off using the code: tts15off

 

Apple used the stage on Monday to unveil the 9.7” iPad Pro. Clearly the unwieldly 12.9” iPad Pro isn’t for everyone and they know it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a slightly upgraded Air 2. Make no mistake, it’s every bit an iPad Pro, packed with all the same features.

Untitled

When Apple launched the iPad Pro, a lot of people were put off by its size. At 12.9”, it was more of a coffee table tablet than something you would take around with you. Sure, it’s marketed as a professional tool rather than just a bigger iPad, but we’re pretty sure Apple wouldn’t mind ordinary folk paying more for the flagship model if it were only a little more accessible….

Enter the 9.7” iPad Pro.

smaller-iPad-pro-9.7-inch

Packing the same A9X chipset as the 12.9” model, the 9.7” model is remarkable due to the fact that they’ve managed to shoehorn all of the 12.9” features into a smaller chassis and yet sell it at a lower price point.

Apple seem alone in this new way of thinking. Let me explain:

Go into any computer retailer and take a look at the laptops. The specs and the prices of models seems utterly bewildering to most people. The reason is that there’s no real cohesion in pricing.

There could be a 15” model sporting an Intel Core i5 CPU coupled with a respectable GPU, SSD, with 16GB RAM for around £500.

Next to this, there could be a 13” model with the lower end Intel i3 CPU, integrated Intel graphics, 8GB RAM and a rotary HDD, priced at £599.

The reason? Well, components shrink with each new iteration. It’s the reason that Moore’s Law still holds – roughly every 18 months, you can double the amount of transistors on a chip. More transistors can perform more calculations, and smaller transistors require less power. It’s the reason that an iPad 2 is roughly on a par with a Cray supercomputer from 1995 in terms of raw processing power, yet you can hold it in your hand.

So, a 15” model may well have faster components and the price may be lower than its 13” counterpart, but that’s because the 15” has last generation components which are larger and more power hungry. You can also buy the 13” model with the same specs as the 15”, but you’d be looking at a considerable bump in price, possibly to £700-£800. And that’s because you are buying bleeding edge technology.

Back to Apple…

Apple make such a huge profit on hardware that they can afford to flip this system upside down.

As an example, an iPhone SE packing the same features as the 6S but in a smaller body is a manufacturing challenge and will be more expensive if both were launched at the same time. It may be that Apple have managed to reduce the die size of the A9 processor in the last 9 months and can now fit these components into a smaller body. That manufacturing process at a smaller size serves two purposes – 1) to produce the last generation CPU at a smaller die size, and 2) to ‘tool’ or prepare for the next generation CPU.

I’m aware that the bill of materials (BOM) for iPhones show that the larger screens cost a fraction more than the smaller screens, but this isn’t the real issue here. Don’t forget that the battery will be smaller too, so a reduction in power usage is required.

iphonese

They have launched the SE as a lower end model though, and that’s what’s interesting. In order to continue with this system, you will never see an iPhone SE launched at the same time as the larger iPhones. That’s because the next generation (iPhone 7 and 7+) will be launched in September with the latest chipset. In the following months leading to March, the manufacturing processes will be advanced enough to shrink these components to fit into the new SE model.

They did it with the iPad Mini 4 (a smaller iPad Air 2, but cheaper), and they’ve done the same with the 9.7” iPad Pro. It was a marvel only a few months ago what they’d managed to cram into such a thin 12.9” body. Now they’ve managed to fit all that tech into a smaller unit. Again, it’s cheaper, because Apple want to make it simple for people to decide entirely on display size.

This is only possible because of the obscene profits Apple make on hardware, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting flip on the classic PC pricing structure.

Talking of pricing, it’s interesting to see that Apple are offering a 32GB configuration in addition to 128GB and 256GB. That’s not offered on the 12.9” which seems to add weight to the theory that Apple consider the 9.7” as a semi-pro device aimed at both professionals and wealthy consumers alike.

Following on from our review of the D-Link Smart Home Plug, we have decided to take a look at the other products in the ‘mydlink Home’ range. In this review, we’ll be looking at the Monitor HD video camera.

The PIR Sensor will be covered in an upcoming review.

Introduction

The Monitor HD is a 720p video camera that can be used anywhere in the home. The camera has night capabilities with IR LEDs capable of illuminating  up to 5m, and so for the purposes of this review, I will be installing it in my nursery as a baby monitor.

First impressions

IMG_1576

 

dcs_935l_left

It’s a nice looking camera with a gloss white finish which should compliment most interiors. On lifting it from the box, the first thing that hit me was just how incredibly light it is. This may sound odd, but before I even start to use it, I want to weigh the thing down!

Setup

Sure enough, after plugging the mains cable in and positioning the camera where I wanted it, the slight curvature of the mains cable angled the camera away. It took a few attemps to get it to sit still in the right direction. Fortunately you can mount it on a wall using screws and D-Link kindly provide a drilling template in the box should you wish to go down that route.

As with the other products in the range, the camera has a WPS button on the side which when pressed in combination with the WPS button on your  router, will connect to your home Wi-Fi network.

D-Link advertise the camera as for use exclusively with it’s mydlink Home app (available on iOS or Android). Indeed, for most people, this will be what they use and it will be more than satisfactory. However, after digging a little deeper I discovered that it’s capable of operating as a standard IP camera over HTTP/S, RTSP and UPNP. It’s worth noting this as I don’t think D-Link are doing themselves any favours by ignoring traditional IP camera sales when it works so well.

So just to reiterate, you can view the video/audio stream in the mydlink Home app, or any IP camera app. The initial setup of the camera and any firmware updates will need to be done in-app though.

Firmware updates are applied in-app, automatically…

 

 

Performance

Here is a full colour daytime shot taken from the nursery window:


And a full colour daytime shot in the nursery:


This is a split view showing the D-Link DCS-935L operating as a traditional IP camera alongside a Foscam IP camera on the fantastic LiveCams Pro app.

IMG_0072

Top: D-Link DCS-935L (IR LED on). Bottom: Foscam 9804W  (IR LED on).

Extras

Audio is provided via a built-in microphone, but there’s no 2-way baby-soothing audio functionality.

Summary

As a starter camera, I can honestly think of nothing  better due to its integration with the mydlink Home app and the provided setup wizard.

It really is the kind of thing you could buy for your grandmother and she’ll be able to configure it for herself. Dig a little further though and D-Link have provided the features to make this a good investment as a standalone IP camera too. It’s a product that will grow with you if you’re new to this sort of thing.

 

TheTechSpy rating: 8/10

PF32

The PhotoFast 32GB USB 3.0 MemoriesCable for iPod, iPhone and iPad arrived for review last week and I couldn’t wait to try it out.

This little Lightning to USB cable houses storage (16/32/64/128GB) on the cable itself, allowing you to easily transfer files between iOS devices and your computer.

I’ve longed for an easier method of backing up photos and video on my iPhone and iPad for years now but have never found anything that fits the bill. PhotoFast think they have cracked it. Have they? Let’s find out…

When you first plug the cable into your iOS device, a popup will inform you that the accessory requires an app from the App Store:

The companion app for the hardware is the new PhotoFast One app, not that you need to know the name of it because clicking App Store on the pop-up will take you directly to it. It’s a nice touch.

Once the app is downloaded and installed, any subsequent cable insertions generate the following pop up. If you click Allow, you will be taken directly to the app.

The app itself is very well designed and packed with features. There are clear sections at the top of the screen for accessing In-App Storage and External Storage.

At the bottom of the screen are buttons for Music/Photos/Video, YouTube (downloader) Google Drive (browser) and Dropbox (browser).

Swiping to the right takes you to a second page almost entirely dedicated to backup buttons.

I tested the Contact Backup option first and it saved all 600 of my contacts to a .vcf file in a matter of seconds.

Next up was the Photo Backup, some 693 photos in my camera roll, all saved in under 2 minutes.

It’s all very impressive.

To test the transfer speed side of things, I copied a 1GB test file from my PC (using a USB 3.0 port) and was able to achieve write speeds of ~19MB/s. Read speeds of ~33MB/s were consistently achievable.

The app isn’t just for backups and file transfers though. It also has built-in music and video players which can be used to stream content from the cable storage. In fact, the video player is compatible with MP4, MOV, M4V, MKV, AVI, FLV, RM, RMVB, WMV, VOB and 3GP formats.

The Settings section is also full of features, including the ability to protect the app with a passcode or Touch ID.

There is even an option to completely encrypt the storage, although this will render the cable unusable on a computer. If you are just transferring files to and from your iOS devices though, this may be a valuable option.

The Auto Backup feature is what really interested me for the simple reason that Apple are bordering on the sadistic with their 5GB free iCloud storage limit. Granted, Apple are trying to upsell to their paid plans but 5GB is used up in no time, usually due to iCloud photo backups.

This is where Auto Backup comes in. Every time you open the app, an incremental backup can be performed.

So now I plug the MemoriesCable into my wall charger and iPhone before I go to bed, and the app takes care of backing up my photos, contacts and calendar items, all while charging.

I have set my iCloud backup to ignore photos now and as a result, I can backup daily to iCloud with no more of the annoying ‘Storage Full’ messages I usually wake up to.

All in all, this is an excellent product that really unshackles Apple devices and their famously non-expandable memory.

PhotoFast are currently running an Indiegogo campaign from the 3rd – 24th August, where units can be obtained for significantly lower prices than RRP.

More details here: http://igg.me/at/PhotoFast

TheTechSpy rating:  9/10

Tile, Inc. launch their second generation Tile today. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, the Tile is a $25 Bluetooth tracker that can be used to keep tabs on keys, bags or anything else of value.

The battery is not rechargeable or replaceable which means that when the battery dies the whole Tile needs replacing, but on the plus side it’s a sealed unit with an IP5 waterproof rating. The battery is estimated to last around a year under normal circumstances. Now, whether $25 a year to track one item is worth it is up to you.

Ask yourself how much it would cost to replace the item you’ve attached it to.

The Tile boasts such long battery life compared to other trackers because it has no GPS radio and instead relies entirely on the location data provided by your phone.

In an ideal world the Bluetooth range could be up to 100m. In practice, it would be less due to walls / interference etc.

As for the operation of the Tile app, if you lose your item you just open the companion app, click on the relevant Tile and click Find. If your Tile is within Bluetooth range, the app will give you the option to find it, alongside its current location information. If you press the Find button, the Tile will begin to loudly chirp away so that you can locate it by ear.

If your Tile is out of range, the app will report the last time and place it was seen so you know where to start looking.

If you still can’t find it, the community of Tile users can help.

Anybody who happens to walk past your missing Tile with the app running on their phone will anonymously update its location. As Tile put it – “This feature is 100% private—no one knows you’re looking for a lost item but you.”

But that was the first generation Tile.

The second generation Tile includes new features designed to keep it ahead of the pack. We’ve been testing one for the last couple of weeks to see how it fares.

I was a initially a little disappointed to find that the new Tile hasn’t lost any bulk compared to it’s predecessor. Second generation devices like this are usually a bit smaller due to the miniaturisation of components and manufacturing refinements.

That feeling was short lived however as this new model houses additional circuitry for its killer feature – Find My Phone.

This flips the concept of using your phone to locate the Tile on its head. Now, double pressing the ‘e’ on the Tile logo locates your phone. It’s a great feature and one I’ve actually used more often than ‘find my Tile’ over the last few weeks. The beauty of this feature is that you are very unlikely to misplace both your phone and your Tile so if you have access to one, you can find the other.

It even promises to make your iPhone sound an alert when on silent. This does work, to an extent. So far as I can tell, it achieves this by playing music.

Think of it this way – your phone can play music even when the ringer is set to ‘Silent’ and the Tile does the same thing.

The one flaw I’ve found with this method is that if your phone is connected to a Bluetooth headset or other audio accessory,

the audible alert is routed through that device and not the loudspeaker.

I’ve reported this to Tile and they are looking into it. I have a Withings Smart Baby Monitor and their app overrides the current audio path to always play audio through the loudspeaker every time you connect, so it is possible.

Overall, I’ve found the Tile to be incredibly useful and the new Find my Phone feature is an excellent addition. For now, I only have one Tile attached to my keys and I think that’s all I need.

If it had a user replaceable battery it would be a much more attractive product, but as it is, I would give it 7.5 / 10

IMG_1732

Fresh in for review today from Satechi is the Bluetooth Button Series.

The series consists of three buttons, the Shutter Button, Media Button and Home Button.

image

The Shutter Button, as you might expect, is for taking remote photos on your smartphone and is ideal for tripods.

The Media Button allows you to control your smartphone video or music apps.

The Home Button is simply a clone of your home button.

All three of the devices have a solid industrial design with what looks like brushed aluminium edging.

So, let’s get on with the review…

Shutter Button

image

This will probably be one of the easiest things I’ll ever have to review. By pressing the button when you have the camera app open on your phone, it will take a photo for you. Simple and effective. It’s also responsive enough for you to hold the button down and take burst photos.

Media Button

image

The Media Button is what had me most excited. It’s a simple enough device, using the Bluetooth AVRCP protocol to access Play/Pause, Previous / Next track and Volume Up / Down.

Many devices have the same AVRCP functionality as the Satechi but nearly always as part of an audio receiver set. What I mean by this is that audio is redirected over the Bluetooth A2DP protocol away from the source device, usually to a headphone socket on the media remote.

Take a look at the Sony SBH-20 which at first glance looks like a competing product. It has the same media controls but the unit is both an AVRCP and A2DP device using what’s called a ‘Bluetooth Audio Sink’. This means that all audio is redirected to the headphone jack on the SBH-20 the moment you press a button.

The thing that gets me about the Satechi Media Button is that this kind of device is so rare and yet it’s perfect for parties. Let me explain:

Let’s say you have a few friends over for a BBQ.

You have an iPhone connected to your home stereo via a headphone > auxiliary connection, a couple of the speakers placed near the windows and you’re playing your favourite music through Spotify.

You’ve started playing a playlist and left your phone in the house with the stereo out of harms way.

You could take the Media Button out into the garden with all the food and drink and just leave it on the table. Skip a track? No problem. Turn the volume up? You got it.

You cannot do this with something like the SBH-20 or any other AVRCP device I’ve found online for that matter. The second you press a button, the music from the stereo would stop, re-routed to a device that nobody is listening to.

It really is as far as I can tell, a unique product.

The price of it also means it’s not the end of the world if your mate knocks his beer over it. Until all phones are waterproof, I’d much prefer this scenario.

Home Button

image

The Home Button is simply a remote ‘Home’ button. On my test iPhone 6 Plus, it does exactly what the normal home button does – a short press exits applications, a long press activates Siri. Double tapping takes you to the app switcher.

The only use I’ve found for this is in my car. I mounted it to my dashboard using the supplied adhesive pad and can now dictate to Siri and keep my eyes on the road. For this one purpose, I’ve found it invaluable.

The Shutter Button and Home Button are normally available for £19.99 at Amazon, with the Media Button priced at £23.99.

However, Satechi have provided Amazon discount codes of 15% for readers of TheTechSpy, valid until 24/07/2016.

Media Button: 88EWX7F8 
Shutter Button : X9E6I4CR
Home Button : Z7HQ2TVZ

-pc