Apple Pay First Impressions

apple-pay-iPhone-6-plus

Sadly it seems pretty common place these days to hear of big companies being hacked and having thousands, if not millions of credit card numbers stolen and resold. When Apple announced Apple Pay, I was very interested to say the least. The idea of a payment system that breaks away from all the traditional pitfalls of credit/debit card payments is something that we can all appreciate. The concept behind Apple Pay is simple. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus then you have the necessary hardware (NFC – near field communications) to allow for wireless transmission of data from your phone to a payment terminal at the cash register. However, instead of sending your credit card number, name, phone number, email address and card ID, a token is sent instead. The token itself is USELESS to hackers. Therefore if the merchant is hacked they never had your credit card number or information about you to lose. Sign me up!

Setting up Apple Pay

setup-apple-pay

This past Monday iOS 8.1 was released which allowed for Apple Pay to be setup on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The setup process is very easy. Apple Pay is now a part of Passbook on your iPhone. First off if you have a credit/debit card on file with your Apple ID, you can immediately add it. All you’ll need is the card ID from the back for verification. You can then proceed to add additional cards by simply hitting the + sign and either using the built-in camera to OCR the card info or you can key it in manually. The camera worked for all but one of my cards. I was able to easily add four additional cards. The only one that gave me trouble was a Chase Slate credit card. While the card was easily added, I had to call them to actually activate it for Apple Pay. The number displayed during the setup process and I was able to tap and call it right from the Apple Pay area of Passbook. It took three calls as I was disconnected twice to get through the process. Actually I ended up deleting that card and re-adding it and it was then approved immediately.

 

Using Apple Pay with other Apps on your iPhone

apple-pay-staples

Although I could have gotten in my car and headed out to one of the merchants that supports Apple Pay, I decided to test it first right from my office chair by placing an online order. Several apps got updated on Monday including Staples, Target, Uber, Apple Store, Hotel Tonight, Groupon, Open Table and others. Since there was an office supply item I needed I decided to order it with the Staples app and pay with Apple Pay. I fired up the Staples app and searched for the the item I wanted. I added it to my cart and tapped check out. Once I got to the checkout screen I had the option of either signing in to my Staples account, checking out as a guest or tapping the Apple Pay button. Once I tapped the Apple Pay button I was able to then choose which card I wanted to use, which address I wanted to ship my order to and which phone number and email address I wanted to use for shipping the order. I later found that in the Apple Pay settings in iOS 8.1 you can set all the defaults you want to use. I tapped pay and put my finger on the finger print scanner and that was it. My order was placed. I didn’t have to key anything in. It was awesome as online ordering on a phone can be a pain in the butt.

 

Using Apple Pay at a retail location.

apple-pay-boa

Yesterday I decided to give Apple Pay a try at my local Walgreens. It was the closest store to me that accepts Apple Pay besides McDonalds. While the  process was relatively quick, it wasn’t as “touchless” as I imagined. The first thing that I learned from the Staples experience above is that by not signing in, I didn’t get any Staples Rewards. Well the same thing applies at the register. You will still need to present your store loyalty card if you want points/discounts. Luckily my Walgreens card is also in Passbook. I handed the clerk my iPhone so that she could scan the barcode on my Walgreens card first. Then she rang up my two items. Once she was done I put my iPhone up to the sensor to start the Apple Pay process. My default debit card appeared on the screen and I used my finger to approve the transaction. AWESOME! Done right? Well not yet. Once I saw the “Approved” appear on my iPhone I put my iPhone away, but I still had to tap Credit vs. Debit AND approve the amount on the terminal. I assume that had I used a credit card vs. a debit card then I would have probably bypassed that first question. However, it was still odd that I had to tap that I approve the amount after the fact. Nonetheless, she handed me my receipt and I was out the door.

A short video of my first Apple Pay at a retail location:


The Bottom Line

Apple Pay will definitely move us one major step closer to replacing the traditional wallet. Instead of physically carrying 3, 4 or 5 cards now I may only carry one or two because the others are in Apple Pay if I want to use them. It was also a good feeling knowing that Walgreens didn’t just get my debit card number and If I wanted to be totally anonymous then I could have not given my rewards card. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus I can’t think of any reason not to use Apple Pay. It’s certainly much more secure than handing over your physical card. Apple Pay can’t be used by someone else even if they steal your phone because of the required finger “touch-ID”. You can also remotely wipe all your information including pay information from a lost or stolen iPhone via the Find My iPhone feature. Apple also has the clout to bring over most of all the major players, so they are likely to succeed where others have failed at this.

As of today you can use Apple Pay with the following Bank Cards (AMEX, Visa and Mastercard) from: American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo with more banks coming this year like barclaycard, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, USAA and US Bank. Apple says that you can use Apple Pay at 220,000 stores and counting, including: Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Apple Stores, BabiesRus, BJs, Bloomingdales, Champs, Chevron, Disney Store, DuaneReade, ExtraMile, Foot Locker, FootAction, Macy’s, McDonalds, Meijer, Nike, Office Depot, Panera Bread, Petco, Radioshack, Six:02, Sports Authority, Subway, Texico, ToysRus, Unleashed, Walgreens, Whole Foods or anywhere else you see this icon:

wireless_NFC_pay_icon

Some are reporting Apple Pay working at stores others than the ones Apple lists, so give it a shot if you see the wireless pay icon above. See Apple’s list here.

 


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20 Million Views and 20 Million Thank Yous

20millionviews

Wow! I just checked my YouTube views and noticed that I have passed the 20 Million View mark! I wanted to take a few moments to thank all my viewers and supporters. Whenever I’m out at an event, conference or on tour so many of you make it a point to come up to me and thank me for my videos or to tell me how my videos have taught you various things. This of course encourages me to do more and to continue doing what I do.

 

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I also noticed that I now have over 180,000 subscribers to my channel. It seems like it was just yesterday when I received the plaque above recognizing me for surpassing the 100,000 subscriber mark. I expect to hit the 200,000 subscriber mark some time around the beginning of 2015.

Thank you guys so much! 

As much as I love doing my videos, believe it or not the hardest thing to come up with is new topics. More often than not I dismiss a topic that pops in my head because I think “everyone already knows that.” However, when I actually do go ahead and record it anyway it’s usually a hit. So please sound off in the comments about which upcoming topics you’d like to see videos on. Now before you jump in and start suggesting things, keep in mind that I (nor does anyone else), know everything or every product. So asking for a Dreamweaver topic or an After Effects (beyond the basics) topic probably won’t happen. It would be like me asking you to record a video on open heart surgery (unless of course you are a surgeon). I primarily focus on Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Muse and Lightroom. I dabble in Premiere Pro and a little After Effects. Now that we have that out of the way, feel free to tell me what you’d like to see:

P.S. If you haven’t subscribed to my channel yet, please do so today! Let’s hit that 200,000 subscriber mark by Christmas :-)

A new easier to remember URL

I almost forgot that I setup an easy to remember URL that will take you straight to my videos. Just head over to terrywhite.tv





How to Move Your Lightroom Photos to Another Hard Drive

Lightroom_totem

In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you two ways to move your Lightroom photos to another hard drive/NAS. This is one the questions I get most and I decided to dedicate a video to it and share some tips as well.

 

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see.  My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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My Photography Website Makeover with Adobe Muse CC

twp-MBP-iPadAir-iPhone6Plus

After posting my  last update about how I had built my photography website with Adobe Lightroom and plug-ins from The Turning Gate, I started getting questions like: “Could you build your site with Adobe Muse CC?” Of course the answer was always “yes I could, but…” There was a big reason that I built this particular site with Lightroom instead of Muse. I’m always updating my photography galleries with new photos and removing older photos. I manage all of my portfolios and this process with Collections in Lightroom. With the Web Publishing Bundle from The Turning Gate I’m able to update those galleries at any time with the click of the “Publish” button right in Lightroom. However, on the other hand Adobe Muse would allow me to customize the look and feel of the site more easily and basically do anything I wanted on any page at any time without having to write code or CSS.

Hmmmm, why not use them both?

The more I thought about it the more I figured I could have my cake and eat it too. I could build all the non-gallery pages (Home, About me, Contact, etc.) using Adobe Muse and use Lightroom and The Turning Gate plug-ins to continue to update the galleries. It would take a little more setup up front, but once the work was completed I would have the ease of updating the galleries anytime that I like right from Lightroom AND the ease of customization for the rest of the site using Adobe Muse.

TWP-AdobeMuse

Using Adobe Muse CC I customized the look of the site and navigation

I set out to complete this task this past weekend and I put the new site up (terrywhitephotography.com) on Monday. As with any new site I’m still tweaking things here and there, but I’m LOVING IT so far! I built a standard Adobe Muse site with all three layouts (Desktop, Tablet and Phone) and I also made sure to include the pages that would need to be in the menu, but not actually built in Muse (Galleries, Videos, Tutorials and Buy Prints). Using the trick of Excluding those Pages from the menu allowed me to put custom links in to the Galleries and Videos pages produced by Lightroom/The Turning Gate. I also had to modify my Lightroom produced pages to point back to the main site when someone clicks on home, about and contact.

TWP-LR-TTG

Using Lightroom and the CE4 Web Publishing System from The Turning Gate I can publish my galleries to my website.

I’ve anticipated at least some of the questions you may have, so here we go:

FAQ

Q. What did Muse let you do that you couldn’t have done with The Turning Gate?

A. The first one was I’ve always wanted a full screen slideshow on the homepage of the desktop layout. It was so easy to do this with the Widgets in Muse and I’m not sure if there was an effective way to do this in The Turning Gate AND have the slideshow work the way I liked.

Q. Your older site was “responsive” and currently Muse isn’t. How did that work out with this website makeover?

A. Well the pages from Lightroom/The Turning Gate are still responsive and therefore when you click on my Galleries page on a mobile device you still get that experience. However, for the rest of the pages made with Muse I was able to optimize the content for Desktop, Tablet and Phone just the way I wanted. So it works out fine.

Q. If you had to do this from scratch, which Turning Gate Plug-ins would you need?

A. Since you’re going to need at least 3 of their plug-ins (Gallery, Auto-Index and Publisher) you’re still better off going with the CE4 Web Publishing Bundle as it will include everything you need for one price.

Q. Will Adobe Muse ever be “Responsive”

A. I get that question a lot and Adobe Muse improves rapidly with new features. Since “ever” is a long time, I would guess that you’ll see the features that people demand the most at some point! (how’s that for a non-committal, keep my job kinda answer?)

Q. Since you’re using Adobe Muse to create the home page and the full screen slideshow, what happens when you want to update it?

A. I did give up the ability to update the homepage slideshow with Lightroom automatically, but since I don’t update it as often I’m ok with exporting images from Lightroom manually when I want to update that one slideshow.

Q. What if I want to add music to my Muse site, HTML 5 video (like you did with the Turning Gate) or even have a template to get started with, what can I do?

A. I have really been impressed with MuseThemes.com. They make a variety of add-ons for Muse including widgets and templates that take Muse beyond the standard set of functionality. They (like most 3rd party add-ons) fill in the gaps.

Q. Will you be adding more Muse features to your site?

A. Yep, now that the hard part (which wasn’t so hard) is out of the way, I can add more features from Muse and use this site to showcase what can be done with Adobe Muse over time. I’ve already take advantage of the full screen slideshow, full width slideshow, SVG support, contact forms, social widgets, composition widget (for my phone menu), menus, TypeKit fonts, custom hyperlink colors, transparency and of course some gratuitous use of scroll effects :-) .

 

One more thing…

Your site is only as good as the web hosting that serves it up to your visitors. So far I couldn’t be happier with Bluehost.com. I was originally turned on to them by The Turning Gate and now they now host all my websites.

 

 


How To Create Custom Brushes for Photoshop or Illustrator Right on Your iPhone

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you how to use the NEW App, Adobe Brush CC to create custom brushes for Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC and Adobe Photoshop Sketch right on your iPhone or iPad. You can download Adobe Brush CC for FREE here from the .

 

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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The Best, Fastest Car Charger for your Phone and Tablet

schosche_dual_12watt_car_charger

Every time I turn around there seems to be a new, better car charger than the one I’ve been using. I actually started with this Scosche Dual Charger over a year ago. It worked great, but the thing that I didn’t like about it was that only one of the ports charged at the faster 2.1A speed. Then I discovered this one by Lenmar. It gave me what I wanted, TWO ports both charging at 2.1 AMP/10 watts each. Perfect! Well it was perfect until I discovered that Schosche released a dual 12 watt charger! If you have a newer iPad 4th generation or iPad Air you might have noticed that Apple now includes a 12 watt wall charger instead of the 10 watt charger included with previous models. Now you can charge your iPad Air in car at full speed or speed charge a smartphone. Since we usually aren’t in our cars for hours at a time each day, speed matters. You might be able to get back up to a full charge faster on a shorter commute. I also figure why have just one port when you can have two? This way you can charge your phone and another device such as a tablet or a passenger’s phone.

schosche_dual_12watt_car_charger_in_car

I also like the low profile fit. The original Schosche I used back in the day stuck out of the socket quite a bit. This one almost fits flush with the 12V socket. Even if your car has a built-in USB port I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it doesn’t provide 12 watts of power. In most cases it’s probably a 5v 1A USB port.  As far as I can tell this is one of the fastest car chargers on the market.

You can get the Schosche 12 Watt USB Car Charger here.

 



What’s New In the October 2014 Update to Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, InDesign CC & Muse CC

Hot off the heels of the big release for 2014 of Creative Cloud, the engineers have been hard at work delivering more value to Creative Cloud members. I’m here to show you the top new features for the October 2014 update to Adobe Creative Cloud.

 

See What’s New In the October 2014 Update to Photoshop CC

See What’s New In the October 2014 Update to Adobe Illustrator CC

See What’s New In the October 2014 Update to Adobe InDesign CC

See What’s New In the October 2014 Update to Adobe Muse CC

 

Also check out the NEW Mobile Apps:

Adobe Photoshop Mix (now on iPhone as well as iPad)

iTunes.

Adobe Illustrator Line

iTunes.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

iTunes.

Adobe Illustrator Draw (formerly Adobe Ideas)

iTunes.

Adobe Shape CC

iTunes.

Adobe Brush CC

iTunes.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile Update

for iPhone
iTunes.

for iPad
iTunes.

Adobe Premiere Clip

iTunes.

Adobe Creative Cloud
iTunes.





TiVo Mini does the job but could be better

TiVo-Mini

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a fan of TiVo DVRs. Not long ago I relocated and it was time to rethink my multi-room viewing experience. In the past I had DVRs in each room. This of course is redundant and costs more than other options. Since I was starting over in a new location I decided that I only needed ONE TiVo DVR and I would explore options for viewing that content in other rooms. In the past I used this setup from Actiontec and while it worked OK, I wanted to see if there was something better? My search led me to the TiVo Mini. TiVo Mini is a smaller box designed to be used on another HDTV in your home. It connects to your HDTV via HDMI and not only streams live TV from your existing TiVo DVR, but it also can stream any recorded content from your TiVo DVR. The big advantage here is that unlike the Actiontec or other solutions, each HDTV can view something different. In other words if someone is watching a recording or live TV in the living room, another viewer can be viewing something totally different in the den, office or bedroom.

The Good

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It works GREAT! The setup was pretty straight forward and once setup I’m able to enjoy my TiVo in another room as if I was sitting right in front of it. The quality of the stream is as good to my eyes as watching the content on the main TV. There is a small lag that would only be noticed if you had the same live broadcast showing in both rooms at the same time. It does exactly what I needed it to do. It comes with an additional TiVo remote that allows you to control the TiVo mini as well as the TV.

 

It could be a lot Better

TiVo_Mini_back

In order to use a TiVo Mini you have to have all the right stuff in place or you simply can’t use it. First off it requires the later generation 4 Tuner TiVo Premiere or Roamio. Luckily I got a TiVo Premiere 4XL on close out and little did I know at the time that going with the 4 tuner model would pay off now. The 4 tuners are necessary so that the main TiVo can still record while the other tuners are being shared with the the TiVo Mini(s) in your home. The next requirement is that it can only work over Ethernet! That’s right it has to be hard wired and there is currently no built-in wireless option. In my opinion in 2014 this is dumb! Most people will not have a wired ethernet connection in bedrooms, family rooms, etc. If my Apple TV can stream HD quality content from the internet via WiFi, there should be no reason that TiVo Mini shouldn’t be able to stream content wirelessly from another room in the same home! There is another option that works via a coax connection if you happen to have the other rooms wired for cable. You can use a set of MoCA adapters to do ethernet over coax or if you have a TiVo Roamio Plus or TiVo Roamio Pro those models have MoCA support built-in.  This is probably the best way to go if you can’t run ethernet AND you have the coax cable connections in each room. Luckily I could run “flat” ethernet cables and hide them from room to room. Aside from the connection hurdles, the one and probably biggest problem that people will have with this solution is that TiVo charges a monthly charge to use TiVo Mini. Wow! I can see paying for TiVo service for the DVR, but why on earth is there a need to pay for TiVo service on the TiVo Mini? The TiVo Mini technically is just a bridge to the main TiVo DVR. You can opt to pay a one-time Lifetime Service fee and be done with it, but I can’t see why there is a need to charge for a service for this box at all?

 

The Bottom Line

Despite the problems, it was the best and most elegant solution to allow me to have my TiVo in 3 rooms and only having one TiVo DVR. The fact that each room can view something different is great and the product has worked perfectly for me so far. Rumor has it that TiVo is working on a newer model of the Mini with wireless capabilities. There’s no formal announcement at this point. TiVo if you’re listening, this product screams to be connected wirelessly and you should ditch the service fees for it even if it means charging a little more for the box itself. Keep in mind that it can’t do anything without a TiVo DVR, so paying a fee for the Mini seems a bit much.

You can get the TiVo Mini here.


How To Retouch a Photo in Photoshop for a Mature Audience

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you how to retouch a photo in Photoshop for a more mature audience.

 

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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iPhone 6 Plus Review

Holding iPhone 6 Plus in my hand

Overview

I’ve been doing iPhone reviews since the 1st one back in 2007 (if you want to see how far we’ve come, go back and have a glance at that one). So it’s become a tradition here on my blog and many of my friends and followers patiently wait for my take on the new mobile device. Normally I have these reviews done by the 1st Monday following the Friday release. However, my iPhone didn’t arrive until the following Wednesday (last week). I pre-ordered mine on day one, but apparently I didn’t make the 1st cut. Nonetheless, it did arrive a few days later and I wanted to have a few days with the new larger device anyway. The last couple of iPhones have been evolutionary with the things we’ve come to expect such as better cameras, faster processors, more memory and a design tweak here and there. Let’s face it, the original 2007 iPhone pretty much nailed it when it comes to form factor, size and functionality at that time. As a matter of fact the iPhone was blasted by several “industry experts” for it’s initial design by being a “touch screen” phone with no physical buttons. Seven years later all of the smartphones now look and act this way. However, this is not a comparison review of other devices. It never is! If you have a competing device and you’re happy with it, no need to read any further. Enjoy your _____ phone. Have a nice day. For everyone else, the question that we are always asking is “is this new iPhone worth upgrading or switching to?” That of course will always be up to YOU. I can only tell you what I’ve experienced with mine. So here goes…my iPhone 6 Plus review…

Which one did I get?

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I went with the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB Gold Contract Free T-mobile version. This is the way to go even if you’re not a T-Mobile customer (I’m on AT&T) and you want an unlocked, contract free phone that will accept any GSM nano-sim from any carrier. I debated between the iPhone 6 vs. the iPhone 6 Plus and 64GB vs 128GB and I decided that it was time to try a larger iPhone. I could always go back down to a iPhone 6s (assuming that Apple sticks with the same naming convention for the next iPhone) next time if the iPhone 6 Plus was too big. Also I upgraded from 32GB to 64GB going from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 5s and that was the right amount of storage for me. If I didn’t have an iPad, then I definitely would have gone with 128GB. However, the iPad Air serves as my entertainment device for movies and other large file tasks, so 64GB was plenty. Also all of my iPhones to date have been black/space gray. I wanted gold with the iPhone 5s, but they were sold out of that color when I got mine back then. This is my first white iPhone.

 

Yes it’s BIG!

I gave my 1st Impressions last week. The first thing I thought when I took the box out of the shipping box was “wow, it’s big!” That was before I opened it.  Luckily for my hands and pockets it’s not too big. I had no problems with putting it in a front pocket of my jeans. I was also pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too bad in a shirt pocket either. Now keep in mind that the weight (which is pretty light for a device this size) will probably make your shirt sag a bit, but still in a pinch it’s not too much.  Let’s see some comparisons

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iPhone 6 Plus next to the iPhone 5s

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iPhone 5s on top of the iPhone 6 Plus

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iPhone 6 Plus next to iPhone 4

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iPhone 6 Plus next to the Original iPhone (2007)

iPhone 6 Plus next to the original Apple Newton Message Pad. Yes Apple had a big screen mobile device before now

iPhone 6 Plus next to the original Apple Newton MessagePad. Yes Apple had a big screen mobile device before now, even with expandable memory. ;-)

 

iPhone 6 Plus next to Newton Message Pad 2000. An even bigger mobile device from Apple and yes with a stylus ;-)

iPhone 6 Plus next to Newton MessagePad 2000. An even bigger mobile device from Apple and yes with a stylus ;-) Some users even tried to carry the Newton in their pockets.

iPhone 6 Plus next to a Star Trek Communicator (T.O.S.)

iPhone 6 Plus next to a Star Trek Communicator (T.O.S.)

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Sure, why not? An iPhone 6 Plus next to a Star Trek Phaser (T.O.S.) and yes it works ;-)

Hopefully the photos above will answer your questions regarding the size compared to other devices :-)

iPhone 6 Plus in my shirt pocket on the left and jeans pocket on the right

iPhone 6 Plus in my shirt pocket on the left and FRONT jeans pocket on the right

 

Ergonomics, fit and feel

I’m happy to see Apple return to curved edges. It just feels better in my hand, especially for a larger device. It does take a little getting used to having the sleep/power button on the right side now instead of the top. For the first couple of days I was instinctively reaching for the top of the device to wake it or put it to sleep. When taking landscape screenshots I always hit the volume buttons by mistake. However, now I’m used to the new location and it isn’t a big deal. I would have expected the home button to be slightly larger, but it’s the same size as the one from the iPhone 5s. The touch-ID (fingerprint scanner) works flawlessly and now that iOS 8 opens it up to 3rd party apps, I’m using it all day long. For the first few days I used it without a case waiting for mine to arrive. This means that I was more careful than usual as I didn’t want any scratches. I did drop it once on a carpeted floor at home and it survived with no scratches or damage. As others have indicated, the camera lens does protrude from the back a little. This is the price we pay for a thinner iPhone.

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However, had I not read about that first I’m not sure that I would have really noticed. Some are complaining that this prevents the iPhone from lying perfectly flat on a table. I agree, but once you put a case on it that problem goes away as your case is more than likely going to protrude out more than the camera does. My only problem to date with the new larger form factor is the width, not the height. Even with my large hands it’s difficult to thumb reach the opposite side of the screen if the icon or button I ‘m trying to reach is always up higher on the display.

iPhone-6-Plus-reachability

Reachability brings the top of the display down so you can reach the stuff at the top without having to use your other hand.

Apple includes a “reachability” mode that you can access by double tapping the home button (not pressing it, but double tapping the touch sensor). This makes the whole screen slide down so that you can reach icons that at the top. Even with reachability it can be a stretch reaching the other side of the screen.

 

The Bigger 5.5″ Retina Display

iPhone-6-Plus-landscapehomescreen

iPhone 6 Plus landscape home screen

It’s gorgeous and probably the single biggest reason for going with an iPhone 6 Plus over an iPhone 6. Crisp, clean, high definition, 1920×1080 401 ppi of awesomeness. There are some exclusive features in the iPhone 6 Plus that aren’t on any other iPhone. The first one is a landscape home screen. While you’ve always been able to rotate your iPhone to see apps in landscape mode, the home screen was locked in portrait mode. Apple has finally freed up the home screen to have a landscape view on the iPhone 6. There is one choice you have to make. When you setup your iPhone 6 Plus for the 1st time you’ll be given a choice of Standard vs. Zoomed (yes you can switch it later). I chose Zoomed because it looked better to my eyes. However, with Zoomed enabled you don’t get the landscape home screen, extended landscape keyboard or the two column mail view. Also switching modes requires a reboot. I’m not happy about giving up Zoomed display for the other features I wanted. This is something that I wish Apple would address in the future. Perhaps a middle choice that gives a little more zooming AND the other landscape features.

Older apps on the bigger display – When Apple rolled out the iPhone 6 the promised that it had a very good “scaler” in it for apps that hadn’t been updated to the larger display sizes. Well I have to hand it to them. They did a MUCH better job than I expected. Keep in mind that iPhone apps zoomed up on the iPad kinda suck at the “2x zoom” and iPhone 4 sized Apps on an iPhone 5/5s just appear letter boxed in the middle of the display. However, older apps on the iPhone 6 Plus look, well, really good, especially by comparison. Sure Apps like CNN that have been updated look BETTER, but I don’t hate seeing the older Apps on the newer display at all.

 

Battery Life

There is a mobile device user on the planet that wouldn’t welcome longer battery life. So when it was rumored that the iPhone 6 Plus had longer battery life than previous models, I said bring it on! After the 6+ was released and people started doing tear-downs of them it was shown that the iPhone 6 Plus battery is almost as large as the iPhone 5s itself, it was definitely a good sign that battery life would be good. I’m happy to report that I’m easily seeing 25%-40% better battery life over that of my iPhone 5s. While not a totally scientific test, I base this on the percentage of battery life that I have left at the end of the day. On Saturday I unplugged my iPhone from the charger at around 10 AM. I used my phone as I normally would throughout the day (social media, texting, phone calls and apps). At 4PM I noticed I was still at 82%. At 7PM I noticed I was at 72% (even after leaving the screen on for a while while taking the size comparison shots above). Finally at 10PM (12 hours later) the iPhone 6 Plus was at 57% battery life. My iPhone 5s probably would have been at around 20%-30% after 12 hours of use.

iPhone-6-Plus-batteryusage

Keep in mind that there are many factors that affect battery life and I’m not saying that tomorrow that it won’t drain faster or last longer, it just depends not only on what you’re doing on the iPhone but also where you are. For example, if you’re in a 4G LTE area then it will probably drain faster. If you were in a 4G area but left it set on 4G LTE then it would drain even faster while searching for a 4G LTE signal. Screen brightness is another big factor. I keep mine down to around 30% on average. Making the display faster will definitely drain the battery faster. So your results can certainly vary. Y.M.M.V.

 

Performance

Yep is faster! We expect that each iPhone will faster than its predecessor. The iPhone 6 Plus is no different. It sports a new multiple-core A8 chip that’s faster than the A7 before it. Upgrading from the iPhone 5s to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus will be a noticeable speed bump. However, upgrading from an earlier model will be even more noticeable. Apps launch faster and perform better. The biggest and most noticeable speed difference for me though is actually the WiFi performance. Since the iPhone 6 Plus supports 802.11ac and I have an AirPort Extreme Base Station that supports 802.11ac I can really really really see a big difference in internet speed and file transfer speeds.

I have 500 Applications on my iPhone 6 Plus and some of them haven’t had updates in years, yet the work fine. Some glitches in a few, but that’s no different than any other OS or phone upgrade that has ever happened.

Phone calls and Bluetooth Audio? Oh yeah, it is a phone too. Yep I’ve made and received them with no problems. I would say the only thing that took a little getting used to was center the speaker on my ear. At first I couldn’t hear the caller as loud as I was thinking it should be. Then I moved the iPhone 6 Plus over a little and bam, the sound was perfect. I paired it with my Jawbone bluetooth headset and the bluetooth built-in to my car and no problems with phone calls. The only App that doesn’t seem to work with bluetooth audio in my car is the Waze Social GPS navigation App. Both Apple Maps and Navigon give turn-by-turn directions over the bluetooth just fine. However, when Waze goes to broadcast a direction the music mutes and nothing else can be heard then the music comes back on. Hopefully Waze will address this as it seems to be the only one of my GPS apps not working. I deleted the pairing and set it up again and still Waze was a no go.

 

The Camera

sunset-shot-with-iPhone6Plus

Unretouched – ISO 64 ƒ/2.2 1/15

While I don’t expect the iPhone (or any smartphone) to replace my DSLRs and professional lenses anytime soon, iPhone photography is here to stay. The best camera is the one you have with you and I always have my iPhone with me.

wpid13936-IMG_3365_sm.jpg

Unretouched – ISO 125 ƒ/2.2 1/4

Therefore it’s probably my most used camera. If I want to capture a scene or movie, I pulling out iPhone and take the shot. Especially if I want to then turn around and share that photo on social media or via text.

wpid13930-IMG_3354_sm.jpg

Unretouched – ISO 400 ƒ/2.2 1/4

Therefore, ANY camera improvements are always welcomed. The iPhone 6 Plus sports an 8MP,  f/2.2 aperture camera. It shoots 1080p video at 60fps and 240fps slo-mo as well as a new time-lapse feature.

wpid13933-IMG_3361_sm.jpg

Unretouched – ISO 32 ƒ/2.2 1/30

It also has Optical Image Stabilization. The big new thing here is faster autofocus for stills and continuous autofocus when shooting video. You should also get better selfies and Facetime with the new sensor allowing 81% more light.

Also now that iOS 8 opens the door for manual control over the camera it’s even more useful. There’s even a new App called “Manual” that let’s you have complete manual control over ISO, shutter speed and manual focus.

 

What could be better?

Apple doesn’t get everything right. Remember Apple Maps? The super buggy iOS 8.0.1 debacle was a recent reminder of this fact (iOS 8.0.2 came out afterwards and this review is based on that version). Most of my complaints are minor, but no device is perfect and the iPhone 6 Plus isn’t perfect either.  The things I wish were better to fixed have more to do with long standing issues I’ve had with iOS vs the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus itself. For example, it’s 2014 and there are still several inconsistencies in iOS that continue to bug me. For example, I can setup groups of contacts in the Contacts app on my Mac. Those groups sync over fine to the iPhone and are even recognized throughout the OS like in the Do Not Disturb feature. Yet there still isn’t a way to create a group in iOS or manage the ones you already have. While I’m on my annual Group rant, there is still no way to assign a ringtone to a group of contacts. If we are truly in a PC Free era, then Apple needs to make have feature parity in iOS 8 for these kinds of features. Another one that bugs me is the lack of a “Select All” in many areas throughout the OS. For example, now in the Messages App you can tap on the “Details” for any conversation. You can see all the attachments that are still in that conversation. GREAT! Now lets say I want to keep the conversation text, but delete ALL of the images/videos. I have to tap them one-by-one to select them and then press delete. Why not let me select all? There is no warning when I tap delete. They’re gone. So if safety is the reason, then give the standard “are you sure?” a few times If I select all. Hell, even make me enter my passcode to confirm the deletion of lots of media at once. Speaking of deleting, now in iOS 8 when you delete pictures from the Recent Activity (formerly the Camera Roll), they aren’t deleted YET. They go into another album called “Recently Deleted”. From there (yes you guessed it) there is a “Delete All” button. I definitely want to turn this idiot proof feature OFF. If I delete a picture or video, I’m sure! Photo management is a mess. Photo albums that come from your computer can be viewed in iOS but not edited. Really? Why not allow me to rearrange/delete/add photos to these albums and have them sync back to my computer? If I do create Albums on my iPhone and add photos to them I must also keep those photos in the Recently Added album too. Delete them from Recently Added and they are deleted from the custom albums too. Another inconsistency has to do with the “Open In” command. If I receive a photo via text message I can tap the Share button on that photo and open it in any other compatible App on my iPhone. However, if I save that picture to the “Recently Added” album and then access it from the Photos App, sorry no way to access it from Apps that haven’t been updated to be added to the new Share sheets. Thankfully I can use Lightroom Mobile for my photo management needs and I don’t have to rely as much on the built-in Photos app.

It would also be nice to hide (if not delete) built-in Apps that we don’t use like Game Center. Yes I know it can be buried in a folder, but why not allow it be turned off completely?

As far as the iPhone 6 Plus hardware goes, I really don’t have anything to complain about. Everything from the fit and finish, to the curved case, to the buttons, to the Lightning port, to the speaker, to the cameras are really good to awesome! It’s not too heavy or too big for my day to day use. While no device is perfect, nothing comes to mind to complain about hardware wise.

 

What’s missing?

When Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus they also introduced Health Kit, Apple Pay and Hand Off. Because of a bug, Healthkit didn’t get turned on for 3rd party App support until iOS 8.0.2. I have one of my Apps to date that has been updated with Healthkit support. I’m waiting on Nike+ Fuelband, Withings Health Mate and Lose It to take advantage of it with updates hopefully soon. Apple Pay is slated for an October debut. While Apple may turn it on in October, it will still take a while for all the merchants out there to offer it at the register. Lastly iOS 8 offers the ability to hand off things that you start on one device to the other. For example, now when my iPhone 6 Plus rings it will also start ringing on my iPad. I can answer my phone with either device. However, the feature I was looking forward to the most is SMS messages (those green bubble friends) showing up in the Messages app on other devices. That feature has been held back until October as well. Most of the joy of working between your iOS devices with iOS 8 and your Mac is on hold until Apple releases Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. This includes the new iCloud Drive. Again Apple has really missed the mark on this one. Unfortunately software is ready when it’s ready and trying to coordinate TWO major OS updates is no small feat. This is the case with Mac OS X 10.10. Apple hasn’t said when it will be released. However, until it is the hand off features between the two OS’s won’t really be realized.

 

The Bottom Line

The iPhone 6 Plus is definitely a great upgrade from the iPhone 5s with a faster processor, bigger, sharper display, faster WiFi, thinner, and much better camera. With over 10 million sold (iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus) in the 1st weekend breaking sales records across the board, Apple has another hit on their hands. As I was writing this close I asked myself  “ok, now that you’ve had the iPhone 6 plus for a few days, if you could do it again would you still go with the iPhone 6 Plus or would you go with an iPhone 6?” The answer is YES, I’d get the iPhone 6 Plus again. Is the iPhone 6 Plus worth upgrading to if you’re still under contract with an iPhone 5s? Probably not. I check the status of my sister’s contract and if she were to upgrade now it would be an extra $250. However, if she waits until 10/8/2014 then she can upgrade at the regular prices. She has an iPhone 5 and I can imagine that the iPhone 5s would be a similar situation. If you’re on an iPhone 5 or below and you’re eligible for regular upgrade pricing then this iPhone is a no brainer. It should be better in just about every way over your iPhone 5, iPhone 4s or iPhone 4. To decide whether or not to go iPhone 6 Plus vs. iPhone 6, you really need to hold them in YOUR hands and see which one feels best for you. The larger iPhone 6 Plus is not for everyone. I’m sure Apple will sell more iPhone 6’s than iPhone 6 Pluses.

One more thing…  Before someone asks “will it bend?”, perhaps you should check this out first. Hopefully that puts an end to NON-ISSUE of #bendgate.

 

Some of my favorite iPhone accessories

I went with this case

Biason_iPhone_6_plus_case

I like clear cases that offer scratch protection and basic protection from occasional drops, but still show the beauty and color of the device. I know that many of you need more protection, screen protectors, water protection, etc., however to date I’ve been pretty careful with my iPhones and have never broken a screen or severely damaged one. However, they can get scratched and that is something I look to prevent. This case does that for me.

 

I like these two car mounts (both will work even with a case on your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus)

IMG_3226.JPG

If you’re looking for a dash or windshield mount, the good folks over at Akron have you covered with this one. Unscrew the cable guide on the side and you get a standard tripod mount for photography/videography!

 

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If you’re looking for a vent mount, then the only way to go is the NEW Kenu AirFrame+ (yes I said +). This is definitely my favorite mount for travel and regular use when a dashboard or windshield mount doesn’t do it for you.

 

My Favorite 3rd party Lightning cables at different lengths

newertech_lightning_cable

While this really has nothing to do with the iPhone 6 Plus itself, I think I finally found a DURABLE 3rd party Lightning Cable. I have been frustrated by the quality of 3rd party Lightning cables to date. They either don’t work out of the box, stop working after a while or worse they start to fall apart where the connector connects to the cable. NewerTech makes this cable and I ordered a couple of the 3 meter version. I’m impressed with the way they are constructed. Definitely the best I’ve found so far.

0.5 Meter Length

1 Meter Length

2 Meter Length

3 Meter Length

 

My favorite charging accessories

power_strip_USB_ports

I just bought 3 of these for use around the home and home office. So far they’re working out GREAT! Unlike most power strips/surge protectors this one has a longer than average 6 foot cord. It has a lighted power switch as well as 2 USB ports that can provide up to 2.1A of power, which is enough to charge an iPad. Also the fact that it’s a surge protector as well doesn’t hurt. The only downside is that the 2.1A is shared between the two ports. This means that you can charge two devices or one device at the full 2.1A speed. Yes, you can charge an iPad (or other tablet) and iPhone (or other smartphone) at the same time, just not two devices that both require 2.1A each.

Here’s the best part: This power strip is on sale for only $14.99, which is less than the cost of a name brand single port USB charger. Get this one and you can use the charger that came with your phone as a travel charger.

lenmar_USB_car_charger

For the car, I like this one.

anker_40w_USB

For charging several USB devices at once I like this one.

USB_wall_outlet

For a permanent installation I like this one.

plugbug_1

For charging while traveling to hotel rooms with limited outlets, I like this one.

RAVPowerLuster

While the iPhone 6 Plus battery life is greatly improved, I will still carry this backup battery.

 

iOS 8 Tips and Tricks





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