They say technology comes and goes, and it is true for the most part, but what impressions these technologies leave on us is something worth pondering over: take my new iPhone 6S, for example. Since I last wrote about it a couple of months ago, I have put it to the test. I used it to assist on the set of a short film, made several photographs using it as my primary camera on a recent trip, used it to plan and photograph for a brochure, all while (over)using it as my daily driver. How did the iPhone fare?
This time I bought a space grey 6S (not the Plus edition). Having used it as my main mobile device in my regular environment, with my usual above–average to heave use, there are a lot of things I find similar to the 6 with one key difference — this device will probably last longer as an old model than an iPhone 6 would, I would bet at least till iOS 12, and this longer shelf life in the future means better performance now, and that really is what it all comes down to. In any case, let us try to keep this review as brief as possible.
After iOS7, I had not jailbroken 8.1, being satisfied with the stock OS — in retrospect, I probably should have jailbroken it. In any case, I did so on 8.3 and had a chance to rethink my usual tweaks. I ended up installing around 50 tweaks, out of which I would recommend these 25 to everyone for better usage, look and feel. And maybe a little bit of fun.
The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.
Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.
However, there were some things I wish I had known when I first switched to iPhone that I thought would be helpful to other new users. Not all of these may take you by surprise — some might — but all of them are definitely helpful and will improve your already stellar user experience with your shiny new phone.
None of that makes sense. The iPhone has probably already replaced a lot of other things you use and thereby made your lifestyle a lot more minimal, if that is what you were going for. It likely replaced everything from desk calendars to USBs in cars to cinema and plane tickets and — for some people — laptops.
I am not one among them, so my iPhone setup is not what I would call minimal. I do however follow a certain practice where I try to reduce the apps I use in some ways I have not seen a lot of others adopt. That is one reason I wrote this article — the other was because people wanted to know what was on my iPhone.
The story, as I often like it in all of my films, was simple and open to interpretation. Two guys, a basketball: it does not matter whether they had the court or — quite literally — what was blocking their way, they would still play their game.
Among several additions to iOS 8 comes burst mode capability — click and hold for several shots in quick succession. My iPhone 6 Plus shoots 10 frames per second which is almost twice the speed of my Nikon D600, which shoots 5.5 frames per second. Of course, the fact that the sensor is bigger, more memory needs to be written and other such factors come into play here.
The biggest advantage of this burst mode feature means making HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos with iPhones is no longer a software-only affair spewing out fake HDR/grunge images, but actual multiple bracketed exposures combined into one HDR photo.
After Apple’s iPhone 3GS came out in 2009, Google replied with the first of its now-successful Nexus lineup, the Nexus One. Android was customisable, seemingly the tech of the future, thanks to its fearless attempt at everything from NFC to underwater phones to wireless charging. With the iPhone 6/6 Plus, two things changed for me: Apple seemed to awaken and see the smartphone scene from a different perspective, and my own smartphone usage changed in certain ways.
WHEN IT COMES TO note-taking apps, speaking of Google Keep vs Evernote vs SpringPad and so on, you quickly realise there are two kinds: apps on a grand prix run with a million features we would all like but never use, and stripped down apps that help us take notes and do little else.Both are hard to get right: you risk either over-stuffing your turkey or leaving it hollow. But if any four apps get the formula right, these four have to be it.
What we are looking for
Here are some important, must-have features we looked for in note-taking apps:
- Speed and a light weight application
- Syncing options
- Widget for quick access
And here are some extras we would enjoy:
- Cross platform presence and syncing
- Cross-device presence
- Good design
- Array of note types
- Organising features
- Sharing features
Neither this website nor anybody associated with it are being paid in any form to write for or against any app. These reviews are based on experience and are subjective but give a very accurate idea of the product and have been written from a neutral standpoint.[/sws_grey_box]
Google’s silent entry into the note-taking world
Google began by turning users away by closing one product after another, often unannounced, and finally gave the public no good incentive to use their latest brainchild, Keep. If they tried, nobody knows about it. So then why is Keep on this list? It is because Keep —
- is light weight, fast to save and syncs just as seamlessly
- has a slick widget that offers scrolling previews and ability to start taking notes from your home screen
- offers text, checklist, voice and photo notes
- has presence on both desktops (via chrome,) phones (Android, iOS)
And what’s special about Keep?
- Keep automatically transcribes voice notes (US english only, right now)
- Keep saves using your 25GB space on your Google Drive
- Keep allows text note to checklist conversion even after creating a text note
- Keep uses color coding (limited to eight — and five really distinguishable — colours)
If you take extensive vocal reminders and messages, Keep’s automatic transcribing may prove useful even if not 100% accurate. If you used Catch Notes before it was shut down, you will find Keep a pleasing alternative.
In other words, if you like to take quick notes and get done with it, Keep is just the app for you. And Keep works beautifully offline too.
Looking for a little extra muscle, though, or some charm or fun? Throw Keep out the window and head on to our next competitor.[/sws_yellow_box] [sws_button_icon_ui label=”Download Google Keep from the Play Store” href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.keep” ui_theme=”ui-smoothness” icon=”ui-icon-circle-arrow-s” target=”_blank”] [/sws_button_icon_ui]
Does the veteran app still have what it takes?
If you came here just looking for an answer to that question just above, then you’ll be happy to know that yes, it does. But other apps are not exactly what you might consider stagnant.
Evernote satisfies the basic needs of any user, at any level, any profession, any use you can think of. Here are some of its most advantageous features:
- Neat suite of apps including web clippers and readers
- Excellent integration with third-party apps
- Searches inside images
- Perfect solution for long notes or long hours of note taking
- Good cross-browser, cross-device presence
But there are some things that hold us back here too,
- Way too many features: UI appears cluttered if you do not use them all
- Free account gets you <50MB a month, but a $45/month paid option exists
- Poor security (if you are really paranoid)
- Overall, not a very intuitive or quick solution for note-taking
Evernote is best for taking down college lecture notes, (or speeches and lectures in general,) interviews, creatives jotting down long ideas, shooting textual documents to use as notes and so on. It’s basically a lengthy note-taking process, but a perfect solution if you are looking at tonnes of crisp, formatted, heavily organised notes to maintain for a long time.
If all you want is to use an app as a digital edition of your post-it notes, get back to Google Keep, not Evernote. But if you have a huge notes collection you would rather hold on to for a long time, Evernote is perfect. And again, if you’re photo- (and generally media-) happy, try our next contender, SpringPad.[/sws_yellow_box] [sws_button_icon_ui label=”Download Evernote from the Play Store” href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.evernote&hl=en” ui_theme=”ui-smoothness” icon=”ui-icon-circle-arrow-s” target=”_blank”] [/sws_button_icon_ui]
The Pintrest of note-takingprevious edition.]
I think Springpad was here before Pintrest, but people seem to compare how similar it looks to the newer product, especially after the recent re-design. This is, in fact, the simplest definition of Springpad. It has a gorgeous interface laid out like pinboards and makes it a very visual task to manage your notes.
Springpad’s biggest plus still remains across-the-web, link, media and group sharing. And little else. But Springpad mostly makes things fun. Here’s what you’ll like:
- Note-taking by categories such as movies, restaurants etc.
- Great sharing capabilities for collaboration
- Springpad boasts its own social network for its users
- Tailored for media sharing and cataloguing
And, as always,
- Works poorly for quick note-taking
- Still shows only select tags on note pages
- Nothing attractive, but a lot of useless features for text-heavy note-takers
Springpad is for people who like to handle media, especially pictures, and bookmark stuff they come across on the web: you get the point, using Springpad is like having your very own Pintrest. With your very own Springpad social network.
If you want quick, or lots of text, Springpad is a poor option; if text is a once-in-a-while thing and pictures are your everyday style of usage, pick Springpad. In short, Springpad is for people with a flare for media, bookmarking, and group sharing, all without heavy emphasis on text.
But for uber serious note-takers who rarely use lot of media and neither prefer Keep’s simplicity or Evernote’s complication, but rather a mixture of the two, look at Microsoft’s very own One Note.[/sws_yellow_box] [sws_button_icon_ui label=”Download Springpad from the Play Store” href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.springpad&hl=en” ui_theme=”ui-smoothness” icon=”ui-icon-circle-arrow-s” target=”_blank”] [/sws_button_icon_ui]
Microsoft got it right this time. Almost.
I want you take a good look at the screenshots above. Take your time. What do you see? You see a little Microsoft Word.
Microsoft’s biggest strength is, arguably, its Office suite. And with OneNote, the tech giant has made a fine decision to use formatting and document creation to their advantage. And it’s one huge advantage, believe you me. Here are some things you’ll like:
- Formatting. Formatting. Formatting.
- Two-level organisation like Evernote’s notebooks and stacks
- Autosync for SkyDrive Pro users (Office 365 or SharePoint)
- Interesting Catch-like colour coding (not editable, though)
But OneNote has some drawbacks:
- Not quick, not intuitive
- Sync is slow at best, even with a pretty good Wifi connection
- No handwriting features like the once-famous OneNote for PC
OneNote users love a physical keyboard: Microsoft removed support for it in their latest update. That speaks volumes by itself. Also, that says OneNote is extensive enough in its “toolbar-equivalents” that it warrants the use of a physical keyboard.
But OneNote, surprisingly enough, serves as a fine quick note-taking app as well. Sort of like Keep. And the huge notes, formatted to perfection reflect a little Evernote. OneNote is cross between Keep’s simplicity and Evernote’s organisation with Microsoft’s rich text formatting thrown in for good measure. The best of both worlds? Yes, but at a price.
OneNote is laggy. It is slow. OneNote syncs poorly, sometimes not at all, but notes do not exactly go missing, so you’re safe there; they just hesitate to sync every now and then. What is good, though, is Microsoft’s track record in updating OneNote. It has been consistently pleasing and shows good signs of improvement.[/sws_yellow_box] [sws_button_icon_ui label=”Download OneNote from the Play Store” href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.office.onenote&hl=en” ui_theme=”ui-smoothness” icon=”ui-icon-circle-arrow-s” target=”_blank”] [/sws_button_icon_ui]
So which is the right note-taking app? Consider this to help you decide: which words best describe your usage and style of note-taking?
- Elaborate, extensive, well organised, multiple devices and OSes, liesurely
- Media, group sharing, social networking, browsing, bookmarking, heavy tablet usage
- Elaborate, organised, formatting, tables, charts etc., multiple devices and OSes
- Quick, simple, voice reminders, checklists, write and delete, multiple devices
If you picked 1, pick Evernote; 2, try Springpad; 3, OneNote; and 4 Keep.
That should help you choose. If you came here because Catch Notes was discontinued, you’ll enjoy Keep just as much, or you might also like the added advantages OneNote gives you.
So which app did you decide to use?
Share it with us in the comments below.Cover image: Taiwan Evernote users meet-up — Flickr/othree
|With Apple’s iPad 3 released recently, here are 3 things they safely left out of their device specifications, videos and release conference. We examine what is new in the device, how great it is and where all it can improve. Perhaps there is also a little disappointment for us photographers?|
Bigger apps, smaller memory
Oh, yes, HTC’s signature problem, the lack of internal memory — and, at times, expandable memory — does not seem to have left Apple alone. With Retina being introduced in the new iPad, it was quite obvious that the initial memory to be provided must be increased; but Cook and his men have stayed on with the iPad 2 16GB and 32GB variant habit.
In other words, with Retina compatible apps now being made available for the new iPad, users will have to continually make space (read ‘delete stuff’) because these things are known to take tonnes of bytes of space. In fact, they were solely and directly responsible for the surge in the company’s 3G download upper limit.
On the one hand, the huge resolution of display is sending waves of cheers in the photography community, but, on the other, as some of us pointed out, this really is incompatible with most full-resolution photographs. That is to say, photographers cannot carry around the best looking versions of their work as they had hoped to with the release of iPad 3. So, any photographer with a 19 mega-pixel (or more) camera cannot see his full images.
Moreover, 1080p videos happen to be the upper end of the new device, so an unimpressive expansion to its 2,000 by 1,500-odd screen size is practically useless; but some might be satisfied with the Retina making it up for this, so it is not too much of a problem, but one that certainly can do with more improvements.
Apple perhaps wants the new iPad to be a photographer’s companion, as Discovery News puts it. The way I see it, this highlights its near-impractical dimensions, that handling-unfriendliness that I have so often pointed out (and which has also convinced me not to give away my awesome 7″ tablet for a bigger one.)
In order to make for a bulkier battery, the iPad has got physically bulkier — heavier. With its thickness increased by about 0.05″ and its mass by 0.11lbs, the iPad probably wants to redefine some sort of chic style in lugging around bulk. But fitting in Retina and so little space that you can hardly do anything seamlessly with it without getting bugged by space scarcity is not the most welcome screen for an iPad 3 buyer.
Besides, think of the stares you will attract when you hold up your 10-inch, slate-like, device in front of your face, armed with a paltry 5 mega-pixel camera trying in almost certain vanity to shoot a quality photograph.
What do you think of the new iPad?
What other areas could Apple improve its product in?
Or are you convinced with iPad 3?
Will you buy it?
Do share your thoughts with us below![signoff]
Just yesterday, rumours spread like wildfire around the Internet that Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was dying. Some also said that Apple would die with him. But the closest one ever got to the truth was that Steve Jobs—having fought Pancreatic Cancer back in 2004—decided to resign from the company. His successor was Jobs-groomed Tim Cook. And with Cook’s takeover came a few questions: particularly if this change in company heads would bring Apple down in any way and if this advantaged Apple competitors like Samsung, Sony, Windows and HTC.
In his much anticipated last official presence as CEO, Jobs took a light hearted approach to tackle the various declarations of his death or dying condition, saying (in big, bold letters and twisting Mark Twain’s quote,) The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
However his continually frail-looking body and rapid loss of weight seem to speak otherwise to most people. But where does Jobs—and Apple—stand right now?
“If Steve were my son, my father, my brother, my best friend, I would trade Apple and all of its success and revenue a thousand times over if it meant saving his life. No hesitation. Not even a hint of it. You can always rebuild a business, start over, change the world again. People though, when they’re gone, they’re gone.”
—Oliver Blanchard, blogger
And, while Jobs has been busy disappointing people with his resignation, some are almost put off by the way reports have been handling his health, weighing it below the health of his three major companies, Apple, Inc., Disney-Pixar Animation Studios and NeXT; and all the trend-setting gadgets that (may not) come.
I’m a little amazed that a guy to whom we owe so much and whose health has been a concern for quite some time would be treated as a side note in so many articles that choose to focus instead on what his departure might mean to the future of cool little gadgets.
Clarifying the situation
Hoping to clarify the situation rather subtly, as TIME magazine reported, Steve Jobs took a good fifteen minutes to showcase their newest bundled software, Genius, before playing the songs, Don’t think twice, It’s alright by Bob Dylan, and Beck’s Guess I’m doing fine!
Apparently, not everybody gets subtlety. Bloomberg News published a premature obituary to Steve Jobs, proclaiming him dead and then following it up with a corrigendum that declared the news item was marked Hold for release, Do not publish, perhaps in anticipation of the worst.
Nonetheless Jobs took the 17-page obituary cooly. Perhaps it was the consolation that Pope John Paul II had, before him, been the subject of three obituaries—including one that spoke of his love of racing—that he lived to read. And activist Marcus Garvey whose obituary was wrongly published after his stroke, and after reading which, he suffered a second stroke and died.
Apple, Inc. will live
The man often dubbed as whom Steve Jobs groomed since long to be his successor, Tim Cook, will be taking charge of Apple as its new CEO. Once Apple’s Chief Operating Officer under Steve Jobs, Cook will be—to misquote Britist commentator Clive Tyldesley—coming in to replace Jobs, the irreplaceable Steve Jobs.
“[Tim] has been running Apple since a long time now,” says Michael Janes, the first General Manager of Apple Store online,“Steve is the face of the company… but Tim is the guy who takes all those designs and turns it into a big pile of cash for the company.”
Cook, an ex-compaq employee and Apple’s highest-paid executive since he joined in 1998 has played a major role in product design finalisation and the fact that he shares an attitude of going over the tiniest details carefully with Jobs is expected to give investors some relief—and hope, hopefully!
Apple’s next ten years and the unknown Steve Jobs
Smart analysts are saying that even if Apple, Inc. were to plummet into an abyss like it did the last time Jobs quit the company, Steve has brought it to such a height now that—survive 2012 and—it would take Apple a whopping ten whole years to lose its market place. In short, if anybody is planning to bail out on Apple following Cook’s takeover, they would have at least nine years to think it over before they start losing money.
While it is obvious to many that Steve Jobs has been hiding facts about his ill health, not many are aware of the stuff about him that he has not made any intention to hide!
James Althucher of Business Insider penned an article titled, 10 things I didn’t know about Steve Jobs, detailing some remarkable factoids about the almost legendary CEO who has been hailed, in a period of technological revolution, as the revolutionary.
As it turns out, Steve Jobs’ father is Abdulfattah Jandali, making Jobs—biologically—a half-Syrian muslim. However, Jobs practices Zen Buddhism and had no idea until recently that novelist Mona Simpson was his sister. Also, he wrongly claimed he was sterile; dismissed his first child (although he took it back later;) is a pescetarian; created the famed game, Breakout; skipped out of his Reed college undergraduate degree after the first semester; and does not give money to charity, and makes sure that his company does not indulge corporate philanthropic programmes of any sort.
So Steve Jobs is alive, but we cannot say how well he is just yet; Apple, too, has hopes in spite of Jobs’ resignation, but only time will tell how it will fare in the market. The biggest phenomenon—whether true or not—is that giants Samsung, Windows and Sony have begun to view Apple as a much less fearful competition now, perhaps even as one they can take on and come on top. But underestimation has seen more than its share of downfall on the estimator’s part.
Will the other companies take advantage of this shift to grab the markets as Samsung did last year when it released the Galaxy Tab? Or will Apple have too much substance to simple trample over? Or will Tim Cook be the next Steve Jobs?
[NB Word is that all iPhones went silent for one minute yesterday after Steve Jobs’ official resignation from Apple, Inc.]
On June the 28th some lucky ones—including me—may have noticed a small tweak in Google’s homepage and most of its services save Gmail. And on Wednesday, this trial feature was formally launched for a larger groups, but still a limited one, of users around the world. Perhaps the most noticeable of these—at least the one that caught my eye—was the black bar at the very top of the page.
“We’re working on a project to bring you a new and improved Google experience, and over the next few months, you’ll continue to see more updates to our look and feel,” said Google’s digital creative director, Chris Wiggins.
Before I explain what Google hopes to achieve from this new look, let’s take a look at Google back in ‘97:
The main difference is that the colourful Google logo has been reduced in size, the search box has been made more prominent and two sets of links have been moved to the top and bottom of the page giving your browser what Wiggins described as a cleaner look.
While this goes quite the extent in making an already minimalist, clean page unnecessarily cleaner, the changes in other parts of Google do have an underlying utilitarian face to them. Wiggins describes these broadly as focus, elasticity and effortlessness.
Focus is perhaps what ought to be—and rightly is—on top of Google’s priority. No matter what they are doing on any of their services, the user’s concentration must effortlessly be able to put its entire self to what it is doing at present.
This shall be achieved in the coming weeks and months over which this gradual alteration shall be made to the users’ comfort by the use of bolder colours for actionable buttons and the possible automated hiding of anything the user will not need, such as the navigation buttons—which will of course re-appear when we do need them. This way the browser area in use will remain uncluttered.
Elasticity is Google’s attempt at fitting their services into all modern forms of technology, not merely the desktop computer or which it was originally intended, as though Google was built natively for that device. It makes one wonder if they forgot they were the ones who created Android in the first place.
The idea is that with the internet slowly becoming accessible from more locations and devices than one, Google should be moulded uniquely to best fit each of these—a tailor-made Google service for every possible alternative to the old desktop.
In fact this brings to my mind a key aspect discussed in Michio Kaku’s latest book Physics of the Future (which I only recently started reading!) where he says we will, in the near future—perhaps by 2030, be able to access the internet from everywhere—our spectacles, clothes, furniture, even our wallpaper. If this is indeed the case—and it looks most likely so—then Google seems to be the one taking the very first steps towards such an elasticity.
Effortlessness is the last of Google’s focii in its make over. How many of us actually put in effort when working on Google? And yet Wiggins explanation seeks to give us just this image.
He says it is Google’s web designing philosophy to combine power with simplicity. We want to keep our look simple and clean, but… use new technologies like HTML5, WebGL and the latest, fastest browsers to make sure you have all the power of the web behind you.
Alongside this, and an experimental feature I have not had the privilege of being included in (though my name still stands on the list of users for the forthcoming inclusion,) is Google’s take at providing internet users a structured social experience via what they call Google+.
While it does, arguably, appear like a re-make of most existing services with Google’s signature on them, it seems that their real intention is that, through Google+, real-life sharing has been, in their own words, re-thought for the Web.
In Circles, Google’s version of a contact-storage system, you can group your contacts into suitable groups—what they probably call circles—and chose which group to conveniently share stuff with.
Sparks, like the Zite app, allows Google to monitor the kind of information you share with your contacts and streamline search results to suit your needs better.
In Hangouts, rather than trying to track down people on FaceTime, Skype and Fring, Hangouts lets you tell your friends or “Circles” where you are hanging out and invites them over to hang out with video chat. This will help people in your circles who are now far away to connect in a virtual pool and bring all camaraderie to a virtual conference—another instance straight out of Kaku’s book.
“The way people use and experience the Web is evolving, and our goal is to give you a more seamless and consistent online experience — one that works no matter which Google product you’re using or what device you’re using it on.”
Instant Upload is Google’s take on the concept first introduced by Apple’s iOS5 and iCloud. The idea is nothing different: pictures, say, that you click, will instantly get uploaded to a virtual cloud from where you can chose to do whatever is wise with them, like share it with a circle, perhaps?
The last one, Huddle in my opinion, is the only new concept Google has managed to introduce in this bunch. Presently, there is a large wall separating iPhone, BlackBerry and Android users. In spite of Android users making up the largest chunk of the three, there is no way for users of any of these platforms to communicate or chat with the users of any other platform. Huddle closes this gap by introducing its Google+ App for iPhone through which iPhone and Android users can chat cross-OS without the need for an external agent like a chat room or, say, an online application like Google Talk or Yahoo! Chat.
So much for Google+, which, in my opinion, will go on to get the bigger of the two receptions, mostly because the other, updated-design-feature is all too subtle for the daily I-don’t-care-what-your-website-looks-like set of internet users who claim to be around only because content (still) is king.
Very well Mr Wiggins, the world is prepared for the new Google—and I am quite sure three-quarters of the world will not give a damn as to what colour your top bar is, and then again, there is the small lot of us to whom it does make a difference.
My own idea is (and hopefully Google will agree) that even if users do not actually notice the new, black top bar, let alone blog or debate about it, the overall, subtle changes—and the ease and economical use of Google’s services—is something they are sure to notice in the days (or should I say months?) to come. Welcome, new Google!
What do you think of this? A milestone turn in Web 2.0, or another disappointment?