You CAN Take Amazing Fireworks Photos with Your iPhone

On July 4th fireworks fill the sky. As the crowds ooh and aah at glittering chrysanthemum and willow effects, you may itch to capture some of those moments with your iPhone. You can!

1: Pick a Good Location

Consider your position before it gets dark. If you’re too close, you might not be able to capture the full glory of a massive burst. Too far away, and the fireworks will be little spots of light. Make sure there aren’t any power lines or lamp posts between you and the fireworks. If there’s nearby water, you might be able to capture some interesting reflection shots.

2: Turn Off the Flash

The iPhone’s flash works only at short distances, so turn it off to avoid annoying people around you. In the Camera app, tap the lightning bolt and then Off.

3: Disable HDR or Enable Keep Normal Photo

Tap HDR on the Camera screen and then tap Off. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, combines three exposures into one photo, which works well when some parts of a scene are dark and others are light.

The problem with HDR is that fireworks will move slightly between the exposures, which may cause blur. That could be an interesting effect in its own right, so if you want to try leaving HDR on, be sure to enable Keep Normal Photo in Settings > Photos & Camera. That way, you can see whether you prefer the normal image or the HDR version.

4: Hold Still or Use a Tripod or Monopod

To reduce the chance of your fireworks photos coming out blurry, keep the iPhone as still as possible—try holding it with both hands and pressing your elbows into your sides.

Alternatively, use a tripod, although a Gorillapod or selfie stick can offer stability while letting you more easily move the iPhone around to frame different portions of the sky.

5. Try the iPhone’s Special Modes

With fireworks, it’s nearly impossible to predict the exact moment when a blast of color will be at its most impressive. So don’t! Instead, use one of the iPhone’s special modes:

  • Burst Mode: Press and hold the shutter button or one of the volume buttons to take ten shots per second. You’ll have to sort through the burst afterward to find the best pictures, but you’re almost certain to get good ones.
  • Live Photos: Fireworks are all about motion: the slow climb, the pregnant pause, and then the explosion of light and sound. If you enable Live Photos by tapping its bullseye icon in the Camera app (it turns yellow), tapping the shutter button will take a mini-movie of the action.
  • Slo-Mo Video: If you plan to share your photos on social media, why not share a video instead? Try Slo-Mo mode in the Camera app to slow down the frenetic pace of a grand finale. Hold still while recording!
  • Time-Lapse Video: Or, go in the other direction, and record the entire show as a time-lapse video, which compresses everything into a much shorter video. Just flip to Time-Lapse in the Camera app. You need a tripod for a time-lapse video.

6: Use an App for Longer Exposures

Apple’s built-in Camera app doesn’t let you increase the length of exposures, which can provide striking light trails of fireworks. Lots of independent apps do offer that capability, including LongExpo (free), Shutter (free), Slow Shutter Cam ($0.99), and Manual ($5.49). Regardless of which you try, play with different exposure times to get the effect you want.

Just remember. As much fun as it can be to photograph fireworks, don’t let the iPhone get in the way of enjoying the show with family and friends.

Teach Siri How to Pronounce Names Properly

Siri is supposed to be a competent voice assistant, but sometimes Siri can’t even pronounce your own name correctly! Luckily, it’s easy to fix Siri’s pronunciation for any name. Just say to Siri, “Learn how to pronounce Jill Kresock.” (Siri defaults to “krehsock” rather than the correct “kreesock” in this case.) Siri first asks you to say the person’s first name and then presents a list of options for the best pronunciation. Tap the play button next to each option to hear it, and tap Select for the one you like best. If none are good, tap Tell Siri Again and say the name again, perhaps changing your enunciation slightly. Once you’ve set up the first name, Siri will ask you to say the person’s last name, after which you can pick the best pronunciation for the last name.

Enable Theater Mode to Prevent Your Apple Watch from Lighting Up at a Show

Attend any live theater presentation, and someone will ask the audience to silence their cell phones. But what about your Apple Watch? You don’t want it lighting up or making noise during the show either. To ensure that doesn’t happen, swipe up on the face to display Control Center, and then tap the theater masks icon to enable Theater mode (you may have to scroll down to see it). That automatically turns on Silent mode and prevents the screen from lighting up unless you tap it, press a button, or on the Apple Watch Series 2 or 3, turn the Digital Crown. To leave Theater mode after the performance, tap the masks icon in Control Center again.

Moment Helps You Gauge Your iPhone Use and Offers Parental Oversight Option

Smartphone addiction is real. Do you check your iPhone before you get out of bed? During family dinners? Right before you go to sleep? Constantly during the day even when you’re on vacation? If you—or your family members—feel that you’re disappearing into your phone too often or at inappropriate times, it may be time to do something about it.

To start, you might want to quantify the problem, and for that, you can turn to a free iPhone app called Moment. Written by developer Kevin Holesh, Moment is designed to track three key pieces of data:

  • How often you pick up your iPhone every day
  • How much time you spend on your iPhone
  • Which apps you use the most

It then uses that information to paint a picture (well, not literally) of your iPhone use. Most people underestimate how much time they spend on their iPhones by about 100% (the average Moment user uses their iPhone for nearly 4 hours per day!). Knowing how much time you spend is the first step toward using your phone intentionally, rather than as a conduit to a constant stream of social media updates (look at the stats shown below), email messages, and quick-hit entertainment.

To get started, use the App Store app to install Moment, and then launch the app. It starts tracking your usage immediately, although once per week you’ll need to take screenshots of Settings > Battery so Moment can figure out how long you use each app. Then ignore Moment for a few days so it can gather some data.

On the main Screen Time screen, Moment shows how much time you’ve spent on your phone today, along with a scrolling bar graph of how much time you spent every day since you installed Moment. Don’t get too hung up on these raw numbers, though, since Moment tracks every second the screen is on. You probably aren’t concerned about time spent reading an ebook or working out with an app that talks you through a routine.

To view both a breakdown by app and a timestamp for each time you picked up your iPhone, tap any day’s entry, and to see how much you use a particular app on average, tap it in the day view. You can answer a Yes/No question about whether you’re happy with how much you use the app, which informs the Time Well Spent aggregate data about which apps people are and are not concerned about.

All that is helpful, but for a more useful overview, tap Insights and then Week. You’ll see graphs of your usage patterns for screen time, waking life, pickups, most used app, and sleep (this depends on your first and last pickups of the day, so take its data with a grain of salt). Tap any graph to see more detail, but wait until you’ve used Moment for a while.

Everything we’ve described so far is free, but Moment offers additional features for a one-time $3.99 in-app purchase. They let you exclude certain apps from the app-use detection, if you don’t want to be dinged for using apps that are necessary or otherwise positive. You can receive quick reminders about your usage, and set daily time limits. There is even a 14-day Phone Bootcamp course that helps you rethink your relationship with your phone.

More interesting for parents is Moment Family, a subscription service ($26.99 for 6 months or $44.99 for 12 months) that allows you to monitor your entire family’s screen time with Moment, set phone-free dinner times, and enforce daily limits.

So if you’re perturbed by the amount of time you spend using your iPhone every day, give Moment a try. On its own, it won’t solve your problem but by showing you exactly how often you turn to your phone—and for what apps—it can help you regain control over your usage patterns. And if others in your family have trouble putting their iPhones down at dinner or to do homework, Moment Family could be the answer.


Social Media: Bothered by how much you find yourself using your iPhone for social media? Use the Moment app to quantify the problem. An added subscription can also help an entire family reduce excessive iPhone use.

Solving the Mystery of Missing Messages Notifications

A client got in touch recently with a maddening problem. When he received texts on his iPhone, Messages displayed notifications for messages from everyone…except his wife! Needless to say, this was a problem. Since notifications appeared correctly for other people, it wasn’t related to overall settings. It turned out that he—or someone else, or iOS gremlins—had inadvertently enabled the Hide Alerts switch for the Messages conversation with his wife. To fix it, all he had to do was display the conversation in Messages, tap the i button at the upper right, and disable Hide Alerts. (In the Mac version of Messages, click the Details button and look for the Do Not Disturb checkbox.) It’s a good feature designed to let you mute a chatty group conversation, but it can cause stress if applied to the wrong conversation accidentally.

There’s a Hidden Keyboard Shortcut Cheat Sheet in Your iPad

If you’re working on an iPad with a physical keyboard—either a Bluetooth keyboard or an iPad Pro with Apple’s Smart Keyboard—there are quite a few keyboard shortcuts you can use to work faster. Many are what you’d guess if you have Mac experience; for instance, Command-F generally maps to Find. But to see a list of supported keyboard shortcuts in an app, simply press and hold the Command key on the keyboard until an information panel appears. Some apps, like Calendar (shown below), even have multiple pages of shortcuts; swipe to see them all. Not all apps will display the cheat sheet, but most of Apple’s productivity apps do.

Wondering Where Your Past Events in the iOS Calendar App Have Gone?

When it comes to calendars, we’re mostly concerned with the future. But sometimes you want to travel back in time too, to see when you had that doctor appointment or last went to the gym. If you scroll back in the Calendar app in iOS, you might discover, to your consternation, that after 2 weeks back, the only items in your calendar are old repeating events. What gives? Weirdly, since calendar events consume almost no storage space, iOS lets you select how far back to sync events from your master calendar. Choose a time period in Settings > Calendar > Sync, or to eliminate any possibility of confusion, just select All Events.

iOS 11.3 Introduces New Battery Health Feature, Business Chat, and More

At the end of March, Apple released updates to all four of its operating systems, but iOS 11.3 was the most notable. It boasts a variety of new features and other changes—you can think of it as the midpoint update between iOS 11’s first release and iOS 12, probably coming next September. All remaining updates to iOS 11 are likely to be minor maintenance updates. Here’s what’s new.

iPhone Battery Health

The most anticipated change is the Battery Health feature that Apple promised to add in the wake of revelations that the company was quietly reducing the performance of older iPhone models (starting with the iPhone 6) to lessen the chance of unexpected shutdowns with weak batteries. You find the new Battery Health screen in Settings > Battery > Battery Health, and Apple explains it in detail here.

If your iPhone battery is aging, you may see a lower maximum capacity, and if your iPhone has shut down because of a weak battery, the screen will tell you that performance management has been applied. You can disable performance management, if you prefer the iPhone shutting down to degraded performance, but it will turn on again the next time your iPhone shuts down. Finally, if your battery is bad enough, the screen will recommend replacement.

Also note that iPads running iOS 11.3 can better maintain battery health when they’re plugged into power for long periods of time. Be sure to upgrade if you have an iPad that stays plugged in all the time.

Business Chat

New in both iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 High Sierra is Business Chat, an Apple service that lets you chat with participating companies directly within Messages. If you look up one of these companies in Maps, Safari, or Search/Spotlight and see a Messages button, just use it to start a conversation. Only you can start conversations, and Business Chat can be a fast way to ask questions, get support, schedule appointments, and even make purchases using Apple Pay.

Apple’s launch partners are 1-800-Flowers, Ameritrade, Discover, Hilton, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marriott, Newegg, and Wells Fargo, although not all of them seemed to be active out of the gate. And, of course, you can use Business Chat with Apple itself.

Health Records

Most people won’t be able to take advantage of iOS 11.3’s next new feature—medical records in the Health app—right away, but we have high hopes for it. Apple has partnered with over 40 healthcare systems to bring your medical records into the Health app, centralizing them and making them easier for both you and healthcare professionals to access. The records include lab results, medications, conditions, and more. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with a passcode so it remains private.

Data & Privacy

We haven’t yet seen this, but Apple says that iOS 11.3 (and macOS 10.13.4) will display a new privacy icon whenever Apple asks for access to personal information, as it might do to “enable features, secure Apple services or personalize an iOS experience.” The icon should be accompanied by detailed privacy information explaining the situation. In an era when every company seems hell-bent on collecting and exploiting our personal data, it’s nice to see Apple increasing the transparency of its data collection practices.

Safari

iOS 11.3 tweaks Safari in several small ways that make it easier to use and more secure:

  • Autofill now inserts usernames and passwords only after you select them on Web pages.
  • Autofill now works in Web views within other iOS apps.
  • Safari warns you when you interact with password or credit card forms on non-encrypted pages.
  • Safari now formats shared articles sent via Mail as though they were in Reader mode.
  • Favorites folders now show icons for the contained bookmarks.

Other Improvements

Apple made lots of other minor improvements in iOS 11.3. You can see a full list in the release notes, but those that we find most noteworthy include:

  • iPhone X users get access to four new animoji: a lion, dragon, skull, and bear.
  • iOS 11.3 adds support for the Advanced Mobile Location (AML) standard, which provides more accurate location data to emergency responders when Emergency SOS is triggered.
  • Podcasts now plays episodes with a single tap, and you can tap Details to learn more about episodes.
  • Apple Music now streams music videos uninterrupted by ads.
  • Apple News has improved its Top Stories feature and includes a new Video group in the For You collection.

iOS 11.3’s improvements may not change the way you use your iPhone or iPad, but they’re welcome nonetheless, and Business Chat and Health Records should become more interesting as additional institutions sign on. And, of course, anyone with an older iPhone should check the Battery Health screen right away.


 

Apple Introduces New iPad with Apple Pencil Support, Updates iWork

At a special education event on March 27th, Apple introduced a new 9.7-inch iPad that offers faster performance, support for the Apple Pencil, and a few new camera-related features. The company also released new versions of the iWork apps—Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—that let users draw, sketch, and write with the Apple Pencil.

Sixth-generation iPad

For the most part, the new sixth-generation iPad is the same as the fifth-generation model it replaces. Its physical dimensions are unchanged, so existing cases and accessories should continue to work. It comes in the same three colors: silver, gold, and space gray. Even the pricing and options remain the same, with a 32 GB model starting at $329—the jump to 128 GB adds $100, and cellular capabilities add $130.

What sets the sixth-generation iPad apart from its predecessor is its support for the Apple Pencil stylus, which was previously restricted to the iPad Pro line, which started at $649. Thanks to a high-resolution touch sensor in the iPad’s Retina screen and palm-rejection technology, you can now use the $99 Apple Pencil in compatible apps. As with the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil is sensitive to pressure and tilt so you can vary line weight and shading, much as with a traditional pencil.

Also new in the sixth-generation iPad is Apple’s A10 Fusion chip, with its embedded M10 coprocessor. The company claims that the new processors provide up to 40-percent faster CPU and 50-percent faster graphics performance.

The extra performance may also be related to the iPad’s new camera capabilities. Unlike the previous iPad, the sixth-generation iPad can take Live Photos and supports body detection in images along with the previously supported face detection. Also new is support for the Retina Flash feature that turns the screen into a giant flash when taking selfies.

iWork with Apple Pencil Support

If you haven’t been using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on the iPad, the latest updates may encourage you to try Apple’s iWork apps—remember, they’re available for free in the App Store. Notably, the three apps allow you to draw, sketch, and write directly within documents. Even more interesting, though, is Apple’s Smart Annotations feature, currently in beta. With it, your comments and proofing marks anchor dynamically to text, and stay with the text they were attached to even as the document changes.

Smart Annotations are particularly welcome for those who take advantage of the real-time collaboration features built into the iWork apps. This was an education event, and it’s clear that Apple is building tools that will allow teachers to mark up and comment on student documents. But the same capabilities are equally as useful in the business world. For business users, Apple also announced that the real-time collaboration features in the iWork apps now work on documents stored in the Box file sharing service. Previously they were available only for documents stored in iCloud, which has little adoption in the enterprise.

Finally, the iPad version of Pages gains features that help users create ebooks in EPUB format. And Apple added a new Presenter mode to Pages, which lets you turn your iPhone or iPad into a teleprompter for distraction-free reading.

In the end, if you’re interested in using the Apple Pencil, the combination of the sixth-generation iPad and the updated iWork apps will let you do more for over $300 less than before.


 

Print from any device

Print from any device

Where exactly is this cloud?

Sharing photos has never been easier. Finding them? That’s a whole other thing. If you feel a little lost in the cloud, you’re not alone. Ask anyone where their photos are and most will answer with some variation of, “Right here, on my phone.” Now ask where, actually, physically do they reside? Blank stare. Even the techiest of us have to pause to remember exactly which platform we captured or shared this particular photo on. Or we’ll just go with the standard answer we give our wives when they ask… weekly. “Honey, we use iCloud.” or “…Google Photos.” or …”Facebook saves them forever.” Eye roll.

So where, really, do all these pixels exist? The truth is it doesn’t matter where they’re stored. We can fetch them from any device, any platform, any time. Maybe they’re on instagram, or in your Google Drive, or in link to a Dropbox folder. No problem. We are the locksmiths of photo vaults. (Don’t worry, we aren’t breaking in!)

There are three ways to order just about everything we make. That includes prints, posters, wall art, books, cards, the works.

1.    Online from a computer.

It’s old school but that’s where most of us store the good stuff; high resolution photos from dSLRs and family portrait sessions. If they’re on a hard drive or cloud drive connected to your computer, this applies. Start at our website and choose the type of product you’d like to order. You’ll be prompted to “Add Image(s)” in a window that looks something like this.

print from any device

Choose your source and the rest is easy! We’ll even verify image quality once uploaded.

2.    Online from any phone or tablet.

If our app is compatible with your device, give it a try! Otherwise continue in your device’s browser and you’ll see a box similar to the one above. Once uploaded, you can crop and edit during the order process.

3.    In-store from any device.

This is your best option because our experts can help every step of the way. Getting pictures from your phone into one of our kiosks is as easy as plugging it in. Just like your camera card or USB drive, the kiosk will find all the pictures on your device and then you can choose the ones you want.

If you need only a few images, you can choose them first on your phone and send them wirelessly to the kiosk, like AirDrop®!

What if they’re not on your phone at all? No problem. Our kiosks connect to every web service above. Once your order is complete, the secure connection is closed.

Print from any deviceI’m everywhere. All the time.

Your photos will probably never all be in one place. Don’t let that stop you. Here’s an example. I wanted to make a photo book for my wife’s birthday. I had some family portraits that the photographer shared with us in Dropbox. I knew that about 20 of her favorite memories from the year are posted on her Facebook page, and the rest were on my phone.

I walked up to the kiosk with only my phone in my pocket, selected the book design I wanted and clicked “Add Photos.” A list of local and online sources appeared. I clicked the Dropbox icon, entered my username and password, found the folder from my Photographer and chose her favorites. Once they were uploaded, I clicked  “Add Images” again. This time I chose the Facebook icon and entered my username and password. But wait, the photos were posted in my wife’s account, not mine. No problem! Facebook shows you images posted by you and your friends, organized by person. I navigated to my wife’s shared photos and selected about 25 of them. The kiosk put them in the same bucket as our family portraits and I went back to “Add Photos” one more time. This time, I selected wireless device as my source. The kiosk directed me to a webpage on my phone where I selected the images I wanted transferred. This can also be done with an app.

Once uploaded, I had images from all three sources in one bucket. The whole upload process took about ten minutes. I spent a bit longer customizing my book before placing the order.