iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, How do they feel in your hand?

Sep09

Apple announced the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus today. You can read and see the announcement at apple.com and the many other news sites. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7 inch screen and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5 inch screen. My question is “how do they feel in my hand?” and “Will it fit in my pocket?” I thought of drawing out the full dimensions of both new phones, but fortunately ArsTechnica beat me to it. They made a template with both of the new iPhones and the iPhone 5 which you can print out (be sure ‘fit to page’ is not selected). So until the 19th when both iPhones are released, you can at least have a better idea of how each of them feel in your hand and how they fit in your pocket.

Brighten your podcast day with Overcast

Aug14

Overcast is, at least for my purposes, the best podcast listening client for the iPhone. Created by Marco Arment, original author of Instapaper and The Magazine, Overcast is opinionated software. The application reflects Marco’s ideal as to what constitutes a perfect listening tool rather than trying to be all things to all people. Fortunately for me, Marco’s opinions (on this topic) largely coincide with my own.

The Overcast interface is clean and simple

Overcast allows you to create smart playlists—a feature common to many podcasting clients—and to reorder episodes within those lists at any time. Unique to Overcast is the ability to define priority podcasts within the playlist. So MacBreak Weekly and John Gruber’s The Talk Show rise to the top of my all unplayed list whenever new episodes are released.

Favorite shows get the VIP treatment and are sent to the head of the queue

Marco developed his own audio engine for Overcast, enabling two special features, Voice Boost and Smart Speed. Voice Boost normalizes the level of voices—makes them all the same volume—allowing you to more easily hear less-than-perfectly engineered podcasts under less-than-ideal listening conditions. Earlier this week I was listening to a show in which one of the hosts was talking from across the room, well away from the microphone. Driving down 494 with the windows down and the sunroof open, I had no problem following the conversational flow, and I didn’t have to crank the volume up on the car stereo.

Smart Speed intelligently reduces the natural pauses in speech, compressing the length of a podcast in a way that sounds very natural. This is Apple’s playback at 1.5x speed feature done right, and after only a week or two, I can’t imagine going back to listening to podcasts in real time.

You can set preferences for Smart Speed and Voice Boost on a show-by-show basis

One of the downsides of not using Apple’s audio engine is losing access to the built-in streaming tools. Overcast is currently download only. It also won’t work with video podcasts; this is a listening tool.

Overcast uses its own web-service sync engine, so you will need to register for a free account before using it. Although the app is currently iPhone only, it can be used on an iPad, or you can access your podcasts on the iPad or Mac using a web app.

The web app looks a lot like the iPhone App

Overcast is free to download, but there is a single-in app purchase to enable unlimited playlists and remove a time limit on Smart Speed and Voice Boost. Many will find the free version useful, but if you try to listen to a lot of podcasts regularly, Smart Speed alone is well worth the upgrade cost.

If you’re interested in the backstory, Marco has written extensively about his development vision and process on his blog at marco.org. He has also spoken at length about it on episodes of Debug, The Talk Show (Part two of that discussion is here), and in several episodes of The Accidental Tech Podcast that he co-hosts with John Siracusa and Casey Liss. Of course, the best way to listen to Marco’s musings is using Overcast.

 

On the road with the new digital hub

May20

In my last post I mentioned an upcoming photo safari. (Anytime you’re driving a classic Land-Rover it’s a safari!) I’ll fly to Denver. Catch a regional light rail to a Park-n-Ride, then hike to a motel where I’ll meet up with Bill, my partner in Land-Rover/photo atrocities for 18 years. From there we’ll drive—slowly—to the Grand Canyon, stopping to take photos and add oil along the way. After that we’re off to Vegas to catch Penn & Teller and keep the party goin’ until my return flight the next day. EZ-PZ. What could go wrong?

I believe in the Pack Light, Go Fast mantra. I won’t be lugging a MacBook along with me; The iPad will provide entertainment, communication and information while serving as my photo bank and digital darkroom. I thought others would be interested in my workflow for backing up, editing and sharing my photos from the road.

I use micro four thirds cameras and my iPhone 5S to capture images. I’ll write more about the MFT gear in an upcoming post. First I’m going to outline the iPhone, iPad and the apps that I use.

I’ve been an iPad user from day one and was soon convinced that I would use the device as a laptop replacement. I’ve always outfitted myself with the top of the line iPad—maximizing the memory allows ample room for photos, videos, books, comics, and music. My current iPad Air is the 128GB-Verizon version.

I choose the the cellular equipped models even though I don’t turn on mobile data very often. $24.95/night for wifi? No thanks. Oh, the promised free wifi isn’t working tonight? No worries. Either way, I’ll provide my own. If I don’t use it? Then like ketchup in a French restaurant, it’s just nice to know its’ there. Besides, I do use the GPS—only available on the cellular equipped models—for mapping and navigation.

My iPad is protected by a rooCASE Origami. I carry an eCase waterproof envelope in case of wet weather or extreme dust. I’m considering a Pelican Progear vault for adventure travel, but I don’t think I’ll be getting it in time for this trip.

Gear fetishists will appreciate that my luggage is by GORUCK. My daily carry/camera bag is a GR Echo backpack that easily accomodates my camera gear, iPad & accessories along with other travel essentials—like a Source hydration bladder. My clothes and other kit are stowed in a GR2. It meets the airline carry-on requirements (unfortunately, my hiking staff/monopod does not) and its little sister Echo slips into the front compartment so I carry only one bag on my back.)

Author using iPad resting on backpack

The GR2 and Casemate Origami serve as a makeshift desk

An Anker 5-port USB charger provides a single-Plug source for charging iPad, iPhone, Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker and other USB devices. For redundancy and field use there’s an Apple iPad charger and a Griffin car charger in my ruck. On this particular journey, the Land-Rover has been equipped with several USB ports for charging on-the-move.

I bring along an Apple Wireless Keyboard that travels in a Casemate Origami case. The keyboard generally stays back in camp during the day. It won’t go into my EDC ruck unless my plan includes an all-night writing bender in a local tavern.

I often (though not on this trip) carry an AirPort Express to extend and bridge networks and an AppleTV to stream my own content to a TV screen.

That’s the basic set up. I’ll outline my backup workflow in the next installment, Images in the bank.

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