A wealth of applications on iOS – Part Two

In part one of the post you can find out about the Note taking strategies I have for creating and grabbing text on iOS

Read part one of this article

Drafts and keyboard

Saved notes – Not written

These sorts of notes are the notes where are you select some text on a webpage or in another application. It could also be a selection which is rich text including a picture or pictures. This type of note will go into Evernote. Then I will know that if I’m looking for something that I have selected and captured from wherever, I need to open up the Evernote application.

Capturing a complete webpage

On iOS it is possible to capture a complete web page and I will send that webpage to Pocket. Then what I have to do is to make a point of opening up the Pocket application on my Mac at some point in time during the week and review those captured websites. Sometimes I do forget and only go to look at Pocket after a week or two, but that’s okay.

Pocket

Other interesting notetaking applications

I have the application called ThinkBook and I would love to use it because it has such an interesting interface. I like to keep it there because of the fact that it would be great for juggling around parts of text to organise it. Truth is, I use it hardly at all. It is just nice to know that it is there if I need it. The same goes for the application Daedalus. I have a pair of applications called Terminology and Phraseology. Terminology is a dictionary type of application which works well with Drafts. Phraseology is a writer’s application which also has this thing where you can reorganise your work by paragraph or by sentence. It could be used in a similar sort of way to an outliner application. It also allows you to analyse your writing by colouring in nouns in blue, verbs in green, adjectives in red and so on. It also has detailed analysis of your writing that you can use on the inspection page. It gives you various scores on the writing as to how readable it is. You also get statistics which go right down to the average words per sentence and even average syllables per word. For that sort of analysis of writing I prefer to use the application Hemingway on my Mac. Have a look at Good and Geeky Books

IOS Camera Applications

On both the iPad and also on my iPhone I have put a number of camera applications. There are just so many of them to choose from. I have the Sony application which allows me to control my Sony camera over a Wi-Fi connection. There is the Photosphere application which I quite like to use from time to time. Then we have the applications which do specific types of photography such as HDR, Slow Shutter, Pencil camera and Hyperlapse. What I really need to do with these is to decide on a particular day to go on a photo trip and just use one or maybe two different camera apps during the day to really get into what they can do.

An application that I downloaded most recently is called VSCOcam and this is quite interesting. It is a sharing application in the same way as you have an application that works specifically with Instagram. What you do with this application is to create photo stories and you can then share your pictures out to the various social networks. Intriguing looking application and I’m still working out how to use it.

Camera Plus

Camera Plus Air SnapCamera plus is another useful application that you can use for both photos and for shooting video. It has a handy little slider at the bottom of the screen that you can use for choosing where you want the focus to be. You can also choose to have the camera autofocus for you. There is another button which you can get at, which will let you choose from macro, normal or far. Then there is the slider on the left-hand side which is your zoom and another slider to the right of the button to start the video or to take a picture which is for setting the level of the light. There is also a mode which is to stabilise your photos. If you do a tap and hold then you can lock in the part of the photo where you want to set the focus.

Another interesting facility with this application is that you can use AirSnap. You launch the Camera Plus application on two devices connected with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. I just tried this for the first time using the iPad as the camera and my iPhone 6 as the trigger. It was really easy to set up and I seem to have most of the same facilities for controlling the camera. I can get it to shoot video as well is take photos with AirSnap. I have access to the zoom, I can choose the amount of light for the image, turn the flash on or off. I can even choose whether I want to use the front or the rear camera.

Creative Audio Applications

I am delighted to be back using iOS for recording audio as it works so much better than it did when I tried recording audio with Android. An application that I recently got for the iPad is called Auria and this is a multitrack audio recording application. I had heard good reports about this application and I got it because it was available at half price and I wanted to see if it was going to work out better than using DAW Multi-Track. Either of these two applications would be very good for making podcasts and you have extra tracks to use to insert bumpers, stingers and jingles creatively. There is of course GarageBand but I find that is better suited for creating music that is for making podcasts.

If I am going to record audio with iOS and it is a single track then the application I will use is TwistedWave. This application has a good number of tools and gives a very good audio reproduction of my voice when I connect up my Giant Squid clip on microphone. At some point in time I wouldn’t mind trying out a microphone which connects through the lightning port, but for the moment this is working great. I also have the iRig microphone which is a large microphone that you have to handhold. It does have a connection that allows you to plug in some headphones so that you can monitor what you are recording. I have just ordered a splitter cable that will allow me to do similar with the Giant Squid microphone.

Making a podcast with BossJock

BossJock creating podcasts
This application works like a soundboard. You tap on one of the carts into which you have already loaded sounds and that sound will play. So you can load it up with your sound effects for your podcast and also any other pre-recorded sections. You could have an intro section for your podcast that you play straight through and then when it is finished you could just start talking to your audience by pressing on the microphone button. You can also use sound bed audio tracks to give you a background audio that will duck out of the way each time you press the microphone button. Using BossJock you can create and record a podcast performance. Have a look at the two videos that I created showing you how to create audio as backing tracks and also how to use BossJock to create an intro track for your podcast.

Utility audio applications

I just got an application called AudioCopy for moving around selections of audio from one app to another. I also have the application Audiobus and this is for routing audio from one application through another and finally to land in another app for recording. This would be an application to use if you needed to create audio with sound effects and you wanted to hear those sound effects as you recorded them. You can also send from more than one app through Audiobus towards the recording app it is directed at. Interesting app, but I haven’t been able to make a lot of use out of it yet.

Audiobus

Audio applications for listening

I have Stitcher which I don’t use an awful lot because I tend to use the application Overcast for listing to podcasts. I also have SoundCloud and AudioBoom that I can use for both creating or publishing sounds as well is listening to what other people have created.

Applications to Entertain and Inform

I have an application called iFooty which I use for getting the football scores. I have set up some favourites so that I can go quickly in to see what is happening with the Premier League Football, Championship League and the Spanish La Liga. This way I can see what’s going on with my favourite football team Barcelona and my non-favourite football team Birmingham City.

IFooty
I have two applications which are good for looking at the universe and our solar system. One is called Solar Walk and the other is Star Walk 2. Lots of interesting information about what is happening up in the sky at night. Finally, due to this app I might be able to name one or two of the constellations. Not only does it offer information about the stars, but you can get upgrades so that you can see what is happening with comets and satellites. It is not too pricey at only €1.79 to get the all in one bundle. Very educational indeed.

Solar Walk educational app
Just got my hands on another application called Text Grabber. What you do with this is to point it at some text, capture it with your camera and then do things with that text. You can edit it, have it translated or just paste it into other applications such as into a Facebook status or send it into Evernote. I just tested it and it did a half good job with some Catalan to English translation. It was very quick to do the translation and if you didn’t know any of the language, then what you got would be helpful. I will have to give it a few more tries and see how it is with Spanish translation.

I have a couple applications which are used for getting into sites that you can learn things from, such as TED Talks and Udemy. It could also be argued that applications such as YouTube fall in the same scope as education. See the Wizardgold Channel for Mac Tutorial videos. That really depends upon the type of videos that you watch. Other applications of this type could include apps such as the Guardian newspaper and also the BBC. Most of the news seems to be bad news designed to keep you depressed and unhappy. So maybe it is a better idea not to spend too much time keeping up with the bad things happening around the world. I also have a couple of mathematics applications which are quite interesting, especially Mathemagics and also Algebra Touch.

IOS applications for Life Casting

I have applications which I am trying out for life logging such as Memento, Heyday, Chronos and Saga. What these applications do is to track your movements and you can then go back into them and add more information. To a large extent, I prefer to use the application DayOne which is a journalling application. It gives me prompts to add journal posts and I keep up to date. Without bugging me too much it gives me the impetus to create new posts about what I am doing. I can add photographs and give it information such as where I am. I can choose whether I want to show my location at the time of making the journal post. Depending upon the sort of life logging you want to do and how public you want to make them, some of these applications do look quite interesting. I will be going into depth about all of these applications in the book I am writing about life logging.

Posted in iOS apps.

Pixelmator for iPad – First Impressions

Loving the iPad Air 2 For Creativity

Pixelmator for iPad

I have been very busy to set up lots of different applications on my new iPad and one of these is the new Pixelmator for iPad app. My first try at using it yesterday didn’t go quite so well as I thought it would. I was trying to open files that I had created on my Mac and I think that the problem was due to needing to wait for some synchronisation. I’m not known for my ability to be patient. This morning I am trying the application again and I managed to get into one of these files. It is a picture of a pizza that I did some work with in Topaz Impression. One of the things that was shown during the Apple event to announce the iPad Air 2 was how easy it was to delete an object from a picture intelligently using the retouch tool. So I gave this a try, I removed one of the tomatoes from pizza and I have to say that it is impressive indeed. It worked very quickly and afterward the edit you cannot tell where the edit was made. The picture still looks spot on. I have given a quick try to the painting tools and they worked very well. I can also use my Intuos Creative Stylus 2 for Apple iPad
which is excellent news.

Adding effects to your photos

I can add effects to my images and there is a whole host of effects to choose from. You can start with the standard effects that will do things like blur, sharpen, noise, hue and saturation as well is more interesting things. You can completely destroy or make your pictures interesting with filters such as Bump, Pinch or Kaleidoscope. I like the way that these controls work within Pixelmator for iPad. So if for example you are using the Bump effect you get a spot on the end of a dotted wobbly line. It looks kind of like a soap on a rope. The spot is where you want to place the centre of the effect and then there is another spot connected to that main one which allows you to say how far the effect extends. Once you have everything set up the way that you want with your effect, you click on done and hey presto the job is done.

Pixelmator for iPad effects

Completely intuitive to use

One of the best things about this Pixelmator for iPad application is that you don’t really need much help in working out how to use any of the tools and effects. All you need to do is to jump in there and play. If you don’t like what you have done, you always have the undo button to take you back a step. If you do need any help at all to work out how to do things there is a question or icon in the top right-hand corner. A quick tip matter and you see a whole load of tips appear on screen pointing to what each of the available buttons do.

Pixelmator for the iPad Artist

Using your fingers to do resize of your objects is as easy as you would expect it to be. If you do any sort of artwork whether that be creating digital drawings and paintings or working with your photographs then I have to say that this is a must have application for the iPad. There is a possibility I could be using this in preference to my previous favourite, Procreate. Without a doubt I am going to be creating some art on my iPad to post to my social network accounts.

Posted in iPad Apps.

The iPhone 6 – Our One Week Anniversary

A week with the iPhone 6

My first full day with the iPhone 6 and I felt a little bit disappointed with the amount of time I got out of the battery. I found myself wishing that I had bought the larger version which has the bigger battery and has been shown to last longer. The following day I wasn’t using the phone quite so much, perhaps down to a normal level and the battery lasted well enough. Certainly, I do need to get my hands on some sort of external battery that I can use to put a charge in the iPhone 6 quickly where necessary. I have got used to having a very large battery on the Samsung Galaxy S3. It was very good to have two or three days from the phone battery but it did make it heavier to carry and a little bit bulky. There are plenty of external batteries that can be bought for the iPhone 6 to top up to and gain extra longevity.

Overcast

Listening to podcasts

When the campsite gets quieter and there are fewer people I get a little bit bored and I need to have something to listen to. When I need to alleviate the boredom I can’t hardly download the podcasts quick enough. Whereas during the busy time I don’t have time to listen to podcasts. So the application I have been using most this week is the application Overcast. This is the podcatcher which is in vogue at the moment and this from the same person who brought us Instapaper. The application is quite simple and can be used free for the basic task of listening to podcasts. There is an in app purchase which gives a few extra features that are worth having. The first of these useful extra features is Smart Speed and what this does is to remove the longer silences in between speech. This can save you quite a lot of time overall when listening to podcasts. The other one which I find useful is the Voice Boost which somehow uses its magic to increase the volume of the audio and it does an EQ on the voice. Both of these podcast listening features are definitely worth getting hold of. Just checking the statistics for Smart Speed and it tells me that I have saved an extra four hours beyond the speed adjustments, that you can also apply to save time. With some podcasts I listen to them at 1.2 speed, this is quite handy with people who are slow talkers.

You also get the usual seek controls which allows you to jump forward by a specified amount and I have that set up at 45 seconds whether I’m going forward or going back. A feature that I would like to see in this application is the ability to set a start time for each podcast individually. There are a number of podcasts that always have 30 to 40 seconds of adverts or intro rubbish at the beginning that I would like to jump over. Being able to set a start time for a podcast would save me having to hunt for the 45 second jump forward.

Better use of some of my favourite applications

Dayone

Day One

It is, without a doubt, great to have Day One always available to quickly add journal entries. It makes it much easier if I want to take a photo and to have it as part of my journalling activities. I have also found it very handy if I want to have a photo that is coming to me from What’s App put into a journal entry, such as a picture of my grandson.

Scanner Pro

While I was over on Android I did find an application that I could use for going paperless which was pretty good. However, it is quite nice to get back to using Scanner Pro because I like the way that it works. I did have some automation setup on my Mac so that scans when they arrived in a particular Dropbox folder would be sent by Hazel App into Evernote. I haven’t got around to checking whether that still is in place. If it isn’t, then I will reinstate it and it will be great to have all of my paperless stuff going into Evernote.

1Password

1password1Password was coming to Android anyway and I had been trying out the beta versions which worked well enough. Using 1Password on the iPhone 6 is much better, because I can use the Touch ID to unlock it and get into whatever password protected apps I need to get into. Also there are 1Password extensions which are built into some applications that allow me to much more quickly get a password inserted into the website in Safari.

My productivity applications

In my book The Good and Geeky Writers Workflow the applications that I prefer to use are iThoughtsX, Cloud Outliner and Byword. The other application I have not mentioned is Scrivener and you never know there might be an IOS version for that at some point in time. In my writer’s workflow it is quite likely I will be in a situation where I only have an iOS device on hand with me, such as the iPhone 6 or the iPad. So I need to be able to use something like iThoughtsX or the Cloud Outliner to gather my thoughts together and my ideas. It’s important that these ideas are in a place where I can get at them easy when I’m back at my desktop computer. This is why I chose applications which worked as a pair across IOS and also on Mac OS X. So now that I have the iPhone 6, I can do work while mobile on my favourite mobile devices. I know exactly where I can easily get my hands onto anything that I have done. It will get even better when Mac OS X Yosemite is available and the continuity feature is there to be used. I will be able to walk in the house with the iPhone still in my hand carrying some of my marvellous ideas and I will be up to hand off that document directly into the sister application on my iMac on my office desk.

IMG 0095

Audio with TwistedWave

I thought that I would be able to start using the Audioboom application to create my little podcasts. I have tested that application on my iPhone 6 and found that it isn’t up to scratch it. So I can still use TwistedWave for recording audio and easily use it for sending to Audioboo. The way that I do that is to send it as an email from TwistedWave which gives me the audio in a format which is small enough to send even when I’m still mobile. There are times when I will wait until I get back to base and in front of my iMac where I can put the audio into Amadeus Pro and give it a little bit of tweaking. In any case, I am very much enjoying having the use of TwistedWave with all of its abilities, once again.

Twistedwave 00365

Health, weight loss and fitness

Maybe I wouldn’t be quite so interested in these sorts of applications if it wasn’t for the fact that I have lost 14 kg since February. I lost so much weight that quite a few people have been asking me if I have been ill. Maybe I was ill, but the illness was giving up biscuits. Much of my ability to lose weight has been down to using an application called Noom on the Android phone. I used it to record my weight, the amount I was eating and it also recorded the number of steps I took her day. I was also able to record other exercise such as when I was using my bicycle going to and from work. So I definitely need something to continue keeping an eye on these things in order to keep the weight off. Luckily I found applications such as MyFitnessPal, MapMyWalk, MapMyRun, Lark, Moves and the Apple Health application. Some of these applications work together feeding all of the information into the Apple health application. It is quite handy to have all of the information collated into one place. I’ll be able to lose that other 2 kg and get down to my target weight with the help of these health and fitness applications for iOS.

Posted in iPhone.

iPhone 6 Coming to David Allen Wizardgold

China is a long way away

I ordered the iPhone 6 just over a week ago and finally it was released from the factory in China to make the long journey home to David Allen Wizardgold in Catalonia. I ordered the Silver model with 64GB and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. After 16 months of working with an Android phone I deserve to be getting the best again. Before that I was using the iPhone 4 and I have even had some use out of that recently before I sold it to help pay for the iPhone 6. I got a decent price for the iPhone 4 and next year I will be able to get a good price for the phone I am getting now so I can upgrade to the latest and greatest phone of 2015.

IPhone 6 pstel

The first part of the journey 

Leaving the factory the iPhone was put in the hands of UPS. I love the tracking facilities you get and being able to see which countries the parcel goes through as it makes its way to me. As I write this I have seen the iPhone visit Korea, Almaty, Kazakhstan and Köln, Germany on its way home to me. It is looking like it will make it here to me tomorrow Monday 6th October. This is two days earlier than I thought it would arrive. It is always good to under promise and over delivery and Apple are doing just that . 

Google Maps

 A day off from work

Great that I am going to be at home to receive the parcel and if it gets to me early enough in the day I will have some time to play with it. I am thinking of giving the iPhone a name. I don;t usually name my tech, but this one deserves a name. I’m thinking that the name of one of my favourite characters fro the Game of Thrones stories would be suitable – Arya. She is the resourceful girl in the series that is a fighter and tenacious despite the trials that she has to cope with. Arya the phone will be useful and a constant companion and then again I think a better name would be Nymeria which is the name of her Dire Wolf. OK that is decide then and what a good name it is.

What do you call yours ?

When I have to give hard drives a name I choose names from book I have read and liked. I do have some hard drives named after Flintsones or Buffy characters Do you name any of your tech devices? Put your answers in the comments below.

Posted in iPhone.

NoStylus News – iPad and iPhone updates

Blogging from the iPad

My back had been making for a few hours and I really needed to go and lie in the bed, but I still wanted to do a couple of things. I often have my iPad with me when I go to bed to have a little bit of a checkup on Twitter or my email. Last night I decided to use the application Blogsy to post some blog posts I had already written using the application Drafts. The application Blogsy has a bit of a strange interface sometimes and I needed to remind myself about how things worked. I was able to get to the HTML part of the interface where I could paste in the HTML code I got from Drafts. I didn’t write it in HTML code, I wrote it in markdown and exported it out as HTML. If you haven’t used markdown yet, then I suggest you give it a try.

Using Blogsy
So I pasted in the text of the blog post and then I added a picture. I already had some pictures in my camera roll in Photos that I was able to grab and to put into the post. You do a double tap on the picture to bring up the dialogue box to adjust how you want the picture to display. I wanted to set it so that it centred upon the page and I also added some alt text and a title. I was very pleased with the way that it all worked and I was able to do what I wanted to do very quickly indeed. I am certainly looking forward to getting my hands on a new iPad in October to go with my new iPhone 6.

Adding more applications to my iPad and iPhone

I have added quite a few new applications to both my iPad and the iPhone lately. This is because there have been one or two offers that I have seen that have been too good to miss. I added Comic Life which is a handy little graphics application for making comic book images. So far I have had just a little bit of a chance to play with it and I am tempted to use it to make the front cover for my soon-to-be published book. I also added an application called MyFitnessPal. I have been losing weight since February and I have been using an application called Noom on Android. You record food input and also exercise you take. Noom is also available on iOS, but I had heard good reports of this other application, so I thought I would give it a try. I have also bought Tweetbot for the iPhone as it is the one that I have been using on my iPad. I bought the version for the Mac too and so I will have the same experience on all my devices.

Learning EstonianI have recently become a Grandad and my grandson is half Estonian. He will be speaking Estonian with his mother and so I have decided to learn some Estonian too. I found a dictionary application for translation from English to Estonian. I also found a couple of applications for learning the language. I think my daughter-in-law will be quite surprised when she hears me speak some of these words. I don’t plan to tell her beforehand and so it is going to be a little bit more of a shock.

Getting used to iOS 8

There are quite a few new things with the new operating system that I like. There are widgets that I can get in the notifications area. One such widget is the one from Yahoo Weather and it looks great in the Today area of notifications. There is also the Day One widget which gives me a graph showing the days that I have posted a journal post. It also shows a couple of random photos from the journal. The other widget that I have added so far is from the application Clear which I use as my fast to do tool. I do have OmniFocus on my iPad, but having a quick list making tool is very handy. There are plenty of other new things with iOS 8 that I’m still working out how to use. I will write about those as I find out about them.

Posted in iPad.

Getting impatient for new Apple gear

We are at this stage in the realm of stupid rumours and much talk of things that will never come to pass. It is a good time to stop listening to any of the Mac and Apple-based podcasts, at least until after the ninth of September. All of these supposedly news based Apple sites are trying to guess what Apple will come up with in the event. They are either saying over and over again things like, ‘there will be an iPhone 6′ which is a given and why bother saying it. Then there are many that are coming up with a repeat of rumours heard elsewhere such as the size of the new iPhone. There are comments about whether the two new sizes, which are only rumours anyway, will be made available at the same time. It could drive you nuts if you were to pay any attention to any of this rubbish. At the same time though, you can’t help but get a little bit caught up in it.

Swype Swype on iPhone and iPad

Going back to using just Apple

I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S3 for over a year now and I did love using the phone for the first five or six months. I loved the newness of it and the fact that it was different from the iPhone that I was using before. I find that the difficulties to upgrade the operating system is very annoying and at the moment the thing is running slow. Maybe I could sort it out with doing an update of the Cyanogenmod system. That would be a bit of a pain in the arse to do though. In particular I really liked the way that the keyboards could be swapped out and I have used SwiftKey and Swype. I liked both of these keyboards and have ended up using Swype the most. When iOS 8 comes out I will have the ability to use these third-party keyboards on my iPad and on an iPhone.There are other changes to the iOS operating system that are quite interesting. Overall, I’m getting drawn back into being an Apple user.

It is all about the applications

I have a number of applications that are only available on iOS. This is a huge reason for me to want to change to iOS and Apple and just use one mobile platform. On the other hand, I don’t really have any applications on Android that I can’t do without. I will miss using Noom as I have got quite used to using it every day as part of my weight reduction plan. It is very good for recording the food that I eat and also for keeping an eye on the amount of exercise I am taking. I am not too worried about whether I will be able to find something similar on iOS. I may get myself a Fitbit as I have tried one out for a week and found it to be a useful tool. There are apps that work with the Fitbit Over on iOS. I do have the option of using an application called Moves which is great for recording the number of steps I take per day. There will be other applications that I can use for keeping track of my weight and the food that I eat.

DayOne and other iOS apps calling me

I am a big user of Day One which is a journalling application that I really do use daily. I can also publish from Day One to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr, which is very useful indeed. Then there is the application Drafts which is a great way to capture text, notes and ideas. From drafts I am able to send those bits of text to various places from social networks to other applications such as OmniFocus. I have OmniFocus for the Mac and also for my iPad. By using the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Android it takes me away from getting the best use out of my iOS applications. I have to think about workarounds to get the flow of text from Android and into the place where I do most of my work which is on the Mac and to a growing extent, in iOS. Another application that I really like for taking to do notes is the application called Clear. It is very simple in its design, but if I want to make a quick note of something I need to remember to do it is just perfect. I think it is a much better design than the Reminders application.

Day One A simple and elegant journal for iPhone iPad and Mac

Good but not quite good enough

I have felt that to a certain extent I’m getting a second rate experience by using Android. There are some very good applications and the design of them can look pretty nice indeed. I do find though that generally the standard of applications is not quite as polished as you find on iOS. Now that IOS 8 is coming with the ability for me to use the keyboard that I like, there is not much need for me to stay with Android. It has been a good and worthwhile experiment and I still quite like using my Nexus 7. I’m not getting as much use of it as I was before an account of the fact that I have been picking up my iPad. It is good to have all of the things that I need to create my digital content or in one place.

What technology do I get next?

Initially I was thinking that I would just be getting the iPad with cellular connection, either the iPad air or the iPad mini. Now I am wondering about the iPhone 6 and I will be interested to see what price it will be to buy. Still want to have a new iPad though as I need something of that size. I might even sell the Nexus 7 I have.

Posted in iPad.

Living in Future Now – Improvements with Siri

Sci-Fi coming true

I was having a little lie down on the sofa this afternoon and checking a few emails on my iPad. One of the emails that came in had information and a link about how to get better use out of Siri. I already have some experience in using Siri to set an alarm or to tell me the time in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, but getting more help to use it is good. The information today gave me some more examples about how I could use this voice technology from Apple on my iOS devices. It is quite often the case that when you haven’t used some technology like this for a while and you go back to it, that you just can’t help but be really impressed. It really is like living in the future, but now! Changing from one application to another by telling your computer what you wanted to do is very much like what we have seen in science fiction television programmes. Sometimes what we do now reminds me very much of what I have seen in programs like Star Trek and Blakes Seven. The people of the future don’t need to have keyboards any more and are quite happy to talk to their computer almost like it was a long lost friend.

What can Siri do

Telling Siri how to properly pronounce things

I had already noticed that Siri made a bit of a botched job in pronouncing Wizardgold. It didn’t have any problems with David Allen but didn’t manage to get the last part of my Internet name correct. You only have to say “Learn how to pronounce my name.” Siri goes straight into your first name and asks you how to pronounce it. You say it, and you are then given three options as to which is the correct way for Siri to repeat back what it was that you said. If you play all three of them you will find that there are slight differences so you just need to choose the one that sounds the best. You just tap on select. If necessary you can also repeat the name and give Siri a second chance. After you have done your first name it moves on to your next name and Siri had no problems with that. Then we moved on to Wizardgold which I have added to the end of my name so that everywhere on the Internet I can be found as David Allen Wizardgold. Siri managed to get Wizard part okay, but it struggled with the word ‘gold’ in this context. When I had gone through the routine Siri told me “thanks for correcting me on that David I’ll pronounce it as ‘[David Allen Wizardgold‘ from now on.”

Letting Siri know who is who and what is what.

I said to Siri “Send message to my wife” and then I was asked to prompt Siri as to who might wife is. Siri won’t know unless you tell it specifically. I have also just set up Siri to know who my brother is – Siri asks me first who is my brother and I just had to say his name. Siri was able to get the name from my address book and asked me to confirm by wanted to have that name saved as my brother within this system. Following that, Siri said to me “okay, I will refer to (my brother’s name) as your brother from now on. Isn’t that just marvellous. So now I will be able to ask Siri to send messages or emails to my brother or my wife and it will know who I mean with out saying a name.

Get Siri to help you – All you have to do is ask!

Ask SiriHelp is available from Siri on your iPad mini just for the asking. After you have said the word ‘help’ to Siri you get a list of things that you can do. So it will tell you that you can start a FaceTime call, use Siri to launch applications, set up meetings using the calendar as well asking for directions to wherever you want to go to.

I asked Siri to tell me how long it would take me to get to work. Siri told me that she didn’t know where I worked and so I spent a couple of minutes using the maps application to add the address for my workplace into my contacts card. How long does it take to get to work is what I then said to Siri and she replied – “getting directions for David Allen Wizardgold to work. It worked perfectly and I was impressed. Just like I was saying, it is like living in the future, but right now.

Getting Siri to read things to you

‘Read my last email message’ is what I said to Siri and I had my latest email that I had received read out to me. This could be very useful when you are driving and you want to get the latest information without having to take your hands from the wheel.

You have to keep on using Siri and it learns from what you ask and it also learns from any corrections that you tell it. You, can also learn stuff from Siri by asking it for interesting information such as how high is Mount Everest. You could ask for the date of birth of somebody famous or you could just ask for the ingredients for a recipe. You can ask Siri to give you definitions of words such as “What does mitosis mean?” The definition then gets read back to you. Siri really is a mine of information! BTW I am an avid user of Dragon Dictate on the Mac too.

Siri definitions

Posted in iOS Audio.

Phraseology for iOS and Terminology for iOS

Finding out what I can do with the Phraseology application for iOS . It is not too difficult to get acquainted with what it does and how it does it. Early in the morning at the campsite job and I'm trying to get it to analyse the text for me.

Text analysys in phraseology

More text statistics

There is a button on the left side which gives you more info about the text. You get information like average word per sentence and number of sentences as well as what they call root word count. There is a Flesch Kincaid reading ease score, whatever that might be. Maybe a Gunning FOG index is what you need to be able to assess your writing or a SMOG index is what you want. Both of these are in the statistics page for you use.

This application works with the Drafts application and also with one called Terminology. I can get all of the words to be coloured by the type of word it is. If I want to see all of the nouns I have used, or how many are adjectives.

Using Markdown in Phraseology

It doesn't have the extra row of keys for writing easily in markdown, but it does have a Markdown preview mode. There really should be the basics of Markdown for creating headers and making text boldface. Maybe in a later version. There is space available for these, at least there is when you are working in landscape mode with your iPad. From the Markdown view you can send the text out by email and also get the HTML version of the text for pasting into a website somewhere.

Integration with other applications

I also bought a sister app to this Phraseology application called Terminology and it is a dictionary and thesaurus. You just have to select a word and you get options of what you can do with it. Aside from using Define word, you can jump right into Terminology from this iOS Phraseology application. When you have a word selected you can click on a small arrow to the right of the choices and get into Terminology to find a better word and replace the one selected. The integration is quite marvellous, you work out which word you want to use and have it sent right back to where you were working in Phraseology.

I tried out the integration with Drafts and it worked very well sending the text from Phraseology. It didn't work quite so well with the round trip back. I was able to use Drafts to send it back to Phraseology, but it came in as a new document. I can see this being addressed in a future version of the application Drafts.

If I want to swap around paragraphs or sentences I go to the othe view and move one paragraph around to where I want it. This could be a good application to use for outlining. This function actually works very well and I like it. In the extra row of keys you get there are buttons for moving around the text quickly which is quite handy and buttons which select text either one character or word at a time.

What a lovely view!

There are choices you can make about the text size and which font you want to use from a small selection of fonts. Sometimes it can be helpful to change the font when editing text as it makes it look like new text to the brain and helps an editor or writer find problems.

Going back in time

Each of your edits get saved as versions so that you can go back in time if you want to. You access this from a small icon that looks like a clock which is located in the top right hand corner. This is another one of those tools which is going to be very useful for an editor rather than for the writer.

Back to iOS after being an Android user.

Most of this article has been written in Phraseology, I did write one sentence in Drafts before I brought it back in. With being an Android user for some time now I did miss the keyboard facilities that I get with Android. Other than that, I did find it very nice to be working once again with iOS and my iPad.

 

Posted in iPad Apps.

One Year Later – Switch from iOS to Android

Starting on my second Android year

I got the Samsung Galaxy S3 last June and I have to say that I have on the whole been very pleased with the experience. Of course, for the first couple of months it was all new and exciting and there was work to be done to replace the Apple applications I had previously been using. There were one or two frustrations due to missing some of the functionality that I had got previously from my favourite iOS applications . Mostly it didn’t take me very long to find suitable replacements and I have to admit that now I rarely pick up the iPhone or iPad. Yes – I still have the iOS devices. There are some iOS drawing applications on my iPad that I still like to use. There is the DayOne application that I use for journalling and I am hoping that they will soon come out with a version of the application for Android.

It’s all about the text input

I do do quite a lot of writing and I have found that the methods for getting text into Android are much better than available on iOS. I started to use SwiftKey and I liked that application very much for the way that it was able to spookily guess my next word so easily . What it wasn’t so good at was, the British English dictation and so I changed to the application from Nuance call Swype . I try to dictate as much as possible because it is so much faster than typing. I find it very easy to speak in a way for the phone to understand what it is that I am saying and for it to end up being very readable on my pages. For example, yesterday I dictated 600 words using my Samsung Galaxy S3 and I was able to do that very quickly indeed. The text when it was finished only needed the usual amount of editing as I would have done if typing. This was because the application was able to get most of the words correctly and I only needed to do some slight word changes and a little bit more of grammar changes.

I bought Android applications

I had spent a fair amount of money on buying applications for iOS . This was for applications that I liked to use, some applications that I just wanted to try out and some applications that were for me to do reviews of. With Android I have bought some applications to get things done, but many of the applications that I use have been free ones. Most of the time the applications that I have bought have been the right ones to buy first off. I haven’t had to swap applications after finding that the first one I tried wasn’t the right one for me.

Android phone and tablet

Following with these successes that I had with the Samsung Galaxy S3 I decided to also get myself the Nexus 7 . It has been handy to have two Android devices to work with and I really like using the tablet the size of the Nexus 7. One of the main things that I use the Nexus 7 for is the reading of books on the Kindle application, so I am often carrying the device around the house with me to continue reading wherever. I can continue reading even when I am sitting down having my lunch. I don’t have to worry about the book closing by itself, As happens with paper books. Sometimes I will also use the Samsung Galaxy S3 for reading on the Kindle application.

Security on Android

One of the things that I am interested in is the Pretty Good Privacy cryptographic method of security. I am also interested in using encrypted e-mail by using certificates. It is very easy to get a certificate on the the email client client on iOS, but I haven’t found it so easy with the Android mail. I don’t really need to send unencrypted e-mail often, so I don’t worry about it too much.

For some time I didn’t have access to 1Password for creating, storing and managing passwords, but now there is a new version for Android which is working very well. I did try another application for managing passwords but I need something that will synchronise with the 1Password app that I have on my Mac and iOS.

Some people worry that Android is not as secure as iOS and users are likely to get hit by malware, personally I don’t have a problem. So long as you use software from reliable, trusted sources you will probably be OK.

What do I miss of iOS

Not a lot actually. As I mentioned I have the art apps such as Procreate and Art Studio that I will use on the iPad from time to time. Apps like Blogsy for the blogging, Byword and Editorial for writing and linking up with iCloud. Drafts on iOS is so much better than the Draft Android app, it does so much more and had changed the way I worked with text on iOS completely. At least we have Dropbox for the easy movement of text from one platform to another.

Android is completly rubbush for editing video, so I do miss iMovie for iPad and also Pinnacle Studio. Not yet found a video editing app for Android anywhere near as good. I will keep my eyes open for a vide app and it will perhaps happen one day.

My Twitter app on Android is not as good as Tweetbot. I have been using one called Carbon, which is OK but I would like be able to have a light background with dark text. My eyesight doesn’t work well with the text the viewed the other way around.

Having all my Apple stuff working together is nice but it is workable to be sliding between platforms. I would be using Omnifocus more if there was an Android version. So I do miss the iOS version of that get things done app. I don’t miss much and I find more that I get annoyed by iOS and the way it works and that is what keeps me on Android. The alternative keyboards on Android are amazing and I miss the soft back button on Android when I use iOS. If iOS had Swype or SwiftKey I could go back.

Mobile Audio Editing

iOS wins on this one. Android has the AGC Automatic Gain Control which messes with my audio recording. It is still usable but I have to work a bit harder to set up the mic right so I don’t record too hot and clip the audio. Audio Evolution Pro on Android is OK but I prefer to use Twisted Wave on iOS. I often carry the iPhone with me just so I can use it with my Giant Squid lavalier mic. I miss other audio app such as BossJock and the iOS version of AudioBoo. I have got a workflow to record audioboos on Android in Audio Evolution Pro, convert it in Media convertor to MP3 and send to Audioboo by email. I can do whatever audio editing I need to do and it works pretty well.

The fan boys are fighting it out!

Just lately I have noticed on one or two of the social websites that there is animosity between the Android fan boys and the Apple fan boys. Both sides of the fence have admirable qualities in terms of usage of their system and when it really comes down to experience, there is no huge amount of difference. The Android people complain about the closed system of the Apple experience and while there is some truth in this it is not absolutely set in stone true either. There are lots of different settings that you can work and play with in the Apple system that make it link up to hardware, software and systems outside of the Apple universe. The Apple people say that the Android operating system is not as secure to use and is not as well defined or as easy-to-use as is the Apple way of doing things. Once again there is some truth in it, but not the complete truth. As far as I know I haven’t had any problems with my Android security, but then I tend to get all of my Android software from reputable sources.

I did see recently that a one time fan of the Android devices defected back over to Apple and the iPhone and while doing so complained about the Android fan complaints. He cited this as being a reason why he was going to stick with Apple. This seemed to be a little bit silly as far as I was concerned because both sides are just as bad as the other. I think it is more important to see which side of the fence works better for you and run with it. If it is possible to do as I am doing where you are working with Android and Mac together with a little bit of iOS thrown into the mix also, then you can have the best of the all worlds.

Will I stay with Android

Right now that is yes for sure. I need the better keyboard of Swype or SwiftKey. I am also stuck with another year of paying for the Galaxy S3 to the phone company anyway. The Nexus 7 is working great and is a delight to use. It was a great price and for me better value for money than an iPad Mini would have been. A very good thing about having the Nexus 7 is the fact that I get the OTA updates to the operating system quickly and I don’t have to resort to using something like CyanogenMod as I did with my Samsung Galaxy S3. When you do something like that then you also have two go through the process of doing the rooting which can sometimes be a little bit technical and daunting.

I do still sometimes wish I hadn’t been tempted away and was still with both feet in the Apple and iOS camp, but it works for me the way I am doing it now and I am happy enough overall with sliding in between Android, iOS and Mac OSX. I get done what I have to get done with what I have.

Read a bit more about my change to Android

Posted in iPad.

Using technology to help with weight loss

Noom Weight loss

There is nothing like technology to get me into the swing of things. Whatever that might be! I have been using an application called Noom Coach which I found out about because I have been using the application called Noom which is a pedometer, step counter. This application Noom Coach/ Noom Weight Loss is basically a sort of weight loss program and it has you doing things like recording what you eat and the exercise that you take. It also gives you a number of articles with information designed to help you and encourage you to lose some weight. There Are Android and also iOS applications available. I certainly do need to lose a little bit of weight and I found this out by stepping on some weighing scale while visiting my son in Ireland. This is where the other bit of technology comes in, in the form of analysing weighing scales. These fancy, wonderful and weird weighing scales measure not only your weight, but also your body mass index BMI, your body water percentage and your body fat percentage. Fantastic or what?

Once a week on the scales

Without having any scales and not knowing how much I weigh, it was going to be difficult to get some control over my weight. Now the plan is to use the scales I have bought, once a week and to record the results. I have already set up a Google docs spreadsheet and hopefully after a month or two I will start seeing some evidence of results. As it stands at the moment I am overweight, although not by a huge amount and fortunately I don’t get anywhere near to the category of obese. It must be all of the dog walking that I do every day of the week.

Beating the steep hill

Not only do I expect to be taking more exercise with going out on my electric bike. The electric bike is there for encouragement so that I will use it on a daily basis. It is better than having a bike that sits in the garage not getting used at all, because I can’t face the very steep hill which is the last part of the journey to get back home. I have cycled up this steep hill with the electric bike a couple of times and even with the assistance of the electric bicycle it is still steep enough to require me pedalling a fair bit to get to the top.

Getting some exercise with an electric bike

The other thing about having electric bike is the fact that during the summertime I expect to use this bicycle on a daily basis to get to and from work. I have worked out that it takes me half an hour to use this bicycle to get to work instead of the 15/20 minutes that it takes by car. With the assistance of electric power I will be able to get there and not be all sweaty and still be there on time. After a day working at the campsite being on my feet for most of the time it is not going to be too bad cycling the 15 km back home again. In fact during the summertime when it is the busiest period in the holiday town where I work by the beach, it will be a definite advantage to be on a bicycle. I could even be able to get home quicker if I have to travel back home on a Sunday evening during the peak period.

Dealing with the intake of food

Noom Coach

I have already cut by half the number of biscuits that I eat. I could cut them out altogether but you do have to have some fun in your life. Wherever possible I try and cut down the amount I have on my plate with my other meals also. By using the application Noom Coach and recording what I eat, it also works out the calorie intake approximately; this is quite helpful. The application gives me a recommended intake of calories per day and it also gives me some indication of the qualities of the foods I am eatting. So fried foods would be on the calorie indicator in red, some foods will be showing up with an orange marker and the better foods show as green.

Going pro costs money

There is a pro version of this application Noom Coach, but I don’t expect I will be paying the $9.99 as a monthly fee to get it. The free part of the application is more than enough for me at the present time and I have to say that I quite like the application. I might have a look and see if there are other applications which do a similar thing to see if I can make a comparison with regards the features that they offer. Do you have a favourite application that you use for checking up on your health?

Posted in Android.