REVERSE Image Search on iPhone (fun and free and amazing)

This is pretty cool…

As an example save this image to your Camera Roll (my buddy is in Paris and wanted to know the name and history of this building. He had taken the photo on his phone and texted it to me.)
Then go to this website:
Tap the “Upload” button and select that photo from your Camera Roll (choose a different one if you are suspicious).
Once it does it’s thing the results are a bit subtle under a page length banner ad (they’ve gotta pay the bills).
The site does a Reverse Google Image Search — easy on desktop but a little trickier on mobile. It’s free and appears pretty secure too. Scrolling around the results page got me name of the building, history and similar photos instantly (even prettier at night).
Very likely this could be the engine for Augmented Reality glasses (remember Google Glass?) Look at building, blink twice with left eye to take pic and upload photo. Get results page with right eye. I’m sold. The photo picker currently let’s you choose Camera for “live” input but I haven’t tried that (yet).
For now I saved the page as an icon to my Home Screen (in a photo tools folder) and enjoy playing around with it. You can also use it for more practical reasons — e.g. finding a higher resolution version of photo you need for a blog post (be careful to not use copyrighted material without permission). Or screenshot a web page of an unnamed product for more info. There are endless possibilities
Just a few mobile apps in App Store but they are only web interfaces with “in-app purchases” to unlock the otherwise free features of the open web.
Thought you might find it interesting. And handy as well. Pass it on if you see fit…

Two Methods to Instantly Disable Your iPhone’s Face Recognition (or Touch ID)

If you are in a situation where you want to instantly and securely lock your iPhone there are two quick and easy methods. Both of them instantly disable Face ID and Touch ID such that the phone can only be opened manually by entering a passcode.

The first can be done stealthily but requires you to be in physical contact with your device. The second method can be done from across the room using just your voice (in the event the phone is out of your possession).

Method 1 (physical):

On newer phones (iPhones 8 and later): squeeze the right side power button and either volume button simultaneously.

On older phones (iPhone 5s to 7): click the power button five times rapidly.

Method 2 (voice):

Simply say “Hey Siri – Who’s phone is this?”

The phone will show the owner’s contact card but it’s otherwise frozen until the correct passcode is entered.

The are a myriad of scenarios where this feature could come in handy. It’s worth your time to practice each method until they are memorized and reflexive. Hopefully you will never need this information but it could be crucial to securing your personal information.

The Best (and Worst) of Samsung’s Anti-Apple Ads

Samsung has a long and problematic history of repackaging Apple’s product ideas. Even their marketing follows this tired formula. In this ad campaign they choose to loosely riff off the “I’m a Mac” campaign again shunning originality.

This series was shown on YouTube rather than broadcast TV. That’s a particularly odd choice considering most YouTube watchers make sport out of avoiding commercials. For that reason it went largely unnoticed.

This montage has roughly the same number of clever jabs as it does painful cringes. The overall effect is that these cancel out and it’s hard to tell the hero from the villain. It doesn’t help that the Android shoppers in these ads are often snarky millennials. The Apple “Ungenious” actually comes across as the more likeable albeit awkward character.

Recent consumer surveys have shown more new phone buyers are likely to switch in favor of Apple rather than Android. There’s nothing new in these ads to reverse that trend. The “Apple fans are sheeple” mantra has worn itself thin. Samsung does a decent job of bashing Apple but failed to even show their own product on the screen.

Also noteworthy that Samsung only knocks Apple regarding their hardware and costs. Market research shows, however, it’s actually iOS itself and the marriage of hardware and software that gives the iPhone the upper hand.

Check out the video here:

Everything Wrong With Microsoft (as presented by Microsoft)

This video comes from a presentation to developers at last week’s Microsoft Build 2018 Conference:

Just count how many times you cringe and multiply that by how many times you hear nonsensical engineering doublespeak. I scored it a 140. (The demo segment fails so badly that the humiliated pilot snatches his drone from midair and bolts from the stage).

Contrast that with what we’ve come to expect at Apple’s upcoming WWDC next month. Different planets. Microsoft made a wrong turn and never looked back.

NOW is the Time to Upgrade to a Lightning Fast SSD Drive

The most beneficial upgrade you can make to your MacBook or iMac is to swap your old spinning hard drive for a new SSD. Faster boot up times and instant application start ups will add new life to an aging computer. You should consider getting two and use one in an external drive enclosure for Time Machine backups or Photo Library storage.

This is the first time a spacious 1 terabyte SSD has dipped below $250. Limited time at this low price…

1 TB SanDisk SSD drive

The Case Against Using Apple’s HomePod as a Home Theater Speaker

At its recent WWDC 2017 conference Apple unveiled its HomePod speaker but was intentionally vague regarding it’s final feature set. It was promoted as an high-end audio streamer for the Apple Music catalog but little else was detailed. In the months leading to its anticipated Dec 2017 release Apple is working hard to expand and perfect features such as Siri and HomeKit integration. This left analysts and consumers to speculate regarding additional use cases for the still mysterious device. A whole-home music system akin to Sonos is a given but what about using the HomePod as a Home Theater speaker system?

Using the AppleTV to stream Apple Music to the HomePod speaker is implied in the AirPlay 2 specifications. This could be a significant selling point for both of those devices. You could view the song’s artist, title and even lyrics on the TV screen during music playback. Karaoke anyone? But this would require Siri commands to originate from the AppleTV remote which needs a physical button press for activation. It seems more likely that you’d control music playback by talking directly to the HomePod which would in turn stream lyrics and other song info to the AppleTV for display on your TV screen. Your TV screen could also display the results of Siri queries to the HomePod microphone much like Amazon’s pending Echo Show device. Expect Apple TV and HomePod to integrate closely as they are both HomeKit hubs and must coordinate to avoid conflicts.

Using the HomePod as part of a home theatre sound system while technically possible would be far from ideal. Citing a “less than optimal user experience” I think Apple will downplay any home theatre scenarios.

Potential shortcomings include:
1. Most AppleTV in use today are already linked via HDMI to an AVR receiver with wired speakers. Adding a HomePod to this setup is superfluous. Even if your AppleTV audio is currently playing through crummy television speakers using the HomePod has other pitfalls…

2. It’s critical that the center channel originates from directly behind (or below) the TV screen. This is the channel that carries most of the vocal dialog. It’s very off-putting for a character’s voice to originate from the sides or rear. That’s why sound bars are designed to sit front and center. From that position they can project realistic dialog while digitally mimicking the surround and rear speakers. Even with the HomePod’s advanced signal processing it would best be positioned under the TV for the truest dialog rendering. But it’s cylindrical shape doesn’t really fit there. SonosBose and Vizio all have properly shaped speakers with specialized audio enhancements designed just for this purpose.

3. Deep bass sounds are omni-directional and reflect well off parallel surfaces. So placement near a wall often enhances their punch. With its rather small and upward firing subwoofer the HomePod would especially benefit from this phenomenon. Even with its room-mapping technology and automatic calibration the HomePod will fare better away from the TV screen – ideally near a corner of the room for the greatest bass boost.

4. True stereo sound (not simulated) would require 2 HomePod speakers. That’s $700 in speakers plus another $150 for the AppleTV. To most consumers this seems overpriced considering a well-reviewed soundbar with subwoofer can be had for $150.  And with a 4K Roku priced at just $70 Apple is best avoiding this comparison altogether.

5. If the first generation of HomePod is well-received Apple is free to futher expand the product line.  This could include a home theater model designed specifically for the living room. And a full screen model for the kitchen?A camera equipped model for FaceTime calls? A battery operated model for the back yard? Time will tell…

Alexa is Everywhere – That Escalated Quickly

Amazon continues to pump out Alexa-enabled devices about every 3 weeks. In the last month or so we’ve seen the Echo Look and Echo Show. Today it’s the Alexa Dash Wand complete with bar code scanner and fridge magnet. Ordering from Amazon is now easier than ever – and that’s the whole idea.

The video shows frictionless ordering and seemingly instant delivery. One step closer to having your “robot butler”.

Amazon’s Dash Wand with Built In Alexa Assistant (video)

And it’s free after $20 store credit upon registration. What will they think of next?

⓱Lifestyles – We All Get Old (deal with it)

I don’t know anything about the software that allowed these videos to be created but the result is hypnotizing. Familiar faces age fifty years in a matter of minutes. It is simultaneously uplifting and angst-inspiring. 

I’ve shown these to a few people and the emotions are visceral and nearly universal…

Watching the years race by we cannot help but ponder our own aging process. We are gripped by the urge to press pause at a certain image that is youthful or charismatic. And later we pine to rewind when it’s clear the best years have passed. But instead our minds fast forward to the inevitable conclusion we all must face. And when the present day is reached and the image freezes there is relief. And an appreciation of the time that remains. Existential crisis has been averted!

It sounds a bit dramatic but watch the links below and see if you don’t feel the same. Self-preservation and body image are the most basic of instincts. It’s the human condition. Our default programming is a constant state of denial. 

We don’t often ponder our own existence because it’s so uncomfortable. But I think it’s healthy to do so once in a while. We all get old – hopefully with the same grade and dignity as these familiar folks. 

How would you feel about a video like this with your own photos? Watch a few from the playlist before you decide. 

The Amazing Evolution of Mic Jagger (most changed)

The Majesty of Jimmy Page (aged most gracefully)

Carrie Fisher Through the Years (most beautiful over 5 decades)

David Bowie is a Unique Chameleon (mesmerizing 3-D effect)