iPhone App of the Week: Living Earth – Clock & Weather

Living Earth for iPhone

Who doesn’t like great iPhone apps? At iPhone Insight we definitely do. With that in mind, we offer up a quick review of an excellent iPhone app published here each week.  Check out all out picks below and you’ll soon have a collection of stellar apps for your favorite phone.

This week’s pick is Living Earth – Clock & Weather, by Radiantlabs, LLC  Living Earth is a completely new perspective on time and weather. Living Earth presents a stunning live 3D simulation of our planet with weather, forecasts and world clock for cities all around the world. In addition to your location, you can view the Earth from any perspective using a variety of different real time weather maps of current and forecasted conditions.

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My Experience with the W1 Chip in the Beats Solo3

I didn’t pick up an iPhone 7 after its announcement, but I was still quite excited by the announcement of the W1 chip that’s going into the AirPods and other Beats products. Bluetooth devices with the W1 chip have a few interesting features:

  • they’re more power efficient
  • they fast-charge, a few minutes can get you hours of battery life
  • you can pair them with an iPhone by just holding them near it and tapping on a prompt
  • once paired with an iPhone, W1-equipped headphones will auto-pair with all Apple devices via iCloud

This last point really got me excited, and that was the bit of Apple Magic I’d been hoping to see. I’ve been using wireless headphones for about two or three years now (first with the Sony MDR-10rBT and then the Jaybird Bluebuds X), and I really can’t go back to using wired headphones on-the-go. I’ll use them at home, but I’ve become spoiled enough that the wires are insufferably inconvenient when I step outside of my house.

I know that wireless still costs in terms of sound quality, and I’m very willing to make that tradeoff, but there’s a limit to that. I bought the Beats Solo3 soon after they came out. They were hilariously expensive at $380 CAD (including tax), but I really wanted the convenience that Apple was touting with the W1.

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Quick Look: Martian Notifier Smartwatch

Martian Notifier Smartwatch

So this caught me by surprise.  A few weeks ago on our sister site–iPad Insight, we ran a promo deal for a smart watch called the Martian Notifier.  Weird name, I know, but something about it caught my eye.  It was a good looking, sporty watch, and is still on sale for 76% off.  Even if it wasn’t a smart watch, $30 is not a bad price for a respectable time piece.  It comes in 3 colors–black, white and red.  In addition, you can also choose from an assortment of replacement bands to swap out–also on sale ($10).  It took a little over a week for it to be delivered, and to my amazement, I was counting down every day until it arrived.  I haven’t worn a watch in well over 5 years.  However, with the release of the Apple Watch, especially the Series 2 version, I was seriously considering expanding my collection of Apple products to include a smart watch in the very near future.  This Martian Notifier seemed like the perfect test case.

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Quick Look: Air Video HD for iPhone

My iPhone 6S Plus makes for an excellent mobile media machine — the trick is getting my media onto it. I use Netflix a good 80% of the time, but I’ll occasionally want to re-watch my own library of movies and ripped DVDs, and Apple doesn’t present a very easy path go sync those to the iPhone. AirDrop seems like the easiest way to quickly throw files onto the iPhone, but iOS 9 and 10 have a weird habit of sending videos straight to the Photos app, which really doesn’t provide a very good playback experience. The controls are all tucked into the corners of the interface, and Photos doesn’t bother to remember where you left off in a video.

I first looked to Infuse to provide my mobile media solution because it looks great and plays basically any file I can throw at it. Unfortunately, Infuse also has issues getting files from my Mac and onto the iPhone. I used to be able to rename my .mp4 or .mkv files as .Infuse files before transferring them over, but this no longer seems to work on iOS 10. Every video sent over AirDrop is placed in the Photos app.

This change has led me to rediscover an old favourite from the App Store: Air Video HD. Air Video HD is awesome because it has a lot of flexibility for media: I can stream things locally on my home network, online over LTE, or download things to my iPhone for easy offline playback. The best part of Air Video HD is that it makes each of these things very, very easy to set up. All it takes is a good 5 minutes of configuration and you’re pretty much ready to use it. Continue reading

Review: SurfacePad for iPhone 6S Plus

SurfacePad for iPhone

One of the most appealing characteristics of iPhones in general has been their design.  They are crafted with the utmost attention to detail and precision, using materials and design techniques that further solidify their distinction as beautiful industrial art.  For most, all this changes the moment they open their new iPhone box and slap a, protective case on it.  That’s not for me–but to each their own.  It makes perfect sense to want to protect your investment and keep it safe from the accidents that can occur throughout an average day.  Phones fall out of pockets, and they can become scratched and damaged from your keys  and and other items they come into contact with.  In addition, not everyone wants to pay extra for the additional Apple Care+ like my colleague, Thomas thoughtfully chose to do, and many people keep their phones for 2+ years and want to make them last.

For those of us that want a solution that falls somewhere in between, there is The SurfacePad for iPhone from the awesome folks at Twelve South.  The SurfacePad is a great solution for the problem of having to choose between a thick bulky protective case, and nothing at all.  With the SurfacePad you get the convenience and protection of a minimal, traditional folio case without all the bulk.

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My AppleCare Experience With a Replacement iPhone 6S Plus

The headphone jack on my iPhone 6S Plus stopped working recently. I can’t really tell how long ago it broke because I listen to Bluetooth audio most of the time, but I noticed that plugging speakers directly into the 3.5mm jack did absolutely nothing. Audio would still play out of my iPhone’s speakers, and the volume display didn’t change to show “Headphones” instead of the word “Volume” (which is what’s shown when using iPhone speakers). I’m outside of my initial year of coverage, but the 6S Plus is the very first iPhone for which I decided to purchase AppleCare.

The package cost me an extra $169 when I bought the iPhone, but it extended my warranty for another year, and also provided cheaper replacements in case of accidental damage. I wasn’t able to book an appointment with Apple in advance, so I just took my chances and walked into the Apple Store at the Eaton Centre on a Saturday afternoon. Their initial estimates was a 70-minute wait, but I ended up getting to a specialist in just 20 minutes.

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