All posts by Thomas Wong

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

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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Another Look at Money Pro for iPhone

I’ve already written about Money Pro on our sister site, iPad Insight. It’s been my main finance app for over a year now, and even after all that time, I’m still learning to use all of the features in this $5 app. My goal is simply to adhere to a monthly budget by recording all of my expenses. I’ve pre-set all of the income from my salary, and already put aside whatever I’d like to put towards savings, so Money Pro only involves the money that goes towards rent, food, and fun stuff — the monthly expenses, really.

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On Returning to the Official iPhone Twitter App

I don’t tweet a lot, but I do check Twitter on a daily basis to catch up on news. I’ve used Tweetbot for years and have been very happy with it, but a recent convo with a friend got me to try the official Twitter app again — and I’ve been quite surprised by how good it has become. Twitter’s official app is in much better shape than Facebook’s own mobile app.

Rich Tweets

One of the first things I noticed in my return to Twitter’s app is how it treats links within tweets. Whereas Tweetbot will expand most links, Twitter seems to expand all of them. I’m liking this change right now because it makes my feed feel a little more rich, and an interesting hero image can compel me to visit a webpage more often than 140-character description.

The downside to this is that it can take a lot longer to scroll through my feed. The whole list is long because most of the people I follow will link to articles or images. I’ll have to see which I prefer over the long term: occasional bits of media and a lot of text, or a timeline that’s littered with text and rich media.

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Quick Look: Sena Burnished Magia Wallet for iPhone 6S Plus

In the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with the idea of placing my iPhone 6S Plus in a wallet case. My previous favourite on the iPhone 4S was the TwelveSouth BookBook, but as lovely and durable as that case is, it’s a little bit too large for my tastes with a 6S Plus. I wanted something slim, but which could still help me keep 3 cards + cash on-hand. After a bit of research, I decided to pick up the Sena Burnished Magia Wallet while it was on sale for $30.

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Switching Back To Spotify, Thanks To The Family Plan

Ok, so that was fast. I can admit that. Just last week I wrote about how much better Apple Music had gotten with iOS 10, and my thoughts on the service itself haven’t changed all that much. However, my feelings about Spotify’s services changed quite a lot during this past week when they greenlit Spotify Premium for Family to go live in Canada. For $17 CAD (including tax), the plan can support up to six people at the same address. Spotify doesn’t seem to enforce this strictly, but that’s what the policy says, and it’s likely a part of the contract with music companies.

This is a big deal to me because it means I can now share music with my family, without having to link to YouTube. iMessage makes it very easy to share Apple Music songs, but I don’t know anyone else in my circle of friends or family that actually uses the service. Everyone else is on Spotify or Google Play Music.

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Apple Music: Round 2

I have to say, I’m really enjoying Apple Music this second time around. I find its UI much faster to use overall. What used to feel like navigating a labyrinth of music now just feels like managing a library of music — which is as it should be.

I’ve been using Apple Music for the past month or two, and I think I’ll stick with the service for the foreseeable future. One of the major reasons I liked Spotify so much was that it made it fun and easy to discover new music, but now that Apple Music shows related music under each song, I find myself adding several tracks per week to my library. I’ve also set both my iPhone and iPad to automatically download any new songs added to my library, so it really does feel seamless when I get home. I can put down the iPhone and start playing those new tracks from the iPad, without even having to stream anything (since the songs were already downloaded to the device in the background).

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On “Newness” in the iPhone 7

I’m sticking with my 6S Plus this year, but I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about his pending iPhone 7 Plus. We were discussing the features he was most looking forward to, and what he thought of the change in the home button from a physical to a haptic control. My friend was looking forward to the changes, but expressed something that surprised me: that the iPhone 7 isn’t new enough because it doesn’t have a dramatically different physical design.

I have trouble with this aspect because, to me, the iPhone has always been about what it enables me to do. I do like the physical design and I do still find myself drawn to the pure white front and curves on the 6S Plus, but I still see the similarly-shaped iPhone 7 — especially the 7 Plus — as a new device.

The internals have changed enough that there should be significant differences in where and how you can use this new iPhone.

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iPhone 7 and the Missing Headphone Jack

iPhone 7 no 3.5mm jack

The removal of the 3.5mm jack comes as no major surprise due to all of the advanced leaks, but it’s still a fact that will take a while for even the most die-hard Apple fans to digest. The ubiquity of the 3.5mm headphone jack has been something we’ve all come expect in electronic devices, but it’s also at odds with consumer expectations that devices should get thinner, lighter, and faster every year. Every once in a while something has to give to make space for major new features, and this time it was the headphone jack’s turn.

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