If you have ever wondered how Apple fanboys react during a typical Apple Keynote, here's a little video that shows the exuberance, wonder, amazement, and yes, even disappointment that every fanboy goes thru. Guilty as charged. Hilarious.
If the worlds thinnest iPhone 5 case is what you are looking for, look no further than the Caudabe Veil. When I say it's thin, it's THIN (.35mm). Probably the thinnest case I have ever used on an iPhone. In fact, I would have to say that the Veil is so thin, it's more like applying a matte skin to the iPhone rather than a hardshell case. The products highlights on the product packaging are:
The feel of the Veil is very similar to the Ghost Armor Matte skins that I have used in the past (review link). The matte plastic feels very nice and resists fingerprints which absolutely drive me batty when I constantly have to wipe down a case to remove them. There are specific cutouts for each volume button and the mute switch. I have always preferred cases that have individual button cutouts as I feel they add to the overall look of the case. The bottom of the Veil is completely open similar to most other snap on cases. However, the Veil differs a bit from other snap-ons by providing full protection, aside from a power button cutout, on the top of the phone.
What more is there to say? This is the absolute thinnest case you will find on the market. The Caudabe Veil is basically the un-case case. Obviously, the drop protection with the Veil is minimum to none, but will suffice in protecting your iPhone from scratching which is an accomplishment given how paper thin this case is. Full credit goes to Caudabe in getting their manufacturing process to produce such a high quality product for the iPhone.
Much thanks goes out to Caudabe for sending me a review sample! The Veil and the Wisp can be purchased on Caudabe's site for $14.99. When first released, there was so much demand for this case that Caudabe couldn't keep up. Apparently they are now back in stock. What are you waiting for? Go grab one and experience the magic of the Veil!
Caudabe Veil - $14.99 (Link)
Keeping the red theme going, I picked up an Elago S5 Breathe case for the iPhone. The snap on case is called Breathe due to the small holes around the case which gives it a distinct look. The case is a soft plastic with a special coating that Elago claims will resist dirt and smudges. The coating feels real nice in the hand and in combination with the holes gives the case a good grip.
The Breathe comes in 12 different colors and can be purchased directly from the Elago site for $24.99. As with most cases, check Amazon for better pricing deals.
A couple of nice purchases that I am really enjoying.
Everdock Duo - $69.00 - A dual charging dock for mobile devices.
Bose Soundlink Mini - $199.95 Mini Bluetooth speaker with amazing sound.
Stay tuned for my further musings on these great products.
Simple notes. Sounds appealing? If it does, then read on. There are a plethora of note taking apps for iOS including the built in note application from Apple, which syncs via iCloud to your various other iOS devices as well as to and from a Mac. Simplenote, a basic note taking application that runs on iOS (universal) and Mac, offers the basic note functionality of the Apple Notes offering but adds a few extra features worthy of consideration for note taking needs.
Simplenote is a universal app which means it run in either a native phone or tablet app UI depending on the device it runs on. But wait, there’s more! There are also Mac, Android, Kindle, and a browser (web) client. Sorry PC owners, looks like you guys are stuck using the browser client. With all of these supported platforms, the ability to sync your data across all of these devices is critical. This is where Simplenote shines. Using the app on an iPhone, iPad, and Mac, the sync was almost intantaneous and flawless. Changes on any of my iDevices were automagically pushed to my Mac and vice versa.
Simple Note excels at entering in new notes quickly and easily. The add new note button (a “+” sign) is always available in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Once in the new note screen, you can type to your hearts content.
Notes are basic text, no fancy fonts or styles or markdown formatting, and no ability to insert or attach an image. However urls to websites are supported. The first paragraph of a note is set in boldface. Pressing return to start a new paragraph returns the text to normal (non-bold) font. At the bottom of the note entry screen is a freeform tag entry box. Tags assist in categorizing notes and multiple tags can be assigned to a single note. Tags can be added or deleted from the note.
While in the note create or review screen, pressing the information button (an “i” button) will bring up a slide-up-from-bottom menu that offers several choices: Send, History, Collaborate, and a trash can, which will place the note in the recoverable trash area. At the top center of the menu is an active word count. On the top right of the menu, there is a “pin to top” option button that when pressed will pin the note to the top of your note list. Pinned notes are marked with a circle with a dot inside prior to the note title. While writing this review using Simplenote on the iPad, I pinned the review to the top of my list and watched the change sync almost instanteously over to the iPhone sitting next to my iPad.
After the Apple leather case debacle, I decided to keep the "red" theme going by picking up an Incipio Feather case for my iPhone 5S. The Feather case has always been one of the thinnest cases available for the iPhone line. The offering for the 5/S is no exception. The case is a typical snap on rear shell with open top, bottom, and control side for easy access to all jacks, openings, and buttons. The case feels extremely nice and is made of a "soft-touch" plastic. My experience with soft touch coatings in the past hasn't been very good as they tend to smudge and look horrible over time. Hopefully the Feather lasts a bit as I really do like the look and feel of the case. I picked one up in Crimson Red and is available in a total of 14 other colors. The Feather lists for $24.99 at the Incipio site, but search around and you can probably find it for much cheaper. I picked mine up at Amazon for under 10 bucks but prices do vary.
This case is a very nice choice for anyone looking to keep their iPhone slim and reasonably protected from daily bumps, bruises, and scratches.
Apple has activated iBeacon technology at most of its retails stores. The technology is based on low power Bluetooth and can push information to your phone when you enter a particular radius of a given signal transmitter. In an Apple store, a transmitter can be a dedicated device or supposedly another computer or even an iOS device.
Well it works. Earlier in the day I updated my Apple Store app and permissioned it to use my location so that the iBeacons can locate me and push relevent and targeted message to me. I walked into the Grand Central store and I received my first "welcome to the Apple store" push notification and prompted me to open my Apple Store app. The next push notification I received was when I was in the accessory section and a push notifIcation said that I could read reviews of accessories before buying. It was pretty cool. I would have liked to see more but I guess I didn't activate any of the other beacons.
This is a very exciting technology and the possibilities are endless. I look forward to visiting CitiField during the next baseball season to see how MLB and the Mets are using iBeacons to enhance the ballpark experience.
The Winter season is practically upon us so to bring in the cold weather is another installment of What's On My iOS Home Screens. There have been some notable changes in home screen apps since my last posting back in the Fall.
To case or not to case? That is the question. For myself, it has been the question for me over the years of owning an iPhone. If you take a look at many of my case reviews, you'll see mostly thin bumper-style or rear shell snap on cases for the iPhone 5 form factor. When Apple introduced the new leather "premium" cases for the iPhone 5 and 5s, initially I had no interest in using one. However based on the chatter of some on my Twitter feed I decided to purchase a leather case in my favorite color, Apple's (PRODUCT) RED.
The Apple case is made of a leather called Aniline, a soft leather that is dyed to achieve various colors. It is very nice to hold and like most leather products feels soft to the touch. While this type of leather looks and feels nice, it happens to be very prone to color fading and wear (more on that later). Apple offers the new cases in Beige, Black, Blue, Brown, (PRODUCT) RED, and Yellow.
When on the iPhone, the case offers full protection covering the top, bottom, sides, and even a small lip on the front providing a lay-on-the-table design. Cutouts are provided for the Lightning port connector, headphone jack, and silent/vibrate switch. The headphone jack does seem pretty ample in terms of size and the types of connectors it will accommodate. The opening allowed for (obviously) the stock Apple Earbuds, the Klipsch Image S4i's, and Bose OE2i's. The opening for the Lightning connector is pretty wide as well for a full coverage case. However your mileage may vary for non-Apple connectors. If you use a non-Apple connector, I would suggest bringing it along with you to a local Apple store and ask to try it with your phone with the case on to see if it will connect properly. Desktop docks and stands that use the standard Lightning connector will also be hit and miss. I have an older generation Belkin dock at work which allows for the positioning of the connector portion of the Lightning connector to be raised and lowered accordingly so I was able to position it high enough to get a solid connection. The opening for the silent/vibrate switch was large enough for me to flip the switch without issue. The speaker grills are aligned perfectly and don't muffle the sound from the iPhone speakers.
The case covers both the sleep/wake and volume up/down buttons. My experience with using the case is that there is a great deal more tactile feedback when pressing either of the side volume buttons than pressing the sleep/wake button on the top. When depressing the volume buttons, you get a solid "click" feedback. However, that feeling is less pronounced for the top button. The feedback is there but not as prevalent as the side buttons. Perhaps this because of the way I hold the phone in my hand or the way my finger presses on the button area. Either way, pressing the top button is not as good an experience as the side buttons but in no way diminishes the ability to quickly and easily power on and off the iPhone.
Now we get to the proverbial "elephant in the room", regarding this case: wear and tear. As mentioned above, the case is made from aniline leather which traditionally is prone to discoloration and wear over time and extended use. I have witnessed first hand and thru pictures the effect of wear on the color and overall look of the case. The wearing effect is so well known that Apple has even put a disclaimer on the product info page warning potential customers that color discoloration is to be expected. To some, having a worn leather case might be sign of character, but for me it's not appealing at all. I have only owned the case for under a week so I will be keeping an eye on how well this case looks after constant daily use. There are various ways to take care of leather products but I think I'll use just warm water and a soft rag to clean any dirt off the case and see how that goes.
Overall, this a great feeling case that provides very good protection, including a nice lay-on-table front lip which does not interfere much with screen swipes. This case is very slim compared to other full-coverage cases. If you are looking for a thinner, smaller profile case, you'll need to look at the various micro snap-on shells or a thin bumper.
The Apple leather case is a great option for those who are looking for a stylish and great feeling case that offers full protection offered in a variety of colors. At $39 dollars, the case is a pretty good deal considering the quality and craftmanship for a leather case. The (PRODUCT) RED case is really nice and will look great on either a white or black iPhone 5 or 5s. My only hesitation in recommending this case is the long term ability for the case to maintain its great look with every day use. Stay tuned for updates on how the case looks after some time.
iPhone 5s Case - $39.00
Update (12/10/2013) - Its been less than a month of owning the Apple case and it has failed to live up to expectations. The wear has reared it ugly head and now the case looks terrible. I take very good care of my devices including the cases that protect them. The Aniline leather seems very susceptible to losing color on the most held parts of the case, which is the corners. Check out the picture of the case after less than a month. Supposedly, the darker color cases fair better but as much as I enjoyed using this case during the short time I have owned it, I am not spending another 39 dollars for a case that will only look good for a month-or-two.
I am an avid Podcast listener. I am am also a co-host on the iOSDocked podcast where I join 3 or 4 other guys in talking about everything Apple and iOS. Selecting and using a podcasting app is very personal choice for me, especially since I listen to various podcasts for news, entertainment, and everything in between. In the iOS App Store there are dozens of apps that will download, stream, and play back podcast episodes. I have tried many of the popular apps such as Pocket Casts, Downcast, Instacast, Podcatcher, and more. However, the Apple Podcasts app is one that I seem go back to from time to time.
Anyone remember version 1 of Podcasts? A certifiable nightmare. Bug ridden, unreliable, feature lacking, you name it, it had it. Most egregious of these bugs was the unreliable nature of iCloud sync where syncing across subscription info, playback position, etc were part of the feature set but like most iCloud apps at the time, not very reliable. However, with the release of iOS 7, Apple has released Podcasts Version 2, and it is finally the app that Apple originally intended to be. It should be noted, like many app categories in the App Store, Podcasts may not be the most feature-ridden in the podcasting category, but it is a solid contender for both casual and hardcore listeners like myself.
First and foremost, the iCloud syncing with Podcast seems to be much improved over older versions. I believe this is because Apple has improved the Podcasts app syncing code as well as made some changes to the backend iCloud sync. Setting up podcast subscriptions on my iMac in iTunes caused all the episodes to be picked up by my iPhone and iPad. Apple is attempting to allow users to listen on whatever device is convenient and have all that information ubiquitous. In my experience with the new Podcasts app, Apple is about 75% there. Syncing back and forth between my iPhone and iPad has been flawless. Episode information such as whether or not an particular episode has been played, and your listening position synced flawless between my iPhone and iPad. However, when it comes to other members of the Apple device family such as the iMac and Apple TV this wasn't the case. Hopefully Apple is able to nail down some of the iCloud sync bugs there and bring both the Mac OS and Apple TV back into the fold.
The Podcasts app has been redesigned to become fully iOS 7 compliant, and it shows. The UI, whether you like it or not, is a bright and clean representation devoid of buttons and clutter. The result is a very easy to use application that focuses on podcast listening.
There are some advanced podcast app features that are missing from Apple's app. For example, there are no custom time settings for scrubbing forward and backward during episode playback. Podcasts scrubbers are fixed at 15 second intervals while other apps offer the ability to set how much time to move forward and backward. Another glaring omission is the absence of advanced show notes and the display and support for URL links. However, Podcasts does display show notes within the Now Playing screen where as older versions required you to exit the playing screen to see notes. I do hope that Apple continues improving the show notes view as clicking on URL's can be very helpful when trying to get more information about a given topic that is discussed during a given show.
The Podcasts app now also supports iOS 7's background downloading. This feature allows the Podcast app to download episodes to the device even when the app is not running. According to Apple's specification on background downloading, an app that supports this feature receives an invisible push notification and is given the ability to run temporarily in the background to download the data. I have found that this function works well. When I launch the Podcasts app, my episodes are ready in my unplayed list and ready to play. Where this functionality does not work is if the podcast file is over 100mb which will not be downloaded due to Apple's file size limitation over a cellular connection. However, if you are on WIFI there is no limitation so downloading is not an issue. If an episode is not downloaded, it is available for streaming. The settings for performing refreshes, downloading, and episodes to keep locally are in the iOS 7 settings panel and are customizable for each podcast episode.
One of my favorite features of the Podcast app is the integration with my car stereo. The app uses a native database that stores the episodes you have on the device. That database is readable by the car stereo system which means selecting and controlling podcasts can be done using the built in car display. While most late car systems allow for BT streaming for playback and control, the ability to navigate thru podcast lists is very convenient while driving.
Overall I am quite pleased with the progress and impovements of Apple's Podcasts app. From those early bug-ridden days to a very polished (yet not perfect) application, Podcasts V2 has become a very serious contender for iOS users to consider when selecting a podcast catcher application. It has just enough features to keep both the casual and power-podcast listener happy. I hope Apple continues to support this app in terms of bug fixes and new features. For myself, I will be using Podcasts as my primary app on both my iPhone and iPad. That's a hardy recommendation coming from me considering the number of really good podcasting catching clients in the App Store.
Apple Podcasts - Universal - Free
As an avid tech fan I look forward to sharing my tech experiences both personally and professionally with those that have similar interests and passion for technology.