4 great apps for iPhone in 2020

A review by Glen Lowe

Apps are what set iPhones apart, and the hundreds of apps have uses ranging from maps, reading, weather forecasts, photos, drawing, videos, office tasks, music, or entertainment. There are always new apps coming up, and while many of them are free, others you have to pay for. 

The paid apps often work much better than the free ones, and most often, the paid version is an upgrade of the free version with more features unlocked. If you don’t have an iPhone, or you are planning to buy one, it is worth your while to check out the many apps iPhone has to offer. 

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How to get what you lust after

The RHA T20i in-ear monitors with microphone: for Apple.

A review by James T Ormiston (MacJim)

rh01 239x300 How to get what you lust after

Some weeks ago I managed to launder my Shure SE315 earphones by leaving them in my jacket. While it wasn’t the best idea at the time, it gave me a reason to finally purchase a new pair of earphones I’d been lusting over, ever since I’d bought my Bluetooth RHA MA390 earphones.

It was the sound quality of the MA390’s that had made me want to buy the T20i wired earphones, but because I had a perfectly good pair of earphones in the form of the Shure SE315’s, I knew I couldn’t justify spending the money until that moment. You can imagine my horror when I realised what I’d just done after pressing the power button to begin the wash cycle – but there was nothing I could do but wait until it had finished. Fifteen minutes later, the beep, beep, beep rang out, and that was my cue to open the door, recover the earphones and leave them aside to dry out in the hope that they would still be working after their ordeal.

Well, a day or so later, I plugged them into my iPhone and pressed play to see if it was my lucky day… it was not. The left earphone was completely dead in the water, or so it seemed: but hold on to that thought.

So with the diagnosis “confirmed”, I went back to the RHA website to see if those beautiful T20i earphones were still available, and yes, they were and as luck had it they were being discounted due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help boost sales.
With a new account made, I managed to get a discount code which, when added to the already decent discount brought the price down from the £149.95 they should have been, to a really sweet £79.96.

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Apple Fan Tries Out Amazon Echo Dot For The First Time

As an Apple fan of course I’ve coveted the Apple HomePod and whilst it’s an expensive smart speaker, that’s not the only reason one hasn’t made it into my household.  Nothing much as happened with the HomePod since it’s release and HomeKit products are scarce, those which do exist seem to be disproportionately expensive when compared to Amazon Alexa compatible home automation equipment.

So I’ve dusted off my Amazon Echo Dot to give it a try and see if Alexa, despite all the privacy issues, can convert me away from my Apple idealism.

Originally this was supposed to be a plain ol’ run of the mill review but it’s ended up as more of a voyage and discovery of setting up and using the Amazon Echo Dot v2.

Auslöser: Trigger 

A Short Review
by James “MacJim” Ormiston

Over the years, I’ve bought many different photography magazines, and many have either withered and died or became very different from what they were when I first read them. It’s truly amazing what a new editor can do for the future of a magazine as he or she stamp their mark on the product. Some were very successful, for a time, bringing in more and more new readers to the fold but in making those changes chased away many of the older stalwarts that help keep the magazine afloat. 

I myself have seen this happen many times where a new editor has made the changes that finished me with that magazine, or due to some daft ideas that the publisher has had, such as turn the magazine into a bi-monthly one, was a sure sign that all was not well: one such magazine was Professional Photography magazine where the publisher did exactly that. Then it began to miss the publication dates, sometimes by almost a month, or could only be found through an online seller, I knew this was a signal that that magazine was soon to die: which it did finishing with a strange compendium of old stories. Other magazines became what I’d call coffee table magazines where they were visually impressive, but were filled with tutorials, and very light on product reviews and interviews with professional photographers. Nowadays I read three photography magazines; one a dead tree issue, Cameracraft magazine (out four times a year), and two PDF-only magazines; Fuji X-Series and FujiLove both of which are monthly issues. Auslöser Page 1 Image 0001 Auslöser: Trigger 

I can’t remember how I came across this magazine, Auslöser (German for trigger), it may have been through an email from someone but I thought I’d check it out. A search online found the site for the magazine, I clicked the link and discovered it’s been out for almost a year and was now at issue two… No, you haven’t misread, issue two as it is a biannual magazine. Having no idea what to expect from this magazine; was it interesting to me? Would it fulfil my needs in photography?  Could it replace Professional Photography magazine as my go-to read? and is it worth the cost as its not an inexpensive purchase? 

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Is the iPhone 11 Really Worth Buying?

An article by Ralf Llanasas

Apple’s new iPhone lineup has hit the market

Apple launched the new iPhone lineup on the 20th of September The iPhone 11;

  • iPhone 11 Pro and;
  • The iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The iPhone 11 lineup changes the 2018 design and revises some features. They also come with some first-seen specs, such as the coveted A13 bionic chip and Apple’s latest operating system – iOS 13.

For Apple consumers across the globe, the new iPhone simply means their current device is due for an upgrade. This seems to be the case every year since the Apple brought the first iPhone to market. There has been a staunch following, a fan base of some sort, finding it necessary to upgrade their iPhone device whenever a new lineup is launched.

According to Statista, individuals who utilise iPhones are more likely to upgrade their mobile devices than any other mobile phone user.However, whilesome consumers are simply enamored by the prospects of owning the latest iPhone,many more are becoming wary of spending hundreds– even thousands –of dollars for what often turns outto be inconsequential upgrades to their former iPhone devices.

For those wary consumers, the following question needs an answer: Is the iPhone 11 really worth buying? We can’t make a decision for you, but here’s a close look at the facts.

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Non Plastic Beach Non-Electric Toothbrush

A review by James Ormiston (aka @MacJim)

In this world of powered tools that require all kinds of plugs, connectors, adapters and cables, it’s nice to see products that are free from all of the above. Take my non-electric non-electric toothbrush, by Non Plastic Beach it has zero ports, no plugs and no adapters and it can’t stop working due to a firmware not being available down the road.

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Hey Babe, Take A Walk On The Dark Side

A review of the Nokia 7.1 with Android One by @RobRait

I am an old git, in my mid-60s with aged eyes that are struggling to see the tiny screen on my iPhone 5C unless I dig out my reading glasses. I had half decided I wanted one of those new-fangled phones with a big screen but couldn’t justify spending much money on a new one as the old phone still worked.

My iPhone 5c just died. As the 5C has little value (Apple would give me a fiver for in in p/x against a 10R) its not worth repairing it. So, instead of maybe wanting a new phone, I now needed a new phone.  I spent a couple of hours (actually many, many, many hours) scouring ebay, Gumtree, FB Marketplace and local phone shops looking for a lightly pre-loved  iPhone 7+ (if you’re going big, you might as well go BIG).

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595 Leather On Black Wrist Strap Reviewed

Just like the wrist strap, this will be a short review…

Some time ago, I decided I needed – well, wanted if truth be told – a new neck strap for my Fujifilm X-T1 to replace the third partly one that I had been using, and while I was perfectly happy with it, I felt something discrete was needed rather than the bright blue model I was using. So I searched online to see what was out there as a possible replacement, and found quite a few small companies that hand make leather straps for all models of cameras. Some, were, to say the least out of this world in quality and price (where a lottery win was needed to fund one strap!) but with further searching, I found the 595 Leather Co, a UK based company that make to order, all kinds of straps and belts at prices that won’t break the bank – I ordered a simple Black leather neck strap.

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Tech21 Anti-Glare Screen Protector

A review by James Ormiston (@macjim)

Having suffered a broken screen in the first few months of owning an iPhone 7 Plus, and splashing out £145 to have it repaired, I decided to protect my new iPhone Xr as best as I possibly could (especially due to the type of work I do for a living…) two cases and AppleCare purchased! Overkill maybe?

While I decided to go the fully enclosed case route for work use, I also didn’t want to carry my iPhone Xr outside of work in a totally armoured case either as that added bulk to the phone, I had downsized for a reason. A case, the Gear4 Piccadilly Case, was purchased (see my review here) as I felt it was strong enough to take all the everyday knocks that could, and would, happen to the iPhone, but this left me with the worry of accidentally damaging the glass screen when in a pocket.

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Gear4 Piccadilly and Oxford iPhone Xr Cases

A review by James Ormiston (@macjim)

Initially I had no intention of buying a new iPhone as the prices were exorbitant compared to the cost of my iPhone 7 Plus. That had been an expensive purchase, but it was made easier at the time by taking advantage of the Apple finance deal paying it off over twenty months, but with these new iPhones costing well over a grand, I decided to hold off renewing.
It was obvious to me that Apple had overstretched themselves on the pricing of the new iPhones, the X, XS and XS Max, had crossed into territory that made it impossible for many to reach into, losing Apple customers… but wait, along came a ‘short term’ deal from Apple that made it possible to buy a new iPhone and downsize from the really too big iPhone 7 Plus to the Xr for as ‘little’ as £499… at the time of writing, that deal was still available in the middle of March.
As my iPhone 7 Plus was valued at the maximum allowing me to take advantage of this deal, I jumped at the chance especially as the cost was reduced even further due to birthday and Xmas money, bringing the purchase of the phone under £300. Although this was a ‘cheap’ purchase to me, I didn’t want to find myself in the same situation as I had been with my iPhone 7 Plus, where I broke the screen within the first few months, costing me £145 to have it repaired at Apple.
So what to buy to protect this phone? First of all I bought AppleCare to ease the cost of new screens if I managed to break either of them.Then I began to search online for a case but this initially proved fruitless, but a wee wander into Glasgow proved worthwhile… Thank you Carphone Warehouse!

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Luminar Flex (Luminar as a plug-in) by Skylum Software

A review by Donny Yankellow (@rtteachr)

If you enjoy editing photos on your Mac, but Photos is not enough power for you, and you don’t like having to use an external editor to edit photos in, Luminar Flex might be what you are looking for. It has the power of Skylum’s Luminar in an extension that can be used in Photos. If you prefer Photoshop, Lightroom, or still use Aperture Luminar Flex installs a plugin for those apps too (yes, it even supports Aperture!).

Flex is very easy to set up and use for the most part. I would be remiss not to talk about an installation issue I had. The installer could not connect to the Skylum server (something with my router blocking it) and I ended up hotspotting to my phone to get the installation to work. Your mileage may vary, but I think this is worth bringing up. Through the installation plugins and extensions are installed for the apps you have installed on your computer in addition to the standalone app in your applications folder. For me, I only use Photos so I had to go into system preferences and enable the extension through the Extensions preference. After that I could easily use the software like any other extension in Photos.

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iPhone XR, the first few months

A review by James Ormiston (@MacJim)

Back in January, I walked into the Glasgow Apple Store to buy the iPhone Xr. I wanted to trade in my old iPhone 7 Plus, a Black 128Gb model that I had finished paying for through Apple’s finance deal, but the purchase boiled down to what they were willing to offer me to trade it in especially as the online valuation was not looking good. Initially, the ‘offer’ to have an iPhone Xr for £499 with a trade in was for a limited time (at the time of writing it is still available) hence the slight rush to buy before that ended. I was pleasantly surprised when the lady said “it’s worth £260 Sir”. My reaction was “that’ll do nicely, thank you”.

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Aurora HDR 2019: A Review by Allister Jenks (@zkarj)

Let me start out by describing myself. I am a keen amateur photographer and I love to play with technology. I am expert in neither discipline, but I’ve been doing both for quite a lot of years now. As such, software like Aurora HDR 2019 is right up my alley — cool technology applied to photography.

I’ve dabbled in HDR photography in the past and know the basic principles of tone mapping, but I’ve not spent a lot of time making HDR images. I own a license for the original Aurora HDR Pro, now referred to as Aurora HDR 2016, and I’ve used it to create a number of pleasing results such as this vivid shot of one of my favourite buildings, made from 5 bracketed exposures.

AH2019 0 Aurora HDR 2019: A Review by Allister Jenks (@zkarj)

So when the opportunity came up to review Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019, I was keen. I wondered how far the product had come in the intervening three years.

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iPad Pro 9.7″ Accessories Experiences

Apple Smart Cover, Apple Magic Keyboard, Adore June Keeb Sleeve
and Smatree Pencil Holder Case. A review by MacJim

Some time ago I bought an Apple Smart Keyboard for my iPad Pro 9.7”. While I was quite happy with this new device, I did think the keyboard was on the cramped side but, over time, I got used to it. The Apple Smart Keyboard worked fine for a while and had become my main cover for my iPad, but over time I began to get problems with it, as I would see intermittent error messages saying ‘this device is not compatible with this device’.

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