Print Plugins for Apple Photos

Printing Photo Projects on a Mac

In the latest update to the Mac Photos App, Apple has enabled third parties the ability to write photo project plugins. Until now only editing plugins were available ie to retouch or add filters to your images.

Now there are a range of plugins available for printing your images and turning them into photo books.

Some of you may remember that there was the option of doing this in Aperture (rest in peace), however the selection available at the moment are very much consumer focused services and not the likes of Queensbury or Couture Books et al.

All you need to do is head to the App Store to find the appropriate app (links below) and it will install itself. When you launch the apps all that will show is a splash screen as the apps themselves are installed into the photos app as a project option in the sidebar on the left.

This is a little clumsy and I think the need to have an external app to do this is a bit confusing but nonetheless that’s how it’s done.


Available Now

1. Whitewall

Whitewall is a popular service for creating framed prints at lots of different sizes with lots of customisable options.

2. Mimeo

Mimeo has a similar offering to Apple’s own range of printable products but its always good to have a choice right?


Coming Soon...

3. Motif

Motif is actually a plugin that was created by the company that used to print all of apples print products and as such means that the products will be quite familiar to anyone who used to use Apples print services. At the moment they are Ireland and a few other European Countries only but I have been assured that they are making their way over to Europe very soon. These guys definitely look like the easiest option and feature slightly more sophisticated designs.


 


Exploring iOS 12: Screen Time

Screentime: A Wake Up to Tech Addiction

For quite some time now we have all been commenting on the increase in technology addiction and how people using social media and phone apps engage less and less with the “Real” world and those around them. Screen time is out to change that.

Apple have put together the Screen Time app that easily and clearly shows us how much time we are spending on each and activity. Prepare to be shocked by your own habits! It goes one step further than just showing us, it allows us to actually set an allowance of how much time you want to spend in each app each day.

So if your an instagram addict or a facebook fanatic and you want to get some control over how much of your life you invest in these apps you can set your own limits an get warned when you are approaching them.

When you hit your limit you’ll be met with a blank screen with a warning and a button to let you extend your time in the app -which means that any extension of time is an affirmative action by you - so you only have yourself to blame!

We think its a really positive step that, despite at first appearance seems to fly in the face of what a tech company’s normal motivations are, could end up improving Apple’s reputation and bringing back some Humanity to the technology we use.


Speed up your web browsing on Mac and iOS with one simple change.

What is DNS?

So this post may at first appear to be geeky and jargon laden but stick with it.

When you visit a website you type in its web address in your browser. Something like dujio.com , for example, but this isn't actually the real address of a website.

The real address of a website will be a number (IP address) that looks something like this:

192 . 168 . 1 . 15

Obviously it's too difficult for people to remember numbers so there is a technology known as DNS or Domain Name System. This system is like a giant telephone directory that converts the text address that you type in into the IP address or number that actually represents a website.

Many organisations provide access to the sytem from your internet service provider, mobile phone company or even via Google or other DNS projects such as OpenDNS.

These organisations act as a gateway to the DNS directories but for many reasons their speed and effectiveness varies but more concerning is that they are able to gather data on your network usage and use it to target ads or sell on to third party companies.

Who is Cloudflare?

Cloudflare is a company that specialises in securing and optimising websites and their back ends - increasing their robustness and safety in world filled with threats to our online lives. They have debuted their own DNS system that appears to be significantly faster than the competition.

With one simple change you can greatly increase the speed at which websites load in your browser and also increase your online safety at the same time. Unlike Google, Cloudflare doesn't harbour your data and make use of it.

What About My iPhone/iPad?

Well you're in luck, in the past few days Cloudflare have also released an app to enable you to easily get the same benefits on ios. Yous simply download the app from the App Store (just search for Cloudflare). Its very simple and guides you through the process. The app actually installs a VPN profile to your device and is simply an on or off switch.

How Do I Use It On My Mac?

Its quite simple but Cloudflare do a good job explaining it. Simply type 1.1.1.1 in your browser to visit their website and get easy instructions about how to use it with your Mac.

Let us know in the comments what you think?


So what's a HEIF anyway?

HEIF or High Efficiency Image Format is the new format that Apple is going all in on for their devices and products from the release of iOS 11 onwards (any day now). It will replace JPEGS as the standard format for iPhones (which happen to be the most used cameras in the world).

Of course any changes like this tend to cause panic amongst those used to doing things a certain way so we will take a moment to explain what HEIF is and how it will (or won't) affect you.

What is it?

HEIF is actually the still image form of the H.265 video format that is now a go to standard. The biggest advantage to you and me is that a HEIF file will take up roughly half the space of an ordinary JPEG but will actually be higher quality in terms of clarity and colour reproduction. This will mean you will free up a huge amount of space on your iPhone, as it is generally photographs that take up the majority of space on our devices these days, this is particularly useful for those who opted for a 16gb iPhone (I couldn't cope!).

JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group) has been around a very long time and significant advances have been made in imaging technology so it seems only right that it should now be replaced with a superior and more efficient format.

So other than space what else can this new format do?

The efficiency of HEIF means that it should also be less taxing on your devices processor and ultimately the battery too. Encoding of the format is hardware accelerated on Apple devices.

The other point is rather than being just a filetype, a HEIF is actually a container. What this means is that it can be more than just a simple image. It can be a collection of images and include sound. If that sounds familiar it should, Apple's Live Photo feature has these elements and this is partly why Apple are choosing this format as it allows them to experiment with photography on their phones with greater flexibility. It can also handle transparency like a GIF file.

The only way is up! Right?

There are no downsides I can think of in using HEIF over JPEG. Currently JPEG is king in the world of photography. Apple has made it clear that when using HEIF in iOS 11 - you won't notice any difference in what you do. The images are taken in HEIF but when you need to send them to someone or upload them somewhere they are dynamically converted to JPEG to ensure complete compatibility.

So you don't need to worry about converting anything or incompatibility. Basically until the rest of the world catches up and switches over, you will benefit from extra space and speed. When the world (and indeed the web) switches over to this format browsing websites will be much faster and that can only a good thing.


Is Apple working on an actual TV?

Some blurry shots surfaced today that seemed to suggest Apple may be working on creating a full blown television screen - jumping beyond the set top box market.

They seem to be in an acoustics testing facility.

It is said to be a 60 inch display completely encased in aluminium with cameras and microphones with all the electronics in a small area in the stand and featuring an OLED screen.

It may, of course, also be a next generation display for the upcoming Mac Pro redesign but at 60 inches it may be pushing the practicality a bit far.

Of course, many products Apple test never see the light of day but it would mark an expansion into consumer electronics that has been on the rise since the acquisition of Beats Audio and the release of AirPods, Apple Watch and the upcoming Homepod due to be released in December.

Do you think an Apple TV would be worth the inevitable premium? Would you queue for one?

P.s. What are these images always so blurry? HD cameras have been around for a while now. What gives?


Irvue: Beautiful Retina Wallpaper For Your Mac

Its time for our Weekly Tuesday Review and the first in a hopefully very long debut of awesome apps is Irvue.

Irvue is a simple Free app that displays absolutely stunning retina resolution images as your background which you can set to change at intervals of your choosing. It even allows you to download the images.

The app live in your menu bar at the top which allows you to adjust the settings and download images that you love.

I can't get across quite how beautiful some of the images are so here a few for your perusal!

You wont regret getting this one. Download Here

 


Quick Tip: Mac - Unit Conversions in Spotlight Search

Spotlight search is such a brilliantly smooth and action packed feature of Mac OS.

One under utilised skill that spotlight posesses is the ability to convert units as quick as a flash.

Invoke spotlight search (⌘ + SPACE) > then type something along the lines of “588 rupees in pounds” and it will instantly display the resulting currency conversion and several other popular currencies.

Neat huh!


You're doing it wrong!: SEO and getting your site seen.

There are many pitfalls in making websites and one of them is the belief that you can pay somebody (or something - as it tends to be software that does generic SEO) to improve your visibility in search engines.

Read more


Quicktip: Emoji Everywhere

So we are all, by now, used to using the little Japanese symbols known as Emoji in our communications on iPhone and iPad. They inject a little humour and fun into otherwise plain old text. Many people, however, are not aware that they are also available on your mac.

Read more


Smart Home

Smart Stuff = Smart Home

It seems that everything these days is given the moniker "Smart" but what does it really mean?

Well, in a nutshell, its an easy way of saying that the device/object/thing is interactive, usually via WiFi or bluetooth and more than likely via a mobile app. The idea of the connected home has been a fantasy since the 60's, but now it is slowly becoming a reality.

Here I will run through a few of the most popular and some unusual smart devices available today.

 

1: Okidokeys Smart Locks

 

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So some might hesitate at the idea of an electronic lock, but they have been around for a while and seem to pass muster. The new part here, however, is the ability to unlock with your mobile device. The advantage here is that you can grant temporary access to trusted parties, i.e friends, neighbours feeding the cat etc and revoke at any time - all remotely.

Price: between £110 - £163

More Info: https://www.okidokeys.com

2: Philips Hue Connected Lighting

 

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Philips introduced the Hue system over a year ago and it has had an exclusive deal with the Apple Stores. This lighting system is very popular because it consists mainly of colour changing bulbs, meaning that you can use your existing light fittings and lamps to create beautiful atmospheric lighting. The boon of Hue is that you can control the overall design of a room - the bulbs are aware of each other and you can create schemes and gradients using the mobile app - even grabbing colours from your photos. There are also modes that assist with relaxation, concentration and sleep.

 

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Recently, Philips also introduced two new members of the hue family, lightstrips - perfect for behind televisions, desks, kitchens etc and Bloom, a connected lamp that flood lights whole walls. All of the hue devices are connected via a little box that you plugin to your home router known as the bridge. Its very simply to set up and can create beautiful light-scapes.

Price: £49.95 - £179.95

More info: http://www.meethue.com/en-GB

 

3: Withings Body Analyzer

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Withings create several health based devices that all have corresponding apps. The first one is the Withings Body Analyzer. This clever little scale is able to record your weight, body fat percentage and also your heart rate. Interestingly, the latest version, also checks your air quality, measuring CO2 readings and the temperature every 30 minutes.

Great for families, you can setup multiple profiles to track goals and measurements separately. Withings has its own tracking app but there are lots of apps that their devices are compatible with.

 

Price: £129.95

More info: http://www.withings.com/en/bodyanalyzer

 

4: Belkin Wemo Switch

 

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The Wemo Switch by belkin is simply an adapter that you plug any electrical device into allowing you to remotely control the power from your mobile, wherever in the world you are. You can schedule switches to come on and off at set times. There is a version which comes with a motion sensor to trigger power based on movement and there is also a new version called "insight" that will allow you to track individual expenditure for each device you have connected to a wemo insight adapter. They work in tandem and you can use many throughout your home.

Price: Starts at £39.95

More info:  http://www.belkin.com/uk/Products/home-automation/c/wemo-home-automation

 

5: Parrot AR Drone

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Whilst not quite a domestic essential, the AR Drone from parrot is a boat load of fun. The quadrocopter is controlled via an app on your iOS or Android phone and has an on board camera to record video or take stills. Perfect for checking out which neighbours have swimming pools!

Price: £279.95

More info: http://ardrone2.parrot.com/