Piques of the Week - Volume 14

iPhone 8 Plus + Portrait Mode

I said I wasn't going to upgrade. I was just going to keep my 7 Plus and not bother with the hassle of going to the store and getting a new phone. I didn't want to get yet another case; I'm partial to the Apple Leather Case for my phones, and spending yet another $50 on one wasn't appealing.

But as I looked more into it, there were some appealing features. Apple also removed some of the friction for me: the iPhone Upgrade Program was streamlined to be done through the mail at home;1 my beloved case could be reused on this new phone. I was also reminded a friend of mine that I got into the upgrade program for a reason. And I have childlike will power with things like this. So, naturally, I upgraded.

The phone is great. It's even more capable than the 7 Plus, and I thought that was plenty fine. The updated hardware is great: faster chipsets, upgraded specs, new (to the iPhone) technologies, and the improvements to the screen thanks to True Tone. All of the this is enhanced by the features in iOS 11. But the one place Apple - and Phil Schiller - really push the phone to new heights is the camera.

The iPhone optics and sensors make this a fantastic point-and-shoot camera. At the very least, it is good enough to bring with you and not have to carry around another electronic item. Sure, there will always be those that prefer a true DSLR and lenses galore. But having a camera always with you in your pocket is great to capture a lot of moments.

With the improvements to portrait mode and the additional features brought to the iPhone 8 Plus, this camera is simply stunning. There are much better photographers out there that can take way better photos than I can. But it really is amazing that my not quite 5-year-old can take a photo that looks really great. I had to instruct him what to wait for, but once he got it and knew when to snap the photo, he has been able to take some great photos on his own. The photo below was taken by him; it is a portrait mode photo with the contour light mode selected. My dad told me it was one of the best photos taken of me in years. I’m really looking forward to the images that I — and more importantly my son — can take with the new phone and the new features in the future.

Anker Wireless Charging Pad

I’ll admit, when I saw this I shrugged my shoulders. It didn’t seem like it was something I was going to need in my life. I have about a dozen extra lightning cables and [ineffective] small wall chargers that I get with new devices. I have plenty of places I can get power.

I thought I should, at the very least, get one to try. I’m huge fan of Anker products: they make great stuff and reasonable prices. I have an assortment of stuff from them — wall chargers, lightning cables, a Bluetooth speaker, etc. — and all of them are fantastic. So when I wanted to search for wireless charging, I sought out Anker for my needs. I found the Anker Wireless Charging Pad which was compatible with the fast-charging on iOS (with the right adaptor and a forthcoming iOS update).

And go figure - it’s exactly what I never knew I always wanted. Being able to set my phone down at night and just let it charge has been a delight. I’m curious to see when it gets the fast charging later this year, but for overnight it is perfect for what I need.

I’m sure I will test other options in the future, but for now this little puck has brought me simple joy.

Apple Watch Sport Loop Band

Hello, my name is Tim, and I have a watch band problem.

There, I’ve said it. I feel better. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m likely going to buy more bands. I have a lot of sport bands in multiple colors — 11 in total. I have a Milanese loop and a Monowear nylon active band in olive green. I really like coordinating them with my outfit and having different options for the activity I’m doing, whether it be working out or yardwork. For example, I have a Nike sport band (knockoff) for when I work out. And while it’s nice to have the breathability with the extra holes, it still picks up a ton of sweat. It was the best solution for me at the time.

Enter the Sport Loop for the Apple Watch. This thing is awesome. It's basically the cloth equivalent to the Milanese loop. It's breathable, soft, and holds my watch snugly in place without being too tight. I've worn it while working out and sweating profusely. I’ve also worn it in the shower, and it was dry before I left the bathroom; it doesn’t stay waterlogged like you think it would.

To date, this is my favorite band; I haven't taken it off since I got it. I keep looking at all of the other bands and wondering if I even need them. I look forward to additional colors as time goes on.2 If you have the money, I highly recommend picking one up.

  1. Seriously, the ease of doing this and not going to the store is huge, and reduces the anxiety I would feel when going to the store. The packaging for it was phenomenal. Highly recommend this option for anyone out there, even when your store is down the street.
  2. What, you thought I was going to stop at just one?