How to move videos from Mac to iCloud Photo Library (Beta)

With the beta release of iCloud Photo Library in iOS 8.1, all your photos and videos are stored in iCloud. Only low-res versions are stored on your iOS devices. This helps you save precious space on your iPhone.

Provided you have an Internet connection, iCloud Photo Library (Beta) lets you access the entire picture and video collection you have collected through the years.

Pictures and videos shot with your iPhone/iPad are automatically uploaded to iCloud Photo Library, but how about the media currently stored on your Mac? It would be nice to be able to access that stuff while away from your computer.

Until Photos for Mac is released at the beginning of 2015, we will have to resort to some workaround to move videos from OS X to iCloud Photo Library (Beta). In this post I’ll give you two solutions.

AirDrop

The easiest way to transfer existing home videos from your Mac to your iOS device is through AirDrop. My experience shows that this method works reliably for files with less than 1GB in size. This is what you need to do:

  1. Open the Finder folder where your home videos are stored
  2. Select two-three files at a time (or in any case any number whose combined size is less than 1GB)
  3. Make sure that AirDrop is enabled on your iPhone
  4. Click on Share –> AirDrop at the top of the window

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Dropbox

The old good Dropbox is useful when you need to move to iCloud big video files. The process is straightforward:

  1. While on your Mac, copy the video file to Dropbox
  2. Access it from your iOS device
  3. Save it to your iPhone

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Conclusions

After moving my home videos to iCloud, I tested the playback speed from my iPhone. I was surprised with the lack of latency and how well the system is integrated with iOS.

Remember that these techniques work only if you have iCloud Photo Library (Beta) enabled.

On the iPad Air 2

2014 10 19 iPad thickness and weight

The table above summarizes the only thing that matters when talking about the iPad Air 2. Its thickness is only 45% of the original iPad and its weight 64%.

These numbers show that the new iPad Air 2 is a marvel of technology. When people ask me what is new in the latest model of an Apple device, I quite often talk about the weight and thickness of it.

Of course, new models are invariably faster and with many funky technologies, but it would be easier to add them on a device of the same size as the previous generation.

Adding new technologies, while making the device lighter and thinner is way harder. The physical aspect of a device always plays an important role when using it, for the good and bad.

2014 10 19 iPad thickness

2014 10 19 iPad weight

On iCloud Drive

To me, the most important feature of OS X Yosemite is iCloud Drive. For years I asked for the old iDisk to come back in a modern form. I’m happy to get it back. 

There’s a drawback to iCloud Drive in iOS, as correctly Macstories points out:

The most obvious difference about iCloud Drive on iOS is that because there is no Finder equivalent, there is no in-built app to view all your iCloud Drive files and folders like you can on OS X Yosemite. To resolve this problem, apps on iOS can implement the iCloud Drive Document Picker which will provide a popup window that gives you access to the full iCloud Drive. One such example of an app that implements the iCloud Drive Document Picker is Readdle’s PDF Expert.

and

iCloud Drive sits awkwardly as a solution to a problem that Apple created. Apple at first tried to avoid implementing a file system on iOS but have now realised that some users need it and have created iCloud Drive in a way that tries to hide what is ostensibly a file system, ultimately making it more complicated. The problem is that files still get stuck in these weird app folders, which frankly makes no sense to me. If I have multiple text editors or spreadsheet apps, how am I supposed to know which app I created the file in?

The problem ultimately is with iOS. From the beginning this operating system has been designed to hide the complexity of a filesystem. The result is the current hybrid-not-ideal situation. 

For too long I was a proponent of a filesystem-less OS, but I have to admit that it was a mistake. When Steve Jobs said that explaining a filesystem to a user was one of the most complex things to do, he was probably right. What he probably didn’t consider is that most people these days feel comfortable with the concept of folders and sub-folders. 

I think it’s too late for Apple to do a 180 on this topic, but I hope File Picker is the first step in giving users more flexibility. 

Only on Monday you’ll be able to compose/reply SMS via OS X Yosemite

Appleinsider:

Users who have updated to Apple’s newly launched OS X Yosemite Mac operating system won’t be able to use the highly anticipated SMS relay or Instant Hotspot features for a few more days, as support can be found in the forthcoming iOS 8.1 update for iPhone.

Trying to send an SMS (not iMessage) is one of the first things I tried to do this morning after completing the OS X Yosemite installation.

Monday is jut around the corner, so let’s not stress to much about it. We can wait for two more days. 

My (short) review of OS X Yosemite

My very short review of OS X Yosemite (you can read a complete one by John Siracusa) can be summarized in finally. 

Finally we’ll be able to:

  • Airdrop files between OS X and iOS 
  • Make phone calls and send text messages from a Mac
  • Enlarge a window to full screen using the green button… à la Windows
  • See the calls history across devices via iCloud sync
  • Use iCloud Drive 
  • Create an instant hotspot to go online with your Mac using the data plan of your iPhone 
  • Markup, to edit and annotate images in Mail.app
  • Play Netfilx natively, without the Silverlight plug-in
  • Search the web, convert units using Spotlight
  • Customize the sharing button in Safari
  • Login to your Mac with your Apple ID
  • Use QuickPlayer to record screencasts on iOS devices

You can find all new features in the Apple website

How to pay for goods in iOS 8 without typing your credit card number

Tweakyourbiz.com has posted a clever tip for iOS 8 useful when paying for goods. Instead of typing your credit card details, you can scan the credit card number:

  • Go to your required online shopping destination and move on to the checkout page.
  • When the payment method page is in front of you, put your cursor inside the card number field.
  • Now above the keyboard a Scan Credit Card button appears in the toolbar. Tap on it and you are ready to scan the card and provide your card detail for payment.

My review of the iPhone 6

This morning I received my new iPhone 6. There are some good things about this phone and one bad thing too, I’m afraid.

First of all, let me start by saying that the moment you open the box, you get the feeling that something has changed. Not a lot, but there is a departure from the old Apple. Maybe it’s the all-white box, or more likely the fact that the cardboard flaps that hold the SIM eject tool broke after I repositioned the tool to its place a couple of times.

This feeling is somehow ludicrous, and I apologize for not being able to put it into words. While I was writing the previous paragraph, the sentence there’s no turning back of Robert Plant in Big Log resonated in my mind. Times They Are A-changin’ was one of the preferred songs by Steve Jobs.

Admittedly, the way I started this review is simply nonsensical. Yes, things are different but the iPhone 6 is a beautiful piece of technology. Read on.

Geometry

Let me get this out of my head so we can move on. I want to apologize to Android users for not having seen the advantage of a bigger screen before.

Screen

For years I thought that a bigger screen was unnecessary. But after only a few hours of using the iPhone 6, I am a believer that for too many years we have missed out on something.

Bigger screen is great, bigger screen is better. There, I’ve said it, let’s move on now.

The iPhone 6’s larger screen makes almost every single action easier. Typing, reading, and seeing details are all activities that are more pleasurable to carry out on a 4.7” display. I’m writing these notes directly on the iPhone and the pleasure I get out of it is a clear sign that the bigger screen size was overdue. It also means that I’m going to be more productive on this device than I have ever been on a 4” screen.

Soon we’ll look in disbelief at 3.5”–4” screens and wonder how in the heck we were able to work on those devices.

Shape

In terms of shape, the iPhone 6 appears more harmonious than the iPhone 5s. Its height/width is 2.06 against 2.11 of the iPhone 5s. These are only fraction of a unit, but my eye can perceive it. The result is a device which looks more balanced.

The iPhone 6 weights 17g more than the iPhone 5s. This weight is distributed over a larger area, making it appear lighter than last year’s model.

Feeling

Many reviews have mentioned that the iPhone 6 feels slippery.

Yes, it is more slippery than the iPhone 5s because of the rounded edges used in lieu of chamfers. My hands are of average size for a man, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I’ll continue with my tradition of not using a case with my iPhone. After all, Jony Ive’s work should be shown off.

The iPhone 6 feels impossibly thin for such a powerful smartphone. Holding an iPhone 6 against your palm feels like carrying a passport.

It feels good in your hands, if you manage to pick it up. The rounded edges in fact don’t have much of a grip in the same way that the iPhone 5s has. Be careful when you pick it up from your desk, because your fingers will hesitate just a little bit longer before finding the right grip under the rounded edges.

The slight bend of the glass panel and the precision with which it meets the aluminium case is a masterstroke. The tolerances of this small detail must be closer to a medical device than a consumer phone. Coming from the well-defined edges of the iPhone 4 and 5, the iPhone 6 appears deliciously smoother and more elegant.

Camera

I am not a photographer, but the improvements over the already great iPhone 5s camera are obvious to my eyes. I can clearly see the difference between the two devices.

Let me add a paragraph on the protruding camera lens. It’s a non-issue and somehow I like the way the optic mechanism stands out. My only fear is that the lens will get damaged while being in contact all the time with the surface you place your iPhone on. But then again, the lens cover is made of sapphire, so that should be just fine.

Usage

The phone is usable even with one hand. I’d almost say Apple has managed to make the impossible possible, with one caveat.

Women and in general people with small hands might have a problem though (the first thing my wife Florence said, after testing my iPhone 6, was that her thumb couldn’t reach the farther edge of the phone comfortably). The bottom line is that Apple has reached a compromise with the 4.7”. Expect to hold the phone two-handed more often than in the past.

Reachability (the iOS 8 function specific to iPhone 6 that shifts the upper part of the screen to about half-way down from the top so you can reach the user elements located further up on the screen) is well designed. I was very skeptical of what I thought was just a workaround. The truth is, I love the double-tap (not click) on the home button to easily reach areas of the screen that otherwise I would have to touch with a second hand.

Siri

Siri works great on the iPhone 6. I don’t know if it’s the microprocessor’s speed, or the iPhone 6 faster network connections, but Siri suddenly seems to be able to interpret my voice faster and more accurately.

Speakers

The speakers are loud too, which is great when I want to listen to a podcast while showering.

Wake/Sleep button

I must give an absolute negative point to the location of the sleep/wake button. Who decided to put it on the side of the phone? Whenever I watch a video in landscape mode, with the phone propped against something, and press the volume up button, my iPhone goes to sleep…

Let me give you another use case in which the wake/sleep button in that position feels wrong. When taking a picture in landscape mode, and you press the volume up button, your thumb invariably presses the sleep button too. What a disaster! I really hope that I’ll get used to it because this situation is driving me crazy.

Battery

Battery life is slightly better than on the iPhone 5s, but then again I really never had any problems with the battery of the 5s. It always lasted the whole day without too many problems.

Conclusions

I’ve owned all iPhones from the 3GS on. With each release, the phone becomes a more mature productivity device. Thanks to its larger screen, the iPhone 6 is one of the bigger changes ever applied to the iPhone line up.

Do I love the device? Yes, I do. Has the iPhone 6 blown my mind? Maybe not like the iPhone 4 did, but this update is close to it.

With its larger screen, the flexibility of iOS 8, and with generous storage space (OK, I’ve gone for the 128GB version), the iPhone 6 is the phone that we’ve all been waiting for.

Dropbox claims it was not hacked

This morning Dropbox posted a blog post to communicate its users that the popular cloud storage service was not hacked:

Recent news articles claiming that Dropbox was hacked aren’t true. Your stuff is safe. The usernames and passwords referenced in these articles were stolen from unrelated services, not Dropbox. Attackers then used these stolen credentials to try to log in to sites across the internet, including Dropbox. 

Always use different passwords across services, and enable two-factor authentication. 

Goodbye iPads?

Lately I haven’t used my iPad that much.

For the past few months my iPad 3 Retina has been sitting on my bed stand. In fact, the only time I actually use it is when lying in bed.

I am not sure how it all started. It definitely began before getting my Retina MacBook Pro, so I can’t even use that common excuse of fancying the new toy over the old one. Slowly and unconsciously I found myself reaching for either my iPhone or my Mac rather than the iPad.

I’ve owned an iPad for more than two and a half years. After the initial infatuation, when I tried to unsuccessfully use the iPad for tasks that the it was not designed for, I settled for a few tasks that are within iPad territory:

  • Surfing the web
  • Reading articles saved on Instapaper
  • Reading RSS feeds
  • Editing articles for this blog
  • Reviewing slides for my presentations
  • Making it the exclusive device to use on a plane

As you can see, all these activities don’t involve much writing, and are limited to specific apps. They also don’t involve multiple document interactions.

At the beginning of this year, I still had ambitious ideas to use the iPad to post articles for this blog when travelling. I even bought an Apple wireless keyboard to make it easier to type longer articles. After the initial excitement, I left the keyboard in a drawer and never touched it again. Nowadays, when I’m on the road, I still find it easier to post articles using my iPhone (in case you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, tell me whether you type faster on the iPhone or iPad keyboard).

I am not the only one that is using the iPad less and less. Matt Gemmel has come to a similar conclusion:

I haven’t given up traditional computers, lest you think this is an “iPad is my office” testament. The truth is, my wife and I don’t really use iPads at all anymore, except as a recipe book in the kitchen. It’s been a year since we used one anywhere else in the house. We never, ever travel with them. We have no plans to acquire any more in future.

The bottom line is that I use my electronic devices in four different ways:

  1. While out and about, likely standing or walking
  2. Sitting at a desk
  3. Sitting on a couch
  4. Lying in bed

and only in a few cases does the iPad make sense. At least to me.

Obviously, when walking around I use my iPhone.

When sitting on a desk, a laptop is unbeatable. All your documents, your working life is in the computer in front of you. This setup is perfect and tested through the years across million of users.

When sitting on a couch, you can use a laptop, an iPhone or an iPad. If you want to write, a laptop sitting on your lap is still the best choice. If you want to read or edit some documents, all three devices can do it, but admittedly the iPhone has a screen too small to make reading for longer periods very comfortable. You’re left with either the laptop or the iPad. In this case the iPad has a definite advantage.

When lying in bed you could either use the iPhone or the iPad. Again, the iPhone has a small screen (I wonder if my perception is going to change once my iPhone 6 gets delivered), so the iPad is more comfortable. It’s more comfortable for your eyes only though. My iPad 3 Retina is heavy and needs to be held with two hands.

This is where the new iPhone 6 becomes interesting. Talking about the iPhone 6 Plus, Om Malik has some ideas on how the this device could cannibalize iPad sales:

iPhone 6+ is truly magical. The size, the weight and the display are enough for me to say goodbye to the iPad Mini. I think it will cannibalize the iPad Mini sales. Say hello to even bigger-larger iPad Airs.

By using only two devices, life becomes easier too. In this particular period of my life having only a laptop and a phone is more than enough. Techpinions has similar ideas about this:

I believe this instinct of trying to get back down to two computers for personal use is a powerful one, both for complexity and budgetary reasons. Many people and businesses struggle to justify three separate device purchases to accomplish essentially the same tasks. Though some resolve this tension by opting for a tablet over a laptop, others will resolve it the other way, falling back on the more powerful laptop and slowly abandoning their tablets. I see the last few years as a period of experimentation among many users as they test whether the tablet fits into their lives as a primary device, a secondary device, or not at all.

Talking with friends and family, I’ve received similar feedback. Yes a tablet is great, but if I had to choose two devices to keep, I’d go for a good smartphone and a laptop.

Time will tell if bigger iPhones are going to eat into the tablet market. More interesting is to observe whether Apple is going to empower the iPad with more advanced features or even larger screens.