Greg Morris

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    Gluon: My Perfect Companion

    This app is niche. It only works for so all of these words I write will only be applicable to a tiny section of readers – but that doesn’t stop this app being great. It really is the perfect app and adds in lots of little features to make the experience much better.

    Developed by Vincent Ritter, one of the developers working on the platform, Gluon ads on top of the service in so many useful ways. He uses his opinionated but thoughtful skills to craft a whole range of services, such as Sublime adds and Shoutouts, meaning Gluon is no exception.

    What Vincent has done is add in features that really help users of out. By listening to the community, he’s able to not only work on the service as a whole, but also build an app to service its users. Features such as customising the way the timeline looks with colours and fonts used mean that you can really make the app yours.

    Two big features really stand out though. Gluon adds in the ability to mute keywords and I couldn’t be happier. I have struggled with the option to filter out things, particularly American politics, right from the start. An issue that was further exacerbated by being able to follow Mastodon accounts. With Gluon, there’s no more politics in my timeline, nor endless posts about Twitter. Whatever it is that you would rather not see, Gluon powerfully filters out these posts and makes it a much better place to be.

    Secondly, Gluon can reply to all. You don’t realise you even need this option until you are involved in an interesting discussion. You are stuck going backwards and forwards copying usernames, whereas Gluon does it all for you. With the added option of removing people from the reply. Sounds so simple doesn’t it, but it’s so helpful.

    Gluon also has all the expected features like the official app, but with much more customisation. The controls and navigation of the apps are intuitive and well thought through. The simple interface allows you to reply or see the conversation by swiping the post, and four tabs at the bottom get you to the places you need to go.

    There’s something about Gluon that I really enjoy using, and although the 3.0 update of the official app looks great, Vincent’s app seems to be constantly improving. It makes the experience much better for me, and I really appreciate its development.

    Two New Mac Apps I Love

    For once, the YouTube algorithm came up trumps and I stumbled, across a new channel to subscribe to. Jeff Su makes productivity videos (doesn’t everyone on there) and I’ve found some of his content really helpful. First whilst researching improvements for my productivity, and I then watched a video on simple Mac that he thinks are underrated.

    Two stuck out straight away for me and I have been using them ever since. They are Shottr and Latest, both of which combined to produce this post yesterday when the new Mac app update came out.


    I really love Cleanshot x, it offers more options but it’s also £30. Whereas Shottr is completely free and gets you 80% of the way there. With powerful keyboard shortcuts, the option to include backgrounds and also mark up your screenshots, it’s outstanding that you get all this for free.

    It also has built in OCR and you can blur out text without blurring the rest of the image, which helps when you share as many screenshots as I do.


    For all the apps you have installed from outside the App Store, Latest offers a nice update interface. Instead of setting each app to check for updates and call home every so often, you can turn these all off and just check Latest once a week or so.

    The reason that app is so appealing is the awkward updates that seem to pop up when you are trying to do something, and this simple app puts you back in control. It will present all updates in an essay to understand interface and even pull in all the information such as descriptions and changelogs.

    I hope that these two free apps can be as helpful to you as they are to me. I am always on the lookout for new things to make my Mac better considering how much time I spend sat at it so I will keep posting new things I find.

    Matter: My Most Used App

    Yesterday I posted that I had jumped in with the new pricing strategy for Matter and become a Patron subscriber. Strangely, I thought that most people had heard of this amazing ‘Read it later’ app as it was the new hotness for a while. Following some questions on why I choose to use it and comparisons to other services, I thought I’d cover a the main thing I like about it.

    The app has been a staple on my iPhone and iPad for what seems like forever, and giving back £130 for my free usage and receiving another 3 years of service thrown in is the least I could contribute. First things first, I honestly have no idea why I use it over another service. Not because it isn’t great, but because I haven’t used a whole load of different options and I just enjoy using Matter, so never look around. They’re a risk, like with note app, that you can spend too much time moving about and not enough time reading.

    When it started, Matter had built into it a social side where you could follow friends and see what they were reading and see highlights and comments from them. I really enjoyed this part, and after spending a little over a year helping to develop Upnext I jumped ship to Matter. Using the free app to save all the content I found around the web to consume later. Matter calls itself “a better reader” and on the surface it is exactly that. You can save links from all over the web, not just articles, and access them later to read in a much better environment.

    The app offers highlighting, commenting, leaving notes on sections you’re interested in, and all the usually expected functions of a reading app. The exceptional side to Matter is that it then combines with everything else to make your consumption of things better. Including an excellent integration with Gmail that pulls newsletters into your subscriptions tab with no interaction needed. This is especially useful for longer editions that I receive from Platformer or Galaxy Brain.

    I can then highlight and takes notes on the parts that I want to remember later, and send them to wherever it is that I intend to save them. Matter already integrates with note-taking apps like Roam Research, Logseq and Obsidian, but I can also send them straight into my Apple Notes system or write about them in Ulysses. More often than not, though, I can archive them into my permanent folder and refer to them later on if needed.

    All of this has been free for months, and even when they introduce the Subscription in January you will only pay if you want things like fluid highlighting, note-taking and integrations. It will remain a totally free read it later service with no ads. I think this is why I could never see myself using anything else. I love the app, it works well and does even more than I require it too, but I also trust the company. They are not using my consumption data to show me ads or sell it on for a quick profit.

    The company now has a robust business model (it was a bit of a concern before, but I expected a subscription eventually) and see themselves as being around for years to come. There are other services around, I was a long-time user of Pocket, but Matter have built up for me as such it is and will continue to be my most used app. It continues to get better and better and now with even more funding behind it there are exciting time to come.

    Apple Watch Ultra: This Isn’t Supposed To Be For Me

    I distinctly remember watching this year’s Apple event and being interested in absolutely nothing new. The yearly even that temps me into spending massive sums of money didn’t come across as well as usual. Most of the improvements were software anyway. Despite my bank balance thanking me, I felt a bit flat that I wouldn’t be picking up my usually iPhone and Apple Watch combination ready for my birthday in a couple of weeks time.

    How wrong could I have been. Just a couple of months later, I am sat typing this out with an iPhone 14 Pro in my pocket and the most surprising hit of the year, an Apple Watch Ultra on my wrist. Whilst I like the iPhone, I would give it up with very little thought if I had too, however no one is taking this watch away from me now, and that shouldn’t be the case.

    All of the Apple marketing tells me this watch is not for people like me. Sure I am relatively fit, despite health issues stopping me from running much, and I do like the outdoors. This watch is supposed to be for those that are levels above me. Divers, rock climbers, ultra distance runners, it’s not supposed to be for full-time dads and office workers, but here we are. All the improvements are just as useful in everyday life as they are for those Apple aim it at, and I adore it.

    That’s it, review over. There are enough people out there that will walk you through specs and all the things that it can do, unfortunately I lack the ability to express the boring bits well and answer those types of questions you may have. What I can do though is tell you why and how this helps me in my daily life and hopefully help you see where it could be useful to you. This is pretty easy because there are not many areas that make a difference, but they add up to something that most people should consider.

    Battery Life

    Presentations and marketing never give a true reflection of the type of usage you will get from Apple devices. They are pretty spot on, but no-one does the things they highlight. They don’t watch video playback on a MacBook Pro for 18 hours straight, and most people won’t be doing 60 hours worth of exercise (low-power mode required). It’s even hard to work out what battery life would actually be like when comparing to the ‘regular’ Apple Watches “all day” but the Ultra will easily see you through three days.

    I loose around 25% per 24 hours, including sleep tracking and at least one workout. Although occasionally, it seems to plummet at twice that rate until I reboot, which is bound to be something software related. Is this the best battery life on the market, no. Is this anything compared to a Garmin watch for example, no again. It is the best Battery life in an Apple Watch to date, and this means less to worry about.

    The only ‘downside’ is that charging takes quite a while. Using a supported fast charger, it can get you from 25% ish up to 50+ in 30 mins, but it takes a while to top it up to full. I have mediated this by charging it most days for 30 minutes or so while I have a shower and get sorted for the day. This sees the battery life hover around 80-50% constantly and suits me much better than having to charge it for 90-minutes or so every few days.

    I am over the moon with the improvements to battery life of the Apple Watch Ultra. I wear it constantly, use if for phone free days out, and in my testing when I was trying to see how far it would get me I only lost 12% after 5 hours of hard use. If you’re like me and want to be contactable, still be able to make payments and other modern things, but don’t want a phone around all the time, the Apple Watch Ultra is the perfect device.

    Size & Design

    When I first thought about getting the Apple Watch Ultra was when people I knew began to receive them and use them. Sure, I’d seen the glossy images in press reviews and seen a few in video reviews, but once they were all over social media my opinions changed. The design that I thought was chunky and horrible, actually looked much better ‘in-person’. When compared to larger Casio watches the Apple Watch Ultra looks much nicer, to me at least.

    Of course, this is all subjective. You may look at the raised lip to the flat screen, coupled with the crown guard, and think yuck. Some of my desire was just motivation to have something else, anything else, than the Apple Watch I had been wearing for years, but the Ultra version looks really impressive and feels great on my wrist. Even my tiny wrists. Seriously, I have to buy Size 6 braided loops and a S/M in the Orange Alpine Strap as seen in almost all press shots (it is nice though).

    The great thing about the new design is that it doesn’t scream smartwatch. It’s obvious that it is one if you’re paying attention, but from everyday life, to the boardroom, the design looks more like a watch than the original design. The chunky design is not for everyone, and in fact more stylish watch brands are going the offsite way and slimming down, but it looks much better than the press photos would have you believe.


    The weird thing about this watch is, despite the increase in size, and it is a big watch, it’s far more comfortable than other versions. The heart rate sensor doesn’t seem to push itself into my wrist as much, and the increased width makes the straps pull around my wrist rather than down. With the increased battery life, I tried sleeping in it, which I rarely did with the old one, and was surprised how comfortable it is.

    Watch straps are a bit looser when compared with the regular ones, which makes perfect sense given that the watch itself is slightly bigger. This is only obvious with fixed length bands like my favourite braided loops.

    Rough & Ready

    I have lost count the number of times I have accidentally scraped my watch on a wall, or knocked it on a door frame. Accidents happen in real life and although my sport versions always stood up OK, they always end their time with me with more than a few scrapes and chips. This new titanium version with the robust design gives me the confidence that I don’t have to worry about it. This is one of the great appeals of this watch, yes it can stand up to mountain climbing or whatever, but it will also resist being hit by a ‘ toy or fumbling it off its charger in the dark. It’s outdoor proof and also life proof.


    Many of the design changes are due to fitting in a much larger screen. I suppose 49 mm is not that much of a difference from 45, but that’s almost a 10% bump up. The new watchOS 9 exaggerates this further because the OS feels much larger than before, making interaction with the screen much easier. From swiping on the keyboard replying to a message to opening and using a app, it really is surprising what a difference a few mm make on a watch screen.

    The screen is also much brighter when in use. This isn’t something that I noticed when using older versions, only when testing both side by side you do notice the stark difference. Making the screen much easier to see and use, especially when working out, when a quick glance is all you need to see all information on the nice big screen.

    The screen is not the only thing that’s been improved, sure you’ll also get more accurate GPS and a depth sensor, but a massive improvement is the onboard speaker. Making it even more useful in daily life if, like me, you get phone calls at the worst possible time. I’m not saying people on the other end can’t tell they are on speaker, but you can hear them load and clear now whatever you are doing. When phone free, I’ve been making and receiving quite a few calls and the speaker makes a nice change to having to carry around my AirPods just in case.

    I Love It

    All of these things make the Apple Watch Ultra one of the best buys of the last few years. The battery life and small improvements all around have made me think less about it being a smartwatch, and more of a life assistant. I have the confidence it will do whatever I need it to do, whenever I need it. I can go phone free for hours on end as well as stand up to all the stresses and strains of my hectic lifestyle. It comes with me everywhere and I absolute love it.

    That’s not to say that everyone should rush out and buy it. This is a £850 watch, after all. It won’t retain the value like spending the same money on a regular watch would do, and it won’t last nearly as long. However, it can aid your life in some very specific ways that I think plenty of people would enjoy. If you have the opportunity, try one out and see what it can do for you.

    Brain FM: The App Always Playing On My iPhone

    I am not even sure how I stumbled on Brain FM, but I have been using it for years. Stumping up for a lifetime subscription (no longer available) a while ago due to its ability to providing me with awesome background audio to my daily life. When I say that, I really mean it because it is nearly always playing through my headphones.

    Loads of services aim to provide constant looping audio as a means of filling silence. The rise of playlists and services such as Lofi has opened up a larger market to studying music and the like, but Brain FM goes further. They use AI and human composers to reduce distraction and improve behaviour. If that sounds a bit far-fetched, all of these claims are backed by scientific research. Using fancy words like “Neural Phase Locking” and “functional music”. I can’t possibly comment on the validity of these claims, but in my subjective experience it does something to me that means I can get more done.

    For the past few months, I have dedicated my time to working in a deeper state, and Brain FM has proved invaluable to achieving the most I can. My favourite by far is at the top of the app home screen. Ninety minutes deep work is the peak period to get stuff done but not burn myself out. So, I sink into this state a couple of times away. Especially when I am in the office, my Bose QC35s are on, connected to my iPhone, and I am in concentration mode.

    The looping relaxing music soon disappears to a point where I am not listening, but the audio undoubtedly helps me shut out the world and concentrate on the task at hand. Replacing the need for me to half concentrate on a podcast or worry about what music to listen to.

    Brain FM is also filled full of white noise options, meditation audio and what seems like unlimited options for music. So, there’s no messing around deciding what to listen to. If you want to check out some preview of the app and see if it’s the kind of thing that will help you concentrate, there are some clips available on YouTube.

    iPhone 13 Pro Review: Another Step Forward

    Last year I decided the iPhone 12 Pro was the best choice in the line-up. It offered the best compromise for getting the best technology in a smartphone while not having to carry around a giant surfboard. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t perfect and didn’t feature the absolute best Apple has to offer leading some (myself included) to be a little frustrated in choosing a phone. Things are much fairer this year, but the choice is still a difficult one.

    Whilst last year I bought all models of phone this time around I narrowed it down to two. My choice was between the iPhone 13 Mini for its awesome form factor or the iPhone 13 Pro. The more manageable ‘smaller’ version of Apples top of the line Pro models is better than ever in the key areas that users will care about – battery, camera, and screen.

    More Juice

    Many words have been written about the iPhone 12 battery life. It wasn’t that bad if you take the iPhone 11 out of the equation, but we were so spoilt by the 2019 versions that 2020 felt disappointing. Apple claimed it stayed similar, but it went from great down to just ok.

    Thankfully, they have returned to greatness with the iPhone 13 Pro. Being on par with the 11 Pro, and in some cases much better. I have struggled to get lower than 40% left when going from 7am to 8pm, and power users shouldn’t struggle with achieving 5hours of regular usage with plenty left in the tank. It brings back a level of confidence that you will get through the day with very few issues.

    The new A15 is touted as being responsible for most of these gains, with not just increased ability but also more efficiency cores. The iPhone is already overpowered for what is needed from a smartphone, but Apple still pushed forward and developed another step forward in its chips. The A15 has two performance and four efficiency cores so most of the time it will be idling along only using little power but ramp up when needed. Obviously, the iPhone 13 Pro will never miss a beat, no matter what you are doing, but neither did the two generations that went before it. The new 5 core GPU plays games and does everything you want with ease.

    All the tech crammed into the iPhone 13 Pro helps maximise battery life. The performance and power saving ability of the A15 help, as does the updated screen, but the fact is the phone contains a bigger battery. The trade-off being an increase in weight from 187 grams to 203 grams which is considerable, and noticeable as soon as you pick the phone up. Only you will know if the trade-off is worth it to you — but just know that this isn’t magic giving you extra power through the day.

    Super Shooter

    Not all the heft can be attributed to a bigger battery thought, as the iPhone 13 Pro sports a much bigger camera housing and more protruding lenses. Thankfully, Apple are not hiding it away this year, and embracing the massive bulk because it once again provides the best camera in a smart phone.

    You can hem and haw about Android this and that, but the reality is every year the new iPhone comes out the others play catch up. There is a lot to be said about the image processing producing a photo you like, but without sounding too much like a fan boy, Apple have constantly taken strides (or steps) forward each year with their cameras.

    I am not sure that it is, as Apple say, the biggest camera update yet, but it is a big one. With all this said most people won’t be able to tell the difference in the images from any iPhone in the last 3 years but if you’re into the details it becomes obvious.

    All three lenses have been updated and are the same across the Pro line up this year. The wide camera being the most obvious upgrade, featuring sensor shift stabilisation that only featured on its big brother last year, and improving to ƒ/1.5 aperture. Combined with bigger 1.9 µm pixels the sensor captures 47% more light, meaning images are not only more detailed in darker areas but also easier and quicker to capture.

    The telephoto goes to ƒ/2.8 aperture, from ƒ/2.0 aperture but is 3x rather than 2x so don’t let that fool you. Allowing you to get in tighter to things that you can’t “zoom with your feet” and produces noticeably sharper images compared to previous models. I still feel a little like Apple neglects the telephoto and still leans far too much on a cropped main sensor image in lower light than it should, but the improvements are noticeable and very welcome. I like using the telephoto to get closer to images without moving so I can shoot quicker, and the standard of image produces by the new telephoto is closer to the wide camera, but still not as good.

    Another update is the Ultra-Wide, ridding itself of the terrible ƒ/2.4 aperture to a more usable ƒ/1.8 aperture. This is not a lens I use very often and find it a little too wide for creating anything other than arty alternative angles. However, when I do, the improvements are a huge step up. Shadows are much better and not as muddy with more detail retained. An improvement this vast might get me to use it a bit more.

    To be honest my photography has truly little need for an angle as wide as the 13mm equivalent, but I might use the new macro mode. Get within 10cm of a subject the camera will switch to the wide angle in macro mode, allowing you to focus on subjects down to 2cm away. I remain reserved on the novelty wearing off, but it’s certainly great to have the option, even if the interface is a little confusing.

    I got a little excited writing about the tech specs of the iPhone 13 Pro camera, but all of these won’t mean a thing to most users. What they will notice is the images are easier and quicker to capture than ever before giving you confidence that in almost any situation you will get the shot you want. Photographic Styles will also let you tune your images during capture to constantly get images that you will love every time.

    Refreshed Screen

    Finally, right! Whilst Android phones have been implementing higher refresh rates for several years, Apples phones have been rumoured but never received the attention they needed. The push back was that iOS mitigated the need for a refresh above 60hz, but as soon as you use anything better you begin to understand. ProMotion is not new, being in iPad Pro for quite some time, but makes the iPhone feel much more fluid.

    It’s hard to tell when you first start using the device, as its more powerful too, but as soon as you go back you instantly feel it. The screen retains all of specs in iPhone screens we’ve seen for a few years, with a boost in the brightness of the screen up to 1,000nits, but the big story is ProMotion. The Apple tech used intelligently changes the screen refresh rate between 120hz down to 10hz when required. Saving your eyes, and your battery life.

    This is one of those features that seems like it should have been done a long time ago. However, I trust that Apple waited for the tech to catch up and the battery life to not be affected too much. ProMotion is a nice to have feature, but not a necessity unless you use it and then unfortunately it has now ruined me for other phones.


    There is simply no denying that this year if you want the best of the best the iPhone 13 Pro is the phone to go for. It offers significant upgrades over the already improved ‘regular’ line up but most of which users won’t notice. It is undeniable that the £170 extra gets you a much more capable phone that it’s hard to turn down if you know what you are looking for.

    The screen makes using the phone much smoother and enjoyable. The camera captures better images quicker and the battery gives you the confidence to do it all day. You will see loads of these in use over the next few months as people upgrade. Not because of these improvements but because it’s the new iPhone and that’s OK.

    You don’t need to be into specs to get the benefits. The iPhone 13 Pro improves the lives of average users and the experience of power users. It’s a win-win.

    iPhone 13 Mini Review: Problems Solved

    When the iPhone 12 launched I couldn’t make my mind up which one of the all-new line up I wanted. Granted it was a weird year with different release dates, but in the end I ordered them all. Which was an interesting endeavour to see the real-world differences between using them. Most of which are not obvious from simply reading professional reviews. At the time I stuck on the iPhone 12 Pro which I called the Goldilocks phone, but throughout the year I switched between almost all models because I am weak.

    They all had advantages and disadvantages. Despite all being great phones, almost all were the same old iPhone and didn’t do anything for me. All apart from the Mini version. If you will allow me to quote myself.

    when I set my hands on the iPhone 12 Mini it sparked something in me that I have not felt for a while. It was the same old iOS device I love, but it was different for a change. A truly modern smartphone in a small package with pretty much nothing taken away.

    All of those feelings are still strong, every time you handle the mini form factor. It does take a little getting used to, even more so if you’ve used larger phones, but there is much to be said about being able to reach the whole screen with one hand. Packing a 5.4″ screen, it’s only a fraction under the ones used on Plus sized phones in days gone by — but in a tiny little package. However you’re not going to be reading any books or scrolling through stuff for hours on this phone without some eye strain.

    The screen retains almost all of the specs from last years model, coming in at 476 ppi and the usual expected quality from Apple displays. Thankfully, it receives a boost in max brightness to 800nits, which only becomes apparent in bright sunshine, but it’s a welcome one. The iPhone 12 line struggled in some conditions despite its 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and True Tone technology. Thankfully no such issues plague either iPhone 13 version. You’ll also get a smaller notch in the screen too, but if you notice it you’re paying more attention than I do.

    Did I mention it’s small? Also light at only 140g, which rids me of the pinky pain that can strike with heavier phones. I know most phone reviews are written by individuals that have a few more years on me so are not bothered about carrying around a huge slab of glass, but for those of us more interested in having something more manageable, how great the phone is to use is already obvious from the words above.

    Build quality is exactly what you would expect from a top-of-the-line smartphone from Apple. I am still extremely negative towards the flat sides of the newer iPhones, but thankfully the ‘regular’ line of iPhones lacks the polished stainless-steel edges, so they are more smudge resistant. Unfortunately, the back of my Midnight version is not! The black(ish) version this year is a very dark blue that is a lot lighter than expected, with the glass back showing handling marks constantly.

    I usually shy away from spending too much time on the performance and ability of new iPhones. They have been faster and more powerful than users will ever need for some years now and that doesn’t change here. The A15 chip in all the new iPhones features improvements to last years A14 in both performance and battery life. I am sure you can find words about cores and GPUs in other places, but its hard to say anything about specs like this other than its great. Shrug emoji!

    Big Shooter

    The phone itself is ever so slightly thicker than last year, but you won’t notice it using the mini. Most of the heft is in the bigger camera system. One that takes the wide-angle lens that featured only on the iPhone 12 Max last year, combines it with what is, at first glance, the same ultra-wide from last year and puts it in a new diagonal set up.

    The conspiracy theorist in me side eyes the slight tweak to the camera positioning as a way to signal your use of the new phone, but Apple claim they had to move it slightly to fit everything in. Which is an amazing achievement. I find it incredible that the camera lens and sensor shift stabilisation that only featured in the biggest phone last year makes its way to the smallest handset available. Bravo to Apple for not taking the easy way out.

    What this means to users is that the new Wide sensor lets in 47% more light and keeps the sensors more stable than ever. The camera on the iPhone 13 is more confident than ever, providing faster capture, longer night mode shots and a better all-round experience than anything that I have used. Sure, not since the iPhone XS have I been disappointed in an iPhone camera update, but this one lives up to the hype.

    The iPhone 12 cameras, particularly on the Pro, were excellent shooter, but tended to blow out highlights if you are not paying attention. When things got dark, night mode helped, but without having the steadiest hand in the world, images often left you with a water colour rather than a pin sharp shot. With the new camera system and more processing power the cameras take a big leap forward.

    I can confidently wave the camera at almost any scene and get a great shot. Night mode needs around a second less in my testing to achieve better results than last year and shadows retain much more detail. Most people won’t notice the image improvements, because they were great before, but everyone will notice pictures are easy to take.

    I would have loved this to also feature the new ƒ/1.8 aperture ultra-wide from the pro models (Apple do claim the ultra-wide lens is ‘faster’) but I can’t have everything I suppose. There’s also no macro mode from the pro models, but in my testing, this isn’t as good as it is made out to be. All in all this is a significant improvement all around. Perhaps not enough to warrant an upgrade from the iPhone 12, but one that will make even pixel peepers happy.

    Big Cells

    The reality is I don’t use my phone all that much so When Apple introduced a mini version of an up-to-date smartphone it instantly grabbed my attention. The perfect handset for me. Well Almost. The iPhone 12 Mini lacked in battery life so badly that in the times I was away from home (few in 2020) it was always a concern — so I disappointingly went back to a regular 12 and sulked.

    In fact, it was the biggest compliant I saw from other users, or potential buyers. The battery life was average, as long as you didn’t expect to use it like a big phone. This year, the Mini sports what Apple claim is 1.5 extra hours of battery life – which is only a useful stat if you have something to compare that too.

    Apple figures are almost impossible to follow along with, and they use all sorts of figures to avoid telling you what to expect. In my testing the battery life is around 20% better than last year’s model. The iPhone 13 Mini lasts around as long as the iPhone 11, which is as Apple claim 17 hours of video playback.

    In the real world I can easily use my phone for 3–4 hours (I did it for science) and still have around 40% left. However, I don’t have notifications on for anything other than phone calls, messages, and emails, and don’t use many apps outside of banking, Twitter, Instagram etc. The iPhone 13 Mini still won’t stand up to someone using their phone lots (or so-called power users) but this phone is not the appeal for those people.

    I don’t have some anti-phone stance, but when I spend my days talking to my family, sat in a meeting with an iPad and Pencil or sat in front of an iMac the Mini is perfect. It fills the gaps I need it to but perhaps it won’t fill yours. It isn’t for everyone.

    Less Is More

    It’s not all good news though, because the small form factor has some downsides. Modern life seems to point most users towards a larger and larger device, so using a ‘smaller’ phone is not conductive to all tasks. I have small hands, to typing on the mini is great for me but everyone else I have shown it to struggles.

    There is a cultural expectation to be small phone adverse which becomes apparent when people ask about your phone. Others use words like “too small for me” or “its tiny” when in fact it isn’t small at all. Many of them are already using phones that are marginally bigger, if at all, but the Mini feels much more compact than it is.

    There is not much that can be said about the iPhone 13 Mini that isn’t summed up in a few words. It’s ultimately an iPhone so you know what you are getting, a top-of-the-line phone in a small package. The iPhone 13 Mini is an upgrade as if Apple went through the phone and ironed out the few, but large, issues from the iPhone 12 Mini. Meaning that it has stepped up in my estimations from a good phone to a great phone.

    The iPhone 13 Mini is bigger than ever. Bigger camera, bigger battery and sporting a much bigger appeal. I can recommend this phone to other people now, and I think the iPhone 13 Mini will be the phone most people should buy, but they won’t.

    The Wallpaper App V2

    When it comes to using your tech, there are few better feelings than slapping on a new wallpaper and feeling like you’ve got a brand-new phone. Being able to add in a high resolution backing to all your apps overtime you unlock your phone or tablet that shows of your personality sometimes takes a lot of thinking about. However, the new update to The Wallpaper App is the only tool you’ll ever need.

    Version two from indie dev Ben Harroway, speaker at WWDC 2019 and the brains behind Noisy Book App takes the already great app to a new level. I expected nothing less because when Ben produces apps he delivers in spades, with the second version packed full of customisable stunning wallpapers for iOS.

    One the day when some will be receiving their brand new iPhone 13, you can transform your current phone with a few taps. With a simple interface of taps and swipes you can scroll through the huge inventory of designs in-which you wont struggle to find something that takes your fancy. But don’t think this is just a glorified gallery. The Wallpaper App also allows you to customise all the designs to your liking. With almost infinite combination of design tweaks available along with the ability to personalised colours.

    So it doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to dark mode, need something bright and beautiful to cheer you up or are looking for a cool live wallpaper to show off to your friends, the version 2 update to the Wallpaper App has it all. I’ve Downloaded loads of them already for both my phone and iPad and you’d be hard push to no fill up a large part of your storage with gorgeous wallpapers – for £1.99 it’s an absolute bargain. #Notsponsored


    Using Craft For Daily Notes

    One of the most beneficial habits I have gotten into is taking daily notes, and I really wish I had started it earlier in life. My initial foray into Roam Research gave me the inspiration to start recording my day, simply because it is right in your face whenever you open the page. This practice has gone with me to my new home on Obsidian, then a few weeks ago Craft launched something so of course I checked it out.

    Craft is a strange app that I cant really work out. When it first launched it was pitched in a strange place that didn’t quite do 100% of anything I needed. It wasn’t quite a writing app that did everything a paid app should, but had a weird wiki kind of vibe to it. I can only describe it as if Notion and Bear Notes had a baby.

    Having tried, and not liked very much, Craft a couple of times already, it was only the update to include daily notes that peeked my interest. While I am no stranger to jumping around apps, I wasn’t quite ready to start messing around with my set up again. However there is no harm in trying things out without getting invested and this update is a huge one.

    By introducing a redesigned sidebar, Craft have allowed you to separate these notes away from everything else you want to write. Daily notes is a practice that I preach to almost anyone that will listen, the one thing that remains from my time using Roam Research. In these I record almost everything that happens during my working day, such as telephone calls, things I am thinking, interactions I have had and anything else I think I might need to refer back to later. This allows me to just get things out of my brain at the time they pop up so I can act on them later, or refer back to them if needed.

    One thing that Craft now does really well is the ability to take meeting notes. After you have granted the app permission it will display any calendar events and allow you to start a meeting note with one click. Information from the calendar event is populated into this, and the note then shows up in the daily note and also the in app calendar. I like to distribute the notes I have made later to those that have attended, or invited so being able to do this in PDF, docx or whatever method you need is really handy. If you adopt Craft for work, you can also share these with the users you need to and even mention them in the doc itself.

    Craft works with the now very popular method of back-linking meaning you can link notes together if needed and refer to them at later points. This is the real benefit of me being able to refer back to things I have recorded later on. This could be some bits of information that led to a meeting, or something as simple as an idea that I later turn into a blog post. In the screen shot above, I make a note at the end of the meeting to reference a new one set up (we usually agree on this and arrange the event in the meeting) so this then shows up when I start in the new meeting note. I can then open the note in split screen or a new tab and refer back really easily.

    Backlinks are also really handy when building out some knowledge and making notes around topics. Amazingly handy if you are studying something, but also useful for daily life. I get ideas quite often that pop up during my morning pages that i write out when first at my desk. I can then start to link recurring topics together really easily by using [[]]and searching for the old note. This isn’t as useful as the implementation in Roam or Obsidian, but its not far away and is a little more approachable.

    One update I would really love to see is the inclusion of unlinked references, and also improvements to the ability to search for individual block references inline. I don’t like taking my hands away from the keyboard when typing things out on morning pages, so this would be much better. However I realise that this isn’t Obsidian to I am happy to take some compromises.


    More often referred to as tasks, Craft has inbuilt checklists for you to be able to add in meeting actions in markdown or using its / command. Although Craft is no replacement for a task manager, you can use this as a sudo one for recording things to do. Each day will highlight any outstanding tasks next to the date. You can of course put these actions into your task manager of choice, Craft works really well with Things 3 providing a link back to the note in the tasks set up.

    With all that said, if you intend to use the tasks inside Craft please note that there is no easy way to see all set up items in one place. The only place these are highlighted is in the daily notes. I have reached out to the developers and they are intending to implement this soon.

    There you have it, a very brief dalliance with daily notes in Craft. It isn’t as fleshed out as I would like but it’s pretty robust if you are going in with no expectations. I am sticking to Obsidian for the time being, but will have half an eye on any updates coming out.

    Looking For My Perfect App

    It doesn’t exist. You can’t find everything you want from an app, it’s like finding a unicorn. You’re going to have to compromise in some areas to get something you’re happy with. These are all things I have heard said, or have been said to me when I have been looking for the perfect app previously. It doesn’t matter if it is a todo app, calendar app, or note-taking companion — the perfect thing just doesn’t seem to exist. Doesn’t stop me from looking though!

    I’ve been on a Jason Snell’esk search for a writing app, or service that can do everything that I need it to do. I started by outlining exactly what I needed and the ways I would attempt to rank the ability for this to be fulfilled. I needed:

    • Writing app that was accessible and nice to write in. My eyesight is not what it was, so I sometimes like to boost the font size when in ‘focus mode’.
    • Able to take quick notes
    • Supports markdown. This can be either plain text or a modified version that hides some syntax, the important part is I can type it out because that’s just how my fingers work across a keyboard.
    • Able to export as a PDF and Word document. I use these lots for storing documents for work use, and sending these out for approval. Word is what my bosses prefer to use.
    • Works well across iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

    Bear Notes

    This is an app I keep coming back to. I tested the beta versions, and have been testing the upcoming new version extensively on both Mac and iOS. The ‘notes’ app is amazingly powerful, so much so I wouldn’t consider it a notes app at all as it can go toe to toe with much larger and expensive apps.

    It looks great, incorporates the best iOS features such as shortcuts and widgets, and I can export all notes in a rage of formats including text bundle that I can publish straight to WordPress.

    However, I don’t love the tagging a system of organisation. I much prefer an inbox that I can sort and file things away. Where’s as by adding hashtags it gets some resemblance of order to it but still feels a little too chaotic with loads of notes.

    The exporting also lacks any level of customisation, and some styling of these takes a bit of editing before I can send.


    The new hotness in iOS text apps nudges in here simply because of how powerful it is. Not an app I would usually consider due to its strange way of doing things (I talk about this more in my newsletter) and it’s expense.

    With that said, Craft allows me to store almost every bit of text I could ever need from a simple note to writing a book if I ever needed too, all whilst looking brilliant and offering powerful export features.

    A massive positive is the organisation Craft uses, based on folders and areas, works more like my brain does. Meaning I can have an inbox full of ideas, work on writing posts, store information for my day job and be able to edit and export to email effortlessly.

    But… I just can’t get on board with some decision made with the app. Markdown is half-baked at best. For example, I cannot type in the image reference for an external image, it just disappears. Craft only support some Markdown syntax and not all of it, and there is also lots of UX weirdness I can’t wrap my head around.


    My favourite writing app for many years and one that I only recently stopped using because I moved away from Ghost. At the time I felt it was one of those apps I paid for simply because I always had, and it felt over engineered for my usage. Built more for real writers rather than bloggers.

    It supports loads of iOS features such as shortcuts, allow me to store documents in folders and offers me a useful inbox. Ulysses is also fantastic at exporting in a range of different options and even allows for custom styling of them.

    My only downfall really is that it doesn’t work very well as a note-taking app, or at least it doesn’t feel like it does. Starting can sometimes be a bit slow, so I would potentially have to use Apple notes for smaller things which is no hardship.

    Back Home

    Like some kind of cheating husband I have gone all around the houses only to realise the one I recently left is the best fit for me. There are a few things I’d love to see improved but in terms of ticking away at all the points above Ulysses fits me like a glove. When throwing my hands up in the air and re-downloading it the first launch just felt like home. As much as all these flashy new apps come on the scene, or I just start looking for no good reason, the tried and tested option is quite often the best.

    Special mention to:

    iA Writer — I love the interface, but I don’t really want to mess around with a folder full of files.

    Byword — the same as above really, I used to love this app, but it feels left behind.

    Apple notes — too much weirdness in pasting in information, particularly links. For some strange reason it still doesn’t support CMD+K on iOS.

    I am sure there are plenty of others out there I didn’t try, please don’t tell me then, just let me live in blissful ignorance!

    This Is Not A Note App

    Above is a screenshot of my second brain. Taken from the compact graph view of Roam Research showing all of the things I have typed into it in the last few months and their connections to each other. I have fallen off a little recently and being lax in typing out my morning pages and keeping track of everything (see point above about habits) but this is truly one of the best platforms I have ever become invested in.

    It contains all of my meeting notes, all of my to-do lists, all of my morning pages as well as everything else you would use a note app for. Combine this with Readwise, and it is starting to truly be my second brain and helping me retain more important stuff than ever. I have around 200 book and article notes stored in Roam, and the platform forms relationships between them without me doing anything, surfacing information to me at various points in the day to aid my life.

    It doesn’t matter if I am writing meeting notes, or a blog post, I can easily research any topics and Roam will give me prompts when I have covered the same things before even if I have not linked them together before. Leading to me to retain much less things in my brain and allowing me to concentrate on what is really important. So referring to Roam as a note taking app, and sneering at the price is redundant to me and many others that find the value that it provides priceless.

    The MagSafe Wallet on Each Size iPhone

    Yeah, I’m that guy this year. I couldn’t decide which iPhone size I wanted, so I got them all. It’s a weird position to be in but also provides me with some deeper insights into the real differences. I am not talking about specs and all those kinds of figures that people get too caught up in, the real things that make a difference to actually using the device. One of the strangest ones I have had to think about this year is the MagSafe wallet — so here is how it fits with each size iPhone.

    MagSafe Wallet iPhone 12 Mini 1

    iPhone 12 Mini

    The smallest of the bunch is, somewhat understandably, the worst one regarding the MagSafe wallet. The iPhone 12 Mini is the same width as the wallet and the magnet position mean it goes all the way to the bottom of the phone also.

    Meaning no margin for error, but a nice neat look and a perfect fit — in theory. In reality this means it’s the hardest to get on fully, and it’s also the easiest to move off the edge of the phone. The small size of the iPhone 12 Mini also means that it is the hardest to get off when you need to get a card out. Mainly because the only option you have is pushing it down from the top not side to side.

    Magsafe Wallet iPhone 12 Pro 1

    iPhone 12 Pro

    The best compromise in the sizes of iPhones is arguably the best size to use the MagSafe wallet with. When fitting the wallet you have some room around the phone to position the wallet securely if you don’t get it right straight away. Also some space on the back of the phone to remove the wallet easier when you need to get a card out.

    It lacks the neatness of the iPhone 12 Mini, but doesn’t look too bad at all. I have also found that when using the MagSafe wallet on the back of your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12, the phone is easier to hold. I feel much more comfortable using my phone out the house without a case when the wallet is attached enabling a bit more grip.

    MagSafe Wallet iPhoen 12 Pro Max 2

    iPhone 12 Pro Max

    If you’ve read this far, you’re interested in what the MagSafe wallet is like with the biggest iPhone ever! The iPhone 12 Pro Max is humongous so there is no getting around that the wallet looks, well a bit weird!

    There is quite a bit of room around the wallet, given the expansive slab of glass. It also moves around quite a bit when you are trying to use the phone, due to needing significant hand gymnastics. Quite often the MagSafe Wallet will move from side to side, and occasionally making me a little nervous!

    The positive is that there is plenty of room for you to move the wallet to the correct position if you get it wrong. However, I would love to see a bigger version for the Pro Max simply so it doesn’t look so lost on the back of the phone.

    MagSafe, especially the wallet, feels a little like version one so I am sure we will see revisions on future phones. Stronger magnets and better connections are a must as well as different sized accessories. However, the MagSafe wallet is a great addition to my fairly minimal lifestyle, so I’m pretty happy so far.

    Pixel 5 Review

    It’s been three years since I used a Pixel device. Not since the first version was I even motivated to pick one up and try it out. They all excelled in specific areas, but always suffered from some frankly jaw-dropping issues or hardware omissions — and when they somewhat sorted it all out with the Pixel 4 they wanted to charge premium prices and not deliver on the premium part.

    Something changed with the Pixel 5. Amid a pandemic Google began to focus on what they could do to bring a device together, and perhaps what their customers wanted. So instead of weird and wonderful new developments they absolutely promise to develop, they took half a step back. Creating a device that leans on tried and tested hardware, not the bleeding edge. Just reliable specs, done well and priced at a point that Google felt it can complete.

    At £599 in the UK (yay for no mmWave) it is a steal of a smartphone. Googles very own Android version, on hardware chosen to run it at peak optimisations — or at least thats what we are led to believe.

    Mid-tear Performance

    Despite there being loads of progress in this middle-top section (between £400-£800) the Pixel has an advantage that it is Googles flagship. So, it gets more development attention than many phones at this price point. While some companies cut things out to save costs and also not overshadow their top-tier handsets, Google can put in as much as they can for the price point they want to hit. While augments can be made that the Pixel 5 doesn’t have the bleeding edge of everything like other flagships, when you look at a phone such as the Note 20 Ultra, the Pixel 5 is half the price.

    In actual use these supposed cuts are mostly nowhere to be found. The Snapdragon 765G provides more than enough power for every situation. Sure it isn’t as powerful as the 865, but who actually uses the power that these chips possess? I would challenge anyone that uses this phone to find any stutter or lag, or any situations where the thought of having a more powerful processor ever crops up. Even whilst gaming and editing images the phone never misses a beat — I am sure you could find lag somewhere that is caused directly by the processor but I have never seen it.

    Hand and box 1


    In fact, this ‘cut’ leads to battery life that is truly unbelievable. Let me say that again because it has never happened on a Google phone before — the battery life is insanely good. In fact, I can’t kill it! 8 hours screen on time is achievable, and some of my more leisurely days this week I got almost two days of use. Something helped by Googles option for a more reserved battery life processor, and no doubt software optimisations, squeezed every minute possible out of the 4080mAh battery.

    Use it a lot I did because it is such a delight to use. The build quality feel, the ergonomic design and this hardware combination make a hard to resist package. Whilst the screen is a long way off the highest resolution on the market, its 6inch 1080 × 2340 (432 ppi) is one you won’t find major issues with, but it is very dim and the auto-brightness terribly slow.

    Some slowdown or issues you may usually find in mid range hardware is smoothed out by the 90hz. Colours are natural and very pleasing to the eye, while text is sharp and the screen is all around absolutely fine to use. As we find with many of the choices made when building the Pixel 5, many words are written about the lack or this and that — but when you actually use it the phone, you realise what really matters.

    There is no XL version this year, meaning that the Pixel 5 sits somewhere between the two, and with slim bezels and all metal build. In my opinion, this phone is the best feeling smartphone this year. The design may put some off as boring or utilitarian, but in a world on folding smartphones and weird innovations, Goole have carved out a simple but pleasing ‘candy bar’ smartphone that is both functional and still notably a Pixel.

    The Sage colour I have is the only colour you should consider, the black version just doesn’t have the same appeal as the mottled green matte resin Google have covered the back in. This covering over the Aluminium body provides some rigidity to the design, meaning that wireless coils can be covered up, and the device always feel welcoming.

    The design only broken by a slightly recessed fingerprint sensor, one that is fast and reliable and secure. It is a little strange to go back to rear mounted sensors after using more modern biometric options, but after a few moments it becomes smooth and natural, and you begin to wonder why things ever changed. Face unlock is fine, but this phone was designed in a pandemic, so you can understand the switch.

    Camera shot 1


    Since the very first version, Google put all its marketing and development into the Pixel Camera. It took top marks on DxOMarkMobile then, and has ranked very highly since then. The Pixel 5 continues this successful trend of doing more with less, and takes some truly amazing pictures. Its focus on black magic level image processing has led it to be lauded above many much more expensive phones and while it is still an extremely great camera, this year the sensor has really started to show its age.

    Google definitely has its reasons, it couldn’t find another sensor to work very well with its processing algorithms, there is no avoiding the fact that newer more modern sensors are frankly much better. The 12MP IMX363 which first appeared on the Pixel 3, and is not far removed from the one on the Pixel 2, is now a long way behind larger higher quality sensors. While Google bridged the gaps with software in days past, the competition now takes as good, if not better shots.

    With that said, the Camera is a delight to use — capturing images quickly and easily and achieving photos to be proud of in almost any situation. It punches well above it weight at only £599, and the edition of an ultra-wide lens makes it much more versatile.

    The Pixel 5, as with those that have gone before it, excels in low light, and makes a mean portrait, but most of this is post-processing, so what you see in the preview window might not actually what the image turns out as. It also could be different again when you look at the photo on Google Photos later. Frankly that is usually a great thing, if a little baffling at first, and Google makes it easier to edit or revert changes made. Introducing a process of being able to change the angle of the light in portrait shots. Something that I feel only Google would do, and is amazing to play with, but ultimately, one of those features no-one uses.



    Which brings us to a larger discussion about Google and Pixel version of Android. It’s a version that crops up nowhere else. A few that get close, but no-one does it as well. The Pixel always stays true to a Google vision of their OS, pushing features to it first, or sometimes exclusively to the Pixel Line.

    This is one huge reason why the Pixel doesn’t need the top of the range processor because Android on the Pixel is nearly always fast and smooth. You get updates first, with Android 11 on board a long time before some are every shipping Android 10 to handsets. Google have also promised this for three years from release, so users will always be up to date — but what happens when Android isn’t optimised for this processor is anyone’s guess.

    There are loads of software delights that you sometimes stubble on such as the power menu now highlighting compatible smart home gadgets and Google Pay cards. Unfortunately, my version does not feature the Google Assistant On Hold feature as it is US only, but does have live transcribe for any audio just a tap away at any point.

    Google want Android to be as useful as possible while collecting data it can use to sell you things and companies adverts. We are all well are of that, and Android on the Pixel is the best possible version of that. You forgive the little quirks and the pestering for maps reviews because the OS is straightforward and a delight to use. Surfacing information, sending you notifications when you need them and being all around a great experience. There is nothing getting in the way on a Pixel, no third-party layers of options, not OEM themes. Just you and Google, and I like that.

    In hand 1


    It’s easy to sum up a Pixel device. Good software, great camera and some compromises somewhere — but with the Pixel 5 they have found their hardware mojo. By actually stepping back and building a device for the current circumstances, they have made ultimately a better phone. No gimmicks, nothing new to learn, just tried and tested hardware all wrapped up in hardware that delivers.

    I feel like my review is about a thousand words too short, but because we know what we are getting with Googles best the words have already been written. The Pixel 5 does open up a more interesting topic around the demand for keeping up to a specification race no-one needs, but when you pick up the device and use it all of that falls away.

    You can point at this spec and that spec, but when you combine these things together in a Google package the Pixel 5 punches well above its weight. Although the camera shows its age, it’s still a delight to use and its software smarts sorts out shooting errors anyway. This is easily the best Pixel ever — and I wouldn’t recommend you buy anything else unless the few ‘cuts’ are things you simply can’t do without.

    iPhone 12 Pro Thoughts

    After using as many phones as I have over the last 12 months you begin to see things a little differently to just swopping your sim out once a year. While it’s easy to get complacent and just move to the next phone, I simply can’t do that and have to give each phone at least a couple of weeks try whatever my initial feelings are. Some I love and then fall away from quickly like the Galaxy Fold 2, some I love all the way through like the Note 20 Ultra, and some leave me perplexed from the very start.

    Unfortunately my beloved iPhone does that to me this year, so I feel compelled to share some initial thoughts on the iPhone 12 Pro — but this is far from a review.


    There are no words I can say to sum up this design change that do anything other that tell you how much I hate it! I love the look of the square sides and am all for bringing the design in line with the iPad Pro because that also looks great. However, there is a reason every other thing you hold is as curved as possible, your hand doesn’t like it any other way.

    I love the iPhone 5 design, its boxes neatness is one I still keep around in the form of an SE, and sometimes just look at it and appreciate it. Times have changed though, phones no longer feature 4-inch displays and weigh 113g. They contain 6.1” screens and are built of premium materials weighing 182g and frankly it hurts a little.

    Granted it is early days, and things sometimes take a little getting used to but I really don’t like it at all. The boxy design looks great but functions terribly to a point where I don’t think I want to use it any longer. I can’t get behind a design that makes the phone feel much thinker than the iPhone 11 Pro, when in fact it isn’t!

    Rutland270920 5


    Outside of this the iPhone 12 Pro retains everything else that is great about an iPhone. Featuring the same matt back that the iPhone 11 had, meaning that going caseless doesn’t mean you need a polishing rag with you at all times — at least not for the back. The Pacific Blue version I have has a polished band around the sides that is one of the hardest things to keep clean I have ever come across! The white iPhones have struggled with this issue much longer, but unfortunately, there is more surface area on the sides now, or they are easier to see, whatever the reason it’s a fingerprint magnet.

    Battery life seems to be OK, sitting here on Wi-Fi 90% of the time, but is noticeably worse in current usage. It’s never going to run out on me given my more limited usage, but I am using it much more in this ‘getting to know you’ phase of my testing. Those venturing out and even more so when using 5G may have an issue on their hands, but we will see how this goes. I have noticed it getting hot a few times, so this may just be things settling down and syncing from the cloud still. I can’t see an issue with 6+hours of screen on time though.


    Unfortunately due to being isolated, I haven’t had much chance to really try the camera out other than wandering around my house and snapping a few shots. In good light it is great, as was the iPhone 11 Pro, so this comes as little surprise. Images retain loads of detail, great dynamic range and the new HDR processing is a big leap forward.

    In terms of the camera as a whole, this isn’t a huge improvement, but you are hardly going to get this given that last years iPhone 11 Pro is easily the best smartphone camera on the market. Others do well, with the Note 20 a delight to use, but the iPhone just gets it right so often with little work. The biggest improvement is in the fine detail captured, deep fusion works on all cameras this year and you can really see this at work.

    The post-processing at work on the iPhone 12 Pro seems to take it easier than ever before. I don’t see nearly as much grain from iOS trying to lighten things up too much, and it keeps shadows much darker. I much prefer the look of the more natural colours in iOS photos, and I am glad to say nothing changes in this years phone — no weird skin smoothing either.

    It is impossible for me to say for sure at this stage, but portrait shots seem much easier to shoot than ever before, no doubt helped by the LIDAR sensor. Night mode portraits are great unless there is too much backlight, but only work with the wide sense and not the usual 2x.


    I am conflicted. I have bought the new iPhone every year since the iPhone 6 and used them all the way through. Not because better phones don’t exist, but because iPhone suits me much better than anything else. I am not a ‘power user’ which is a euphemism for use your phone far too much, so I do not need top of the line everything. For the last few months I have been using an iPhone SE as my ‘home’ phone and it is one of the best phones I have ever bought.

    Undoubtably the iPhone 12 Pro is much better than anything else available, but I just don’t enjoy using it. The camera is indeed great, but it was great last year too. I am so disappointed by the feel of the phone in my hand that I am considering returning it pretty much straight away. The only thing stopping me is my desire to give the phone real usage, and my thoughts may change…perhaps.

    Roam Research As My Second Brain

    I have only written very briefly about my rapid adoption of Roam Research to dump all of my stuff into. In depth words are hard for me to sum up, I struggle to even bring together an outline of how I use it, simply because it is so flexible and powerful. I use it for everything from meeting notes to journalling, I put almost everything that I think about in here to form my second brain.

    This is a widely used term to describe the process of loading everything to another place. Most people associate this with a note app, but it doesn’t have to be digital at all, it can simply be a notebook or task manager. I have tried this several times, and adopted Evernote and Apple Notes at different points in my life. Although they are both great apps, I could never access the information when I wanted to — or even better, when I wasn’t even aware I needed to.

    By building out my second brain on Roam I can link together ideas that come from many places and piece them all together with ease. Of the notes apps I have tried, they make the process of storing and retrieving them liner by nature, whereas by using a bi-directional linking model, as Nat Eliason puts it, Roam allows “notes live nowhere and everywhere”.

    New notes are created with minimal interaction, and because of the powerful underlying technology, ideas start to come together without any interaction from me. It only gets more useful the more information you put into it, linking together words and phrases that surface when I need them to. It is a strange system to get use to, and an expensive one to buy into, but it has already proven its worth for all aspects of my life and I truly can never go back.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G Review

    About 10 months ago, I was invited down by Samsung KX to have a few hours hands on with their first folding phone. Mere months after it had been recalled due to major issues with the device, it was back with a bang, and already picking up quite a following. The appeal of having a tablet folded up in your pocket had a much larger pull than the £1500 price tag, as was the exciting move forward in technology that Samsung had been teasing for years.

    Despite really liking the phone, it wasn’t ready for me to splash my own cash on it, there were far too many compromises with handset for me to bear. Fast-forward to now as the second version goes on sale, with many of the first versions issues fixed — but with a hefty price increase. Has Samsung done enough to justify the £1800 ($2000) price tag?

    Premium Feel

    There are lots of people that get annoyed when you talk about the price of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in reviews. They think that this shouldn’t be brought into it as there is nothing that lives up to the Folds usability. While this true, it is impossible to escape the £1800 price tag and the expectations it brings with it. You expect a premium smartphone with top of the line specs — and that is exactly what you get from the handset. In the hand it feels nothing short of magical, the weight (282g) is impossible to describe as anything else but heavy, but in the hand it is balanced perfectly.

    Especially folded, the unit sinks into your hand with a reassuring heft. Samsung have done some great engineering to get all the technology in this size package, but you feel the weight every time you use it. There are no creaks or cracks from this Uber Smartphone, so the engineering needs some special appreciation when compared to others on the market.

    Samsung have developed the hinge much further forward when compared to last years unit, and taken over much of the function from the Z Flip. Four CAM hinges allow the phone to be oped to whichever angle you wish, and provides more resistance to opening to allow more usability. Combined with a sweeper system to remove dust from the hinge should mean that this unit resists the issues plaguing the first attempt, and certainly those still using the Z Flip support this claim.

    This re-engineered hinge further adds to the premium feel for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, where every part of the hardware feels thought through and designed to exude a certain type of extravagant image. As Flossy Carter says, you are going to see lots of images of these on tables surrounded by glasses of Cristal. There is a certain exuberance to the Galaxy Fold 2, and lots of flexing going on simply because it delivers on it premium price tag.


    Perhaps the number one complaint against the first version of the Galaxy Fold was the tiny cover screen. While perfectly useful for notification triaging, on a device so futuristic it felt out of place. So, understandably this is the first thing that is immediately obvious when using the Fold 2. The cover screen now fills almost the entirety of the front of the phone minus a small hole punch camera cut out.

    At 6.2” (2260×816 – 386ppi – 60hz ) the cover screen is now more usable, and even if a bit narrow to type on, is perfect for quick tasks or responding to notifications. Enabling swiping on the keyboard makes interacting with the keyboard at bit easier, but this is not to say it is impossible. The tall, narrow screen is perfectly suited to scrolling through emails or social media. Using the cover screen grows on you more than the last version ever did, and I found myself interacting with it much more than I thought I would.

    Z Fold 2 Review 06 1

    However, why have a huge screen and not use it, open up the fold and the beauty of the screen is a wonder to behold. Samsung have done away with the huge notch from the first version as well as boosting the size and refresh rate (2208×1768 – 373ppi – 120hz). Dubbed the ‘Infinity Flex’ display, it goes closer to the edge now, encompassing the whole of the device, bar Samsungs signature hold punch.

    Apps in use on the cover screen carry over to the inside screen (bar a little bit of weirdness from some), to give you something truly immersive. When using the inner screen it feels like you are moving pixels around the screen. The adaptive display varies refresh rate from 11zh all the way up to 120hz, meaning that no matter that you are doing you will get great battery life and also a smooth scrolling experience. The Jelly scroll that the original fold suffered from is not completely removed but almost impossible to spot.

    It’s hard to find a downside to this gorgeous display, games look great, reading is brilliant and videos immersive. When open the device feels balanced and perfectly poised in your hand for media consumption, and many users will see little reason to use anything else for all of their needs. The inner display is truly why you would buy the Galaxy fold, and this version truly delivers.

    Of course there is one, the screen has a crease in the middle that is hard to avoid. Much like any other foldable, you can feel it in usage, you can see it in some instances but not every one. The great thing is that it does not take away anything when you are using the device, it doesn’t stick out and in fact soon fades into the background like a notched screen, or the camera hole punch.


    So, you want to actually use the thing right? Well all of that reassuring weight we have spoken about, it’s also going to affect it in your pocket and in your hand. There is no getting away from this phone/tablet hybrid being heavy. I found myself struggling to hold it up when open, and resorted to using both hands most of the time — but that’s the point right.

    In this heavy package you get two screens, and battery life that will get you loads of screen onetime if you use the larger screen most of the time — and considerably more if you use the outer screen more. Even in the first week of me using the Fold 2 and playing with it what felt like constantly, I would still be at more than 25% when going to bed. You should comfortably be able to get 6hours of screen on time and still have battery left over, which is amazing results considering battery life should also get better as the OS analyses my usage and improves things. If the next model slims things down, I would hope that battery life stays as good as it is because an increase in weight is worth it.

    You can’t expect a Galaxy fold to be as light as a regular phone can you, this is simply the trade off with wanting and using one of these devices. While something like the Z flip balances the reassuring weight without feeling clumsy, the Z Fold feels a little unwieldy when out and about. Bending the phone slightly helps to fit it better in your hand, but obviously adds a little distortion to the screen.

    Z Fold 2 Review 08 1

    Flex Mode

    Expanding on the special mode introduced with the Z Flip, the Z Fold 2 allows apps to take advantage of a partially folded state. As an example Youtube in Flex mode shows a video on the top half of the screen, allowing you to interact with the comments on the bottom half. Google Duo also supports this as does the native camera app.

    The limited nature of this and the lack of visual clues means you may spend a bit of time experimenting to find out what does and doesn’t support it — and often this is more no than yes. I am yet to find any reason to use it outside of novelty, especially given the lack of people actually using Google Duo. I wouldn’t go out of my way to encourage others to use it, just so I can flex my phone.

    More often that not, a partial flexed form is used simply to enable me to set my phone down and still watch a video, or prop it up to keep an eye on the time. As app developers update apps we might see some more innovative use of flex mode, but given the lack of support so far I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Tablet Mode

    Which leads me into another issue with app support, and the lack of tablet layout from apps. It could be the weird aspect ratio, it could be Android apps as a whole, but many apps make little use of the bigger screen.

    Apps like Outlook are a delight to use, and offer different layouts and view options, but most just put more content on the screen with no options to increase text size or improve readability. Samsung does offers options in settings to choose between blowing the app up or trying to force more content. Combined with further options in Samsungs own Goodlock app, you can tune most things to work, but it takes a considerable amount of work.

    Muti-Tasking Master

    All these words can be ignored if you want the biggest screen possible on a smartphone to do your ‘stuff’. If you need a device to work on the go, consume loads of media, or just want to blow everything up as large as possible you’ll put up with all the downsides.

    Samsung have put in a great deal of work to make the Fold 2 take advantage of the large inner screen and make it as useful as possible. It is a delight to use two apps side by side when multi taking. Having email and calendar up on the screen while talking on the phone, or simply watching YouTube while texting is quite frankly a transformative experience. Sure you can do that on a tablet, but you can’t then fold it up and put it in your pocket. If being productive on the go is your bag, then this needs to be your phone.

    I am on the fence about how usable Flex mode is, but the amazing app pairing done by OneUI is something that you may struggle to live without. Other phones such as the Note20 Ultra do this as well, but nowhere near on the same level.

    Z Fold 2 Review 05 1


    The Galaxy Z Fold 2 runs on Android 10 and has Samsungs One UI 2.5 on top of this to add in additional features. It comes bundled with the expected Google services but also several Microsoft ones baked in, such as syncing your photos to OneDrive. There is very little to say about Android nowadays, as it functions exactly as expected and is intuitive to use. The tie with Microsoft is due to get stronger with improvements to note and reminders syncing with MS products as they take aim at productivity customers.

    Unfortunately, for Samsung, they seem to never really get services 100% correct. Photo sync only works with a Microsoft account, not a Microsoft 365 account which is frankly bizarre. A Microsoft 365 calendar does not sync to the stock calendar unless you instal the Samsung email app, yet you are encouraged to use Outlook.

    Samsung does provide, in my opinion, the best extension or ‘skin’ on Android around today. Samsung’s design and user experience are often a delight to use. They have really thought about a modern design that doesn’t deviate too far from stock Android design, but offers something uniquely Samsung. Of course that is a subject view point, but since OneUI was introduced the design and implementation of their software has improved dramatically.

    I just wish Samsung didn’t feel the need to fill their apps full of adverts, or useless information at every turn. Even the default weather app has news articles and rubbish crammed in it for no good reason. I know it takes very little to change these apps to others, I just don’t expect to see these kinds of things in default apps on an £1800 phone. Some users have already reported adverts and the usual shady tactics by Samsung, something that needs to be fixed if they want to be taken seriously.

    Changes to your life

    When you adopt the Fold 2 it changes the way you use your phone. Both in a positive and a negative way. The large screen allows you to do things that you simply can’t any other phone, it provides something that only the Z Fold can provide. It is in essence a folding tablet, and there are adjustments you will have to make to the way you use it.

    Taking out the Fold 2 and walking around gives you a level of anxiety that nothing else has given me. The slippery body and high price tag make me nervous every time my phone makes a noise. There are already reports of some dropages, and it seems to hold up pretty well, but the lack of cases and expected large repair bills leave me worried, and I am not the only one. Due to longevity worries on the UTG screen and no IP rating, users are worried even about cleaning the device correctly.

    The inner screen still has a tendency to scratch easily, and you’ll need to take some extra care. You won’t be using this at the beach, or throwing it into the bottom of a bag, but if long-time users of other foldable phones are anything to go by it should hold up ok. It is just another thing you need to think about when choosing a device like this.

    I have to treat this phone with an extra amount of care, and in some instances change the way I use it. Which is what a foldable device dictates, you are carrying around a huge screen in your pocket and as such you’ll be opening it as much as possible to really take advantage. The screen draws you in and makes many tasks much easier, such as typing out a long email on the split keyboard.



    If there is anything I can point the finger at that is simply not good enough it is the camera. There is nothing inherently wrong with the shooter, but at this super flagship price point it is simply not good enough.

    You can get some good shots from it, but be prepared to work for them and chuck 30–40% of them in the bin. In good light you are going to be happy with almost everything you take, despite not holding the most amount of detail they could, shots are bright and as with all Samsung images retain a vibrant saturation. In any other situation they are grainy, washed out and suffer from some kind of strange skin smoothing effort despite the option being switched off.

    When trying to discus this with others that have the phone you are told to use Pro mode and do this and that, or simply blamed for the results. While it great that these options exist for you to have control over the image you take, I don’t feel you should have to do this is take a good shot. Undoubtedly the Galaxy Z Fold 2 gets the job done but when great cameras like the iPhone 11, Pixel 4 and OnePlus 8 take images with zero input, this camera falls well short of what I expect.

    Z Fold 2 Review 09 1

    There are other things you get with this phones camera that no one else provides. The huge screen is the best view finder possible, even if it does feel like you’re one of those people that takes pictures with a tablet. As well as the software ‘flex mode’ allowing you to set the phone down half flexed to stabilise your image, or simply view images you have snapped in the bottom half. Bear in mind though you have to place the phone down on its screen to do this.


    While I would stop short of recommending this phone to others because of cost and the ways in which you need to change the way you use your phone, for a certain type of user this is going to be invaluable. It provides something to no other device on the market can provide, not just in the way it works, but the way it makes you feel. You feel as though you are using a little slice of the future and getting something out of your phone that no-one else does.

    I can somewhat forgive the camera because I am getting a folding device that immerses me into whatever I want to do. You can play games, multi-task and consume media on this like no other device can and that speaks volumes. I love the Galaxy Z Fold 2 because it has that little something about it, it’s not the best at everything but it provides something unique and does it brilliantly.

    If you really want a folding tablet, then look no further than this model. It fixes all the issues from the first one and puts them in a premium package that feels worth very bit of the price you are paying. But let’s be clear, to buy the Galaxy Z Fold 2 you need to really want a folding tablet because you will pay for it. Both in the high price tag and also in the caveats of having such a large device.

    It comes down to do the advantages of having such a large screen to use, out weigh the downsides of carrying it around on your pocket all the time. For me, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 feels like wearing your winter coat all year because it is cold half the time, but for others this is going to be a game changer.

    Wahoo Element Bolt Review

    Wahoo Element Bolt Hero

    I know exactly what you’re thinking. What exactly is this thing and how can I use this with my iPad? Well, this is something completely different, something I use for my new love cycling, but it’s still a gadget and well worth a review. So here are my thoughts on the Wahoo Element Bolt from my relatively new to cycling point of view.

    There are loads of opinions out there already about what bit of kit to get to display your cycling info. Wahoo Element Bolt reviews are mainly written by almost professional cyclists, so I hoping my opinions and thoughts fit in somewhere for those of us not putting out unbelievable times. Indeed technology like this isn’t new, but its leaps and bounds above what was capable only a few years ago. From my novice experience of riding, this is my first computer since those cheap little boxes that you had to attach a magnet to your spokes, but when considering upping your game and spending a bit more time in the saddle there are only two things to consider.

    Tracking All The Things

    Do you want to track everything with your phone, and if not, do you buy a Garmin or a Wahoo? The more established Garmin has plenty of fans, but the real attraction for me was the huge battery life leap from the Wahoo, and the relatively cheep price. Yes this thing is going to set you back around £190, but it gives you an all singing all dancing cycle computer that should last you years.

    The normal metrics are on board. Screens can be customised to show you speed, time, distance, power, heart rate, elevation and many more. So purists can see this live, review it later and export all the information their heart desires. That wasn’t why I bought this though. I am pretty sure that’s not why anyone would spend this kind of money on a training aid, because it can be done cheaper. Really the beauty of the Wahoo Element Bolt is its integrations with tools that make your cycling better.

    Wahoo Element Bolt Screens 1

    It offers turn by turn navigation, live tracking links to share with friends, route planning and wireless connection to a whole range of other products. This little black box has very quickly become one of my favourite things. Not because it gives me power output and speed information, because it lets me plan my route ahead of time and tells me where to go.

    It has taken me from doing the same old routes to exploring more and finding my way around with confidence. I knew my local back roads very little considering I have lived here for more than 10 years, but using the companion app or online services live Strava, I can plot out a ride and complete it with much less stress. I am sure all the analytics displayed are important to those more deeply into cycling, but that’s just not me at the moment.

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    Smart Connection

    Initial setup of the Wahoo Element Bolt requires very little user input, but it does require a smartphone to set it up on first boot. After using it for signing in and setting up, you will also need the companion app connected if you want to customise anything. This wont be an issue for almost anyone but unfortunately as with all companion apps, it is terribly designed. Thankfully the Element app is very easy to use and understand. Here you can also connect your Wahoo Element Bolt to other services such as Strava, Komoot and even Apple Health on iOS.

    You can also connect the Wahoo Element to other Bluetooth and WiFi extras such as heart rate monitors, power sensors and loads of other options. If like me you have the Shimano DI2 with wireless you can even set up the two buttons on the shifters to change pages on the Wahoo. You can connect it to just about anything and any service imaginable.

    Using Apple Health to triage all of your rides is a great tool, and counts towards your daily move goal as long as you sync through Strava. For some reason I couldn’t get the Wahoo Element app to give Apple Health any calorie information, yet Strava does after a bit of setup. Unless you need to change the screens of the unit or check for an update reliance on the smartphone app is minimal if you use other services such as Strava. Allowing customisation through the app is a clever decision and removes the need for a touchscreen on the unit meaning interaction is done by good old trusty buttons.

    Wahoo Element Bolt Review 1

    This is great if you live somewhere like the UK and need to wear gloves often. The three buttons on the front and two on the side allow for changing pages of information or zooming in and out of the displayed navigation map. The screen is bright and easy to read whatever the weather. Despite being criticised as only being black and white I think this is the right decision for ease of use.

    If you are the type of rider that takes your phone out with you so you stay connected, the Wahoo Element Bolt will also flash up messages and phone calls if you wish. Meaning you will still be contactable when out and about. The screen will show a preview of any messages, with customisable sound and LED alerts to something that needs your attention.

    The strip of LEDs across the top can also be customised to alert you to different kinds of things. From Strava sections, to navigation alerts or your training metrics you want to highlight. This unit really does have it all for beginners to elite athletes.

    Better By Design

    Wahoo have made several design choices when producing the Element Bolt that all play together to build a complete package. Decisions such as the black and white screen don’t detract from the unit in anyway, save battery life and increase the visibility when out cycling. Something that may seem like a ‘con’ when compared to much of the Garmin range is actually the right decision.

    Bolt aero 1

    This rings even more true when you consider that battery life is absolutely insane. I have never used an alternative, however Wahoo claim it is up to 300% better than the Garmin 520 and even a 3 hour ride while navigating clips the battery by only 40%. Given the size of the Wahoo Element Bolt, that is pretty amazing battery life.

    Wahoo have also thought about the Aerodynamics of the unit when designing. Claiming 50% less drag than competitors, with a sleek and all in one deign that clips safe and secure to its holder with zero fuss. I’m not looking to shave seconds off my ride here, but I appreciate something well designed and doesn’t look like you’ve attached a huge tablet to your handlebars. The Wahoo Element Bolt will pretty much go unnoticed when you don’t need it, but provide everything when you do.


    With all of this packed into hardware that Wahoo claims has 50 percent less drag than a Garmin Edge 520, and triple the battery life there isn’t a lot not to love. If your buying this to shave off a few seconds in a time trial, its got you covered. If indeed your training had reached it peak and you need another push forward, this will help. However if you need something to help you get out and about a bit more and help you along the way as an enthusiast then the Wahoo Element Bolt is pretty perfect too.

    Charty: Plot Data Directly From Shortcuts

    If you’ve followed me for a while, you will already know my love of iOS automation. I am not Chris Lawley level of obsessed, but anything to make my daily life easier and I am all in! Shortcuts (and before that Workflow) is by far my favourite app for doing this, but the real beauty of Shortcuts is all the apps it plugs into. Almost everything on your home-screen can be automated, and a whole lot more. New app Charty is aiming to remove the hassle of creating graphs and charts, and launches today.

    This is one of those apps that at first you dismiss, but when actually looking around the app you realise just how helpful it can be. That’s because developer Rodrigo Araújo has thought about almost every aspect of the app. Building on the success of his first app ChartStat he aims to make it easy for everyone to visualise any kind of data.

    Image 06 05 2020 07 57 1There are 27 examples already included in the app ready to be imported into Shortcuts. These powerful Shortcuts can plot data you probably already have on your phone but don’t really look at that often. Displaying them in any of the available 5 different types – bar, line, scatter, pie and donut.

    From there it is amazingly easy to create powerful algorithms that process and create your visualisations from inside Shortcuts. The really great things is that now you can begin to not only collect and store data using Shortcuts, but also combine it with utilities such as DataJar to build really powerful tools.

    I have been using this quite a bit to plot out my heart rate changes over time, and my distance cycled due to my attempt to get fitter. The graphs in Apple Health are very restrictive so I am over the moon this app makes it easy for me to compare and highlight fitness issues. The graphs are amazingly customisable so I see exactly what I am exporting. I can then send these wherever I like to save and refer back to later.

    In my limited use the app has already proved really helpful. Everyone should give it a go just for the amazing alternative icons. With that said I expect to see Matt Birchler really putting this to work over the next few weeks — he loves a graph!

    Charty is available now for free with 4 Shortcut actions available — New Chart, Add Series To Chart, Delete Chart and Get Information From All Chart. You can upgrade the app for a one off payment of $4.99 to get extra shortcuts actions as well as a whole load of extras, but if you purchase this within the first month of release it will only be $2.99.

    iPad Pro Magic Keyboard First Impressions

    When is it too early to give your opinions on a product? This seems a pretty blurred line. Dependent a lot of the time on the type of review you want to give. It’s a debate for another time, because I have had my hands on the new Magic Keyboard for my 2018 iPad Pro for just a few hours and already have loads of thoughts to share — but a full review will follow later.

    I have, for the most part, been avoiding the weirdly negative reviews and comparisons that focus on small issues blown out of proportion. As I covered in my newsletter, I’ve been really excited to get this keyboard and it arrived a day later than it was supposed to. So I found myself consuming quite a few reviews to satiate my desire to use it. But that is not to say that if I had been forced to write this within the first hour or so of taking the Magic keyboard out the box my feelings would have been very different.

    It’s Heavy

    Let’s get this out the way straight away. Attaching the Magic Keyboard to your iPad Pro makes it heavier. Not just a bit heavier, there is a lot more weight and no avoiding this. This keyboard is not a Smart Keyboard by any stretch of the imagination. So if you’re looking for something similar you’re going to be very disappointed.

    Many reviews have focused on this. While comparisons to the weight of laptops and other Windows variations are somewhat valid, they are a little logically flawed. Sure it’s about the same weight as a MacBook Pro, so is the argument that I should carry that instead? Whereas it’s down to the weight you want to carry. Without getting into the specs of the different machines and OS, there are some huge differences. I can’t take the screen off a MacBook, nor annotate a PDF by drawing on the screen, so we are not comparing Apples here. If I’m going to carry 3lb I will carry a 12.9” iPad and Magic Keyboard no question — whereas many others may not.

    Now we have that out of the way, we can move on. There are numerous reasons for the weight of this accessory, which I wont go into here, but it ads a proper keyboard. Gruber summed it up best when he described previous attempts iPad keyboards as covers you can type on. There was nothing wrong with these versions, I used them very happily for a long time. Whereas this is a proper, full sized keyboard with back light and decent key travel. With a trackpad thrown in for good measure. This is tiny when compared to any other Apple version but about the same size as everything else on the market. One thing to note is that it is ridiculously loud when clicking.

    The keyboard keys are’t quite as bad, but they are not far off. They give in my opinion a perfectly clicky feedback. With the right amount of movement in the keys to make typing a delight. Typing on them feels somewhere between the current Mac Magic Keyboard, with a little of the stiffness of the butterfly keyboard left in. But to be clear these are lovely scissor switches, so lets hope they last.

    I have no reason to think they wont, because everything about the unit feels premium and worth the money. Sure this is an expensive accessory, but in a world where the Smart Keyboard Folio is £199, for the extra £150 you get much more for your money. One of my initial trepidation’s was the rigidity of the keyboard when using it on my lap, but I am happy to report there is zero flex. Both of the hinges for positioning the iPad feel study and robust, clicking into place with reassuring tactile feedback.

    Apple ipad pro keyboard now available 04152020 1

    Screen Positioning

    The Magic Keyboard floating style is quintessentially Apple. Say what you want about a better design, but this screams designed in Cupertino. You’re going to see loads of these in coffee shops when we are allowed out again. That’s not to say the design is the right choice, thats a very personal opinion. It just looks like something Apple would do. The design also brings the iPad closer to your face which is a nice touch, saving some neck ache. The two hinges allow movement from 90 to 130 degrees.

    This range of movement sounds like plenty depending on your usage. I am not getting into the whole drawing mode debate comparing to something that has never been advertised, but unfortunately it isn’t much movement at all. I feel as if the screen positions are almost as limiting as they were before. This isn’t going to bother me going forward and I completely understand why it is like this. However the furthest 130degree position is just about suitable for my needs and at this point  still feels a little top heavy when on my lap.

    Wants For The Future

    It is very early days in my usage, and despite my early disappointment I am happily typing away on it.

    The Magic Keyboard feels very much like a first-gen product with some important lessons learnt from the covers that have gone before. There are design choices that have been made to get the best from the form factor. Ultimately boiling down to a few nitpicking details.

    I’d love to see the power connector able to also transfer data so I don’t need any more dongles hanging out the side, but this would mean a redesign of the iPad technology rather than a better case.

    I would also like to see the keyboard get a row of function keys or at the very least an FN key to perhaps use the numbered row. I don’t adjust the backlight to my keyboard very often, but when I do I expect it to be right in front of me along with volume control and screen brightness.

    I will refrain from any major judgements just yet and save them for a full review, but there are surprisingly few things I would change, and none that put me off completely.


    With all things said, this is the sort of keyboard I have always wanted for my iPad. The robustness of a proper keyboard was without doubt a limiting factor in previous years and one of the reasons I started using a Laptop again.

    The iPad Pro Magic Keyboard is the best keyboard you can get for your iPad Pro but its far from perfect. This isn’t;t going to be for everyone. If you want a laptopesk experience on iOS then look no further. For anything else, move along.

    One Week With the New 2020 iPad: Moving Back to Small

    Josh Ginter wrote:

    The 12.9-inch iPad Pro excels on a desk, but grinds to a halt everywhere else. I haven’t picked up or walked around with the big iPad Pro in about six months and haven’t read with it on the couch in even longer. I often use the big iPad Pro at the office to digitally sign PDFs, but even that feels like a rewrite of all those clipboard adventures from sixth grade science class.

    I just can’t agree with this at all. I understand that a bigger iPad means you have to make allowances and it isn’t as portable as the 11” version. However that doesn’t mean it “grinds to a halt everywhere else”. I read on my iPad most days sat on the couch or in bed catching up on RSS feeds or reading lists.

    I also know many others that do the same, so making this sweeping statement is a little strange. I agree with the point that most people should buy the smaller version, but when I switched the the larger one I have never looked back.

    I am currently using my 12.9” iPad for absolutely everything and cant wait to get my hands on the magic keyboard.

    MX Master 3: A Master Pointer For Most

    For years of my life, I have never strayed away from the mouse supplied with my computer. That usually meant horrible PC vendors attempts and more recently an Apple Magic mouse or trackpad. There isn’t much magic about these mice, and it’s only when you use one all day every day that you realise just how uncomfortable it is. Sure you can use gestures, but it’s just far too flat and unergonomic.

    With this, my journey into finding a suitable mouse lead me down far too many YouTube rabbit holes – but I landed on the Logitech MX Master 3.  As you may already be able to tell this is the third iteration of Logitechs well thought after MX Master range. This new version is an iteration on the first few but offers a few tweaks and changes that make it a worthy upgrade and the best version to date.


    I don’t think I am alone in thinking that the most important thing from a mouse is comfort. It can have as many buttons and gestures on it as you like, but if it’s shaped weird or just wrong for your working position, then you’re going to struggle. The high curves and comfortable rounded edges of this mouse make it one of the most comfortable I have had the pleasure of using – as long as you’re right-handed of course. The MX Master 3 fits perfectly into my hand, and also anyone else that has laid ether hands on it.

    There is something weird about other people using this mouse because it feels so personal to you. The customisation options and buttons feel part of you and the way you work. It’s full click things, glowing things and more scrolling stuff than you can shake a stick at. When you think you’ve found them all, Logitech throws a few more in there hidden under the thumb rest or underneath your palm.

    What they didn’t include was a place to store the accompanying dongle, but I’m not sure if you need this with modern laptops and tablets. Mine is still sitting in the box after using it once. However, this mouse offers a vast range of connectivity to Mac, PC and iOS.

    If you’re stuck, it works over USB and not only that you can charge it and use it at the same time! What a revelation. Battery life is ridiculous for the charging time it needs. Plug it into a USB cable and leave it an hour and you’ll be good to go for a reported 70 hours. In fact, in the two months, I have been using it I have charged it twice and been using it upwards of 6 hours a day.

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    The great thing third party mice usually allow you to do is to have multiple devices set up at once. The MX Master 3 is no different, allowing you to switch between 3 different options at the touch of a button. Meaning you can switch to using a different computer or as I have seamlessly switch between macOS and iOS with the touch of a button. If you know the pain of having to unpair and repair that Apple requires, you’ll understand why this is a massive deal. When using the MX Master 3 with iOS and the new 13.4 update it works very well indeed. However you miss out on all of the customisations and some of the gestures — so this isn’t all good news.

    The multi-paring options are for those that may use a different machine at home and work, or perhaps switch between a desktop and laptop, which is where maybe the black magic function of the MX Master 3 comes to light. Logitech Flow introduces another level above universal copy and paste. Only by having your devices on the same wi-fi network, you can seamlessly copy and paste files from one machine to another, even across operating systems.

    Logi-Options: Loads Of Them

    What is most surprising is that they manage to do this with minimal setup and a lot less hassle than I expected. You will need to grant Logi-options, the supporting software, some permission when installing. Still, in exchange, you get the ability to customise every single button and scroll wheel on the device to your liking. It doesn’t just stop at tracking or double click speed like some pointers. There are what seems like limitless options to customise all interaction and even change this depending on what application you are using. Especially great for those with very particular workflows or interaction needs.

    Logitech provides a few default profiles and will offer to install these for you so you can see what other people use for each app. However, it takes very little time to build up a robust handful of shortcuts for your most-used functions. For example, I have set the forward button to act as a shortcut back to Selection (V) in Illustrator and the back button as the pen tool (P) — these are my most used tools, and I switch back and forth all the time. This may seem pointless because these are straight forward keyboard shortcuts, but I can worry about other things instead of reaching out for my keyboard.

    Screenshot 2020 04 01 at 13 22 56 1 1

    I was soon saving loads of time adopting shortcuts into my workflow and scrolling around with ease in almost every application I have. The MX Master 3 features both a horizontal and vertical scroll wheel for the ultimate ability to move around a canvas or scroll through your timeline. The most interesting of which is the vertical one, which now uses magnets to minimise noise and remove wear and tear. It still retains the easy switching between tense and free-scrolling that other versions have – the downside of which means I leave it spinning for way longer than I should. What can I say it’s my desk fidget spinner.

    One of the best buttons to master (excuse the pun) on this mouse is the gesture button. By using the button under your thumb, it allows you to have five different shortcuts built-in. Press to open mission control, hold and move backwards for expose, or side to side to switch between apps. If you don’t currently use gestures on your Magic Mouse or Trackpad, the MX Master 3 will persuade you to start using multiple desktops and master expose for good.

    MBLTTE 4 1 1


    All these words above boil down to one thing. This is the best mouse you can buy for productivity. It’s going to cost a little more, but it’s going to speed up your workflow no end. The MX Master 3 is overkill if you don’t spend a lot of time at your desk, but it’s the real deal for everyone else. One of the few things I haven’t suffered any buyer remorse over for a long time and I don’t see myself going back to uncomfortable Apple mice ever again.

    48 Hours With The Galaxy Z Flip

    It isn’t very often something truly new comes to market. All right we’ve seen folding phones before, but not one this particular way, and not one available to the  mass market. The Galaxy Fold was horrendously expensive and had some longevity concerns, and as yet you can’t buy the Moto Razr other than on an expensive 24 month contract on EE. So when the chance came for me to not only get hands on with one but use one – I got a tad over excited.

    Ok, the Galaxy Z Flip has some longevity concerns of its own, but I don’t think that is enough to dismiss such a new device.  It’s easy to be dismissive of something that doesn’t fit into your vision of what a device should be. Yet all others around me got excited when I first took the phone out of the box and that speaks volumes. All the insides of the Z Flip box are standard Samsung, yet when you take the phone out and peel off the plastic, something entirely different happens.

    The device feels sturdy and reassuring, well built and engineered, but not bulky or uncomfortable. Not only much more comfortable and lighter than an iPhone 11, but considerably taller and slimmer. I am reminded of the memes that were made around the time of the iPhone 5 launch, and when you use a device like the Galaxy Z Flip and indeed the Note10 line, it shows how right Apple were back then. A slimmer taller screen is better in almost every way.

    Real Talk After The Fold

    The folding screen of the Z Flip is both marvelled and ridiculed at each point by technology commentators, but you can’t argue its usefulness. You may scoff and think that the Galaxy Fold is a much more useful device, but that the Z flip does allow me to have a 6.7″ screen device, but not feel one in my pocket. When not in use the device slims down to about the same size as a coaster, all be it a heavier one that feels a little weird in your pocket.

    When in use the screen is comically tall, there is no getting around it. One handed use can be a little clumsy if the app you’re using is top-heavy, but a tall screen gives you a great way to consume written content, be it social media, emails or blog posts. I love reading on this device because it’s much more suited to 90% of web usage and fits nicely in your palm. The screen itself is bright and vivid, some will scoff at it ‘only’ being 1080p but it does it’s job well with no issues.

    Galxy Z Flip In Hand 1The only issue with scrolling vertically on this screen in particular is the crease in the middle. It is unavoidable, you can see it, and anyone that says otherwise is mistaken. It sticks out like a sore thumb, mainly when using a dark UI (which I much prefer) or when the screen is empty of content. Even if you get used to seeing the crease after a few days of use like the notch on the iPhone; you feel it every time you swipe around and if you want a folding phone you have to find a way to make peace with this fact.

    Minimalist Phone?

    That shouldn’t put you off though, the crease is unapologetic. It is there the first time you pick the device up and won’t go away. But it also shouldn’t get any worse, because it is purposely put there by Samsung in the factory, so it doesn’t develop over time. It doesn’t go as far as ruining your experience of the phone; it is just something that is a trade-off for having a folding phone at this point in time. If having a crease in the screen bothers you, steer clear, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off for being able to fold your phone in half and put it away.

    While we are here, it seems logical to talk about folding the phone in half, because you won’t be able to stop – perhaps ever. The hinge gives tactical feedback but also provides a smooth transition. Samsung says its a semi-rigid hinge, allowing for it to be used in that weird half folded way that Samsung thinks will appeal to ‘influencers’. So gone is the click into place that Galaxy Fold had when opening, to be replaced by a more pleasant experience. Unfortunately, you won’t be doing the communicator flip open like the devices of old – well you can, but it doesn’t work very well.

    There is also a finality of closing the Z Flip that you don’t get with other devices. Something akin to putting the lid down on your laptop. It draws a line under your phone usage and puts it away. It will help those looking to minimalise their phone usage because the screen is now away and out of tempting site. It’s not as if you can do anything on the ridiculous front screen anyway.

    If Samsung are going for a way to minimalist your phone, they hit the nail on the head, because the front display is ridiculous. Perhaps not in a wrong way, but I wish they have thought about using it a little more. Not going as far as they did with the Galaxy Fold, but an active display similar to the Razr would have been perfect. You are not going to do anything with this screen except glimpse notifications when they come in and check the time.

    DSC0029 1I don’t want to comment on battery life much further than to say that I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t last you a day of usage. During my two days taking photos and playing with the phone, it still has more than 25% battery left after taking it off charge at 7 am. After a bit more usage, I will share full battery life expectations.


    On the initial set up and test, I was disappointed with the performance of the camera, but there was a software update waiting for that improved things dramatically. I have a feeling this update is not installed on demo devices and some hands on versions I have seen, so perhaps take some video revews with a small pinch of salt.

    I have to prefaces all my words with the fact I am not a fan of the processing done by Samsungs cameras. They often look overly processed sometimes downright ridiculous colour saturation in them. I prefer something much more natural-looking, and I am undeniably used to iPhone images.

    As well as the usual family snaps, I took the Galaxy Z Flip with me on a day out to The Deep Aquarium, mainly because it is often one of the most challenging environments to get good snaps in. Dark rooms, with brightly lit tanks full of colourful fish that don’t stay still. I must say I am very impressed with its performance, not everything came out perfectly, but there were very few pictures I had to delete. At times I have often struggled to make Samsung cameras work for me, even as recently as the Note 10+ – having to turn features off and dial back processing – but this is not one of these times. Find a gallery below.


    Galaxy Z Flip Around The Home



    I am at a certain point in my life where each iPhone is as boring as the last one. I am excited by what other brands are doing and am always tempted to use something else but never do. I never want to say I will or won’t do anything else but switch back to an iPhone but using the Z Flip has opened my eyes to a brand new world. I enjoy the feel of having a much smaller device in my pocket and folding it out when needed – and to be honest, I also said this about the Galaxy Fold.

    The Galaxy Z Flip is another step up in use case, a device that offers an improvement where the Galaxy Fold felt like you had to use gloves on it, but also an eye-opening form factor switch. The taller, slimmer screen is much easier to use and displays much of what I do online all day much better than anything else.

    Pulling out the Z Flip leaves people around you genuinely amazed, and I have had loads of questions about it. Sure we are all aware these phones exist, but the general public doesn’t seem to be. Unfortunately, when showing it off, the black version I have is a fingerprint magnet, the same as the black Note10+ I had, so I spend far too much time is spent wiping off the body. The finish is also a bit too slippery than I would like, couple this with the smaller frame to carry and I feel a little uneasy using it outside.

    DSC0036 1With all these words out the way – I am at a point as I write this that I am stuck at a Schrödinger’s phone. I both think the device is a game-changing smartphone and also a bit of a gimmick. Depending on the time of day, I am both marvelled and miffed at the Galaxy Z Flip. It offers me a use case like nothing before but is it worth a whopping £1300 price tag?

    By far Galaxy Z Flip is the best folding phone you can buy. It is also a terrific smartphone that offers a brand new use case never before seen. I am just not 100% convinced that use case warrants the price tag or if it exists at all. I love using the Galaxy Z Flip because it is something completely new, but will that wear thin over time? Is this a solution to something that doesn’t need solving? These are all questions in my head and unique to each person.

    What I woudl say is the dismissive feeling I have seen towards this phone are cimoletely unwarranted. This device feels like the start of something special and there is no denying it. I will try and answer the rest of the questions I have over the coming days – stay tuned.

    Zero Fasting Made Easy

    Zero fasting review
    A few days ago, I shared what intermittent fasting had done for me and the health benefits I have felt. This app has helped me get going on my journey and is now an essential tool for tracking my body – it’s time to look at Zero fasting tracker. Available on iOS and Android, I am using the iOS version installed on my iPhone 11 Pro and Series 5 Apple Watch.

    This app will only appeal to you if you are intermittently fasting, and even if you are, most people still won’t rely on one. I only started looking for something when I needed a kick to keep me going and also to keep track of my habits better. With that, the Zero app is full of fasting information on why to do it, how to do it and the answers to loads of questions you might have.

    I found when first starting out it was both a hindrance and help to have something counting down the hours until I could eat again. So you might look at other options first – but what the app does well is make everything easy to find and straight forward to understand. Splitting areas into four tabs across the bottom to see your timer, check out the fasting options,  delve into your fasting history or learn more about fasting in general.

    Zero fasting screenshots 1Zero enables you to start and stop your fasting quickly and gives you default options for regular ratios and also custom options. You can also get handy notifications (if you choose to switch them on) when you are in the final hour of fasting and indeed when you can start eating again. All customisable using the fasts tab at the bottom.If you’re feeling hardcore, you can track a full fast for up to 168 hours!

    Users will spend the majority of the time starting and stopping the timer from the timer tab. Featuring a beautiful big clock, counting down the hours until your feeding window, or counting up the hours you have been feeding for. The big green (or red) button starts and stops your fast dependant what state you are in. If you forget you can edit start and stop times, and leave feedback on your fast at the end of each cycle.

    Apple Watch App

    You can also start and stop fasting with the companion Apple Watch App. There isn’t much more you can do on the watch, but it does come with complications in a range of sizes to slot into your choice of Watch face. I found this too overbearing and reminded me too often, which proved annoying after a while, but having a tap on your wrist when there is only an hour more to go can be helpful.

    Zero fasting Applewatch 1It would be great to be able to edit fast start points and change the ratios on the Apple Watch in future updates. If I make a mistake or want to check my history, I have to pull my phone out, whereas a swipe across to different areas would be useful. You are able to change the number of hours you want to fast for before starting and this updates the iOS app information.

    As well as a glorified alarm system, the app will track every fast you do and display it in one of the easiest to understand designs I have used. All the information is straight forward and easy to navigate. You will find information on your fasts, comparisons in time, and if you hit your intended target. Along with this, the app pulls heart rate data from an Apple Watch, allowing you to see trends easily. Since starting, I can see a pronounced decrease in resting heart rate, and this provides more positive feedback that everything is going well.

    Zero fasting history 1Of course, there is a certain amount of gamification attempted by the app, encouraging you to put together ’streaks; and awarding badges. You can buy into this if you wish, but there is some research to say this does help motivation for health-related areas, so it’s understandable these kind of features are here.

    Last but not least, you can find answers to all of your questions in the Zero Learn tab. It’s filled full of interesting information and blog-type posts that help get (and keep) you going. If you can’t find the answer here, it’s not worth knowing. Of course, only people that want to start or are already fasting will even download the app never mind about go digging in here, so my definition of interesting might be subjective.

    If you want to get started intermittent fasting, or you need something to track your cycles going forward – look no further than Zero. I can’t find a bad word to say about it, and it’s become invaluable to me.

    Lets Be Clear: This Case Is A Rip Off

    It’s been a long time coming, but with the reproduction of colour into the iPhone line up with the XR, Apple released a clear case. The case has also appeared with the new phone line ups, available for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro thanks to new colours in the lineup. Now I need to be straight to the point on this – Do Not Buy One.

    You might be tempted to pick one up, show off that brand new Midnight-Green iPhone 11 Pro, or cool Yellow iPhone 11. If you choose to buy one in-store, you might even be pitched one to compliment your shiny new purchase, because you should show off the colour of them, the midnight green is my personal favourite, but at £45 you really shouldn’t.

    DSC0004 1

    The Apple cases are a bit like marmite, I love them because they fit and last the best I have found, but many people think they are a rip-off. Which is understandable given that most other cases are less than half the price of the stock options, but they do offer something different. The leather cases I have used last well and feel premium quality, whereas the silicone version provides a much more grippy surface. However, they charge what seems like more and more each year for the privilege.

    The clear case feels like every other clear case on the market. The materials used are a little more robust than other clear cases, and the fit is perfect (as all ways with Apple cases). Some cheaper options are often flimsy and imperfect fitting but are a minute price when compared the Apple. What it doesn’t avoid is the same old issues that plague all clear cases – weird smudge marks and pocket lint build up.

    DSC0005 1

    To be fair almost every case in the world suffers from lint build-up, but because the case is clear, it is much more apparent. You might like showing everyone the lovely colour of your phone, but you’re also showing them you didn’t clean your phone in the last hour. When the phone is this good at avoiding fingerprints and smudges, its annoying the case isn’t – but no case can be.

    If you are ogling to get a clear case, please don’t go for the Apple one. I made a mistake a purchased it along with a few other things and didn’t realise how expensive it is. Opt for a middle of the road option; there are plenty to choose from and save yourself some cash.

    Powerbeats Pro Review

    Powerbeats pro featured

    My biggest problem with headphones is that I have too many of them. Gone are the days of having one pair to last you years on end, If you can avoid the removal of your headphone jack you might last a while, but the reliance on Bluetooth brings better models ever to the market. Now owned by Apple, Beats are the masters of this, producing a never-ending stream of better models of each version of their headphones. The Powerbeats have seen little improvement other than the introduction on the W1 chip since launching in 2013. Six years later sees the most significant update to the line ever, incorporating a new Apple chip and making them truly wireless.

    The Powerbeats Pro builds on the technology, and hopefully, the success of Apple own AirPods. Incorporating the security, convenience and power saving of the new H1 chip (signifier changed from W to H). Something that no other manufacturer has access to, nor has been able to complete with fully as yet.

    The claim from Beats is that the Powerbeats are the most popular fitness headphone in the world. A bold claim, and arguably hard to prove – take a look next time you’re at the gym or out for a run, and you don’t see many of them. However, I am a massive fan, owning all versions to date.

    Powerbeats pro phone 1


    Upon unboxing the Powerbeats Pro, the surprisingly high build quality is evident. Often criticised for their use of plastic Beats haven’t changed their ways much, but the surface feels premium and worth the price tag. These are of course more than £200, and for that money you get almost double the battery, all be it in a comically large carry case.

    Simply opening the case allows for quick paring to iOS and macOS devices, and once completed, the connection will sync to all your iCloud devices. Of course, you’ve heard all this before; we saw this on both generations of AirPods and older Beats headphones.

    Powerbeats pro case 1

    Where Powerbeats Pro stand out is usability that suits the fitnesses market perfectly. They seal well in the ear, and the ear hooks mean that you won’t have any issues with them moving around during even the most rigorous of exercise. If you’ve ever tried to run with wired headphones, you will know how freeing it is to have nothing flapping around or pulling on your ears. This new wave of genuinely wireless headphone is revolutionary to those that have spent many years having to run a cable down your top. Once you use these, you won’t be going back any time soon, and this alone is worth the price tag.

    Sweat resistance is stated by Beats but only for the earbuds themselves. So don’t get caught in any downpours or spill anything on the case – this issurprising given how robustly they are made. Everything is all sealed off from the elements leaving just charging pins and buttons exposed. You read that right, not a touch interface or reliance on voice commands insight. Tactile buttons the same on each ear to change the volume and play/pause. You can also hold the centre B button down to activate Siri if you wish – but don’t forget with the W1 brings with it Hey Siri support.

    She will hear you loud and clear for all your voice commands, but obviously, you’ll need a data connection to do this. I’ve been running phone free with a connection to my Apple Watch and even letting Siri read my incoming messages out for me. The microphone is surprisingly clear for the few calls I have taken on them while working out, but no reassurance that I was running was needed. It’s obvious you are on hands-free, but not distracting to the person you’re talking to, they are leaps and bounds ahead of the already pretty good Powerbeats3.

    Powerbeats pro buds 1


    I want to say that these are the only headphones you will ever need, but if your ear is tuned to listen to the very best cans, you are going to have to compromise. They are never going to win any awards for sound quality given that most of the time in use you are moving around somewhat energetically. The sound is much improved over previous versions, with a tremendous dynamic range with a slight emphasis on bass.

    They are a delight to listen to music and spoken word such as podcasts. Some downplay the sound of all Beats headphones, but the Powerbeats more than any other, I would argue they don’t need to sound perfect. However, the Powerbeats sound better than acceptable, much better than the previous version.

    What I particularly like is that some sound from outside gets through despite the useful sealing tips. I’m not a fan of completely isolating headphones when exercising, being able to hear traffic and people around you is a must. The Powerbeats Pro also pause your music when you take one out your ear, which comes in especially useful when telling someone to re-rack their weights.


    This all detracts from the fact that these could, and should, be considered more than just workout headphones. They deserve much more than to be thrown into your gym bag or only used occasionally, they are real AirPod competitors. Both the sound and fit are much better than Apples own version, but they give up a little ground on the overall design.

    I couldn’t ever see myself replacing my Airpods with these, but I won’t be wearing anything else for activities. I can’t state enough how much of a revelation running with no wires is. I have ears that won’t keep Airpods or indeed any other earbuds in, so Powerbeats are almost my only option. It’s rare I would recommend an upgrade on headphones even if you have the last version – but for everyone on the fence – you need these in your life.

    The Beats PowerBeats Pro come in black, white, navy or green, costing £219.95.

    Using Apple Notes To Write In 2019

    The post will also forever be known as I’ve never given Apple notes enough of a chance and I bet you haven’t either. Despite two significant updates in recent years I’ve skirted around Apple notes usage, both for hand-written pencil ones and also writing things down, yet never used it entirely. There isn’t any good reason for this; many people use the stock notes app to the best of its abilities, it’s just never really ‘clicked’ – until now.

    Notes are the cornerstone of my life, more so as I get older, I have to write stuff down rather than rely on my memory. I need to take meeting notes, I need to share information for my podcast, and I need to make shopping lists, so I don’t go hungry. When I add into this mix the fact I like to write a Journal and also write my blog posts, I end up with things spread all over the place.

    If I can’t remember to buy food, I sure as hell won’t remember if I put my blog post idea in Ai Writer, Drafts or whatever cool app I’m using at this moment in time. You see I’ve skirted around all sorts of apps to do this with varying degrees of success (the closest was Bear), but nothing stuck. So I decided on all my requirements, and the Stock Apple Notes app was the most intimate. Using Apple Notes To Write In 2019.

    When it comes to the Notes app, the stock iOS app isn’t ugly, but it won’t win any design awards. What it offers is rock-solid sync between devices (my two iMacs, iPad and iPhone) and a service I can trust to collect everything together with minimal fuss. Every time I think about my time with Evernote, I shudder a little, but Apple Notes offers what the vast majority of people need. I consider myself a power user, so some adaptations were required, and miser up becomes infantry more powerful when you take into account integration with Shortcuts and Siri. I didn’t want to go crazy as some users have, but if I am putting my life into one app, it needs to be useful.


    I like clear divides between my work and personal life, so the first step was creating areas for both of these things. Apple Notes makes it dead simple to have folders of notes and not allows them to be nested. Once I am in a folder, created notes go straight into that folder, and sync to all my devices within a minute or so. Meaning my created folders become sudo workspaces, a handy feature of more specific writing apps such as Drafts.

    If I’m in work mode, I will only see work-related notes. This also become more helpful with iOS13 ability to open multiple notes in split-screen and move between them with ease.

    Using Emoji in the folder names also makes these much easier to find, as does not having too many of them. You can make this as in-depth as you like, notes does allow sub-folders to be set up on iOS now and once done, they will sync across all devices – and show up in Keeping everything organised does help with finding the information you’re looking for, but spotlight is often your friend.

    Shortcuts & Siri

    Recent updates to Shortcuts makes working with Apple Notes much more natural and dare I say it enjoyable to use. Shortcuts has the ability to search, list, append and show specific notes with a few taps. Or indeed voice commands, the joy of using a stock app is the access it has to features very few other apps do. Siri is a breeze to use with Apple Notes for capturing content and working with Shortcuts.

    All In?

    What I enjoy about using Apple Notes is the mature and familiar feel. It is simple and straight forward to understand and to use a tired old saying – it just works. Other apps out there feature fantastic publication features, tagging and all sorts of things – but I’m always stuck with a sync issue at some point, or a feature stops working for a little while. I have none of those fears with this setup.

    I’m sure there are issues some times, but for the most part, Apple service is now trustworthy. With notes powerful features, integration with the OS and brand new dark mode, it’s hard to go anywhere else.

    My only issue is publishing from the app, other apps have much better sharing features, so writing has another step in it. I’m hoping to build some more powerful Shortcut once iSO13 comes out and solve this issue. At the moment in time, I am only using Apple notes, and very happy that I have found my almost perfect setup.

    This Feels More Computerish

    For many weeks and months before WWDC I was worried. I had a fear for a piece of technology I have used for more than 5 years as my computer and it didn’t feel nice at all. My fears grew larger and larger the closer we got to the event, as leaks came out and people theorised what they wanted from the yearly software update cycle I hated it. I was really worried Apple were going to ruin my beloved iPad.

    What makes the iPad so special to me is that it is first and foremost a mobile device. It is an extension of a simple OS, but one that is ridiculously powerful and evolving into a device to admire. I have been using an iPad every day since the iPad Air, and almost every update since has been transformative and made my life easier. Yet this year, more than any other, people were calling for a semi convergence – desktop class this and future of computing that, it all had me worried that the days of my iPad being my mobile computer were dying.

    I couldn’t get excited for Springboard updates and multitasking overhauls because I could see a future in which iOS on the iPad was too complicated and at which point I would just go back to a Macbook. Everything that makes the iPad great is its roots in iOS, it’s touch first like the iPhone but powerful enough to take most of the heavy lifting of a macOS device without all the complexity that goes with it. Many people wanted all sorts of upgrades in iOS13 to make the iPad more of a computer but I was happy as it was, as I always had been.

    I trusted Apple though. Trusted them to make the right decisions and land on a happy medium. I couldn’t get excited enough, or have the imagination to solve issues I pushed up against myself, but was confident that people smarter than myself knew what they were doing – and thankfully my trust was well founded.

    With iOS13 my iPad Pro feels more like a computer than ever before, but still retains its iOS DNA. Sure Apple have renamed the operating system to iPadOS but this is in name only. It’s still a mobile operating system that almost everyone knows how to use, but by diversifying a little it’s now ok if swipes do different things. It’s acceptable for home screens and UI layouts to look different because its still quintessentially an iPad. It feels more computerish than ever but its the same device I fell in love with all those years ago. Bravo Apple.

    Mjyun True Wireless Earphones Review

    So, here’s the thing. I receive loads of emails from random PR companies to test products, not as many as real tech reviewers, but enough. They claim to give you free products, but actually want you to pay for them first. I’ve been burnt a few times so typically decline. However I was intrigued to try some AirPods alternatives and I wish I hadn’t bothered.

    That isn’t to say there aren’t earbuds out there that can live up to the functionality of Apples foray into true wireless. It is simply the fact that I see so many claim that they are alternatives when in reality they are not even comparable. These Miyun versions are no exception, and no hidden gem.

    2018 06 22 mjyun wireless case 1

    Indeed they are a fraction of the price, because frankly there is no getting around the fact that many of the new breed of truly wireless earbuds are eye wateringly expensive. I didn’t expect them to be equal, but in true B movie style, I expected them to at least be somewhere near.

    They come in a nice, robust case, offering a neat charging solution with supplied micro USB cable. The build quality feels surprisingly robust to a level that I am frankly astonished at. With that said, Apple resort to using a ridiculous amount of glue, so I would expect these to be no different, an illusion of quality if you will.


    As with all earphones this is the proof of everything, the reason you by them, but it’s difficult to know where to start. The sound quality is terrible and there is no getting around it. Due to the strange twist you do when putting the earbuds in your ears the seal seems to be pretty good and cuts out lots of background noise. Unfortunately they haven’t taken advantage of this and everything sounds very shallow and distant.

    2018 06 22 mjyun wireless blackberry 1

    The bass levels are non existent and everything else seems to be forced into a much higher range than it should be. Spoken word such as podcasts and audio books are the most noticeable and make all voices sound tinny and sometimes uncomfortably high pitched.

    Couple this with the fact that audio moves around from ear to ear and you have a very disappointing experience. I realise that these are very very cheap for true wireless earphones, but I would save your money and purchase something better sounding with wires!

    Connection Issues

    The ease of initial connection is where most cheap wireless headphones fall down. Let’s not over inflate the issue, most users are ou fait with heading to your phones setting to set up and pair. Yet for some reason this is overly complicated with a dance of buttons and connecting you must jump through simply to listen. A successful connection is following a predetermined path of connecting to one earbud, and then the other connecting to it. Stray too far from this path and resetting is your only option, condemned to try again until the Bluetooth gods accept your offering.

    As annoying as snagging a cable is, if this is your alternative I think I would rather sit in silence. There are alternatives to AirPods out there, but these cheap offers are simply not it. I have bought and enjoyed cheap Bluetooth headphones before with a wire between them, removing this has proved so overly complicated that it is simply not worth the hassle. Save up, or save your time – the choice is yours.

    iPad Pro Thoughts

    Once upon a time I would ‘review’ all of my tech purchases, post several hundred if not thousand words of my thoughts and a dive into the device. For the last two models of iPad I have simply shared my thoughts through text and also podcast. There are enough reviews out there for you to find out the specs and technology publication opinions – but now more than ever its important to find out the thoughts of people that actually use the device in question. Well here are mine.

    All of the improvements Apple made to this years iPad Pro when looked at individually look quite trivial. They upgraded the internals and brought the design inline with their modern phones, removing the home button, and incorporating FaceID. Both of these things didn’t need an anylist to predict, but they have both lead to some major changes to actually using the iPad and improve almost everything about the experience. Did the change in design lead to the changes in Apple Pencil and Keyboard, or did they lead the design choices. While you argue about swings and roundabouts – I’ll tell you what’s improved and ultimately why that matters.

    2018 11 09 iPad pro review hero 1 1


    The ‘edge to edge’ screen retains some bezel around the edges, which is the best of what could have been a bad situation. All the palm rejection in the world can’t mediate holding a device to read and touching the screen constantly. However the new squared off design actually makes it much easier to handle the device. It feels almost like science fiction and without doubt almost what every device manufacturer shoots for when trying to design a perfect tablet. It’s not quite a slab of glass, but its not far off.

    The new design is very reminiscent of an older iPhone 5 design, but with a modern feel. It also in some respects feels like a reference design for future products without hardware limitations. I am using the 11” version and it feels much larger than it actually is, a nice big screen which is still very portable and easy to also use as a consumption device.

    The smart connector has moved to the back of the device, presumably allowing for a more device ecosystem of accessories. Very few accessories appeared for the previous side mounted version, and unfortunately I don’t seem many flooding the market with this one. Hopefully I will be disappointed, but this does allow for a much better connection using a rediculous number of magnets and an improvement to the first party keyboard.

    Folio Keyboard

    I have loved and loathed the Smart Keyboard in equal amounts over the last two years. The keyboard itself is great, I really enjoy typing on it, but the origami style always felt strange and the back of my iPad felt exposed. The Smart Folio solves both of these problems and I am really enjoying the improvements.

    If you hate the keys on the previous version, you’re going to feel the same about the new one. However to me the keys feel more robust and seem to have further travel – combined with much loader clicking!

    Using the iPad in the Smart Folio but without the keyboard feels very un-Apple like to me. For all its weirdness at least the origami needed for the Smart Keyboard hid away the keys when not in use, all be it at the expense of a strange hump on the front. The weirdness is mediated a little by how simple it is to remove the Smart Folio, and actually feel the device as Apple intended. I find myself pooping the iPad Pro out of the case when using the pencil or just browsing more than I expected.

    2018 11 10 writing pencil 1

    New Apple Pencil

    Apples stylus (don’t call it a stylus) is a great tool to have in my professional life, but not something I would considering buying for personal use. The first version was something I purchased and found a use for, and spent most of its time hiding in my bag for the odd time I would need to sign something. It was too long, didn’t really fit anywhere to store it and you felt silly charging it.

    The second version mediates almost all of those issues, except the use case. Unless you’re going to draw quite often the £130 price tag will make most people baulk – the £30 price increase adds in quite a few features but wont work with any other hardware at this moment in time.

    The second generation is shorter, more balanced and flat on one side. Making it more pencil like, and also allowing it to stick to the side of the iPad and wirelessly charge. Not only removing the need to look like a idiot every time you charge the thing, but also giving it a place to be stored and removing the anxiety enduceing end cap.


    The move away from Lightning hasn’t added any extra features to the iPad, but has made them more accessible and dare I say it interesting. It is slightly strange to find the port isn’t a Thunderbolt 3 variant, but is still capable of supporting an external display up to 5k.

    Having tested several apps it is clear nothing extra stands out but it has allowed me to use my already amassed selection of USB-C cables from my MacBook Pro. Cheaper option for USB-C to HDMI and also dongles mean the dream of not carrying a laptop at all are getting a whole lot closer.


    The 2018 iPad has proved to be a worthy upgrade for me, it has improved on lots of little things that while weren’t detrimental, they where annoying.

    With that said Apples recent trend of increasing the price and providing less equipment in the box is getting close to putting me off. All of the iPad’s have increased in price, there is no headphone dongle, no spare Apple Pencil tips and nothing to say Apple wont continue this trend. If asked what iPad should I buy, I would give most users the choice between the £329 iPad and the much cheaper 10.5” iPad pro.

    As good as it is, and it really is good, I view this iPad as even a notch above pro. It is the early adopter or hardcore users iPad, not the one for everyone.

    GoodTask 3 - Supercharge Apple Reminders

    For longer than I care to remember, or admit to, I have been searching for the perfect task manager. I am definitely not alone in the feeling that there wasn’t a service that seemed to fit. Todoist almost got there, Things 3 is pretty good, but no service ticked all the boxes and I went backwards and forwards between them more than a handful of times. Thankfully I think I’ve cracked it, and it’s an add on service for the stock reminders app – I think Goodtasks3 is the perfect solution.

    For almost as long as I’ve been switching task manager apps, Apple’s reminders app has been in desperate need of an overhaul. Everyone admits it, yet it still has a completely different UI to every other app and hasn’t received the level of attention given to Notes or Music. Frankly it isn’t a very good iOS citizen either. Countless third party apps put it to shame, offering a much better service, miles better design and huge improvements in user experience.

    Although what Apple reminders lacks in appeal it makes it for in utility, it’s ingrained in almost every part of iOS and allows for much better task input. It just need some so called ‘power user’ options and easer task input. This is where GoodTask 3 comes in. Once granted access to your stock reminders it can be used to sort, display, set up and complete tasks alongside Apple’s own app.

    Smart Lists

    One of my favourite functions are smart lists, allowing for filtering into different options based on numerous filters either individually or combined. For example I have set up smart lists to mimick my typical Todoist home screen, with an Inbox, Today overview and others based on reminder topic – Work, Home etc.

    GoodTask achieves this by putting text in the title or notes of each reminder. A hashtag or keyword in the task notes doesn’t clog up lists if you choose to also use the Apple app, but allows for much more flexibility in task types. Separating work and home, short and long term goals, whatever you are trying to achieve. Because of how easy task input is I have achieved much more in the last few months.

    2018 11 09 goodtasks3 screenshots 1 1

    Task Input

    Inputting tasks becomes much easier with quick actions and contextual awareness. This is something really lacking from even advanced task managers like Things 3. Once you have experienced the natural input of Todoist it is really hard to go elsewhere. Tap the plus icon in GoodTask and you can use almost all of the same options. By default it will pick out reminder titles, alert requests and also due dates. Although just bare in mind you will need to delve into settings if you don’t use American date structures.

    This is also where quick actions come in, these give the ability to tap on predefined options for task labels, alert options and also adding to shared lists. These can be customised until your heart is content and make GoodTask infinitely more powerful the more work you put in.

    All of these options are great, but the real beauty of adopting GoodTask is the fact that all the other options for inputting regular reminders are also open to you. Use Siri on any device and simply ask it to remind you. No keywords, no Shortcuts, no awkward phrasing and nothing to worry about. Tasks will show in the stock app and also GoodTask 3, where you can add in extra details and labelling.

    I have adopted a GTD approach and set up an Inbox smart list where every reminder without a due date, or tag ends up. Allowing me to brain dump everything I wish to do, and worry about when and how later on. GoodTask 3 will allow you to get many of the power user features with all of the benefits of a first party app and it is highly recommended.

    Jisoncase iPad Pro Case Review

    For as long as I have been using an iPad as my main computer I have struggled with where to keep it. I have never been a fan of many case designs as they often add a lot of weight which makes holding an iPad much more difficult. Couple this with the fact a case is pretty much redundant while in use, it’s usually in my hand or being used propped up in the Smart Keyboard, there simply hasn’t been anything to fill the void.

    So when Apple introduced leather sleeves with the 10.5 inch iPad Pro I was interested to see if they would work – but at £130 it was far to much money to simply test one out. Thankfully as with everything made over the last few years, it has been reproduced at a much more acceptable price point – introducing the Jisoncase iPad Pro Case. All the features, but at a considerable saving and I’ve been trying one out for a couple of weeks – here is my review.

    Design And Usage

    The case fits the iPad Pro and pencil snuggly inside, it is reassuringly fitted to the design and offers pretty good protection from everything other than a very high drop. It pretty much copies the official Apple design with real brown leather that is lined with soft material on the inside. Meaning not only is your iPad going to be protected, it’s going to be dusted off while inside the case and more importantly you’re going to look good carying it.

    The cover is also available in black or red, but I opted for the brown colour to match my other brown peripherals. The leather, although not as high quality as more expensive cases, appears to be wearing very well – although a bit of wear and tear makes a leather case look much better in my opinion. So I am actually looking forward to it appearance after a few months of use. I am much more comfortable putting my iPad into my bag knowing it has more a little more protection.

    2018 06 21 jisoncase desk2 1

    I was initially very sceptical about using the case, and put off a little due to the sung fitting, but after a few days of use the case provided a great deal of protection given the amount of traveling I do. Thankfully there is also a slot to store an Apple Pencil, seeing as I have already lost two, this should hopefully make sure I know here it is and it is protected. Unfortunately it isn’t all good news because I cant use it with the Smart Keyboard.

    Unlike other cases there is absolutely no chance of fitting an iPad in with Smart Keyboard attached. I can just about wedge it in with enough effort, but this just isn’t practical. I presume the leather will stretch over time, but when compared to simpler cases on the market I really shouldn’t have to stop using the keyboard when I want to put it in a case. I considered getting an occasional keyboard, however as great at the case is, given my usage and the amount of work I do on my iPad I can not justify making changes to my workflow just to use this case.


    I am not really sure where this now fits in, I use the Jisoncase iPad Pro Case a small amount when at home, but without storage for my keyboard the usage when traveling has stopped. If you use just the iPad and Apple Pencil (which according to my poll quite a few people do) then this is the case for you. Great quality, nice looks and protection can be found at a bargain price point.

    You can buy the case on the Jisoncase Website , Amazon or Aliexpress.

    HomePod Initial Impressions

    The HomePod itself it deceptively small, but surprisingly heavy. It comes boxed in the usual Apple style – paying particular attention to the experience of sliding off the top and uncovering the HomePod it all its glory. Bar the device itself there is little else in the box apart from a small information card and a single Apple logo sticker.

    Particular attention has been paid towards the power cable. The braided cord fitted to the HomePod is not detachable, some seem to think this is user hostile, however you are not likely to be unplugging the unit very often. Should damage occur to the cable, repair will cost you $29. Which is reasonable given that dropping the HomePod itself could prove very costly.

    Set Up

    Many people have raved about how easy the set up is for HomePod, as it expands on the same process as with any W1 powered device. Simply power the unit on, and nearby devices will be prompted with a set up card at the bottom of the screen. You will need an iOS device running iOS11 to do this, be it an iPhone or iPad, but did you really expect anything else.

    My set up was slightly more complicated, at first try I was greeted with the blank card that has plagued many users. The cause of this hasn’t been established, although seems to be linked to the iPhone X, but I was able to complete on the second attempt by simply powering off the HomePod and back on again.

    Pay special attention to these set up screens, because if like me you are using the device for the family. Enabling private information will mean anybody can instruct the HomePod to read out messages and even reply to them. This is pretty transparent in the set up process, but sometime excitement takes over and you simply accept any prompts given you.


    The HomePod is first and foremost a speaker, Apple clearly wanted to produce a great sounding device to consume music on. They have been on and off developing the device for a number of years, and the results speak for themselves. I am by no means an audio guru, but the HomePod sounds great wherever you are in the room, and when compared to the many Sonos speakers I have it is noticeably better.

    That is not to say that is head a shoulders above everything else. Podcasts and audio books do not sound as good as they do on other devices, but for Music the sound is much more powerful and richer than many other devices. I have noticed sounds in songs that I have listened to lots of times purely from the HomePod audio range. The Verge did a great comparison video on a range of devices and mirrors pretty much my own findings.


    Apples ‘smart’ assistant gets a lot of stick, and rightly so. It is considered well behind both Google and Amazon in terms of ability and also parsing information. You will find no arguments here, Apple have a serious issue with being left behind and the HomePod does not help their argument.

    If anything it is further evidence of the lack of development that the very first voice assistant has had since being released alongside the iPhone 4s. With that said I have not had any trouble with Siri hearing my commands, even above loud music, and they have pretty much been spot on. Siri is not smart, but it does do a good job of doing basic things reliably. Simple questions such as weather, commanding smart home equipment and sports scores are no issue, but as many people have already commented on, you wont find any abilities outside of Apples own services.

    Music is its strength and will often find the correct track with limited information. I have confidence that the HomePod could become an extremely capable device given the computing power inside. However this potential needs to be developed by Apple during a time when software is not its strong point. Siri on the HomePod could become a make or break device, and it is ultimately Apples privacy stance that is holding Siri back. Post CES it is clear that Amazon and particularly Google are pushing their digital assistants as a platform rather than something as a side bar to a mobile OS.


    I was dead set on returning the HomePod after I had played around with it. My Sonos speakers have been one of the best devices I have spent money on, and I found it hard to believe they could be replaced.

    However given a very small time with the HomePod both myself and the family have been converted. The device has already replaced two Sonos Play:1 speakers upstairs and I will more than likely buy another to replace a Play:3 downstairs in time. This is said with a little resistance, as the HomePod only exists to keep iOS users in the ecosystem and gain Apple Music subscribers. Yes Spotify works in a round about way, but the experience is much better with Apple Music.

    Although the smart aspects of the HomePod leaves a lot to be desired, so does using Alexa with my Sonos speakers. There are a lot of features that I feel are missing from the device to make every user happy, however for me the device is more than capable of doing what I require. Apple really needs to pull out all the stops this WWDC and introduce many platform changes to Siri for risk of being even further behind.

    The HomePod is fine for me, but may not be enough if you are looking for an assistant rather than simply great sound. Siri, although very capable, feels like an afterthought and won’t please everyone.

    iPhone Lopie Sea Island Cotton Series Case

    You will often find me spending far too much money on productivity apps, but I have another love. Cases are another thing I am never happy with, always looking for the new thing that will keep my pride and joy safe.

    Finding the balance point between protecting your phone, but also not adding too much weight or bulk is a difficult choice. Whilst the iPhone X is great and gives me a nice big screen to use one handed, it is heavier than previous models, so adding the official case has bumped the weight up to almost the tipping point.

    2017 12 28 Lopie seaisland inside 1

    When my phone took a tumble earlier this year it survived only because of the official leather case. Others would have provided it with similar protection, but it has made me so fearful of a similar accident with my £1000 purchase. I just can’t use it naked for very long. So ever in search of something new I ordered the Lopie Sea Island Corton Series case and here is my quick review.

    The only reason I ordered this model is because the Verge adorning it the best leather case, and for £15 I figured why not try it. I wasn’t quite banking on an estimated delivery of 20–25 days though! Thankfully it arrived after 20, well packaged and made of great quality materials. The Lopie Sea Island Corton Series case is covered by a combination of a tweed like material at the top and a leather at the bottom. My particular version is light brown.

    2017 12 28 Lopie seaisland camera 1

    Case Pouch

    I’m not a fan of keeping bank cards, or any other type of card for that matter tucked in the back of my phone. Some people use their case as a faux wallet and store everything in there. However great this seems in practice, it can be extremely annoying when you want to actually use the phone.

    This for me is the only sticking point of a great case – there is a card slot in the back of the phone. Where material meets leather, for some reason Lopie made it a pocket. However I have never tucked a card in there, and never will. The small gap is barely noticeable and I struggle to get a finger nail in there to prise it open. Should you wish to use it to store a card or two, I have no doubt the leather will stretch to accommodate this. However once this is done, there is no going back, it will be a pocket forever.

    2017 12 28 Lopie seaisland buttons 1


    The pouch does mean that there is a difference in height of the two materials. When handling the phone, you will notice a ‘lip’ that takes a little getting used to when compared to standard staple cases. For the last couple of years I have settled into moving backwards and forwards between an Apple Leather case, and also an Apple silicone case. So having any difference in texture felt strange to start but an easy enough compromise.

    The leather strangely ads a certain slippery feel when compared to the grip of the material at the top. However I have every confidence the leather will age well, and some doubts that the top of the case will do the same. The case will provide a good level of drop protection but the material will definitely suffer should it happen outside.

    The designers have offset the grey fabric against extremely tactile if a little garish buttons. They compliment the colouring of the leather reasonably well, however highlighted handset buttons seem to be the in look at the moment. With that said they are sturdy and offer reassuring clicks when pressed, something missing from most cases around this price point.


    This is a great case for the price point. It offers luxury akin to the official Apple cases but at a fraction of the price. It will take a while to get to you, but it is definitely worth the wait. The attention to detail on the buttons and also the second sim and ejection tool pocket found inside the case, all lead me to believe in the workmanship gone into the Lopie Sea Island Corton Series case.

    More than anything, this case has made me realise how much I would love a case made of the fabric material. Google did a great job with the Pixel case, and I’m hoping someone will make one in the very near future. However this case is one of the best I have tried. Stylish and comfortable to hold without much bulk.

    You can buy the Lopie Sea Island Corton Series case in Light brown from Amazon, it is also available in Coffee Brown and Dark Brown. If you are using the iPhone 7 or 8, fear not as they are also available in Light Brown, Dark Brown and Coffee Brown.

    Journaling With Day One Review

    I’ve been toying with the idea of journaling for a long time. I’ve started jotting things down several times, but never really got the hang of it. Although I liked the idea of having a physical diary of my thoughts, I was always worried it wouldn’t stay personal. So a digital version seemed like the only way and thats where Day One comes it. Helping me to journal as much as I like keeping it safe and secure.

    The version in current use is actually the second iteration by developer Bloom Built. Even this iteration has existed since 2016, so this is not a new app or service. Many users have been on a steak for years, and the app is constantly being improved and updated. I’ve been using it on and off for 3 years to store some thoughts, as well as setting up IFTTT recipes to capture my Instagramand blog posts. However over the past few weeks I’ve been using it daily to capture my thoughts and feelings to much benefit to my mental health.

    2017 12 09 day One mockups 1

    Using the app

    The design of the app is extremely easy to understand and dare I say it very pleasing to use. If you wish to make an entry simply tap on the cross in the main area or at the bottom of your entry list. The icons at the bottom of the screen are a little confusing, from left to right you have the option to quickly change journal (you need a plus or greater to do this), filter image moats, make an entry, show the locations of your posts or bring up a large calendar.

    Once you get the hang of these they become natural but certainly could be be more clear. For example you can also change journal in the top left of the main screen, so why you need two options is unclear. However a small UI confusion can be forgive because the rest of the interface is very clear and easy to use. Tap either cross to make a post and begin your journaling journey.

    In the entry screen you can add in text formatted as you desire with headings and other styling. You can also add in photos already taken or capture you own straight from the app. Many other apps I have tried prioritise text entires above anything else, but with Day One I have clipped in images that have caught my eye, and many that have displayed my current feelings in an image. If I simply want to enter a location for me to expand on later, I can open the Apple Watch app to drop a pin or dictate a quick entry.

    2017 12 12 dayone watch 1If you wish to post your entries to other platforms such as a blog there are several export options through the share sheet.

    Those wishing to capture every inch of their lives can also automatically add locations, current weather, tags and even your activity data to journal entries. Don’t worry if this is too much information for you to give up because not only is syncing encrypted between devices (Premium required), you can also secure the app with passcode or TouchID/FaceID.


    Day One has adopted the subscription payment model that causes so much divide in opinion. I purchased the app before this move so I get a slightly different level but for new customers you have a choice of level.

    The App is completely free to download and use. You can journal away and never pay a penny. With the following features:

    • One journal
    • One photo per entry
    • Unlimited entries
    • Local backups (including iCloud device backups)
    • Exporting (PDF, JSON, Plain Text)
    • Book Printing
    • Activity Feed (iOS)
    • Maintenance and non-Premium updates as needed

    Users can then upgrade should they wish to add in extra features. This costs $34.99 USD/year or $3.99 USD/month. For this price on top of the free features you shall receive:

    • Unlimited journals
    • 30 photos per entry
    • Mac app with Premium features
    • Unlimited syncing with Day One Sync
    • End-to-end encryption with Day One Sync
    • Discount on book printing (currently available in US only)
    • IFTTT integration
    • Access to Day One Web (beta) and Android (when released)
    • Future access to Premium features like audio recording, writing prompts, video entries, additional photos per entry, and more.

    Although a subscription service always proves to be controversial, most users simply do not need to pay anything. Day One offers fantastic value for money for those wanting to get started. Users can to dive straight in and start filling in a journal with unlimited entries including one photo for free. Only if you require multiple journals, syncing, or access to the Mac app will you need to spend any money. Providing that you use iCloud backups when you get a new device, you won’t even need to worry about syncing to the cloud.

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    URL Support

    Day One has great support for third party API use and also URL schemes for new entries and opening into specific areas.

    Create Entry with Text dayone://post?entry= Create Entry with Tags: dayone://post?entry=Hello Self&tags=My Tag, Test Create Entry in Journal: dayone://post?entry=Hello Self&journal=Day One Create Entry with Clipboard Image: dayone://post?entry=Hello Self&imageClipboard=1

    This will allow you to use use shortcuts in Launcher or Launch Centre Pro. IFTTT support requires the paid upgrade, however the API only works as a write API, there is no read API. So support is limited to ‘THAT’ rather than universal usage. I have asked Day One for expanded support, and it isn’t on their roadmap as yet.

    There are also a wide range of tools available for Day One, ranging from Todoist scripts to importing entries from other apps. So you really can dig in and make Day One the centre of your daily routine.


    In contrast to every other app I have reviewed in the past, the conclusion for this app split into two areas. The benefits of Journaling regularly have paid off on my mental health, and allowed me to write down the way I am feeling without the worry of those feelings being exposed to anyone else but me. There is also the conclusion of using the app itself.

    Day one provides the opportunity for you to use the app completely free of charge and reap the benefits. I have used other Journaling options and dismissed them straight away due to ease of use. There are no such issue with Day One, the app is really easy to use, and is very well designed for the most part. If you want to start journaling, look no further than the Day One.

    iPhone X Initial Impressions

    As you may or may not know I don’t bother writing reviews anymore. There are hundreds of great videos and long form pieces out there to satiate your appetite for that kind of thing. However I usually share my initial thoughts on using new devices – and here are mine on the iPhone X.

    This unwillingness to spend hours wiring a full review is further exaggerated by the hype surrounding Apples new device. There isn’t much to write that hasn’t already been covered in one way or another. The hardware is top notch see what I did there) but I didn’t expect anything less. Apple’s design compromises and hardware choices may be questionable now, but their ability to make a customer feel happy they are spending lots of money is undeniable.

    The phone itself is another step forward in quality feel from previous iPhones. The use of polished metal and glass makes for an extremely premium feeling device. Anyone that handles it will feel like they are touching a thousand pounds worth of device. Using these materials does have a trade off in weight, the iPhone X is noticeably heavier than similar devices, this is without doubt a reassuring feel but it hurts my pinky when adopting my usual grip.

    Iphone x notes 1


    The 5.8” OLED display dominates the front of the phone, this is no more obvious than when first powering on the phone. The white screen of the setup screen creates wonder and intrigue from the very first second. Combine this with the boost in resolution to 2436×1125-pixel resolution at 458ppi and the True Tone technology you have a device that not only looks but feels like the future.

    Of course it isn’t, this is Apple playing catch up to the Galaxy S series but for an Apple user the brightness of an OLED that keeps the Apple colour accuracy tremendously improves the experience. Even in bright sunshine the screen is bright and easy to view.

    The usable area of the handset is going to frustrate users coming from a iPhone Plus model, the keyboard does not have the space that the wider handset provides. Although I have found the device fantastic to use, I often write on my phone and have found it a much better experience than my previous regular sized iPhone 7. Apps and webpages are much more suited to a taller display, meaning the keyboard is a little taller and raised slightly towards the middle of the phone than previous models.

    There is without doubt a blue shift when looking at the screen at very acute angles, it remains to be seen about burn in – but these are just the ofset things about OLED screens. The screen is stunning in every situation and the notch disappears almost instantly and is a complete non issue.

    True Depth And FaceID

    The notch allows for one of the most controversial features of the new phone, FaceID. By removing the home button and going all in on FaceID Apple have changed the way you use your phone. I am not a massive fan of this shift in authentication however it has meant that being more secure has faded into the background. It has worked flawlessly for me, all meant that I no longer have to think about pasting in passwords from 1 Password or entering secure apps.

    As stared of for this, using the device flat on a table is slightly more awkward, and holding the device pointing at your face needs to become a habit. Going forward I have no doubt that this will improve, however as it stands right now it is absolutely fine.

    The true depth camera has also allowed for portrait selfies, which works as described and also animating your very own emoji. Animoji is a unsurprising hit, if a little annoying for those that don’t have an iPhone X. I have no doubt this fad will run out of steam, but at the moment it is a enjoyable way to communicate.

    IPhone X Camera portrait 1 1


    I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am disappointed in the camera, but it doesn’t offer anything over the camera on the iPhone 8 Plus. It does feature OIS on both of the lenses but I am yet to see any benefit to this. Zoomed images are still noisy and fail to capture quite a few snaps I have tried. I still default to using the wider lens and getting a bit closer, which is a real shame.

    Focus also takes quite a long time to action, I feel the camera app itself is not intelligent enough for a modern smartphone and wonder if it is trying to do too much before taking a snap. Perhaps adopting an post processing model would make the experience better – and for the love of god please do something with the increased screen size!

    Not even a week since getting the phone I would say I am very pleased with the phone overall. It doesn’t change the way the phone is used, bar the new gesture based navigation. This still takes a little too much brain power to remember, however this must remove ten years of muscle memory so I have no doubt it will sink in soon and feel natural.

    Fundamentally it is still an iPhone and those that are Android users are not going to be attracted. However Apple have caught up to the pack now and sell a modern smartphone. For someone so on the fence about buying the phone I am very glad I did. I am not sure those that purchase their phone outright and have a modern iPhone should rush to upgrade, however if your in the market for an upgrade look no further than the X.

    Zoho Notebook Review

    There can’t be many iOS or Mac app for note taking that I still haven’t tried. As soon as I’ve reviewed an app, gone through all the setting up process and made a choice to switch, I start looking around for other apps. I have a major fear of missing out on something that could be a better fit. Truth be told it costs me a fortune, subscription services or expensive one off payments seem to be normal now – but not with Zoho Notebook.

    Notebook by Zoho is completely free, with a promise for it to always to remain so. There are no adverts, no add ons and nothing to pay – ever. That’s a big promise but the costs of supporting the app are maintained by the developers other projects. They make a lot of other products, but have a huge aim for this one, for it to be the best!

    2017 10 24 zoho search 1Zoho set their stall out early and advertise themselves as a free Evernote alternative. “Looking for an alternative to Evernote? we can’t blame you” sits proudly on their webpage, indicating very early their intentions. They truly believe Notebook is a much better app, available for free with “roughly 80% of Evernote’s features”. Notebook is available for iOS and Android with a companion Mac app should you wish to work on desktop to. This includes a safari plug in for working with webpages, unfortunately there is no web access as yet.

    An app for Windows is also missing, so this can’t be considered truly multi platform and offer everything Evernote does. Although with that said the Mac app is a relatively new addition, missed from several reviews so it may come in the future. The Mac app also support the 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar, so you can tap through shortcuts and also secure your notes with Touch ID as you can on an iPhone or iPad.

    They also promise that they will never, in contrast to Evernote, look at your notes or information. There is a conflicting back and forth whenever this is discussed, however if that practice is a concern of yours then Zoho is the place to go first. Bare in mind also that sync is provided by their own servers and not iCloud so there is a small compromise to be made.

    2017 10 24 zoho screenshot 1


    The Evernote comparisons don’t just end with the applications intentions either. It is clear where they get the inspiration from, but if I’m allowed to be somewhat subjective they do a much better job of it. Notebook is often considered one of the best looking notes apps you will come across, and I couldn’t disagree. The design and layout of every option is well thought through, if a little minimalistic. Great design is something that can become increasingly difficult when your app does as much as this one.

    The main display of the app takes its inspiration from physical notebooks. Allowing users to split notes into different books based on whatever you wish. This could be the purpose of the note, or a category of your choosing. You can then customise these with its own front cover from a large selection and display the notebook to your own liking.

    This is a design choice I have consciously stayed away from with other apps in the past and much prefer a traditional notes app display. There is no way to tag notes or display them on any other way than one notebook or another. This took a little getting used to, and feels a little strange. It is also worth noting that even on the iPhone 7 plus there is no landscape layout which is more than a little annoying.

    Inside the Notebooks are your actual notes, displayed either by date or alphabetically. These are customisable with different background colours, although these can only be defined after creation. You can create simple text notes, but also drawings, voice memos and checklists. The display of the note is tailored for the note type, so audio is playable and images are very visible.

    The four options to start a note are a little confusing at first, and it should be questioned if they are really needed. Notebook has the ability for a note to contain multiple note types, but you must start with a text note. So there is no ability to add text to a voice memo. Zoho should consider implementing a similar approach to OneNote and treat all notes the same, this would offer a much more understandable experience.

    If you like to scribble down your thoughts handwritten notes are one of the most pleasurable things about Notebook. The developers have taken great care in making sure your quick doodles or jotted notes are taken care of. This works very well with the Apple Pencil, although you can use any stylus or indeed your finger if required.

    There is nothing worse than spending ages looking for the note you previously made and Zoho does everything they can to make notes easy to find. There is no OCR on hand written notes unfortunately so search will only include your text notes but will search through all notebooks with perfect results on each version of the app.

    You can also snap pictures, clip webpages and even add a full article into here – particularly handy if you read lots of webpages or store ideas all into one notebook.

    2017 10 24 zoho clipper 1

    Web Clipper

    One of the standout features of Notebook is their web clipper, which is something that every app with at least some enterprise ambitions must include. You’re able to easily clip text, images and also entire articles and save them to your included unlimited storage.

    When clipping a webpage there is an inbuilt option to clear the page of everything other than the article. Which removes those pesky ads and videos we all hate. This option could help some eliminate a read it later service or a long list of bookmarks. It works surprisingly well, equal to that of Pocket or Instapaper removing all adverts but also images. Although it lacks some customisation for reading options such as font type so couldn’t completely replace an offline reader for pure functionality.

    However Notebook could very easily replace a service such as Pinterest for saving ideas around any subject all in one place.

    Zoho Notebook Verdict

    The app is missing out on too many features for my personal use, but I do wonder how many people pay for a service such as Evernote and would be perfectly fine with this app. However there are some things missing to truly complete with the large services people use.

    Much of my cons with the app are related to my specific use case. I would love to see a tagging and labelling system rather than based on traditional books. There is no way for me to add a note to more than one book, which might seems strange but some of my text needs to be displayed in multiple places.

    There is also no collaboration or sharing available within the app with sync only provided by their own servers. Notes are not kept in iCloud or Dropbox so your pretty much locked into the service once started. There is also no URL scheme support available which is detrimental to my Workflow and therefore iPad usage.

    With that said this new upstart in an already very crowded area is a welcome addition. If you are looking for something free, easy to use and with simple features there is no point looking anywhere else than here or perhaps Google Keep. The future looks very promising for Zoho Notebook as this is still a new app in development, so I will be keeping an eye on them with interest.

    Bear: The Serious Notes App

    Notes apps are a strange thing to review. Everyone already has one built into iOS, and the vast majority of people will never look anywhere else. I was one of those people until I was able to delete first party apps, and much like replacing reminders with Todoist – I’ve replaced Notes with Bear. Here’s my review.

    By calling Bear a notes app it is much more approachable. When in reality it is a Markdown editor at heart. Allowing you to add in formatting while typing, for sharing later or simply for your own use. With a couple of key strokes you can add in links, headings, tick boxes, and even images. However if that is too much for your brain to remember there are shortcut buttons at the top of the keyboard.

    Whether you are jotting down a quick note to yourself, or starting a long page of prose, nothing will disturb your writing. Images can be inserted and formatted to your liking, meaning that as you type you will be looking at exactly how the document looks. This wont make a blind bit of difference to simple notes, but perhaps it’s time to take even your personal notes to the next level!

    Subscription Model

    Like many pro apps available now, Bear adopts the freemium model. The app is free on all platforms, with a monthly or yearly subscription to unlock pro features. Your use case may or may not need these features but they include:

    • Sync all your notes between Bear for iPad, iPhone, and Mac. Powered by CloudKit. Learn more about Bear’s sync and autosave in Organise and publish.
    • Export your notes to a variety of formats for publishing and sharing elsewhere.
    • Beautiful Themes – eight at launch, and more to come, to give you just the right, comfortable environment for your creativity to flourish.

    These are unlocked via a single subscription that covers all your devices, paid directly through the App Store. If you want to try out the Pro features you can claim a free week by signing up for the subscription, so you won’t be charged for the first week of use. So if you try it and don’t like the app, cancel before that time and you wont be chanted a penny.

    For the benefit of the review I will looking at the best version available, so I will be testing the Pro version. Bare this in mind during discussion of things like sharing if you don’t want to pay the £1.49 a month or £13.99 a year subscription. To me the subscription is well worth it for sync and the sharing options, but take this into account before jumping in.

    Bear review premium 1 1

    The Good Looking Notes App

    Rarely do you discus the design and UI of what appears to be such a simple. Yet Bear is one of the nicest to look at and simplest to use apps I have come across recently. Often the pretty facade quickly slips when you are searching for options or digging into menus to find things hidden for no good reason.

    Bear has been expertly designed in both aesthetics and function. All of your notes are listed on the left hand menu, which can be accessed with a right swipe. Once you are editing or looking at a note the developers have made all of the formation options available in a shortcut bar above the keyboard. This sounds a simple thing to do, but lots of others hide these away behind a formatting menu.

    Bear takes on exactly the same design in its companion Mac app, which is also available for free. The Mac app supports loads of shortcut keys but as yet doesn’t support any touch bar keys if you’ve updated to a 2016 MacBook Pro like I have. This is a shame, as other apps such as Ulysses has already pushed into this field, but it will only be a matter of time, so double check as they may have updated after publishing this review.

    You only realise what is lacking form other apps when an app does it right, instantly clicking and fitting into your workflow. Remembering shortcut keys is sometimes confusing, and they are never universal! So making shortcuts easily available makes it much easier when first writing in the app. You can of cause use CMD+ shortcuts on the iPad with an attached keyboard to.

    There are 8 different design options available in the app with more to come, including a dark mode for those that like using black. With that said design is more than just making things look pretty, as John Maeda says it is about meaningful results. The right balance of beauty and usability has been made here, the great design leads to a pleasing to use experience and an easy to understand menu and note organisation method.

    Bear review screenshots 1


    If you already use a powerful note taking app or service you will more than likely already use tags profusely. Tags, or any kind of organisation features are drastically lacking from the stock app which is annoying because these features are what make taking notes in an app so useful. By adding a simple # in any part of your text you can link similar notes together without fuss.

    Bear will then list all these in the side of the menus, making them easy to edit and easy to find what you are looking for. Quickly falling into this practice as a writer is easy, with different publications linked and also tags for ideas and work in progress (WIP) articles.

    The use of the hashtag is instantly recognisable to an Evernote user, you can even migrate all of your current notes pretty easily. The hashtag also makes tagging your notes instantly accessible to all, pretty much every smartphone users know how they work.

    Users are also able to nest tags with ease, so organisational options really are limitless. By adding / to the tag you can organise until your hear is content. My article # now has article / ideas and a article / wip nested tags.

    What your notes app contains is really up to you, and something that is as unique as the apps you use to get things done. Some users purely want a note pad and nothing else. If that is the case Bear will offer you a much better method of organising your notes. However the subscription may be expensive purely for this.

    Whereas I use my notes to write out ideas for articles and later flesh them out into almost full posts. Because Bear offers me so much more in terms of exporting options I have instantly taken to it.


    Once agin the sharing options of this Notes app are right up there with a serious writing app. It offers the option for exporting the notes you have made in such a wide range of options it might take a while to work out which one you really need.

    Powerful exporting options are missing from a number of similar app, with many simply offering rich text exporting and some apps offer none! Where as there isn’t many options you would need that Bear doesn’t support. With a simple swipe left while viewing a note you can share in Text, Markdown, PDF, HTML, Rich Text, DocX and if that wasn’t enough you can even export as an image. No more screenshots of your notes to publish in Instagram and Twitter.

    This makes everything from writing stories to documents through to just jotting things down to remember a breeze. I have gotten into the habit of attaching PDF’s into Todoist tasks and also Fantastical appointments, simply because I can with relative ease.

    Bear review landscape 1 1

    Deep Dive

    My habits of late have changed to delve a little deeper into my app reviews. Finding all manor of ways to use apps to their full ability. If you need a hand with what all of these terms mean, I will be writing a guide shortly. Safe to say you will need to invest in Workflow as a minimum .

    The developers of Bear are taking iOS automation seriously straight from the start. Implementing loads of URL call back options. The format of Bear URL Scheme action are as follows

    bear://x-callback-url/[action]?[action parameters]&[x-callback parameters]

    There are far too many things to go into and the extent you can customise quick launches and opening is huge. If you want to go through the full FAQ section and find all the parameters head over to the Bear website .

    Two schemes i have used considerably is the simple /open-note parameter


    and also opening a specific tag – in my case my work in progress tag so I can see what needs some work on at any point.


    These can be customised as much or as little as you require, but it is great to see developers spending so much time building in the requirements of power users like myself.

    Bear Verdict

    When I start reviewing a new iOS app that replaces a first party option I often ask myself if anyone is likely to use it above the stock app. The reality is that _
    most users are never going to look for something different. However that is not to say that no improvements can be made.

    Bear is above and beyond a notes app, almost to the level that labelling it one is so far off the mark it is stupid. Bear is more along the lines of a writing app, it does more than many available Markdown editors. Being able to export and share things with ease, it would replace my old writing app of choice ByWord very easily.

    I have slotted Bear in between my current writing app of choice, Ulysses, and my brain. It gives me the ability to format and position text in a small light weight app before moving them to Ulysses for images and publishing. If you simply want a notes app that syncs to all your devices, then look no further than the stock app. If you are looking for something with as many power features as you can cram into an truly gorgeous looking app, then the small subscription is a no brainer.

    Todoist - My New App to Get Things Done

    For as long as I can remember I’ve had a weird draw to organising things. It started with stationary and folders, and in the digital age expanded into spreadsheets and lists. I consider myself an organised person – yet one app has improved this further, Todoist.

    I’m not even going to pretend this app isn’t expensive. If you are not a big user of todo lists or you’re not looking for something to improve your productivity then this may not be the app for you.

    There is a free trial available though, download the app and sign up, then wait for the offer by email. It usually pops into your inbox after a day or so or sign up here for a free account. This will give you a month of premium services, so you can sink your teeth into the app and decide if if outlay is worth it for your use case. With that said I haven’t been using Todoist very long, but have already signed up after a few days of getting my set up sorted!

    If you are serious about productivity then the £21.99 per year subscription model won’t be an issue for you. It is a shame you can’t spread the cost monthly like other services, but is works out less than £2 a month really. Premium services include some pretty great features so you won’t be disappointed. For the purpose of the review I will be covering Premium features and these include:

    • Task Labels & Reminders
    • Location-based notifications
    • Add tasks via email
    • Attach files and comments to tasks
    • Automatic backups
    • Productivity tracking and charts
    • iCal synchronization
    • Project templates

    Todoist is completely cross platform with 13 different apps available for various platforms, including a web sign in for everything else. This is a feature lacking from quite a few competing apps, allowing for a log in from any device. You can also collaborate on tasks should work colleagues or friends also use the app, they stand a good chance as Todoist currently has 3 million users.

    Sort Your Tasks

    For many years I have been using iCloud Reminders and Notes perfectly well. This is an excepts app and pretty good solution for most users, but Todoist turbo charges organisation and productivity. More than this it makes everything easy to understand. Breaking all your tasks down into Projects and allowing you to set labels and organise with filters.

    Not only is the layout of the app easy to understand, Todoist makes adding tasks a breese. The apps allows for entry of whatever it is you need to get done in natural language in a similar vain as one of my other favourite apps Fantastical. Setting up a task is as easy as inputting the description followed by when you want to do it e.g. “Publish new story tomorrow at 9am”. You can also attach this task to a Project by adding #project name and a Label by adding @label.
    2017 10 24 Todoist review iphones 1


    When opening the app the first things you will come across are Projects. Think of Project as an area in which the task falls into, these really should be called ‘groups’ or some people refer to these as ‘Buckets’. These took me the longest time to get my head around, the name more than anything threw me off. Splitting tasks isn’t a unique thing for an app to do, however identifiers such as ‘home’, ‘work’ and ‘writing’ makes understanding them easier.

    Although you can set up projects however you wish. This could be used on an ad hoc basis for specific projects for project management, or used as I do just for a specific area. The amount of different options really are limitless, you can create sub-projects under main projects to ensure everything is organised and also implement colour coding to make everything easy to see.

    Inside the projects you place those pesky tasks that need to be completed. Giving them a description and customising them as much or as little as you like. You can structure sub tasks underneath them, you can leave comments on the task and even attach a range of files with ease. This is amazingly pretty unique for a task manager – most seem to support only pictures or voice recording. Whereas Todoist will allow images, text files, pdfs and many more.

    Tasks can also be given a priority, or Flag, dependant on how important they are. This will dictate where they appear in your lists. You can also set this by dragging and dropping tasks into the order you want them, or simply adding some Labels.

    Labels And Filters

    I made the mistake of rushing into Labels and thinking they would work the same as my Ulysses tag Workflow. However I found a bit of inspiration from the internet and created different Labels dependent on time they would take. If I had a spare hour I could just look at that specific tag, meaning tasking could be squeezed into any spare time I had. Productivity x10!

    That really helps when you combine Projects and Labels into easy to view Filters. Filters allow you to easily see any task that fits into set criteria. You can set them for anything you wish by using Todoist advanced query system, combining them to make sure you only see what you need.

    For example I have set up filters for Writing tasks that are Labeled 10mins, so I can see anything that just needs a proof read. Or another for any tasks that really need to be done today – of cause coloured red and named URGENT!

    I have many overlapping filters that can pull anything that needs doing with a specific requirement. What’s more is that if my needs change, the app designers have made it so simple to create or edit filters it takes a few moments. Filters are really what has made tasks easy to see and finish when spare time occurs, rather than picking through iCloud reminders to see if I. Office anything I could do.

    More than you think

    Todoist also fills all the basic requirements, such as the ability to set reminders for tasks that need to be done at a certain date/time. Reminders can also be set for when you reach a certain location, so it’s easy to assign things that need to be done when out and about. Reminders could be set for simple things such as shopping requirements or just tasks you need to do as soon as you get home.

    If you miss a date or time, Todoist will even reschedule the task quickly and easily. Either automatically with a suggested best time to fit the task into your day. Or you can set it to another specific date/time with a couple of taps. Don’t worry about those recurring issues either as you can set the same task to come back or a regular basis. So the gym reminder won’t go away that easily if you don’t want it to!

    It is also worth mentioning that the app will sync all your Tasks, Project, Labels etc to all of the device you have. It does this quickly and solidly, with no fall out. I use Todoist on iPhone, iPad and two different Macs with flawless results. I keep bashing iCloud reminders, and in the most part I have had very little issues, but when they did occur tasks wouldn’t sync to other devices or they would just disappear completely.

    2017 10 24 Todoist review tick 1The app also awards you ‘Karma’ for completed tasks. This has been heralded by some as a great incentive to create and complete tasks on time but hasn’t served any purpose for me. However if you like competing with yourself then you might find some motivation from it. For every completed task you are awarded some points, these combine to boost you up the five different levels.

    Right now I am sat at 1160 with a Novice label, however I have only been using the app a short while. The karma screen can be found at the top next your name, and does give you some good info about over due and completed tasks. If its annoying you can turn Karma off completely and the space will indicate how many task you have completed instead.

    Deep Dive

    With all of this said, they real beauty I have found in the app is its support for URL call back and IFTTT integration. If you’re reading this section I’m pretty sure you already know what these can do for you, however it is nice to see such large development in the area.

    Macstories uncovered that Todoist supports several undocumented URL scheme to help automate opening specific areas of the app. To quickly see a weekly over view set up Launch Centre Pro or Workflow to open: todoist://next7days

    To search for a task

    Or quickly add a task

    This is also far from the limit, there is inbuilt support in AirMail to send emails straight to Todoist, which come in handy for tasks that you need to refer back to an email. The app also supports integration into Google calendar and iCloud calendar, so your tasks with a date can been seen in your appointments.

    Todoist Verdict

    With all the features outlined above the options for your set up really are limitless. All of them combine to make Todoist such a delight to use as an everyday tool. The interface is easy to understand and uncomplicated, which is the downfall of similar apps. With not too much work you can designate an area and a time frame to make sure you can cram all your tasks into any amount of time.

    The price may be a downfall for some, and it really is a shame they do not offer a monthly subscription option. However with the constant improvements and the ability the app has, if you have the cash consider the investment well worth it.

    Healthface - An Uncomplicated Apple Watch Complication

    I held out as long as I could, but I have now caved and bought a Series 2 Apple Watch. Not because it is anything revolutionary, not because I accidentally killed my original version (although I kinda did) but because health and fitness has become so important to me I feel the investment is worth it. I have also found a perfect complication to match my new Nike + version – Healthface.

    Unfortunately Apple still have not allowed third party watch faces, yet made a small compromise with adding in custom complications with watchOS 2.0. Some apps have embraced the concept and updated their apps to add in everything from weather to quick links into their apps.

    Yet very few apps have really invested in the idea of complications, and developed anything new. Healthface by Crunchy Bagel is an excellent and uncomplicated iOS app that displays health data on any accompanying Apple Watch.

    Healthface review featured 1


    The best part about the whole experience is the ease at which you can display a whole range of metrics right on your Apple Watch. Customise the amount of info displayed and place it on your watch face of choice in both a small or a large complication. Anything that is recorded in the health app can be displayed by Healthface on absolutely any watch face.

    I’ve stuck to the boring step count or mindful minutes depending on the watch face I am using at the time. Although you can set anything from vitals, to body measurements or even reproductive health depending on your requirements.

    All of the set up is done through the iOS app, by default displaying all of the available watch faces you can choose from. Tapping on a watch face displays the type of complications available. These vary lots dependant on the face, the Mickey Mouse face for example has a Utilitarian small and Utilitarian large available. Where as my weekend watch face, Numerals, only has the Utilitarian small available.

    You can then adjust which information you wish to be displayed and also customise how you wish it to be displayed. You can customise the unit of measurement and also any icons displayed in the complication. With a live preview of how the complication will appear at the top of the screen, as seen on the furthest right screen shot above.

    Once the design is perfected, then you can place the complication on your watch face using a long press (force touch) and selecting ‘customise’. However because of how watchOS works, this complication will be the same across all watch faces that use that particular complication size. Meaning that unfortunately you cannot have different info displayed on different watch faces if they use the same complication size.

    Healthface review screenshots 1
    Tapping on the complication will open up a screen where the information can be refreshed. You will only need to do this when placing the complication or changing the data displayed. I have found myself pressing the complication by accident a few times, it is a shame this cant be locked somehow. Although this is all by design from Apple, so these types of changes are outside of the developer control.

    The real benefit of Healthface is putting your complications to work for you. Saving time digging into the Health app on your phone when you simply want to see a select piece of data you are keeping an eye on. Want to see your steps quickly and easily, no problem. Prefer to see your average heart rate – easy. The options are limitless and it’s great to see a developer using complications to make life easier.

    Healthface is available for £0.79 from the app store, if you’re serious about health it should be a must.

    Nexus 5x - Familiar feel, same result

    It has been a long time since a new Nexus has been usable for the general population, two years ago LG produced arguably the most successful Nexus so far. A 5 inch screened device, with good specs that was affordable to the masses. For the first time it was a phone you could recommend and you actually saw Nexus’ in use on the street.

    Now there is debate over what the Nexus line is, but Google effectively does whatever they like and chose to supersize a Moto x and release a 6 inch phone. Partly to keep with the sequential naming scheme and partly to see what they could do with such a massive screen. The answer for many was nothing and it struggle for sales as much as users did to reach the top of it’s massive screen.

    A complete change of plan this year as Google have released two phones, an Nexus and a Nexus plus if you will. Giving Chinese OEM Huawei a chance to produce a better 6 inch phone, and (as we have here) LG another crack at its beloved 5 inch Nexus — the result being the Nexus 5x. A tongue in cheep name for what is essentially a small spec bump on it’s last Nexus.

    Spec Race

    Specs have be come a bone of contention for some, but we are finally getting to a point where all spec sheets give reasonably the same results. The Nexus 5x sits in the sweet spot for most users, the 5.2inch 1080p IPS screen (423ppi) leaves little bezel at the sides. Meaning just over 70% of the front of the phone isn’t covered by glass, so it is almost impossible to tell when the screen starts and ends.

    The majority of the remaining 30% is dominated by the two front facing grilles. These certainly give the impression of stereo speakers a la the Nexus 6. However this is only illusion, as the speaker is behind only the bottom grille, with the top on being for call audio only. Although does help give a very balanced look to the front of the phone which has been lacking from previous Nexus phones and makes the phone appear very premium.

    Sadly that premium look is in appearance only, as the phone body is made entirely from plastic that will feel familiar for users of the old device. It still maintains some of the same grippy feel of the last Nexus 5, and unfortunately very similar creaks and cracks from the plastic while actually using the phone. The handset styling is sleek and understated as with every Nexus device and could easily fit in any situation, but during use things like the vibration motor make the phone feel and sound very cheep indeed.

    With that said you are using a phone that is ‘only’ £299 (when purchased from Carphone warehouse) so some compromises should be expected. For that price you are also getting a phone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) the Hexacore processor that has mediated the disaster that is the Snapdragon 810. Coupled with a somewhat limited 2gb of RAM, but it does give a smooth and quick user experience.

    There is one new hardware addition, a small ring on the back of the device you could be forgiven for dismissing as decoration. It outlines the finger print scanner, placed approximately where your index finger rests during use. A top finger print scanner it is too, fast and accurate and a pleasure to use. It takes only a few days to get used to the placement and will be particular useful for those wanting extra security without entering a pin on every unlock. A quick top on the circle wakes and unlocks the phone with ease.

    In side by side tests the scanner was as accurate and for the majority quicker than the Touch ID sensor on the new iPhone 6s. Which just as with Apples new handset almost renders the lock screen useless unless you unlock the old fashioned way by using the power button. However you wont want to as all three of the buttons placed down the right hand side of the device leave a lot to be desired, feeling mushy and sub par to say the least.

    Long Life

    The 5.2 screen has allowed LG to squeeze in a slightly larger battery than the last iteration, a 2700mah battery that should see it through a day of use according to Google. Unfortunately this is the one and only area that may sway a few people to opt for something different. In real world usage all day life is possible — but not guaranteed, if you are a heavy user you are going to struggle to see 7pm without at least a little range anxiety.

    However for lighter users the battery life is superb, using Marshmallows ‘doze mode’ the phone blocks wake locks and other battery drains, backing off from system tasks the longer it is left. Meaning standby battery drain is dramatically reduced without compromising important notification or messages while the phone is sat idle on a table etc. Unfortunately this is not optimised for those times the phone is sat in your pocket, so doze is only really useful if you place you phone somewhere when not in use.

    There are also lots of battery optimisation built into Marshmallow such as optimising app usage to prolong battery use and an ambient display each time you nudge the phone. All in an attempt to avoid waking the phone up to se if you have any notifications. So in reality the 2700mah battery should do better than it does, but Google service are again the largest battery drain. If you use things like Google Now and location services you are going to struggle being away from a charger for long periods of time.

    For those times you are caught short (which you will be) the Nexus 5x comes complete with new USB type C charging cable, which is great. No more fumbling or having to turn the cable around 3 times to get it to fit the bottom of the phone, but a massive pain when trying to buy some spare cables. Bare in mind also that the supplied cable with both of these phones is USB type C on both ends, so you wont be plugging it into your computer without an adapter or unless you have a Chromebook Pixel.

    Once plugged in the phone charges incredibly fast, going from less than 10% to 100% faster than anything I have experienced — and a quick 10 minute charge will add another 4 hours of battery life to a dying phone.

    Snap happy

    With the build quality and the battery life being little improved from the last Nexus 5 its a refreshing change to not have to also moan about the camera performance. Previous iterations have not had bad cameras per se, but have made little use of the sensor with image processing and software benefits. Fortunately, at fourth time of promising Google have delivered a very capable couple of handsets. They have included the same sensor into both new handsets, a 12.3 mp Sony sensor and optimised it to the best of their ability.

    Shots are not going to blow anyone away, but for the first time they are not an embarrassment either. They at least can hold a candle to some of the best on the market, and in the ball park of those from LG’s own G4 and Samsung’s S6. In good lighting shots are crisp, with colours are bright and vivid. Comparison to those of the S6 or iPhone 6s is more down to personal preference, sitting somewhere between the S6 bright colours and the more muted ones of the iPhone.

    The biggest let down is still focus, and was a particular bone of contention when taking some pictures. Needing a touch on the screen to manual focus or a few shots to get it correct. Something that is a huge let down when both the Lg G4 and the S6 do such a great job, not to mention the lack of manual controls from Googles camera app. None of the issues above are major and could be updated with a point release, but the camera app is slow and look outdated when others are so quick and easy to use.

    Low light usually lets any non optimised sensor down, and it creeps into some shots from the 5x. The lack of OIS does show in quite a few of the shots, leading to some blur and noise in lower light shots. Particular when the light is fading as this is exaggerated by the muted yellows and oranges in the images. It very difficult to show sample shots as they are never how you are really going to use you phone, but there is a gallery of images below of my walk around the park!

    Android and You

    With all that said you can praise the hardware as much as you like but heres the thing, its Android that is the let down. I still really like Android, like really really. However I think I liked the idea more than the actual OS, the young upstart against the behemoth that is Apple. Except they are both made by huge corporations and both have the same ends in mind. Its all about the revenue but with completely different ways to get it.

    Android and iOS both have completely different angles in approaching the end user and earning that revenue. Apple charges a premium for the phone, that is the only place it is available and then provides the user with the best experience possible. Whereas Android makes its OS available everywhere, handset makers make no money from the sale, and then hope to makes a much money as possible while the phone is in use.

    Android still feels like children’s software trying to live up to being a serious OS, its fun and friendly but could occasionally put on its big boy pants and play grownups. Gone is the hollo blue, but it is replaced by every primary colour in tones that could damage the retina. Unfortunately for the Nexus, it also features the Google logo in multicoloured glory right on the home screen — as it runs Googles version of Android and its more Google like than it has ever been.

    There is an unspoken of pressure to hate anything produced by the other side, an unwritten law that you are not allowed to like or even appreciate both Android and iOS. It is unfair to compare the Nexus 5x to the iPhone 6s as the handset is half the price, but that is where most people are going to want it to be. The best of Google vs the best of Apple, perhaps the Nexus 6p is a better comparison — but both are ultimately let down by Android.

    I know thats an unfavourable thing to say, Android 100% has its advantages — you can mould and shape Android exactly as you like. Change default apps, launchers all sorts of things, but Android apps fail in comparison to their Apples counter parts even when developed by the same companies. The iOS Twitter app is light years above the hot mess that is the Android app — yes you can change the default app but general users will relate official apps to Android straight away.

    When the applications in use reflect so heavily on peoples perception of the OS and therefore the hardware its time for Google to put a foot down. Billions of apps make little difference when only a small percentage are any good, and show the full ability of Android. Material design has helped to improve things, but when Google themselves show inconstancy amongst their own apps how can you expect others to follow. Come on developers make the Android what it could be and take over the world.


    I don’t want to dismiss a Nexus device that holds so many found memories for me, but Im afraid I just have to. Each and every time I picked up the device it felt good in the hand and took amazing photos, but Android is just not going to win over anyone. The 5x will stay with me, but to occasionally test Android because it is such a good phone for the price — nothing more.

    When so much of an Android phone review is useless now, there are only so many words you can use to say the same thing. Readers will scroll down to the camera and battery sections and thats it. It has a great camera, let down a little by a rubbish camera app, and it has a good battery let down by a battery draining OS. One Android phone is the same as the next one by and large, spec sheets mean little above a smooth working device — and this one is great for £299.

    If you are an Android user, and looking to upgrade then it is a worthy contender — one of the very best on the market. Even more so for the price you pay. Google finally made some great hardware with its partners, but is let down by the app market not showing Android to the best of its ability. With a heavy heart the Nexus 5x is a budget best buy but nothing more.

    Nexus 6p - When P Means Premium

    Well they finally did it. Google finally listened to all us geeks and produced a premium phone for the 7th generation of its Nexus line. A show stopper, Google produced the pinnacle of what they believe an android phone should be, and how it should work. This is the Nexus 6p — and when p stands for premium all others should take note.

    When something is made well, it has Apple build quality — it’s a phrase used over and over again. A few have successfully matched, and down right copied, but the name still sticks. There have been a few Android phones to push those ideas, but none of the Nexus line have ever got anywhere near the upper echelon of build quality.

    Build Quality

    You could argue that is not what Nexus is, they are there to show the best of Android and put it in an understated and affordable body so developers can tinker. It is the prevailing opinion that the claimed developer focus is just not the case anymore. When specs sheets are almost null and void because Android runs well on almost anything it’s the outside that will win over the user. With the 6p Google have shown that the Nexus line can, and hopefully will continue, to not just point the way but also keep up with the best of them.

    It’s not a fair comparison to compare the 6p with its little brother the 5x, but they are both born of the same parents. Gone is the plastic found on the Nexus 5x, replaced by metal and glass. It is strong and weighty which is reassuring in the hand rather than frighteningly light and creaky. There is no risk of you bending the phone despite what you may see, the whole phone feels premium with nothing spared.
    The manufacturing partner for this outing is Huawei — unfortunately little known to much of the general public. They have already produced some stellar hardware, that is often let down by the software. Thankfully you will find nothing but Googles Android here, notice that doesn’t say stock, because Nexus versions of Android are more Googley than ever.

    Huawei have done a perfect job squeezing a 5.7 inch screen into a body that is infinitely easier to hold that the previous version (Nexus 6), with flat sides and slightly chamfered edges the phone is a little slippery to the touch but does its best to grip on where it can. The screen dominates the front, rocking an eye watering 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi) that covers more than 70% of the front. Only flanked by stereo speakers at the top and bottom giving THE best audio experience on a smartphone I have experienced to date.

    Around the back, in order to get the all metal design Huawei have placed all the radio equipment and camera lenses behind a strip of glass. This has caused contrasting opinions in the design world, due to being raised very slightly from the rest of the phone. In reality rather than taking anything away from the design, it makes it much easier to tell which way is up when pulling the phone from your pocket. Combine this with the ability to still lay flat on a table it is likely to become a non issue and one of the best features of the phone.


    Its also 100% worth the trade off for a bit of a hump, because Google made a big deal about these ‘Sony sensors’ they used in the new Nexus — and for once the results live up to the hype. As with the Nexus 5x, the camera is amongst the best Android snappers on the market. Images are crisp, and clear when there is plenty of light — with small amounts of noise creeping in when the light begins to fade.

    Its unfortunate they didn’t include OIS even into this bigger phone, so images with small amounts of light survive by cracking the ISO up and image processing does the rest. You can mediate this by using HDR+, this reduces overly flattened areas of light and images are much more pleasing to the eye. See my periscope video above for some indicators of what you will be up against.

    I have not struggled to get picture I want, although I have resorted to using the intelligent burst mode on more than one occasion and discarded the undesirable photos. This burst mode is only found on the Nexus 6p, and will not only take photos for as long as you keep your finger on the shutter, it will also make them into a moving GIF for you to share. Beware of all the images being backed up to Google photos though! You will find sample photos below from my Nexus 5x review — a cop out I know but its the same camera.

    Fingerprint Scanner

    The back of the phone does suffer the same fate is most previous Nexus phones, it doesn’t so much recieve a tramp stamp than a full back piece. With Nexus plastered all down the back of the phone just under the the mysterious small ring you will find on the back of both new Nexus phones. This of course outlines the fingerprint sensor, one which provides perhaps the best unlocking experience on the market.

    After a few days of use you quickly become trained to the placement, a quick tap on the circle wakes and unlocks the phone with ease. In side by side tests the scanner was as accurate and for the majority quicker than the Touch ID sensor on the new iPhone 6s. Which just as with Apple’s new handset almost renders the lock screen useless unless you unlock the old fashioned way by using the power button.


    It is unfortunate to miss out on Android’s lock screen because it still does everything right, but the added security and ease of unlocking using just a tap is something no phone should be without. Once you are using the phone, it’s clear to see Google’s work hard to implement material design, the system animations and design elements flow easily into each other.

    This still falls down in some apps, as with my Nexus 5x review it is the app ecosystem that falls short. It was months since I had used Android fully before popping my sim into the 5x, and although most things are obvious Android is still inconsistent in interface and also quality of apps. There is a tendency to be overly critical because of this, but with a bit of time getting used to and trying out new apps it’s not impossible to find everything you should need.

    With that said, Google is trying to implement some kind of Android interface guidelines, but you don’t get enforcement when the platform is at least reasonably open. However if Android is ever to attempt to win over users from iOS the vast inconsistency between even app developers by the same companies needs to be addressed — but that is just not what Google is interested in.

    Battery Life

    Battery life has been somewhat of a small disappointment for me, packing in a 3450 mAh battery gave me hope of all day usage. While that is true for moderate usage, and it is light years better than the 5x, do not expect much more than 4.5 hours of screen on time. Although that is not everything in battery life, standby time is dramatically increased by Android doze mode, this is only useful for light users and if you place your phone on a surface for large parts of the day

    Buy it?

    The belief was that users bought an Android phone because they couldn’t afford an iPhone. It was what parents bought their kids, it then began a succession of Android handset until eventually they just bought an iPhone. If you owned the last Galaxy plastic phone, when you upgraded you went Apple and almost never went back — at least according to Apple.

    That’s just not the case anymore. With phones like the 6p Google has a top tier that users graduate to and stay with Android. There is just no reason to switch, no longer is the iphone the only phone to get great pictures. The results and experience is the same and Android is familiar. The 6p is never going to win over iPhone users, because that’s just not what it is for, it’s for current users to buy — the best Android has to offer.

    If you are in the market for an Android phone just stop, click that big button next to the 6p and buy it. It’s the best Android has to offer — and it shows.

    Making the tock worth it - iPhone 6s review

    It’s a weird thing the S upgrade of the iPhone, it is often overlooked — but always brings in features that become staples of the hardware line. The touch ID sensor with the 5s and Siri with the 4s, these models are not just the ‘tock’ to the redesigned models ‘tick’. However as every Cosplayer finds out, putting and S on something doesn’t make it super, after a stellar year can Apple give enough reason to upgrade?

    Size Matters

    Growth for Apple came from all directions when the 6 hit stores, most notably in China but also spurring a migration from Android users all over the globe — at a pretty high rate. No doubt turbo charged by Apple finally increasing the screen size to start at 4.7inches, something which is now considered pretty normal (or even still on the small side) for the rest of the smartphone market.

    This new model from Apple has also been hitting the gym as it has changed quite a bit in shape, well for an S model anyway. It gains 0.2mm in height, 0.1mm in width, 0.2mm in thickness and a whopping 14g (6s) or 20g(6s+) in weight. Those few grams don’t seem like much but you really can feel it when you take it out the box, and all those little bits of millimeters mean an upgrade in dress size as some cases for the iPhone 6 won’t fit.

    You really are going to notice the heft if upgrading on a two yearly contract cycle and coming from the 5s. With personal preferences aside, the extra weight isn’t a deal breaker but to say it’s unoticable is simply not correct. It does add a certain reassurance when handling the phone sans case, somewhat offsetting the retention of the slippy round corners — but as with the previous model these iPhone’s really look better in a case than out.

    Touch It

    The increases in size and weight are to account for something that Apple believes is the next level of multi touch. Including technology first introduced in the Apple watch and Macbook, but this is no longer force touch — its 3d touch. Expanding multi touch into the third dimension and allowing for multiple (read 3) levels of touch (read force) you can apply to the screen.

    Adoption of the ‘next generation of multi touch’ is at the moment hit and miss, but almost all Apple apps have short cuts reminiscent of Jailbreak tweaks and in app peaking and popping. The almost kindergarten names for a quick preview window with a slightly hard press to the screen, but still doesn’t give me the option to slam the phone down with a really hard jab of the finger.

    If Samsung et al were the creators of such technology it would be universally dismissed as a gimmick. Destined to spend it’s life alongside other software almost has beens like eye scrolling and hand waving, but Apple has the software and hardware clout to just maybe make this work. After the initial check to see which apps support shortcuts (if they don’t you just received a double vibrate in a virtual head shake) it easy to forget due to the lack of visual clues — but as more and more apps adopt it you may be 3d touching for a long time to come.

    Who are you?

    Touch improvements also expands to the Touch ID sensor, with the home buttons sporting Apple’s second generation hardware. Tim Cook claimed that the home button is now not only more accurate but halves the response time — and this certainly shows in real word usage. In many ways the speed and accuracy now negate the need for a lock screen at all, reduced to just a fleeting glance as the home screen appears should you unlock with the home button.

    It still falls occasionally to finger tips that are slightly damp but much less than with the first generation, but continued home button to wake the phone means notifications are often missed due to the speed of the sensor. That is unless you resort to using the notification shade — which although it finally shows notifications in chronological order, still is next to useless. You can couple this with forgetting about the camera lockscreen shortcut, as it’s gone before you get chance to open it — however 3d touch gives you a quick way of getting you straight to those selfies.

    Not just flash, Retina flash.

    Once you do get the camera app open, the interface remains untouched, bar being coupled to Apple’s updated iSight sensor which bumps images up to 12mp from Apple usual 8. Although its is 50% larger, Apple have managed to maintain the speed and performance of its predecessor but don’t expect a revolution. This feels very much the bed for a much larger upgrade in future generations and a small hint that Apple is aware it is compared to much larger sensors supported by its Android rivals.

    It is a very good camera, the best iPhone camera yet. The larger sensor allows for a larger image captured, meaning cropping and zooming is much easier and detailed. However in a stark change from many preceding years I am not sure the camera is the best smartphone camera any longer. Many Android alternatives produce much crisper and detailed snapps particularly when the light is fading — but the iPhone is consistent in capturing images with ease and simplicity we have always known.

    There is one small difference to the interface that users might not even notice, three small concentric circles at the top allow activation of what Apple calls live photos. Reminiscence of HTC’s Zoe the camera app catches the few seconds preceding and immediately after taking a picture. Allowing for no doubt some great small clips to be captured.

    In reality all I have managed to catch is video of me taking my phone out of my pocket or a few seconds of posing before the picture is taken. Unless you make a conscious effort to think this might be a good time to capture a live image it’s likely to spend much of its life turned off. That is without taking into account that live photos take up twice the space as a normal picture, a few seconds of low frame rate video and audio doesn’t seem worth the trade off.

    The revolution this time around is around the front, now Apple have finally updated its age old 1.2mp camera to a more modern 5mp one. In order to make sure you always get a great selfie Apple have also included a hardware chip allowing the screen to act as a flash by increasing brightness above its maximum level. Selfies are well and truly here to stay, but even if that isn’t your thing camera quality across facetime is now much clearer and brighter.

    Bigger, Faster, Stronger

    Battery life also joins the many specs that leave you with the same feeling as last time.The size of the battery has actually diminished but with improvements in iOS9 real world battery life remains unchanged. The regular model will see you through a day unless you are a heavy user and the bigger plus model is nearly impossible to kill.

    So there you have it, a few changes amongst a phone that Apple claims ‘everything has changed’. There are countless things that haven’t changed amongst a few that have, slightly. Most review focus on the improved internals, the new A9 gives console level gaming on a handheld device.That may be the case — and real world usage indeed shows how quick the phone is in a few short minutes.

    However most of (at least my phones) its life will be spent texting, tweeting and the odd game of dots. The upgrade is made ever the more difficult by the fact last years model is no slouch either — so if you already have the 6 it will be a tough call to upgrade or not. If there isn’t a feature above that stands out, and you don’t like the look of Rose Gold (pink), there really is no reason to switch.

    No matter what the adverts say there is no revolution here. The 6s is without doubt the best iPhone yet, but it’s not one that will change the industry — it’s just a tock.

    LG G Watch R Review: Stylish But Falls Short

    Round is cool. That’s just a fact – wheels, money, Oreos… they’re all brilliant. We’ve only seen two attempts at round Android Wear watches, and just one if you count the flat tyre of the Moto 360. Why there isn’t more, only manufacturers know. Most have adopted the safe haven of a square. So here we are, left with the LG G Watch R.

    You can stop thinking that this is a round version of the original LG G watch right now. Thats a very wrong assumption to make, as much like the Sony Smartwatch 3 I tested last week, it has received spec bumps and improvements in all the areas that you need. The G Watch R (GWR) is competing with the specs of the Sony watch, in what many consider hardware version 2 on Android Wear.

    Unlike the original G Watch, design has been very much on the minds of LG when working on the GWR. Instead of the plain Nexus like design, we get something that looks a top of the range sports watch, all be it a sports watch from the 1990’s, and those design cues are straight from G shock.

    Design Choices

    Its almost annoying that the numbered dial around the outside doesn’t turn, so I can relive some youthful games of marking how much oxygen I had left. This does mean that, along with the Moto 360, it can actually be mistaken for a normal watch – something distinctly lacking from LG’s first model. Being more at home with a suit in the office with the Moto 360, than out running with the Sony Smartwatch 3.

    The large bezel around the outside replaces the flat tyre look of the Motor 60, its actually a full circle! This does add a little bulk, and slightly inhibits you a bit when swiping cards away. Being a large margin above the 1.3-inch P-OLED display, the design makes the usual palm over the device a little more difficult. The display is noticeably smaller than the Sony Smartwatch 4, maintaining 320×320 dimensions, but colors are much more vibrant.

    Strap Life

    Coming with a leather strap its hard to know where LG want to sit the styling of the watch. You would expect a watch taking all its design cues from sports watches to come with a high grade rubber strap like most of the competition. However the bundled leather strap is a confusing mix of sports and fashion, and with the leather wearing within a few days around the fastening and strap end its clearly not high grade leather.

    That’s not all bad news as this leather wearing in does mean that after a few days use the strap is amazingly comfortable. Luckily the watch uses a standard 22mm watch strap so changing them for something new is easy. The only question that should be asked though is why should you have to? With the low grade leather its hard to see how they can justify the £220 price tag, given the Moto 360 come in at £199. It will be a tough choice to justify the extra outlay when comparing them side by side.

    Harder to Kill

    Given the choice on paper, many will chose the Moto 360. During use, the battery life increase on the GWR alone is worth a little extra outlay. The 410 mah battery consistently gets me through 2 days with moderate use – even the odd day of heavy use still saw me through to the next morning.

    Battery life on Android wear is a tough choice, the battery life needs to last through a tough day of heavy use, but does it really need to last more than that? We are a long way off anything last as long as the pebble, but I am fast coming to the conclusion that if the battery lasts more than a day, then it needs to last two – otherwise manufactures are just adding weight to spec sheets, for no real reason to the end user.

    Harder to like

    There are certain products that just don’t have that special something, and that last little bit is missing from the G Watch. It doesnt feel like a step forward, despite the improved display and battery, it just feels like a round version on the first generation hardware – all be it with much better looks and a much better battery.

    The battery charger, although easy to use, is a proprietary piece of hardware I have to worry about. So anytime I spend traveling I have to make sure I know where this small bit of plastic is. Though I am sure this won’t suffer the same fate as my Gear Live charger, more manufacturers need to offer at least a back up of the basic micro USB connection.

    It does however feature a heartrate sensor, that seems to be much more accurate than others on the market. Unlike the Gear Live I can use it after a run and whilst damp. Despite the graphing ability in Google Fit, we are still lacking the ability to record it at intervals through out the day.

    The lack of an ambient light sensor was also a big draw back after using the SW3 and Moto 360 as it means the screen is either on or off, which is constantly annoying. Luckily the 5.0 update to Android Wear has fixed this little issue (but more about that another time). The recent update however, has yet to fix all the small announces with the screen.

    When the screen dims after covering of after a period of inactivity, the screen fades all the way to black, only to brighten back up to the dim screen. If the screen then turns on the face will jump slightly, very noticeable due to the high contrast colour on the screen. Again a small annoyance, but ruining the experience of the most expensive Android watch on the market ever so slightly.


    If styling is the most important factor to you and you want a full circle Android Wear smartwatch, there is only one watch to choose from. For a good looking Android Wear watch without the battery anxiety of the Moto 360, choose the G Watch R. But for all the round ability on the G Watch R, it falls short of living up to Android Wear hardware v2. Given the expensive outlay be sure the styling is for you, as it will soon be outdated with new hardware incoming.

    Sony Smartwatch 3 Review

    It feels much longer, but it’s been less than 6 months since Android Wear hit the market. They have stealthily crept into use without much fuss, despite revolutionising the wearables market. Reducing the time spent interacting with your phone, but still mining all of that lovely data for Google. The launch devices were pretty average, the Moto 360 wasn’t for everyone despite its anticipation. So now its time to see, perhaps one of the more experienced smart watch maker, Sony take on Android wear. The Sony Smartwatch 3 review is straight ahead.

    Despite claiming they had no intention of making a watch for Android Wear, they have followed up two generations of Sony Smartwatch running their own OS, with a third – this time running Android Wear. The imaginatively titled ‘Sony Smartwatch 3’ has the same rugged lifestyle proof ratings that their phones do. Each Android watch has been water resistant, but the SM3 sports an IP68 rating mean you can submerge it in water for up to 30 minutes, should you feel the need.

    The IP68 rating means you can leave the watch on when going about your daily life and it will stand up to everything – swimming, running, working and even the occasional bump and scrape can all be shrugged off, although you will still suffer the phantom touches from water that have plagued every model so far.

    Design For Many

    With its basic, no nonsense name echoed in its design (that in many ways takes on Google’s Nexus design language), it isn’t going to win any design awards – but what some people may call boring and plain others will call understated and sleek. In certain light conditions on the black model, it’s sometimes impossible to tell where the screen ends and the band starts.

    Choose any colour band you like, but they all are made of the same high quality rubber, with a matte finish. Matched with a clasp similar to that of a normal fashion watch, you have the making of foolproof comfy fitting. Unfortunately this is the sole area that lets the Smartwatch 3 down, and does it quite badly.

    For want of better words, the fit is not going to be for everyone. The clasp is very big and a little loose matching this to there being too much space between notches, the fit can occupy that annoying space between one setting being too tight and the next too loose. Combine this with the flat ‘core’, it fits much like the LG G Watch rather than the much comfier Gear Live.

    Of course everyone’s wrists are going to be different, so a try before you buy is recommended as the fitting may not be for everyone.

    Lifestyle Proof

    Dust resistance may be a box that doesn’t need to be ticked, but anything to life proof it can only help. What that does mean is that everything is sealed into the watch, but its not actually a watch per se. The main body pops out to reveal what Sony call ‘the core’. This can then be swapped into other bands, and presumably other things, but until now there is just a white, yellow or a pink rubber band to choose from.

    If they could match this to a metal and/or a leather option, you would have a look for every occasion. However, achieving this Android Wear for work and play may be down to Google improving the speed in switching wearables, with manufacturers eventually releasing easily changeable watch bands to rival the yet unreleased Apple Watch.

    This core charges using a standard mini USB cable, so ditches the docks and proprietary chargers that others have needed. Which makes a very welcome change, as some of these have caused issues. The IP rating means, much like the Sony phones, is covered up with a rubber flap. Which the longevity of which remains to be seen, but gaining access to the connection is easy to achieve, much more than messing around with a required dock or connector.

    Improved Ability

    The comparison to other Android watches unfortunately has to carry on, as with the Sony watch we could be at the start of v2 of the hardware. No bold and revolutionary changes are seen with the Smartwatch 3, but how many improvements can be made to a watch? Everything sees a much needed improvement to the areas that really matter.

    The screen is the same 1.6 inches we have seen before, with a new ‘Transflective Display’ providing the 320×320 display.  This fancy technology means that while the screen isn’t as vibrant and colourful as that seen on the Moto 360, you can see it clear and accurately in even the brightest of sunlight. A fantastic improvement to what was the biggest gripe of the first wave of Android Wear watches.

    Spec Bumps

    The battery receives a small bump to 420mah, which hardly seems a huge deal given the LG watch had 400mah when it hit the shelves. With improvements to the screen and internals, the claimed 2 days of battery life is easily achievable. Where a day of use had me needing the charger at 7pm with the Moto 360, i’m easily able to resist the charging cable for more than 48 hours with the Smartwatch 3.

    This is the first Android smartwatch based on the Broadcom SoC platform, packing a 1.2GHz Quad-core ARM Cortex A7 processor and its own on board GPS Sensor allowing for phone free tracking if needed. Along with off live music playback through Bluetooth headphones – thanks to the updated Android Wear OS, you could run phone free if you needed.

    The watch also has built in wifi, all be it lying dormant while the Android Wear support lacks support. A future update may mean phone free updating too, should Google wish to take Android wear down that street. Android Wear on the SM3 is in stark contrast to that seen on the Gear Live. Rather than duplicating or replacing every wear app, the SM3 is completely stock, save for a few watch faces that are actually very well designed. Usefulness and ability is the same as any other Android Wear watch currently on the market… if you have used one you have used them all.

    All being said this is by and far the best Android Wear watch on the market at the moment. There are improvements to be made in comfort, but the ability and usability from the thought Sony has put in more than makes up for it. It would be hard to choose this over the Moto 360 or even the G Watch R for styling, but the all round ability of Sony’s Smartwatch 3 is second to none.

    OnePlus One: A Real World Review

    Since moving across to use Android I have spent the whole time trying to find the perfect device. Many have come and satisfied me for a short while, but there is always a compromise somewhere. Whether it be poor battery life, poor camera, or poor software, the reasons are many. The next in this line is the marmite device, the OnePlus One.

    Love it or hate it, you can’t avoid talk of the OPO. If it’s not a vocal few voicing opinions on the marketing, it’s the many more begging for an invite to buy the phone. Even after ordering the phone it still divides people. My experience on a daily basis goes from “wow is that the OnePlus One? How did you get one!” to “what on earth is that phone” in equal amounts.

    Unboxing Is An Experience

    Be prepared for the whole experience of the phone that start from the shipping box. Pulling the exposed tab reveals the best packaging I have ever experienced. Even the unboxing felt like a special event, reserved for those worthy enough to gain an invite to even buy the phone.

    So much was this experience I had to put together an initial hands on with the phone as it felt so good unboxing and just feeling the phone. The build quality of the phone trumps any plastic put out by the majority of manufacturer. It falls short of the level of the HTC One M8, but these two ‘ones’ are top of the tree in build.

    What OnePlus have done is spent the money on the device in some strange areas. Considering the key ring Sim-ejector tool, the amazing quality USB lead and the deluxe packaging. Then put these against the two adaptors I have to use just to plug it into the wall. Leaves a few questions of the importance placed on usually unimportant areas, but the areas that do matter do not disappoint.

    Hands On

    I said it in the initial hands on this phone is big in the hand. The square corners make it slightly uncomfortable to start with. That’s assuming you adopt the usual pinkie underneath grip that most people do. After a week of use the backing of the sandstone black handset has lost some of its gritty feel but none of the grip, now resembling a feel similar to rough felt. Making it feel great to the touch, strong and reassuringly sturdy.

    Dominating the front of the phone is the 5.5 inch screen. I said this phone was big didn’t I? The Screen produces colours that are bright and vivid, if a little on the warm side. Not to mention the level of tweaking options available will make any user happy. Combining this with the sound from the twin speakers, everything from a full movie to a quick YouTube clip is engrossing. Even if the sound is blasted sideways and not forwards which you get from the Sony Z2 and HTC One M8.

    Spec Sheet War

    Is it possible to see any stutter from devices anymore? Modern powerhouses of processors make light of easy tasks. The OPO is no exception, the Snapdragon 801 doesn’t even break a sweat to keep usage fluid and response. With gaming and extensive tasks bringing out the best in the chip.

    Even the most graphic and process intensive activity is a breeze. Combine this with 3GB of ram for all your multitasking pleasures. One advantage of such a large handset is space to fill with battery power. So even a day of heavy use will be no issue for the 3100mah battery. Getting in excess of 6 hours screen on. Of course your millage may vary.

    The only let-down is the screen is not a responsive as I would like. Spending a good ten minutes working out if it was my imagination or just that anything after the latency on the M8 feels like a step backwards. Leaving the on screen navigation keys sometimes a little under responsive.

    Push The Button

    If you choose to make use of the full screen real estate and switch to the capacitive buttons be prepared for them to disappoint. Being the wrong way around and also extremely poorly backlit. A non-issue once you get used to them. Which may take a while as after all they are the wrong way around!

    Whereas the power and volume buttons are in the perfect position on such a large phone. Right in the middle of either side. They are good quality buttons with a reassuring click when pressed. However they are a little too far recessed into the phone. Making it slightly hard, and almost impossible when using a case.

    It’s a little disappointing they didn’t to add a camera shutter key, if only to take up a bit more room on the side of the phone. This is where the quick launch gestures come in handy right? Well we will get to that soon enough.

    Snap Happy

    Android Phones have always appeared to lag behind both the iPhone and Windows phone devices. Only until the current generation have we seen those that really compete on this level. OPO reviews have shown some great staged photos that appear to be taken by a high quality camera. In reality the ability of Sony’s Exmor IMX214 13-megapixel shooter is left lacking more than it should.

    In anything other than perfect light it sometimes takes a couple of shots to get a great finished article. Which is normal when comparable to anything other than a Lumia at the moment. The CMOS sensor includes a great f/2.0 aperture, so in low light when it really matters the ability is good. Let down by poor software processing however. Leaving some photos noisy and washed out.

    Next Camera

    What pulls everything back together is the ‘Next Camera’ that comes stock on the OPO. The CM team has really worked on this to really show their ability. The capture rate is nothing short of incredible. Meaning I can fire off shots in amazing speed. Giving the HTC M8 a good run for its money you rarely missed the shot you want.

    When shooting there are several filters to choose from with a swipe of the finger before shooting. These give the impression of pleasing the Instagram generation. What this does do is reduce the time to enter HDR mode to half the time of other apps. When using HDR expect the processed shots to be over exposed and sometimes unnatural. Giving results that appear to be from someone learning to Photoshop. There are two included in the gallery above.

    Francois the audio and camera developer at Cyanogen has also shown that there are big improvements coming for the OPO, including RAW support. So there is a benefit to having constant development by CM. However some of the other software leaves a little to be desired.

    Cyanogen Misses The Mark

    This is one area that has been left lacking. I have very rarely used Cyanogen before the OPO. Although the amount of users that speak highly of the ROM developer goliath is outstanding. Even on a Nexus device there appear to be bugs and unfortunately the OPO version CM11s is no different.

    Nothing had been detrimentally wrong. However software features that don’t work on an end user device is unacceptable. Software fixes for a pretty big bug with the Wi-Fi toggle when using a theme has still not been applied to the ‘flagship killer’, despite being available for weeks in other software.

    As soon as you turn the device on I would turn the wake up gestures and double tap to wake off. Otherwise you risk turning on the torch or unlocking the phone in your pocket. I don’t think this version of CM11s would even class as a milestone build. A fix is coming so we have been told.

    I realise that at the moment the OPO is aimed at those more ‘tech savvy’ than the average consumer. That’s a very good job because a normal consumer would not put up with CM11s as it is today. If OnePlus ever want to move forward they need to seriously consider doing so without Cyanogen on board. Or stepping their game up dramatically before they even consider releasing a general consumer handset.

    A Tweaker’s Dream

    What CM11s does bring to the table is an almost endless array of personalisation tweaks and modifications. Far too many to go into detail here but expect favourites like customisable navigation bar, quick settings, and shortcut gestures. Meaning you can select as many or as few as you like.

    What is amazing for customisation is Cyanogen’s new theme manager. The ability to change everything from boot animations and icons, to full on themes that change almost every pixel of Android. With hundreds of themes available straight from the Playstore. Want it to look like Android L, no problem. Even themes to implement LG or Touchwiz design if that’s your thing.

    Cyanogen also bring along their security options to the OPO. The phone is not rooted out the box, so using banking apps and the like are not an issue. The stock kernel has bene patched to a much secure level than most devices available today. And with Whisper SMS you can encrypt your text messages with ease.


    Removing the software bugs I am in love with this device. The build quality and battery life are truly a wonder to behold. Using it will be enjoyable, once you are used to the size of the handset.

    Whilst the screen is not pushing the pixels of the G3, it is bright and vivid. Combined with great sound from the speakers makes for great media consumption. The camera software is great combined with a good sensor. Which will only get better.