iPhone Xs Blog Posts

May 15, 2019

Audio Input using the iPhone XS Max

There is a sneaky way to connect an audio cable to the iPhone XS Max to record incoming audio. Think of it making your own Mix Tape on your iPhone XS Max.

Example

You want to connect your iPhone XS Max to a sound system and record sound.

The best way to do this is to use a cable splitter that has a connector for audio input. You basically need a TRRS connector, these are visually identified by three black marks on the Audio-In end:

i Phone Splitter

This cable is more commonly found using the "old" apple headphones that had a microphone connected to it.

Using the TRRS Connector, you can plug in any 3.5 mm cable. Now you can easily bring external audio into your iPhone XS Max.

Setting up The Connector

First purchase a TRRS Splitter, you can find them on Amazon or eBay. I would highly recommend eBay since it cost less that $3 with free shipping. (Just make sure that it ships from the USA.)

You will need the Lighting to audio-In cable adapter from Apple. (I wouldn't recommend getting a "third party" since they may not work for this particular situation.) You can get these from any Apple store for about $10.

Connect the Lighting to the iPhone XS Max and then the TRRS splitter end to the 3.5mm slot. Now connect your audio to the right slitter. (I would recommend clearly labeling the splitter)

Three Things I have Learned

  • The incoming audio doesn't always get recognized by the iPhone XS Max. I have found that I needed to start the audio and then connect the cable to the iPhone XS Max.
  • Your original source of audio shouldn't be too loud. Apparently, the audio input is very sensitive.
  • I found using the Apple Voice Memo to be a good recorder. I tried some other iOS recorders and found that they were too complex to use or would have involved spending money and no guarantee that I would get better performance.
  • Another option that I am considering - using GarageBand to record the input audio. I have read some good reviews on using it and it has lots of good configurations.

May 8, 2019

Apple Photo Search

Did you know within Apple Photos, you can search for "dog," "Grass," and other objects in your picture?

Apple adds additional "smart" tags to photos that work very similar to Google Photos. The key difference is that its right there on your phone. This makes it easier when you looking for that perfect picture of the dog or beach setting.

You can search for GPS location, Date as well as objects such as "Blue House," "Dog" or "Christmas Tree."

If you have some down-time, on the train/bus/store, try to see what unique things that Apple tag your photos. Did it spot the bird in the picture? How about the clock? Try to see how much detail tagging actually get's done!

i Phone Search

How to use the Search Feature

Simply open up Photos and then click on the search icon on the bottom right. As you type your search query you may get some auto-complete suggestions. Note: I find single word searches to be better.

May 1, 2019

Using the iPhone to Scan Documents

Did you know that you can scan documents with your phone?

Using Apple's Preview There is an ability using the Finder and other application to scan documents with the iPhone and put the scanned image in the document.

What's Special with iPhone XS Max?

I did a test with my iPhone 6s Plus and the iPhone XS Max and discovered that the iPhone XS Max files size were larger using the newer iPhone. I did notice some slight difference in some of the receipt scans. The iPhone XS Max scans appeared to be cleaner.

It doesn't really matter too much since there's no OCR support, perhaps that is coming in a future version of iOS?

Scan Compairisoni Phone Max
I scanned the same receipt using an iPhone 6s Plus and the iPhone XS Max.

Easy Steps to Scan

  1. Right click on the Desktop, and select "Import from Phone" then "Scan Document"

  2. Your iPhone should turn on and be ready to scan a document.

  3. Position your phone over any size document and the phone should recognized the boundary of the document.

  4. Click the capture button on the phone

  5. Continue to scan additional pages that you want to include. (For example the backside of a receipt.)

  6. Click Done when completed.

  7. The image should appear in a PDF document on the desktop. (If you do this in an application it should be included in the application.)

Five Things I Learned About Scanning with the iPhone xs Max

  1. You need to sync your phone with your Macintosh to get this working.

  2. This is an easy way to scan receipts when you're writing those expense reports. Evernote's Scannable is pretty cool alternative as it has a better focus and OCR capabilities.

  3. There is no OCR Support in scanned images. A good alternative would be the Scannable app by Evernote.

  4. The scanning functionality is available in some third party applications; Pixelmator. It is missing in some other applications: Photoshop Elements, Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, Artboard, Evernote, Microsoft Office and Swift Publisher 5.

April 24, 2019

USB Power

The iPhone XS Max comes with the standard 5W USB Changer. One thing that is interesting is the power adapter doesn't have the green sticker on the back any more.

See this side-by-side comparison with the Adapter that came with my iPhone 6s Plus when I purchased it back in September 2015.

Power Plug Green

Why the Green Dot?

According to Apple, the green dot was put on the Power Adapter by Apple to show that the plug isn't part of the Exchange program. See full details on the Apple Exchange Program page.

Is 5W Enough?

As mentioned in a previous blog post, 5W might be a good option for overnight charging. However if your traveling a lot you should consider investing in a more powerful charger that will charge the iPhone XS Max in about 1/2 the time.

Ideally getting a 12w or more powerful charger will be helpful when you need a quick boot for those crazy Saturday routines.

Gift Idea

If your looking for a unique gift idea for "someone that has everything" get a USB-C charger with a USB-C to Lighting Cable. According to Apple this will fully charge the iPhone XS Max in about 1/2 the time.

You can buy a Anker USB-C to Lighting Cable on Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com or Staples for about $14.

April 17, 2019

Outline Wallpaper

The iPhone XS Max comes with 29 different Wallpapers of unique types. There are Dynamic, Stills and Live variety. Lots to choose from - many people will just use a photo of a pet or child as their Wallpaper.

Outline Wallpaper

An outline wallpaper is a wallpaper that has a thin border around the outer edge of the screen. It's a way to frame the content, and a way to highlight the notch on the top of the screen. It's a good way to have a distracted free home screen.

Hideaki Nakatani created a site with 32 different outline wallpapers to exclusively work with the iPhone XS Max. It's a creative wallpaper gallery that gives your smartphone a professional look.

The website main language is in Japanese - you can find English translations throughout the site.

Outline Wallpaper
Hideaki Wallpaper adds a simple border around the edge of the screen. This is the simple white color.

About Hideaki Nakatani

Some information about Hideaki Nakatani's website:

How about the wallpaper decorating its Home Screen?

There are many beautiful wallpapers in the world. They are beautiful photos, beautiful art, beautiful graphic design. It is not product design.

The origin of this site is to make Home Screen a part of the product integrated with the iPhone. I just wanted to stop looking for wallpaper that I didn't really like and use it comfortably.

Although, there are many specifications not published by Apple such as the virtual size of the Parallax Effect, the rule of the color of the Dock and folders in iOS wallpaper. In addition, they are changed frequently in updates. It sounds like cryptography.

Check it Out!

Check out the simple Hideaki Wallpaper designs at https://heyeased.weebly.com/exactly-max.html.

April 10, 2019

Image Quality

To reduce file size, capture photos and videos in the high-efficiencyHEIF/HEVC format. The "Most Compatible" option will always use JPEG H.264 format. However, you'll miss out on using 4k at 60 fps and 1080p at 240 fps because that require using the High-Efficiency settings. The main downside to selecting "High Efficiency" is that it may not be compatible with older computers.

Raw is the highest quality possible image but takes the most space. It's not part of the default Camera settings.

There are three popular apps that have additional photo image quality settings: Camera+ 2, ProCamera, and ProCam.

Image Quality

Camera+ 2

Camera+ offers HEIF, JPEG and TIFF formats. You can select the quality based on three criteria:

  • Downscale - Smaller size photos - great for sending via messenger
  • Normal Quality - Regular pictures.
  • High Quality - Low Compression and the largest possible size.

Camera+ keeps the options simple so that users aren't overwhelmed with various configurations. Yet it's way more powerful than Apple's Camera app.

One downside to Camera+2 is that there's no video support.

ProCamera

ProCamera offers four different file formats: Jpeg, HEIF, Tiff and Raw + JPG.

In addition, if you know your image quality you can change the compression settings for JPEG, HEIF. The default compression setting is 90%.

To enable Raw format, or any of the options:

  • Open ProCamera
  • Click on the icon on the bottom right
  • Click on Format (Should be just above the Settings on the left)
  • Select your format (Try to use HEIF!)

One downside to ProCamera is the night shot configurations is hard to learn.

ProCam

ProCam supports HEIF, JPEG, and RAW formats. There are no additional settings to change compression settings.

The nice thing about ProCam is that if you select to shoot Raw it does it automatically, there are no additional steps as there is in the other apps.

One downside to ProCam is that's complex and will take some time to learn. Once you learn how to use it, you'll be amaze at all the shots you make so much better.

Why Have Multiple Camera Apps?

Having more than one camera app is a good way to manage your photo quality. Simply use Apple's default Camera app for everyday photos and use the third-party apps to take higher quality pictures that you plan to edit later.

You should install these in advance to learn how to use them. Don't install these while waiting in line at Disney's Haunted Mansion. It will take time to learn how to use these apps and to get familiar with the different configurations.

This is a good use of "downtime" on an airplane or a train ride.

April 3, 2019

Camera Lens Info

A few years ago I purchased the [Olympus XZ-2](https://www.dpreview.com/products/olympus/compacts/oly_xz2) camera to use as my primary video camera for low-light pictures. Since I got the iPhone XS Max, I haven't used the Olympus XZ-2 as much. I was thinking for my next trip, is it still worth packing the Olympus XZ-2?

A look at the specs between the two cameras. These are taken from the official spec documents from each manufacturer. (For the iPhone XS Max I am only focusing on the back lens.)

Olympus XZ-2

Product Type 1.7" CMOS sensor
Aspect ratio 1.33 (4:3)
Lens Olympus lens 6 to 24 mm, f1.8 to 2.5 (Equivalent to 28 to 112 mm on a 35 mm film)
Shutter Speed 1/2000-60 sec., Bulb shooting (Maximum 16 minutes at ISO 100)
Shooting Range 0.05 m (2 inch) to (W), 0.2 m (8 inch) to (T) (Normal/Macro) 0.01 m (0.4 inch) to 0.6 m (2 ft.) (super macro mode)
ISO sensitivity100-12800 (1/3 EV step)
Aperture '/1.8 -'/F2.5

iPhone XS Max

TypeBack-illuminated Sensor (1.4µm)
Aspect ratio4,032 x 3,024 (4:3)
Resolution7 MP Front Camera
Wide Lens12 MP, f/1.8, 4.25 mm, 1/2.55", 1.4µm, OIS, PDAF
Telephoto Lens12 MP, f/2.4, 6 mm, 1/3.4", 1.0µm, OIS, PDAF, 2x optical zoom
Lens Equivalent26 to 55 mm on a 35 mm film
ApertureWide-angle: '/1.8 and Telephoto: '/2.4
Shutter Speed1/22000 (Wide) 1/45000 (Telephoto)
Shooting Range2.87 mm to infinity (There are additional third-party kits to purchase micro mode.)
IOS sensitivity24-2304
Battery3174 mAh

Low Light Tip

The best night photos require the lowest aperture. So, while the iPhone XS Max may take great pictures, if I am taking night shots, I might be better packing the Olympus XZ-2 for better quality night photos. This is especially true for low light video photography.

The Olympus XZ-2 is just slightly better in low light conditions.

Any Surprises?

The Olympus XZ-2 was announced on September 17, 2012. The iPhone XS Max looks to be a good camera replacement. I think the nice thing about the Olympus XZ-2 is how the back screen can detach making it easy to see the screen when it is high or low.

March 27, 2019

Google Photos Depth Editor

Google Photo allows iPhone XS Max users to change the background depth of Portrait photos. This is great news because you don't lose that ability when you upload to Google. Allowing users to safely delete the file knowing that they can alter the background at a later point. Prior to Google's change - there was no way to modify the Portrait depth other than on the phone.

How to Change the Depth Mode in Google Photo

To change the background blur on a Portrait Mode photo, open the picture up in Google Photos, click the editing icon, then tap again on the editing icon to bring up the focus and depth editing options.

1217 Google Photos Depth2

Steps:

  1. Open up a photo in Google Photos iOS App and Click on the edit icon on the bottom menu (second from the left)
  2. Click on the same icon again. (Should be the bottom middle icon now.)
  3. Now adjust the Depth meter.

Note if you're not seeing a change, make sure the white circle in the preview picture is center to your subject.

The feature works on all iPhones that shoot Portrait Mode photos: iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Google Photos already offered the feature on Android phones such as Pixel 2, Pixel 3 and the Moto G6.

March 20, 2019

Compass

The Compass application is one of many factory installed applications that people ignore on their iPhone. People don't really need a compass to figure out where they are. They simply using Google Maps or Apple Maps.

I thought I check out to see if there are any changes to the Compass application from previous iPhone models.

iPhone 5s, 6s Plus and Max

i Phone Max Compass Layout
iPhone 5s, iPhone 6s Plus and the iPhone XS Max in the same spot

The Compass functionality hasn't changed much between the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6s Plus, and the iPhone XS Max. The big change has been in the software - not much changed with the hardware.

I did notice that the latitude and longitude is different between the iPhone5s and the other models. (42°20'35" N 71°5'1"W) vs (42°20'50" N 71°4'53" W). The iPhone 6s Plus and Max is closer to the actual location to where I was testing.

Five Things I learned about the iOS Compass

  1. You have a choice between True North vs. Magnetic North. You should stick with the default settings of Magnetic North.
  2. If you click on the latitude/longitude you can copy the baring to the clipboard and then paste it in Google Maps or Apple Maps to see how accurate the location is.
  3. When I had the compass application open during a train ride, the location didn't change until I moved to a different app and the refocused on it. The only thing that changed when the application was open was the compass barring.
  4. The elevation feature was added as part of the functionality of the iPhone 6. The Altimeter tells you how high above sea level you are.
  5. Tap the compas baring to lock in that barring. The band will turn red if you are off track. (This helps keep you in a straight line and on track!)

March 13, 2019

iPhone Max Storage

One of the things Apple did with the iPhone XS Max launch is to increase the minimum space size.

Even with the "more disk space", there is still the need to monitor space to remove unused files and have space available. After all - you never know when you'll need to capture a video/photo at an event.

Information via Settings

You can find out how much space you have available on your phone:

Go to the Settings app, then select General, then select iPhone Storage

Hot Tip: If the Settings App is buried in some folder and will take many swipes to get to, simply type "storage" in the iOS Search Box, and scroll to see the results in the settings area.

Chances are the Photos/Videos are using the most storage on your phone - unless you're a huge fan of music or movies.

There is an option to "Review Personal Videos" this is where you can check out the videos that are taking up the most space on your phone. The information is sorted by size with a nice preview icon with the date.

The problem is that the only action that you can take is to delete the video. There's no option to move the video off the phone before deleting.

Graphic Converter to the Rescue

Graphic Converter has a great Browse feature which gives you the ability to look at all the files on the phone. You can select the files to back up to the computer and then remove them.

What separates Graphic Converter from Apple Photos is that Apple Photos doesn't give you the ability to sort the view of by file size. So you are left to download all the files or try to guess which ones are taking the most space.

Graphic Converter is simply a better way to clean up the phone when you don't want to download everything.

Graphici Phone Browserjpg

Five Tips Using Graphic Converter

Here are some of the things I learned using Graphic Converter to manage the multimedia on my phone.

  • The browse mode sorts by size, but you don't actually see the amount of space that the photos are taken.
  • It's easy to download the selected videos and then delete them once the copy is made.
  • You can change some of the Browse settings in the Preferences panel. There is a display size option but I haven't been able to see the size of objects on the iPhone. In addition the size doesn't appear in the info panel - perhaps this is a limit of the iPhone API?
  • There is a Sort by 'Size (Pixels) & Name'
  • Pictures taken with Live mode will have a picture and the movie format. So when you sort by size you may encounter the Movie version before the actual photo version.