iPhone XS Max Blog Posts

January 2, 2019

Portrait Mode

Portrait Mode is the ability to take a picture of a person and have the background blurred out. This cool effect uses both cameras on the iPhone XS Max and figures out the foreground and background. Portrait Mode is available in the rear and front camera.

You have control of the background Depth using the built-in editor.

Gus O Dog
Using Portrait Mode on the iPhone XS Max, I was able to take a great picture of our dog.

Eight Things I learned about using Portrait Mode

  • When using the rear camera, It's best to stand 8-feet away from the subject to get the best focus.
  • The rear camera has better quality and you'll see more of the background.
  • For better effect, make sure the background has some depth. Don't just use a studio backdrop. A park setting or skyline would look very cool. Disney Castle from Main Street USA would be a good opportunity.
  • When using the front face camera, it's best to hold the camera three feet (about an arm's length)
  • You can't change the blur effect while taking a picture. Afterward, you can change the blurred background using the Edit Mode.
  • If you want more control over the background/foreground, use ProCam Editor. You can do cool things such as make the background black and white or even remove the background and make the photo transparent.
  • To make modifications to Portrait Mode pictures on MacOS you need macOS 10.13 with Photos 3.0.
  • Pictures taken using Portrait Mode are saved as JPEG and not the High-Efficiency Video Compression (HEIC) format.
  • If you back up to Google Photos you can change the Depth uploaded. Simply find a photo that was taken in Portrait Mode, Click Edit, the second icon on the bottom right, then click on the same icon, and you'll see the Depth adjustment on the bottom. (Apparently, this isn't available in the Web Version only in Google Photos iOS app)

Image Dimensions

Front Camera 3088x2316
Rear Camera 4032x3024
December 19, 2018

A12 Bionic chip

One of the main features that Apple announced with the new iPhone XS Max is the use of the A12 Bionic chip. The iPhone 6s Plus has the A9 chip with 64-bit architecture, so the iPhone XS Max chip is 3 generations newer.

Question is, what does the faster chip mean for the average iPhone user? Why difference does a fast chip mean, and what applications perform better using the A12 chip?

The biggest change will be in the applications that use Apple's Machine Learning framework. One of the applications that use Machine Learning a lot is the Homecourt app. Apple promoted at the iPhone XS Max kickoff. This application will watch you play basketball and analyzed the shots you make and miss.

A21 Bionici Phone

Machine Learning

The Facial Recognition technology that is used to unlock the iPhone XS Max is where people will see the biggest improvement with the A12 Bionic chip. The faster chip helps speed up the facial calculations so the phone opens almost immediately.

Machine Learning vs Artificial intelligence

Machine Learning is the ability to learn without being programmed - for example looking at hundreds of facial expressions and knowing which ones match.

Artificial intelligence is when machines/applications perform tasks that are similar to human intelligence.

Apps that Use Machine Learning

  • PlantSnap - Plant Identification. It's a great way to find out information on plants in your yard. You can find out how much water it takes to how much sun they need. It's an awesome way to learn about your yard. (It works great with houseplants!) The App is
  • Night Sky - AR Guide to the sky right now. You can find out what planets are in the sky and details about them. It's a great learning app about space.
December 12, 2018

Qi Charger

One of the nice things about the iPhone 8/X generation of phones is the wireless charging. You simply put the phone down on a Qi pad and it will start charging. It’s a very convenient way to charge your phone.

Qi Chargers

Seneo Wireless Charger

I have a Seneo Wireless Charger at my desk. It’s not only a great way to charge the phone, but it puts the phone in a position when I can watch videos while working - for example, Udemy training videos. The other thing that it’s good for is that I can just look at the phone and it unlocks. If I had it placed on the desk, I would have to pick up the phone in order for the facial recognition to work.

The nice thing is the Seneo Wireless Charger stand is cheaper than a standard Apple Cable - around $20. There are plenty of times that it’s offered at a discount.

Is Wireless Charging Better?

When Apple announced the iPhone XS Max, they said it would offer faster wireless charging. There's nothing in the technical specs on what makes the iPhone XS Max wireless charging faster.

Qi Charging Standards

There are three standards to Qi Charging:

  • Qi Low-power - Delivers power up to 5-Watts (Standard for Smart Phone Devices)
  • Qi Medium-power - Delivers power up to 120 Watts (Ideal for Laptops and Monitors)
  • Qi High-power - Deliver power up to 1 kW (Focus on Hair Dryer, Razors, Coffee Makers, Desktop Computers, and many more)

There's no supporting information that iPhone XS Max now supports the Qi Medium-power. So it's unclear how Apple is able to get a faster boost from the standard Qi format.

Best Charging Option for Vacation

If your doing any traveling with your iPhone XS Max, your best charger would be the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD with 30W Power Delivery Charger, Portable Charger Bundle for iPhone XS/XS Max/XR/X/8, Nexus 5X 6P, LG G5 & USB Type-C Laptops. This device will help you charge your iPhone XS Max faster than a standard 5w charger.

Yes using the plug-in charger is the fastest option when you need to quickly charge the phone. But not any plug will do, make sure to get one that has 30W or 87W to charge your phone as quickly as possible.

The Anker one is nice because the portable charger is fast - perfect for when you need to charge up your device between shots or waiting in line in Disney World. It comes with the fast USB wall charger so you can charge your iPhone XS Max at night.

Unfortunately, the high speed has a high price tag - $129. It's a good option for those that do a lot of traveling and need to have their phone always available.

Qi Charging is Great for the Office

Qi Charging is great to have at the office so the phone is in standup position and charging. You don't have to worry about connecting cables, and when you need to step away, simply take the phone with you.

December 5, 2018

Weathershot Pro Premium subscription

If your looking for an application that overlays weather information WeatherShot is the application to do that. You can instantly show how hot or cold it is with the actual temperature.

Weather Shot Pro

If you really like the application you can upgrade to the Weathershot Pro Premium subscription version for only $19 more a year (There is a first-year plan for $9). This allows you to removed the application name when you apply the weather overlay. In addition, you get to access more skins.

There are some customers that are not happy to know that after purchasing $9 for the application, that they have to spend an additional $9 to remove the logo.

Seven Things I Learned about the Pro version

Once you upgrade you get full access to all 90 different skins.

I have found that there are 2-3 skins that I would use. Most of the time, I just want to show the location, temp and the feels like temp - on those really cold days. There's not a lot of skins that show the "feels like" temperature. I am surprised that only one of their winter skins has the "feels like" value.

In the Doodle-Art there is some animation - such as bike riders and runners. These graphics stay animated when you save the files as GIF format. I did find that the saved animated version looks a bit jumpy than the preview version within the app. Perhaps it's because the GIF isn't using the same frame rate as the preview.

You can adjust the size of the temperature number by using your fingers to expand or contract depending on what looks good for you.

The application works both in Portrait and Landscape modes. So if you take pictures in landscape mode - which most pictures should be - make sure to use the application in Landscape mode to get the best view.

WeatherShot was at one time called InstaWeather - it got changed on June 18, 2018. The app was targeted for people posting Instagram Photos, (Check out some past Twitter posting using the #InstaWeather). Also checkout my first review of the InstaWeather App.

Weathershot Pro Premium subscription users are supposed to get new content every month - but I haven't seen much in what's new. That is, there are no announcements on any new skins or functionality. Since October, the "What's New" talks about "we're preparing a special design pack, so please stay tuned!" (This sounds like another premium add-on.) The last time Premium subscribers got an update was in September.

There is nothing special about using this application on the iPhone XS Max.

Should You Go Premium subscription?

If you plan to focus your blog/Instagram/Facebook posting using weather data, then getting the Premium subscription might be a good option. At least the WeatherShot text doesn't distract users from your image.

As for the other skins, they are nice to have. I don't really think they are something that I would use on a regular bases.

November 28, 2018

Instagram Hyperlapse vs. iOS Camera

Have you played around with the Time-Lapse camera functionality? It's pretty cool to set the camera on a tripod and just record the sessions for a while and then watch it all unfold in a matter of minutes.

There are some limitations to the Apple's Time-Lapse camera:

  • No information on how often pictures are taken.
  • Only can do one type of Time-Lapse - no way to speed it up or slow it down.
  • No way to adjust the focus after the Time-Lapse has started.
  • No way to turn off the display to save battery life.

Instagram's Hyperlapse

Instagram's Hyperlapse is a good alternative solution to Apple's Time-lapse. While they don't fix all the limitations that Apple's Time-Lapse has, you do get a lot more flexibility. It's also free - so the price is right!

Six Things I learned using Instagram's Hyperlapse

  • Instagram's Hyperlapse tells you the duration while recording. This helps when you want to stop the recording at a certain time length.
  • Default speed is 6x - Which means that it's six times faster than the original recording. To make a 30-second Hyperlapse video, the camera will have to be on for 3-minutes.
  • If you're taking a 1/2 video of the sunrise, your better off using the 8x speed. That will give you a nice 3.5-minute video clip.
  • After a video capture session you have an option to have the final output be fast pace or a slow pace. Once you select it there's no way to "go back" and save a different speed.
  • The Instagram's Hyperlapse Dimensions is: 720 x 1280
    The Apple Time-Lapse Dimension is: 1920 x 1080
  • Instagram's Hyperlapse smaller dimension gives it more room to fix stability issues. If you're not going to be moving the camera around much then the Apple Time-Lapse might be the better solution.

One Final Word

If you want the most flexibility with Time-Lapse videos, take a video using the regular video option and then change the speed at post-production. I use 4k at 24 fps for all my videos. I can use iMovie or Wondershare Filmora to slow it down or speed it up. Just make sure to have plenty of disk space.

Oh, one more thing... Make sure to put the iPhone in Airplane mode! You don't want the video to get interrupted by a robocall.

November 21, 2018

802.11ac WiFi

The latest iPhone XS Max is using the 802.11ac WiFi speed. Which is pretty fast, it can download files at 1 Gbps compared to 600 Mbps using the old standards. It's the latest and greatest WiFi speed that has been available for a few years.

Wi Fi Chart
How WiFi Speeds has changed since 1999

Seven things I Learned about 802.11ac

  1. Available since June 2012 in some laptops, most popular adoption came in 2013 when Apple announced MacBook Pro would be using the 802.11ac band
  2. The IEEE naming convention has 802.11ac is now called Wi-Fi 5.
  3. Apple has been using the 802.11ac standard in iPhones since the iPhone 6.
  4. Google WiFi has support for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. The iPhone automatically picks ups the higher WiFi standard.
  5. The 802.11ac range is only 140-feet
  6. You can test your Speed using Verizon or SpeedTest.Net iOS App.
  7. The latest Wi-Fi technology is 802.11ax, otherwise known as Wi-Fi 6. There is no router or hardware that is using this.
November 14, 2018

ProCam 6

ProCam is yet another popular third-party application on Apple's iOS. It offers a lot of features to expand the basic capabilities of taking photos and videos using your iPhone.

Pro Cam Photo Menu
ProCam Photo Menu give users a lot more control than the standard Apple Camera App.

Five things I like about ProCam

  1. Slow Shutter - You can control how long the shutter should stay open. It's a great way to get a lot more light when it's very dark. It's just as powerful as the Slow Shutter iOS app ($1.99). I would recommend skipping the Slow Shutter iOS and using ProCam as you have more functionality.
  2. Date/Time/Location Stamps - Useful when you need to let people know where/when you are. You can control the size of the stamp.
  3. Editing Effects - There are all sorts of cool photo effects that can be added such as Tilt-Shift, Tiny Planet, Social Colors, Scratches, Grain and Prospective Adjustment.
  4. Extracting Stills from Video - Very useful when you want to send a picture from a video. Much easier than watching the video and taking a screenshot. In addition, you get the full frame size, not the iPhone frame size.
  5. Over Exposure Warning - Don't get caught with a bad picture because parts of it are way out of focus. The Over Exposure Warning can let you know if you need to change your point of view to get a better photo. It's a great way to play it safe when you want a good photo.

4k Pro Cam Screen Shot
Actual video screen shot capture from a 4K 24 fps video. I used Pro Cam capture feature, it looks as good as if it was a regular picture!

3D Photos

One of the camera modes that are unique to ProCam is the ability to take 3D Photos. This is a creative way to use both cameras on the iPhone XS Max.

You take a picture in landscape mode. ProCam takes a photo with both lenses at the exact same moment. Then align one of the photos. When you click 'Done' you get a shifting photo. You can save the photo as a GIF, JPEG + GIF, Video + GIF.

This isn't something that I would use on a regular base but does add a cool effect to post on Facebook or Twitter.

Getting ProCam

ProCam 6 is not free as it cost $5.99 from the iOS store. I would recommend checking out the Tutorials on ProCamapp.com to see all the features of the application

November 7, 2018

Camera2 Plus

In May, the team at Snap Snap Pro updated Camera+ to Camera2 Plus. This is the first major update in

Some New Features in Camera2 Plus

  • Original Camera+ didn’t have a night mode. Slow Shutter was introduced in Camera2 +
  • There’s no more in-purchase add-ons! You don’t need to purchase Analog Filter Packs or the Hollywood Filter Packs, it’s all built into Camera2.
  • Better Manual Controls
  • RAW Capture - when you want more control on what the iPhone XS Max camera captures. You can edit on the phone, or use Photoshop, Photoscape or Affinity Photo to edit.
  • and a lot more.

Five Things I like about Camera+ 2

  1. Clarity -This is a cool tool in the editing Box. It a quick way to touch up any photo. Works better than Apple’s Auto-Enhance functionality. When Apple’s Auto-Enhance doesn’t work you should try Camera2 + Clarity.
  2. Siri Shortcuts - You can take pictures quickly via Siri. you don’t need to unlock the screen! Simply set up a Siri action and a picture gets taken. There are 9 Siri Shortcut actions available within Camera2 +. Simply record your voice to the action. Then later when Siri hears you say it, it will perform the action. I would recommend setting up a Selfie Siri Action, to make taking selfie pictures even easier.
  3. Frames - Hidden in the Editing toolbox are 27 overlay frames. These add a nice mockup type of effect on images - which would standout when posting on Instagram or Facebook. For example, you can add a film around an image to give it neat effect.
  4. Smile Mode - Easily take a selfie by smiling.
  5. Focus Highlighting - No more trying to guess on what's the camera is focused on. Makes it easy to know what the camera is actually looking at.

Clarity Example

Click on image for a larger version.

The above shows the power of the Clarity functionality in Camera2 Plus. You can see more of the train station when the Clarity filter is applied.

Two Annoyances

  1. The Slow Shutter functionality is a bit hard to configure/understand how it works. There isn’t really any documentation.
  2. The Camera2 Plus update didn’t include any Apple Watch functionality. The old version did have a simple Apple Watch App.

Getting Camera2 Plus

Camera 2 Plus is available to purchase in the iOS store. Currently it's only $2.99.

I think it's worth the investment for the five points that I mentioned above. The Clarity filter comes in handy when you want a quick touchup to any photo and don't have time/resources to touch the image on the computer.

October 31, 2018


Apple's Camera is a pretty cool tool, it gives users the basic camera functionality. It's fast easy to use and easy to access with the simple swipe of the lock screen.

Why Buy a Camera Application?

While the Camera is good, there's still a lot of power that users have with the Camera. That's the advantage of using a third party application.

One of the applications that I have been using for years is the ProCamera App. I have been using it since version 5, the current version is 12.0.1. It's a great application to use to help take really good pictures with the camera.

Five Things I like About ProCamera

Apple Watch App - ProCamera Apple Watch App lets you take to preview the camera view before taking pictures. You can also switch between modes and set focus. To see the current camera viewfinder click on the ProCamera icon on the bottom left. (This is different than Apple's Watch as the viewfinder is on by default.)

Flash Torch - Great for when you want a picture in a dark situation and want to see/focus on the picture before taking it. For example, if you're trying to take a picture of a product info on an equipment in a dark area. (This is where the Apple Watch can come in handy too!)

ProTimer - If you like GorillacamPro, you'll like this feature. You'll have the ability to set a number of photos to take after the Self-Timer gets activated. This is also a good way to take multiple pictures and then combine them later.

Lens Selection - You can actually take a picture with both lenses on the iPhone XS Max. You don't necessarily get a better picture, but it's pretty cool to have that functionality.

Videos - The nice thing about having a third party app for videos is that it can have different settings. I can switch between the Apple Camera and ProCamera depending on what I am doing. The AudioMeter is great to have a visual of the video audio track, it's a good way to know if the audio that I am capturing is loud enough.

Couple of Notes

If you ever find yourself without the bottom row and unable to switch modes or see the Camera Roll, it's because you are viewing the Light Version of the "On Screen Display Mode." To fix this simply click on the Control Panel, the three lines on the bottom right, then the Display icon, the bottom right icon that looks like a rectangle. Use Standard Mode if you want complete control of all the elements.

If you want to change what modes appear on the camera switcher, simply swipe all the way to the left until you see the three dots. Click on it. Now you can rearrange the photos modes and hide functionality that you don't plan on using.

Getting ProCamera

You can purchase ProCamera on the iOS App Store for $5.99. There is no trial. If your still curious about it, I recommend reading the short manual to learn about the capabilities of ProCamera.

October 24, 2018

Apps with Low Light functionality

The iPhone XS Max camera is amazing compared to the iPhone 6s Plus. Visit an Apple Store and do a side by side comparison to see how much brighter the camera makes everything appear.

The Apple iPhone XS Max Camera Specs

Facetime: 7 MP, f/2.2
iSight: 12 MP, f/1.8, Wide-angle: f/1.8 aperture Telephoto: f/2.4 aperture

The Apple iPhone 6s Plus Camera Specs

Facetime: 1.2 MP, f/2.2
iSight: 8 MP, f/2.2

It's hard to believe that the quality of the FaceTime camera on the new iPhone XS Max quality is just about similar to the rear camera of the iPhone 6s Plus.

Popular Camera Apps

I have found that there are four apps that will give you good night time pictures: Camera + 2, ProCamera, ProCamera and Slow Shutter.

There are key differences on how each approach low light conditions. The app that best works for you depends on what your trying to accomplish.

In all situations, for the best picture you shouldn't hold the camera. Either use a tripod or lay the camera against something and use any time delay

Slow Shutters
Use Slow Shutter to take night amazing photos.

What Makes the Apps Great

  • Camera+ 2 ($2.99) - Great colors and the option of using Telephoto mode or Wid Angle. Great when you need to take a night photo but don't need a long exposure.
  • Slow Shutter Cam ($1.99) - Takes great landscape photos. Takes a few seconds for the photo to generate, but you get nice bright night shots.
  • ProCam 6 ($5.99) - Easily switch between Low light, where you get the bright night photos, to Light Trail, where you can get neat trailing lights (such as headlights). Pretty much the best combination of Slow Shutter and Camera+ 2. However you can set the camera mode in Slow Shutter mode.
  • ProCamera ($5.99) - Good if you want control of ISO, Brightness and Aperture. There is a Low Light Plus add-on that is available, but I haven't tried it.