Google Maps

Google Maps App Now with Open Table and Uber support

google-maps-iPhone6plus

Let’s face it, Apple Maps is not as good as it should be. Therefore we look to other Apps for our daily navigation needs. Google Maps seems to be the gold standard and it keeps getting better. Although Google typically releases new features for their Android platform first, they still see the bigger picture and release updates for iOS as well. This new version has a fresher look that fits in nicely with iOS 8 and I’m happy that Google realizes they can’t be all things to all people. This means they add support for other apps instead of trying to compete directly with them. Who knows if that will continue, but in this version we have support for Open Table and Uber.

google-maps-open-table-iPhone6plus

If you locate a restaurant in Google Maps you can now pretty much do everything you need without leaving the app. You can see the menu which is available by the restaurant itself or powered by a 3rd party. You can call them and see the hours and if the restaurant supports Open Table reservations (U.S. Only) you can book your table right there on the spot. Of course you can also get turn-by-turn voice navigation from where you are to the restaurant as well.

google-maps-uber-iPhone6plus

If you’re an Uber user you can now the estimated wait time and trip cost. This will be very nice to have when I’m on the road.

google-maps-nearby-iPhone6plus

I also like the new “nearby” view. Google Maps just gave raised the bar for all navigation apps to step up to. It just became that much more useful to me especially when I travel.

You can get Google Maps here from the iTunes.

Camera+

How to use Camera+ as a Filter in the Photos App

iPhone-6-Plus-Camera+

One of the benefits of iOS 8 is that now we can use other Apps as filters in the native iOS Photos App. Prior to iOS 7 I almost never did any editing in the Photos App on my iPhone or iPad. The native Photos App is ok for very simple things, but there are so many Apps available that do so much more. For my landscape shots I like adjusting them using Camera+. Prior to iOS 8 that would mean launching Camera+ and then importing my pictures into it or taking the shot with Camera+ in the first place. Now with iOS 8 I can access all the cool controls of Camera+ right inside the native Photos app with the photos already on my Camera Roll.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Photos app and select the photo wish to edit. Tap the Edit button in the upper right corner.
  2. Tap the new Filter button on the bottom right (circle with 3 dots in it)
  3. By default Camera+ may not be setup as one of your filters. If it’s not listed there, just tap the More button and enable Camera+, then tap Done
  4. Now tap the Camera+ icon and your photo will be loaded into the Camera+ editing environment
  5. Do any edits you want to do in Camera+
  6. Tap Done
  7. Your edited photo now be returned to the Photos app where you do any last minute edits or run other filters.
  8. Tap Done
  9. At this point you can share the photo or do whatever you want with it. If you ever want to get rid of the edits you did even if you did them with Camera+ or other filters, just tap Edit and then tap Revert.

iPhone-6-Plus-Camera+_editing

Since the Photos app has always done non-destructive edits (being able to revert back to the unedited state), it’s great that this also applies if you use filters too. Using Camera+ as filter definitely simplifies my workflow.

Get Camera+ here from the iTunes.



GIF Keyboard

3 Must Have 3rd Party Keyboard Apps for iOS 8

textexpander_iPhone6Plus-wide

Now that iOS 8 allows for 3rd party keyboard apps to be installed, there have been some new entries into this space. Here are my picks for the 3 Must Have 3rd Party Keyboard Apps for iOS 8.

 

GIF Keyboard

GIF_iPhone6Plus

When I smiley face Emoji just isn’t enough you can now send an animated GIF. However, instead of having to find one on the internet or fire up another app, you can just switch to the GIF Keyboard, find the one you like and insert it right into your SMS text message. This keyboard is nicely implemented with categories making it easy to find the GIF you want.

You can get GIF Keyboard here from the iTunes.

 

Swype

swype_iPhone6Plus

This is a popular 3rd party keyboard on other platforms and now it has made its way to iOS 8. When you bring up the Swype keyboard instead of tapping each letter to spell a word, you simply use your finger to drag through (swype through) the letters that make up that word. It has intellegence built-in to anticipate the word you’re trying to spell even if you don’t hit all the letters. For example when I wanted “cool” I just swiped through “c” “o” and “l” and it knew what I was trying to spell. I can see this keyboard being useful for people that always hitting the wrong keys with the onscreen keyboards of yesterday.

You can get Swype here from the iTunes.

 

Text Expander

textexpander_iPhone6Plus-tall

As I mentioned in a previous post, my favorite NEW keyboard is Text Expander. While iOS has had a “shortcut” feature for a while now, Text Expander goes way beyond the built-in iOS shortcut feature. You can configure snippets that are more than just one line. In fact you can do entire paragraphs. Also your snippets can have styling in them.

You can get TextExpander her from the iTunes.

Manual – Custom exposure camera

Manual – Custom Exposure Camera for iPhone

Manual-iPhone5s

One of the things that iOS 8 brings to the table is an open door to App Developers to access the manual controls for the camera. Well it didn’t take long for Apps to appear in the App Store that take advantage of this new capability. “Manual” is just such an App. This App allows you full control over your image by allowing you to “manually” set the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus and exposure bracketing. It even has a pretty cool “live” histogram that I must admit when I first saw it, I thought it was an audio meter. If you were shooting a challenging scene (such as a bright window in the background) with a DSLR, you could switch to manual and set your shutter speed and ISO. Now you have the same flexibility on your iPhone.

Shot with the Manual App on AUTO

Shot with the Manual App on AUTO

Shot with the Manual App after an ISO adjustment

Shot with the Manual App after an ISO adjustment to expose the shadows more

The interface is pretty straight forward and it definitely let’s me do exactly what I want when it comes to exposure control. The only thing I don’t seem to be able to control on my iPhone 5s is aperture. I see it displayed as 2.2, but it’s greyed out and that may be that on the iPhone 5s you can’t change it? Not sure. Otherwise the app does all that it claims to do and you can even switch between automatic and manual within the app.

You can get Manual here from the iTunes.

TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard

TextExpander is my Favorite 3rd Party Keyboard of iOS 8

textexpander_iPad

I’ve been using TextExpander for Mac for years. TextExpander is a shortcut utility that allows you to create “snippets” of text and assign a few keystrokes to insert the text into any application. For example, let’s say you always type directions to enter your building ie. “Enter the parking lot from the 1407 driveway. You can park in front of my suite with the glass door. The Driveway for building 1407 leads around to the LEFT and parking lot between buildings 1407 and 1307. If you go in the 2nd driveway (1307) you’ll end up at the back (garage) door of 1307.” Instead of typing that out each time or pulling up a note to copy it from, you could enter it into TextExpander and assign it a shortcut like “bpkglot”. Just type “bpkglot” in any application and TextExpander will replace it with the full text from the snippet. While this is very handy on my Mac it’s now even more useful on my iOS devices where typing on a smaller, on screen keyboard is harder. Smile Software made a touch version of TextExpander before, it required 3rd party app support and never worked in the native iOS Apps such as Mail or Messages. Now that iOS 8 allows for 3rd party keyboards, Smile has made a new version of TextExpander that allows you to install it as an additional keyboard in iOS. Once installed you can choose to sync your snippets from your Mac via Dropbox and then choose the TextExpander keyboard. Now you can use your TextExpander snippets in ANY application!

I can’t tell you how much this will improve my productivity each day. I have dozens of snippets in TextExpander Mac and now I have access to them on my iPhone and iPad. I would use this keyboard 100% of the time if it also allowed for the iOS 8 feature of Predictive Text, but sadly it doesn’t. Apple probably doesn’t allow 3rd party keyboards to access this feature. Otherwise, TextExpander is a must have and definitely one of my favorite things now that I’ve upgraded to iOS 8.

You can get TextExpander for iOS here .

You can get TextExapnder for Mac here.

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