Apple

iMovie

iMovie for iPhone

I'm a fan of video and video editing! Admittedly I don't have a need to do a lot of video editing on my iPhone :) So when I saw that Apple had released a version of iMovie for the iPhone at the iPhone 4 launch, I kinda shrugged my shoulders and kept right on doing whatever it was I was doing at the time. After I got my iPhone 4, I decided to give the App a try. I downloaded it and had the perfect opportunity to use it. I was out at an event for my daughter's volunteer organization and the only camera I had with me was my iPhone 4. I captured a few stills and then I captured some video of her presenting her work. Normally I would have waited till I got home and fired up Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to do the edit the iPhone 4 footage natively, but I decided to give this new App a try for the sake of a review. I got the video edited, but it wasn't without much frustration. There were two things that were deal breakers and as a result I never used that version of the App again. The first deal breaker and I'm still stunned to this day that there was no way to split a clip! Splitting a clip is "video editing 101." There isn't a video editing program on the planet that can't split a clip. It's the most basic feature. I wouldn't have had so much of an issue with this limitation except for the fact that if you use any titles they are applied to the entire clip. So an intro title in my case would be applied to the entire movie instead of just the first few seconds. The painstaking workaround was to trim the clip down, apply the title and then bring the same clip in again and trim the front and hope you got it right. Had I known about this limitation up front I would have shot several shorter clips instead of one or two long ones. The second limitation wasn't so much of a limitation of iMovie as it was the iOS itself. You couldn't share an HD clip/movie directly from the iPhone 4 in HD! Not even over WiFi. In order to share the HD version you'd have to transfer it to your computer first (smacking hand on forehead). My feeling was if I have to transfer the final product to the computer just to share it at full size then I might as well edit it on the computer too! These are the reasons why I held off reviewing iMovie until now. It just wasn't a "Best App".

iMovie 1.1 is now usable

For the reasons I stated above 1.0 was pretty much unusable for me. When iOS 4.1 was introduced along with the NEW 4th gen iPod touch Apple also updated iMovie to version 1.1 and with this version they added a clip splitting feature, automatic music looping, the ability to scrub to preview clips in the browser and more. Also with iOS 4.1 HD clips can now be shared over WiFi. Now it's time for a review. :) Let's start with what it is and what it's not: iMovie for iPhone is a "BASIC" video editor that allows you to trim clips, assemble multiple clips together, add audio, add titles, add transitions, add photos and export out a final movie. That's it! There are no special effects, color correction, or other high end features.

The interface is very basic as well with 4 primary buttons: View Projects, Play, add Media, and Capture Stills/Video. All trimming and splitting is done on the timeline with your finger. You can add titles to any clip and you can choose an overall theme complete with optional theme music or you can use audio/songs from your device's iPod app. Your transition choices are None, Cross Dissolve or a Theme based one. You have a choice of 5 optional themes: Modern, Bright, Travel, Fun or News. These theme can't be modified nor is there currently a way to add more. Your videos are geotagged automatically when you shoot them (unless you've turned that feature off) and that location information can be automatically incorporated into the theme if it is supports it. ie. the Travel theme. When you add stills they do have the "Ken Burns" effect on them and you tap on any photo and choose where the zoom starts and ends in the photo itself.

Splitting is here, Finally! There is no menu command for splitting a clip and nor is there a tool. You select the clip and drag down with your finger to split it. iMovie will automatically insert a transition between the two clips. Once your masterpiece is finished you can export out the finished movie at one of 3 resolutions 360p, 540p, or 720p HD. The exported movie will then be on your camera roll for sharing via email, MMS, YouTube, MobileMe or importing back into your computer.

When would you use iMovie? You just shot a video and some stills. You want to edit together a quick/cute movie and share it right from your device. For that purpose this is your App.

Here's a quick sample movie I did for this review:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlfY7GY7aKs

 

The Bottom Line

While I'm still not going to be doing a whole lot of video editing on my iPhone, if I ever have the need iMovie 1.1 would probably do the trick. Keep in mind that this App is only $4.99. So don't expect a full blown video editing tool with special effects. It's aimed at people that most likely would never edit a video on their computer and want to share a video that they just shot with the world, but also have it look nice. Think soccer moms and dads, teens, non techies and geeks :) While this update performs as advertised, I would like to see a couple minor additions. The first one is that titles can't be applied to photos. So if your ending the movie with stills and you want the last one to have an ending title you have to use a video clip to do it instead. Theme music is nice, I just wish there were controls over having it fade in and out on the timeline when I want to hear the audio easier from the actual clip. 

You can get iMovie for iPhone/iPod touch for $4.99 here from the iMovie

remote

Apple Remote Gets Some iPad Love

Apple released an update to one of my favorite Apps. It's the Remote app that can be used to remotely control iTunes or Apple TV over a WiFi connection. The App is now a Universal App and works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I love this App because it's not only a good WiFi remote, but it presents you with a display of your iTunes library almost as if you were standing in front of your computer. It even lets you choose from your various Airtunes/AirPlay speakers. You can choose from anything in your Library and it also is a great remote for Apple TV. With Apple TV you can use finger gestures to swipe instead of having to click left, right, up or down. You can also use the larger keyboard when you need to input text into a search field. On the iPad this App is even more amazing in the way that it can display your Libraries contents and even edit playlists.

If you use iTunes or Apple TV this is a MUST HAVE App. You can get it for FREE here from the Remote

FindMyiPhone

Find My iPhone App

Find My iPhone is a feature of Apple's MobileMe service that allows iOS Device owners to find their missing devices. If the device is on and connected to the internet, Find My iPhone can be accessed from a web browser by logging into your MobileMe account or via this New App installed on another iOS device. This App does NOT need to be installed on the missing device to use the feature.  I like the prospect of the Find My iPhone feature of MobileMe. However, you have to realize that there are limitations. First off, you have to be a MobileMe customer and the Find My iPhone feature has to be turned ON on the device before it comes up missing. Even then, you will only be able to locate the device if it's turned on and connected to the internet. So let's say you just discovered that your iPod touch is missing and the last time you used it was a couple of days ago. If the device has run out of power or if someone took it and is walking about outside (not in a WiFi zone), then this feature won't help you. As long as you realize the limits, having MobileMe and this feature provides more hope of recovering your device than not having this feature. If you have an iPhone, you have a better chance since the iPhone can be on a cellular data network just about anywhere.

The only thing worse than losing your device is someone having your information too

Although you can replace your iOS device, it may be a lot more frustrating and potentially damaging  if someone has access to all of the information on it. We often don't think twice about what's on these devices. However, there's a lot of information on them about YOU! Your contacts are on there. Your calendar is there. Your photos are on there. Your emails are on there (probably complete with order confirmations complete with your shipping address, from the places you shop at), and most of your Apps probably have the passwords saved in them for easy access to your various accounts. I always tell people regardless of whether or not you have MobileMe, you should protect your device with a PIN. So it takes a few extra seconds to key it in when you want to use the device, at least it gives you peace of mind that someone else can't just turn it on and have your whole life in front of them. With that out of the way, now let's talk about the App. Like I said, you can do all of this from any web browser. However, since Apple doesn't really let you get to the MobileMe site from your iOS device (odd, I know), you now have a FREE App to use this feature. Once you launch the App you sign in with your MobileMe credentials. You can then access all of your iOS devices that have the Find My iPhone feature enabled. If the device is on and on the net, Find My iPhone will begin to locate it. Once the device has been located you can Display a Message on the device that pops up. This could be a message with instructions on how to return it to you. You can have it play a sound even if the device is muted, which is handy for locating a missing device in your home or around you. You can Remote Lock the device with a new or different PIN. Lastly you can Remote Wipe the device, which will remove ALL of your information from it. This last one is great because once it starts the process of wiping there is no stopping it. Even if they power off the device, the wipe will continue once it's turned back on. What if your device is off or not on the internet? Although Find My iPhone won't be able to tell you where it is, you can still use the Display Message or Sound, Remote Lock and Remote Wipe features and they will kick in the next time the device is turned on and connects to the internet.

You can get the Find My iPhone App here from the Find

 

The Bottom Line

I was already a MobileMe customer before this feature, so for me this just adds more value to my MobileMe account. Although I understand the limitations, I would still like to see a couple of additional features added. First off I have a MobileMe Family Pack and it seems silly that I have to log in as each user separately to locate a particular user's device. I understand the privacy implications, but I still think that the Family Pack MobileMe members should have an Opt In option for the master account holder to be able to see ALL the devices associated with the one account at the same time. The other thing I'd like to see is a Remote Wipe and Destroy! What good is Remote Wiping my iPod touch if the thief can then just configure it as their NEW device once I wipe it? Wipe and Destroy would render the device useless until it was either sync'd with the last computer that it had been sync'd with or taken into an Apple Store to be cleared (not on the stolen list). Even without these last two features I find MobileMe and Find My iPhone a much better value than AT&T's Family Map feature.

 

Whatever you do, don't pay full price for MobileMe

I've been a MobileMe customer since day one and not once have I ever paid the full retail price for it. You can get any version of the retail packaging and use the code inside to renew your subscription. You can get the individual pack here for about $68 ($99 retail) and the Family Pack here for about $98 ($149 retail)

mobilemeidisk

MobileMe iDisk App gets some much needed iPad love

If you're a MobileMe customer and you own an iDevice, then there is simply no reason not to download the MobileMe iDisk app. It allows you to access the contents of your iDisk, view documents stored on it and share documents stored on it by sending links. It also give you easy access to your friend's iDisk Public Folder. This new updated version now offers:

  • Native iPad support (in addition to iPhone and iPod touch)
  • iOS 4 multitasking support
  • Quick switch between this app and other apps
  • Background audio playback from files on your iDisk
  • Remembering the last directory you were viewing when you return to the app
  • Open In command to say view a PDF from your iDisk in ReaddleDocs (my preferred PDF viewer) or iBooks
  • and various sharing improvements

While I certainly welcome ALL of the above improvements and can't argue with the price of the App, iDisk still misses the mark when it comes to getting content ON TO YOUR iDISK from your iDevice. It's great that if I have a document on my iDisk that I can open it in a compatible App on my iDevice. However, what about the other way around. Let's say I create a Keynote document and I want to quickly share it with a colleague via my iDisk. Currently there is no "Open In iDisk" support. So outside of using email, the workflow going from documents you create on your iDevice out to others falls apart pretty quickly. Even if you open a PDF in say your email, you can use the Open In command to send it to iBooks and other 3rd party apps, but not the iDisk app, sigh… Otherwise, this is a good update.

You can get the MobileMe iDisk App here for FREE from the App Store:  MobileMe iDisk

You can get a deal on MobileMe here.

If you're looking for more power and features, then I would check out Air Sharing HD, which also supports the MobileMe iDisk, FTP servers, shared printers and other WebDAV servers The PDF we see above was in ReaddleDocs and I used the Open In command to open it in Air Sharing HD. From there I used the Copy command before navigating to my iDisk in Air Sharing HD and doing a Paste to upload it to my Documents folder.

You can get AirSharing HD here for $9.99 from the Air

 

P.S. Apple now can we get some MobileMe Gallery App Love for iPad?

appleuniversaldock

Don’t buy an iPhone 4 Dock! Buy an Apple Universal Dock instead.

When Apple announced the iPhone 4, one of the accessories they announced was the iPhone 4 Dock. I have iPhone 3G/3GS Docks around the house and I figured that the iPhone 4 would require a new dock since the iPhone 4 is a new design from the the 3G/3GS. So without thinking, I went ahead and ordered the new dock. Of course as soon as the order shipped I realized that I would be better off going with the Apple Universal Dock instead. As a matter of fact I already own a couple of the original Universal Docks. The problem with those though is that when you plug in an iPhone you get the "This accessory may not work with your iPhone" message. Of course it does work, it's just that this dock came out before the iPhone and the pin configuration is slightly different. So I just ignore the message and sync/charge. In other parts of the house where I just want charging and I don't want the iPhone to lay down on the surface I had been using the 3G/3GS docks. Of course the NEW Universal Dock is compatible and doesn't have this message.

Although the iPhone 4 Dock is Cheaper, the Apple Universal Dock is a better deal in the long run

The beauty of the Apple Universal Dock is that you buy it once and whenever Apple creates a new iDevice, they also create "universal dock inserts" for that device. The iPhone 4 is no different. They make Universal Dock Inserts for it too. So instead of spending $29 every time the iPhone's (or iPod's) design changes (3 times so far), you can spend $49 once for the Universal Dock + $9 for the new dock inserts (you get 3 in the package for the iPhone 4). They even include them with new iPods. Apple also includes several dock inserts for various iDevices right in the box with the Universal Dock. You also get an Apple Remote so that you can connect the Dock to your stereo speakers or stereo system and then remote control the playback of your audio/video. You spend a little more up front, but you get a better deal in the long run if you plan to upgrade your iDevices on a regular basis.

One more hidden benefit. Apple sells Bumpers for the iPhone 4. With all the reported iPhone 4 reception issues, you may want to seriously consider getting one until they sort this all out. However, like most iPhone cases, you can't dock the iPhone in the iPhone Dock even with Apple's own Bumper installed. However, with the Universal Dock if you REMOVE the iPhone 4 Dock Insert, the iPhone will Dock with the Bumper in place. Perfect. Lastly I should point out that if you do still have your original iPhone 2G dock lying around, rumor has it that the iPhone 4 fits perfectly in it (without the Bumper of course). 

I'll be returning my iPhone 4 Docks to the Apple Store and getting Universal Docks instead. 

You can get the Apple Universal Dock here for $49.00 (or less).

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