Free

Mobile Passport - Officially authorized by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Mobile Passport is Finally Here!

mobile_passport-iPhone5s

If you travel internationally then you know the joys of long Customs lines upon your return. It’s for this very reason that I signed up for Global Entry as soon as it was available. However, even without Global Entry, I always wondered why Customs was such an analog process. As your plane nears the United States, the flight attendants start handing out Customs forms. Of course most people don’t even have pens with them these days, but anyway you fill out the forms and then present them to a Customs agent after standing in a long line. They form asks the same basic questions about what you’re bringing back into the country.

Well now this process has finally gone electronic!

If you have the NEW Mobile Passport App you can now create a profile including taking a CURRENT photo of yourself (nope the app doesn’t allow you to choose one already saved on your iPhone), the same info that’s on your current passport and save it in the App with a pin number. You can then answer the questions in advance on your iPhone. It will create a digital receipt with a bar code that can be scanned at a kiosk upon your return, therefore bypassing the long lines. Since this is NEW, it has limitations. The first being the airlines. Currently (as of the writing of this review) it’s only supported on Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Air Tran, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, Korean Airlines, Southwest and Virgin Atlantic. The second and perhaps the biggest limitation today is that it’s only supported at ONE airport and that’s nation’s busiest airport Atlanta (ATL). If that bugs you, just stay turned. These things take time to roll out. The same was the case with TSA PreCheck. It was only at a few airports at first and only supported by a couple of airlines. Now it’s at just about every airport I’ve flown through in the past year.

 

The Bottom Line

passport-us

I’m happy to see this process go electronic for the masses! I don’t think this app will benefit me as a Global Entry member, but it will certainly help when I’m traveling with family members, friends and colleagues that aren’t in Global Entry. By the way, you still need to bring your Passport! This app is only to speed up your return. You still need your regular Passport/IDs for travel. Thanks Dave Helmly for the heads up on this app. The app is iOS only at this point with a “Soon on GooglePlay banner on the developer’s website”.

iTunes.

Amazon Local Register: Amazon's Mobile Point of Sale - Accept Card Payments

Amazon Local Register Aims To Take on Square and PayPal

amazon-register

I’ve been a very happy user of Square pretty much sense day one. Square broke down the barriers for individuals and small companies to be able to accept credit/debit card payments right on their smartphones and tablets without the typical monthly fees charged by banks. If you never accept a credit card payment, then you never pay a dime. You’re not locked into any kind of monthly fee or commitment. This has been PERFECT for me. I do accept credit card payments for the occasional photoshoot or when a friend owes me money (you know who you are!). The only time I pay is when I actually accept a credit card payment. Square takes a cut (2.75%) off the top of the transaction and deposits the remainder in my checking account the next business day. PayPal jumped on this bandwagon a little too late for me. I always liked PayPal and still do, but by they time they came out with their solution for accepting credit cards (2.5% per transaction) I was already very comfortable with Square. Also with PayPal Here, even though the money (minus the transaction fee) is credited to your PayPal account almost immediately, PayPal can take up to 3 days before the money is in your bank account after you initiate the transfer “manually!”

Amazon enters the market and significantly undercuts the competition!

When you already have two big players in the field, what can you do to make a dent? Significantly lower the price. That’s exactly what Amazon did. They are offering their service at a mere 1.75% per transaction for anyone that opens an account by October 31, 2015. That rate be in effect until 12/31/2015. On January 1, 2016 you would start paying 2.5%, which is still less than Square’s current rate.

How’s the App?

amazon_local_register_iphone5s

Since this is an App site, the focus will be on the Amazon Local Register App itself. I downloaded the App two days before my card reader (cost $10 with a $10 credit towards your transaction fees) arrived. It’s a free app of course and it’s a universal App for iPhone, iPad an iPod touch. I installed it on my iPhone 5s and iPad Air with no issue. Unfortunately you do need to create a NEW Amazon account. Amazon will not let you log in with your existing account for some odd reason. It was easy enough to do right in the App. The only problem I ran into was that after my account was created I wanted to go ahead and add the bank account info so that when I accept cards the money can be transferred. I started the process and needed to switch apps to 1Password to get my bank account numbers and when I switched back I had to start the process all over again. I wasn’t gone that long and it seems that you can’t leave the process once you start it. So I advice you to have your routing, account number and login info handy before you start.

The app lets you enter in transactions with or without item names. You can also create a library of items that you sell on a regular basis. This is very handy as I have a few different photography packages. There were no real surprises here as it had the basic functions that you would expect from this kind of app. You can also enter your cash transactions as well. The app allows you to enter multiple items at different prices and then charge them all with one total when ready. I love the quick “discount” feature as well. If you want to give a customer a percentage discount, just tap the discount button and key in the percentage and the app will do the math. Once you tap the charge button you can then swipe the card and have your customer digitally sign. You can also accept payments by keying in a card number manually, but you’ll pay 2.75% (still cheaper than Square and PayPal here) for those transactions as they are a bigger risk for fraud.

Room for improvement

One of the things that bugs me about this app is the frequent need to sign in while you’re in the app. I understand the need to confirm your identity when you’re asking for a report such as the My Money report. However, once I sign in and then tap to see other “Reports” I’m asked to sign in again. I just signed in two seconds ago. Why do I need to sign in again?

I ran a test transaction and was given the opportunity to email a receipt. Email receipts are the only option at this point. Square offers receipts via SMS and Email.

 

Overall the Amazon Local Register app has the features that most people will need, although the Square app has a few more bells and whistles and looks more like a modern “register”. I’m sure the Amazon app will improve over time, but for right now if you’re just looking to save money on fees, the Amazon Local Register app can’t be beat. We’ll see how Square and PayPal Here respond.

iTunes.

True HDR

11 Must Have Apps for Photographers in 2014

camera

As a photographer I’m using Apps on my iPhone and iPad with every shoot to help me through my workflow. In the case of the iPhone sometimes i’m using apps to actually do shoots with. In the case of the larger screen on the iPad I’m sometimes editing images, producing model releases and doing image review with the client. There are hundreds of apps on the App Store for Photo & Video work, but here are the ones that are my 11 must have apps for photographers for 2014:

Sylights

sylights-ipad

One of the things that makes for a good shoot either before or after the shoot is documenting the lighting setup. Sylights is my go to App for quickly and easily documenting lighting setups so that I can recall them quickly as needed or share them with others.

iPad  iTunes.

iPhone iTunes.

 

Sun Seeker

sun_seeker_iphone

When it comes to shooting landscapes or pretty much any on location work one of the most important factors is the light. It can very easily work for you at the right time of day or work against you. Sun Seeker is one of the slickest for showing you exactly where the sun will be and when based on your location or where and when you will be at a particular spot.
iTunes.

 

500px

500px

500px.com is one of my favorite websites for sharing my photography. However, it’s also one of my favorite websites and my go to place for inspiration. You can find images that are simply breathtaking on 500px and the app does a great job of showing you the best images quickly.
iTunes.

 

True HDR

TrueHDR

The best camera is the one that you have with you. That being said I have my iPhone with me way more than my Nikon DSLRs. Therefore I rely on great camera apps to help me better capture the scenes around me. One of my favorites is True HDR. It blows away the iPhone’s built-in HDR function and really helps be capture more dynamic range.
iTunes.

 

Shuttersnitch

shuttersnitch_iPad

If you have the ability to wirelessly bring images from your camera to your iOS devices it makes it that much easier to share those images. I often shoot with an Eye-Fi card or the Nikon wireless adapters for my various camera. The BEST App to do these transfers is Shuttersnitch. It has it all when it comes to features and broad range of wireless solutions that it supports.
iTunes.

 

Adobe Lightroom Mobile

lightroom_mobile_iPad

My new favorite app as a photographer is Lightroom Mobile. Because it has two way communication I can sync images (Smart Previews) from the RAW files sitting in my computer and review them on my iPad or iPhone. Any selections I make are sync’d back to the desktop. If I make any adjustments they are made non-destructively and sync back to the desktop and best of all if shoot any new pictures on my iPhone they will be waiting for me in Lightroom on the desktop when I return. Best of all I now use it as my portfolio app since each of my portfolio galleries is already a collection in Lightroom on the desktop. Any changes I make to my portfolio on Lightroom desktop is automatically reflected on my iPad and iPhone.
iPad iTunes.

iPhone iTunes.

 

Easy Release

easyrelease_iPad

After each shoot I get the model to sign a model release and I did away with paper releases years ago. Easy Release is still my favorite app for Model releases and even syncs with iCloud so that my signed releases are on both my iPad and iPhone for reference as need. I can include a photo from the shoot right on the release and send PDFs of the signed releases to the model and anyone else that needs them.
iTunes.

P.S. Also check out Top Model Release which was actually designed by a photographer. If I wasn’t already using Easy Release I’d probably be looking at this one pretty hard: .

 

Contract Maker Elite

ContractMakerElite-iPad-iPhone4

When I need more than a model release or something custom my go to app is Contract Maker Elite. This app let’s me create any form or contract and accept digital signatures with it. I use it fire off “Print Releases” as needed among other contracts. It’s great for photographers, but it’s also great for business needs in general.
iTunes.

 

iWatermark

iWatermark_iPhone

Now that I’m sharing more and more images from my iPhone and iPad via social media, I like the ability add my logo to those images before I post them. If I do them in Lightroom on my desktop, no problem I can just export an image with a watermark. However, if I’m doing the images directly on my iPhone or iPad from one of my galleries then I need the ability to do it on the fly. That’s where iWatermark comes in. I can either water with text or images including my logo. You can save back to the Camera Roll or share directly from the app to social media including Instagram.
iTunes.

 

Squaready Pro

squaready_pro_iphone

The social media site that I post to the most is without a doubt Instagram and Instagram wants a square aspect ratio. If you’re taking the shot with the Instagram app, no problem. It will capture a square image ready for posting. however, if your using images from your other camera, apps or sources and cropping them to square just won’t cut it then you have to check out Squaredy Pro. The Pro version rocks with many more effects and framing options to give your images that professional touch that most others won’t have. Once it squares up your photo to your liking you can post to Instagram right from the app.
iTunes.

 

PicPlayPost

picplaypost_iphone5

The ultimate app for sharing multiple pics AND videos in the same frame/video on Instagram is definitely PicPlayPost. This app has it all including customizable layouts, the ability to mix stills and video as well as songs from your music library to make the perfect clip or image for sharing on social media, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, etc. I use this app a lot for my behind the scenes shots/videos.
iTunes.

Yes it can be awkward signing with your finger so get a stylus!

If you’re going to be a doing a lot of these, you might want to make an investment in a touch screen stylus to make it easier for your clients to sign. I got one of these and I LOVE IT! Makes it so much easier to sign! If you want an even better one, go with this one from Wacom or this one which is also a pen.

wacom_bamboo_stylus_iPad



Facebook Mentions

Facebook Mentions App for Celebrities and Public Figures (like me)

facebook_mentions_iPhone

It seems that more and more social networks are coming out with multiple apps instead of trying to do it all in one. This has its plusses and minuses. When it comes to Facebook, there’s the general Facebook App, the Facebook Messenger App (that you’ll be forced to use soon), the Facebook Pages Manager App for people that have Facebook Pages and now a new exclusive app called Facebook Mentions for celebrities and public figures that have “verified” Facebook Pages. Once Facebook decides to verify your page as a celebrity or public figure you will then have access to the new Facebook Mentions app. One day the “verified” stamp appeared on my Facebook fan page and I didn’t think too much about it other than I wonder how they verified me? Now that the Facebook Mentions App is out I was invited to try it. I was intrigued to see what they offered us beyond the standard Facebook Pages app and to be honest I’m not really seeing a whole lot of difference between the two. As a matter of fact I seem to be able to MORE with the Facebook Pages app than I can with the Mentions app at this point. This means that I have to keep both on my iPhone. Speaking of iPhone, another pet peeve is that this isn’t a Universal app like the Facebook Pages app is. That also takes it down a notch as I’m not always doing social media on my iPhone.

What’s Mentions for?

At this point let’s cover what this App aims to do. Like the name implies you CAN very easily track your “mentions”. When someone mentions you (your page) in a post you see those posts in a nice tab/feed. Also for some odd reason the App requires you to follow at least one other celeb/public figure before you can even get started using the app. This seems like an odd request since the App is aimed at helping YOU connect with your fans better. You can post status updates, photos, and videos just like the other Facebook apps, but you can also start a Q&A.

facebook_mentions_QA

You can see what topics are trending so that you can jump in and voice your opinion, give your sage advice or simply be in the know about what’s going on in the world. After the initial day of use once I downloaded this app, I found myself back in the Facebook Pages app by default. I have to think to go to Facebook Mentions at this point which says to me it’s not solving enough problems yet or not letting me do enough things that make it a killer app.

Like most things with Facebook, this app will evolve and hopefully become more useful. However, at this point if you’re a celeb/public figure you may not get a lot of use out of Facebook Mentions just yet.

iTunes.

Fixel – Quickly clean up photos

2 New Experimental Apps from Adobe Labs

beaker-outline

labs.adobe.com has had a long history of providing users with pre-released, experimental technologies that may or may not make their way into released applications in the future. Now the labs team is offering experimental technologies for you to play with on your iPhone or iPad. Recently the labs team released two new iOS apps that offer a glimpse of things to come (or not).

Fixel

fixel_iPad

The first of the two apps is called Fixel.  Fixel is a Universal App for iPad, iPhone or iPod touch and it has one goal in mind. Giving you Content Aware patching or spot removal similar to what you would find in Adobe Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5 and Adobe Camera RAW. Simply open up your image in Fixel and choose a brush size. Next using your finger or stylus paint over the areas that you would like to remove. Tap “patch it” and poof! Those areas are patched using surrounding pixels.

You can get Fixel for iPad, iPhone or iPod touch here iTunes.

 

Twixt – Social Photo Remixing

twitx_iphone

The next one is Twixt Social Remixing. This App is aimed at letting you have some fun by superimposing other images onto your photos. It could be animals, celebrities, or other objects. The effects are pretty real looking in many cases and will certainly impress your friends on social media.

You can get Twixt for iPhone/iPod touch here iTunes.

 

Both Apps are of course FREE to download and play with. You can write reviews on the App Store so that the labs team can get your feedback and of course you can leave comments below this post if you like. Hope you enjoy these 2 New Experimental Apps. I gotta say that I’m loving Fixel and would love to see that technology in Photoshop Mix and Lightroom Mobile (iPad | iPhone).



Page 1 of 4912345...102030...Last »