Free

SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

SPG App Offers Keyless Entry with iPhone and Apple Watch

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I traveled to New York City for an event this week and I usually stay at either a Hilton or Marriott in Times Square. However, this time I choose the W Hotel Times Square since it was in the same price range and located right next to the Marriott I would have chosen anyway. The current version of the SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) App offers keyless entry on your iPhone and Android phone. It also offers it via Apple Watch. I wanted to give it a try. Before you get started on your travels you will need to join the SPG frequent stay program. It’s free of course and if you stay enough nights in Starwood property you’ll earn perks. Next you’ll need to download the SPG App and register your iPhone for Keyless entry. I actually did this months ago. My work travel is booked through an approved travel agency. As it turns out this interferes with the automatic nature of the keyless entry process. If you book via their app or website then you’ll automatically receive your digital key in the app 24 hours before you arrive. This way you can go right to your room when you arrive. Since I booked via a 3rd party I had to go to the reception desk upon arrival and check in in the usual manner. The staff issued me a regular plastic card key and I requested Keyless Entry. The computers were running slow so she instructed me to go on up to my room and the key would be pushed to my iPhone. I got the push notification about 20 minutes later. Of course I wanted to try it. Here’s a video:

As you can tell from the video above it takes a few taps to get to the key. The staff person actually told me that I would probably want to start brining up the key on my device in the elevator. That way the key would be on the screen by the time I hit the door. That’s pretty good advice whether you’re using your smartphone or Apple Watch.

Real World Use

SPG on Apple Watch

Sometimes the digital key just wouldn’t show up on Apple Watch

I left my room and went out for a few hours. When I returned for whatever reason the key didn’t show up on the watch. I’m not sure why, but I said no problem I’ll just use my plastic key. I pulled out the key and held it up to the door only for it to flash red. Yep, it had demagnetized. Argggh, then I remembered that it was on my iPhone. I pulled up the SPG app on my iPhone and it worked perfectly. Over the next couple of days using the SPG App on Apple Watch was hit and miss. Sometimes the key was there sometimes it wasn’t, but it worked on the iPhone 100% of the time. Hopefully these kinds of issues (bugs) can be fixed. It would also be nice to have the key as a “glance” on the watch to jump right to it. This would allow you to get to the key much much faster than the way it works today (when it works).

The SPG app also does a good job with Push Notifications as you near the property. You can also add a card to Passbook with your stay information. The push notification offered to bring up the key on my iPhone as I walked near the hotel from dinner.

The Bottom Line

We’re on the cutting edge with this technology. Most hotels have only just started rolling out this technology across their properties. Once the kinks are worked out it will be so nice to have this option on our mobile devices. It was also nice to have it work when the regular key didn’t.

You can get the SPG app here from the .

FlightTrack 5

10 Apps That I’m Looking Forward to on Apple Watch That Are Already Here!

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Apple Watch is a little bit more than a week away from shipping to those lucky few who got their pre-orders in within the first 5-10 minutes of being open last Friday. I’m really looking forward to receiving my Apple Watch Sport. I find that like the iPhone back in 2007 there is much confusion about Apple Watch. It isn’t my job to sell you on it. Frankly I’m not too concerned about people that say that they don’t want or need it. Like any product it will be a great fit for many and not for others. When I mention Apple Watch to my friends (the ones that don’t get it), I explain to them that it’s all about the “glances”. I pull my iPhone 6 plus out of my pocket more times than I can count in a day to look at things. Perhaps I got a push notification and I want to see what it is. Maybe it’s a notice that my flight or gate has changed. Or maybe it’s a notice that my Uber car has arrived. Perhaps it’s a text message. These are things that in most cases don’t really need much interaction from me, but they are little pieces of information that I want to know and soon will be able to glance at on my wrist while my iPhone stays in my pocket. Apple has already opened to the doors to App Developers to add Apple Watch support to their iPhone apps. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed more and more of my favorite apps being updated with Apple Watch features and some of which I weren’t even expecting, but I’m glad to see. Keep in mind that Apple Watch will already have a lot of great built-in Apps like Passbook (can’t wait to board my next flight using the boarding pass on my Apple Watch), Calendar, iMessage, etc., but it’s the 3rd party apps that will take it to the next level much the way they do on iPhone today.

Here is my list of the 10 Apps That I’m Looking Forward to on Apple Watch:

FlightTrack

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FLIGHTTRACK FOR APPLE WATCH: the perfect complement
• Notifications for flight status and gate changes
• Flight progress and information at a glance
• Travel details for current and upcoming flights for yourself, or friends and family
iTunes.

Uber

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Now you can use Uber on your Apple Watch. Request a ride with a single tap and check your driver’s progress at any time — without ever pulling out your phone
iTunes.

Evernote

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Evernote for Apple Watch
– Dictate notes into Apple Watch and they’ll be transcribed and synced to Evernote
– See recently created, updated, and viewed notes
– Dictate searches and see results on your Apple Watch
– Create reminders and get notified about items due today

iTunes.

1Password

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== 1Password 5.4 for iOS, the ‘Go Go Gadget Watch!` Edition ==

Sometimes, it’s the little things that are really exciting. There’s not a lot of big changes in this release, but some sweet refinements to existing features (like the Message Center and 1Password’s Brain) and one lovely little addition for our Pro users: an item detail that lets you ‘Add to Apple Watch.’
iTunes.

3 Hour Diet Reminder

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THE APPLE WATCH EXTRAVAGANZA RELEASE

Added snooze button to notifications
Swipe notifications to snooze or start a new timer.
Can set the snooze duration in settings.

Added Apple Watch App Extension
Start and stop your timer from your Apple Watch.
Increase / Decrease you daily water consumption progress.
View the remaining time for your current timer from an Apple Watch glance screen.
Receive notifications directly on your Apple Watch.
Snooze the timer directly from your Apple Watch notification.
iTunes.

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Pandora

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Experience personalized music discovery with Pandora for Apple Watch.
· What’s that song playing? The song name and artist are available at a glance.
· Thumb-up tracks you love, pause playback and change stations directly from your wrist.
· Easily access new music notifications.
iTunes.

Deliveries: a package tracker

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• Apple Watch: now includes an app, Glance, and notification support for Apple Watch.
iTunes.

Twitter

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Includes Twitter for Apple Watch. <-not much of description I know, but I’ll be happy to see important tweets/mentions at a glance.
iTunes.

Dark Sky

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Dark Sky looks great on your wrist. Get notifications and check out the weather for the next five days with the Dark Sky app built from scratch for Apple Watch.
iTunes.

Trip Advisor

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New for Apple Watch
• Suggests places to eat or attractions to visit based on your current location and time of day.
• Save a place directly on the Apple Watch, which is synced to your TripAdvisor profile and is made available on TripAdvisor.com and TripAdvisor apps for iPhone and iPad.
• Supports Apple Maps for directions to places.
• Supports Force Touch on list view so that you can change search range and sort options.
iTunes.

Bonus: SPG

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Although I’m more of a Hilton and Marriott guy, the idea of using my Apple Watch to open my door instead of a plastic card key appeals to my geek side in ways you can’t imagine. I will stay at an SPG property just to experience this.

Now you can experience the SPG app on Apple Watch.

You’ll have easy access to all your favorite SPG app features, including SPG Keyless, accessing your stay details and tracking your account.

For more information about the SPG app on Apple Watch, visit spg.com/mobileapps

iTunes.

The Bottom Line

The above list is just the beginning. I can remember the handful of apps available on day one for iPad. Now there are thousands and some of which I couldn’t imagine life without. Although my Apple Watch is already ordered, I’m still stuck on deciding which band I’m going to like the most. Check out this video from my LIVE Periscope broadcast when I tried on a few of my favorites:



Periscope

Live Broadcast from your iPhone with Periscope

  

 

Last week Twitter delivered their competitor to Meerkat and it’s called Periscope. Periscope is an iPhone application that allows you to do LIVE video broadcasts to your followers. You can show your front or rear camera at any time. Doing something cool and want your followers to see it? Just launch Periscope and start a broadcast. It will automatically tweet to your Twitter followers if you like and anyone following you will get an optional push notification that you’re doing a broadcast. If by chance some of your followers couldn’t watch it live you can choose to have the broadcast upload after you’re done for replay. It can also save to your camera roll as a video file to share anywhere else that you like. Best of all your audience can interact with you while you’re broadcasting. They can tap the screen to show you love (hearts) while you’re showing or saying something good and they can enter text messages that display on your screen while you’re broadcasting and if you choose you can address those comments/questions live. 

  

 I used it quite a bit this past weekend while at Professional Imaging in the Netherlands. I was joined by Scott Kelby, Frank Doorhof and Glyn Dewis. You should follow all of us by the way.

You can get Periscope here (it’s a lot of fun): iTunes.

Layout from Instagram

Layout from Instagram

 

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We have reviewed several different photo layout apps here before and apparently the idea has caught on with Instagram as they have just released their own. Layout from Instagram is a FREE app for iOS that allows you to quickly put together multiple photos in one frame for posting to social media sites such as, well um “Instagram”. The interface is very straight forward and actually kinda fun to use as it automatically lays out your selected images based on the number of images you choose. No need to choose a layout first as with most other apps. If you deselect or add more photos the layout automatically adjusts. You can flip or mirror any image in your layout as well as resize the frame containing them. If you don’t have enough selfies ready to go you can use the Photo Booth feature to actually snap several selfies in succession. However, unlike my favorite App in this category “PicPlayPost“, currently Layout from Instagram doesn’t allow you to layout videos. The other glaring omission is that you seem to be limited to just the images on your Camera Roll and not the ones in your existing Albums. I find that limit pretty odd, but at least it will force you to use “fresh” images.

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The Bottom Line

Layout from Instagram isn’t mind blowing, but it does have a slick UI (user interface). It won’t make me give up my other app, but If I’m only going to layout “recent” photos then I’d likely use it simply because it’s faster.
Get it here from the iTunes.

500px - Discover photos from the world's best photography community

500px App Integrates Adobe Creative Cloud Features and More

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When it comes to social photography sites, 500px comes to mind as being one of the best and definitely one of the most inspirational. I go there when I want to be blown away by photographic images. With that said, I rarely used their iOS App for more than just browsing. I upload to 500px from Lightroom using their Publishing Plug-in. However, with the latest update their App just became a whole lot more useful.

Integrated Camera with Manual Controls

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On iPhone the update adds not only a built-in camera, but also the ability to take pictures with iOS 8 aided manual controls. This is probably one of the best implementations I’ve seen in terms of ease of use. You have a simple button that toggles from automatic to manual. Once in manual you can adjust focus and exposure. Snap your shot and it’s sent to the Camera Roll.

Adobe Creative Cloud Editing

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Once you snap your shot with the built-in camera or any other camera app you can bring it up for editing. The editing features are powered by Adobe Creative Cloud in that you have the same editing features found in apps like Photoshop Mix. The same “Looks” and same ease of editing that people love in Mix.

Import from Lightroom Mobile

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If you’ve used Lightroom Mobile to sync certain collections with the cloud, those same collections appear in the 500px App for you to import from. This gives me another hook into Lightroom and best of all it’s wireless/cloud based.

1Password Support

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I stay logged in, but if for whatever reason I log out it’s that much easier to log back in since the app now integrates 1Password support right into the login screen.

The Bottom Line

This is now by far the most feature rich Social Photography app that I know of. 500px just raised the bar.

You can get it here from the iTunes.

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