Instagram is no longer just for squares

Instagram app


I’ve been a long time user of Instagram. I love it because I can post pics there and not only share them with in Instagram followers, but also simultaneously post them to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, email and even Flickr. I like Instagram a lot. It’s probably the only social media platform that I check my entire feed of people that I follow on a daily basis. However, the thing that I absolutely hated was being forced into a 1:1 “square” aspect ratio. Some pics just look better in their native portrait or landscape orientation. Sure I had work arounds and apps to allow me to fit the full photo into a square format, but it was extra work and it just didn’t look right. Doing video was even worse. Video naturally looks better “wide”.

It’s 2015 and Instagram no longer thinks that all things should be square!

Instagram app

That latest version of Instagram for both iOS and Android now allows you to post native landscape and portrait images/videos. The best part is that it does it without putting them in a box. There is no pillow/letter boxing. Your feed will now just show the portrait and landscape content natively. Woohoo!

Instagram button

You’ll see a new button on the bottom left of the photo selection screen that once tapped it will make the photo fit. However, keep in mind that some photos still might not scale all the way down. I had a very tall waterfall shot that wouldn’t scale all the way down to fit. Not sure if that’s a bug or just a limit in this new feature?

If you’re an Instagram snob you can still post in square format all you want. As a matter of fact it’s still the default. Also any shots/video you shoot with the Instagram camera will still be in square format. Actually this is the way it should have been from the start.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram.


Automilez 2.0 is here!


One of the things that I’m asked at tax time each year is how many miles did I drive for business? A few years ago it was a struggle for me to come up with that answer and I knew that I cheating myself because I just couldn’t remember all the trips. That all changed when I started using mileage tracking apps on my iPhone. I love Automilez because it was one of the first ones to take advantage of the GPS in your iPhone and not only provide you the distance in miles that you traveled, but it would even document the route.


This new 2.0 version is a complete rewrite taking advantage of the latest iOS and Android OS’s and devices. One of the problems with the old version is that once your iPhone would go to sleep your tracking may also stop. This version continues to track in the background and reminds you that it’s still running with occasional push notifications. I would however like an option to keep the display active (like GPS turn-by-turn apps do) when the App in in the foreground. The other cool part of this app is the cloud connected account. Your trip log is on your iPhone, but it’s also on your account on their website where you can get more detailed reporting.


Along with your miles you can also input other expenses such as tolls, parking, etc.

The Bottom Line

If you need to track your miles for any purpose, this is the App you want to try. This new rewrite is very welcomed. I would like to see a couple of features such as the ability to set a reminder when I leave home (geofence) to start logging and the ability to keep the display active while in the app, but otherwise it’s a winner!

You can get Automilez 2.0 here .

Speak & Translate - Live Voice and Text Translator with Speech and Dictionary

The Best Apple Watch Apps – 20 Must Haves


I was among the lucky ones to get my Apple Watch Sport 42mm delivered on day one, April 24, 2015. During the setup process you are given the option of installing all of your existing 3rd party iPhone Apps that have Apple Watch apps embedded in them. For example, if you have 30 iPhone apps and 10 of them have Apple Watch apps in them then those 10 apps would get installed on your Apple Watch by default. Of course you can choose to manually install just the ones you want or remove the ones you don’t want. I choose to install all of mine so that I can try them out. In total of my over 495 iPhone Apps on my iPhone 6 Plus I had 84 that included Apple Watch Apps. Of those 84 I ended up keeping 71 of them installed. It still boggles my mind that there are 71 3rd party apps on my wrist and just like the 3rd party apps on my iPhone, there are some that I use all the time on my watch and some that are just OK. Apple already installs a bunch of built-in apps that may be all you need. Those apps coupled with push notifications from your iPhone apps to your Watch make a nice combination, yet there will always be 3rd party apps that give you more and I will be the 1st to admit that when the rumors of an Apple Watch first started to circulate that I didn’t imagine that there would be so many functions built-in and let alone extended by 3rd party Watch Apps.

What makes a “Best Apple Watch App”?

When it comes to Apple Watch I actually have a different set of rules that determine whether or not it will be considered a “Best App” or not. Since the Apple Watch is a 1.0 device you would expect that some of the apps will hit the mark and be really useful or not. What I consider first and foremost in my criteria is that the app has to offer enough functionality on my wrist to make me not want to pull my iPhone out of my pocket. The minute the app on my Apple Watch asks me to “sign in” on my iPhone, it’s an immediate failure to me at that point. If I have to pull out my iPhone to make the Watch app work then why not just use my iPhone? Next the App has to be able to perform a task (usually a simple task) that is well suited for the smaller display of the Watch AND one that I would rather do on my wrist than have to go in my pocket. Lastly the app can’t take forever to load. Many of the 1st round of Apple Watch Apps took way too long just to open. Apple has helped with the 1.0.1 firmware update. Now I don’t see the lag in many of the apps that I was seeing before. If a developer can meet the above three criteria then they’ve got a good shot of not only making it to my wrist but staying there. One thing you’ll have to get used to is that since there is no keyboard on Apple Watch (thank God) that any App requiring input will most likely rely on voice dictation/translation. So far the Siri features of Apple Watch have worked really well for me. I would say the success rate for me has been above 95%. Now that you know what I’m looking for, here are my current picks for the Best Apple Watch Apps:



1Password Apple Watch

1Password is the App I used to manage all of my passwords from my Mac to my iPhone to my iPad. I was wondering what the use case would be for the Watch version and it has come in hand a couple of times. The idea is that you go into 1Password on your iPhone and simply choose which of your logins/passwords you want to be able to call up on your Apple Watch. So if there’s a password, access code, serial number, etc that you’re always have to bring up on screen, now you can do it from your Watch. For me I’m always needing my Hilton Honors password to login to their WiFi and the OS level login screen doesn’t support 1Password directly. This way I can be on any computer or device and quickly bring up the password on my Watch.


3 Hour Diet

3 Hour Diet Apple Watch

One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. When I’m sticking to this I can’t live without the 3 Hour Diet timer which contrary to its name, can remind me to eat every 2 hours. Being able to respond to these alerts on my Watch is way more convenient then having to pull out my iPhone each time.


Adobe Color CC

Adobe Color Apple Watch

I love capturing color themes with Adobe Color CC on my iPhone so that I can use them in future designs. The Watch version shows me popular color themes based on my current location. From my Watch I can see the 10 most popular themes and add any of them or all of them to my Creative Cloud Library right from my Watch. The next time I’m on my computer in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. these themes will be there for me to use.



Amazon on Apple Watch

I shop from Amazon on a regular basis and sometimes I think of something that I want before I’m actually ready to place the order. The Amazon App is a nice way to simply speak the search term that you’re looking for, find what you want and then add it to your wishlist or buy it with 1-Click on the spot.


Apple Store

Apple Store on Apple Watch

The Apple Store Watch App does three things. It shows you your nearest Apple Retail Store based on your current location, it shows you nearest workshops and events and it shows you the current status of any online orders you’ve placed. The 1st and the 3rd function are the most useful to me.



AroundMe Apple Watch

AroundMe has always been one of my favorite iPhone apps for travel. Having it on my Watch is very cool. Based on my location I can quickly find the nearest restaurants, bars, coffee shops, banks/ATM, hotels, supermarkets, gas stations, hospitals, parking, pharmacies, pubs, taxis, and theaters right from my wrist. If I find a spot that I want to hit I can tap to get directions and navigation on my Apple Watch.


B&H Photo

B&H Photo Apple Watch

B&H Photo and Video is arguably the world’s largest photo equipment retailer and they are always running sales. It’s cool to be able to glance at their deal zone whenever I have an extra minute or two to see what’s on special in that moment. See something you want and add it to your cart or wishlist. You can also do a handoff and view it in the iPhone app if you want more info.



Calcbot Apple Watch

One of the main things that the first round of larger digital watches offered over traditional watches were the ability to have a calculator on your watch. How cool was that? Yes the keys were very very tiny and some needed a stylus, but nonetheless you had a calculator on your wrist. Calcbot offers a calculator, unit conversion utility and tip calculator right on your wrist. Hands down the best Apple Watch calculator I’ve seen to date. It implements force touch to switch between conversions.



Evernote Apple Watch

Many people carry around a notepad and pen. I stopped doing that once smartwatches hit the scene. The Apple Notes app is on iPhone, but oddly missing from Apple Watch. No need to worry because Evernote is here to allow you to dictate new notes on the fly. You can view recent notes or search for ones by voice.



Fandango Apple Watch

If you’re a movie goer then you’ll like the Fandango iPhone and Apple Watch app. This is one of those cases where I’ll bend my criteria a bit. The Watch app doesn’t really do much unless you’ve purchased a ticket with the iPhone App. However, once you have purchased a ticket then you can get some pretty cool stuff on your Watch. You’ll get your upcoming movie info including the theater. If your theater supports electronic passes you’ll also get your movie ticket on your Watch via Passbook.


FlightTrack 5

Flighttrack 5 Apple Watch

I fly Delta most of the time and while Delta does have a Watch App, it’s pretty useless to me in its current state (which is a huge disappointment). What I want on my Watch is to know what Terminal I’m leaving from, reminder of the flight time and the gate number. FlightTrack 5 is a great iPhone App and does a fantastic job on Apple Watch displaying the info you need.



Keynote Apple Watch

Anytime I need to give a slide presentation then chances are I’m going to deliver it in Apple’s Keynote App. The iPhone App allows me to remote control it wirelessly from my phone, but being able to advance my slides from my wrist means that I can talk more with my hands :-) Once you pair your iPhone with Keynote on your Mac then you can use either your iPhone or Apple Watch as wireless remote on stage.


Merriam Webster

Webster Dictionary Apple Watch

There are times when I want to know how to spell a word or the definition of one. The Merriam Webster Apple Watch app is a perfect example of a great Watch App. Just fire it up, say the word in question and get the spelling and definition.


Office Depot

Office Depot Apple watch

Office Depot tries to stay on top of tech things. They accept Apple Pay at their registers and recently they just came out with a Watch App. Like the other shopping apps you can voice search for items you want. You can also find the closest store and see the daily deal.



Sound Hound Apple Watch

Answer the question: “what song is that playing?” has always been a cool feature of SoundHound on your iPhone. Now you can answer the question from your wrist. Fire up the SoundHound App and tap the big listen button. Yes I know that you’re probably thinking doesn’t Shazam do this and isn’t it now integrated into Siri in iOS 8? The answer is yes, but side-by-side testing on Apple Watch revealed that SoundHound is a better Watch App. Shazam took forever to launch and seems to only work well if the iPhone app is running nearby. My pick in this category is SoundHound.


Speak & Translate

Speak & Translate Apple Watch

I do wish that I spoke more than one language but sadly that is not yet the case. I rely on translation Apps to help me understand and more importantly speak a few words in the native tongue when I travel. Speak & Translate raises the bar in this category on iPhone and even does quite well on Apple Watch. Need a quick translation. Just bring up the app and speak into your Watch. The translation will be displayed in a few seconds.



I’m a Hilton and Marriott guy mostly, but I have to give the nod to Starwood for the best hotel Watch App. Not only does it give you details about your stay, but you can even use it unlock your door in participating hotels. It takes more taps than it should to bring up the unlock at this point, but you can start the process in the elevator so that the unlock is ready by the time you get to your door.



Tally Counter Apple Watch

Do you ever see someone walking around or standing near a door with those hand clicker/counters? The digital version has been on your iPhone for a while with the TallyCounter app and now you can do it from your wrist. The latest update offers nice big buttons and a force touch reset.



Tipity Apple Watch

This was the category that I thought would be a no brainer. How hard is it to do a tip calculator on Apple Watch? There dozens of tip calculators on iPhone and several of them have made it to Apple Watch and I have to tell you that I tried just about all of them in search of the best one. The shock here was that all but a couple really sucked! Either they lacked features or had bad UIs (user interfaces) or both. The hardest thing to find was one that allowed quick entry of your bill total, calculated the tip before the tax, let you quickly choose a level of service ie. 20% good, 25% great, 10-15% not so great and rounding of the total. Tipity had it all when I first looked except the rounding feature. I went on to Let Me Tip and while it had all the features the UI wasn’t good. Too many taps to make entries. To my pleasant surprise the most recent update to Tipity added the rounding preference that I asked for. It’s FAST and it works! It’s what I wanted in a tip calculator for my Watch. Calcbot had promise, but like many of the others is missing one or more of the features above.



Uber Apple Watch

Uber is my default ride-share service and having the Watch app means I don’t have to always have my iPhone out when traveling. This is important to me especially when I’m also dragging my luggage behind me too. With Uber on my Watch I can summon a car and track the ETA. I can see the driver/car info as well while my iPhone is in my pocket.


SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

SPG App Offers Keyless Entry with iPhone and Apple Watch


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!


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 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



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



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




== 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.’

3 Hour Diet Reminder



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.




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.

Deliveries: a package tracker


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



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

Dark Sky


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.

Trip Advisor


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 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.

Bonus: SPG


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


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:

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