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
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
You’ve seen one tip calculator you’ve seen them all. There really isn’t much to innovate in this category. Many will be quick to argue that with their superior math skills that they can just do the math in their heads and have no need for such apps. With all that said I’m always looking at the new entries in this market to see if there is one that I like better than the one that I’ve used for years. While I was checking out the newest apps for Apple Watch I noticed a tip calculator called Tipity and while my favorite calculator and conversion utility Calcbot offers one, there’s is lacking a couple of features such as excluding tax and rounding up/down. I decided to give Tipity a shot. The first thing I noticed on the iPhone was that the interface is very “text” based. Most of these apps have giant keypads to quickly allow you to enter the check total while Tipity concentrates more on showing you all the figures. Once you tap on a value then the numeric keyboard pops up and you can make changes. On this same keyboard you find the -1 and +1 to round up or down. In the settings you can choose to deduct tax (not tip on the tax) or not. If you enable it then you’ll be able to put in the tax rate on the main display. Lastly you can choose a star rating of 1 star (10% tip), 2 stars (15% tip) or 3 starts (20% tip) based the service you received. This way you can simply put the check total in and Tipity will do the math subtracting the tax and then calculating the tip plus giving you to the total with tax and tip included. I usually like to round up. This is something that I wish I could turn on in the settings instead of having to press the +1/-1 buttons each time.
The developer spent a lot of time making so you can customize the colors of your display to your liking.
A great app for Apple Watch
This is a perfect example of an app that fits perfectly on Apple Watch. There is no need to take out your phone. When the check arrives just fire up Tipity on your Apple Watch and enter the amount of the check.
Tipity will display the tip and total. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a rounding option on the Apple Watch version and this is even more of a reason why I’d want to turn it on in the settings.
Using Force Touch you can bring up the star rating display. Nice implementation and UI for Apple Watch.
The Bottom Line
Tipity is a good tip calculator for iPhone and iPad, but an even better app for Apple Watch. You can get Tipity here from the
I order from Amazon quite a bit. Therefore I joined Amazon Prime years ago just to take advantage of the free 2-day shipping on most items. There are lots more benefits to prime members including Amazon Prime Movies, Amazon Prime Music and even an unlimited cloud photo storage service. Yesterday evening I noticed that there was a sticker on the box that I had received earlier that day and it was an advertisement for Amazon Prime Now. What caught me was the “same day” delivery messaging. I had heard rumors that Amazon was going to be doing same day deliveries but hadn’t realized that it had started. I quickly scanned the QR code to get right to the new app on the App Store. Now keep in mind that it was about 6:25 PM at this point. I decided to peruse the app and see what was available for same day delivery.
I saw a Pet category and I remembered that dog treats are always needed. I did a search for the “Science Diet” brand and found a few of the treats that I normally order. I added a couple to my cart. I saw that I needed to have an order of at least $15 for same day delivery so I added an Amazon Basics Lightning cable. I was stunned to see that I could still get delivery that night, even in about an hour if I was willing to pay extra! I of course didn’t need these items that fast as this was just a test. I opted for the 8-10 PM time slot. I checked out with a credit card already on file.
I received a text message that my order would be delivered soon and in about another 20 minutes my door bell rang. There was a woman at the door carrying a bag. I saw her Amazon badge and she asked me to verify my order. The bag was sealed and I opened it to find the three items I had ordered. Wow! That’s an amazing service.
The order cost broke down like this:
While I certainly don’t need my Amazon orders that fast every time, it’s great to know that I have this option. Of course not everything that Amazon sells is available for same day delivery and that’s why they made a separate app that is dedicated to this service. If it’s in this app then you can get it same day.
I would like to see them implement Touch ID for password entry/ordering.
Get the Amazon Prime Now app here from the
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.
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 .