Saturday, March 18, 2017

January and February Fitness

Activity app medals.One of the days.When I posted my year-end fitness stats back in December I had to use three different applications to extract and tabulate the data from HealthKit. And that’s not counting Excel to calculate averages and max values. It took a lot of effort.

But soon after the year started I wanted to install an app for my dad that would let him view his stats in a better way than HealthKit presents it in. And while doing it I got an ad for another similar app which I did not see before even though I did search for these things. It turned out to be perfect.

The app is called HealthView and is a great dashboard for HealthKit data. Even though the app is a little buggy — sometimes it takes too long to update and loads the data from a wrong date or crashes — it still lets you view your stats in a good, beautiful, clear way after a few restarts or reloads.

HealthView dashboard. Day view.HealthView dashboard. Month view.My move (the number of days I achieved my calorie goal on) streak is currently at 278 days. Here are my numbers from the first two months of this year. January is first table, February is second.
MertricUnitsPer DayMaxTotal
Walkingstesps3,68410,093114,228
Active Energycalories52382516,233
Cyclingmiles6.829.90211.40
Excerciseminutes45921,395
Walkingmiles1.785.0755.32

MertricUnitsPer DayMaxTotal
Walkingstesps3,55711,68799,604
Active Energycalories5811,27216,276
Cyclingmiles8.6824.88243.09
Excerciseminutes491271,363
Walkingmiles1.705.7347.68

HealthView metric drill down. Month view.Activity app. Filling in the circles.At this point we do the most of the work on a stationary bike. We did put a real bicycle on a trainer in the begging of the year and it was a lot more pleasant. However it was sadly producing way too much vibration and living in the apartment we just didn’t feel at ease working out in this way. We’re thinking of investing in a much more high quality stationary bike than our current one.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

iPhone 6

iPhone 6.It’s been more than a month now since I’ve gotten a new iPhone and I wanted to jot down my views and impressions to this point. This is not really a review, but a story about my personal usage of hardware and software that is available on iOS. I’ll start with the fact that I’ve bought iPhone 6 (4.7″ version) with 64GB1 (16GB was getting tight) in white. I just like to alternate my colors and I think this one looks particularly great in white.

Form Factor


As we all know this is the first time that Apple has released two new iPhones at the same time2 — iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Right from the start I knew that 5.5″ iPhone is not for me. I wasn’t quite sure how happy the fact that I had to go from 4″ to 4.7″ was. On one hand having a bigger screen was appealing. On another I really valued the portability of iPhone 5.

iPhone 6. Not possible for me to reach all places of the screen holding it this way.Now having the new phone for a while I can says that I wish it was a little bit smaller than it is. It just is big enough not to fit into my hand comfortably. I can’t grip it the way I want and as a result I end up resting the phone on my fingers when I use it with one hand and turns out I do use it with one hand quite often. The back side is quite slippery and I often feel that I might drop it. It makes it feel so insecure that I’m considering getting a leather case for it.

This is how I need to hold it to use with one hand. Unsafe.This brings me to the my next point — the actual design. It feels great. The rounded edges and tapered glass is so pleasant to the touch — a real contrast to the previous 4 hard edged phones. Sliding from the edge of the phone (back gesture for example) feels so natural. By putting a case on it this nice feel would go away. I’m not sure I want that trade off. The case would make it less slippery, a bit bulkier and would tuck the camera in. It would also hide a nice handy little mirror on the back of the phone in the form of Apple logo.

This is how I used to hold older iPhones. How tiny is this iPhone 4S though?Back to the screen size itself — it really is nice having a larger screen. Lately I have been doing quite a bit more reading on the phone since there is a lot of competition for iPad in our house between Arosha, Alena and myself. And being able to read on this new screen I don’t even have a need for iPad anymore. Also it’s amazing how quickly we get used to good things. When I had to set something up on Alena’s old 4S3 I was really shocked how tiny tiny that screen is. It really seemed astonishing to me.

iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6.The phone fits just OK in my pockets and even here it could be a little bit smaller. I’m looking forward to the day when Apple makes the screen go from edge to edge and reduce the physical size of this device just a tad. iPhone 6 Plus is just way too enormous and would in no way work for me.

New Features


Since I’m going from iPhone 5 directly to iPhone 6 there is a slew of new features for me. I’ve covered the most obvious upgrade of the screen, but there is a number of less visible (no pun intended) features. I’m really enjoying Touch ID. I’ve always had my phone locked with a pass code and having an ability to replace that with a longer password and not having to type it in is great. Touch ID works very well — it’s precise and quick.

Touch ID.The processor is much faster, but I don’t really notice it as the old phone was plenty fast. However this phone has a new motion chip (5S had it too) that tracks your steps and now stairs you climb. I found it really motivational and prefer to take the steps every time I have a chance instead of riding an elevator.

I’m also looking forward to using a new Apple Pay system with an NFC chip that is present in the new phone. Hopefully it becomes a real thing and becomes widely supported. It just got rolled out this past Monday. Adding cards was a breeze, and it seems to work in more places than I originally believed. I had a chance to try it at a no-name gas station that had an NFC enabled pay machine and it worked. And judging from the Internet buzz that will be the case — any place that has NFC machines will take Apple Pay.

But one of the biggest and most enjoyable upgrades is the camera. That one deserves its own section.

Camera


I’ll start with the fact that this phone comes with a little bit of a “non-Apple” quirk with the regards to the camera — it sticks out of the phone. It’s clear that Apple was faced with a decision of either making it flush with this thin phone and thus degrading its quality or make a sacrifice in “design perfection” to preserve and improve the functionality of the camera. I’m very very happy with the choice they made.

iPhone 6 camera and flash.My iPhone is by far my most used camera. Alena and I take tons and tons of family photographs with it. By making it focus faster and improving night time photography it gives us even more value. I’m also quite impressed with the True Tone flash Apple has introduced in 5S and carried over to this new phone. Before I would always have the camera on off and would never bother with it as it would just ruin the mood of any photograph with its cold blue light. After a few tests of the new flash I have it set to auto.

Taken with iPhone 6.The auto HDR mode also works well. It’s easier to capture a high dynamic range photograph with an iPhone than my SLR. SLR would need to be set on a tripod, and then it would take some amount of work in post to get the desired image. iPhone just takes one button press. Of course that works if the light range is a tad more than a single SLR shot can capture, but if the light range is high enough — well, SLR is your weapon.

iPhone mounted on tripod via Glif by Studio Neat.The new camera also has very cool video capabilities — slow-motion video at 240FPS is quite impressive. Actually the fact that the phone can capture video at such speed is not just impressive — it’s amazing. Fast focusing during video also works very well. I also enjoy making timelapse4 and hyperlapse videos. iPhone being our only video camera sure gets it a lot of use. And there is zero need for anything else.

Taken with iPhone 6.During our latest trip to Pocono Mountains I also have discovered the fact that it can take great macro photos. I’m using Camera+ (3rd party app) for it — check it out if you like the samples.

iPhone 6.Overall I’m very very happy with what Apple has been doing with regards to the camera. Even though it’s no SLR, I have it with me everywhere and all the time, while that is far from the case with my SLR which I still love dearly.

Taken with iPhone 6, post-processed.A side note is that I use two camera apps the most — swipe from the bottom for stock camera and Instagram. Also on some occasions I use Camera+ as I mentioned above.

Software


iOS 8 brought a lot of nice behind the scenes changes — extensions being the biggest one. I already have a lot of great apps that have instantly became much more useful once they have been updated to utilize the new extensions. 1Password is one obvious example — automatically inputs your credentials into login forms not inside an internal browser, but in Safari itself.

Before update for iPhone 6 screen.After update to support iPhone 6 screen.A lot of developers are taking their sweet time to get their apps updated for the bigger screen. Most apps run in zoom mode, which essentially rends apps in 4″ screen mode and then scales them up. I don’t really notice any blur, but the ones that have been updated do take full advantage of the bigger screen. The biggest tell if the app has been updated or not is the status bar on top. It gets blown up when any non-updated app starts.

My Homescreen


The most important thing of any platform is software. Software is what makes the phone. Now here is a list of software on my phone that I find the most useful. It’s organized in a quite simple manner — dock has my most used apps, home screen has apps that I use on daily basis, second screen has software that I use almost daily, third screen has a bunch of games my fourth screen has a collection of folders that I don’t use as often, but still like having on my phone.

Homescreen.Second screen.

I won’t go over every single one, but I will make a short list of the most interesting stuff on my phone:
  • Instagram — I personally don’t use it for its social aspects, but for its integration with Twitter. This is the fastest way for me to take a photograph and post it to our blog thanks to that Twitter integration and my blog to Twitter integration.

    I also love the fact that we can order posters and calendars from our Instagram collections with services like Printstagram. I like the map that it builds with its geolocation feature.

    Having said all that I have to point out that I use the stock camera app a lot as well by sliding to it from the lock screen.

  • Google Maps — I have given Apple Maps a go when it came out. I gave it another chance when iOS 8 came out. It still doesn’t cut it. Google Maps along with its search capability is unbeatable.

  • Fantastical — the best calendar replacement out there. With a lot of meetings and appointments spread out between different calendars stock calendar app doesn’t cut it at all. Fantastical presents you with a great visual view as to how your day looks. It also supports natural language to create and manage events among many other great features.
  • Continue Reading

  1. All my previous phones have been 16GB, but the current version is a rip-off. []
  2. 5C doesn’t really fall into this category as it was iPhone 5 “recased”. []
  3. Alena got my iPhone 5 after we got it back from Apple with a warranty repaired sleep button. []
  4. Using old mini-tripod with Glif mount from Studio Neat works really well. []
In: Gadgets & Gear, Software   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Time: 18:53   Comments: 2 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Week Sales

CheckSplit for iPhone. First week sales.For those who are interested — here are the results of sales for the first week. I’ve included the first day in the chart, but it should be noted that the app was released somewhere late in the evening.

Overall it’s a pretty interesting experiment. While the app was showing up in new released, the sales very relatively strong. As the app moved off the first screen the “volume” went down. It’s also interesting to note that all other countries combined have got nothing on U.S. market alone.

Beside that I’ve been contacted by some buyers saying that they really like the simplicity and streamlined interface. There also have been some good feature suggestions that I’m going to try to implement.
In: Software   Tags: , , , ,
Time: 14:47   Comments: No Comments   Post a Comment  

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

CheckSplit — iPhone App

CheckSplit in the AppStore.After a long time of not moving ahead with this project I was persuaded by those around me to publish an app that I wrote and we were successfully using for months now.

So I added the final polishes to the application, created a mini-site for it with all the information about it, with the help of my wife put together a good screencast that demos the application and its functionality. And then it was uploaded to Apple for a review.

I’m happy to say that CheckSplit was approved by Apple and is up in the AppStore as of yesterday. I would appreciate any feedback and reviews.
In: Software   Tags: , , , , ,
Time: 10:06   Comments: 7 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Split Check: Entering Info

Marking people — before.Marking people — after.
I still have a lot of development to do to finish this app up, but here’s a short update on progress.

The check creation (list display + price entering) screens are ready, so is the screen to set up tip and tax values with persistent data storage. The split itself is the last thing that needs implementation, but it’s probably going to be the easiest step now.

On Saturday we gave it a real life test on entering information only to find out that the original idea was flawed. Continue Reading
In: Software   Tags: , , ,
Time: 12:57   Comments: 4 Comments   Post a Comment  
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