Free up iPhone Memory and back up iPhone photos and video

It is iOS9 upgrade time. Which means it is also time to clear out all the photos and videos that you took on your iPhone.

Automatic Backup of Photos and Videos on iPhone

I used to use aperture until Apple stopped development of Aperture (and iPhoto). Aperture would automatically download my photos and videos on my iPhone onto my main computer. The new Photos app does not do that in a right way. You have to either use iCloud to store all your photos, or there is no easy way to selectively leave some photos and videos on your iPhone and have a copy of it on your laptop/desktop. If you delete a photo on your photo stream, it will be deleted on all your devices including your main laptop/desktop.

Use Dropbox Camera Upload

My solution is to use my Dropbox pro account's camera upload feature. This is only feasible if you have a paid account. Out of my paid 1T storage, I am ony using a fraction of it. So why not use the rest to be a (semi temporary) storage space for all the mobile photos and videos?

All you have to do is to enable camera upload on your dropbox account, and probably disable "use cellular data" to save some LTE usage. Then all your photos and videos will be synced to your dropbox storage.

At a later stage, you can import the photos from dropbox into your photo management software for more permanent storage and processing.

Deleting Photos but iPhone memory is not freed?

iOS now has a Recently Deleted feature to give you a chance to recover accidental deletion of photos. Therefore if you really want the photos and videos off your iPhone, you hvae to go into the "recently deleted" folder, and really do a "delete all"

Good deal on iPad and iPhone compatible headphones, Sennheiser HD218i

Sale alert! Sennheisers are coming up with new models, and their HD218i headphones with three button Apple remote with mic headphones are on sale in many places. The "i" version used to fetch a sometimes $50 premium. Now they can be had for $39. They are great headphones for used in the office with your macs and iPads / iPhones. Or bring them with you to Starbucks as you sip expensive coffee while using their free wifi. The volume and mic control lets you adjust the volume, and use Skype. These are closed headphones which mean they do not leak sound, which is particularly important in an office environment. Sound quality? They are going to be a step up from your standard ebuds. From an audiophile point of view, they are at the lowest bearable end which is a good thing. I bought two, adding to my collections of Grado RS1 and RS2.

Memorializing 11/11/11 using Apple Products

At 10:59 this morning my kids decided they want to do something special at 11:11:11 11/11/11. 12 minutes later a non cropped version of this picture showed up on our facebook wall. How do I do it?

  1. Find a free clock app for the iPad and install it
  2. switch on our Apple TV feeding into our main TV
  3. run the Clock app and turn on AirPlay Mirroring
  4. get the kids positioned
  5. take a few pictures using the iPhone4S
  6. Once we have the right picture,
  7. go to the iPad photo stream which has already pulled down the picture from the iPhone
  8. do a quick crop and enhancement (our loft is too sunny and it messes up the contrast)
  9. run the Facebook app on the iPad to post the picture

All in 12 minutes. Thank you Steve!

iPhone Day Light Savings Bug strikes again November 2011

If you have your phone's date and time settings set to "automatic", meaning it will automatically determine your time zone, you would be one hour early to your appointments today! For some reason, if you set your timezone yourself then the phone gets the day light savings change correctly. See the two screenshots I took flipping the automatic switch back and forth.

Jabra Supreme Bluetooth Headset Review

I have been eagerly awaiting the Jabra Supreme bluetooth headset. I always find boom based headset sounds better. While the Jabra is a bit larger then, say the Jawbone, I find that it is still small and comfortable to wear. I like the flip boom design, where it switches on and off as you flip the boom open and close. Very natural. When the boom is folded in, the headset is smaller but still pretty thick. I wish for $99, Jabra ship the headset with a case.

Out of the Box Experience

The out of the box experience is pretty good, with the standard exception of needing to charge the unit up before first use. It is very nice that it comes with both a charger with a fixed cable, and an additoinal USB to micro USB cable so that you can use your computer to charge it up. It took just over an hour to get the headset fully charge.

Initial Pairing

Because the Supreme has "Voice Guidance", it will literally talk you thru the initial pairing. You can see this video of the voice guidance in action. I suppose you are expected to wear the headset to listen to the instruction, but I thought (wrongly) that I have to press some buttons, so I had the headset off. The voice guidance is loud enough that I can hear it anyway.



The headset is really light. To be fair most of the new generation headsets are light. 18 grams. You really would not notice it. I wear eyeglasses, and it still fit over my very thin eyeglasses frame without problem. If anything I find that it is a little lose. I don't think I can jog in it.

Sound Quality

I say the sound quality is fair, which is good for a bluetooth headset. The noise cancelling works very well. I place a test call with the radio blasting in the office and much of that is muted out.

Voice Control and Guidance

Of course the Jabra is no Siri! But the voice system works surprisingly well. In fact if I do not have an iPhone with Siri, I would be really impressed. You can say "what can I say" and the headset will read you a list of available commands. One that is particularly useful is "phone commands". When you say "phone commands" it passes you thru to the phone. Since I have Siri activated on the iPhone, it starts Siri up for me. However, currently the Jabra Supreme firmware does not work with Siri. I can hear Siri, but Siri cannot hear me. Jabra promised a fix really soon.


  • boom design for initiative on/off
  • long battery life (5+ hours)
  • comes with a charger and an extra cable for computer charging
  • voice guidance and commands


  • Does not work with IOS5, no SIRI, no Skype. Jabra promise a fix real soon, check their support page to see when it is available.
  • Does not come with a case


How to use siri and Reminder effectively

We all love Siri, and scheduling reminders verbally, right? But you are not getting the most out of it unless you do the following, if you are a iCloud user with other devices and macs:

  1. Delete your local Reminder list in Reminder, leaving the iCloud reminder list
  2. On your Mac(s) calendar program, go to View / Show Reminders
  3. (optionally) on your iPhone change Settings/Sound for reminders so that you know a reminder has gone off as oppose to other events.

Now when you schedule a reminder with siri, it will automatically synced to your macs and ipads, and it will show up on all devices!

siri is amazing

There, I said it. Siri really is amazing. People who think it is just voice recognition software need to try it before passing judgement. This is BETA according to Apple, learning a trick from Google. That just means they are going to tweak it with user data. Some of these things are not working (yet):

  1. It does not work with third party app. "Play Norah Jones" only work if you have her music on your music library. We need it to work with Rdio or Spotify, like Dragon Go does.
  2. It does not take multiple calendars into account. I have 25 appointments next week according to "check my schedule", what I really want is "check my work schedule"
  3. You would think you can send tweets from siri, with all the twitter integration, but you cannot. You can say "text twitter" if you have twitter setup as an account with code 40404, the standard twitter SMS interface. You will be using your SMS credits though.
  4. It will be nice if it interface with either the calculator app or something more streamlined for basic calculation, and then read back the result instead of showing me a wolfram alpha page.

How to use the new iOS4.3 HomeSharing on your iPhone

With the new iOS4.3 firmware, HomeSharing finally work nicely across all device. This is particularly important if you have an second generation AppleTV in your home network. Will all the new sharing feature you can do two really cool things:

  1. You can finally show any video or pictures from your iPhone on your AppleTV, especially photos and video from your camera roll on the phone. Isn't this the normal use case? You took some pictures of the kids, and when you are at Grandma's house, you can now beam the pictures onto their LCD TV seamlessly. (You did buy the grandparents an AppleTV, didn't you?)
  2. You can, via HomeSharing, listen to any music on your home iTunes library on your iPhone/iPad. Typically in a house hold, you will have most of the shared music and video sitting on an iMac. Now you can listen to any music from there remotely.

How to enable HomeSharing on your phone? There are actually TWO different settings. Go to "Settings / iPod" and enter your Apple ID for sharing. Then you can stream music from any iTunes library on your home network to the iPhone/iPad.

Secondly you can also enable Home Sharing on the Remote app. (you did download that didn't you?) Enter your Apple ID there, then it will automatically find any iTunes library on your network without you having to manually link the remote app to the library.

Tip: The remote app now also can control the AppleTV user interface!

iPhone plus AirPlay and AppleTV

I do not have an iPad. That's right. I am waiting for the iPad2. But I ordered the AppleTV on announcement date. And now with AirPlay fully supported (after a system update on both the iPhone 3GS and the AppleTV) it is media heaven. What works?

  • on the iPhone 3GS, I can play a movie on the "ipod" app directly onto my AppleTV
  • the rdio app can stream all my rdio music directly onto my AppleTV -- this is a big win. Now I can stream everything that rdio has in the cloud to my main home theatre system. My $10/month subscription is getting full mileage
  • the YouTube app on the iPhone can also send video to the AppleTV. This is slightly redundent, as there is direct YouTube support on the AppleTV. But I can use the keyboard on my iPhone to find video faster.
  • update: the pictures on the camera roll can go to the apple TV by using the airplay icon (Thanks to lance's comment below)

What does not work?

  • I cannot figure out how to send a picture in my "camera roll" to the AppleTV
  • Hulu+ app does not support AirPlay -- This is a big lost for me. I don't know if it is Hulu that needs to update their app, or is Apple not allowing it to do so.
  • NPR News app does not support AirPlay either. It would be cool if it did.

So, after 30 minutes of playing, I'd keep to my original point -- this is truly revolutionary, even if most of you don't know it yet!

iPad in every room, in every bag

After watching this segment, this is my take away: Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg has an insightful comment about people don't want to carry iphone plus iPad plus laptop all the time, true. David Carr says how much it is a family computer, True. What is going to happen? People need to have multiple iPad. Leave one in the bag. Leave one in the living room. Leave on in the dining room. It is a "pick up and use" device. Expensive? Sure. But it works that way.

Mobile Camp Boston 3

Went to Mobile Camp Boston 3, now part of Mobile Mondays. This was the first mobile event I attended. I love the location, MIT Tang Center, easy parking, 1/2 away from Starbucks. Was it useful? Not too bad. Found out there is life beyond the iPhone/iPad. (Not a lot, but a little bit..). The camp was short and the content was light. A lot of company selling services. Lawyers, even some VC's. The big surprises are (1) Verizon was here, as a sponsor as well as presenter, and (2) City of Boston was there, talking a little about the success of Citizen Connect and the proposed Innovation District of Boston. Given the history of Boston and land development, I have to be very skeptical about the innovation district. But that's another blog post. Main take aways?

  • Location based social media is important (got me started playing with gowalla)
  • Android development is easier technically, but
  • AppStore is by far the easiest for deployment overall, when considering all the Apple testing and payment processing
  • Verizon is waking up
  • VCs are interested in this space (duh)
  • while not sexy, Palm or Blackberry apps may make you more money
  • don't forget "feature phones" can have some sort of "application experience" as well.

Oh, and I got to play with an iPad, very impressive, confirmed everything I thought about it. Now I only wish I bought one.

An iPhone duh moment

I was getting a bit bored with my almost one year old iPhone wallpaper photo that I took. So I went to Aperture, found another good picture, crop it portrait sized, since the iPhone screen is normally used in portrait mode, and synced it to the phone. This morning I look down on the locked screen, and realized that that top and bottom of my wallpaper picture is obscured by the time and the unlock control. Duh !! They designed that screen to display a (heavily) letterboxed landscape picture !!

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Apple Bluetooth on the iPhone

Now that I have a good bluetooth headset (the Jawbone 2), I need to toggle the bluetooth interface on and off all the time on the iPhone. When I don't need it, switching off saves battery. Normally it make sense to have the bluetooth on/off setting under, well, settings (settings - general, to be precise). However, the Apple software limits the use of the bluetooth interface to nothing except making phone calls. So why is the bluetooth on/off switch a switch within the phone application? I hope the iPhone 3.0 software (tomorrow!) enables A2DP bluetooth support so that I can listen to podcast on my bluetooth headset while walking to work.

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Broken iPhone replaced

I blogged this before, the ringer on/off switch on my iPhone fell off soon after I bought the phone (yes, on launch day). Last week, the audio jack broke as well. The mic-input is not working anymore. This is a problem for me as I use a wired headset all the time with the phone to listen to music and to make calls. Of course, one quick schedule and visit to the Genius bar, and I have a new replacement phone. The only quirk that I ran into is that when I restore my phone from backup, it did not restore everything. Specifically:

  • I have to re-enter all my email account passwords
  • I have to re-arrange all my apps on the screen pages

One additional observation that I have is the new ringer on/off switch feels different from my old one. It is much looser and snap into position quicker. The old on was much stiffer -- and I wonder if that's the reason why it broke so easily.

My iPhone ringer switch broke

Six weeks from day zero. I picked up my iPhone 3G, and the little metal stud falls off. I wondered about the design of this switch before, it is pretty to look at, but sliding in a circular path probably put a lots of strain on it. I use this switch probably on average four times a day, switching to silent entering meetings as such. Now I need to see if the nice people at the Apple Store will just replace my phone.

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Things on the iPhone now Sync with Desktop

I meant to blog about this for a long time. Things.app is, IMHO, the best GTD app for the Mac. I have been using the beta for a very long time. In fact my GTD system is on it. When the iPhone 3G is announced, the folks at CulturedCode started working on a version specifically for the iPhone to make use of the different user interface. When iPhone 3G came out, the iPhone version, called Things Touch, was available at the App Store. While the desktop beta is still free, the iPhone version is $10, and it does not including syncing with the desktop ! Current users and potential users were scratching their heads, but in short, CulturedCode wanted to get their name out there, and banked on the loyalty of their current beta-customer based to pay the $10 for the iPhone version, assuming that syncing will be coming out very soon.

Did it work? Are people that crazy about this app that they will pay $10 and then wait for the feature that they need? You bet. After the guys being Things.app all but promised that syncing will be available really soon now, even I paid the $10 as a vote of support.

Well, tonight the App is updated. I just synced my entire GTD list to my iPhone. Now I have my entire GTD system available both on my desktop and my phone. Pretty cool huh? The syncing is done via wifi network. So both devices must be on the same local wireless network. Start the iPhone version, go to the desktop version and go into preference, click iPhone, and follow the instructions.

There are some missing feature still on the iPhone version: Context is not available, which makes it a little less GTD friendly.

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Upgrading to Leopard breaks iPhone syncing in iTunes

This has been a very Apple centric month. I finally upgraded my very first mac, a pre-Aluminium iMac from Tiger to Leopard. The upgrade process was very easy. The next morning, I discovered that my new iPhone is no longer recognized by iTunes ! It worked before the upgrade. The problem only exists with iTunes. When I plug the iPhone into the system, Aperture starts up recognizing the photos. So it seems to be an iTune only problem. A quick search on the Apple support site reveals that this is a known problem. Just download iTunes and reinstall (ever though it is already at the right version) solves the problem.

More info at Apple support discussion group here.

iPhone Crashed

My iPhone just crashed. I clicked on the iTunes Remote app, the phone went to the "silver apple" screen, which I think is the restart screen. It stayed there for a very long time. I ended up doing the reset sequence -- holding down the sleep/wake and the home buttons for 10 seconds or more, which also shows the silver apple screen. It stayed there again for a long time. It maybe coincidence but when I plug the phone into iTunes it went into "sync" mode.