Categories
iPhone

Lockdown Your Kid’s Phone

I’m sure a ton of kids got an iPhone for Christmas (as a consolation gift for not securing an PS5/Xbox).

If you’re concerned about your kid’s safety/security/access with an iPhone between their thumbs, check out my latest PCMag story with tips on how to lock it down to keep their phone (and their data) safe.

How to Secure Your Kid’s iPhone

Categories
iPad iPhone

Memik App Uses Augmented Reality to Spice Up Viral Dance Crazes

They say dance is a universal language. With the advent of apps that have allowed us to collaborate and share digitally, and in the midst of a pandemic that has forced us to find alternative ways to connect, you can argue that now is the perfect time to use dance and technology to feel closer, even if physically, we are far apart.

Enter Memik, an app that uses music, dance and technology to double down on the popularity of viral dance videos that have permeated the web in recent years. Simply stated, Memik adds an Augmented Reality (AR) dancer with whom you can “mimic” (see what they did there?) its dance moves, or upload your own dance moves for your dancer to copy in order to create the next viral dance video.

The app experience is pretty simple to navigate. Users pick from a selection of songs and dance routines. The next step consists of choosing a dancer that will perform the routine. Once selected, Memik uses your phone’s camera and integrated AR compatibilities to project your dancer in the field of view. Hit record, and participants can perform alongside the AR dancer to create a unique dance video that can be viewed in the gallery and shared to social media.

Memik app main user Dashboard

If you want to cook up something more unique, the premium feature unlocks the ability for users to record and upload their own dance routine. Memik then uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learn the routine and add it to the selection of dance routines. Once added, users can go through the same song and character selection process, but with the added bonus of selecting their custom dance routine. 

From there, AR adds the dancer to the live dance “crew” where they all can perform the routine. Unlike other apps that depend solely on live users, Memik adds that tech element to create a truly unique experience.

For this review, my kids were “voluntold” to participate in Memik testing. I downloaded the Memik app on my oldest daughter’s iPhone 8. Visit Apple’s Augmented Reality page for a list of AR-compatible devices. The app came loaded with several dance-worthy, holiday-themed songs, and a handful of characters with their own look and style. I’m assuming more songs and characters (and character customizations) will be added in future updates.

Within a couple of taps, and a couple minutes of practice, my 12 year-old daughter was ready to do her routine. Tapping the Memik button at the bottom of the screen opened her phone’s camera and allowed her to place her AR dancer in the field of the view. Tip: The area where you want to place any AR figure should be a relatively flat surface that is free of a bunch of stuff and adequately lit. 

Once placed, she had to pinch and zoom to resize her dancer to a more realistic height. Hitting record let her dance with her partner to complete the routine. The dance routines last about 20 seconds. Which is long enough to perform a decent dance routine. 

After she tried out a couple of songs and routines, we passed the reins over to my 10-year old daughter who was waiting in the wings practicing her own routine. We switched over to my phone (we don’t let our kids create 3rd-Party app accounts yet), and created an account. For this review, I was provided several credits by the developer to test out Memik’s AI capabilities. 

Custom dance uploaded

Creating a custom dance was as simple as selecting the song, then tapping the “Make New Routine” button. The camera opened up and gave my daughter the ability to record her 20-second full-body routine. Once recorded, Memik uploaded the video to their servers where the AI “learned” her routine. A quick skim of the privacy policy didn’t give me the impression that the videos will be used for anything other than what they’re intended for. 

After a couple of minutes, we got notification that her routine was ready. Sure enough, in the ‘Choose your Routine’ section, we could select her dance. We used the same song during recording her routine, and selected a dancer.

Custom “Pooter Challenge” dance added to list

We went through the same process to place the dancer in the field of view and with my oldest as a 3rd dancer, and we successfully recorded their routine. From there, they can view their recorded dances in the Gallery, and also share dances to friends, family and social media.

Future feature requests would be the ability to quickly mute the selected song in-app, and the ability to change character clothing and hair/facial features, etc.

My initial impression is the Memik app provides a hip and trendy way for tweens and teens to safely collaborate and share trendy dances, while exposing them to Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence. Speaking of trends, to get kids hype about the app, the folks behind it are putting on a #MemikChallenge (of course), that encourages users to record and share their own custom routines for a chance to win a highly-coveted PS5.

According to Instagram, it looks like Memik has caught the eye of Shaq-Diesel himself who shared a post of fellow former NBA player Dennis Scott jumping in on the #MemikChallenge

Categories
AirPods

A Brotha’s AirPods Max Impressions

Yes this post contains Affliate links that I may get paid for if you click/purchase…You think I’m writing this just because?​ So show me some love…

My AirPods Max finally arrived. You’ve probably seen all the unboxing videos and read all the early reviews, so here’s my quick hot takes to summarize all that in order to give you an overall ideal of what to expect if you pickup a pair.

These joints are THICCC

I have a pair of late-model Sony WH-1000XM3’s and the AirPods Max with its stainless steel frame by far have way more heft to them. So if you like ‘em chonky…

They feel good

Even though they’re heavier, they don’t weigh down your head. Additionally, there is hardly any additional movement that makes you feel like they are going to fall off your head if you move around too much. 

The metal telescoping arms are firm and there is NO WAY they are going to move after you find that perfect fit. Even with eye glasses, the AirPods Max ear cushions will sit nice and snug on your ears like a fresh pair a drawls right out of the dryer.

The world around you will disappear

Apple has a cheesy promo video on its site that visualizes what it’s like listening with Active Noise Cancellation and Spatial Audio active…and that’s actually how it feels when the sound is cranked up.

Case and point: I was listening to them while writing this, and TOTALLY forgot about my rambunctious 3-year old who was wandering around the house. Without dry-snitching on my parenting skills, let’s just say the AirPods Max sound quality is the truth. So make sure you don’t have any other exterior responsibilities while fully immersed…or switch to Transparency mode if you need to keep your wits about you. 

I haven’t done an in-depth comparison between my XM3’s, my AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max, but based on a quick comparison, the AirPods Max came to play and offer superior sound quality over my AirPods Pro without any additional setup, calibration or configuration on my part over my XM3’s. 

The controls are simple and familiar

Controlling music, evoking Siri, managing calls, and activating noise cancellation works the same as on any other Apple device. If you have an Apple Watch, The Digital Crown works the same with the AirPods Max letting you play, pause, advance tracks and adjust the volume effortlessly.

After about a couple minutes, my muscle memory was locked in, and I could quickly and easily get to the controls without fumbling around like Rudy Giuliani managing his handkerchief. My only request would be that the haptic “click-click” feeling you get with the Apple Watch Digital Crown was more prevalent when using the AirPods Max Digital Crown.

The Smart Case is wack

Nothing to add here. It is what it is…

That price tho?

Having said all that, at $549 they are STILL mad expensive. BUT “it ain’t tricking if you got it”. So if you’re an Apple fan, the AirPods Max are definitely not necessary, but a nice splurge item if you got money to burn and feel to need to stunt (we all do). Especially if you’re not worried about people clocking your pockets because they “outside the club and can’t even get in”

Obviously, they are not THAT expensive…because they’re already sold out. So, there’s that.

Peep my Instagram for my AirPods Max unboxing gallery

Categories
Apple

I’m finally going to give HomeKit a try

Yes this post contains Affliate links that I may get paid for if you click/purchase…You think I’m writing this just because?

It’s been a while since Apple’s smart home tech was announced.

Back then, there wasn’t many smart home products/brands that were capable or willing to integrate with HomeKit.

A couple years have passed, and Apple has lightened up on 3rd-party restrictions. That means there are more products available. So now I think it’s finally time to replace and expand my smart home tech.

I do have several smart home gadgets around the house, but most of them are Alexa-compatible. I like that Apple is more secure than Amazon from a personal data perspective, and all of my family members have Apple devices. So I’m willing to swap out and upgrade my current devices to create a total Apple home/household.

I only have a late-model door lock from August and two late-model Ecobee thermostats that I can test with HomeKit now. Eventually they will have to be upgraded as well.

My only gripe with HomeKit as it stands is the setup is NOT intuitive AT ALL. It took me…ME a couple tries to understand how to set up my home, add users and add devices. All that to say, the user-interface still needs work.

The benefit of course is when everything is operational, we only have to use one interface (the Home app) to manage everything. Additionally, we can use Siri from any of our personal Apple devices or family HomePods to send commands to our home.

I’ll be sure to update the site with my Smart HomeKit progress.

Categories
Apple

My 2021 workout routine starts…next week

Apple Fitness+ launches December 14th

Categories
Gear

Isn’t that the cutest AirPods tote?!?

Apple Introduces AirPods Max

Categories
News

How Amazon In-Garage Delivery Works

Yes – This post contains affiliate links that I may be paid for if readers click/purchase. You think I’m writing these posts just because?

In a previous post, I let y’all know that I was gonna give Amazon In-Garage Delivery a try. This weekend, I ordered some anti-fog spray for my eyeglasses because this mask and my nostrils are NOT on the same page, but chose Amazon Key Delivery to test out the in-garage delivery process. Here’s how it works.

First, you need a compatible smart garage door opener. The most popular one that’s compatible with Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant and Amazon Key is the MyQ smart garage door opener…Which is what I already have

Second (but maybe more importantly), you have to be comfortable with Amazon drivers having temporary access to your garage. In my opinion, I can trust Amazon drivers (who I can somewhat hold accountable) over “porch pirates” snatching boxes off my porch.

To put folks at ease, Amazon also has Ring cameras under its umbrella that it hawks as an added security measure that when installed, automatically records the delivery process.

I have a non-compatible Wyze camera in my garage that I’ve set up to notify me and start recording when it detects motion (when my garage door opens) to simulate Amazon’s setup.

Now that’s all out of the way, and I went through the process of setting up Amazon In-Garage Delivery, here’s how the process went:

  1. During ordering, I had to select “Key Delivery”
  2. I was notified via the Amazon Key app with a delivery ETA
  3. I was notified again when the driver was accessing my garage
    • I got a separate notification from my Wyze camera when my garage door was opened.
  4. I was able to log into my camera app and watch the driver drop off my package and close the garage.
Amazon delivery image from my garage cam​_BrothaTech
Amazon delivery shot from my garage cam

That’s pretty much it. As an added precaution, I made sure the door from the garage to my home was locked. I will eventually add a smart lock to that entry to automatically lock when a driver opens the garage.

I’m comfortable enough to continue to let Amazon drop off packages in my garage. Peace of mind that my packages are safe, and cuts down on having to rush to hide packages before my nosey kids start sniffing around.

Would you try Amazon Key for your home, garage, gate, or car?

Categories
Apple Watch

Here’s here’s how to quickly unsubscribe from voting texts with your Apple Watch

I’m in Georgia, so while the rest of the country can (sort of) move on from the dumpster fire that was this past election season, we have to endure one more election cycle.

That means more text message blasts asking me about my vote. So I wrote a post for PCMag on how to use Apple Watch default replies to quickly unsubscribe from voting text message campaigns...

Categories
News

Gonna Give Amazon In-Garage Delivery a Shot

Even before “dat ‘Rona” hit, our family has BEEN in these Amazon streets. Now that we have drastically limited our in-person shopping due to COVID-19, we’ve had Amazon deliveries at our front door seemingly every day.

My crib isn’t on the Smart Home level that I want because Apple’s HomeKit still isn’t fully realized yet (and them sh*ts be expensive). But I do have some Smart Home tech…in the house.

Specifically, my MyQ Smart Garage Door opener that lets me open/close my garage with my iPhone, and monitor the door’s status with my Amazon Echo devices. Since MyQ is compatible with the Alexa smart assistant, I have finally decided to give Amazon Key a try.

Without drawing out this blog post any further (because who even blogs anymore?), I can use my Amazon Key to enroll in the In-Garage Delivery Program that lets Amazon drivers access via MyQ to leave deliveries in my garage in order to:

  • Ward off any “porch pirates” who may try and run up
  • Fend off our nosey-ass 3 year-old who is “blocking” Santa’s game by checking for packages EVERY TIME the front door opens
Amazon In-Garage Deliver Program_brothatech
Read more about Amazon In-Garage Delivery Program

We’ve still got some shopping left to do, so I will test it out and circle back with my results.

Categories
News

How do you use Siri

I use Siri as much as I can but there are still some commands I habitually grab my phone to accomplish when I could’ve easy asked Siri to do it (Voice recognition tends to work better on my Apple Watch vs. my iPhone, but I digress).

How many tasks do you accomplish with Siri? Check out the story on Fast Company and let me know if you use any of these in the comments.

14 Essential Siri time-savers you may have overlooked