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How To iPhone

How to Track Your Packages With Siri

Not really using Apple’s Siri Shortcuts like you should? Here’s one shortcut I use all the time when I’m waiting on packages 📦 to hit my doorstep. 

Instead rummaging through emails or refreshing shipping websites just to get tracking updates, you can create an iPhone home button or Siri prompt to quickly get updates on packages. 

First you need to copy the tracking website URL for the package you want to track. Then open the Shortcuts app and do the following:

  1. Tap “+” to start a new Shortcut
  2. Tap “Add Action”
  3. Tap “Web” icon
  4. Under Safari, tap “Open” URLs
  5. In the shortcut field, tap the highlighted URL, then paste the tracking URL, then tap “Next”
  6. Give your Shortcut a name and tap “Done”
  7. Once the shortcut is created, tap the three ellipses on the shortcut.
  8. Tap the three ellipses again, and “add to Home Screen” to create an butting for even faster access.
  9. Create a simple Shortcut name so can also use Siri to complete the task. 

This trick will be good for tracking all those #Apple goodies that will be hitting your doorstep later this week. 

Drop a comment if you NEED more Siri Shortcuts in order to get more #Productivity out of that expensive-ass iPhone.

Categories
iPad iPhone Mac

How to get Apple’s Black Unity Wallpaper

In celebration of Black History Month, Apple has released wallpapers that display the colors of the Pan-African flag. Here’s how to get them…

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
iPad iPhone

Use Event Countdown App to Keep Track of Important Upcoming Events

So I was bored one day and decided to hunt around and find some new widgets to add to my iPhone Home Screen.

I’ll be honest, most of the current widgets are wack, that is until I found the Event Countdown app from Widget Studio.

With the app, you can create a countdown to keep track of any important date/event. In my case, my birthday is coming up so….

Once I created the countdown and added all the specifics (name, date, color, icon, etc), I added the widget to my Home Screen.

Now every time I look at my phone, I get a constant reminder that I’m about to get one year older. Yay?!

I’ll probably add a countdown for when the zombies start tearing up the world after this first batch of COVID vaccine starts to be administered…

Categories
iPhone

iPhone Tip: What Song is This?

Back in the day, Apple bought the popular music discovery app Shazam. For the longest, Apple kept the service as its own standalone app. 

Apple has started to integrate Shazam natively into its ecosystem with the latest iOS 14 release. Peep my latest for PCMag on how to enable it.

How to Use Shazam’s Music-Recognition Feature in iOS 14

Categories
iPhone

iPhone 12 Pro – Buyer’s Remorse?

Why do you ask? If I’m honest with myself, I wanted a new phone sooner than later, so I convinced myself that the smaller iPhone 12 Pro would be just fine.

The screen size of the XS Max is 6.4″, while the 12 Pro is 6.1″. That’s only a .3″ difference! My original thought was that’s not enough of screen difference to notice. Additionally, I also have an iPhone XR and it’s the same screen size of the 12 Pro, and I assumed the 12 Pro at the same screen size, would FEEL the same in my hand as the XR.

I was wrong. The 12 Pro is slimmer and more compact than the wider XR. So while the viewing size of the devices are similar, the FEEL of the device in my hand is different.

All that to say, after a couple of days of playing with the iPhone 12 Pro, I thought I could get used the one-hand usage of the 12 Pro. I even bought a dope slim case for the iPhone 12 Pro to add some girth, but I could still tell the difference.

All that to say, if I’m being honest, I was just trying to fool myself into NOT waiting for the iPhone 12 Pro Max when it drops in November.⁠

So I’m moving my data BACK to my XS Max and I will reluctantly, but patiently wait for a couple weeks to get what I really want.

Categories
iPhone

iPhone 12 Wishlist: 6 Things We Want on Apple’s Next Smartphone – PCMag

Apple’s September event is upon us, but it’s not expected to include the launch of a next-gen iPhone. Instead, the gathering’s “Time Flies” moniker suggests a new Apple Watch, while rumors tip updated iPads, too.

This isn’t totally a surprise; COVID-19 has put a strain on the global supply chain, and that includes iPhone parts. “As you know, last year we started selling new iPhones in September. This year, we project supply to be available a few weeks later,” Apple’s CFO said in July.

Still, we will get the iPhone 12—or whatever Apple calls it—eventually. And until then, here’s what we hope Apple will add to its smartphone.

  • 5G Technology
  • Slimmer Notch
  • Aluminum or Steel Rear Housing
  • Magnetic Rear Housing
  • USB-C Port
  • Device-on-Device (reverse) Charging

Read the entire story on PCMag, then let me know what features you want to see on the upcoming iPhone 12

Categories
iPhone

7 Cool iOS 14 Features to Try Right Away – PCMag

With the iOS 14 public beta now available, I threw caution to the wind and installed it on my main iPhone. I wasn’t too worried, as the past few public betas from Apple have been surprisingly stable. But I did make an archived backup of my iPhone just in case, and I recommend other beta testers do the same.

It’s a safe bet that many if not all of the features present in the public beta will make it to the final release scheduled for this fall. After digging through and trying out all the features, here is a look at seven of the more notable ones you will want to try first.

Customize Your Home Screen With Widgets

App Library Ditches Endless Pages of Apps

No More Full-Screen Phone Call Notifications

Siri Gets Less Intrusive, More Informative

Video Picture-in-Picture

Better Organizations for Messages

Beefed-Up Privacy, Security Features

Read the entire story over on PCMag

Categories
Apple Watch iPad iPhone Mac

How To Sanitize Your Devices

This post may contain affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Disclosure

The generally accepted ways to stop the contraction and spread of the Cornoavirus is to practice social distancing (stay away from large crowds), and regularly wash your hands. Simply because the virus spreads by human contact, so quit touching people and stuff.

No problem, right? Surprisingly, the media hasn’t really talked about how our devices (that we literally touch all day every day) could be contributing to the spread of #DatRona.

We already know that our phones are as dirty or even dirtier than a toilet, so it isn’t stretch to say that we need to keep our devices as clean as our hands.

In a Business Insider India article, Suranjeet Chatterjee, Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine Department of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi stated “Coronavirus and other germs can live on surfaces like glass, metal or plastics and phones are bacteria-ridden. It is necessary that we sanitize our hands frequently and make sure that our hands are clean all the time.”

‘Nuff said. So here are a few ways to can sanitize your devices to stop the spread of germs…and Coronavirus.

Regularly Sanitize Your Devices

We are so trained to touch our phones as much as we are prone to touching our eyes, mouth, or nose. We already know frequently touching our face is a not helping reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, so that’s why it’s advised to wash your hands all the time.

The same can be said for your devices. As often as you wash your hands, you should be cleaning your phone (at least the screen). The best way to sanitize your devices is by using an alcohol-based sanitizer and a clean cloth to wipe the screen any part of the phone that touches other surfaces.

If you use a spray based sanitizer, lightly spray your phone after spraying your hands. for a more in-depth cleaning, I recommend using the WHOOSH! Screen Cleaner Kit ($15 bucks on Amazon).

Go Hands-Free

Again, the best way to not spread the ‘Rona is to limit contact with people and things. Now is good time to get more acquainted with voice assistants like Siri, to complete simple tasks like sending texts, emails, answering calls, checking your calendar, etc. It is also a good idea to invest in Bluetooth headphones/ear buds if you frequently make/receive phone calls – Don’t be that dork annoying people by using the speakerphone all the time.

A study published in 2018 by Insurance2Go stated that one in 20 smartphone users was found to clean their phones less than every six months…YUCK! Don’t be that person that is OD about cleaning their hands and has stockpiled hand sanitizer, but hasn’t taken the time to clean that nasty-ass phone of yours.

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