Thursday, September 27, 2012

AMEX Passbook Integration is Live

Per the @AmericanExpress twitter feed, they are now live on Passbook. I was very excited to hear that, because I imagine I'll use it a lot more than, say, American Airlines. The boarding pass thing where you get push notifications if your gate changes sounds awesome, but apps like this and Starbucks will help me more on a daily basis.

You need to follow this link in Safari on your iOS device: 

I registered one card, and it worked, but I wondered about my other cards. I asked the helpful folks at , who replied almost instantly that you can currently link up to three cards with Passbook. Not bad, but I told them I'd look forward to it automatically adding all your cards in the future.

9/28/12 update: I discovered today that "Cards issued by third-party financial institutions are not currently eligible for this program." That means my Macy's and Citi AAdvantage AMEX cards will have to be lonely until Passbook can handle them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to take still photos while recording video on the iPhone5

There is a lot to say about the new iPhone5, but one thing that might not be evident is how to take advantage of the feature to take still pictures while shooting video. If you do a google search, right now the results only talk about the addition of feature, not how to actually use it. While shooting, a camera button will appear near the red recording indicator. That's it!

This is both obvious and non-obvious at the same time...that button reminds me a lot of the button to switch between front- and rear-facing cameras, so it might be easy to miss if you are trying to figure out how to take stills. A friend of mine asked how to use this feature, so I figured I'd post an example.

The image below is not a good example of what the iPhone can do as far as image quality; it's just there to illustrate where the still image capture button is located. I was moving quickly in a dark room, filming my dog in front of my shoes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Purchase Decision on the iPhone5

I've decided to buy an iPhone 5. It's not as if I'll be the only one, but I'm sharing my thoughts because until today, I was not sure I would upgrade. The thing I did not see coming is that the purchase decision is as much about the resale value of my old iPhone as it is about the features of the new one. 

I wrote recently about spending two years with the iPhone 4, and it has been a great experience. In that post, I said "it will take quite a good offering to convince me to part with cash and my old phone for a new one." When I said that, I did not anticipate just how little cash it would take to make the upgrade happen.

Everyone is talking about 4G, but speed is a non-issue for me. It was hardly part of my purchase decision at all. 3G has been good for me in DC. I wish it was faster, yes, but if you download more than several gigabytes you will either get throttled (if you have "unlimited" data) or cut off because you hit your cap. This means that I can't do anything truly new on 4G/LTE. The things I could do on 3G, I'll be able to do faster now. However, anything that requires so much data that it was not possible over the older, slower, connection is still out of reach.

My fiancĂ©e has the 4S, and she's not upgrading; I think if I had the 4S then I'd also skip this model. However, coming from the 4, I am really looking forward to the new phone. The camera is going to be the biggest difference for me day-to-day. Faster and better low light performance is even more important than the increase in megapixels. 

There are numerous other improvements that, while not convincing on their own, add up to a nice package. More importantly, I sold my old phone for $175 to today. I could have gotten more on ebay (it is really amazing how much resale value these things retain), but that's extra hassle and dealing with bidders who might not pay. I haven't decided which model phone I'll get, but it'll probably be the base 16GB (although I wish the base was 32GB now). Granted, I'll have to sign a contract, but the ability to move up 2 generations for $25
out-of-pocket was a huge part of my decision. I am considering the 32GB model as well as applecare, so I may end up spending a bit more, but I have definitely decided to buy.