The iPhone 6s Plus

When the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were announced I thought for sure that the Plus size was way too big for me, and frankly too big for a phone period. It’s just over two inches smaller than the iPad mini screen, for example. How could I possibly use and comfortably carry a phone that size day-to-day?

Around the time the iPad mini with Retina display was first released, I tried using that along with an iPhone, but found the iPad was often left unused because my phone was always with me, while the iPad was not. I loved the large screen of the iPad, but since I couldn’t also use it as a phone when I needed to, it got left behind more often than not in favor of just carrying one device instead of two. Then, I began hearing many friends and others praising the Plus sized iPhones.

For that reason, when it was time to consider upgrading to the 6s series, I decided to take the plunge and go for the 6s Plus. I must say, I’m very glad I did, I couldn’t be happier with this device. The extra screen size is fantastic for watching videos, viewing pictures, typing, etc… The extra camera features are welcomed with our first child, Hunter, on the way. The larger battery, which in turn provides longer battery life, also comes in very handy.

If you’re on the fence about your next phone size, I’d really recommend looking into the Plus sized iPhones. The size difference doesn’t take long to get used to, and for me, the pros far outweigh the cons (of which I can’t say I’ve found very many at all).

Clemson’s Historic Season

I haven’t written anything here in a while, which I hope to change in 2016. As I write this, the CFB National Championship game was last night, which Alabama won by 5 points over Clemson. It was a heartbreaking loss for Tiger fans, but still an amazing end to a season that I’m sure we’ll look back on and say was the beginning of a real turning point in Clemson football.

I’ve been a lifelong Clemson fan, and actually happened to be attending Clemson at the time Tommy Bowden was let go, with Dabo being brought in as the interim coach for the remainder of that season. From that point on, he’s been building this program towards this goal, and while they came in second this year, I have no doubt they’ll be back in the spotlight next year, hopefully with a national title at the end to show for it.

[Image credit: @ClemsonFB]

In-app Purchases

With Amazon’s recent acquisition of the popular digital comics app, Comixology, there has been some great discussion around the in-app purchasing model on both iOS and Android. If you’re not familiar with the situation, comics were previously available to be purchased via an in-app purchase right within the app. As of just a few days ago, that feature has been removed, and instead directs user to the web to purchase the comics, thus circumventing Apple’s 30% cut of in-app purchase revenue. Amazon has done something very similar with their Kindle app on iOS from the beginning.

First, let me admit I’m not a Comixology user, nor do I read comics regularly in any form. My thoughts on this issue are purely from an outsider’s perspective, and focus more on the in-app purchase model in general. So, what’s the big deal?

Comixology users are understandably upset that they’re no longer able to purchase content from within the app, instead they have to visit an external website, which is a bit of a pain. Even more than that, Amazon gets to keep 100% of the revenue from these sales, instead of leaving 30% at Apple. It seems this might be quite a large chunk of money based on the volume of purchases Comixology users make, though the exact numbers don’t appear to be public knowledge.

This begs the question, is the in-app purchase model viable for app stores? I think it is, but maybe not in all cases, and certainly not in all the forms we see it in today. Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann have a great discussion about this issue in the episode 169 of Back to Work. In essence, in-app purchases seem to make sense for adding new content to apps, like levels, more options, etc… This is demonstrated by many of the top games in the App Store, new levels or expansion packs can be purchased to continue the game. On the other hand, crippling an app just to make it free up front, but then offering in-app purchases to make up for that seems to be less viable. I agree with Dan and Merlin when they say they’d rather pay a little more for the app up front instead of having to fork over potentially even more money for in-app purchases later.

Will in-app purchases remain in the App Store? Absolutely. They appear to be a huge revenue generator for Apple, and probably Google as well. Are in-app purchases the best model for providing content to end users? Perhaps not as we’ve seen, but only time will tell if this trend will continue, or if users will instead be willing to pay a little more up front for the promise of continued updates and content down the road for free.

Office for iPad

Today Microsoft announced the release of their anticipated Office for iPad suite, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Speculation around this announcement has been circulating for quite some time, so it’s nice to finally see the release. I imagine this will signal the end of the PC for many Office users, as they’re now able to get everything done with only an iPad.

With the free versions of the apps, you can read your Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Your documents will look as good as they do on your PC and Mac®, and better than ever on your iPad.  With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad.

With this release Microsoft is going with a freemium model. Viewing documents you already have is free, but editing them will require an Office 365 subscription, which will cost $99.99/yr or $9.99/month. Offering the apps themselves for free will more than likely increase their app store discoverability, while the in-app purchase model for editing will still provide the revenue stream they need from Office.

I definitely plan on trying the apps out, though I don’t have a need for Office after graduating college. This is a nice move for Microsoft, and one that will keep their Office suite relevant for many people who have long since left their other products behind.

Writing the Internet You Want to Read

This is something I’ve been hearing lately, especially from Shawn Blanc on his members-only podcast Shawn Today. The Internet is full of writers and blogs each trying to push their ideas or opinions. Many times these writers are writing to make money. This leads to some not-so-great content being published every day. Then there are those of us who are interested in creating good content that people are genuinely interested in. That’s where the idea of writing the Internet you want to read comes in.

I love reading great articles, especially about all things tech related. I also love writing (hopefully) good articles about tech. I’m not in it for the money or fame, I just love the act of publishing my thoughts for others to read and engage with. Discussion is one of my favorite parts about the Internet of today, so hearing from someone who’s read something I’ve written, whether they like it or not, is an awesome feeling. Because of this, I try to write things that I would enjoy reading. If I enjoy something, I think others will too, which in turn means that they will share my writing, just as I try to share other articles I find interesting from other writers.

We all have a voice and thoughts worth sharing, so get out there and write the Internet you want to read.

My Task Management Conundrum

task management

Productivity is something that’s very important to me, so I’m constantly reading and researching the best techniques and apps available to help me stay productive. There are so many methods out there that claim to be the best, that it’s hard to decide which one will actually help you be productive. Sometimes I spend more time thinking about and tweaking my productivity tools than I do actually getting things done. Luckily though, I don’t think I’m the only one who faces that situation regularly. Lately I’ve been re-evaluating my workflow, hopefully for the better.

Up until recently, I had been using OmniFocus as my main task management software. While I still love it and think it’s an amazing app, it’s just a bit too fiddly and complicated for me. With that in mind, I went looking at some other popular apps, and finally landed on Things, which I’ve also used on and off in the past. It offers many of the powerful features that OmniFocus does, but without as many of the options that I seem to often get bogged down in. So far it’s been a nice change, and I’ve found that capturing and sorting my tasks is much faster. I see this as a win since that allows to move on to actually completing tasks rather than spending time sorting them into various projects, contexts, etc… My task list is not usually very long or complicated anyway, so those things are often overkill for me.

Hopefully this switch in tools will help me save time on the front end so I can accomplish more on the back end with my task list. I’m constantly working to refine my workflow, so I would love to hear any suggestions or advice you might have. Hit me up on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Quick Thoughts on iOS 7.1

So far so good with iOS 7.1. I’ve been very pleased with this latest update to iOS 7. Previously I experienced lots of full iOS crashes and reboots, but this seems to have brought a lot more stability to the platform. It really seems like 7.1 was what should’ve been released at 7.0, but because of time constraints, Apple had to push 7.0 out the door unfinished. The UI changes and stability changes they’ve included really seem like changes that would be made during the beta iteration phases. Some of the changes, like the way the shift and caps lock buttons look now will take some getting used to, but overall I think they’re positive changes.

What do you think of this latest update?

Should You Rethink Your Nest Purchase?

nest-thermostat-featured

Now that Nest is owned by Google, many people have brought up some very legitimate concerns about privacy and are curious if and how they’re Nest data could be used by Google. The folks at Nest are trying to assuage those fears, and have been speaking out a bit on this topic, including Nilay Patel’s interview with Tony Fadell, CEO at Nest.

One key quote from that interview really stands out to me.

But you’re not going to share data with Google down the line.

Right. At this point, there are no changes to our terms of service, and that’s it. That’s all I can say.

I understand that Fadell can’t speak with certainty on the future of Nest with Google, so that probably explains his vagueness about the future. I’m not sure that comforts me though. I’m not an uber-privacy-minded person, but there’s something a bit unnerving about Google being able to access information about my home and away habits, energy usage, etc…

Let’s hope that Nest will stay Nest, and not succumb to the data-monger that is Google, but I’m afraid that might be inevitable. In closing, Nest with caution.

Apple “Misunderstood” Ad

If you haven’t seen this ad yet, I’d highly recommend watching it. As many people have written about in the past year or more, Apple seemed to lose its way with creating ads that really grip people and instead seemed to focus more on the products themselves, which is very unlike Apple. This commercial seems to really get back to that emotional touch that’s needed for people to connect with a particular brand. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday to me

Today I turn 24 years old. 24. When I was younger it seemed that birthdays could never come soon enough, and as kids you just look forward to the next milestone age. First, it was getting into double digits at 10. Then looking forward to driving at 16. Then perhaps voting at 18. Now, it seems birthdays come more quickly each year, and I find myself not wishing for the next number to come nearly as much as when I was a kid. This difference in the perception of time as you get older is quite interesting, and adds to the feeling that I’m getting old. 30 is only 6 years away…