Tag Archives: App

Review ~ Nanoleaf Aurora Smarter Kit lighting panels

From Toronto Canada, these smart light panel kits vended here in NZ by MacGear let you integrate the system into Apple HomeKit or just run them from your iPhone or iPad.

Featuring an interlocking PCB electrical tab that lets you quickly attach any of the three sides to another panel, and then the power supply to any spare slot, this 9-panel Smarter Kit lets you create several shapes from the get-go.
Virtually ‘paint’ individual panels or let effects sweep through, and of course brighten and dim, these can be oh-so-subtle or party-garish at the touch on the free iOS app interface.
You’d think this could be gimmicky, but no. Because you can configure them several different ways and because you can get the Aurora panels to play subtle effects and also dim them almost to nothing, seamlessly, they’re refreshingly sophisticated and  effective in many situations. They can display over 16 million colours.

Each panel is 24cm in length and 24cm high, and weighs just 210 grams thanks to a braced plastic structure on the back  (above – all the tech specs are online).

Mounting — If I had any issues with these at all, it would be wall mounting. In the kit, the only option is 3M sticky tabs, although Nanoleaf has been generous, providing 28 (plus an extra PDB connector). The black sides will stick forever to the back; the red side goes n your wall, and is supposed to be removable, but in my experience, this can remove paint. Here’s a great tip, though – you will really need to get it properly lined up on the wall. Since there’s a level in your iPhone already, try that (just open the Compass app and swipe to the side).
To mount the Aurora panels properly on a wall in a placement you want to keep for any length of time, MacGear has various accessories available like the mounting kit with thumb tacks (NZ$60) which has 12 screw mounts, 12 wall anchors, 12 steel screws and four flex-linkers. These sturdier anchors would be preferable for many walls and for many applications once you are sure you have the configuration and placement you want. You could even mount them on come ceilings.
The flex-linkers are also available separately (NZ$40 for 9) – with these you can mount the panels so they go around corners, for example. Also available are more of the straight PCB tabs, a panel expansion kit (3 panels and tabs for $120 – the supplied power supply can handle up to 30 panels!) and the $100 Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Module with gets the panels pulsing to sound – how’s that for party coolness? I’d really like to try that.
Another issue for some might be that the white of the plastic the panels are mounted in might clash or just look wrong with some darker wall colours.

Don’t forget white – the panels can produce a bright white, or tone it down and colour it subtly for ambient glows.

The app or not — The power module plugs into the normal wall power outlet. Current gets daisy-chained through all the panels via the connector tabs, and you can pull out a panel and plug it in somewhere else while it’s on. Even without an app to control it with, you can use the Aurora – the power module has an On/Off switch on it plus another that initiates preset lighting programs through the panels – it cycles through the presets with subsequent presses.
However, the app (it’s free, of course) lets you dim the lights and this is a good thing, as they can verge on harshly bright to look at, evenings. Fifty-percent is nice and ambient, but right down to 10% can be effective in a dark hallway or even a child’s bedroom as a night-light.
Beyond that, thanks to HomeKit support, you can add in other products like Phillips’ Hue lightbulbs and change their colour along with the Aurora, should you want all these to be doing the same thing.
But you can also get pretty creative with the app, painting individual panels with colour, or creating your own light transformation effects. You can change the speed of transitions. You can also set a time for them to come on, to automatically light a hallway from 7.30pm.

Voice Control — You can also set a voice control to turn them on via Siri. Power to the panels must always be on for voice or app control to work, then turn the lights off likewise – ie, not with the power button. This will avoid the need for the panels to search for and rejoin the wifi hub (which you set up easily via the app when you first load it up – it’s the most painless Wifi setup I’ve ever used). This has to be done each time the Aurora loses power.
Room and individual light names are set by you within the Nanoleaf app. This must be done before using voice control, or else Siri won’t really understand what you want it to do. Nanoleaf has a list of commands you can use.

Power — These aren’t going to suck your house dry of power. The most all panels together will draw is 20 watts (.5-2W per panel depending  on brightness and 2W for the controller module, and up to 60W with the 30 panels that the one power module can control. They’re rated for 25,000 hours of use.

Conclusion — They’re great, I love them! Consider this for the home, but also for effective controllable lighting in commercial applications like bars, cafés and shops for flashy pizazz right down to subtle ambience. I think the price is pretty reasonable, too, considering how configurable they are. And here’s an additional benefit: shifting lights against your windows and curtains can look like someone’s home and doing stuff.

What’s great — Subtle or flashy, very controllable, this is effective, easy to use and configurable. The accessories already available add a lot more to the equation.

What’s not — Getting your configuration right, in the right place, can be a test. But since the 9 panels come with protective paper between them, these come in handy for practicing layouts with Blu-Tac for example.

Needs — Those with sophisticated, malleable lighting needs.

Nanoleaf Aurora starter kit, NZ RRP $339.99 (You can see this in operation at iStore in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore). 

System — any place with mains power. The app is for iOS, and it has HomeKit and Siri support too (you can turn it on and off by voice.) I feel it’s almost hard to describe in words and pictures but there are some good videos online, and I suggest you check them out: Here’s Nanoleaf’s, Apple has posted one, and here’s 5 Minutes for Mom’s.

More information — MacGear NZ.

US manufacture, 64-bit app collapse, iOS growth, Gamevice 2, 4-and-20 Pi

What a life … how to use the Pi symbol in iOS

Pegatron willing to make iPhones, iPads in the US if Apple will pick up the tab — Pegatron Corp, one of the two Taiwanese companies that assembles iPhones and iPads, is willing to move that part of its operations to the US if Apple will absorb the additional costs, reports Focus Taiwan.
Pegatron CEO Liao Syh-jang was responding to questions raised at an investor conference about the company’s plans for its assembly plants in light of the comments by US President Donald Trump that American brands should keep their production on home soil. [Ooh, ooh, the Mexicans can pay!]

Over 187,000 apps could become obsolete with Apple’s 64-bit only ‘iOS 11’ — Some 187,000 apps could be rendered useless with the launch of “iOS 11,” according to an app analytics firm, assuming the anticipated update is when Apple plans to kill 32-bit support.

iOS market share grows in all but three markets over the past three months — The latest mobile operating system sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows that iOS achieved continued growth across most regions tracked, except for Japan, Spain, and Urban China. Android also continued to post market share increases in all regions but the US, as “no other ecosystem is challenging the two giants – iOS and Android,” according to the research group.

Russia finds Apple guilty of ordering iPhone price fixing with local retailers — Apple did indeed engage in price fixing by ordering 16 Russian retailers to lock in specific prices for iPhones, the country’s Federal Antimonopoly Service ruled on Tuesday.

The second gen Gamevice really enhances game playing on iOS devices — The second generation of the Gamevice controller has been upgraded with new buttons and thumb sticks, and it’s great for old school (think Pac Man) gamers like Dennis Sellers.

Someone Is slipping malware into Android Devices in the supply chain — Someone is slipping malware into Android devices while they’re still in the supply chain. Security firm Check Point found evidence that malware, adnets, spyware, and even ransomware was installed on some 36 Android devices before customers touched them. Devices from Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, ZTE, Lenovo, Asus, and Oppo were included in Check Point’s report.

Use the π Symbol on your iPhone on Pi Day — Today is Pi Day. [Or was it yesterday?] While some people might say that Tau is more relevant than Pi, it’s still Pi Day. With that in mind, you may want to wish your friends a happy Pi Day. And while that’s cool, it’s even cooler to wish them a Happy π Day (OK, well, it may or may not be cooler to do this, but it’s definitely geekier!).

Back to uni promotion, spaceship detail, Mac app bundle, Duplicate Finder and Remover


Apple launches its Back to School promos for New Zealand — Apple is launching its annual Back to School promotion on Macs and iPads this week in New Zealand and Australia. The Back to Uni promotion runs through March 16.
In New Zealand, a qualified Mac purchase includes a NZ$105 Apple Store Gift Card and a qualified iPad purchase includes a NZ$75 Apple Store Gift Card. In Australia, Mac purchases include a A$100 Apple Store Gift Card and iPad purchases come with a A$70 Apple Store Gift Card.
Apple also introduced a similar promotion in Japan, offering students an ¥8,500 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of a new Mac and ¥5,500 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of any new iPad Pro.

Apple’s ‘spaceship campus’ has ‘astonishing attention to detail’ —Apple’s “spaceship campus” is a “futuristic campus built with astonishing attention to detail,” according to Reuters. The price tag for the project is estimated at $5 billion with more than $1 billion allocated for the interior of the building alone (Apple hasn’t confirmed these figures).

Pay what you want for the 2017 Superstar Mac Bundle — MacObserver has a new pay-what-you-want deal for you called the 2017 Superstar Mac Bundle. It includes 12 different apps—you get all of them by beating the average price, which is US$12.17 as of this writing. But you can pay anything—as little as a dollar—and get two of the apps, Mac Screen Recorder and NotePlan. Beat the leader’s price and get an entry into a giveaway for a 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The full price for everything would be US$387.

Free Duplicate File Finder & Remover — This is a handy app that scans your Mac for all kinds of duplicates and does this really fast. It also features flexible auto-selection rules, so you won’t need to sort through your duplicates manually.
Duplicate File Finder & Remover is free on the Mac App Store. It produces accurate results in seconds on drives of any size and is extremely capable at comparing the contents of the cloud storages, so every user can save on pricey cloud space.

Find your AirPods, Apple Pay, developer feedback, iPhone spectroscopy chip, Watch in movies

An iPhone case has a chip that analyses food and drinks for things like caffeine and gluten levels
An iPhone case has a chip that analyses food and drinks for things like caffeine and gluten levels

iOS 10.3 for iPhone and iPad adds Find My AirPods feature — If you’re worried about losing your fancy new AirPods, Apple has your back — or your ear. iOS 10.3, which was released as a beta to developers on Tuesday so will be with general users soon, includes a newFind My AirPods feature to help you track down your wayward wireless earpods.

Apple Pay use is on the rise — Consumer spending analytics company TXN says that Apple Pay is on the rise, based on data from its panel of over three million consumers. Analysis of credit card bills from banks that distinguish Apple Pay transactions suggest that usage of the payment method grew by slightly over 50% in the 12 months ending December 2016.

Apple allowing developers to respond to user reviews in App Stores with iOS 10.3, more improvements coming — As part of feedback collected by Apple, when iOS 10.3 ships to customers the company is adding the ability for an app’s developer to respond to complaints or praise, with the response available for all to see in the App Store —and more improvements for developers are coming.

New microchip could bring portable spectroscopy to iPhone, Apple Watch — Si-Ware on Tuesday revealed an iPhone-compatible spectroscopy chip, the NeoSpectra Micro, which could potentially expand the uses of both mobile devices and wearables in areas like health, science, and nutrition.

Apple Watch to get Theater Mode, more in watchOS 3.2 — Your Apple Watch is about to become far less annoying in movie theaters because the Theater Mode feature rumoured to be coming to the iPhone is actually destined for your wrist. Apple tipped off developers to that feature and more in an overview of what’s coming in watchOS 3.2.

Sierra and iTunes updates, another exec leaves, PiPifier, Geff virtual guitar rack

Geff is a $30 Mac virtual guitar effects rack with loads of effects
Geff is a $30 Mac virtual guitar effects rack with loads of effects

Apple Sierra 10.12.3 Update has Fixes for PDF, MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, security and more, plus iTunes 12.5.5 — Apple has released macOS Sierra 10.12.3 which includes some relatively minor bug fixes, an issue with Adobe Premiere Pro on MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, a PDF encryption fix and more. The update also includes fixes for eight security flaws.
You can download the update through the Updates tab on Mac App Store. On iMac 5K, the update was a 1.0.5GB download.
Apple also released iTunes 12.5.5 for macOS. According to the company, it’s a “minor update” with “performance enhancements. Just choose Software Update from About This Mac in the Apple Menu.

More talent leaves Apple — Former Nest executive Yoky Matsuoka joined Apple in May 2016, and by December she was gone. Now we know why: she’s back at Nest helping create the company’s long-term smart home technology plans.
Yoky Matsouka is now Nest’s Chief Technology Officer, according to Bloomberg, and has been tasked with finding new technologies and services for the company’s products. She’ll also identify where Nest can collaborate with other Alphabet companies. (Nest, which was set up by other former Apple employees, hasn’t released a new product since it was acquired by Google in 2014.)

PiPifier gives you picture-in-picture for all videos — macOS Sierra introduced picture-in-picture. It’s a feature in which you can watch videos while doing another task [and yet another ‘new feature’ I’ve never used after looking at it once when it arrived … it’s starting to feel like Microsoft over here]. For example, watch a YouTube video while typing up a report when you only have one monitor. The video is displayed in a small window that you can drag around the screen. This works for most videos on the web, but not all.
But now you can get an app that forces PiP for all videos: PiPifieris a  free app found in the Mac App Store and it lets you turn any HTML 5 video into a picture-in-picture. Once the app is installed, it gives you a Safari extension you turn on to enable the feature.

Geff is a new virtual guitar effects rack for macOS — Nikolas Konstantakopoulos has introduced Geff 1.0, a virtual guitar rack for macOS. It’s a standalone audio effects application to use with your guitar like you would a collection of stompboxes.
Geff requires macOS 10.6.6 or later. It costs NZ$29.99/US$19.99 (or the same figure in Euros) and it’s available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Music category, or from Nikolas’ site where you can also try a free demo.

Snapchat better, Google Maps Uber, Steamworld Heist, we can sue Apple, vulnerabilities

Steamworld Heist may steal all your time
Steamworld Heist may steal all your time

Snapchat just got way easier to use thanks to a new search bar — Snapchat is confusing to use, which is part of what makes it fun, because it’s sort of like knowing a secret language not everyone can understand. But it can also be annoying, like when you’re looking for something specific and don’t want to tap or swipe a million times to find it. So Snapchat’s latest update, rolling out soon to both iOS and Android users, adds a universal search bar you can access from anywhere in the app.

Google updates Maps on iOS with better ridesharing UI, end-to-end Uber integration — Google has updated its Maps apps for iOS  with a new, more in-depth ridesharing interface, including deeper integration with Uber that lets people hail a car without switching apps.

SteamWorld Heist’s tactical action might steal all your free time — Starting life on the Nintendo 3DS before hitting Mac, PC, consoles, and most recently iOS, SteamWorld Heist is a meaty game squeezed into an approachable package. It’s a turn-based strategy and combat affair that’s similar in a lot of ways to XCOM, however the 2D, side-scrolling design simplifies the action and interface, and makes it seem like a perfect fit for an iPhone or iPad. It’s NZ$9.99/US$6.99).

Judge rules that iPhone users can sue Apple for anticompetitive practices — The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple over allegations that the company monopolised the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the Apple App Store, leading to higher prices, reports Reuters.

Cellebrite hacked, reaffirming Apple’s iOS no-backdoor stance — A year ago the FBI was pushing to force Apple into making a hackable version of iOS for a terrorist investigation while claiming the code would stay secure. Now Cellebrite — the company the FBI reportedly hired to break through the iPhone’s encryption — has been hacked, validating Apple’s concerns the tools would eventually leak.

WhatsApp vulnerability could expose messages to prying eyes, report claims — A vulnerability in the popular messaging service could allow Facebook to intercept supposedly encrypted messages.

Cook’s invitations, Touch Bar Piano, iCloud spam filtering, TransData, Brizzy Store

Touch Bar Piano is a free app that gives you keys above your keys
Touch Bar Piano is a free app that gives you keys above your keys

Irish legislature invites Tim Cook, other Apple execs to hearing on $14.5B EU tax ruling, Trump — An Irish legislative committee is reportedly optimistic that Apple CEO Tim Cook will accept an invitation to attend a late January hearing, which will examine the European Commission’s ruling that Ireland must collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from the iPhone maker. Apple’s Tim Cook is also among tech executives meeting with Donald Trump on Wednesday. [Can’t Trump just tweet his ‘thoughts’?]

Turn your MacBook Pro Touch Bar into a piano — Turning your new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar into a piano may not be practical but it is pretty cool, and that’s exactly what Touch Bar Piano does. The app lets you choose between 128 different instruments, and you can play chords, too. Touch Bar Piano is a free download, and while it isn’t the same as using an actual piano, it’s a cool example of the creative ideas developers are finding for the Touch Bar.

Apple adds Calendar Spam Invitation Filtering to iCloud — The ongoing problem of spam invitations in Apple’s Calendar app finally has a fix, at least on iCloud. Users can now report invitations as junk with the click of a button, but they need to log into Apple’s iCloud web interface, which limits the fix to desktop and laptop users for now. A new Report Junk button shows up with Calendar invitations from anyone who isn’t in your Contacts list.

TransData lets you monitor upload/download data for your Mac — AppYogi Software has introduced TransData – Network Data Transfer Rate 1.0, a utility developed exclusively for macOS. It features a single-threaded algorithm to monitor the download and upload data speed of your personal computer network.
TransData requires macOS 10.10 or later and costs NZ$7.49/US$4.99 until January 1, 2017, when the price will rise to US$9.99. It’s available at the Mac App Store.

Photo Tour of Apple Brisbane in MacArthur Chambers — Check out Apple’s MacArthur Chambers store in downtown Brisbane, Australia. This is an Apple retail locations in a historic building (the MacArthur building is a sandstone beauty originally built in 1849; it was reopened in 1980 as a commercial and residential space, and Apple has been there since 2014).

New Exolens, disabling Galaxy Note 7, AirPod travails, ReSound iPhone hearing aid, Apple watch 2 Xmas


New ExoLens PRO products released for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 families — ExoLens is shipping the ExoLens PRO with Optics by ZEISS Wide-Angle and Telephoto Kits for the iPhone 6 family and the iPhone 7.
Both the Wide-Angle and Telephoto PRO Kits are compatible with the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus and 7 and feature the same aspherical lens design previously reserved for high-end DSLR lenses. These kits also include the new machined aluminum ExoLens Edge mount, which features an integrated cold shoe accessory mount (compatible with accessories such as external video lights) and a key ring loop for carrying when not in use.

Samsung to permanently disable any remaining US Galaxy Note 7 models — Samsung is reportedly adopting even harsher methods to stop people from using the few remaining Galaxy Note 7s in the wild, planning an imminent US software update that will render them useless. Samsung noted that 93% of Note 7s sold in the US have already been returned.

Apple is working to ensure that two AirPod units receive audio simultaneously — Apple’s AirPods are still not available. The reason is the company is still working to ensure that both earpieces receive audio at the same time, according to the Wall Street Journal.

ReSound Up Smart hearing aid has Made for iPhone capabilities — ReSound has announced the US launch of ReSound Up Smart, a paediatric Smart Hearing aid with Made for iPhone capabilities, providing new ways to support speech and language development, educational skills, and social interaction.
ReSound Up Smart allows wearers to stream sound directly to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The ReSound Smart app offers direct control over hearing aid settings.

Apple makes case for Apple Watch Series 2 Christmas gifts in new ad series — Just in time for the holidays, Apple has debuted four short television commercials touting the benefits of its new Apple Watch Series 2, from longstanding features like Apple Pay integration to new functions like GPS tracking.

Oxford Collocations Dictionary app

CollocDo you know what collocations are? I wasn’t 100 per cent sure, I must admit. It’s the habitual combinations of words in common usage. For example, in English we tend to team ‘strong tea’ and ‘heavy drinker’. Other combinations might give the same message but would not be what we commonly expect to hear. While native speakers tend to ‘just know’ what words can be used with what, this habitual usage is what trips up learners of any language, as learners (I’ve done this myself) tend to find their other-language words for the same instances and just translate them across. Calling someone literally a ‘heavy drinker’ in another language might be heard as implying they are simply overweight drinkers. There’s nothing wrong, technically, with saying ‘thick tea’ or ‘heavy tea’ – but we don’t. Also, a slim, light person might also be a heavy drinker. Confusing.
Luckily that stellar authority of the English language, the Oxford University Press, and Paragon Software of Freiburg, Germany (a company known for data management and security software) have teamed up to create an app that makes these word combos easier for learner English speakers to figure out.
In the app, you look up a word to see what words go with it. Type in Drinker and select it from the list of related words with a tap, and we learn that adjectives that go with this are ‘binge, hard, heavy, light, moderate, habitual, regular, problem, underage and social’, and these are accompanied by examples where relevant along with the context for the combo. Not only that, a blue and red speaker icon give you the the pronunciation in male and female voices. This could be a lifesaver (how would a European assume the word ‘binge’ should be pronounced? Possibly not the way it is: something like ‘bing-uh’ would be more logical).

Pretty comprehensive — in fact, the Collocations app contains all the words from the Oxford Collocations Dictionary for students of English (2nd Edition). Likewise it contains 250,000 word combinations and 75,000 examples. You can add words to the existing topic lists (food and cooking, fruit, illnesses etc) or create your own word lists for specific learning focusses. Also, it’s quick to use (lookup and find words) on an iPhone 6.
You can see what it does on YouTube.

What’s great — pocketable English wisdom, customisable lists

What’s not — Pricey for an app

Needs — People with iPhones learning English to a high level; those with English as a second language based in english-speaking countries.

Oxford app for iPhone and iPad users learning English NZ$28.99 (note that you can buy the actual printed tome for cNZ$100, although it comes with a CD-ROM – try getting that in your pocket or handbag.)

System — iOS 7 and above

App for using your iPhone as a Hotspot, Thunderbolt Docks

Thunderbolt Docks
Thunderbolt Docks

App for tethered Macs — Ever since it was possible to tether a computer to a cell modem (ie, use your iPhone as a Hotspot), it’s also been possible to blow through one’s monthly or service-plan limit and either run out of mobile data, be throttled to a trickle, or face expensive overage fees. TripMode is the first easy-to-use OS X utility to help with that problem. It could do more, but for US$8 (or US$5 – NZ$6.99 currently, as it’s on sale), it does plenty.
When installed, TripMode appears in your system menu bar and monitors for network changes in Yosemite. Whenever you join a new Wi-Fi network or connect to a Personal Hotspot, TripMode activates and blocks all system-level and application network usage. The utility was built as an access whitelist, so all network usage is blocked until you allow it. There’s a free 7-day trial, too.

Thunderbolt 2 Docks — One great way to expand port options on a Mac laptop, well beyond a simple USB hub, is a Dock. Macworld rounds up what’s available (some of these are available in New Zealand). Essentially, the basic functionality of the docks is the same as before: You plug in your display, hard drives, printer, ethernet, headphones, USB devices, and whatever else into the dock, then you connect the dock to your laptop via a single Thunderbolt 2 connection. When you want to take your laptop, you only need to unplug a single cable. When you return to your desk, all you have to do is connect one cable. [I have the first Belkin one.]