Cool iPhone Goodies

Every once in a while I take time off from the World of Trust and write about a hobby, often Mac-related stuff.  Today’s one of those days.

I’ve got four cool things to share with you, all related to iPhones. As they say in the friendly skies, if the iPhone is not in your travel plans today, this may be a good opportunity to deplane.

Here are four items – and, since you can’t always tell about things just by reading about them, a few photos so you can see how it works.

  1. iPhone mount for tripod, for photos and video
  2. Olloclip camera attachment for wide-angle, fish-eye and micro-focus views
  3. MiLi Power Spring iPhone battery case
  4. Kibits iPhone app

So here we go.

First, a photo of the three hardware items: left to right, an iPhone tripod mount; the Olloclip camera attachment; and the MiLi battery case.

Tripod Camera Mount. If you still think the iPhone camera is a toy, it comes recommended by no less than professional photographer Annie Liebovitz.

When I started doing more video, I asked Chris Brogan, and he had some great recommendations. But I didn’t want to spring for another camera; why not try the iPhone, I figured. Someone must make tripod mounts for the iPhone.

Sure enough, they do; tons of them. In fact, I can’t even find the link for the one I bought – hey manufacturer, write in and let me give you credit. Meanwhile, the GLIF Tripod Mount and Stand looks so nifty online that I just bought it. About $20 is what you’re looking at. Way cheaper than buying a new camera!

Lenses. One limitation of the iPhone is the single lens.  Well, there are tons of solutions for that too, some of them wild. But the Olloclip has a clever three-in-one solution: one toy, for about $70.  For that, you get a wide-angle lens, a fish-eye lens, and a super-micro-close-up lens.

The website has some great examples of photography, but to pique your interest, check out this close-up of the tripod mount’s screw-on mechanism from the first photo: that is some clarity.

Battery Case. If you’re in the habit of using a lot of the iPhone’s capabilities, you know how fast you can drain the battery. One elegant solution is a hard-case that includes a supplemental battery built-in. There are better-known solutions, but I just bought the MiLi Power Spring – it’s the smallest, lightest solution I’ve seen. For a bit over 50 bucks, I now keep it ready at hand for those long days.

Collaborative Software. What if you had the ability to share a bunch of files, software and so forth with a select group of people? Fine, there are lots of solutions, ranging from intranets to EverNote and DropBox.

But a nifty little program called Kibits lets you do so instantly, on the fly, for as many groups as you want, with about as much complexity as texting.

Creating groups on the fly, they call it. Now, I’m looking for groups to test it with.

Note: I have no financial relationship with any of these firms; only the MiLi people knew I might be writing about them.



Killer Apps 2.0: Siri is Just the Teaser

Last summer I wrote about how speech-to-text software may be a killer app. At the time, I mentioned the rumor about what was to become Siri, the “talk to me” assistant in Apple’s then-upcoming iOS5. I also talked about Dragon Naturally Speaking, a PC-based system.

That was then: this is now. Apple itself is actually understating Siri’s capabilities – and Nuance, maker of Dragon Dictation, has made another huge advance for the you-and-me users out there. In this post, I’ll just deal with Siri: look for the Dragon post shortly.

[Note: I could spin this as being about trust, but that’d be a stretch. Sometimes I just get excited about other stuff – like cool work tools. Hope you like it too.]

Siri: Much More than Meets the Ear

You’ve seen the ads for Siri, seen friends demo it, maybe tried it yourself. And it’s impressive. You can tell Siri “Google the planet Pluto,” or “Remind me to pick up toothpaste next time I’m at the drugstore.” (I use this feature quite a bit).

But the truth is much more powerful. Those are parlor tricks, anthropomorphic gimmicks to introduce a new technology to the masses. You, Trust Matters readers, can handle The Truth. So let me tell it to you.

Forget the virtual assistant. Note instead that speech-recognition capability is now built in to the operating system. That means it’s available to you in almost every window, in almost every app on the iPhone.

What Siri Really Means ­– Now

Let me be clear about what that means. Once inside the data-entry part of an app, you can now speak, and your voice will be converted to text.

For example:

Email: speak your emails – they will convert to text

Messaging: speak your text messages – they will convert to text

Evernote: hit your Evernote app button and just start talking

Twitter: speak your tweets, stop finger-pecking them

Facebook: don’t tap your message, just say it

Google+: don’t type it, just speak it

Search: speak your Google or Bing searches – they will convert to text

Maps: speak your destinations – you get the idea.

You can now speak, instead of type, into almost any text-enterable field in any app. That means Notes, Salesforce, Quora, YouTube, NYTimes, Amazon – you name it.

  • Hate having to type on that little screen? That excuse is no longer valid.
  • Wish you had a dictation service? You do now.
  • Still taking notes by hand until you get home to enter them? Puh-leeze.

The 30,000 Foot View

This technology is not perfect; but it’s even better than the old Dragon app for the iPhone that I wrote about just six months ago, and it’s bound to get better.

As with all technologies, it will be more useful for some things than for others. I find it especially useful in dictating text messages, taking long notes of phone calls or meetings, and dictating thoughts about future articles or blog-posts.

Remember the core value proposition of voice-to-text: We can talk 5x as fast as we can write; and we can read 3x faster than we can listen. That’s a 15x systemic advantage for communications efficiency. When was the last time we saw a technology that improved communications efficiency by 1500%?

Siri is to voice-to-text as a camel’s nose in the tent is to the camel. This will be one very, very big ride.

Next post: voice to text on your Mac or PC desktop as a one-stroke utility – it’s here now.


Many Trusted Advisor programs now offer CPE credits.  Please call Tracey DelCamp for more information at 856-981-5268–or drop us a note @ [email protected].

The Changing Face of Capitalism: Schizophrenia in the Apple Store

The other day I was in one of the Apple Stores. The hinge had broken on my MacBook Air, which meant the top of the computer, the screen part, had to be replaced. It was to be done for free, which I love about Apple.

The store was crowded; I asked the young lady salesperson if using my Mac ProCare card would move things along. She looked at my card, told me it was out of date, and offered to go update it.

When she came back, she was apologetic. “The thing is,” she stammered, “I think they’re kind of going to be de-emphasizing the ProCare program.”

“Huh?” I said. “Is it continuing, or not?”

“Well, I think they’re maybe going to be phasing it out,” she squirmed.

“As of when is it phasing out?” I asked, “ and is there a replacement program? I just want to know how to get premium service.”

“Well, I think they’ve already stopped it, really,” she stammered. This was getting nowhere fast.

Fortunately, the store manager came by and took over; he assured me I’d get the repaired computer by day’s end (which I did, by the way).  I asked him, “What’s up with the ProCare program?”

“Oh,” he said, “we’re discontinuing it.”


“Well, it was so popular that everyone was buying it, and then you have a problem with, like, who do you let at the head of the line, and who do you have to say no to, and all that sort of hassle.”

This boggled my mind. “Why not just raise the price?” I asked.

He laughed. “You know, several other people have suggested that too.”

“Well no wonder they have,” I said. “If everybody wants something at one price, raise the price—you make more money, and it very easily sorts out to whom it’s worth more and to whom it isn’t.”

“Yeah, but it’s kind of unfair that way too, you know,” he said, in a ‘you clearly don’t get it, do you’ sort of a way. And I left, bemused again at the curious mix of capitalism and west-coast do-goodism that is Apple Computer.

No company is better at in-your-face planned obsolescence than Apple; just trying getting a replacement battery for an iPod. No company is better at aggressive pricing; and how many mature companies can claim a stock price growth of ten fold in five years?

All this, in spite of echoes of PC (not the computer) instincts and shades of tie-dyed Deadhead ethos in the stores. Or, is it because of said instincts and ethos?

Changing Ideologies in Business: From Competitive Capitalism to Collaborative Capitalism

Then again, why should Apple be unique in its schizophrenia about capitalism? Business in general is in the midst of a paradigm shift in business, away from shareholder-centricity toward stakeholder-centricity. An excellent article in the Economist  summarizes this ideological shift, citing several current business thinkers.

Business, I think, is undergoing some serious foment with respect to some very fundamental beliefs. Milton Friedman, Michael Porter, Michael Jensen—these are the thought leaders of the past, championing neo-classical economics, the purification of competition, and the primacy of shareholder wealth respectively.

The new thought leaders remain to be definitively enumerated, but the issues are emerging. They rhyme with collaboration, trust, networking, flat organizations, and Gen Y. To name a few.

Stay tuned, it’s getting interesting. And Steve Jobs may end up, once again, looking pretty prescient.