MarkLeo.Net

Life's Simple Pleasures

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Evernote

Evernote Makes Changes to Free Subscription

I previously wrote about comparing note taking apps in one of my earlier blog posts. Times were simpler then because I had quite a fair bit of flexibility and I have been using the Evernote Basic Subscription since January 2013. I haven’t been the heaviest of users but it suited my needs, which is to access it on my iPhone, iPad and Macbook Pro.

Then I got this email recently in my inbox.

Evernote Changes

Here is the full text of the email.

Evernote Basic is changing
At Evernote, we are committed not only to making you as productive as you can be, but also to running our business in as transparent a way as possible. We’re making a change to our Basic service, and it’s important that you know about it.

In the coming weeks, Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices, such as a computer and phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet. You are currently over this limit, but will have at least 30 days to adjust. Plus and Premium accounts will continue to support access from an unlimited number of devices.

Look for additional communication from us explaining how your account is changing and outlining your options. For more information about why we are making this change, see our blog post.

This was then followed by another email.

Evernote changes

Here is the full text of the email.

Keep Evernote on all of your devices
As someone who accesses notes on multiple devices, it’s important that you’re aware of an upcoming change.

In 30 days, you will be able to sync your notes to a maximum of 2 devices using Evernote Basic. Upgrading your subscription will allow you to use an unlimited number of devices.
Exclusive offer: Save 50% on a year of Premium
To make this transition as smooth as possible, we’d like to offer you 50% off a full year of Evernote Premium. Take advantage of this exclusive offer before August 6, 2016 for unlimited devices, more space each month, and access to all our best features.

What does it mean for me?

Due to these changes, I am no longer eligible to use the basic plan based on my needs. Prior to this, the basic plan allows users to be able to sync their notes to an unlimited number of devices. Also now, the basic plan is limited to 60Mb a month. A problem especially for those who like to take photos and attach them to notes (e.g. class lecture slides or scribblings on the whiteboard).

That means they are pushing me to use their Plus tier which now costs USD$3.99 a month (previously USD$2.99). I do love how good Evernote is, but I don’t think I love it that much to want to spend USD$3.99 a month for the service. Namely, because I don’t particularly like the feel of how the Apple pencil performs on Evernote. That is my one pet peeve. I have tried to switch to a full digital style of note taking but sadly, the Evernote isn’t as great compared to Apple’s native Notes app when it comes to jotting down notes using the Apple Pencil.

Conclusion

Because of the recent changes, I exported my notes from Evernote to Notes and deleted my account on Evernote.com. So I am now fully reliant on the native Notes app by Apple. Writing with the Apple Pencil is so much better with Notes compared to Evernote. There are a few other features which I wished Apple has included into Notes but at the mean time, it basically meet my basic needs for note taking.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 2.54.25 PM

The Migration

Here is a simple step by step method to export all of your notes from Evernote to Apple’s Notes app.

  1. In Evernote: On your Evernote application, go to “All Notes
  2. In Evernote: Select all notes (⌘A) or under “Edit“, select “select all
  3. In Evernote: Select “File” and then select “Export Notes…
  4. Save the file on your Mac’s desktop. The file name will come with the extension “.enex” which is the Evernote XML Format
  5. In Apple Notes: Select “File” and then select “Import Notes…
  6. In Apple Notes: Navigate to the file you saved earlier and all of your notes will be available under “Imported Notes
  7. Voila, you have migrated your notes over.
Apple Maps

Why Apple Maps Malaysia is so far behind

There are a couple of things which Apple is good for and there are many things which they are great in. But when it comes to their Maps application, whether it is for iOS of mac OS, it certainly sucks. Of course, I mean this in the context that in Malaysia, it pretty much sucks.

So why does it suck?

Apple Maps is NOT updated frequently enough

Until only recently, the data in Maps got slightly better. But compared to the likes of Google Maps, it pales in comparison. Its like literally comparing a 9-year old kid’s knowledge with a university graduate. Data is key and what Apple lacks is accurate data here in Malaysia.

Yes, you can submit your changes in the iOS Maps application but I wonder how often that gets updated as well. Well, some credit does go to Apple as they have drastically improved the Maps from its initial release. If you search deeper within Apple’s Maps, you would notice that businesses that are registered there are data pulled mostly from FourSquare.

Google Local Guide

Recently, Google also launched Local Guide which encourages people to submit reviews, photos and correct errors on Google Maps and the businesses listed on Google. This is a brilliant move to encourage more user-generated content and the reward? 2TB of Google Drive space!

Apple Maps doesn’t allow businesses to update it

Until now, Apple hasn’t allowed businesses in Malaysia to update their listing on Maps.

A screenshot of "https://mapsconnect.apple.com" where Malaysia is missing from the list of countries

A screenshot of “https://mapsconnect.apple.com” where Malaysia is missing from the list of countries

Compared to Google where you can freely list your business after going through a verification process, this is where Google continues to play such a great role for SME’s in Malaysia hence enriching the content of their maps as well as business sites.

A workaround would be to get yourself listed on FourSquare so that the data is pulled from there to Apple Maps.

Lack of community support for Apple Maps

Did you know that after you have gained a certain number of points on Waze, it gives you access to their map editor (https://www.waze.com/editor/). You can log in with your Waze account, make a new listing, or submit changes using their online tool. Once that is done, send it in (via the Facebook Group) to the moderators for it to be approved. The moderators are mostly on a volunteer basis but at least the community continues to help grow the content on Waze. This is why Waze is so popular here in Malaysia and Apple’s Maps will continue to falter behind the incumbents.

So what should Apple do with Apple Maps in Malaysia?

In truth, perhaps Malaysia is not Apple’s focus as we are a rather small market. They might think that the best way is just to sell hardware (iPads, iPhones, Macs) here. I believe that is their problem. Their hardware rely on software to make them great. This is broken down to the operating system and the varierty of services applications which comes with iOS. They need to localise certain aspects of their services in order to also gain market share here. Take Spotify for example, they have managed to tie up with the telcos here to offer great deals to Malaysian customers. On top of that, they offer a subscription service priced in Ringgit Malaysia compared to Apple’s Music Service which may seem cheap in the US but is pricier compared to Spotify here in Malaysia.

They need to localise certain aspects of their services in order to also gain market share here. Take Spotify for example, they have managed to tie up with the telcos here to offer great deals to Malaysian customers. On top of that, they offer a subscription service priced in Ringgit Malaysia compared to Apple’s Music Service which may seem cheap in the US but is pricier compared to Spotify here in Malaysia.

In terms of their Maps application, if they intend to really want to catch up with the likes of Google and Waze, they have some serious catching up to do.

  1. Get all of the business listings included to the Maps data. Whether it may be viaself-registrationn or via SSM Malaysia.
  2. Focus on key landmarks as well as places in Malaysia first especially all the tourist areas and world heritage sites.
  3. Provide incentives for businesses to register on Apple Maps
  4. Reach out to the local transport ministries and get transit data as well as help them build the data and let it flow to Maps. Most of the times when dealing with the local authorities, they may have legacy systems and antiquated processes and data. Offer to build it up for them and then connect to it via an API.
  5. Hire local map companies to provide the data and updates required for Maps within Malaysia including East Malaysia
  6. Build a community of map editors and data submitters and give them some incentives.

At the end of the day, this is just me complaining about the use of Maps. To me, I use Google Maps and Waze so frequently that the Maps app is buried deep but as Siri is integrated with iOS Maps, it bugs me that I can’t utilise the power of Siri. With the recent announcement during WWDC, I hope Google and Waze works on the Siri integration.

I also do hope somewhere out there, someone at Apple is reading this. Otherwise, I might just have to highlight it to the good folks at Apple Malaysia.

MarkLeo-WWDC16

What I Hope Apple will Announce at WWDC

Every year Apple will host their annual WWDC conference 2016 which stands for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. It will be held in San Francisco this year in 2016 and what can we normally expect from such a conference?

In 2014, Apple announced OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. Some features include continuity which includes handoff and airdrop. In 2015, Apple announced OS X El Capitan, Apple Pay being launched in the UK, WatchOS 2, updates to CarPlay and Apple Music. You can definitely spot the trend here, it’s all about software. Some folks might wish that Apple would announce some new hardware upgrades as well.

I for one, would like if Apple would announce the following items:

  • A refreshed Macbook Pro – The current one with the unibody design has been in the market since 2009. A year after my old Macbook Pro 2008. Of course, Apple has been hit a lot in the press lately for not having a machine capable of supporting VR. Hopefully, a new Macbook Pro from Apple might prove otherwise.
  • Software updates – I expect the usual updates, such as the latest version of MacOS (the new rumoured name for the Mac operating system), iOS, WatchOS and tvOS. What I would like is that Apple improves some of their native applications within iOS. I would love it if their reminders app for iPhone is updated and sexier. I currently use Wunderlist but the speed of which it loads up is quite slow at times.
  • A more advanced Siri – and also available for MacOS as well. I do hope that Apple allows more integration with Siri such as releasing API’s for various services in which Siri can search (not everyone lives in the US and want to search for NFL and baseball results).
  • Night mode for iOS devices! Rumours are strife with this new feature and it really isn’t something that difficult to implement. I can guess that this has a high probability of appearing.
  • A total revamp of the App Store for the MacOS. There has been a lot of complaints from developers that the App Store for MacOS doesn’t bring them enough cash compared to the iOS App Store. The App Store is indeed outdated and a revamp of the store is much needed to boost the store.
  • Improvement for Maps in Malaysia!
  • More watch faces for the Apple watch!
  • More native software for the Apple watch as well
  • 5K resolution external monitor from Apple

Pretty much what I do wish for is expected of Apple aside from their terrible native applications. I don’t see much of their applications gaining popularity unless they truly focus on them, making them a lot more functional and also easy on the eyes.

With a baby now, I might still be awake ready to catch the live stream of WWDC 2016 but with the amount of work I have to do, I might just sleep through it as usual and just read the news on the web.

FLIP Duo Official

FLIP Review: The British Plug Reinvented

The last time one of the projects I funded on Kickstarter arrived was a year ago, and that was the Myo. In truth, it has been sitting on my office desk for a while now and I rarely use it. Another project which I funded last year has finally arrived as well. It is the Flip Duo and Flip Quad by the guys from One Adaptr.

FLIP_Review-001

What does it do?

What it basically is, is a USB charging adapter which plugs into the socket. The duo has 2 USB ports whilst the quad has 4 USB ports. What made it unique is the way how it is folded when it isn’t in use, making the adapter quite slimming.

FLIP_Review-014

Flip Duo (L), Flip Quad (R)

Thanks to it’s Kickstarter campaign, it comes with a set of stickers which you can don on the adapter to make it stand out a little more.

In Conclusion

Essentially, with a 4-port USB adapter now in my bag, I can remove my other USB adapters especially the Apple ones which are quite bulky. I like funding these type of tech campaigns on Kickstarter and I am overall quite satisfied with the quality of the product. What I liked about the campaign was that even though there were delays, the campaign creators constantly kept us updated with updates such as the manufacturing in China as well as where there were some delays due to production fault.

FLIP_Review-010

Flip Quad

Other Products by One Adaptr

Another interesting products from the guys at One Adaptr is the “Stack“.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 7.24.19 PM

Stack is a fully extensible power strip with multiple modules for you to customise. Modules such as the standard AC power socket, surge protector modules, satellite surge protection and even USB power charging. Unfortunately, it is only available for US plugs at this point in time.

If you want to purchase a FLIP DUO or a FLIP QUAD, click here.

Check out the gallery below.

 

ThinChargeReview-004

ThinCharge: World’s Thinnest Battery Phone Case Review

The one thing plaguing iPhone users is the constant hunt for more power. Now if you are working at a desk relatively most of your time, you would probably have a charger already permanently plugged in there and you have the flexibility to quickly charge up your phone whenever you need more juice. For those of you who are constantly on the go, that might be a problem.

ThinChargeReview-003

Initial Thoughts

Recently I had the pleasure to test out a battery case for the iPhone 6 (it fits the latest iPhone 6s as well) and when I received the unit from the good folks over at ChargeTech, I was pleasantly surprised because they had sent over the ThinCharge battery case! The case felt exactly what a normal iPhone case would be, in terms of size. The added benefit is that it also functions as battery case. In terms of looks, it is definitely sleeker and nicer compared to Apple’s hideous looking battery case.

Apple Battery Case

The hunchback of the battery case world

The case was very nice to grip and it had a non-slip coating (a soft satin finish) around it so it felt extremely comfortable to hold, firmly and feel confident that it won’t slide out of your hands. Another point to note that it covers the phone around which protects the phone from drops as well.

Features of the ThinCharge

All of your standard ports are available as well as buttons but the one thing you would notice is that hole in which where the lightning port would be located is missing. As with all standard battery cases, the case itself plugs into the lightning port in order to charge the phone. I had no issues plugging in several earphones my colleagues use into the 3.5mm jack.

The one key issue that most battery cases have during the course of my personal use was that it required a different set of charging cable to charge the case. My old case resorted to a USB type port which rendered the many lightning cables I have purchased useless. The only way I had to work around it was to take my phone out of the case and charge the case separately. Talk about it being extremely inconvenient.

ThinChargeReview-015

The lightning port is located at the top of the case

With the ThinCharge case, it uses the existing lightning cable port. This is totally the right thing to do especially when it comes to being customer centric. In terms of case fitting, the phone slides in perfectly into the case. I didn’t have to force anything at all so that was a plus point. Now, it gets tricky if you use a tempered glass screen protector which covers the entire face of your phone, edge-to-edge, or you are using an invisible plastic coating to protect your iPhone, you might have issues fitting your phone into the case. This includes phones that have been bedazzled with little jewelry might have a little bit of trouble fitting into the case.

ThinChargeReview-011

The case keeps things simple as well. To charge your phone, simply press one of the buttons (the one also used to control the volume buttons) and hold it for a couple of seconds. This will enable the case to know that you are turning it on and it will immediately charge your phone.

ThinChargeReview-012

You won’t forget the instructions because it is printed on the case itself!

In terms of usability, as my line of work requires me to travel between locations for meetings and discussions, that sort of schedule had made me reliant on the battery power of my devices. The first device to run out of juice would be my phone due to the fact that I turn on Waze whilst driving, chatting constantly on the multitude of social apps available and of course, check my email and calendar. This made me constantly on the look out for an extra power socket to charge my phone.

ThinChargeReview-010

With the ThinCharge case, what I did was removed my AC wall charger and an external power bank from my bag which made it significantly lighter. Helps a lot, in the long run, especially on my shoulders.

What I Like

  1. Sleek design and extremely slim
  2. Soft satin finish
  3. Protects the phone
  4. Gives my phone another full charge
  5. Worked flawlessly
  6. Uses a lightning cable to charge!

What I Don’t Like

  1. Not easily available in retail stores in Malaysia
  2. Slightly high price for the average Malaysian
  3. Will interfere with some tempered glass protectors

Conclusions

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the case. It is sleek, it has a nice feel and grip to it, it protects my phone and it is extremely practical because let’s face it, everyone complains that they don’t have enough power to last the entire day. You can head over to ChargeTech to pick one up for USD$85 (currently on offer at the time of writing this post). Standard price for this case is USD$130. After the current conversion rate, the price is around RM340 (offer price) which is a little steep for local standards but you definitely get more than what you pay for. Do note that the battery case has been used for more than a week so it has been tested extensively.

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