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And I’m Back on iPhone

iphone 6s plus

To anyone who has received a blue chat bubble from me in the last 24 hours, I am back on iPhone. Last Summer, I wrote a post about how I won’t be buying the iPhone 6S or the iPhone 6S Plus. I went into detail about how Apple doesn’t innovate much anymore, blah blah blah. I was pretty adamant about my decision and did not see myself wavering. However, after some frustration I will elude to below, I decided it was time to go back to iOS for the time being.

When I sold my iPhone 6 Plus, I was using a Nexus 6 and was quite happy with it. My iPhone 6 Plus had become something I would leave behind for the Nexus. A few months later, I purchased the LG G4. The camera was nice on the G4 and the phone worked well. However, after a while, the phone became a bit slow and would lag on me. The camera would fail to open and I would have to restart the phone to get it working again. I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S6 and was plagued by the horrible battery life. I went for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active which had a slightly larger battery but had lag issues as well. I moved on to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which was a great phone but had a lot of features I didn’t need that seemed to bog the phone down a bit. That led me to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, which was a beast of a phone, but I couldn’t justify having spent that much money on a Samsung phone. I also spent a few weeks with a Moto X Pure, but it would lag on me as well.

As of yesterday evening, I was using a Nexus 6P and had been since its release date last fall. I like the phone, but it has some minor lag issues that keep me from using certain features of the phone. I also notice that when I am using Android phones, I take fewer photos. I am not sure why as most Android flavors provide a more useful camera experience than the iPhone does. I guess the iPhone camera is just more accessible and there are less features in the way of using it as a camera.

My Nexus 6P was having major lag issues and I needed to make a change. I obviously had been through a lot of Android phones in the last year. Going through Android phones is a problem I have. I have lost count, but since Android launched in late 2008, I have owned over 60 Android phones. It’s pretty ridiculous. I should have kept a log.

I have found that Android is not a very consistent experience for me unless the device has 4 GB of RAM memory. There are very few Android phones that have this amount of memory. Most phones that do, lack something else. The only two phones that are a solid flagship phone that have 4 GB of RAM are Samsung devices. I don’t have anything against Samsung phones, I just don’t like all of the preinstalled software and lack of battery longevity.

The latest Nexus devices come with Android 6.0 installed. This is the latest version of Android which has some cool features. The problem I have with the latest versions of Android is that all of the other phones out there are still on a version of Android 5.0. Many App Developers have not even updated their apps to work on Android 6.0. It actually took my bank four months to support it. I use Sony Cameras and it took them six months to support Android 6.0. This simply doesn’t happen on Apple’s iOS platform. Even NFC does not work with my Sony cameras on Android 6.0 which defeats the purpose and was one of the reasons I complained about the iPhone last summer.

I also enjoy using a Smartwatch. I have had the Apple Watch in the past. I have also had a variety of Android Wear Smartwatches. I even spent a few weeks with the Samsung Gear S2 which is on Samsung’s own Tizen platform. Each watch lacked something. The only consistent Android Wear Smartwatch out there is the Sony Smartwatch 3 however, it lacks many features I have come to rely upon in a Smartwatch.

Last night, I put away my Nexus 6P and moved over to an iPhone 6S Plus. I know, the very 6S Plus I said I would not take part in. Having spent so much time this last year chasing an Android Smartphone that would not give me any problems, I decided it was time to throw in the towel and come walking back into the familiar arms of Tim Cook.

I also realize what I have done over the past year. I have not only wasted a lot of time on phones, I have wasted money as well. I just want current technology that works. Though the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus do not contain much over their previous versions, they work and they work well. The phone is fast and it does not lag. iOS has better memory management because it doesn’t allow apps to run when they are not doing anything. Android has become better at memory management over the years but it still takes twice as much memory for Android to provide an equal experience. The manufacturers producing Android phones are not putting enough memory in their phones to make for a seamless experience. There is enough memory for a basic experience but if you install a lot of apps and plan to use them, you will eventually run into issues.

I am not back on the Apple bandwagon and I don’t think I really ever was completely. Since Android came out, I have deeply desired for an Android experience that was as seamless as Apple’s iOS. Android 5.0 came very close to that as Android phones started coming packed with decent cameras around that time. One could even argue that Android cameras trump the iPhone’s camera in certain aspects of performance. For me, what it comes down to, is performance. I run two businesses, have three kids ages five and under. I don’t have time for a phone that has to be finagled into working. I am tired of having to delete apps from my phone that are known to use up more memory so that the rest of my phone operates better. All these years later, I still find myself sacrificing in one way or another to be on Android, and that simply shouldn’t be the case.

Sure the current iPhone is pretty basic, but it works. The Apple Watch is kind of ugly, but it works well and iOS developers support it. I am ready to start ignoring some of the Android phones that come out and just exist on iOS. I’m not ditching Android. That will never happen. I just won’t be on such a search for the perfect Android phone, which will result in less worry about whether or not my phone is going to work when I need it to.

Who knows how the next month or two will go. My iPhone could start to give me issues as well, but for now, I am back on iPhone and plan to stay there for a while. For now, it’s about saving time and probably some money. Though the iPhone is almost mid cycle before the iPhone 7 will become available, I will save hours of time and even some money by not fretting over the perfect Android experience. Only time will tell if I will end up eating my words again. All I am trying to do is share my experience with others and try to relate on some level.

What do you think about the current state of Smartphones?

Blog Technology

Google Voice as a default

Google finally added full support for MMS into Google Voice which means that if you swap devices often as I do, instead of having to switch SIM cards back and forth, I can simply port my main cell phone number over to Google Voice and then point my number at any device I choose.

I tired this a few years ago but at the time, you could not send or receive text messages that included photos or videos. About a month ago, they added MMS support but images came through as a link that had to be clicked. That seemed spammy to me.

I think its time I give it another try. That means that I will transfer my cell phone number to Google Voice and have a random number assigned to my phone. Then if I want to switch between phones, I just log into Google Voice and point my number at another phone. Google Voice makes it easy to point your number at any phone. With Google Hangouts integration, I can get calls anywhere, even on a tablet or my laptop. This has been possible for a while now, I have just held off because I would not have been able to receive picture text messages.

Blog Photography Technology

I’m in a Google GLASS Slump

2014-04-17 10.42.12When I first received Google GLASS I was pretty excited about it. I loved using it, the only problem was that it was hard for me to use without prescription lenses. I have posted before about my journey through finding a way to use GLASS while needing prescription lenses to see at distance. Once Google made frames available for Google GLASS that could accept prescription lenses, I ordered them and had lenses made right away. You would think that I would have used Google GLASS every day since. The reality is quite opposite. My best guess is that I have used GLASS less than 5% of the time since I first had prescription lenses to see through.

People always ask me if I like Google GLASS or find it useful. I always respond with an optimistic answer suggesting that I have found ways in which it is useful to me. The issue is that GLASS is not useful most of the time. As I write this, GLASS is in it’s case, in the center console of my truck. It has sat there for the last 3 days. I had planned to wear GLASS during a dental procedure yesterday, that didn’t happen. I just have yet to desire to have GLASS on my face all day. Even when I wear GLASS, I take my regular glasses with me so I can switch back if I need to.

The best use case for Google GLASS is with those who have a more active work day. I spend about 7 of my 8 hour work day behind a computer. GLASS just becomes a distraction when I am trying to work. There is nothing to take photos of at my desk. I can’t listen to music with GLASS all day because the battery would go dead after a few hours. There is no reason to wear it at work. When I leave for lunch or to a meeting, I occasionally put on GLASS, depending on who I am going to meet with. It is a conversation piece and I like being viewed as someone who is on the bleeding edge of technology, because I often am.

I don’t like wearing it at home because my wife and kids often look at it rather than at me as if GLASS is doing something. Besides that, there is nothing going on that I would need GLASS for. I prefer most calls to go to voicemail after work hours. I don’t care as much about notifications or SMS after work either. I like to be there for my wife and kids. I do put on GLASS occasionally if I am going to do some sort of activity with my kids and I want to be able to easily take photos and video without pulling out my phone.

Photo and Video quality is not quite there either. I would like to be able to use the video from GLASS for more than just posting directly to social media. When I film things with my phone, I often end up using some of that footage in a project that I post later. Google GLASS only shoots in 720p and the quality of the footage is not that good. If I want useful footage, I’m better off using a GoPro camera.

I guess I feel like GLASS would be more useful if I led a more active lifestyle. I don’t make it to the gym often at all and lately my weekends have been filled with family events and little kid birthday parties. These things don’t make for interesting content for my social media followers.

Google GLASS was awesome to have when I was in the pits at Daytona 500 this year. When a lot is going on around you, Google GLASS is the best. It beats pulling out your phone and taking photos. I like the first person perspective Google GLASS gives you. It’s exactly what I was looking at. My problem is that it is not that often that I am looking at something interesting enough that I want to take photos with GLASS. When I was at NAB a couple of weeks ago, it was great. Capturing photos of what I was experiencing was a huge plus.

I have worked out with GLASS using fitness apps and trackers. That was a neat feature, but at the gym, it really draws attention to you. People don’t want to see a camera pointing in their direction while they work out. I normally take my glasses off altogether while I work out anyways.

GLASS does not yet replace the need to have your phone in front of you. Though you can have some notifications pushed to GLASS, you can’t simply leave your phone in your back pocket all day. You have to have it with you for the internet connection and ability to make/receive phone calls and text messages. You can’t use navigation on GLASS without your phone. GLASS is just another device you have to carry on you.

I have had people suggest that GLASS would be easier for me to get used to because I have worn glasses for the last 15 years of my life. I actually think that the opposite is true. I have always been a fan of thin framed glasses. I don’t like anything getting in the way of my view. I am not sure why. Perhaps I distract easily. Though I have gotten used to GLASS being in my line of sight, it is still a distraction and if I wear it for long periods of time while working on the computer, I get a headache.

I do believe that augmented reality is some form of the future. We can’t go on walking around with phones in our hands looking down from the world in front of us. GLASS gets our line of sight back up with the horizon. It allows us to get some notifications without going to our phones. I have also recently compared it to the smartwatch by Pebble. The Pebble Watch allows you to get notifications to your wrist so it’s out of the way until you get the notification. The prism that is in front of your right eye with Google GLASS is a bit of a distraction even when there is nothing to display. Though the watch had very limited functionality compared to GLASS, it held a batter charge for almost a full week. There really is no comparison between the two though, GLASS is in a different class as far as devices go.

I am still passionate about Google GLASS and enjoy wearing it. I need to find a way to make it more useful in the line of work I am in. I don’t want it to simply be something I wear to show people how technologically advanced I am. I want it to be useful and meaningful as a tool in my life that helps me stay connected to and share what is going on around me. Perhaps I just need to quit regular glasses cold turkey and not give myself the option to wear anything else. I will have to wear GLASS because that is all I will have with me.

Once again, time will tell as to what I will continue to use GLASS for.

Blog Technology

Why I Currently Choose Android

Android-logoI have been an Android user since Android first launched, however I have never been able to use Android as more than a toy to tinker with until recently. I have also been an iPhone and iPad user since both devices launched. Android devices were always lacking in some area that frustrated me and sent me running back to my iPhone. For years I would carry an iPhone and Android phone with me and often times I would just leave my Android phone at home.

There are a couple of things that Android and the manufactures of Android devices have not been able to compete with until recently. Android devices have been able to catch up to Apple because Apple has not really released any new and innovating features in a while. Apple seems to know what people want and will use. Android device manufactures seem take a different approach which seems more like a hit or miss approach to creating features people will use.

The first Android device to come to the market that I was truly able to switch to and use without needing the safety and familiarity of my iPhone was the HTC One. One of the main issues I had with Android devices was the horrible cameras they came outfitted with. I am a Professional Photographer and even when I am taking smartphone photos, they need to look like they came from someone who knows what they are doing. Every Android camera before the HTC One was less than desirable. Sure it might take a 1/2 decent (only 1/2 decent) photo outdoors on a bright day, but I need something that does a good job all around. The iPhone has always delivered on my expectations.

The customizations that most manufacturers make to Android has also frustrated me. The iPhone has always been simple and for the most part, kept out of your way. I feel like stock Android does this well, but Samsung, HTC, LG and the other manufactures out there add in so much on top of the Android Experience that it makes it hard to use. The powerhouse phones that they create end up running slow because of all of the features. Because of that, I have found favor in the Google Edition Smartphones that are available directly from Google. These Google Edition phones are from manufactures such as HTC and Samsung but only run stock Android, which means you get the nice hardware these manufactures provide and the clean software that Google provides in Android. The only manufacture whose devices I like with their default software installed is Motorola, which is owned by Google anyway.

I would like to outline some of the Android specific features that keep me from switching back to the iPhone:

Sharing: Sharing content to pretty much anywhere is easier on the Android. If I come across a website I want to save, send or post to a social network, I can do this on Android. On the iPhone, you are stuck to Facebook and Twitter in most cases. There are not a lot of options for sharing on iPhone unless you copy what you want to share and then post it directly through that app. On Android, I can share from one app to another. This allows me to share more content and spend less time doing it. When I use my iPhone, I find myself sharing less. I can take a photo in one app, edit it in another, then share it using the social network of my choice all without ever having to save the image multiple times throughout the process.

Photography: At times I feel that the iPhone still has the advantage when it comes to photography. Though I like the camera in the HTC One and don’t mind the camera in the Google Nexus 5 (my current phone), there are more apps for photo editing available on the iPhone. With that said, I am trying to process my images less. If I do anything, I adjust exposure and that is about it. I don’t like to throw filters over my images and make them look dirty. I go for color and clarity.

Multitasking: Android has always been better at multitasking. Even though the iPhone now has an easier way of switching between apps, it is still limited compared to Android. I switch around between apps often and being able to do that quickly is huge for me. I also dislike when I leave an app to do a Google search and then come back to the app to find what I was doing gone. This rarely, if ever, happens on Android.

Google Now: I have never found Siri very useful on the iPhone or iPad. This is mainly due to the fact that I don’t always want to speak my commands. On the iPhone, you have to activate Siri for commands to be heard whereas with Google Now, you simply have to have the screen on. With the Moto X from Motorola, you don’t even have to have the screen on. The phone is always listening for the command “Ok Google Now.” As I mentioned before, I want devices that get out of my way and let me get tasks done quickly.

Charging: I currently use the Google Nexus 5 which allows for wireless charging. I simply plop my phone down on the small charging pad and it begins to charge. It’s amazing and simple. When I need my phone, I pick it up and walk away. No cords to unplug or worry about snagging. I have wireless charging docks on my desk, nightstand and in my truck.

Phone & SMS: There are some need features built into the latest version of Android that make it much easier to search for businesses to call. On the iPhone, you have to do some sort of external search and then launch a call. On the Nexus 5, I can simply start typing a name of a business and it comes up. One tap and I am calling that business. I can also have Google Now launch a call for me, however I have had mixed results with this. I have not done much testing with Siri to see how well it does at launching calls to places that are not in the address book.

With SMS, Apple has iMessages, which is really nice for texting with others who are on Apple devices. I currently use the Hangouts app for Android which is the stock messaging app on the Nexus 5. It does a great job and soon will be a bit better and more open than iMessages. What I truly want, is a SMS service that works regardless of the device and apps you have installed. Google Voice was almost this, but you can’t send photo or video text messages currently on the AT&T network. If this changes, I can use Google Voice with the Hangouts app. Then I can switch between my iPhone and Android devices without having to switch SIM cards or anything. I just choose which phone I want to carry and point my number at that device.

Quicker Technology Advances

I know that Apple has some cool stuff up their sleeves that nobody has even thought of yet, but I get bored quick. Apple has the iPhone but Android has many options. There is just about something for everybody with Android. Apple has enough of a following that they can ride the wave for a while and save leading edge advancements for later releases. It’s all strategy and Apple is definitely good at what they do.

I will most likely at one point switch back to iPhone and iPad because I am confident that Apple will drop some amazing features on us that will once again take other manufactures a few years to catch up to. To be honest, I am not even 100% sure that the new features in the iPhone will be Apple’s next big thing.

As other smart device manufacturers scramble to come up with technology that will trump the iPhone, I will continue to enjoy some of the advancements. Not everything that comes out is needed. I think that over 60% of what Samsung puts into their devices is worthless and companies like LG seem to even be copying some of these useless features. In the end it seems to be all about marketing and what they can make look neat. I don’t need a phone I can waive my hand over to scroll a web page. That sounds idiotic to me.

Wearable Technology

I truly believe that smartphones are living on borrowed time. Companies like Google are messing around with wearable tech and the future is near. Why do we all have to carry about devices that cause us to focus on something other than humanity? I hate how my phone disconnects me with my environment. I am not convinced that Google Glass is the answer to that, but it is a huge step closer. I have tried Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch and I think it is stupid. If I am going to spend money on yet another device, it needs to make it possible for me to use my smartphone less. Google Glass has done this. I can do a lot of what I would normally do on average with my smartphone with Google Glass. It can’t yet however replace a smartphone.

Going All Data

I think we are getting closer to a day where we will no longer need a minutes plan. Most of my communication with people is through email and text message. For the most part, you can do all of this through a data connection. The carriers already know that they can’t make money charging for text messages or minutes anymore. It’s all about the data charges. You could even get away with using an iPod Touch as your phone so long as you had a consistent data connection. I have a couple of friends that did this. In the near future, I don’t think we will need a cellular phone plan and I can even see phone numbers going away as well. If you could buy a smartphone and only connect a data plan to it, I would. However, this is not yet an option. Tablets can have data only connections, but not smartphones. The carriers will hold onto it as long as they can.

Why Care At All?

I am always posting about the devices I am using and I am sure it makes most people’s heads spin. Why can’t I just stick with one device and be happy? The truth is that I feel that technology should help us do our lives better and I will move in the direction of whatever technology adds to my experiences while at the same time getting out of my way. This is why I like Google Glass. Even though most of the world things it’s ridiculous, wearable technology is coming and will take over quicker than the mobile phone did. Remember when people used to say, “I don’t want people to be able to reach me at all times.” Now it is weird for someone to say that they don’t have some sort of a cell phone.

It’s also the future. Technology has driven the economy for the last decade and will continue to in the future. As we become more connected, more services and technologies will come up to assist in that. I find it empowering and very interesting. Each time I purchase a new piece of technology I see it as an investment in my future because I am on trying my best to stay on the forefront of the way all of this integrates with out lives. Modern technology was and is still a hard transition for our parents and grandparents because they were not raised with it. I don’t want to allow technology to outrun me. Though it is impossible to stay on top of it all, I will do my best.

I know that this post turned into a post about technology more than it did about why I use Android but I think it’s important to talk about. Mobile technology is part of our lives and these are the companies producing products for us to use and integrate with the world around us.

Right now, Android is better integrated with my life and lifestyle, so that is the platform I am using for both Smartphone and Tablet. We will see where Google, Apple and other manufactures take us as they continue to innovate and try to find the next thing.

Blog Photography Technology

30 Days with Google Glass

Google Glass Prescription Shield

Google Glass Jerad HillGoogle Glass has became much more useful to me since I had a custom prescription shield made. Now that I can wear Google Glass with out having to strap them to my Ray-Ban glasses, they are more functional and easy to use. This became very apparent to me this weekend when I took my family to the snow. I wore Glass which allowed me to take photos and video of my kids with out having to use a hand to hold a camera or smartphone. As a Professional Photographer who wants to capture everything, it is hard for me to put the camera down and enjoy my kids with out a lens in front of my face. In the future, when features such as crop and zoom come into play on Glass, it will become a very cool tool for capturing daily life and sharing it on the web.

Google Glass still has a lot of bugs that I have been experiencing. To date, here are the issues I am currently experiencing that are a source of frustration when using Glass.

  • Disconnecting from Bluetooth: I am not yet 100% sure that this is a Google Glass issue or an issue with my Google Nexus 5, however I am constantly having to either restart my phone to get Glass to reconnect or restore Glass to it’s factory default settings to get it to connect.
  • Locked out of Wifi Connections: A couple of times each week I have to remove Wifi connections from Glass and set them up again to connect. This typically happens at my office or home where I spend most of my time.
  • Photo and Video Backup: It is not entirely convenient to share photos and video from Glass. You have to speak your post out loud and you don’t really want to do that in public settings, especially when you should not be talking. You have to wait until Glass feels like uploading the images or video to your Google+ which will make them available to share through your phone. There should be an option to upload it and then post it from your phone. What I do now is post an image with no description, then edit the post in Google+ or Facebook. The issue with that is that many will see the image before I get to add the description.
  • Wonky GPS: This could be the Nexus 5, but GPS is a little weird and will bump around at times. When using the Strava app to track a run, GPS went crazy and logged a 3.28 second mile. Looking at the trail map logged by Strava, I could see the issue and why Strava thought I covered that much ground. My Nexus 5 does not seem to have this problem by itself as I have logged many runs in the same area with out Google Glass.
  • Content Feed/Timeline: Though there are few apps that you can have add content to your display feed, I find the process in which you view it not very useful. Hopefully Google will make it easier to customize the feed. There is also no way to hide items you want to remove from that feed. Of course you can remove the feed altogether but there is no way to dismiss notifications. I like to clear notifications after I have seen them. Maybe it’s OCD…

I have been getting the question, “Is it worth it,” a lot lately. It is hard for me to answer that question. At first I would say, “well I am an early adopter and I like where it is going.” Now I feel like giving people a little bit more of an explanation. I don’t want somebody to shell out the money for Glass if they are not going to have a good experience. I thought it would be best to list the top features that I find make Glass useful for me.

  1. Photography: Glass allows me to take photos and videos with out the use of my hands. Of course you can do this with GoPro style action cameras but they still require some form of touch to turn them on and use them. Google Glass is a completely hands free solution. It allows me to stay connected with what is going on in front of me instead of putting something between me and my experiences. This has been great with my kids as I mentioned above.
  2. Phone & SMS: I have enjoyed having a bluetooth device in my ear at all times. Perhaps because it did nothing other than let me talk during calls. Google Glass allows me to make, answer and respond to calls and text messages completely hands free. If I had to touch a bluetooth ear piece or the phone to answer a call, I might as well just use the phone and forgo having a device stuck in my ear all day. With Glass, it is hands-free and so much more.
  3. GPS Navigation: Though I have not yet used it much, I love having turn-by-turn navigation in Google Glass. I never use the built in navigation in my truck because it is out of date. I use my phone, but it is a distraction as it is hard to place conveniently in my vehicle so I can still access it for calls and view it for navigation directions. With Google Glass, I can leave my phone in the center console charging.
  4. Search: It is nice having search built in, especially music search. Though you can easily do most of this from your phone, being able to initiate search through Glass makes it more convenient and faster.

Having now shared that, would I purchase Google Glass again if I had to do it all over again? Yes. I would purchase Glass because I love being on the bleeding edge of technology and trying new things. Am I used to paying for the experience, not always, but in this case Google Glass is so unique and new, I wanted to experience it.

I would find Google Glass even more useful if I lived in a bigger city. I am from Modesto, CA and know this area pretty well. In the near future I hope to have some out of town trips that will allow me to use Glass in a whole new way.

Ultimately, the true killer feature of Google Glass for me, is getting my phone out of my hands so I can experience life with available eyes and hands that are not fixed to a device. I see some form of Google Glass being as common as the Smartphone in the next 5 years. Google Glass makes being connected less intrusive to your daily organic experiences. That is the true value and why I love it.

Blog Photography Technology

10 Days with Google Glass

jeradgoogleglass-6I recently was invited to take part in the Google Glass Explorer Program. For those of you who do not know what this is, it’s basically a beta testing program that Google has offered a small group of people to test out their wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Google Glass is essentially a pair of glasses that has a built in computer and display. Google Glass works in conjunction with your smartphone truly make phone and internet connectivity hands free. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a pair before my third child was born. That would have been awesome to use Google Glass during the birth of one of my children.

When Google Glass was first launched, I passed at the opportunity to purchase a it because I require prescription lenses in my glasses and there were no options available at the time. At the moment, I do not have prescription lenses, but I do have them on order from a optometrist in Pennsylvania who custom makes a prescription lens that adapts to Google Glass. There is a company that plans to make prescription lenses available to all sometime in January of 2014. A couple of days ago, I attempted to modify an older pair of my Rx glasses to fit in Google Glass, but I have always had minimal style frames, which do not have the stability to support the added weight of Google Glass.

Google Glass intrigues me because it gets my phone out of my hand. I often find myself holding my phone and looking down at it as I scroll through emails and anything else that I feel might need my attention. It takes my eyes off of the world and I know I am missing things. There have also been many times when I have wanted to take a picture of video of something and my phone or camera was not easily accessible. My reaction time is improving as I get more used to Google Glass and how fast it is to take a photo of something.

I currently wear glass about 50% of the time and my prescription glasses the other 50%. When I am driving or doing something that requires me to see distance, I need my glasses. I can place Google Glass over my glasses but it is not comfortable and I fear that they will fall off of my face and hit the ground. There is something cool about sharing in first person. When you take a picture with a camera you usually are holding the camera in a way that is not the same as you would be seeing it with your eye. As a Photographer, when I take a picture with a camera, I frame it up and try to make it look most appealing as a photo. When I use Glass, I am sharing from my perspective.

My life this last few weeks has not been very eventful as I have been home a lot doing as much as I can so my wife can rest. Emerson was delivered by cesarean, which of course has a longer recovery time. As much as I want to play with Glass, family is first.

Those of you who know anything about me know that I am mildly addicted to mobile technology. I mean I started a company that helps feed my addiction. Though I truly love Apple products, I know that there is a whole other world of innovation out there and I definitely moonlight in it. Since Google’s Android platform was launched, I have loved using it. Until recently, it has never been able to replace my iPhone but in 2013, it has. I currently use the Google Nexus 5 with Google Glass as my mobile tools of choice. I do have an iPhone 5S, which I purchased on launch day, but I am not very excited about what Apple is doing at the moment. I know that Apple will surprise us again next year, but not in 2013. Google has been doing some fun things with Android that I truly enjoy. Their current devices are beautiful and more useful to me than Apple’s current iPhone and iPad.

Google Glass however, is not perfect. Though I have enjoyed having it and the look other techies give me when they see it, it has came with many frustrations. My frustrations are inline with what others have shared, however I may be slightly more annoyed by them because I don’t have the time these days to deal with setbacks. I am always in production mode and when I’m not, I am at home with 3 kids. Life is busy, so I tend to get frustrated when things are not snappy.

  • Constantly Disconnecting – Google Glass connects to your smartphone and uses it’s internet through a bluetooth connection. This often drops which requires you to setup your Google Glass again. This is not a long process but it is an annoying process to have to go through. You typically notice it right when you want to do something with Glass. Today, I was in the middle of a run using the Strava Run app for Glass and it disconnected out of nowhere and I had to stop running to reconnect it.
  • Photo & Video Sharing Doesn’t Always Work – I don’t like to spend much time on tasks so when I take a photo or video that I want to share online, I want it to post fast. I have had about a 60% success rate with posting photos and a 20% success rate posting video. I am not sure if it is my phone or Glass that has the problem, but I would assume that Google Glass and the Google Nexus 5 would be able to communicate better than another manufacturer’s device.
  • Battery Life – Smartphones these days can usually last a full day on a charge without the need to plugin. Google Glass however can not last that long on a charge. If you are using Glass to answer calls, respond to text messages, take the occasional photo and do the occasional Google search, you will run out of battery before the afternoon. For many, that is not an issue because they can take Glass off and charge it while they don’t need it. For people like me, who plan to put Rx lenses in Glass and wear glasses all day, I will have to have another pair of Rx glasses on me so I can wear them while Google Glass is on the charger. I don’t plan to run the charging cable to my head so I can continue to wear Glass while the battery restores.
  • The Timeline – Google Glass presents updates to you on a Timeline. That timeline can get clogged over time as updates come in. If you connect a lot of Glassware apps, get a lot of text messages and calls, it will become a little overwhelming to find older notifications. I don’t believe that Google was intending for people to have tons of notifications in their Google Glass timeline but it can get a little overwhelming. You can delete items out of the timeline, but it takes more time than it should to delete something and then do something else.

Though there are other things about Glass that fall short from my expectations I have to keep reminding myself that this is technically an Alpha product and an invention none-the-less. Google Glass is something that has only existed in science fiction movies and now I wear it on my face.

The best feature of Google Glass is being able to take photos from your own perspective. There is no zoom, so you are limited to what you are looking at. There is something freeing about that, especially as a photographer. I am typically worried about crop, exposure, angles and a number of other things because of my professional background. With Glass, I can just share what I see. I also like the ability to overlay your screen onto a photo. Google calls this a Vignette (See the Kettle Kickoff photo below).

Google Glass obviously works best with the Google+ social network, but with the Facebook and Twitter app, it becomes a pretty powerful sharing tool. Google has recently opened up the Glass API which means a lot of developers have more access to develop apps for Google Glass. It will be cool to see what people come up with.

I feel like my Google Glass experience will become much more interesting after I get prescription lenses. At that point, I will be able to experience the world as I normally do through prescription lenses and Google Glass. I won’t have to either go semi-blind or wear Glass with my prescription glasses which is a bit too nerdy for me.

I will continue to share my experiences with Glass. If you want to head over to my Google+ page, you can see more that I have shared using Google Glass.

Salvation Army Kettle Kickoff 2013 Modesto #ThroughGlass


Google+ Vanity URLs Coming Soon

For those of you who use Google+, Google has announced that they will soon be offering vanity URLs. A vanity URL is the ability to have a short URL with your username at the end of it. For example, instead of a long URL that is typically difficult to remember.

Typically, your Google+ URL looks something like this: There have been other companies that have released redirect methods, but nothing from Google.

Here are some thoughts when it comes to choosing a vanity URL.

  • Secure your URL right away!
    Those of us with names that are spelled in a unique way have a bit more time, but if you are Joe Smith, you better secure /joesmith if you want that to be your vanity URL. Even though there are fewer Jerad’s out there then there are those with other spellings, I decided to use my last name to avoid confusion. My last name is easy to say and spell so I went with /jeradhill across all social networks I am a part of.
  • Keep it consistant!
    I have decided to use /jeradhill for all of my usernames to keep it consistant. If somebody can not find me through a search, they can just add /jeradhill to the end of a social network and find me.
  • Make it easy to know what/who you are!
    Some people get so creative with their usernames that nobody knows who they are. On the other hand, some people stick with the one they made when they were 15 and it makes them sound like a kid.  If you are on a social network as yourself, use your name. If you are a fan of something and you believe it will be a lifelong decision, go ahead and use /magnoliafan as your username. If you are a business, use your business name. Make it easy for people to figure out if it is you, a business or a thing.
  • Update your links!
    Google+ will most likely still honor the old links but if you are like me, you like to have your updated links show up in the browser bar when somebody clicks on them.

If you are on Google+, make sure and add me to a circle!


Google+ Page for your Business

Google+ Page for Business

Google+ Business Pages work just like a Google+ personal page. This is great because Facebook has left much to be desired when it comes to their business offerings. Now you can interact with other Google+ users and post updates to your Google+ page. As time goes by, I am sure that Google will continue to integrate as I am sure that this is just another tool they hope we spend PPC money on.

Start your own Google+ Brand page here.

Visit my Google+ Brand Page: Jerad Hill Photographer on Google+

Google+ Page for Business

Like I said before, Google+ business pages for Brands are just like a personal page. You can add a Google+ Brand Page as a friend to your circle just like you could a person and their posts will show up in the stream under that businesses name. As I write this there is no proof that there is any SEO advantages to posting to your page but I am sure that there will be. Google says that they do not use Facebook or Twitter posts in their ranking decision process but one has to assume that something in their algorithm is paying attention.

One of the most exciting features of having a Google+ page for your brand is the Direct Connect Feature. By placing the + in front of a brand’s name in Google search it will make it easy to drive traffic to your brand’s page. For example, if you do a Google Search for +Google, it will take you to Google’s + Page. Do a search for +Pepsi and it will take you to their Google+ Page. Pretty awesome. Facebook and Twitter do not have that kind of functionality unless you are already on their site.

Check out this short video of that feature in action.

In the future we will probably start seeing Google link up the Google+ Brand pages to your companies Place page, Ad Word account, Youtube and more. You can start to see the bigger picture start to unfold. This is something Google should have done long ago. I am glad to see it rolling out now.

Go grab your Google+ Brand page for your business today.


Forward Your iPhone VoiceMail to Your Google Voice

One Voicemail To Rule Them All! – Gone are the days of checking multiple voicemails.

For years now I have used, originally named Simulscribe to transcribe my voicemails. Up until Google recently updated their transcription service Phonetag.Com had them beat hands down. It was also easier to use Phonetag because they were a voicemail service and not a new phone number. I was a lucky early beta adopter of the Google Voice service and actually really like it. I use my Google Voice phone number, but mostly as a message line. With recent updates Google Voice has made plus the Google Chrome plugin that makes it really easy to access your voicemails, I have wanted to make Google Voice my primary Voicemail line, so here is how I did it.

I have an iPhone and a Google Nexus One Phone. The Nexus One is easy to set up for use with Google Voice. There is a setting right in the phone, you switch it on and it’s good to go. With the iPhone it is a bit more challenging.

To set up your iPhone to forward all voicemails directly to Google Voice with out using additional minutes or data you will need to do the following.

Step 1:
On you iPhone (or any GSM-based phone), pull up the keypad and type the following, substituting 1234567890 with your 10-digit Google Voice/GrandCentral account:
To deactivate the forwarding and return to regular visual voicemail enter ##61# and hit call.

If you are on AT&T in the US then I suggest using these settings which will forward not only your regular voicemail but your busy voicemail as well (This is the option I use personally).
To deactivate the forwarding and return to regular visual voicemail enter ##004# and hit call.

Step 2:
Log in to your Google Voice account and turn on Do Not Disturb mode. You will want to do this so that when your iPhone forwards to your Google Voice after the typical five or so rings, it will not go through the five or so rings it would take Google Voice before the voicemail picked up. Do Not Disturb sends the incoming call directly to voicemail.

That’s it. All unanswered calls to your iPhone will instantly be dropped in to your Google Voice voicemail.

Tip: You will need to disable any linked phones you have set up on your Google Voice account. If you do not do this, the phone will ring 2-3 additional times before it goes to voicemail resulting in a total of 7-8 or more rings before the caller actually reaches voicemail.

The only problem is that this will make your Google Voice account nothing but a voicemail. Of course you can still use your Google Voice phone number, but if someone calls it, the call will go directly to voicemail.

If you still want access to your Google Voice number then I suggest you set up an additional Google Voice account and use that account for your voicemail. This could get a little confusing to set up and I don’t want to get into those details.

How to easily access your Google Voicemail on the iPhone:

Accessing your Google Voice voicemail is easy on the iPhone. There are two ways to do this.

First Option: Open Safari, go to, click on the “+” at the bottom menu in Safari, tap “Add to Home Screen”. Then click add. This will add a shortcut to your home screen that will launch Google Voice in Safari. On occasion you may need to use your password to re-enter Google Voice.

Second and Way Better Option: Use the VoiceCentral app. Because Apple is currently blocking native apps that work with services such as Google Voice there is a work around. Visit from your iPhone and choose the free version. The paid version removes ads and has a few minor feature additions but the free version will do you just fine. Once you install and set up this app you will be able to access your Google Voice with great ease. I really like the app and have been using it since they released it.

If you are using the Google Chrome browser on your Mac or PC computer there is a nifty plugin that will add your Google Voice voicemail and transcribed voicemails to an easy to access button. Being that I spend 75% of my day in a web browser it makes it much easier for me to access voicemail that way.

From what I understand, it is easy to forward your other phones to point voicemail to Google Voice as well. You can Google search your way to those answers as I do not have a land line to do testing on.

If you have any questions about Google Voice or how to use it with your devices feel free to comment me in the box below. I will answer your questions on my blog so that they are available for everybody to read should they have the same question.

One Voicemail To Rule Them All!

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