David Pierini

How to take fabulous fireworks photos with your iPhone


These tips will help you take better fireworks photos.
These tips will help you take better fireworks photos.
Photo: Richard Dongses/Flickr CC

Last year’s fireworks made you say ooh and ahh, but when you look at your iPhone photos from that night, the sound you make is more of an ugh. Want to shoot better fireworks photos this time around?

Don’t blame Siri or some engineer in Cupertino for previous photo fails. The iPhone camera, as mighty as it is, can’t do all the thinking for you — especially in challenging lighting conditions like a fireworks display. But with a little thought and preparation, you can make this holiday worth reliving on your iPhone camera roll.

Below are some simple tips to make your iPhone fireworks photos sizzle.

Apple Music app comes to Samsung smart TVs


Apple Music is preparing for invasion
Apple Music subscribers can listen to playlists on Samsung smart TVs.
Photo: Apple

Apple Music invites people to “Lose yourself in 60 million songs.” Today, you can on a new device – a Samsung smart TV.

Samsung announced Thursday an Apple Music app is now available for its most recent smart TVs. Until the Samsung, an Apple Music app was only available with an Apple TV set-top device.

iOS app shows virus lockdown leads to remarkably cleaner skies


IQAir app showing LA air quality in coronavirus
Los Angeles has cleaner air under COVID-19 restrictions.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

A pandemic that kills thousands offers no silver linings.

But stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 shows us a window for what living with clean air is like.

An air quality tech company, whose global measurements can be monitored on an iOS app, says greenhouse gas emissions are so low right now, Los Angeles has the cleanest air of all metropolitans areas in the U.S.

Huawei’s latest deceptive ads try the same old camera stunt


Weibo post busting Huawei for misleading ad
Huawei needs to have more confidence in its smartphone cameras.
Screenshot: Huapeng Zhao/Weibo

The cameras in Huawei smartphones are class-leading. Yet, the company was caught again using a photo shot with a DSLR in an ad to promote pictures produced with their handsets.

Best, of all, the gaffe was discovered by the winner of an iPhone photography contest.

6-in-1 charger rolls out the welcome mat for all your Apple devices


Air Omni 6-in-1 charger
The charger for the Apple fan who carries everything.
Photo: Pitaka

If you live in an older house where places to plug in are few in number, you begin to appreciate the idea of a charging station for multiple devices.

Pitaka’s Air Omni is a wireless charger for up to six devices that does away with multiple chargers and cords. And it will prevent you from having to cut additional sockets into the walls of your vintage digs.

ACLU wants COVID-19 tracking program loaded with privacy safeguards


Privacy groups want to make sure contact tracing technology keeps your data safe.
Photo: MIT Lincoln Lab

The American Civil Liberties Union said Friday it is cautiously encouraged by a commitment to privacy by Apple and Google as they develop Bluetooth-based contact-tracing technology to track the spread of COVID-19.

But the civil liberties group says the two tech giants must resolve “certain important privacy-related questions” key to winning trust from a public growing wary about who sees their data.

Three iPhone lenses aren’t enough. This case adds four more


ShiftCam for iPhone 11 and pro lens
Lots of lens options without the heavy lifting.
Photo: ShiftCam

ShiftCam is in its third year of making innovative iPhone cases with a cluster of lenses that shift over Apple’s native glass. To look at a ShiftCam case is probably not much different than having a staring contest with a spider.

Maybe you can’t stand the thought of staring into the many eyes of a spider. With the ShiftCam case, especially it’s new MultiLens case for the iPhone 11 series, you won’t want to look away.

Custom keypad puts Photoshop toolbar at your fingertips


DIY Photoshop keypad by 3dDecors
A screen doesn't have to separate you from your Photoshop toolbar.
Photo: 3dDecors

Once you learn the task behind each symbol, the toolbar in Adobe Photoshop becomes a natural extension of a photographer’s creativity. Stylistic flourishes are just clicks away.

Now, the toolbar can be physically at your fingertips.

A designer from Ukraine has transformed the iconic on-screen toolbar into an actual keypad he sells on Etsy.

Alluring FaceTime photo shoots won’t stop when quarantine lifts


Nick Fancher's FaceTime portraits
Nick Fancher's portraits are "remotraits."
Photo: Nick Fancher

Photographer Nick Fancher has been photographing models in his studio at a time when COVID-19 social distancing rules have forced his contemporaries to cancel portrait sessions.

But the only chances the Columbus, Ohio-based Fancher takes are creative ones. In the very spot where models normally stand for him, Fancher is projecting live images of sitters following his directions via FaceTime.

He calls these the “Remotrait” sessions.

Google is making its own chips for phones and laptops. Sound familiar?


iFixit teardown of pixel
A new in-house chip may power the Google Pixel next year.
Photo: iFixit

Google will take a play out of Apple’s playbook as it reportedly ramps up development of its own processors for use in Chromebooks and Pixel smartphones.

Under the code-name Whitechapel, Samsung is collaborating with Google on the design of the chip. Samsung also supplies chips to Apple.

Will contact-tracing apps do more harm than good?


iPhone showing coronavirus that causes COVID-19
Can a tracing app protect your health and privacy.
Photo: Cult of Mac/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The world was starting to develop a healthy skepticism for tech companies and their claims of making data privacy a priority. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal seemed to get our attention and we began to understand how easy it is for groups to track our digital lives.

Then COVID-19 spread with bullet speed across the world and now surveillance of our movements to track the virus is sounding to many like a good idea.

Quibi quickly captures 1.7 million downloads; fast-tracks plans for shows on streaming TV


Quibi is taking a different approach with streaming.
Photo: Quibi

Quibi, the new smartphone streaming service with 10-minute program, keeps wracking up the downloads and may give viewers a choice to watch its “quick-bite” shows on streaming TV.

CEO Meg Whitman told an interviewer Monday that Quibi has had more than 1.7 million downloads since launching one week ago.

Apple Maps will show you to your nearest COVID-19 test site


screen shot of online application
Test centers will soon appear on Apple Maps
Screenshot: Apple

Apple Maps will soon feature special locators for COVID-19 testing centers.

A testing center’s location will appear with a red medical glyph and a card containing information about the site. The listings will include the name and location of the testing center, the affiliated health care provider and contact information. Apple also asks the testing centers to indicate whether they require appointments or doctor referrals.

Instagram takes DMs to the desktop


Instagram fact checking
Direct messaging via desktop has arrived.
Photo: Instagram

Instagram has been a little more desktop-friendly lately. On Friday, the photo-sharing app gave users the ability to read and send direct messages from a desktop computer.

Facebook, which owns the app, had signaled last year that it wanted to make private messaging easier across all of its apps regardless of device.

Security firm finds sketchy ‘fleeceware’ apps in iOS App Store


The App Store may not always be impervious to "Fleeceware."
Photo: Apple

A cyber-security firm in the United Kingdom has identified 32 iOS apps that it dubs “fleeceware” for subscriptions and in-app fees that amount to a form of online fraud.

More than 3.5 million iOS users installed the apps, most of which were image editors, QR and barcode scanners, horoscope and fortune-telling apps and face filters for selfies. Two astrology apps making the list are among the first 20 in top-grossing iPhone apps in the UK.

Apple squashes FaceTime audio bug with watchOS 6.2.1


FaceTime audio is coming to Apple Watch.
You FaceTime call to friends with old devices should go through now.
Photo: Apple

Apple launched a much-needed update to watchOS Wednesday, eliminating bugs and enhancing performance for the FaceTime feature on Apple Watch.

Apple Watch users running watchOS 6.2 were unable to participate in FaceTime audio calls with iPhones running iOS 9.3.6 or Macs running El Capitan 10.11.6 and earlier.

As China’s Wuhan ends lockdown, iPhone app a necessity to travel


China's QR code for health risk
Green means go. Yellow or red sends you back to quarantine.
Photo: Alipay

Residents of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 pandemic began, were free to move about Wednesday after a government-ordered lockdown was lifted, but only if they have the “green light” on their iPhone.

Freedom comes with a QR code residents are required to carry on mobile devices like their iPhones – and can be restricted at any moment should the scanned code flash the wrong color.

Apple pledges $50 million to bail out indie record labels


Apple Music is preparing for invasion
Apple is ready to help its indie music partners hurt by COVID-19 shutdowns.
Photo: Apple

Apple has created a $50 million advance fund to help independent music labels and distributors pay their artists and keep operations afloat.

The global lockdown in an effort to slow the COVID-19 outbreak has been particularly brutal to independent labels. Music stores, in-person venues and TV/movie productions are all closed, killing sales, licensing income and anticipated revenues from shows now canceled.

Facebook’s mushy chat app Tuned lets couples privately document their love story


screenshots of Tuned
Aww, isn't that adorable?
Screenshot: Facebook/Apple App Store

Facebook wants to give you and your boo some space, so it created a chat app for iPhone users in love.

Tuned is the product of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation Team. The engineers designed the new iOS app to give couples the tools to build a “digital scrapbook.” This is not a dating app, but an app for two people who are already dating.