iOS 13 Bluetooth Tracking

I’ve been enjoying the latest iOS 13 update for the past week (woot woot to dark mode!), but when I received a “Vudu Would lIke to Use Blooth” popup, I tilted my head and said, “why?” There are a number of legitimate reasons an app may request Bluetooth access. The first good reason that comes to mind is the ability to detect what device you’re connected to, to provide a unique experience. For example, if an application detects that I’m connected to my car stereo, it may automatically provide a unique driving mode (a few applications currently take advantage of this). Cool… but what are the not so good reasons? Well, applications like Vudo (Vudu is a subsidiary of Walmart) could, in theory, allow Walmart to track my location as I walk around a Walmart, building a unique profile based on my movements. If I hover around the green tea aisle of the store too long I shouldn’t be surprised if I received a targeted add for similar products. This can become increasingly concerning with an organization that has the ability to correlate different databases based on your email addresses or unique identifier.

The worst part is… the apps haven’t changed to add this notification. Only iOS has changed to notify the user when a specific app requests Bluetooth access. So, that Vudu app may have been using my Bluetooth signal for years without my knowledge. I give Apple credit for making this a mandatory feature in an attempt to provide better transparency and privacy.

How to Check Your Bluetooth Usage
Visit Settings -> Privacy -> Bluetooth on your iPhone and you’ll see a list of all of the applications that have requested Bluetooth access. The moral of the story is, you really want to trust the companies to whom you provide Bluetooth access.

24 Hours with the Apple AirPods

In March, Apple announced the 2nd generation of AirPods. At $159, I was a bit hesitant to purchase them as I didn’t really need yet another thing to keep charged. Sure, the addition of “hey Siri” control, 50% more talk time on a charge, and wireless charging are a nice bump… but those were really “nice to have” features. Also, my $20 set of Bluetooth headphones were working just fine and allowed me to say “Yah, but mine were $20!”

Fast forward six months and my cheaper headphones had gone missing and I had become somewhat frustrated with the way the cheaper headphones connected with my iPhone, Apple laptop, and Apple TV (it was just clunky and time-consuming to switch between my devices). With $145 dollars burning a hole in my pocket, I splurged on a new toy. I assumed I’d have immediate buyers remorse.

It’s only been 24 hours with the AirPods, but my initial reaction has been incredibly positive. The AirPods act as an extension of my iPhone, MacBook Pro, and Apple TV with seamless transitions between the devices. The human interface (removing an AirPod pauses the current song or movie) is simply brilliant and it’s clear Apple has painstakingly woven the AirPods into their entire hardware ecosystem. So far, the few minor “complaints” would be that the mics aren’t as good as my standard iPhone mic. The AirPod mics aren’t bad… I had an hour-long conversation with a family member and they indicated that the audio was good. They just aren’t great, which was a little surprising… but not really when you realize the mic is basically next to my ear. I guess my other complaint is that there is a $145 hole in my wallet where money once lived.

Overall, I’m excited to see how I’m able to use the AirPods for WebEx, Zoom, Skype, etc. meetings and how they hold up over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years.

iPhone 11 Announced with Improvements to Camera

Iphone 11 Pro Camera

They say the best camera is the one you have with you. With Apple’s upgrades to the camera in the recently announced iPhone 11 series, this adage may be more true than ever.

For most of our production on online courses, we mostly use a Sony Handycam for it’s versatility, and DSLR for interviews or other beauty shots. However, in the course of filming, I often find myself reaching for my iPhone 8 to supplement that footage. For a course on Nanotechnology, I used the slo-mo feature to capture how liquid nitrogen can make everyday objects more fragile. For some behind-the-scenes b-roll, I found the built-in stabilization allowed me to capture extended tracking shots with few hiccups.

The iPhone 11’s improved camera now makes a strong case for filming on a phone in many scenarios. The Verge has a great write-up of the specifics, but the highlights to me are:

  • Wide-Angle Lens on Base Model – I’ve often found myself in rather small settings where I simply couldn’t get back far enough with our traditional cameras to get everything I needed in one shot. Here, in lieu of investing a dedicated wide-angle lens for the DSLR, I could try subbing in my iPhone to get the one wide-shot I need.
  • Recording on Multiple Camera on 11 Pro – This is a great solution for when you need to shoot first and ask questions later. Though it will surely take up a lot of storage place, having more flexibility in post-production is always a good thing.
  • Audio Zoom on 11 Pro – I always recommend that videographers using an iPhone use an external mic to capture dialogue. If this feature can isolate audio coming from a central on-camera subject, that could make impromptu video interviews much more feasible.

MacOS Catalina: Sidecar

With the release of MacOS Catalina, a new feature called Sidecar has been added that enables an iPad to be used as an extended desktop for a Mac. Also, when paired with an Apple Pencil, it can be used to draw or write in Mac Apps that support the pencil. Since the Apple Pencil (1st Generation) is now supported with the iPad 6th generation, and an iPad Pro is not needed, its use with Sidecar has opened up many more capabilities at a lesser cost.

I’d previously reported on a 3rd party dongle that provided this functionality, which like many other 3rd party solutions that tried to fill this void, now is no longer needed. (https://sites.duke.edu/ddmc/2017/08/29/luna-display/)

 

 

Turn Your iPad into a Wireless Second Touch Display for your Mac

Luna Display is a rather inexpensive hardware dongle, USB-C or mini DisplayPort, that allows you to turn an iPad into a wireless second touch monitor for your Mac. Although there are apps on the market that provide similar functionality, those are primarily software based, which can introduce more lag and reduced image quality. They also usually require you to be tethered to your laptop via lightening cable, which also affects the Mac’s CPU and battery life. In comparison, Luna is much faster and more responsive with much better screen quality since it’s hardware based.

Possible Use Cases:

  • For those who travel, it can increase productivity by expanding your workspace.
  • For faculty and instructors, this can be extremely useful for demonstrating Mac applications while remaining mobile.
  • For anyone wanting a second monitor that’s touch.

 

https://lunadisplay.com/

Squirrels Ditto – Windows for Apple TVs

On March 6th, the Duke Digital Media Community (DDMC) welcomed Danielle Walker from Squirrels to showcase their new product called Ditto. Ditto allows Windows users to wirelessly share content to an Apple TV. While this capability has been available with other software in the past (including Squirrels’ own AirParrot), Ditto flips the model where instead of paying a per computer software license, you pay for a per AppleTV license, making the software much more interesting for large organizations.

During our testing, we found the software to be easy to download and install by following a simple URL for each space. Ditto installs a small piece of software on the local Mac or PC, and you are up within minutes. Sharing content from a PC was as easy as sharing from a Mac. From a screen management perspective, adding a screen was easy yet flexible. Ditto allows the “screen manager” to enhance a number of the standard features of an Apple TV including the ability to manipulate access codes, etc. The back-end software itself also has the ability to be rebranded with your organization’s logo, etc. It’s also worth mentioning that if you are a Mac user and would prefer to continue using AirPlay to connect to your AppleTV, Ditto doesn’t override that functionality.

We are currently evaluating the service, but if you are a member of the Duke community, feel free to ask us about a demo account. We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this product.

Insta360 ONE Announced Today

In February we wrote about the Insta360 Nano 360, a then-new-on-the-scenes 360 camera that solved usability challenges many devices in this space were suffering from. Today Insta360 announced the hotly-anticipated release of the successor to the Nano360, the Insta360 ONE.

At about $300.00, it maintains a low price point ($100.00 more than the Nano360), but adds some dazzling new features, such as those listed below. However, perhaps the most interesting thing about this camera is that, in the words of The Verge, this camera “help[s] solve the problem of when, where, and how we should use 360 cameras.”

Features

  • 4K
  • Freecapture: the ability to edit and export 1080p videos from your 360 footage that includes:
    • Bullet Time, via either an optional selfie stick or an included string
    • Auto tracking of a subject you identify in the video
  • Live streaming to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • The selfie stick disappears in your footage
  • 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization
  • Retractable lightning port plugs into your iPhone (Android version of the camera is in the works)
  • Rubber stand you can use as a base for shooting and for protecting the lens when storing
  • 24 megapixel stills, with the ability to capture in RAW format
  • An array of accessories available for purchase separately, including mounts for drones and helmets, underwater housing, a suction cup base, the selfie stick, which also is a bluetooth remote, and a tripod.

Watch Insta360’s promo video for the ONE here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrOmKKSRu8c

For more details about the ONE, check out this helpful review on Engadget: https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/28/insta360-one-4k-360-camera/#/

Also, here’s a cool advance video review of the ONE by a guy who clearly loves the invisible selfie stick feature! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fc1ilgKWwk

If any of you get the ONE, please let us know how it works out for you!

New Interactive Walking & Bike Tours App

This past year interest in a pilot service called MyTours has been growing as users across campus discover it and learn about its many benefits. Through MyTours, you can easily create walking or bicycle tours by uploading images, videos, audio, and text through a web browser, and geo-locate each stop on a map so users can navigate from point to point. When finished, these tours can be published in the iTunes and Google Play Stores for easy access by anyone around the globe through two apps called Duke Explore (for public content) and Duke Location Learning (for course-based content or content with a narrower audience).

A few examples of how this tour is currently being used include:

  • A tour for new employees in the Duke University Health System
  • A sculpture tour of the Duke Campus
  • A bilingual walking tour of Montreal created by students in the Duke in Montreal French immersion program
  • A tour mapping out “Hidden Durham,” showcasing landmarks and special places of historical significance in Durham

We are opening up the use of MyTours more widely throughout the Duke Community and would love to help you brainstorm ideas for tours that would help enhance the work you and your customers do. If you are interested in learning more about this service, contact oit-mt-info@duke.edu and someone will contact you to set up a time to discuss your project and show you how to use the tool.

Those of you who are already using MyTours should note that with a recent upgrade we added the ability to embed the following elements into your tours:

  • 360-degree photos
  • 3D models
  • Panorama photos

An important future direction we are exploring is the ability to leverage cutting edge indoor positioning technology. MyTours already lets you upload custom maps for indoor tours, but down the road we want to create more nuanced location-based awareness for indoor applications.

 

Say Hello to Solaborate’s Hello

Oh Kickstarter… how you love to torment us.ddmc_hello_2

 

Most AV technicians know that the world of software based video conferencing is rapidly expanding. Every tech company seems to have some form of home-grown video conferencing. Google has Hangouts and Duo, Microsoft (now) has Skype and Lync… I mean Skype for Business, Facebook has Messenger with video calling, Adobe has Connect, Cisco has WebEx, Apple has Facetime, and that’s the short list of conferencing connections we are asked to support.

Enter Solaborate
Solaborate has launched an interesting Kickstarter project called Hello. Basically, Hello acts as an endpoint for their Solaborate service, providing:

  • Video conferencing
  • Wireless screen sharing
  • Live broadcasting
  • Security surveillance with motion detection and more.

What caught my attention is that Solaborate plans to add Skype, Messenger, Hangouts, and WebEx support if they reach their $300,000 stretch goal. Considering they currently have $225,905 pledged on their original goal of $30,000, with 16 days to go, they may just make it. It’s important to note that this is a Kickstarter project… so take some or most of this with a grain of salt. But, if Hello lives up to the hype, it could be a very interesting device for small meeting spaces.

Follow Solaborate’s Hello Kickstarter at: https://goo.gl/3QwB55

Screen Record AND Present From Your iOS Device

I just purchased the new iOS Mini Synth app from Electro-Harmonix (because that’s what I do at 7AM on Saturday Mornings) and I wanted a way to share my brilliance with the world.

I realized I’ve never really found a way to record audio and video from my iPhone. Did some Googling and came up with this article that kinda blew my mind.

http://ioshacker.com/how-to/use-quicktime-record-screen-iphone-ipad-ipod-touch-running-ios-8

Apparently with iOS 8 and Yosemite, you can connect you can connect your iOS device to your Mac via a lightning cable and then record audio and video of your screen with the already resident QuickTime X application. It is super easy and free.

Then it dawned on me, that if you are in a classroom without an Apple TV and you want to share your iOS device, you can just connect your Mac to the projector, connect your iOS device to your Mac, get QuickTime X ready to record, but then just don’t hit record, use it to present. This would be a way for you to record your iOS device to Panopto!