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Is iPhone Insurance Worth the Cost?

Submerged iPhone

When you buy an iPhone through an AT&T store, they offer you insurance to protect your device. Yes, they give you the basic costs, but more than likely, the big picture won't be explained. Once you look closer at the details, another option may surface.

Here's a real life example. Just this week, I immersed my iPhone 5S beyond repair. Since I had bought the device directly from Apple, I had never considered insurance from my carrier, AT&T.

I submitted a service request via the Apple Online Store on Tuesday evening. The charge to replace my iPhone 5S was $269 plus tax. (The Apple warranty does not cover dunking the phone in water.) Apple submitted my info to UPS that night. The next morning I dropped off my phone at the closest UPS shipping center (they did the packing for me), and by Friday afternoon I had a replacement 5S, same configuration as I had bought, delivered by FedEx. The entire process took 3 days.

We have another iPhone 5S on our AT&T family plan that we purchased at an AT&T store. We opted for the $9.99 a month protection plan that is underwritten by Continental Casualty Company and administered by Asurion Protection Services. The deductible for the iPhone 5S is $199. We've had a claim with them before, and the entire process took over 2 weeks and included 3 phone calls.

The bottom line is this: Apple covers your iPhone for 1 year for free. There are certain exceptions such as water immersion. Even with the exception, they will replace your iPhone for less than $300 when out of warranty, and do so quickly and without hassle.

I'm not recommending one option over the other. But it's something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself purchasing a new iPhone at an AT&T store.

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Not everyone wants a Creative Cloud membership. And since you can still purchase Lightroom as a standalone app, you don't need CC.

But what if you want to use Lightroom to help you manage your smartphone pictures? Lightroom Mobile only works with a Creative Cloud account.

No problem. Here's a workflow that doesn't require Creative Cloud, but does let you use Lightroom to help you organize, add metadata, and edit your mobile photos. It's part of my Managing Your Mobile Photos title on lynda.com. (But you don't have to sign up for that either to watch this movie :-) Check out Uploading pictures directly to Lightroom. It's a free movie on the title page (Chapter 5, movie 2 - Just scroll down a bit).

I'll be writing about Lightroom Mobile in the future. But for now, if you're a standalone app user, you might find this movie helpful.


More Help on Managing Your Mobile Photos

In my lynda.com title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users. These tutorials will help you build the perfect backup solution for you, so that you never lose a single memory.

Monster Y Splitter

Airplane entertainment systems are certainly welcome on long flights, but I like to watch my own selection of content too. For example, currently I'm hooked on Breaking Bad and am working my way through past seasons.

This is even more fun when shared with a travel partner. It's just like going to the movies: You can watch it together, then discuss the show over a cup of coffee afterwards.

For these occasions, I keep a Monster iSplitter 1000 Y-Splitter with Volume Control/Mute ($9.99) in my carry-on bag. With it, I can share music, TV shows, and movies with another. It even has separate volume controls.

The iPad is a terrific travel companion in many ways, and entertainment is definitely one of them. Sharing that content with another makes it even more fun.


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This Monster Y Splitter has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

Shutter for iOS

If you're look for additional backup for your iPhone photos and videos, Shutter by Streamnation has an interesting proposition: unlimited storage for free.

Their iOS app, Shutter combines a useful camera with a clever storage service, and lots of sharing features. One of the things that initially caught my eye was the fact that I could capture an image in Shutter, then open it directly in Instagram.

When you're taking pictures with either an iPhone or iPad with the camera function, you have the basic features you'd expect: focus point, flash control, and a handful of filters. Nothing fancy, but it certainly gets the job done.

Local Backup Too

Beyond that, Shutter saves all of your photos and videos to your account, keeps the last 200 available locally in case you don't want to use bandwidth to play with them, and will even automatically backup your existing camera roll.

You can save your Shutter images to you camera roll (or leave them in the Shutter app), post them online, or email to a friend. The sharing options are strong with good connections to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Because we've had some bad luck with great services closing down in the past, I don't recommend putting all of your backup eggs in this basket. But I think it's worth testing and using as a redundant service to your primary archiving system. I'm particularly interested to see how this all ties together with the StreamNation app that I've loaded on the iPad that lets my manage the content I have in their cloud service.

I'm on the road in a week. That will be a good opportunity for further testing.


More Help on Managing Your Mobile Photos

In my lynda.com title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users. These tutorials will help you build the perfect backup solution for you, so that you never lose a single memory.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

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I've just returned from two weeks in Europe traveling with an unlocked iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S. Both devices used SIMsmart cards for calling, text, and data while abroad.

Over the course of the trip, I was able to post to Instagram and Facebook directly from my iPhones. Plus, I could answer email, browse the Web, and check the weather.

One of the best aspects of the SIMsmart plan is the ability to order the SIM cards ahead of time, install them, and enable their data configurations. By doing so, both phones were ready for immediate use when I landed in London.

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I charged each card with an $80 credit. The iPhone 3GS still has about $5 remaining, while the iPhone 4S ran out of data on the second to last day. I could have easily recharged either card online at the SIMsmart site, another nice feature of their service. Fortunately, I was able to use just the 3GS on the last day.

Once you receive the SIMsmart card via shipping, simply install it in your phone and go online to activate. Voice and text will be immediately available. If you want data too (and who wouldn't), then customer support will contact you with a link to their profile. It's very easy to install, and that finishes the set-up process.

For each of my phones, it took about 20 minutes in London before they were ready for data usage. I'm not sure what was going on in the background, but once everything had clicked in, they worked like a charm. I didn't have to do anything on my end to make them work.

I had full connectivity in England, Ireland, France, Scotland, and Wales. Phone service was reliable with no dropped calls, and data streaming was better than many of the WiFi hotspots I tried to use.

If you've unlocked an older smartphone (by request to your carrier), I think purchasing a SIM card with a phone number that's local to your travel destination is an excellent plan. I used WiFi when I could. But when it wasn't available, I was thankful for the SIMsmart cards.


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The SIMsmart card has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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I confess. I already liked Instagram. A lot.

But my fondness for this social networking photo app has grown considerably with the latest 6.0.1 release. Without sacrificing ease of use, we now have an entire tool box of image editing adjustments, improved speed, and the ability to adjust filter strength.

When you first select an image, the app behaves as before. You can crop and move around in the square frame to position the photo to your liking. Things change, however, once you hit Next.

Adjusting filter strength in Instagram 6 on an iPhone 5S.

You have three editing categories represented by icons beneath the photo (on the iPhone 5 and 5S). The magic wand icon for Filters, the sun icon for Lux, and the wrench icon for Tools.

Initially Filters behave as before. Scroll to find the look you want by tapping on the filter name. But now, tap again on its icon and a 0-100 slider is revealed, allowing you to adjust its strength. This is where you can add a frame too. If you like what you see, tap the checkmark and the adjustment is applied. Tap the X and you go back without any changes.

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Lux remains the same. Which is fine with me because it's an amazing slider as is.

Three of the new adjustment options in Instagram 6 on an iPhone 5S.

If you tap on the wrench icon, you're presented with 10 editing tools: straighten, brightness, contrast, warmth, saturation, highlights, shadows, vignette, tilt shift, and sharpen. Each adjustment has a slider allowing you to apply the amount of strength you desire.

Add a dash of speed without breaking anything, and we have a winning update. And you don't need the latest OS to use it. The new Instagram will run on devices that support iOS 6, and it's optimized for the iPhone 5. I tested it on both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 4S. Worked fine on both, however, the editing icons were at the top of the screen on the iPhone 4S. Instagram 6 is also available in Google Play for Android devices.

Based on my preliminary testing, there's no downside to this release. If you enjoy Instagram, or feel like it's time to jump in, I think you'll like this version of the app. You can follow me at DerrickStory.

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Many devices allow us to stream content to our iOS device, but iStick will let you copy photos from your iPad or iPhone to a flash drive.

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iStick features include:

  • Free universal iPhone/iPad/iPod touch iOS app
  • Music & Movie Player (able to decode MKV, RMVB, AVI, WMV etc.)
  • 1080p HD movie streaming, direct playback from iStick
  • Photo & Document (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, PDF, iWork) Viewer
  • Open files directly on the iStick without the need to copy to iDevice
  • Copy/Move files between iDevice and iStick
  • File Management (Copy/Cut/Paste/Delete/Rename/Create Folder)
  • Backup photos/videos from iDevice Camera Roll to iStick
  • Support "Open In" functionality
  • Open files from other apps in iStick app
  • Open files from iStick in other apps
  • iDevice Contacts backup and restore

There's two weeks left in the iStick Kickstarter project, and you can jump in if this looks interesting to you. I'll publish a review once I receive mine in August.


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The iStick has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

transporter-sync.jpg

When I first covered Transporter Sync, I was intrigued by the $99 network device, but I thought its iOS functionality left a bit to be desired.

Now with version 2.2.24, Connected Data has added automatic Camera Roll backup that is useful. Once enabled on your iPhone or iPad, images from your Camera Roll will be automatically copied -- full sized and with metadata intact -- to your Transporter Sync. You have control over when and where this happens via Preferences. The app creates a new folder called Camera Uploads and places subfolders inside it labeled as your connected iOS devices.

Browsing the backed-up images on the iPhone still leaves a lot to be desired. But with Transporter Desktop 2.5.17, the viewing experience on my Mac is reasonable.

transporter-on-mac.jpg Browsing my backed-up iPhone images via the Mac desktop application.

So the scenario plays out like this: You connect your own hard drive to a $99 Transporter Sync, you have control over your private cloud with automatic and user-initiated backup of your mobile images (plus anything else you want), you can browse and access the content on your desktop computer (and mobile devices if necessary).

I wouldn't use it as my only mobile backup solution. But as part of an overall effort, this latest version of the software makes Transporter a nice addition.


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The Transporter Sync has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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With a terabyte of free storage, it's easy to think of Flickr as the hall closet where you stuff all your photos. But consider its immersive audience and sharing tools; you may want to revisit your approach.

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For example, if you click on the Photo Gallery button of The Digital Story, it takes you to my Flickr Photo Stream. Once Flickr redesigned their site, I felt that the presentation was strong enough to showcase my images.

In my latest article for lynda.com, Use the New Flickr to Promote the New You, I advocate the following points for increasing your online presence with Flickr.

  • Think of Flickr as a showcase, not a dumping ground
  • Use Flickr as a tool to help you develop your photographic style
  • Stay out of ruts
  • Post-processing is a good thing
  • Don't be afraid of filters
  • Follow interesting people
  • Look at the metadata of the images that you like

You can still use that terabyte of free storage. Just keep the bulk of those images "private" and only make public the interesting shots. By doing so, you can begin to project your style as a photographer, and hopefully attract others to it.

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Flickr Essential Training 2013 - I explore the entire Flickr universe, mobile and computer, in my lynda.com title, Flickr Essential Training. Stop by and take a look.

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I've tested a variety of ways to add watermarks to my mobile photos, but Tagg.ly is the easiest. And the iOS app is free.

Your options include a single text field (I added my name and URL), timestamp, location, and logo. The text information is elegantly placed in the lower left corner. The logo, if you choose to add it, goes in the upper right. I found it a bit intrusive for my tastes. But I like the text placement.

Tagg.ly doesn't rely on metadata. It's part of the image. So unless someone intentionally crops it out, your name won't be accidentally stripped from the photo by a rogue app.

You can use the app's built-in camera function. But I prefer to shoot with my regular camera app, then open Tagg.ly to apply the watermark to images I plan to share. Since it taps your Camera Roll, it's easy to pull up a shot, tag it, then have the new version saved to your iPhone or iPad (Yes, it works with the iPad too).

And since the text field is so easy to change, you could use this app for adding captions to photos before publishing them. So, even though it's quite simple, it's very handy. And I anticipate that will see more features in future versions. I think it's terrific.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.