Tag Archives: iPhone

Let your iPhone or Android phone or tablet read that ebook aloud to you

2017-09-20

Listening to a book while doing something else is a fun and useful way to enjoy a good story or learn from a nonfiction book. Audible and other stores let you purchase audiobooks that have been narrated by professionals, often actors. Most book lovers already have a selection of ebooks, and it is not very tempting to re-purchase them as audiobooks. Here is how you can make your mobile device (iPhone or Android) read an ebook to you for free.

Android smartphone or tablet

Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio

For Samsung, LG, Nokia, and all other smartphones and tablets that are powered by the Android software, there are many voice reader apps available at the Google Play Store. At the store, you may search, for instance, “voice reader” or “text to speech” for applications to download.

I have been using @Voice Aloud Reader on my Android tablet and phone. The way it works is that you specify the folders where you have your ebooks or any other texts stored. The app can also automatically scan the folders for ebooks.

Open the app, browse the ebooks and documents that are available for reading aloud. Choose anyone, and the app will read it to you. Play controls are available at the bottom of the screen.
Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio
For EPUB ebooks, Voice Aloud Reader works really well. You can view the table of contents, jump to a chapter you want and the app will read it to you.

The app doesn’t come with its own voices, but it relies on voices that come with Android. It is possible to download additional voices from the Play Store as well.

The free version displays ads that can be removed by paying for an upgrade.

Apple iPhone and iPad

The app that can read text aloud to you is already on your iPhone and iPad. You just have to find it – it is well hidden into the iOS operating system’s menu system.

1. Open Settings.
Select General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle on Speak Screen.

2. Open the ebook you want your iPhone or iPad read to you.

3. Swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers.
It will take a moment before the audio starts, and a pop up window with buttons to control playback appears.

4. Change the reader’s voice.
Go back to Settings – Accessibility – Speech section, and open Voice. You will get choices for voices that read to you.

The feature works best with the iBooks application, but it works on any screen where you have texts. Just swipe down with two fingers. So, you can use it in the Kindle app and in the web browser, but it may read some irrelevant text, too.

This is what the Apple iPhone X camera means for travel photography

2017-09-15

Many travelers, writers and even professional photographers trust in their smartphone cameras for capturing important images that document their journeys and remarkable moments in life. The Apple iPhone X has so many features for photographers that it allows travelers to reconsider the contents of their photography kits.

Apple iPhone X camera feature: face recognition
The iPhone X comes with three cameras: two at the back and one at the front panel. Here is what the cameras are for:

– Wide-angle camera at the back: ƒ/1.8 six-element lens, optical image stabilization. 12 megapixel image sensor. Allows you to get really close to subjects, or shoot small spaces that don’t fit into the frame of a normal lens. This and the telephoto camera are, however, used in sync by the system.
– Telephoto camera at the back: ƒ/2.4 telephoto lens. Together the two cameras at the back enable optical zoom. Two lenses also create depth to images. The benefit of this optical zoom is, however, minimal compared to camera lenses where the elements have room to move.
– TrueDepth camera at the front: ƒ/2.2 aperture lens. 7 megapixel image sensor. This is used by the Face ID recognition feature, and naturally, for selfies.

Apple iPhone X two cameras at the back: wide-angle and  telephoto
Apple has also developed new software applications that utilize the possibilities of the cameras. Especially, the Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting software allows iPhone X photographers to capture and adjust portrait images into studio-like pictures.

It is obvious that Apple has put a lot of effort for ensuring that selfies taken on the iPhone look fabulous.

The iPhone X cameras are at their best when shooting subjects that are relatively near the lenses. Anyone who has tried to snap a photo of beautiful scenery in the distance on a smartphone knows how disappointing the result can be.

Of course, the iPhone X is an expensive compact camera. The prices start from $999. Nonetheless, you get a smartphone as well, and you may consider leaving lenses or a camera home that you have used for close-up and portrait photos.

Street photography is also a potential field where the iPhone X can shine. Smartphones are less intrusive in street photography. People simply don’t mind that much when someone takes a photo on a smartphone even though they clearly see that they are in the frame. If you take the same photo on an SLR, they do mind.

No matter how good the iPhone X cameras and photography applications are, it is a camera with fixed lenses. It can’t do everything that SLR cameras with removable lenses can do.

Landscapes, city views, architecture, action, sports, sceneries, natural phenomena are the most likely photographs that require other type of camera equipment for the best results.

I have often used smartphone cameras for video recording lately, and generally have been happy with the results. It is primarily for documenting something or capturing a brief moment of city life or anything potentially interesting happening nearby. Video capture is another field where the iPhone X can be an excellent product. It can:

– Capture 4K video up to 60 fps (frames per second).
– Record slow motion video in 1080p HD format up to 240 fps.
– Produce time‑lapse videos.

The video features are remarkable – many SLR cameras can’t do 4K, slow motion or time lapse. Have you ever tried to shoot and produce a time lapse video? If you have, you know how much work and how troublesome it is. If the iPhone X can make time lapse videos easy, it is a big time saver.

In bright sunlight, most displays in SLR cameras become unreadable. The iPhone X display is based on OLED technology which means much brighter, clearer, and higher contrast image than an ordinary LCD display can produce.

The iPhone X camera specifications and features

Apple iPhone X: Portrait Lighting app

Cameras at the back
12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras
Wide-angle lens: ƒ/1.8 aperture
Telephoto lens: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
Portrait mode
Portrait Lighting (beta)
Dual optical image stabilization
Six‑element lens
Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
Panorama (up to 63MP)
Hybrid IR filter
Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Body and face detection
Exposure control
Noise reduction
Auto HDR for photos
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Timer mode
Photo geotagging: GPS location marked in photos
Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG

Video Recording
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps
Optical image stabilization for video
Optical zoom; 6x digital zoom
Quad-LED True Tone flash
Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
Time‑lapse video with stabilization
Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
Continuous autofocus video
Body and face detection
Noise reduction
8 megapixel still photos while recording 4K video
Playback zoom
Video geotagging
Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264

TrueDepth Camera (at the front)
7 megapixel camera
Portrait mode
Portrait Lighting (beta)
Animoji
1080p HD video recording
Retina Flash
ƒ/2.2 aperture
Auto HDR
Body and face detection
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Exposure control
Timer mode

Ebook news digest: travel writer or blogger, iPhone photography, European libraries, writing that second book

2017-06-20

News on ebooks, writing and photography

acer tablet with Bluetooth keyboard
3 Big Differences Between Travel Writing and Travel Blogging
Travel Blog Success

There are differences between travel writing and blogging, and in the long term, they are fundamental for a writer to understand. Yet, it is perfectly all right and possible to do both.

7 iPhone photography features you probably don’t know about
Picturecorrect

Useful features once you take the time and learn to use these iPhone camera functions. For instance, burst mode is a vital function for photographing fast moving subjects, and HDR mode can give good results in strong, bright light.

‘The future of their businesses is at stake’: European publishers are exploring alternatives to the duopoly
Digiday

European publishers whose revenue is increasingly depending on online advertising are not happy with Facebook and Google. Not only these companies borrow publishers’ content and make money with it, but they also take a large share of the online advertising revenue. Not anymore. Many big European publishers have switched to alternative ad networks.

5 Things All Writers Should Know When Writing a Second Novel
Writer’s Digest

The article talks about fiction books, but it is valid for nonfiction writers as well. Many non-fiction authors have told me that the hardest part is to commit to a new project and start it, because after the first book everyone knows how much hard work it was.

Scandinavia guidebook – free download: travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries
Klaava Travel Guide

Sweden’s West Coast is one of the hidden gems in Europe as far as travel destinations are considered. The large wilderness region of Lapland that covers the northern parts of Norway, Finland and Sweden is an outdoors lovers paradise. And city life in the north? It is covered as well.

Stunning Photographs of European Libraries
Fubiz

In European cities, libraries are often operating in magnificent old buildings. Some have originally been designed as public spaces, some have been converted into libraries, but in any case, these pictures are amazing.

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work [Infographic]
Toggl, Mart Virkus

The pioneer of remote work IBM famously called its remote workers back to their cubicles, but the trend of remote work continues to strengthen.

Keine Einigung über E-Book-Steuer
Boersenblatt

EU has already agreed to adjust the VAT of ebooks so that member countries could tax digital books in a fair manner, but the news is that the first meeting that was supposed to start implementing the new regulation halted the whole process. Now, we wait.

Book Weather app recommends new reads based on your book ratings

2015-09-25

Many companies have recognized the need book lovers often have when they are looking for their next book to read. Amazon has one way of recommending books, Goodreads another, and then there are dedicated apps that try and help in the discovery process. One of the applications is called Book Weather that has borrowed its symbols from weather forecasts.
book weather application on Apple App Store
Book Weather by Basement10 is a free app on Apple App Store (other versions coming later). It is intended for the iPhone but runs on an iPad as well.

Once you have installed Book Weather, create an account so that the app can remember which books you have and your ratings for the books. You can follow other readers and they can follow you.

Search for books you have or you wish you had and add them to your library. Rate the books as you add them to your library. Book Weather calculates average ratings for the books, and displays a weather symbol to indicate how hot the book is among readers.

The application worked fine on iPad, but the number books it recognized was low. We tried to enter several popular English non-fiction books into our Book Weather library, but since the app didn’t recognize the books, they weren’t added at all.

A video shows you the key features of Book Weather:

book weather application

How a Professional Photographer Frames Landscapes with a Smartphone

2015-05-05

Millions of people around the world take billions of photos on their smartphones every day. Professional photographers are proud to use their digital SLR cameras, but tend to look down on smartphone cameras. Julian Calverley is an exception. He shoots images for advertisements with a professional camera, but uses his Apple iPhone for landscape photos. How does he do it?

smartphone holder on a tripod

Here is a tip from our smartphone photographer: purchase a mini-size tripod and a phone holder that can be attached to the tripod.

For many travelers, landscape photography is the most difficult genre in photography. You see a stunning scenery in front of you, grab your camera, take a few pictures and can’t wait to view them on a large screen in your hotel room. Often, even if you have a good camera, landscape photos are disappointments because they didn’t capture the beauty of the scenery at all.

Cnet’s Andrew Hoyle got an interview from Julian Calverley who makes some very good points on photography, and shares a few tips for taking landscape images on a smartphone.

Why smartphone?
“It was a new-found freedom really. This thing was always in my pocket — in the past, everything was thought about. I had to think, ‘OK, I’m going to take my camera out, I’m going to take X amount of gear with me.’

“The downside is that people think anyone can take a picture now. Because software and camera equipment has dumbed the process down so much it’s easier to get a good result. Obviously, you can’t ‘buy’ composition and lighting.”

Tips for camera phone photographers:
1. “Avoid things that are really contrasty, because of the dynamic range of the phone.”

2. “I tend to go for simple scenes, simple compositions. The nice thing is, because you’re doing it on a phone, you have a reasonable sized preview — if an image works at that size, you’re onto something.”

3. “It’s very easy for the lens to get dirty when you’re taking it out of your pocket, so make sure you give it a wipe with a cloth — that’s basic, but it’s important.

4. “Always keep the horizons horizontal. You can correct that in apps, but you’ll lose quality to crop in.”

5. “You still need to have an eye for a good shot. That will never change.”

Julian Calverley has published a book #iphoneonly of his best landscape photos. His photo collection on Instagram features both digital SLR and smartphone photos.