Afternoon fun: redesign iOS7 yourself

Afternoon fun: redesign iOS7 yourself

TiOS7 redesigned by usvsth3mhe new iOS7 design has been much debated. Is it an improvement, or is it too ‘flat’? Everybody seems to have their own opinion. And now it is up to you. Thanks to the guys at Us vs Th3m, you no longer need to be a graphic designer. Redesigning iOS7 is just a case of picking and clicking. And before you know it, you have become the next Jony Ive.

Granted, the number of choices is limited. But it is good fun to click around and see what your iPhone would look like. So, head over to the iOS7 redesigner and share with us what your redesign would look like.

Twitter starts new media blog to show what and how to share

Twitter starts new media blog to show what and how to share

Twitter-media-blogIt is always best to learn from the source. That is also what Twitter will have thought when they launched their new Twitter Media Blog last week. The effort is obviously two-fold. Where many of Twitter’s user accounts are dormant, this is an effort to have people and brands wake up to the power of Twitter. After all, it has been a proven fact that an active account is more successful, which in turn makes it more active and so on.

So, what can we expect from the Twitter Media Blog? Well, in their own words:

In this space, you can expect:

  • highlights and examples of new and innovative uses of Twitter
  • updates on our latest features and products
  • tips for maximizing your presence and impact on Twitter

Twitter states on the blog that they will be focussing on a number of subjects. Churches and Christian organizations are not mentioned, but fear not, there is enough to enjoy. Like the way in which Michelle Obama took her followers to Africa on Twitter. This is a nice example of what you can do with your next mission trip. You might not reach the 400,000 followers she has, but you might take your sponsors or church members along on a trip neither they nor you will ever forget.

Tell us how you use Twitter to share your stories. We will feature the best on later this year.

Google updates Maps to 7.0 includes new Explore option

Google updates Maps to 7.0 includes new Explore option

Google-maps-7-0Last night Google has started the roll-out of the new version of Google Maps for Android devices. The new Google Maps adds traffic information, suggestions for alternative routes and a great new view to explore your area.

On of the great updates for Google Maps has been the inclusion of information on traffic, road works and closed roads. This brings Google Maps closer to the upmarket navigation systems as well as closer to other mobile apps that did include that information. I think that this inclusion will be one of the first features we will see Maps inherit from former opponent Waze. Waze was acquired by Google about a month ago for an estimated U$1.1 billon. This update to Google Maps could show us that integration of the technology of Waze into Google Maps might be closer than we think. For now, we can all enjoy better routing and suggestions for shorter travel times. And that is a definite improvement.

Whether it has to do with the new active routing or whether Google has had other reasons, fact is that offline maps have vanished. From 7.0 users no longer have the option to easily store maps offline on their phone so they can navigate without using a data connection. The decision to drop offline maps might be because it was known not to be perfect all the time. However, for the real enthusiasts the Google engineers have included a work around in the app. If you look up the map information that you want to use when offline, you simply type “okay maps” info the search box and hit enter. The app should then store that part of the map, though you cannot use it for navigation without an online connection.

google-maps-7-0-tabletBusinesses will be grateful for the new screens to display their information. These are especially nice on a tablet. Here you can find lots of details about the business you are visiting. And the explore screen really helps you to find your way around your area. Whether that is a known or unknown area for you, it is going to be easy to find a place to eat, dance, watch or do something else.

Google will be rolling out Maps in the coming day(s) to all its users that use Android 4.03 and newer. What do you use Maps for most? And what excites you in these new features?

Android security flaw – 900 million devices at risk

Android security flaw – 900 million devices at risk

exploitYesterday, Bluebox Security’s research team announced that there is a weakness in every single Android phone since Android 1.6. To put this in perspective, Android 1.6 was launched back in September 2009. This means that this problem has been present in most Android based phones that are currently in use. The official estimate is that it would extend to about 900 million devices, which is 99% of the android phones that are used today.

Naturally Bluebox has shared the problem with Google in February 2013. This means that Google is now able to fix it. However, most of the 900 million handsets will not be protected any time soon. The biggest problem with the Android system is that it used by many manufacturers. That enables you to have a great choice of phones when you walk up to the store. However, all these brands have added their own special sauce to their phones and put an HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony or other front on the phone that has been programmed in the base version of Android. In itself that is not a problem and it helps a user enjoy their phone that much more. But it often stops manufacturers from updating the firmware on the phone as they do not want to lose their custom development. Which is understandable, but it puts their customers at risk as there will be no more security updates.

So, is this the time to run away screaming? Not really. Yes, there is a vulnerability and yes, Bluebox is going to share it with the world at the end of this month. However, the biggest risk is when you install apps from sources that are not trusted. Granted, with Android there is a bigger risk that that game that looked so appealing is in fact a malicious trojan virus, but if you stick to the larger publishers, there is a pretty good chance you will be safe. Safest is obviously to keep your Android phone as updated as you can.

What can go wrong with your phone? Now this is the troubling part. If set up correctly, a malicious app can take over your complete phone. It can not only access all your contacts, messages, emails, documents and more, but it can also dive straight into your phone’s firmware. This means it can make calls, send messages, switch the camera on and off or even use your phone as part of a worldwide network.
In essence, it is much better to try and stay as far away from this as you can.

Though we at Techpastors cannot tell you how to completely protect yourself, we thought that this was important enough for you to know. And how real is this? Well, the image on this article shows the device information for a phone. This phone has been infected by the Bluebox team and it has changed the Baseband version to a new name which includes Bluebox. This value can not be changed by anything or anyone but the firmware, which shows that is is a serious matter.

Google Glass is everywhere, but will it make the church?

Google Glass is everywhere, but will it make the church?
Picture of Emily wearing Glass outside

Photo courtesy of Google

Google’s most interesting product right now was noticeably absent from its I/O conference this year. But we have been seeing it everywhere else. And many people have an opinion on Google Glass, the glasses that give you instant access to the internet. When Google Glass was first launched last year, I received a lot of emails of people who were doubtful to say the least. And I have to admit that I was absolutely one of them.

So, what is this Glass thing anyway and why would you want to have it? Well, Google Glass is like the rim of a pair of glasses that is supported by your nose and ears. But that is where the traditional part stops. Google Glass has a camera and a small screen that allows you to access information from the internet or share pictures.

It is easy to dismiss Google Glass as something that is intrusive and that will never be used by lots of people in real life. However, that would be short selling the technology at hand. It might just be that Google Glass is the next big thing after the invention of the mobile phone. Yes, I skipped tablets and smartphones altogether. The thing is that the impact Google Glass can have on society is much bigger than we imagine. And I am not moving towards privacy issues or being out of tune with reality. After experiencing Google Glass, the change might be in a completely different place.

Over the past years, a lot of people have been talking about augmented reality. This is where information is added from online sources to compliment the world around you. Google Glass allows you to add information from online sources as you go about your life. The good part is that, even though the person across from you might think you look strange, Google Glass will not actually be in your eye-sight. It will be slightly out to the top right of it. This allows you to look anyone straight in the eye, even though you might be getting extra information. How about using that possibility instead of fumbling with your papers at your next presentation or sermon? Or how about getting that information to help you navigate through a town without having to look at your phone and subsequently missing a step in the road.

These are just practical solutions that are in existence at the moment. But I strongly believe more will come. Wearable electronics will become bigger in the coming five years. We will also see more solutions that will add extra information to everyday life as we move around. The interesting question comes when we ask ourselves, so how can we use this?

Last week a surgeon used Google Glass in the operating room to share with others what he was doing. How can we apply this to the way in which we are church within our community? Would it help our personal lives to project scriptures at certain places in the city? Can it do more for ministers than showing their sermon notes? Or can the possibility of Google Glass give a whole new meaning to discipleship and walking together? I believe we are at the start of this new technology, but I think that in 10 years our children might find it strange that there was a time when it did not exist.

Update: A couple of hours after we published this blogpost, Google released an update for Google Glass now allowing the owners to launch a webbrowser, to access their full address book from Gmail, and to use more voice commands.

Connect to others: location check-in apps

Connect to others: location check-in apps

Foursquare-screenshotIn the second article in this series, I would like to take a look at location check-in apps. So, what is a location check-in app and what does it do? These are apps like Foursquare and Facebook’s Places option. They allow you to tell the world where you are and then share that across your social networks. Often they add a gaming element to it. In Foursquare you can become the major of a location, when you are the one that has checked into that location the most. They also run a score list to compare how often you have checked in to the checkin’s of your friends. But for this article, those games are not that important.

So, why on earth would you want to share with the world where you are at any given time? There are a number of reasons why you might want to do that. For me personally, if I check in somewhere, it is because I want others to know that I am available. Some people check into their supermarket and the local railroad crossing (seriously). However, I believe in using location checkins to show that I am at a place where I would be happy to talk to others. So, if you see me check in to a local bar or restaurant, come up and say hi. I appreciate it.
Another reason to check in is that I want you to know I am there. That is why I check into church on Sundays. And I make a point of checking into another church if I am there on that Sunday. It shows people where I am, but it also shows them I attend church, that I am a Christian and that I care about my church. But I also check into my favorite retailers to show that I shop there.

Obviously, checking into church does not reach people as such. But when combined with other checkins and other things you share online, people will get to know that you are a believer and that you take it seriously. And when you check in to your local gym, you might find that a neighbor goes there as well. And that might be a chance to share a ride to the gym and back and get to know each other better. The same goes for other locations. You might have found someones favorite restaurant and you can ask them what they think is the best thing to eat there. Or their favorite beach hangout. The opportunities are endless. Connect to your friends and their friends. Connect to people in your neighborhood and see what you and they like. That is an easy way to start a conversation. Which in turn might start a friendship.

Lets go out and connect! Tell me what your favorite spots are to meet people in the comments and how you would want to meet people there.

About Connect to others
Reaching out to others can be challenging. Which is why Techpastors is running this “connect to others” series. Because we believe that it is easier to share your faith with others, when you get to know each other. Technology gives us a lot of new opportunities to get to know people and to share with people what you are up to. Remember, this is not about sneaking up on people and hitting them over the head with a bible. This is about building a relationship with people based on something that you and them love doing. And that will allow you to show them your personal relationship with Jesus over time.

Short video examples: tell a full story in 6 seconds

Short video examples: tell a full story in 6 seconds

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 11.08.11At Techpastors we want to give you practical applications of technology. So, whenever I write something, I want to give you an idea of how you can use it. Often that will be in words, but in case of short video fragments, that might not come across as well. So, when I came across these short videos, I decided I wanted to share these with you. They illustrate the different things you can do with tools like Vine or the new Instagram Video that I shared with you in a previous post.

Lets start off with a brand. Fashion brand Burberry decided to show their full runway lineup with their audience in a 6 second video. And it was well received. It gives you a quick taste and for fashion fans, that might get them to go to the site and see all of the creations for themselves.

But you can also try to tell a story. You might be able to fit a complete story in, or just a teaser. Here are a couple of Vine users that animated their video to show you a story that would take more than 6 seconds to tell otherwise.

And you can combine the real world and the animated world as well.

Now come Christmas time, or Easter, how would you tell those stories in 6 seconds? Or 15 if you are using Instagram? How can you really get that point across? Or tell about your church, your youth group, that concert etc. in a way that people can enjoy it and be triggered enough to want to come out next time?

Instagram launches video for Instagram – 15 seconds to touch people

Instagram launches video for Instagram – 15 seconds to touch people

Instagram-workflow-videoOn Thursday the 20th, Instagram launched video as their latest addition to their services. It is a very powerful system that allows you to post little videos of what you are seeing with the push of a button. It is almost like a tiny ‘broadcasting made easy’ package that will allow you to share beautiful sights and sounds with your friends.

If you are not familiar with Instagram, let me do a quick introduction for you. Basically, Instagram allows you to take pictures with your mobile phone and share them with your friends within Instagram and across social networks. Instagram had two unique features that allowed it to quickly grow to become the biggest photo sharing service online. The first advantage was the well executed timeline. The timeline makes it very easy to see what others are sharing and to comment on their pictures. The second advantage were the great filters that Instagram allows its users to use on their photos. That way you can easily give your pictures a change in colors, borders and general feel.

Facebook saw the impact Instagram was having and bought the service. However, with the rise of Vine on Twitter, Instagram must have known it would be bad to just sit still. Vine allowed Twitter users to easily share 6 second video clips of whatever they experience. And now Instagram has gotten into that same field, but has improved on the concept.

Instagram video allows you to share videos of between 6 and 15 seconds. All videos will be shot in a square format, so there is no reason to tilt your phone to get a landscape view. Recording a video is as easy as holding down the record button on the phone and the slider will move as the seconds pass. After your recording, you can edit the video and apply colorful filters. Instagram will immediately show you the results that the filters have on your recording, so you can browse through the filters to find the one that suits you best. You then get to pick the cover photo, which will be the image people see before they start your video. And lastly you can add a title and the services you want to post the video to and click the share button. Instagram then takes care of the rest.

This is all great, but how can you use this? Well, Instagram is an awesome app to share experiences with people. Whether it is a great picture of a band, or the sun flowing through a stain glass window. And now they have added video, which allows you to have people experience a great moment with your youth group. It allows you to share a great time with friends, the joy around baptism or any other great moment. It is also a great tool to just stay in touch with people around you. To show them what you value. What makes you laugh, what makes you cry and even the ‘mundane’ things such as having a great meal together.

There is a saying that tells us that the eyes are the windows to our soul. I strongly want to encourage you to not only see that as the eyes showing what is going on within our souls. But also to realize that the eyes are one of the best ways to reach and touch the soul of someone who is able to share that precious moment with you.

Apple launches new iOS7, what is in it for you?

Apple launches new iOS7, what is in it for you?

iOS7Yesterday, at their WWDC conference, Apple introduced their new iOS7 operating system for the iPhone and iPad. Obviously there are many new features that are an improvement from iOS6. However, the big question with any upgrade of your phone is what the changes mean to you.

At the bottom of this article, you will find an overview of a number of new features that are introduced to iOS7 and that will hit iPhones somewhere in the fall. The good news is that a lot of phones will actually get to benefit of the new iOS7 features. But the feature that might be the best one to have, will only be released to the iPhone 5, the iPad 4, the iPad mini and the iPod touch 5th generation. That feature is called Airdrop and it will help you to share with the people around you.

Sharing amongst phones and tablets is not new. But Apple’s Airdrop does make it easy. It searches for other compatible devices that are close to you, and then you can choose what document you share with whom. Which makes it very easy to share the latest information that is needed for your meeting. Or to share your bible study with the group you were meeting with. Without having to physically connect to the various devices that people carry. Unfortunately Airdrop will only be released to newer Apple devices. This will narrow down your options for sharing, but if you are up to change the phones for your whole team, this might be a great reason to make sure everyone will run iOS7.

What are the other new features in iOS7?
The new Control Centre allows you easy access to Airplane Mode, wi-fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness, your music and other things. You can find Control Centre by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen.

iOS7 comes with a revamped Notification Centre. It is now also accessible from the lock screen to give you an easy overview of all your alerts. New is the Today feature, that shows you an overview of what is ahead for that day.

We have seen filters that change the colors of the pictures you have taken in popular apps like Instagram and Snapseed. Apple has now integrated filters into the iOS7 camera app. The new camera app also makes it easier to switch between the different camera modes the iPhone offers.

A new Moments feature has been added to the Photo app. Here you can find media based on where you are and what time it is. It also allows people to share streams with friends and family through iCloud, so it is even easier to keep everyone up to date.

The browsing experience on iOS7 has been greatly improved with the addition of full screen browsing to Safari. You can now also store all your passwords and credit card details on iCloud, if you would want to. This allows you to use that data across all your devices that you use the new Safari on. A welcome addition to Safari are the parental controls, which allow you to block access to adult material amongst other things.

If you like to ask your phone questions, you will be pleased to know that Siri has received new female and male voices. Siri also connects to Twitter, which allows you to hear Siri read to you what people are posting there. Siri now also integrates Bing and Wikipedia.

Following the examples of other music services, Apple has updated the Music app with iTunes Radio. It streams audio online and already features over 200 different radio stations you can listen to. Alternatively, you can build your own station with the music you like. This is not only available on iOS7, but it iwll also come to the Mac, PC and Apple TV.

On the technical side, Apple has improved the way multitasking is working, so your apps will switch faster and will also use less power to keep on running in the background.

That is an overview of the changes for iOS7. Apple also announced a new operating system called OS X Mavericks, a new line up of four new Macbook Air models, and a glimpse of the new Mac Pro.

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