The iPhone Traveler Pt. 10: Shoot and edit vacation video with an iPhone

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I use Apple’s own camera app, simply called Camera, for shooting video with my iPhone. It does everything I want and is easily accessible from the iPhone’s lock screen (via iOS 5.x). Here’s what I love about shooting video with Camera.

First, it shoots HD video (720p on the iPhone 4, 1080p on the iPhone 4S and 5). Image stabilization goes a long way towards reducing the shakiness of hand-held shots and cropping lets me to perform minor edits before sharing with iMovie on my Mac or iPhone. To shoot some video with the Camera app, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Camera to launch it.
  2. Move the slider in the lower right-hand corner to select video (slide it to the right).
  3. The “shutter button” in the center acquires a red status indicator light. Frame your shot and tap the shutter button to begin recording video.
  4. The red button blinks during recording and a time stamp appears in the upper right-hand corner.
  5. When you’re finished, tap the shutter button again. The red light stops blinking and the video file “jumps” into the camera roll.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while shooting video with your iPhone. First, It’s almost always better to shoot in landscape orientation (iPhone on its side) than portrait. The main reason is the aspect ratio will look much better on your TV, as you’ll be able to avoid large “black bars” on either side of your video.

You can record video with either the forward-facing camera or the rear-facing camera. You cannot switch while you’re shooting, so make your choice before you begin. Also, there’s no way to zoom in or out while recording, so frame the shot you want first.

Apple has added a nice feature by letting you use the volume up button as the shutter button. Hold your camera on the landscape orientation so that the volume buttons are on top. Tap the volume up button to begin recording (it resembles a “+”) and again to stop. This is feels much more natural than reaching for the software shutter button on your iPhone’s screen. Lastly, you can view your video quickly by simply swiping to the right. The Camera app will slide away and you’ll go right to the camera roll. That’s much easier than exiting Camera and tapping Photos.

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iPhone Traveler Pt. 9 – Navigate with maps

mapsontheroadApple’s iPhone ships with Maps, a home-grown mapping application that you can use to find driving directions, public bus routes and walking directions for when you’re on foot.

A quick note.

The public has not been satisfied with the performance of Apple’s Maps, and in September, 2012, the company issued a public apology for the performance of its app.

Understand that the mapping application that ships with your iPhone, Maps, may not be the best solution for you. Fortunately, there are several fine alternatives in the App Store, many of which can be found by searching for the term “navigation” or “maps.”

Today, I’ll explain how to use Apple’s Maps app as well as an alternative that I trust. Let’s begin with Maps.

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iPhone Traveler Pt. 8 – Tracking a flight

Earlier this month I wrote several posts about preparing to travel with your iPhone. Now, it’s time to hit the road. Now I’m going to look at using your iPhone while you’re en route. It’s a big topic, that this post starts it off with tracking a flight.

The iPhone is your pocket-sized, always-connected, tireless travel agent. With its small size, cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, Internet access and apps, it’s extremely handy for tracking flights. There are a tremendous number of flight tracking apps available for the iPhone. Be sure to check the App Store and search for “airline” or “flight.”

Flight apps are extremely convenient and useful. On several occasions, I’ve had my iPhone relay information faster than the airport itself. Delays, arrivals, and much else all show up on my iPhone. There’s no need to search out information, strain to hear every announcement, or speak with agent after agent. My absolute favorite flight-tracking app is Flight Update Pro ($9.99, universal), and it has been for years. Here’s how to track a flight with this fantastic little app.

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iPhone Traveler pt. 7: iPhone as clock, camera and navigator

The iPhone makes for a useful and reliable alarm clock, camera and navigation device. And you thought it was just for Twitter! Today I’ll describe apps and accessories to make your iPhone the ultimate travel alarm clock, point-and-shoot camera and in-car navigator. Unless you just enjoy folding those huge maps. Then you’re on your own.

iPhone As Alarm Clock

Your iPhone lets you create multiple repeating alarms, smart alarms that are aware of the day and more. Plus, your iPhone notices when you change time zones and adjusts itself accordingly. It’s super handy. Let’s get started.

Automatic Time Zone Detection

Before we create an alarm, let’s enable automatic time zone detection. Once turned on, your iPhone will “notice” where it is and adjust its clock accordingly. That way, you don’t have to do it manually (though, if you want to, that’s an option, too). Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General, then Date and Time.
  3. Move the Set Automatically slider to the On position.

That’s it. Now your iPhone will adjust for time zone changes on its own.

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iPhone Traveler: International iPhone use Pt. 2

This week I’m looking at international iPhone use. There are several ways to use or avoid your iPhone while traveling outside your home country. Our goal is to have fun, benefit from having a phone but avoid outrages charges.

Today, I’m talking about data roaming. Data roaming refers to using the Internet, email and other similar data connections outside your carrier’s coverage. Essentially, you’re “roaming” outside of your coverage zone.

Roaming costs can be quite very high. Even the simple act of checking email once a day can be costly. It’s a good practice to disable data roaming while traveling internationally. Fortunately, your iPhone has it switched off by default.

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iPhone Traveler Pt. 6 – Apps and tips from an international airline pilot

erinflightdeckI’ll admit, I’m pretty excited about this. My sister Erin is a pilot with United Airlines. She’s been flying internationally for about 10 years, always with an iPod touch or iPad in tow. I asked her to share some apps and tips with you all, and she was happy to oblige. Here’s her post: iPhone travel apps and tips from an international airline pilot. Enjoy.

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Don’t the the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles happen to you.

A bad day of travel cannot be completely avoided, but the misery can be minimized when the traveler is prepared for the worst and has backup plans. A great tool is at our fingertips in the iPhone (or in my case, an iPod touch and an iPad mini). We have come a long way from Del (John Candy) and Neil (Steve Martin) in arguably the best Thanksgiving travel movie.

There are two app lists below. The first is a list of the apps I use while at work.

The second is a collection of apps that passengers should consider. Remember, pilots travel as working crew members and as passengers. The second list includes apps that airline pilots use when traveling as a passenger. Each can provide tips on making things flow better for you and those around you.

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iPhone Traveler: International iPhone use Pt. 1

pdflagsizedTraveling internationally with your iPhone demands careful preparation. When you leave the country, you most likely will not be using the cellular data network that’s owned by your home carrier. Since you’re off your plan, you’ll possibly have to pay for each megabyte of data that your phone sends or receives individually. This can get extremely expensive very quickly. In fact, it’s very easy to generate a bill of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a surprisingly short period of time. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid an outrageous bill.

I’ve gotten numerous requests for a post on using the iPhone internationally since I started this travel series. It’s a big topic that deserves special attention. So, I’m going to dedicate this entire week to using the iPhone internationally. I’ll share my own research, interviews with others who travel quite a bit and more. After a week, we’ll have a very nice resource on international iPhone use.

To get us started, here are a few paragraphs from my TUAW colleague and newspaper designer for The Patriot-News in near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Megan Lavey-Heaton. Megan shared some of her experiences and practices. Enjoy, and keep watching the site for hands-on information.

“I’ve taken my iPhone out of the country to Canada and the United Kingdom. Traveling to Canada is just like being in the U.S. – so much so that you really have to make sure you turn off your data at the border. There were some places of Ontario very close to the U.S. border that I was able to pick up an AT&T signal, but to make absolutely sure, I didn’t use my phone much until I was back on the U.S. side. If you are driving into Canada, make sure that you’ve downloaded any navigation maps needed before the service switches to international.

The United Kingdom was a different story. With the iPhone 4, it kept bouncing from service to service (usually O2 or Orange) and was spending a lot of time searching for the closest provider when I turned Airplane Mode off. That’s OK, because you want to stay away from using the local networks whenever possible. The moment I leave the country, the phone goes into Airplane Mode and for the most part stays there until I get back to the U.S.

The absolute biggest potential hit to your wallet will come from your data plan. When I was lost in Toronto a few years ago, I turned on data long enough to find where I needed to go from Maps, then turned the data back off. That 30 seconds of search and download added $18 to my bill. Stick to Wi-Fi, but it’s harder to find it for free than in the U.S. if you don’t live there. For free Wi-Fi in the UK, the best places to get it are actually American food chains: Starbucks, McDonald’s and Burger King. In Canada, I found more free Wi-Fi spots. AT&T and Verizon have international data plans that you can add to and then remove from your plan if you want a safety net, but I’ve never used them.

The second biggest financial hit, ironically, comes from text messages. My husband texted me a few times to pin down my location in a Liverpool museum, and that added on several dollars to the following month’s bill. Set up iMessages before you go, and make sure you have it so that does not send via text message if it fails. That way, if you do need to text someone with an iPhone running iOS 5, it’ll default to Wi-Fi and not hit your text or data plans.

Traveling with an iPhone out of the country is great as long as you keep a vigilant eye on the costs. Keep the phone in Airplane Mode whenever possible, make sure everything you need is pre-loaded. Skip the iOS and app updates until you get home, because you don’t want to risk accidentally doing something to your phone that can’t be fixed.”

Comments are open, so feel free to share your international travel experiences.

This article is part of a series on traveling with your iPhone. You’ll find the other articles here.