Vetrina App

Posted by Mark

vetrina

Vetrina is a new app that was launched just over a week ago and it’s basically a Kuwait instagram shop directory. Since there are a ton of instagram accounts selling products in Kuwait, it makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for especially since there is no proper search feature built into instagram (People shouldn’t really be selling stuff on instagram anyway, they should have an online store but that’s another subject for another day). What Vetrina does is take all these instagram shops and organizes them in categories making it easy to find what you want. It’s pretty cool but one annoying aspect is that none of the products I looked at had their prices listed, instead it just said “Ask For Price”. That automatically kills the impulse buy factor for me.

The app just launched so I’m sure the price issue will probably be resolved further down the line. The app is available for iPhone and Android devices and you can check out their website for more details [Link]


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Badilha Video Games App

Posted by Mark

badilha

Although visually not pleasing, the idea behind the Badilha app is a great one. Badilha is an app that allows you to buy and sell used video games in Kuwait. Currently your best option is usually heading to Rihab Complex when you want to do that or using my blogs classified section. But, having an app revolving around this idea is much more convenient. If you’re interested, the app is available for both [iOS] and [Android]


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Apple Watch Now in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

applewatch

I was at LuLu in Salmiya earlier tonight and noticed they were selling the Apple Watch. They only had the 38mm Sport version in white and priced at KD229. To compare, the same model in the US costs KD165 KD105 before tax and shipping. Like the iPhone, as the Apple Watch becomes more readily available the price should drop.


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Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6

Posted by Mark

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Whenever I get a new iPhone I also tend to get a new waterproof case for it. My go to brand for waterproof cases for the past two or three generations of iPhones has always been LifeProof. Their cases are compact, look good and are waterproof down to a depth of 3M. But, all my LifeProof cases ended up developing a leak sooner or later. I kept going back to LifeProof because there were no similar alternatives, the only other case I used was the Hitcase Pro but it’s a lot more bulkier and it doesn’t allow you to access the charging port which is important for me since I my phone is always connected to my BeoLit 12 speaker at the beach.

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Since beach season has already started it was time again to get a new waterproof case and this time for my iPhone 6. While doing my usual rounds of research I found out about a case called Catalyst which all the reviewers were raving about. The Catalyst is very similar to the LifeProof case in features except its waterproof down to a depth of 5M instead of 3M and more importantly the Catalyst comes with a wrist lanyard. The wrist lanyard is a feature I always wished the LifeProof case had because its makes a huge difference during activities. For example when I went paragliding, I had my phone with me to take pictures but I was worried the whole time I would accidentally drop my phone. Now even if the phone slips out of my hand it will still hang on to my wrist. In addition to these two features the Catalyst is a bit cheaper and I personally think it also looks better than the LifeProof case.

I still have to wait and see how the Catalyst performs over the summer, but right now based on my brief experience with the case I’m loving it. If you’re interested you can purchase the case from the Catalyst website, they’re selling it for $70 without shipping. Or, you can do what I did an buy it off a seller on eBay. I offered one seller $60 with shipping and he accepted which was a great deal. For some reason the case isn’t available on Amazon yet. [Link]


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Abi Modaris App

Posted by Mark

abimodaris

Abi Modaris is probably the most horrendous looking app available on the iPhone. Not only does it look like an app designed back in 1996, it also looks like it was designed using Microsoft Word. But, the purpose of the app is pretty useful. Abi Modaris is Arabic for “I need a teacher” which is literally what this app is about. If you’re looking for a physics tutor, you just scroll down to physics and click on it to get a list of 18 different physics tutors. When you click on any one of them you get their phone number. Other than the horrible, horrible design, the biggest issue I see with this app is the lack of differentiation between all the tutors. So you’ve got a list of 18 physics tutors but there is no way to tell which is better or which is cheaper than the other. If there was some sort of feedback system were students or parents can rate the tutors then I think you’d have a much more effective app. Kinda like Yelp but for tutors.

If you’re interested in the app search for “Abi Modaris” in the app store. It’s free but there will be ads soon.


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Review: Alpine iLX-007 and Apple CarPlay

Posted by Mark

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Apple’s CarPlay is an operating system for cars that allows you to connect your iPhone and control it from within your car display. Ever since Apple revealed it I had been eagerly waiting for a third party to launch a unit that I could buy and plug into my car. The first company to announce a unit was Pioneer and then at the end of October Alpine released their own CarPlay unit, the iLX-007. Right as soon as it became available I ordered it and I’ve now had it for around a month so I’ve decided to go ahead and review it.

This is my fourth Alpine unit with iPhone/iPod compatibility but the first to use Apple’s new CarPlay OS. There isn’t much to review in the Alpine unit itself since its basically useless without CarPlay. If you don’t have an iPhone the Alpine unit is just a $500 FM/AM receiver. It doesn’t have a CD player or even Bluetooth but it does have an Aux input. The only other thing worth mentioning is the fact I can change and fine tune the sound/speaker settings all from my iPhone using the Alpine Tune App which is a pretty cool feature. So anyway for the rest of the review I’ll be focusing on CarPlay itself.

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After using CarPlay for over a month now I’ve developed a love and hate relationship with it. On one hand I love how seamlessly the iPhone integrates with my car but I also hate how the software feels unpolished as well. First lets talk about the good stuff.


[YouTube]

I recorded a video which you can watch above showing how easy and simple it is to interact and use CarPlay. My biggest reason for wanting CarPlay was the fact that Spotify is a supported app. Even though I could previously use Spotify with all my older Alpine units, this is the first time I can actually browse through my playlists, music and other Spotify specific areas all through my cars interface. I also like how well Siri works in my car now and how I could have her make calls for me or read or send messages which I dicate to her. And thats about it when it comes to the good stuff.

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Now here is whats wrong with CarPlay… it’s still very new. It reminds me of the iPhone when it first came out and so I’m expecting a lot of things to get fixed pretty soon but for now here are my biggest issues:

– Maps. For some reason I had the impression Google Maps came built into CarPlay but when I got it I realized it’s actually Apple Maps which sucks big time in Kuwait. It shows you all the roads on the screen but it won’t give you directions and you can’t search for anything. It’s pretty much useless and I’m hoping Google Maps will work with CarPlay pretty soon.

– When your phone is connected to CarPlay, ALL notifications on your phone get turned off. Meaning if your phone screen is off and someone sends you a message on Whatsapp you won’t be able to tell since the notification screen doesn’t come on to let you know nor will you get a sound notification. You don’t even get a popup on the CarPlay screen informing you of a notification like you do if you get an iMessage or SMS. Same with email or any other notification, they all stop showing on your phones lock screen and you don’t get notified in CarPlay. This means I now drive around with my phone screen on and my notification screen pulled down so I can glance at my phone every now and then while driving to check and see if I got any notifications.

– If you get or make a phone call you can’t talk to the person from your phone. You can either talk to them hands-free on the cars speakers or using your phones speakerphone. There is no option to talk to them privately using your phone so if there are people in your car the only way you can answer a phone privately is to disconnect the phone from CarPlay and then mute the car sound system (since it automatically switches to FM when you remove the phone) and then answer the phone. Super unpractical and I mean come on Apple WTF?

– Not many apps support CarPlay yet. As of now there are a handful of apps that work but the two I use are Spotify and Sticher for podcasts. I’d like to see Google Maps, Soundcloud, Whatsapp, HypeMachine and YouTube integrated into CarPlay. Just to be clear right now you can use music apps like Soundcloud with CarPlay but in basic form. For example if you play a track in Soundcloud on your phone you can view the track name and album art on the CarPlay screen and forward, pause and reverse from the screen as well but that’s it.

So as I mentioned already, CarPlay is still in its infancy. I’m expecting a lot of bugs and things to get fixed with upcoming updates and I’m also expecting a lot more app support as CarPlay becomes more and more popular. For now though if you’re considering getting CarPlay just be aware of it’s limitations. I don’t have any regrets getting it and Spotify alone is worth it for me. My Alpine iLX-007 unit cost me $499 and I picked it up from Pacific Stereo since they were one of the first to carry it.


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iPhone 6 Followup Review

Posted by Mark

Late last month I picked up my iPhone 6 from Geant and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s been just over two weeks now and the phone still hasn’t grown on me. The biggest issue I had with the iPhone 6 was the size, it’s just too big to use with one hand and two weeks later this remains my biggest issue with the phone. But, if that wasn’t enough, two more annoying issues have popped up as well.

I tend to leave my phone on silent most of the time because the vibration is usually strong enough to be felt and loud enough to be heard, or at least that was the case with my iPhone 5. With the new iPhone 6 the vibration is so much more weaker and quieter that I started missing a lot calls and now no longer keep my phone on silent.

The second issue I’ve been having with the phone is the grip since the phone constantly slips out of my hand. It probably has to do with the fact the edges are really curved and the phone is pretty wide making it difficult to get a good grip.

On the plus side everything else about the phone is just way better than my iPhone 5. I just wish Apple made the iPhone in three different sizes.


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My iPhone 6 Review

Posted by Mark

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I got a surprise phone call from Geant earlier in the month. At first I thought it might have something to do with the comments under my post from the previous day on customer service in Kuwait but it turned out to be unrelated. Instead, someone over the phone wanted to give me an iPhone 6 to review for the blog and the timing couldn’t have been better since I was thinking of pre-ordering one the following day from the Apple store website. At first I thought it was a bit odd that Geant was the one calling me up this year to review the iPhone since the previous years have always been electronics stores but then again, I’ve bought countless electronics from Geant myself without realizing it, my TV, two printers, a scanner and a bunch of external hard drives and memory sticks. So once they got the phones last week, I passed by their 360 Mall branch and picked up my unit.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of the phone since there are a million websites out there who have reviewed the phone thoroughly. Not only that but I don’t think majority of the people care if the battery lasts an extra hour or if the screen is slightly sharper or at least I don’t. The improvements year by year aren’t as drastic as they once were and I was perfectly happy with my iPhone 5 (not even an S) even though it was scratched up, dented and one of the volume buttons did’t work. The only reason I wanted to upgrade my phone was because the app 1Password would now unlock using my fingerprint and that would save me so much time instead of having to type out my very long and complicated master password.

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When I first picked up the iPhone 6 last week my first reaction was oh no, they accidentally gave me the larger iPhone 6 Plus. Compared to the iPhone 5, the iPhone 6 looks and feels huge. I liked the size of the iPhone 5 and I really don’t need a larger screen and I definitely don’t need a larger phone. Even though I’ve gotten used to the size of the phone now I still think Apple should have kept the previous screen size. Navigating the phone with one hand is a lot more difficult now even though you can double tap the home key and have the whole screen shift down closer to your thumb. That’s an extra step I didn’t need before. My biggest concern though was if it would fit in my shorts. My running and cycling shorts have a small pocket in the back where I put my iPhone in so I could listen to music while exercising. It was already a pretty tight fit with the iPhone 5 so I was worried the iPhone 6 wouldn’t fit and that would be a deal breaker for me #firstworldproblems. Luckily, my shorts use a stretchy material for the pocket so the iPhone 6 fit without issues.

Size aside everything else is fairly similar. The camera is slightly better the screen is a bit sharper, the battery life a bit better and compared to my iPhone 5, the phone definitely feels a lot faster. The only other major difference compared to the previous iPhone is the way it looks. It’s a much more slicker looking iPhone this year, it’s curvy and more comfortable to hold in your hands but I also feels it looks very generic and lacks the character of the previous generations. As I mentioned earlier, my iPhone 5 is just covered in dents and scratches, it had taken a lot of abuse from me and somehow I only cracked the screen once. I’m not very sure how much abuse the new iPhone will take, my gut tells me I’m going to end up cracking the screen very soon but hopefully that’s not the case.

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Do I like the iPhone 6?
Yes I do, I do wish it was smaller but I’m getting used to this size. On the main home screen I’ve moved the apps I use the most to the lower half of the screen for easy access and I’m getting the hang of the double tap for reachability feature.

Should you upgrade from an iPhone 5S?
No, you don’t need to. The biggest feature I’m using with my iPhone 6 is the fingerprint scanner and the 5S has that.

Should you upgrade from an iPhone 5?
No, you don’t need to, not unless you need the fingerprint scanner.

Should you upgrade if you own anything older than an iPhone 5?
You don’t but you probably should, the speed difference is considerable, the newer cameras are much better, your battery is probably getting old by now and not holding a charge like it once used to and iOS8 needs one of the newer phones to run reasonably well.

Geant are selling the iPhone 6 starting at KD269.990 for the 16GB, KD299.990 for the 64Gb and KD369.990 for the 128GB. I think 64GB is the best size, 16GB is just too small and 128GB too big unless you’re never deleting your photos and videos from your phone. The iPhone 6 Plus is more expensive, they start at KD399.990 for the 16GB, KD449.990 for the 64Gb and KD489.990 for the 128GB. No one under the age of 60 should be getting an iPhone 6 Plus, if you want a tablet get an iPad mini and if you want a phone then get the iPhone 6.


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iPhone 6 Prices in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

iphone6

The iPhone 6 is already available in Kuwait although at unreasonably high prices. zDistrict posted some of prices and they’re insane as they usually are when the iPhone first comes out. The prices right now are as follows:

iPhone 6
16GB KD390
64GB KD420
128GB KD460

So its definitely not worth getting one locally at the moment.


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Dating with Tinder in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

tinder

A friend recently asked me why I don’t write about the dating app Tinder. At first I wasn’t very sure if the local Tinder users would appreciate this extra attention, but then I thought about it again and realized a post about Tinder could actually boost it locally. So I decided to do some research and the first thing I did was google “tinder kuwait” which landed me on an extremely entertaining local blog called Single in the Shires. The blog is about the dating adventures of a single British girl living in Kuwait and since she was a Tinder user, I decided to contact her and ask her if she’d be willing to write the review instead. She nicely accepted and you can check it out below:

Swipe Right
When Mark asked me to guest blog for him I was delighted. Then I realized that I had to write about my shameful love life for the Kuwait blogosphere to digest. I hold my hands up… I am in my 30s and I’m single (audible gasp). And moving to Kuwait certainly hasn’t helped change matters. How could it? Gone are my days of meeting guys in nightclubs and bars. First date nerves are no longer steadied with a couple of wines. Dinners no longer turn in to dancing. And, for a change, I can remember every single disastrous detail the next day (not always a good idea). Plus, how on earth are you supposed to meet eligible bachelors in Kuwait – and by eligible I mean NOT the ones that follow you through Avenues, try and get your attention whilst driving dangerously or beep their horns as they drive past you when you’re trying to cross the street. Those men are a no no.

So, moving to Kuwait has meant embracing online dating – something I wasn’t a fan of in London. In fact, I’m even less of a fan now but needs must. And without match.com or mysinglefriend.co.uk there wasn’t much chance of even an internet date. Until Tinder popped up.

Tinder is an app that allows you to select your chosen target demographic (in my case: male, 32-38, within 50km) and then view their pictures. Like the look of them? Swipe right. Don’t like the look of them? Swipe left. Yes it’s shallow but it’s more fun than reading dating profiles that have been embellished beyond belief (ie the guy who said he was over 6 foot and was shorter than me on the date – and I’m 5 foot 7). The app pulls the pictures from your Facebook profile and it seems many users in Kuwait fail to review these and make any changes. Why else would there be 100s of profiles featuring men with their brides or profiles pictures that are of their children?!

You see, to some this is a dating site and to others it’s a hook up app. From talking to friends it seems men treat it as a hook up app and girls are a bit more willing to believe they’ll meet someone lovely and ride off in to the sunset to start their ‘happy ever after’. Wake up girls, you are not riding off in to the sunset with the guy that takes a selfie in the gym mirrors with his top off. That guy will always like himself just that little bit more than he likes you.

I could reel off my disastrous encounters thanks to Tinder but have chosen to protect the not-so-innocent. Plus, I don’t want to tempt fate. You see, for all my cynicism I am still hopeful that one day I’ll swipe right and meet a normal, well-adjusted guy that doesn’t want to show me the inside of his pants on Whatsapp after three messages.

So would I recommend Tinder? Well in the absence of an alternative then I suppose I would – as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Remember; online you can be whoever you want to be. Just take it all with a pinch of salt and swipe away. Who knows, you may have better luck than me.

SiS


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