Auto-upload your photos to the cloud on Windows Phone 8, Android and iPhone

cloudI have a Windows Phone 8.1, Android 4.4 and an iPhone running iOS 7.1 and each platform has it’s own cloud backup service for photos you take and I thought it would be great to consolidate them all into a single service, so all my photos are in one place along with any screenshots I take on the device.  It sounds simple doesn’t it?  What could possibly go wrong?  I didn’t realise this would end up being a four week test of trials and tribulations.

I have Amazon Cloud Drive, Box, Dropbox, Google+, OneDrive and SugarSync to name a few along with Google Drive, but I’m going to focus on the more usable solutions which are Amazon, Dropbox, Google+ and OneDrive.

By default out of the box, here’s where each platform backs up photos to

  • Android -> Google+
  • iPhone -> PhotoStream
  • Windows Phone 8.1 -> OneDrive

So as you can see, there’s room for consolidation here!  Before doing so I should say that Android uploads photos seamlessly to Google+ without the need to open an app, it does it in the background.  The same for iPhone to PhotoStream, it syncs whether the phone is locked or not, and the same for Windows Phone 8.1, it backs up seamlessly to OneDrive without the need to open any application.  So all of these work well to their own cloud systems but what I want is a single cloud storage platform where ALL my photos and screenshots get saved to.


  • Amazon Cloud Drive
    • I installed the Amazon Cloud Drive app, it’s slow, not the fastest on the block to show thumbnails in the cloud, but that’s not what I want it for, I want it to backup my photos seamlessly to the cloud.  The app is in it’s infancy, Amazon have just beefed up its service recently to support auto-upload, the app seems to upload photos and videos perfectly fine to Amazon Cloud Drive without the need to open the app.
  • Dropbox
    • I installed Dropbox but had some issues with it not auto-uploading the photos, recently Dropbox released Carousel and I tried that, it works a lot better and works flawlessly.  Okay that’s two apps that work great on Android.
  • Google+
    • There’s really not a lot to say about Google+, it uploads photos automatically without any problem whatsoever, although I have had previous Android devices that don’t seem to upload well or stall the photo uploading.  I’ve had this under iOS too, so when it works well it works well, but sometimes can hiccup and fails, although Google+ is the native cloud storage for Android, so that’s 3 apps that work well now.
  • OneDrive
    • I’ve hit into a few problems with OneDrive, sometimes it seems to upload and sometimes it doesn’t.  Most of the time it does auto-upload, but maybe it’s just not happening as fast as I expect it.

So there’s almost a 4 out of 4 there in terms of camera auto-upload on Android.  However, there’s one problem, although all the photos uploaded perfectly fine, the screenshots didn’t.  Screenshots don’t get saved in your Camera Roll, they get saved in a folder called Screenshots.  So to get Screenshots to auto-upload, well they just won’t.  You have to either open each of the above apps and manually select and upload screenshots you take, or you have to manually copy/paste them from the screenshots folder into the camera roll to get them to then auto-upload.


  • PhotoStream
    • PhotoStream is only available for iOS, it works a good 90% of the time but sometimes photos don’t get uploaded.  I see this a lot when I look in iPhoto on the Mac or check another iOS device.  Sometimes you can force it by adding the photos to another Shared PhotoStream and suddenly they then appear in your main PhotoStream.  This works well with phone locked, although for the purpose of this test, I wanted to use ONE system, so as Android and Windows Phone can’t use PhotoStream, then this test fails, so onto the next app.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive
    • The annoyance with Amazon Cloud Drive and I think it’s an iOS native problem is that although the application works in background mode, you constantly get notified in the notification centre that the app has stalled to upload photos, you need to open the app to re-upload.  So you re-open the app, it starts to upload, you browse away to another app or lock phone again and you get notification again that you need to open the app.  So for me, this fails because the next time I go to launch the app because I keep forgetting to launch it, I have several hundred photos which takes 20 minutes to upload.
  • Dropbox
    • Dropbox seems to be affected just like Amazon Cloud Drive by the same problem that you need to keep opening the app.  However, Dropbox released Carousel recently and this seems to not have this problem, or at least not from what I’ve seen so far.
  • Google+
    • Google+ seems to stall a lot just like Amazon Cloud Drive, the problem though I have with Google+ is that there’ son way of jump starting it once its failed to upload photos, so unless you manually tag photos to upload it won’t catch up.
  • OneDrive
    • OneDrive unfortunately fails in the same way as Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox native app and Google+ where you find you get the notification that the app needs to re-open to start uploading photos.

So for iOS, PhotoStream is pretty much the most accurate auto-uploader but if you want a centralised cloud photo backup system then Dropbox’s new Carousel works extremely well in my tests.

Windows Phone 8.1

  • OneDrive
    • I’ll cover OneDrive first because OneDrive is the native solution for Windows Phone 8.1.  OneDrive works flawlessly unlike under iPhone and some problems under Android.  You’d expect it to work right though wouldn’t you?
  • Amazon Cloud Drive
    • There’s no official app on Windows Phone 8.1 for Amazon and any of the third party apps don’t offer auto-upload from what I can find which rules out Amazon.
  • Dropbox
    • Again there’s no Dropbox native client on Windows Phone 8.1, there are other apps like CloudSix for Dropbox, they do offer auto-upload functionality although these have failed dismally for me.  I have to open the app manually and let it sync the photos which isn’t my intention.
  • Google+
    • Google don’t have a native Windows Phone 8.1 app, in-fact Google don’t have any native apps on Windows Phone 8.1.  There are third party developers apps available but none that will upload to Google+ as it’s a closed system with no API’s allowing for third party developers to hook into their system to upload photos.

So for Windows Phone 8.1, this is where auto-upload for photos to Cloud Storage really falls down.  Pretty much the only one that works is OneDrive, and it does work flawlessly but it seems as though I won’t get a single platform to store my photos on unless I upload them manually.  Now, here’s another problem that I hit into.  Even though OneDrive works flawlessly, there’s still another problem, just like Android, the screenshots get saved to a different folder, and these don’t get uploaded automatically as OneDrive app can only monitor the main camera roll and not the screenshots folder.  Which means you have to manually open up OneDrive app and choose your Screenshots folder and manually upload each screenshot you take.


I’ve come to the conclusion for now that Windows Phone has to stick with OneDrive for auto-upload of photos to the cloud as no other cloud system with auto-backup works.  Android works flawlessly (pretty much) across all the cloud platforms and apps, I found Dropbox to be the most reliable using the Carousel app from Dropbox.  iOS works well with Dropbox’s new Carousel app and just like PhotoStream it works about 90% of the time.  So I’d have to say that Dropbox is as close as I could get to using a single Cloud Storage for my photos with auto-upload although Windows Phone still doesn’t play well.  I’m half tempted to just stick to OneDrive for Windows Phone 8, Dropbox for Android and PhotoStream for iOS but at least getting iOS onto Dropbox means I have 2 out of the 3 platforms using the same cloud backup system.

Where do we want Tech to be in 5, 10 or 15 years?

futureThis is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially seeing Apple is now reaching 30 years with the Mac.

I think it’s inevitable that we all want larger screens, the 3.5″, 4″, 4.7″ screens although handy to slip into your pocket aren’t quite the right size.  I do believe the Phablet screen size between 5-6″ as being the sweet spot.  This is already happening on Android and now Windows Phone with the latest Nokia 1520 and I hope Apple do adopt the same strategy and create a larger iPhone to facilitate that.  I love the iPad Air and use the iPad mini even more than my iPad Air mainly because of the screen size.  Weight isn’t an issue now with me on the iPad Air like it was on the iPad 3 or iPad 4, the screen is gorgeous and large but for the mobile user taking it with you even in a shoulder bag is cumbersome.  A smaller tablet or even better a larger phone to bridge the gap would be better.  The iPad mini is a 7.9″, the iPad Air is 9.7″, if we could have something around the 5.9″ I think that would be the sweet spot for a phone.  A little oversized for your pocket, yes.  However, it would be more usable on a daily basis.  I find the font sizes on the iPhone 5S even though the screen is larger than the iPhone 4S just becoming too small, or is it just my eyes are deteriorating over time?  Most likely a bit of both.

So what about the desktop device?  Microsoft had this vision of the original Surface table top where you have a screen built into a coffee table or desk.


That’s fine and it’s a large screen but if you think about it you’ll be more hunched over your desk and cranking your neck and be more susceptible to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) spawning an entire new legal vertical not to mention health insurance vertical being the net result.  Certainly I’d like to see larger screens, I have a 27″ sandwiched between two 24″ monitors on my desk, my TV is a 55″ TV and I use my Mac daily on that too, having a larger screen would be great, but I think having a tabletop integrated monitor in the horizontal layout is just wrong.  If it was tilted slightly, maybe, but still you’re arching your back and cranking your neck.  A larger vertical monitor like we have on our desks now or wall mounted monitor iI think is the better way to go.  That means though NO TOUCH!  You won’t want to be touching a monitor at arms length because it just doesn’t feel natural.  Maybe we’ll see larger tablets in the 12″ and 14″ realm, certainly there’s a lot of news going around since CES2014 that Apple may be looking at a 12″ iPad and I’m sure Samsung will be looking to exploit every inch as a new product in the next few years to come.

For me the biggest technology improvement I would like to see is battery improvement.  My devices drain fast, I usually carry 2-3 phones with me.  Don’t even ask why, other than sometimes it’s easier to keep the phone rather than selling it when you upgrade, but more so it gives you another full phone of battery.  I do have battery chargers, I have, let me see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5x 12000 mAh chargers and 2x 5000 mAh chargers, and I use these regularly, trust me!  I usually carry one around with me in my Tactical backpack or coat pocket.


We need better battery performance and better battery management on devices.  Let’s take the second of those two evils, Apple, Microsoft, Google are all looking at ways to optimise battery along with Intel also with their newer low powered chips, but it’s still not enough.  I think we have surpassed the need for a device to be slim.  Let’s face it most of us add protective cases to our devices which bulk them out, if the devices were bulked out to start with that would allow for more battery to be stored.  We also need more innovation, whether it’s putting gyro’s into devices that somehow not only detect movement like many already do, but with friction when we walk allow just like a car dynamo to help recharge the battery.  Even if it’s 10-20 minutes extra battery per day it’s a start.  I know some wearable tech companies are examining ways to build this into our shoes and store power that way, but unless you want to look like you’re skipping with a rope having a cable running from  your shoes up your trouser leg, again I don’t think this is a viable option.

Other semi-wearable tech companies are building rechargeable batteries into their backpacks/rucksacks.  This I think is a good move, although so far most of these are only 5000 mAh batteries, which gives you 2x the power of the phone already, really not a lot.  Why not stick a larger, thinner battery pack in as a supportive back plane running 12000 mAh instead?  Once you have a backpack on your back, weight becomes less of an issue, however there is the problem of again running a cable form the backpack into your hand if you’re using and charging the phone at the same time.

Another set of wearable tech companies are trying to provide additional pockets in coat ‘tech’ jackets or build batteries into them, again a good move, personally as I mentioned, I carry a 12000 mAh battery around in the inside pocket of my coat, it’s the most convenient way for me to get extra battery life.  However, these are all only stop gaps, we need better battery innovation and better device innovation here to actually IMPROVE battery times not just find of ways around the poor battery performance.


Tablets have certainly evolved over the past 3 years into something most of us are carrying, they are getting better, thinner, lighter, with more battery.


The wearable watch that connects to your phone has already surfaced, I have an I’m Watch, there’s Pebble too along with several other makes of watches but they’re all pretty dismal.  A year or more ago I wanted one of these, I bought the I’m Watch and I realised just how bad it was.  I’m lucky if it will last for 18 hours between charges.

It needs to be connected via Portable Hotspot to my Phone which is a real pain, the screen size although large for a watch is too small to do anything on it barring seeing 2 lines of text from the latest email or tweet that came in.  It’s pretty pathetic really, and I really don’t see these improving much.  We already know what we want with our phones, it’s a larger screen, so why go to an even smaller screen for a watch?

I think the biggest area though for wearable tech will be voice gestures.  Siri already does this on iPhone although somewhat limited in what you can do, Samsung have their own version too, Microsoft have it for XBOX One which is a lot better than the previous incarnation but sometimes it goes deaf and doesn’t hear me even in a quiet room.  It seems when the processors are maxed out when playing a game it just doesn’t hear me say “SAVE THAT” no matter how clear or loud I say it.


These will get a lot better and I think these will become the main way we interface with our tech in the next decade more than touching the screen.  However we still need to touch the screen, like to scroll text, even if we could dictate reply with voice.  Certainly another area is the Google Glass initiative, I first thought I’d love to have this in front of me, but the more time goes by without having Google Glass the more I believe all I’d use it for would be to record a short video.  Maybe the 2nd, 3rd or 4th iteration though will show a lot more promise and make me want to have that.

The biggest innovation I would like to see is the 1 terabyte blisteringly fast internet speeds, or even gigabit speeds but not just spotty coverage like we get on 3G or 4G at best now, it needs to be connected around the country or the world like you’re connected to a cable at home, perfect wireless data connections without drops, blisteringly fast speeds that we’ll all be happy with, this is the biggest area for me along with batteries that tech companies need to make improvements on over the next few years.  4G is getting there but if we can’t role out 3G coverage everywhere then what’s the point?  Why not put an antenna in every other street lamp, a connected Wifi or WiMax grid with very little black spots unless you’re 20ft under ground.  If we can achieve better battery performance and always connected then this will certainly drive innovation on all tech products so much more than we have seen in the last 10 years.

XBOX One update from GAME – here’s how to expedite your order

xbox-OneSo for anyone that read my previous story you will of read the immense disappointment and frustration I had gone through with Game UK.  They cancelled my pre-order of the XBOX One.  I’ve been trying to reach out to Game UK for 4 days now.

  1. Game are not responding on Twitter to customer complaints
  2. Game are not responding on their Webchat
  3. Game no longer are providing phone support to a human
  4. Game’s standard email reply is that there was a problem with your credit card

I have checked with my bank three times and the credit card has not been blocked, I can make transactions and no transaction has been blocked or cancelled, so this last statement from Game is obviously completely untrue and a problem at their end.

Left with little else I could do, I googled Game’s Head Office telephone Number – for anyone experiencing the same problem as me, call 01256 784007.  I was greeted by a person on reception, explained I wanted to talk to Customer Service and I was told “We don’t have any Customer Service.  Have you tried their website or web chat?”…Yes I have, and both are completely utterly useless and no help is given.  I then explained that I want the name and contact number of their Director of Customer Service and Head of Marketing and PR because I will be making a claim against Game today both with UK Trading Standards and also in the small claims courts because Game UK have not only failed on their promise of “GUARANTEED DELIVERY BEFORE CHRISTMAS” but they have kept my £20 pre-order money and not refunded it when they cancelled the order, both are immoral and illegal under UK law.  At which point I was told “Hold on, I’m putting you through now”.  Low and behold I get through to Joshua in Customer Services!

Joshua was very polite and could completely understand my frustration, he again explained there must have been a problem with my credit card, again I explained I have checked with my bank 3x times and they have told me there isn’t.  Joshua then explained they (Game) have also been experiencing some problems with their billing system so it might be a problem at their end.  He retook my order again as my previous order was cancelled, minus the £20 that was already taken under pre-order.  He explained that “we do have stock and stock is still allocated to your order even though the order had been cancelled so you should still receive it before Christmas”.  I asked when it would ship, and he said “Hopefully within the next 1-2 weeks”.  Well 2 weeks is cutting it fine seeing it was the 10th of December.  Joshua also mentioned that I would receive a confirmation email from Game once the XBOX One ships and an email from the courier when to expect delivery.

I was waiting for a delivery from DPD today, coming in the afternoon and a knock on the door at 9am from DPD.  That’s weird, they’ve come 5 hours early… Oh wait, that box is bigger and heavier than the one I was expecting.  I double checked the label, and it was the XBOX One from Game!!!

Completely delighted it has now arrived, I really must express my disgust once more with Game.  To block customers from contacting them about orders they have placed, not refunding money and especially at this time of year is completely unethical.  If it wasn’t for my quick thinking to Google Game’s head office address and find their phone number and call head office direct, there is no way I would be sitting in front of a large green box with an XBOX inside it right now.

If anyone else is experiencing similar problems for delivery before Christmas, please follow the above and hopefully you’ll get your order expedited!

Game UK cancels Xbox One and PS4 pre-orders and steals Pre-Order money!

GameIn what can only be called a SCAM, Game UK seem to be inflating their profits by cancelling thousands of XBOX One and PS4 pre-orders that customers had made with them (myself included) with a GUARANTEED DELIVERY BEFORE CHRISTMAS by the online retailer.

I like thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Game UK customers have received an email saying my pre-order had been cancelled.

Game Email

It seems that Game UK knew they wouldn’t be able to provide enough stock but continued taking orders irrespective.  Game have now decided to cancel orders because they know they will be in more legal deep water if they don’t now provide the guarantee they offered to customers for delivery by christmas guaranteed.

Not only have they cancelled the pre-orders of thousands of customers like myself, they have also kept the £20 pre-order money which again is legally immoral and against UK Distance Selling laws in the UK.  If Game have cancelled the contract between seller and buyer they MUST refund all of the money and not hold onto it.

Customer Services is non-existent and will not answer their emails or phone.  I have checked with my bank 3x times and on each occasion I have been told:-

  1. Your credit card is not blocked in any way (and indeed I can continue to place transactions on it)
  2. No transactions have been blocked or declined on your card
  3. The card expiry date is correct and has not expired

Likewise all of the card details provided to Game UK along with the billing address of the card are all correct because Game UK were able to take the £20 pre-order which they refuse to refund.

What Game UK are doing is completely illegal under UK law and I am not alone.  Surfing the internet news sites I see thousands of other customers in the same situation with reports from sites like:-

GAME Accused of Ruining Gamer’s “Xbox One Day” by Cancelling Pre-Orders Without Refunds

PlayStation 4: gamers frustrated by PS4 pre-order failures

Game UK Screws Up – Cancels Hundreds Of PS4 Preorders

GAME Is Cancelling PS4 Pre-Orders, Apparently Without Explanation

My pre-order from was cancelled

So not only do GAME UK ruin Christmas 2013 for thousands of customers by not delivering XBOX One or PS4′s in time as GUARANTEED in their ordering process, but they keep the £20 pre-order money.  If GAME UK have had 200,000 pre-orders for these consoles and cancel those orders that’s a tidy sum of £4,000,000 profit for them for doing absolutely nothing!

I welcome anyone at Game UK to respond in person!  My email address is and you can track my order on your system using that email address.

I have now logged a claim with UK Trading Standards for the Immoral and Illegal action that Game UK are taking.

iPad Air Review

The iPad Air has just been released by Apple and the biggest thing about this new 9″ tablet is that it’s a lot thinner and lighter than the regular iPads.

iPad Air

Apple are always big on figures and one of these is dimensions, but one thing you may not realise is that other than the iPad 2, the iPad 3 and iPad 4 have increased weight over the iPad 2, the iPad 3 and iPad 4 actually remained the same weight, but now the iPad Air has shaved off 181g.  That doesn’t sound a lot but that’s close to 1/5th of a bag of sugar.

iPad 1st Gen iPad 2nd Gen iPad 3rd Gen iPad 4th Gen iPad Air
Wi-Fi model: 1.5 lb (680 g)3G model: 1.6 lb (730 g) Wi-Fi model: 1.325 lb (601 g)
3G model: 1.351 lb (613 g)
Wi-Fi model: 1.44 lb (650 g)
4G (LTE) model: 1.46 lb (660 g)
Wi-Fi model: 1.44 lb (650 g)
4G (LTE) model: 1.46 lb (660 g)
Wi-Fi model: 1.034 lb (469 g)
Cellular model: 1.054 lb (478 g)

As Apple loves to provide figures you’ll see them quoting it’s only 1 pound in weight (compared with the last two models (iPad 3 and iPad 4) being 1.44 pounds, 28% lighter and 20% thinner.

iPad Air

So with the new lightweight, and the name “Air” doesn’t that mean it’s going to be a budget device?  No definitely not.  The iPad Air continues on the iPad into the 5th generation with a lot more power with it’s new A7 chip.  This is the first mobile tablet that comes with 64-bit core architecture running twice as fast both in CPU and Graphic acceleration and still being able to provide 10 hours of battery even though the iPad Air is 20% thinner and 28% lighter.

iPad Air

One thing that Apple did announce in the keynote showing off the iPad Air was that it now is a MIMO device, Multiple In and Multiple Out.  That means it has two WiFi antennas.  Apple claim twice the WiFi performance but in reality you may not see twice the speed for most uses, and have you ever complained about your WiFi being slow?  If it is it’s not usually the WiFi but your overall broadband internet connection that’s slow and not your WiFi.

iPad Air

The iPad Air is the first iPad to have dual-speakers or Stereo speakers just like it’s baby brother the iPhone.

iPad Air

So how does it seem really fast?  Well for me, I have had an iPad 1, iPad 2 and iPad 3.  The iPad 3 was the first iPad that contained Retina and that slowed down significantly from the iPad 2 trying to push all those extra pixels to the screen for the Retina display.  I skipped the iPad 4 but did get the iPad mini, although that had the same processor as the iPad 2.  For me going from the iPad 3 to the iPad Air I find a significant speed increase, even just using the springboard and moving between app screens.

Is it a significant upgrade over the iPad 4?  You will probable notice a speed increase, the weight will certainly be an advantage if you want a large tablet but go light weight in your bag.

For most though that have an iPad already, if you have an iPad 2 upwards then you’ll have the opportunity if you haven’t already to upgrade to iOS7, certainly the OS may lag a little bit on older devices and the older you get, so an iPad Air with a faster processor will certainly make iOS7 feel a little more zippy.

For me though I think the iPad Air is a definite step in the right direction by Apple and can’t wait to see the Retina iPad mini in the flesh.

Anker Astro 3 12000mAh Battery charger Review

In the current day if you have multiple devices or even a single device, you’ll find your battery doesn’t last as long as you want it to.  Whether you use a phone or a tablet, but you’ll find yourself using the device quite a bit throughout the day playing games, surfing the web, reading email and the battery will run down and not give you a full day use.  Here’s where external battery chargers come in and I have had a number of these, but this is one I like the best and I’ll tell you why.

The Anker Astro3 is the first external backup battery charger that has 3x USB ports, yes 3!  It can charge a phone or even a tablet, and a power zapping tablet like the iPad.  Just plug your USB charger cable into the Astro3 and it will charge it once powered on.


The strange thing about this device is that it doesn’t have a power button, but when you plug a USB cable into the backup battery it doesn’t start charging automatically.  So how do you power it on?  You shake it!  No seriously, you shake it!  It has a motion detector built in so if you shake it the device will turn on for a couple of seconds, and if there’s a device plugged into it to try and draw battery power then it will stay powered on, if there’s no device plugged in to draw a current then it will auto-switch off again within a few seconds.

The Anker Astro3 also has this very weird circle that lights up depending on how much battery power is left in the battery charger and will reduce and show 3/4 of a circle or 1/2 or 1/4 of a circle when the battery is depleting.

Battery Indicator

The Anker Astro3 you charge using a supplied Micro USB charger cable, it takes a good few hours at 12,000mAh to charge the battery charger, I usually leave it charging overnight but usually a good 5 hours.



It’ll keep your devices charged up for an entire day, a regular phone battery is around 2,000mAh, so with that in mind you should be able to get around 6 full charges for your phone, or you could charge an iPad which has a standard 11,560mAh battery which would give you about a full charge out of it.  You can also charge multiple devices at the same time, after all it has 3 USB sockets on the battery charger.  It also comes in it’s own mesh pocket bag that you can carry it in along with a number of connector bits out of the box.


It’s a little bigger than a phone in width, weighs about 2-3 times an iPhone.  I noticed that when the battery power was around 1/4 left in the charger it stopped charging my Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet.  I guess there’s enough charge in the battery just not enough to charge the Kindle and this would be the same with any tablet.  This would be the same with any battery charger, when the battery power becomes low, it may not charge some high demand devices.

Want something a little smaller in design?

if having a 12,000mAh battery and weight is a little too much there are smaller 9,000mAh and 6,000mAh battery chargers from Anker that will give you a reduced charger capacity but more importantly a reduced weight where it might not be such a dead weight in your pocket.

Anker Astro Models

Still not enough power?

If the 12,000mAh battery isn’t enough and you need something a little larger but not too much larger and for a similar physical size as the Astro3 then there is the Astro E4 at a 13,000mAh battery.

Astro E4