4 Apps For Taking Better Home Inspection Pictures

Taking better home inspection photos can save you time and typing when you’re on the job. The camera that’s built into the iPhone and iPad take perfectly acceptable pics, but if you want to up your photography game, these apps can take your lens to the next level.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 10.51.11 PMCamera+

There’s a reason why LifeHacker named this their favorite iPhone camera app. We’re including it in our round-up because of the app’s stabilization capabilities, which can come in handy if you’re photographing a problem in a hard to reach location, and its editing features. Unlike other photo apps that are designed for budding artists, Camera+ is made with the amateur home inspector in mind. The app’s clarity filter can transform even mediocre to poorly lit pictures into crystal clear images, helping clients to spot problems highlighted in your report with ease. Camera+ is iPhone and iPad-compatible and is available for $1.99.

 

 

 

Pixlr Express

With a price tag of free, there’s no reason not to have this photo manipulation app. Pixlr Express makes our list because it’s fantastic for simple edits like cropping, color adjusting, and drawing on a photo. If, for example, you take a photo of a problem in a home you’re inspecting, Pixlr allows you to draw on the photo to pull attention to details a client may overlook otherwise.

 

360 PanoramaScreen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.26.35 PM

True to its name, this app is a beast when it comes to 360-degree shots. Should you want to show, say, the entire interior of a room or the exterior of a home, this app allows you to create, GPS-tag, and share incredible panoramic photos in the blink of an eye. The app is compatible with most iPhones and iPads and well worth the 99 cent investment. Head right over here to see a few examples.

 

Camera Zoom

If you’ve got a teensy weensy problem you need to zoom in on, this is the app for you. Capable of magnifying images up to four times their normal size, this app is perfect for those circumstances when you need to point out small, hard to see problems to your home inspection clients. Compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch and available for $.99.

Space Race: How to Free Up Space on Your Device

Between photos, music, and apps, it’s all too easy to fill up every bit of memory on your iPhone or iPad. Running out of space can slow down the apps you currently have, prevent you from getting new ones and lead to more glitchy lock ups on your device. That means big trouble for your home inspection business, particularly if you rely on several different apps for your home inspection, invoicing, and voice recording needs. Here’s how to free up some extra storage space without forking over serious dough for an upgrade.

photoTriage the Trouble

The first step to freeing up space is understanding where you’re spending your memory. Tap “Settings,” then “General,” then “Usage” to read up on which programs are taking up the biggest chunks of your memory. Videos and photos tend to consume the largest amount of space, but if you have several games or home inspection-related business apps, that can sap your memory too. If you’re the kind of person who, like us, regularly tries out new apps, chances are that there are at least a few on your phone that you aren’t using. Once you’re in the Usage section, you can decide if you’d like to eliminate a few apps, delete some videos that are hogging your space, or purchase more storage. Remember, you can also back things up in your cloud storage and delete them from your phone.

 

Export, Export, Export

Cloud space can also fill up fast, but thankfully it’s not the only place where you can store material. Box offers up to 10 GB of online storage space for absolutely nothing and up to 100GBs for $10 per month. You can also save storage by switching to streaming services. Instead of loading your phone or iPad up with music, streaming services like Rdio and Spotify allow you to stream almost any song you want for a small monthly fee. Pandora offers a free version of streaming music, but you’ll have to weather a few ads or pony up a few bucks per month for a premium subscription.

Cache In

Cleaning out your phone’s cache probably won’t free up a ton of space, but it can make your device run faster and smoother. A cache is where your phone stores temporary files. Any browser you use, whether it be Safari or Chrome, has a cache that needs a bit of clearing every now and then. To empty your cache, make sure that the browser you use most often is closed. (To do that, double click on your home button and scroll through the apps you have open until your browser comes up. If it does, swipe your finger upwards to remove it). Once your browser is fully closed, tap “Settings” and scroll down to the name of the browser, then tap “Clear Cookies and Data.” Word of warning, clearing your cookies will free up a bit of space, but it will also delete any login information you have saved. While you’re in settings, you can also free up a bit more space by clearing your browser’s history. The “Clear History” button is located just above cookies and data. This video can walk you through how to clear your cache and delete cookies on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch:

 

Four Ways to Fix Common iPhone Problems

If you’re depending on your iPhone to do home inspections, it had better work. If your phone is acting glitchy or has been damaged, there are a few simple solutions that can save you some work time stress. Here are some easy fixes for common iPhone problems.

Problem: The home button doesn’t work.

Solution: Use accessibility features.

Unreliable home buttons are one of the most common problems home inspectors have with several different editions of iPhones. Lucky for all of us, the cure is simple as pie. What many users don’t know is that the iPhone comes equipped with an array of impressive accessibility features designed for users with physical disabilities. One of these features is a function that allows users (that’s you) to sidestep the home button entirely and replace it with an on-screen button that accesses your voice control, lock screen, and volume buttons as well as provides a direct line to your home screen.

If you’ve got a faulty home button, tap on “Settings,” then “General.” From there, scroll down to “Accessibility” and scroll even further down to “AssistiveTouch.” Once Assistive Touch is on, you should see a black box with a white button appear on your home screen. This will always be on your screen and will allow you to access your home screen from any app. Here’s a video demonstrating how:

 

 

The Problem: Your phone took a dip

The Solution: Dry that sucker out

Water is the enemy to the iPhone but accidents happen and sometimes phones get wet. There are waterproof iPhone cases and rescue products on the market that are designed to help recover waterlogged phones, but in the likely event that you don’t have a rescue kit, MacWorld.com recommends keeping your phone off and leaving it in a container or dry rice overnight. You can also try using a hair dryer to get some of the water out before it causes more damage. Neither of these solutions work 100 percent of the time, but they have been known to save some devices. Whatever you do, just don’t turn the device on if water is an issue.

 

The Problem: The battery is dead.

The Solution: Replace it.

Apple will replace your, but it’s going to cost you. Another way is to do it yourself and buy a far less expensive battery kit online. (You can get started here. Make sure you purchase the kit that is specific to your phone as parts differ between iPhone iterations). Most kits come with a oh-so-tiny screwdriver which you’ll need to remove the back panel of the iPhone as well as a suction cup or prying tool designed to help you remove the old battery. To get to the old battery, turn the phone off and use the screwdriver to remove the even tinier two screws at the base of you phone (right next to the speakers) and to remove the screw holding the old battery in place. From there, pry or suction the old battery out, slip the new one in and replace the screws. Voila. Your phone is like new. This walk through gives you a first hand battery replacement demo in under five minutes:

 

 

The Problem: A broken screen.

The Solution: A brand new screen.

A cracked iPhone screen is almost a right of passage for any home inspector who relies on their phone. A replacement in a store can run you a couple hundred dollars, but a replacement screen purchased online is almost laughably cheap in comparison. If you’ve replaced the battery, you’ve already got the tools necessary for this job. Like battery replacement, throwing on a new screen requires turning the phone off, removing the bottom two screws and pulling off the old screen using a suction cup and/or prying tool. From there, you’ll need to remove more screws inside the phone. Exactly how many screws varies dramatically depending on which version of the phone you’re carrying. The easiest way to walk you through how to replace an iPhone screen is simply to watch someone else do it. Here’s an explanation of how to replace a screen on an iPhone 5:

 

And a longer one on replacing a screen on an iPhone 4:

 

 

3 Easy Ways Home Inspectors Can Secure Their iDevices

Tap Inspect will back up all of your home inspection data, but we can’t prevent hackers from breaking into your phone or iPad. But there are steps you can take to make sure you’re the only one with access to your phone’s contact list, photos, and information. Here are three simple ways to beef up your device’s security.

1. Lengthen Your PIN

Four little digits isn’t a lot standing between you and a hacker. Luckily, you can lengthen the PIN number required to get into your phone. According to LifeHacker, jailbreaking your PIN is as simple as tapping on the “Settings” icon, then scrolling down to “General.” From there, touch “Password Lock,” enter your current PIN number, and turn off “Simple Passcode.” Once Simple Passcode is off, your lock screen will look like this:

New lock screen. Yay!
New lock screen. Yay!

and you can can change what used to be your PIN number into a combination of letters and numbers. While you’re in the business of changing your lock screen password, you may want to double check that your autolock and password locks are both turned on. You can check on both by tapping on the “Settings” icon, then tapping “General.”

2. Add Layers of Verification

A password standing between you and a hacker oftentimes just isn’t enough security. Two-step verification is a much better defense to protect your e-mail and social media accounts. Instead of just entering one password, two-step verification will require you to jump through a few more hoops to enter your accounts, but the added security protects your sensitive data exponentially more. Click here for a small tutorial on how to install two-step verification for Gmail and Google accounts on your iPhone or iPad, head here for a rundown of installing two-step verification for your Apple ID, or here to add extra protection to your Twitter account. You can also use a password management program like LastPass or OneSafe to keep your password both organized and protected.

3. Disable Your Wifi

If your wifi is turned on, your device will automatically connect to any public wifi network that’s available. Unfortunately, many of these networks don’t have any security precautions, making them prime ground for snooping eyes. Even if you’re not using your phone, it’s possible that your device is connecting to public wifi outlets without your knowledge. Fortunately, this is a super simple fix. To prevent your phone from connecting to wifi networks without your authorization, keep your wifi turned off when you’re not using your device. To disable your wifi, tap “Settings,” then “Wifi” and slide the bar to the right.

How Home Inspectors Can Stay in Sync

One of the most powerful features of both the iPhone and the iPad is the ability to automatically back up your data, including your apps, music, inspection reports, contact list, photos, notes, calendar information and voice memos, any time you connect to the web. The benefits of syncing your device are two-fold—first and foremost, syncing with an outside source like iCloud provides a fast and simple way to back up your data. Should your device break or get stolen, your data will be stored elsewhere and can simply be imported onto a new device. Secondly, syncing between your devices allows you to transfer valuable information, such as contact lists, between your iPhone and iPad in an instant. There are lots of different ways to sync your devices and each one is deserving of its own post. To keep this short and simple, here’s a run down of the major hubs where you may want to sync your device.

 

One way to ensure that all of your data gets backed up both to an outside storage service and gets shared between your devices is to sync to iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage service. As a side bonus, iCloud can also help you track down your device if you misplace it and can prevent those who shouldn’t see your data from breaking in. Head right over here to learn how to set up iCloud on your phone or iPad.

 

You can also sync your phone to most major e-mail providers including Google Gmail. This can be especially useful if you use those services to manage contact information on your sellers and home inspection clients or to manage your daily home inspection appointments. Syncing both your contacts and your calendar are similar processes. Here’s a quickie how-to on sharing contact information between devices and one on sharing calendar info.

 

If you use Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange, don’t worry. You can sync too. Head here to read up about connecting your Outlook calendar to your devices and here for information on setting up Microsoft Exchange on your iOS device. Yahoo! Mail, Contacts and Calendar users can step right this way to learn about how Yahoo! can work with the iPhone and iPad.

 

Of course, we’re always here to help too. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to info@tapinspect.com or call our customer service line at 502-414-1440.