And you thought having your phone stolen was already scary, it’s soon going to be the key to your house. However, like all the reasons you can’t live without your phone, August is going to be so cool that it will be worth the added risk. Designed by Yves Behar (is there anything this guy can’t do?) the August Smart Lock allows you to keylessly and codelessly get in and out of your house, but more importantly it allows you to do the same for guests you want while keeping out guests you don’t want. Surely that’s more worthy of the word ‘smart’ than a fridge that tells you you’re out of that rare variety of kale.
It works with your existing deadbolt, and you can still use your key if you want, but why would you when August can tell when you’re close and unlock the door for you? That would be like using stairs to get into an elevator. Get ready to have all your delivered packages left inside the door, and never having to worry about getting your key back from that insane ex-roommate of yours. (Sidenote: August is only functional in the Fall.)
A lot has been said about the BlackBerry Z10, and RIM couldn’t have more at stake. The Z10 is the first handset from BlackBerry that will run its new operating system BlackBerry10, but it also seems like it’s the phone that will either save BlackBerry or be the final nail in the coffin. At the time of writing, the numbers look pretty strong though, especially for BlackBerry. Here are the top 5 features of the BlackBerry Z10:
While our mobile technology continues to get amped up and cool at an accelerating pace, the one thing that hasn’t changed much is our gadget’s dependance on short term batteries. Sure, when pigs fly cars our gadgets will run on gravity, but until then, your gadget’s battery life gets shorter by the day. For another 10 days, Kickstarter is giving you the chance to be a founding backer for Phorce, the world’s first smart bag. There are a ton of charging options out there for your overused tech, but unlike everything else, this one is housed in a beautiful, well-designed, hybrid bag. The Phorce bag, developed by a tech guy and a bag guy, passes the test on looks and functionality alone (it’s even got waterproof zippers), but the fact that it can recharge your iPhone 4 or 5 eight times over is amazing.
Phorce can charge up to three usb devices simultaneously (think cameras, headphones, speakers, iPhones, iPads etc), and Phorce for Mac can also power a MacBook for up to seven additional hours. Phorce also connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth letting you know how much juice it has left, and what you can do with it - it can also send you other notifications including letting you know if you’ve left your bag somewhere (ensuring the Phorce is with you).
The Phorce can be used as a messenger, a backpack or a briefcase with cool magnetic handles. To be honest, with the style and design features we would take the bag without the bells and whistles, although that would be crazy as we’ve all worked our batteries dry on multiple occasions.
We’ll let you take the video below for a spin and learn of all the other features, but as it stands, the Phorce bag for USB is $219, and the Phorce for Mac will run you $299 on Kickstarter - both are set to deliver in May 2013 (so probably August).
There are some great tricks to seeing websites without ads or pictures (including the Reader button on your iPhone’s Safari browser), but Ji Lee wanted to try seeing the web without words. With the Wordless Web bookmark anyone can easily see if a picture is worth a thousand words, and also if the majority of visuals are ads or content. Try it a few times and you’ll see it’s a much different world wide web out there without the copy. It doesn’t do much for Wikipedia, but for overly busy sites it can almost be calming not to see all the ink marks.
“It’s like being in a silent party where everyone agreed not to speak, but to just walk around and smile at each other,” Lee told Wired Magazine about applying it to Facebook for fun. And before you even ask, our sources are confident that Lee isn’t working on a real time, live version that can be applied to drunk family members, yappy dogs, or that ding dong in your office that says dumb shit.
If you look at the world as a coupon economy, where you get coupons for good and kind things, and lose coupons for bad and poor things, Apple’s last two big unveiling events have cumulatively struck about even - which is very un-Apple. The launch that everyone was expecting was the iPad mini. This pencil thin, hand held iPad with less border casing and half the weight looked amazing when it came on the screen. Of course the top features are highlighted, but when you start to compare it to its bigger iPad brother, and the Kindle Fire HD ($199), and the Nexus 7 ($259 and dropping) the price tag of $329 is very expensive… even for Apple.
Also on the table on Tuesday was the new full size iPad with Retina Display, the new Mac mini, the new MacBook Pro (also with Retina Display) and finally, a new iMac! In terms of stand out features beyond the speed, drives and science the new iPad will be more beautiful to look at, while the Mac mini continues to be the most bang for your buck in terms of a Mac computer by far.
The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a pretty amazing upgrade: the screen will blow people away, and the speed and physical size & weight is very exciting. It comes at a $400 or $500 premium depending on which size you settle on, but the amount of upgrades seem about right on that front. Our prediction is that the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air will eventually become one.
The new iMac was a welcome surprise given that the changes to this model have been modest in past years. You can see all the specs for yourself, but the highlights include an all in one machine that has reduced its volume by 40% (imagine a huge, wafer thin new iPad on a kickstand), an incredible screen and a smaller environmental footprint. Like the Mac mini at $599, this machine is great value for $1299 for the 21.5” version.
Overall, the iPad mini was a disappointment, and while Apple will still sell tons of them, this price tag will be welcome news to some equally powerful competitors. It’s not the end of the world, and all Apple products will still be used by the good people around the world, but it cost them a coupon.
There must be hundreds of web-based, mobile, cloud music radio services out there. Some are free while some charge subscriptions, some let you play anything on demand, and others try to mix to your tastes. Among them are Pandora, Rdio, and Spotify and while they all try to differentiate, they often share annoying traits like cost, audio ads, and/or poor, over algorithmed song selection. Songza is a free music service that has really differentiated itself with an option called Concierge that aims to expertly (humanly) curate playlist options for you based on your time of day and current activity. (This is one of those things that can be added to the ‘didn’t know how awesome it was until I tried it’ list along with Pickleball, and poutine.) For the most part, the drilling down into the perfect activity based playlist works really well, but as importantly, they make it very easy to do.
You can change the time of day to find the appropriate activity, or simply search activities from barbecuing to coding, breaking up to dirt road driving. You can even search by moods, decades, culture or a host of others categorizers.
Songza of course has an easy to use mobile app, and all the social media bells and whistles. Users can also create and share their own playlists from Songza’s roughly 25 million tracks - if you like good, free music, to go with your good, free opinions, enjoy the Gentlemanbug Monday Mix, voted Best Songza Gentlemanbug collaboration of all time.
So much for that short lived nano wrist watch case you impressed all the kids with… and all your previous nano cases for that matter! For its 7th Generation the nano has been remodeled once again. In the Apple world, the nano is like those friends who change their hair color and style all the time. Let’s just say with the popularity of the iPad, iPhone and everything else Apple, the nano appears to suffer from a massive insecurity complex…. but at least it made Apple’s ‘meh’ Conference a little more interesting. Think of it as an iPadMiniTouchShuffle.
The design is cool and Appley, and the truth is, they’ll probably sell really well because it’s the only new product that actually looks new (other than iPodTouch color choices). In terms of updates, it’s a bigger touch screen with circular app buttons, and the size is conducive to watching movies, or scrolling through pictures of sunsets or your overly smiley family. It now comes with Bluetooth so you can play it through all your car and home Bluetooth speakers. It’s got a radio, 16GB of space, a new connector and comes with the newly designed earpod headphones, which look cooler, are apparently a little better, but most importantly are included.
Now on pre-order for $149, the 7th Generation Apple nano will probably get just enough attention to stay the same… for about 18 months.
Given that checking the weather is a tireless obsession for those of us in first world countries who don’t really depend on it for livelihood (crops, livestock, survival etc), it makes sense that there would be a plethora of apps for our expensive, time wasting smart phones. We’ve tested many of these, and most aren’t as good as what comes preloaded on your phone - some look pretty yet have terrible accuracy. But the Swackett Weather App is an absolute breath of fresh air for your iPhone, as it accurately and simply presents exactly what you want with the option of going into far greater detail, and it gives it to you with tongue and cheek… all for FREE!
You can customize it to focus on what information is most important to you, and it presents that information in a way that’s very easy to digest. If you hold the phone in landscape, it give you a wonderful forecast that even colour codes so you can get a snapshot of what’s coming as you scroll along by hour, or by day.
The most exciting part is it actually gives you wardrobe suggestions (male or female can be adjusted in the settings) by sliding up on the avatar, or peep: hoodie, shorts my GF hates, Dockers etc. Dare to scroll left from the avatar, and you’ll find weather trivia and other odd tidbits. Swackett definitely developed every corner of the app.
The truth is, the app is as enjoyable as actually talking about the weather (notch another one up for screen versus human interaction), which can put you in a good mood, especially if you live in a discouraging climate.
It’s probably safe to say that the Plantronic BackBeat Go buds are the best wireless, Bluetooth, noise cancellation headphones on the market. It took us a while to get used to the cordless nature of these buds - but once we did, we felt like a medium obedient, middle aged Jack Russell, whose leash you just took off in a field of livestock… it was pretty exciting. The pairing with your phone or computer is fairly straightforward and once paired these work like a charm for both calls and music.
The controls by the right ear are easy to master and the voice mic is very clear - you can even use voice control if your phone pretends to be good at that. The tangle-free cord is much appreciated, and with a small weight of 13 grams, it’s easy to forget they’re even there (Where are my headphones!?). And the only thing that really challenges these in the design department is their own packaging - it’s amazing how much work goes into this element now that we’ve deemed ‘reused paper bag’ unworthy to carry our cool gear. They could have included a small bag or case to carry them in though, as one needlessly worries with these bouncing around in a busy bag.
Ironically it’s the effectiveness of one of the features that is a bit of a hindrance - the noise cancellation is so good that it really makes it difficult to interact with the outside world. For instance, using these for jogging or cycling is a little too dangerous. The only other concern that popped up was that the buds can shift a little while in ear, giving you a slightly different sound each time - not a concern with voice calls, but a little annoying if it happens when listening to music.
In the end, these things kick ass at what they say they do, and Plantronics even got the price right at $100. If you’re still unsure, here’s a video showing how well they work in really good looking ears.
The GIZMON iCA iPhone case tickles a lot of different tech fetishes including cameras, cool phones, spy gear & vintage. This has to be one of the best iPhone cases out there, as long as you actually take photos with your phone, and don’t need to carry it in your pocket. There aren’t many cases out there that can claim to have functional features, but the GIZMON iCA has an optical viewfinder, and an actual lens mount for your iPhone camera, it works on a tripod, and has a genius mock lens that can be used as a mirror for self portraits (and yes, of course it’s from Japan).
The Leica style design is a perfect choice for this case (and they’re hardly avoiding it with a red dot GIZMON logo on the site) given the market that are going to buy it. And now that the camera on iPhones is such great quality, it’s actually nice to have a case that gives it a little more credibility. All you’ll need now is a new understated fedora, a press tag and a pencil.