Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

There were an estimated 20,000 new gadgets on display at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. Some are the very devices we’ll fork over fistfuls when they hit store shelves later this year. Others provide an exciting glimpse of wildly futuristic new concepts to come.

And then, there’s the rest of it.

Here are some of the oddest and awesom-est gadgets I went hands-on with this year.


Toyota Yui Concept

Remember Nightrider’s Kitt car? That’s what it was like taking Toyota’s crazy new Concept-i Yui car for a virtual spin. Hands-down the coolest experience of the show for me, this ultra-futuristic auto read my emotions through camera sensors, monitored everything around us, and slammed on the breaks long before I even realized that a woman stepped off the curb in front of us. It even said “Hello!” to passersby or “Watch out!” to people tailing a little too close. When we hit an open stretch of highway, the seat reclined and small rollers built-in to the backrest gave me a massage. Toyota says Yui is what driving will be like in 2030, but I’m hoping it’s even sooner than that. A car that pampers you? Yes please!

Kino-Mo Hypervsn

Kino-mo had me hooked at first glance with its floating 3D “holographic” Pikachu. This London-based company drew some of the biggest crowds in the Eureka Park startup area, and for good reason: The incredibly colorful and realistic looking displays of everything from fast food to famous entrepreneur Mark Cuban made us all believe that holograms are finally here! While not technically an actual hologram, these 3D visuals float and move in mid-air just like the real thing, using a patented combo of high speed fans, magnets, LED’s and projectors. They’re used in advertising for now, so we can only hope to have them in our homes soon too.

Parihug Plushies

I miss my family like crazy whenever I’m away from home like I was all week for CES, and that’s where a little stuffed animal called Pari comes in. No matter where you happen to be in the world, give your Pari a squeeze and it sends a “hug” to a connected companion plushie for your loved one to receive. The hugs range from mild short vibrations to longer, stronger, more intense haptic feedback “embraces.” No two human hugs are the same, and neither are hugs from Parihug — they vary in intensity and duration just like the real deal. I’ll stick with a Facetime call for now, but Parihug is undeniably adorable.

Aluma Connect

On a more serious note, smartphones are safety gadgets for millions of us every day, but in a personal emergency they’re not always as helpful as they could be. Aluma Connect showcased a credit card-sized security device that attaches to the back of your phone and sync with a special app, creating a super-powered safety net. There’s a silent alarm button built in that sends notifications to your friends and family as well as an audible siren to deter attackers. The battery provides a full year of protection on a single charge. You can sign up on the company’s website for an alert when the price and launch date are revealed. I’m ordering one for myself, my daughter, and my mom right away!

In&motion Wearable Airbags

When In&motion strapped its wearable airbag vest on me I didn’t know what to expect. Then, with a tap of a smartphone, it instantly inflated with giant whoosh and great big bang. It scared the bejeezus out of me — and everyone on the showroom floor. But if I was taking a tumble down a snowy ski hill or getting bucked off an angry horse, it’s the exact right thing to protect my torso and keep my upper body intact! In&motion makes these for motorcyclists, horseback riders, and extreme sports enthusiasts, and it’s sending its first 500 vests to eager testers soon — for free.

Wair pollution scarf

Fashion statement or funky air filter, aw hell, why not make a gadget that’s both? That’s exactly what French company Wair did with a high-tech scarf that aims to protect you from air pollution. On a clear day, just wrap the silky accessory around your neck and shoulders and look all spiffy as you go about your business. The scarf constantly measures the quality of ambient air and sends an alert to your smartphone when it’s time to cover up. If that happens, you just pull the scarf over your nose and mouth, and let the built-in fan and air-filtration system do its thing. As weird as this sounds, I could actually see using it in big cities around the world — especially if I commite by bike.

Spartan undies

Yes, “booth babes” are still a thing. But the scantily-clad models in their skivvies at Spartan Underwear’s corner of CES looked a whole lot different than the rest of the show…because they were dudes. The guys were showing off undies that protect “down undy” from the radiation created by smartphones and wifi antennas. Spartan says its boxer-briefs have silver fibers weaved into the cotton that block nearly 100% of wireless radiation from being absorbed. Since science still hasn’t decided if those waves are harmful or not, keeping them away from the baby-making body parts could very well be a “better safe than sorry” move. Guys can pick up Spartan boxers right now, starting at $45.


Spinali Smart Shorts

The “booth babes” at fashion company Spinali’s CES showcase weren’t just there as eye candy either, they were wearing smart Daisy-Duke’that actually vibrate to give you directions. The weird wearable syncs with your phone and nudges one side of your waist or the other to tell you where and when to turn. It’s a bizarre way to find your way around a city, especially if you have your phone with you anyway. Spinali doesn’t have a launch date yet, but it’s already got full-length smart jeans for sale, so it probably won’t be long before the short-shorts also hit the shelves too.

Smartcane by Dring

Seniors have been forgotten by the “smart” tech revolution for way too long, and now they’re getting some attention with the Smartcane. But before you roll your eyes, don’t worry: this cane doesn’t play Spotify or flash like a disco ball, it’s actually a really helpful tool for caregivers to monitor the activity of their elderly clients, and it can even send alerts to family or friends if it falls over, which could signal potential problems. There’s no release date or price yet, but you can sign up for updates on the company’s website.

Roli Blocks

Every year I look at my bucket list and see “learn to play an instrument,” and every year I forget to find the time. Roli’s Blocks are the first gadget I’ve seen that lets you play music even if you have no idea how. It’s a mini modular music studio that gives beginners a huge jump start so that you can playing right away. Just connect the Roli Blocks to your iPhone via Bluetooth and customize the LED lighted touchpads with whatever combinations of sounds you want. When I tapped a few times, actual music came out — and it didn’t sound like a dying chicken. I was in awe. You can buy Roli Blocks now online or in Apple Stores, starting at $179.95.



Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, TechStyled, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news, What The Tech

I know it might not feel like it where you live — but Spring is right around the corner — and with it comes the perfect time to clean up, clear out, and de-clutter your favorite go-to gadgets. Here are a handful of top tips to tidy up your tech:

1. Free up space on your smartphone
google cloud backup photo
Smartphones fill-up fast with all our photos, videos, games, music, apps — and all of that overflowing information slows your phone, and your life, down. It can even cost you big bucks, according to electronics trade-in company NextWorth, which reports that trying to keep your entire digital life on your device often “forces you to buy the larger version of your chosen smartphone or pay extra to back it up.” No thanks.

One easy way to deal with that digital deluge is to back it up to the cloud. By saving to iCloud, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox (among others), you’re giving yourself instant insurance that all your files are backed up if you lose or break your phone, and that you’re not clogging up connected life with a bunch of extra junk. You can also back up to a hard drive or right to your computer, but I like the cloud because I can still access to all my important data anytime, from any device. Setup is simple, typically accessible right through your settings menu or through an app like Dropbox.

But is the cloud safe? If you’re worried about security in the wake of that Hollywood nudey photo breach, it might be comforting to know that the popular cloud storage services like Google Drive and OneDrive encrypt files as they pass between your device and the cloud servers, so you really don’t need to worry about some creeper peeping at your photos as they zip down the information superhighway. Be sure to use two-step authentication if possible, create a complicated password (not 1,2,3,4 or your pets name), and enable a tool like Find My iPhone to wipe your device clean if it does fall into the wrong hands.

If you’re so fed up that you want to kill your phone, you can always do a factory reset after you’ve backed it up. That wipes out all of your personal data, apps, contacts, and everything else that you’ve crammed onto it since you brought it home from the store. But, this is a desperate measure, so it should be your last resort.

2. Put your start screen to work for you
If it takes you more than a few seconds or taps to find exactly what you need when you need it, you’re wasting your precious time. Organizing your start screen is simple and won’t take more than 10 minutes or so. The trick is to put the apps and tools that you use every single day on the home screen — and nothing else. Move all related apps or tiles into groups and name it something that makes sense to you, such as “everyday,” “fitness,” “shopping,” and so on. Some people create file names based on actions such as “learn,” “listen,” “watch,” “share.” That’s a good way to do it as well. The key is to figure out what works best for you. Move your most important groups to the far left, where they’re always visible. Move games and less important apps on your device to a second or third page. Take a few minutes every couple months to delete apps you don’t use anymore, and organize or re-arrange the ones you do. You’ll be amazed how much this helps your overall productivity.

3. Clean up cord chaos
It happens to all of us — messy wires, tangled chargers, and completely cluttered cords. There are a dozen simple fixes for this, starting with wireless charging plates and docks. I’ve just reviewed the Nokia DT-903 ($59), which is a colorful and powerful new version of Qi charger for Lumia phones. These kinds of charging plates have been around for a handful of years already, but the DT-903 kicks things up a notch with LEDs that let you know if when you’re getting an incoming message or alert. I’m also a big fan of several of the Quirky cord management tools like the Converge ($59.99) dock and Cordies ($4.99) organizer. Poppin ($30) makes another great hideaway cord box. I’ve also used dresser drawer organizers that I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond to organize all my different chargers as well.

4. Disinfect your gross gadgets
You might have heard, your smartphone is bacteria-magnet. One recent study shows the average cellphone often carries 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Gross, but true. (And to think you put it up to your face how many times a day?!)

There are a ton of wireless wipes available to disinfect and clean your phone, but if you want to save money, using a little water and alcohol or water and vinegar mixture sprayed onto a microfiber cloth can do the trick as well.

I also just reviewed a new kickstarter-funded product called the UviCube ($199 via Kickstarter, $299 retail). It’s a new breed of appliance that can safely sanitize all your electronic gear with high-intensity ultraviolet light. It’s kind of like a mini dishwasher, minus the heat and water, for your go-to gadgets. It was originally created to sanitize baby bottles, but the makers figured out that also spiffs up remote controls, keyboards, tablets, and smartphones — effectively killing 99.9 percent of germs — without damaging any sensitive electronic components. It’s expensive now, since it’s brand new, but expect to see more and more of these kinds of supertech scrubbers popping up for gadget loving germaphobes over the new few years.

5. Clean up clutter on your computer

If your computer is crawling along at a snail’s pace, stuck on the spinning wheel of death, now’s the time to wipe out the digital dust bunnies. The first thing to do is stop putting off updates that might be critical to keeping your computer safe and sound. If you’ve been pressing “remind me tomorrow” on software or app update notifications for weeks at a time, that might be your biggest problem. Updates often fix bug or holes in security, productivity, and the overall health your programs.

Now then, what else is slowing your computer down? When’s the last time you dumped your trash? Do that now. Are you completely clogged with duplicate or junk files, or even worse, malware or viruses? That’s the next thing to check. With a Mac, you can use a free tool such as Avast, or Sophos Antivirus for Mac. For Windows, try Malwarebytes, BitDefender Free Edition, Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool and SuperAntiSpyware. CCleaner is another good download that works with both Windows and Mac to clear out temp files and free up space on your laptop or desktop.

Typically when I run these scans, I have a massive mess of duplicate files. Just cleaning those up frees up tons of space and makes everything run faster right away. But, before you start wiping stuff out, back it up. Consider buying that external hard drive or added online cloud storage space and upload your old files, then delete them from your laptop or desktop to create more space.

Fresh and clean
You don’t need to wait to dig out from under snow or freezing temps to get a head-start on clearing the cobwebs from your connected life. Be sure to let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below.

Posted in Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, TechNow, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news

Want some out-of-the-box ideas on repurposing that old smartphone? Just because you have a new iPhone 6 doesn’t mean your old gadget has to start collection dust, so try one of these awesome options and get some more life out of your old device!

Posted in TechNow

Apple’s new iPhones are sweet, sexy pieces of tech, and were there to go hands-on with them shortly after their worldwide debut. Check out the video above and the photos, and do your best to contain your excitement!


10615638_10203025969824267_5325661114651712181_n 10646692_10203026849206251_1196592895334025980_n 1604804_10203025970344280_6255673846995560316_n

Posted in Top tech news

It wasn’t that long ago that in order to have service at a snap you had to be a member of a royal family. These days, it’s as simple as tapping a smartphone app. Do you want your faucet fixed with the flick of your wrist or have a delicious meal whipped up in your own kitchen? Want to feel like royalty? Just boot up one of these apps, and see how many helpers your thumb can summon.


A drippy pipe, clogged drain, or broken power outlet is a bummer, and if you’re not a home improvement guru, taking the tools into your own hands can do more harm than good. If you’d rather hire an expert instead of risking an unfortunate hole in your wall or electrical snafu, Handybook can get it done.

Covering over 20 highly populated regions in North America, the app provides access to repair experts of all specialties, including electrical repair, plumbing, and even cleaning. You can get super specific with your request, and even specify what particular part of an appliance is malfunctioning. You’ll receive an instant quote for the work and with a tap of a button you can have a handyperson on your door by 7 AM the next day.


This fantastic Windows Phone app makes you the king of your own home improvement empire. Just snap a photo showing whatever you want done, from plumbing to masonry, maid service to tree trimming, and everything in between. Friend Trusted forwards your request to its list of contractors who will bid against each other for your business.

Once you see a bid that fits your budget, you can connect with the contractor directly through the app and schedule a time for your work to be done. The best part is that Friend Trusted pre-screens all of its would-be workers, so you’ll never have to worry about being matched up with someone shady.


Finding quality childcare isn’t easy, especially on short notice. You don’t want to leave your youngsters with a potentially creepy random stranger, and taking the time to research a sitter’s background and experience means you’re probably not going to make it to the opera in three hours. UrbanSitter takes the guesswork out of babysitting and turbocharges your search for a kid-watcher.

Boot up the app, browse the available sitters in your area, and check out reviews from past clients to verify their credibility. You can see a photo of the person, call or message them, and even see how many families have repeatedly hired them, all before you trust them with your kids. A few taps of your touchscreen and you’re free and clear for a night on the town. How awesome is that?


It’s been a rough week at work, you’re worn out from the daily grind, and the family is expecting an epic home-cooked dinner tonight. Forget ordering greasy take-out, just fire up the Hire A Chef app and have a delicious dinner crafted for you right in your own home. Spare yourself the dirty work, and hire a chef from the app’s massive list of the American Personal Chef Institute’s on-demand professionals.

With chefs specializing in all types of food and many servicing multiple cities in various regions, you’re sure to find a food flinger worth your attention. Snap your fingers and have a restaurant-quality meal whipped up right in your own kitchen, and maybe even pick up a few pointers along the way! It’s time to eat like a king.


If “it’s so hard to find a good man these days” is your mantra, you’ll find Rent-A-Gent to be a godsend. Whether you’re looking for a man to help you with some household chores, take you shopping, or even provide a few laughs for your long-planned Ladies Night, you’ll find them on Rent-A-Gent.

The site, which is optimized for mobile, has a huge collection of pre-screened men that are not only easy on the eyes, they’re also extremely skilled in everything from dancing and dog training to home improvement and martial arts.


If you’re looking for anything from manicures and pedicures, to stylists and fashion consultants, all it takes is a few taps of the StyleSeat app. StyleSeat finds experienced beauty professionals near you, and can even provide you with their schedules and regular appointment times. You can grab the next available slot and browse reviews and ratings to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for, before you drop your credit card on the counter.

Posted in TechNow

Quite possibly the best invention since whatever came before sliced bread, a new iOS device wakes you up with the sweet scents — and sounds — of sizzling bacon. We all knew it was just a matter of time before a “smell-o-phone” came along, but leave it to the genius minds behind the Wienermobile to create the ultimate baconator: the Wake Up And Smell The Bacon.

Fresh from the The Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon, the porky plug-in is filled with bacon-scented liquid. The tiny accessory slides into the headphone jack of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod (sorry Android and Windows Phone fans), where you pair it with the free companion app, set an alarm, and then bask in the heavenly bacon-filled cloud wafting your way come morning.

I’m absolutely addicted to it. It actually smells sweeter than you might expect, the sizzle sounds beat the nails-on-a-chalkboard screeching alarm beep any day, and a man’s gentle voice also serves up a hearty dose of Baconisms the longer you wait to turn it off. My favorites so far are, “A world without bacon is like the Earth without the world,” and “Time passes and civilizations crumble, but bacon is forever.” Sigh.

So now that you’re sitting in your computer chair, with drool dripping down your chin, you’re probably wondering how you can get your hands on this little slice of gadget goodness? The marketing minds at Oscar Mayer know how much we crave our salty strips of heaven, but they’re not going to sell their magically meaty device in stores. You’ll have to win one by entering your details on the Wake Up And Smell The Bacon website between March 6th and April 4th. Now clean your keyboard, you’re making a mess.

This isn’t the first time Oscar Mayer has had some fun with America’s still booming bacon-mania obsession. Last year it launched an e-commerce site encouraging people to give bacon gifts for Father’s Day, with it’s awesomely schmaltzy, Say It with Bacon campaign. Just a few months ago, popcorn brand Pop Secret made a similar play for our senses with Poptopia plug-in and app pairing, which released the smell of buttered popcorn.

How about an egg to go with that bacon?

All this talk of bacon makes me think of eggs, which is a weird but oddly effective segue-way into another gadget that I can’t get enough of this week — the new Bass Egg speaker. It’s a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that turns virtually any surface into an amplified subwoofer.

It’s truly magical: You simply place Bass Egg on any surface you see fit, whether it’s your desk, the kitchen counter, your car, (the start-up guide tells you not to put it on pets, which cracks me up because of course, you’ll want to) and the powerful little instrument transfers vibrations to produce audio. Music is really quiet on the device until you set it down. Then, it totally booms. And different surfaces can add funky touches to your tunes. For example, a wood surface produces a much different vibe than metal or glass.

You can sync the Bass Egg up with any device that supports Bluetooth speakers, including your iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones, so you can rock out to egghead music while your bedroom smells like bacon. It’s a dream come true!  Unlike its pork-scented breakfast counterpart from Oscar Mayer, you can buy the Bass Egg, which comes in black or silver hues for $99.95. But be warned, you’ll need to budget for several hours of time that you’ll run around your house putting it on every surface imaginable before you realize that yes, it really does turn your entire house into a massive speaker system. If only it could make everything smell like bacon too.

Want more bacontopia? Be sure to check out the video with this column, as well as the new Wake Up and Smell the Bacon commercial.

Posted in Great Gadgets, TechNow, Top tech news

From USA Today’s Tech Now with Jennifer Jolly (click here to watch the video):

Did you know that your cherished iPhone hides secrets from you? That’s right, a simple nod of the noggin could shift the way you use this precious gadget.

Apple’s iPhone is a revolutionary gizmo that has changed the mobile landscape forever, but even if you’ve had one for years, there are still a few things you probably don’t know about it. Each major update that Apple rolls out — and there have been many — brings new features and changes. Here are just a few of the things you’ve likely missed along the way.


The iPhone is a “smartphone,” but it might be even smarter than you ever thought. There is a special control option built into it that lets you use tilts of your head to perform various functions. It’s part of a feature called Switch Control, and you can enable it in the Accessibility menu of the iPhone settings.

IPAD TIPS: 5 things you had no idea your iPad could do

You can set up a Switch Control command to notice when you tilt your head to the left or to the right, and use that movement as input for things like pressing the home button or checking the notification center. It’s built into the phone to assist those with certain disabilities, but it can also be convenient for controlling your device when your hands are busy with other tasks — like when you’re wrist-deep in dinner preparation, and don’t want to get goo on your gadgets.


Tapping quickly on a tiny screen with our big ole’ clumsy thumbs means typos are an annoying and inevitable part of life. So rather than send texts laden with errors, just give your iPhone a little shake, as I show you in the accompanying Tech Now video. That motion brings up a prompt to undo the typing or cancel and continue. It also works if you accidentally select, copy or paste text you didn’t want to. Seems so simple, yet can be so satisfying, when it comes to dealing with this daily digital dilemma.


Taking an important photo only to have it turn out poorly is one of the most frustrating things in the world, but you can greatly increase the chances of capturing the moment perfectly by using your iPhone’s burst photo feature.

Normally when you take a photo you simply tap the on-screen capture button, which produces just a single photo, but if you hold down the button you’ll automatically activate burst mode. Using burst mode, your phone will capture a ton of photos in rapid succession, and save them in a small gallery. Taking photos this way ensures that between the inevitable blinks and giggles, you’ll snag a perfect photo.


Have you ever gotten home and realized that you forgot to pick something up from the store? How about arriving at a relative’s house and remembering that you have something for them back at home? Believe it or not, your iPhone can help with this common occurrence using its Reminders app, one of the most underutilized iPhone functions.

All you need to do is set up a Reminder as you normally would — and if you’ve never set up a reminder before, it takes just a few seconds — and then tap on the information icon that pops up. From this menu you can activate the location feature, which will use the iPhone’s GPS to notify you of the reminder whenever you enter or leave a specific location. It’s like having a personal assistant with you at all times!


Is there a telemarketer who just doesn’t get the hint to leave you alone? What about a texting service that you accidentally gave your number to, that buzzes you at all hours of the day and night? You can easily block those annoying communications using your iPhone!

Head into the Phone menu of your iPhone settings and add any offending numbers to the Blocked list. That’s it! Now, if the bothersome calls and texts continue, you’ll never hear a peep. Peace of mind at last.

What are some of the magic tricks you use on your iPhone? Be sure to let us know.

Posted in Great Gadgets, TechNow, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news