An "anti-drop" device for Phablets

bunker-ringAs an iPhone 6 Plus owner, I'm interested in the Bunker Ring, a $16 device that attaches to the back of a phone or tablet, basically turning your phone into a giant finger ring.

It's pretty easy to bend an iPhone 6 Plus with your hands

The aluminum case of the iPhone 6+ was already a little bent when he started. When he repeats the bend test with a Galaxy Note 3, it bends but flexes back. He tries again, using as much force as possible, and the Note 3 gets a slight warp but doesn't break.

iPhone 6 Plus is the iPad Mini Minus.

...and that's exactly what I wanted, because I'm not a big caller. But maybe it's time to switch to Android, because they already have stuff just like it, and with some meatier hardware to boot.

The above graphic, published by OSXdaily, illustrates Apple's new selection of phone sizes--and also includes the iPad Mini, which lacks cellular calling but now seems part of a consistent spectrum. As one of those people who often finds the iPad Mini a little too big, but the current iPhone too small, I figure that the 6 Plus will be what I'm after. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 4--slightly less wide than the 6 Plus, but significantly thicker--didn't quite sell itself to me, though that might be because Android is just not the language my thumbs speak.

Here's the specs for reference.

SPECS

Tell me what to buy. (Yes, a Moto F3, I know.)

Cloak - iPhone app to avoid enemies, bores, and jerks

I don't like using apps like Foursquare that let acquaintances know where I am. Cloak is an anti-Foursquare, and I'm eager to try it.

Cloak bills itself as the "antisocial network." Just sync it with Instagram and Foursquare so Cloak knows where your "friends" are, all the time.

Finally, let Cloak know which relatives/coworkers/"psycho hose beasts" you don't want to see. It'll then alert you when you're entering their vicinity. Or, if you're feeling reclusive, have it notify you when anybody you know is around. It's a fantastic way to dodge the dreaded "stop and chat."

Avoid Enemies, Bores, Jerks, and Exes with Cloak

This is the system Apple used to test iPhone software in 2006

The Wall Street Journal has a story about the birth of the iPhone (which I am still a little startled to realize is only seven years old ... I think my memory is merging iPhones and iPods into a sense of the presence of a single iThing). In an accompanying blog post, they shared this photo taken by Apple engineers, showing the system that was used to test out prototypes of iPhone software before its release. According to the blog post, the system "tethered a plastic touch-screen device – code-named “Wallaby” – to an outdated Mac to simulate the slower speeds of a phone hardware."

NY Times: "Why Apple Wants to Bust Your iPhone"

"At first, I thought it was my imagination. Around the time the iPhone 5S and 5C were released, in September, I noticed that my sad old iPhone 4 was becoming a lot more sluggish," writes Catherine Rampell in The New York Times. She noticed her batteries were being drained more quickly than before, too. She called some tech analysts who blamed it on iOS 7.

I have an iPhone 4s. The battery life is terrible. But it was bad before I upgraded to iOS 7. Is it worse now? Maybe -- I have a bunch of battery cases that I am constantly snapping on to my energy-gorging phone, so I'm not really sure.

Rampell goes on to explore the idea that Apple is intentionally obsoleting older iPhones by releasing operating systems designed to slow down earlier models and drain their batteries. But I think the battery life of iPhones, old and new, just suck. I'd prefer a thick phone that runs all day without needing a recharge, than a thin, lightweight phone that you have to put in a thick case to protect anyway.

Why Apple Wants to Bust Your iPhone

Clear coating five times more impact-resistant than Gorilla Glass 2

Rhino Shield is a clear coating for Gorilla Glass (used in most smart phones) that was developed from a Kickstarter fundraising effort.

Rhino Shield is the product of Cambridge University spin-off company Evolutive Labs. It's made from an impact-dispersing "custom-formulated polymer" that is also highly transparent (it has a transmission rate of over 95 percent), scratch-resistant, and that features an oleophobic coating – that means it repels fingerprints and other oils.

One multi-layer sheet is 0.29 mm thick, and can reportedly be applied to a phone's screen without creating air bubbles or leaving sticky residue. The screen's touchscreen functionality remains intact.

Rhino Shield could save your Gorilla's glass

iPhone 5s reviews in

Apple's iPhone 5S has a better camera, faster hardware and a gold-trimmed option. How does it stack up to last year's model, and strong offerings from Samsung and Nokia?

Read the rest

Sen. John McCain played 'VIP Poker' on his iPhone as colleagues debate bombing Syria

Making the media rounds as America formalizes a decision to go to war against Syria, this photo by Melina Mara at The Washington Post:
Senator John McCain plays poker on his IPhone during a U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing where Secretary of State JohnKerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify concerning the use of force in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

Read the rest

Heard: an app that records what you heard 5 minutes ago

Heard is a useful app for settling those "but *I* said and then *you* said" arguments with your kids.

When you activate the app, it begins recording everything around you on a 12-second buffer (extend it to five minutes for $1.99). Any time you want, click the “Push to save” button to save the current clip. Do nothing, and the self-destructing buffer lets the audio slip into the ether.

Why would anyone not in the NSA want an app like this? With Heard, you can capture anything from your baby’s first words to a key point in a lecture without hovering your thumb over the record button all day.

Heard reviewed on Netted

Crappy iPhone game asks kids to buy $500 worth of in-app crap on the first screen

Boing Boing alum John Brownlee writes about an atrociously ugly Super Mario Bros. clone that hits players up for $500 worth of in-app purchases on the first screen.

I bet you’re itching to play it. Sadly, though, you can’t. Apple’s already yanked it from the App Store. You probably didn’t want to play it anyway, though: it has to be the most shamelessly abusive examples of in-app purchases that mortal mind can comprehend.

The amazing thing here isn’t that Apple banned it, it’s that they didn’t catch any of this to begin with! Especially considering the fact that the developer, Mario Casas, seems to reupload this exact same game to Apple — with the exact same in-app purchase scheme — every couple of months with a new name and new graphics, scamming players until he’s caught. And thus the cycle starts anew.

This Crappy Game Is The Most Shameless Abuse Of In-App Purchases You’ll Ever See

Twig iPhone case features old comic book novelty shop ads

After you've purchased 4 or 5 of these iPhone cases, why not buy a Toot Toot case from Twig?

Amaze your friends and tantalize your neighbors with an incredible case for your iPhone that is over 7 feet tall and shoots multi-color sparks! You control it as it flies around your living room! See through your hand with its built-in X-ray eye, then take a secret picture like a real spy! Only you know its secret! Create a scene wherever you go as you leave everyone in stitches!

Toot Toot iPhone case

Hand-shaped iPhone "case"

NewImage

The Hand iPhone Case is totally impractical and not really a case. But it's absolutely fantastic! You can choose between an adult or child-sized hand. (via Gadget Lab)

Google's Field Trip - an iPhone guide to the "cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you"


Field Trip is a free iPhone app was developed in conjunction with our friends at Altas Obscura. I'm using it on an upcoming road trip from LA to Phoenix.

Field Trip, your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you is now on the iPhone! Field Trip runs in the background on your phone. When you get close to something interesting, it will notify you and if you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.

Field Trip can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk next to those places.

Field Trip for iOS (Via iDownLoadBlog)

Why Andy Ihnatko switched from an iPhone to an Android

My friend, the technology journalist Andy Ihnatko, traded in his iPhone 4s for a Samsung Galaxy S III. Here's the first of his "three-part epic" for TechHive in which he explains why he did it.

I find that typing on an Android device is faster and much less annoying than typing on my iPhone. It's not even close.

This example also points out some of the philosophical differences that often allow Android to create a better experience for the user. Why is the iOS keyboard so stripped-down? Why can't the user customize the experience? Because Apple's gun-shy about adding features at the cost of simplicity and clarity. They're not wrong; it's a perfectly valid philosophy, and usually an effective one.

But sometimes, an Apple product's feature lands at the wrong side of the line that divides "simple" from "stripped down." The iPhone keyboard is stripped-down.

If you don't like how Android's stock keyboard behaves, you can dig into Settings and change it. If you still don't like it, you can install a third-party alternative. And if you think it's fine as-is, then you won't be distracted by the options. The customization panel is inside Settings, and the alternatives are over in the Google Play store.

But I'll be honest: the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S III doesn't suddenly go bip-BONG! and stick a purple microphone in my face when I'm mentally focused on what I'm writing is reason enough for me to prefer the Android keyboard.

Seriously, Apple. This is the single iOS quirk that makes me hate my iPhone. Every time it happens, it yanks me out of my task, and as I scowl and dismiss the microphone, I wonder if you folks put a lot of thought into this feature. "Press and hold to activate speech-to-text" needs to be a user-settable option.

Also, I wanted to mention that Andy has a terrifically entertaining podcast called The Ihnatko Alamanac, where he covers comics, technology, and other stuff that he expounds upon in colorful ways.

Why I switched from iPhone to Android