TrackR: crowdfunded wafer with low-power Bluetooth helps you find misplaced wallet, etc.

The $19 TrackR is a like a leash between your wallet and your mobile phone. It's a Bluetooth-enabled wafer of plastic that fits in your wallet or pocket. You pair it with your phone, and whenever the TrackR and your phone get separated both your phone and the TrackR start beeping.

The app also takes a GPS snapshot of where your wallet was at the moment of separation in case you didn't hear the alert. Tap a button within the app to make your wallet "ring" in case your looking for it around the house or in the dark. The technology works both ways, which means your wallet can beep to alert you that you're leaving your phone behind. Works with your iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, new iPad, iPad mini and the new iPod Touch.

Yesterday, I met with Scott Hawthorne (left) and Chris Herbert (right) of Phone Halo, the 5-person company that designed the TrackR. They demoed the TrackR and I was impressed with how well it works. At $19, it seems like a good deal. They said the battery life is 1.5 years.

Scott and Chris kindly left a sample unit with me, which I plan to start using. I'll review it after I've had it for a week or two.

The TrackR will be available in the US and internationally as soon as the FCC and CE approve it (it uses low-power Bluetooth). You can pre-order one on Indiegogo for an estimated April delivery.

Video shows you how to jailbreak your iOS 6.1 device

This Cult of Mac video makes it look pretty easy to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad. What is a good reason to do it? If you have jailbroken your iOS device to do something cool that you couldn't have accomplished with a non-jailbroken device, please tell us about it in the comments.

The Russian way to destroy Chinese knockoff iPhones

https://youtu.be/FFAz1js9bBw

Instead of giving six men hammers, they hired five men to open the cardboard box containing the 127 fake iPhones and one man to drive an excavator over the phones.

(Thanks, Joly MacFie!)

My Great Ghost, "Glass Machine"—remixing Philip Glass, with an app

Scott Snibbe, the developer for Björk’s "Biophilia" app, has developed an iOS app for the Philip Glass remix project—the app is titled REWORK_.

Here is a video of My Great Ghost, whose remix of "Music in 12 Parts" is the first track on the record, performing an entirely new track using the app.

Read the rest

Kingdom Rush for iPhone free in app store today

One of my favorite iOS games is Kingdom Rush, a medieval fantasy tower defense game. It's free to play on the Web. I talked about it on Jesse Thorn's Bullseye radio show here, and Jane and I reviewed it on Apps for Kids here. Here's what I said about the game in an earlier post:

The cartoonish art is very appealing, as are the monsters and towers. The goal of the game, like all tower defense games, is to prevent the invading hordes from making it through a gate to your kingdom at one end of the display. You do this by placing towers staffed with archers, knights, magicians, and cannoneers along the path that the monsters run down (the monsters appear from a trail emanating on the opposite side of the display). As you kill the monsters, you collect gold, which can be used to buy more towers. Even though there are a few more bells and whistles, it's a simple game -- but addictive.

For today only, the iPhone version is free (regularly $.99). There's an HD version, too, but that will set you back $2.99

iPhone case allows you to take photos with phone held horizontally


The MirrorCase for the iPhone lets you take photos while holding the phone flat, like an old-timey camera. It seems like a good way to shoot video of yourself, too - just set it on a table and do your thing. At $50, it's a bit pricey. I wonder if there's a DIY version? (I think this is the gizmo used to secretly tape Mitt Romney declaring that 47% of Americans suck.)

Finally, Google Maps for iPhone again

TO13 3 1Google Maps is now available again for iPhone. I'll be home soon. (via Google's Official Blog)

New Jim Woodring iPhone 5 case from Twig

Twig Case company has a few new Jim Woodring designs for the iPhone 5 (plus the 4/4s). I'm partial to this Pupshaw/Frank/Manhog illo!

Check out all the designs (including this one by yours truly) at Twig.

Chocolate Fix: a favorite puzzle game, now a mobile app

Chocolate fix 01
The puzzle game Chocolate Fix has been a family favorite around our house for years. The puzzle consists of 9 plastic chocolate candies (in three colors and shapes), a tray that holds the candies in a 3 x 3 grid, and a spiral-bound book with various challenges to solve. The challenges offer clues on how to arrange the candies in the tray. The hints sometimes show just the shape but not the color, the color but not the shape, or the shape and the color of a candy that belongs to a particular spot, column, or row in the grid. It's your job to figure out the single solution to correctly arrange the candies.

Read the rest

Real shell as iPhone loudspeaker

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design kindly brought me out to meet with grad students and attend the annual MCAD Art Sale where I was happily overwhelmed with a fantastic collection of student and recent graduates' work at affordable prices. Within minutes of walking in, I was drawn to two pieces at opposite ends of the building. The first was a painting created by a CNC milling machine outfitted with a pen. (That painting and its brethren in the series will be the subject of a later post here.) The second piece is what you can see above, the Shellphone Loudspeaker. Amazingly, it turned out that both the CNC painting and the Shellphone were created by the same young artist/designer/maker, Andrew Vomhof. The Shellphone Loudspeaker, made by Andrew with collaborator Karl Zinsmaster, is absolutely wonderful and I purchased one immediately. It's a real Whelk shell hand-carved to perfectly sit an iPhone (4 or 5). The shell acts as a natural amplifier for the iPhone's speakers.

Now, this thing doesn't come close to the output of powered speakers. Duh. But it does increase the volume quite a bit and layers the sound with a subtly echoey and organic vibe. But that isn't really the point. It's a wonderful curiosity at the intersection of nature, art, and technology. And it's beautiful to boot. Vomhof and Zinsmaster have launched a Kickstarter to bring their prototype design into full production. Pledge $60 and, if they hit their goal of $10,000, you'll receive your own Shellphone Loudspeaker early next year.

Shellphone Loudspeaker

Dear Sir Here is the glow cases

It wasn't even clear from the spam where you might buy one.

Just in case you were wondering.

How I fixed an iPhone with a Q-Tip

On Saturday night my 15-year-old daughter texted me that her iPhone was broken. Her friend had spilled salad dressing on it while they were at dinner. The speakers and microphone no longer worked. No phone calls, no music. I thought that the phone would have to be replaced. When I got home I googled iPhone water damage speaker not working. The first result was a page on Saw Tun's blog called "How to fix the iPhone speaker problem (water damage)." He wrote:

Problem: The iPhone speaker works fine when headphones are plugged into it. However, as soon as the headphones are removed, there is no sound emitted from the iPhone. In other words, the iPhone speaker doesn’t work. My phone wouldn’t ring and I couldn’t hear any sound from the iPhone. This happened to my phone after it was water damaged.

Solution: Find a q-tip. Insert the q-tip into the headphone jack of the iPhone. Swivel the q-tip around for a bit and clean the inside of the headphone jack. Once I did this, the problem was magically fixed!

I had my doubts, but I tried it. It didn't work. I used another Q-tip. Still didn't work. But, the Q-tips smelled like oil and vinegar salad dressing. So I kept on sticking them into the jack. After the fifth or sixth Q-tip, Lana Del Rey started singing through the phone.

Thank you, Saw Tun!

Siri vs. Google Voice Search for iPhone

The guys at Gizmodo did a side-by-side comparison of voice search on iPhone, using Siri vs. using Google Voice Search for iOS. (Thanks, Joe Sabia!)

$5 SIM card cutter

Here's a handy device to cut older SIM cards to fit newer phones, like the iPhone 5.

The Nano SIM Cutter takes any regular or micro size and trims the excess off to provide you a precision cut nano SIM. It's simple, you insert your SIM card with the contacts facing downwards, push the SIM card all the way in, and push down on the lever. The cutter will provide you with a perfectly cut nano SIM card every time! These Nano SIM Cutters are built from hi-quality stainless steel to ensure high precision cutting.

Nano SIM Card Cutter (for iPhone 5) w/ 3 Nano SIM Card Adapter

New features in Glympse, a location-sharing mobile app I like

For the last year or two I have been using a free location–sharing app on my iPhone called Glympse. It's purpose is simple: when you are driving somewhere to meet someone, the app generates a URL so they can see where you are on a map and track your progress as you are driving.

Today, Glympse introduced a new version of the application, and it has interesting improvements.

Glympse Groups allows users to share and interact via common activities, such as sporting or industry events, meetings or social gatherings. Glympse reveals group members’ real-time locations on a map for a set amount of time, encouraging local interaction and social discovery.

Glympse allows users to automatically schedule location updates to everyone associated with a specific calendar event, virtually replacing the need for “Running Late” or “On my way” emails, texts or phone calls.

When Glympse first debuted, it made it fast and easy for users to “Share Your Where” with others, for a specified period of time without creating yet another network. Now, the new Glympse turns the tables and makes it just as easy to ask your friends, family, and colleagues, “Where are you?” With the new “Request a Glympse” feature, users simply send a request via text or email and recipients can instantly accept and start broadcasting their location for the given time period.

Get Glympse in the App Store and Google Play