Innovation comes in many guises, some of them more outlandish than others. The various iOS devices over the past few years have sparked a legion of accessories of all kinds to support and improve the use of those devices. The iFlask (courtesy of Mashable), while clever, doesn’t fit that description.
Smartphones of various makes have become ubiquitous; in the few short years since the release of the first iPhone they’ve become almost a requirement for many. I would find my daily life severely constrained without my handset- it provides communication, information, and entertainment no other single device could. The iFlask takes advantage of the commonness of today’s smartphones for the purpose of subterfuge; as the name suggests the “device” is in fact a drinking flask masquerading as a faux iPhone.
The iFlask is constructed of stainless steel and polycarbonate, and built to loosely resemble one of several smartphone profiles. At a glance one wouldn’t suspect it was a ruse, containing up to 5 ounces of whatever fluid one would like to conceal. The headphone jack is actually the opening for the flask, opened by a sliding switch. The makers of the iFlask even kindly provide a collapsable funnel to fill the container.
The iFlask began as a Kickstarter campaign, but even though it failed to reach its funding goal the makers have found a way to being manufacturing and are accepting preorders via their website. This curious product could serve in many somewhat illicit functions- sneaking alcohol into sporting or other group events where drinks are either prohibited or prohibitively expensive is the first that comes to mind. It would make for a clever gag gift as well. I’m just thankful it wasn’t around when I was younger; it could have been the origin of a great deal of trouble for me and some of my friends.
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Posted in News, tagged apple, camera, China, Field of Dreams, gadgets, Handhelds, iphone, iZZi Orbit, smartphone, technology on April 13, 2013 |
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Build it and they will come as paraphrased from Field of Dreams fits just as well for the accessory market. As iOS devices have boomed devices of all sorts have cropped up. While the majority of accessories have been both rational and affordable (albeit with a few absurdities tossed in for good measure), if the money is there someone will always find a way to cull it from those that have it.
Case in point: the iZZi Orbit Camera Case for the iPhone. At first glance the case seems like a practical option for a niche market- the camera case sports a rotating set of camera lenses (fisheye, wide angle, and telephoto), a comfortable camera-style grip at the bottom, and an area under that grip compatible with most camera mounts. While a touch bulky the case would do an adequate job protecting your device while offering some specific camera-centric benefits. Then you see the price.
The iZZi Orbit case weighs in at an eye-popping £199.99- that’s $306.82; more than the subsidized cost of the current model 16 gig iPhone. While that case may have value for some owners, I struggle to think how the manufacturers could justify such a price. It doesn’t appear to be constructed of exotic materials, nor extraordinarily engineered. For those that can both sue what it offers and has the cash to spare, it’s available via LoveCases.co.UK now.
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Posted in Rumors, tagged aluminum chassis, Android, apple, Handhelds, Handset, iphone, iphone 5, itunes, logical flaws, mobile, niche market, Smartphones, technology, touch screens on March 7, 2013 |
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There’s been a lot of talk lately about drastic changes Apple may be making to the iPhone, mostly in the name of staying competitive with their primary rival Android. While the central argument has some logical flaws (chiefly that Apple isn’t competing directly with any one operating system, they compete with other handset manufacturers), there is likely some truth to the rumored new iPhone handsets.
Apple has long stated that they have engineered the iPhone to be the perfect size for single hand operation, even with the larger (but no wider) iPhone 5 screen. Many pundits have stated that Apple is losing market share because they have so far refused to enter the ‘phablet’ market (phone/tablet hybrids sporting a screen between 5 and 8 inches). Before the smartphone era handset makers had struggled to make flagship phones smaller; being unencumbered offered value that a smaller form didn’t impinge. Enter the smartphone era sparked by the iPhone, reversing the trend because of the value offered by screen space. Larger screens offered easier interaction with touch screens, easier viewing of media and websites, and more visibility for those that want to make a social/technological statement (oh my god, Becky- look at her phone! It’s so….BIG.) While the phablet market is a budding one, I’d wager that Apple will stick to their game plan of maximal utility from a uniform factor and not deviate from the screen size of the iPhone 5. A successful phone can only be so large before it becomes cumbersome, and a device that can’t be carried in a pocket is simply too large to be practical for all but a niche market.
Then there’s the rumor of Apple developing an entry-level, less expensive iPhone. It’s been rumored to cut corners that Apple generally doesn’t to contain costs, like regressing from the iPhone 5′s aluminum chassis to a composite plastic one. Originally I didn’t think this concept held any validity, as Apple has never adopted the strategy of offering a loss leader as Amazon does with the Kindle (or to a lesser extent Google does with the Android OS)- offering a product at low to no cost, expecting to generate profit from core businesses that are fed by customers channeled to it from the free/low cost product. While Apple could count on the profit generated by sales via the iTunes App Store, media sales through iTunes, accessories, and kickbacks from cellular providers that subsidize the price of the handsets to lure customers into a long term contract, they to date have not only collected revenue from those sources but also maintained a profit from the sale of the iPhone itself. This is only possible if your product is perceived as a quality good; Android handsets run the gamut from quality to entry level with prices to match. Even Google makes more profit from the iPhone than they do the far larger numbers of Android handsets in use.
So given these factors, what incentive does Apple have to delve into the entry level smartphone market? When you consider my home country’s smartphone market, very little; hence my (and many other’s) dismissal of the rumored cheaper iPhone. Sadly, like many Americans I tend to overlook the rest of the world, and this profoundly impacts the market strategy of a company like Apple looking to maintain their record growth and profits. The largest developing markets for smartphones aren’t in the Americas or Europe, they lie to the East. China is a booming market that Apple has been courting for a few years now, and they’ve had some success with their primary market strategy of premium product brand identity that has served them so well in their home country. While news of the Chinese technological market is news to most of us, it’s old news to technological strategists. India and the rest of Southeast Asia is the new gold rush, but old strategies may not work in these new business environments. Many of these countries lack cell providers willing or even able to offer subsidized handsets in exchange for long term contracts, and customers may be unwilling to accept them. In such markets you simply purchase your handset and pay as you go, and in markets such as this a $650 unsubsidized iPhone (the actual out of pocket cost of the cheapest iPhone 5) simply isn’t an option. For a company looking to enter a market, sometimes it’s best to conform to market standards rather than stoically stay the course. In such a situation a lower-cost iPhone makes perfect sense; while it may not generate the same profit as the handset does in my homeland’s market, it could very well do so in another or at least offer Apple a chance to gain a foothold in a rapidly developing market. One look at the history of consumer electronics shows the fate of those that move too slowly: the Zune was a fine digital audio device, but by the time it hit the market it was already passé. Apple cannot hope to maintain their meteoric growth in Western markets; we have already come close to smartphone saturation, with only the lower income demographics and niche markets left unplumbed (but already well targeted by inexpensive entry-level Android handsets). I’d go so far as to argue that catering to these markets is one of the reasons Android users as a whole have been found to use their devices less for non-telephone tasks like browsing and spend far less on apps and accessories; they simply have less use for smart devices and less money to spend. The market numbers are impressive when overall numbers of handsets are considered, but market share is meaningless if you aren’t generating adequate revenue from it.
So considering this, it is more than possible Apple may release a less expensive ‘new’ iPhone (rather than their entry-level strategy in existing markets of offering older models at a discounted price). Sadly for bargain hunters, these low cost iPhones may never be aimed at US or European consumers.
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One of the unspoken tasks all new smartphone users go through once they have their handset is the task of deciding on what accessories they need and the process of weeding through all the physical and online retailers to obtain them. I’ve heard the esteemed hosts of the Insanely Great Podcast half jokingly refer to the Apple Store as the “$30 store” due to a majority of the accessories they sell being priced at or close to that figure. When you consider that they typical iPhone user will definitely want a case and possibly a screen protector or a means of charging their phone while driving, relying on the friendly folks at your local Apple Store can add up quickly. Considering the physical differences of the iPhone 5, not all vendors may even have accessories that would suit the new handset. So what’s a new iPhone 5 owner to do?
Thankfully MobileFun (and the original MobileFun UK) has you covered with the announcement of their new Ultimate Pack for the iPhone 5. This collection is the perfect starter kit for the new handset- a soft silicone case, a screen protector, a universal smartphone desk stand, a 1 Amp dual USB port car adaptor, and a universal smartphone car mount. The Universal Pack covers all of the basic needs of a new iPhone 5 owner: protection via the case and screen cover, recharging via the car power adaptor (just plug in your Apple-provided Lightning cable), and storage that still provides usability via the desk stand and car holder.
The mountable car holder was of particular use to me. I’ve had every generation of iPhone save the 4s, but never had a dashboard mount until now. The mount is fully positionable, allowing you to use your iPhone in either portrait or landscape mode; especially useful with Apple’s new turn by turn navigation (or third party GPS app for those of you that have less faith in Apple’s Maps than I do).
While the Ultimate Pack’s components aren’t the best available of each category it covers, the collection is more than just a convenient way to cover all your accessory needs in one order; at $26.99 it will save you quite a bit compared to purchasing each component separately.
For those of you wishing to personalize their iPhone beyond what the Ultimate Pack offers, MobileFun has a complete lineup of iPhone 5 cases along with one of the widest selections of accessories currently available. Give them a look, I think you’ll be happy you did.
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Posted in News, tagged apple, BookBook, Handhelds, ios, ipad, iphone, iPhone 4, iphone 5, MacRumors, smartphone on September 10, 2012 |
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While you can’t get your hands on Apple’s latest iPhone, savvy merchants are already moving now to expand their offerings to include accessories for the new, larger form factor.
Case in point- my friends at MobileFun (UK or US) have already announced their first accessory specifically for the iPhone 5. The SGP iPhone 5 Screen Protector is a different from the typical smartphone screen protectors widely available. Most are single-use plastic or resin sheets that adhere to your screen, where the SGP screen protector is chemically reinforced glass. The protector is a scant 0.4 mm thick, so it doesn’t noticeably increase the thickness or profile of your device, yet it offers superb protection from scratches and abrasions. The SGP protector has similar oleophobic (oil shunning) attributes as the glass it covers, helping to reduce smudges and streaks. The glass is shatter proof as well; should it be struck with enough force it will crack but like automobile windshields it will retain it’s shape. Best of all, unlike plastic protectors it can be applied without annoying bubbles. I’ve used this type of screen protector for my current iPhone 4 and have been pleased with it with one negative observation; it isn’t compatible with all cases. It worked perfectly with my BookBook case, but wasn’t ideal when I switched to a CM4 iPhone Case Wallet.
MobileFun expects to expand on their line of dedicated iPhone 5 cases and accessories to go along with their existing lineup of universal smartphone accessories. If you’re looking for something to complete your phone or tablet give MobileFun a look, chances are they’ll have whatever you need.
UPDATE: As suspected, it didn’t take long- MobileFun has already notified me that they’ve received their first shipments of iPhone 5 cases- specifically some leather cases from SGP, the same manufacturer as the aforementioned screen protector. The cases confirm what was already suspected; the iPhone 5 will be slightly longer/taller but the same width as the iPhone 4/4s. They even included a hastily-taken snapshot:
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There’s been so much discussion and rumormongering concerning the iPhone that the September 12th announcement seems almost superfluous. The last question of the most recent version of Apple’s iconic smartphone has been laid to rest as even peripherally involved organizations have begun preparation for the expected massive demand.
A report from MacRumors cites that FedEx has made preparations for a surge in volume September 21 through 24, coinciding with the expected release of the iPhone 5. Employee travel and training has been limited. The post notes that FedEx is Apple’s primary shipping partner.
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There’s an iOS accessory for just about everything. I’ve had several iPhone cases that served as wallets, an iPad case that contains a full Bluetooth keyboard, and have seen more bizarre and useful accessories than I could possibly describe. Just when I thought there’s no room for innovation a new device (courtesy OSX Daily) appears: the Yellow Jacket iPhone case.
The Yellow Jacket was inspired by misfortune endured by one of the creators. According to their product video he was the victim of a break in and gunpoint robbery. Unable to defend himself with the firearms he kept in another room, he and his partner set out to develop something that would be both effective and readily used. The Yellow Jacket is just that- a case for a device that for many is almost always on hand that includes a 650,000 volt stun gun. That’s right- the Yellow Jacket has a battery and electrodes allowing you to quickly dispatch an assailant with a debilitating electrical shock.
Should you not need the Yellow Jacket’s offensive capabilities the battery that drives the stun gun can power your iPhone for an additional twenty hours of use, making it even more functional. This functionality does come at a price; the case adds quite a bit of thickness and heft to your iOS device (actual dimensions weren’t listed, but the image illustrates the extra thickness fairly well).
For those of you interested the Yellow Jacket is still in fundraising mode; it’s indegogo campaign has 18 days to go as of this writing and they are still well short of their stated funding goal. I admit it’s not an accessory I would have ever even considered, but the idea has merit. I doubt it’s something I’d rely on, but the core concept is a sound one: my iPhone is often in hand, and almost always on me making it an easy means of carrying and deploying the stun gun. Couple that with the benefit of such a powerful external battery and the potential is obvious.
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I’ve seen a lot of strange and quirky iPhone accessories during my time blogging. When you have a device with so many potential uses, developers are bound to find some niches that most would never consider.
Neatorama brings us just such an accessory. Love your iPhone but find it too tiring to actually take it out of your jeans pocket to use? The Delta415 Wearcom Jeans are just what you need. The straight-leg jeans have a specially tailored pocket over the right thigh to hold your iPhone; a zippered flap opens to reveal the pocket covered by a clear protective screen allowing interaction with your phone while still in place. To top it off the Delta415′s come with a buttonhole giving access to your iPhone’s headphone jack (if you’re one of the technologically stunted without a Bluetooth headset, that is).
Proving that fashion doesn’t come cheap, the Delta415′s list at $160 per pair. No one ever said being cutting edge was easy.
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Posted in News, tagged Android, apple, Handhelds, ios, ipad, iphone, Mobile device, Research In Motion, Tablet computer on April 24, 2012 |
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Apple Insider released a report citing recent research showing that while iOS devices make up 43 percent of the mobile device market they account for 71 percent of all mobile traffic. iOS has been gaining on Android at the expense of Research In Motion- Apple’s mobile device market share has inched upward, while Android has held relatively steady.
While the difference in online use is remarkable, I don’t find it to be all that surprising. Anecdotally I can attest to iPhone users simply doing more with their devicess; both professionally and casually. Whether it’s gaming (my workplace is in the throes of Draw Something) or work-related (more physicians are using an iPad to access patient charts instead of relying on cumbersome laptops or slow and inconveniently located hospital workstations) those that I see on a daily basis use their devices for a wide variety of tasks. I have yet to seen an Android tablet in a professional setting, and the Android handsets I see are typically used as phones or snapshot cameras, with few to no extra apps even installed.
The reasons behind the discrepancy in online presence are difficult to concretely define. I’d argue that Apple’s unified and curated app store is an advantage, even if it does screen out apps that users would like to have. Having the ability to quickly and easily offer updates and bug fixes is another competitive advantage. Ultimately, I think the primary reason is the focus Apple has placed from the first iPhone’s release on the user experience. Make a device focused laser-like on the customer’s experience and the customer will be more likely to use it. Android has been able to offer more cutting edge components (multi-core processors, LTE connectivity) but without a user-focused environment you’re left with a device that suits power users only.
What are your experiences or opinions? Share them with me in the comments section!
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Posted in Advice, Reviews, tagged BookBook, Glass, Handhelds, iphone, iPhone 4, Screen protector, smartphone, Toughened glass on April 2, 2012 |
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While the Corning-made Gorilla Glass construction of the iPhone 4 and 4S is strong and scratch resistant, it isn’t impervious to harm. Even carrying your phone in a pocket with keys or loose coins can scratch or nick the screen over time. Just as I wouldn’t advocate carrying such a significant investment with no case, I’d also advise you take the extra step of using a screen protector.
There are countless brands of mobile phone screen protectors out there. Most consist of a semirigid plastic sheet that is adhered to the screen like tape. Any of you that have used these sorts of screen protectors can probably attest to the difficulty of applying them without bubbles or tiny specks of lint trapped underneath that become impossible to ignore. Once deployed you’re pretty much stuck with what you get; these sorts of inexpensive protectors aren’t designed to be removed and reused.
Then there is the impressive Zagg InvisibleSHEILD. Far more durable that inexpensive screen protectors, but more involved to place (the process is very similar to installing window tint in a car) and even moreso that other protectors the invisibleSHEILD is a one-use product; the protector may be tough as heck but it is truly a film and once firmly in place if removed it’s destined for the waste bin.
My friends at mobilefun.co.UK have another option for you to consider- the UltraGlass Protective Cover. It’s a unique product offering the best of what it’s competitors have to offer and more. Unlike the inexpensive screen protectors or films, the UltraGlass is a rigid pane, including a colored border around your phone’s screen. Just use the included lint-free cloth to clean your iPhone of fingerprints or dust, align the UltraGlass and apply. The rigid construction eliminates bubbles from forming and makes aligning it with the features of your phone easier. Should you slip and misalign it, don’t worry; the UltraGlass can be removed and reset (although it does attach firmly). As the name would imply, the UltraGlass excels in protection from scuffs, scratches, and abrasions to your screen. Even if you purchased your iPhone under contract, it’s a significant investment that’s not easily replaced or repaired. Be forewarned- even the most careful owners can fall prey to scratches that over time can progress to full cracks!
Even though the UltraGlass has a rigid form, it has a thickness of only about 1mm. I use a BookBook case for my iPhone 4 (review pending, but I highly recommend them) and the UltraGlass Protector was almost imperceptible; the only sign was that my once-black iPhone now sported a white facade (the UltraGlass, like the iPhone, is available in either black or white). I’ve tested the UltraGlass Protector for about a week as of this writing and have been impressed with it’s manufacture. Other phone screen protectors may be less expensive, but they can’t match what the UltraGlass offers.
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