TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Cell Phone Gadgets for Under $50

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Bluetooth-to-FM Transmitter ($36.99)

streambot
Mpow

You pride yourself on owning the most bleeding-edge smartphone that money can buy. Your car, on the other hand, is a 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage with a tape deck. A tape deck! Sure, you could hook your Galaxy S8 — that’s a thing, right? — up to one of those gnarly tape adapters, but this is 2014, Jack. Let’s get with the program.

The StreamBot pairs to your phone’s Bluetooth connection and relays the audio to an open radio station. You can use it for music or as a speakerphone, and there’s a built-in USB port that allows you to charge your phone at the same time.

[Amazon]

iPhone-Android Combo Charging Cable ($27.99)

magic_cable_lightning_connection
Innergie

While the world around you fights over whether iPhone or Android is best, you quietly retreat to the window seat in your childhood bedroom. It reminds you of a simpler time. You feel safe there.

Oh, and you brought your Android phone and your iPad Mini with you. The world must never know. They wouldn’t understand. And seeing that you hate cable clutter, you’ve also packed this two-in-one charging cord. It’s got a Micro USB tip that snaps into a Lightning tip, allowing you to charge just about any device that’s currently on the market. It’s simple and safe. Like your childhood.

[Innergie]

Bluetooth Gloves ($49.99)

bluetooth gloves
hi-Fun

That guy walking down the street who looks like he’s talking to himself? He’s using a Bluetooth headset. He looks crazy, but you eat crazy for breakfast.

One-up the insanity by talking into these Bluetooth gloves like a lunatic. The pinkie acts as the mouthpiece, while the thumb serves as the earpiece. Sure, people will stare, but while they’re rubbing their eyes and breathing through their mouths in disbelief, you’re selling mildly abrasive cleaning supplies to the third largest school district in the county. Crazy like a fox!

[ThinkGeek]

Lipstick-Size Emergency Battery ($17.99)

ravpower
RAVPower

“Can I borrow your lipstick?” one of your sassy girlfriends will ask. “Not unless you need to recharge your FACE!” you’ll howl back. “You’re such a Samantha!”

Clearly, I have no idea how female relationships work, but this inconspicuous backup battery can provide more than a full charge for most modern phones and slips into your Kate Spade without taking up too much space. There are several color options available, including more masculine hues if you’re not into the whole lipstick motif.

[RAVPower]

Retro Handset ($6.99)

handset
Echo Logico

If you think Bluetooth is some sort of dangerous dental affliction, perhaps it’s time to uncomplicate certain aspects of your personal technology collection.

This retro handset plugs into the headphone jack of your phone and lets you telecommunicate like people used to back in the good old days. Back when kids didn’t sass their parents and gas cost a nickel. Get off my lawn!

[Amazon]

TIME Software

iOS 8 Release Guide

Apple

It’s Wednesday, September 17. Happy iOS 8 Day, everyone. Here’s what to expect.

When will iOS 8 be available?

Apple never sets a hard-and-fast time on when it’ll start rolling out the update, but it’s historically started rolling new iOS versions out around 1pm Eastern time. Some years, I’ve gotten the update right away; some years, it’s taken until around 3pm or so. I can’t ever remember getting it before 1pm, though.

How do I get it?

If you do nothing, you’ll eventually get a pop-up message on your phone saying that the new software is available. You can check manually in a couple ways, though.

First, from your phone, open the Settings app, select General and then Software Update. Your phone will check with Apple’s servers to see if the update is ready for you. Again, just because it’s 1pm doesn’t mean you’ll get the update right away. Be patient.

Second, connect your phone to your computer, open iTunes on your computer, and the first heading under your phone’s page in iTunes contains information about which version of iOS it’s running. Click the “Check for Update” button every once in a while to see if the new software is available for you. I actually find this method to work better than trying to get the update directly from my phone. Your mileage may vary, but give it a try if you’re near a computer when the update starts rolling out.

Will it work on my phone?

iOS 8 is compatible with the iPhone 4S and up. It’ll also be available for the iPad 2 and up, all iPad Mini models, and the fifth-generation iPod Touch.

What should I do while I’m waiting?

If you’re going the iTunes route, make sure you have the latest version (click Help, then Check for Updates). And make sure your phone has enough storage space to accommodate the new software. You’ll want to clear out five gigabytes or more if you’re updating straight from your phone, just to be on the safe side. Here’s a guide with information about how you can do that. If you’re updating from iTunes, you won’t need to have nearly as much space free.

You’ll also want the latest version of iOS 7 — version 7.1.2 — in order to quickly upgrade to iOS 8. Use the steps in the “How do I get it?” section above to make sure you’re running the latest version.

What’s new in iOS 8?

There’s a new photo album and quicker, easier photo editing; there are enhanced voice and video messages; there’s a revamped keyboard that predicts which word you’re going to type next; there’s a new health and fitness app; there’s a cloud-based hard drive; there’s app- and book-sharing between family members; there are enhanced notifications and a few other bells and whistles thrown in.

Apple’s iOS 8 site is here; we have an iOS feature guide here.

Do I need to download iOS 8 right away?

No. In fact, it could be argued that it’s a good idea to wait until the first update to iOS 8 hits — usually a couple weeks later — for all the kinks to get worked out. If you don’t install iOS 8 right away, your phone will still work just fine. Sometimes it’s best to wait at least a day or two to see what people are saying about the update online. Are they complaining about shorter battery life? Are apps crashing more often? Does the interface seem sluggish? If so, it might be a good idea to hold off for a while until everything gets smoothed out.

TIME How-To

How to Double Check Your Google Account Security Settings

Google Account Settings
Google's account settings page shows which sites, services and devices have access to your account Google

The unofficial Google Operating System site writes about a little gem found under the security section of everyone’s Google account settings page.

Head over to your account’s security section, and click the “Get started” button located under the “Secure your Account” heading.

It’ll step you through the various lock-downs available for your Google account, including setting a recovery phone number, a recovery email address and the ability to revoke access for apps, websites and gadgets you no longer use. You’ll also be able to check out your recent activity to make sure nobody’s been using your account without your knowledge.

It’s a good idea to run through a security audit such as this every once in a while, especially after a high-profile data breach.

[Google Operating System]

TIME Gadgets

iPhone 6 Wireless Plans Compared

Over at Yahoo Tech, Rob Pegoraro has taken up the unenviable task of comparing iPhone 6 wireless plans from major carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

This was all a somewhat simpler endeavor back when a phone cost $200, you picked a minutes/data/text messages plan, and signed a two-year contract. But newly-added pricing plans have saddled up alongside traditional pricing plans, resulting in a far murkier melange of minutes and megabytes.

The assumption with this exercise is that you’ll be buying a base-model iPhone 6 and will need two gigabytes of monthly data. All of these plans include unlimited minutes and text messages and, aside from network quality, your biggest decision is whether or not you want to be able to use tethering. Tethering lets you share your phone’s data connection with another device such as a tablet or laptop. It’s good for road trips and other instances where you’d get a cellular signal but wouldn’t have access to an open Wi-Fi network.

If you don’t care about tethering:

  • Verizon can be had for $1,640 over two years
  • Sprint can be had for $1,680 over two years
  • T-Mobile can be had for $1,730 over two years
  • AT&T can be had for $2,120 over two years

If you want to tether:

  • T-Mobile can be had for $1,730 over two years
  • Sprint can be had for $1,920 over two years
  • AT&T can be had for $2,120 over two years
  • Verizon can be had for $2,360 over two years

These figures don’t take into account network quality in your area, family plans, equipment trade-in bonuses, taxes or other stuff like that. Each carrier offers a trial period, though, so make sure to exercise your right to return your phone if you’re not happy with it.

Check out Pegoraro’s post for more info on the various plans and pricing schemes.

[Yahoo Tech]

TIME Gadgets

SanDisk 512GB Memory Card: Big Storage, Big Price

sd-sdextremePRO-512g
SanDisk

SanDisk has announced a memory card with roughly half a terabyte of storage. If you’re reading this on a laptop, that might be as large or larger than your entire hard drive. If you’re reading this on a phone, it’s definitely larger than your phone’s entire storage — probably at least 10x as much. SanDisk touts the card as “the world’s highest-capacity SD card on the market.”

The “SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card 512GB” — just rolls right off the tongue, no? — carries a retail price of $800 and is targeted at professional photographers and videographers. If you’ve got $800 to burn and need a significant storage bump for your computer, though, this could do the trick. (It won’t work in smartphones: this is a full-size card, not a microSD card.)

Adorama has it for $729 with an estimated late-September ship date. B&H also has it for $729 but the ship date isn’t until mid-October.

[SanDisk]

TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Drinking Gadgets for Under $50

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Digital Beer Koozie ($20)

koolernaut
Beer Outlaw

So much real-time data in this world, and here you are drinking beer without knowing its exact temperature.

The Kool-er-naut brings the tried and true Koozie into the 21st century, with an LCD thermometer and a freezable ice puck that slips into the bottom of this newfangled apparatus for some extra coldness. As a bonus, there’s a chart on the back of the Kool-er-naut that tells you the optimal temperature for various styles of beer.

[Kickstarter (ships October-ish)]

Drink-Making Scale and App ($49.99)

perfect drink
Brookstone

What a time to be alive! Put a glass down on this scale, and its connected app tells you how much of each liquid and ice to pour into your drink (there are hundreds of drink recipes to choose from). If you overpour one of the liquids, the app will readjust the amounts of the remaining liquids on the fly. You can also tell the app which types of booze you have on hand and it’ll return only recipes that can be made with said booze.

[Brookstone]

BeerBelly Booze Smuggler ($29.49)

beerbelly
BeerBelly

I’m no mathlete, but it seems like this fake beer gut would pay for itself before halftime at any exorbitantly-priced sporting event. Simply funnel 80 ounces of your favorite libation into this wearable polyurethane bladder, slip it on under your shirt and waddle through the turnstile looking like any other overweight American. For the ladies, there’s this wine-holding sports bra, too.

[Amazon]

Spinning Beer Chiller ($29.99)

spinchill
SpinChill

Stick a beer into a pile of ice and spin the can around a bunch of times. It’ll eventually get cold. How? Scients. “That’s not how you spell science.” Eh, I’ve heard it both ways.

Now attach the can to this hand-held spinning doohickey that rotates the can much faster and — you guessed it – the beer gets colder faster. The SpinChill can cool a can in one minute, a 12-ounce bottle in three minutes, and a wine bottle in five minutes.

Tailgate-in-a-Box Kit ($39)

instagate
Instagate

Tailgates? Fun. Lugging all the stuff to tailgates? Not fun. Cleaning up all the stuff once you’re stumbling around like a toddler during an earthquake? The utmost in un-fun.

The Instagate one-time-use kit packs a grill, grilling tools, 60-quart cooler, lighter/bottle opener combo, beer pong set, 10 sets of utensils, 12 cups, 10 plates, 20 napkins, 20 condiment packets, and some garbage bags to clean everything up when you’re done. Oh, and the cardboard box folds out into three little tabletops.

[Kickstarter (ships November-ish)]

TIME Smartphones

Specs Shootout: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus vs the Competition

Choosing the right smartphone involves plenty of intangible metrics, to be sure. But if you’re looking for raw data about how the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stack up against high-profile Android handsets, check out the below chart. The iPhone 5s has been thrown in for good measure, just so you can get a good idea of the newer models’ enhancements (or lack thereof).

You can also build your own comparisons if you’d like to include other phones. Head over here and check the “Add to compare” box next to each phone you want to examine, then click the “Compare Now” link in the right sidebar once you’re ready.

TIME Opinion

One iPhone Feature I’d Still Like to See

Apple's iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 6 Plus (right) Apple

We spent a week at the beach this summer. I brought with me my work-issued iPhone 5s and a Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport I’d been reviewing. The iPhone spent much of the trip in my bag.

Now, my iPhone uses Verizon and got a decent-if-unspectacular signal where we were. It’d waver between 3G and LTE data, and phone calls and texts would come through regularly.

The Samsung, on the other hand, uses Sprint and didn’t get much of a signal at all where we were. It would routinely just lose the signal altogether, with texts being delayed and phone calls going straight to voicemail.

But I brought the Samsung to the beach with me everyday because it’s water-resistant.

I’m overly, overly, overly careful with my gadgets. Bringing my iPhone to the beach entails first putting it in a ziploc bag, then putting that bag in a waterproof cooler pocket. If I use the phone, I make sure my hands are completely dry.

I would use the Samsung instantly after getting out of the water, though — towel be damned, water droplets splattering everywhere like tears from God himself as he’s chopping holy onions — and would stuff it into the pocket of my wet swimsuit whenever I walked back up to the house. It was liberating.

Now I know there are plenty of iPhone waterproofing services out there, and it could be argued that the iPhone could stand to sport plenty of other features besides waterproofing: I saw a joke somewhere that Samsung’s next phone reveal will dictate which features will end up in the iPhone 8, which isn’t too outrageous an idea. At this stage in the game, though, if you’re expecting bleeding-edge hardware from new iPhones, you should expect to be disappointed. It’s the experience that counts, and waterproofing an iPhone seems like a consumer-friendly, trivial addition.

In fact, I’d wager a guess that such a feature isn’t far off. It would actually be a perfect feature to add to one of the iPhone line’s incremental upgrade cycles — iPhone 3G to 3GS; iPhone 4 to 4S, for example. Maybe slap it on to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus next year, bump the processor a bit and call it a day.

It’s a crowd-pleaser. Who wouldn’t want their iPhone to survive a drop in the toilet?

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