TIME Gadgets

This Samsung Cable Lets Your Phone Charge Other Gadgets

samsung cable
Samsung

If you’re anything like me, you probably have multiple phone accessories and mobile devices, all of which require charging. It’s easy to remember to keep the phone charged. But when it comes to my Jambox, Bluetooth headphones, activity tracker, smartwatch and tablets, well – sometimes there are only so many outlets and charger cables to go around.

Smartphone giant Samsung introduced a new accessory made to solve exactly that problem. Meet the Samsung Power Sharing Cable. It’s a simple way to recharge your gadgets on the go using just the charge stored in your Samsung phone’s battery.

To use the cable, you’ll first need a compatible Samsung Galaxy device. Currently, the power-sharing cable works with the Samsung Galaxy S 5, Galaxy Tab S 10.5, Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Avant and Galaxy Note 4. There’s no limitation to what you can charge, so long as it has a Micro USB port. Arrows on the cable show you the direction that power flows in.

Using the power-sharing cable will require you to first download Samsung’s Power Sharing app for Android. That’s a good thing, though – the app lets you control exactly how much of your phone’s precious battery life to devote to charging other devices. The app will also let you know how long you’ll need to wait until the power swap is complete. It’s valuable information considering how slowly the transfer happens.

The only real drawback to the Samsung Power Sharing Cable is that the charge stored in your phone is typically more valuable than moving it to an accessory. You may want to look into a portable battery charger instead. We like the myCharge Hub 9000 – it’s a $100 battery with built-in charging cables, making it an exceptionally convenient way to charge all sorts of gadgets away from home.

Samsung’s new Power Sharing Cable (EP-SG900UWESTA) is currently available for purchase at Amazon.com for $19.99.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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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 technology

How the Selfie Stick Is Killing the Selfie

The “selfie stick”—a small, articulated monopod designed for cell phone-wielding photographers—is, by all accounts, more popular than ever. “[Just last month], I’ve seen several around midtown Manhattan, including inside Grand Central Terminal and outside the main branch of the New York Public Library,” says Henry Posner, the director of corporate communications at the popular B&H Photo retail chain.

“The extension handles for smartphones are very popular, deceptively simple, and elegantly designed,” he tells TIME. “And the addition of a remote, whether mechanical or via Bluetooth, makes using one a snap. If you’re old enough to remember the old days of setting a camera on a tripod, setting a self-timer and then sprinting around to get into the group before the picture was taken, you can really appreciate how simple and clever these are.”

For Posner, the selfie stick’s success mirrors GoPro’s popularity among extreme-sports aficionados who regularly film and photograph their performances. However, warns Laurence Allard, a French professor and mobile technology specialist, the very name of the product itself might be self-limiting.

“It’s contradictory,” she says. “The selfie isn’t just a portrait. It has its own codes and rules, and the main one is that a selfie has to have been taken by hand. An authentic selfie should show it was taken with your arm extended—that’s a sort of signature.” And, she explains, the use of a selfie stick removes that particular element from the frame.

The selfie has long had a bad reputation. It’s been demonized and held up as the latest and most egregiously obvious symptom of a narcissistic society. But, argues Allard, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The selfie originates from established self-portrait practices in the history of painting and photography, but also from online practices best represented by the use of profile pictures,” she tells TIME. “It possesses a real genealogy. But it has also found its own autonomy and definition. Today, we’d be mistaken to define the selfie as a narcissist object or simple self-portrait. In my opinion, the selfie is a mobile photographic genre in itself—one that didn’t exist before. It’s deeply linked to mobile photography, a genre that’s not only about the connected image, which is meant for others, but also about expressing your own interior voice.”

looq-sIn fact, says Allard, the selfie is not so much about a person’s view of him- or herself as it is about that person’s particular place in the world. “It’s a portrait created by the self, of the self, within its surrounding environment, with the specific goal of sharing that portrait with friends, family or a larger community online. The selfie doesn’t exactly fit in the history of photography because of its temporality. It’s not necessarily created for historical and memorial purposes; it’s created with the idea of direct communication.”

In essence, it’s more a document of the present, while traditional photography largely relates to the past.

Unfortunately, Allard argues, the selfie continues to be the target of derision, despite its popularity across all generations of cell phone users. “It’s bogged down in this narcissist argument. It’s often confused with profile pictures and with some self-representation practices that we can see on Facebook.” And journalists are partly to blame, she says. “The media tends to highlight online social practices as being the result of narcissistic behaviors, simply because Internet and mobile phones are communication tools open to everyone.” In fact, these new communication tools have helped us, Allard says, because the media have now lost their centuries-old monopoly on not only the creation but the mass distribution of both images and of speech.

“By equating these social practices with narcissism, the media [attempts] to neutralize their social potential.”

And the growing popularity of these selfie sticks, which have become the media’s latest targets of criticism, won’t help in redeeming selfies.


Laurence Allard is a Communication Sciences professor in Paris and Lille, France, and the co-author of the book Mobile Phone and Creation at Armand Colin / Recherches. She’s also the author of the Mobactu blog.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent


TIME Gadgets

8 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your Smartphone

I use my smartphone every day, often in the first few minutes I wake up. It’s not because I’m addicted (ok, maybe I am a little bit addicted) – it’s because my phone is so darn useful. It tells me the weather. It helps me avoid and navigate around traffic jams. It helps me keep in touch with my friends.

Of course, you probably know all about that stuff. But your smartphone can do some pretty unusual things that you’ve probably never even considered. Here are some of the most amazing, out-there tasks your smartphone can help you conquer.

Diagnose a leaky window

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FLIR

As a homeowner in the oft-frosty Northeast, I know how important it is to have tightly sealed windows in the wintertime. Finding leaky windows doesn’t just make my home more comfortable; it saves money on my electric bills.

How can you find these energy-wasting areas of your home? Simple: Turn your phone into a thermal imaging camera with the FLIR ONE add on. It fits onto your phone much like a Mophie Juice Pack does, and translates thermal energy into color images. It’ll show you where cold air is seeping into your house, where pipes need better insulation and even help locate overloaded circuits.

The FLIR ONE Personal Thermal Imager is compatible with both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. It’s available for purchase directly from FLIR.com for $349.

Measure your heart health

alive-cor-heart-monitor-case-350px
AliveCor

You don’t need to take a trip to an expensive hospital lab to get a detailed look at your heart health – there’s a smartphone app (and device) for that.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor rests on your chest or finger, converting electrical impulses from your body into a printable ECG graph. The included AliveECG app helps you understand if your ECG is normal, or if you have an issue you should consult a professional about. The device is no substitute for an expertly trained doctor, but if you’re concerned about your heart health, it makes a great supplement.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor is available as a stand-alone device or with a case for the iPhone 5/5S. Both are available for order at store.alivecor.com for $199.

Prevent drunk driving

bactrack-vio-smartphone-breathalyzer-350px
BACtrack

Imagine you’re at a house party with a couple close friends. You’ve all shared a glass or two of wine. You feel like you’re probably O.K. to drive, but it’d be far more responsible to know for sure.

That’s where the new Bluetooth BACtrack Vio Smartphone Breathlyzer comes in. The compact keychain device measures the alcohol present on your breath in just five seconds, wirelessly sending your BAC reading to your iOS or Android smartphone. An included app will predict how long it’ll take for your levels to return to 0%, helping you plan whether to call a cab or just “wait it out.”

The BACtrack Vio is available directly from BACtrack and at Amazon.com for just $49.99.

Watch over-the-air TV

Belkin

You may already know that your smartphone can connect to streaming video services like Hulu, allowing you to catch your favorite TV shows on the go. But did you know there’s a way to watch your favorite shows live, over-the-air? It’s possible with the Belkin Dyle.

The Dyle is a small antenna device that connects directly to your older iPhone or iPad’s charger port to receive over-the-air digital signals. It’s a great way to catch coverage of the big game while you’re sitting in the stands, pass time while riding the commuter rail or keep the kids busy in the car. Of course, for the device to work, you’ll need to be close to a major metropolitan area to pick up a quality signal.

The 30-pin Belkin Dyle is compatible with the iPhone 4/4S, iPad, iPad 2 and 3rd generation iPad. You can buy yours direct from Belkin or on Amazon.com for $29.99.

Measure your muscles

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Skulpt

As any health expert will tell you, your bathroom scale isn’t the best way to measure progress at the gym. Muscle weighs more than fat, so gaining the occasional pound or two can be a very good thing.

The Skulpt Aim helps you get a better handle on your fitness by tracking your body fat percentage and the muscle fiber size instead of your weight. It uses small electrodes to measure individual muscle groups and areas and relays the info to your phone, giving you an overall picture of where you’re making progress and where you’re not. The device even comes with an app that recommends exercises that are best for your body’s unique composition.

The Skulpt Aim works with both Android and iOS devices and is expected to start shipping in fall 2014. You can preorder yours at skulpt.me for $169.99, which includes free shipping.

Figure out why your check engine light is on

automatic-car-check-engine-light-diagnoser-350px
Automatic

I own an older Honda Civic. It’s a great, reliable car. But now that it’s been in service for nearly a decade, seeing the check engine light come on is a fairly regular occurrence.

The good news: You and I don’t need to take our cars to an expensive mechanic just to get that light diagnosed – we can do it ourselves using our smartphones and a device like Automatic. It connects directly to your car’s onboard computer, turning check engine events into push alerts to your iOS and Android phone. If it’s a minor issue, you may be able to fix it and clear the light yourself, saving a trip to the shop.

Automatic also tracks your driving, giving you feedback on your acceleration and breaking habits that can help improve your gas mileage. It can even alert emergency authorities in case of a disabling crash.

Automatic is compatible with most gasoline cars sold in the U.S. since 1996. You can purchase the device directly from Amazon for $79.99.

Improve your basketball skills

94fifty-smart-basketball-350px
94Fifty

Are you looking to take your son or daughter’s basketball game to the next level? You could clear out the spare bedroom and spend some serious cash on a live-in NCAA-quality basketball coach. Or, you could save the six-figure expense and get a similar coaching experience from a smart basketball like the 94Fifty.

The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball is a regulation size and weight ball that contains a tiny Bluetooth sensor that measures spin and bounce. It connects wirelessly to iOS and Android phones to offer real-time feedback during the included training exercises, helping to improve skills in the moment. It’s like having a real basketball coach with you at all times, even when you’re just shooting a few layups in the driveway.

The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball is available in both men’s and women’s sizes on Amazon.com for $249.95.

Catch fish

smart-fishfinder-350px
Friday Lab

Normally, a family camping trip would be a reason to leave the smartphone behind so you can better enjoy the great outdoors. But let’s face it, this is 2014. Modern technology can make everything better – even your time away from it on the lake.

How? Check out the Deeper Fish Finder. The small, spherical device works as a fish-finding sonar in both salt and fresh water, helping you locate fish up to 120 feet under the surface. You simply attach it to a fishing line and cast it where you want to fish – it’ll turn on automatically upon hitting the water. Deeper works with most modern iOS and Android devices, but we recommend pairing it with a waterproof phone or tablet like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Sony Xperia Z2.

The Deeper Portable Fish Finder is available for purchase on Amazon.com for $243.43.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Wearables

Fancy Bluetooth Ring Connects to Your Phone for Discreet Alerts

Over at Wired, Liz Stinson profiles a tech-infused ring — called Ringly — that looks like costume jewelry (I only know what “costume jewelry” means after being with my wife for a decade). This ring sports a Bluetooth chipset, however, and pairs with your phone to discreetly alert you to calls, text messages, email and other notifications that’d otherwise steal your attention away. You can customize the alerts as one of four vibration patterns or one of five different colors.

Speaking to the ring’s creator, Christina Mercando, Stinson’s piece contains a quote that pretty much perfectly sums up what’s going on here:

“The fashion world is blown away; they can’t believe something like this exists,” says Mercando. “And the technology world is like, is that all it does?”

People who have been writing about gadgets for more than a couple years will instantly recall HTC’s Rhyme smartphone, a device awkwardly marketed to women by way of a little cube-shaped charm that plugged into the headphone jack and lit up when calls and texts came through. The idea was apparently that you could leave your phone in your purse, and stretch the charm outside your purse so you could see if someone was trying to get a hold of you. Our own Jared Newman took two for the team, first writing about the phone and then reviewing it.

High-tech rings pair with your phone to discreetly alert you to calls, messages and more Ringly

While Rhyme sales probably didn’t make HTC’s year in 2011, Ringly might have a shot. For starters, the ring itself will cost almost as much as an on-contract smartphone — just shy of $200 at retail, though pre-orders are going for $145. So it’s already a luxury item: It’s available in a handful of different designs and contains 18-karat gold.

More importantly, it doesn’t look like a ridiculous gadget you strap on your body somewhere. I showed a picture of one of the rings to my wife, who immediately identified it as costume jewelry, not some newfangled wearable device housing a power-sipping Bluetooth Low Energy chip. Big points for hiding the technology.

So would she wear one? “I would wear it as costume jewelry when going out, sure.” Would she pay $200 for it? “I wouldn’t spend $200 on costume jewelry. A lot of people do, though.”

If you’re going to pay $200 for an oversized ring, why not buy one that pairs with your phone, right?

[WIRED]

TIME Innovation

This Smartphone Nose Sniffs Out Meat Spoilage

peres-smartphone-meat-sniffing-gadget-510px
PERES

Is that slightly outdated package of meat in your fridge still good? The average human nose might not be able to accurately predict its freshness by smell alone, but modern technology can. That’s the claim behind PERES, a handheld smartphone accessory for your kitchen that sniffs meat to detect spoilage.

Specifically, PERES measures four things: Temperature, humidity, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds VOCs. It uses this data to detect whether meat is fresh and safe to eat. The device connects to your Android or iOS smartphone via Bluetooth, and works with most common types of meat – beef, poultry, pork and fish.

PERES is being offered through crowd-funding site IndieGogo, where it has already surpassed its $50,000 goal. The device is scheduled to enter mass production in October 2014 with an expected retail price of $150.

You can learn more about PERES by watching the promotional video below or visiting its IndieGogo page. For more cool kitchen tech, visit the Techlicious Kitchen page.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Accessories

Logitech Case+ Review: Brilliant iPhone Case Concept, Flawed Execution

Jared Newman for TIME

Logitech's magnetic iPhone case is a wallet, kickstand, car mount and backup battery all in one.

Logitech is onto something with the Case+, a modular iPhone case with a set of magnetic attachments.

The magnetic backing on the Case+ allows for three separate attachments, all of which are included in the $199 package. There’s a folding kickstand that doubles as an earbud wrap, a battery case with 2300 mAh of power and a minimalist wallet with two slots for cards and cash. The Case+ also includes a magnetic car mount, so you can place the phone on your dashboard with no clamps or connectors.

On their own, the attachments work as expected. The kickstand and the wallet make a strong magnetic connection with the main case, and you can even stack these two attachments on top of one another. The battery case doesn’t attach with magnets, but instead clasps around the main case, with a plastic arm on top and a U-shaped Lightning plug on the bottom. The car mount attaches to car windshields with a suction cup, and includes an extra plastic suctioning surface for sticking onto a dashboard.

It’s only when you try to use these attachments in conjunction with one another that the cracks in Logitech’s system start to show.

Jared Newman for TIME

For instance, I liked the idea of carrying the kickstand and wallet together, at least in theory. When going to lunch, I carried them both as a single unit, paid for my food, stuck the wallet piece in my pocket and used the kickstand to prop up my phone while eating.

It was fun the first time, but having to swap back and forth quickly became tiresome. And because the wallet doesn’t have any outward-facing magnets, you can’t keep it attached while using the car mount. While being able to slim down from a traditional wallet seemed appealing, juggling Logitech’s wallet as a modular accessory was more trouble than it was worth. It’s the weakest link in the package, not just from a practical standpoint, but from an aesthetic one; if you’re don’t care for the wallet’s woven grey fabric design, you’re simply out of luck.

Jared Newman for TIME

The battery case’s lack of magnets is also an issue, as it prevents you from using the kickstand or wallet in tandem. And if you want to use the battery case with the car mount, you must attach another small magnetic plate, which sticks to the case with adhesive. It’s an inelegant solution, and only underscores how Logitech should have made the battery case play nice with the other attachments from the start.

All gripes aside, I love the underlying concept of Case+, and this is coming from someone who usually loathes smartphone cases. I’ve never accidentally caused major damage to a phone, so the extra protection has never been necessary for me. A case that allows me to use the phone in new ways would be much more valuable.

Jared Newman for TIME

In addition to improving the existing pieces, there’s clearly room for Logitech to expand the Case+ line with more attachments. This could be the start of a new accessory platform, where you choose the handful of tools that you find the most useful. (Keyboard cases, camera lenses and beefier speakers come to mind.)

But right now, Case+ seems more like a proof of concept than an actual product, and $200 is a lot to ask for a case system that doesn’t work as well as it could. If Logitech were to flesh out the line and let users choose from a wider range of attachments, Case+ could be more than just a great idea. It’d be a killer product that even case haters like myself might consider.

TIME Airlines

This Is the One Innovation That Might Make Flying Less of a Pain

Designboom

Flying next to a chatterbox? This stretch curtain has got you covered

When a simple shushing sound won’t suffice, flyers can now send chatty Cathy’s a more pointed message with the B-Tourist, a portable curtain that silently screams “do not disturb.” The elastic curtain, designed by Idan Noyberg and Gal Bulka, can be stretched between headrests to the back and the front of the passenger, thereby creating a cocoon of privacy around the passenger’s head.

Pouches sown into the curtain offer extra storage space for personal items, like pepper spray, and the flexible fabric can serve double-duty as a headrest, putting an end to that awkward moment when you wake up with your head resting on your neighbor’s shoulder, and vice versa. And if the user gets into a more sociable mood, plastic rings can scrunch the curtain into a taut little line, signaling a willingness to engage in eye contact and perhaps even a smidge of small talk about the weather.

TIME Accessories

Review: Zagg Auto-Fit Is a Clever Fix for Android’s Tablet Keyboard Problem

Jared Newman for TIME

Let’s say you bought an Android tablet, and now you’re looking for a Bluetooth keyboard to go with it.

You could get one that’s made specifically for your tablet, but that might be hard to find if you bought some generic tablet that doesn’t have much support from accessory makers. Even if you can get a good keyboard, it may not fit your next Android tablet if you upgrade a few years down the road.

That’s why Zagg has come up with a one-size-fits-all keyboard case for Android tablets, called the Auto-Fit. By using a spring-loaded stand to hold the tablet in place, the Auto-Fit supports multiple Android tablets in a given range of screen sizes. And unlike flimsier all-purpose keyboard stands, the Auto-Fit is a full-blown folio case, effectively turning an Android tablet into a small touchscreen laptop, which you can fold shut for travel.

The model I tested costs $80 and works with any 7-inch Android tablet that measures between 6.3 inches and 7.87 inches long, between 4.37 inches and 4.84 inches wide and up to 0.41 inches thick. It’ll work with the Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013 models) and Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tabs, but tablets with extra-wide side bezels, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX, won’t fit. (Zagg also plans to sell versions of the Auto-Fit for 8- and 10-inch tablets in the future.)

Jared Newman for TIME

To get the tablet into the stand, you slide it in bottom-side first, and push down on the spring-loaded edge until the top of the tablet fits under the top lip. The spring mechanism strikes a good balance in terms of firmness, holding the tablet securely in place without making it too difficult to load or unload.

The keyboard hinge is fully adjustable, and bends back to about a 135-degree angle. The base of the cover also helps lift the back of the keyboard, so you have a gently inclined surface to type on.

Zagg also includes a small stand that folds out behind the screen, keeping the whole thing from tipping backwards from the weight of the tablet. It’s a nice addition, but it’s also one area where the Auto-Fit could be better. While the stand will always keep the tablet from falling over entirely, it’s not rigid enough to support any weight unless it’s fully extended. That makes it hard to keep the tablet from tipping back slightly at certain angles.

I also wish the Auto-Fit allowed you to use the tablet like an actual tablet, either through a 360-degree hinge or a way to fold the screen flat against the keyboard, facing up. With the current design, you’ll probably want to remove the tablet for non-typing uses, such as reading and playing games.

One more word of caution about the 7-inch keyboard: It’s as cramped as you’d expect, so if you try to type quickly, you’ll probably start making mistakes. (The “1″ and apostrophe keys are especially tiny in proportion to their importance.) This problem is inherent to the size of the device, so just keep your expectations in check.

Small frustrations aside, Zagg has come up with an interesting keyboard solution for the wide array of Android tablets on the market. If you’re looking to do some serious typing on your tablet, and are committed to a single screen size, the Auto-Fit is one way to stay future-proof.

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