TIME Apple

Here’s What a New Dad Thinks of the Apple Watch

Jung Yeon-JE—AFP/Getty Images A South Korean employee shows the "Apple Watch" at an Apple shop in Seoul on June 26, 2015.

The Apple Watch can be a handy tool for parents

I’m an early adopter. Not in the case of kids, mind you — I waited until my mid-thirties before I powered up a little robot of my own. But when it comes to technology, I’m typically the guy in the waiting room pacing back and forth, excited and anxious to unbox a little bundle of electronic joy. And though I was indifferent toward the Apple Watch when it launched, I still ordered up it at the earliest possible moment — a minute after midnight on an April Thursday.

That may not sound like a big deal to you, but as a parent of a then-teething 10-month-old, staying up that late is bold commitment to tech. And after placing my pre-order, of course I crowed about it on Facebook, where one of my friends, herself a mother of two, quipped, “Oh, your kid is going to love poking at that little screen.” For the first couple months of owning the device, that comment was the most I ever thought in parental terms about the Apple Watch. But recently, I’ve been reconsidering it as a good tool for raising tots.

When the Apple Watch arrived the day before I was scheduled for a surgery, any excitement I had was abated by weeks of painkillers and doctor-mandated rest. And as thrilled as I was to tinker with this new toy during my bed rest, Apple Watch’s early third-party apps were generally useless. They basically functioned just like their companion iOS apps, only on an annoyingly smaller scale. Apple Watch’s default apps were the device’s only exciting features, and that’s mostly because I was using Siri to program ’round-the-clock medication reminders (with silent, wrist-shaking alarms to avoid stirring my wife in the wee hours of the morning).

At first, my son ignored the Apple Watch, though his unyielding development made it only a matter of time before it became his favorite thing ever. I bought the aluminum Sport model with a white rubber wristband, which matches practically any outfit — except for ones in which you want to be taken seriously. Thankfully, I work from home and my only co-worker is my dog, although even she must think this thing looks rubbery and ridiculous. But you know what looks worse? The price tag on other Apple Watch bands, especially when your kid is going through clothes faster than a Kardashian. So even though the white band glows like a beacon to my son’s eyes, that’s the band I’ve been stuck with.

In the meantime, my son has begun his education in watch theft by clawing at my wrist. Whether it’s bottle-, bath-, or snuggle-time, all he wants to do is rip the Apple Watch — and my arm hair — clean off. In the weeks since his first birthday, he’s become more fixated by the screen, which flashes the time at him as I do my daily dadly duties. Otherwise, he’s gotten no access to the Apple Watch, and that’s by design. Our family is abiding the American Academy of Pediatric’s recommendations on screen time, which is approximately zero hours per year for the first two years of life. Exceptions come in the instances of FaceTime calls with cross-country family and the rare father-son Red Sox game/nap.

But the Apple Watch is doing a heck of a job masking my own futility. As it stands, there’s only one reason I’d recommend the device: its ability to remind you of absolutely everything. On daddy days, I ask Siri to nag me to feed and change my little guy with clockwork regularity — because I’m a new dad, and not smart enough to remember these things on my own. On work days, I set a recurring alarm to go off around 5:00 p.m., prompting me to take my eyes off the computer screen and cast them towards the road to daycare — because no one wants to be the parent who picks his kid up after closing time. There are reminders to buy more milk, to order more diapers, to cover those electrical outlets, and so on and so forth. It’s too much for my little brain to manage, but Siri is always tapping me on the wrist, keeping me on track.

I also recently began testing smart home gear, including a Quirky sensor that alerts me when a window in my son’s bedroom is opened. Those alerts hit my Apple Watch quickly and clearly. The feeling of security that’s provided cannot be overstated, especially for a new parent. With this level of surveillance, some people might call me a helicopter parent, but I disagree. I’m a drone dad — watching remotely, and silently — and proud of it.

And now that the doctor has cleared me to exercise, I’ve started to use the Watch one way Apple truly intended: as an activity monitor. If I’m being completely honest, I still ignore the Apple Watch’s occasional prompts to stand up and move around, just like I did with the fitness bands that I mothballed before it. But with the Apple Watch, I’m thrilled to have a GPS-logging, heart rate-monitoring device on my wrist when running — an activity I abandoned when my wife was pregnant, and have been itching to return to since. After all, it’s time to shed my burgeoning dad bod. So last week, for the first time since getting the Apple Watch, I finally laced up my running shoes, pulled out the jogging stroller, and literally ran to my son’s daycare to pick him up. Tracking my progress on the Apple Watch was easy as listening to the “How Did This Get Made” podcast via Overcast, which has one of the rare top-notch Watch apps. Out of shape, huffing and puffing, I felt like I was finally using the Apple Watch as it was intended. Text messages from my wife were flying in as I hobbled along, and I was able to check them, the time, and my poor pace without missing a beat.

As I loaded my son into the stroller, a reminder from earlier in the day flashed on my watch’s screen: “Buy Orajel.” Thankfully, there was a Walgreens on the way home, and we rolled in together as father and son, sans-wallet, buying a tube of the miraculous, tooth-numbing cure simply by double-tapping on the Apple Watch’s side button, selecting my Apple Pay-linked credit card, and flashing the Watch at the payment terminal.

I’d love to say that with features like these, the Apple Watch helps me make parenting look easy. But in reality, like raising a child, it took time for me to get comfortable with the Apple Watch. It’s still in its infancy, but I’m looking forward to see it grow up.

TIME Gadgets

10 Things That Should Be In Your Emergency Kit

Severe Flood Warnings In Place For The UK
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images Ian Berry paddles a canoe through his front garden after the River Thames flooded on January 8, 2014 in Chersey, England.

Be prepared for anything with these life-saving gadgets

When the big one hits — whether it’s an earthquake dismantling the west coast, a tornado ravaging middle America, or a hurricane tearing up the eastern seaboard — the only thing that will be certain is uncertainty. There’s no way of knowing if the electrical grid will go down, the roads will be closed, or if the area will be awash in flood once disaster strikes.

On the other hand, this cache of tools, shelter, and other supplies will have you prepared for all the scary questions if devastation hits. Because as experts say, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

Big Agnes Rocky Peak 4 mtnGLO: When hikers pull together their gear, they’re typically on the lookout for a tent that’s light but sturdy. This tent, while only eight pounds, actually has lights — a comfort that you’ll want in post-disaster power outages. Sleeping up to four people, the $349, 50-square-foot shelter has a string of LEDs across the top that can be powered by three AAA batteries. According to REI, that’s enough reserve power to shine those little lights for 24 hours. The strip can also be lit using a USB power source.

Cynergy Home LifeLight: A great addition to a roadside assistance kit as well as an emergency survival setup, this crank-powered LED flashlight is a bundle of disaster preparedness tools all rolled into one 10-ounce package. Accompanied by a window breaker and a seat belt cutter, the weatherproof emergency flashlight has three LED lights and a USB port built into the body, letting the torch double as a backup battery. With magnets around the lamp head and an emergency beacon light built into the handle, you can also affix this device to the roof of your car to alert search and rescue teams. Or, if you’re able to move, a compass built into the tail cap can point you home.

Delorme inReach Explorer: In emergency situations, mobile phone networks can get flooded with traffic, making it difficult or even impossible to contact loved ones. To reach them you’ll need to send your communications through a different network. This global satellite communicator may look like a walkie-talkie, but it connects to Iridium satellites, allowing you to send text messages with GPS coordinates and SOS signals to rescue centers. You can also make a trail of digital, GPS-tagged breadcrumbs for people to find you if you head off on your own. And since it’s both water- and dust-proof, the $379 handset will weather the storm much better than your smartphone.

Eton FRX5: Radio is one technology that should survive whatever mother nature throws at it, so be sure to have a sturdy, crank-powered receiver like Eton’s FRX5 at the ready. Equipped with AM, FM, and NOAA radio bands, this multi-purpose must-have can work as a flashlight, emergency beacon, USB device charger, and alarm clock when everything else fails. Four minutes of cranking away at the handle will deliver 10-15 minutes of radio power, and after 5-6 hours in the sun, the $129 life saver’s solar panels will fully charge the 2,000Ah lithium ion battery, keeping you rocking (or glued to the news) all night long.

Flamestower: When we’re reduced to our elements — which is precisely what the worst disasters do — fire will become one of our most important tools, vital for light, cooking, and warmth. Flamestower, however, can convert fire into electricity in short order (and with little bulk), making this an important part of any survival kit. The 10-ounce, $99 contraption is small enough to slip into a pocket, but when unfolded and set against an open flame, it uses the heat energy from boiling water to replenish any USB-connected, battery-powered device, like a smartphone, camera or LED light. Averaging 40 minutes of talk time over 20 minutes of heat, it lets your meal preparation come with a side of juice. The company is also currently crowdfunding a follow-up effort, Candle Charger, which does what its name implies and starts at $65 for early backers.

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator Kit: Going off the grid is a daydream for people who can afford to reattach to it later. Goal Zero’s portable generator, meanwhile, is a great reality for those who want to maintain power after it’s gone away. Able to be charged through AC power, your car’s DC-powered battery, or via the accompanying solar panel, the Yeti 150 has enough capacity to power a laptop twice, a tablet six times, or your smartphone 15 times — all on a single charge. And equipped with the same electrical outlet you’ll find in a wall, you can even use the Yeti to run household electrical devices like a lamp — though they’ll likely eat up the battery faster than you think.

Motorola Talkabout MT350R: A less expensive and less far-reaching alternative to the Delorme satellite communicator, these two-way radios are equally effective at reaching people in nearby areas. With up to 35 miles of reach (from mountain to valley, though only two miles of signal strength in neighborhood settings), this pair of weatherproof radios can keep in contact with one other — and put you in touch with rescue personnel. Dust and splash-proof, the radios also come with mini-USB connectors, letting them power up using a portable cell phone battery. Extra battery packs, meanwhile, make sure you don’t go radio silent.

Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Divvy: Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but large enough to envelope you in warmth, this ultra-light, 8.5-ounce emergency sleeping bag reflects your body heat back at you, while simultaneously breathing out condensation. The result: a warm and dry place to catch some rest. With a wind- and waterproof exterior (including the seams) and a drawstring hood, it has the creature comforts of a high-tech sleeping bag, but costing just $50, it won’t set you back as much as some of the more expensive gear on the market, making it an ideal throw-in for an emergency survival kit.

Survive Outdoors Longer Origin: If MacGyver had a toolkit, it would look exactly like this $40 setup. On the waterproof case’s exterior, a signal mirror, compass, one-handed sparker, and a folding knife (with LED light) keep vitals at the ready. Meanwhile on the inside, you’ll find nylon cord, Tinder-Quik frustraters, emergency sewing and fishing gear, stainless steel wire, and a manual with more than 60 survival tips sitting dry and ready to save a life. But wait — where’s the whistle? Cleverly hidden in the handle of the knife, it can be hard to miss, but it’s never out of arm’s reach.

Volcano 3 Collapsible Grill: Building a campfire in storm-ravaged terrain can be more than a hassle — it can be a life-or-death struggle. This $159 portable cooker can use a variety of fuels to keep you warm and well-fed, making it ideal for everything from tailgating to camping. With a 13-inch diameter, the collapsable stove can support a dutch oven to keep water at a boil and has a grill grate for cooking directly over the flame. But the big draw to this device is how it can use propane, charcoal, or wood to fuel your fire. Then, whether you put a wok, a fry pan, or even a smoker on top, you can prepare food just as you would if you were still in your kitchen.

TIME Smartphones

Miss Your Flip Phone? LG Has Released a New One

Snag: Right now, it's only available in South Korea

The flip phone is back. On Monday, LG unveiled the Gentle—an Android-powered flip phone that evokes the svelte simplicity of the Motorola Razr, which was all the rage back in 2005.

It’s not just a stylistic emulation, apparently: Mashable reports that the Gentle’s capabilities are “terribly outdated,” with just 4 gigabytes of storage (on par with the first iPhone model, circa 2007) and a camera operating with just three meager megapixels.

Still, it’s compact, probably user-friendly, and almost certain to go for longer between charges than its more advanced peers, whose innumerable capabilities come at the cost of battery life. It’s also super affordable. According to Mashable, the phone will sell in South Korea for the equivalent of $171. The iPhone 6 goes for about $730.


TIME Gadgets

See What’s Inside the GoPro HERO4 Session

Go inside GoPro's smallest-ever camera with the teardown experts at iFixit

The Hero 4 Session is GoPro’s newest and smallest action camera, shooting 1080p video, eight megapixel still photos and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for easily uploading your action-packed exploits to social media. Check out what’s inside the GoPro Hero 4 Session thanks to our good friends at iFixIt.

X-ray video by Creative Electron

TIME Gadgets

These 4 Gadgets Will Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly

Save the world — and on your utility bills — with this cutting edge tech

Long promised to be the next big thing, smart home gear hasn’t just arrived, some of it has already departed for the clearance racks and the deal-a-day websites. The problem with a lot of these products? They’re technology for the sake of gadgetry — meaning they do something kind of cool, but that’s about it. For smart home devices to be truly innovative, they must solve a problem facing consumers. One of those problems ripe for solving: Utility bills.

Here are four ways smart home devices can give you a better handle on how your home uses energy and water, saving not only money, but also precious resources.

Water cool your air conditioner

For years, businesses with massive air conditioning systems have literally been sweating their cooling efforts — by that, I mean they’ve been blasting a veil of cool water around their HVAC units to cool the air before it gets sucked into their ventilation systems. Now, with Mistbox, households can keep it cool like that, too.



The $449 solar-powered misting system automatically detects the proper conditions, and when the time is right, prompts its four spray bars (one for each side of your condenser unit) into action. Average users have reported saving 30% on their air conditioning costs each month. As if that’s not enough, the device is also eligible for a 30% federal eco-friendly tax credit, making the device really only cost $315.

Hack your breaker box

If the electrical breaker box is the brain of your home, how come we don’t know what it’s thinking? The mind-reading Neurio sensor helps remedy this long-standing discrepancy by connecting your home’s electrical system to a smartphone app that tells you exactly what appliances and devices are slurping down the most energy. A Wi-Fi-connected sensor installed within the breaker panel (with detailed instructions, though you might want an electrician for this one), the $249 home monitor claims it can reduce energy usage by up to 40% through its real-time monitoring features. It will also detect appliances over 400 watts, like washers and dryers, cataloging when they were last used and how much power they consumed.

NeurioNeurio Sensor

Water your lawn wisely

As the entire West Coast is realizing this summer, water isn’t as plentiful as it used to be. Not only that, but it’s getting pretty darned expensive — and we’re not even talking about the fancy bottled stuff. Using the power of the Internet, Rachio Iro helps keep your landscaping liquid in check by managing your sprinkler’s water usage. Basing its smarts on the location of users’ property and the upcoming weather, the company has managed to save more than 126 million gallons of the wet stuff, overall, since Iro was lauched.

Rachio Iro


With an 8-zone controller for $249 or a 16-zone unit for $299, the device is nearly guaranteed to save you money, if not make your lawn care much more convenient. According to the company, the smart sprinkler controller saves most users 30% more than non-net-connected controllers, and since it’s certified by the EPA, it qualifies for rebates. But the smartest thing of all about the Iro is how it plays well with other smart home gear. For instance, the sprinkler system can be configured to turn on when Nest Protect detects a fire in the home, halting the spread of flames to neighboring properties.

Heed your hot water

Next to your home’s heating and cooling systems, hot water heaters hit your wallet hardest when it comes to energy usage. Accounting for as much as 20% of a home’s energy bill, these tanks can be very inefficient if not monitored — and few are. Rheem’s EcoNet line of products add smart home intelligence to water and home heating systems, giving homeowners the ability to manage their tanks beyond just turning a dial.

Fransico De DeusRheem EcoNet


With a Wi-Fi-connected sensor, the water heater can send out alerts to your smartphone or tablet when it detects a leak. It also lets users tweak heating temperatures to optimize cost versus need. Compatible with smart home platform Wink, the system is easy to use and can pop up alongside an array of connected devices like light switches and your thermostat, making EcoNet products easy to manage on the fly. That’s especially great for business travelers and people who own vacation homes.

TIME Markets

Apple Makes Nearly All the Smartphone Money

Mobile Deivices Users In Tokyo
Atsushi Tomura—Getty Images A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.

It has 92% of the total operating income of smartphone makers

Is there a more lopsided market that the market for smartphones?

Of the total operating income of the eight largest manufacturers, Apple took 92% last quarter—a remarkable achievement, as the Wall Street Journal notes, given that less than 20% of smartphones sold last quarter were iPhones.

That 92% share is down a hair from the 93% Apple grabbed the previous quarter, according to Canaccord Genuity’s T. Michael Walkley. But it’s up sharply from last year, when Apple and Samsung split the profits 65/35.

That was last summer. In the fall, Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, stealing market share—and operating income—directly from Samsung’s most profitable smartphones.

The situation is not quite as untenable as it appears in Walkley’s reports. He’s looking at only the eight largest manufacturers. There are hundreds of companies making Android phones, and many of them are doing just fine.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Smartphones

Here’s How to Battle Your Smartphone Addiction

There is bad news, but there is also good news

Can you see a smartphone right now? Is it yours or someone else’s? Where is your smartphone? In your bag? In your hand? You probably lost it!

If reading that paragraph just made you a little anxious, then congratulations, you are a human alive today. And if reading those questions made you palpitate and sweat like a perp in a lineup, then don’t worry, you’re not alone. And you’re probably not very old, either.

In a series of polls related to smartphone use released last week, Gallup found that about half of smartphone users check their phones several times an hour or more frequently; 81% of people said they keep their phones near them “almost all the time during waking hours” and 63% do so even when they’re sleeping. The condition is especially severe among the young, one-in-five of whom cop to “checking their phone every few minutes.”

While that might elicit a “tsk, tsk” from grandparents appalled by such behavior, all this checking doesn’t just come at the cost of neglecting the world around us. Researchers have been building a body of disheartening-but-fascinating research about the mess of mutual dependence that is our relationship with our smartphones. They’ve connected it to anxiety and stress and our increasing state of distraction.

There is, however, a way we might break the cycle of addiction, even if we all have to go through our own withdrawal montage.

But first, the disturbing news. In a 2015 study conducted at the University of Missouri, media researcher Russell Clayton found evidence that some people feel their phones are part of them—kind of like a leg or an arm. In a clever ruse involving word search puzzles and a blatant lie about signal interference, Clayton was able to get a snapshot of about 40 college students’ physiological states when their iPhones started ringing across the room but they were unable to answer them.

“Their blood pressure and heart rate increased. Their self-report of anxiety and unpleasantness also increased,” says Clayton, now an assistant professor at Florida State University. The students also became worse at doing word search puzzles, suggesting poorer cognitive performance. Yet his eeriest finding — beyond evidence that future generations will probably go straight into anaphylactic shock when separated from their devices — was that people reported a physical lessening of themselves when they did not have their phones.

“They reported feeling a loss of identity,” he says. “When objects become possessions, when we use them a lot, they’re potentially capable of becoming an extension of ourselves.” When digital natives born today grow up to be toddlers who are crying because a parent takes their iPad away, Clayton says that could leave us with interesting questions: “Are they upset because they can’t play their game? Or are upset because they don’t have the iPad, the object, the possession?”

Perhaps the person who has done the most work in this field is Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University. Rosen is in the middle of writing a book on our technology-addled brains. In his research, he’s found that if there’s a phone around—even if it’s someone else’s phone—its presence tends to make people anxious and perform more poorly on tasks. These effects, he’s found, become more acute among heavy users, those people checking their email and social media every 15 minutes or walking around with their hand tucked snugly around their phone. In a 2014 study, he separated college students from their phones. “The heavy users, 10 minutes in they’re already anxious and their anxiety kept going up and up,” he says. “And who are the heavy users? They’re the young people.”

Technology tends to “overact” our brains, draining us of unfettered, daydreaming-type creativity, he says. Today’s average college student, a member of the first generation to really grow up digitally native, now focuses and attends to one thing for about three to five minutes before feeling the need to switch their attention to something else, he says: “It makes us very tired. It makes us very miserable. It overloads our brains. … It is not good for us.” In his work, Rosen has referred to these gadgets by using an acronym for Wireless Mobile Devices — or WMDs, for short.

It might seem like going cold turkey is the best approach, but Rosen says that taking kids’ phones away or other forms of digital detox—like going away for a week to a place with no signal—aren’t sustainable solutions. “The real world comes back and crashes in,” he says of kids whose parents separate them from their devices. “And then they realize they have 400 emails, they have 30 text messages and they’ve got 100 posts from Facebook friends that they have to go back and like and comment on. So taking the phone away or restricting them is only going to create more anxiety and not really solve the problem.”

The good news is that Rosen does have a plan: weaning off devices bit by bit and making a public statement that you’re going to do so. This second part is key. Only if you’ve warned your parents and friends that they shouldn’t take it personally when you don’t text them back or like their picture right away, he says, will you be able to actually relax, no longer in fear of offending anyone who expects you to be on all the time. Meanwhile, you must wage an internal battle against your own FOMO.

“You announce to the world that you’re only going to check your phone once a half hour,” he says, “and then you allow yourself a minute or two every half hour to check in, return a call, text back, and then turn it off and put it away.” Then perhaps get bold and go up to an hour. Then perhaps two hours, in an attempt to eventually make the phone less like the limb it has become and more like the really cool toaster it could be.

“A lot of it,” Rosen says, “is self-induced anxiety.”

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TIME Gadgets

Here’s How GPS Actually Works

A driver uses a Tom Tom navigation device in central London,
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A driver uses a Tom Tom navigation device in central London, U.K., on Wednesday, April 23, 2008.

Find out how your phone knows exactly where you are

From smartphones to action cameras, all manner of devices pack GPS these days. And while you might think it’s a newer innovation, GPS has actually been around since the 1970s, when it was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. Between then and now, relatively little has changed with how the Global Positioning System works. So it’s probably time you figured out what makes it tick — because while you may be on the move, GPS isn’t going anywhere.

According to Cesar Palacios, who works with GPS device company Garmin on its personal navigation devices and automotive GPS units, there are three fundamental segments to GPS: control stations, satellites, and users’ devices. “[GPS] benefits everyone from pilots to fishermen, making their lives a little bit easier,” he says.

The control segment consists of 30 different locations around the world that help the orbiting satellites understand the planet’s position. The master control station, located at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, is where the entire system is managed, making sure the satellites are operating correctly and efficiently.

The next segment of the system, orbiting 12,550 miles above Earth, are 32 GPS satellites. Between maintenance and other concerns, those satellites may not all be active at the same time. But they broadcast a lot of information, including almanac data, which is used to determine users’ precise location; pseudorandom code, which identifies the transmitting satellite and provides timestamps; and ephemeris data, which relates the health and timing of the satellite.

And timing is an important thing when it comes to these far-flung pieces of technology. Per Einstein’s theory of relativity, time moves more slowly in areas where gravitational pull is greater, so the clocks on GPS satellites actually tick a fraction of a second faster than clocks on Earth. If they didn’t, their results would be miles off.

The third segment of the system are the consumer devices themselves — your smartphone, your car’s onboard computer, or even your fitness tracker. To have your position located using one of these gadgets, your GPS device must be visible by at least three of the system’s satellites. Using a process called trilateration, these orbiting bodies are able to tell where you are. For most consumer devices, the results are accurate to within 10 meters.

“The reason why you can’t get that pinpoint, exact accuracy is that we’re consumer-grade,” says Palacios. “The government agencies are the only ones who have that pinpoint, precise, encrypted code GPS, to know the exact location.”

Still, there is a way to get more information out of your GPS, says Palacios. “If you have four or more satellites, that’s when you’ll get 3-D positioning, which is latitude, longitude and altitude, as well.” Assuming, of course, your device can display this extra data.

Of course, GPS only works outdoors with line-of-sight to the orbiting satellites. But there are several emerging technologies used by companies like Apple, Home Depot, and Philips to cover the indoors in a GPS-like system. In the future, expect GPS devices to proliferate as it miniaturizes. As the tech gets smaller, you’ll start finding them in things like smartwatches, fitness bands and even dog collars.

“Even if you’re in a stadium or trying to remember where you parked, with wearables, you can just drop a digital breadcrumb and be able to go back to that location later,” says Palacios.

MONEY Shopping

Something Unimaginable Is Happening in the Gadgets Market

Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images Circle of Technology

We're spending less for the first time in years

The global love affair with gadgets isn’t dying, not by a long shot. But a new study indicates that our infatuation with shiny new electronic devices appears to be hitting a plateau.

This week, the IT research firm Gartner released a forecast predicting that for the first time since 2010, there will be a worldwide decline in money spent on gadgets. Globally, the anticipation is that consumers will collectively spend $606 billion on PCs, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones in 2015. That would represent a 5.7% decline from 2014.

The decrease in spending isn’t because we’re buying fewer mobile phones. In fact, mobile phone purchases are expected to be up for the year: 1.94 billion, versus 1.879 billion in 2014. Yet mobile phone prices continue to fall. So even as we buy more, the dollars collected on those sales aren’t as high as one might expect.

The Gartner forecast does call for a net decrease in the sales of tablets and desktop and laptop computers. In particular, PC purchases in western Europe, Russia, and Japan have been falling, “largely due to price increases resulting from local currency devaluation against the dollar,” Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal said in a press release.

Looking forward, Gartner is forecasting that the number of mobile phones and tablets sold will rise globally in 2016 and 2017, while purchases of PCs and laptops will keep declining. Total dollars spent on gadgets are expected to rise in 2016 and again 2017 as well. Even so, the anticipated sum of global gadget purchases in 2017 won’t match the total from 2014—$627 billion versus $642 billion, respectively.

MONEY deals

This Week’s Best Deals: Secret Video Game Sale, 1¢ Printer Paper

Amazon quietly rolled out a secret sale on video games.

Find out below how to unearth hidden discounts at Amazon, get a substantial price cut on an iPad, and score a ream of paper for next to nothing. Here are the best bargains this week:

Apple’s Refresh Cycle Brings Great iPad Deals
Apple is set to announce a new iPad in October, which means all the currently manufactured models are seeing great discounts from resellers. If you’re not interested in waiting to see what the latest model from Apple will offer, then you can snag quite a deal with this 64GB Apple iPad Air 2, sold by Blutek on eBay. At $499.99, it’s not an insignificant purchase, but it’ll save you at least $56. (Buying this model directly from Apple will cost you $100 more.)

Nearly Free Printer Paper
If you ever print anything out — or if you have a desire to make vast quantities of paper airplanes — then this is a deal worth taking advantage of. Swing by Staples with this printable coupon and “Easy” rebate, and you’ll score a ream of 8.5″ x 11″ paper for just a penny. That’s a savings of $8, which isn’t too shabby if you can easily add Staples to an already planned shopping trip. Just be sure to get there before this deal ends on July 11.

Amazon’s Secret Video Game Deals
It appears as if Amazon has been offering secret discounts on video games for Prime members, but the only way to see the discount is to be signed in to a Prime account and to add the item to your cart. Qualifying games are all shipped and sold by Amazon itself (so no marketplace sellers), and will feature a small promo advertisement on the product page. (Click here to see what it looks like.) A list of titles that are currently eligible can be found at Destructoid, and the selection includes many notable titles and preorders.

Get Classy With Your Glasses
People are easily influenced by packaging, and we bet that if you bought these elegantly-shaped Riedel wine glasses, you could make even Two Buck Chuck seem like something more refined. Currently Barneys Warehouse is charging $25 for these glasses, but they drop to $15 in your shopping cart, which is half off the original price. This deal applies to three different styles, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet, or Syrah.

Amazing bargains pop up at any given moment, so consider signing up for a daily email digest from DealNews to have the best offers sent directly to your inbox.

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