Belkin’s three latest products in its Wemo line of Wi-Fi connected, smartphone-controlled products for the home include a white bulb starter kit, a versatile strip light, and garden lights for outdoor use. The last two are both tunable to thousands of colors and all three connect to Belkin’s Wemo ecosystem and companion app for remote control from your iPhone. All three of the products are through a partnership with OSRAM SYLVANIA, who provided the lightning products that Belkin has integrated into its Wemo platform. We took the three new starter kits for a test drive to get a second look at the growing Wemo platform and see if they are worth the investment before support for Apple’s HomeKit…
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Making use of unproductive commuting time is the aim of a New Zealand created app, which allows users to safely check their email while driving.
Speaking Email reads emails aloud, so that users can make their commute time productive, while keeping their eyes on the road.
The app was developed by small Auckland web development company, beweb, after director Mike Nelson got frustrated with the lack of such a product on the market.
“Like many people, I get so many emails a day and it is impossible to get through them all. Living in Auckland, I waste almost an hour a day driving and I wanted to use that time productively. Using this app I get an extra hour of chargeable work done every day.
“I got sick of waiting for someone else to create an out-loud email, or for Siri to get to the stage where she is helpful. That’s when I decided to have a go at creating an app.”
Mr Nelson says one of the latest buzz words around work productivity is ‘inbox zero’ – encouraging people to stop having inboxes full of messages, but to keep on top of emails and deal with them as you go.
“The theory is people with cluttered inboxes and unread messages waste a lot of time. We’ve created Speaking Email around this – you use unproductive time to get on top of your emails, and with a simple tap can archive, star or flag an email while on the go.”
Safety is another key feature of the app, and Mr Nelson says it has been designed to minimise the amount of time drivers need to look at a screen, or touch the screen.
A quick glance screen for images is all that is needed – all text is read aloud. Then users can easily triage their email – easy tap or swipe functions allow emails to be archived, flagged or swiped to skip reading. There is also a quick reply feature with pre-loaded text for a ‘thanks’ or ‘ok’.
“We purposely don’t encourage typed replies because that is cumbersome and dangerous when people are on the roads,” he says.
Mr Nelson says the latest trend in technology is to create apps, systems and hardware that requires only a quick glance or fast tap to access and review information.
“It’s exciting to have created something that is using the latest technology and the latest trends, but is also a massively useful product,” he says.
Although specifically developed with drivers in mind, Mr Nelson says runners, walkers and gym goers will also find it useful.
“Because of the minimal need to look at the screen, it is a great way to use exercise time to also get on top of your inbox. With the use of a phone armband and a pair of headphones – you can look like you’re listening to music, but actually be working! “
Mr Nelson uses Speaking Email every day and says it feels extremely satisfying to walk into the door at work and already know what his emails say.
“Who doesn’t struggle to get on top of their emails these days? I think there is a huge market for a product like this.
“I specifically designed Speaking Email for people who drive from home to the office, and need to be on top of their emails when they get there. But it would also be a great system for people who are on the road much of the day – such as salespeople and tradespeople,” he says.
Speaking Email has the flexibility for users to set it up the way that suits their email use – from speaking all emails, just those previously not read out, or only new emails. There’s also options for using multiple accounts and different ways for users to triage their emails.
Speaking Email can now be downloaded on the app store. It currently works on Gmail and will next be available for Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, iCloud, Exchange and IMAP.
“We’ve made it free to download, so now’s the time to give it a go. Once we have it out in the market more, we will start to charge US$10,” Mr Nelson says.
Beweb has been developing websites and web applications for New Zealand companies since 2000. Speaking Email is the company’s first app.
“We saw this as an opportunity to not only create an app that we wanted to use, but to learn the process of creating, launching and marketing an app.
“Every aspect of this project has been a lot harder and more time consuming that we would have thought it would be. But it has also been fun and a great way to learn. We now have a lot more knowledge and understanding of apps, and we are able to share this knowledge with our own clients.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve created. It started off as a small idea – and we’ve funded it all ourselves and created it by ourselves. We haven’t looked for any partners or funding, because we didn’t want to compromise on how we wanted Speaking Email to work.”
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Looks like Apple has a couple of new accessories launching in the future and these haven’t been refreshed in a while. It’s no surprise that iPhone 6S rumors are in full effect, but which ones should you believe? Also, is Apple Music as much of a success as expected? All this and slightly more on this incremental “27S” version of the Happy Hour Podcast. (Just kidding, it’s episode 28.) The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.
iHome has spent years building a reputation for thoughtfully designed, value-packed Apple audio accessories. Beyond its annual releases of ever-improving speaker systems, it was the very first company to release an iPod alarm clock, and a day-one supporter of Apple’s AirPlay speaker standard. No audio company has focused as much on the practical needs of iPod, iPhone, and iPad users as iHome. And when it innovates, it always comes up with something cool.
Kineta K1 ($150) and Kineta K2 ($100) are iHome’s latest innovations: Bluetooth speakers with beautiful built-in battery charging docks and detachable USB battery packs. K2 is a nightstand- or desktop-friendly alarm clock radio with a large screen, stereo speakers, and speakerphone support for the iPhone. K1 is a completely portable stereo speaker with 13 hours of play time and speakerphone support. Each comes with iHome’s new K-CELL, a tube-shaped 2,600mAh battery that locks in place until you’re ready to go, then easily hides in your pocket or bag to refuel your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Apple Watch anywhere.
Both Kinetas efficiently address two simple facts: Apple’s devices sound better through speakers and need extra power on-the-go. Read on for details on how they each combine two useful accessories into a single great package; you’ll also find a special discount inside!…
Amid falling sales of the device, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is working with more than 40 tech companies to make the iPad a more appealing work tool. Apple is reportedly working with officials from professionals in the business app market to train its own specialists to better sell towards workforces, which will lead to
I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect, and the gap between it and the Google alternative isn’t as great as it used to be, but to my mind it’s still by far the best solution for anyone looking to have all their data and content available across both desktop and mobile devices.
But there’s one notable gap in my own use of the Apple system: books. Despite the fact that my iPad is my primary ebook reader, I still use the Kindle app and buy my books from Amazon rather than Apple … expand full story
[Update: Statement from CVS below the fold…]
When Apple Pay launched in the US late last year, Apple’s mobile payment system was officially accepted by several launch partners and unofficially supported by even more retailers and vendors. Then a small number of retailers banded together as members of the Merchant Customer eXchange actually disabled mobile payment support at checkout in favor of an upcoming CurrentC payment system. Drug store chains CVS and Rite Aid were among the first to block Apple Pay support after initially accepting it and even prompting a response from Apple. Now Rite Aid is ending that blockade as it announced today that it will officially accept Apple Pay starting this weekend. expand full story
Apple has uploaded its latest advertisement as part of its new “if it’s not an iPhone, it’s not an iPhone” marketing series. Today’s new TV ad focuses on the iPhone’s camera, photo taking capabilities, and video recording features. As it has done in past campaigns, Apple appears to be promoting pictures and videos taken by actual iPhone customers. Apple’s previous iPhone ads focused on customer satisfaction, hardware/software integration, and the App Store. Apple also recently published a new website to accompany the TV ads, which focuses on many of the same iPhone talking points.
In case you didn’t notice (which is basically no one at this point, thanks to the more-than-loud John Legere), T-Mobile has tried to be as disruptive as possible over the last couple years. And now, Sprint, which has long been the third-largest mobile carrier in the United States, is admitting defeat. It seems T-Mobile’s tactics are working, and Sprint’s first fiscal quarter report released today shows that its 56.8 million subscribers are just shy of the 58.9 million that T-Mobile reported it had last month.
Less than two years after they each went into service, only one of the three Lightning cables pictured above is actually working properly. It’s not the big Belkin cable on the left, which is visibly pretty wrecked, or the thick, no-name 6-foot cable on the right, which looks fine on the surface but can’t properly supply power to a connected device. The one that works without problems is, amazingly, Apple’s official Lightning cable — the one that has been pilloried by numerous dissatisfied users, notably including our own Zac Hall, for coming apart after months or years of use.
These complaints aren’t without merit: even Apple-authorized Lightning cables do break, which is particularly infuriating given how expensive they tend to be. But there’s a lot of bad information about Lightning cables floating around right now, and having spent a lot of time using them and reading user complaints, I wanted to help people avoid some of their preventable failures. Taking a few precautions can save you a $10 to $20 replacement cost, as well as wasted time and stress…
The first round of Apple Watch stands were just that, accessories designed to keep your Apple Watch from rubbing against your nightstand or desk. This month, we officially moved into the second wave — powered Apple Watch docks — with the release of Boostcase’s Bloc and Nomad’s Pod ($60). Boxy, flat, and long, Bloc was a clean design with questionable practicality, but Pod makes a lot more sense: like the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable it holds inside, it’s a partially metal and partially plastic puck you can easily take anywhere and use to charge any Apple Watch. Having previously designed the beautiful Stand for Apple Watch, Nomad promises that the rechargeable 1800mAh battery inside Pod “keeps your watch powered all weekend.”
From my perspective, the Apple Watch’s single biggest issue is its one-day battery life, which has meant risking a dead watch while traveling or otherwise away from a power outlet. Although you could just carry around a device-agnostic USB battery, Pod solves the power problem at a more aggressive price point than Bloc, and in a convenient form factor that will appeal to a lot of people. You can choose from a silver and black version, as shown in the photos here, or a space gray and black version made to match darker Apple Watches. Read on for the details…
Famed designer Surenix and developer Kyle Howells have teamed up to create a new iOS task switcher/Control Center replacement called Alympus, which combines a full screen of toggles with a new music controller and a customizable grid layout for running apps.