Tech can be used for both good and evil. Take Marauder’s Map, an extension for Google Chrome that allows users to track the movements of contacts that use the Facebook Messenger app. Fortunately, we’ve dug up plenty of tech with less sinister applications
Huawei has made a name for itself producing premium-feel phones for a mid-range price and with the P8 it has certainly upped its game. Whilst coming with a slightly higher price tag than the Ascend P7, its predecessor, its aluminium chassis gives it a satisfyingly premium feel – and it’s svelter than flagships like the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 at just 6.4mm thick. On the downside, its 424ppi screen is slightly lower resolution, even than the P7, and its Voice Wake Up feature – a nice idea in principle – seems to be rather buggy in practice.
For a while it seemed that Apple had the wearable payments markets all sown up but you no longer have to fork out upwards of £299 to be able to pay for your coffee with your wrist. Fitness tracker Jawbone UP4 will allow users to pay using built-in NFC (near field communication), whilst providing users the activity tracking, sleep monitoring, food logging and heart scanning that comes with the UP3. There is, however, one minor drawback: currently the UP4’s payment features work only with American Express, meaning that you’ll need a credit card to make use of it.
When Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk teased the release of a new product line, speculation abounded, with the smartest bet being that they were taking their battery technology into the home and commercial energy markets. Tesla has since made it official: its latest product, the Powerwall, will harvest the solar energy a household has generated during the day for later use, stores energy during low-rate periods to avoid peak rates and acts as a battery back-up during power cuts. Whilst we’re fairly certain this is going to tick off the energy providers, it certainly seems like a good buy for a cash-strapped start-up.
There’s a time and a place for noise cancelling-headphones; that time and place isn’t when you’re cycling down busy city streets. Sometimes there’s a good case for headphones that actually allow you to hear what’s going on around you. Headbones use bone conduction technology to channel sound to the eardrums through the skull, leaving one’s ears uncovered and able to hear when a car is bearing down on you. Visually they perhaps leave something to be desired but we’re prepared to sacrifice our fashion cred for being able to listen to music without deafening ourselves to the outside world.
We’ve made no bones about our love of Project Ara, the modular phone from Google that allows users to swap out various hardware functions. But for those who are keen to hang on to their existing handset, Nexpaq might prove to be a better option. This modular smartphone case allows users to pick from the twelve modules that are currently available, including a battery module, an amplified speaker, an SD card reader and a breathalyser. Currently Nexpaq is only compatible with the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Samsung Galaxy S5 but it will soon be coming to a handset near you.