SmartPlug turns your home into a modern-day Clapper

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iHome SmartPlug HomeKit
You may not get a whole lot of use out of a single SmartPlug.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Home automation, specifically Apple’s HomeKit framework and its compatible accessories, is the latest Thing We’re Supposed to Get Excited About™. And it has a lot of promise for convenience, time-saving, and just generally feeling like you live in the future.

The first HomeKit-compatible smartplug is upon us, courtesy of iHome. The ISP5 SmartPlug is a $40 device that plugs into your wall outlet and lets you run whatever you plug into it from your iPhone, using either Siri or the companion app.

It does everything it says it will: You can set up rooms and zones, and control individual appliances or whole groups of them with a tap or quick voice command. It also lets you build “rules” to make your stuff turn on and off without your input. All of this is cool, but when you actually have one, you might struggle to think of useful ways to use it.

iPhone monopod is more than you’ll ever need but exactly what you want

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High-end kit for iPhone videos (and photos) that scream "pro."
High-end kit for iPhone videos (and photos) that scream "pro."
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Taking iPhone video is usually a pretty manual affair. You try to hold your hands steady, but eventually some shudder creeps in. Trying to maintain a steady focal point can be tricky, especially if you’re filming a larger scene, like a concert or play.

You could use a tripod, but they’re big, bulky and require some setup. You don’t want to move around with a tripod.

Monopods, however, offer the stability and easy-panning joy of a tripod without all the fuss. Manfrotto’s monopod (the aptly-named 562B-1) is a solid, tall, adjustable, simply fantastic accessory to make all your videos, iPhone or otherwise, look much more professional.

The OnePlus 2 is a pretty powerhouse that won’t break the bank

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the-oneplus-2-is-a-pretty-powerhouse-that-wont-break-the-bank-image-cultofandroidcomwp-contentuploads2015082015-08-20-140305-jpg
The new OnePlus 2 is faster and prettier than its predecessor.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

The latest “flagship killer” from Chinese startup OnePlus is getting even more attention that its predecessor. And rightly so: The OnePlus 2 is better looking and more advanced than the OnePlus One, with a faster Snapdragon 810 processor, up to twice as much RAM, and a new 13-megapixel camera sensor.

The device also comes with OnePlus’ latest OxygenOS software pre-installed, which offers a pure Android experience with some added extras.

All these things come in a pretty package that costs just $329 with 16GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. (You can bump up to 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM for $389.) But is this a great smartphone that’s worth waiting for?

Review: Rhapsody’s redesign takes on Apple Music and Spotify

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Rhapsody
The streaming music veteran takes a shot at becoming "hot stuff" with a total app overhaul.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Responding to the existential threat posed by Apple Music and Spotify, old-school streaming music service Rhapsody has completely overhauled its mobile app. The revamped Rhapsody comes with a fresh design and new features to take things up a notch — although some of these things look mighty familiar.

Will this redesign be enough to take on the newcomers that are eating Rhapsody’s lunch? Check out what Rhapsody brings to the table and see for yourself.

Versatile messenger bag fits all your stuff and more

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Get all your stuff together in this lightweight, classy, functional messenger bag.
Get all your stuff together in this lightweight, classy, functional messenger bag.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Ever try to go from home to the gym to the office to the party in the same day? If you have, you’ll know that move requires a lot of carrying capacity, typically across several bags.

Now try to do all that as an eco-warrior on a bicycle. You’ll want one big, waterproof bag that can hold your work stuff, your gym clothes and maybe a rain coat in case it gets wet out there. Stylish and useful, the Vitesse from WaterField Designs is a lovely, waxed-canvas messenger bag that will fit all that stuff.