The Internet helped me land this Ford Escape. It’s pretty sweet ride. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
When my 2001 Subaru Forester died on the side of the highway a week or so back, I was not excited about trying to find a replacement.
Buying a car is right up there with heading to the DMV, going to IKEA and attending your ex’s next wedding. It’s depressing. And inevitable. The load of anxiety-ridden, “hurry up and wait” BS that has marred my every interaction with car dealerships both new and used is overwhelming.
So it was with glee that I bypassed all that crap and used my iPhone, email and Twitter to buy myself a new car. Let me explain.
Take a smartphone stand that clamps onto your iPhone like a pair of jaws. Now add a tripod hole and a wrist strap. Now you've got the Shoulderpod, a device that has nothing to do with your shoulders. It can be used as a stand or as a grip, giving one-handed access to any app by placing your thumb over the on-screen shutter. It also works with a range of optional accessories. $35
This is a firestarter, a camping firestarter. It’s the self-igniting, cooking instigator. A tungsten-carbide striker, a campfire detonator. Rotating wear-avoiding, one-handed operating, works when saturated, makes matches antiquated. $19
Using a valve amp and high-end speaker to amplify your iPhone’s Bluetooth stream might be a little like shaving canned mushrooms onto your homemade “truffle” ravioli, but who cares when “just” $640 can bring you a beautiful wooden box with two glowing valves at its core? The Class A amp can also be hooked up with cables, connected to an external subwoofer and even has an on-board 24-bit DAC. $649
The name really says it all. This ribbonlike Lightning cable rolls up into a tidy reel and lays flat when charging. It also has tough, color-coded plugs, and costs the same as Apple’s own white plastic cable. Available in gray, gold or … blue? $20
The new white Airframe from Kenu turns the slats of your car’s ventilation system into a smartphone holder. The expanding jaws clamp your iPhone (or Android phone) in place, and the little prongs on the other side jam between the louvres of any car vent and hold fast. It’s the perfect way to add yet another dangerous distraction to your dashboard. $25
This neat package gathers your in-ride essentials together into one jersey-pocket-friendly place, and as it comes from Lezyne you know it can be relied on. The seam-welded zip-up wallet has a plastic window so you can use your iPhone while it’s inside, and slots for cash and cards (although no change pocket). Available in gray or black. Weighs 120 grams (4.2 ounces). $20
At last, a Lomo that’s as convenient as digital – the Lomo Instant has a built-in printer so it can pop out photos on the spot. The plastic-bodied camera can make multiple exposures on one frame, has a bulb setting for long exposures, a flash and interchangeable lenses. I can’t tell you how much I want one of these. From $79
I love my two-man Hubba Hubba tent from MSR, but if I was in the market for a huge tent that could fit a) me and a bunch of other campers or b) me, in a real bed, as if I were camped in 1920 Egypt to investigate an Agatha Christie-style crime, I’d take the teepee-shaped Meriwether. At 16 feet wide and 9.5 feet high, who cares if it weighs in at 65 pounds (almost 30kg)? That's what servants are for.$1,250
It’s here! The iPad-friendly Olloclip adds four great lenses to your iPad Air or Mini retina (they’re both equally thin, you know). The new Olloclip slips onto the corner of your iPad to cover the lens with any of four accessory lenses, all on the same mount. You get a fisheye and a wide-angle lens, and if you unscrew them you have 10x and 15x macros. The epoch of looking dorky while you take iPad photos is finally over. $70
Film or digital? Campfire or BBQ? Car or bike? Cable or wireless?
No matter which way you swing, this week’s gadgets have you covered. iPhoneographers can enjoy the Shoulderpod hand grip or slip the new iPad Olloclip onto their Mini or Air, and film nuts can get instant satisfaction with the new Lomo Instant Camera.
Camping? Take it easy in the giant Meriwether tent or go survivalist with the Blastmatch fire-starter. You can even choose how to arrive at the site, with accessories for your car or your bike. Happy traveling!
Today, Apple designer Jony Ive turns 47. One of the threads of his incredible career has been a passion for hot wheels. Before going on to become one of the world’s most famous designers, Jony Ive went to London’s Central Saint Martins Art School fueled by an early passion to design cars. Eventually, though, he took a detour that led him to revolutionize design in personal technology.
Apple hasn’t gotten around to making an iCar yet, but Jony’s passion for automobiles is still revved up and cruising for thrills. The famed designer hasn’t been afraid to fork over some fat stacks for a nice car on a whim – even if one of his brutal beauties almost cost him his life – and has gathered a nice little collection of luxury cars over the years.
It feels like it’s taken forever for Siri Eyes Free — the in-car Siri functionality first unveiled in 2012 — to actually start popping up in a meaningful number of cars, but the new ad for the Chevrolet Equinox highlights Siri Eyes Free functionality in the wild… and shows how it can go horribly, horribly wrong for you.
Got a car? Got an iPhone? Like to tap away at the iPhone screen and distract yourself instead of watching the road ahead and earning the trust that pedestrians and cyclists put in your every time they venture out onto the road? Then I have good news! Now you can careen down the highway, secure in the knowledge that your precious iPhone will never slip off the dash, nor even deviate from it’s perfectly-chosen angle.
Google’s algorithmically-driven cars may be partially designed to give commuters more time to surf the Internet (using Google, natch!), but if a new report from ABI Research is anything to go by, it’s Apple who have the real early adopter advantage in terms of connected in-vehicle infotainment systems.
ABI Research forecasts that shipments of such infotainment systems, equipped with one or more smartphone integration technologies, will grow substantially over the next five years — reaching 35.1 million units globally by 2018. Of these, ABI projects an impressive 49.8% will be running Apple’s “iOS in the Car”, the standard for allowing iOS devices to work with manufacturers’ built-in in-car systems as unveiled during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference back in June.
Just like those isolated soldiers that used to be discovered from time to time thinking that WWII was still on, years after it had ended, there’s a designer hidden deep in the offices of Porsche who thinks we still need to use USB thumb drives. Yes, it looks beautiful, just like Hiroo Onoda’s doubtlessly crisply-pressed uniform, but that doesn’t make it right.
At this point, 2K Games is the most hotly anticipated iOS game publisher in existence. They’ve done huge things on the iPad, like bringing a full-on console game to the iPad with XCOM: Enemy Unknown and helping develop legend Sid Meier’s latest strategy game, Ace Patrol — which just happens to be iPad-only. Now it looks like they’re set to take the whole iPad auto-racing genre and blow it out of the water with their latest project, 2K Drive, developed by Lucid Games.
Take a look at the latest developer’s diary teaser clip (above), with its crazy soccer ball-dribbling driving, Bonneville Salt Flats land-speed record car and a Mazda Miata driving on what looks like a wooden roller-coaster platform, and you’ll see what I mean.
One of the most hopeful promises of augmented reality is that it will eventually help us understand the world immediately around us. I’ve always thought one of the best uses of AR technology in this respect was its application to cars: Pan your phone or tablet across an engine bay, for instance, and an AR app will tell you where to put oil or coolant, or which bolts to remove in order to access the battery.
Audi brought us a little closer to this (augmented) reality today with the release of an AR companion app, using technology from German-based AR powerhouse Metaio, for its entry-level A3 that explains features in the cabin and engine bay.
Back In The Day™, when men were men, cars were cars and boys were forced to work to support their families before their stupid brains were even half developed, we fixed automobiles by kicking their tires and sucking our teeth.
Fast forward to the Space Year 2013 and cars now repair themselves. All you have to do is take it to a repair shop, where they plug it into a computer which sucks the money from your bank account while you take a spin in a “courtesy” car.
But what if you want to tinker? If you own a Ford and an iPad, and don’t mind getting your hands (literally) dirty, then you’ll be happy to hear that there’s a (concept) app for that.