Lazy-Hands – Take That, Gravity!


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Last month, I tried to squeeze thousands of displays at CES into just a couple days. That meant a lot of skimming past the same old stuff and stopping, occasionally, for the unique and noteworthy. Usually, it was some flashy thing with lasers that did the trick, but in one instance, it was the genius of simplicity. When I saw Danny and Lazy-Hands, I stopped for a closer look.

The Lazy-Hands Idea

The funny thing is that Lazy-Hands isn’t an entirely new idea. I’ve seen several iPad cases that have a strap of some sort built in, but they were all cases and that was their selling point, the strap. What about the other features of other cases out there like screen protection and bluetooth keyboards? What if I want the strap without the case? What if I don’t have one of the top-selling devices people always make accessories for? Lazy-Hands stepped back from all the over-engineering (and the extra cost that comes with it) and offered up a simple and affordable solution with minimal materials and an easy design. Watch the quick video to see what I mean.

iPad Results

I have an iPad 2 and it’s certainly portable, but you notice the weight after holding it for an hour. I ride in a van-pool to the office five days a week and often use the commute to catch up on my reading. Lazy-Hands Grip for Tablets was made for this. When Danny said he’d send out samples, I was sure this would be a game-changer for me. It is, but only as much as it can be. I love the protection my case provides, so instead of applying the Lazy-Hands velcro swatch to my iPad directly, I applied it to my case. It works great, but it’s still tiresome to hold after a while just because of the weight. To be fair, this is not the fault of Lazy-Hands. It did what it was intended to do, and in my case, that meant increasing the comfort time for holding my iPad from about 15 minutes to a little over an hour.

iPhone Results

Like my iPad, I really prefer to keep a case on my iPhone, so I attached the Lazy-Hands Grip for iPhones version to my hard case and tried it on for a week. My first concern was getting my phone in and out of my pocket. Surprisingly, that concern went away as I used it all week and allowed me to focus on the advantages of this product. Although decreasing the drop-factor of my phone was not the most important feature for me, I found that I began to naturally rely on Lazy-Hands to defy gravity for me while I loosely let the phone lean in my hand. What I most wanted from Lazy-Hands was my thumb back. The iPhone 5, in all it’s tall glory, made reaching every inch of the screen with my thumb nearly impossible when holding the phone with the same hand. For the record, my hands aren’t tiny. It takes a little getting used to, but now I can easily navigate every inch of the screen with my thumb while my other hand is free for, say, mocha. This was well received.

Conclusions

Lazy-Hands isn’t a curved TV or coffee pot that tweets it’s status. It’s a product whose allure is a combination of it’s simplicity, usefulness, and low cost to the consumer. The value of it is doubled when you realize that the Grips for iPad comes with two Grips and two adhesive sheets. The Grip for Tables / iPads runs $17.99, while the Grip for iPhones / Smartphones is only $8.99. If you have something in between, they offer the $15.99 Grips for iPad Minis, Kindles, Nooks, and other small tablets and e-readers. The product is worth the price and it works just as expected.

Want One? Here You Go

Well, OK. We can’t give one away to everyone. Luckily, though, our review package came with a bunch of Lazy-Hands product, so there’s extras to use in another giveaway. If you’re a regular reader, you know the drill. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works. Just select one of the entry options below and complete the instructions to earn your entries. You know you’ve done it right when your number of earned entries increases. I’ll let the giveaway’s random number robot magic thing select some winners who will be notified by email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apple v Android: Who will have the last laugh?


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Six months since the passing of Steve Jobs, very little has changed in the world of Apple. Prior to the death of Apple’s founder, the technosphere was eagerly awaiting the release of the iPhone 5. In April 2012, we find ourselves in a similar predicament; still waiting for the launch date of the latest must-have Apple device. That’s not to say that Apple have been resting on their laurels in the post-Jobs milieu in which they found themselves in mid-2011. There was the launch of the iPhone 4S for starters, an event that proved to be an unsurprisingly downbeat event in light of Jobs’ untimely passing. Perhaps the sense of anti-climax also owed something to the realisation that this was not going to be the much-feted iPhone 5, but rather a souped-up version of the iPhone 4. In spite of this, the 4S proved to be an instant success, with over one million sales within its first 24 hours of release, shattering all previous records.

Were Steve Jobs still alive today, he would doubtless be delighted with the success of the iPhone 4S and of the all-but-assured success of the iPhone 5 when it is released later this year (June is the current rumoured launch date.) There is one development within the mobile industry that Jobs would have been less pleased to observe however – the rise of Android. Not surprisingly, Steve Jobs wasn’t too enamoured with Google’s Android smartphone operating system. After all, it was – and still is – the main competitor to Apple’s proprietary OS. But Jobs didn’t just dislike Android – he hated it.

Recently, Google co-founder Larry Page stated in an interview with Business Week that Jobs’ professed hatred for Android was all for show. He didn’t really despise the Google OS, but was merely trying to rally the troops against the competition. When asked about the differences between himself and Steve Jobs towards the end of his life, Page stated:

“I think the Android differences were actually for show. […] I think that served their interests. For a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that. I personally believe that it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what’s possible and how to make the world better.”

One person who knows exactly how Steve Jobs felt about Android is Walter Isaacson, author of the approved biography of the Apple founder. Towards the end of Jobs’ life, he is depicted in Isaacson’s biography as being extremely bitter about Android, vowing to declare ‘thermonuclear’ war on Google for copying the look and feel of Apple’s OS.

According to Isaacson, Jobs wasn’t just fronting when he professed to dislike Android; he genuinely had beef with Google. In fact, Jobs allegedly explained to Isaacson

“[Apple’s] lawsuit is saying, ‘Google, you f___g ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off.’ Grand theft…Make no mistake, they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.”

Isaacson recently countered Larry Page’s claims by stating that Steve Jobs really did hate Android. The source of Jobs’ rage, according to Isaacson, dates back to the 1980s when Microsoft had drawn a lot of “inspiration” from Apple’s graphical operating system. Microsoft then achieved market dominance by “promiscuously” licencing it out to computer manufacturers instead of creating a closed hardware-software ecosystem like Apple.

Steve Jobs believed that Google were now doing the same thing with iOS. Apple had created a closed ecosystem with iOS and the iPhone, and Google had copied the operating system and began to “promiscuously” licence it out to phone manufacturers.

Irrespective of the merits of Jobs’ argument, there is no denying that Android has continued to flourish over the past six months. Taking lawsuits and iPhone releases in its stride, Android has gone from strength to strength, increasing its share of the smartphone market. Recent figures from the US have revealed that in February, Android’s share of the smartphone market topped 50%. Apple, on the other hand, sat at a respectable – but substantially lower – 30%. While Android’s acquisition of over 50% of the US market is statistically significant, it should be noted that the rest of the global market reached that figure in August 2011 – two months before Steve Jobs’ death.

Of course, the merits of any product cannot be measured in terms of sales or market share alone. After all, it has recently been revealed that Android only makes £1 from the sale of each Android device – compared with the £365 that Apple pockets for each iPhone. Were Jobs alive today, he would doubtless still be railing against Android’s encroachment into the smartphone market. Behind closed doors, however, he may find himself with more pleasing distractions to attend to: Apple’s biggest problem of late has not been combatting Android, but deciding what to do with their $100 billion cash surplus. Talk about first world problems…

For Jobs, it wasn’t about the money, but a fear that history was repeating itself. Even so, with the launch of the iPhone 5 just a couple of months away, who’d want to bet against Apple enjoying the last laugh all the way to the bank?

This post was written by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, the leading mobile phone comparison website in the United Kingdom. Best Mobile Contracts also provides up to date news on phone releases, contracts and other industry developments.

Can Your Smartphone Really Help Keep You Safe?


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Bipper AS, a Norwegian tech company best known for Bipper, a parental control smartphone program, have come out with a new application that has already seen considerable European success: bSafe. The application allows you to immediately send out an S.O.S. if you find yourself in trouble while out walking at night. It does this by sending text messages and phone calls to a predetermined list of “Guardians” who function as your emergency contact and who are given a map of your exact location. This information can then, presumably, be passed on to the police.

The bSafe application, which available globally this week for both Android and iPhone users, has already hit select European markets. It has seen impressive success there, garnering media publicity and surpassing two of the most popular apps in the world – Angry Birds and Facebook – in recent downloads.

bSafe has proven that it can be successful, then. But can it actually keep you safe while walking at night? Can it give your phone a security feature besides a basic reverse phone lookup? Is it worth having as a last-ditch, security precaution?

The short answer, it would seem, is no. If you’re truly in a dangerous situation, calling 9-1-1 is probably easier and it is certainly more effective. Most cell phones allow you to program 9-1-1 into one of the speed dial options (usually “9”) and a police dispatcher can figure out your location even if you don’t provide one. Having a text sent to your best friend saying that you’re in trouble is simply not going to give you the same rapidity of response. Think about it; in this hypothetical situation, your friend will likely try calling you back first, just to make sure that you truly need their help. It is probably only if they don’t get an answer that they’ll call 9-1-1. Getting the bSafe app, then, can take away valuable time if you do find yourself in an emergency.

But the application does have some intriguing uses and possibilities, albeit not those that it originally intended. For example, it allows you to go into “Risk Mode”, which tracks your exact location by GPS and can then send that route to a designated computer. For people who want to go for a run and then see their route sitting on the screen when they get back, bSafe is an appealing application. Furthermore, the app’s general mapping and navigation software is accurate, fast, and easy to use.

So I might find myself downloading bSafe in the near future. But I certainly don’t plan to send out any S.O.S.’s – whether or not I find myself in a dangerous situation.

This guest post is by Nancy Evans. She is a freelance writer that specializes in tech and business.