The new Nest thermostat is brilliant, in a HAL from 2001 kind of way. Not only does it adhere to commands sent from your smart phone, it also learns your patterns and adjusts to your schedule in real time, as you use it, no programming required. It knows when you usually get up, when you go to work, when you come home, when you go to bed. It can give you digital readouts of energy usage and automatically adjust to make you both comfortable and economically efficient. There’s good reason this thermostat—a normally boring appliance if ever there was one—is so cool. It was developed by Tony Fadell, the man who oversaw the iPod and iPhone divisions at Apple. A few years ago he jumped ship to tackle home temperature control, and amassed a Silicon Valley dream team of designers and thinkers who defected from Apple, Google and other tech industry powerhouses to help him do it. The results are nothing short of revolutionary. The only thing it doesn’t do is play music. Yet. $250. nest.com
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Anyone who has felt the stomach-lurching anguish of dropping an iPhone and shattering the screen can appreciate the value of a well-made protective case. Happily, swift-moving retailers have already released a range of whimsical, stylish and sleek options for the iPhone 5—and, given that Apple’s latest starts at a whopping $700, we imagine demand is high. Here are our favourites, which range from cute to kickass. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The New York Times started an online furor earlier this week with an article on the social shame of carrying a BlackBerry in a market dominated by Android phones and iPhones (even corporate clients are making the switch). In a manner akin to confessing their transgressions at an A.A. meeting, BlackBerry users are quoted describing the scornful looks they receive, and the indignity of relying on others to pull up maps, make reservations or search for restaurants:
“I’m ashamed of it,” said Ms. Crosby, a Los Angeles sales representative who said she had stopped pulling out her BlackBerry at cocktail parties and conferences. In meetings, she says she hides her BlackBerry beneath her iPad for fear clients will see it and judge her.
Why buy a camera? It’s just another gadget that only does one thing—a fatal flaw in the age of multi-tasking, especially when our smart phones take pretty good pictures (the new iPhone 4S includes an embedded camera with a screen-shattering eight megapixels). But that doesn’t mean they can’t be better. Enter the Olloclip, a lens attachment that lets iPhone users go full-Karsh. Developed about a year ago by an amateur photographer in California, it features three interchangeable lenses—fish-eye, wide-angle and macro—in a tiny, pocket-friendly design. Clip one on, and the iPhone camera gets a range of shooting options otherwise available only with a professional photo kit. Because the action’s all happening on your phone, these amped-up pics can be Instagram-ed and posted to Pinterest immediately. Let’s see a DSLR do that.
$70. Apple Store, 220 Yonge St., 647-258-0801.
Research in Motion’s embarrassing flash mob outside a Sydney Apple store was a sign of worse things to come for its Australian operations. Last week, RIM’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand left the company after less than three months in the position. Then this week, Qantas Airways announced it would start using iPhones instead of BlackBerrys for its 1,300 company-issued phones — in part because the company expects to save more than $1 million through simplified infrastructure and data agreements, but also because a survey suggested employees would rather have iPhones than BlackBerrys. So, basically, RIM is struggling to hold on to executives, corporate clients and consumers. Not good. Read the rest of this entry »
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Clearly, they have failed. There’s just no way now to pull out of the death spiral. With stiff competition and a complete lack of marketplace trust, zombie Steve Jobs couldn’t fix RIM.
At the annual BlackBerry World trade show in Orlando yesterday, Research in Motion top dog Thorsten Heins unveiled prototypes of the new BlackBerry 10 devices that should have been out a long time ago be launched to the public later this year. The phones, which will be distributed to developers so they can get busy on creating apps, look like mini-PlayBooks, with a 4.2-inch screen, a fancy predictive keyboard and an improved camera. This is a make-it-or-break-it device for RIM—it’s widely acknowledged BB10 has to succeed if the company is going to survive. So, does it look like RIM has the product that will save it? Here’s a roundup of what the pundits, analysts and developers are saying about the new devices.
After trying too hard to seem cool (the Bold Team superheroes appealed to absolutely no one, and an attempt to get in on the tablet trend didn’t go as planned), Research in Motion has finally realized it’s got to focus on its enterprise customers. CEO Thorston Heins’s first move since the company released awful fourth-quarter results was to release BlackBerry Mobile Fusion software, which allows IT departments to manage the security of not only BlackBerrys, but also sexier smart phones like the iPhone and Android devices. The company has already shed several security-conscious clients and seems to be trying to keep the corporate world interested in their software, if not the phones themselves. The new plan won’t make Apple panic, but it’s a conservative move that at least won’t embarrass RIM. Read the entire story [TechCrunch] »
Good food comes at a price. For dedicated kitchen design geeks, that price is $18,000, which is what it costs to own Aga’s newest cooker, a 970-pound cast-iron behemoth dubbed Total Control. It operates like a traditional Aga—using stored, radiant heat to produce constant cooking temperatures and therefore tastier, juicier food—with a high-tech twist. This one can be switched on and off in a matter of minutes or programmed to turn on automatically at a certain time. And if that doesn’t make your mouth water, this will: an iPhone app for long-distance preheating is in the works. The Aga Shop @ Grange Toronto, 150–154 King St. E., 416-943-0242.
Last Thursday, Toronto Life released its new Best Restaurants app, which brings our reviews of Toronto’s top 400+ restaurants to your iPhone or iPad for $1.99. Today, we released the first update, which adds a couple new features:
• You can now email restaurant reviews, along with the address and phone number, right from the app
• You can now view a map of just your filtered search results, wherever they may be in the city
The last couple of years have been fantastic for Toronto diners. The city has experienced an explosion of hole-in-the-wall masterpieces, opened by people you’ve probably never heard of, doing inventive, surprising things with small kitchens. They often don’t care much about decor, and the rooms are usually noisy, but the places are packed night after night. A few weeks ago, on a Monday, I called one such restaurant to book a table for the following Thursday, and the man on the other end of the line laughed at me. He said he had an opening on a Thursday—six weeks from the day I had in mind. Other terrific restaurants don’t even take reservations. If you want a table, plan to wear comfortable shoes, because you’ll likely wait in line. At about 7 p.m. toward the end of the week, Dundas West and Queen West and East are the sidewalk gathering places of curious foodies in from Mississauga and Lawrence Park, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to rack up points on their credit cards. (That is, if the low-tech restaurant in question takes credit cards.) Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Once again, Research in Motion is having a rough week. First, Politico reported that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is set to switch its smart phone of choice from the BlackBerry to the iPhone. Then the company underwhelmed at the Mobile World Congress, where it had neither new products nor news on the long-awaited BB10 devices (though a RIM exec did flaunt the defections by government agencies and lame trade show appearances are nothing new for Canada’s beleaguered tech giant. So, RIM, if you’re going to blunder, we’d prefer if you had the decency to be creative about it. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »
The Dish is very pleased to announce the launch of Toronto Life’s Best Restaurants app for the iPhone and iPad. Easy to use and frequently updated, the app presents informed, opinionated reviews of Toronto’s top 400 restaurants, as selected by our team of critics (we’ve been using the app in-house for months, and it’s quickly become indispensable). You can search according to neighbourhood, star rating, price range and cuisine, and you can set the app to provide recommendations based on the criteria that are most important to you (a patio, for example). Using your iPhone’s GPS, this app will also tell you which Toronto Life–recommended restaurants are close by. Click here to find out how you can get it now »