After months of leaks and speculation, Samsung finally took the wraps off its newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s phones already track the steps you take and the calories you burn, but the S5’s can track your heart rate through a fingertip sensor on the back of the phone. Samsung’s newest phone also comes with a fingerprint reader, which you can register up to three unique fingerprints on, that lets you authorize PayPal to make online payments for anything. This feature also lets you unlock Private Mode, making it easy to hide your more personal things from people like your co-workers or your children. The Galaxy S5 got a major boost in the camera department, too, with a rear-facing 16 megapixel camera that focuses in less than a third of a second, as well as the ability to capture video in 4K resolution. If all this adds up to a phone you’ve just got to have, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 will be on sale in over 150 countries on April 11.
There are dozens of different wearable computers that make sure you’re eating right, sleeping right, and getting the exercise you need. But there’s only one that makes sure you’re getting the right amount of sunlight every day. SunSprite, a new gadget currently seeking funding on IndieGogo, is solar-powered and Bluetooth-enabled, and records your daily sunlight exposure for easy tracking. Designed for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or depression, SunSprite is aimed to help you get outside more and soak up more rays. The Harvard researcher who designed the device says it can lead to improvements in mood and sleep after just three or four days, and significant changes in overall health after about three weeks. If you want technology to improve your life in every way it can – or if you just want to quantify anything and everything – a $100 contribution to its IndieGogo campaign will secure you a device and help set you on your way to sunnier days ahead.
Have you ever wished your smartphone could do more? Forget about multitasking – what if your smartphone could save humanity? That’s the idea behind HTC’s “Power to Give” on its One and Butterfly phones. Your device is no longer “just a phone” – you can now use your its processing power to help cure diseases, map proteins and tackle problems usually left to the most powerful computers in the world. After downloading a free app from Google Play, you’ve only got to pick a project to contribute to, plug your phone in to charge and connect it to Wi-Fi. Just like that, you’re contributing to the greater good of all mankind. HTC says a million of its One smartphones add up to a single one-petaflop computer, so it may not be your phone that leads to the next major scientific breakthrough, but every bit counts. Anyone with an HTC One or HTC Butterfly can take part today, and the program is expected to hit other phones in the company’s catalog soon.
Few things are more frustrating than coming back from lunch to find a parking ticket on your car. Many of us don’t have the time or energy to dispute those tickets, but a new iPhone app called Fixed is ready to take up that fight. If you get a parking ticket, take a picture of it on your phone and enter the violation code into the app. Fixed lets you know how often that violation is overturned, and reasons why it might be invalid. If you think you might have a case, Fixed will ask for more photo evidence and have you digitally sign a letter. Fixed then gathers supporting evidence and submits the proper appeal paperwork. If Fixed gets your ticket thrown out, it charges 25 percent of what the citation would have cost. If your ticket stands, Fixed won’t charge a dime. The app is only available in San Francisco for now, but aims to roll out into the top 100 U.S. cities over the next 18 months.
Have you ever needed to get in touch with someone whose phone was on silent? A new Android app called UrgentCall makes sure you’re able to get through. UrgentCall lets you receive emergency calls from anywhere in the world, even if your phone is set on “do not disturb” or silent. Two dollars a month gets you 10 minutes of yearly UrgentCall time, and makes sure you answer your most important calls, no matter what. After downloading and setting up the app, you can pick up to ten contacts who you want to be able to reach you when there’s an emergency. These contacts then get a text with your special UrgentCall number. If one of them calls this special number, the app makes your phone ring endlessly – and gets louder and louder – until the call is answered. Whether you have little ones in school, a new teen driver or elderly parents, Urgent Call helps you to never again wonder, “What if…?”
Google Glass has come under a lot of scrutiny since it was first shown off in 2012. To help make sure its newest Explorers weren’t giving the device a bad reputation, Google recently put together a helpful list of things to avoid while wearing Google Glass. As awesome as it would be to film your first water skiing attempt while wearing Glass, Google says to avoid wearing the device while doing high-impact sports. It’s a costly piece of technology, so make sure to use common sense. Also: don’t be creepy or rude while wearing Glass. You may make the people around you uncomfortable and may be not-so-affectionately referred to as a Glasshole. If someone feels weird about you wearing Glass, be polite and respectful and remember – a quick demo can go a long way to re-assuring the hesitant. Finally, be ready to answer some questions. Glass is still very new, and chances are people are going to want to know all about it.
While Apple hasn’t yet launched any sort of fitness tracker, it looks prepared for big things in the near future. Apple was recently granted a patent for a biometric headphone system that could track your temperature, heart rate and perspiration levels. The entire fitness monitoring system is built into a set of headphones – meaning you’d already be carrying everything you need if you listen to music while you work out. By having the system in or near the ear, the sensor can gauge and track your temperature, heart rate and more. The headphones may even feature an accelerometer, which would help collect accurate movement data. While Apple is almost sure to release an iWatch sometime later this year, this type of headphone system would mean there’s little to no need for you to wear or carry a separate piece of equipment when you work out. Apple has a lot of ground to make up in the world of wearables, and a product like this would certainly head them in the right direction.
Google’s been asked all sorts of questions since it first showed off Google Glass in 2012, and the company recently put together a helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts to make sure Explorers get the most out of their new device. Here are some of the best tips. Engage the world around you! With a computer in front of your eyes, you don’t have to look down to get information. Have a Google+ Hangout, get walking directions to a new restaurant or check on your delayed flight – all without having to look down at your phone and miss what’s going on around you. Also, remember that Glass can respond to voice commands, which frees up your hands when you’re cooking, golfing… or doing just about anything else. Say, “Ok Glass, take a picture,” and you’ve got a hands-free shot of whatever you’re looking at. Finally, use screen lock. It’s just like your smartphone’s screen lock – it won’t let anyone use your device without first knowing your passcode.
Even though it makes some awesome phones, HTC knows it’s fighting an uphill battle against companies like Samsung and Apple in the mobile market. That’s why the company recently launched the HTC Advantage program to help win over American smartphone buyers, so if you buy the company’s flagship HTC One – or its max or mini variants – you’re automatically enrolled in HTC Advantage. The program offers up to 50 extra gigs of Google Drive space for free, giving you plenty of space to store all the photos and videos you take with your new device. HTC Advantage also guarantees you’ll get the latest Android updates for two full years after the device is launched. Finally, if you somehow manage to crack your screen within the first 6 months of buying your device, HTC offers a one-time screen replacement for free. If you’re the clumsy type – or want to guarantee have the latest version of Android – make sure to think of HTC the next time you need a new phone.
Did you know that Amazon will donate money to charity from every purchase you make? It’s a program called AmazonSmile, and it doesn’t cost you anything to sign up. The best part about it? You get to pick the charity! AmazonSmile has been around since October, and you can kick off the charitable giving simply by going to smile.amazon.com when you’re ready to shop online. Amazon has recently begun re-emphasizing the program to encourage more charitable giving by prominently featuring messages on its homepage, reminding shoppers of the AmazonSmile program. The only catch? The message only appears to customers who have visited the AmazonSmile site before. If you want to get involved, head to smile.amazon.com, choose the charity you’d like Amazon to donate to, and you’re all set! And, to make sure you never make an Amazon purchase that doesn’t give a little kickback to charity, download a browser plug-in – like Smile Always for Google Chrome – that automatically re-directs you to Smile whenever you go to Amazon.