What's Hot in Tech - October 09

Sunrise calendar app adds iCloud support, gets a new look  

Sunrise is my favorite calendar app for iPhone as it combines your Google Calendar with events from Facebook and provides insight on the people you're meeting with by connecting with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. All of this done through a beautiful interface and intelligent workflow. Sunrise can also connect to your Foursquare account to provide a historical view of your meetings and checkins throughout the day.  

iPhone users may not use Google Calendar, however, and instead opt to use Apple's own iCloud calendar. Sunrise version 2.0 brings support for iCloud calendars, in addition to a refreshed look for Apple's new iOS 7 software. Sunrise is working on Android and iPad versions of the app for those feeling left out.

Simple, digestible news app Circa releases iOS version 2.0, Android app   

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Circa, the short-form iterative news story app for iOS and Android,  released version 2.0 of its app focused on real-time breaking news alerts delivered through push notifications. Circa focuses on delivering bite-sized news authored with smartphones in mind by keeping content concise and adding new bits of information as stories evolve rather than issuing all-new articles.

Nest, maker of smart home thermostat, reveals next home appliance  

Nest Protect, smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector

Nest Protect, smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector

Nest already wowed us with their first effort to reinvent "unloved but important home products", Thermostat. Nest has announced their next innovation, Protect, a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector that provides verbal alerts upon detection, sensors to distinguish between smoke and steam, and a ring of light to indicate battery light as well as illuminate dark hallways/rooms. Early warnings of detection come in the form of verbal notifications ("There's smoke in the kitchen") so you can cancel detection with the wave of a hand if you simply burned something in the kitchen. Nest Protect's status is accessible via smartphone app so you can check on your home wherever you are. Pre-orders are now available at $129 per unit. 

SnapChat introduces Stories, content lasting 24 hours 

SnapChat is beginning its evolution beyond expiring photo and video messages with the release of Stories, a feature compiling select snaps from the past 24 hours. When a user takes a photo or makes a video, they'll have the option to add the snap to "My Story" in addition to sending the snap to specific friends. Snaps added to your story are visible to all friends at any time but are removed after 24 hours. Friends can play back your "story" repeatedly to see what you've been up to lately.

To those still skeptical of SnapChat's role as a communication tool, the service now sees 350 million snaps per day.

Netflix 5.0 for iOS brings HD streaming and Airplay compatibility

As first mentioned last week, Netflix has made its "Super HD" high-quality content available to all users with a sufficient connection speed. iPad and iPhone viewers can now appreciate the increase in quality with version 5.0 of Netflix's app which also features compatibility with Apple's Airplay for beaming content from iPad/iPhone to an Apple TV.

Hulu Plus for iOS and Android adds Chromecast support

Hulu made it easier for iPad and Android smartphone/tablet users to watch content on the big screen by adding support for Google Chromecast. Support for iPhones is coming soon. I've covered Chromecast previously and highly recommend the device for its ability to display laptop/smartphone/tablet content on your TV, especially with its $35 price tag.

Details leak about Fitbit's next wearable fitness gadget  

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The market for fitness gadgets continues to grow as we get more in-tune with our bodies and monitoring technologies evolve. While not formally announced, details have emerged about Fitbit's next gadget, the Fitbit Force. The Force will be a fitness tracking watch featuring a physical button for accessing settings and functions (like Nike's Fuelband), will measure altitude and "flights of stairs climbed per day", and a have a display for monitoring progress toward activity goals. A release date and price are not known at this point but the device will likely retail for $130, on par with similar gadgets. 

1Password 4 for Mac is a big update complete with redesign, new featues

1Password is one of my absolute favorite applications for its ability to remember website logins, wifi passwords, credit cards, and much more. 1Password is available for Mac, Windows, iOS (iPad/iPhone), and Android devices for access to your information no matter where you are. With 1Password's latest release for Mac, the app features a full redesign; improved integration with web browsers for quick, automated logins; and a host of other new features and improvements.

Paper for iPad announces physical notebooks to showcase your work

Book, a collaboration between FiftyThree's Paper and Moleskine

Book, a collaboration between FiftyThree's Paper and Moleskine

Paper is a super-simple iPad app for creating digital drawings and sketches, having allowed people to push the boundaries of digital art. Paper provides essential tools for creating without a host of settings to tweak and other in-app distractions. As we all move toward a paperless lifestyle, there are some things still best experienced in the flesh and that includes art. The maker of Paper, FiftyThree, has teamed up with Moleskine to bring us Book, a 15-page foldout book of your creations sporting a classic black Moleskine cover or a custom cover featuring your own artwork. Books can be ordered right from the Paper app and start at $40 per book.

Shadow app aims to record dreams, find commonalities, and provide insight

Shadow app concept for iPhone

Shadow app concept for iPhone

Shadow is a project on Kickstarter to build the "largest database of human dream knowledge in the world" by way of an alarm clock app that gently pulls you out of sleep and immediately prompts you to record any dream(s) you experienced. Dream content can be kept private or shared with others. The more dreams you record the more insight gained into commonalities, themes, and more. Access to Shadow will open early next year.

Quick Hits

  • Auris' new Skye project promises to turn your out-dated iPhone speaker docks into wireless speakers. Older docks feature Apple's old 30-pin connector and aren't compatible with new lightning cable 
  • Instagram announced it will start to show ads in users' feeds but promises to gradually introduce them, allowing the option to hide ads and provide feedback
  • We now know the voice behind the original Siri, a woman from Atlanta
  • If you're a government employee affected by the shutdown, unfurlough.us has launched for finding open freelance opportunities and discovering available talent. I love solutions like this. 

 

As a tech enthusiast, early adopter, and avid reader, I come across a lot of gadgets, apps, websites, and more. Few things excite me more than sharing and discussing these finds with others. Follow me on Twitter where I share even more tech news and trends.  

Chris Fohlin

Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA