The Apple iPhone 12 – the new era of 5G smartphones can’t shake off the old-era notch

I’m really tempted to buy a new iPhone, and that’s something Apple manages to pull off each year. With great features, cross-compatibility, better cameras, and hardware upgrades, the new iPhone gets me excited every year and this year’s no different… but I’m choosing to draw the line at the fact that it’s been 3 years since the first time Apple released a smartphone with a notch… and even after all that while, as companies have moved onto hole-punch cameras, under-display cameras, and literally folding phones, Apple still chooses to hold onto this weird, antiquated detail that makes even the newest of phones seem old. I love the new iPhone 12 series smartphones, but that notch is now a deal-breaker.

Here are some hard facts that Tim Cook gave us at the beginning of the iPhone presentation. Ever since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has consistently been the number 1 smartphone in the world, with literally billions of customers. Ranking at the 1st position when it comes to customer satisfaction for 13 years straight definitely isn’t a laughing matter. Apple has a track record of making phenomenal devices. Tim unveiled 4 new phones today – the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini (I’m really impressed that Apple decided to make a smaller, hand-friendly smartphone), and the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max – stating that these phones were a part of a new era for the iPhone. All four phones come equipped with 5G, making them faster, more efficient, and arguably safer too (because you don’t need to connect to sketchy public WiFi hotspots to get great coverage.

The new era of iPhones however still stick to an old-era design. The silhouette of both the 12 and 12 Pro series look exactly like the iPhone 4 and 5, and while I won’t really say much about the camera bump, given that it’s a necessity for peak performance, Apple’s still stuck to that godawful notch, which literally carves its way into the screen, eating up what could be prime pixel-estate. The reason why the notch stings even more is because Apple literally launched an iPad Air LAST MONTH with TouchID built into the power-button. It seems like with the new series of iPhones, Apple has all the right answers, but isn’t asking the right questions.

If you can look past that notch, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro series are actually really great phones! The 12 series comes in a regular and a smaller size, boasting of a dual-camera setup, the A14 Bionic chip, 5G capability, a brilliant Super Retina XDR display, and a different type of glass created in collaboration with Corning. This new glass, called Ceramic Shield, has nanoceramic crystals growing on the glass matrix. The result is a glass that’s 4-times stronger than the one on the iPhone 11, making it MUCH more resistant to cracks and shattering. The 12 Pro series comes in a regular and a Max, with a stunning mirror-finish Stainless Steel bezel. The cameras are designed to blow the competition out of the water with Deep Fusion computational photography, Night Mode built into all shots, a LiDAR sensor for better edge-detection, and the ability to capture images in a new uncompressed format called Apple ProRAW. On the video front, the 12 Pro series uses HDR Video Recording, and are the only smartphones to record and edit in Dolby Vision, creating videos that are literally cinematic.

Perhaps the most interesting feature in the new iPhones this year around was a Tuesday Throwback to one of Apple’s greatest design details… the MagSafe. The new iPhones come with a MagSafe ring built into the back, allowing them to instantly align with wireless chargers, but at the same time also seamlessly connect with Apple’s new cases (including a full-phone sleeve with a clock-cutout on the front), and even with a newly unveiled series of leather wallet-modules that let you carry your Apple Card or other payment cards on the back of your phone. Belkin is rumored to be working on MagSafe chargers too, hopefully as Apple’s way of saying Mea Culpa for the time they announced the AirPower mat but couldn’t deliver on it.

All in all, the new iPhones are great in practically every department. They’re powerful computing machines thanks to a new chip and Apple’s in-house hardware and silicone manufacturing. The display’s great, the user interface is still considered one of the finest, and the camera is touted as an industry leader. Apple’s even leading in the sustainability department, with the new iPhones being manufactured carbon-neutral, and shipping only with Lightning/USB-C cables that allow you to charge your iPhone with any charging block or laptop, helping ultimately cut down on e-waste. As a result, the new iPhone boxes are slimmer too, letting you ship more units in the same shipping container, bringing its carbon footprint down. However, the one place it isn’t leading in is its antiquated design. The notch isn’t so much a feature anymore as much as it’s a blemish. While most companies have shifted to slimmer notches, hole-punch cameras, or even sliding camera modules, Apple clings to this black bar from 3 years ago. While the notch is itself a physical obstacle, it acts as a digital one too, given that FaceID in a time where people are wearing masks isn’t really ideal… and that other smartphone companies have been using in-screen fingerprint sensors for nearly 2 years now, and that Apple’s even created an alternative – a power-button with TouchID, but for a different product. The 12 and 12 Pro are every bit a part of a new era for the iPhone… it’s just that they don’t look the part.

Designer: Apple

Apple iPhone 12 & 12 Mini

Apple iPhone 12 Pro & 12 Pro Max

MagSafe for Apple iPhone

Vivo’s detachable pop-up camera concept is the evolution smartphone photography needs!

Vivo is not new to innovation in mobile camera technology. After having surprised the industry with the pop-up selfie camera, and a phone with dual elevating front cameras; the Chinese OEM has gone a step further to introduce a concept phone with a pop-up selfie camera module that can be removed from the body of the smartphone. This conceptual, interactive, and intuitive camera opens up a whole new range of multi-angle photography previously unseen with smartphone cameras.

IFEA Camera Mobilephone, as Vivo calls its concept smartphone, comes with a detachable front camera module called the IFEA. A user can detach the rectangular camera from the phone once it has completely popped out of its housing. IFEA can then be used wirelessly in any setting while being controlled with the smartphone from a distance. Vivo says the camera can also be voice-controlled to click and record. Furthermore, it can be attached to objects – as demonstrated in the video – to even a dog collar for your pooch’s first-person Instagram-worthy shots. From how it appears, the IFEA concept has a built-in battery and probably connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth. This we believe since the phone receives instant notification in case the user walks beyond a stipulated distance from the detached camera module. And the possibilities? Those are limited only by your imagination! While we agree smartphone photography is reaching all new heights, this detachable design lets you literally redefine your relationship with your phone and your camera. Place it on a table for a selfie, attach it to a holder and use it as an action camera, or make it a point of view camera from your pet’s collar – as we said, the only limitation is your imagination!

IFEA Camera Mobilephone is the brainchild of designer Dai Nairen. For its endless possibilities and out-of-the-box design, this concept for Vivo has won the Red Dot Design Award 2020. This is definitely an interesting idea any mobile photography aficionado would want to lay their hands-on, but will it see the light of the day is just anybody’s guess at this moment. Vivo is however hopeful of evolving the potential use of the IFEA in commercial phones, changing the way we capture the world around us!

Designer: Dai Nairen/Vivo

Google-inspired designs that every techie would love to get their hands on!

With Apple and Amazon continuing to surprise us with their inventions, we are waiting in anticipation of their September 30th event. While the company usually unveils the new Pixel sometime in mid-October, the virtual event is set to be where the company unveils the latest and greatest Pixel phones, along with a new Nest smart speaker and a new Chromecast. The rumors of these products have been floating around and while we wait, here is a list of designs that we surely hope to see come true, if not in this release, but in the next one at least!

The Pixel smartphone went onto redefine what a pure Android experience could look like, becoming the gold standard in the Android OS experience. James Tsai’s Google Pixel Smartwatch concept does the same for the Android Wear OS. Embodying Google’s playful-serious aesthetic, the Pixel Smartwatch concept comes in a traditional round format, and in a variety of quirkily named colors. The Android Wear OS logo displays clearly on the always-on display of the watch, transforming into a colorful set of watch hands every time you look at it to read the time. The watch comes with Google’s top-notch voice AI, all of Google’s native apps, and a heart-rate monitor on the back, which ties in well with Google’s plan of acquiring Fitbit and their entire fitness-tech ecosystem. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wearable concept were entirely waterproof too, just to fire shots at Apple!

The Chromecast 3 concept by Roel Heyninck isn’t a hockey-puck as much as it’s a hub. Designed with the stylings of the Apple TV box, Heyninck’s Chromecast 3 box looks pretty nifty, and in many ways follows Google’s product and CMF language. The box connects to a television via a single USB-C connection that has the ability to pull power as well as push media. Using the Chromecast 3 is as simple as pressing the ‘cast’ button on your phone or tablet and forgetting about it. If you want to interact with or navigate through media, the Chromecast 3 comes with a pretty slick remote control that features 4 buttons and a touchpad on the top, and a standby button on the bottom that you can use to switch the TV on or off.

Meet the Pixel Vector, a smartphone concept by Ferdinand Aichriedler that challenges the notion that phones need to have thick bezels, hole-punches, or notches to have front-facing cameras. The Pixel Vector cleverly uses the negative space between the phone and the screen’s corner to throw in not one, but two front-facing cameras. The phone’s sharp edges and display’s rounded corners provide the perfect triangular negative spacing for cameras, spacing them out too, so they can perform 3D scanning required for facial recognition.

ODD-ON’s cute silicone skin transforms your Google Nest Mini into an adorable tabletop cat that, for once, responds to commands instead of maintaining an air of feline attitude! Titled the Caat, the outer body for the Google Nest Mini props your speaker up so it’s pointing forwards, rather than upwards. This allows the Nest Mini to look rather adorable as it sits patiently on your mantelpiece, responding to all your questions and commands.

The partnership between Belkin and Devialet is interesting for a number of reasons. Belkin is famed for making some of the best charging cables, hubs, adapters, and extension boxes on the market, while Devialet still reigns as the most awarded audio company in the world. The companies announced their collaboration at CES this year, with the Soundform Elite, which happens to be Devialet’s second smart-speaker after its collab with Huawei. The Soundform Elite works just like any smart-speaker, albeit with a docking area for your phone. Equipped with a fast-charging 10W Qi charger, the Soundform Elite has the unique feature of being able to charge a wide variety of compatible Android phones as well as iPhones, making it a worthy pick for Apple enthusiasts too.

Google's Stadia Controller gets a radical redesign!

Google's Stadia Controller gets a radical redesign!

If Sundar Pichai walked up on stage and unveiled Daniel Cheung’s concept of the Stadia controller, I’d absolutely believe that it was completely meant to be. Stadia is a revolutionary concept that demands a revolutionary controller, and Daniel Cheung’s Playdream is that controller! Ergonomic, but non-organic, the Playdream comprises a tubular design that instantly stands apart as unique, and at the same time, comfortable. Designed for an absolutely robust grip, the Playdream has all the necessary controls, from the buttons to a redesigned D-Pad, to the triggers, Google button, and even two extra buttons on the inside of the grip.

The PixelBloc is comprised of multiple 2500mAh battery-units that connect together using a USB-C port system. The main bloc, which sits at its base, comes with a USB-C port and two USB-A ports, while subsequent blocs only house the USB-C ports. This means the modules need to be plugged into the main bloc to charge them, creating a foolproof system, and the charger is smart enough to recognize them when they’re plugged in together. The PixelBloc uses sequential charging and discharging, which means when the entire unit is assembled, the main bloc is always recharged first (so you always know which bloc to use when you’re low on power) after which subsequent bloc-units get recharged. When you’re using the entire power-bank to juice up your device, power is pulled from the last bloc first, discharging it from the back to the front and maintaining the system so you’re never left with arbitrarily charged individual bloc-units.

google_link_2

google_link_3

Designer Michio Papers created a bridge between the two faces of the tech industry- smart homes tech and laptops, to revive the laptop and the tablet while giving them the makeover they needed. The Google Link is everything you, your workspace, and your home needs. Made of multiple separate gadgets that come together, the Google Link serves all purposes. When assembled together, it’s your dedicated smart-home device capable of connecting via the internet to all other IoT gadgets in your house. Separate it and things get really interesting. You have a speaker dock that makes the Google Link your very own AI Assistant while being a wireless speaker too.

Google started a digital wellbeing initiative in an attempt to reduce the time we spend on our smart devices and to be honest, they’re pretty cool ideas! One of them is the Envelope cover. London-based design studio Special Projects came up with the Envelope cover, hoping we would break away from the digital world, and enter the real world…even for a while. Though it only works for the Pixed 3A at the moment, the cover is easily accessible! You download the app called Envelope on your Play Store App, print out the template for the envelope, and assemble it right at home! All you need is some glue to patch it up together. Once you slide your phone into the case, it transforms your phone into a much simpler one.

Designed to enhance the user’s lifestyle, the G flask by Yoonjae Song is a pure white cylinder with a rounded cap, ensuring a perfect hand grip. Shaped like a capsule, the clean aesthetics of the G flask instantly soothe you down. Devoid of any digital screens or lighting, sipping from it should be a pretty calm experience. Crafted from durable stainless steel, the flask guarantees to keep your water fresh at all times, as it is incapable of retaining any odors or flavors. Accompanied by an app, utilizing the flask couldn’t get any easier! It not only tracks your daily water intake, and how much water you’ve consumed so far, but you can also use it to set goals and compete with your friends, to see who reaches their intake for the day first!

For the people who don’t know what this game is about (basically Safari users), the game starts as a webpage that tells you that your browser is offline. Press any key, and the game initiates, and you’re tasked with getting the dinosaur to jump over cacti, and under flying pterodactyls. Your high score gets recorded on the top corner. Bell’s toy set captures the key elements of the game. While there are no pterodactyls in the box set (also because they make their appearance later on in the game), the set actually stays incredibly true to its inspiration. You’ve got the dinosaur, four different cacti, and the box is designed to serve as the backdrop too! The box comes with a reversible design, with the starting message on the face, and the game-over message on the back… and the jumping Dino is reversible too!

Google PixelBloc Modular Power-bank lets you stack up external chargers for a bigger battery!

The idea behind the PixelBloc concept is pretty simple. Stack multiple power-banks together and make yourself a massive power-bank with a higher battery-capacity… or just separate them into smaller power-banks that you can use to charge multiple devices at the same time. The PixelBloc’s modular nature allows you to use it any way you see fit, and gives you a flexibility that wasn’t previously known in the external-charger industry.

The PixelBloc is comprised of multiple 2500mAh battery-units that connect together using a USB-C port system. The main bloc, which sits at its base, comes with a USB-C port and two USB-A ports, while subsequent blocs only house the USB-C ports. This means the modules need to be plugged into the main bloc to charge them, creating a foolproof system, and the charger is smart enough to recognize them when they’re plugged in together. The PixelBloc uses sequential charging and discharging, which means when the entire unit is assembled, the main bloc is always recharged first (so you always know which bloc to use when you’re low on power) after which subsequent bloc-units get recharged. When you’re using the entire power-bank to juice up your device, power is pulled from the last bloc first, discharging it from the back to the front and maintaining the system so you’re never left with arbitrarily charged individual bloc-units.

To ensure each bloc is plugged in correctly, the individual power-bricks come with a switch that helps lock the units in place, and an LED to let you know they’re all connected. Whether you’re charging a single device or multiple ones, the PixelBloc has you covered. You can share individual bloc-units with friends too, or carry just as many blocs as you need instead of carrying the entire brick with you. The power-bank has been a singular product in both form and function, with limited capabilities. By turning it modular, the Google PixelBloc gives it an innovative touch (a lot like Project Ara!) and frees it from its boring monolithic form!

Designer: Ratan Pande

The LG Wing presents a ‘radically sensible’ evolutionary step in the future of smartphones…

I didn’t think I’d get excited for smartphones in a while and I surely didn’t think Motorola and LG would be the companies responsible for that feeling. Earlier this week, LG “leaked” a video of their upcoming smartphone in action. Codenamed the Wing (as opposed to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold), this smartphone reinvented the candybar mobile format with a swiveling screen layout. Designed to behave a lot like the LG VX9400 smartphone that Tony Stark used in the 2008 Iron Man, the Wing featured a front screen that rotated 90° and slid up to reveal a second screen underneath. While LG’s leaked video wasn’t much of an aesthetic reveal, it definitely did a lot to show what the company had in store for the future of phones – a future that promised multitasking without horrible hinges, delicate folding screens, and awkwardly thick phones.

The Form Factor

The Wing’s form is undeniably unique when opened, but what’s great about it is that it’s still a regular smartphone when closed. It doesn’t come with a thick body or an unusual gap (like the Galaxy Fold). When closed, you’ve got all the benefits of a regular smartphone, but open it up and the swiveling format really reveals a new side of smartphone computing to you. With two screens (or one and a half screens, if you compare the surface area), the Wing feels refreshing, and in a good way. Here’s why.

Two regular screens are better than one big one

Here’s a statement worth thinking about. A bigger screen doesn’t enable multitasking… more screens do. No matter how large your laptop or tablet’s screen is, chances are you don’t really multitask on it – you just do the same stuff, but on a bigger screen. This fundamental realization is something that sets the Wing and Microsoft’s Surface Duo apart from most folding smartphones. Physically separating screens really makes it easier for your mind to separate tasks, and that’s something that works to the benefit of the Wing. Moreover, its split-screen layout makes the UI of apps really interesting. You could be watching YouTube on the larger screen and browsing related videos on the smaller one. You could even be using Whatsapp or Gmail in landscape while typing in portrait on the smaller screen. The split-screen helps split elements of an app’s experience, allowing you to separate information in a sensible way. Think about having Spotify running on the larger screen and the playback buttons on the smaller one, or Netflix on the landscape screen and the subtitles on the lower screen, not interrupting the visuals you see. Even if you consider something as basic as the camera app, the Wing’s dual displays really help make clicking selfies and taking videos easier, just by being able to space out elements effectively, and separate the visuals from the controls for a cleaner, easier-to-use interface. A split screen helps really effectively split up information, and if done well, can result in a much more sensible user experience.

The Pivot vs the Folding Hinge

The swiveling pivot detail gives the LG Wing a major durability edge over folding smartphones. The hinge is often considered the Achilles heel of the folding smartphone, and is often the first component to fail. By abandoning the hinge detail, the LG Wing coolly circumvents the inherent problems that hinges have. The swivel mechanism sits INSIDE the smartphone rather than outside it, protecting it from any accidents, and here’s the best part… the absence of hinges allows the Wing to be much thinner than traditional folding phones.

The Bezel-less display

This has to be by far the most exciting part about the Wing. The swiveling screen can afford to have a truly bezel-less design, simply by shifting the front-facing camera to the panel behind it. Apart from being an aesthetic upgrade (because bezel-less displays look incredible), it makes the Wing safer too, by allowing you to physically block the front-facing camera when you don’t need it.

No folding display, no problems

As glamorous as folding displays look, they have two massive, fundamental problems. Larger displays need bigger batteries, and more importantly, if you fold anything, it’s bound to crease. The LG Wing’s refreshing format avoids those two problems almost completely… with regularly sized displays that don’t strain the battery as hard, and the absence of a display-crease because there’s really no folding involved.

At the end of the day, even though all we got was a mere microdose of what’s cooking at LG’s headquarters, it was enough to prove a few things… that there’s still room for innovation and improvement in smartphone designs, that folding screens may not be the way moving forward, and that the swivel-format is more than just a fancy gimmick… it’s actually sensible, and has the potential of completely revolutionizing the way we interact and multitask with phones, apps, and interfaces.

Designer: Sarang Sheth

Apple’s new iPhone 12 shatters barriers with an Apple watch-inspired secondary display!

No other company’s launch creates a buzz as much as Apple – love it, hate it, but you just can’t ignore it! Promised to launch as soon as September 2020, the internet is already abuzz with rumors about the upcoming iPhone 12 – with most renders showing a throwback to metallic chamfered edges made popular in the iPhone 4 or the iPad Pro. We also hear this design will be Apple’s next major update since the 2017 Apple X – how can that be? Let’s look at designer Furkan Kasap’s concept that has left us excited yet confused!

The iPhone 12 retains the dreaded notch that was established with the iPhone X – and while we look for changes in the screen of the phone, Furkan’s concept makes us look at the camera notch in a whole new way and how! Firstly, the camera bump comes with 4 lenses now (maybe the macro lens is finally coming to the iPhone!) and doubles up as an instant notification panel. The UI of this notification panel borrows heavily from the well established and tested UI that the Apple Watch carries – showing everything from app notifications, widgets, and even your health statistics. We have seen conceptual tech showcasing a glass panel that doubles as a touchscreen, this would be the first commercial implementation of this technology, but one thing we know – if Apple actually does this, most of the newer models are soon to follow suit. The coolness factor of this design aside, the mini-display can help extend the battery life by reducing our dependency on the home screen to check our notifications. It can also double up as minimal time and date display, helping all of us who actually use our phone to check the time without getting distracted by the gazillion notifications that keep catching our attention!

Apple’s philosophy is to usually have a series of incremental changes in the design unless there is a flagship launch where they redefine their parameters of a smartphone. So maybe this concept is not ready for the iPhone 12 but I can surely see Apple experimenting with the camera module – from making it detachable Go-Pro style camera to this rendition by Furkan, which can actually be taken to the next level by making it detachable and that module doubles up as an Apple watch when worn with a trendy strap. Now that’s an iPhone I would gladly shed $1099 to buy!

Designer: Furkan Kasap

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A Japanese-inspired wireless charger designed to help you break your smartphone addiction!

Incense light

Let’s be honest, how many of us feel FOMO if we have to separate from our phones for even the smallest amount of time? Smartphone addiction has been a problem even before COVID ( Report show that 60% of U.S. college students consider themselves to have a cell phone addiction) – the quarantine, separation, and fear of the unknown has raised this addiction to a whole level! The solution to this? Practicing mindfulness. The Japanese have been practicing meditation and mindfulness through centuries, one of the prime examples of this is the minimalistic beauty of the zen garden. Designer Juwon Kim decided to merge tech and tradition, creating a design that aims to improve our lifestyle by helping us break free from our bad habits and to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Meet HYUU – a wireless smartphone charger elevated to help you break the obsessive need to keep checking on our phones while charging so we can return back to our mindless scrolling! Almost meditative in design, HYUU takes inspiration from the Japanese zen gardens. The gadget’s surface replicates the patterns we find in the sand with an incense-stick like indicator that attaches to its base. The process of placing your gadget on the charger means taking a break from constant exposure to content. This process of leaving your device to charge is also a way to get some quality me-time, so at the end of the day, you are not left wondering – where did the day just go?! Now, the initial moment of keeping our gadgets and walking away feels almost scary according to the designer “Because FOMO is an only human and universal emotion, it cannot be completely eliminated, but I tried to put the meaning of time, situation, and space that can be controlled. Therefore, what about providing time to look back on yourself without blaming yourself for feeling FOMO?” The simple indicator comes into play here – as your device charges, the led indicator on the incense stick also lowers, signaling an end to the relaxation time while keeping in check our compulsive need to continuously keep checking our phones. The charging level of the phone can now be known without actually looking at the screen – giving you quality, uninterrupted me time!

“Karesansui(かれさんすい), which is based on ‘discovering something out of nothing’, is a space where you can look at the garden and answer your own question.” says the designer. The same way, this wireless charger is a small yet definitive step to help you disconnect and focus on your self. Afterall as our favorite Grand Jedi Master Yoda puts it ‘In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.’ Let’s come out of this quarantine with an improved understanding of ourselves!

Designer: Juwon Kim

 

Sketch

Unboxing

Apple accessories designed to fulfill every tech lovers dream: Part 2

With every new product that Apple launches, there is an equally interesting increased interest in the accessories that I can use to jazz up my imaginary setup! Take for example Apple’s latest 27-inch iMac – designated to be the biggest change Apple ever made in the iMac’s configuration under the hood. Now while I imagine buying me that sleek design, I’m wondering if the Kolude’s Keyboard that doubles as a hub will be the perfect accessory, or shall I look for something new? With Apple all set to launch the new ARM-based machines in the market, let’s start looking and picking the accessory of our choice to deck out the latest config they plan to hit us with. After all, the promise of cheaper prices and a 9-10 hour battery life might be the reason we need to trade in our older models once again!

Joyce Kang and C.O Design Lab’s Pod Case gives the Apple Watch a much-needed history lesson, introducing it to the ancestor that started the Apple craze. The watch’s screen roughly matches the screen size found in classic iPod Nanos, while its body is only a slight bit thicker. The Pod Case, made in silicone, slides right over the Apple Watch body, giving it a funky throwback, while also letting you use the watch as-is.

SuperCalla

Of all the cable-managing solutions I’ve seen in the near 30 years of my existence, SuperCalla’s solution seems the most compelling. I’ve seen thick cables, flat cables, coiled cables, woven cables, and even cable-holders, but nothing is as convincing as the video above. Say hello to the SuperCalla charging cable. It looks like most cables, except for that at certain intervals the SuperCalla cable has magnets around it. These magnets effortlessly organize your cables and keep them organized, thanks to the satisfying snap of magnetic attraction. The magnets allow you to easily open the cable out, using as much as necessary, therefore keeping your drawer, bag, and general workplace as neat as possible. Besides, I imagine they’re incredibly fun to fidget with too!

It seems that Stephen Chu may have made one of the most marvelous breakthroughs in the computer peripherals category. Say hello to the Kolude KD-K1, a sleek external keyboard with a pretty interesting twist. With circular keys that sit within a machined aluminum base giving it a neo-retro vibe, the Kolude KD-K1 keyboard is a visual treat with tactile scissor-switch keys that make it a great keyboard to type on too. Designed to be the Swiss-Army-Knife of keyboards, the Kolude KD-K1 makes sure you’ll never have to bend over and reach behind a CPU to plug a pen-drive in again.

Mokibo At nearly 1/4th the price of Apple’s own Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, the Mokibo Folio provides the same set of features in a portable, accessible, and universally compatible format. Designed to work with multiple devices, and with a foldable stand that lets you prop those devices up as you type, the Mokibo Folio is a QWERTY keyboard that also doubles up as an iPad case. Designed, however, with a touch-sensitive surface that sits under the entire right-half the keyboard’s key-surface, the Mokibo goes from keyboard to touch-board just simply by running your hand over the right-hand side of the keyboard’s surface, allowing you to swipe, pinch, and perform a wide variety of gestures.

This wireless charging system kit by Scosche is modular and expandable, you are now free from hours of untangling cables for each device because this one dock is a home-for-all. You’ll be happy to know that it just requires one power out and given its modular nature, it is portable so you can use it at home or at work. The BaseLynx charging kit is compatible with all iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Airpods, and even iPods – yes this station EXISTS and all us Apple fans are excited about giving our devices a resting spot as sleek as they are. It has many individual parts that you can choose and pick from to BYOB (Build Your Own BaseLynx). An interesting feature is the Vert charging module where you can charge three devices at once on the same base.

The designers at CURVED/Labs imagined what this bridge between the Airpods and the Homepod would look like. Taking very strong design cues from the Homepod, these smart headphones boast of large audio drivers that deliver spectacular sound, along with a touch-sensitive panel that lets you tap and swipe to access the headphone’s smart features. The headphones even pay tribute to the Homepod with the colored waveform-graphic found on the Homepod’s touch-panel and the faux-weave texture around it. I imagine the headphones also pack noise-canceling, as is expected with high-quality audio products, and from the looks of it, these concept headphones even come with a neat wireless charging dock/hanger. The Airpods do work with Android phones, so it’s safe to imagine that these headphones would too, but just like the Airpods, functionality would be extremely limited, and the touch panel wouldn’t be of much use.

AXS Technologies from Brooklyn, NY has created a new and innovative product that unifies all of your most important devices into one sleek system essentially making the AirPod’s native charging case obsolete. Power1 takes portability and functionality to a new level giving you a system that’s doubly useful because it doesn’t just charge and protect for your iPhone… it charges and protects your Airpods too and ensures they are always with you and ready for use. Designed as an evolution of traditional battery cases, Power1 not only holds an extra battery but also manages your Airpods like no other system. Armed with proprietary design, Power1 comes with two modes. One, where it charges your Airpods only (up to 30 times on a full battery), and a second mode that charges your Airpods as well as your phone, giving both gadgets full advantage of Power1’s 3000mAh internal battery.

Link keyboard

The designer Evan Stuart felt the need to create a truly effortless, delightful, and seamless user experience that went beyond beautiful aesthetics. Link is a one-stop-shop to keep devices charged, synced, and ‘linked’ together with as minimal cables and inconveniences as possible. The keyboard is a constant at everyone’s desk and therefore the peripheral devices were formed to work around it like modular accessories. The set includes the keyboard along with ’tiles’ which are the peripheral accessories. These tiles include a drawing tablet, wireless charging pads, a touchpad, a number pad, and a dial which is the most interesting of them all. “Pan around. Zoom. Select. Click. Clack. Rotate. The Dial instantly becomes your favorite digital input tool,” says the designer about including the playful accessory. All modules are battery operated and magnetically connect to the side of the keyboard to dock and recharge when low on charge before being reused again. It also comes equipped with NFC, Bluetooth, and wireless charging capabilities to make it the ultimate unifying hub. Less is more, and less is specifically one cable.

To help you understand why the OMNIA X Series is such a sensible piece of tech, unlike most plugs that are designed around their components, the OMNIA X Series is designed around the footprint of a power-socket. The power-socket is a standard format and the OMNIA X Series tries to limit its shape and size to that format, resulting in a plug that’s small because being small is just a sensible direction to design in. This allows the plug to fit into sockets and strips (even over-crowded ones) without really blocking or interfering with other plugs/switches around it. The OMNIA X Series, despite its size, comes in three variants with 30W and 18W power delivery and the ability to quick-charge your Android and Apple devices with ease. It even packs foldable pins, allowing you to easily carry your charging adapter with you everywhere you go in your backpack or even your pocket.

Like all of Satechi’s products, the USB-C Magnetic Charging Dock comes with Apple-certified MFI charging, and works across all generations of the Apple Watch. The dock plugs right into the side of the iPad Pro or the MacBook Pro, although you could just as easily use it with any power-bank too. The sleek aluminum design does a pretty good job of blending in with Apple’s design language, while inbuilt magnets securely hold onto your watch as it charges, allowing you to dock your iPad on a stand without worrying about the watch slipping or falling off. Neat, eh? Maybe you could even use it as a small extended display too, running a timer, your clock, or the weather app right beside your screen as you work or browse the web!

Check out more innovative Apple accessories in the first part of this series!

This smart face-mask auto-translates languages as you speak!

Wear the C-Face Mask and you aren’t just granted clean, purified air… you also get the power to talk in multiple languages! Designed by Japan-based Donut Robotics, the C-Face mask is a universal mask-cover that fits on top of your standard face mask. Switch it on, and the C-Face mask connects to your smartphone, giving you a wide variety of smart features. Not only does it enable you to answer calls and talk to people without holding your phone’s mouthpiece near your mouth, it auto converts speech to text, allowing you to reply to messages, verbally type out emails, or ask your smartphone’s voice AI queries without having to take off your mask and talk to it. Currently, the C-Face even possesses the ability to translate between Japanese and 8 other languages, but multi-language support is merely an app update away!

As unusual as its design brief sounds, the C-Face mask actually has quite a few really noteworthy benefits. Firstly, since the mask is fitted with its own dedicated microphone, you can speak into your phone without needing to take your mask off. Pair this with the smartphone’s voice-to-text feature and you can talk to other people just by showing them messages on your phone. The voice-to-text feature even means less unnecessary touching of your smartphone’s screen to type out messages. Just say what you need and the dedicated app converts speech into text that you can copy and paste in messages, chat boxes, or mail drafts. The app even possesses the ability to auto-translate between a total of 9 languages, allowing you to seamlessly communicate with people regardless of language barriers. It’s almost as if the C-Face gives you the ability to speak in multiple dialects!

The C-Face mask will begin shipping to buyers/backers in Japan as early as September with more units being shipped to USA, Europe, and China in the coming months. The silicone mask comes with its own battery that provides hours of use on a single charge. It retrofits directly on top of any standard face-mask, allowing you to upgrade your current cloth mask into a smart-mask that works with your phone!

Designer: Donut Robotics