Valentine’s Day is the perfect time of year to remind your significant other how much you care. If you have already perused through our guides highlighting the best, most stylish smartwatches for men and women, and you downloaded our recommended Valentine’s Day apps to secure flowers and candy, then the following quirky products are the perfect way to round out your day of gift-giving.
Divoom Timebox Mini ($60)
We first fell in love with the Divoom Timebox Mini when we saw it at the 2017 IFA trade show in Berlin. This tiny Bluetooth speaker connects to an app on your smartphone and lets you create fun retro pixel art. The Divoom Timebox Mini can also display the time, double as an alarm clock, and alert you to notifications from your phone. At $60, it’s an inexpensive gift your partner is sure to love.
Buy it now from:
You will never know how wonderful Popsockets are until you attach one to your phone. Popsockets are an inexpensive and practical gift. Attach a single Popsockets to the back of your phone and you have an instant stand or grip. Attach two and you have an awesome cord grip for your headphones. You can even create a custom Popsockets for your loved one, but these start at $15.
Buy it now from:
Caseify manufactures some of our favorite smartphone cases for just about every smartphone you can imagine. With Caseify’s customization options, it’s simple to create a truly special Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one. Select from the dozens of templates on the Caseify website, or use the layout tool to create a case that celebrates your relationship. Cases start at $29 (for simple monograms) and are usually shipped within two to three weeks, however, FedEx service is available for faster delivery.
Buy it now from:
Prynt Pocket ($150)
Does your partner plaster the walls with physical photos? If so, the Prynt Pocket may be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Prynt Pocket attaches to your iPhone, making it easy to print your favorite photos. If you print lots of photos, the company offers an unlimited paper subscription, saving you time and money. While the Prynt Pocket is a little pricey at $150, it’s a great way to capture and share your special moments. You can pre-order one if your partner has an Android phone.
Buy it now from:
Banana Phone ($40)
Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift that’s truly offbeat? Banana Phone is mobile handset that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, so you can put the banana to your ear for any calls. In addition to being a pretty awesome handset, the company donates a portion of all sales proceeds to Gearing Up For Gorillas. At $40, it’s an inexpensive and fun gift for a good cause.
Buy it now from:
If your significant other is a shutterbug, smartphone lens attachments make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift. Olloclip offers a brilliant selection of lenses for the iPhone and Android devices, with prices starting at $50. Simply attach the lens over your built-in camera lens on the phone, and you can get an enhanced camera experience right on your smartphone.
Buy it now from:
- Show some love to your inner techie with the best Valentine’s Day deals
- Need a last-minute gift idea? Check out the hottest toys of 2017
- 5 last-minute Valentine’s Day ideas that won’t blow your budget
- Didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas? Here are 8 great gifts for yourself
- Release your inner Jedi — or Sith Lord — with the best Star Wars Lightsabers
Both iOS and Android have their strong suits, but one of the biggest selling points of Apple’s operating system is iMessage. The built-in message app allows users to seamlessly transition from their iPhones to Mac computers. There are plenty of third-party Android apps that provide similar features, but now there are rumors that Google may be developing its own.
Google has tried to compete with iMessage several times before. The company’s efforts have always fallen short, however. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Google has so many different messaging services, ranging from Android Messages to Google Hangouts.
However, Android Police found something interesting in its recent teardown of an upcoming Android Messages update. It looks like Google is working on a desktop version of Android Messages. Based on the reports, the desktop version of the app will work within a browser extension, though it looks like users won’t be limited solely to Chrome.
The project is currently going by the codename Ditto, but the launch title is expected to be “Messages for Web.” In order to make use of the service, users will simply use their Android phones to scan a QR code, which will then link their chosen laptop or desktop to their smartphone. This should allow users to carry their conversations between multiple their computers and smartphones.
Another upgrade that appears to be in the works is the ability for users to send texts over their Wi-Fi networks. This has long been a feature of iMessage and it looks like Android will be getting the same treatment in the future.
There is also evidence that Google is setting up a payment system to work within Android Messages. This feature looks to be a bit different than Google Wallet, which allows users to transfer money to friends and family. This new payment system will allow you to buy items from various companies within the Android Messages app.
Google has not made any official announcements regarding the future of Android Messages, so the above should be treated as informed speculation until Google officially confirms the existence of a web app for Android Messages.
- The 10 best messaging apps for Android and iOS
- You may soon be able to text from your laptop with Android Messages for web
- Happy birthday, SMS! The text message turns 25
- Clear out your inbox with the 10 best third-party email apps for iOS
- Google introduces Allo’s Smart Replies on Android Messages
Can’t live with ’em, and can’t live without ’em. No, we’re not talking about the significant other in your life. Rather, we’re talking about the other relationship you’re more invested in than you may like to admit — that with your electronics, and specifically, your phone. Given that marriage therapist Winifred Reilly tells Digital Trends that 80 percent of folks under 24 sleep with their phones (61 percent of whom are single, no surprise), it’s safe to say that we’re a generation truly obsessed with tiny screens. And when those screens break, all hell breaks loose.
Luckily, a cracked device doesn’t have to be cause for panic — not with Puls.
Founded in 2015, Puls is a rapid-response services platform for a wide range of smart devices. The company offers in-home repair services for just about any smartphone you may have. In October, the company partnered with Google to expand its services for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL to cities across the U.S., and also added repairs for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones.
“Puls has built a strong business around seamless, same-day, in-home repair and installation services for smart technology devices,” explained Eyal Ronen, CEO and co-founder of Puls. “We come to your home or office, in under an hour, and provide the service on the spot.”
While the company is based in San Francisco, it offers services throughout the major cities of the U.S., including Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York, just to name a few. By using proprietary technology, Puls promises to intelligently match and instantly dispatch the necessary repair person in order to address damaged mobile devices.
But that isn’t the only service in Puls’ wheelhouse. The company also offers smart home device setup as well as TV mounting, and help generally arrives at your front door in less than 60 minutes. As Ronen noted, “TVs are getting bigger, smarter, and cheaper every year, thanks to advances in screen technology and manufacturing processes. Such large screens must be carefully and securely mounted on the wall.” Puls technicians promise “fast, reliable, professional TV installation, so you don’t drop your new TV, or drill into your wiring.”
And if your TV is a smart one, the company can help with that as well. Whether it’s setting up streaming features, connecting an audio system, or just figuring out how to get Alexa to talk to your new television set, the company can help.
Puls isn’t necessarily the only company that provides such services, however. For your phone repairs, there’s iCracked, which comes to your home or office to repair your smartphone or tablet. And there are a number of smartphone makers, including Samsung, that will offer the same convenience as well. That said, Puls seems to be one of the few companies that not only offers phone repairs, but a wide range of technical services as well. After all, if you’re smartphone-obsessed, chances are you have at least one smart home hub or other connected device in your home.
The company has technicians with the right parts for each job available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time, seven days a week, including holidays. Pricing is straightforward and can be found on the company website before you ever call a technician to your door, so you shouldn’t suffer from any sticker shock.
So if you’re in need of some on-demand repairs for your tech-savvy life, Puls may just be the service you’ve been waiting for. And to sweeten the deal, the company is offering customers a free tempered glass repair with the code “freeglass.”
- Atmos Smart Home will help all your smart devices work via a single interface
- Amazon ramps up Dash Button integration for super-quick ordering
- The best smart outlet deals to make your smart home even smarter
- Join the future and save cash with these discounted smart home bundles
- Here are 9 hot deals on a range of smart home devices
Time for an upgrade.
The PNY CS900 480GB internal solid state drive is down to $124.99 on Amazon. This is the lowest price we’ve seen on PNY’s CS900 series of solid state drives. It normally sells for $140 and has never dropped below that price, although it as gone as high as $160.
Every variation is on sale, too, so you should pick the size that’s best for you. The 120GB is on sale for $45 from $50. The 240GB is down to $70 from $75. And the 960GB is down to $230 from $250.
The CS900 is a relatively new lineup from PNY, a slight upgrade over the CS1311 SSD we’ve shared deals on before. It has sequential read and write speeds up to 550MB/s and 500MB/s. It also has very low power consumption and includes data migration software to transfer from your old drive to your new one.
See on Amazon
You’ve likely heard of big-name musicians banning smartphones at concerts, but Kendrick Lamar is taking things one step further. The superstar isn’t allowing any cameras during the European stint of his latest tour, including pro photographers. Yes, you won’t even have the opportunity to share official shots, let alone record the show with your phone. Lamar had allowed some pros during his North American gigs, but that’s apparently as far as he was willing to go.
The reasoning remains the same as with earlier smartphone bans (such as those at Dave Chappelle’s events). It’s partly about ensuring that fans are actually enjoying the concert rather than trying to record it all. And it might just drive ticket sales — you may be more likely to attend if you can’t just rely on a friend’s Instagram feed to see what you missed. There’s also the side benefit of keeping any missteps out of the limelight, although artists usually reserve that for warm-up gigs or one-off shows.
The difference, of course, is that most such bans still keep pros on hand to preserve some moments and create an ideal (if sterile) version of what happened. Here, Lamar is more of an egalitarian: if you can’t capture that live take on “Humble,” neither can the local promoters or news outlets. While we wouldn’t expect most artists to go this route (lesser-known musicians often thrive on the exposure), you might see it happen more often with artist big enough that a total camera ban only adds to their mystique.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are starting up but Pyeongchang won’t be the only place crowning champions. This week we’ve already seen Waymo win out over Uber in court; Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn, the most successful woman in eSports, was victorious in an Olympic-backed Starcraft 2 tournament; and Amazon came up with yet another way to dominate the delivery market — 2-hour Whole Foods deliveries. Numbers, because how else will you count the scorecards?
1,218: That’s how many UAVs lit up the night sky over the Olympic opening ceremony — or at least a projection of their aerial display did anyway. Turns out that Pyeongchang’s high winds and low temperatures aren’t ideal conditions for coordinated drone performances.
$50,000: That’s how much Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn won in the Intel Extreme Masters StarCraft 2 tournament hosted in Pyeongchang ahead of this weekend’s Winter Olympics.
0.34 percent: That’s how much of a stake in Uber Waymo now owns, roughly worth $245 million, having settled a lawsuit with its self-driving technology rival over some 14,000 illicitly-obtained trade secrets.
$500,000: That’s the purse size for Tencent’s upcoming Arena of Valor World Cup. The 10-player MOBA tournament will be held in Los Angeles this July.
$150: Buzz Aldrin wants you to make like Quaid and get your ass to Mars. He’d also very much like to sell you this here solar-powered backpack from Sprayground’s new “Mission to Mars” line to use when you get there.
2 hours: That’s how long you’ll have to wait for your groceries to arrive now that Whole Foods is offering Amazon Prime-style rapid delivery. The service is only available in certain neighborhoods in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach but will surely roll out to more cities in the months ahead. And then we’ll never have to leave our houses again.
30 years: We can’t all be winners, no matter what our moms tell us. Now these two guys, these two knuckleheads right here, who tried to steal $9,000 from an ATM using the hot new jackpotting technique? These guys are now set to spend up to the next three decades in prison.
Officials saw suspicious activity on Olympics systems during the 2018 winter games’ opening ceremony, and now it’s confirmed: it was a cyberattack. PyeongChang organizers have revealed that someone compromised services (including internet and TV) while athletes were on parade. Everything had been “resolved and recovered” by the 9th, spokesman Sung Baik-you said. He added that they knew the cause of the attack, but were “not going to reveal the source” after talking to the International Olympics Committee.
It’s tempting to point the finger at Russia. The country has been banned from the Winter Olympics over its doping program, and security researchers had found hints that Russia-based hackers might disrupt the games as retribution. Russia has already tried to head off accusations by claiming that the Western press will conduct “pseudo-investigations” without evidence, but its word carries limited weight when it has a history of denying all attacks regardless of proof. State-sponsored Russian hackers are known to have leaked athletes’ files in the wake of the 2016 summer games in Rio.
While North Korea is just 50 miles away from PyeongChang and has a reputation for state-sponsored hacks (including against the South), it doesn’t have much incentive to target the games. Its athletes are competing alongside those from the South, and it used the games to offer a summit between ruler Kim Jong-un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in. Any hacks on the North’s part would undermine that attempt at peace.
Whoever’s responsible, the cyberattack is a sign of the times: even a competition focused on global harmony isn’t immune from digital intruders, whether they’re private or government-backed. If anything, the high profile represents a prime opportunity for hackers to make a statement.
Like iOS devices, Macs, the Apple Watch, and the Apple TV, the HomePod will be updated with new software on a regular basis.
By default, updates are installed on your HomePod automatically, but there’s also a way to force an update if new software is released. Apple’s auto update function isn’t typically immediate, so it can sometimes be handy to have a way to manually install software.
Locating HomePod updates and checking on the software version you have installed is simple, but it’s not entirely intuitive because the update function is somewhat buried in the Home app.
Here’s how to get to it:
Open up the Home app.
Tap on the arrow in the upper left corner of the display.
Tap “Home Settings.”
Select “My Home” or “[My Name]’s Home” if you’ve changed the name of your HomeKit setup.
Scroll down to “Software Update.”
Pull down from the top of the iPhone or iPad screen to check for an update.
Once you’ve selected “Software Update,” you’ll be able to see the current version of the HomePod software that you have installed, and you can toggle off automatic updates if you want.
If there is an available update, you’ll just need to tap the “Install” button to update your HomePod. If you have multiple HomePods in your home, each one will be updated at the same time through this software update feature.
Related Roundup: HomePodBuyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums
One of the main uses for Siri on HomePod is to control your Apple Music collection. There are Siri voice commands for accessing content like playlists, genres, moods, liking or disliking songs, playing more music based on something you’ve heard, starting a new radio station, and much more.
Because the list of Siri commands is so extensive, this guide won’t be covering every possible option and genre supported by available through Siri, but it should serve as a good starting point when getting to know what exactly your HomePod can do with your Apple Music library.
Playlists and Library
Your playlists may be the content you’ll interact with most often in Apple Music, and Siri on HomePod can play any Apple Music playlist you’ve made in the past on an iOS device or Mac. Siri can also play Apple Music’s personally curated mix playlists.
For items in your library, use the “play my” command and Siri will play albums and songs already added to your library. For everything else, Siri will play any songs available on Apple Music, even if they aren’t in your library yet.
- “Hey Siri, play my Book Time playlist.”
- “Hey Siri, shuffle my Book Time playlist.”
- “Hey Siri, add this song to my Book Time playlist.”
- “Hey Siri, add this to my library.”
- “Hey Siri, play My New Music Mix.”
- “Hey Siri, play the A-List Pop playlist.”
- “Hey Siri, play my music from Sam Smith.”
- “Hey Siri, play the newest music from Vance Joy.”
Genres, Moods, and Radio
Siri can understand a wide range of commands requesting various musical genres and moods found in Apple Music. You can find some of these moods in Apple Music itself by navigating to the Browse tab, tapping Playlists, then looking through all of the Activities and Moods. You can also request songs based on decades, specific years, and exact dates. We’ve compiled a few examples below to get you started.
- “Hey Siri, play some recent pop music.”
- “Hey Siri, play some chill music.”
- “Hey Siri, play some romantic music.”
- “Hey Siri, play some music to dance to.”
- “Hey Siri, play the best songs from the ’90s.”
- “Hey Siri, play the top 10 songs from 1986.”
- “Hey Siri, play the top song from April 17, 1992.”
- “Hey Siri, create a radio station based on The Killers.”
Here are some examples of more keywords that you could enter into the above commands:
You’ll also find the same results for essentially every genre, like Country, Alternative, Blues, and others.
There are multiple commands you can relay to Siri to control music playback, with some examples below.
- “Hey Siri, play music.”
- “Hey Siri, pause.”
- “Hey Siri, skip this song.”
- “Hey Siri, skip forward 30 seconds.”
- “Hey Siri, jump back 10 seconds.”
- “Hey Siri, previous track.”
- “Hey Siri, raise/lower the volume.”
- “Hey Siri, increase the volume to 50 percent.”
- “Hey Siri, turn on repeat.”
- “Hey Siri, play Party in the USA.”
- “Hey Siri, I like/dislike this.”
- “Hey Siri, what song is this?”
- “Hey Siri, what was the last song called?”
- “Hey Siri, who sings this?”
- “Hey Siri, who is the drummer in this?”
- “Hey Siri, what year is this song from?”
- “Hey Siri, how many songs are on this album?”
- “Hey Siri, play more like this.”
- “Hey Siri, after this play Rolling in the Deep.”
- “Hey Siri, play some Florence and the Machine.”
- “Hey Siri, tell me more about this artist.”
- “Hey Siri, I want to hear the live version of this song.”
If you ever want to revisit the playlists and radio stations that Siri creates for you through voice commands on HomePod, head over to the For You tab in Apple Music. If you scroll down a bit, you should see “Recently Played” filled with the content that Siri played on HomePod.
If you have any other useful Siri commands we didn’t mention, be sure to share them in the comments.
Related Roundup: HomePodBuyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums
The stylish Mid-Century modern side table in the video above has a wonderfully minimal design that looks sweet in any setting. Better yet, it’s surprisingly easy to make, with a super-fast technique for assembling the box, and hairpin legs that simply screw on.
You can make the box in all sorts of dimensions: Square and sculptural, long and narrow with taller legs from that turn it into a hall or sofa table, or even wide and shallow as a desktop.
To bring the table to life, you can use one of the coolest woodworking tricks in the game — wrapping up a mitered box with packing tape. If you get all the angles right, you’ll get a gorgeous result with the wood grain wrapping seamlessly around the corners. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
Tools and Materials
- Wood slab (dimensions are up to you, but we used an 8″ by 6′ pine board, 1 inch thick)
- Hairpin legs (mounting screws included)
- Wood glue
- Packing tape
- Miter saw
To grasp the genius of the tape trick, you first need to understand that “miter” is an old-timey carpenter’s word for a 45-degree joint. Cut a 45-degree angle at the end of each piece, put them together, and you magically get a right angle.
Next, you need to understand how tricky it can be to clamp miters together. Gluey miters are slippery creatures. Carpenters typically just shoot a nail into the side of mitered trim to make sure it stay put, but nails don’t look that nice in furniture. That’s where this tape trick comes in.
After you cut 45-degree bevels on the end of the box parts, using a tablesaw or miter saw, you put all the pieces in a row, with the bevels facing down. Then you connect them all with packing tape, making sure they are lined up straight, and pulling the sharp tips of each miter close together as you go. Packing tape is perfect because it’s strong, it lets you look through it to see what’s going on, and it peels off afterward without leaving gunk on the wood. Press and rub the tape to get a good bond.
Next, you flip over the whole row so the bevels are facing up and the tape is on the bottom. It can be hard to flip all the pieces without the tape coming loose, but it helps a lot to pull them off the front edge of a table a little bit and hold a long stick against the top and bottom to keep the pieces aligned while you flip them.
Now brush some wood glue onto all the miters. These bevels are end grain, which tends to drink up a lot of glue, so put a little extra on if the joints look dry. Here comes the magic.
With the tape firmly in place, you can simply fold up the pieces to form the box, watching the tape pull all the corners tight. That just leaves one last corner to pull together, which you should do firmly, stretching more tape over it to lock that last joint.
Now leave the box for a few hours (or preferably an entire day) to let the glue dry. Then, peel away the tape and do your sanding and finishing before attaching the legs.
Keys to success
To get good results with the tape trick, you need to get a fews things really right about your box parts. First, the board you use needs to be perfectly straight, with square, parallel edges and uniform thickness. In other words, it needs to be milled and tablesawn by someone who knows what they’re doing. That might well be you, but it could also be the friendly folks at your local lumberyard. Better yet, find a hardwood dealer. They’ll have better boards and be more willing to mill and size them as needed.
Second, if you cut the miters with a sliding miter saw like we did, the board can only be as wide as your saw will cut, so check that first.
Once you’ve got a beautiful board that’s milled straight and true, the next big step is to get the cuts right. To get tight, strong joints, you’ll need opposite workpieces (top and bottom, left and right) to be exactly the same length, and the 45-degree angles to be dead-on. Get any of that wrong, and you’ll get gaps in your box.
Start with the miter saw. Before you start the project, give it a quick test by tipping it over to the 45-degree setting and making a couple cuts in a flat piece of scrap board — or better yet, a piece of plywood or MDF. After that, put the two the two mitered edges together and check the resulting corner with a square. If it’s not right, you’ll need to adjust your saw.
Additionally, you’ll need to get the parts cut to the right lengths. For a square box, that means all four sides should be perfectly equal. For a rectangle (like ours), all the opposing sides will need to match up (ours is one foot tall on the sides, and 1.5 feet long on the top and bottom). To make that happen, you’ll need to set up a stop on your miter saw or tablesaw.
Start by mitering one end of each workpiece. To make a stop for your miter saw, screw a long stick to the fence, and then screw a block somewhere along it to catch the mitered end you just cut. That will ensure that every workpiece you bump up against that stop comes out the same length.
To check your work, stand all the parts on edge and see if all of the joints come together okay. If they don’t, make some adjustments and recut the edges. If they do, enjoy that tape trick!
If everything goes wrong and the tape just isn’t applying enough pressure to pull the joints together, there’s a solution — but you’ll have to surrender and buy some clamps. Start by pulling the box apart and recutting the miters, then use band clamps like these from Rockler. Three should do the trick, putting tremendous pressure on the middle and near the edges.