Secret, the anonymish app du jour that’s enabling iOS users to thrill their own friends and people in their social circles by saying stuff freely, without having their own identity attached to the information they are sharing, is coming to Android in “a few weeks”.
The ETA for the Secret Android app was revealed backstage at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, by the… Read More
TechCrunch » Android
San Francisco-based Boreas Gear, Inc. is funding its latest product through Kickstarter, in an attempt to build a modular pack system that provides three bags in one. If you’re a bag enthusiast like myself (that might not be a real thing but I still have tons of them) then you’ll appreciate the idea of a simple system that makes it easy to covert a single frame into a daypack, waterproof bag and simple hydration/light carry bag quickly and easily.
The SF-based team founded Boreas Gear in 2010, with the intent of designing packs centered around versatility and good design. Founder and Creative Director Tae Kim has a design background and grew up in Alaska, where he spent plenty of time in the great outdoors. The bootlegger is designed to be the perfect companion for a whole host of outdoor activities.
Besides offering the three different pack configurations, it also boasts something called “Super-Tramp Suspension” which uses pull-straps to shift the weight carried in the pack either closer to or farther away from the back, making it possible to adjust it perfectly for either hiking or biking on the fly. If you’ve owned a specialized biking pack, then you know that the added breathing room can really come in handy, especially on longer rides.
The Super-Tramp Suspension system can then be used interchangeably with three pack tops, including the Torpedo, the Hopper and the Scrimshaw. The Torpedo is a lightweight hydration pack, which can be outfitted with a water bladder to keep you from getting thirsty on long rides or trail runs without adding too much weight. The Hopper is a daypack that has plenty of room for a lunch and gear for a full day on the mountain and the Scrimshaw is a completely submersible waterproof bag, perfect for rain, snow, or use in watersports like canoeing or kayaking.
The system is designed to be used either with any individual bag or with all three, and the project has already blown past its $ 10,000 funding goal. Boreas Gear has been designing and manufacturing packs for years now, so there’s relatively little risk in terms of the company delivering on its planned July ship date. Pledges for bags start at $ 65 for the frame + a single pack and range up depending on what options you’re interested in.
TechCrunch » Gadgets
A new treatment applied to cotton called PNIPAAm can make the material absorb up to 340% of its own weight in water from misty air and then release it as temperatures heat up. This makes it ideal for gathering water in desert and mountain environments. By comparison, untreated cotton can absorb only 18% of its weight in water.
Created by researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the coated cotton can grab water from misty air, store it, and then release it. The water remains pure and unadulterated by the cotton. The process is repeatable again and again and the polymer can be applied to any cotton material.
The process, sometimes called fog harvesting, mirrors the system used by some beetles that collect water on their shells which then roll into their mouths. At low temperatures, the cotton fiber remains wide open and receptive to moisture. Once the temperaure rises above 34 degrees Celius, the cotton contracts and becomes hydrophobic, thereby releasing the clean water. The creators expect this to work well in agricultural uses but could be useful to collect water overnight in hot environments or create wicking clothing for athletes.
According to a release on Eurekalert, the material isn’t expensive to produce and the researchers are working on ways to optimise the new material for everyday use. Perhaps the Stillsuit is closer than even the Bene Gesserit witch expected?
TechCrunch » Gadgets
Google is bringing the Nexus 4 to another carrier in the UK, expanding availability to Three after debuting the device with O2 as its initial partner in that country. The Android 4.2-powered smartphone will be available starting December 13 on Three, either on a £35 per month contract with an upfront cost of just £29 on the One Plan (unlimited data and high on-network text and talk limits, but with a two-year contract), or pre-paid for £399.99.
The added carrier partner comes just one month after the Nexus 4′s official launch, which saw quick sell-outs in the UK and the rest of the world. Google’s latest smartphone seems to be experiencing either very high demand, very short supply, or a combination of both (although new reports claim shipping times have improved), so it’s interesting to see Google expand availability so quickly.
The Nexus 4 should offer fairly good speeds on Three’s DS-HSDPA network, but the hack revealed this morning that allows users to manually enable LTE on the device will do Three customers no good. Even when Three’s planned 1800MHz LTE network begins to roll out, it won’t be compatible with the Nexus 4′s AWS LTE band support. Of course, that feature’s still not technically even official, and the phone is still among the best options for Android devices out there. The interesting thing will be to see how many people opt to buy through carriers, versus getting cheaper outright prices direct through Google and bringing it to the network of their choice.
TechCrunch » Gadgets
Turns out there are an awful lot of phablet fans out there. More than three million, in fact, have lined up to cram Samsung’s latest smartphone-cum-tablet, the Galaxy Note II, in their oversized pockets. It took 37 days for the device to pass three million sales. The Korean mobile maker originally confirmed these figures to AP, and has also now confirmed them to TechCrunch.
The Note II was released initially in South Korea in September, with sales to other markets — including the U.S. and the U.K. — kicking off in October.
The three million figure is a 3x ramping up of early sales of the original Galaxy Note, which shipped around one million units in its first month of sale (albeit, this was prior to its U.S. launch) — underlining how Samsung has not only pioneered the phablet category, but succeeded in building serious momentum for enormo-phones.
For some context, Apple sold more than five million of its latest iPhone 5 in its first weekend of sales. The iPhone 5′s screen size is not in the phablet category but is slightly larger than previous iPhones — 4 inches vs. 3.5 inches — a sign of the big pull Samsung’s big phones are having on the smartphone market.
Yesterday, Apple kicked off sales of its new smaller form factor tablet, the iPad Mini — a device that in no small part also owes its existence to Samsung’s Note devices, being both a counter strategy to mini tablets such as the Google Nexus but also enormo-phones like the Note.
TechCrunch » Gadgets