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Third-Party Extensibility Thrives in iOS 8

Decrypted: Apple Drops its Guard

Make no mistake: what we’re witnessing right now is the beginning of a new Apple. The company that showed itself during the WWDC 2014 keynote is dramatically different from the Apple of years past, a company that had maintained a legendary wall around its wares, demanding that users either do things their way or go elsewhere. And if I had to guess, I’d wager that most of you reading this stand to benefit yesterday’s shift.

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Power plus space, all in one case

Tested: Mophie Space Pack

Mophie’s Space Pack for the iPhone 5/5s combines extra battery power with up to 32GB of additional storage, promising to fixing two of the phone’s biggest shortcomings in one convenient package.

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Masters in Mobile

Best Smartphones

We know what you’re thinking. Making three picks for the best smartphone of 2013 instead of crowning one ultimate winner is a total cop out. But our job here was clear: highlight innovations that benefit us all as users of smartphones. If there’s one defining comment to draw from our award winners below, it’s that a deliberate collaboration between hardware and software is critical to creating an excellent mobile device. Each of our Best Smartphone picks — the Nokia Lumia 1020, the Motorola Moto X and the iPhone 5s — pushes the boundaries of consumer technology and attempts to redefine the mobile experience in its own way.

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They're calling

Dialed In: 10 Best Smartphones Available Now

There was a time when shopping for a cell phone was ridiculously simple. You’d waltz into the nearest Radio Shack, browse through a handful of demo devices anchored onto the wall, and spend a good four to five Benjamins on a BlackBerry 8700 or RAZR V3 (or the Nokia with the changeable covers, which was awesome). What hasn’t changed: we’re enslaved to our mobile devices. What has: the field of competitors.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen new entries from every major smartphone manufacturer spread across all four mobile platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and believe it or not, BlackBerry. The result for you: choosing the right smartphone can be an overwhelming decision at the moment. Well, we took the liberty of breaking down the top handsets on the market to help simplify the process. Here are the 10 smartphones worthy of your upgrade.

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Call for backup

Five Alive: 5 Best iPhone 5 Battery Cases

Doubling battery life is a no-brainer. Options run the gamut for solutions to Apple’s latest quick-to-die wonder — and we really mean run the gamut. It’s a bit of the Wild West in the battery case world at the moment, so start here with our five best selections, then do your homework and make sure what you choose will get you what you want.

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Strut the cord

Eastern Collective Textile Cables

No matter how hard the Wachowski “siblings” fantasize about it, the world’s still not binary. So why should your cable choices be limited to black and white?

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Apogee Folded iPhone Case

“Smooth and supple” may not make you think of an iPhone case. Snap out of your depraved daydream, sicko, and feast your eyes on the Apogee Folded iPhone Case ($45). That’s one sweet, sweet piece of stone-oiled leather; no stitches here, just folds and tucks. Beating it up just creates a personalized patina. The case is handmade in Vancouver and fits both the iPhone 4S and 5. For this price, you should probably get it in both black and umber.

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Just in case

Putting SYSTM Smartphone Cases to the Test

A tsunami of protective cases soon follows every major smartphone release. Some are functional, some are stylish — but few are both, and most are forgettable. So when we were offered a trio of new cases from SYSTM to try out on an iPhone 5, we were understandably skeptical. A month of testing has proven…

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Grow a Pear

Pear Mobile

The holidays are here again. Time for family, friends and wondering what to do when Grandma pulls that five-stick-o-butter apple pie hot and fresh from the oven. Finding ourselves wedged between the gorging holidays with New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, we’ve all hopefully considered some version of an exercise regimen. Personal trainers, however,…

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Excuse me sir... Your butt is flashing

Monocle

Riding your bike in the dark on city streets is an activity best reserved for those with a death wish. The Monocle is an inexpensive and ingenious way to avoid becoming street pizza. You’ve spent plenty of money on your iPhone; why not use it as a bike light, too? The Monocle, which is made…

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Five Alive

Apple iPhone 5

Let’s face it, not much was kept secret about Apple’s latest iPhone — so let’s start with what the geekosystem didn’t already know. The new device is powered by an A6 chip that doubles the speed and graphics processing of the iPhone 4S. Like Amazon’s recent Kindle Fire HD, so-called “ultra fast wireless” is onboard,…

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#backtothefuture

Kickstarter: Impossible Instant Lab

Instagram may be the Polaroid of the iPhone generation, but who says you can’t take your filters and print them too? The global film stewards at

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Put it in a cork

Officeoriginair Table Island

You do the pocket dump every day after work… keys, wallet, smartphone, coins, sunglasses, knife, watch, etc. And somehow, they all end up in different places causing you to scramble the next morning. Well, you can park your precious EDC in the simple but ingenious Office Originair Table Island (~$49), which doesn’t just house your…

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Stopping time

Timekeeping: How to Take Better Watch Photos

A man dressed in an all brown uniform just dropped off the “grail” watch on your “work” from home day. You feverishly tear the packaging open and hold up the culmination of your hope and dreams as if it were a cub named Simba. Spending two months of salary on this iconic piece of horological…

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Is that a Deadmaus in your pocket?

iRig Mix

The new iRig Mix ($100) is packaged with the promise of portable party prowess to help you move the crowd. Whether you’re only rocking an iPhone, or packed your iPad too, IK Multimedia’s latest iTool will process your playlists and allow you to scratch and fade with any iOS device. Twist some knobs to fiddle…

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National Parks? There's an app for that.

National Geographic National Parks App

A wise man uses his smartphone on vacation for rare occasions only — ok, and maybe some Angry Birds slingin’, too. The National Parks app by National Geographic (free, $1 per park guide) has us reconsidering that though. With its comprehensive and stunningly beautiful design, exploring 20 of America’s most popular parks has never been…

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Math Faster

Rechner Calculator App

Bean counting has never been our strong suit, which is why we studied our 12c and TI instruction manuals like a boss back in the day. As technology progressed, we thought our math skills on the iPhone were still pretty snappy, until we came across the Rechner Calculator. The uber-sleek design is what draws users…

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Third time's a charm

2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

If you know anything about the compact MPV known as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, you’d know that previous generations have been, um, less than thrilling. Well, that’s all changed with the 2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, a complete reworking that’s simply beautiful. Mercedes-Benz hopes this new version will make the A-class world class and push sales into the…

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Apper up!

MLB At Bat 12

A new season of baseball is upon us and with it comes the latest update to one of our all time favorite apps. In its latest iteration, MLB.com At Bat 12 delivers the avalanche of baseball stat goodness you’ve come to expect, but is now available on the iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle — seriously,…

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Liberty City goes mobile

Grand Theft Auto III for iOS & Android

The game that changed the gaming industry and inflamed parents across the globe thanks to its unabashed encouragement of senseless violence recently turned 10. To celebrate, Rockstar has re-released the classic for newer iOS (iPhone & iPad) and Android devices for a shocking price of $5. Essentially it’s the same experience most will remember, just…

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Roll up and roll out

Restoration Hardware Rollup Travel Charger

Highlighting electronics accessories from a company like Restoration Hardware will always be a little difficult for us, since making furniture that both Dr. Evil and Dr. Jones could feel comfortable decorating their offices with is clearly their main focus. Still, this tasteful roll up travel charger ($50) packs too much convenience in such a classic-looking…

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Got my eye on you

Swivl

It may look like another plastic iPhone dock, but the Swivl ($160) is anything but. Pairing a motorized base and wearable marker the Swivl can pivot, turn and tilt a cradled iOS device to follow a subject — keeping subjects within its field of view — using motion tracking technology. That means, video chats, sports,…

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Double Duty

Twelve South PlugBug

The third rule of Roadgo Dynamics dictates that the more gadgets you own, the more power cables you’re saddled with when it’s time to travel. Upon your arrival, finding enough available wall outlets is then about as easy as telling your better half she’s gained weight. The fine mac accessory makers at Twelve South have…

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Bedstand Meets Bandstand

West Elm Parsons Audio End Table

One serious benefit of Apple’s decision to revamp only the guts of the new iPhone is that all of the iPhone 4 cases, accessories, and peripherals received an extended lease on life. West Elm’s new Parsons audio end table ($400) has an integrated dock for charging your precious iPhone or iPod and it’s apparently compatible…

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Giddily Gutted

Apple iPhone 4S

Oh the torture! Our Pavlovian anticipation for a new iPhone every 12 months has been pushed to the limits this go around, especially after being teased earlier this summer about what to expect from iOS 5 (which, FYI will be available to all current iPhone 4 owners October 12th). Now the news is out and…

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Tower Records

Revo K2 Digital Radio

Shrouded in gleaming aluminium and molded rubber, the Revo K2 ($470) tower not only out-looks other, plebeian docks, but also offers access to virtually every radio signal under the sun including old-fashioned over-the-air and internet streaming stations including last.fm. Perfect for your morning dose of NPR. Besides a dearth of plastics, the K2 also features…

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In Control

Logitech Harmony Link

There are a handful of companies out there already trying to turn your smartphone or tablet into the universal remote of your dreams, but none of them has the home theater chops of Logitech. Now, after years of making the best universal remotes out there for the average consumer, the company’s new Harmony Link ($99)…

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Like Netflix for Movie Theaters

MoviePass

MoviePass is a brand new startup hoping to revolutionize the way film addicts get their regular dose o’ big screen. For $50 bucks a month, clients can enjoy an unlimited number of movies. Everything works via an app, which is available for both Android and iOS users. Through it, users can reserve seats and simply…

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Pick Floyd

Kickstarter: Air Guitar Move

Don’t feel like shelling out 6 large for this but own an iPhone? Well, there’s a Kickstarter Project for that: the Air Guitar Move. Using a tethered pick equipped with a motion sensor, the Air Guitar Move allows you to unleash you inner Jimmy Page (sans the actual axe) by strumming in the air while…

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There's an App for That Too

iHealth

When you were a young boy, you could eat eight hot dogs at dinner, sleep two hours, run around for 12 hours without stopping, break your arm and heal in about fifteen minutes. As we mature that changes, and we are introduced to words like metabolism, prostate, ROTH IRA and hypertension. And in this culture…