Super Bowl Ads 2010

Did you blink during the Super Bowl commercial breaks? Too bad if you did, because it means you may have missed the anemic number of gadget or tech-related commercials worth talking about tomorrow at the water cooler. But! Megan Fox!

Megan Fox is an obvious choice, for obvious reasons (if she’s your thing): She had a Motoblur, and we’re a gadget blog! See? Obvious. Anyway, tweeting from a tub on her new phone, she pondered what would happen if she sent a picture of her bathing out to the world. Hijinks ensued, people were hurt, and even a gay couple somehow got distracted by the fox that is Megan Fox:

And such is the power of Fox that there were scenes that didn’t make the final cut.

Then there was Beyonce, fresh off her Grammy performance, performing again for Vizio. Surrounded by Internet memes and celebrities, Twitter and what appeared to be an army of automobile assembly line robots (hopefully not ones from Toyota), she sang and sold that company’s Via/Internet Apps technology. Think Internet on your HDTV, not because I say so or because that’s exactly what it is, but because that’s the message Vizio assaulted viewers with during the 60-second clip:

Tough love was the story for Intel’s Jeffrey the Robot. The commercial was supposedly for Intel’s Core processor line, but I know the truth: Robot uprising. It 20 years’ time we can all look back at this commercial, when poor Jeffrey was snubbed For The Last Time by his human overlords:

Lastly, there’s one we actually covered yesterday. Google. Its poignant ad about a search-happy boy in love with a French girl aired yesterday, on the Internet, which is probably fitting. We’ll revisit it again here if you missed it tonight:


Personally, for me the ads were a bit stale this year. Even the Bud Light beer ads, which have made me laugh out loud on occasion in years past, felt a little tired. Betty White was a standout though, and there were back-to-back ads depicting grown men in their underwear. Possibly a first there. Also a first: Seeing a two-timing baby talk about eTrade while his “milk-a-holic” girl on the side blew up his shit over a webcam.

The one Bud Light ad I will give props to, however, was their Autotune bit. It’s a stretch including here on Gizmodo, but we have a history with that app (iPhone, anyone?), and we’ll take an opportunity here to thank Budweiser for hopefully killing the tech off for good with this Super Bowl ad:

OK, I admit it, I smiled a bit watching that a second time. Guilty.

The entire crop is over at YouTube in one convenient package (Fox’s is notably absent at the moment, although they appear to be updating throughout the night).


iPhone OS 3.1.3 goes live

iPhone OS 3.1.3

Grab your USB to 30-pin dock connector cable kids, Apple has released iPhone OS 3.1.3 to iTunes for your downloading pleasure. It doesn’t look like 3.1.3 is going to knock your socks off, but hey, an update is an update, right? Here is a list of what’s new according to Apple:

  • Improves accuracy of reported battery level on iPhone 3GS
  • Resolves issue where third-party apps would not launch in some instances
  • Fixes bug that may cause an app to crash when using the Japanese Kana keyboard

Let us know in the comments if you find any other improvements/changes.


HTC Incredible caught on video rocking Snapdragon, Android 2.1 with Sense UI, and Verizon bands

The verdict’s still out on whether or not it’ll live up to its namesake, but the HTC Incredible is now officially out in the wild and surfing on Verizon’s frequencies. Pocketnow managed to obtain a few details along with a batch of leaked photos and video, so here’s what we’re being told: Snapdragon processor, Android 2.1 with Sense UI, 256MB of RAM, optical mouse pointer, and dual LED flash for the camera. The screen’s about 3.5 or 3.7 inches, WVGA resolution and possibly AMOLED. Traditionally shaky video reveal after the break.


Someone taught Kim how to use a Blackberry

Context is the killer application for mobile

We live in a world of diverse mobile devices. Laptops, smartphones and everything in between define the mobile experience of the 21st century. But what is the killer application for mobile computing? We all know the theory of killer apps — they’re the reason and the purpose people invest in new devices. The killer app in the early days of PCs was the VisiCalc spreadsheet. PageMaker and the creation of desktop publishing were the killer apps for the GUI-based PC, most notably the Macintosh. But for mobile, it’s not as clear; some people think the killer app for mobile is email, while other say it’s the mobile web. Personally, I don’t think there’s one specific killer application — I think the killer app for mobile is simply context.

Historically, we’ve tailored the devices we use to the places where we are. We distinguished between business users and consumer users because the functionally required was often tied to the location the user was sitting. Mobility was often dead space. People found ways to distract themselves during travel time, and were generally disconnected when out and about. Today, the mobile space is connected, and that

makes it quite unique: it’s neither home or work, work nor play. Your context shifts rapidly depending on what you’re doing, where you are, and what devices or devices you may be carrying — in our age of digital ubiquity, you can access the relevant information, either personal or professional, wherever you are, on whatever screen you choose. Delivering the contextual information users need, when they need it, is what’s critical — not any particular application or service.

Context contradicts conventional wisdom. For one thing, feeds and speeds are no longer the defining metrics for value. The fastest and most powerful laptop won’t do much for a user on the road if it weighs 10 pounds and gets barely an hour of battery life — or can’t open in a coach seat on a plane. By contrast, the ability to check email, browse the web or listen to music doesn’t matter if your phone won’t make a call when you need it to. Smart vendors will learn technology applied to context for users is what matters — especially since I think there’s an upper limit on the number of devices most people will carry with them at any given time. As I’ve said in the past, for most of us that’s two, with a maximum of three.

It’s time to be liberated and connected. The dream is real — now it’s time to see more devices execute and deliver the vision.

Entelligence is a column by technology strategist and author Michael Gartenberg, a man whose desire for a delicious cup of coffee and a quality New York bagel is dwarfed only by his passion for tech. In these articles, he’ll explore where our industry is and where it’s going — on both micro and macro levels — with the unique wit and insight only he can provide.

By Michael Gartenberg
[Image via Celebrity BlackBerry Sightings]


How To Dry Out (and Hopefully Save) Wet Electronics

2010HomeHackspostBadge.jpgCell phones, mp3 players, GPS units, gaming handhelds…we often travel with these invaluable digital companions wherever we go. The trade-off is you’ve always got something to worry about. How many of us have found ourselves losing our beloved cell phone? Or worse, dropped and broken a handheld device. Possibly the worst “Oh #$@&!” moment is dropping something into water, as this seems to practically guarantee you’re buying a replacement. But if you’re quick enough, you may be able to throw one last Hail Mary and revive your digital device from the brink of death.


What You Need

1 small deep depth bowl
1-2 cups of rice
Rubbing alcohol
Anti-static cleaning cloth (1 of our 8 essentials)


1. First thing you want to do is remove/disassemble any removable parts, most significantly the battery unit. Taking your device apart will allow you for easier and quicker drying, since the first thing you want to do is remove any surface moisture. Use an anti-static cleaning cloth like the ones used by photographers, which not only prevents any electrical damage, but won’t leave any residue.

2. Fill a deep cereal or soup bowl with rice. Any rice will do, but white rice will probably work the best since the hull has been removed, which allows for better moisture sucking powers (we’re a brown-rice household, so we had to make due). Place your device, off/disassembled inside the bowl, with all parts covered and leave overnight.

3. By morning, your device should be mostly dry inside and out. But to really make sure you’ve removed all moisture, you’re going to do something seemingly crazy: you’re going to soak your device in rubbing alcohol. This will help expedite the removal any lingering moisture within your device.

4. Leave device 1-3 days to completely dry in a moderate temperature, low humidity environment. If you’re lucky, after this dry out time, you’ll be able to power up your device and invest in a waterproof case and an extended warranty.


This Week’s Best iPhone Apps

In this week’s world dominating iPhone app roundup: Your every whim, robotically indulged! Radio champagne, poured generously! Football stuff, assimilated! Your computers, turned into wirelessly controlled zombies! Death foods, avoided! And more..

Siri: Speech recognition apps recognize speech. Search apps search. Concierge apps consolidate services. Siri does all of the above:

To use the iPhone app, you just have to say aloud a command like “Book a table for six at 7pm at McDonalds” (I’m sure you’re classier than that, but let’s stick with it for now), and then using speech-recognition technology and the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, your command is translated and processed by the app, responding with confirmation of booking-or lack of availability.

The app is paired with OpenTable, MovieTickets, StubHub, CitySearch and TaxiMagic, and recognizes a respectable number of commands with surprising accuracy. Success seem to vary voice to voice, and some types of requests seem to have a higher success rate than others, but really, just find out for yourself—it’s free, and very impressive.

Where Is My Phone: While this app’s name implies that it has some kind of phone-finding capability, Kyle discovered very quickly that this app is fundamentally about farts. And other noises! But mostly farts:

Turning your iPhone into a remote controlled whoopee cushion is what I had in mind. Little Worlds, the makers of the app, apparently also had it in mind, including more than one variety of fart among the dozen or so sound effects included with the download.

Here’s what’s going on: “Where is my Phone” listens for your whistle and then plays the sound effect of your choice (or your own recorded soundbite) when it hears it. The makers claim it can recognize you Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah-ing from up to 30 meters away, and I had no trouble in activating sirens, explosions and the rest just by whistling on the other side of the room.

Not bad for a buck, athough you’ll have to get comfortable with the prospect of planting your iPhone, which is not cheap, in various risky places for sound gags, which decidedly are. Anyway, far be it from me to put a price tag on a good fart joke.

MotionX GPS Drive: Once upon a time, a homely little app called MotionX GPS was described on this site as “Hands Down the Best Value In GPS Apps”. Now, our biggest complaints about the app—its somewhat clunky UI and lack of landscape mode—have been remedied. Says Wilson:

All in all, it’s a palpable improvement for a worthwhile product, especially one so durned cheap. That’s right, it’s still just $1, with $3/month or $25/year turn-by-turn voice service. You may hate GPS navigators, you may even hate GPS apps, but if you are on vacation and you don’t have this app-at the very minimum, that is-you are just crazy.

See, in the App Store, three bucks buys you a decent novelty soundboard, or, you know, that cross-country road trip you’ve been aching to take your whole life.

Logitech Touch Mouse: Air Mouse Pro is one of the coolest apps in the App Store. With it, you can control your computer’s mouse, enter text via the iPhone keyboard, run apps, control media—it basically turns your iPhone into a wireless control center for your laptop or desktop, without the awkward experience of using a full VNC client. Logitech Touch Mouse is that, except with just the mouse and the keyboard. So, 75% of the functionality, for 0% of the price.

NewEgg: To have built a PC in the last decade is to love NewEgg. Now they have a free app, which, if downloaded, raises your risk of impulse-buying a new Mini ITX power supply buy roughly 400%.

Don’t Eat That: There’s a tremendous concept here that’s not fully realized. What Don’t Eat That can do now is tell you what pretty much any listed ingredient on a food label is, and perhaps whether or not it coincides with some allergenic, philosophical or preferential objection you have. It also introduces you to new reasons not to eat specific ingredients. (They’re carcinogenic, bad for kids, etc.)

What it can’t do, though, is take a single food item and break it down for you, which is what it feels like this app is reaching for. If you have the patience to enter ingredients individually, and don’t mind an app that errs (way) on the side of caution with some of its recommendations, you’ll get a lot of use out of this thing.

This American Life: This American Life is the best thing on the radio right now. (ATTENTION RADIOLAB FANS: You will have failed if this statement nets me less than 20 hate mail letters.) So when I say that the TAL iPhone app does nothing but play you lots and lots of WBEZ’s flagship show, I mean that in the best way possible. Half of what you’re paying for here is utility: you can access any and all TAL shows whenever you want, as well as live streams. The other half of what you’re paying for here is the show itself: anyone who’s listened to their podcast over the last few years knows it costs them a lot of money, and this app is intended to help pick of the bandwidth tab, at least a little. To this end, it helps that it’s very, very good. $3.

Assassin’s Creed 2: Takes the franchise into somewhat odd side-scrolling territory, but manages the transition well. If you have trouble with onscreen controls in general, maybe pass on this one. If you don’t, and you’re an AC fan, it’s worth a look. [via TouchArcade]

Super Bowl XLIV Official Program: As many people as watch the Super Bowl, I have my doubts about how many actually purchase a hard copy of the official game program. Programs are for plays, or foreign films, or your daughter’s dance recital! This is football! (This is something a football fan would say, right?)

Anyhow, this is that print program, adapted for the iPhone. It’s five bucks, packed with photos, historical context, stats and fresh editorial content. Warning: there is roughly a 50% chance (feel free to debate that figure in the comments) that you’ll hate this app come Sunday.

This list is in no way definitive. If you’ve spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us a heads up or, better yet, your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favorite iPhone Apps Directory and our original iPhone App Review Marathon. Have a swell weekend everybody.


Motorola Droid gets official multitouch support — in Google Maps, anyway

When it rains, it pours, huh, Google? Not even a week after announcing the big multitouch update for its own Nexus One, Google has turned loose a new version of Google Maps that enables pinch-to-zoom support on the Droid. Of course, it was no secret that Android 2.0 had the framework in place to support this kind of stuff — Moto enabled it all by its lonesome on the Euro-spec Milestone — but it looks like this could be the watershed moment where multitouch finally becomes a must-have feature on Android devices across the board, as Moto CEO Sanjay Jha recently suggested would happen. The new version 3.4’s available as a software update in the Market right now, so grab it if you’ve got your Droid handy.