5 Ways your smartphone could change your life

Olly Mann 

For better for worse, smartphones are starting to take over. Our resident Inspector Gadget, Olly Mann, is at hand to sort the problem solvers from the problem starters. 

Oral-B Genius 9000, £140

Oral-B brushes are fast and precise, with long-lasting batteries—I wouldn’t be without one. Sadly, I can’t say the same for their digital accessories. They used to offer a plastic LCD monitor that emitted a smiley face to indicate you were brushing ‘properly’: all a bit sinister, if you ask me.

Their new brush syncs to your smartphone, navigating an animated map of your teeth, so you know where to focus your attention. But why would you risk damaging your phone, by clamping it to your bathroom mirror, from where it may fall and break, just for this novelty feature?

An unfathomable ‘upgrade’ of an excellent toothbrush.


TrackR Bravo, £24.99

I dread to think how many hours each year I spend hunting for my keys, my phone or my TV remote control: usually, they’re right under my nose.

TrackR is a coin-sized, battery-operated device you attach to whatever you wish to track—even your cat’s collar, if you so desire. Then simply press a button in the accompanying app, and  the device bleeps until you hunt it down.

Or, if it’s your phone itself that you’ve lost (in which case the app would be of little use), the system works the other way round: press the button on the TrackR, and it rings your phone. Neat.


Apple iPhone 7, from £599

Another Autumn, another iPhone launch—though for all talk of ‘lightest ever’, ‘fastest ever’, ‘sharpest ever’ etc, many fundamental specs including size, weight and resolution remain almost identical to last year’s 6S.

Optical image stabilisation and water-resistant casing are new for iPhone7, but can be found on many premium Android devices already, while the much-hyped replacement of the headphone jack with ‘airpods’ (surely no-one will actually call their earphones that!?) is misguided.

I suspect most iPhone users won’t feel any rush to trade up—but for me, as a heavy-duty photo and podcast user, the double internal storage capacity is a temptation.


Apple App of the month: Nightgate, £2.99

nightgate app

It’s rare that I find myself describing a game as ‘beautiful’. But Nightgate is stunning: a simple puzzler, set in deep space, with throbbing neon obstacles and an original soundtrack of relaxing ambient trance.

Think Pac-Man, but if directed by Alfonso Cuarón and scored by Underworld. Hypnotic.


Android app of the month: Letgo, free

Second-hand bargain hunters seeking a specific item may discover only eBay has the range, reputation and sheer number of users to hook them up. But what if they just want to browse locally, without an auction?

Letgo is a like a virtual carboot sale, where you can search for nearby items, chat directly to the seller, negotiate a cash price, and meet up to exchange—all for free.


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