Can Apple, Google, and Samsung Make Tech Fashionable?

Sponsored by Appinions

Wearable tech has been abuzz among the tech, fashion, and consumer communities lately. Innovations in smartphones, smart watches, and other wearable accessories with technological purposes are beginning to infiltrate the market with interesting dynamics, as seen in a recent study conducted by the influence analytics firm Appinions. It seems companies like Google and Apple have much more planned for us – it’s just the beginning.

With the recent rollout of a campaign for the Galaxy Gear smart watch, Samsung impressed many with the functionality of its new wrist wear – but beyond the tech obsessed, will we really wear it? I need it to look better than that – I hardly turn my phone off enough as it is. Convince me, Samsung. Romance me.

Regardless of my opinions of the aesthetics of the watch featured in the video, it seems there may be another version in circulation. Oscar de la Renta’s PR star Erika Bearman recently Instagrammed a Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch belonging to Hannah Bronfman, so whether or not the design is stylish in itself, the functionality is taking precedence, at least for some influencers. To be fair, Hannah’s white and metal version out-fashions the other iterations on view in Samsung’s TV and YouTube spots – they’d be wise to showcase the best looking versions.

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In regards to Google Glass, model Coco Rocha wasn’t too shy to voice her qualms about it when testing the product for PCMag (not a fashion magazine, obviously), not least of which the awkwardness of the glasses. They’re not exactly stylish, nor discreet. But Google is upping other cool factors, like the introduction of the music function interaction, and earbuds designed to work specifically with Google Glass, maybe to make up for it. They’re still frighteningly obvious as a piece of wearable tech, and not necessarily a fashion piece, so there’s still work to be done. Maybe Linda Farrow should swoop in and collaborate with Google on a truly stylish pair – Linda Farrow has already proven to play well with others, and Google could use a boost of chic.

Apple seems to have taken note of the need for wearable tech to also be fashion – after all, it scooped up execs from both Burberry and YSL in the past year, Angela Ahrendts and Paul Deneve, respectively and impressively. Though we haven’t seen the fruits of Apple’s wearable tech labor just yet, they’ve filed for trademark rights on the iWatch in Japan, so you can bet it’s coming, especially since Apple CEO Tim Cook finds the wrist “interesting.” It’s something he has in common with many a fashion designer, though perhaps for different reasons. Still, maybe they should have a chat. Personally I’m holding out for an iWatch that calls to mind the timelessness of a Tank or Ballon Bleu. So Apple, it’s like I told Samsung: Impress me. I love to be courted with pretty things.

One piece of wearable tech that caught on functionally and stylishly is Nike’s FuelBand – it’s meant to be sporty, so the appropriately sporty aesthetic is chic – it fits where it’s supposed to, especially in this time we’re in with sneakers (albeit the right ones) as appropriate footwear at, and not just to the office or drinks. We’re also so obsessed with our own stats; it fits right into society’s current interests and aesthetics. Right place, right time.

The most obviously fashionable of all tech collaborations has to be the CFDA’s eBay collaboration on USB bracelets with designers like Mara Hoffman, Michael Bastian, Milly, Rachel Zoe, and Shipley & Halmos. Though functionally simplistic, they are wearable tech, and fashion focused. We just have to get the high tech guys working with the high fashion ones.

I’m rooting for you, tech giants. In the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work.”

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A Few New Sprint-Powered SmartPhones For All Personalities

It used to be easy to pick the cool smartphone. In a world of BlackBerrys, anybody with an iPhone was suddenly a rock star. Not anymore. Apple’s still around, of course, but it has a world of serious competition where once it stood alone. I had a couple of mobile-device experts from Sprint drop by the office recently with a six-pack and a bunch of phones. We sipped Brooklyn Lager and played with the latest and greatest devices from HTC, Samsung, and Kyocera, but not Apple. Why not? Because Apple only allows dedicated Apple reps to demo their toys. Probably something about "staying on message" and "not drinking beer while working" and other corporate stuff. Okay, we’ll focus on Apple’s competitive set for now, whose shiny new devices seem perfectly tailored to various personality types. Which smartphone is right for you? Keep reading and find out. (Oh, in case I forget to mention: in addition to all the cool things these devices do, they’re also phones, so you can do that old fashioned talking-on-the-phone thing, just like they did in the ’50s, you retro creature.)

The Music Master

Whether you’re crazy for the latest tunes or just a sucker for the classics, the Sprint HTC One (pictured at top) will keep you rocking wherever you are–so pay attention when you’re crossing the street. With Sprint’s Truly Unlimited data plan, you can go nuts on Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Slacker, Hype Machine, and any other musical service you can dream of. Best of all, it has dual front-facing speakers and a built-in amp for the best stereo sound from a phone so far. But I think the marketing materials are pushing it a little when they suggest you "set it up in the park or on a rooftop for a perfect mini stereo without any accessories." I listened to it and the sound quality is great for what it is, but you won’t be kicking off any impromptu raves in Tomkins Square Park without some external speakers–and a noise permit. You can get this phone for $200 with a two-year contract. Hack off another hundo if you bring your number from another carrier. They like that. 

Samsung S4

The Photo Fan

Cameras on phones are the coolest idea ever, but only now are they getting good enough to eliminate the need for a standalone camera. Yes, the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S4 is a dream machine for people who like to snap pictures of the weirder things in life, then immediately edit and share them with anybody who cares. It has a 13 megapixel camera, which is big enough to capture crystal-clear poster-sized images of your dog doing something meme-worthy. It has picture-in-picture functionality for video chatting and concert bootlegging, a 5-inch screen for full HD photo and video, and "NFC capability" which allows you to share photos and videos by touching two Galaxy S4’s together. Kinky! It costs $250 with a two-year contract, and of course they’ll spot you a C-note if you’re leaving another carrier crying in your wake. In my own experience, the Samsung is the closest thing there is to being the "next iPhone." It’s what all the cool kids have these days. 

Granola Phone

The Granola Guru

You like the great outdoors, man? Hiking in the mountains, swimming in streams, living off the fat of the land? Then the Sprint Kyocera Torque is your phone. It’s got all that high-tech Android stuff that any modern device will have, but it’s about fifty times tougher. According to its makers, it’s designed for THE EXTREME (all caps), meaning you can drop it from a height of 5’9" and it will be fine. Hey, that’s my height. You can rest it on my head and tickle me. If I flinch, no damage done. Also, it’s dust and waterproof. How waterproof? I don’t know, I wouldn’t go scuba diving with the thing, but you could probably leave it in your pocket when you ride the log flume without living out some Shakesperean tragedy when you retrieve it. There’s also the Sprint Guardian app, which lets you stalk your family zero in on your family members’ exact locations with the push of a button. As tough as this phone is, it’s easier on the wallet, running for $100 with a two-year agreeement. And that old chestnut still applies: If you leave your former carrier devastated and alone, they’ll give you the thing for free. 

There are other toys too, like the Jetsetter – Virgin Mobile Overdrive Pro 3G/4G Hotspot, which allows up to five people to connect to a mobile wifi hotspot at just five bucks a day (suck it, outrageous hotel wifi fees). But these are the ones that leapt out at me during the demo. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when people bragged about having "car phones." These things are as bleeding edge as they come. Pick one up before you’re left behind. 

[Related: Sprint Official Site; BlackBook New York Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Holy Ghost! Plays at Samsung Galaxy S III Launch Party

Thanks a lot, Samsung. The human brain is now obsolete thanks to your neat new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. But maybe I’ll find a new use for my gray matter, because last night I attended the New York launch party for the futuristic device, which was hosted by a chipper Ashlee Simpson at Marquee nightclub in Chelsea, and I left pondering just how clairvoyant a tiny, shiny little gizmo can be. 

As I’m ushered into Marquee, I feel as though I’ve caught Gloria Swanson without her makeup on. The lights are bright, the wooden floor is clean, and there’s not a spilled drink or dropped straw in sight. Suddenly the lights dim and everything becomes blue, save for Simpson’s shiny red leather shorts. An army of leggy, blue-sheathed girls flit about the room, setting out cocktail menus and powering up the Samsung Galaxy S IIIs displayed on every table. Throughout the party, guests use the S-beam feature to order cocktails (you’ve seen the commercial with the guy holding two phones back-to-back and transferring a photo), and play with the countless other intuitive features. 
 
I’m waved in to the back VIP room, where the AC blows and the champagne flows, to chat with New York duo Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel of the popular synth-pop band Holy Ghost!, who will be the entertainment for the evening. The long-haired Millhiser and clean-cut Frankel met at age 6 and have been music partners ever since. 
 
Originally part of the hip-hop group Automato, which broke up when their rapper stopped rapping, Millhiser and Frankel turned their beat-making skills into the dynamic duo that is Holy Ghost!, named after one of their favorite songs by the Bar-Kays. They may look like just another couple of synth-wielding hooligans from the ‘Burg, but they’re set apart by their nostalgic approach to music. Their sound takes cues from ‘80s pop and ‘70s disco, and Millhiser says his dream venue to play would be Shea Stadium, the old Mets stomping ground, which was demolished in 2009. But fear not retro-philes, they can usually be found DJing at Le Baron in Chinatown. “It’s like an underground party,” says Frankel, “a dark room with a smoke machine.” 
 
Their eponymous album was released by DFA Records last April and they’ve just finished two years of touring, partially with their recently dismantled lablemates, LCD Sound System. 
 
“We are in the studio writing another record,” says Frankel, “so we probably won’t start touring until the end of this year. And the album will come out next year maybe.” 
 
When asked which band, dead or alive, they would tour with if given the chance, Frankel paused for a moment, before saying, “LCD Sound System,” with a laugh. 
 
“Dead!” chimes Millhiser. “It’ll be a reunion tour. They’ll be opening for us. At Shea Stadium.” Then he mutters, “Fuck you, Shea Stadium.”

Another Dimension New Galaxy

I am writing this from a new Galaxy. It fits in the palm of my hand. It’s made by Samsung and i’s out now. And the proper name is the Galaxy S III.

Christ, you say, an email about a phone written on a phone that I’m probably reading on a phone? Well, yeah. But the thing is pretty rad and if ever there was a time to cut the ties that bind you to the Apple, now would be the perfect time. It’s wider and thinner than an iPhone. It is, dare I say, more handsome. Plus there are a whole bunch of features that kind of make my mind ache a little. If you’re texting and, as so often happens, your text conversation gets weird, by bringing the phone to your face, you can automatically dial. Talking, one hopes, might eventually re-take texting as the primary means of flirting and/or communication. You can zoom on your 8 megapixel camera but tilting the phone forward. Wha?!?! Sliding the side of your hand across the screen takes a screen shot. 

There’s also a bunch of more obscure Samsung specific things like Allshare, a Samsung version of Airplay; Group Cast, so you and your office buds can share PowerPoints and S Beam, which is like Bump but only for other Samsungs. That stuff is nice too but, since it is intragalactic and not intergalactic or, and this would be the ideal, universal, it appeals mostly to those few pure-blood Samsungers. 

I’m going to hit send now. If I can find it. Ah, there it is. 

Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S  III, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

Beautiful People, Outdoor Parties, and Valentino

And just like that, the city is alive again. Let’s romanticize this, this end of summer, return to the city, vapid and self-important seven days of fantastic shows and merrymaking that is otherwise known as Fall Fashion Week. You know what I’m about to say. Insert varied Candace Bushnell-esqe clichés insinuating the foray into fall: the September air, the tanned Hamptonites returning from their dream cloud, and day-timers overflowing with party invites. Sounds fine to me, especially since I spent the end of summer checking my spam folder for possibly missing evites. The open bars were closed or existed only in sober memory, the swag bags had no swag -or bag for that matter, and I drank my ego deflation away at the Beatrice an embarrassing number of times. Finally, it began last night at the premiere of The Red Thread: The Inspiration and Passion of Valentino Garavani.

The party was actually a celebration of the “Samsung Imagination Icon Series,” a detail that was nearly overlooked due to my narrowed insight. My mind was swimming. Valentino, Valentino, Valentino, champagne, Valentino. We arrived to walk the red carpet and immediately were introduced to a maze of plasma TVs flashing the film, and glass cases exhibiting astonishing Valentino numbers. Valentino elaborated on the partnership: “It was an opportune time for us to work together and to use the film as content to tell the story of the exhibition. There is something very interesting about technology and fashion coming together to represent the imagination of designers in such a dynamic, innovative way.” Quite a few bold-faced names came to show support for Valentino: The Last Emperor. Liv Tyler, Alan Cumming, Mary J. Blige, Vivica A. Fox, Katie Lee Joel, Christian Siriano, Dominique Swain, Rachel Zoe, Nigel Barker, and designer Yigal Azrouël were spotted by many in my camp. I was too taken with the atmosphere (and the champagne) to really notice. I know it may be tough to top this shin-dig, but we’ve got plenty of time. So get out your shiny cardboard invites, get that narcissistic look off your face, and go crash the Purple party. We’ll be right behind you.