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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Google Now Launches, We Don’t Need To Think Anymore

You heard me. Now that Google has launched Google Now today – its own personal assistant service inside its Google Search app – we no longer need our iCalendar, Siri, mothers, or our cerebral cortexes, just simply either an iPhone or iPad – where the at-your-service assistant is debuting for the very first time. 

By downloading the app, you can have your every step counted and tracked monthly, be told when to leave for work/restaurant reservations based on the latest traffic info, and receive birthday reminders for those people (best friend since childhood, sleep-deprived girlfriend, sensitive sister) who would shun you if you forgot. 

It even sends you nearby real estate listings from Zillow in case you see your dream West Village townhouse for sale and you’re ready to swoop in for it in a fit of adrenaline. 

See? Soon you’ll never have to make the decisions. You’ll never have to tell yourself what to do. Who wears the pants in your house? Google Now. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Tumblr, Vimeo Founders Talk Creativity At SXSW Brunch

Want to brunch with Tumblr founder David Karp? Split an omelette with Vimeo founder Jake Lodwick? Have an espresso with the lead singer of OK Go? Yep, so do I. And maybe someday we will, but for now, we’re getting the next best thing: a video from GE’s two-hour Brilliant Brunch at SXSW, when eight leading creators of all things tech, media, & music came together to dine on waffles, sip Bloody Marys, and tackle how they got started, what challenges them, and how they stay on top.

In this video, the innovators discuss their “Path to Creativity.” Check out the full list of videos, sit back, grab a coffee, and get instantly inspired. Or at least hungry.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Expert-Approved V-Day Dinner: Thanks To Find. Eat. Drink. App

Imagine this: it’s Valentine’s Day, and you’re dining on truffle pizza with your date at a restaurant beloved by her favorite chef. You’re both whispering and giggling over champagne-infused cocktails only a top mixologist would approve. And what your date doesn’t know, is that back at home you have a box of her favorite chocolates that happen to be her favorite baker’s # 1 choice. But how would you know that every bit of your night has been expert-approved? The answer: the new Find. Eat. Drink. iPhone app, the world’s first travel guide curated by the top people in the culinary world.

In NYC, it’s easy to get lost in the bitter Yelp rants about service, and tied to your humdrum going-out routine. The recently-launched Find. Eat. Drink app brings you back to the reason you moved to New York in the first place: you want the best. And there’s no better place to turn than to the app’s catalogue of 340 experts – chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, and artisans – who are pioneering the trends and recommending restaurants from 120 cities across the world. Each recommendation comes with a profile of not only the culinary pro, but also the establishment they so love.

The expert-touch extends beyond the app’s content; FED (acronym intentional) is created by former Food Network producer and host Robin Dorian, and Nick Bumstead, former manager of Chambers Street Wines. The app is an extension of FED’s official website, which has the same concept as the app, and a blog that’s updated multiple times a day.

Plus, the app is just really, really good looking. It’s orange and sleek, and all so easy to use. Actually, it’s too easy; there’s no reason you shouldn’t be downloading it for free and using it tonight. There’s still time…

Download the Find.Eat.Drink. app here, and follow Bonnie on Twitter.

In Their Own Words: Four Entrepreneurs’ Favorite Apps

What do a dominatrix, two celebrity chefs, and a fitness founder have in common? Not much. So we brought them all together under one umbrella question: “What is your favorite app?”And like most things that can fit inside your phone and purse, these apps give great insight into who these stop-at-nothing entrepreneurs are. It’s like hacking into someone’s cellphone, but with descriptive consent. Here are these four visionaries’ favorite apps, in their own words.

Aarón Sanchez
Aarón Sanchez is the co-star of two Food Network series (Chopped and Heat Seekers), and the culinary visionary behind NYC’s taqueria Tacombi, Kansas City’s Mestizo, and Crossroads restaurant at House of Blues nationwide. Sanchez was recently a guest chef at the White House and received the “National Award” at the Flavors of Passion Awards, honoring the nation’s best Latin chefs.

"Since my wife, a pro musician, and I are constantly on the road, we like to use SongKick to find which of our favorite bands are playing in the cities we travel to. It’s also a great way to track lesser-known artists who may not have the reach of bigger acts. It’s brilliant.”

Brynn Jinnett
Brynn Jinnett is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet and the founder of Refine Method, a chain of boutique circuit training studios in NYC, whose clients have included Ivanka Trump and Kelly Ripa. Rooted in the latest research in exercise science, Refine exercises your body by using its own weight – pairing squats, kicks, and pushes with its own unique pulley system and high-intensity cardio. Since opening in 2010, Jinnett’s Method has exploded, expanding to three locations across NYC.

“My favorite app is MindBody Biz Mode [FREE], which allows me to schedule clients on my iPhone. With our third location opening this month on the Upper West Side, it’s great to be able to manage multiple locations while on the go!”

Hung Huynh
As the executive chef of NYC’s Catch seafood restaurant in Meatpacking and third season-winner of Top Chef, Hung Huynh is joining with EMM Group again to open the second outpost of Catch in South Beach, inside the James Royal Palm on Collins Avenue.

“My favorite app, Seafood Watch [FREE], keeps me up-to-date with current and fresh fish from the area’s nearby restaurants and stores, inspires new ideas, and educates me on the importance of sustainable seafood.”

Nina Payne
Nina Payne is the founder and president of Domi Dollz, a company of professional dominatrixes who bring kink out of the dungeon and into the mainstream with their New York-based workshops and educational performances. This month, the Dollz are launching their first eBook titled Kinky Amour; with personal stories and kinky tips from Payne and company, as well as video tutorials and photographs, the Dollz’ teachings will be downloadable and available worldwide.

“The Domi Dollz love the Dirty Game – Truth or Dare app [FREE]: it’s a huge collection of very naughty and wild truth or dares. It’s such fun to revisit the game we played as teenagers, bring the app to parties, and spice things up.” 

NY Navigation Made Easy With New NYC Around Town App

In the tech world, specificity is everything; tweets can now be emailed, Instagram galleries are finally online, and according to your sidebar advertisements, Facebook knows you’re freaking out that you might be pregnant. So why stop there? Say hello to the NYC Around Town app, launched by ACE, a 20-year-old non-profit that helps the homeless find employment and support networks.

Unlike most navigation apps that cover multiple cities and take two-and-a-half minutes to fully load on your phone, NYC Around Town hones in on strictly New York, navigating you in a jiffy. Its focus: helping you discover the best shops, restaurants, and hotels in heavily-trodden neighborhoods like Soho, NoHo, the West Village, Midtown, Tribeca, and areas of the Bronx, all thanks to that handy guy named GPS. Plus, it gives you specific reviews and information on the place, making it easy to call, book a reservation, and share via Facebook and Twitter – instantly. And we love instant. We also love free. Which it is. Hot damn, that’s even better.

Download the NYC Around Town app on your iPhone or Android here

Apple Attempts To Kill Trusting Australians

Naturally we each spend up to 95% of the average weekday wondering what form the machines’ rebellion against their human masters will take. But in all our post-apocalyptic fantasies, we never guessed the first attack would be so insidiously simple. The much-reviled Apples maps iPhone app, which comes bundled with iOS 6, has been luring Australian drivers out into the wilderness to die.

The problem is that Apple maps pinpoints the town of Mildura as being in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park, about 42 miles from the actual location,” meaning that motorists are getting stranded without food and water for long stretches of time, and walking long distances over dangerous terrain for cell reception and help. To make matters more pleasant, Murray Sunset National Park can get up to 114º F and is full of badass Emus.

People were justifiably pissed when Google Maps, whose greatest sin was telling you that a bar that no longer existed was still there, got swapped out for Apple’s crappy version. This, however, is an invitation to world war. Or maybe just revenge for all the barely-obsolete smartphones we toss in garbage dumps way out in the middle of nowhere.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter

In Their Own Words: Our Favorite Up-and-Comers’ Favorite Apps

No matter what industry you work in, smartphone apps always find a way of creeping in. Which is why, when we asked five up-and-comers for our Oct/Nov print issue what their favorite apps are, the verdict became clear:  when you like what you do, you app what you do. Choosing apps that closely relate to and help with their work – from crosswords to meterology – here are these jetsetters’ favorite apps, in their own words.

Michael White: chef/co-owner of Italian culinary empire Altamarea
A native Midwesterner, chef Michael White has shocked and excited the culinary scene worldwide with his continually-expanding Italian empire: Altamarea Group. As co-owner, White’s brand of elegant and soulful Italian food can be found in Hong Kong, New Jersey, and New York, and has garnered multiple Michelin stars. Some of his restaurants include Osteria Morini, Marea, and Ai Fiori . Last month, the chef presented an array of his signature dishes at Food Network’s New York City Wine & Food Festival.

Michael says:
“I love the app Chef’s Feed. It’s an app dedicated to databasing what the nation’s best chefs like to eat at their favorite restaurants. It’s almost like Yelp, but with the advice of well-known chefs. It comes with an interactive map where you can find out where your favorite chef likes to eat in relation to where you are at any given moment. So cool.”

Solomon Choi: founder and CEO of 16 Handles
As the entrepreneur behind frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles, Solomon Choi is responsible for putting customization in a cup and making it delicious. Choi’s company brings 16 rotating flavors of yogurt and over 40 toppings to the masses, all of which the customers put together themselves. Thanks to his past experience working for his parent’s restaurant franchise in California, as well as at restaurant startup, Choi handles 16 Handles’ expansion with ease; with 26 locations throughout the East Coast, and 10 stores in development, the franchise is becoming one tasty phenomenon.

Solomon says:
TripIt helps me manage my business and personal travel itineraries, as well as view all air, hotel, and car rental reservations from my iPhone. I’m also able to my friends’ or associates’ travel plans once we’re linked. Business owners know that time is money, and efficiency translates to more money earned; thankfully, TripIt gets the job done in a snap.”

Fiona Staples: Canadian comic book artist
Known both for her covers, which earned her a 2011 Joe Shuster Award, and her interior artwork, Fiona Staples has drawn everything from horror to superheroes. She’s illustrated for such series as Mystery Society and the Eisner-nominated North 40, and covers for Superman/Batman, DV8, and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. She’s currently collaborating on Image Comics’ fantasy epic SAGA. Last month, Staples was a featured guest for the entirety of New York Comic Con.

Fiona says:
“My favorite is the New York Times crossword app! I like doing the crossword every day without needing a newspaper subscription. I’m a bit addicted to crosswords and other puzzle games, and do them whenever I have a bit of time to fill. It’s a nice way to take a quick break from drawing while keeping my mind engaged, rather than getting sucked into watching T.V. for an hour!”

Terry Casey: New York-based DJ and event promoter
Terry Casey can be found all across the city and the state, spinning music and planning events at his resident spots Hotel Chantelle and The Montauk Beach House. He’s worked alongside such legends as Paul Oakenfold, Mark Ronson, and BlackBook’s very own Steve Lewis.

Terry says:
RadarScope is a meteorology app DJ Paul Sevigny showed me when he was spinning at The Montauk Beach House. It shows the weather and where  the clouds are coming from and where they’re going. It helps us when programming the outdoor pool parties at the Beach House.”

James Ruff: New York-based singer-songwriter/producer
James Ruff hits the stage two-fold, as both a solo artist and the front man for New York-based band The Rouge Royale. Known for its energizing and eclectic sound, the band has performed on CNN at the 2011 United Nations concert, at such beloved rock joints as The Bitter End, and as one of the more frequent acts for Avenue A Soundcheck. With three solo albums under his belt, and the band’s debut EP this month, Ruff is an artist in his prime.

James says:
“I always reach for the iPhone’s highly underrated native app: Voice Memos. With a click of the “record” button, it captures in a moment every musical  idea I’ve had brewing for days. As a songwriter who composes melody strictly by recording and listening back to my ideas, this app is my best friend and most valuable tool. Every pre-production aspect of The Rouge Royale’s upcoming  EP was aided by this simple little gem.”

The Summer’s Best New iPhone Apps

It’s hard to define summer. Sure, we can throw a road trip, a couple of beach days, and a fling or three in there, but overall, the year’s hottest season is also its most carefree. And no matter where you go and what you do this summer, your trusty little iPhone is your greatest companion to it all. With these six apps, skip traffic and speeding tickets, watch live concerts, discover obscure music, look and sing like a pop star, and save a North Atlantic whale. Why not? It’s summer. Anything can happen.

Scout by Telenav [Free]
Going on a road trip and sick of relying on your map-averse friend in the passenger seat? Get a hold of Scout, the first daily personal navigator for your iPhone that syncs up with your computer and even your car. Using award-winning Telenav navigation, Scout text and voice guides you turn-by-turn to wherever you want to go. The best part: you’ll avoid traffic and speeding tickets thanks to the app’s real-time traffic updates, automatic rerouting, and alerts about red light cameras and speed traps. Suddenly, life got easier.

Auto-Tune Star [$1.99]
The best-selling music app in 40 countries, Auto-Tune Star uses real Auto-Tune technology to help your voice sound just as manufactured as your favorite rockstar! Just sing into the mic, apply and adjust Auto-Tune, play back, and become amazed at how much you sound like Ciara. Songs from your iTunes music library and beats are available, and your recordings can be easily shared via e-mail and Facebook, straight from your beach towel. What a celebrity.

Whale Alert [Free]
Navigating a boat on the East Coast? Interested in whale-watching? Want to save endangered North Atlantic right whales? We think so. This app listens for right whale calls and plots their location on an easy-to-ready nautical map, thus reducing the whales’ collisions with ships and helping to save their lives. Free Willy; get Alert.

Fitocracy [Free]
Slay the laziness dragon (quite literally) with this video game-inspired app that will get you so addicted to fitness, you’ll want to be naked all summer. Check-in to specific fitness routines, earn points, unlock achievements, beat quests, and track the speed of your workouts on your screen. If you still need a fire lit under your ass, compare your progress with other users and compete for fitness domination.

The Vinyl District
Whether you’re sick of Pandora or you just want to get the heck out of your sweltering apartment, consult The Vinyl District: the first-ever GPS-based record store locator app in the US. Press the "All Stores" icon for directions to the nearest independent record shop, share via Facebook and Twitter the gems you’ve uncovered, and spend some much-needed "me" time listening to good tunes.

Moshcam [Free]
So you can’t make it to Bonnaroo, Summerfest, or Camp Bisco – big deal! Who needs ’em when you have Moshcam, an app that provides instant on-demand music streaming of hundreds of recorded music concerts. Choose from the largest catalogue of recorded live videos in the world and watch professionally-shot performances of your favorite artists straight from your phone, anytime you want. Entry-fee, high beer prices, and long lines to the bathroom not included.