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The Phoozy spacesuit for your smartphone

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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What is a Phoozy?

The Phoozy is a NASA space-suit inspired jacket for your phone that protects it from the searing rays of the sun or the frigid battery killing cold of winter.

Have you ever gone to the beach and noticed your phone refusing to start with a temperature warning message (even though it was "protected" from the sun by a sun-umbrella?) The same happens at the other temperature extreme where the phone refuses to start because the components are too cold and the phone tries to protect itself.

The Phoozy is a well-insulated purpose-built capsule (made out of space material used to protect astronauts). The Chromium Thermal Barrier can reflex up to 90% of the sun's heating rays.

This is an important distinction some online testers didn't remember. These geniuses cooked their phones in the oven or left it in their locked cars, then complained the Phoozy didn't work. The Phoozy is not air conditioning, and work's by reflecting the sun's harmless rays but won't help if the ambient temperature is oven-like (a car under the direct sun can reach 170 degrees within an hour).

During the summer, I tested the Phoozy while at the beach, hiking or the amusement park. I used an old iPhone as my unprotected test "victim" and my Pixel 2 XL as my protected device. My Phoozy protected device never shut down because of heat, while the control iPhone regularly displayed that dreaded temperature warning message and refused to start until I cooled it down.

Water protection

The Phoozy case is buoyant and will float but the top isn't waterproof sealed (it's velcro). The Phoozy shouldn't be your go-to water protection solution. The fact it will float is a nice to have feature just in case.

Compare the Phoozy Apollo and XP3

I bought and tested the newer XP3. The Apollo & XP3 offer the same sun and cold protection, but the XP3 has slightly more padding (which is better for drop protection), it has attachment points (so you can hook it to the outside of a backpack) and an internal stash pocket (to store cards or cash).

The XP3 easily accommodated 5 credit cards and an iPhone XR, Pixel 2/3XL, or Samsung Galaxy S10.

Conclusion

I love my Phoozy and it has found a permanent place in my everyday carry backpack (which is high praise coming from me). Many colleagues and friends have also bought Phoozys and every one of them is extremely satisfied.

The Phoozy performs as advertised and is well made.

The Apollo XL retails for $29 which is a very fair price for the protection being offered. I believe most customers should opt for the newer XP3, but this retails for $49. I still recommend it, but think they should cut $10 from the price.

Smartphone chargers just got a powerful upgrade

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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This is NOT a sponsored post.

Anker Atom PD-1

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At first glance, the Anker PD-1 may seem unremarkably normal looking. After all, it looks like the small wall charger that came included with your iPhone. It is almost the same size as that iPhone charger, but it delivers a full 30 watts of USBC power (it’s 35-40% smaller than the equivalent MacBook charger).

Ravpower 45W PD Charger

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Ravpower have taken the same technology to greater heights by designing a slim (14mm) 45 watt USBC charger .

Tell me how this is possible

The go to foundation for many electronic components is silicon. Silicon is in everything from computer processors to chargers, but we needed something better to improve charging speed and efficiency.

This is where gallium nitride (GaN) is making an entrance.

  • GaN has a theoretical ability to conduct electricity 1000x more quickly than traditional silicon.

  • GaN also doesn’t get as hot as silicon which means the electricity, not being lost to heat, is used to charge your device faster. It also means we can save 15-20% of worldwide power consumption if all electronic devices switched to GaN.

  • Since GaN chargers are smaller, they require less material, less packaging and are therefore cheaper to ship.

Why Anker and Ravpower?

What makes the Anker and Ravpower so remarkable is that they are the first major brands to release GaN-based chargers. These are first-generation products so we can expect much power powerful GaN chargers in the future, at a much lower price. Anker and Ravpower are charging a premium for these smaller and lighter devices. As the technology becomes more widely available, expect prices to drop dramatically.

Other uses

2019 should be the year where GaN chargers become commonplace. An optimized iPhone and a GaN charger could charge your device 6x faster than today, in a package the same size.

Like many of you, I travel a lot, and a battery backup is critical. Charging a traditional 9000 mAh battery can take 3-5 hours. I recently started testing the Apollo Pro from Elecjet which is a graphene-infused battery that is capable of fully charging in 20 minutes with a 60W USBC charger. Being able to charge your backup battery while you enjoy a coffee is incredibly freeing. Now imagine what will happen when smartphone manufacturers adopt faster charging graphene batteries paired with faster charging GaN chargers. It will be an unbeatable combo.

We likely won’t see any major brands adopting these two techs for their 2019 models, but I am willing to bet you will see a bunch in 2020, probably starting with the Samsung Galaxy S11.

What is a Progressive Web App

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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Over the last 18 months, I have seen more and more sites prompting me to "Add to Home Screen" from websites I have been browsing. Then you add this site, it installs itself in the background and is now accessible like a native app from your smartphone.

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What I have just described is the wondrous workings of a fairly new technology called Progressive Web Apps. This technology (called PWA) works even when you are offline and behaves like a "normal" smartphone app.

What are progressive web apps?

PWAs were created by Alex Russell and Frances Berriman. The technology driving Progressive Web Apps isn’t new. What was required was a new recipe to make Progressive Web Apps behave like native apps. This means that a progressive web app will work (as long as the platform supports it) on an iphone or Androis smartphone, a chromebook or ipad, on Windows or Mac.

True cross platform applications without needed to join an app store with super restrictive controls (I’m looking at you Apple).

Why Progressive Web apps

Like many of you, I live in a world with abundantly fast internet. This simply isn’t the reality everywhere. Even in my own backyard of Ontario (Canada), there are communities where internet is delivered via very slow ADSL,

PWAs, once installed, cache the content locally which means they will respond quickly even for those on slow internet connections.

Statistics show that users still prefer native apps to web pages. There are a tone of reasons for this from convenience (single click from your home screen), ability to get push notifications, etc. The web simply doesn’t offer the same bells and whistles.

PWAs offer most (if not all) native functions. They startup with a single click from the home screen and can hook into most native features. PWAs can even offer notifications (like a native app) and therefore remind the user to open and engage with the app.

What is required to build a progressive web app?

This is not a technical instructional article but you need 4 elements to build a Progressive Web App:

Google Firebase Web App Manifest Generator

Google Firebase Web App Manifest Generator

  1. Web App Manifest - It is a JSON file with meta data about the web app, It contains information such as the icon, background color, app name, etc.

  2. Service Workers - Even driven agents that work in the background. They perform tasks like updating the web app or its content.

  3. Icon - You need an icon to represent the Progressive Web App on the home screen

  4. HTTPS - The app and its content must be securely delivered over a TLS session.

Progressive Web app examples

You will find new PWAs every day but here are a couple of cool ones to get you started:

Freedom Mobile removes insurance coverage for lost or stolen phones

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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Freedom Mobile's phone protection plan is removing coverage for lost or stolen phones. In exchange, they are reducing the monthly fee by $1 (down to $9). This change was first noticed on Reddit by user Alphalee and you can read messages from upset customers (obviously).

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This change will come into effect on August 2nd, 2018. Repair service is now listed at $99 (was unlimited in the past).  It looks like this is an attempt to limit fraud and reduce insurance costs for Freedom Mobile. Their coverage seems to be underwritten by Asurion (same provider used by Telus, Bell, Virgin Mobile and Koodo.

The existing Mobile Freedom coverage still protect's devices from accidental damage (such as a broken screen or liquid damage). 

OnePlus policy that makes it a better buy than Samsung, HTC or LG

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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As a security technologist, the security philosophy of the OEM is a crucial determinant of my decision to buy or recommend a device. This is where Apple shines with it's iPhone update strategy. Every single iPhone receives updates (security and version) at the same time. 

This is why I highly recommend Google's Pixel devices. The Pixel line offers the same regular and speedy update schedule. The other Android manufacturer that has shown it cares about upgrades is OnePlus. Until this week, it did a great job delivering updates quickly, but it didn't formally commit to a software upgrade schedule. 

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All of that changes this week when OnePlus unveiled its new operating system (Android) maintenance schedule. It has copied the Google Pixel model and will deliver major upgrades for two years and security updates for three years. 

As per the maintenance schedule, there will be 2 years of regular software updates from the release date of the phone (release dates of T variants would be considered), including new features, Android versions, Android security patches and bug fixes and an additional year of Android security patch updates every 2 months.
— OnePlus OS Maintenance Schedule

Conclusion

OnePlus has always offered solid well-designed devices at competitive prices. This new software maintenance schedule commitment makes their offering that much more compelling. 

I can no longer recommend devices from manufacturers that do not regularly deliver security and version upgrades. This is why I only recommend Android devices from Google, Blackberry Mobile and OnePlus.