Are you on the lookout for the latest app you won’t be able to put down, the next gadget you’ll be itching to get your hands on, or the slickest new tools to make your work day more productive and your downtime even more fun? Then look no further than our favorite site for finding the latest and greatest tech products.
Each week, we review the crowdsourced links posted to a website called Product Hunt, where tech-savvy users post their best finds and discuss the latest apps and gadgets with a growing community of developers, investors, founders, and tech enthusiasts. The developers and founders of a newly launched product — whether that product comes from a big, established tech company or whether it’s the first hit from a small startup — often chime in to answer questions and gather feedback. Somewhere between 600 and 800 venture capitalists reportedly use the site, a great testament to its ability to surface products that would otherwise fly under even the most-connected people’s radars.
We took a look at all of the apps, gadgets, and services posted on Product Hunt last week and chose seven innovative products: apps and gadgets that will help you work smarter, be a better explorer, and get more out of the devices and tools you already use.
The BIOWATCH is a module that you can attach to the inside of a watchband to use the pattern of your wrist veins as a biometric solution. As the BIOWATCH website notes, connected objects are expected to continually become more ubiquitous, enabling more interactions and personalization. But with so many cards, keys, passwords, and PINs that can be forgotten or hacked, authentication is a problem. So BIOWATCH enables you to use the unique pattern of veins in your wrist to replace your keys and passwords. Using the BIOWATCH companion app, you enroll your vein pattern and select the applications and devices you want to connect to the device. When you wear the BIOWATCH, it activates when it detects that your unique vein pattern is a match to the enrolled reference pattern. When authentication is needed by one of your apps or devices, the BIOWATCH transmits your encrypted user code.
2. CARROT Weather
CARROT Weather is a weather app for iOS, the latest addition to the suite of sarcastic to-do, alarm, fit, and hunger CARROT apps, which are known for the talking bot “with a personality” they all feature. CARROT Weather offers detailed forecasts powered by the same backend that powers popular weather app Dark Sky. CARROT’s Brian Mueller tells the Product Hunt community that he always wanted an app that could provide short-term, 24-hour, and seven-day forecasts based on the context in which the user is looking them up. “If it’s raining/snowing, it shows me the forecast for the next hour. If it’s not, it shows me the hourly forecast. And if I’m checking the weather for a place that’s not my current location, it shows me the daily forecast because I’m probably looking at that place to plan for travel.” CARROT Weather combines that functionality with the entertaining dialogue for which CARROT apps are known. The app currently includes more than 100 animated weather scenes, which Mueller explains are like “mini comics,” as well as more than 2,000 lines of dialogue. Users can also unlock secret locations by using the app more or by searching for specific locations.
3. Field Trip
Field Trip, available for Android and iOS, is an app that helps you find “the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” The app is a project of Google’s Niantic Labs and runs in the background on your phone. When you get close to something interesting — whether related to local history or one of the best places to shop or eat — it notifies you. If you have a headset connected, it can even read out the information for you. As explained on the App Store:
The hyperlocal history experts of Arcadia and Historvius will unveil local lore in places you never expected. Trend-setting publications like Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, and Run Riot will point out the best places to eat and drink. Experts at Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, and Remodelista will guide you to the latest unique stores and products. Atlas Obscura and Daily Secret help you uncover hidden gems no matter where you are. Songkick and Flavorpill guide you to local music.
You can discover thousands of places with the app, choose from among three modes to set the frequency of notifications, go on a Field Trip while you drive, and keep track of the places you discover. The SPARK movement was recently invited to honor notable women through the On the Map project with the app, which now notifies users when they approach a location where a woman made history.
Launcher, the iOS Notification Center widget, is back after being banned from the App Store by Apple. Cromulent Labs founder Greg Gardner explains on Product Hunt, “I kept submitting apps and went through the appeal process several times before I finally was able to get them to re-review Launcher which they finally decided to approve.”
When you install Launcher, you get a new Today widget to add to the Notification Center. Using the auto-setup process, you can add launchers for the people who are most important to you and for the apps you use most frequently. With just one tap from the Notification Center, Launcher enables you to call, message, email, and FaceTime your favorite contacts; get directions home or search for things nearby; quickly access your favorite websites; perform actions within a number of different apps; or launch your most frequently-used apps.
Moment is an iOS app that helps you take better photos with your iPhone by accurately controlling light and focus “because no filter can correct a bad photo.” You can auto-expose an image by tapping the screen to pinpoint exposure and focus, or double-tap to control exposure and focus independently in order to capture backlit and high-contrast scenes. The app also offers manual controls for exposure and focus, and you can use the sliders to make anything from large adjustments to precise corrections. Moment saves your photos directly to your Camera Roll to streamline the process of editing and sharing. Other features of the app include Timed Shots, high-quality TIFF capture, and framing guides to easily align a scene.
Spaces is an iOS app that enables you to broadcast “useful stuff” to everyone in a room in real time. Instead of distributing printed handouts, you can use Spaces to instantly share content with everyone in a room. Spaces features a basic editor that enables you to begin broadcasting with one tap, using a low energy Bluetooth signal (or Estimote iBeacons for a more permanent venue). Developer Roy Marmelstein explains to the Product Hunt community that “all you need to view the content is to be in the same room with the app installed and bluetooth turned on (no GPS, no push, no need to open an account etc).” He adds, “The real opportunity here I think is in wearables. It’ll be super cool to be able to view site-specific live content on your wrist — agendas at events, menus at restaurants etc.” Marmelstein just completed work on the Spaces Apple Watch app, which should be available when the watch is released next month.
Widerun, a bike training system you connect to Oculus Rift, aims to provide the first interactive and immersive virtual reality biking experience. It delivers engaging fitness sessions through the VR headset, and the page for its ongoing Kickstarter campaign explains that the trainer will deliver a “responsive, immersive, biking experience with unlimited virtual 3D worlds featuring games and bike tracks.” You won’t need a specific bike to use with the system. Instead, you can use any bike with a wheel radius ranging from 26 to 29 inches. When Widerun launches, it will be compatible with Oculus Rift DK1/DK2 and Samsung Gear VR, plus smartphones that are able to function as a VR display. (It will also be compatible with smart TVs.) The hardware minimizes latency to enable immediate feedback between your movement and the reaction in the VR world, with resistance and inertia regulated by the trainer. Widerun is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign, which at the time of writing has reached about £8,000, with 40 days left to reach its goal of £30,000.