Some of the coolest and most useful items that I came across in 2016. Enjoy!
(in no particular order)
MacBook Pro Touch Bar 💻
Why: There is no reason to have a touchscreen on a MacBook. Touch makes sense for an OS designed for touch (iOS). Adding touch to a ‘point and click” OS (macOS) is a mistake. Enter Touch Bar, the proper way to advance a traditionally static input mechanism. I find new ways every day that Touch Bar delights me. It is just really damn useful!
Link: Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro
Snap Spectacles 😎
Why: Every so often a product is launched that seems silly, but upon closer inspection is actually quite amazing. Snap Spectacles came out of nowhere, and took much of the tech world by storm. Every piece of the puzzle was new and unique. This is definitely a case of don’t judge a book by its cover. The way in which they have implemented the circular video within Snapchat is very cool! Find a Bot near you!
Link: Spectacles by Snap Inc.
iPhone 7 Plus Camera 📱
Why: Every year we get a new iPhone, and every year there is one little extra bit that pushes it over the top. This year it was the camera on the 7 Plus for sure. The dual lens system gave you so much bang for your buck. You got a wider angle lens and a more telephoto lens, allowing you to have 2 distinct focal lengths optically, rather than having to resort to the lesser digital zoom. This system also gave you Portrait Mode, which yields beautifully blurred backgrounds that no standalone app on your single lens phone can touch. It kills me that the larger phone causes me pain in my hand.
Link: iPhone 7 Plus
Apple Watch 2 Edition ⌚️
Why: Since Apple Watch launched, I have not taken it off. This time we got updated software and hardware that really gave us a killer digital watch. Top that with the new ceramic material on the Edition and it’s bliss. I absolutely love my Apple Watch and truly enjoy wearing this series 2 every single day.
Link: Apple Watch Edition
Why: Simply the best overall set of headphones I have used. Not just this year, but ever. You cannot really understand AirPods until you have used them. SO GOOD!
Apple TV 4 📺
Why: The Apple TV is the hub of our living room. We are an Apple household so this of course makes sense. I am finding more reasons to love the Apple TV, and the newly launched TV app is yet another. Such a great and versatile living room device.
Link: Apple TV
Osmo Mobile 🎥
Why: I have been taking photos in one form or another for many years, but video has always been in my peripheral. No one likes watching shaky cam footage, so hopefully the Osmo will help with that. It turns any mobile phone into a super stable video rig. It’s going to take some practice, but so far the results are very impressive.
Link: Osmo Mobile
UE Boom 2 🔊
Why: It sounds great and it’s waterproof! I keep this speaker in the shower for music and podcasts. It is really portable as well, so I can throw it in a suitcase when traveling for quality sound in a hotel room. It comes in a wide variety of fun color schemes too.
Anker 60W 10-Port USB Wall Charger 🔌
Why: We all have a ton of stuff to charge nowadays. Stick one of these in a central location and CHARGE ALL THE THINGS!
Link: Anker PowerPort 10
Why: First time using it this year, and I instantly fell in love. No car maker on the planet makes a good (or even decent) in-car entertainment interface / system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fix this so well; why don’t automakers understand?
Link: Apple CarPlay
Why: Email apps come and go, but this one feels like it could be here for a while on all my devices. One strict requirement I have for email apps is that they are on all my devices so I have a seamless transition between those platforms. This year Spark was launched for macOS, completing the triangle!
Link: Spark email for macOS and iOS
Why: Notes are tough, and I have used pretty much every app and system there is when it comes to capturing and storing note data. Bear came out late in the year and I have been giving it a go. It has a lot going for it with its 1.0 release. I am still using it, and in fact I am writing this post in it. Bear has a ton of thoughtful features and fits with my note taking really well. Like email, this kind of app needs to be across all my devices and have the same functionality, and Bear has it!
Link: Bear – Notes for iPhone, iPad and Mac
Why: Although not officially launched yet, Setapp is an intriguing way to get and use Mac apps. It’s a subscription of sorts that allows you use any and all apps in the Setapp directory for a flat monthly cost. It’s an innovative idea for sure, and I would like to see it exist as an option, providing it works out for the developers involved. New apps have been added pretty regularly since I started using it. It is a really cool alternative to the more standard App Store model.
Link: Setapp | Your shortcut to get the best apps for Mac
Why: I don’t think I have ever witnessed a game of any kind create the kind of mass joy that Pokemon Go has. To see so many people outside roaming around with each other searching for Pokemon is absolutely the reason technology should exist.
Link: Pokémon Go
Blackbox Puzzles ◼️
Why: When so much of the App Store is copycat apps that mostly play off the same themes and ideas, this game comes out of left field and crushes you with awesome! Words cannot explain the creativity and genius that went into making this game. Pause right now and go get this game. Now!
Why: My first go at ‘modern VR’. I went in blind and purchased it without trying it first, and I was not disappointed! I am sure there are more immersive systems, or systems with better specs, but having a PS4 already, the PSVR system is an awesome entry point.
Link: PlayStation VR
Why: I have been playing this game all year (well, since it came out in May) and I still love playing it. Think of it as a new twist on Team Fortress. It’s a heck of a lot of fun and definitely worth trying if you aren’t playing already. I am on the PS4 as ‘grepjason’.
Why: Sometime you just need to escape to a more simple life. Stardew Valley is a game that does just that for me. It’s a low stress game where you live in a town and interact with people, while taking on various tasks. It’s a fun game to play over a long period of time and jump in at any time for a little escape.
Link: Stardew Valley
Left Center Right Game
Why: This simple game was found by somewhat of an accident at a local Target. It’s a super small game that can travel with you anywhere, and is very easy to pick up. It has all the necessary game pieces in a small tube; just add people!
Link: Left Center Right Dice Game
Ticket to Ride
Why: A classic board game for all ages. This game comes in several varieties, spanning across different countries. Building railroad tracks across the country may not sound immediately fun, but once you get into the mechanics of the game you will be hooked. It’s a great group game.
Link: Ticket to Ride
Yoshi’s Wooly World
Why: When you think about game consoles, the Wii U isn’t usually first on your list, but Nintendo always has some great first party titles, and Wooly World is one of them. It’s a a great co-op game with a fun and new artistic style. I wouldn’t buy a Wii U just for this game, but if you have one sitting around, it’s a definite play.
Link: Yoshi’s Woolly World for Wii U
Super Mario Run
Why: A first party Nintendo title on the iPhone? Sign me up! Super Mario Run is exactly what a Mario title should be on the iPhone. It is a thoughtful and very well executed design that will give you joy to play.
Link: SUPER MARIO RUN | Nintendo
Why: Wasting food sucks. This handy item helps you keep a wide variety of food for longer periods!
Link: Vacuvita | Vacuum Storage
Microtech Ultratech Knife
Why: No one really needs this, but it’s a really neat automatic deployment knife AND it’s Boba Fett themed! Quick video I made of it .
Link: Microtech Ultratech Bounty Hunter OTF Automatic Knife
Why: Sometimes you just need super cool visuals, and the GameFrame delivers! Awesome pixel art display to amp up the cool in any room you put it in.
Link: Game Frame
Why: I researched all over the web when looking for a “last mile” vehicle, and the URB-E looked to be the best quality and provided a great set of features. I use this electric scooter to get from my house to the train station, and then from the train station to work. It’s a great little electric scooter and the build quality is fantastic.
Link: URB-E Foldable Electric Scooter
Simplehuman Soap Dispenser
Why: Your desk is organized, why not your shower? I found this thing on Amazon, and it has been a shower game changer. Keeps your shampoos and soaps organized and you always know exactly how much is left.
Link: simplehuman Triple Wall Mount Shower Pump
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Why: I need to be consuming more water, heck we all probably do. From the second I tried one of these tasty beverages, I was hooked! For the first time in my life (except for maybe military basic training), I am now drinking the proper amount of water, and loving it.
Link: LaCroix Sparkling Water
Philz Coffee ☕️
Why: It continues to be my favorite coffee joint on the 🌎!
Link: Philz Coffee
Reebok Men’s Zprint Run 👟
Why: You shouldn’t wear shoes if they aren’t comfortable. These Reeboks are the most comfortable shoes I have worn in a long time. So much so that I bought 4 pairs in various colors. They are available in Men’s and Women’s.
Link: Reebok Men’s Zprint Run
Hickies Lacing System
Why: Life is short, stop tying your shoes. Turn any shoe into a slip on, and add fun colors while you’re at it.
Link: HICKIES – No Tie Elastic Shoelaces
Stance Men’s Boba Fett Crew Socks
Why: They are Star Wars socks, what more do you need to know!?
Link: Stance Mens Boba Fett Socks