Gadgets of the month: smartphones, Google Glass, wearable Wi-Fi and self-cleaning cars

28 Apr 2014

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news from April and also check out some new technology developments. This month, we’ve had lots of smartphone news, a Wi-Fi onesie and a self-cleaning car.

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This month…

The all-new smartphone market

This month, the smartphone market received an injection of fresh products and software, starting with the unveiling of Windows Phone 8.1. The new mobile operating system from Microsoft comes with a range of new features, including Cortana, a competitor for Apple’s Siri. The preview version of the new software was made publicly available on 14 April and Microsoft claims that over 1.5m devices had installed it within the first week.

On the hardware front, two new flagship devices from Samsung, HTC and Sony touched down this month. We unboxed the Samsung Galaxy S5 as soon as we got our hands on it for a quick look and comparison with the HTC One M8, and you can expect full reviews of both on the site soon.

On Friday, Sony’s Xperia Z2 arrived exclusively in Vodafone stores. The water-resistant smartphone comes with an improved camera capable of recording 4K video.

Sony Xperia Z2

Sony Xperia Z2

Yet that’s not all we have entering the smartphone arena in 2014. A mini version of the Galaxy S5 is expected in June, the same time we expect to see an official announcement from Amazon regarding its long-rumoured 3D smartphone.

But all of these top tech brands might just be blown out of the water when Chinese start-up OnePlus releases its ‘flagship killer’ smartphone. The €299 One smartphone could arrive as early as next month as the summer smartphone battle heats up.

Although, in the face of all this newness, we couldn’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic as we bid farewell to the Nokia name following the completion of its takeover by Microsoft. This is truly the end of an era for the Finnish phone-maker.

Google fortifies its Glass house

In wearable tech news this month, Google Glass took all the headlines owing to its near-widespread availability in the US on 15 April. The Glass Explorer pilot programme was opened up to any adult in the US who could afford the US$1,500 price-tag, and the ‘Cotton’ white model sold out within hours.

The Glass-makers released six key updates to coincide with the US sale, ranging from Android’s KitKat for Glass to photo replies for Hangouts and video calls, while GlasswareFoundry CEO Dave Lorenzini revealed to why publishers and advertisers should see tech like Google Glass as an opportunity, not a threat.

But Glass isn’t the limit for Google’s clever eyewear and this month aso brought reports that the tech giant is developing a contact lens embedded with a high-quality camera.

Game Boy turns 25

We couldn’t close a round-up of the month’s gadget happenings without wishing Nintendo’s Game Boy a happy 25th birthday. It has been a quarter of a century since this portable games console first burst onto the scene in Japan in April 1989, but it was July before it was available in the US and gamers in Europe were waiting on tenterhooks to get their hands on the device in September 1990.


Looking back at this US TV ad, the hype around a portable high-tech device seems almost quaint, not to mention describing Tetris as “outrageous” and a video-link cable as “revolutionary”. At the time, though, this was the coolest gaming gadget and we all wanted a piece.

Coming soon…

Self-cleaning car from Nissan

Motorists will rejoice at the news that Nissan is developing innovative paint technology that will keep cars from getting dirty. The Ultra-Ever Dry coating consists of super-hydrophobic and oleophopic paint that repels mud-splashes, dirt and grime and keeps the car spotless with no effort at all.

If that seems to good to be true, Nissan went to the trouble of painting half a Note with this magic coating to demonstrate the difference and, thus, many a prayer was answered.


Wi-Fi you can wear

Dongles be damned – the best way to get Wi-Fi on the move is by wearing it. At least, that’s the idea behind the BB.Suit by fashion designer Borre Akkersdijk. This Wi-Fi onesie is, essentially, a wearable hotspot thanks to synthetic fibre and copper wire stitched between layers of fine cotton thread. The embedded wires have been connected to chips to give the onesie Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS capability, and Akkersdijk demonstrated its prowess at SXSW this year by broadcasting his location from his clothing.

BB.Suit by Borre Akkersdijk

However, as the two prototype suits made thus far are still bulky and weighed down by batteries and processors in the pockets, Akkersdijk says it needs more work before it will be ready for mass consumption. Pity we won’t be able to get one in time for Electric Picnic.

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.