cellCONTROL Safe Driving System for Cell Phones,
by Scosche Industries Inc.
$129.95 at scosche.com
There are plenty of software apps that will deactivate your cellphone when you’re in a moving car. Now comes a hardware device that can do the same to several phones at the same time.
CellCONTROL goes where few cellphone accessories have gone before. It plugs into the OBD-II port of your car. You know, the one that is used by the mechanics to run diagnostic tests. It’s up under the steering wheel on cars made since 1996. You’ll know it when you see it.
Anyway, you register your cellCONTROL at the Scosche website and then plug the device into the car’s OBD-II port; cellCONTROL uses a Bluetooth wireless radio signal to block your phone so you can’t place calls or send texts if it detects that the car is in motion. The device lets you block one phone, or if you pay $5 a month, you can block up to six, just by registering the number of each phone. So you can ensure that nobody in your family can use the phone while driving.
Obviously, one of your kids could just unplug the cellCONTROL. But you’ll get an e-mail if that happens.
There are cheaper ways to lock down a moving smartphone. But with its simple setup and ability to block multiple phones, cellCONTROL is an easy way to keep the whole family safe.
Cellink multifunction power, sync and memory device, by Egen Inc.
$39.95 at mycelldrive.com
Here’s an odd but clever little gadget with something for everybody. Need a way to connect your smartphone to your computer? How about a backup battery for emergencies? Or a flash memory drive for stashing some extra files? Well, this little doohickey does it all.
The Cellink comes in a version with a 30-pin connector, the kind used by iPhones, or a micro-USB interface as you’ll find on Android devices. It’s got a built-in battery that you charge up by plugging the device into a computer. It’s supposed to be good for about 90 minutes of cellphone time. Meanwhile, you can plug your smartphone into the Cellink, to sync it to your computer or recharge it. There’s also a built-in MicroSD memory card reader. Slip in a memory chip and the Cellink becomes a USB drive.
At its original price of $49.95, I’d have found the Cellink attractive but a little overpriced. Now that it’s selling for $10 less, it’s starting to grow on me. There are lots of electronic accessories out there, but few are so handy in so many ways.
Current Caller ID, by Whitepages.com
Free for Android phones at the Google Play store
Like pretty much all cellphones, my Android has built-in Caller ID. But that hasn’t stopped the people at Whitepages.com, the online telephone directory service, from trying to improve on the concept with a clever new Android-only app.
Normally when you get an incoming call from someone who’s not already in your smartphone’s address book, the screen just displays the caller’s number. The Current Caller ID app checks the number against the Whitepages.com database, and brings up whatever it finds. So it’s a lot more likely that you’ll find out who’s calling you.
The app also figures out where the call is coming from, and then displays a weather report for that part of the country. It even flashes a news headline. I’m not sure I see the point of this feature, but it’s rather cool.
If the caller is already in your address book you’ll see all his usual data. But you can also set the software to connect to everyone’s favorite social networks — Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Now when the caller ID pops up, you also get a readout on the caller’s recent tweets and Facebook postings, along with his recent SMS text messages to you.
It’s all seamless, painless, and free. Current Caller ID will inspire envy from your iPhone-toting friends, and make your Android phone quite a lot smarter.Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.