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Tech Lab Plus

Keep a digital eye on your stuff

Cycloramic photo and video app

99 cents for camera-equipped iOS devices
at the Apple App Store

With so many camera apps available, who needs another one? Anyone with an iPhone 5, that’s who. Because even though Cycloramic works with a wide range of iOS devices, this app lets iPhone 5 owners do something quite amazing.

In most respects, Cycloramic differs little from other photo apps. It has modes for still photos and videos, and it lets you connect automatically to your Facebook ­account. There’s no particular reason why owners of older iPhones should bother with it.

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But install Cycloramic on an iPhone 5 and you’ll learn understand where its name comes from. The developers use the phone’s vibration feature to rotate it when it’s resting on its bottom edge. You just set it down on a flat, smooth surface, touch the screen, and wait. Cycloramic slowly pans the phone around, taking either a 360-degree panoramic still photo or a 360-degree high-definition video.

Never mind that Cycloramic is a great way to take pictures. Just watching it work is a delight. ­Cycloramic is a stroke of genius and easily one of the coolest smartphone apps you can buy.

Automatica audio download system

$99 at automaticaweb.com

Many of us plug our smartphones into the car’s USB port, so we can listen to our favorite music downloads or podcasts during the commute. But the people at Automatica think they’ve got a better way — a phoneless device that downloads your tunes whenever you’re in wireless Internet range.

Automatica is an odd little device — a nearly featureless black box. You plug it into a PC or Mac to set it up and to provide it with power — there’s no battery inside. You install the necessary software on your computer, and set the Automatica to connect to your home or office Wi-Fi network. Then you program Automatica to download stuff from your favorite Internet cloud services, like Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive.

From then on, when you plug the Automatica device into a computer or your car, it will connect to Wi-Fi and start downloading podcasts and tunes into its built-in memory. It has 2 gigabytes of available storage and a MicroSD slot for adding more. Once it’s loaded up, just unplug Automatica, take it out to the car, plug it into the USB port, and start listening.

If you park your car a block from home, it’s hard to see much benefit in Automatica. But it could make sense for people who park within range of their home Wi-Fi or some other open Internet hot spot. In that case, Automatica will download fresh content while you’re at work or in bed. If that’s how you roll, Automatica might be worth a listen.

Samsung SmartCam
wireless security camera

$149 at Amazon.com

Video surveillance monitors are turning up everywhere these days, even in our homes and our pockets. This Samsung camera lets anybody with an Internet connection keep an eye on her house and her stuff, from anywhere in the world.

The SmartCam attaches to your home network either through an Ethernet cable or a wireless connection. You set it up with password protection to ensure that only you can see what’s going on. The system lets you install multiple cameras to cover different zones of the house.

Next, install software on your desktop computer — PC or Mac — or on your Apple or Android mobile device, and you can look in on your home while on the road.

Samsung has also struck up a deal with iWatchLife, a company that offers a security video monitoring service.

For $4.99 a month, iWatchLife can automatically alert you to possible security threats. Say you’ve got the SmartCam set up in a ­corridor that ought to be empty when you’re not at home. You can program iWatchLife to send you a text message alert if the SmartCam detects a visitor.

Even if you don’t opt for the iWatchLife option, Samsung’s SmartCam is a good way to guard your home and possessions.

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