As the year comes to a close, it's time to reflect on how I spent 2012—with my face buried in technology. This year introduced a brand new screen to my life, and as a new tablet bridged the gap between my nomadic smartphone and my powerhouse laptop, I dove headfirst into some new apps, subscriptions, services and games.
The "new" iPad: In March, I picked up Apple's nameless third-generation iPad (commonly referred to at the time as "The New iPad"). Despite it's young age, it's sadly been discontinued. But I'm in no rush to upgrade. While I still have an iPhone 4S—with the ancient-in-the-tech-world 10-pin connector—it's nice to use the same cord for all my mobile needs.
mobileexpressions Textured Tan iPad case: I spent the first few months with Apple's Smart Cover on my iPad, but longed for something a little more substantial. This case looks sharp, gives me more viewing and typing angles and protects my tablet on all sides.
Pinterest: I know it's not exactly a secret or "hidden gem," but I would be remiss to not include Pinterest on this list. It dominates much of my spare time online. I use it for sharing recipes, gift ideas, photography tips and decorating inspiration. If you're not on Pinterest yet—and that inlcludes you, guy who thinks Pinterest is only for chicks—you should be.
Next Issue: I used to be a magazine junkie. I still am, but I used to be too. Only these days, I don't touch the glossies and instead reach for this subscription-based app. For the price of two or three issues ($9.99 per month), I get the latest issues of some of my favorite magazines, including Real Simple, Coastal Living, Esquire and Vogue. Plus I can take them anywhere, all the time. The waiting room has never been the same.
Spotify: Shortly after my magazine-reading went digital, my music-listening went on the cloud. I signed up for the package with the most features—Spotify Premium, less than $10 a month—and have access to millions of songs on demand, unlimited play, access on my phone and tablet, and the ability to download music and listen offline. And Spotify Radio, which lets you create stations based on your existing playlists, has completely replaced Pandora for me.
Ticket to Ride: When it comes to killing time at train stops and airport terminals, this is my game of choice. It's an app-version of a popular board game that combines geography and strategy in a small tablet-sized package. If my S.O. and I aren't playing against each other in Pass-and-Play mode on the plane, I'm going solo against online competitors.
Incipio offGRID Backup Battery case: All this gaming and app'ing (Is that a word?) can drain my iPhone's battery quick. I wanted a backup battery case, but something slim and not too heavy. Although I've only had it for a little while, this case fits the bill on both counts. I'm impressed with how little bulk it adds to my iPhone, considering the massive battery boost it provides.
Apple EarPods: I don't have the iPhone 5, but man I love these headphones. Compared to the Apple-issue ear buds of yesteryear, these EarPods are a huge improvement in sound quality and ear ergonomics. If you're still using the old white earbuds, $29 is well worth the upgrade.
Lo & Sons The O.G. bag: And what do I carry it all around in? This, The O.G. bag from Lo & Sons. There's a place for literally everything in this bag—my laptop, tablet, keys, a change of shoes and a zillion other pockets for nearly everything—making it the perfect Airplane "personal item." The sturdy construction and heavy-duty nylon of Lo & Son's bags makes me feel like I'll be toting this around for years to come.
Vintage Polaroid Land Model 250: This beauty belonged to a great uncle of mine, and although it hasn't worked in years, it makes a heck of a statement piece. I display this on a bookshelf in my living room, and love the vintage vibe it plays off some of my newer pre-fab pieces.
(Images: Taryn Fiol; Lo & Sons as linked above)