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20
Mar

Senate holds Backpage in contempt in child trafficking probe


The Senate has unanimously voted (96-0) to hold Backpage, a classified ads website, in contempt of Congress. See, Homeland Security’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued subpoenas last year, asking Backpage for extensive documentation on how it screens the ads people post. The company, however, only shared general documents that didn’t contain the information the subcommittee needed. Lawmakers are investigating the website due to allegations that it allows child sex-trafficking ads to go through. Further, lawmakers say its screening practices even help traffickers avoid prosecution by editing ads and using buzz terms like “fresh” to indicate underage prostitutes.

Backpage is known for allowing ads that offer adult services, and it became especially popular when Craigslist started banning them. Authorities believe it now earns $150 million in revenue every year. The company told investigators that it hires overseas contractors to screen advertisements. But Sen. Rob Portman (one of the people leading the investigation) revealed in Senate that it once ran a sex ad featuring a topless minor while it was also running an ad featuring a missing poster of the same child. “We’d certainly like to know what supposedly market-leading screening and moderation procedures missed that one,” he quipped.

Now that the website is held in contempt, the Senate’s lawyers can file a federal lawsuit that would force it to comply with the subpoena. Backpage’s lawyer, Elizabeth McDougall, says the company has been waiting (even requesting) the subcommittee to take the issue to court for a long time, though. The website’s defense is that it can post ads under the First Amendment’s right to free speech and that the law protects websites that post third-party content. By going to court, the company will have the platform to fight for itself.

McDougall issued this statement before the voting began:

“For nine months, Backpage.com has respectfully, and repeatedly, asked the Senate to take the steps necessary to permit Backpage.com to obtain a review of the constitutional issues by judges, rather than by the same political figures who issued the subpoenas

If the Senate now votes, as Backpage.com has long requested, to submit the issue to the courts, it will finally be authorizing the precise course of action the company has been urging for nine months. Backpage.com looks forward to a proper consideration of the important First Amendment constitutional issues by the judiciary—the branch of government charged with protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

It’s worth noting that the Senate doesn’t usually issue contempt charges. The last time it held an entity in contempt was back in 1995, when authorities were investigating then-President Bill Clinton’s activities related to the Whitewater Development Corporation.

Source: Cleveland, Congress, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters

20
Mar

Swatch’s first proper smartwatch is a Tissot


Swatch technically released smartwatches last year in the form of the Bellamy and Touch Zero One, but their narrow focuses (payments and volleyball) made them niche tools that you’re unlikely to buy. Flash forward to 2016, however, and it’s a different story: Swatch has introduced the Tissot Smart-Touch, its first broader-purpose smartwatch. It’s not a full-on computing device like TAG Heuer’s offering, but it’s still useful when you’re out and about. You can pair it with your phone to navigate using the watch hands and screen, including devices you’ve tagged with a special fob. Also, there’s a solar-powered weather station that delivers local conditions to the Smart-Touch’s display.

You’ll also get an altimeter and modern conveniences like automatic time updates. The battery should last up to a year on a charge, too, and you can recharge it using solar power. Tissot is asking around $1,100 to $1,200 — not a trivial sum, but the company notes that the Smart-Touch should still be useful as a watch well after the phone integration stops working.

The launch isn’t a total surprise: Swatch already said that its smartwatch plans would be modest, and it’s just following through on its promise. However, the question is whether or not the brand will continue on that path. After all, both traditional and upstart Swiss watchmakers are putting their names on more advanced devices. While Swatch doesn’t have grand expectations (it plans to sell just 20,000 to 40,000 Smart-Touch units in the device’s first year), there is the risk that it’ll seem behind the times if its peers embrace smartwatches in a big way.

Via: A Blog To Watch

Source: Tissot

20
Mar

Xbox One drops to $299 in Microsoft’s spring game sale


If you missed out on last fall’s Xbox One sales, you’re about to get a second chance. Microsoft is kicking off an Xbox Spring Sale on March 20th that will once again lop $50 off the Xbox One’s price. And yes, that applies to any bundle — the 500GB offerings start at as little as $299, and even that pricey The Division 1TB bundle will fall to a more reasonable $349. A handful of games (including Halo 5) will see a $20 price cut, too. The hardware deals will stick around “for a limited time,” so you may want to act quickly if you’re eager to play and don’t want to wait until June to see what E3 will bring.

There’s more coming soon afterward, too. On March 22nd, Microsoft begins a week-long Xbox Store sale that discounts games by 40 to 60 percent, including flagship games (like Fallout 4 and Far Cry Primal) and PC titles. It’ll slash prices on movies and TV shows, too, and Xbox Live Gold members can get additional discounts of up to 10 percent. In short: if you’re an Xbox fan with a little money to burn, you’ll want to keep an eye out.

Source: Xbox.com, Major Nelson

20
Mar

Automakers agree to make auto braking a standard by 2022


By 2025, almost all new vehicles in the US will come with automatic emergency braking systems, thanks to a pact 20 automakers made with the government. The companies and the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety agreed to make technology a standard feature on all new cars. A lot of automakers — including Volvo, Ford, Honda and Toyota, just to name a few — have been incorporating auto braking into some of their vehicles for quite a while now. But this joint initiative ensures that the technology will become a common item in new cars’ feature lists within a few years’ time.

The technology typically use sensors, radars, lasers and cameras to determine if you’re about to collide with other vehicles or objects. It then automatically hits the brakes if you react too slowly. Back in 2012, the European Union passed a legislation that requires new cars to have AEB. The corporations involved in this project agreed to make the pact on their own, though. And that, the NHTSA believes, will make automatic emergency braking a standard feature “three years faster than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process.” Within those three years, it could prevent up to 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries, based on data from the IIHS.

The twenty automakers are:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • FCA US LLC
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Kia
  • Maserati
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi Motors
  • Nissan
  • Porsche
  • Subaru
  • Tesla Motors Inc.
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo Car USA

Under the agreement, all vehicles that weigh 8,500 pounds and below, such as cars and average pick-up trucks, are required to have auto braking systems by September 1st, 2022. The companies will have a bit more time to adapt the technology for anything heavier than that, though: the deadline for vehicles that weigh 8,501 to 10,000 pounds is September 1st, 2025.

Via: Autoblog

Source: NHTSA

20
Mar

Viking Incogneeto Induction Warmer Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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The Viking Incogneeto Induction Warmer includes the warmer that you mount beneath the countertop, a trivet-like surface on which you put your cookware and a temperature control panel.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The kitchen as an entertainment space was a big theme at the Architectural Digest Design Show in New York City this week. A new product from Viking taps into this desire to play host while you prepare a meal for guests.

Induction Ranges
  • Samsung NE58H9970WS Slide-In Induction Range
  • GE PHS920SFSS Induction Range
  • Kenmore 95073 Induction Range

The Viking Incogneeto Induction Warmer, which costs $3,529, turns your counter into an induction cooktop: When you mount the warmer beneath your countertop, it pairs with a connected trivet so that you can heat dishes or keep them warm away from your traditional cooktop. The trivet has a red light that will let you know when it is in range of the under-mounted warmer, so you have flexibility to move the trivet and your cookware around as needed. You use a small control panel beneath your countertop to control the temperature of the warmer.

Induction cooking uses heat from electromagnetism to cook food, so an induction surface won’t work if it’s not in contact with magnetic material. This makes induction a safe and efficient way to cook food that’s growing in popularity in countertop devices such as the FirstBuild Paragon Induction Cooktop and the Oliso SmartHub & Top.

incogneetoproduct-rendering.jpgincogneetoproduct-rendering.jpg

The Incogneeto.


Viking

The Incogneeto is a more subtle way to keep food warm than old-school chafing dishes or portable burners, especially since you only have to store the trivet and you can use the countertop as you normally would when the warmer’s off. But the Incogneeto’s price, which trumps the cost of many induction ranges I’ve tested, will make this out of reach for the casual entertainer slash cook. And the product is built primarily as a warmer, not for heavy-duty tasks like searing, which makes the Incogneeto’s appeal even more limiting.

Features

  • Works beneath stone or engineered-stone countertop
  • Four temperature settings: 150, 160, 175 and 190 degree Fahrenheit
  • 650 watts of energy
20
Mar

Fitbit Blaze review


Buy now from Amazon

Fitbit has proved it’s good at making fitness trackers. Offering a breadth of quality products in just about every price range, it’s no wonder why their trackers can be found on just about every other person’s wrist. But what happens when a fitness-first company tries to make something more along the lines of a smartwatch? That’s what we all asked ourselves when Fitbit unveiled the Blaze “fitness watch” at CES 2016.

For some time now, I’ve been having trouble choosing whether I want to wear a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. Sometimes I wear both, and sometimes I wear neither. Because of this, I was really excited when I first heard about the Blaze. I thought it would be an all-in-one wearable solution to my problems, but I quickly noticed that wasn’t the case at all. In what areas does the Fitbit Blaze excel, and is it worth the high price tag? We find that out in our full Fitbit Blaze review.

Review notes: I’ve been using the Fitbit Blaze as my main fitness tracker for about 15 days. The Nexus 6P has been my smartphone companion of choice.

Design

It’s clear that Fitbit is taking design much more seriously than ever before. The Blaze doesn’t necessarily look like a fitness tracker, but it doesn’t really look like a standard smartwatch either. This is no Android Wear device, nor is it an Apple Watch. The company is trying to do design its own way with the Blaze.

The metal frame makes the watch much bigger than it needs to be

Two main parts make up the Blaze. One part consists of the watch band that’s attached to a metal frame, and the other is a small black square with a display that houses the device’s internals. The display portion can be popped out of the body, allowing you to easily swap out watch bands. My one gripe about the design is that there’s a sizable gap between the tracker itself and the metal frame, making the watch much bigger than it needs to be. Also, the display is very small compared to the overall size of the watch, so it looks like this thing is pretty much made of bezel.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 8

The company is offering three different strap styles – silicone, leather and metal. We’re reviewing the silicone variant, but you can buy the leather and metal bands from Fitbit’s website for a hefty $99.95 and $129.95, respectively. Not only do the bands cost too much money, that’s on top of the already high $200 price point for the standard Blaze. I get why Fitbit is offering extra bands, don’t get me wrong – use the silicone one during your workouts, use the leather or metal options when you’re at work or going out for the night. I just wish the company could have brought down the price a little bit more.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 15

Each one of these extra bands also come with an additional metal frame. The bands themselves can easily be removed from the frame, but it’s much easier to just pop out the tracker and put it in another frame. As is the case with other Fitbit products, the silicone band on the Blaze is very nice. It’s soft, comfortable and doesn’t collect a lot of dust or hair. It also attaches with a clasp just like a normal watch, which I find to be very helpful.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 2

The Blaze just isn’t as fashionable as other smartwatches on the market

The metal frame is super sturdy and makes the watch feel very well built. You’ll find one physical button on the left and two on the right. The one on the left is your back button, and the two on the right can be used for selecting different options when you’re in a workout. You can pause your run or create a new lap with these physical buttons, but it’s also pretty easy to select these options on the touchscreen itself.

Overall, I’m on the fence as to whether or not I like the design of the Fitbit Blaze. It’s not really as fashionable as any of the Android Wear or Apple offerings, and I can’t help but think it just looks like a tiny computer on my wrist. Some people don’t mind that, but I do. With that said, the Blaze is a really good start for Fitbit on the design front. I’m just looking forward to seeing what the next generation Blaze looks like.

Display

Fitbit Blaze review AA 5

The Blaze is the first Fitbit device to come with a color LCD display. It measures 1.25 inches and comes with a resolution of 240 x 180. Overall the screen is quite nice. It remains visible both indoors and out, and I haven’t had any problems with touch sensitivity during the review period. This isn’t an always-on display though, so it’ll go black when you’re not using it. That wouldn’t normally be a bad thing, but the Blaze isn’t all that responsive when you flick your wrist to check the time. Oftentimes I found myself flicking my wrist 2 or 3 times, then giving up and pressing the side button to turn on the display.

Features

Fitbit Blaze review AA 1

When it comes to fitness tracking, the Fitbit Blaze covers all the basics. It can track your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes. It can even track your heart rate and sleeping patterns if you choose to leave it on at night. Basically, the Blaze is a fancier version of the Charge HR with an LCD display, more notification options and guided workouts.

Fitbit Charge HR review AA 20See also: Fitbit Charge HR review3

GPS and proper waterproofing aren’t offered here

It’s not too farfetched to think that a GPS should be included on a device this large (and this pricey), but unfortunately that’s not the case. It doesn’t have GPS tracking capabilities on its own, but you can use Fitbit’s Connected GPS feature if you don’t mind carrying your smartphone with you on your run.

fitbit-blaze-review-aa-5-AA

The Fitbit Blaze also lacks waterproofing, just like with the company’s Charge HR and Surge devices. Instead, Fitbit says the Blaze is “sweat, rain and splash proof, but not swim proof.” Waterproofing has pretty much been the most requested feature in the Fitbit community for the past couple years, and it now looks like fans will need to wait even longer for this feature to be added.

The vibration motor in the Blaze is much less powerful than what you’d find on other Fitbit products or Android Wear devices. It’s not weak enough to where I wouldn’t notice it, but I wish it was a little more powerful.

For a more detailed look at the specs, check out the table below.

Display 1.25-inch touch screen LCD display
240 x 180 resolution
Heart rate monitoring Yes
Sleep tracking Yes
Water resistance Splash, rain and sweat proof, but not swim proof
GPS No
Battery life Up to 5 days
Sensors and components 3-axis accelerometer
Optical heart rate monitor
Altimeter
Ambient light sensor
Vibration motor
Compatibility Android, iOS, Windows
Colors Black, Blue, Plum
Dimensions Small: 139.7 – 170.2mm (40.13mm wide)
Large: 170.2 – 205.7mm (40.13mm wide)
XL: 205.7 – 236.2mm (40.13mm wide)

Performance

Fitbit Blaze review AA 7

Activity tracking

As is the case with other Fitbit devices, the Blaze can track your steps, calories, distance and floors. It’s very accurate in all four of these cases.

Accurate step tracking is the metric that most people look for in a fitness tracker. Like I did with the Charge HR, I counted out a certain number of steps and recorded the results on the Blaze when I was done. I started with exactly 1,500 steps, and I walked 500 equally big steps outside on the sidewalk. After I was done, the Blaze said I was at 2,004 for the day, which is very accurate for a wrist-mounted fitness tracker. I’ve also compared the Blaze’s step tracking capabilities with those of the Garmin vivosmart HR, Jawbone UP3 and the Charge HR, and it seems to be pretty spot on with all three.

Exercise tracking

Fitbit Blaze review AA 19

The Blaze excels at detecting what workout you’re currently doing

There are a handful of different exercises supported by the Fitbit Blaze, including running, biking, lifting weights, running on a treadmill, and using an elliptical. Fitbit devices have always done well with automatically recognizing what workout you’re currently doing, and the Blaze excels in this area. What this means is that you don’t need to manually select “Run” mode before you take a run. You can just go, and the Blaze will record your running stats once you’re all done.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 20

It should be noted that in addition to the exercises listed above, the Blaze also has a generic “Workout” mode. This is for your workouts where you’ll be doing multiple activities in rapid succession, so you don’t have to keep switching between modes every time you want to switch activities.

Since there’s no GPS on board, you won’t be able to accurately see how far you’ve traveled on your run, but the Blaze will estimate your distance based on your arm movement. This is a pretty rough estimation, too — I went on a 3.9-mile run, and the Blaze only recorded it as a 3.5-mile run. This is pretty good for not having a connected smartphone nearby, but not accurate enough to rely on for every workout.

fitbit-blaze-review-aa-12-AA

At the end of each workout, you’ll be shown an overview screen with your time, distance, max and average heart rate, burned calories and steps. You can get more detailed information in the smartphone companion app once the Blaze is done syncing. These statistics should be more than enough for the average person, but likely won’t suffice for folks who are really serious about tracking their workouts. You’ll definitely get better results with a triathlon watch or something similar, but those are also much more expensive.

Heart rate tracking

Fitbit Blaze review AA 16

The Blaze’s heart rate monitor sits on the underside of the watch and remains pretty unnoticeable when you’re wearing it. You can set the HRM to be always on or off, but you should probably just keep it in Auto mode. This way it will only monitor your heart rate when you’re active, and not just when you’re sitting around. If you don’t care about this feature, you also have the option of turning it off, which will likely result in a few extra hours of battery life.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 4

But how does it perform? Well, before we get into that, we should tell you that this isn’t going to be nearly as accurate as a chest strap. Although they’re not the most convenient workout accessories, chest straps are the way to go if you need something that will give you accurate HR readings.

fitbit-blaze-review-aa-3-AA

Heart rate tracking on the Blaze is one of its lowest points

Heart rate tracking on the Blaze is one of its lowest points. If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that can accurately report your resting heart rate, the Blaze is for you. Anything more than that, though, and you should look elsewhere. During our testing, we just couldn’t get the HRM to rise above 150 BPM. Even at the most intense moments, when our heart rate should be closer to the 175-180 BPM range, the Blaze just stayed at 150. This is quite unfortunate, as Fitbit has been marketing its PurePulse Heart Rate technology as one of the Blaze’s main selling points.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 13

All in all, the Blaze will give you accurate resting heart rate stats, but nothing more than that. If you’re looking to train in a certain zone or want accurate results while you’re in a workout, you probably shouldn’t be seeking out a wrist-mounted HR tracker anyway.

Sleep tracking

Fitbit Blaze review AA 11

Fitbit devices are really good at tracking sleep, and the Blaze is no different. Unlike other fitness trackers, there’s no need to manually log your sleep in the Fitbit app. You don’t even need to press a “sleep now” button before you go to bed. When you wear it to bed, the app will automatically log your sleep and record any time you were restless or got up in the night. It’s usually pretty accurate, too. Sleep stats are pretty limited, and it doesn’t show you any info on deep or light sleep. The statistics the app does show you should be just fine for most people though.

One thing to note is that the Blaze is sort of big, so it’s not as comfortable as the Charge HR or other smaller fitness trackers. This might turn some people away from wearing it every night.

FitStar

Fitbit Blaze review AA 22

Fitbit bought a company called FitStar last year, and the company’s exercise software is one of the headline features on the Blaze. From the FitStar menu on your watch, you can select three different cardio routines — Warm It Up, 7-Minute Workout, or 10-Minute Abs. Once you make your selection, you’ll be shown how to do each workout for a few seconds. You’ll then have about 30 seconds to do each workout, then move on to the next one.

The workouts are overall easy to follow, but offer no room for improvement. You’ll still get a brief overview screen of your workout after your routine is finished, but it doesn’t motivate you to do better next time, nor does it come with any truly challenging workouts. I get why FitStar is on the Blaze, but it just seems like Fitbit didn’t try very hard to perfect this feature.

Software

Fitbit Blaze review AA 9

Fitbit devices usually have a pretty basic user interface, but not the Blaze. Thanks to the LCD touchscreen display, you can do a little bit more on the Blaze compared to other Fitbit devices.

The device’s home screen is a watch face, and you can choose from four different styles in the companion app. None of them are particularly good, though. They all look and act differently, which is nice, but they aren’t all that intuitive to interact with.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 21

You can scroll through the watch menus by swiping to the left on the display. This is how you’ll select different workouts, FitStar, timers, alarms and the settings menu. You should try your best to remember to always manually navigate back to your home screen, though. For some reason, if you leave your watch on a certain menu – say the FitStar screen – and your watch goes to sleep, flicking your wrist will bring you back to the that menu, not the home screen, even if your watch has been idle for a few hours.

Fitbit Blaze review AA 23

Moto 360 Sport review AA 25Related: Moto 360 Sport review11

From the watch face, you can swipe down to turn notifications on or off, or control the music that’s currently playing on your phone. Swiping up will give you access to your recent messages. Having the ability to receive notifications on your wrist is great, but unfortunately this is the most undercooked part of the whole watch. From the Fitbit app, you can turn on call, text and calendar notifications, and that’s it. No Facebook, no Twitter, not even email. I’m not saying I particularly need Twitter mentions on my wrist while I’m out and about, but I wish the option was at least there.

Fitbit wants to simplify notifications on your wrist, and that unfortunately means options are limited on the Blaze

It should also be noted that notifications are quite buggy at the moment. With my Blaze connected to my phone, there have been times where I haven’t gotten any notifications sent to my wrist at all. That’s pretty frustrating, but Fitbit offers somewhat of a fix for it. You can enable a widget in the notification shade that will help with missing or late notifications, but I’m not really sure that’s a viable solution to the problem.

fitbit-blaze-review-aa-9-AA

Out of all the companion apps I’ve used over the years, Fitbit’s app is my favorite. It’s easy to use and it looks good. The app’s home screen, or Dashboard, shows you which device you’re using, and all of your daily stats below that. You can click on each statistic to get more details on your progress throughout the day. Tapping on your device will bring you to the settings menu, where you can change watch faces, notification settings and more.

Best Android Fitness apps and workout appsSee also: 15 best Android fitness apps and workout apps37

You can slide out the menu to the left to access Challenges, Friends, your account and a tab to manage your alarms. The app is really good at providing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly challenges, and the built-in social features are great too. It’s easy to connect and chat with other Fitbit users.

Fitbit Blaze screenshots 4
Fitbit Blaze screenshots 5
Fitbit Blaze screenshots 2
Fitbit Blaze screenshots 1

Battery

Fitbit Blaze review AA 14

Fitbit says the Blaze can last up to 5 days on a single charge, and I can vouch for that claim. I’ve been able to make it last for close to 5 days pretty much the entire time I’ve had the device. It’s not often that you’ll need to charge the Blaze, and trust me — that’s a good thing.

fitbit-blaze-review-aa-2-AA

Charging this thing is a task. You can’t just plug a USB cable into it, and there’s definitely no wireless charging here. You need to take the device out of the metal frame and place it in a little plastic charging cradle, then hook it up to a computer or charging brick. It’s pretty annoying to charge it this way, but luckily you won’t have to do it that often.

Gallery

Should you buy it?

Fitbit Blaze review AA 10

Buy now from Amazon

So, should you consider the Fitbit Blaze? You need to know what you’re buying before we answer that one.

The Fitbit Blaze isn’t as smart as a smartwatch and it’s not as advanced as some of the other fitness trackers out there. It doesn’t come with a GPS, it’s not waterproof, and anything beyond resting heart rate is a flop. With that said, it’s very good at the basics, which is par for the course with Fitbit products. Step tracking is pretty much as good as it can get, battery life is great, and with the exception of the heart rate monitor, it’s a great all-around fitness companion. There are also a variety of different bands available for the Blaze if you want to wear it all day.

Bottom line, the Fitbit Blaze is a fitness tracker with a few smartwatch-y features thrown in that aren’t all that great. If you aren’t keen on the design of the Blaze, you’d be better off going with the Charge HR — it’s a bit more than half the price on Amazon and comes with most of the same features.

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20
Mar

Find your style with Fit Cat, Timr and more great Android Wear watch faces


watchface-roundup-mysterious-forest-hero

There are new Android Wear watch faces being added, or updated in the Google Play Store on a daily basis. Trying to keep up with all of the new additions is, at best, a daunting task. So we’ve grabbed up 5 awesome watch faces for you to check out. Whether you’ve been looking for something relatively simple, or you want to be able to see how many steps you’ve taken each day, there is a face here for you.

Let’s see what watch faces are in this week’s roundup.

World Timer

watchface-roundup-around-the-world.jpg?i

It’s a breeze to talk to your friends all over the world with just the tap on your screen. The bigger problem becomes trying to figure out what time it is in a different country. Nobody wants to be the jerk sending a text message at 3:00 AM. That’s World Timer Watch Face has you covered with access to 24 different time zones at a glance. Best of all, it’s available for free on the Google Play Store.

You have access to a decent number of settings, but you’ll need to pull your smartphone out of your pocket when you do. It’s here that you can select your reference city for time zone, choose which cities and timezones are displayed, adjust color options, and choose what is displayed on your watch face. The World Timer Watch Face is analog, but in a 24 hour format that can be a bit confusing when you first take a look at it. Once you get used to how everything is setup the ability to see what time it is across the world can come in quite handy.

World Timer Watchface ($0.99)

Fit Cat

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Plenty of watch faces will allow you to sync to Google Fit so that you can easily see how active you have been, by glancing at your smartwatch. The question you should be asking, is how many of them give you that info while also providing you with an adorable animated cat? Fit Cat does exactly that. It also works as a game which lets you compete against friends for the highest step count.

This is a really simple — and adorable, watch face. The middle of your screen is taken up by a pudgy orange cat. This guy is animated and you might catch him sleeping or batting around a ball of yarn. Your battery percentage will appear on the left, and the day of the month is on the right. Above the cat you’ll see the time in a digital format, with your current step count displayed underneath. Adorable, informational, and available for just $0.99, it’s definitely worth taking a look.

Fit Cat ($0.99)

Mysterious Forest

watchface-roundup-mysterious-forest.jpg?

If you’re hoping for something that is both gorgeous and informative then the Mysterious Forest watch face might catch your eye. It’s a glimpse into a watercolor forest that has successfully blended technology and art. The only information that is displayed is the time, but you will see the occasional animated animal pop their head out of the bushes.

You’ve got a few options and they are all available right on your smartwatch. You can adjust the size of the animated fireflies, and leafs in the watch face — although you will see that doing so quickly kills the battery. You can also opt between a 12 and 24 hour display, and choose what information shows up in ambient mode. This beautiful watch face is available now for free on the Google Play Store.

Mysterious Forest (Free)

Timr

watchface-roundup-timr.jpg?itok=a0NoN1eJ

If you’re a fan of having an extremely simple watch face, then the Timr Watch Face might be the one for you. It doesn’t display a ton of information for you to look at, but it does have a beautiful and minimalist design to it that uses Materal Design. You’ll only find one option, which isn’t surprisingly considering the simple design.

The screen is separated into two very distinct parts. On the bottom an animation that ticks off the seconds on a ruler is running, against a bright colored background. The top of the watch face has the date, with the time in bold underneath it at the center of the watch face. When it comes to options you have access to eleven colors for the background of the ruler animation, and that’s it. You can grab this one on the Play Store for free.

Timr (Free)

Fiore

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Spring hasn’t quite gotten here in the US yet, but it’s getting closer by the day. If you need a dash of color to help get you through a blustery winter, then the Fiore Watch Face by Iris should catch your eye. This watch face features bouquets of flowers that surround the info you want at a glance. If you’ve been feeling gloomy than a dash of color may be just what you need.

There are seven different sets of flowers that are displayed, and by default you’ll get a different one each day of the week. In the middle of the screen you’ll see the time displayed in the middle of the screen, with the date just above it. You do have access to several options with this watch face. Adjusting the time format, choosing when the backgrounds change, and tweaking what is displayed in ambient mode. You can grab the Fiore Watch Face by Iris for free on the Google Play Store.

Fiore (Free)

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20
Mar

Yes, the Verizon Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are SIM unlocked


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You can give Verizon the boot, but keep your Verizon phone around for use on another carrier.

Verizon is one of the worst offenders when it comes to pre-installed apps and changes to the Galaxy S7’s software, but if you so desire the phone will at least let you use another carrier’s SIM. As has been the case for some time on its LTE phones, Verizon’s versions of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are completely SIM unlocked and ready to be used with another SIM of your choosing — for example, our T-Mobile SIM here.

Unlike the models from some other carriers, there aren’t any extra hoops to go through on the Verizon Galaxy S7 — if you want to use another carrier’s SIM, just pop it in and you’re basically good to go. The phone will likely switch to a “Global” network mode once it detects a non-Verizon SIM, but you can switch over to “LTE/GSM/UMTS” mode under “Mobile networks” in the settings in a matter of seconds. Chances are the phone won’t load the proper APN settings for the carrier (which makes sense), but those are easy enough to find and enter manually as well.

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Here’s the thing, though: You’ll want to keep an eye on what radio bands you want to use before you go relying on your Verizon Galaxy S7 with a different carrier’s SIM in it. Just because the SIM slot is unlocked doesn’t mean the phone is perfectly set for use on another carrier. Per Samsung’s support website, here are the bands that its version of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge support:

  • FDD LTE: Band 2/3/4/5/7/8/13/18/19/20
  • TDD LTE: Band 38/39/40/41
  • UMTS: Band 1/2/5/8 (850/900/1900/2100 MHz)
  • GSM: Band 2/3/5/8 (850/900/1800/1900 Mhz)
  • TDS CDMA: 34/39

For example, T-Mobile and AT&T use Bands 2, 4, 12 and 17 for LTE — but the Verizon GS7 and GS7 edge only support 2 and 4. That means you’ll still be able to use the phones on T-Mobile and AT&T, but you may not get the full power of the network depending on where you’re using them.

So long as you keep that in mind, you’re pretty well set to pop SIMs from major carriers into your Verizon Galaxy S7 or S7 edge — whether that’s just for a few days, or permanently when you decide to give Verizon the boot but want to keep your phone.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
  • The SD card is back on the GS7
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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20
Mar

This is the future of video game development


The Girls Make Games initiative aims to encourage young women to dive into the rich industry of video game development, and it seems to be doing the trick. This year at the Independent Games Festival awards ceremony, nine young ladies from Girls Make Games collected the ID@Xbox Rising Star award for their work on The Hole Story. It’s a top-down RPG featuring an archaeologist named Wendy who digs a portal to a fantastical dimension in her backyard. Yeah, it’s pretty neat.

We caught up with the winners right after they collected their prizes and had one question for each of them: What do you want the future of video games to look like?

20
Mar

GDC 2016 Revisited: Virtual reality takes a big leap


And just like that, GDC 2016 has come to a close. But, before the Engadget team says goodbye to the gaming conference, we wanted to give you a look at some of the highlights of the week. Virtual reality was definitely the hot topic of conversation, with plenty of interesting news from Sony, Oculus and other companies. We’ll see how these announcements play out over the next few months. Now, who’s ready for E3 in June?

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