Skip to content

Archive for

9
May

A hunger for chicken nuggets broke Twitter’s retweet record


When Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars selfie (read: Samsung promo) broke the record for the most retweeted Twitter post ever, it raised a question: what, if anything could top that? Breaded chicken can, apparently. Twitter has confirmed that high school student Carter Wilkerson’s tweet asking for help scoring free Wendy’s chicken nuggets has broken the retweet record, racking up over 3.43 million shares as we write this. As with the Oscars photo, though, he didn’t achieve this through purely grassroots support — a corporate pile-on helped him reach the milestone.

Just two days after Wilkerson’s initial plea (which came after Wendy’s told him he’d need 18 million retweets for a year of free nuggets), companies and celebrities started sharing the tweet. Apple, Google, Microsoft, T-Mobile and United were among the first, while stars like Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, CNN’s Jake Tapper and electronic musician Zedd also got in on the action. Wilkerson even appeared on DeGeneres’ show, creating a surreal moment where the record holder was giving a boost to her challenger. In other words, you still need corporate backing and a lot of mainstream media exposure to get that many retweets under your belt.

Not that there’s much reason to complain about the end result. Although Wilkerson is clearly short of his 18 million goal, Wendy’s is both giving him his free “nuggs” and, more importantly, donating $100,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Has this call for retweets been spun into a publicity stunt? Absolutely — but it’s hard to object too loudly when a half-serious tweet leads to a charity contribution.

.@carterjwm is now the most retweeted tweet of all-time. That’s good for the nuggets, and $100k to @DTFA. Consider it done. #nuggsforcarter pic.twitter.com/k6uhsJiP4E

— Wendy’s (@Wendys) May 9, 2017

HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS pic.twitter.com/4SrfHmEMo3

— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 6, 2017

Source: Twitter Blog, Carter Wilkerson (Twitter), Wendy’s (Twitter)

Advertisements
9
May

Amazon’s Echo family can now make calls and send messages


One of the most notable new features introduced alongside Amazon’s new Echo Show is the ability to make calls with Alexa, something that’s been rumored for a while now. And the good news is that this feature isn’t limited to just the Echo Show. When it rolls out later today (via an update to the Alexa iOS and Android apps), you’ll be able to use all existing Echo hardware to place voice calls, video calls and send messages. You’ll obviously need an Echo Show for video calling, but the support for voice calling and messaging is pretty robust.

If you have an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show, you can initiate calls (including video calls with the Show) and send messages to anyone else in your address book who has turned on Alexa calling. The recipients of your calls don’t even need to have an Echo — they just need to have the Alexa app installed on their phone and turn on the feature. If you have an Echo and receive a call, Alexa will alert you and a green ring will be displayed on your device. From there, you can tell Alexa to pick up the call or ignore it. As for messages, you’ll hear a chime when one arrives and the green light ring will appear on your device; you can then ask Alexa to play the message back to you.

The last calling feature is something Amazon’s calling “Drop In” — this makes the Echo Show basically work as a video intercom that you can activate at any time, whether the devices are in different places in your house or totally different locations entirely. Obviously, you’ll only want to enable Drop In with contacts you trust and don’t mind popping up on your Echo Show at any time.

With this, Amazon has basically turned the entire Echo ecosystem into a pretty robust speakerphone. Ironic considering how badly the Fire Phone flopped, but this feature makes perfect sense for the Echo hardware. When Google first unveiled Home almost one year ago, the company said you’d eventually be able to send text messages with your voice — but that feature still hasn’t materialized.

The feature is even more timely given that Microsoft and Harmon Kardon just announced a Cortana-powered voice speaker yesterday. The Invoke won’t arrive until the fall, however, which gives Amazon plenty of time to press its advantage in the growing voice-activated speaker market.

Update, 12:05PM ET: We’ve confirmed with Amazon that calling will be enabled today through an update to the iOS and Android Alexa apps.

Source: Amazon

9
May

Hulu Live TV has the potential for greatness, but it’s a tough sell


Of all the streaming live TV services to launch over the past few years, Hulu’s makes the most sense. After all, it’s the company that managed to craft a successful business out of streaming TV and movies, despite plenty of naysayers. Live TV is simply the next logical step. And unlike Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now, Hulu’s live service is bolstered by its significant on-demand library, which also includes critically acclaimed original shows like The Handmaid’s Tale. But while it all sounds great on paper, Hulu still has a lot of kinks to work out before its live TV service is ready for the average couch potato.

Starting at $40 a month, Hulu’s live offering delivers more than 50 channels, 50 hours of “cloud DVR” recording and an ad-free viewing experience for its existing content (which normally costs $12 a month). That’s a big step up from Sling TV’s entry-level plan, which costs $20 a month with 30 channels. Hulu’s pricing makes sense when you consider the amount of channels it offers, along with the wealth of its current library. Clearly, the company isn’t aiming to be the cheapest offering on the market. Instead, it’s delivering a compelling value for discerning types — or at least, that seems to be the pitch.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulu moves towards a cheaper subscription plan eventually, especially when you consider the cost of add-ons like 200 hours of cloud DVR ($15 a month) or unlimited screen viewing (also $15 a month). You can also bundle those add-ons together for $20 a month. Once you start adding new features (Showtime is another $9 a month), it’s not long before Hulu’s TV service starts to look like your cable bill: complex and expensive.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start exploring Hulu’s live TV service is that there’s no channel guide. For me, someone who’s spent years growing used to guides on cable and satellite TV, this omission was incredibly disorienting. Instead, Hulu asks you about your favorite channels and TV shows when you first sign on, which show up in the main menu’s “My Channels” and “Lineup” sections. Clearly, the company’s goal was to integrate the live TV programming into the same interface as its on-demand library. That’s certainly noble, but the result is initially confusing. To be fair, all of Hulu’s TV competitors have their own interface issues. They each try to recreate the classic channel guide, but they’re all a bit hard to navigate and feel slower than I’d like.

If you’ve used Hulu in the past, you’ve probably noticed that its interface has gotten a refresh as well. Partially, that’s to make room for the new TV sections, but there’s no doubt that the service needed a top to bottom spit shine as well. The new UI might also look a bit familiar to anyone who’s used Microsoft’s Zune players. There’s the same emphasis on bold typography and images, and the entire interface is broken up into a series of columns. You can likely thanks Hulu’s new head of experience, Ben Smith, for this blast from the past. He joined the company from Microsoft, where he spearheaded the TV and video design for the Xbox One, which takes plenty of design cues from the old Zune UI.

While Hulu’s new look makes a striking first impression, there’s an extreme learning curve if you’re using it on the Apple TV. That’s especially true if you’re used to Hulu’s old design. (The new interface and live TV service are currently only available on the Apple TV, Xbox One, Chromecast and the company’s iOS and Android apps.) The first column in the interface, called “Lineup,” is dedicated to content you’re following, while “Keep Watching” lets you pick up where you’ve left off on previous shows and films. The “My Channels” section is where you’ll be able to see what’s playing on your favorite networks. If you want to see what’s coming up on those channels, or want to peruse what they have available for on-demand content, you have to hold down the selection button on the Apple TV’s remote. That gesture feels alien on the Apple TV, and takes a while to get used to.

Another design flaw? If you want to watch something that isn’t in the My Channels column, you have to head up to Hulu’s top menu and choose to Browse TV networks. Then, you’re stuck scrolling down a long list of networks until you find what you’re looking for. You could just add another network to your My Channels selection, but it’s still a painful process. As much as I’d like to see more personalization and bolder UI design, this is an instance where a simple programming guide would be easier for everyone to understand. Hulu’s new interface is much easier to deal with on phones and tablets, where swiping and scrolling through columns is more intuitive. I suppose that makes sense, since the core design philosophy of the Zune’s interface was focused on mobile devices as well.

When it comes to actually watching live TV, Hulu’s service works just as well as the competition. Tuning into a broadcast usually takes around two to three seconds, and the picture quality is typically solid. There isn’t much pixelation, and images are generally sharp. Discerning viewers wouldn’t mistake it for a solid HD feed from a satellite or cable source, but it’s in line with what we’ve seen from Sling TV and other services. You’re basically giving up a bit of quality for the convenience of streaming TV on a wide variety of devices. Hulu’s cloud DVR service is useful for recording newer TV episodes and films, but it’s limited to 50 hours with the base plan. If you want 200 hours, you’ll have to shell out $15 or $20 for one of the add-ons.

Hulu’s initial array of channels includes TV addict favorites like HGTV and SyFy, and, surprisingly, it also features all four major broadcast networks, including CBS. But there are still some huge programming gaps that will keep early subscribers at bay. For example, there aren’t any Viacom channels, so that leaves out MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. And, perhaps most damningly, there’s no AMC. That means you won’t be able to see The Walking Dead — the most popular show in America — on Hulu’s TV service. Those omissions are particularly surprising since they’re all supported by Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now. There’s a chance that Hulu could eventually add these channels, but who knows how long that’ll take.

There’s a lot to like about Hulu’s TV service, but it’s hard to recommend to avid TV watchers. You’ll likely get a better deal from Sling or one of the other competitors, and you’ll have access to even more channels. Hulu’s big selling point is its integration of live TV with all of the streaming content it’s known for, but aside from The Handmaid’s Tale, there’s not much that would justify a whole new subscription for many viewers. Once it fills its programming holes, though, Hulu has a chance to create the most compelling live TV service on the market. But please, bring back the channel guide.

9
May

Unlocked versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 are up for pre-order


Want one of Samsung’s lithe new S8 handsets but want to pick your own carrier? Awesome, because pre-orders have opened for unlocked versions of the nigh-bezel-free phone. In our review, mobile editor Chris Velazco proposed that the devices could almost make you forget about Samsung’s fiery news from last year.

“The S8 siblings are impeccably built, thoughtfully designed devices,” he said last month. “It’s not hard to look at these smartphones as the first steps on a road to redemption, and after a week of testing, I can confidently say these are two of the best smartphones money can buy.”

Speaking of dinero, the unlocked handsets will set you back $724.99 and $824.99 for the 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch models, respectively. Pre-ordering from Best Buy and directly through Samsung today will net you a device when it becomes available this May 31st.

Source: Samsung

9
May

Snapchat’s latest tricks include ‘infinite’ snaps and AR emoji


The war for ephemeral app supremacy in 2017 rages on with the Snapchat’s latest update. The biggest new feature is the ability to watch the video or look at the photo someone sent you for an unlimited amount of time versus the previous 1-to-10 second lifespan. So long as you don’t close it, the media will live on for “infinity.” Except, once it’s closed, the clip will disappear into the digital abyss, the company says. So, not quite the “infinity” you and I are most familiar with.

What’s more you can illustrate your stuff with emoji, and use augmented reality to blur the line between real and fake when crafting a disappearing photo or video. You know, the features Snapchat bragged about last month mere hours before Facebook announced its own take.

As The Verge notes, the Snapchat UI has been tweaked for these new features, so next time you open the app, things might look a little different.

Different doesn’t quite guarantee that Snapchat will be able to close the gap with Instagram Stories’ user count, though. Last we knew, the Snapchat clone had around 50 million fewer users. And that’s just for a subsection of the photo-minded social network. Instagram proper is sitting at 700 million users and is poised to crest 1 billion this year.

Via: The Verge

Source: Snapchat

9
May

Simple Habit lets you meditate without an internet connection


“Mindfulness” may be a bit of a buzzword — but for many people, taking 10 or 20 minutes out of the day to clear your thoughts can be extremely valuable. And if you’re not a expert, “guided” sessions (where you listen to someone who walks you through a focused meditation exercise) can be a very helpful way to get started.

The Simple Habit app for iOS and Android is one of the best guided meditation apps out there, with hundreds of sessions organized by what you want to accomplish, how much time you have or how you’re feeling. Today, Simple Habit 3.0 is launching with a host of new features that solidify its status as a go-to app for anyone who wants a little more peace of mind.

The most notable feature is probably an offline mode — you can now download any meditation exercise to your phone so it can be played back when you don’t have an internet connection. Simple Habit says that this was one of the three most requested features from its users, who said they often find themselves wanting to meditate while on a flight or subway ride where there’s no internet. Many of Simple Habit’s meditations are organized into “sessions” that last a week or longer, building on what you meditated on the day before. The offline feature is smart enough to download an entire series all at once so you’re not left high and dry when you’re ready to move on to the next day.

Another new user-requested feature is an improved search experience. Simple Habit says it now has more than 1,000 different topics, so the new search lets people browse by the different situations or moods they’re in as well as look for specific topics. Simple Habit also includes a filter in your search so you can find sessions that last around 5 minutes, 10 minutes or more than 10 minutes.

There’s also a new “recommended” section to help users dig through the many meditation sessions in the app. I haven’t used the app too much yet, so the sessions being recommended to me for starters are pretty basic introductory material, but Simple Habit says those recommendations will change and become more tailored as you listen and work your way through the app.

The last few features are pretty simple additions that nonetheless make the app feel a bit more feature-complete. You can set up a custom notification to remind you to meditate every day. That’s the kind of feature we’d expect to have seen on day one, but regardless it’s something that can help new users build their meditation habits. Simple Habit also includes the option to add the reminder directly to your calendar, and a new widget for the “today” screen for iOS surfaces the next meditation exercise in whatever series you’ve been working your way through.

Users can also build a custom meditation playlist. It works more like a “save for later” feature that adds groups of meditation exercises to a part of your profile for you to easily access later. While it doesn’t work like a “traditional” playlist, most users aren’t going to want to run through multiple sessions in a row like you do when listening to music or podcasts. Being able to save sessions for later as you browse the app will definitely make it easier to find them later when you’re ready for something new.

Simple Habit has a free tier with “more than 50” sessions, and all of these new features will be available whether or not you pay for the app — except for one. Downloading sessions for offline listening is only available to premium paid subscribers — a subscription costs $12 a month or $100 per year. For that, you’ll also unlock the full library of Simple Habit meditation sessions. That’s not cheap, but Simple Habit is definitely a best-in-class app. And if you want to give it a shot, Simple Habit is offering a free week of the premium service for new users right now. The updated app is available now in the App Store and on Google Play.

9
May

Tim Cook and Jeff Williams Named to TIME’s List of 20 Most Influential People in Tech Right Now


Apple CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams have been named to TIME’s list of The 20 Most Influential People in Tech Right Now.

Cook ranked fourth for his “nearly unmatched influence over the technology world” as head of the world’s most valuable company.

Anything Apple does is bound to be copied by a seemingly endless number of rivals, meaning his choices will reverberate far beyond One Infinite Loop. Today, Apple is rumored to be experimenting with everything from advanced artificial intelligence to augmented reality and self-driving vehicles. Given Apple’s role as tastemaker extraordinaire, how Cook decides to move forward with any one of these projects will shape the future of the consumer technology landscape.

Cook finished behind Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the list.

Williams ranked 17th for his “no small task” of overseeing Apple’s entire supply chain since 2010 as Cook’s right-hand man.

Cook may be the public face and chief decision maker at Apple, but Jeff Williams is second in command. An Apple veteran who’s been with the company for nearly 20 years, Williams is often referred to as “Tim Cook’s Tim Cook.” He was named chief operating officer in late 2015, a post previously held by Cook, and has been overseeing Apple’s entire supply chain since 2010, no small task given the complexity of the company’s hardware operations. Williams also oversaw development of the Apple Watch, the company’s first new product category during the Cook era and a sign he’s closely involved with new projects.

Some others that made the list include IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Tags: Tim Cook, Jeff Williams, TIME
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

9
May

Visa and Payments Startup ‘Current’ Launch Debit Card for Kids That Ties to Parental Control App


Visa has partnered with payments startup Current and today the companies are launching a new “smart debit card” and iOS app that aim to give kids and parents more autonomy and security when it comes to doling out spending money (via TechCrunch). The new Current card functions like any other Visa debit card, allowing teens and younger kids to spend money without needing cash, but comes connected with a parentally-controlled iOS or Android smartphone app.

The Current iOS app [Direct Link] has two sides, for both parents and their kids. Parents can set up specific chores within the app, include a description, and set an amount of money that will be funneled into the kid’s Current card, through the parent’s connected bank account, upon completion. Automated allowances can also be set to recur on a weekly or monthly basis, and parents can block spending from specific businesses like casinos and bars, as well as set spending limits.

The company said that its biggest inspiration was helping to streamline the weekly allowance hassle that parents have to deal with when their kids require money, which has traditionally been given in cash.

With Current, you’ll get your own debit card and an app with three smart wallets for spending, saving, and giving. Asking parents for money can be awkward, they don’t always have cash on them and you have to go through this every week. Current automates your allowance so it arrives in your spending account when you need it.

If you get stuck somewhere and you’re out of money, you can get more from your parents instantly through Current. It’s as simple as texting and the money will show up right away.

On the kid side of things, once they are issued the Current card, they’ll have access to three separate wallets for spending, saving, and giving. The spending wallet is directly linked to their Current card for day-to-day expenses, the savings wallet allows them to place part of their allowance into a safe place for later spending, and the giving wallet encourages donation to thousands of charities. The company said that all of the app’s features will help to inspire “real world, financial education for kids.”


Current also works with Apple iMessages, Facebook Messenger, Kik, and a few other text services, so parents can send money to their kid’s Current card through a text message. The company said that any bank in the United States can be added into the app, and an international expansion is “in the works.”

Multiple subscription plans are available for parents interested: $5/month for a month-to-month subscription with an additional $5 charge for the debit card; $3/month for a 1-year subscription and a free debit card; and a $2/month for a 2-year subscription and a free debit card. The latter two subscriptions are billed upfront at the start of each billing period, meaning $36 and $48 are charged every year and every two years, respectively. Bank transfers, payments, and in-network ATM usage have no additional fees, but replacement cards cost $5.


More information about Current, including security and privacy features, can be found on the company’s website. Once parents sign up and make a Student Account for their kids, which requires a social security number, Current will issue the Visa debit card to the designated address.

Those without kids can also sign up for Current’s free-to-use individual wallets, which function like traditional mobile payment apps and allow for peer-to-peer payments among friends and family.

Tag: Visa
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

9
May

Meizu M5, M5s, and M5 Note review


Unlike virtually every Western smartphone manufacturer, Meizu has long delivered ultra-affordable smartphones with surprisingly few compromises. While the company has been no stranger to controversy with Apple-esque designs, alleged patent infringement, and benchmark cheating, it’s difficult to dismiss the amount of value Meizu brings to the table.

As a sequel to the M3 series, the M5 series looks quite promising on the surface. For just around $100, it appears that you can get a well-built, reasonably functional smartphone. So, does this perception reflect reality? If yes, are Meizu’s offerings superior to the competition? Let’s find out in our comprehensive review of the Meizu M5, M5s, and M5 Note!

More Meizu

  • Meizu unveils Super mCharge
  • Meizu M5s announcement
  • Meizu M5 Note announcement
  • Meizu M5 announcement

Before we delve into our review, we wanted to quickly make note of our composite approach. Yes, this is indeed a single review of three distinct smartphones: the Meizu M5, M5s, and M5 Note. Admittedly, there are some differences between these models, some more significant than others. In order to reduce confusion and ensure a continuous tone, this review will balance the critiques of each of the three. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts on this style in the comment section at the very end of this review.

Design

The Meizu M5s and Meizu M5 Note follow Meizu’s standard design language. That is to say that they feature somewhat boxy, premium metal shells with deliberate antenna lines and craftily chamfered edges. The M5 Note is without plastic top and bottom caps, but otherwise is simply a slightly larger version of the M5s.

Meizu was able to deliver premium hardware at a fraction of the cost of the competition

Thus, the physical aspects of the M5s and M5 Note are pretty much identical. While you could certainly argue that these designs are derivative, it remains quite impressive that Meizu was able to deliver such premium hardware at a fraction of the cost of the competition. The relative scratch resistance, cleanly and consistently machined edges, and tactile power and volume buttons are all features that we wish we’d see more of in this price category.

Presumably to cut down on costs, the cheapest model of the trio, the Meizu M5, features a cheaper matte plastic design. While not as premium, the M5’s design is still quite nice. The build quality isn’t quite on par with the others, but it’s still a bit more than we expected at this price.

The M5 is the most ergonomic of the bunch

Plus, I personally found the M5 to be the most ergonomic of the bunch. The M5s and M5 Note are nice to hold, sure, but the M5 has more extreme curves. Combined with its smaller size, it’s no wonder why it stands out amongst the others.

Across the board, we have one minor complaint. The power and volume buttons are placed closely together; a lack of tactile differentiation on the power button sometimes made it difficult to find the correct button without fumbling around. This didn’t break the experience by any means, but it’s something that we wish Meizu will consider for future models.

Perhaps the most iconic design feature here is Meizu’s mTouch navigation system. Rather than following the herd of Android manufacturers following the standard three-key navigation system, Meizu has developed their own single-key solution.

See also:

The pros and cons of fingerprint scanner gestures

March 1, 2017

Multitasking is handled beautifully without any keys

Multitasking is handled beautifully without any keys; you can simply swipe up from the bottom to quickly lock or close any open apps. Combined with Meizu’s smooth animations, this gesture feels surprisingly natural in practice.

The two most common functions – home and back – are cleverly implemented into the single physical button. You simply tap to go back and press to go home. Although this implementation can certainly take a day or two to get used to, you’ll very likely find yourself missing it when returning to other Android devices.

To sweeten the deal, the single button also functions as a fingerprint reader. It’s not the fastest or most accurate reader in the world, but it gets the job done. And, for this price, that’s all you can really ask for.

Display

Meizu has taken a logical approach to the displays of the M5 series. The lower-end M5 and M5s feature small 5.2-inch displays, each with resolutions of 720p. The still low-end but ever so slightly more premium M5 Note, however, features a standard 5.5-inch 1080p display.

It seems that Meizu has designed the M5 Note with the heavy content consumer in mind, as its display is not only larger and of higher-resolution, but is also of higher quality. The M5 Note’s display is noticeably better than both the M5s’ and the M5’s; colors are reproduced more accurately and there’s a greater amount of contrast.

We’re disappointed in the sunlight readability of all three models

The displays on the M5s and M5 are still acceptable, but they’re nothing to write home about. While we understand the need to cut costs, we’re disappointed in the sunlight readability of all three models. You definitely won’t be able to comfortably use these phones on sunny days.

There is some good news though. Unlike some competing options, the M5 series includes a standard oleophobic coating. This coating is often taken for granted, despite being very important for a “real glass” feel. We also didn’t notice any scratches on our units after a few weeks of use. These detailed attributes might sound small, but they really can make or break the overall experience.

Performance

To put it quite frankly: Meizu skimped on performance for each of the M5 devices. The phones are noticeably slow even when doing simple tasks like launching apps. We suppose that you might be able to get used to this over time. If you’re coming from an even slightly more expensive device, though, you’ll find these devices a bit poky.

When taking a look at the spec sheet, it becomes evident why this is the case. Although the series is being powered by octa-core Mediatek processors, each of the utilized processors are old, low-end chips. The selection process seems random at best.






The M5 uses the one-year-old MT6750, while the M5s uses the two-year-old MT6753, while still the M5 Note uses the one-and-a-half-year-old MT6755 (otherwise known as the Helio P10). It feels like Meizu is simply clearing stock of their old processors with these units given their inconsistent yet consistently poor choices.

These phones simply aren’t intended for high performance tasks like gaming

It’s crucial to recognize that these phones simply aren’t intended for high performance tasks like gaming. If you’re looking for better performance at this price, you’ll want to look at phones that utilize Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors instead. The Snapdragon 430, in particular, is superior to all that’s here.

Hardware

As is standard with Chinese smartphones, each of the M5 devices are unlocked and dual-SIM. Although there is support for 4G LTE in official markets, support in Western markets is limited. For example, you’ll be limited to 3G if you try to use these phones in the United States. We recommend steering clear if you live in or travel to Western countries like the US, as the inability to connect to 4G LTE networks is a massive drawback in this day and age.

Don’t miss:

Best dual-SIM Android phones

2 weeks ago

Some may grumble about the 16 GB of storage on each of the base variants, but we feel that the added support for microSD card expansion makes up for this, given the pricing strategy. While you do have to give up one of the SIM card slots in order to make it work, Meizu has given more flexibility than we expect at this price.

Although none of the Meizu M5 models support 802.11ac, each includes support for 5 GHz Wi-Fi. There’s also support for Bluetooth 4.0. During my time with these devices, I did not notice any signal issues. This is important because some manufacturers use lower quality antennas, which causes reduced signal levels. Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case here.

You’ll want to stick to external audio with these phones

The built-in speakers vary in quality, with the M5 Note having the best speaker of the bunch and the M5s having the worst speaker of the bunch. With that said, even the M5 Note’s speaker sounds tinny and distorted. The M5s’ is even worse. Basically, you’ll want to stick to external audio with these phones.

Battery life

Ah yes, battery life. We were quite frankly expecting more from these phones during our testing, given their low-end processors and low-resolution displays. Please understand that our testing numbers overestimate actual battery life, since our testing was performed over 3G rather than 4G LTE, as the phones are not compatible with 4G LTE in the United States.

With that out of the way, I found the Meizu M5’s battery life to be just about average. I received around five and a half hours of screen on time over about thirty hours of use. That’s fine for a 3,070 mAh battery, I guess.












The M5s’ 3,000 mAh battery did slightly worse, lasting for around the same time but with about four and a half hours of screen on time. I find those numbers to be a bit disappointing, but nothing I couldn’t live with.

Strangely, the M5 Note, with the biggest battery of them all at 4,000 mAh, fared the worst. With the same type of usage, I was only getting around three hours of screen on time with a mere twelve hours of use. There was even a day when the phone died after eighteen hours with just one and a half hours of screen on time.

We suspect that there is a bug relating to “system service,” as it routinely uses a substantial amount of power, even when the phone is locked. If you were hoping to use the M5 Note for watching videos, you might want to think twice as you’ll really struggle to keep this phone alive with even light-to-moderate usage.

The decision to stick with microUSB seems a bit misguided at this point

The decision to stick with microUSB seems a bit misguided at this point, given the widespread adoption of USB Type-C. To be fair, much of the competition has not made the transition either, so we’ll let you decide whether this is a plus or a negative. At least you won’t have to buy new cables if you’re upgrading from a legacy device.

Camera

The Meizu M5, M5s, and M5 Note all include 13 MP f/2.2 rear cameras and 5 MP f/2.0 front cameras. Although it appears that each phone’s camera delivers different results, we noticed a few common themes when looking at our camera sample images.

Across the board, each phone struggled with dynamic range. As you can see in the images below, capturing buildings and the sky proved challenging, as the cameras could not properly capture both the highlights and the shadows. There’s also a noticeable lack of contrast, making photos look “flat” and sometimes lifeless compared to the actual scenes. To top it off, images were soft and lacked detail.

Meizu M5 camera samples:

The Meizu M5’s camera sits somewhere between the M5s and M5 Note in terms of quality. While it generally does an okay job, it tends to underexpose and reproduce colors as overly warm. While it’s certainly possible to get a decent shot with the M5, it offers nothing more than we expect at this price.

Meizu M5s camera samples:

Despite its higher cost, the M5s actually performed worse than the M5 in our testing. As you can see in the images above, the M5s had especially poor dynamic range. This made it extremely difficult to capture photos outdoors, as the phone oftentimes couldn’t properly expose entire scenes. There’s also a bit of noise in some of these photos, which surprised us given the amount of light available while shooting.

Meizu M5 Note camera samples:

The camera on the Meizu M5 Note performed better than the others, but not by much. Although there are some images that you’d probably never guess came from a $130 phone, many of the problems with the other models are also present here. Not only does the M5 Note also have a hard time with dynamic range, but it also incorrectly assessed focus on multiple occasions. Combined with largely hit or miss colors, and you’re left with a shooting experience that doesn’t really punch above average.

Each of these devices can capture 1080p video at 30fps, and we’ve included a sample clip captured with the M5 Note in our video review. To see the video for yourself, simply scroll to the top of this page.

The software aspect of the shooting experience remains the same from previous Meizu devices. As we have stated before, Meizu’s camera app is expectedly quite nice. There’s a nice amount of control, but enough balance to make it easy for a beginner to use.

Software

Thankfully, the M5, M5s, and M5 Note each run the same software out of the box: Meizu’s Flyme 5 on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Meizu’s software has been some of our favorite in the past, so it adds a nice touch to the overall experience. Flyme is intentionally and radically different from stock Android, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad.

Flyme offers a truly great core experience, even for foreigners

It’s Meizu’s design work and desire to simplify the user experience that makes Flyme such a pleasure to use day-to-day. The animations are thoughtful, the UI colors are punchy, and a special balance between customization and ease of use is achieved. Flyme offers a truly great core experience, even for foreigners.

Sadly, global firmware isn’t updated as frequently as Chinese firmware, so these models are still stuck on Flyme 5, even though Meizu has released Flyme 6 for the Chinese models. When we first started our testing, too, the M5 Note’s firmware had a few major bugs. Thankfully, those were ironed out with an update. However, it still raises concern as to how committed Meizu is to its global users.

The trouble for global users continues with how Flyme works with Google. Meizu does not have an official partnership with Google, which means that they are not allowed to offer Google apps and services on their smartphones. In order to appeal to global users, Meizu uses unauthorized methods to install and run Google apps and services.

While this approach works, there are some issues to be aware of. Undelivered Hangouts notifications, incompatibility with some apps like Android Pay, and general quirkiness are sadly part of the Meizu experience. You’ll also have to install Google apps using a separate installer app, as Meizu cannot preinstall the apps themselves. We hope that Meizu will take steps towards making an official relationship with Google possible in the future, as it would drastically improve the global user experience.

You’ll also want to keep in mind the update situation. Although Flyme gets updated for a relatively long period of time, Android and security patches do not. That means that you won’t be receiving an Android Nougat update anytime soon, let alone an Android O update. This isn’t unusual at this price, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Specifications

Display 5.2-inch IPS LCD
1280 x 720 resolution
282 ppi
5.2-inch IPS LCD
1280 x 720 resolution
282 ppi
5.5-inch IPS LCD
1920 x 1080 resolution
403 ppi
Processor 1.5 GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6750 1.3 GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6753 Octa-core Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10
GPU Mali-T860MP2 Mali-T720MP2 Mali-T860MP2
RAM 2/3 GB 3 GB 3/4 GB
Storage 16/32 GB
microSD expansion up to 256 GB
16/32 GB
microSD expansion up to 256 GB
16/32/64 GB
microSD expansion up to 256 GB
Cameras Rear: 13 MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, dual-LED flash,

Front: 5 MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture

Rear: 13 MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, dual-LED flash,

Front: 5 MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture

Rear: 13 MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, dual-LED flash,

Front: 5 MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture

Battery 3,070 mAh
Non-removable
3,000 mAh
Non-removable
4,000 mAh
Non-removable
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP, LE
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
MicroUSB 2.0
3.5 mm headphone jack
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP, LE
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
MicroUSB 2.0
3.5 mm headphone jack
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP, LE
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
MicroUSB 2.0
3.5 mm headphone jack
Software Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Flyme 5.2
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Flyme 5.2
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Flyme 5.2
Dimensions and weight 147.3 x 72.8 x 8.2 mm
138 g
148.2 x 72.5 x 8.4 mm
143 g
153.6 x 75.8 x 8.2 mm
175 g

Gallery

Price

The Meizu M5, M5s, and M5 Note are now available in China. If you’re in an unofficial market, you can import each device, but will likely face slightly higher prices. Please keep this in mind before making any big decisions.

The Meizu M5 is available in two variants, one with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage for 699 yuan (≈$100) and the other with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage for 899 yuan (≈$130). The available colors are blue, black, and gold.

The Meizu M5s is also available in two variants, one with 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage for 799 yuan (≈$115) and another with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage for 999 yuan (≈$145). The available colors are silver, gunmetal, gold, and rose gold.

The Meizu M5 Note is available in three variants, one with 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage for 899 yuan (≈$130), another with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage for 999 yuan (≈$145), and another with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage for 1499 yuan (≈$215). The available colors are silver, gunmetal, and gold.

Conclusion

Meizu has once again developed super affordable smartphones with few compromises for its target audience. With premium hardware, software that punches above its weight, and detailed additions like fingerprint readers, it’s no wonder why Meizu continues to find success in this price segment. The amount of value offered by these smartphones cannot be understated when viewed within a vacuum.

However, competition exists and Meizu’s offerings don’t do much to stand out from the crowd. While it’s great to have options, we do not recommend these devices for Western users. The global software quirks, poor performance, and inconsistent battery life are major drawbacks, even for around $100.

Meizu’s offerings don’t do much to stand out from the crowd

If you’re looking for a device on the cheap, you should instead consider Xiaomi’s budget Redmi 4, Redmi 4a, and Redmi Note 4. While we are quite frankly not in a position to speak on how Meizu’s offerings compare to Xiaomi’s in official markets, we can say for certain that Xiaomi’s options provide an objectively better experience for global users. If you’re in the US, you’ll want to instead consider options that fully support US cellular networks.

You’ve made it to the end of our review of the Meizu M5, M5s, and M5 Note. We hope that this helps you make a more informed purchasing decision. If you plan on picking up one of the phones covered in this review, be sure to let us know in the comment section below!

Next:

Best cheap Android phones

3 weeks ago

9
May

Wearsafe’s Apple Watch app pings your peers in emergency situations


Why it matters to you

Preventing sexual assault isn’t easy, but the new Wearsafe for Apple Watch aims to help.

Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes on college campuses — last year, only 63 percent of cases were reported to the police. It’s a problem without a silver bullet, but Wearsafe Tag, a wearable that makes it easy for users to alert friends and family members to troubling situations, aimed to ease the burden by making it easier to reach help. Now, the startup is simplifying things further with an app for the Apple Watch.

On Tuesday, Wearsafe Labs, the design firm behind Wearsafe, took the wraps off Wearsafe for Apple Watch. With the app installed, users can send a GPS location and continuous audio stream — including a recorded 60 seconds of audio from before the alert was sent — with a preselected network of family, friends, and co-workers.

Alerts in the form of emails and texts are delivered five seconds after the Wearsafe shortcut on the watchface or app is tapped, and the Apple Watch vibrates discretely each time someone in a Wearsafe user’s network views an alert. From there, trusted peers can get in touch with the person who made the call instantly, or relay Wearsafe’s real-time data to emergency responders.

“Wearsafe for Apple Watch is a natural evolution of the Wearsafe experience,” Dave Benoit, CEO and co-founder of Wearsafe, said in a statement. “Our mission is to make the world a safer place and break down the barriers to call for help. Apple Watch is just the first step in our plans to allow you — and the people you care about — to live more confidently every day, using the devices you’re most comfortable with.”

The new Wearsafe app works in conjunction — or independent of — the Wearsafe Tag. It’s compatible with all generations of the Apple Watch running on WatchOS 3 (and iOS 10 or newer) and installed just like any other Apple Watch app — through the iTunes App Store.

You will need a subscription to make use of it, though. Wearsafe’s cloud-based subscription service starts at $5 per month for 12 months.

The Wearsafe Tag, a fabric loop and ring attachment that’s slightly larger than a keychain or bracelet, is Bluetooth-based, waterproof, and works up to 200 feet away. It comes with a clip and ring attachment, lasts up to six months on a single charge, and retails for $30. It’s available free to new subscribers for a limited time.

Wearsafe aims to save 10 million lives over the next several years.

“Our goal is to make integrating Wearsafe into your life as easy as possible. The future of wearables is limitless, and we’ll continue to work to ensure that Wearsafe will work with whatever wearable you choose.”




%d bloggers like this: