Skip to content

Archive for

29
May

Amazon Echo vs Amazon Tap vs Echo Dot vs Echo Look vs Echo Show: What’s the difference?


The original Amazon Echo lineup of tiered-speaker heights reminded us of Starbucks coffee sizes (grande, venti, and trenta), but now, it’s added two more Echo devices to the mix.

And they have radically different designs and purposes.

Amazon makes a cylindrical, internet-connected speaker called Echo, which doubles as a personal, cloud-based assistant, addressed as Alexa. It launched in the US in 2015, and it launched into Europe and the UK in autumn 2016. Alongside Echo, Amazon also offers two sibling speakers that debuted in March 2016 in the US, called Amazon Tap and Echo Dot, the latter of which has now been replaced with a refreshed model.

Fast forward a year, and Amazon has expanded the Echo line again. There’s the Echo Look, which includes a hands-free camera and offers up style advice, and there’s the Echo Show, which also has a camera as well as a touchscreen in order to add more functionality to your Alexa queries. The differences between these Echo devices aren’t limited to height, obviously, as each one is suited to a specific environment.

  • Buy Amazon Echo (UK), Buy Amazon Echo (US)
  • Buy Amazon Echo Dot (UK), Buy Amazon Echo (US)

Confused about what we mean? No worries. We’ve dissected how each Amazon device is unique and laid out all the details below.

Amazon Echo

Release date: 2015 in US, 2016 in UK.Availability: Available in the US (Amazon US order page) / Available in UK (Amazon UK order page)Price: $179 / £149Dimensions: 235 mm x 83.5 mm x 83.5 mm Weight: 1045 gramsConnectivity: Bluetooth and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO)Power: Plugs into a wall outletAudio: 360-degree sound (2.5 inch woofer and 2.0 inch tweeter)Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

Amazon Echo is a 9.25-inch-tall cylinder speaker with a 7-piece microphone array. It responds to the wake word “Alexa” and is capable of voice interaction, controlling compatible smarthome devices, music playback from smart devices over Bluetooth, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, reading PDFs, providing weather forecasts, warning you of traffic conditions, answering trivia, and supplying other types of information in real-time.

Echo requires a Wi-Fi connection in order to respond to voice commands and fetch content for you, and it must remain plugged in for power. Users in the US will see Alexa have an American accent, while UK users will hear a British accent.

  • Amazon Echo review: It’s all about Alexa

Amazon Tap

Release date: 31 March 2016 for USAvailability: Available in the US (Amazon US order page)Price: $129.99Dimensions: 59 mm x 66 mm x 66 mmWeight: 470 gramsConnectivity: Bluetooth and supports 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n Wi-FiPower: Relies on a charging cradle (9 hours of playback)Audio: 360-degree sound (dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators)Alexa: Yes (Not always-listening by default; Must touch mic button to access Alexa or enable hands-free option in Settings)

Amazon Tap is a 6.2-inch-tall cylinder speaker with a 7-piece microphone array. So it’s a smaller, more portable, more affordable version of Echo, and it comes with full access to Alexa. Unlike the Echo, the Amazon Tap is wireless and must use the included cradle to charge.

Amazon says it’ll stream up to 9 hours of audio on a full charge, or last up to three weeks in standby mode. The Tap isn’t an always-on by default. To wake it, you need to press the mic on the front. In February 2017, Amazon announced a new firmware update for Tap. With it, you can go to Settings in the Alexa app and enable the new Hands-free option in order to wake Alexa without having to tap the Tap

However, the new hands-free mode will drain the battery quickly, as it requires the mic to stay always-on. Otherwise, Tap can do all the same tricks as Echo (so long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi).

  • Doubling up on Alexa: How to use multiple Amazon Echo and Dots

Echo Dot

Release date: September 2016Availability: Available in the US (Amazon US order page); available in the UK (Amazon UK order page)Price: $49 / £49Dimensions: 38 mm x 84 mm x 84 mmWeight: 250 gramsConnectivity: Bluetooth and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO)Power: Plugs into a wall outletAudio: Voice-feedback only (Must be connected to external speakers)Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

Echo Dot is 1.6-inch-tall cylinder with one tiny speaker. It’s basically just the top section of Amazon Echo – and half the price, but equally as smart. It supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smarthome devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The original Echo Dot launched in the US in March 2016, but it was refreshed when Amazon announced its UK release.

The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. The idea is you’ll hook Dot up to your own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so you can use Alexa with your existing speakers. That tiny speaker won’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which, again, requires Wi-Fi).

The new Echo Dot will be available to buy in a six-pack and 12-pack. For those opting for multiple Echo Dots around their home though, Amazon has introduced a feature that will mean only one Echo Dot, and the closest one, will respond to your request.

  • Amazon Echo Dot review: The tiny personal assistant with big personality

Amazon Echo Look

Release date: April 2016 in US (invite-only)Availability: Available in the US (Amazon US order page) Price: $199Dimensions: N/AWeight: N/AConnectivity: Dual-band, dual antenna (MIMO. 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)Power: Power adapter (21W) with 7.9 ft. cableCamera: 5-megapixel sensorAudio: Built-in microphone array, built-in speakerAlexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

Details are scarce at the moment, but we know Amazon’s latest Echo device is called the Echo Look.

It’s a $199 Wi-Fi camera that offers full Alexa functionality plus hands-free photo and video. Amazon is pitching it as a cloud-connected fashion consultant that allows you to snap pictures of yourself in various outfits. Alexa’s software will automatically blur the background in each image to make your outfit pop, and then it uses machine learning guided by “fashion experts” to serve up recommendations about what you should wear.

Amazon called this fashion feature “Style Check,” and you can see it in action for yourself in Amazon’s announcement video above. Echo Look also works like any other Alexa-enabled device, allowing you to access music, traffic timers, weather, and a vast library of “skills.” The device is wall-mountable, too, and includes a a 5-megapixel sensor, built-in microphone array, and built-in speaker. It also has LED lights (used for the flash).

No other specs have been announced yet. There’s also no date set for when the Echo Look will start shipping to customers. Right now, it is available in the US only via an invite-only scheme, with invites going out in “the coming weeks.”

  • Amazon Echo Look is the personal assistant that replaces your mirror

Amazon Echo Show

Release date: May 2016 in US (Pre-orders now live)Availability: Available in the US (Amazon US order page) Price: $229.99Dimensions: 187mm x 187mm x 90mmWeight: 1170gConnectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) Power: Power adapter/cable (6 foot)Camera: 5-megapixel sensorAudio: 8-microphone array, dual 2-inch stereo speakersAlexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

Amazon has yet another new Echo product: a touchscreen device with built-in Alexa. It’s called the Echo Show, and it’s now available to preorder from Amazon for $229.99. The Show can do everything the regular, voice-only Echo can do (like setting timers and play music), but it has a built-in display to offer a new level of interaction. It’s meant to show you more information about your Alexa queries.

It can display a full weather report or the steps in each recipe. It can also be used to play videos, including content from YouTube and Amazon Video. It can even serve as a digital photo frame, fetching your pictures stored on Prime Photos. And when playing songs from Amazon Music, it’ll display the lyrics. You can even connect it to your Wi-Fi-enabled security cameras in order to check your video feeds.

Just us commands like “Alexa, show me the front porch.” And finally, the device lets you place and receive calls – both video and voice. All you need is the Alexa app. To complement this, Amazon unveiled a new feature called Drop In. It lets you specify which friends and family can make a call at any time. The receiver has a 10-second timeframe to reject a Drop In call or go into audio-only mode.

We can imagine using the Drop in feature to checking in on a grandparents. The Show also has eight microphones instead of the seven found in the regular Echo. Other specs include a front-facing, 5-megapixel camera and a pair of two-inch speakers. The new Show will start shipping to customers in the US on 28 June. There’s no word yet on UK pricing or availability.

  • Amazon Echo Show: Release date, price and everything you need to know

Conclusion

Amazon Echo is ideal if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It’ll provide you with room-filling audio that’s sufficient for casual listening but it gets sort of tinny when turned up too much. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and get it to control your stuff and it is available in the US and the UK.

Amazon Tap is supposed to do all of that, including provide a similar sound experience, but it ditches the cord and uses a charging cradle in order to be portable. As it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available by default. You have to push a mic button to access the service or enable a new hands-free option. Tap is useful if you’re going to the beach or are on the go, and it is only available in the US.

As for Dot, just think of it as a little, always-on Alexa hub. It’s not a speaker but works with your speakers. It’s available in six and 12 packs so you can ensure every room in your home has Alexa listening. Next, there’s Echo Look. Although it has a speaker so you can hear Alexa, we imagine it’s not really meant to be a music player. This device is all about snapping photos and serving up style advice.

And, finally, Amazon now offers Echo Show. We get the feeling Amazon is trying to pitch this device has the centerpiece to an Echo experience. It works with other Echos and offers a screen so you can view video feeds from your Wi-Fi connected cameras. It also offers audio and video call capabilities. Any like any other Echo-branded device, you can use with Alexa voice commands and skills.

So, if you’re more into music, look at the Echo, Tap, and Dot, but if you’re into fashion, the Echo Look might be more up your alley. And if you want something to tie your existing Echo speakers together or something that gives you a little more functionality with not only Alexa queries but also placing audio and video calls, then Echo Show is definitely the device to get it.

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about the latest Echo devices.

29
May

F1 on the water: How Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR plan to win the America’s Cup


“It’s like Formula 1 on water,” Sir Ben Ainslie explains. Ainslie is talking about the America’s Cup, a sailing race started by the British in 1851, and remarkably never won by them since.

Pocket-lint has travelled to Bermuda, the location of the 35th America’s Cup, and base camp for the five competing teams hoping to beat the last winners and the dominant team in recent history, Oracle Team USA. The America’s Cup – named after the first winning boat rather than the county – has, ironically, been dominated by the USA throughout its history, something that Ainslie is looking to change.

The four-time Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor is used to racing solo, but in the America’s Cup, he isn’t doing this on his own. This time he has help.

Pocket-lint

That help comes in the guise a 107-man support team including 12 other sailors, an army of engineers, £90m from backers that include Sir Charles Dunstone (co-founder and former chairman of Carphone Warehouse amongst other techy accolades), and sponsors like Land Rover who bring all its technical engineering prowess to the party.

“It’s fascinating being on these boats, we’re really enjoying the technology that the boats are giving us,” Ainslie tell us. “Technology has revolutionised the sport,” continues the man who helped Oracle Team USA win in the previous race in 2013.

The boats themselves are a technological marvel, sitting at the pinnacle of boat racing. Called foiling catamarans, the craft’s twin carbon fibre hulls lift out of the water when moving to reduce drag and give you as much speed through the course as possible.

Just like in Formula 1, there are strict rules as to what teams can and can’t do, but they do have room to manoeuvre in certain areas like the sails and the design of the foils that remain in the water. Get those bits right and you win, get it wrong and you’ll be going home without making it through the qualifiers.

With such a strong focus on the design and engineering elements it is easy to see the comparison to Formula 1.

The Land Rover BAR boat has 190 sensors that collect data from 350 different data points that in turn relay over 16,000MB of data per sailing session back to base camp and the company’s HQ half way around the world away in Portsmouth.

Land Rover BAR

The information is captured, analysed returned back to the boat in real time for use by the team on a number of tablets and screens as they race. It means that at any given moment Giles Scott, the boat’s tactician, not only knows exactly where the boat is on the course, but how many seconds it will take him to get to the next buoy or the finish line.

Using machine learning algorithms, the sailors can use the data to help better understand the factors that create both optimal speed, and the “perfect” manoeuvre on the course, allowing Ainslie and his crew to gain vital seconds in the numerous races in the cup. When the races only last about 20 minutes, every second counts.

“The computer could fly the boat perfectly, but the rules won’t let us do that,” explains Nick Hutton, the team’s trimmer. The notion of flying a boat might seem strange until you see it in action.

Scott, who’s main control panel is a customised Sony Xperia tablet with dedicated software, has the same story to tell: “They could pretty much sail themselves. It’s getting very close to that, but I think that the rules will change to stop that happening.”

Land Rover BAR

Similar to running watches that provide you a ghost runner to race against, the software creates a “virtual race boat” that takes all the data available and suggests the top achievable speed or the best trim angle given the weather and water conditions at that moment. It is then the team’s job to determine whether that’s something they want or need to match.

“It [the data] is about helping me create shortcuts to a lot of time consuming data elements,” explains Scott. The value in all this technology, the gold-winning Olympic sailor tells us, is not about the data telling him things he doesn’t know, but helping him get the answer quicker.

Hutton and Scott’s comments are a recurring theme throughout the teammates we talk to. It’s clear that the technology is far more capable than the rules allow, but striking that balance between how much the boat can do, and how much the sailor should do, is important for the sport to stay not only relevant, but interesting.

Land Rover BAR

Hoping to give Ainslie the edge over the other teams is a newly designed steering wheel, which for the first time, will allow Ainslie to both steer and control the lift of the foils on the boat with ease. “The wheel is hopefully going to make my life easier,” explains Ainslie.

The wheel is designed by Land Rovers Human Factors design team specifically to Ainslie’s requirements and allows skipper and team principal Ainslie to “fly” by adjusting the boat’s hydrofoils with greater precision for the fastest possible racing. He can lift R1, Land Rover BAR’s 2.4-tonne race boat, out of the water with a flick of his fingertips.

Just as an aerofoil helps an aircraft into the sky, hydrofoils lift a boat out of the water. The Land Rover steering wheel turns the boat left and right as it would on a car, while the shift paddles control its height above the water by controlling the lift from the foils, with that height being monitored by more sensors. Land Rover’s Human Machine Interface engineers spent 18 months developing the wheel.

Land Rover BAR

The days of six crew in a boat with a couple of sails, has long passed. Today’s 50ft long boats fly through the air at speeds of up to 50 knots (approx. 57mph) and are aerodynamically tuned.  

“If you took the same level of change in F1 as we’ve seen in sailing, those same F1 cars would be breaking the sound barrier,” Dirk Kramers, Head of Engineering tells Pocket-lint.

But with better technology comes a better understanding of what is possible and the team’s strong acceptance of technology is no doubt down to Land Rover BAR’s CEO, former McLaren Racing boss, Martin Whitmarsh. It’s no wonder the comparisons with Formula 1 are clear to be seen everywhere.

Land Rover BAR

From the data mining, to the strong engineering design focus, to the speed. The only thing missing from the boatshed workshops are the pristine floors you see in F1 pit lanes.

“I couldn’t have imagined a boat like this 25 years ago. Really only in the last 5 years have we’ve seen the technology coming on in leaps and bounds,” adds Ainslie. “The speeds, the forces, the technology, you feel like a pilot or an F1 driver. If you make one mistake you’ll crash out.”

Bermuda is the home to the 35th America’s Cup, with the racing starting on 26 May and you can be sure that Ainslie and the team have their eyes firmly on the prize in one of sport’s oldest competitions.

29
May

Pacemakers are far more vulnerable to hacking than we thought


Back in January, the FDA has finally acknowledged that some pacemakers and other cardiac devices are vulnerable to hacking. But how vulnerable are they, exactly? A security company called WhiteScope has discovered 8,000 bugs that hackers can exploit in pacemaker programmers — the tools used to adjust and monitor the device itself — from four different manufacturers. More importantly, the researchers said they’ve also discovered that pacemakers don’t authenticate programmers, so any working tool listed on eBay has the potential to harm patients with the implant.

Manufacturers are supposed to control programmers’ distribution, but the researchers themselves got their test devices from the auction website for as little as $500 to as much as $3,000. In addition to those issues, the team has found that doctors’ monitoring systems don’t require log-in names and passwords when pacemakers connect to them. They even found unencrypted patients’ data stored in the tools, including SSNs, names, phone numbers and medical conditions.

That said, Matthew Green, an Assistant Professor for Computer Science at Johns Hopkins, noted that doctors are adamant not to let security systems block patient care. He said that requiring passwords would merely lead to a “post-it note on the device listing the password,” so every doctors’ staff member can access the data they need. Green also called attention to some dubious parts of the study, particularly the lack of emphasis on the team’s most alarming finding that third-party programmers can remotely access pacemakers:

All of the other issues are kind of peripheral. If you can use your own hardware to send programming commands to a device… 7/n

— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) May 24, 2017

Despite the points Green raised, it’s still true that various security researchers have been warning manufacturers about pacemakers’ and other cardiac devices’ vulnerabilities for years. Unfortunately, it sounds like very few listened: a separate study by security firm Ponemon Institute LLC found that only 17 percent of manufacturers took steps to secure their products. While we’ve yet to hear about an incident that has led to a patient’s death, it’s still ideal to make cardiac devices more secure as cyberattacks become more common, elaborate and sophisticated.

Source: WhiteScope (1), (2, PDF)

29
May

UK property developer to trade parking spots for Uber credit


UK property developer Moda Living is building the kind of apartment blocks you might not mind renting forever — that is, after you’ve decided you probably won’t be able to buy anytime this millennia. The sites promise hotel-like amenities, including gyms, shared dining areas, meetings rooms and event spaces; even your home entertainment setup and WiFi is taken care of. But Moda Living has now teamed up with Uber to sweeten the deal for future residents even further, with the offer of £100 of ride-hailing credit every month for anyone willing to relinquish their right to a parking space in the building.

While this is the first Uber partnership of its kind in the UK, the ride-hailing service struck up a similar arrangement with a San Francisco neighborhood this time last year. That’s a slightly more complicated affair, with flat ride-sharing rates and tenants receiving $100 towards Uber trips and public transport fares.

By discouraging car ownership, Uber and Moda Living say they hope to make small steps towards reducing city congestion and pollution; plus, the developer claims that by sacrificing parking spots, it’ll have more space for amenities like cinema rooms. And for Uber, £100 of credit each month has to run out sometime, at which point you’re already hooked on being chauffeured everywhere and can’t possibly go back to buses.

Source: Moda Living

29
May

Here’s everything ASUS unveiled at Computex 2017


It won’t be long before laptops become so thin and light that you’ll barely notice the heft of one in your bag on your commute. That’s the main takeaway from ASUS’ press conference, in which the Taiwanese company showed off a raft of new laptops. Topping the table is a refreshed ZenBook Pro (UX550), measuring 18.9mm thick and weighing less than four pounds, but packing high-end Intel CPU and NVIDIA graphics.

Then there’s the ZenBook Flip S, which weighs 2.4 pounds and measures just 10.9mm, making it thinner than most other ultra-light laptops on the market. ASUS has worked hard to strip down the size of its display bezels, and the result means that the Flip S’ screen has a border of just 6.11mm thick.

It’s a similar story with the new VivoBook Pro and VivoBook laptops, as well as the company’s Zen all-in-one desktops. Each of those ranges comes with NanoEdge bezels which greatly reduce the bulky frame that encircles the screens. Plus, the company also wheeled out the Blue Cave, a neat-looking WiFi router that’s designed to act as a conversation piece.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from Computex 2017!

29
May

Apple CEO Tim Cook Tweets in Honor of Memorial Day


Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared a brief message on Twitter in honor of Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States for remembering those who have died in the country’s armed forces.

“We honor the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom,” he said. “They and their families have our eternal gratitude.”

We honor the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. They and their families have our eternal gratitude #MemorialDay

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 29, 2017

Apple gives many of its corporate employees in Cupertino the day off today, but a number of Apple retail stores remain open. U.S. stock markets are also closed today. Apple closed at $153.61 on Friday.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: Tim Cook, Memorial Day
Discuss this article in our forums

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

29
May

First science data from Juno shows Jupiter is a complex and chaotic planet


Why it matters to you

Juno’s data shows that our Solar System still has many secrets to uncover.

Jupiter has fascinated sky-gazers for millennia but it wasn’t until we sent probes to the planet that scientists began to unravel its deepest secrets. Now, new scientific data from Juno, the most recent spacecraft to rendezvous with the gas giant, shows that Jupiter has many more secrets still.

The recent results depict Jupiter as a highly complex and chaotic world, according to NASA, featuring cyclones the size of Earth and a surprisingly powerful magnetic field. The data was gathered during a few orbits around the planet, in which the probe came within just 2,600 miles of the top cloud layer, the closest any human-made hardware had ever passed. Two related papers have been published in the journal Science (here and here) and 44 have been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“We knew, going in, that Jupiter would throw us some curves,” Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, said in a statement. “But now that we are here we are finding that Jupiter can throw the heat, as well as knuckleballs and sliders. There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect that we have had to take a step back and begin to rethink of this as a whole new Jupiter.”

One of the biggest surprises comes from data collected by the JunoCam, which revealed that Jupiter’s poles are surprisingly chaotic. Scientists expected to see something akin to the neat and orderly vortex found on Saturn. Instead, they’ve discovered densely packed and massive cyclones.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” Bolton said. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

A couple other surprises came from Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields. Some of the data on the planet’s gravitational field defies computer models about the interior of the planet, reports Ars Technica, though more orbits will likely reveal to what extent the measurements are inconsistent.

Data about Jupiter’s magnetic field, on the other hand, conclusively shows that it’s about twice as strong as expected.

“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and lead for Juno’s magnetic field investigation, “it is stronger in some places and weaker in others. This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works.”

Juno is expected to orbit Jupiter for another two years before being retired, at which point it will dive into the planet’s atmosphere.




29
May

My perfect smartwatch is a mashup of the LG Watch Style and Fossil Q


img_5308.jpg?itok=RAtCV5oA

A hybrid watch would be the perfect smartwatch if it just had Google Assistant built in.

I’ve been seriously ruminating over this since reviewing the LG Watch Style. I thought I would still be wearing the smartwatch by now, that it would be the device that would get me back into daily life with Android Wear. It’s not; the smartwatch has since been been relegated to the bottom of my jewelry box and replaced with a hybrid variant from Fossil.

The Fossil Q Tailor can only do half of what the Watch Style can do — if at that, since this is a mechanical smartwatch we’re talking about here, with no screen in sight. If I want notifications, for example, I have to assign each of my special contacts to a number on the dial. As a result, I don’t use notifications.

And then I discovered what the Fossil Q hybrid can do, and that’s all the simple stuff I’d wear the Watch Style for anyway. It can track my sleep, show me the time in another country, and wake me up every morning. Maybe the reason I don’t use Android Wear is because it actually does too much.

Settling with simplicity

You can imagine the surprise when I tell people that my mechanical watch is actually connected to my phone via Bluetooth. I’ve only been wearing the Fossil Q for two weeks, but it’s already become a staple in my wardrobe. The watch connects to my Pixel XL with the Fossil Q app, which offers notification controls and and the ability to set up an alarm and second time zone. The app also allows me to program the functionality of the Fossil Q’s three side buttons, one of which can be programmed to stop and start music playing from the phone. There’s even a tiny progress meter on the inside of the main watch face that displays the day’s step counts. When you’re checking the time overseas, the watch hands will move accordingly and hold for a brief second.

fossil-q-5526.jpg?itok=yMzlSdL-

The Fossil Q Tailor.

The Fossil Q also doesn’t require nightly cradle docking. When the battery dies — the progress of which I can check in the Fossil Q app — I’ll have to go out and buy a coin cell lithium battery at the cornerstone (or off Amazon) and manually place it in there by popping the back cover off of the watch. The Fossil Q is ostensibly a real watch; it just has some technological enhancements.

What if there was a version of Android Wear optimized for mechanical watches?

I was especially thankful for the fact that it doesn’t require a constant charge after the Watch Style could barely hold on during the week of Google I/O. The Watch Style sports a meager 240mAh battery, and with notifications blaring at it all day, it barely managed 12 hours on one of the smartphone-heaviest days of the year. I rued packing the Android-powered watch in the first place, especially since all I wanted was to count my steps and see the time. In the end, the Fossil Q ended up being my go-to.

What could be

fossil-q-5535.jpg?itok=UaQvBj5f

The Fossil Q Tailor on top of the (seemingly always in need of a charge) LG Watch Style.

The last few weeks of living this sort of duplicitous watch life has made me think more about what I actually want from a wearable. The Fossil Q is a reliable mechanical watch with solid battery life and all the basic functionalities a girl can ask for. But it’s severely limited when it comes to all that extra stuff that Android Wear has, like Google Assistant, and the ability to reply back to messages hands-free.

Charging the battery every six months rather than every day: priceless.

So, what if there were two versions of Android Wear? What if there were something that could be loaded onto mechanical watches and offer all the benefits of Google Assistant and hands-free message replies without having to sport a giant screen? Essentially, the mechanical watch would a Bluetooth-connected remote for your smartphone’s functionality. Finally, the smartwatch could stand up on its own as practical, and stylish, accessory.

That’s not to say that there is no practical use to the LG Watch Style. Rather, it just seems that there are too many different types of watch users for there to be a one-size-fits-all model for Android Wear. Maybe the future of wearables isn’t in how much the device can do, but how smartly it can marry the old and new in a way that people want to wear it everyday.

See at Amazon

Android Wear

  • Everything you need to know about Android Wear 2.0
  • LG Watch Sport review
  • LG Watch Style review
  • These watches will get Android Wear 2.0
  • Discuss Android Wear in the forums!

29
May

Best mobile plan add-ons for international travel


international-roaming-us-carriers-01.jpg

Don’t let your wireless bill spoil your summer vacation!

With summer just around the corner, you’ve likely finalized your travel plans before you set for a summer vacation.

If your travels are going to take you out of the U.S., you’ll want to know your carrier’s international roaming plans and policies before you accidentally rack up a massive bill. We’ve broken everything down in terms of the Big Four carriers.

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon

Advertisement

AT&T

ATT-Logo1.jpg?itok=E6pIVPuG

AT&T offers plenty of great options for traveling throughout North America and internationally as well. There are two separate options for the Americans and crossing the ocean.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

If you’re planning a trip to Canada or Mexico, AT&T gives you unlimited talk and text along with access to your plan data with no roaming charges. This unlimited roaming within North America is a feature included with all AT&T Unlimited Plus and AT&T Unlimited Choice plans, but you may be able to add it to other plan types before you embark on your trip.

Learn more

For overseas travel

If you travel plans will see you leaving the shores of North America, AT&T has a few different plans for international plans that are worth your consideration

Your best bet is probably the AT&T International Day Pass. For just $10 a day, you’ll be able to take your domestic talk, text, and data plan to over 100 countries, including unlimited calls within any qualifying country. You’re only charged for days you make a call, send a text, or use data — which means you’ll want to be aware of any and all apps that use data in the background.

Either prepare to pay $10 to enjoy the full features of all your apps, or spend some time turning off background data updates on your phone so you don’t get dinged.

Learn more

Not looking to piecemeal your mobile plan together as you travel? Then you’ll want to consider the AT&T Passport, which allows you to pay up front for 30 days of service in over 200 countries. You pay a flat fee per device that gives you unlimited texting (both SMS and MMS), unlimited Wi-Fi access at participating hotspots, and then tiered data amounts and cost per minute of talk based on the pricing plan you go with:

  • $40 for $1.00 per minute to any country and 200MB of data ($0.25 per MB for overage)
  • $60 for $0.50 per minute to any country and 300MB of data ($0.20 per MB for overage)
  • $120 for $0.35 per minute to any country and 800MB of data ($0.15 per MB for overage)

Obviously, the same advice applies regarding apps that use data in the background, but if you’re planning to use texting as your primary way of communicating with your friends and family back home, it’s a great option.

If you end up traveling without an international travel plan, you’ll have to abide by AT&T’s pay-per-use rates which differ depending on the countries you’re visiting.

Learn more

As previously mentioned, AT&T offers Unlimited Wi-Fi in select countries. You’ll need the AT&T Global Wi-Fi app, however, we wouldn’t recommend you plan your travel data solely around this service — the most recent app reviews in the Google Play Store claim the app doesn’t work as advertised, and the latest app update came back in January 2017.

Learn more

Sprint

sprint-logo.jpg?itok=jZhJJvui

Sprint offers Global Roaming for all its LTE/GSM capable phones, which offers free texting and free data (at 2G speeds) in over 100 countries. Calls are available for a flat rate of $0.20 per minute.

For your high-speed data needs, Sprint offers data passes that give you up to 4G speeds — get a 1-day speed data pass for $5, or a 7-day data pass for only $25. Which pass you go with will depend on the length of your stay — if it’s a short trip five days or under, you may be better off sticking with day passes as needed, but the choice is yours. There’s no need to decide before you travel, as you’re able to opt in or out of high-speed data at any time while traveling.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

If you’re traveling to Canada or Mexico you get the same free texting and free 2G data, but a discounted rate on the 4G data passes — available for just $2 a day or $10 a week. Just another reason to consider visiting our neighbors to the north and south.

For overseas travel

Sprint customers are best off going to Sprint’s International Roaming calculator, which asks you where you’re going and which device you plan to travel with and then the site gives you a breakdown of the available coverage in the area along with available data speeds.

Most international destinations qualify for the $5 a day/$25 a week high-speed data passes, though China’s rates are doubled to $10 a day and $50 a week.

Learn more

Advertisement

T-Mobile

T-Mobile-logo.jpg?itok=7kfxTvXw

T-Mobile customers get unlimited data at up to 3G speeds plus texting in over 140 countries and destinations around the world at no additional cost, but there are special rates available for countries like Canada and Mexico.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

T-Mobile offers Mexico + Canada Unlimited, which lets you use your 4G LTE data while in Mexico and Canada just like you do in the U.S., a feature that’s available for just $5 a month and is included with some T-Mobile ONE Prepaid plans.

For T-Mobile ONE customers, unlimited 2G data is available in the U.S. or Mexico, but an On-Demand Data Pass will have to be added to the account to reach 4G speeds.

For overseas travel

If you’re traveling abroad, you may want to consider the [T-Mobile ONE Plus International add-on to your T-Mobile ONE plan for just $25 a month. Doing so gives you unlimited international calling to landlines in over 70 countries and mobile numbers in over 30, and unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo-enabled flights (although the Gogo option is added on the regular One Plus plan, which is an additional $5 per month).

Find out T-Mobile’s international calling rates or for specific coverage and rate information for the countries you’re visiting, click the link below.

Learn more

Verizon

new-verizon-logo.jpg?itok=Z0qxFVFJ

Verizon was one of the first carriers to offer a TravelPass that lets you take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you wherever you’re traveling for a daily fee.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

TravelPasses for Canada and Mexico are only $5 a day per device, and allow you to bring your talk, text and data allotments with you as you go. If you’re on the Verizon Unlimited plan, Mexico and Canada coverage is included without needing to pay any extra fees.

For overseas travel

Verizon offers TravelPasses for $10 a day, that allow you to take your domestic Verizon plan with you to over 100 different countries. You’re only charged on the days you use your device abroad, so you’ll want to be sure to turn off any app features that use background data.

Learn more

Which should you get?

Every carrier approaches roaming differently, and some are more generous than others when it comes to including roaming privileges in regular plans.

  • If you’re looking for simplicity, go with Verizon. The company makes it super easy and straightforward to add international roaming if you’re on an older postpaid plan, and if you’re on a new unlimited plan, it’s included if you’re traveling to Canada or Mexico.
  • If you never want to pay a cent extra for roaming, go with T-Mobile. On a T-Mobile ONE plan, roaming is included practically anywhere in the world, albeit at slower speeds. Still, if you just want to connect to the internet, you can’t go wrong with T-Mobile.

Your turn!

What are your picks for the best carrier for international roaming? Let us know in the comments below!

29
May

Star Trek: Bridge Crew Review — This right here is why VR exists


This is the beginning of something amazing, and I’m here for every minute of it.

stbc-point.jpg?itok=YSQskZHy

No introduction is necessary here, right? Star Trek: Bridge Crew has been teased and shown off and talked about for over a year now, and the dividing line between people who can’t wait to work with friends to crew the USS Aegis and the people who would rather not already exists. And for good reason, because this game is exactly one thing — a multiplayer Star Trek simulator where you either communicate well and work together or your warp core turns your body into stardust as it explodes.

If that’s not your idea of a good time, stop reading right now. Everyone else? Suit up, we’re got a lot to talk about.

Read more at VR Heads!

%d bloggers like this: