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28
May

How to digitize your handwritten notes using the eBeam Smartpen


There’s something romantic, in an age of keyboards and voice-to-text functions, about the art of writing by hand. A person’s handwriting is almost as unique as a fingerprint, and there is even some evidence to suggest that taking notes by hand helps people retain knowledge better than simply typing it.

In many professional fields, however, you need to be able to share your work with others, and scanning handwritten notes can be a hassle. Thankfully, a company called Luidia has a gadget that can help: The eBeam Smartpen.

Billed as a “smartpen,” the eBeam comprises three main components: The pen itself, a sensor that tracks the pen’s movements, and a case that holds them both. The whole package is remarkably small, but the benefits are huge.

After installing the eBeam app and connecting your phone or another device to the sensor via Bluetooth, place the sensor at the top of your paper, notebook, or what have you. As you write or draw, the sensor will follow the pen’s movements, copying and pasting them into a digital document housed within the app.

Because of  way the eBeam works, you don’t even need a sheet of paper to utilize the device. Simply set the eBeam on a flat surface like a table and replace the pen’s ink cartridge with the included stylus tip. Once done, you can “write” on the flat surface like you would normally, and the device will transmit those movements into the digital document.

When you’re ready to move on to a new page, simply tap the appropriate button on the top of the eBeam. When finished, the app will save all the pages as a single file, which you can then share via email, Facebook, or a slew of other popular services.

If you want people to watch you as you work — if you’re a professor giving a lecture, for instance, or a manager leading a team meeting — the eBeam even allows you stream your writing to other devices, a feature even the best styli don’t offer.

David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Google Pixelbook review
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  • Put your S Pen to good use with these Galaxy Note 8 tips and tricks
  • The Best Laptops for College You Can Buy


28
May

Virgin Galactic ‘neck and neck’ with Blue Origin in space tourism race


Just weeks after Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane completed its first powered test flight, Virgin boss Richard Branson says he’s getting ready to don his astronaut garb for its first commercial suborbital space trip.

Branson said in an upcoming BBC interview that Virgin Galactic’s debut mission was “months away, not years away, so it’s close,” adding that there are “exciting times ahead.”

The billionaire entrepreneur founded space tourism company Virgin Galactic in 2004, and is racing against rivals — Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin among them — to become the first to offer a service for moneyed folks in search of a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. And Branson is determined to be on board when the VSS Unity heads skyward on its debut outing for tourists.

The Brit told the BBC that he’s already undertaking astronaut, fitness, and centrifuge training for his trip to near-space.

While Musk’s SpaceX has been making significant progress with efforts to deploy satellites and send cargo to the International Space Station via the company’s reusable rocket system, Branson believes Virgin Galactic’s immediate competitor in the tourism-related space race is Bezos’ Blue Origin, whose New Shepard rocket has so far completed eight successful test launches since its first one in 2015.

Branson said he believes his team is “neck and neck” with Blue Origin when it comes to getting paying punters into space.

However, acknowledging the disaster that struck Virgin Galactic in 2014 when one of its pilots died in a failed test flight, 67-year-old Branson said, “Ultimately, we have to do it safely. It’s more a race with ourselves to make sure we have the craft that are safe to put people up there.”

After a two-year lay-off following the tragedy, Virgin Galactic took to the skies again in September 2016, performing the first glide test of its new SpaceShipTwo spaceplane, VSS Unity.

It followed up with in April with its first powered test. Taken high above California’s Mojave Desert by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, Unity was released at 46,500 feet. Seconds later, Unity’s rocket motor fired up, sending the aircraft and its two pilots into an 80-degree climb, accelerating to Mach 1.87 during 30 seconds of rocket burn.

That’s pretty much how the first stages of the tourism flights will go, although the rocket will burn for longer to take the spaceplane to around 62 miles above sea level, considered as the boundary of space. After taking in the spectacular views and enjoying several minutes of weightlessness, the passengers will be instructed to return to their seats for the journey back to terra firma.

While both Unity and Blue Origin’s vehicles can carry up to six passengers, the travel experience in each will be very different. Blue Origin’s system involves a rocket launch whereas Virgin Galactic’s jet-powered WhiteKnightTwo takes off from a runway before Unity’s rocket engine fires up. The return journey is also different, with Unity gliding back for a runway landing, and New Shepard’s capsule deploying parachutes for touchdown.

Virgin Galactic is aiming to start its tourism service in the next 12 months. The company has already taken nearly 700 bookings for its suborbital flights, with each ticket costing a hefty $250,000. The company said that the growing list of travelers means anyone booking a ticket today is likely to have to wait until at least 2021 before they’ll be able to enjoy their out-of-this-world experience.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Virgin Galactic completes its first powered flight — what’s next?
  • Blue Origin sends New Shepard space capsule to its highest altitude yet
  • Blue Origin is working on the BE-4, a rocket engine that can launch 100 missions
  • Watch the world’s largest plane barrel down a runway
  • SpaceX makes rocket launches look easy, nails 25th Falcon 9 landing


28
May

What we want to see from a new iMac in 2018


Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Apple may have a lot up its sleeve when it comes to iMac 2018 models — and we can’t wait! While the June WWDC event may reveal some details for Apple’s all-in-one computer line, we don’t know much about what will be announced.

We already know that Apple is probably going to launch three new Mac models this year, and one of those may be a brand new iMac line, which gives us plenty to work with. We also know that a redesigned Mac Pro is set for release sometime in 2019. So let’s go through the rumors and spell out what we’d like to see.

More Apple-based chips

Sam Lionheart/iFixit

Apple has been slowly transitioning toward supplying its own chips for a number of devices. The T1 and T2 co-processors in the newer versions of the iPhone and iPad are a great example of these slow efforts, and the iMac Pro had its own co-processor to work with. It’s not that big of a leap to assume that all iMacs will be getting their own Apple co-processors for a performance boost.

The Intel chips inside iMacs are also likely to get an annual update. It would be very fun if new versions of the iMac got access to advanced hexacore processors like the iMac Pro, and a good way to create more iMac purchase options for buyers who really want to customize their machines.

Pro features for standard iMacs

Obviously, if the iMac Pro line survives then it has to have elite features that set it apart. But we would really love to see some of the more universally useful features come to other iMacs in 2018. For example, UHS-II SD card support would be great for content creators, and that advanced cooling technology that the Pro uses would be welcome on all iMac models.

We’d also like to see better universal iMac compatibility with satellite iPads (and other devices) for more complex projects that are currently only supported by the Pro.

No more HDD

This would be an amazing upgrade for the iMacs (the Pro models already use a dual-SSD arrangement for their storage) that could increase speed and quality of life with one simple stroke.

It may seem like an obvious move, but we’re not entirely certain that Apple will embrace it. It depends on how hard Apple wants to push its Fusion Drive technology, or if it’s willing to let the Fusion Drive die off after a day in the sun in favor of a full switch to SSD. So while there’s a chance we’ll see full SSD iMacs for all lines this year, it’s not a guarantee.

A new design surprise

Okay, so maybe the curved concept above isn’t a great idea. However, there is already plenty of discussion out there about an iMac redesign (and a Reddit interview that mentions it, for what that’s worth). The slim, aluminum frame suits the iMac well, but Apple may be ready for a change, and the 2018 model could unveil a very different look. It would be very fun if we saw a more colorful, exuberant version of the iMac, perhaps available in a range of colors or with some new design choices that make for more interesting visuals. If Apple wants to bring its Touch Bar to iMacs, for example, it could pave the way for more interesting design choices.

It’s going to be the 20th anniversary of the iMac this year, and we expect something for it (Apple has done anniversary celebrations before). A new, modernized design would be a great opportunity to mark the date. There are a lot of exciting directions Apple could go here, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.

The 8k iMac

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Okay, this is particularly far-fetched, but there have been rumors that Apple is planning on an “8k iMac” release for this year. Current iMacs go up to 5k Retina displays, but no further. If Apple really wanted to expand its display options for the iMac, it could potentially push resolutions higher.

That would probably also mean that the iMac displays would get even larger, since an 8k display would require a lot of real estate. That would be a really cool feature to advertise, although we’re a little uneasy just thinking how much it would cost.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Support for external graphics on MacOS finally arrives, but on select devices
  • Here’s what we want from MacOS in 2018
  • The best streaming devices of 2018
  • Best Buy’s one-day Apple flash sale includes up to $400 off the MacBook Pro
  • At WWDC 2018, Apple to show off its latest software innovations


28
May

Google Pixel Buds review: Wireless, but still encumbered


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Are these Buds for you?

Google’s Pixel Buds headphones were launched alongside the Pixel 2 and a whole bunch of other products back at the end of 2017, and they have easily been the worst-received and least-hyped Google hardware product since. (Though Google Clips may disagree.) With the Pixel 2 lacking a headphone jack it only made sense for Google to make its own Bluetooth headphones — but it also added a bunch of advanced features with full touch controls, instant pairing, voice commands and the promise of seamless Google Translate functionality. The problem is, it didn’t work all that well — but the price was still a steep $159.

I just took a vacation, spending a week in Mexico on beaches and golf courses relaxing and letting technology fall by the wayside. But in all of that time spent doing very little, I wanted to keep up with my podcasts, YouTube channels, and sports highlights, so I needed headphones — and I brought my Pixel Buds along. Here’s what I’ve learned in my months of using them casually since launch, and a solid week using them as my only pair headphones.

See at Best Buy
See at Google Store

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The good parts

Google Pixel Buds What I like

Just as I found in my first week using them, the Pixel Buds nail the basics of being headphones. Despite their unorthodox design, the earbuds are extremely comfortable for long listening sessions. They’re very light, settle in your ears gently and fit well once you get the hang of adjusting the cord mechanism.

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Unlike so many other earbuds, the Pixel Buds don’t go in your ear with a rubber tip, but instead rest gently on a couple of points of your ear and have a driver pointed toward your ear canal. This means the Pixel Buds are compatible with far more ear sizes and shapes (particularly if you have mismatched ear sizes), and don’t require a set of removable tips to get a good fit. Even with the cord on my neck, I never had discomfort even after hours of continuous listening.

And the lack of deep in-ear placement has the added benefit of not transferring noise from the cord back into your ears — whether I was walking, jogging or hitting golf balls at the driving range, my movements never brought scratchy interference to the audio. That likely contributes to the fact that I really like how the Pixel Buds sound — at least, as far as Bluetooth headphones go. Sure you get a little more ambient noise mixed in, but the Pixel Buds get plenty loud to help cancel that out. And whether it was listening to podcasts or music, I never had an issue with the audio quality or bass compared to any typical pair of consumer earbuds. Phone calls on the Pixel Buds are great, too, and I never had a complaint from the person on the other end.

The Pixel Buds are extremely comfortable for long listening sessions, and fit a wide variety of ears.

Google’s May update for the Pixel Buds dramatically improved the device switching process, which was previously cumbersome and antithetical to the “just open the case and use them” goal. Now all you have to do to switch connections is initiate the connection from a previously-paired device, and the Pixel Buds will always change to it. Overall I prefer this method of forcing the connection from the sending device’s end over cycling through paired devices with taps and clicks (or an app) on the headphone’s end. Initial pairing is, of course, still an absolute breeze on any Android phone using Fast Pair — and on a computer, it’s the same as any other pair of Bluetooth headphones.

With the Pixel Buds and their case fully charged prior to leaving, I made it through my entire week in Mexico without plugging them in. Just casually using them for an hour or two here and there, swapping between my phone and MacBook, I never had to pause to charge when I’d prefer to be listening. Google rates the Pixel Buds for 5 hours of listening on their own, and I can’t think of many situations where I need to have wireless earbuds in for 5 hours straight — aside from a long plane ride, at which point I upgrade to my Bose QC35s anyway.

The case may seem annoying at first, but the battery life freedom it offers is worth it.

The case is rated for another 4 to 5 charges, which is plenty. Carrying the case is in some ways more cumbersome than just the earbuds, but knowing that every time I take the Pixel Buds out they have a 100% charge vastly outweighs the downsides. With the battery life I’ve experienced, I’m charging the Pixel Buds case once for every 30 hours of listening … every other small pair of earbuds that charges independently won’t get anywhere near that number. (And a little pro tip: you can even charge the Pixel Buds case via USB-C from your phone in a pinch.)

I have some complaints about the Pixel Buds charging case, but they’re outweighed by the positives. The fabric looks great, feels fantastic, and despite my fears hasn’t faded or stained after months of use. The hinge is still taught after hundreds of opens and closes, and the magnet has proven to be strong enough to keep the case closed when tumbling around in a beach bag with a whole bunch of other stuff.

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Does not translate

Google Pixel Buds What’s not good

Google’s promise of seamless live translation of multiple languages using the Pixel Buds just never panned out. It didn’t even demo particularly well, and in the real world it effectively doesn’t work at all — both technologically and, more importantly, socially.

When I’m standing at a street vendor in Mexico trying to order a couple tacos and a beer (which I did often, as you’d imagine), the guy behind the counter isn’t going to wait 30-plus seconds for me to fire up my Pixel Buds, ask it to translate, and then stick my phone out so the conversation is heard. Hand gestures and a mix of English and limited Spanish is going to get me much further in that transaction in a fraction of the time — or at the very most I can ask for a moment of their time to use the Google Translate app on my phone.

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Even if the translation feature was flawlessly implemented, which it’s extremely far from being, there’s still a social barrier to talking to another person while wearing headphones. For as small as these earbuds are, they’re still plenty noticeable — and the cord dangling on your neck is a dead giveaway that you have a device on you. Having earbuds in is the universal sign for “I don’t want to hear you right now,” and initiating an interaction in which you don’t speak someone else’s language by walking up with headphones in your ears is not a good idea.

But put the admittedly niche translation feature aside — there are many other more practical issues with the Pixel Buds that everyone will have to deal with. The biggest problem is their reliance on touch controls for every interaction. There’s a single tap for play/pause, a double tap for advanced functions, a press-and-hold for Assistant, and a swipe forward/back for volume control … all on a tiny earbud that doesn’t fit firmly in your ear. It’s a recipe for frustration, and even with how long I’ve used the Pixel Buds I haven’t been able to get it to work consistently.

Even after months of use, these touch controls are still a disaster.

The play/pause tap is the easiest of the bunch, but because the earbud is so small it’s impossible to get 100% of the time. If your finger is wet at all, for example if you just set down your condensation-laden cold beer can, you have less than a 50-50 chance of registering the tap. No matter if your finger is dry, forward/back swipes for volume control are often registered as a single tap, pausing your audio, or as a long press, activating Assistant. Any hesitation or missed aim on an intentional long-press is registered as a double tap.

My longest-held frustration with the Pixel Buds’ touch controls was the propensity for accidental touch activation when handling them between the case and my ears, which has just now been rectified. An update in early May lets you manually turn off or on the Pixel Buds with a quick triple-tap of the right earbud, so you can safely dangle the earbuds around your neck or pop them in their case without accidentally turning back on your music. Rumor has it that Google is working on a way for the Pixel Buds to detect when they’re removed from your ear and pause audio, which would be the preferred method to do this considering they’re supposed to be “smart,” but the triple-tap has removed a huge amount of frustration with accidental touches.

The latest software update fixed some of the biggest flaws, but there are hardware issues here that can’t be addressed.

And speaking of those smarts, much like the translation feature, Google Assistant hasn’t been a regular feature put to use with my Pixel Buds. Yes it works for the typical knowledge-style questions — like what the weather is like this afternoon, or what your next appointment is — but isn’t well-suited to headset controls like skipping tracks or playing different media. And for most voice commands, the response I get will be better handled by just taking my phone out of my pocket rather than dealing with long sequences of voice controls, audio feedback and pauses.

A totally unexpected issue I found over time is how the cord connecting the earbuds aged. Because of the little twist and tuck you have to do with the earbuds’ cord to get it placed just so in the charging case, my Pixel Buds cord has developed a curve and kink in the middle of it where you have to pinch to perform the move. This tight bend never flattens out again, and it means that if you twist either of the earbuds in the process of putting them in your ear the cord doesn’t sit on your neck properly and is bothersome. The cord is tough, and in no way fragile, but the downside is that it’s too stiff to be flexible (literally and figuratively) with how you deploy it.

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Great ideas, poor execution

Google Pixel Buds Review

The Pixel Buds are frustrating to review because they’re such a typically “Google” product. They have a unique and thoughtful design that’s comfortable, intuitive and has a few “wow” features. But they’re encumbered by the frustration of the core touch interface not being implemented well and major advanced features that hardly work at all.

As a pair of Bluetooth headphones, the Pixel Buds absolutely nail the basics. The sound quality is quite good, they’re comfortable to use for hours at a time, the pairing and connection process is simple, and the charging case frees you from battery anxiety and has unexpectedly even held up to months of use. But Google’s implementation of a touch control system is a disaster, and is even less forgivable when there’s still a cord attached to the earbuds that could easily incorporate in-line button controls. The “smart” parts of these earbuds underwhelm every step of the way, and while some have been fixed in software others remain half-baked or unable to be fixed with just an update.

The Good

  • Comfort is truly fantastic
  • Sound is above average for earbuds
  • Battery life is great with the case
  • Pairing and changing devices is a breeze
  • Case has held up over several months

The Bad

  • Touch controls are a disaster
  • Cord gets kinked and twisted
  • Assistant commands have limited use
  • Live translation is effectively useless
  • Expensive considering lackluster features

3
out of 5


If the Pixel Buds were less expensive, perhaps $79, I could look past the cumbersome touch controls, useless translation feature and questionable “smart” functionality. But if you take away all of the advertised advanced features Google advertises with the Pixel Buds, charging $159 for what are then essentially dumb Bluetooth earbuds is a tough ask. The Pixel Buds are extremely comfortable, sound good and have long battery life, but so do lots of other Bluetooth headphones that are $50 or even $100 less.

There are lots of great ideas here. If the execution were better there may be some sort of justification of the higher price, at least when added to the basic things they do really well, but as it stands you just can’t expect people to pay this much for the Pixel Buds.

See at Best Buy
See at Google Store

28
May

What to do with your non-Pixel phone when the Android P beta ends


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Getting your phone back to stable software isn’t as easy as you might have hoped it would be.

Testing a preview of Android P can be a fun thing to do, even if you aren’t a developer who needs to get up to speed on the changes. It’s totally beta software and clearly not ready for prime time, but it’s also not as broken as early preview builds have been in the past and some people are using it for their go-to phone. Starting this year it got even cooler as we saw other Android partners get into the beta program with their phones. Having a beta of Android P on your phone from Sony, Xiaomi, Nokia, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus or Essential can be as easy as unlocking the bootloader and flashing an image.

More: The Android P Beta includes phones from 7 manufacturers in addition to Pixels

While that’s not an insurmountable task, it’s clearly not as easy as tapping a web link and enrolling your Pixel phone through Google’s Android Beta website. And it means that getting back to stable software, whether you need to do so before the beta is finished testing or once it goes gold, isn’t going to be as easy, either.

If you’re interested in getting on the Android P beta, we have a comprehensive guide for the Pixel series, Nokia 7 Plus, and OnePlus 6.

Who makes the software matters

It all comes down to what exactly Android is. It’s not a product that Google makes and sells as a package that companies like OnePlus or Xiaomi can just give you to install like Windows on a disk from HP. When you install the Android P beta on your OnePlus 6, for example, it’s a package built by OnePlus and is different than a package built by Google for the Pixel 2 or by Nokia for the 7 Plus. That means that while these companies are working with Google to get their phones into the Android P beta program, they are still each responsible for updating their own phones.

More: Google makes two different versions of Android and they’re both equally important

If your phone isn’t from Google you’ll have to manually flash the beta software and manually flash the final version of Android P. This isn’t an issue for a lot of folks, and if you joined the beta program in the first place you knew you had to install the software yourself. There could be one problem though — it’s very possible you’ll need to erase and reset the software during the transition from Android P beta to Android P final.

xiaomi-mi-mix-2s-review-11.jpg?itok=1yAx The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, on of the devices in the Android P beta.

The further away from “stock” Android your phone is the more likely this becomes. The current Android P beta for the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, for example, looks more like the software on the Pixel 2 than it does on what was shipped with the phone. When Xiaomi builds their Android P, it will have a slew of changes that they feel add value to their product over the bare Android code. Changes often make old data unusable and if that’s the case you’ll need to factory reset your phone during the installation.

We’ve asked the manufacturers about this and since this is early in the life of the Android P beta we don’t have many details. Once the final version becomes available for your phone there will be full instructions and any relevant information provided by each company.

Going back to something stable

If you decide to stop being part of the beta testing and want to go back to the software that shipped with your phone, you’ll definitely need to factory reset. Android versions are rarely backwards compatible and moving back from P to any other current version is no exception.

More: Android P issue tracker: The biggest bugs and problems

This will require a manual installation using the same process as installing the beta originally did. Be sure to read and follow the directions from the company that made your phone very carefully. And never be afraid to contact support! Technically this is unsupported beta software, but the engineers who built and designed your phone will want to know what types of problems users see in the transition to the beta as well as problems encountered going back. All of these companies want you to be happy using their products and keep you as a customer.

We were warned

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We had some internal discussion about all of this. That’s what we do here because we don’t just write about Android — we’re enthusiasts as well. Every manufacturer involved in the Android P beta has a responsibility to provide everything you need to install and use it, as well as everything needed to go back to factory software. Problems or bugs that make this more difficult must be addressed by the individual company right away.

But we shoulder a bit of responsibility, too. Be sure to read all the warnings about using the Android P beta, and be ready for the things you’re warned about to happen to you. You definitely need to be aware of what you’re getting into here.

In the end, the people most likely to participate in any Android P beta are well aware of the risks and have a general idea about manual installation of Android. Factory resetting your phone sucks, but it’s also a big part of testing new versions and has always been. Be sure to back up everything you can and keep your backups current just in case you need them.

Android P

  • Android P: Everything you need to know
  • Android P Beta hands-on: The best and worst features
  • All the big Android announcements from Google I/O 2018
  • Will my phone get Android P?
  • How to manually update your Pixel to Android P
  • Join the Discussion

28
May

Pixel Watch wish list: What we want to see from Google’s first smartwatch


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A sleek design, new processor, GPS, oh my!

This October, we’re anticipating that Google will follow its footsteps of the past two years with an event to announce its latest and greatest hardware products. We’ve seen Pixel phones, Home speakers, wireless earbuds and more, and this time around, we’re expecting the company to finally dive into the world of smartwatches.

A rumor popped up in early May suggesting that Google will announce a Pixel Watch alongside the Pixel 3 this year, and if true, this will mark the first smartwatch Google’s released under its Pixel brand.

Wear OS is still in something of an awkward state despite the big rebrand this past March, but like I said shortly after that, Google can still make something exciting out of it by releasing a proper watch of its own.

If and when that happens, this is what I’d like to see from it.

Qualcomm’s new smartwatch CPU

There hasn’t been much development in the way of silicon for smartwatches, but Qualcomm’s looking to change that this year.

The company revealed that it’s creating a successor to the Wear 2100 processor that was first introduced in 2016, with some of the highlights including better ambient displays, improved fitness tracking features, increased battery life, etc.

Qualcomm’s said that this new chip will make its way into a “lead smartwatch” by the holiday season, and it’s expected that that’ll be none other than the Pixel Watch.

Specifics on Qualcomm’s new processor are still up in the air, but at the very least, it should offer a much better experience compared to other smartwatches before it.

An approachable design no matter your wrist size

When they were first announced, the Samsung Gear S3 and LG Watch Sport looked like they had all the features I’d ever wanted in a wearable. They had GPS, mobile payment support, LTE connectivity, you name it.

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Small wrists need not apply to these watches.

Unfortunately, I never did own either one as their large, bulky designs were far too big for my wrists.

I get that some people prefer a larger smartwatch, but those huge designs keep a lot of potential buyers at bay. This is something that Apple’s excelled at with the Apple Watch, and it’s an area Google needs to get right.

Accessibility is key when it comes to technology, and as we’ve seen with the Apple Watch Series 3, you can pack every major smartwatch feature into a product that looks and feels comfortable on anyone’s wrist.

I’m all for a Pixel Watch XL if Google wants to offer the same features in a larger body for people that prefer that look, but it can’t make that the only option.

Loudspeaker for voice calls

Every LTE-enabled smartwatch comes with a loudspeaker so you can take phone calls even when you’re without your phone, but I’d like to see Google keep that speaker around for non-LTE variants of the Pixel Watch, too.

In addition to answering phone calls directly on your wrist, this would also allow for spoken responses from the Google Assistant. This functionality was recently added to Wear OS as part of the Android P Developer Preview 2, suggesting that Google would want its flagship wearable to support it.

This is a component that a lot of watches tend to skip out on, and I really hope Google decides to buck that trend.

NFC and GPS

The LG Watch Style was nearly perfect from a design point of view, offering an incredibly slim body that looked good on both male and female wrists. Unfortunately, LG eviscerated the Watch Style’s functionality by omitting NFC and GPS.

NFC and GPS are essential components in 2018.

These two components weren’t all that essential a few years back, but in 2018, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be on every smartwatch that’s released.

NFC seems like it’ll be a given for the Pixel Watch as that’ll allow Google to further push Google Pay, but GPS is still up in the air. Google’s not really known for its excellent fitness-tracking platform, but adding GPS to its smartwatch would certainly help to change that.

A reasonable price

Last but not least, I’d love for the Pixel Watch to have a price tag that doesn’t make my wallet run into hiding for six months.

For the Pixel Watch, I’d like to see pricing around $250 – $300. I think that’s reasonable considering all of the tech it should come equipped with, and even with a $300 sticker, that’ll still make it at least $30 cheaper than the Series 3 Apple Watch.

What do you want to see?

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Those are my wishes for the Pixel Watch, but what about you? What features would you like to see in Google’s first true smartwatch? Sound off in those comments down below!

28
May

Save money on watering your lawn with Rachio’s $136 smart controller


Stop wasting water and money.

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Amazon has the 8-zone Rachio smart sprinkler controller on sale for $135.99 right now. Recently, it’s been selling for around $180 at Amazon, but normally sells for closer to $200 elsewhere. This Rachio controller can replace your old, basic one in just a few minutes and provide smarter controls for up to eight different sprinkler zones. If you need control of more zones, you can opt for the 16-zone option for $181.99.

Once installed, the Rachio system can intelligently skip lawn waterings when they aren’t needed, like when it’s too cold outside or there’s been sufficient rain in the recent days to keep your grass looking its best. I installed one of these about two years ago, and it’s easily the best smart home purchase I’ve ever made. You can connect it with an Echo Dot for complete voice control over your lawn.

If you have a sprinkler system and are tired of the expensive water bills, it running while it’s raining outside, and the other annoyances, be sure to grab one of these today.

See at Amazon

28
May

Best microSD cards for LG G7


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Getting a microSD card for the LG G7? Check these out!

While the 64GB of storage that comes with every LG G7 will be plenty for most people, there are always situations where you’ll need more. Whether it’s for your giant music collection, capturing a plethora of video footage, or just to use your phone as an external hard drive, there are still great reasons to use a microSD card.

These are the best microSD cards for the LG G7!

  • Performance options
  • Value options

Performance options

If you’ll be using your LG G7 to record a lot of 4K footage, you’ll want to get a microSD with the fastest write speed you can find. If the card isn’t fast enough to handle the footage your camera is feeding it, you could end losing footage. As a general rule, you’ll want the microSD card to be write at at least 30MB/s. If you’re want an easy way to shop for cards, look for ones with the U3 rating.

Samsung EVO Plus 256GB

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If you’re going to get a card for capturing videos, you may as well get the biggest card you can find. Samsung’s EVO Plus card fits that big nicely. You have 256GB of storage for all of your 4K footage, so you can keep recording for longer. The card is water-, heat- and cold resistant as well, so it can be in the same harsh environments that your phone ends up in. There are some cards that offer more storage for less money, but none that are as fast as this.

The Samsung EVO Plus 256GB is available for about $97.

See at Amazon

Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB

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This card isn’t as spacious, but it’s also not as expensive. Just like the previous choice, this card is water-resistant, shock-resistant, temperature-resistant and x-ray proof. Most importantly, it’s more than fast enough to handle a steady stream of 4K footage. If you want to easily double your G7’s storage, this is the card to get.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB is available for $38.

See at Amazon

Samsung EVO Select 128GB

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Samsung has another card that is a nice middle option. The EVO Select is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB flavors, but the 256GB version is more expensive that the EVO Plus above. The lower tiers are a great value though: the 128GB version runs for $40, and gets you a fast card with a 10-year warranty. An additional 128GB means you have three times as much storage as you did when you bought the phone, making this card an easy win.

Samsung’s EVO Select 128GB card is available for $40.

See at Amazon

Value options

If you’re not using your phone to record 4K videos — or if you plan to just use the phone’s internal storage for this — you can get more storage for less money by getting a slower card. “Slower” is relative — the cards will still be more than fast enough for taking photos, music or video playback, or just carrying your most important files around.

SanDisk Ultra 400GB

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It’s difficult to believe, but yes: you can fit 400GB of files on some the size of your fingernail. You can also fit that card inside of your phone to give your phone a ginormous amount of storage. The SDXC standard that the phones and cards use is designed for up to 2TB, so microSD cards will keep getting bigger and bigger. This is the largest card on the market for now, so it’s not a bad idea to pick it up and have plenty of space for the next few years of use.

The SanDisk Ultra 400GB is available for $195.

See at Amazon

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB

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If you don’t need a ludicrous amount of space, Samsung makes microSD cards at lower storage tiers. The EVO Plus line is available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB flavors, and is a bit faster than the Ultra card above. Not fast enough for 4K video, but it’ll handle 1080P footage with ease. The card is waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about your data when your phone takes a dunk.

The Samsung EVO Plus 128GB is available for $50.

See at Amazon

What card do you use?

Which card are you planning to put in your LG G7? Let us know down below!

LG G7

  • LG G7 hands-on preview: All about that bass
  • LG G7 Specifications: Everything you need to know
  • Join the LG G7 forums

28
May

Things 3 for iPad Gets Major Update With Support for External Keyboards, Shortcuts and More


Cultured Code today released a major 3.6 update to its popular Things 3 app, introducing a slew of new features for the iPad.

The company says the goal with this update is to make Things 3 for the iPad truly desktop-class with full support for external keyboards and keyboard shortcuts to make the Things 3 experience when connected to a keyboard as easy as the touch-only experience.

To achieve this goal, Cultured Code has added support for selecting items in Things from the keyboard, mirroring how Things 3 works on the Mac.

Before you can use a shortcut, you need a persistent selection in the list that you can target. So that’s exactly what we’ve built for Things 3.6. To see what we mean, just open the app and tap the down arrow; you’ll see the first to-do selected.

Now you can move the selection around with the arrow keys, or hold down shift and use the arrows to select more to-dos. Yes, it works just like the Mac!

Things 3 supports a wide range of keyboard shortcuts for a selection, such as inserting a new to-do, opening a to-do, moving items up or down a list, duplicating or copying items, setting a date, marking an item complete, and more. Popovers in the app are also fully accessible from the keyboard.

Type Travel, a Things 3 navigation feature for the Mac, is also now available on the iPad. To use it, type where in the app you need to go, such as projects or a specific to-do, and then it automatically opens up.

Other new features include support for dragging and dropping to-dos into the Things sidebar to move them to other lists, the ability to apply tags and deadlines to multiple to-dos at once (also available on iPhone), and there’s now an option to use undo and redo on iPad.

Things 3 for iPad can be downloaded from the App Store for $19.99. [Direct Link]

Things 3 for iPhone can also be downloaded from the App Store for $9.99. [Direct Link]

Tags: Cultured Code, Things 3
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28
May

Video Shows iMac Pro’s Mounting Kit Screws Appear to Break Easily When Unfastened


Quinn Nelson, host of the popular YouTube channel Snazzy Labs, has shared a new video that appears to suggest the iMac Pro’s user-installable VESA mounting kit uses cheap screws that are prone to break when unfastened.

For background, the kit enables users to replace an iMac Pro’s stand with a VESA mount adapter, allowing the computer to be affixed to any VESA-compatible wall mount, desk mount, or articulating arm. Jason Snell of Six Colors provides a good overview of the installation process in the video below.


Nelson installed the adapter without issue, but ran into difficulties when he went to remove it a few months later:

When I was backing out one of the five screws, which was not overtightened by the way, the screw head just broke clean off from the screw body, and it left the screw stuck inside of the screw hole threads. The end result… I couldn’t remove the VESA adapter… ever.

Nelson acknowledges that the adapter is probably not designed to be taken on-and-off and on-and-off repeatedly, but Apple never warns against doing so, and switching back to the traditional stand at least once seems reasonable.

Unable to remove the adapter, Nelson said he contacted Apple by phone, explained the situation, and was told that Apple could not provide support because the adapter is manufactured by a licensed OEM, despite being sold by Apple with Apple-branded packaging and documentation.


The support representative then declined to provide the name of the OEM or their contact information, according to Nelson, who gave up on the phone call and decided to visit the Genius Bar at his local Apple Store.

Unfortunately, the Genius Bar was not very helpful, as apparently only the Head Genius at that store was trained to service the iMac Pro. Nearly two weeks and one failed repair later, the iMac Pro was finally fixed and ready for pickup, with a new VESA mount adapter installed and the saga seemingly over.

Upon leaving the store, however, Nelson discovered that his iMac Pro’s stand had been significantly dented and scratched. The damage prompted him to carefully remove the VESA mount adapter yet again, to see if the iMac Pro itself was damaged, and he encountered similar scuffs on the chassis of the machine.

Moreover, while attempting to unscrew the Apple-installed replacement adapter, another screw broke off, suggesting that Nelson’s experience wasn’t a one-off situation, and that the screws are in fact prone to break.

All in all, there are two separate issues here: the fragile screws and the un-pro-like customer service provided by Apple. And, unlike his fellow YouTube creator Linus Sebastian, Nelson did not disassemble the iMac Pro or perform any other action that would appear to violate Apple’s warranty.

Importantly, after the video, Nelson says the Apple Store has since offered to replace the entire iMac Pro free of charge. He was also contacted by Apple’s Executive Relations team, which wanted to ensure everything was okay and requested that he send the VESA mounting kit to Apple for its engineers to examine.

Apple store offered to a) replace the outer shell in another repair or b) do a CRU (complete replacement unit). I obviously elected the latter.

In the end, I am getting taken care of, but a few have seen the video already. Don’t know what they would have done for an average Joe.

— Quinn Nelson (@SnazzyQ) May 26, 2018

Just got a call from the Apple Executive Team. They called to see if everything turned out okay with the store and also requested that I send my VESA mount in for the engineering team to examine. Maybe they’ll finally fix this thing.

— Quinn Nelson (@SnazzyQ) May 27, 2018

While this doesn’t appear to be a widespread problem, and might not ever be given the steps to reproduce it require mounting and demounting a minimum $5,000 computer, the simple solution could be stronger screws.

MacRumors has reached out to Apple for comment on the matter. We’ll update this article if and when we hear anything back.

Related Roundup: iMac ProTag: VESABuyer’s Guide: iMac Pro (Neutral)
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