After rumors recently surfaced about the cancellation of Project Ara, we now have confirmation from Google that their highly ambitious modular phone will no longer reach the consumer market. Reasons were somewhat vague, but what we do know is that it’s being done to “streamline the company’s hardware efforts.”
It was only last May when we witnessed a revived desire from Google to push the product, complete with a cool trailer and announcement of a possible consumer launch next year. Progress before and after the unveiling was typically silent, and we’ve finally confirmed that it’s been an internal structure issue all along. Now, we think about what could have been a savior for the smartphone industry.
The beginning of the end
Imagine presenting a prototype of your company’s next big thing in front of a worldwide audience, only for it to freeze during bootup and fail to even reach the home screen. No, I’m not talking about an episode of Silicon Valley. That’s actually the nightmare Google experienced back in 2014 when it presented a “working” prototype of its first modular smartphone. Thinking about it now, the incident summarizes the current situation really well.
In the most recent build of Project Ara, you had all the functions you’d expect from the modern-day smartphone you’re accustomed to, along with the ability to plug in your choice of modules to add greater functionality. Upgrades ranging from cameras to replaceable batteries stylishly fit into the main frame to create one unified pocket computer. If you think the process is as simple as playing with Lego blocks, you’re absolutely right.
An eternity in the tech world
What could this have meant for consumers had it become a commercial product? It would have been a possible game-changer in terms of phone upgrade cycles. With a smartphone having limitless module options to keep you busy, ordering that newly launched Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone wouldn’t be as tempting anymore.
However, it’s been a long two years since the initial reveal, and much has changed.
It’s important to take note that Project Ara was no longer a fully modular smartphone as of May 2016. The Google phone had its core components fixed into the main frame, meaning you couldn’t touch the processor, internal storage, RAM, and front display. This became a potential deal-breaker for enthusiasts wanting a PC-like handheld gadget they can fiddle around with on the go. The development led to disappointment from the community and the product’s eventual downfall, but it might have also been able to entice a more mainstream market wanting a simpler package.
In exchange for the loss of complexity, the last build came with welcome refinements. Plug and play was possible with certain modules, wherein you could hot swap the unit while the phone was on and even share with other Ara users on the spot. If you wanted to get fancy, saying “Okay Google, eject the camera” commanded the phone to do as it’s told.
Google’s very own
Looking back, it’s easy to forget how big of a deal Project Ara was when it was first announced at Google I/O 2014. Modular phone schematics were tossed around brainstorming sessions prior to that, but it was only when Google unveiled a (partially) working prototype that this concept became closer to commercial reality. Still, the fact that it froze shortly after being turned on established how much of a pipe dream it was back then, and how it continues to be one now.
During Project Ara’s downtime, a couple of companies took a crack at modular designs in attempts to overshadow the hype Google built and lost. The Fairphone 2 was the first modular phone to officially hit the market, and the LG G5 garnered even bigger headlines as a totally revamped flagship device with modular Friends you could attach to its Magic Slot. Most recently, Lenovo launched the Moto Z series, which proves that even partial modularity is still alive and kicking.
And yet, the latest announcement from Google I/O 2016 was more than just about a potential date and a sweet new trailer for Project Ara. Google was finally going to release a smart device that’s truly theirs – free of any partnership from the likes of Huawei or HTC in their long-running Nexus program.
The company’s previous attempt at controlling the hardware process came when it acquired Motorola in 2012. Google then became a competitor for a long list of smartphone brands that rely on Android as their sole operating system. This didn’t fly well with major players such as LG and Samsung, who subsequently secured backups in WebOS and Tizen, respectively, in case Google would suddenly favor its own manufacturing process for the latest Android updates, ultimately discriminating against loyal associates.
It’s uncertain how Project Ara would have impacted the search giant’s relationship with hardware partners as an indirect competitor, since modular phones might create a category of their own some day.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves
Ironically, the highly customizable Project Ara proved that you didn’t have total control over the aesthetics and feel. While the dimensions and weight of the device vary depending on the components equipped, you’re going to end up with a bulky, blocky handset no matter what. LG saw through the weaknesses of a largely modular phone to produce the G5 we’re enjoying today. By allowing only partial modularity from the bottom end of its current flagship, the primary build remains largely intact, so there’s no need to worry about assembling a hideous product.
Our recent unboxing and hands-on review of the G5 and its add-ons showcased how much promise there is in upgrading your handset before committing to a completely different phone the following year or two. Lenovo followed shortly after with the Moto Z and its growing lineup, but it’s too early to gauge its success.
We’ve been wanting these possibilities for a while now. Smartphone technology in general has stagnated in the past years, with every manufacturer heavily focusing on simply improving on the touchscreen-optimized formula Apple established nearly a decade ago with the original iPhone. If your current smartphone already has a high-resolution display, fast-acting camera, accurate fingerprint scanner, and either a glass or metal physique, there isn’t much more you can ask for outside the realm of modularity. Well, probably better battery life, but we’ll never be satisfied with that, right?
Speaking of batteries, with news of entire Samsung Galaxy Note 7 units being recalled because of a single part, swappable components might be the solution to new-age manufacturing woes.
Or maybe, we simply aren’t ready yet for the complexity of a fully modular smartphone. Consumers have finally moved past DIY solutions for PCs in exchange for the simplicity of owning a razor-thin notebook or all-in-one laptop with as much, if not more, power. Complicating the everyday smartphone could just as easily backfire, and discriminate against users who aren’t that tech-savvy.
It’s not just about the modules anymore
Going back to Google I/O 2014, one of the presenters posed this question: Why choose a phone for its camera, when you could choose a camera for your phone? Project Ara’s vision remained the same until its demise, but we now have a more daunting question to ask: Since we’ve already reached the pinnacle of touchscreen-smartphone convenience, when will we be ready to embrace a more complex form factor?
Project Ara’s Twitter account once wondered if fans were still around after one of its long hiatuses. We, the consumers, haven’t left yet, and taking a look at the official website shows how the developers themselves haven’t let go of the project either.
[irp posts=”7634″ name=”Cancelled Project Ara prototype shows up, reveals specs”]
Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce
Huawei MatePad Pro: Stay connected, stay creative
Equipped with the right resources to let creativity thrive
Creativity isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you learn and hone throughout your life. We learn how to be ingenious because we’re all inherently talented to be able to connect things and ideas.
But what sets highly creative people apart isn’t their insane amount of creative juices stored. They work hard to pump out their ideas. You need to keep going and keep on doing something creative!
If you’re feeling stuck (or if you feel like you lost your creativity as you grew up), it’s time to rekindle that fire. Thankfully, we live in an era where ideas and inspiration can spark in a single touch. Huawei’s premium and elegant tablet — the MatePad Pro — can help you stay and be creative in four practical ways.
Connect with yourself
When you listen to what makes you happy and pursue what sets your soul on fire, you ignite your creativity and fuel your passion. But when you keep on moving, you eventually burn out. When this happens, listen to your body and relax. Being still is a way for you to connect with yourself.
Take your mind off of stressful things and let your brain breathe a little. The MatePad Pro has a 10.8-inch QHD FullView display with quad-channel and quad-speakers tuned by Harman/Kardon — a real audio-visual treat to help you relax.
If you need some films and TV series for inspiration, Viu and iFlix are available for download in AppGallery, home to visually stunning yet complex stories.
Playing games rich in aesthetically-moving colorway can help entertain you, too. Asphalt 9, Naruto: Slugfest, and Burger Deluxe are wonderful games to feast your eyes on.
Moreover, some games can help you improve your creativity. Rise of Kingdom, Pool Ball Club, Word Jungle, and Empire: Rise of Battleship are games engaging your strategic thinking! Whatever helps you relax, there are a lot of apps you can download and enjoy.
The MatePad Pro has a whopping 7250mAh battery life, so you don’t have to worry about running out of juice. It’s also capable of 40W Super Charge using its USB-C cable, and up to 15W of wireless charging. When you recharge with the right connection (or cable for this matter), it’s easy to regain creative juice (and energy) quickly!
Connect with people
If you think sitting on a balcony overlooking a refreshing landscape is the way to be creative while you sip wine or coffee, that’s far from reality. Unlike how pop culture depicts isolation as a way to unleash your creativity and focus on your work, it just isn’t the case for everyone.
Humans are social beings. We can’t thrive fully when we’re alone for an extended period of time. At the very least, we need a fine balance between connecting with people and creating an undisturbed space so we can concentrate.
Allow yourself to collaborate with fellow creatives. When you’re surrounded by like-minded people, your ideas develop because they encourage you. If you don’t have a circle to inspire you, sometimes, talking to your friends and loved ones can give birth to new ideas. Or at least help you realize ways to improve your work.
For instance, you can use MEETime to connect with someone and brainstorm your ideas. This video-calling app allows you to have 1080p video calls despite having poor network quality.
Furthermore, you can share your screen to the person you’re calling — a feature that makes it easier to ask feedback and share ideas with someone over video calls.
There are plenty of social apps so you can use to call and chat with your peers, too. You can download Facebook, Snapchat, Viber, WeChat, Weibo, and even TikTok. Some can be downloaded using the Huawei browser and through an official APK file. Some of the popular apps are still finding their way to AppGallery, so in the meantime, you can be creative and find ways to download it.
When you find yourself wanting to set aside alone time, you can turn on the Do Not Disturb mode. The Huawei MatePad Pro has this feature since it runs EMUI 10.1 (based on Android 10).
Connect with the world
One of the best ways to stay creative is to interact with the world around you. Inspiration can be found anywhere — from your surroundings, to mundane moments of your life, and even on the internet.
Take a close look at the sights around you. Sit in the backyard and wonder. Creative people can always make something beautiful out of the ordinary. The MatePad Pro has an 8-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera — perfect for recording references and making art out of moments captured.
Furthermore, this premium tablet lets you engage with the world even if you’re sitting at your lovely home. You can browse the internet for inspiration! Sometimes reading an article, engaging with someone else’s opinions, and researching help you form a new perspective — necessary for birthing new ideas.
There are also art forms worth responding to. When you connect to the world, you allow your creativity to thrive. You need to nourish it like a plant; you help it grow.
Connect with your ideas
Some people may not need to relax and get inspiration to unlock their creativity. They just need to put some hard work. Internalize and look inside. Listen and connect with your ideas. You need to think and strategize on how you can bring them to life. Maybe, you just need to get the ball running.
By knowing the right tools and understanding how to make your idea work, you’ll be able to create something extraordinaire.
The Huawei MatePad Pro sports a powerful Kirin 990 chip, so it can handle anything you throw at it. It comes with Bluetooth-enabled Smart Magnetic Keyboard, so you can easily write and type your ideas.
This tablet is also bundled with the Huawei M-Pencil so you can sketch your ideas and scribble your notes. It’s wireless and has plenty of juice so you can keep creating. Apps like Concepts, Poster, Penup, and Adobe Spark Post are easy to use so you can bring forth your idea.
Along with these accessories, the MatePad Pro has a lot of features to help you be productive. You can utilize AppMultiplier which supports apps such as Investagram and SSS Mobile for checking your finances; GMA News, ClickTheCity, and Wattpad for reading news and stories; and other apps like HUAWEI Health, Lazada, and Philippine Airlines.
Moreover, you can take advantage of Huawei’s ecosystem to split and/or share the screen. For most creatives using multiple references to enhance their ideas, this is truly a helpful feature.
Truly made for every type of creative
Whatever kind of creative you are, the Huawei MatePad Pro helps you stay connected so you can stay creative, ultimately coming up with a marvelous creation to show off to the world. It has the tools and resources needed to let your creativity thrive. You just need to take advantage of it.
The Huawei MatePad Pro is priced at PhP 32,990. You can get this tablet at Lazada, Shopee, MemoXpress, Abenson, Bluelite, Intogadgets, Silicon Valley, FLW.PH, and Aerophone.
This feature was produced in collaboration between Her GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.
Nintendo and Sony are in a heated battle during lockdown
Study also reveals which consoles were the most searched as lockdowns continue in SEA
It’s been roughly two and a half months since Southeast Asian countries have gone on lockdown due to COVID-19. As people were kept off the streets, video game companies found a way to reach these audiences through their consoles and game libraries. We watched as people spent most of their days learning new skills, staying healthy, and playing video games.
Little did we know, video game companies maximized this opportunity to sell more consoles, as well. A study by the iPrice Group revealed interesting data about the mini-console war that’s currently happening in Southeast Asia (SEA). In most countries, the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 are leading the charge towards greater heights.
It made perfect sense that Nintendo’s handheld console is seeing its staggering sales increase during this period. Searches on online shopping platforms related to the Nintendo Switch skyrocketed by 245% within SEA alone, thanks in part to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons back in March.
Apart from that, the Nintendo Switch dominates 5 out of 7 markets in SEA in terms of search volume. This, of course takes into account searches and purchases from people between mid-March to mid-April.
For most markets, the big 3 of gaming consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation4, and Xbox One) dominated the charts. Apart from the Switch, the PlayStation 4 saw significant increase in interest between mid-March and mid-April by 135%.
The releases of the remastered versions of Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy VII contributed heavily to that increase. Surprisingly, in three countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines), the PlayStation 3 makes an appearances as a widely-searched console.
Looks like people really love their video games! If you want to know more about this trend, you can find the full report here.
Peloton vs excuses: Mind tricks that can help you squeeze in a workout
For those struggling to keep a routine
If anyone tells you that having a personal gym at home will remove all barriers to working out, they’re lying.
The Peloton bike packs an insane amount of tech that should help me stay on track, so I should have no excuses not to exercise, right? With it I can do live and on-demand spin classes, strength training, yoga, even meditation and sleep courses. Having it at home also means not needing to make time to travel to the gym. And yet, despite all of this, I still find reasons to shun fitness on the daily.
If you’re like me who typically gets a good week of workouts and then hits a slump when life happens, I’ve compiled some tips that you might find useful. Here are some ways I tricked myself into working out more regularly whenever I struggle to do classes on my Peloton.
Find the time that makes sense for you
After doing your workouts for a while, take note of when you enjoy it the most. For me, sweating it out in the morning works best. If I tell myself that I’ll workout later in the day, it just never happens. I’m just not someone who enjoys exercising in the afternoon or evening as much.
Make it habit
While some people make plans, I just tell myself that I’ll work out everyday and figure it out later.
Peloton has workouts that are as short as 10 or 15 minutes. Even when pressed for time, 15 minutes is just that — 15 minutes.
Those days I end up not exercising I would just consider recovery days. Our muscles need time to rest after all.
Take a scenic ride
Another trick I do is telling myself to do 10 minutes of a scenic ride. This is an option on the bike if you don’t feel like doing a class. You can ride at your own pace while the monitor shows beautiful landscapes and cities.
What usually happens when I do this is I end up doing an additional 10 minutes of arm workout. Often, I’ll feel warmed up and ready for a regular class afterwards.
Warming up at my own pace without any pressure to perform gets me in the right mindset to actually do a full workout. There are lots of other warm up rides available, too, but they’re usually pretty tough. Picking something that has no pressure eases me in.
Low impact doesn’t mean low effort
When I discovered the low impact ride, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing them all along.
I’m an old lady, or at least my body feels that way. I’ve gotten injured a few times riding the bike: the tendonitis in my thumb flared up, and the muscles that aren’t used to being used so much protested.
You still get a great workout when you choose low impact, but you’ll never achieve a personal best — and that’s perfectly okay.
Put the leaderboad away
Now we’re going to dip into the tech side of things. The leaderboard pushes you to get your personal best, which is great. But when I don’t want to work out, I’ll tell myself that a 45min class will be more doable if I take the leaderboard away. As a competitive person, I always get horrified at my performance when I check it because I don’t push myself nearly as hard apparently.
Pick a class with a gimmick
Peloton offers so many kinds of classes with different genres of music. I’ve done Guns N’ Roses as well as Madonna rides. Jess King has a show tunes series, and there are rides with a DJ.
Whenever I don’t feel motivated to exercise, I think of it as entertainment first and that’s how I trick myself into doing a full workout.
Save classes that made you feel good
When you save classes that made you feel good, you’ll be reminded of that feeling when you see it again on the monitor.When struggling to pick a class, I choose from a bunch of saved classes that I don’t mind doing again.
If I can’t bring myself to face a new challenge, doing one that I’ve already smashed is the best way to go!
Lower the instructors voice
If you have classes where you loved the soundtrack, save them and then choose to have more music and less instructor. It’s amazing how much having motivational music blasting helps.
Forgot how to change the audio mix? Hit the volume button on the right hand side of the display and then change the mix. You have to do it each time as it always resets back to an even mix of music and voice.
Do a class with weights
Doing weights is challenging, but it gives your legs some rest. A 45-minute class is sometimes better than 30 minutes because I know I’ll get breaks to do weights.
Pick your feel-good instructor
Sometimes, picking an instructor that fits your your mood is all you need. When I just want to do a feel good class, I pick Cody because he’s like my gay best friend and his classes are always entertaining. Seeing instructors have a bit of a hard time with the workout is also the energy that motivates me to give the workout everything that I got.
Should you be taking workout advice from someone who struggles with working out? Probably not. Was this entire article about how to work out a little less hard? Maybe.
It would be unfair to say that fitness isn’t a big part of my life. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about working out more than working out itself. It’s one of my favorite past times.
Keeping a consistent workout routine is what I’m struggling with right now. These mind tricks have at least helped me get my ass on the bike and squeeze a workout in even when I don’t feel like it. And for someone who isn’t a disciplined fitness freak, that’s all that matters.
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