I can’t help but feel like a super hero every time I summon my virtual personal assistant.
She doesn’t have a fancy name like Iron Man’s Jarvis but she’s well known.
She simply goes by the name Google – and now, apart from my computer and smartphone, she also resides in a little contraption called Home.
There’s nothing fancy about the way Google Home looks, it’s an almost cylindrical piece of hardware, with muted colors, and nothing more but a microphone and speakers built into its base.
But what makes Google Home such a great idea, is that while it’s a smart and powerful piece of technology, it is for the most part out of the way and unobtrusive but still always there when you need it.
[irp posts=”2801″ name=”Zenbo is the home robot you’ve always wanted”]
One can argue that our smartphones can do all of the same things and more, but we are so often sucked into our phones that we sometimes lose touch of the real world. The best tech, I believe, is the kind that you don’t have touch or even see, but you know it’s there, and it gets the job done.
Google Home is just that. She hasn’t quite reached her potential yet, but even now this $149 piece of smart tech has already found a spot right in the center of my home. Here are five reasons why.
Turning off the lights from bed
Some will argue that voice control is for the lazy. But imagine this: You’re under the weather and already tucked in, but then all the lights are on. What would you do? That was me just this week; I couldn’t muster the strength to move so I literally said in a hushed voice, “Hey Google, turn off the lights” and off to sleep I went. Of course, for this to work, your light bulbs need to be smart too. If you have Philips Hue color bulbs you can also have Google change your light’s colors to match the mood. Perfect for all kinds of entertaining.
Booking an Uber handsfree
Whenever I have to leave the house, I find myself often in a rush to get ready, so picking up my phone to book a ride is a necessary waste of my precious time. With Google Home I can say, “Hey Google, book me an Uber.” Once it finds a ride and asks me to confirm, an Uber will be on its way without me having to look at my phone, not even once.
Knowledge on demand
Sure it’s fun to have Google Home entertain guests by having her answer the most obscure of trivia questions. But there are times when you need quick answers, and the fastest, most convenient way of getting them is by simply asking. Just the other day, I was trying to figure out how to make a German breakfast called Milschreis that called for boiling milk. Last time I tried to heat milk it curdled. Without taking my hands off my mixing bowl, I asked Google, “How do I boil milk without curdling,” and she walked me through it. Breakfast was great too.
Because it has speakers built in, Google Home can play any song from Spotify (as long as you have a Premium account). You don’t even have to know the song title, as long as you can recite the lyrics you can say something like, “Okay Google, play the song that goes ‘Turn up the lights in here, baby!’” If you have Chromecast on your TV, you can also ask it to play the latest video from your favorite YouTuber. Netflix support is also being promised.
I’ve always wanted an executive assistant to keep my affairs straight. I still can’t afford one, but Google does a pretty decent job at covering the basics. When I wake up, I say, “Hey Google, good morning.” And she will deliver my morning brief, including the weather, what’s on my calendar, and the day’s headlines. I can also ask her to estimate how long it will take me to get to a certain place based on current traffic conditions, find me the nearest pharmacy, or tell what time the mall closes.
[irp posts=”7034″ name=”Google’s Pixel strategy is doing exceedingly well, at a cost”]
iPhone 15 + 15 Pro Series MEGA UNBOXING!
iPhone 15 domination comin’ thru
Most of you think there’s nothing extraordinary about unboxing videos anymore.
While that relies on one’s interest, there’s still that amount of satisfaction when unpacking Apple products.
The newest iPhone 15 lineup aren’t exemptions to that.
We might get the same ol’ box content in an overall minimalistic packaging design.
Still, there’s the sound of the screen-protecting sticker coming off from the phone.
Do I even need to iterate one’s design language appreciation when getting and flipping the device?
Here’s our MEGA unboxing of the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max in various colors — that might be your next GadgetMatch!
Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Series Hands-on
Which iPhone 15 is your GadgetMatch?
It’s the time of the year again!
Wonderlust — it’s the theme for this year’s annual Apple Event held at the ever-popular Apple Park in Cupertino, California.
Excited to see what’s new? How about the latest colorways?
Are you even convincing yourself to upgrade?
More of your questions might just be answered by heading over to our iPhone 15 and 15 Pro Series Hands-on video.
I need a Huawei Mate X3, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 fusion
I am now a foldable enthusiast
I’m suffering from foldable withdrawal. For the better part of the past month or so, I’ve had both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 and the Huawei Mate X3. As of writing, it’s been a little over a week since I let go of both book-style foldable smartphones. I badly miss using a foldable.
It took five generations of the Galaxy Z Fold and the rest of the pack to come up with a slimmer foldable design for me to realize that I might be the target market of this device after all.
It wasn’t until I really had to start going out and attending physical events that I felt the need for this specific type of gadget. Why? Well, over the years, I’ve gotten used to bringing a laptop wherever I go. But the events I’ve gone to of late, I realized I didn’t really need to bring one.
In order to lighten the load I carry when I step out for an event or two in a day, I figured I’d switch over to an 11-inch tablet instead. It’s lighter while still giving me access to a full-sized keyboard making tasks like copy editing and long email replies easier. I did that for a while. But then, the review units for the foldables arrived.
Living the foldable life
With the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 in hand, I realized I could make my events loadout even lighter. In a pocket I could carry a device that can handle all the tasks I did as an editor. I can preview videos on it and still spot changes because of the larger screen. I can comfortably sit down somewhere to copy edit an article. I can step aside for a little bit to quickly respond to emails or chats. All that and more. It truly is the productivity gadget it’s marketed to be.
But I had one gripe about the Galaxy Z Fold5. The only time I could enjoyably use it folded is when I’m trying to take clips for a Reel or just generally taking videos and photos. I’m not saying the outer screen isn’t usable. It is. However, it just doesn’t feel right. And for all the strides it has made in software, the Galaxy Z Fold5’s hardware design feels dated.
Enter the Huawei Mate X3. As cliche as it sounds, this thing felt like an engineering marvel the first time I held it. The design fulfilled the promise of having the best of both worlds: a regular smartphone and a mini tablet. It would have been perfect, but it’s only truly available in China. And Google Mobile Services or GMS still isn’t present on Huawei smartphones.
Some snaps comparisons
While we’re at it. Here’s what photos look like on both devices. To make things easy, everything on the left was taken with the Galaxy Z Fold5 and everything on the right was taken with the Mate X3.
The difference in the color science is very evident. In night time and lowlight scenarios, the Galaxy Z Fold5 works overtime in processing the images. With people present, the results look nice. But with general scenes, it tends to create a halo effect on some lights and appears to bright.
Meanwhile, the Mate X3 was outstanding in most scenes but struggled somewhat when people were present in the shots. And the selfie had some pretty obvious smoothing and beautification applied.
Overall, these are still pretty darn good shots for foldables. All were taken using the main camera of each smartphone. Foldables still also need time to develop for other lenses like utlra wide and telephoto/zoom.
Frustration sets in
The Huawei Mate X3 is the lightest, thinnest book-style foldable I’ve personally held so far. It would have been my dream foldable had it been running a software that worked like on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5.
Yes, I am aware of the existence of the HONOR Magic V2 and the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3. But the former’s actual global unit hasn’t been released yet and the latter, like Huawei, is only made for China. For now, at least.
Hardware-wise, all three are definitely ahead of Samsung. When folded, the foldable does feel like a regular slab of a smartphone. But unfold it and you get the benefits of a mini tablet. But the software on these devices just hasn’t caught up to Samsung just yet.
On the Galaxy Z Fold5, when folded, my other devices detect it as a smartphone. Unfolded, it registers as a tablet. And many of the apps I use like GMail, Spotify, YouTube, and more automatically and seamlessly switch from smartphone to tablet user interfaces when I fold and unfold the device.
This is what’s really been grinding my gears. As of writing, I have yet to use a book-style foldable that’s an absolute slam dunk. The form-factor, after all, is just around five years old so there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Staying patient and holding out hope
The smartphones we use today weren’t always as good as they are now. It also took years before the updates, especially on flagship smartphones, to merely become iterative additions. They have evolved so much that they’re now borderline boring especially if you’re just a casual follower of tech trends. That’s what makes the foldable segment so exciting.
Just seeing the hardware and software gap means there’s plenty of tweaking left for these manufacturers to do. And Samsung, while still firmly leading the market should feel the pressure from the likes of HONOR, Huawei, and Xiaomi when it comes to hardware design. Software-wise, it appears no one else comes close. Not even Pixel Fold. Not yet, at least. Then there’s also OPPO’s Find N series that has a stouter look which also has its fans, including yours truly.
At the end of 2022, we predicted 2023 to be the year of foldables. It hasn’t quite blown up the way we thought it would. But there’s race brewing in this segment and everyone’s gearing up to overtake Samsung.
My ideal foldable doesn’t exist yet. It may not exist even in 2024. But I’m staying patient and holding out hope that it’s coming sooner rather than later.
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