Lifestyle

6 must-have products for your smart home

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It’s 2017, people! With the influx of information because of the internet and social media, it is expected that everything be smart — including your household.

All jokes aside, these days it’s pretty easy to set up your home. For those of you looking to start doing just that, here are a few devices that will jumpstart your journey to having a connected home.

Google Home Mini

Google’s latest smart speaker gives you all the smart assistant perks in a smaller and more affordable package. It retails for US$ 50 — way cheaper than the original Google Home — and comes in coral, chalk, and charcoal.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons why I love Google Home

Xiaomi Mi Robot vacuum

This smart robot will take cleaning off your hands! The Xiaomi Mi Robot vaccuum uses sensors to map your house and vacuum every inch without you needing to lift a finger.

TP-Link Smart Plug

Use this plug to convert your “dumb” appliances into smart ones! This allows you to automatically power appliances on and off, or even set a schedule for when you’d want them to power on.

Samsung Family Hub refrigerator

Yes, people, it’s not crazy to talk to refrigerators in 2017. The Samsung Hub Refrigerator will not only keep your food stored and safe from spoiling, it’ll also take note of its own contents and be able to look up recipes online depending on what ingredients you have.

READ MORE: First look at the Samsung Family Hub 2.0

Philips Hue

Mood lighting is everything! These bulbs can be controlled via a smartphone app and are capable of showing you a rainbow — literally.

Bosch X-Spect scanner

Doing laundry will never be the same again with the Bosch X-Spect. This tiny device is a scanner that allows you to scan your clothes to determine what material they’re made of; it can even determine what you spilled on it! All this information is then sent to your washer to makes sure you get optimum settings for your next wash.

READ MORE: Top 5 lifestyle tech picks from IFA 2017

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S9: Four fun new features

AR emoji and a very, very detailed beauty mode!

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The Galaxy S9 has just been announced at MWC! (Yes, like, just now! Visit our MWC 2018 microsite to see what other devices have been announced.)

One very obvious observation: The Samsung Galaxy S9 looks almost exactly like the Galaxy S8, and though this might seem like an anti-climactic move, it’s probably for good reason.

Those are not Samsung Galaxy S8’s!

It’s been almost a year since the Samsung Galaxy S8 was released and I still remember being very impressed with that particular phone’s design. For my tiny, girly hands, the narrow phone fit perfectly and the Infinity Display looked impressively big despite this.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+

This year, it seems Samsung has decided to stay with a formula that works. Of course, there were a few tweaks. The fingerprint scanner has been relocated below the camera instead of beside it which will, hopefully, mean less accidental fingerprint smudges on the lenses.

There’s also a new color — it matches Pantone Color of the Year Ultra Violet, and my hair!

The S9 in purple!

Another photo because it’s just so pretty

Another notable change comes to the cameras. The Galaxy S9+ has dual-camera rear shooters (finally) — this means you get Live Focus, which allows you to adjust the bokeh during and even after taking the photo, and a zoom feature on the device. It also has a Dual Aperture function which allows the phone to switch to the camera with a wider aperture when more light is needed in the photo. These additions are limited to the Plus version, however, which leave my small phone-loving self a little disappointed.

Shooting with this beaut! Of course, no live focus on this thing because this is an S9.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S9 Hands-On: Same but better

Those aren’t the only improvements on Samsung’s newest premium phones, though. Here are my favorite new functions on the Galaxy S9 and S9+.

AR Emoji!

Samsung decided to take emoji to a whole new level with this phone release. In what I consider the biggest tech development since Animojis (no, really! Ha ha ha!), the Galaxy S9 now offers you the chance to turn yourself into emoji.

It me 🙃

Yes folks, that just means you don’t only animate the emoji, you are the emoji!

If you’re a little shy, you can also animate pre-set characters on the phone.

Animojis are so last year. Karaoke AR emoji, anyone?

Super Slow-mo and video background music

Your videos will never be the same with this new feature. There’s a super slow-mo feature now, and it allows you to shoot at 960 frames per second!

Okay, those numbers don’t really mean anything to me but just know that it can capture videos like this:

As if that isn’t great enough, you can even edit background music in using your phone.

Background music for added effect; you can even choose music from your playlist!

Imagine the cinematic possibilities!

Beauty mode and makeup mode

The S9 is stepping up the selfie game. Despite the single front shooter, the bokeh feature is available on the Selfie Focus mode.

Artificial bokeh on the single front-facing camera

But that’s not all!

All photos from the Galaxy S9’s built-in camera app

These handsets offer a very, very detailed beauty mode — one that even includes makeup filters that you can edit all the way to your eyelashes.

There’s a number of different makeup looks you can achieve without lifting a single makeup brush.

Food mode

A camera feature made especially for Instagram foodies!

This mode is designed to enhance your food shots to make them look as good in your photographs as they are on your plate.

Notice how the pizza on the right looks yummier. The photos come out a little more saturated and there’s background blur that allows for more focus on whatever gastronomical delight you’re taking a photo of.

Bonus: Beautiful Bokeh

This feature can only be found on the Galaxy S9+. Though I personally haven’t been able to try it, I still feel this is worth mentioning. This feature supposedly allows for different bokeh shapes and effects.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know

SEE ALSO: I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S8, and I’m now doubting my iPhone loyalty

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Gaming

Overwatch Puppy Rumble: Cutest game of Capture the Flag!

All the puppies were adoptable!

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This is one tournament of Capture the Flag you don’t want to miss. It may sound pretty silly but it’s ridiculously the good kind of silly. To celebrate the Year of the Dog, Blizzard put together an event called the Overwatch Puppy Rumble and it’s too adorable to miss out on.

The Overwatch Puppy Rumble not only had some intense capture the flag action, but it also had cute adoptable puppies dressed up in little Overwatch outfits. The whole rumble is a must-watch. And, if you’ve already seen it, it’s worth rewatching.

The event was in partnership with Wags and Walks, a dog adoption center in Los Angeles. All of the dogs featured in the Puppy Rumble were available for adoption. If this doesn’t convince you to watch it, I honestly don’t know what will.

SEE ALSO: This game teaches you to become a master of fake news

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Lifestyle

Shelter dogs get their portraits taken for a good cause

All shot with a smartphone!

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This was not your ordinary smartphone photo session.

In the wake of the Chinese New Year and with the start of the year of the dog, a special project was born. Famed animal photographer Ernest Goh took portraits of dogs with his iPhone X. But, these are not just any dogs.

These photographs show the everyday lives of dogs in shelters. Ernest explains the story behind these pictures:

“The images give a glimpse of the life of a sheltered dog. From morning runs to stretch their paws to lazy naps in the afternoons to moments of joy when a visitor comes to the shelter. Chinese New Year is about celebration, but what is a celebration without the company of loved ones. Ask any dog owner and he or she will tell you their dog is very much part of the family. Sheltered dogs are not so lucky to have a family so more importantly, this photo-story goes to anyone who would like to get a pet dog this year — do consider adopting sheltered dogs!”

Mutts and Mittens, an animal shelter, explains that there are hundreds of cats and dogs living in shelters in Singapore. It’s their hope that this series of photos will be able to show the world the plight of these lovable creatures and hopefully inspire people to adopt these pets.

See the rest of the photos below:

In an effort to find these gentle creatures homes, Mutts and Mittens will also be having an adoption drive. (Details on their Facebook Page)

It seems that the iPhone X’s Portrait Mode worked wonders even on non-person subjects. What’s more wonderful, however, is how this whole project came together because of well-meaning people and simple technology.

SEE ALSO: These TIME covers were all shot from iPhones

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