In the tech world, to win you must innovate.
It’s a fast-paced, uber-crazy rat race, where each year, feature upon feature is piled onto new products dubbed the latest and greatest of tech.
Not everything makes sense, not everything practical or groundbreaking. But these headline features are what sells these products, and it gives us tech journalists something to write about.
But what if scaling back was even better than moving forward?
It’s an unconventional approach to product design, but one that might make sense in the smartwatch space and maybe even the tech world at large. More on that later.
I’ve owned and used many a smartwatch over the last two years, but nothing has really become a daily companion. Either charging becomes cumbersome, the need to be constantly connected drains my smartphone faster, or the novelty of owning one wears off.
If I didn’t write about tech for a living, I would think twice about buying a smartwatch knowing that unlike a traditional watch that I could theoretically pass down to my children, a smartwatch would be obsolete in a year, two at best.
Sure everything’s gotten better — watch designs, software, and hardware features like buttons, knobs, and rotating bezels that make it easier to interact with these smart devices are much improved.
But more than two years since the first Google-powered smartwatch was unveiled, and over a year since the release of the original Apple Watch, the smartwatch industry is still at a standstill.
Recently I was at the launch of Fossil Q smartwatches in the Philippines. I wasn’t particularly interested at first, but I own a few Fossil watches myself, and was curious to see how a traditional watchmaker would approach smartwatch design.
Unlike brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Motorola that are primarily tech companies, Fossil is a first and foremost a fashion brand.
It’s an easy fit. Usually smartwatches from any of the tech companies mentioned above come in two to three variants; Fossil’s new Android Wear-powered smartwatches — the Fossil Q Marshal and Q Wander — are available in a wide range of styles, as are Fossil’s traditional watches.
But what caught my attention was the Q Hybrid, which is unlike any other smartwatch that I’ve reviewed before. I was so smitten, that I’ve since gone ahead and purchased one of my own — mine is called the Fossil Q Crewmaster Hybrid, a nautical-inspired watch with a multi-colored face and black silicone strap.
Fossil refers to its Hybrid line as smartwatches, but they don’t fall into the usual model. They are, for all intents and purposes, traditional watches. They look just like any other Fossil watch; don’t have a touchscreen or an operating system, you don’t have to charge them at the end of every day (you replace the standard CR2430 batteries every six months), and you can’t use them to make calls or read text messages.
But they are smart in the sense that they can track your steps and sleep. They connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and sync with a smartphone app. And they can be programmed to vibrate when you get a notification — I’ve programmed my watch to vibrate only when I get important calls from loved ones.
My Hybrid watch also has an extra button that can be programmed to extend the functionality of my smartphone — like being able to play and skip music tracks, using it as a remote shutter button for taking photos, or having it make loud noises when it’s gone missing.
If you compare these features to any other smartwatch in my collection, there’s plenty the Fossil Q Hybrid can’t do, but that’s fine with me. In fact, maybe that’s exactly what makes the Fossil Q Hybrid an excellent idea.
Not everyone will agree, but perhaps this is what all smartwatches should be like.
In Manila, I sat down with Fossil APAC Merchandising Manager Justin Paxton.
He says, “Over the next couple of years, customers will eventually get to the point where they’re going to say, why does my watch only tell the time. There will be a point where customers will want smart features and expect it to be a standard.”
Perhaps that time has come. We want traditional watches and we want smart features, but we don’t need to have them all. We don’t need extra features at the cost of battery life, or the legacy of a watch that can last several lifetimes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for the latest and greatest tech — I’d still fawn over a super watch that can do it all. But as tech creeps into more aspects of daily life, maybe tech companies can learn a thing or two from outsiders like Fossil.
That innovation alone doesn’t sell a product. And that scaling back and just perfecting something already existing, makes for the best tech of all.
Singapore’s first iPhone XS buyer goes all out
He went for the 512GB storage!
Whenever new iPhones launch, a familiar scene is people lining up in front of Apple Stores long before launch date. The same is true in Singapore where the iPhone XS and XS Max officially became available on Friday, September 21.
We visited the Apple Store in Orchard Road and caught up with the first person to cop the new iPhones. His name is Daniel and he went all out getting two units of gold iPhone XS Max with 512GB of storage. Watch our interview with him.
The same situation is true elsewhere in the world. In countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and more, lines formed as those who pre-ordered got ready to claim the new iPhones.
This is the first time that the two sizes of iPhones feature the same specs. In years past, there was always a plus model that had more features other than just having a bigger form factor. In 2018, the only difference is the screen size — 5.8 inches for the iPhone XS and 6.5 inches for the iPhone XS Max. Both phones are equipped with the new A12 Bionic processor. Apple says it’s their smallest and most powerful chip to date. Both also sport dual cameras.
The Apple Watch Series 4 also launched today. It’s a significant update to Apple’s primary wearable featuring medical advantages other than the usual improvements. As always, it still is a lifestyle gadget and comes with an array of available looks.
Apple iPhone XS unboxing: Beautiful gold color!
We have them early!
It’s now mid-September and if you’ve been following technology news, you’d know that means one thing: new iPhones from Apple. And if you’ve been following GadgetMatch closely the last few years, you’d expect us to be brewing content by now.
This year, we got them early. What we are unboxing the 5.8-inch model, dubbed the iPhone XS and the bigger variant, the iPhone XS Max. There’s also a more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone XR coming later in October.
The box has not changed much — it’s still the same minimalist white box with the image of the phone you’re getting. Inside are a packet with manuals and stickers, USB-A charging brick, Lightning cable, and a pair of Lightning EarPods (not AirPods, they just look alike).
It’s worth noting that the bundled charger is the regular adapter and cable from yesteryears, even if the new iPhones already support fast charging. To get fast charging on the iPhone XS and XS Max, you need to spend an additional US$ 75 for a Lightning to USB-C Cable and a 29W USB-C adapter.
Since omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack, these new iPhones are also the first ones to not include a headphone jack to Lightning dongle — an extra US$ 9 purchase if you ever need one.
Unlike previous years where you need to get the bigger model to have the best features iPhones have to offer, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are essentially the same phones — the latter just has a bigger display and battery capacity.
The iPhone XS and XS Max also come in a new beautiful gold color, something similar to our favorite iPhone 8 and 8 Plus color from last year — a subtle, non-tacky shade of gold. A slightly darker gold but shiny stainless steel band also highlights the edges of the phones. Button and port placements have not changed, and the notch housing Apple’s TrueDepth Camera technology lives on.
We have more iPhone content coming in the next few days so make sure to stay tuned for that. Our unboxing video is also coming where we unboxed a new case color as well. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t yet.
Marvel’s Spider-Man, Iron Fist: Now Playing
All about action and some romcom!
The past few weeks have been crazy for the GadgetMatch team, like always. We’re still recovering from the announcements from IFA 2018 and the recent iPhone launch. Of course, to avoid burnouts, we take breaks and keep ourselves entertained. Here’s what’s now playing for GadgetMatch.
Games to play
Rodneil: There was so much hype surrounding this game and rightfully so, since Insomniac Games is dealing with one of the most loved superheroes of all time. They had to get plenty of things right and they more than delivered. Insomniac was able to capture the very essence of Spider-Man and translate it into a video game that will please both video game fans and Spidey fans who might want to try the game. It’s a lot of fun to play and you feel exactly like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging across New York.
Movies to see
Bleach (Live Action)
Rodneil: Bleach — both the manga and the anime — was considered one of the top three in its genre during its run. The live action version tackles the Substitute Shinigami arc which is essentially the origin story of how protagonist Kurosaki Ichigo gets the powers of a soul reaper. If you’ve read the manga or saw the anime, you’ll know that this arc flows so seamlessly to the one that follows it that it almost feels like just a single arc. The live action version does a good job of creating some sort of finality in the movie that in case it never gets the green light for a sequel, you wouldn’t mind as much.
If this is your introduction to the Bleach lore, it doesn’t disappoint. For the most part, it’s a faithful adaptation and was translated admirably to a feature film. If you decide to watch the anime because of this, watch only until the end of the Arrancar arc and definitely skip the Bount arc (episodes 64-109). You’re welcome.
To all the boys I’ve loved before
MJ: To all the boys I’ve loved before is the show I’ve been dying to see ever since I heard it’s going to have its film adaptation on Netflix. It’s a feel-good movie that will make you remember what it feels like to have crushes, secret feelings, and writing letters — things that our teenage selves did back then.
MJ: What if you made a pact to your best friend that you can’t fall in love with his brother, even if he’s really, really charming (and hot)? Netflix’s Kissing Booth is about a girl falling in love with her best friend’s older brother and in a sudden turn of events, forced to choose between following their friendship’s set of rules or following her heart. It’s a movie about secrets, loyalty, and betrayal, but above all, it’s a romantic comedy to entertain you during your idle hours.
Set It Up
Chay: I’ve been in the mood for feel-good romcoms lately, and Netflix’s Set It Up did not disappoint. Like most romantic comedies, it’s predictable and cheesy, although it did come with a twist I didn’t really expect. I very much appreciate that both protagonists’ personal issues are realistic enough to be relatable to people my age.
TV shows to binge watch
Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 3
Rodneil: Attack on Titan was a well-received anime when it first came out and three seasons in, it hasn’t missed a beat. At first it was just about humans taking shelter inside a walled city for protection versus mindless, humongous, man-eating monsters, only to find out later on that the real monsters lie inside the walls lording over the people trying to survive. Season three is still ongoing and it looks like the theme is about uncovering the truth about the Titans.
MJ: Insatiable means impossible to satisfy, which is all about the main character, Patty Bladell, who was once fat and bullied for her appearance, and turned skinny to get revenge by winning pageants and getting a crown. But it doesn’t stop there. It takes a pretty dark turn when the title comes into play, as the show is also about vengeance, bad decisions, and what it means to be really beautiful. To critics, it’s an inconsistent show. But for the audience, we absolutely love it. It’s really, really, fun!
Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2
Marvin: If you aren’t a fan of Iron Fist’s first season, the second one may change the way you look at the series. It’s less centered around Danny Rand, who many viewed to be the main problem of Season 1. Even though he’s the primary protagonist, his lessened screen time allows other (more interesting) characters to shine. Plus, the fight scenes are way more exciting this time — no longer a low point of an action-filled superhero series.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Momoland (All Songs on Spotify)
Rodneil: I have officially been consumed by this K-pop group. “Bboom Bboom” went viral this year and they followed it up with “Baam.” Both songs are lively and great so I decided to listen to the rest of their songs and I haven’t stopped since. My favorites are “Curious,” “Bingo Game,” “Hug Me,” and “Love Sick.”
“Sana Bumalik” by Sud
Rodneil: The song itself is just okay; it talks about that universal feeling of wanting someone back. To truly appreciate what Sud did here, you first have to watch the music video for their other song called “Sila.” That’s part one of the story they’re trying to tell. While the songs don’t exactly match the narrative of the videos, they do match the mood, and for fans who followed both videos, it’s exciting to see the cast return as we get to see how their story unfolds.
Cities/Places to visit
Marvin: Anilao, which is found along the west coast of Batangas in the Philippines, is best known for its incredible diving areas, but little do people realize that it’s a perfect spot for a relaxing getaway, as well. Situated on the tranquil side of the ocean and far away from big cities, its beaches are ideal for long walks and star gazing — not at all for surfing or other extreme water sports. But be warned: It’s a lot easier to find than it is to leave.
MJ: Sagada is the best place to visit when you’re on the verge of having a breakdown or you just want to take a break. It’s a quiet, laid-back town situated in the northern mountains of the Philippines. Surrounded by pine trees and fog enveloping the sky and the streets, this place will definitely give you a cozy retreat while wearing your favorite sweater, sipping hot coffee, and doing some soul searching.
Chay: My first time in Berlin wasn’t short of both unfortunate mishaps and fun stories to tell. It’s a city that doesn’t forget and whose most popular landmarks tell its history. It offers pockets of charming places here and there, efficient public transport, and good food. Admittedly I had way more doner kebab and Vietnamese food during my stay instead of German sausages.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
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Amazon makes a grand announcement of new Alexa-enabled Echo devices
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