It was a gloomy Thursday afternoon in Milan when I made my way to the airport. This trip’s destination was Paris for some sightseeing after an event coverage in Italy. My weapon of choice? The Google Pixel 3.
Known to be a great picture taker, it seemed to be the reasonable choice to bring to scenic Paris. Obviously, I wanted to take the best photos possible and the Pixel’s reputation when it comes to photography precedes it. Of course, I reviewed the phone along the way, too.
First off, a quick question: Is this phone really Not Pink?
Background: For some reason, Google named this new phone color Not Pink. Personally, I don’t know why Google would mess around with pink lovers like myself who wished for an actual pink phone, but they did. Bottom line is, it isn’t pink — unless you look at it under a certain light or pair it with more rose-colored stuff.
Lucky for me, I own so many pink things and a berry red trench coat, so I have stuff this almost/sometimes pink phone will go with it.
Honestly, I’m not particularly happy with this phone’s lack of pinkness, but I’ll still take it over the typical black or white versions. Also, it has a cute orange accent button on the upper-right side. Talk about a color pop!
The Pixel 3 is in a size that’s perfect for my smaller girly hands. Its all-glass body gives it a good feel but I’ve honestly held more premium-feeling non-premium phones. There are bezels, still, on this phone, but I’d totally take that over a notch anytime.
Now, on to the actual trip. Join me as I go around the city of love and review Google’s latest smartphone.
As I lugged all my stuff out of the hotel, the boyfriend, Joshua, booked our Uber to the airport. I checked Waze to see how traffic would be — we’d get to the airport on time, it told me. Smartphones are such a godsend when traveling! I was on Project Fi (courtesy of Joshua) so data was fast and seamless, even in Europe. Google Fi on a Google phone is a match made in heaven — it basically means you have data anywhere in the world without added charges, and it can work with the Pixel’s eSIM.
In the Uber, the phone’s ambient display showed my flight schedule even without me inputting these details to my calendar. Apparently, this phone is smart enough to gather said info, all from an email. It’s been doing this for the past few days to make sure I don’t forget my flight. The reminders and prompts don’t stop at plane schedules for this phone. From smart notifications on how long your battery will last, sending people the photos of them you took, or even the squeeze to activate Google Assistant feature; this is like the eager assistant I’ve always needed but never had.
Milan to Paris is an hour and thirty minutes away. I’ll see you in Paris!
Flights to Paris arrive at one of either two airports: Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Orly, or Beauvais. CDG is the biggest of all airports, but it’s also 14 miles away from the Paris center. We took the RER train to the third arrondissement where our Airbnb was.
Paris is divided into arrondissements. It starts at the first arrondissement and spirals out into the 20th arrondissement on the river Seine’s right bank. The best places to stay at, if you don’t want to do a lot of commuting to get to scenic places, are those in the first to eighth arrondissements. Our Airbnb, only a few minutes walk from Gare du Norde, is in a good non-touristy area. Phone in hand and following Google Maps’ lead, we found the apartment that was to be our home for the next few days.
Before heading out to explore, it was time to rest and unpack. Of course, with the Pixel 3, I had to bring the Pixel Stand. This equally new accessory is a wireless charger which supposedly turns your phone into a smart speaker (think Google Home). In theory, this is a good idea, especially when you’re traveling — imagine having your own smart speakers in your Airbnb! In reality, though, the phone on the stand doesn’t really do a lot more than the phone in your hand. Plus, that stand is pretty annoying to travel with because it’s so bulky.
But speaking of the phone in my hand, it’s a pretty smooth experience with Android’s latest OS and it comes with all the bells and whistles that Google has to offer like Digital Wellbeing and Google Lens.
Exploring and a few of my favorite things
In November, autumn leaves line Paris’ streets. Temperatures range from cold to pretty cold so berets, scarves, and trench coats are a go.
You have to make sure to keep warm in this cold, sometimes wet climate because there will be a lot of walking. Paris is a beautiful city and part and parcel of experiencing this place is wandering around on foot. The French even have a word for it: “Flaneur,” which means to walk around leisurely. I mean, who wouldn’t with normal views like this?
Even in the evenings, beautiful views of monuments, the city lights, and the Seine make breathtaking views. Thankfully, The Pixel 3 did justice to these low-light shots, even without the Night Sight feature turned on.
Literally anywhere in this city is a photogenic place. I mean sure, I personally am not photogenic all the time (I end up with the most awkward poses 😅) but there’s Top Shot, which allows you to pick out your best photo, to help with that.
Et voila! A great #OOTD in a random Parisian street.
There’s also a great cafe culture here and coffee is excellent! These cozy little shops are easily found on Google Maps, so just take your pick. I can’t think of a better place to lounge about with a book and a cappuccino than here.
It’s also a must to visit a local bakery to get some freshly baked bread. Coupled with some grocery salad and jamon, this was one of my favorite things to snack on during the trip. I can’t tell you how many grocery runs I made on this trip.
My feet may have been tired on this trip, but my tummy was very happy.
The beautiful streets come with equally beautiful attractions. The Eiffel tower is always at the top of this list. Pro tip: Skip the lines to go up the Eiffel and opt for photo sessions in the gardens surrounding it.
The Pixel’s portrait mode was perfect for this shot. This feature put in that great background blur and, you can even adjust the intensity of the blur, the focus point of the photo, color, or add custom filters with the built-in Photos app.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, where Quasimodo lived, can also be found in Paris. The rear camera’s zoom and wide-angle functions worked wonders for this shot despite all the work being done by software and AI. You see, the Pixel 3 only has one rear camera but that’s something you barely notice with it outputting shots like these.
The selfie camera, on the other hand, is a dual-cam setup with a wide-angle shooter and normal camera. That comes extremely useful in instances wherein group selfies are a must…
… like when you’re in the Louvre and the intricately-painted ceiling calls for a couple shot.
But when a zoom is in order to get a better view, like of the Mona Lisa, the rear camera does the trick. It’s honestly not that big of a painting and it’s cordoned off from the big crowds surrounding it so a closer view is essential.
Of course, my trip had more beautiful moments, a lot of them captured by the Pixel.
Precisely why I love traveling with a smartphone — everything is just a tap away from becoming memories that last forever. One thing I’d improve on this thing, though, is the battery capacity. For a heavy user like myself, the phone won’t even last a day. I mean, have you seen the number of photos I take? 🙄
Getting home and final thoughts
On the last day of our trip, my phone was, again, showing me details of my flight I hadn’t even put on my calendar, but were nonetheless correct. It was also prompting me to share photos with Joshua from our trip on Google Photos, which automatically recognized him in the pictures. This feature is hands down the best way to share memories. I just love that it’s already on the Pixel and it just makes everything so much easier.
But, that’s really what the Pixel does. It anticipates what you need to do and suggests it even before you yourself think about it. For an incredibly vanilla, not actually pink phone, it’s pretty useful and has the only smartphone camera I trust fully to capture my trips. Of course, there’s still room for improvement: A color that’s actually sure of itself and I really wouldn’t mind a Face ID scanner, because it’s 2018 and I don’t see why they couldn’t have added it on considering there is a top bezel.
As I got on another Uber to go to the airport, flight details again on screen, I was still awestruck at how Paris truly is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been too. Thank heavens I had the Pixel 3 to do it justice.
Apple champions menstrual health
With new preliminary findings from The Apple Women’s Study
Menstrual health is a very common and sensitive topic for us women, and yet it remains under-researched.
As someone who underwent ovarian surgery a few months ago, one of the things I learned from that experience is how reproductive health is often overlooked.
Usual symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps, and tiredness can be easily dismissed as “common” during periods. But these should always be monitored.
In fact, one out of ten women has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a health condition which can possibly affect fertility rate, menstrual cycles, changes in physical appearance, mental health, among other factors.
And yet, a huge percentage of women remains undiagnosed.
The Apple Women’s Study
This prevalent problem prompted Apple to create a digital study. It aims to gain a deeper understanding about the menstrual cycle and its relationship with a person’s overall health.
The Apple Women’s Study was launched in 2019 and is accessible via Apple Research App. It was done in collaboration with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
Anyone living in the US who has ever menstruated can participate in the study. They simply need to download the app in their iPhone and sign up for the research.
With the help of period tracker Cycle Tracking on Apple Watch, or Cycle Tracking in the Health app on iPhone, participants’ menstrual cycle data and survey answers from the study will be analyzed, and help inform the development of innovative products for menstrual cycles, risk assessment, and screening of gynecologic conditions.
New Preliminary Findings
Harvard Chan School researchers used survey data from the Apple Women’s Health Study to advance the scientific understanding around the relationship between persistently abnormal periods, PCOS, and endometrial hyperplasia and cancer.
Looking at a preliminary analysis cohort of over 50,000 study participants, the study team found:
- 12 percent of participants reported a PCOS diagnosis. Participants with PCOS had more than four times the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (precancer of the uterus). And more than 2.5 times the risk of uterine cancer.
- 5.7 percent of participants reported their cycles taking five or more years to reach cycle regularity after their first period. Participants in that group had more than twice the risk of endometrial hyperplasia. More than 3.5 times the risk of uterine cancer, compared to those who reported their cycles took less than one year to reach regularity.
Previous interim updates
The Apple Women’s Health Study team has previously shared a number of other interim research updates that highlight how large-scale, longitudinal research on menstruation can help advance the science around this topic.
- Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology focuses on cycle deviations, like irregular or prolonged periods, which can be a sign of underlying conditions including PCOS, fibroids, malignancies, or infections. The study found cycle deviations were found in 16.4 percent of the study population. Black participants had a 33 percent higher prevalence of infrequent periods compared to white, non-Hispanic participants. Asian participants had a higher prevalence of irregular periods.
- Demonstrating just how common menstrual symptoms really are, researchers found the most frequently tracked symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating, and tiredness, all of which were experienced by more than 60 percent of participants who logged symptoms. More than half of the participants who logged symptoms reported acne and headaches. Some less widely recognized symptoms, like diarrhea and sleep changes, were also tracked by 37 percent of participants logging symptoms.
After analyzing over 125,000 menstrual cycles, researchers found that participants experienced slightly longer menstrual cycles for cycles in which they received a COVID-19 vaccine. But participants’ cycles typically returned to prevaccination lengths the cycle after getting a vaccine.
How about data privacy?
According to Apple, participants can control the data types shared with the study. There’s transparency into how the data will be used for the purposes of the study.
What’s in it for users?
With iOS 16 and watchOS 9, the Cycle Tracking app can inform users if their logged cycle history from the previous six months shows a pattern of irregular periods, infrequent periods, prolonged periods, or persistent spotting.
Users are also able to learn about the Cycle Deviation detected. They can then export the last 12 months of their cycle history as a PDF to share with their provider.
By participating in Apple Women’s Health Study, women can actively monitor their cycle and common symptoms.
In this way, participants contribute to a great cause which can create more reproductive health awareness and help other women understand their period cycles better.
Apple Research App and Cycle Tracking is available on App Store.
7 tech gifts women actually want
Great relationship investments that will keep on giving!
With Valentine’s day right around the corner, we’re rounding up the perfect gifts for the woman in your life. Not only would they win you enough brownie points with your significant other, but they’ll also –surely– make life much more convenient for them. After all, isn’t that one of the best things about technology?
For the bookworm
A Kindle is always a great idea – especially one that’s already pre-loaded with some books your significant other may like.
While having physical copies of books still reigns supreme, much can also be said about the convenience of having access to your library wherever you are. During travels – yes, we’re back to doing this now – it’s also much lighter to carry a Kindle, freeing up space and weight allowance in your carry-on.
The Kindle Paperwhite, as the name suggests, almost looks like paper. The screen lights up to allow for reading in places with dim light. This, without being too harsh on the eyes.
For the one who enjoys individuality and self-expression
Phone cases have moved on from being utilitarian tools that keep our phones safe from breakage – they’re one of the best ways to showcase one’s individuality. And for you to say ‘I love you’ while providing something useful for her everyday life. Casetify has just released its Valentine’s Day gift collection.
From February 8th until the 15th, they are offering a Buy 2, Get 25% off deal when you use code ‘Vday23’ to purchase any phone cases or accessories at their website. A great way to keep phones and hearts from breaking with a discount.
For ensuring constant and fail-safe communication
Is your significant other in the market for a new phone? Well, you’re in luck as this is practically a no-brainer. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra just hit the market and it’s an absolute beaut. Long battery life assures that you can stay connected and all of its five cameras will ensure that your couple photos are always looking crisp and bright.
It also comes with a stylus so that you can send each other handwritten love notes. Who says love had to die with technology?
For someone who loves fabulous hair
Always the popular and well-received gift for any occasion is the new Dyson Airwrap. It’s the gift of well-styled hair without the damage. It’s also one of the most enjoyable pieces of tech to use, making your loved one feel like a pro in the comfort of her own home.
The new, special-edition Airwrap comes in Topaz Orange, stepping away from the traditional red typically used to represent Valentine’s day and even the recently concluded Lunar New Year celebrations. It’s bright, it’s fiery (like your love *wink*), and as an added bonus, this colorway also brings you luck. Topaz Orange was inspired by the phonetic resemblance between ‘mandarin- 桔’ and ‘luck- 吉’ in Chinese. This is part of the reason why people eat a lot of mandarins during this season. The metallic finish is unique, giving an interplay of light on the surface of the machine. It also has gold accents and comes in a sleek, Byzantine Purple case.
For the one who loves to capture memories
We all love the convenience of digital photos and what can make it even better than having a physical copy of it instantly? Instax Square SQ20 also makes sure that you don’t waste any of the film as you can preview the shot on its monitor, and re-shoot if necessary. You can even do simple edits before you print.
You can also get more creative with a zoom function, shooting in double exposure mode, and making collages on the go. The camera comes in an elegant beige hue that will surely make for a special place on her shelf when not in use.
For the one who loves her skincare
Face yoga and gua sha routines have been all the rage online these days. If she’s been following these trends, might as well get her a tech device that takes it to another level.
The Foreo Bear is a dream Microcurrent Facial Toning Device that lets her do a toning routine in the comfort of her own home. It takes 3 minutes a day just to help her maintain healthy skin from the inside and out.
For the one who enjoys her music
Wireless, noise-cancelling headphones that fit your lady’s classy vibe? We got you. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Silent White is an oldie but definitely a goodie. It has a luxurious, pearlescent finish with gold details that’s also matched by its case.
It can connect to two devices simultaneously and has superb sound quality.
Mercury in retrograde: When technology and communications go haywire
Your survival guide to a crazy season
Buckle up, everyone! Mercury is in retrograde once again. In Astrology, this means the planet that governs technology, communications, and our very own thought processes spins backward. In our reality, it means doomsday is coming. (Kidding!)
When Mercury is in retrograde, flights and travels are usually delayed, people from the past pop back into our lives, communication systems break down, and our gadgets get into accidents or start malfunctioning.
More importantly, this season makes everything fluid. Nothing will be set in stone. Decisions are usually changed when the season ends, so it’s not a good time to sign contracts, schedule surgeries, have makeovers, launch a new project, or shop for electronic devices.
But fret not, this season shall pass. Here’s what you should do before, during, and after the Mercury retrograde.
Protect your gadgets and gizmos with trusty cases and accessories
Honey, this season makes us feel frustrated, agitated, and annoyed. Often, we’ll be rushing and getting into accidents. You might drop your phone on the toilet, break them, or forget them in a cab or restaurant. You gotta get yourself some straps to keep your phone with you at all times and dress them up with hard, shock-proof cases. Should they fall from your hands, you know they’re safe.
Back up your data, make sure it’s safe and secure
Okay, Jenny, listen up. Mercury in retrograde is the season where we lose important stuff moments before we actually need them. It can be your keys, card, or presentation for your next meeting. The point here is you should back up all necessary data. Flash drives might break, Google Drive and other forms of storage may not work properly at the time you need them. The next thing you know, your life is in shambles.
Another thing to worry about is security and privacy. This season is also the time when people’s secrets tend to get exposed, such as your affair with your best friend’s boyfriend or your intimate videos getting leaked into the deepest, darkest corner of the internet. Keep your reputation from being smeared!
Double-check what you type and say
Be careful with miscommunication, my dear. It’s normal to feel there’s chaos in your head since Mercury in retrograde disrupts our thought processes. We become forgetful and more prone to mistakes, so double check your typos before hitting send. In addition, think twice before voicing out your opinions and emotions. Take a deep breath, and think before you click. Your words are powerful. Once you’ve hurt someone with it, you can be forgiven but they’ll never forget.
P.S. Be mindful of what you post or tweet if you don’t want to get dragged on social media.
Keep your emotions in check and block your exes
If you haven’t blocked your exes until today, you need to re-evaluate your life, Susan. During this season, we barely use our logic and just follow our emotions. There might come a time when you want to send a seven-paragraph message to your ex, please don’t. You owe it to yourself to move on from the past and stop them from coming back into your life.
Oh, one more thing: Stay open to possible opportunities. Sure, Mercury in retrograde brings our past lovers back from hell, but they also bring in colleagues we’ve worked with. Most of the time, they want to work with us again. Additionally, this is a good time to reconnect with old friends. Seriously, this period isn’t that bad.
Be extremely flexible (not just in yoga but also in life)
If there’s one thing you can learn from this, it’s that life doesn’t always work out in our favor. It’s a reminder always to find a way. Be flexible and adaptable to every surprise that life brings. If we’re going to give in to our emotions, we already lost. Take a step back and reassess what’s happening, compose yourself and think of a solution. This is just another storm that’s passing by. You will overcome this.
Take a moment to slow down
Lastly, like any retrograde season, it’s a cue from the planets and the stars to slow down. We’re all rushing from one point to another, and we’re moving extremely fast. Planets spin backward to remind us that we need to look back and slow down to appreciate how far we’ve come, and what we’ve been doing with our lives, and catch up on what we missed. Above all, it’s a reminder to rest. You’re doing well, my friend. I’m proud of you.
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