Features

Google Pixel got the ‘little brother, big brother’ tandem right

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Google announced Pixel today, making official what we’ve known for a long time. Nexus is out of the picture; Pixel shows the way forward. And Google finally has a phone it can proudly call its own. The latest darling of the tech world embodies Google’s ideas and vision for how an Android device ought to work, with Assistant at the center of it all.

I’m somewhat on the fence on how to feel about Google’s version of Siri, even though it’s obviously smarter than Apple’s digital assistant, what with all the information Google has accumulated over the years. All those searches and clicks have made the internet titan the foremost expert on the topic of us and everything around us. We Google people and places and things. And we let Google run our browser, calendar, and email. (Real talk, though: I think Google knows too much about us.)

Though for all its smarts and promise of convenience, Google’s AI assistant isn’t something I see myself using regularly. And certainly not in public. Not because I don’t want Google to know which restaurants I frequent and what food I like, but because I refuse to be “that guy” who starts a conversation with his phone around other people. Thanks for the suggestion, Google, but I’m trying to make healthier food choices now, and chomping down a triple-patty burger is simply out of the question. So pipe down.

Further, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say getting first dibs on Google Assistant alone is reason enough to pick up a $649 Pixel. The package as a whole, however, is plenty compelling. The hardware itself looks refined and sophisticated, and its insides make other phones nervous; and that sweet, sweet glass around the back, which has been crowned “best smartphone camera” by industry specialists, is just begging to be put to the test.

But what I’m most pleased with — and this has often eluded the conversation — is that both Pixel phones have parity in terms of both hardware and software. There might be regrettable differences here and there; however, they are understandable, even desirable to some degree. A bigger and higher-resolution display is more expensive to make and requires more power to keep it running; the inverse applies to the Pixel and its smaller screen.

With the exception of fit and handling, the experience should be the same and as good whether you’re using the small Pixel or big Pixel phone. Same feel in the hand, same speed, same great photos, same eerily intelligent software, same almost everything. As should be the case across the industry. However, that’s usually not how things pan out. Often the smaller phone is shorted on features we want the most.

Want the best photos from an iPhone camera? Get the bigger (and more expensive) iPhone 7 Plus, period. And while I highly value image quality and the benefits of a portrait lens, I was never one who liked big phones. I prefer a design that I can wrap my hand around comfortably, which is why I use an iPhone 6S as my daily driver. I wouldn’t mind using an Xperia Compact, but the latest one takes a step back from the progress made by earlier models. Sony once had the small flagship market in its pocket; now it’s just another player.

Google can talk up its big ambition to get us talking to our personal devices more all it wants. I’m just glad that it isn’t trying to upsell me on a phone that’s too big for my hands, too big for my pockets. I’m sure others feel the same way.

[irp posts=”10042" name=”Google Pixel review (3 months later)”]

Image credit: CNET

24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Jakarta

Captured through the awesome camera of the Galaxy A71

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When I hear Indonesia, Bali always comes to mind. Although I’ve never been there, I know it’s a dream destination for many because of its beaches, peaks, parks, temples, and terraces. It’s an escape out of the polluted and crowded cityscape.

Two hours away from Bali is the country’s capital, Jakarta. Its dense city structure further proves that it has been on a massive urban sprawl. Honestly, I had no idea where to go and what to do — but the internet exists for a reason. The only Indo things I’m aware of are mi goreng, nasi goreng, beef rendang, MONAS, Alfa Mart. That’s about it.

I flew all the way to Jakarta for Samsung’s Awesome Live Event with BLACKPINK where they introduced the Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A71. The day after the event, I finally had the phone on hand and tested its “awesome camera”, including the new ultra-wide lens.

Cozy stay

Capturing the hotel view outside was the first thing I did with the phone. Not the best window view I had but the greenery added an ethereal escape against the sharp, tall slabs of concrete.

Going out of the room gives me another view. That large structure is the Tennis Indoor Senayan where Samsung held its live event. It’s also one of the venues of the 18th Asian Games and other K-Pop concerts. Seeing it from afar and up close made me realize how lucky I am.

Before heading out, I tried the hotel’s breakfast buffet. So far, so good. There was enough variety that I enjoyed eating. I spoiled myself by having more than five plates. Here’s a photo of the sweet food, for the wandering souls out there.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII)

I decided to go to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah as it’s located far from the skyline of Jakarta. Despite what the name suggests, this place isn’t “mini”. This museum is just one among the many parks you can see inside the TMII premises.

With limited time, I decided to push through — and I’m glad I did. It made me realize how similar Indonesians and Filipinos are, not just when it comes to appearance but also language. There are Bahasa and Tagalog words that both share the same meaning such as “selamat”, “datuk”, “kolintang”, “pintu”, “balik”, “lima”, “pula”, “kanan”, “anak”, and more. It’s truly fascinating.

These traditional art pieces show how rich and diverse Indonesia’s culture is. Some were hand-drawn, sculpted, weaved, or even painted, like the batik. They even have their own version of puppets called wayang.

After the three-story museum tour, I headed to a mini temple to rest and relax. Those who were caught off-guard by the claustrophobic dim spaces of the museum can enjoy the majestic pond outside.

National Monument (MONAS)

As mentioned earlier, I knew about MONAS. It’s Indonesia’s National Monument — and that’s because the city-building game I’m playing introduced me to it. I downloaded the landmark mod which made me recognize it’s one of Indonesia’s sought-after landmarks.

It’s erected right in the center of Jakarta. According to locals, you can see all of Jakarta if you go up — pretty much like a drone. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do that because of the flaming hot weather.

Kota Tua

If you weren’t aware, Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch empire. Batavia was the old-day Jakarta. Thus, the “Old Batavia” they’re calling can be found here in Kota Tua.

What you see above is the Fatahillah Square which is the historical center of the old town. Beside it, there are museums pertaining to wayang, fine arts and ceramics, and even Jakarta’s history. During my visit, they were all closed.

If you are too lazy to walk around, there are these colorful bicycles you can rent.

The establishments here look nothing like modern-day Jakarta. A lot of cities saved much of their history through preservation of old buildings and Kota Tua is no exception.

After strolling for almost half an hour, I had my late lunch. Indonesian cuisine is known to be spicy. I teared up eating authentic mi goreng — its spice level is way too high for comfort. I love eating spicy food as long as they’re tolerable. Thankfully, Thai iced tea I ordered saved my tongue from burning.

I went to the night market early so I witnessed how vendors cooked their food before it got crowded. There are martabak and lumpia stalls although I didn’t get to try them.

The sun was setting so I hurried to see other establishments. There were a lot of shops that offer local kopi and indomie, while other stalls were selling phone cases and designer imitations. I didn’t find any souvenir shops around, although that might be because I was there before most shops opened.

Malls galore

Jakarta’s malls aren’t the biggest but they have exclusive shop offerings, like Plaza Senayan. It was surprising to see a bakery and a popular coffee shop inside the department store. It’s not something I’m used to, and I found it odd considering they were selling all sorts of cosmetic products within the vicinity.

I wasn’t too happy with the food choices at Plaza Senayan so I went to another mall near the hotel called FX Sudirman. I only had a few hours left before I had to leave so might as well enjoy what I can have.

As a Libra, being indecisive is part of my whole being. I roamed around and there were better food choices but I got tired so I chose to eat at an American burger joint instead. The Salted Egg Cheese Burger was good although the salted egg flavor was barely there.

When I went out I was greeted by these roller skaters going back and forth the sidewalk.

3-Star Airport (?)

I was surprised that the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is only a 3-star airport. It’s not as fancy as Singapore’s Changi, but it’s clean, organized, and the architecture is modern and striking. My flight departed at midnight, so you can see how quiet and less crowded it gets off-peak hours.

Unlike other airports that offer 24-hour services, most shops and restaurants after immigration were already closed by the time I got there.

Too little time for a huge city

Moments before boarding the plane, I somehow wished I could’ve stayed longer. It would’ve also been more “awesome” if I met locals around. It’s hard to imagine how I managed to compress what I wanted to see in just 24 hours. It may not be long before they transfer the city capital crown to East Kalimantan in Borneo, so I’m hoping I can come back before that happens with a more well-thought out itinerary.

All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy A71.

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How to make your crush view your Instagram Story

Three easy steps to get that validation

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Catching up with friends entails a discussion about your love life. Being single for a long time, a friend asked if I were dating someone new. I responded gleefully, “no, I’m not dating anyone but I have a new crush I met at an event.”

Giggly about my newfound love interest, my friend advised me how to tease my crush. However, it’ll only work if we’re following each other on Instagram. To see if my friend’s strategy works, we used our own accounts and to my surprise, we succeeded.

While it may yield different results, here are three easy steps you can do to make your crush view your Instagram story.

Step 1: Post a story you want your crush to see

Uploading a story feels like a small window to our lives. Make sure the photo you upload is something that you want your crush to see. It’s like making an impression, and you only have one shot if he/she ever sees your story. I posted my gym photos and pizza stories — something that both my crush and I enjoy.

Step 2: Edit your story settings

Here’s the not-so-tricky part! We’re calling it the hide-unhide strategy. When your story is uploaded, immediately adjust your story settings and hide your story from your crush. Save it, and then change the story settings again to unhide the story. This strategy beats Instagram’s algorithm and pushes your story to one of the first stories he/she can view.

Step 3: Enjoy the validation

As long as you and your crush follow each other on Instagram and regularly use the app, then it’s guaranteed that he/she will view your story. Enjoy the frickin’ validation. I’ve been doing it for almost a month now, and I always giggle whenever I see my crush’s name.

There are times that the strategy won’t push you to the first story he/she can view. For some reason, my friend tried hiding and unhiding her story to me, and she only ended up being second on the queue. Instagram still prioritizes the accounts you engage with the most through reacts and direct messages. However, being at the first five ensures you have a shot at making an impression that lasts.

Now, hurry and make your crush view your story. It won’t be long before Instagram’s algorithm changes again!

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Entertainment

You Season 2, Psycho: Now Playing

“You” has us feeling like a “Psycho”

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Going from the holiday break and diving straight into CES 2020, the team hasn’t really had plenty of time to watch or play much of anything. It’s been a busy time so there aren’t a lot of recommendations here. But they’re still worth checking out!

Movies to see

Parasite
Vincenz: We know Parasite has been making rounds online and I attest to its excellence. It shows the common divide between the rich and the poor (as represented by the Kim and Park families), but you’ll never really know what happens next — especially when greed arises. It honestly made my jaw drop and my mind was utterly confused while watching it. The astounding cinematography makes this film a whole lot better. No wonder it bagged several awards globally.

Steven Universe The Movie
Leez: During the holidays, I rewatched every episode of the cartoon series Steven Universe and rediscovered the best scenes, songs, and episodes. It’s an amazing cartoon series and the movie cuts deep with concepts of trauma, grief, and growth. Steven is all grown up in the movie and everything seems to be set in place until a pink inverted heart gem appears. There’s singing, fighting, and a ton of crying. If you haven’t seen it, get on it. It’s a lovely series and a stunning movie.

Shows to binge-watch

Great Teacher Onizuka 
Rodneil: A former biker gang member decides to pursue teaching after he saw how he can get closer to high school girls that way. While he didn’t start off with the best intentions, the titular character Eikichi Onizuka discovers his passion for teaching while solving his students’ troubles in the most unconventional ways possible. This show is perfect for a few laughs and a few life lessons.

You Season 2
MJ: Joe Goldberg is back! If you didn’t feel that much love for him in the first season, you might be conflicted on how you’ll cheer for Joe this time around. While it’s not good to romanticize a stalking psycho, You made sure you’re going to love Joe. And yes, we want a Season 3.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
MJ: There’s a reason why a sitcom situated in a police precinct got a cult following; not because of hype but because of its quality. It’s absolutely funny (without the laugh tracks), has a diverse representation, and tackles pressing social and cultural issues subtly. The series is about to premiere its seventh season, so it’s time to binge-watch again from Season 1-6. Oh, they’re also working on Season 8 already! You better catch up.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Psycho by Red Velvet
Vincenz: Other than the mesmerizing visuals of Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri, the song is highly addictive. Speaking of addiction, the lyrics talk about a love that makes one go “Psycho.” It’s an extreme love-hate relationship — one that’s probably bad for you but you just can’t get enough of —  just like a drug. The part before the last chorus states that “everything will be okay” — and I felt that. Prior to RV’s Korean recording, there’s an English demo which you can listen to for a better feel of the song.

Pwede Ba (괜찮을까) by Lola Amour

Vincenz: I was browsing my Twitter timeline when a popular schoolmate (slash vocalist of the local indie duo Ysanygo) promoted this track through a quote tweet. At first, I didn’t mind but when I saw a lot of mutuals sharing the same song, it made me curious to actually try and listen. The mellow tune goes well with the Korean lyrics. Listening to it feels like I’m in an episode of a melancholic K-Drama. It’s actually a Korean version of the already existing Pwede Ba (written in Filipino) that was released 2 years ago.

Dive feat. Chris James – Hot Shade, Mike Perry
MJ: If you need a good pick me up song, “Dive” has that upbeat melody that will make you want to move and love life. If you happen to be in love with someone else, the lyrics will resonate with you as it tackles diving into the unknown with your love interest, and following him/her wherever your hearts lead to.

Polaris by BLUE ENCOUNT
Rodneil: I have a weird emotional attachment to My Hero Academia and one of the reasons is how good the opening songs are. “Polaris” — the show’s current opening theme — is such a rush of energy. When I need to get going, I just put this on and I almost feel like One for All is surging through my body. It’s a fantastic picker-upper.

Games to play

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Rodneil: If you’re the type who goes on an annual re-watch of Dragon Ball Z, Bandai Namco is giving you another way to relive the popular animé series by putting you right in the middle of it. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the entire series but in RPG form.

Cities Skylines
Vincenz: I’ve been a long-time fan of games that lean into city building / urban planning. SimCity has been around for ages but after several years, other developers had their own take. I played Cities XL Platinum prior to this (which is honestly good but just lacks certain features and a bit slow even with high specs in mind) but this game is on another level. With the mods and assets you can install, building cities is limitless. You can even control the growth of the city, underground systems, transportation, traffic, and more. With the video above, it shows that you can even have a glimpse of your city just like a regular person riding a train.


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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