Finally, Google is rolling out their version of “stories.”
Much like Snapchat and Instagram stories, these stories are highly visual and more impactful on mobile. It’s a series of vertical media that you can tap through. According to the Google post announcing this development, “The collective desire was that this format offer new, creative and visually rich ways of storytelling specifically designed for mobile.”
Called AMP stories, these media tidbits are not only eye-catching narratives, they also load faster, too. Think instant articles for Facebook, except in story form and on Google. As of writing, only select publishers like Cosmopolitan, CNN, VOX Media, The Washington Post, and a few others have AMP story content.
And because I was once upon a time a big SnapChat story proponent (and I was pretty curious), I checked these stories out for myself. I visited g.co/ampstories and searched for these publishers. Lo and behold:
It shows up this way on your Google search. A tap brings you a full-screen sized story that you can tap through more.
Google says that the AMP format is free and open for anyone to use. I’m pretty curious and excited to see where this goes. If SnapChat’s (and eventually Instagram’s) story success is any indication, this is going to be big.
Find X slides in, IGTV comes out: Weekend Rewind
All-screen phones and a truly mobile video platform
Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.
1. We found X!
All-screen phones are coming out one after another. Following the release of Vivo’s NEX last week, OPPO announced their official entry into the western market with the OPPO Find X. It boasts a 93.8 percent screen-to-body ratio and has specs that match today’s flagships. However, what’s most interesting about it is the sliding camera system. Tap the camera app and the top portion of the phone slides up to reveal both the front-facing camera that has 3D scanning functions like the iPhone X and the dual rear cameras with the flash situated in between the two.
OPPO’s push for innovation comes at a steep price of EUR 999 or about US$ 1,155 and that’s not even the most expensive variant of this phone. OPPO also announced a Lamborghini Edition which will retail for EUR 1,699 or around US$ 1,965. Yikes.
2. Is this the Galaxy S10?
Did we say all-screen phones are all the rage? Notable leaker IceUniverse posted a photo of an all-screen phone with the caption, “This may be a design beyond.” The curved sides — prominent on Galaxy S phones in recent years — lead many people to think this could be what the Galaxy S10 will look like. Details are obviously scarce but it’s always fun to speculate how the camera system will be implemented and if it will have an in-display fingerprint scanner or not.
3. Look Ma, no ports!
Apple just keeps taking things away. After removing the headphone jack a few years back, there are now reports saying they’re taking away the Lightning port. The news comes right before Apple launched AirPower, its first official wireless charging mat. The company will likely earn the ire of several users but that hasn’t stopped them before. This also means a port-less iPhone is coming sooner than we realize.
4. IGTV is here
Instagram is taking YouTube head-on but with its own mobile twist with IGTV. After implementing IG Stories and Live video, the app that started as a photo-sharing platform will now allow users to upload videos from 15 seconds to 10 minutes but in portrait orientation, embracing its mobile roots. On its blog, the company says, “It’s built for how you actually use your phone.” Instagram also hopes to add more features to IGTV like ads and monetization.
5. PS4 faves at a discount!
PS4 gamers rejoice! If you missed out on titles right around the time the console was launched, then let this news ease your worries away. Selected titles deemed as “PlayStation Hits” will retail for only US$ 20 starting June 28. That’s a third of their original price.
The complete PlayStation Hits lineup includes Battlefield 4, Bloodborne (standard edition), DOOM, DriveClub, Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, The Last of Us Remastered, LittleBigPlanet 3, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Definitive Experience, Project CARS, Ratchet & Clank, Street Fighter 5, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Yakuza 0, and Yakuza Kiwami.
How a smartphone became my travel buddy
To Taipei 101 and beyond!
I’m the kind of traveler who turns a trip abroad into a process. I plan beforehand, execute every planned move, and adapt to situations along the way.
Normally, this approach requires me to bring a handy notebook, high-quality mirrorless camera, and printed maps in my backpack. For my trip to Taipei, Taiwan, I tried something a little different.
This time, I set out to do everything on my smartphone, going from an analog kid to grownup with an all-in-one gadget. Being the traditional type, it was a bit hard to do, but finding the perfect travel buddy certainly wasn’t.
I’ve been using the Huawei P20 Pro as my daily driver for a while now, and I’ve been having a tough time letting it go for another handset, so it was, without a doubt, the first choice to spring to my mind.
With the phone in hand (and no old-school items packed), I set out to explore Taipei using only my newfound travel buddy.
Or maybe I still need to visual my routes on a bigger layout before heading out. This was me being stubborn and giving conventional maps one last look before going full digital.
A journey through Taipei means lots of eating and drinking. While searching for routes and places to visit on Google Maps, I make it a point to find highly rated restaurants and juice bars along the way.
Doing so in Taiwan is a cinch. Mobile internet here is incredibly fast for any standards, and quick searches on both Maps and Chrome take only a few seconds.
Taipei is the kind of city that requires a lot of walking and commuting to get around. For the longer train rides, I whip out my phone to play a game of Asphalt 9: Legends or Dragon Ball Legends — two games that require a lot of power to run.
Fortunately, the P20 Pro can handle both with ease. Not only is it powerful enough to max out the in-game graphics, its battery is long-lasting enough to get through the day even though I play hours’ worth of games, and that’s with mobile data always on.
Don’t let the low number of steps above fool you; even though it was already close to sunset, my day was just starting. Taipei wakes up at night with its numerous markets filled with fantastic food and affordable clothing.
To get from one point to another, there’s lots of walking involved. It’s great to have a smartphone that can readily show you how many steps you’ve taken at a glance so you know you’re burning all the food you ate.
Just to prove it, here’s me actually walking in the city. Aside from bringing the right travel companion with you, it’s also vital to dress up properly for the weather.
My annual trips to Taipei normally happen around June, which is when Computex goes on. During this season, it can get quite humid when the sun’s out, and a little chilly at night. It’s best to be prepared for both.
I must say, Taipei is a beautiful city — easily one of my favorites in the whole world. There’s no shortage of landmarks to see, but if there’s one you must visit, it’s Taipei 101. Once the tallest building in the world, the skyscraper is still a sight to behold no matter what angle you view it from.
For this shot, I chose to shoot it from below, and the P20 Pro handled the challenging lighting with ease. Every detail was captured, and there’s the option of zooming in for another take on the iconic view.
What’s great about having a phone with artificial intelligence built in is that it can detect scenes and subjects for you. This came in handy when I went around Taipei Zoo.
Although I was obviously going to take photos of animals at every turn, I liked how my phone could adjust settings on the fly and tweak images for me automatically.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to relax and scroll through all the photos I’ve taken while sipping from a cup of Taipei’s signature milk tea — even better when it’s on phone as attractive as the P20 Pro both inside and out.
There’s so much more you can do with the P20 Pro on a trip, but no travel piece can cover every single feature. For more, you can watch our hands-on video below.
This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei.
Vivo X21 hands-on: All screen, all the time
The screen is the fingerprint scanner!
Notice anything different with this Vivo release?
Look closely at the notched front. It has a 6.28-inch FHD screen.
That smooth sleek glass back looks good but I know what you’re asking: Where’s the fingerprint scanner?
It’s there, only you don’t see it.
Let’s see that again from another angle:
Yes folks, this is the Vivo X21 and is one of the first phones in the market to have the famed in-display scanner — that means the fingerprint scanner is under the screen itself!
This leaves more space for you to do more, like take photos with the phone’s 12- and 5-megapixel dual shooters on the rear. These cameras also have AI-scene recognition built in, so the camera automatically adjusts to give you the best-possible shots.
Or, take those fun selfies with the X21’s 12-megapixel front-facing camera. There are cute stickers, too! 🐰
Oh, did I mention that it also has facial unlock? Yep.
This device runs on Funtouch OS 4.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo which more or less still feels like iOS. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage and an option to expand via microSD.
All that means is that this is a premium midrange phone which will have no problem with everyday social media use and normal mobile gaming, and it will have space for all your photos and selfies.
As future-forward as the X21 is, it’s still rocking a micro-USB port. That also means there’s still an audio jack on this thing — and speaking of audio, the phone is also equipped with an audio chipset for better sound quality. It has 3200mAh of battery capacity for all day err-day use.
Of course, we’ll have to give it a good whirl before we can talk about actual performance, but until then, the X21 is proving to be a pretty promising phone.
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