News

Google updates Wear OS with more features

Coming in September!

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A few years ago, smartwatches dominated the hip scene. The market itself was a burgeoning community highlighted by Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Apple Watch. Now, the industry has stagnated into a paltry selection of a few good options and a multitude of copycats.

Following this tempestuous trend, Google is pushing for a new renaissance for the wearable technology. Right on the cusp of new hardware, the Silicon Valley giant is starting things off with the industry’s most neglected aspect — software.


For years, smartwatch makers have neglected to do anything revolutionary with their devices’ insides. Until now, these devices have limited themselves to only a handful of functions — tracking your health and checking your notifications. For a “revolutionary” technology, that’s not saying much.

Unfortunately, we’re not closer to getting industry-defining innovations just yet. However, if anything, Google’s latest updates are making our wearables more streamlined and convenient.

For one, Google is emphasizing the “smart” in smartwatch. Instead of a simple notification display, Google’s Wear OS now infuses Google Assistant with the watch’s software.

With simple swipes, users can access and attend to all their notifications. As is now standard with messaging on Android, users can reply to messages with automated smart replies, instead of texting on their phone.

Additionally, watches can now display Google Assistant’s automated reminders. From Google’s website, Wear OS notifies you on the weather, traffic jams, flight delays, and promos in nearby establishments.

Finally, Google has revamped smart fitness by adding two new metrics to measure your health — Heart Points and Move Minutes. Supported by the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization, the new metrics measure both low- and high-intensity movement including walking, biking, and hiking. With the new feature, Google wants to keep you on the move.

As of now, Google plans to roll the new updates throughout September. If you don’t have a Wear OS smartwatch yet, Google is also planning to launch its own Pixel Watch very soon.

SEE ALSO: Wear OS is Google’s new name for Android Wear

Laptops

Apple updates MacBook Pro line-up with tweaked keyboard and 8-core chip

The fastest Mac notebook ever

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Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch) | GadgetMatch

Apple‘s popular line of pro notebooks is getting more powerful with Intel’s new 8th and 9th-gen Core chips. Other laptop manufacturers already announced their latest models featuring the new processors and Apple doesn’t want to get left behind.

For the first time ever, consumers can get a MacBook Pro with an 8-core processor which is two times faster than an older quad-core MacBook Pro and has 40 percent better performance than the previous 6-core MacBook Pro.


The MacBook Pro refresh for mid-2019 greatly benefits the 15-model with Touch Bar. The base model now has a 6-core i7 processor and its high-end sibling has an 8-core i9 processor. If you wish, it can be configured to an even more powerful 8-core i9 chip which can turbo boost up to 5.0GHz. This is now what Apple calls “the fastest Mac notebook ever.”

Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch) | Image credit: Apple

The 13-inch Touch Bar models also get a processor refresh with the base model now equipped with a faster 8th-gen quad-core i5. It can also be upgraded to a quad-core i7 with a turbo boost of up to 4.7GHz.

Apart from the new processors, the rest of the MacBook Pro specs remain unchanged. However, the Cupertino company opted to use a new material for its keyboard which should reduce issues. It’s still the same third-generation butterfly keyboard design from previous models though.

The refreshed MacBook Pro 15-inch models start at US$ 2,399 in the US or SG$ 3,499 in Singapore, while the smaller 13-models start at US$1,799 or SG$ 2,599.

SEE ALSO: Apple might increase the iPhone’s price by 14 percent

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Samsung is getting a Game of Thrones-themed phone

The Galaxy Fold is getting more premium

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Image source: Caviar

Today, a foldable smartphone is one of the most exclusive things you can own. Despite the recent wave of launch announcements, the foldable smartphone is still a rare sight. Notably, Samsung delayed its own Galaxy Fold after new flaws popped up before launch. No one knows when (or if) the foldable smartphone will take off. As it is, the revolutionary form factor is only a premium purchase.

Despite the hitches, Samsung is making the Galaxy Fold even more premium. Russian luxury smartphone maker Caviar is taking the foldable smartphone on a trip to Westeros. Much like the golden Galaxy Note 9, Caviar’s Galaxy Fold draws inspiration from the recently concluded Game of Thrones HBO series and the unreleased Winds of Winter book.


Because of the foldability, the customized phone is shaped like a book. The front panel is stylized “into a cover of the long-awaited book.” Both the front and rear panels flaunt an exquisite bas-relief featuring the series’ dragons and Westeros’ house crests. As always, the phone’s extravagant details shine with a layer of pure gold. Likewise, the Galaxy Fold locks with a gold clasp when folded. Outside of the gold bas-relief, the rear panel also features a detailed map of Westeros.

Image source: Caviar

Specs-wise, the Caviar-led design touts the same hardware as Samsung’s main driver. The Galaxy Fold comes with a Snapdragon 855 octa-core processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of internal storage. It also features a quad rear camera setup and a dual front-facing camera combo. It comes with a 4380mAh battery.

Currently, Samsung has not announced a new launch date. Previously, Samsung announced an April launch date. As such, Caviar cannot announce a definite launch yet. However, the luxury brand has promised a simultaneous launch date with Samsung.

Caviar’s Galaxy Fold Game of Thrones Edition sells for a bank-breaking US$ 8,200. Additionally, Caviar is selling “cheaper” carbon and leather variants — selling at US$ 5,870 and US$ 6,180, respectively. At the very least, Caviar is offering free worldwide shipping for all purchases. Hopefully, it also comes with a free “Rains of Castamere” ringtone.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 gets a luxury treatment with 1kg pure gold plate

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Gaming

Playdate is a handheld gaming system with a crank

Yes, an actual crank

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If you’re bored of the current gaming console landscape or are simply waiting for the next-gen PlayStation to come out, there’s this new handheld system that might keep you a little busy.

From a company named Panic, which is known for developing the popular game Firewatch, comes the Playdate. It may seem like a simple gaming system at first, but look to its right and you’ll see its defining feature: a crank.


The developer says that some titles will use this analog controller exclusively, while some won’t at all (which, to me, sorta defeats the purpose of placing that game on this console). Everything will be played on its monochrome screen with no backlighting.

You can see it in action here:

The spin here is that the Playdate will come with a subscription of 12 games — delivered to you once a week for 12 weeks. It’s part of the initial cost of US$ 149, but there’s no word yet if there’ll be subscriptions after that and how much they’ll cost.

Each game will be a surprise, which may or not be a good thing. Spending this much on an unproven console — and possibly more for succeeding subscriptions — could end up becoming a costly risk.

Orders will be accepted later this year, while actual shipping will happen in early 2020. For now, you can sign up through the official website to receive updates on its progress.

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