Lifestyle

How the Huawei Watch GT made me believe in smartwatches

Even though it’s not that smart

Photos by: Patty Medina

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I have a confession to make: I’m not really into smartwatches. As much as I enjoy taking the hottest phones and laptops with me everywhere I go, I prefer wearing a traditional watch around my wrist, or at most, a hybrid smartwatch.

Full-fledged smartwatches are more cumbersome than convenient for me. Not only would I have to charge it daily, but I’d also need to set it up like an actual smartphone. I already have multiple devices to take care of at any given time.

That’s where Huawei’s latest smartwatch comes in. While it isn’t the usual hybrid I’d gladly pair with my phone, it does offer some compromise — ones that make me forget I’m even wearing a smarter-than-average watch.

Honestly, the main reason I even considered accepting the Huawei Watch GT and reviewing it is because of its battery life. With a promise of two-week endurance on a single charge and greater focus on daily health, I took the plunge.

Yes, the battery endurance is legit. Charging it to full, which takes a little over one and a half hours using its portable dock, is enough to make it last for 15 whole days, and that’s with the heart rate sensor always on!

This has to be the Watch GT’s greatest strength; it’ll tell you your heart rate any time you look at its face, and the simple interface is easier to understand than your typical Android. Huawei has done a good job of optimizing its proprietary operating system for common folk’s use.

And yet, that’s also one of the device’s initial weaknesses. You have to learn something new all over again. It’s not like jumping from one Wear OS to another or an older Apple Watch to a newer one. The interface is simple, but totally different.

Fortunately, there are only two physical buttons to worry about: The top enters the options menu and acts as an alternate back/wake-up switch, while the other offers the selection of available exercises.

We have modes for running, climbing, hiking, cycling, and swimming. Some of these require the watch’s GPS to be turned on, which consumes more battery power. If none of these fit the workout you’re about to embark on, there’s an option for “Other.” I used this while playing basketball and lifting weights at the gym.

Aside from those two, I tried outdoor running and open swimming, both of which needed GPS. Once I start the workout, the watch provides vital info such as pace and distance, on top of the usual heart rate and total time. Once you check your connected phone, it’ll show a more comprehensive summary complete with the mapping of your every location.

I must say, the tracking is quite accurate. I get a graph of my heart rate and speed for every minute of the routine, plus a precise map of what I covered. The Huawei Health app is what keeps all the records, and divides the intensities into warm-up, fat-burning, aerobic, anaerobic, and extreme.

All this data gets synced with every pairing between the Watch GT and Health app. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to save the data online and view it on other devices. I managed to integrate Google Fit with Huawei Health, but could never transfer any fitness info.

I doubt this would be a problem for most users, but for techies like myself who go from one device to another, it would be perfect to have cloud access. The watch does hold some data so I can at least look back at some previous workouts after moving to another phone.

While on the topic of downsides, I also experienced several annoyances like sudden disconnections to my phone and the raise-to-wake function not always working, but a couple of software patches solved these issues to an extent. I also don’t like how notifications show up twice or not at all; this prevents the Watch GT from being a reliable assistant.

But, in essence, it seems to serve a different purpose altogether — not simply as a virtual companion. Because it’s so light, it acts like a fitness band while working out. And when you’re done exercising and need to head to a meeting or night out, it remains classy enough to pair with any casual or even semi-formal attire.

Like other smartwatches, you may change the watch face any time to match your outfit. Same applies to the watchband — no proprietary standards here, so swap to your heart’s content. This flexibility may be the primary reason why anyone would consider the Huawei Watch GT in the first place.

At the same time, it’s not that intelligent, feeling more like a fitness watch than a smartwatch most of the time. I was thoroughly impressed by the feature set when I first wore it, and yet, it left me wanting more as time went on.

For one, I’d love to be able to install more apps. Customization would make it, well, smarter. In addition, this wearable would benefit greatly from Qi wireless charging. Imagine charging on any compatible charger at home or in a cafe, or better yet, on your Mate 20 Pro’s back! Huawei missed a golden opportunity here.

These setbacks keep a good smartwatch from being great, especially when the market has reached a point wherein there are so many awesome choices now.

An alternative would be the Galaxy Watch of Samsung. It also has its own interface and focuses more on being a business-fitness watch. The differences are in the shorter battery life — limited to a couple of days depending on use — and ability to install additional apps from Samsung’s own app store.

Of course, you could also consider the Apple Watch Series 4. However, even though it targets health tracking and looks way better than previous generations, it’s really best for those who already use an iPhone. That Apple ecosystem in unmatched in the tech realm.

If you’ve made it this far and are still interested, the Huawei Watch GT starts at EUR 199 for the Sport version and costs EUR 249 for the Classic, which is the model you see here. In this case, style definitely comes at a price.

Apps

I’m missing the Olympics because I don’t have cable

And it sucks

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It’s 2021. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is in full swing as of writing. However, as someone whose primary source of media entertainment all comes from streaming, there’s no easy and convenient way for me to watch the games. Major bummer.

I like to enjoy my media a certain way; I prefer to stream them on my TV. Which is why majority of the content I consume come from YouTube, Netflix, and the occasional Amazon Prime, HBO Go (Yep, not even HBO Max), and Apple TV.

I find it incredibly baffling that the stakeholders involved in bringing the games to the people failed to come to an agreement to make it easily accessible on the aforementioned platforms. It’s 2021. Why on earth am I not able to watch the greatest sporting event on the planet the way I want to?

Believe me, I hear the privilege in my words. Regardless, I still feel marginalized.

So how can you watch the Olympics right now?

I asked a friend who’s been covering the games. He watches through cable and had to pay a PhP 150 fee (around US$ 3/ SG$ 4) to avail of the Tokyo 2020 Premium from a particular cable provider.

Thing is, the whole Olympic coverage in the Philippines is locked to the MVP group of companies. You wanna follow the games, you’re gonna have to do it on one of their platforms.

Here’s an excerpt from their press release on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic coverage:

“Sports fans will have comprehensive access to the Olympic Games — from the Opening Ceremonies all the way to when the games conclude — on free to air via TV5 and One Sports. One Sports+ on Cignal TV will also dedicate a significant amount of their daily hours to broadcast the events, with Cignal also opening up two exclusive channels dedicated to broadcast the games 24/7. Cignal Play, in addition to live channels TV5, One Sports & One Sports+, will be offering exclusive channels broadcasting live updates to its subscribers, along with exclusive content not available on the TV broadcast. Cignal TV’s One News leads the group’s round-the-clock news coverage, featuring results, updates, and highlights.”

Comprehensive? Maybe. For platforms within the MVP group of companies. If you’re not subscribed to any of these, well, that’s just too bad. It’s good for business and I completely understand how the whole thing works. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The coverage also missed to televise or showcase Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal win in the Weightlifting competition. If you’ve been following sports news, the Philippines was expected to get a medal in this event. Sadly, the moment was only known following updates from reporters on the ground.

How I wish it was handled

I’m sure there’s a lot more that goes into it in terms of TV and broadcasting rights, but we’re literally at an age where plenty of folks have decided to cut the cord and rely on streaming for content.

On YouTube, you can buy and/or rent movies and shows. The platform and structure exists for pay-to-watch content. They could have even made tiers or packages like charge a certain amount to gain access to all the games, a different and lower amount if you just want to follow a certain sport and/or a certain event.

Maybe the potential earnings to do so didn’t justify the costs to implement it. Whatever the case, it’s still incredibly frustrating.

Sure, I can go through the hoopla of setting up a VPN and look for streaming sites. But that’s more even more cumbersome. I don’t mind paying a convenience fee if it means that after a long day of work I can kick back, relax, and watch some damn sports.

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Dating

Google is banning ‘sugar daddy’ dating apps

Starting September 1

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Dating apps are a dime a dozen nowadays. Regular daters have the more popular apps available including Tinder and Bumble. Niche daters also have their own set of apps for their own preferences. Did you know that there’s a dating app for farmers, for example? Apparently, despite the wide variety of apps, Google is less than thrilled over a very specific category of the market: sugar-daddy dating apps.

First reported by Android Police, Google is issuing new policies to cover the strange niche. And yes, they do exist. As the name implies, these dating apps are specifically made for daters looking for their own sugar daddy or sugar mommy (or vice versa).

In dating parlance, sugar daddy and mommies refer to rich daters who spoil their partners using their wealth in return for physical affection. The relationship type shouldn’t be an issue in itself. (“Different folks, different strokes,” as the saying goes.) However, Google certainly has issues with these apps.

According to the new policy, there will be “new restrictions on sexual content, specifically prohibiting compensated sexual relationships (i.e., sugar dating).” The policy will go into effect starting September 1.

Google has always been moderately tough on sexual content. Though looking up “sex” on the Play Store elicits a swath of tools and apps, the online catalog never outrightly includes any sexual content. Google potentially dislikes the “compensated” part of sugar-daddy dating apps, which can link it to a form of prostitution.

That said, Google seems to be all-in on less transactional dating apps like Tinder. Instead of propagating relationships through transactions, apps like Tinder do promote finding a true partner.

SEE ALSO: How to quench your thirst for dating in the time of social distancing

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Accessories

3 accessories that should be inside your gym bag

Forget trackers and sports watches

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Working out has been a holy grail in my daily life. Even though gyms are closed, I made it a habit to use my gym bag. It made it easier to keep my stuff organized, and it helps with compartmentalizing. I can focus on my workout when I dedicate a space for everything related to fitness.

By now, you probably know the usual essentials that should be inside your bag. Smartphones, smartwatch, resistance band, hand wraps, water bottles, extra clothes, and more.

But I’ll let you in on my little world: I have three mainstay accessories inside my gym bag which I deem essential for my workouts — whether it’s at the gym or at home.

Soundcore 3

A portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t something I would use at the gym. But on my outdoor workouts and the social distancing imposed in almost every location, I need entertainment that allows me to still be in tune with my surroundings.

This is why the Soundcore 3 has been a great companion that I bring in my routines, especially when I decided not to use my pair of wireless earbuds.

It pumps up the bass even at low volumes, making my cardio exercises a bit more fun. And its dual drivers with pure titanium diaphragms minimize distortion for clearer audio.

The Soundcore 3 also has easy controls and carries a massive battery that gives you 24-hour playtime. Yes, my dear friend. You can listen to more than 400 songs on a single charge.

But what I like about it the most is its IPX7 rating. It gives me peace of mind when I hold the speakers with my sweaty hands or when I work out in the rain. And because I can bring it to the shower whenever I practice my dance moves.

The Soundcore 3 retails for PhP 3,195.

Powercore 5000

Another mainstay in my gym bag is an ultra-compact power bank from Anker. Called Powercore 5000, this power bank slides easily in your pocket (or your bag’s pockets). With 5000mAh capacity, it can recharge either my phone or my Soundcore 3 whenever I take a rest.

It does not support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, but it still sports an exclusive PowerIQ technology so you can still experience high-speed charging for your gadgets.

Nonetheless, it comes with a travel pouch so you can keep your power bank safe, a MicroUSB cable for connectivity, a welcome guide, and a worry-free 18-month warranty.

The Powercore 5000 retails for PhP 1,295.

Anker Powerline 3-in-1

I like being prepared and ready at all times. This is why even a cable was able to count as a mainstay in my bag. Anker’s Powerline 3-in-1 is a handy accessory since it has interchangeable connectors — Lightning, Micro USB, and USB-C.

It makes it easier to charge several devices that have different ports, without carrying multiple cables that would probably populate my organizers. Luckily, the Powerline 3-in-1 keeps the internal wiring protected so I don’t have to worry about replacing cables anytime soon.

Plus, it has an MFi certification from Apple so it charges fast and safe — which I lend to my friends that use an iPhone, who for some reason, always forget to carry their own cables.

The Anker Powerline 3-in-1 retails for PhP 995.

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