Lifestyle

Instagram adds a music option to Stories

Adding a soundtrack to your life

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An Instagram Story option that users have been wanting is finally here!

You can now add music to your Stories — and no, I don’t mean turning on your Spotify as you take those 15-second clips (like my friends have been doing 😂). I’m talking about adding music using the IG app itself!

All you need to do to add the soundtrack to your IG Story life is to tap the music icon found in the sticker drawer and pick a song. You search for a specific title or choose by browsing through moods, genres, or even what’s popular. You can even pick out which part of the song you want to add.

There’s also an option to pick a song even before you shoot your story. Just swipe to the new “Music” mode while on the IG camera, pick which part you want in your Story, and you’re good to go.

When you add tunes to your story, a song sticker will be added to your video so that friends who watch your story and enjoy the sounds will know who they’re listening to. According to Instagram, new songs are being added to the library every day. Hooray for more musical choices!

This feature is now available in select countries and the ability to pick a song before recording is available on iOS, with Android support coming soon.

India

Netflix announces nine new originals from India

2019 is going to be even more entertaining!

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India is among the most content-hungry markets in the world right now. Thanks to an extensive network of 4G connections and cheap data tariffs, a massive boom is underway and every Internet-centric company wants to be a part of this revolution. While telcos are busy luring more subscribers, content-focused companies have massively increased their investment in this region.

One of these is Netflix, one of the top streaming services in the world. It is expanding its India slate of original content by announcing eight new original films and a new original series. These will include many A-list Bollywood and Hollywood talent on camera as well as off-camera. After the success of Sacred Games this year, the service is even more confident about its investment.

The eight films include Chopsticks, Bulbul (produced by Anushka Sharma’s production house Clean Slate Films), Upstarts, Cobalt Blue (based on a popular Marathi novel), 15th August (a Marathi film produced by Madhuri Dixit), Music Teacher, Hotel Mumbai (starring BAFTA-winning actor Dev Patel), and Firebrand (another Marathi film produced by Priyanka Chopra).

The original series is called Typewriter and it’s about a haunted house and a haunted book that attract a young group of ghost hunters. Netflix has already released four original movies and two original series this year from India while one series is scheduled to release in December.

While Netflix is ramping up its presence in the country, local studios and production networks have been trying to evolve as well. Voot (Viacom18), SonyLiv (Sony Pictures), and Hotstar (Star India and 21st Century Fox) are just a few of these services that already enjoy good public recognition.

Even Amazon is trying to make it big here and has been aggressively pushing its Prime service that has Prime Video and Prime Music bundled along.

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Apps

5 apps that help you save money while traveling

Perfect for the budget traveler

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They say travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. This is definitely true. While it can give you priceless moments and unforgettable experiences, we have to admit that it often comes with a pretty steep price. We can’t put a price tag on expanding your horizons, but we can definitely help you make it a little less expensive.

I started young with traveling and my years of experience has led me to some hacks that can keep you from extra expenses. Today, I’ll be sharing with you my nine favorite apps that I use to make sure I don’t overspend and even save a pretty penny while I’m exploring a place far from home.

Skiplagged

I truly believe that booking the most convenient flights while staying within your budget should be an Olympic sport. There are so many factors to consider — from someone’s schedule, the comfort that you get, down to the layovers. I use a lot of apps for this to check for the best rates. There’s Kayak and Skyscanner which I’m sure you already know about. And then, there’s Skiplagged. This app finds hidden-city tickets and can give you even more savings if you’re only looking for a short-haul flight.

What it actually does is it books you a cheaper, long-haul flight with a layover at your actual destination. Then, you simply skip the rest of the trip, exiting at the airport of your layover. In fact, the app is so good, it was sued by some airlines.

Tip: When using flight price comparison apps, always turn on the option to “watch” a flight you’re interested in and turn on notifications on your phone to get an alert right away. Sometimes, the prices can drop and you’d want to be the first person to grab that seat.

N26

This is an online banking app that has saved my wallet one too many times while traveling. Some cities can be quite notorious for their money changers that charge commission so high, it feels like legal robbery. N26 lets me withdraw my money for free in most cities and has one of the best exchange rates out there. I have control over my money on my phone and I can also stay on top of my purchases since I get notifications for each transaction. They also make shopping fun and an absolute breeze since they give you a free Mastercard that comes in a nifty, clear design.

One thing to take note of is that this bank doesn’t have a physical branch. You apply for an account online via video chat and you’ll need your passport to prove your identity. To put money in your account, you can transfer funds from your other bank accounts. For cash deposits, you can go to their partner establishments (they’re usually supermarkets or drugstores) to put your money in.

Tip: When swiping any card while traveling, always pay in the local currency. You only go through the conversion once, saving you money.

XE

We’re often told to stop converting currencies in our heads when traveling since it hinders the fun. Well, sometimes, it’s essential to do so. For this, I use XE which gives me up-to-date rates and in more than one currency at that.

Tip: Traveling to more than one country during your trip and eyeing that really cute top from & Other Stories? Price tags in EU countries often have the prices for Euro and countries that have their own currency, making it easier for you to see whether buying that top in Berlin is cheaper compared to buying it in Copenhagen or Stockholm. Save the currencies you’ll be using throughout the trip to make comparison a whole lot easier.

Trail Wallet

Expenses during your travels can creep up at you, especially while you’re enjoying a new place. From dining out to entrance fees for museums and major attractions, small expenses can accumulate rather quickly. This is why I set a daily budget every time I’m traveling. Sticking to it might be a more difficult task if I didn’t have Trail Wallet installed on my iPhone. It’s an oldie but definitely a goodie. I just set a daily budget and enter my expenses on the app. I can classify them by category (accommodation, food, etc.) and even add notes on them should I need to. It also allows me to set my home currency and that of the place I am traveling to so I know how much I’m actually spending. After a trip, it gives me — with colored graphs to boot — a comprehensive view of my spending, making it easier to plan for next time.

Tip: Enter your expenses as you go so you don’t forget to do it later on!

Yelp

Another app that’s been around for ages but has proven that it can stand the test of time. If you’re someone like me who takes food seriously, then you’d want to eat at places that are worth your money and the calories. Yelp helps you find a restaurant that has the food you’re craving and is within your budget. Using the map function and veering away from areas that are touristy, while taking reviews and prices into consideration, can even bring you to some hidden gems that are only popular among locals. Want more savings? Download apps like OpenTable and TheFork. Not only can you make your table reservations through these apps, you can also get discounts when you dine at certain times.

Tip: Different city, different dining discount app. While OpenTable and TheFork are popular in more than one city, some countries prefer their localized version. It’s best to research in advance which dining app is the best at your destination to maximize your discount potential.

So that’s it for my money-saving, travel apps! Do you have any recommendations for me too? Would love to learn about the ones that you use in the comments section below!

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Lifestyle

Huawei Mate 20 Review: The simpler sibling

No need for the Pro?

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The Huawei Mate 20 is the simpler sibling in the Mate 20 lineup, and honestly… it simply works.

I’m an everyday normal guy, with normal demands from my smartphone. And when you’re like me, and you don’t have a specific thing in mind when choosing a phone, it helps to have a device that is just good in every aspect.

In real-world use, there’s nothing to complain about in terms of performance. It’s got a Kirin 980 processor, and it runs the way any flagship phone with the latest and greatest processor should.

A phone that’ll go perfect with your OOTD

When it comes to our phones, I’ll agree with Isa, our Lifestyle Editor, that they’ve become more than a gadget and are now also an accessory to show off.

This phone looks great! So much so that I’ve caught myself intentionally not putting it in my pocket, just so I can show it off.

And while there might also be many other good-looking options out there, the Mate 20 wins in my book because I can use it without a case and not have to worry about getting fingerprints all over it.

On our Midnight Blue review unit, I’ve loved the special glass texture that barely shows any fingerprints and how it makes the phone easier to grip.

Good display, but speakers need work

Flip the phone over and there’s the huge 6.53-inch screen that’s great for consuming media, but I will say that it was an adjustment having to get used to such a wide phone again.

Now while I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all gotten relatively used to notches by now. It still must be said that the notch on the Mate 20 is tiny (much smaller than the notch on its Pro sibling) and easy to forget about when watching videos in full screen.

One thing I did notice in watching videos is that while the Mate 20 might have stereo speakers (from the earpiece and the bottom firing speaker), the sound comes out uneven and mostly from the speaker at the bottom. It would have been better if the sound were more balanced.

Battery for days… literally

Usually, I start my day at 8am and end at about 9pm. How has the 4000mAh battery capacity been for me? In using the phone for about two weeks, I’ve never ended my day with less than 35 percent left. It’s been such a joy not having to carry around a bulky powerbank with me!

In a day that usually includes social media, using maps for directions, watching YouTube, and Netflix, no longer do I have to tell myself to get off Instagram because I need to preserve battery.

It’s a phone that will last you a full day and then some. When you do end up needing to charge, it juices up quick — boost of about 50 percent in 30 minutes.

Typical Huawei cameras

Now, let’s talk about the cameras. There are three cameras on the back: Its main camera has 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter has 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to 2x optical zoom.

To put it plainly, they’re good. And I can tell you they’re good all day, but I think it’s better if I just show you:

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And of course something that Huawei has been amazing with is nighttime photography:

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Plus, the addition of a wide-angle lens is great for getting more into the frame:

  

All these photos we’re taken with the Master AI setting on and shot completely in automatic mode.

Now, I don’t take a lot of selfies — we leave that to Isa at GadgetMatch — but if that’s your thing, the Mate 20 has a 24-megapixel selfie camera. Also, here’s a selfie of me with Jason Mraz:

Here are more selfie samples (I turned off the beauty mode for these):

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Glad to see you headphone jack!

The regular Huawei Mate 20 doesn’t have the curved screen like the Pro does. It doesn’t have the in-display fingerprint scanner, either. What it does have that the Pro model doesn’t, is a headphone jack. 

True story: When I was traveling around Singapore and my Bluetooth earphones died, it was a lifesaver to be able to plug in regular wired earphones so I could continue listening to music.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

This phone ticks all the boxes I needed it to. Good cameras? Check! Great battery life? Yes, sir! Is it good for watching Netflix? You betcha!

It isn’t as flashy as the Pro model, but the Mate 20 to me is meant for someone who doesn’t need any of the bells or whistles, and just wants a phone that’s going to work when you need it to.

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