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Samsung Gear S2 First Look

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Samsung showcased its sexiest wearable so far – the Gear S2.

Given Samsung’s history with wearables (the Galaxy Gears and Gears of the past didn’t exactly pan out) it’s only right to be cautiously optimistic about the Gear S2. But from all angles, this looks to be their most promising wearable yet.

First thing you’ll notice is it actually looks like a watch thanks to its round design. Made of stainless steel, your primary physical interaction with the Gear S2 will be through its bezel which lets you dig deeper into whatever you’re checking on the watch. Think of it as a scroll bar except, it’s round.

Samsung is also hoping to get you to put their watch on your wrist thanks to its cool factor. Need to book an Uber? No need to take your phone out, do it from the watch. Want to skip to the next track on your music player? Turn the bezel to go to the next song.

And just like traditional watches, the Gear S2 is also being positioned as a fashion accessory. Samsung partnered with renowned Italian designer Alessandro Mendini to create a good-looking range of watch faces and bands for the Gear S2.

Mendini’s designs along with a wide selection of watch faces and watch bands also helps Samsung market their latest wearable as a versatile accessory. One you can wear whether you’re going to a fancy dinner date or to the gym.

Speaking of the gym, the Gear S2 also appears to be a reliable fitness companion. If you haven’t taken a step for a while, the watch gives you gentle tap reminding you to move your feet.

From a glance, there’s a lot to like about the Gear S2 but only real-world use will determine if it’s worth your hard-earned cash. And that’s what we’ll all be looking out for in the next few weeks.

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5 biggest tech controversies of 2019

Spying, banning, bending, and more

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Though short, 2019 felt like an action-packed year. Between the Brexit brouhaha in London, Duterte’s tirades in the Philippines, and Trump’s shenanigans in the US, newspapers had a very busy year. However, despite the focus on politics, 2019’s journalism marathon also affected the technology industry.

Here at GadgetMatch, we constantly had our hands full with new developments and juicy rumors. As the year finally winds down, let’s run down 2019’s greatest tech controversies that made our eyes pop:

5. Where is Apple’s 5G iPhone?

A leftover from last year’s news cycle, Apple’s 5G problem starts this year’s countdown. As 5G finally starts up all over the world, most smartphone companies — like Samsung and Huawei — have made 5G compatibility a prerequisite for all their future phones. Surprisingly, Apple has not unveiled a 5G-compatible iPhone yet.

Of course, Apple has always notoriously lagged far behind its competitor’s development cycle. However, Apple’s delay has been going on for quite a spell. 5G technology is already here. As the questions pile up, Apple has constantly searched for the perfect partner for 5G compatibility.

Apple started the year with their long-standing rivalry with Qualcomm, a persistent thorn on the former’s side. Besides continued harassing, Qualcomm’s fights might ultimately delay Apple’s 5G-compatible iPhone. Since then, both parties have buried the hatchet. However, we still don’t have any word on the much-awaited smartphone (much less a Qualcomm-sponsored one).

Also, complementing the Apple-Qualcomm dialogue, several other parties have joined the conversation. Earlier this year, Samsung and Huawei have expressed interest in becoming Apple’s supplier for 5G technology. Unfortunately, the rumors turned into nothing other than sweet words.

Eventually, Apple’s 5G problem capped off with a monumental purchase of Intel’s 5G modem business. Even then, Apple’s 5G iPhone is still nowhere to be found. Our earliest reported launch date is still in 2020.

4. Is Alexa listening to my moans?

Since the invention of smart technology, AI-assisted spying has always been a constant source of paranoia. Are our smart speakers listening in on us?

Unfortunately, 2019 is a disastrous year for conspiracy theorists. Throughout the year, the tech world’s biggest names have found themselves on the wrong end of privacy issues. In June, Apple’s Siri reportedly recorded unauthorized recordings of its users.

However, the initial controversy stems from technical issues, like a pants zipper mistakenly triggering Siri’s voice recognition. The real crux of the problem begins where the recording ends. To maintain quality control, Apple hires a separate team to evaluate Siri’s performance, listening to recordings for successful service. Potentially, these recordings include accidental triggers and sexual trysts.

The controversy doesn’t end there. Weeks later, Google was found guilty of the same crime. However, instead of just accidentally recording offhand conversations, Google’s quality team purposely leaked sensitive audio data from their Dutch offices, prompting a new conversation regarding human interference in AI systems.

If that wasn’t enough, Facebook also hired a similar team, as reported a few weeks later. In the social media giant’s case, Messenger chats are apparently getting transcribed by outsiders for Facebook’s servers.

The privacy issue brings up another pressing concern today: who owns our data? Unfortunately, Siri storing an audio version of your sex tape is only the tip of the iceberg. Digital privacy is a controversy that will surely carry on to the next few years.

3. Is China controlling the world?

For most of the world, China is in a potentially threatening position. The Asian powerhouse is currently on the rise, calling a lot of things into question. Are our everyday products completely reliant on Chinese suppliers? Are our favorite companies ingratiated to Chinese bosses?

Sadly, 2019’s headlines have some bad news for those suffering from Sinophobia. In the midst of heated Hong Kong protests, Western companies face a tough choice: to shut up or speak out against injustice. Of course, companies consist of humans, too. Human beings can have opinions contrary to their affiliated companies. That’s the story of late 2019.

Blizzard, one of the world’s biggest gaming developers, recently banned a respected professional gamer for voicing out his pro-HK opinions on a tournament victory speech. Despite causing outrage in the gaming community, the developer kept quiet, sticking by its controversial decision. They eventually lightened the sentence, but not without damaging their integrity.

Since then, other Western companies have made surprising decisions regarding the HK-China debate including the NBA and Apple. With the Hong Kong protests still raging, the China problem will still haunt us in 2020. We have to ask ourselves: which side are our favorite companies on?

2. The short rise and fall of foldable phones

In November, the world finally saw its first foldable smartphones, thanks to Samsung and Huawei. It’s been a storied wait. The revolutionary form factor first debuted at the start of the year. It almost took a year to get the devices out into the market. What happened?

Unfortunately, the foldable smartphone’s journey was rougher than what either Samsung or Huawei expected. After the initial announcement, the Galaxy Fold and the Mate X touted the next revolution of the smartphone world. As we know now, neither of the two foldable devices has changed the world yet.

Before its official launch, the Galaxy Fold carried a concerning flaw. The foldable hinge broke down too easily. It wasn’t foolproof. Fortunately, reviewers found the flaw before a wider global release. Regardless, a global recall was inevitable. Only a hair’s breadth away from the official release, Samsung pulled the plug on the world’s most anticipated smartphones of recent history. Naturally, Huawei followed suit, pulling the Mate X to avoid a similar mistake.

Months later, both smartphones practically disappeared, leaving the question of “when” unanswered. Around half a year later, the Galaxy Fold resurfaced with a final release date; the Mate X trailing nearby. Sadly, the resurrection didn’t go as planned either.

For one, the new Galaxy Fold has already failed both bend tests and real-world expectations. Samsung even agreed on the new device’s vulnerabilities. At the very least, the Mate X is doing well in China, its home territory.

Regardless, the form factor is on a decline right now. For one of the most anticipated devices in 2019, the foldable smartphone ended the year with a whimper. No one knows where the market will go from here. Only time will tell whether 2020’s foldable smartphones will end up in a similar state.

1. Huawei’s battles with the US

Was there ever any doubt? This year’s biggest controversy is, undoubtedly, the continued war between the American government and the Chinese smartphone maker, Huawei. Since last year, the company has found itself on the receiving end of America’s strong Sinophobia. For years, the American government has persistently pondered on an all-out ban against any Huawei and ZTE products. However, the rumored ban didn’t really go anywhere.

The battlefield soon changed when the US arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on accusations of fraud. Besides tarnishing Huawei’s global reputation, the government now had a de facto hostage in negotiations with Huawei and China.

The earlier part of the year consisted mainly of struggling with Meng’s arrest. However, the pressure finally exploded when the US finally banned the company back in May. Trump wanted more. Instead of settling with Meng’s capture, the American President needed another chip for his trade war with China.

The new ban affected both Huawei’s operations in the States and its business partners. In the months after the ban’s announcement, several American companies have started pulling out of business relations with the Chinese company. Key suppliers, like Google and Qualcomm, have put huge dents on Huawei’s plans for the year. For example, the newly launched Mate 30 series debuted without any of Google’s software out of the box.

On Huawei’s side, the company is currently subsisting on a series of temporary extensions to its operating license. Unless the US government settles the dispute once and for all (or gets fed up and doesn’t renew the license anymore), Huawei is in a state of limbo, unable to act on a more permanent game plan.

Fortunately, Huawei is working on a few tricks of their own. Rather than relying on a fickly foreign government, the company has successfully developed its own operating system called Harmony. They have also worked on improving the Kirin chipset to match international standards. Further, they are hunting for alternative suppliers. With a Google deal up in the air, Huawei is looking for more willing suppliers in other countries.

Unfortunately, Huawei’s troubles will continue well into next year. The current extension is until around February 2020. Chances are, we won’t get a definitive conclusion to the saga until then.

Spilling over to 2020

Without a doubt, 2019 was a busy year for us. However, with how inconclusive these five have “resolved,” it looks like an even busier 2020 for the headlines. Will we see a 5G iPhone? Will tech companies commit to better privacy? Will we finally get a conclusion to the long-standing Huawei saga? 2020, be good to us.

Illustrations by MJ Jucutan/GadgetMatch.

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10 gift ideas for the bookworm on your list

Gifts that are not books

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If you have friends or family who love to read, chances are other people will already give them books this holiday season. It’s that or they already bought the book they want to read next. If you want to give something different that they will appreciate, here are some other ideas to help you out:

Kindle

For the friend who has too many books but not enough shelves, get her the new Kindle. It’s also perfect for that friend who brings a book or two when traveling. She always managse to finish reading on the flight leaving herself book-less for the rest of the trip.

The new Kindle retails for US$ 89.99 and comes in black and white.

Kindle case

If she already has a Kindle, how about a case inspired by classic book covers? Not only will it protect her gadget from scratches, it also gives her the feeling of holding a book while reading. Smell of an actual book not included.

The case starts at GBP 25, and comes in varying sizes and covers.

Audible credits

Some people will always prefer reading over listening to audiobooks. For those who are open to the latter, Audible credits are a practical, yet thoughtful gift you can give. If you know of a specific title they want to listen to, there’s also an option to get that book as a gift either through your own Audible credits or using a credit card.

One credit starts at US$ 15, and you can choose to give up to 12 months worth of Audible credits.

Noise-cancelling earphones

A pair of noise cancelling earphones is one of the best gifts you can give this year not just to bookworms, but to almost anyone on your list. Bookworms will especially love being able to block any noise and concentrate on reading (or listening to) their book.

Plenty of great options came out this year, including the Sony WF-1000XM3, which retails for SG$ 349.

Bookends

Help decorate one’s home with cute bookends. For someone who lives in a smaller space, a multi-purpose bookend is your best bet — maybe one that doubles as a flower vase for the living room or a kitchen utensil holder. You can also get an upcycled one using old records. For a more personal touch, you can even do it yourself and you got yourself a crafty project this holiday season.

Lumio LED book lamp

Any bookworm will appreciate receiving a lamp to help them read when the sun starts to dip. What if you give them something in the shape of a book? They sure will love you more than they already do!

The Lumio LED book lamp comes in different finishes, and starts at US$ 150.

Laptop sleeve

Another gift idea for that special someone is a book-inspired sleeve to protect her laptop. Make it more personal by making her favorite cover made. You can even add the first and last pages of the book to make it feel more like one. There’s also an option to add a smaller but similar case for the charger and other accessories.

The laptop sleeve starts at $199 on Etsy, but is on sale at $59.70.

NYPL Library Card Pouch

The New York Public Library store has a ton of useful knickknacks you can buy as gifts. There’s a pouch inspired by the original library cards from the 1940’s that any bookworm will appreciate even if you bought it at the last minute!

The NYPL Library Card Pouch retails for US$ 15 for non-members.

 NYPL Library Card Socks

Another option is this cute pair of socks that will surely make any bookworm’s heart and feet warm this chilly season. It comes in small and large and is priced at US$12 for non-members.

Black NYPL Ruth Bader Ginsburg Tote Bag

Know someone inspired by the Notorious RBG? This tote could not be any more perfect. It can carry not just that heavy hardbound book, but her groceries or gym clothes as well!

The black tote bag retails for US$ 15 for non-members.

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5 gift ideas for the stylish women on your list

Give the gift of style!

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Finding the perfect present for the stylish women in your life is quite the task. But don’t worry – we’re here to make the process a tad easier. Here are some gift ideas that will make the stylish women in your life love you more. Well, much more than they already do, anyway.

Dyson Airwrap

The hair tool of almost any stylish woman’s dreams is definitely from Dyson. This tool gives the gift of quick, salon-quality styling. Drying your hair as you style for voluminous waves and natural-looking curls cuts prep time in almost half. After all, their hair should be as fabulous as their outfits.

A complete set is currently at EUR 499 but that includes all 8 attachments that will let her save from all those dry bar visits. Get the Dyson Airwrap through this link.

Hër Bluetooth In-Earphones

Listening to music while on the go doesn’t have to clash with one’s outfit. We’re in love with the discreet, nude colour of the Hër Bluetooth In-Earphones and its ease of use. The case that doubles as its charger is also pretty and rather minimalist. Connection to a smartphone is quick and painless via Bluetooth, giving the freedom to move while being in a call.

Pose for OOTDs while listening to music and order a set via this link.

Laura Mercier Paint with Light Radiant Face Illuminator Trio

The holiday season means glitz, glamour, and of course – shimmer. There’s no other season that allows for shimmer overload than the holidays. What better way to do it than by using the perfect highlighter palette. We’re in love with the Radiant Face Illuminator Trio from Laura Mercier’s Paint With Light Holiday 2019 collection.

There’s a hue for every skin tone and outfit. The buildable glow is also something that will make anyone a stand-out at all the parties. Get it here.

Mejuri Organic Pearl Large Hoops

Pearls are not just for the grandmas anymore. Pearls are so in fashion right now and letting them dangle on hoops gives them a modern, edgier update. All without losing their elegance.

This pair from Canadian brand Mejuri has us drooling with their use of organic pearls. You’ll definitely get a unique pair from them as no two organic pearls can ever be exactly the same. As far as we know, stylish women love individuality so this gift is definitely a hit. Get a pair here.

SEE ALSO: Dell’s recycling initiative results in beautiful gold jewelry

A Rent the Runway subscription

It’s hard to pick a particular outfit as a gift for the stylish women on your list. Preferences and sizes can get in the way. But that shouldn’t stop you from giving them the gift of designer fashion. A subscription with Rent the Runway makes sure they have access to the latest pieces and you’ll never hear them complain about having nothing to wear ever again.

It’s also a more sustainable option for those who love the planet but refuse to break up with fashion. Check out their plans and gift cards here.

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