Lifestyle

How a smartphone became my travel buddy

To Taipei 101 and beyond!

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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.

Lifestyle

10 good photography apps for your iPhone

Always get great shots

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Most photos we post and look at today are shot through the lenses of a handset. Gone are the days of big, bulky cameras and smartphones have replaced most shooters.

The great thing about shooting with your iPhone is that the creative process for your photo taking doesn’t end when you tap the shutter. There are so many things you can do with your photos, all you need is a good app.

Here are ten photography apps that you should check out.

VSCO

Price: Free!

Easily one of the most popular editing apps out there, VSCO is pretty easy to learn and simple to use. It allows you to edit photos, add presets, and even share your work to the VSCO community.

Download here.

Adobe Lightroom

Price: Free!

Think Adobe Lightroom on your computer but in mobile form. And yes, you get all the different tools and presets. If you upgrade to premium, you’ll be able to edit images across all your devices.

Download here.

Snapseed

Price: Free!

Another crowd favorite, Snapseed is an in-depth photo editing app. It can do all your basic editing on your iPhone, easy.

Download here.

Polarr Photo Editor

Price: Free!

Polarr boasts being an app that both photography pros and newbies can use. It has everything you’ll ever need for top notch shots.

Download here.

Darkroom

Price: Free!

Another great app, Darkroom will level up your editing skills on mobile and give you tools to make sure your photos are always 👌🏽

Download here.

Afterlight 2

Price: US$ 2.99

This app offers basic editing, overlays, stylized filters, and even artwork text! It also offers free updates and new content monthly after that one time fee.

Download here.

Mextures

Price: US$ 1.99

Make photo editing easier with Mexture’s layered workflow. Add more texture to your photos and even edit existing formulas and presets with this app.

Download here.

Touch Retouch

Price: US$ 1.99

This app removes unwanted objects in your photos, easy peasy. Just trace the offending shape and you’re done! Definitely editing magic that you need.

Download here.

Portrait by img.ly

Price: Free!

Your portraits will never be the same again. Choose from different portrait styles, make selfie collages, and more!

Download here.

Enlight Photofox

Price: Free!

Not your basic editing app, Enlight not only gives you basic tools, it also allows for effects like double exposures, graphic elements, and even unique special effects.

Download here.

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Apps

What I learned about myself using Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing Dashboard

Am I on my phone too much?

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When Android Pie was unveiled and released last week, I pretty much craved pie because everyone was talking about the delectable dessert. But, I was also very excited about one particular feature: The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard.

Image of me actually eating pie the day after the Android Pie unveiling

Announced earlier, this dashboard was supposed to be a ticket to a healthier lifestyle — well, at least in theory. In an effort to curb unhealthy phone user habits, a dashboard that tracks app usage is built in to Android’s newest operating system. Although not available to everyone as of writing, Pixel users (like yours truly) are able to try out the beta version of the dash. Since I’m a sucker for self-actualization and information that may potentially heal (and hurt) me, I tried it out for the last week or so and here’s what I learned.

I’m on my phone — a lot

No sh*t, Sherlock.

I know I’m always looking at these tiny screens but I didn’t realize I was literally living my life in front of it. A record day saw me looking at the screen for — get this — 11 hours and 55 minutes. That’s half a day! Legitimately, that’s the whole time I’m not sleeping. And take note, I review phones so this isn’t the only screen I look at in a day.

Given these numbers, I’m honestly unsure how I get anything else done in my life.

I get a ton of notifications

I mean sure, technology connects people, but I didn’t realize just how connected we are.

According to my data, I get around a minimum of 250 notifications per day and this number varies. At some point, there was a whopping 620 notifications. Let’s think about that for a minute; that means around 51 messages per hour in a 12-hour day. There are only 60 minutes per hour so that means almost a message for each freaking minute.

On average, Facebook Messenger tops the list for these notifications followed by Gmail and Telegram.

I check Instagram more than I should

Now, this is funny because as you just saw, Instagram isn’t on that list of top app notifiers. But, this might also be because I turned off IG notifications because they were distracting me (yay for being self-aware?). This health dashboard tells me that I unlocked my Instagram app most, with as many as 153 times in one day. This was, on average, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

The top three apps I spent time on are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which just tells me that I’m ‘gram crazy and I’m on social media too much (which isn’t really news to anyone).

Grayscale is annoying and I hate it

Part of the dashboard is a feature aimed at curbing being on your phone before bed (which I do a lot 🙄). Wind Down allows you to set such times and then gives you an option to turn on Do Not Disturb and a Grayscale that makes browsing less desirable for people who should be sleeping and not looking at their phones.

The mess of an app IG becomes on grayscale

Reading tweets on grayscale is weird and browsing through Instagram is just plain wrong. I guess, in that way, this function is effective in getting me to stop being on my phone — until I turned it off the next day and never turned it on again.

I refuse to turn on the app timer as I justify social media use as work

Say what you want because it’s true. 😅

See, there’s a timer option on the dash that allows you to limit app usage time. Thing is, I’ve never turned it on. Why? Because I work on the internet and turning it on may amount to catastrophic consequences.

I will keep using this to justify my action of disallowing app time limits, so what’s your excuse?

It must be noted that, as mentioned earlier, I use more than one phone on a daily basis and am on social media on my laptop a lot, too. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that this still isn’t a complete picture of my daily phone and internet habits. Even though this data only shows a fraction of the grand picture, it already says a lot.

As with everything in life, the choice is in your hands (er, on your phone). Though I am ultimately left to decide what to do about my phone habits, knowing is always the first step.

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Her GadgetMatch

Alphapot is a biodegradable self-watering planter

Saving the world one pot at a time

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Do you garden? Do you care for the environment?

If you do, you’re going to love this. This is the Alphapot planter.

It’s a great indoor planter that can house indoor plants or even your herbs.

At first glance, the curious-looking thing doesn’t seem like it’s anything special.

But, consider this: The planter is made completely from repurposed food waste. That means that every pot you use makes the world a greener place.

What’s cool is that they’re also self-watering. There’s a tiny area where you can put water and a wick delivers the moisture to the plant.

Aside from being completely sustainable, these pots are also modular.

Meaning you can connect them together — the more the merrier!

They’re also completely biodegradable so if you want to transfer your plant to the garden, it’s so much easier. In six to twelve months, the pot will break down into soil. In fact, that grooved design at the bottom of the pot is there to help it break down.

These amazing pots will ship this December. Let’s get gardening!

Check them out on Kickstarter here.

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