All posts in “Mobile”

Snapchat Spectacles: Everything you need to know

Tired of staring at your phone and ignoring your surroundings in order to stay connected? Well, Snapchat (now Snap Inc., technically) has the answer. The company’s Spectacles sunglasses have lit up the internet, a result of both the product’s unique nature and its initial limited availability.

Now that Spectacles can be purchased online, avid snappers will no doubt have lots of questions about the fashion-forward eye candy, so let’s not waste time. Scroll down to learn more about Spectacles.

How to find a pair

snapbot snapchat spectacles 7 hed 2016

Spectacles (available in black, coral, or teal) went on sale in late 2016, and could only be purchased using a Snapchat Snapbot vending machine, or from the dedicated pop-up store in New York. That has all changed over the past months, and Spectacles are now much easier to find and buy. If the cool tech eyewear is for you, then Spectacles can be purchased for $130 on the Spectacles website, plus taxes and shipping. From July 19, Spectacles can be purchased through Amazon for the same price, and in all the official colors.

In early June, Snap Inc. launched Spectacles in the U.K., after first selling them only in the United States. All three colors are sold through the local Spectacles website for 130 British pounds. Also on July 19, Amazon U.K. started to sell Spectacles, just like in the United States.

Just a few days later, Snap debuted a pop-up shop in a brick and mortar location — and not just any brick and mortar location. The social media company chose none other than the famed London department store Harrods to become the first in-person vendor of the Spectacles (previously, you could only buy the glasses online or through a Snapbot vending machine).

The kiosk doesn’t really integrate much technology, surprisingly enough. Rather, there’s just a mirror for you to check out how the Spectacles look, and an Android phone that displays the sorts of 360-degree videos you can record with the eyewear.

snapchat snap ipo highlights spectacles pop up store nyc

Snap’s pop-up Snapbot location in New York City. The store closed on February 19.

Before you buy

Well, it goes without saying, you will need an iOS or Android phone running Snapchat in order to use Spectacles. If you aren’t already a Snapchat user or you find it confusing, we don’t think Spectacles will change that outlook.

Note: You will also need to be using an iPhone 5 or newer that’s running at least iOS 8, or an Android device that’s running at least Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) with Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi Direct.

However, there are other things to keep in mind. Spectacles isn’t one-size-fits-all. For one of our editors, the Spectacles felt small and tight on the face. Snap says this can be adjusted by an optician, but be careful: applying heat or water to where the electronics are (in the front of the frame) may fry them. If Spectacles feels loose, Snap suggests tightening the screw of each temple – where the arm joins the lens frame.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to try them before you buy. If you decide you don’t like Spectacles after you receive one, Snap offers a 30-day return policy, provided you have a receipt and your pair isn’t damaged or altered. You can also exchange for a new pair if you encounter any problems that you can’t troubleshoot.

If you wear prescription glasses, you can swap out the Spectacles lenses for ones that match your prescription. An optician needs to do this for you.

Snap has released news special edition Spectacles, such as a pair designed to be compatible with goggles. There’s also a secret project in the works that involves augmented reality.

What’s in the box?

The Spectacles comes inside a magnetically-sealed, wedge-shaped case in Snap’s trademark yellow. For a glasses case it is somewhat large and hefty – you probably wouldn’t want to carry it around in your coat pocket. It’s made of a soft material that should protect the Spectacles in case of accidental drops. Inside, you’ll also fine a USB charging cord.

The case also doubles as a portable charging cradle. When seated inside the case, contact points at the joint of the Spectacles’ left arm (when folded) connect magnetically. One end of the cord ($10 for a replacement) is then connected to the case, while the other end has a standard USB connector for plugging into a computer, portable battery, or wall charger. The cord can also connect directly to the Spectacles, eliminating the need to use the case. Once the cord is attached and charging, you will see LEDs light up. Snap recommends using a USB wall charger, however, there isn’t one included.

Inside the case is a built-in battery that can be used for on-the-go, standalone recharging. When fully charged, the case can recharge a pair of Spectacles up to four times. Without the case, it takes approximately 90 minutes to fully charge a pair of Spectacles using a wall outlet, according to Snap. To see how much juice is left, double-tapping on the side of the left arm (where the shutter button is) will light up a number of LEDs that correspond to the percentage of battery life left. You can also find battery info via the Spectacles menu in the Snapchat app.

Double-tap on the side of Spectacles, and the front LEDs illuminate to show battery life. (Credit: Snap Inc.)

Snap says the Spectacles’ battery should last a day or 100 snaps on a single charge (one Snap is considered one 10-second video), but we’ve seen reports that indicate battery life is much shorter. If you use the Spectacles often, you may want to bring along the case.

Low battery indicator inside the frame. (Credit: Snap Inc.)

Unlike regular sunglasses, Spectacles requires extra care. Do not use one in water.

Making sense of it all: Smartphone specs and terms explained

When shopping for a new smartphone, there are tons of questions you’ll have racing through your mind. How much battery life can I expect? How good is the screen? How well will it handle multitasking? Devices have gotten so complex, there’s a litany of technical terms and jargon out there that can overwhelm even the experts among us. With the lightning-quick pace of advancement in the mobile space, there’s new language seemingly popping up every day. Fortunately, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll explain a host of smartphone specs and terms, with real-world examples to help you make sense of it all.

Processor

iphone 7 more powerful macbook air a10 chip

This is the spec you’ll probably see most frequently to denote performance. The processor is really the heart and soul of your phone. Different processors are usually classed by speed, which is expressed in gigahertz, or GHz. Additionally, modern processors are made up of multiple cores, which are individual processing units that can handle separate tasks. Duties can be split among the cores, allowing for parallel computing, and thus, faster output. Processors, specifically for smartphones and other mobile devices, are also termed “system-on-chips” or “chipsets” because they are usually a collection of multiple components on a single integrated circuit, like the device’s radios for calls and data, as well as the graphics processing unit.

Simply put, the faster a processor is and the more cores it has, the faster your phone should be. Here are some more specific descriptions of terms related to processors.

Manufacturers and brands (i.e. Qualcomm, MediaTek, etc.)

There are just a handful of companies that make processors for mobile phones. Qualcomm is the biggest, and they’re responsible for the Snapdragon series. Most devices running Google’s Android operating system feature Snapdragon chipsets, and Qualcomm has broken up its products into four classes: 200, 400, 600, and 800. In Qualcomm’s naming convention, the processors get faster as the numbers get bigger. So if you read that a phone contains a “Snapdragon 835,” you’re looking at Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor. Conversely, a “435” is a relatively lower-end chipset.

MediaTek is the second-largest producer of processors in Android phones. Devices running their chipsets are typically more common in Asia, though you can certainly find products in the Americas and Europe containing their hardware. MediaTek’s high-end processors are known as the Helio X series, with the Helio P series slotting just underneath. The rest of its offerings have less remarkable names, beginning with MT67, followed by some more numbers. As you’d expect, the bigger the number, the more powerful the processor — so an MT6753 outclasses the MT6738, for example.

There are other companies that produce processors too, like Huawei with its Kirin brand, as well as giants like Samsung and Apple that produce chipsets exclusively for their own products. Samsung’s processors are dubbed “Exynos,” while Apple has adopted a naming scheme of “A,” followed by a number. Apple’s processors are more generational in nature, so while the same rule of bigger number equals better performance applies, the A10 is also two years newer than the A8. There’s also the “X” series, like the A10X and A9X — though these are reserved for iPads and have yet to appear in a smartphone.

As an example of three high-end phones with relatively similar performance, the Samsung Galaxy S8 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in North American models, and Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 internationally. Apple’s iPhone 7 uses the company’s own A10 chip, while the Meizu Pro 6 is one of only a few phones to use MediaTek’s Helio X25.

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

Packaged with a mobile processor is a graphics processing unit, or GPU. The GPU is responsible for handling a device’s visual output, particularly where the creation of three-dimensional images is concerned. It usually comes into play with video games and, more recently, augmented reality applications  (where the device “augments” the feed coming from its camera with computer-drawn objects and effects).

Because the GPU is packaged within the processor on a smartphone, you won’t find many straight comparisons being made between GPUs in different devices. For example, any phone using a Snapdragon system-on-chip will also employ one of Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs. Again, the higher number is better, so going back to the Snapdragon 835 as an example, the GPU used is Qualcomm’s Adreno 540. In terms of measuring GPU power, floating point operations per seconds, expressed as GFLOPS, are typically a better indicator of performance.

Here’s how to import videos from an iPhone to a Mac

We can all agree that the iPhone has a great camera — just check out the iPhone 7’s portrait mode, if you’re not convinced. However, the better the camera, the bigger the file size. Newer iPhones allow you to film videos in 4K resolution, which looks great but eats up gigabytes with ease. Eventually, you’re going to want to move the treasure trove of videos stored on your iPhone to your laptop or desktop computer. Luckily, learning how to import videos from an iPhone to a Mac is relatively easy (and quick).

If you’re new to MacOS, don’t forget to take a look at our roundup of the best Mac apps, as well as our suggestions for the best Mac games.

How to import videos with Photos

You may be worried that you have to go through a complicated sync process with iTunes, but for photos and videos, it’s best to open the Photos app that came preinstalled on your Mac. The Photos app is Apple’s replacement for iPhoto. Thankfully, Photos is intuitive and easy to understand, which makes it great for transferring content from your iPhone to your Mac.

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your Mac and launch the Photos app as you would normally.

Step 2: Select your iPhone from the left-hand menu.

Step 3: Select the videos you want to import from the resulting list of thumbnails.

Step 4: If you want to delete the videos from your iPhone after the import, select Delete items after import in the upper-right corner.

Step 5: Click the Import selected button in the upper-right corner. Then, click Videos in the left-hand menu to see your imported videos!

How to import videos with iCloud

If you prefer a wireless solution, you can also import videos to your Mac using iCloud. However, first you need to check if iCloud Photos is turned on in your settings menu.

Step 1: Go to Settings > [Your name] > iCloud > Photos.

Step 2: Make sure the toggle beside iCloud Photo Library is switched on.

Next, let’s take a look at how to enable iCloud Photos on your Mac.

Step 1: Open System Preferences and click the iCloud icon.

Step 2: Log into your iCloud account, if prompted.

Step 3: Make sure the box directly beside Photos is check.

Once iCloud Photos is enabled, videos will be automatically and wirelessly synced and added to your photo library, which is located within the Photos app.

The new Photos app has many features, so don’t forget to check out Apple’s guide on how to use Photos.

How to import videos with iCloud.com

An even easier method is to go to iCloud.com using any browser and download your videos that way. Since we already turned on iCloud Photos in a previous step, your photos and videos should already be synced with iCloud.com.

Step 1: Navigate to iCloud.com.

Step 2: Select Photos from the list of available apps.

Step 3: Select Videos from the left-hand menu.

Step 4: Select the video(s) that you want to import, and click the download button — the icon depicts a cloud accompanied by a downward arrow — in the upper-right corner.

How to import videos with AirDrop

AirDrop is underrated. The handy feature is a recent hallmark of both MacOS and iOS, one that allows you to share content from apps such as Safari, Contacts, and Photos with just a few taps. However, the simple tool utilizes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to send, meaning you’ll need to activate both connections on your iPhone and Mac before you proceed.

Step 1: Open Finder on your Mac, click Go in the application toolbar at the top, and select AirDrop from the resulting list of options.

Step 2: At the bottom of the Airdrop window, choose whether you want to receive content from contacts only or everyone. Keep in mind that you can change your decision at any time by clicking the blue link.

Step 3: Swipe up on your iPhone to reveal Action Center, and make sure AirDrop is turned on.

Step 4: Once AirDrop is turned on, select the video you want to share and tap the share icon on your iPhone — the icon features a box with an upward arrow jetting out, and will be located in the bottom-left corner. Then, select your Mac from the list of available devices, and click Accept on your Mac, if prompted. To see your newly-imported video, launch Finder on your Mac and click Downloads in the left-hand menu.

How to import videos with Google Photos

Another option is to upload your videos directly to the cloud. You can use Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other cloud service you prefer — they essentially all do the same thing. Once you’ve uploaded your videos, you can log into your account on your Mac and download your videos. In the example below, we will use Google Photos to import videos from an iPhone to a Mac.

You can proceed in one of two ways.

Step 1: Download Google Photos from the App Store like you would any other app.

Step 2: To back up your entire library, click the Assistant tab in the bottom-left corner. Then, if you haven’t already, tap Turn On beside “Back Up & Sync is off” before toggling the slider on the resulting page.

Step 3: If you prefer to upload videos individually, select the video(s) you want to upload from the Photos tab, tap the ellipses in the upper-right corner, and select Back up in the resulting menu.

Step 4: Now, log into Google Photos in your web browser and click Photos in the left-hand menu. Here, you’ll find your video backups, as well as any photos you’ve recently uploaded to Google Photos.

Apple Watch Series 2 vs. Fitbit Blaze: Which smartwatch is better?

The Apple Watch is largely considered to be the best smartwatch out there, and for good reason. It works seamlessly with the iPhone, is quite a stylish device, is water-resistant (for those who want to swim with it), and offers excellent fitness tracking capabilities. Of course, it’s not the only wearable around — there are some other extremely capable devices out there, and some of them might be more suitable to your needs. Like, for example, the Fitbit Blaze, which is far cheaper than the Apple Watch, and also offers some great fitness tracking features.

But which smartwatch is better? And which one should you spend your hard-earned money on? We put the two devices head to head to find out.

Specs

Fitbit Blaze
apple watch series 2 vs fitbit blaze
Apple Watch Series 2
apple watch series 2 vs fitbit blaze thumbnail
GPS Enabled No Yes
Processor Unknown S2
Operating System Fitbit OS watchOS3
Body (Dimensions) 1.58 x 1.58 x 0.31 inch 1.52 x 1.31 x 0.45 inch

1.67 x 1.43 x 0.45 inch

Resolution  240 x 180 272 x 340

390 x 312

Weight 45.36 grams 70 grams
CPU Unknown Dual Core
Screen Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Ion-X strengthened glass (aluminum cases)

Sapphire crystal glass (stainless steel and ceramic cases)

Waterproof Sweat and splash proof Waterproof up to 50 meters
Available Ceramic Casing No Yes
Display LCD Second-generation OLED Retina display with Force Touch (1,000 nits)
Battery 5 days, charges in 1 to 2 hours 18 hours, charges
Base Price $199.95 $370
Review 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Comparing the specs of a wearable is often a little different than comparing a smartphone. While the smartphone is largely considered to be the center of your digital life, the smartwatch is really only an extension of that — and needs to handle a lot less than the smartphone. Still, better performance can help future-proof a smartwatch in the same way it can a smartphone.

So which device is more powerful? Well, we don’t really know. Fitbit hasn’t told us exactly what’s under the hood of the Fitbit Blaze. We can, however, assume that the Apple Watch is a little more powerful than the Fitbit. There are a few reasons for this. For starters, the Apple Watch needs to be able to take advantage of a growing range of apps available to it through the Apple Store. Not only that, but Apple has a history of building top-quality processors to power its devices.

We’re giving this one to the Apple Watch.

Winner: Apple Watch

Design, display, and durability

Apple Watch Series 2

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Love it or hate it, the Apple Watch has been paving the way in smartwatch design for the past few years. It’s a sleek and stylish device that looks modern, yet classic. Some argue that it would be better if it was round — but even if that’s true, it’s still a far more stylish device than the Fitbit Blaze. Like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Blaze offers a square design, but it’s also a little chunkier and a lot less sleek in how it looks.

The trend of the Apple Watch beating out the Fitbit Blaze continues when it comes to the display. On the Apple Watch, you’ll get an OLED display with a resolution of 272 x 340 or 390 x 312, along with Force Touch compatibility. The display on the Fitbit, on the other hand, is an LCD display and sits in with a resolution of 240 x 180.

Last but not least is durability, and perhaps unsurprisingly the Apple Watch wins again. The device is waterproof up to 50 meters, meaning you can use it to track swimming. The Fitbit, however, is only really splash-resistant. You won’t want to wear the Blaze while taking a swim — it may not last. The Fitbit does offer Gorilla Glass 3, which helps with durability, but the Apple Watch uses various different strengthened glasses too.

There’s a very clear winner here.

Winner: Apple Watch

Battery life and charging

FitBit Blaze review

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Traditionally speaking, watches have had batteries that allow them to last for months on end, but that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to smartwatches. A longer battery life can certainly be nice, especially for those who like to camp or go hiking, when charging may not necessarily be available.

This is a category in which the Fitbit Blaze can regain a few points from the Apple Watch — while the Apple Watch will only last around 18 hours on a single charge, the Fitbit Charge will last a hefty 5 days — and it’ll get a full charge in between one and two hours of charging.

It’s worth mentioning it’s harder to charge the Fitbit than the Apple Watch — while you can just pop the Apple Watch on a wireless charging cradle, you actually have to remove the Blaze from the wristband and insert it into a cradle that closes when the device is charging.

Despite that, we’re still awarding this one to the Fitbit Blaze for its much longer battery life.

Winner: Fitbit Blaze

Software

Apple Watch Series 2

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

A big part of how the Apple Watch works is its integration with your iPhone, and Apple’s watchOS is arguably the most advanced and easy to use smartwatch operating system currently available. Using the Apple Watch, you can control a number of your phone’s features straight from your wrist, as well as easily track a number of fitness metrics, and even make use of Siri.

The Fitbit, however, is much more built for fitness tracking rather than anything else. You can get limited notifications from your phone, but you won’t be able to install apps on the device.

Fitness tracking is arguably the most important aspect of either of these watches, and both of them are pretty good at it. Despite that, however, there are a few things missing from the Fitbit. While the workouts that come with the watch are generally decent workouts for those on the go, those more serious about their workouts may need something more. Of course, the Apple Watch won’t be there to help in that aspect — while the Apple Watch can track your workouts, it won’t offer pre-built workouts without the use of a third-party app.

In general, while the Fitbit is fine in the software department, Apple has put a lot of work into watchOS, and it has paid off.

Winner: Apple Watch

Price and availability

fitbit sleep goals blaze

There’s a trend in this comparison of the Apple Watch beating out the Fitbit Blaze, and for good reason. It comes at a cost — while the Fitbit Blaze starts at $200, the Apple Watch Series 2 starts at a whopping $370. That’s a lot to pay, though for that price you get a much better watch.

Availability is pretty much the same on these two devices. You can get the Fitbit Blaze from the Fitbit website, as well as Amazon and other retailers — and you can do the same for the Apple Watch on the Apple website.

Because of how much cheaper it is, we’re awarding this one to the Fitbit.

Winner: Fitbit Blaze

Overall winner: Apple Watch

The Fitbit Blaze has fought a good fight — it’s both cheaper than the Apple Watch, and it has a much better battery life. Still, there’s no avoiding the fact that the Apple Watch Series 2 is simply a better device. It’s more powerful, it’s waterproof, it’s better-designed, and it has better software.

That’s only true if you have an iPhone. The Apple Watch really only works with the iPhone, and while you can get standalone apps for it, its usability is limited without an iPhone. If you’re an Android user, you may instead want to opt for the Fitbit, or one of the many Android Wear watches out there.

LG shows off the Q8 — a waterproof V20 in a slightly more manageable package

Why it matters to you

Did you like the V20, but didn’t like the size and lack of waterproofing? The Q8 might be the phone for you, provided you can get one where you live.

LG has two flagship smartphones currently on the market — the G6, which released in the spring, and the V20, which has been kicking around since last fall. They are both powerful, capable devices, but feel very different to use. On Thursday, in a surprise announcement, the company unveiled a third top-tier option — the LG Q8.

The Q8, in essence, appears to be a smaller version of the V20. That phone had a 5.7-inch display with a secondary “ticker” panel at the top, beside the front-facing camera. The Q8 sports a similar layout, though its main display measures just 5.2 inches, while featuring the same QHD resolution. In terms of the design, it also borrows the V20’s metallic, dark silver enclosure and even its Quad DAC audio tech. The dual cameras have been carried over as well — though the Q8’s main shooter is 13 megapixels, compared to the 16-megapixel one found in the V20.

Surprisingly, the Q8 goes even a step further in one very significant respect. It is rated IP67 water-resistant, which is more than can be said for the V20. Despite the smaller size, the phone contains the same processor as its larger sibling — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 — along with the same 4GB of RAM and a battery that is comparable in capacity at 3,000mAh. That is a hair smaller than the 3,200mAh unit in the V20 but the more compact frame had to shave off some bulk from something.

That sounds like a winning package in a much more accessible form factor, though LG is remaining tight-lipped on whether most consumers around the world will be able to get their hands on one. Currently, the Q8 has only been announced in Italy and is scheduled to release sometime before the end of July. At an asking price of 600 euros (about $698), it is still quite expensive considering the age of the V20’s hardware, which is almost a year out of date at this point. We have reached out to LG about expanded availability and will update this article as we receive more information.

We liked the V20 when we reviewed it in 2016, though we admitted that the lack of waterproofing and large size may be deal-breakers for some users. Fortunately, the Q8 looks to solve those issues, if they kept you from snagging a V20 before.