While you were doing, whatever, the world’s first giant robot duel happened

Where were you on the day of the world’s first giant robot duel? 

Maybe you were working at your desk, brushing your teeth, labouring over your tax return, ironing the perfect pleat in tomorrow’s pants.

Meanwhile, giant robots were chainsawing other to shreds in a Japanese shed.

The world’s first giant combat robot duel just happened on Tuesday, Oct. 17, pitting America and Japan against each other in a Twitch-livestreamed battle for the ages.

Representing the United States, two epic robots from MegaBots Inc., founded by Matt Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti. Representing Japan, pilot Kogoro Kurata from Suidobashi Heavy Industry. The challenge was issued two years ago, on one condition: Japan wanted to fight hand-to-hand combat. Oh. Man. Challenge accepted.

Where was the battle for brutal, violent glory held? Here, in the delightful Japanese countryside:

*birds chirp*

*birds chirp*

Behold… the STEEL MILL. Dun dun dun.

“Originally designed to pour steel and now, we are going to break it.” Yeah, commentator Mike Goldberg, you said it.

So, before we get to the battle, be it known these are the heaviest combat robots on Earth.

First up, meet Iron Glory, or MK2 from USA’s MegaBots Inc. Sitting at six tonnes, this guy sports a casual six-foot cannon and 20x missile launcher. The commentators referred to the robot as having a “Western-style” of combat (read: massive paintball gun). Do not mess.

Then, we’ve got Kuratas, from Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry, with a 18-mm submachine gun, articulating hand and “Ichigeki Fist,” which showed its well-clenched might in the duel. According to the commentators, this guy is more akin to agility and speed, perfect for taking down giant robots with hand-to-hand combat.

Let’s duel!

So, there are three ways to win:

1. Robot knockout.

2. Robot disabled.

3. Pilot surrenders.

Got it?

Iron Glory and Kuratas took their positions at either end of the Steel Mill, with Oehrlein and Cavalcanti, and Kurata inside the cockpits.

“Shoot the big guns as quickly as possible,” was USA’s main strategy, according to Oehrlein. And that they did, although, it didn’t quite do the trick.

Kuratas took out Iron Glory in one big punch. 

Look at the future, look at it:



And from another angle, for funsies:

If you’re needing new pants, it’s because you’re looking at a giant freakin’ robot punching another in the face and knocking it out cold.

Team USA were a little bummed, but they had a little somethin’ somethin’ up their sleeve…


*horn-heavy battle music plays*

*horn-heavy battle music plays*

Let’s break it down.

MegaBots’ Eagle Prime is a bottom heavy tank of a robot, weighing 12 tonnes and sporting a double barreled cannon, 600 pound fist and oh, a four-foot chainsword. Buckle up, folks.

With the pride of two nations on the line, and the Twitch message thread erupting into sheer, unbridled madness, the second duel began.

A longer, more gruelling battle, Eagle Prime versus Kuratas brought all the strategy to the yard.

Eagle Prime struck fear into the hearts of mortals by knocking over a few barrels with its chainsword —designed to cut through rock! Yay! There are humans inside these things, remember!

Kuratas fired back with its sub-machine gun, capable of 2000 paintball rounds per minute, and even deployed a drone, which Prime swatted from the sky.

After a big shoving match, a crushed robot hand and a casual reset after the two bots became stuck, Eagle Prime got that chainsword ACTIVATED MUTHAFLIPPAZ. That thing is ON.

Wait, what’s happening here, the hosts are… getting out of the way! This is completely out of control! This is a Tuesday!

Team Megabots’ Eagle Prime won the duel after brutally hacking away with that chainsword. Seriously, these guys really got in there. 

So, at the end of the day, Team USA and Japan drew 1-1, in the world’s first giant robot duel.

“I think it’s time to make this a sports league,” said a victorious Cavalcanti.

Agreed. We can breathe out now.

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Google Pixel 2 XL review

Google has done it again. Despite impressive competition this year, the Pixel 2 XL is the best Android smartphone in the world. Now before you start jumping at its faults (the lack of a headphone jack; the edges around the screen; or the missing MicroSD slot when the competing Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30 both have one) we’ll admit, the Pixel doesn’t have the best hardware. Google is a software company at heart — and as we explore in our review, that’s where the Pixel 2 XL shines.

A 6-inch window to a blissful Android world

The Pixel smartphone line began last year as Google abandoned the Nexus brand, signaling its intention to exercise more control over hardware. What used to be a collaboration with a manufacturer is now a phone designed completely by Google.

There was never a singular, iconic look to Nexus phones. The Motorola-made Nexus 6, for example, aped the look of other Motorola phones. That’s not the case with the Pixel 2 XL, which carries forward the design of last year’s Pixel XL. It’s becoming easier to distinguish a Pixel in a market flooded with lookalikes. That’s important if Google wants the average person to remember what it’s trying to sell.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

What’s nice is it doesn’t look like your average smartphone, thanks to the two-tone glass and aluminum rear design. A quarter of the phone top on the rear is glass, while the rest is metal. This year’s Pixel 2 XL is slightly different, with a bigger camera that sadly sticks out a tad, and the glass stops before the fingerprint sensor. Gone are ugly antenna lines, now masked in glass. It looks a lot more refined and mature than last year’s Pixel XL, in part because Google has left the edges more angular, rather than rounding them off.

We really love the Pixel 2 XL’s design, and we liked last year’s model as well, but this is subjective. We’ve already heard “ugly” thrown around the office, and some friends just aren’t sold on the design. The metal on the back, which has a unique matte texture, is particularly polarizing. It’s almost like a smooth chalkboard. We think it feels nice to the touch, but hold an iPhone 8 Plus or a Galaxy Note 8 and you’ll feel as though the Pixel 2 XL isn’t made of similar, high-quality materials. The Pixel is far lighter, and the all-glass design on Apple and Samsung’s phones screams premium.

Flip the phone over, and you’ll find what makes the Pixel 2 XL the better phone to buy over the regular Pixel 2: A large, display with small bezels. It’s the smartphone design trend of the year, and any phone that doesn’t minimize the edges around the screen easily looks dated against the likes of the Galaxy S8, the LG V30, the iPhone X, and the Essential Phone.

That said, the Pixel 2 XL’s bezels aren’t as slim as that crowd’s, and the sides don’t blend the display into the rear like the Note 8. Still, you get something close, and we like how the screen’s edges are rounded, like the LG G6. It looks like a 6-inch window into pure Android bliss.

It’s becoming easy to distinguish a Pixel phone.

The Pixel 2 XL benefits from a gorgeous pOLED screen, with a high 2,880 × 1,440 pixel resolution. With 538 pixels per inch, this screen looks sharp, and colors just pop off the screen. When compared to an iPhone 8 Plus, the color temp is cooler, and blacks look far darker. The screen gets bright enough to view outside, but just barely.

Google opted for an 18:9 aspect ratio instead of the traditional 16:9. Most Android apps are designed to scale, but you will run into issues where some apps look a little strange, almost like they’re cut off at the top and bottom because they do not scale. We’ve only seen this with a handful of games, but strangely Google does not offer an option to force an app to scale, as LG and Samsung do.

While last year’s Pixel phones had an ambient display that would flash in and out when there was a new notification, the Pixel 2 XL has an always-on display similar to the V30 and the S8. It always shows the time, date, whether the phone is charging, and notification icons. Double tap the screen to wake the display, or double tap a notification to go right into the app.

The reason to buy the Pixel 2 XL over the 5-inch Pixel 2 is the display. It looks great, especially with a wallpaper from Google’s Living Universe collection, which add eye-catching movements to the screen like waves crashing onto a beach. The minimal edges around the screen really do improve the overall design of the phone, making everything feel far more immersive.

Goodbye headphone jack

There’s only one port on the Pixel 2 XL: USB Type-C. After poking fun at Apple’s controversial decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 Plus last year, Google has followed suit. It’s a dealbreaker for a lot of people, understandably. Removing the 3.5-mm headphone jack forces Pixel owners to use a dongle they may likely lose, or shell out for wireless buds, which are often pricier than wired ones.

Google Pixel 2 XL usb port

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The only silver lining comes in the form of dual front-facing stereo speakers. No longer do your fingers block the sound from the bottom-firing speakers. They easily get loud, and sound well balanced. Unlike the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, there’s thankfully Bluetooth 5 on board. That should bring better range, less interference, and lower battery consumption for wireless headphones.

Speedy performance

Last year’s Pixel smartphone had an edge over the competition. It was the first to feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor, which was a tad better than the Snapdragon 820 found on many 2016 flagships. Despite rumors suggesting the Pixel 2 XL would use a new Snapdragon 836 chip, it’s powered by the same Snapdragon 835 that’s in the likes of the Galaxy S8, leveling the playing field.

But there’s still an edge the Pixel has over the Android competition. As Google designed the hardware and software, it’s able to optimize the operating system closely — far more than most manufacturers. It also helps that Google’s software is pure, bloatware-free Android. As such, performance is blazing fast and we’ve yet to run into any issues. Launching apps and moving through the OS is fluid and fast, and games such as Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Transformers: Forged to Fight, and SUP performed without a hitch.

Take a look at the benchmark scores:

  • AnTuTu: 111,112
  • Geekbench 4: 1,179 single-core, 4,413 multi-core
  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 2,318

Our Pixel 2 XL scores were surprisingly lower than many other Snapdragon 835 devices. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, which has the same processor, got an AnTuTu score of 167,946, and the LG V30 scored a 171,669. Unsurprisingly, the iPhone still reigns king with the A11 Bionic processor and an unrivaled score of 222,462. Benchmarks scores aren’t the be-all end-all of performance, and all these devices offer plenty of horsepower. We’ve been blown away by the Pixel 2 XL’s speed, and it will likely be just as fast a year down the line like our 2016 Pixel XL.

The Pixel 2 XL comes with 4GB of RAM, and a choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage. There’s no MicroSD card slot, but you do get unlimited high-quality photo storage via Google Photos.

An elegantly simple Android 8.0 Oreo experience

The best part about Pixel smartphones is the software experience. Namely, you’ll get three years of version and security updates with the Pixel 2 XL. That’s important, as it keeps your device secure and brings you the latest features for a longer time than most Android phones.

Google’s version of Android is simple, uncluttered, elegant, and fluid. The home screen has been slightly refreshed over last year’s Pixel: The Google Search bar moves to the bottom of the screen, making it easier to access; and a neat new calendar widget shows you your next meeting and the weather. Swipe to the right and you’ll access the Google Feed, which sports a transparent background. Swipe down to access the notification drawer, which now adds a shade the color of your wallpaper.

Google’s version of Android is simple, uncluttered, elegant, and fluid.

Press and hold the power button, and you’ll see the Power Off and Restart options look a lot nicer, similar to the design of app shortcuts (the options that pop up when you long-press an app). The Settings menu has been condensed greatly, largely thanks to Android 8.0 Oreo, which introduces a host of new features such as Notification Dots, Picture-in-Picture mode, and more. To learn more, read our in-depth Android 8.0 Oreo review.

Google Assistant is mostly unchanged, but Google has taken a page out of HTC’s book with a feature called Active Edge. Like Edge Sense on the HTC U11, you can squeeze the edges of the phone to trigger an action. It works really well, but it’s tough remembering it’s a feature we can use. It’s handy when you’re out in public, your hands are full, and you don’t want to say “OK Google” out loud. Still, we would have liked the option to customize the trigger to do something else, like open an app. This is possible on the HTC U11, but it looks like Google wants to keep it strictly for Assistant, like Samsung forcing people to use its Bixby button for the Bixby assistant.

One of our favorite additions is Now Playing. It’s a rather simple feature that detects what song is playing in the background and it will add the name and artist to the Always-on Display. Don’t worry, Google isn’t listening to what you’re saying 24/7 — the phone looks up the audio fingerprint of the song in a database that “lives on the phone.” The database is updated with new music each week, and if it’s there the Pixel 2 XL can tell you what song’s playing. It all happens offline, on the device. You can tap on the song name and Assistant will open it, and allow you to view it in your music app of choice.

It generally picked up pop songs within 10 to 20 seconds of entering a restaurant or store. It took about a minute for songs a little more obscure, and sometimes it just couldn’t identify it. Google Assistant, though, can finally identify what’s playing.

“Now Playing isn’t intended to be an “on-demand” music recognizer,” a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Instead, we mean for Now Playing to be glanceable and ambient. Assistant Sound Search (asking “what’s this song?”) will offer on-demand song recognition.”

The recognizer runs once per minute when continuous music is playing to conserve power, and we didn’t notice much of a dip. If you don’t like it or think it’s affecting battery life, you can turn it off.

All-in-all the software experience is the bread and butter of the Pixel phone, and Google nails it yet again.

The best camera on a smartphone

There could not be a better example of Google’s software strengths over hardware than the camera on the Pixel 2 XL. While nearly every other manufacturer has gone with a dual-camera setup on their smartphones, Google boldly said it just needs a one.

What blew us away, though, is Portrait Mode — specifically on the selfie camera.

Last year’s Pixel quickly got a reputation for having an excellent camera. While we thought so too, and said it was often better than the iPhone 7 Plus at the time, one of our complaints was how it tended to oversaturate images. That’s not a problem with the 12-megapixel camera on the Pixel 2 XL.

Colors are impressively accurate, images are always brilliantly detailed, and best of all the camera app is incredibly fast and simple to use. There’s virtually zero shutter lag.

The Pixel 2 XL’s image processing can do some wonders in taking out or minimizing grain in low-light photos as well. The always-on HDR+ makes sure photos are never overexposed or underexposed in certain areas — and if they are, a brightness slider usually lets you correct the look. Occasionally, photos can look like someone cranked the clarity a little too high, but the images are always something we’re still likely to share.

What blew us away, though, is Portrait Mode — specifically on the 8-megapixel selfie camera. Portrait Mode is now a feature on many dual-camera phones, as the data from both cams help create a DSLR-like blur (or bokeh) around a subject. Google had a version before called Lens Blur, but it required you to raise the camera up after snapping a shot so it could capture depth data. It’s now much simpler: Just tap the shutter icon.

Google uses software to determine depth. The results are most often accurate, and images are processed much faster than last year’s Lens Blur on the Pixel. Sure, there’s the odd photo or two where the blur wasn’t quite right, but we’re genuinely impressed with them when it works. It frequently manages to do a great job of correctly picking out even small strands of hair that should not be blurred out (with exceptions, of course). Take a look at the comparison between the iPhone 8 Plus Portrait Mode vs. the Google Pixel 2 XL’s Portrait Mode. The iPhone 8 Plus has stronger bokeh and a brighter picture, but the hair strangely has a slight blur. The Pixel photo is a littler darker with weaker blur, but you can see strands of hair that are in focus.

Two other smartphone photography tricks Google has added are more gimmicky than useful. Motion Photos mimics Apple’s Live Photos — tap on the shutter icon and the phone will take 3 seconds of video. Google’s software picks the best place to start and stop the video, and then loops it. It’d be nice to see some iOS 11 effects here, like Long Exposure and Bounce.

The other is Google Lens, which is still in a preview program. When you activate it on a photo in your library, Google will try to detect what’s in the image. It’s not terribly useful right now as it’s limited to what it can detect. We tried to get it to detect crab rangoon, but it just ran an image search for “food.” Google told Digital Trends Google Lens works best right now with detecting landmarks, books, artwork, movie posters, album covers, video games; and you can “take action on text,” like email addresses, phone numbers, addresses and URLs. We think the latter feature is the most useful at the moment, and you can use it to scan barcodes and QR codes. Google said more options will be added over time.

The best part of the Pixel’s camera is that it just works reliably 99 percent of the time, and it does a bang-up job in most lighting environments. Portrait Mode is our favorite feature, and you’ll fall in love with it if you frequently take selfies. The only other phone that will let you take Portrait Mode selfies is the unreleased iPhone X.

Nearly a day’s worth of battery

Battery life is perhaps one of the more disappointing areas for the Pixel 2 XL. It’s not awful, but with heavy usage we hit 20 percent by 8 p.m, after pulling it off the charger around 8 a.m. That’s with streaming music, web browsing, using social media, watching YouTube videos, taking photos, and more.

We’ve certainly seen better battery life in other smartphones

On a lighter day of mostly browsing the web and taking a few photos, we hit about 45 percent by 9 p.m. We’ve certainly seen better battery life in other smartphones such as the LG V30. Like most flagship devices, you’ll still need to charge your phone every day, but the Pixel 2 XL did make us feel anxious whenever we didn’t have a charging cable on hand as a precaution.

At idle, the Pixel 2 XL only lost a little under 10 percent after leaving it on for most of a day. And when you need a boost, it charges up incredibly fast with the included charger. We watched it shoot from 39 percent to 79 percent in only 40 minutes.

Price, availability, and warranty

The Google Pixel 2 XL costs $850 for 64GB of storage or $950 for 128GB. It’s available on the Google Store, though some models may be out of stock. It’s also being sold via Best Buy, and the only carrier selling it is Verizon. Beware the “exclusively on Verizon” signs though, as purchasing the phone from Google means it will work on any major U.S. carrier.

Google offers a standard limited warranty that protects the device from manufacturing defects one year from the date of purchase. If you’re paranoid, you can add Preferred Care for $130 extra, and it gives you “worry-free protection for your phone for two years,” including two claims for accidental damage. It also adds access to walk-in centers for screen repairs, priority access to specially-trained agents 24/7, and unlimited expert sessions to learn tips to use the phone.

Google Pixel 2 XL Compared To

Our Take

Blazing-fast speed, a brilliant camera, an uncluttered and beautiful Android experience, all in a futuristic, edge-to-edge design. A headphone jack would have been icing on the cake, but this is still the Android cake to own.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, the iPhone 8 Plus is a great alternative that matches the Pixel 2 XL on a lot of fronts. It has a great camera, a buttery smooth software experience, and the fastest mobile processor around. If you don’t have a preference towards an operating system, the iPhone 8 Plus is worth a look — though you may also want to glance at the upcoming iPhone X.

If you want to stick to Android, we think the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a stellar option. It has dual optical image stabilization on its cameras, and it can take excellent photos as well. It’s a little pricier at $930.

The LG V30 is a nice middle ground, costing around $800, and it has a headphone jack, as well as a fun wide-angle camera if you want something unique.

How long will it last?

The Google Pixel 2 XL is finally IP67 water-resistant, which means you can take it underwater up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. This helps with durability, but there’s not much stopping the phone from shattering if you drop it, unless you grab a case. The Pixel smartphones receive software updates instantly from Google, and the Pixel 2 XL should get them for three years. Expect this device to last four to five years.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely. If you don’t care much for the missing headphone jack, the Pixel 2 XL is the best Android phone around.

Diabetics can control their blood sugar with a smartphone and artificial pancreas

Why it matters to you

An artificial pancreas and smartphone algorithm could be key to treating diabetes in the future.

There has been quite a bit of good news lately for diabetes patients. From a stem cell-based implant that could serve as a functional cure for some folks to a glucose monitoring device that obviates the need for finger pricks, science and technology are helping millions of folks worldwide conquer the disease. Now, the latest innovation comes in the form of an artificial pancreas, which allows patients to control their insulin levels with a smartphone.

A total of 30 patients with Type 1 diabetes participated in a 12-week trial of the novel system and researchers found “significant improvements in two key measures of well-being in people living with Type 1 diabetes,” namely decreased hemoglobin A1c and reduced time spent in hypoglycemia. Thanks to the combination of the man-made pancreas and smartphone algorithms, patients were more easily able to monitor their blood glucose levels and administer insulin either using a needle or infusion pump.

Per a Harvard Universtiy release detailing the trial, “The artificial pancreas is designed to mimic a healthy person’s glucose regulating function. The closed-loop system consists of an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor placed under the user’s skin.” In addition, the system includes an algorithm within a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, which determines how much insulin the pump ought to deliver. This amount is determined by a number of variables, like meals consumed, physical activity, sleep, stress, and metabolism.

Huawei Mate 10 vs. Mate 10 Pro: Battle to be your new best mate

It’s not easy to carve out a share of the high-end smartphone market. Relatively few people in the U.S. look beyond the enticing wares of Samsung and Apple, but that’s a shame because they’re missing out on excellent smartphones like the HTC U11, the LG V30, and the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro.

Only Samsung sells more smartphones worldwide than Huawei, and the Mate series is the cream of the Chinese manufacturer’s crop. We were impressed by last year’s Mate 9 and the Mate 8 before it, but availability stateside was limited. This year Huawei is offering the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro, and the latter is coming to the U.S. We decided to compare the two to find out what the differences are.


Huawei Mate 10

Huawei Mate 10

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Size 150.5 x 77.8 x 8.2 mm (5.92 x 3.06 x 0.32 inches) 154.2 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm (6.07 x 2.93 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 186 grams (6.56 ounces) 178 grams (6.28 ounces)
Screen 5.9-inch LCD 6-inch OLED
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 (499 ppi) 2,160 x 1,080 (402 ppi)
OS Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage 64GB 64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Huawei Kirin 970 Huawei Kirin 970
Connectivity LTE (Cat 18), GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi LTE (Cat 18), GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera Dual 20-megapixel monochrome and 12-megapixel RGB rear, 8-megapixel front Dual 20-megapixel monochrome and 12-megapixel RGB rear, 8-megapixel front
Video Up to 4K at 30fps Up to 4K at 30fps
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, barometer, gyro, geomagnetic, proximity Accelerometer, barometer, gyro, geomagnetic, proximity
Water resistant No Yes, IP67 rated
Battery 4,000mAh

Fast charging


Fast charging

Charging port USB-C USB-C
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Colors Black, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Pink Gold Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray, Mocha Brown, Pink Gold
Availability Late October Mid-November
Price 700 euros (around $827) 800 euros (around $945)
DT review Hands-on Hands-on

There are surprisingly few differences to be found here in terms of hardware. If you dig through the shiny glass and metal to expose the guts of Huawei’s flagship phones, you’ll find the beating heart of both is Huawei’s all-new Kirin 970 processor. Not only does this processor offer a 20 percent speed boost over its predecessor, the Kirin 960, it also packs a Neural Processing Unit (NPU).

The NPU is designed to enable cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) and on-device AI to run in concert, faster than ever before. Your Mate 10 or Mate 10 Pro should make smart suggestions and run more efficiently as a result. But performance will be identical on the two phones.

While both the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are being offered with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, the Mate 10 Pro also comes in a 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage option. The Mate 10 also has a MicroSD card slot for expansion, while the Mate 10 Pro does not. How much RAM your smartphone needs is debatable, but you might see slightly more competent multitasking, enabling you to switch between more apps and games, if you opt for the 6GB version and that’s enough to win the round for the Mate 10 Pro.

Winner: Mate 10 Pro

Design, display, and durability

Huawei Mate 10 and 10 plus review full flowers

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Huawei Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro sport metal frames sandwiched by glass. The back has a reflective stripe that houses the dual cameras, but on the Mate 10 Pro there’s a fingerprint sensor in the middle of the back, below the camera. The Mate 10 opts for a more traditional fingerprint sensor lozenge on the front below the screen. This allows the Pro to have smaller bezels.

We’ve established that the Mate 10 Pro isn’t much more powerful than the Mate 10, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that the appended Pro means that it has a bigger screen. It does, but only by a fraction of an inch. The Mate 10 has a 5.9-inch screen compared to the Mate 10 Pro’s 6-inch screen, but there are some really important differences when we look closer.

The Mate 10 Pro has a superior AMOLED screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Despite having a slightly larger screen it is narrower than its sibling, making it easier to hold. However, don’t write the Mate 10 off just yet, because its bright LCD sports a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, giving it a pixel per inch (PPI) rating of 499. The Mate 10 Pro screen has a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 pixels for a PPI of 402.

AMOLED technology is generally better and we think that’s the case here, too, but it’s surprising that the Pro has a lower resolution. Both support HDR content.

There is one other advantage for the Mate 10 Pro in the durability stakes and it’s an IP67 rating. Just like the iPhone 8, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro can take a dunk in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes and emerge none the worse for it.

Winner: Mate 10 Pro

Battery life and charging

There’s nothing to divide these two here. The Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro both pack big batteries rated at 4,000mAh. You’ll also enjoy fast charging capable of taking the battery from zero to more than 50 percent in just 30 minutes. Sadly, the glass backs don’t spell support for wireless charging, so you’ll be relying on that USB-C port.

Winner: Tie


mate 10 pro

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s a familiar story in the camera department. You’ll find the same 20-megapixel monochrome camera alongside a 12-megapixel RGB camera in both phones. They both have large f/1.6 apertures, which should provide great low light performance. There is a Portrait Mode offering a solid bokeh effect, which blurs the background, but only the RGB camera has optical image stabilization. Around front, you’ll find the same 8-megapixel camera on the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, so this has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie


Huawei Mate 10 and 10 plus review status pulldown

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We’re pleased to find that Huawei has employed the latest flavor of Android — version 8.0 Oreo — in the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. Both also boast Huawei’s EMUI 8 on top. Huawei’s user interface may take some getting used to if you’re unfamiliar, but it has some handy tricks up its sleeve, including a floating navigation circle that can replace the standard Android navigation buttons. There’s even a desktop mode, allowing you to connect to a TV or monitor with a USB-C to HDMI cable, which is a good deal cheaper than Samsung’s DeX docking station.

The Mate 10 Pro can show you multiple columns when you hold the phone in landscape mode, but that’s just about the only difference in software on these two phones. It’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Huawei Mate 10 goes on sale towards the end of October and the Mate 10 Pro will follow in November. The Huawei Mate 10 will cost 700 euros, which is currently about $827. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro will cost 800 euros, which is currently about $945. But it’s not unusual for manufacturers to set a lower dollar price, so they may be closer to $700 and $800.

The bad news is that Huawei hasn’t revealed the U.S. release plan, so we don’t know when or where the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro will be available in the United States, or precisely how much they’ll cost. We imagine you’ll be able to purchase them via the Huawei website and some other retailers — the Mate 9 is currently on sale at Best Buy and Amazon. U.S. carriers haven’t shown much interest in Huawei’s wares so far, but that could change.

It looks like the Mate 10 is slightly better value, but we think the Mate 10 Pro is probably worth the extra money. We’re going to call this a tie for now.

Winner: Tie

Overall winner: Mate 10 Pro

It’s natural to assume that the more expensive “Pro” version is going to be better and the Mate 10 Pro does win out over the Mate 10, but it’s a much closer contest than we expected. The processors, cameras, batteries, and software are identical. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has a slightly better display and design, it’s more durable thanks to the IP67 water resistance, and there’s a model with more RAM and storage, but that’s all that separates these devices.

We’re a bit puzzled at Huawei’s strategy here, but given the choice, even with the higher price tag, we’d opt for the Mate 10 Pro.

Google Calendar for desktop gets a long-awaited material design facelift

Why it matters to you

The Google Calendar design refresh doesn’t just look better — it could help you be much more productive, too.

Google Calendar is a seriously awesome tool, but the desktop version of the app has felt a little outdated over the past few years. Well, folks, that’s finally changing — Google is pushing out an updated version of Google Calendar on desktop that makes heavy use of Google’s material design language.

We first knew that a Calendar redesign was in the works earlier this year when Google showed off a 2017 product roadmap, so it’s not a surprise — but it’s still nice to see the redesign.

google calendar refresh

There are a few key changes that Google has made to the desktop version of Calendar. For starters, the website now smartly adjusts depending on the size of your computer screen, which is pretty helpful for those that like a windowed approach to their desktop. Like the previous version of Calendar, you’ll get a view of the month on the top left, under which is a list of the different calendars you have access to. On the top right you’ll find settings and a search bar, as well as a drop-down menu to change the view. The rest of the screen shows your events.

The changes aren’t just aesthetic either — you can also now do things like add links to relevant documents and spreadsheets, so if you’re creating meetings with other people within a company, you can add documents that might be helpful.

Like the previous version of Calendar, you can view your events by day, week, month, year, or four days at a time. The “Day” view allows you to view different calendar side by side, too, which could be very helpful for those that manage multiple calendars at a time.

The redesign is certainly well overdue — the apps for Calendar have featured Google’s material design for some time now, so it’s nice to see Google bringing the desktop version in line with the mobile version.

The update to Google Calendar is rolling out to G Suite users now, and G Suite admins can enable the new calendar by hitting the “Use New Calendar” link in the top right-hand corner of the interface, or you can hit this link.

Garmin Speak Review

While the smartphone has, for many, supplanted dedicated GPS hardware in the car, Garmin hopes its latest navigation device, Garmin Speak, will change your mind. It brings together the company’s GPS navigation service with Amazon Alexa, providing voice-controlled music streams, audiobooks, news and weather, as well as access to compatible smart home devices.

Perhaps the major surprise is that the Garmin Speak delivers these features without the large, color touchscreen that you typically associate with in-car navigation. Instead, the device resembles a tiny Echo Dot that mounts to your windscreen and displays directions via a small, black and white OLED screen. Use voice commands to ask questions you need answered on the road about navigation, entertainment control, or the latest NBA results, and Alexa will get right on it.

Priced at $150 and, at launch, available only in the United States, Garmin Speak is a compact, well-constructed device that includes the iconic blue Echo LED ring and two buttons on the left for manual control (if desired – the idea is to use voice commands throughout, though). There’s a mic button at the top for privacy, while the action button on the bottom can be used to confirm instructions.

Garmin Speak delivers these features without the large, color touchscreen

Powered by your car’s 12V connector, the device is designed to affix to your windscreen via an adhesive, magnetic mounting pad. It holds the Speak firmly in place, but means you’ll be left with a dark blob on the windshield at all times, which is pretty ugly. Worse still, with no integrated battery, you’ll need to find a neat way to hide the long cable that connects the device to your car’s power socket. Garmin suggests unhooking your car’s ceiling panels and tucking the cord away, but it all feels a bit painful for what is, essentially, a wirelessly controlled device.

Once powered on, you pair Garmin Speak with your phone and car stereo over Bluetooth, allowing the device to respond to requests over your car’s speakers. Older cars without Bluetooth audio can connect to Speak using an AUX connection. If you’re desperate, Garmin has integrated a tiny speaker in the device, but you really wouldn’t want to listen to it for too long, The integrated speaker is small, and has lots of treble but little bass, as you’d expect on such a small device. Output is audible, but quite shrill and is an inferior option to connecting to your car’s stereo. From there, download and install the Garmin Speak app and you’ll be guided through configuration. Link up your Amazon Alexa account, enable the Garmin skill, ask Alexa to ask Garmin to activate your device and, some time later, you’re ready to go. Garmin has done its best to make setup as simple as possible – an achievement considering you’re hooking up three pieces of hardware to two distinct software services, but it’s still work and a great reminder why your smartphone is simply a magical device.

If you’ve previously used Amazon Echo or another Alexa-enabled device then you’ll be right at home with Garmin Speak. The device has full access to the Amazon assistant’s core features and third-party skills, so it offers a convenient way to play music from an Amazon library, Spotify or supported Internet radio service, hear the latest news and weather reports, switch on the thermostat at home and even stock up on Tide as you drive past the supermarket.

Garmin Speak Compared To

Here, a device like Garmin Speak proves how useful it can be to have Alexa (or another personal assistant) available in the car for certain tasks. Whether you need a dedicated, $150 microphone hooked up to your smartphone to perform these tasks, I’m not so sure. Many of these tasks can already be performed on the road by Google Assistant and, if you’re deeply integrated in Amazon’s ecosystem (and I’d suggest you’d need to be to really benefit from the Garmin Speak), you could always drop an Echo Dot into a cup holder for just $50. It’s not as cute, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.

Of course, alongside standard Alexa features, Garmin Speak is a voice-controlled navigational device. We’ve previously been a big fan of Garmin’s excellent in-car GPS devices, which are generally simple to use and offer intuitive features such as Real Directions, which uses landmarks to make turn-by-turn instructions clearer. Adding the Garmin skill certainly aces a standalone Echo Dot in the car – the question is how well Speak serves for in-car GPS.

garmin speak review close

Well, it works, but using Garmin Speak for navigation can be an awkward experience. First, GPS support is delivered through an Alexa skill. So that means you’ll need to ask Alexa to “ask Garmin” to find your location. It’s a double hop that can become wearing, like those times when you get into an argument with your other half and you stubbornly converse via the kids. “David, ask your mom whether we need to turn at the next block or the one after.”

Garmin Speak’s microphone does a decent job of picking up your voice, even on noisy roads, but attempting to set destinations using voice only can be tricky without the confirmation of a screen. If we missed the response to a destination command, we were immediately worried we were heading in the wrong direction. In cases where we needed to visit a particular store with several branches in the vicinity, we really missed the ability to bring up a list of potential locations and simply tap the one that we needed. With Garmin Speak, we found ourselves having to remember the store’s street address or intersection to be assured we would be directed correctly.

In these situations, you can open up the Garmin Speak app on your phone and check where you’re headed. Here you can also configure home, work and school addresses as shortcuts. But you’re back to using your phone as the GPS, making you question what Garmin Speak is really bringing to the table. Over time, perhaps we could re-learn how best to direct a GPS device via voice, or grow to trust Alexa/Garmin Speak a little more. But over the course of a few days with the device, we didn’t feel compelled to switch away from our integrated in-car GPS, or Google Maps and Waze on our phones.

In an attempt to reinvent the in-car GPS, Garmin Speak adds utility with a personal assistant but at the same time removes the simplicity and clarity of a touchscreen user interface.  We have no doubt that personal assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant will become an essential feature in car entertainment systems of the future, but we’re not convinced a dedicated GPS device is the way to deliver them.

Our Take

Garmin’s imaginative reinvention of the GPS proves the benefit of a connected personal assistant on the move, but the loss of a touchscreen makes Garmin Speak less convincing than a traditional GPS, or your smartphone’s navigation app.

Is there a better alternative?

Certainly, Garmin Speak is a cheaper alternative than buying a new BMW or Mini with Alexa integration, but it’s three times the cost of simply dropping in an (admittedly larger) Echo Dot, if you really need Alexa in your vehicle. Depending on your smartphone, you may be able to replicate many of the device’s features with Google Assistant and have the bonus of a large touchscreen interface.

How long will it last?

Garmin Speak is undoubtedly a brave move to reinvent a category – dedicated in-car GPS – that’s in decline. Amazon Alexa is here for the long term, no doubt, but if Garmin Speak fails to gain traction, the question would be how long the hardware and Garmin Alexa service would be supported.

Should you buy it?

If you’re deeply committed to the Amazon ecosystem and you need Alexa as your co-pilot, then you can expect to see a range of in-car integrations heading your way over the next few years. Garmin Speak delivers many of the Amazon Echo’s features (and more) in a small, compact and mobile device. Just don’t be surprised if its novelty factor fades quickly.

Give Google a bone — Google Photos can now identify different pets

Why it matters to you

Find pictures of Fido faster with the latest Google Photos update.

Dogs and cats are getting upgraded from objects to actual pet status inside of Google Photos. On Monday, October 16, Google Photos rolled out an update that expands the computer vision options to recognize specific pets and even particular breeds.

The “People” album that automatically curated from photos with faces is now called “People and Pets” because the program is now able to tell one dog (or cat) from another. Now along with tapping a face to see groups of photos with the same friend in them, users can tap a pet face to see all the photos of a furry friend. If you go in and type that pet’s name into that grouping, you’ll then be able to search for Fido from the search tool.

Along with recognizing pets, Google Photos also now can differentiate between a number of different breeds. If you want to find photos of a friend’s dog without digging through images of your own pup, typing in a breed name instead of simply dog helps generate more specific search results. The breed feature works with cats, too.

While Google Photos can easily tell your Labrador from your St. Bernard, the program will have likely have some trouble if you own two dogs from the same breed. Google said that incorrectly identified pets can be moved to the correct folder, which will help the program learn the difference over time.

The update also allows for pet-friendly searches using the dog or cat emoji.

Google says the new tool helps make tasks like creating a pet-focused photo book or album easier, as well as of course finding the best photo to plaster on social media on National Dog Day. Google Assistant’s option to create videos of pets, first rolled out in May, is also simplified by the new pet recognition tool.

Computer vision and machine learning are part of several recent Google Photos updates. Using machine learning to recognize the best photos, for example, allows the program to auto-generate albums and create videos from related still photos, or suggest photos to add to a manually created album. Last year, Google said the algorithms had created 2 trillion labels that help users search for specific photos — and that was before dog and cat breeds made their way into the search tool.

Venmo users can now make purchases at 2 million online retailers

Why it matters to you

If you have a Venmo account and you’re buying something on your smartphone, you might be able to use your balance.

Withdrawing a Venmo balance can test the limits of anyone’s patience (unless you’re in the beta program), but dayslong bank transfers used to be what it took to get your roommate’s rent check. Thankfully, that’s changing with the launch of Venmo’s web payments feature.

Starting today, Venmo users can shop and make purchases at any of the 2 million United States retailers that have teamed up with PayPal, Venmo’s parent company.

Venmo supported online payments previously, but only from a curated list of partners from Braintree, a PayPal-owned payments processor. “We’re dramatically expanding the number of places you can use Venmo to pay by leveraging the unrivaled scale of the PayPal merchant network,” Bill Ready, PayPal’s COO, wrote in a blog post.

Here’s how it works: When you stumble upon a website run by a participating retailer, you’ll see a button to pay via PayPal at checkout (and in the coming weeks a Venmo/PayPal dual-branded button). Clicking on will pull up a selection screen with your Venmo account, and from there, you’ll have have the option of paying the bill’s full amount or splitting it among friends.

There’s a caveat though: You can’t pay with Venmo on your desktop. Payments only work on mobile websites in apps that already support PayPal. But Venmo’s promising a fix in short order.

“Our vision for Venmo is to not only be the go-to app for payments between friends, but also a ubiquitous digital wallet that helps consumers spend wherever and however they want to pay, regardless of device,” Ready said. “Through 2017 and beyond, we will continue to evolve the payments experience that has helped make Venmo a cultural staple, while also applying that same magic to split, share and pay in new ways.”

It remains to be seen whether or not retailers take the bait, though — Venmo charges a processing fee for each transaction. But for some, the platform’s enormous volume ($8 billion last year, according to PayPal) might just make it irresistible.

Qualcomm announces 5G reference design and Snapdragon 636 chip

Why it matters to you

Qualcomm’s new system-on-chip brings new features to midrange devices, and its 5G reference design lays the groundwork for next-gen devices.

Qualcomm had plenty to announce at its 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, and it wasted no time diving into the weeds. On Monday, October 16, the company exhibited a 5G handset reference design, a 5G-capable mobile modem, and a new chip, the Snapdragon 636, bound for midrange smartphones.

First up was the 5G connectivity news. Qualcomm redesigned its X50 chipset, which launched in October 2016, to fit in a compact form factor. Thanks to a millimeter-wave antenna that measures the size of a dime — the smallest millimeter wave design on the market, and one Qualcomm plans to shrink 50 percent over the next year —  it squeezes into an edge-to-edge reference design that is 9mm (0.35 inches) thick.

It’s fast, unsurprisingly. Qualcomm says it achieved “gigabit” downloads on the 28GHz millimeter wave frequency band, and that it expects speeds to climb to 5Gbps once 5G deployments are completed.

It will be a while before it hits store shelves, though. Qualcomm said the first consumer devices will launch by the first half of 2019, after the 5G draft spec’s finalization in December.


A speedy radio and reference design isn’t the only thing Qualcomm showed off in Hong Kong. It took the wraps off the Snapdragon 636, an eight-core, 14nm successor to the Snapdragon 630. The new system-on-chip is up to 40 percent faster than the 630, Qualcomm said, and delivers 10 percent better graphics performance thanks to the Adreno 509.

But the improvements don’t stop there. The Snapdragon 636 supports Full HD+ (2,160 x 1,080 pixels) screens and Qualcomm’s Assertive Display technology, which automatically adjusts the brightness to ambient lighting. On the photography side of the equation, the chip’s Spectra 160 ISP supports either one 24-megapixel sensor or two 16-megapixel cameras, and video recording in 1080p at 120 frames per second (fps) or 4K at 30 fps.

The Snapdragon 636 supports Quick Charge 4, Qualcomm’s newest fast-charging standard that can deliver up to five hours of talk time with five minutes of charging. But it won’t benefit from Qualcomm’s work on 5G, unfortunately. It ships with an X12 LTE modem, which maxes out at 600Mbps.

Qualcomm expects to start shipping the chip to partners in November and it might not be long before the first Snapdragon 636-equipped devices come to market. Qualcomm said the chip’s compatible with boards originally designed for the 630 or 660, which should, in theory, make it easier for smartphone manufacturers to re-use existing designs.

Twitter is done with hate symbols and violent groups

Twitter, a platform infested with trolls, hate and abuse, can be one of the worst places on the internet. As a followup to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s tweetstorm last week, in which he promised to crack down on hate and abuse by implementing more aggressive rules, Twitter is gearing up to roll out some updates in the coming weeks, Wired reported earlier today.

“Although we planned on sharing these updates later this week, we hope our approach and upcoming changes, as well as our collaboration with the Trust and Safety Council, show how seriously we are rethinking our rules and how quickly we’re moving to update our policies and how we enforce them,” Twitter said in a statement to TechCrunch.

In an email to members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, Twitter’s head of safety policy outlined some of the company’s new approaches to abuse. Twitter’s policies have not specifically addressed hate symbols and imagery, violent groups and tweets that glorify violence, but that will soon change.

Twitter has not yet defined what the policy around hate symbols will cover but “At a high level, hateful imagery, hate symbols, etc will now be considered sensitive media” — similar to the way Twitter handles adult content and graphic violence, the email stated.

With violent groups (think alt-right groups), Twitter “will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause.” Twitter has yet to outline the parameters it will use to identify such groups.

While Twitter already takes action against people who threaten violence, the company is going to take it a step further and take action against tweets that glorify violence, like “Murdering makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services,” according to the email.

Meanwhile, updates to existing policies will address non-consensual nudity (“creep shots”) and unwanted sexual advances.

On non-consensual nudity:

We will immediately and permanently suspend any account we identify as the original poster/source of non-consensual nudity and/or if a user makes it clear they are intentionally posting said content to harass their target. We will do a full account review whenever we receive a Tweet-level report about non-consensual nudity. If the account appears to be dedicated to posting non-consensual nudity then we will suspend the entire account immediately.

On unwanted sexual advances:

We are going to update the Twitter Rules to make it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable. We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation. Once our improvements to bystander reporting go live, we will also leverage past interaction signals (eg things like block, mute, etc) to help determine whether something may be unwanted and action the content accordingly.

“We realize that a more aggressive policy and enforcement approach will result in the removal of more content from our service,” Twitter’s head of policy wrote. “We are comfortable making this decision, assuming that we will only be removing abusive content that violates our Rules. To help ensure this is the case, our product and operational teams will be investing heavily in improving our appeals process and turnaround times for their reviews.”

Here’s the full email:

Dear Trust & Safety Council members,

I’d like to follow up on Jack’s Friday night Tweetstorm about upcoming policy and enforcement changes.  Some of these have already been discussed with you via previous conversations about the Twitter Rules update. Others are the result of internal conversations that we had throughout last week.

Here’s some more information about the policies Jack mentioned as well as a few other updates that we’ll be rolling out in the weeks ahead.

Non-consensual nudity

  • Current approach

    • We treat people who are the original, malicious posters of non-consensual nudity the same as we do people who may unknowingly Tweet the content. In both instances, people are required to delete the Tweet(s) in question and are temporarily locked out of their accounts. They are permanently suspended if they post non-consensual nudity again.

  • Updated approach

    • We will immediately and permanently suspend any account we identify as the original poster/source of non-consensual nudity and/or if a user makes it clear they are intentionally posting said content to harass their target.

    • We will do a full account review whenever we receive a Tweet-level report about non-consensual nudity. If the account appears to be dedicated to posting non-consensual nudity then we will suspend the entire account immediately.

    • Our definition of “non-consensual nudity” is expanding to more broadly include content like upskirt imagery, “creep shots,” and hidden camera content. Given that people appearing in this content often do not know the material exists, we will not require a report from a target in order to remove it. While we recognize there’s an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it’s nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually. We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.

Unwanted sexual advances

  • Current approach

    • Pornographic content is generally permitted on Twitter, and it’s challenging to know whether or not sexually charged conversations and/or the exchange of sexual media may be wanted. To help infer whether or not a conversation is consensual, we currently rely on and take enforcement action only if/when we receive a report from a participant in the conversation.

  • Updated approach

    • We are going to update the Twitter Rules to make it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable. We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation. Once our improvements to bystander reporting go live, we will also leverage past interaction signals (eg things like block, mute, etc) to help determine whether something may be unwanted and action the content accordingly.

Hate symbols and imagery (new)

  • We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, hateful imagery, hate symbols, etc will now be considered sensitive media (similar to how we handle and enforce adult content and graphic violence).

  • More details to come.

Violent groups (new)

  • We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause.

  • More details to come here as well (including insight into the factors we will consider to identify such groups).

Tweets that glorify violence (new)

  • We already take enforcement action against direct violent threats (“I’m going to kill you”), vague violent threats (“Someone should kill you”) and wishes/hopes of serious physical harm, death, or disease (“I hope someone kills you”). Moving forward, we will also take action against content that glorifies (“Praise be to <terrorist name> for shooting up <event>. He’s a hero!”) and/or condones (“Murdering <x group of people> makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services”).

  • More details to come.

We realize that a more aggressive policy and enforcement approach will result in the removal of more content from our service. We are comfortable making this decision, assuming that we will only be removing abusive content that violates our Rules. To help ensure this is the case, our product and operational teams will be investing heavily in improving our appeals process and turnaround times for their reviews.

In addition to launching new policies, updating enforcement processes and improving our appeals process, we have to do a better job explaining our policies and setting expectations for acceptable behavior on our service. In the coming weeks, we will be:

  • updating the Twitter Rules as we previously discussed (+ adding in these new policies)

  • updating the Twitter media policy to explain what we consider to be adult content, graphic violence, and hate symbols.

  • launching a standalone Help Center page to explain the factors we consider when making enforcement decisions and describe our range of enforcement options

  • launching new policy-specific Help Center pages to describe each policy in greater detail, provide examples of what crosses the line, and set expectations for enforcement consequences

  • Updating outbound language to people who violate our policies (what we say when accounts are locked, suspended, appealed, etc).

We have a lot of work ahead of us and will definitely be turning to you all for guidance in the weeks ahead. We will do our best to keep you looped in on our progress.

All the best,
Head of Safety Policy