Amazon's Echo success took me a little by surprise. It seemed like we went overnight from questioning the idea of a voice assistant in a speaker to almost everyone owning an Echo and companies rushing to add Alexa support for their services and products. Part of what seemed like a quick success is due to the Echo Dot, the smaller cheaper version that you can sprinkle around the house in places where you don't care about excellent sound quality.
The second generation Echo Dot builds on that. Unlike the first one, you can order it directly from Amazon without having to use another Echo. Read More
You don't understand the feeling of violation that a theft causes until you open the door to your home and see everything moved, turned, tossed, and the muddy footprints of a stranger everywhere on your floor, your kitchen cabinets open, and even your bedspread removed and balled up in the garden. That happened to my family's mountain house many, many years ago, and I still remember the feeling of disgust over the scene as well as helplessness with all the police procedures that followed. The perpetrators were never caught, just like any minor theft that occurs in Lebanon — they only took small appliances — and we ended up installing gates and locks on all the windows and doors. Read More
Music is definitely everywhere. From our own personal libraries and streaming stations to advertisements and entertainment, it is a fundamental part of who we are as individuals and as a culture (for better or for worse). Since music is just noise (how's that for a scientific breakthrough), I have always found it neat to see the visual representation of the soundwaves in line with the song that is playing. Back when Windows Media Player was a thing, I always turned on the visualizer, finding it much more entertaining than staring at the album art — or worse, the placeholder image when no art was available. Read More
My arsenal of smart health and activity trackers has been missing a body composition weight scale. The Fitbit Aria always looked appealing to me because I've been wearing a Fitbit for more than 3 years, but it's getting a little outdated. Several months ago, I was looking at the Polar Balance Scale, the Withings WS-50, the Garmin Index Smart Scale, and a few others. Eventually, I settled on the QardioBase because I already had a good experience with the QardioArm and liked the company's no-nonsense approach to design and health. However, I was unlucky enough to get the first generation, which turned out to be a complete failure from the get-go. Read More
Of the two communication apps that Google announced at I/O, Duo surely seemed like the less interesting one. Video calls have been done again and again, and by now, if you have someone you want to talk to and see at the same time, odds are you already have your preferred way of doing that. But my last few days with Duo have shown me another side to the story. Duo isn't trying to revolutionize video calls, it just wants to approach them from a more modern perspective, one that builds on our smartphone-carrying habits, our needs for immediacy, and our disdain for complexity. Read More
Activity trackers are not miracle workers. Wearing a Fitbit isn't going to make you healthier, just like buying a piano for the living room won't make you a pianist. They're not going to force you to take a run instead of eating bags of Doritos while binge watching House of Cards for an entire weekend, and they're not magic pills that will do the hard work for you.
Activity trackers, however, are invaluable tools and immense help if you really want to get healthier and/or stay healthy. If you have already made the decision to be more active and it isn't just a spur of the moment, short-lived resolution, then activity trackers can be one more weapon in your arsenal. Read More
GIFs and emojis are everywhere. You can't even start a conversation nowadays without some form of graphic popping up in the first 5 exchanged messages. But finding and inserting them isn't always the most seamless of experiences. Whether it's scrolling through endless lists of emojis with the complexity of dealing with different sets and their weird emoji orders and designs, or trying to figure out how each app you're using deals with GIFs, it can take anywhere between a few seconds and a couple of minutes to find the perfect visual to convey your message.
That's where Dango swoops in to provide a better approach. Read More
Notifications are the bread and butter of our Android experience. Something happens, we get a notification. It could be as urgent as a new email from our boss telling us that we missed a comma in a post (stuff like that has been known to happen when your boss is Artem) or as ordinary as a new Twitter mention or a shipping status change on an order or a new episode available of your favorite series. The difference between how you act on these notifications is huge. You can instantly tap to check a notification or, if you're on Android N, directly reply to it, you can dismiss it without a second look because it's not something you care about all that much, or you can leave it hanging in your notification shade as a reminder to check later. Read More
The UE ROLL was one of the most interesting new Bluetooth speakers launched last year. With a waterproof (IPX7), disc-shaped body, and an attached bungee cord, the ROLL was marketed as a perfect companion for any adventure, rain or shine. Cam was a big fan of the device and had almost no complaints in his review.
Ultimate Ears is back at it again this year with an update to the original ROLL. It's called the UE ROLL 2 ($99), and as you might expect, it's even better. Read More