S6, and the S6 Edge RUMORS

Today, following rumour after rumour after rumour, which even led to Samsung parodying said rumours, the Samsung Galaxy S6 designs were finally released to the public at Barcelona’s Mobile World Conference today. So, how much did the rumours get right?

Firstly, there are two designs to choose from: the standard S6, and the S6 Edge. Both have been upgraded considerably from the plastic casing Samsung is so notoriously known for, instead using Gorilla Glass for the front and back panels.

SAMSUNG S6 SMARTPHONE

They look great, and probably feels a lot better than previous models to boot. I’ve never been a fan of the cheap-feeling plastic, so I’m glad to see this change come about.

Plus, the edges on the aptly named ‘Edge’ model give the phone a distinctive, actually quite impressive, and maybe a little quirky, look, which certainly appeals to me.

Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t seem as if there are going to be many dedicated uses or apps for the edges, aside from making the phone look good and making swiping across the screen that bit easier.

Since the phone was only officially announced a few hours ago, though, this could change as time goes on. One thing we do know, in terms of apps at least, is that some Microsoft apps are going to come pre-loaded on both models, including Skype, Onedrive and Onenote, so that’s something!

Apart from the design, which really is the biggest talking point of these phones, there are lots of other things to take note of. The camera, for example, is considerably upgraded. It boasts a 16 megapixel back camera, which supposedly outdoes Apple’s iphone cameras.

It also features a new photo shooter app, which is supposed to outshine previous versions, being quicker to load and snap. Then you’ve got the option of wireless charging, built into the back panel of the phone, plus faster charging in general.

If you’re thinking the Galaxy S6 looks pretty similar to an Iphone.. well, the similarities don’t end with design. Samsung have tried fingerprint identification for locking their phones before, but it seems to have improved greatly with the S6, unlocking as soon as you place your finger on the home button – very similar to Apple’s design.

As well as this, Samsung have introduced a rival to Apple’s ‘Apple Pay’ with, you guessed it, ‘Samsung Pay’, a wireless payment system.

If there’s any disappointment to be had, it’s that the battery is non-removable, and that there isn’t going to be room for a micro-sd card, both features that have been staples of Samsung’s flagship phones for years now. Whether or not the new upgrades to S6 models will be enough to heal these wounds deal to loyal Samsung fans is yet to be seen.

Overall, though, the S6 models both look fantastic and sound as if they’ve got some promising stuff going on inside, too. I’ll be looking out for more information as MWC goes on, so watch this space,…

Is the pocket watch coming back in style? Monohm thinks so!

pocket watch(photo from The Verge)

I’m always one for a quirky modern-day phone, and this so-called ‘Runcible’ certainly fits the bill! That’s what this is, after all – a new, unique circular smartphone, meant to pay homage to such devices as pocket watches or compasses.

It looks great, using real wood for its outer casing, and comes in many different types to boot – various types of wood, brass, and tin are a few examples.

From photos, the screen is looking great, too! As well as being a smartphone, it doubles as an actual watch and looks great doing it. According to The Verge, Monohm is also planning to use the circular screen to its advantage – for example, allowing users to take circular videos and photos.

The Runcible was created with a goal in mind – to lower the overall usage time on your smartphone. As they state on their website:

“Runcible will never beep, alert, or otherwise interrupt you. The world-class connectivity we all came to expect in the smartphone era (LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth) is there on Runcible when you need it. For the rest of the time, you can keep your head up, your attention on the real world and real people around you, and maintain your sense of wonder about life.”

As someone who’s completely and utterly ensnared by the digital world of alerts and constant notifications that demand to be checked as and when they arrive, this actually sounds pretty soothing to me!

That said, I’m not sure I could buy one with the intention of actually replacing my smartphone. The Runcible seems to be more of a niche gadget than a powerhouse smartphone, for my money. Pricing is yet to be announced, but supposedly, it won’t be cheap. Shame, because I’d love to get my hands on one!…

Pebble’s newest smartwatch with a new feature

This is the ‘Pebble Time’, Pebble’s newest smartwatch with a new feature – it uses color E-ink! Most people would associate e-ink or e-paper with electronic readers like the Amazon Kindle, so it’s great to see it being used with a wider range of products.

Pebble

There are definite benefits to using e-ink; Pebble says that this new smart watch has up to seven days of battery life – far longer than, say, the Apple Watch. If anything is going to give the Pebble Time an advantage over its competitor, that could well be it.

So apart from the e-ink, what can the Pebble Time offer? Well, a major feature explains the ‘time’ in ‘Pebble Time’. There are three buttons on the side which correspond to ‘Past’, ‘Present’ and ‘Future’ retrospectively, so you can easily flick between them to check your timeline. Pebble describes it on their kickstarter page:

“Your timeline connects to calendars, alarms, and apps, organizing all kinds of relevant information along with quick actions. Similarly, recall the past. Scroll back in time to see that email you missed, your step count for the day or the score from the game last night.”

Pebble Time reached its kickstarter goal in mere minutes, so its clear there’s a market for it. With the ever developing world of wearables, though – one which will very soon include the Apple Watch – it’ll be interesting to see how it fares in the long run.…

The Fitbit Charge – My Experience with a Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers have become a bit of a craze recently, particularly with the rise of wearables. There are a whole host of different options out there, from wearables devoted to the task of fitness tracking to smartwatches like Apple’s, who have included it as an extra bonus on the side.

It’s no surprise – after all, bits of tech like pedometers have been popular for years now, so it’s about time the whole idea got a modern remake. But what’s it like using one? Do they work? Are they reliable? Well, I’ve been wearing the Fitbit Charge for the past 10 days in an attempt to find out just that.

Design

In my opinion, quite a few of the fitness trackers out there right now look a bit.. kooky. The Charge, and others in the Fitbit line, struck me as that at first – it’s not quite the fluid curve you’d expect from something that looks a bit like a watch, particularly with the screen resting at the top of your wrist, rather than the middle.

But despite reservations, th

e Charge is actually very wearable – it doesn’t slip around on your wrist, which for me is a huge plus, and after a while I forget I’m wearing it.

Another plus is the screen, which has been improved from previous Fitbit models with the Charge. It’s big enough to tell you all the vital statistics, using easy-to-understand graphics to show you what you need to know.

It’s easy to use – just click the button that rests to the side of the screen multiple times to scroll through all the different options. Very user friendly!

Features

The Charge can do a lot of things, even when just sitting on your wrist – a surprising number of things, in fact. You get a watch, pedometer, a ‘calories burnt’ monitor, a tracker that shows the number of staircases you’ve gone up or down, a mileage metre, a sleep monitor (which I’ll touch on more later), bluetooth notifications from your phone and, if you want, an alarm, too.Fitbit Charge

So already, that’s enough for the casual fitness trackee to get along fine. That said, if that was all, the Charge probably wouldn’t have its near £100 price-tag. Where things really get interesting is when you sync your Charge to Fitbit’s app via Bluetooth, or to your dashboard on the Fitbit website.

As you can see, this opens up a plethora of new options. Tapping on each option takes you to a new screen – for example, tapping on the yellow meter takes you to a ‘Food’ screen (see left), where you can log the food you eat to see your calorie intake.

If you want to be sure you’re logging the right thing, there’s a barcode scanner, too. It works in tandem with a weight tracker, (the blue scales symbol) which you can use to set weight loss goals.

I haven’t used those options very much, though. Like other apps that deal with food intake (such as MyFitnessTracker), it’s difficult to measure exactly how much of a food you’re eating, and as such, difficult to log it and get an exact reading. It’s better for getting an average overall figure but takes a bit of dedication. The same thing goes for the water intake tracker.

There’s also an element of challenging yourself and others that Fitbit have put into their app in the form of badges and various competitions you can do with friends and family. The badges, unfortunately, don’t seem to show up on the phone app, but do on your dashboard on the Fitbit website. Here’s an example:

So there’s no shortage of things to do and things to track using the Charge. But just how reliable is it all?

Reliability

Generally, the basic functions work as you would expect. The pedometer is fairly accurate, though as it’s a device worn on the wrist, it can sometimes be tricked into thinking that you’ve gone a few steps when you move your arms. Similarly with the calorie counter, it’s difficult to know exactly how accurate it is; sometimes I’ll have been sitting down for a few hours and still have managed to burn 1000+ calories. Supposedly this is due to the loss of calories even when breathing, so maybe that explains that one. It’s probably better to tie this one in to the food tracker, if you can.

Bluetooth notifications show you when someone phones you, bringing up their name and vibrating to get your attention. I was disappointed with this, though, because it often took a good few seconds into the call for the Charge and my phone to sync up. In theory though, it’s a great idea. The same goes for the alarm; you can set it via the app, and when the time comes round, the Charge will vibrate for a few seconds to wake you up. I found that it wasn’t really enough to properly wake me up, so I’ll be sticking to phone alarms, I think.

One of the Charge’s features I was most interested in was its inbuilt sleep tracker. You don’t have to do anything but keep wearing it through the night for it to activate, so that when you wake up and sync it to your phone, you get a chart showing how long you slept, and how ‘restless’ you were.

Which is all well and good, but what does that really mean? I wanted to know a lot more than I got told, so I downloaded Sleepbot for Android to compare the two, and found the latter to be much more illuminating. Of course, that’s a little unfair, considering sleep tracking is only one of the Charge’s side functions, but if you really want accurate sleep tracking, I’d go for a dedicated app.

Overall Experience

One of the popular reasons for wearing a fitness tracker is to get more motivated to exercise – to see the pedometer rising and the numbers on the scales falling in tandem.

It definitely helps to get an actual visual representation of how you’re spending your time and to see what effect the exercise you’re doing is having. ..Or how much more you need to be doing; it’s definitely made me realize that getting to 10,000 steps a day isn’t as easy as I once thought!

So in that sense, it does motivate you to want to do more, whether it’s going for more walks or just take a few extra steps here and there. Whether or not it can actually motivate you to do it? I think that’s down to you.

As a gadget, though, it’s fun to have around, and it’s at least interesting to be able to look at all the stats on your phone and play around with all the different options available to you.

I can imagine it would be even better to have friends or family around you who also have a Fitbit, so you could compare stats or utilize the challenges given to you via the app; even the app tells you that users with even one friend are 27% more active!

Overall though, for what it is, a fitness tracker, it does its job well. It’s got a lot of competition out there – from other trackers to smartwatches that have integrated trackers, but in my opinion, the Charge is pretty solid.…