The Gear Fit 2 is Samsung’s best wearable yet

Samsung has made plenty of wearables over the years, but few were as immediately impressive as the Gear Fit. Its curved screen and relatively slim design almost made us forget the company’s early, clunky Gear smartwatches. Now with the $ 179 Gear Fit 2, Samsung has refined its original design to make it a lot more useful for athletes. It has built-in GPS, a slightly larger screen and smarter activity tracking. It’s Samsung’s best fitness wearable yet, but it’s still a tough sell compared to competing devices from the likes of Fitbit.

Review: Samsung Gear Fit 2

Hardware

The Gear Fit 2 is an evolution of the original Fit’s design in all of the right ways. Its 1.58-inch curved touchscreen display is now flush with the band so that it no longer sticks out awkwardly. It reminds me of Microsoft’s Band 2, which also benefited from having a curved display sitting right alongside the wristband. The screen is also slightly wider now, which makes it more useful for actually reading information, and there’s less of a bezel around the sides so it’s almost like an edge-to-edge display.

Beyond that screen, the Gear Fit 2 looks restrained. The top half of the device is made from some fetching-looking metal while the bottom is more of a subdued plastic. There are only two buttons on the side of the device, which serve as home and power buttons. On the bottom there’s a heart rate sensor and two small connectors for its charging stand. The relatively minimalist design is a stark cry from the overly complex wearables we used to see from Samsung.

For the wristband, it looks like Samsung is using the same plastic material from the last model, which remains flexible yet sturdy without feeling too stiff. You can disconnect the wristbands easily from the sides of the device, which will be useful if you ever feel the need for a new look down the line.

Under the hood, the Gear Fit 2 now runs a dual-core 1GHz Exynos 3250 processor and 512MB of RAM. (As someone who remembers being very excited when I got 512MB of RAM on a desktop, I find that latter stat hard to fathom.) Both of those specs are significant upgrades from the first Fit, which had a measly 160MHz processor and 8MB of RAM. It’s no wonder we found the original to be underpowered. There’s also GPS onboard the Fit 2, along with 4GB of storage for music and a barometer sensor for stair-tracking.

Software

Samsung is using its homegrown Tizen OS to power the Gear Fit 2, something it also uses in TVs and other wearables like the Galaxy Gear 2. And instead of being tied to Samsung’s phones, the Fit 2 is now compatible with any Android phone running 4.4 or above. There’s no word about iOS support yet, though. (Is it even worth the effort?)

Thanks to Tizen, the Fit 2 is much more capable than its predecessor. You’ve got multiple watch faces to choose from (and more can be downloaded through the Gear app), some of which will show fitness stats alongside the time. You can also customize the screens you see as you swipe through the Fit’s interface. I have it set up to show the number calories I’ve burned, the number of steps and stairs I’ve taken, and my heart rate. Naturally, there’s also a screen for quickly logging a workout.

The Fit 2 supports 15 different workout types, including common things like running and cycling, and more specific activities like yoga and pilates. It’s now smart enough to automatically detect five different types of workouts, something competing health trackers from Fitbit and Jawbone have been able to do for years.

Thanks to its onboard storage (and vastly more functional OS), the Gear Fit 2 can also send locally stored music right to your wireless headphones. It can also control music stored on your phone, and it can tap into Spotify through your phone as well. Basically, if you prefer to run completely unencumbered, or with your phone, the Fit 2 has you covered.

To control the Gear Fit 2, you’ll have to rely on Samsung’s Gear app for Android. And to track your workouts, there’s Samsung’s S Health app. More on those in a moment.

In use

In day-to-day use, the Gear Fit 2 felt just as comfortable to wear as the Apple Watch Sport and Jawbone’s Up24 (which are among my favorite wearables). It sits well on your wrist; most of the time you’ll forget it’s even there. I’d still like to see Samsung make it even thinner, so that it doesn’t rise above your wrist as much, but the Fit 2 is nonetheless on par with competing wearables in terms of thickness.

I also had no problem putting it on — and keeping it stable — throughout the day. The Fit 2 has a simple clasp design that makes it easy to slip on while you’re on the go. That’s a good thing, because I’ve fought with plenty of wearables (especially from Fitbit) that are simply a chore to secure. And even though it’s easy to wear, I also had no trouble with the Fit 2 falling off (which was a killer issue with the Jawbone Up3).

When it comes to tracking basic things like your steps and stairs climbed, the Gear Fit 2 seemed just as accurate as most other modern wearables. Its heart-rate tracking was also solid, delivering readings in line with what I’ve been seeing from the Apple Watch and recent Fitbit gear. But really, if you’re buying this you’re probably more interested in its GPS tracking, and in that regard it didn’t disappoint. It accurately mapped several of my runs through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (I have a two-mile stretch that I cover regularly). It was also on par with RunKeeper’s location tracking, which I normally use on my iPhone during workouts.

Setting up a manual workout takes a lot of swiping and menu pressing if you’re moving between a variety of exercise types. But if you mainly do the same sort of workout, it’s pretty easy to just get up and go. The Fit 2’s touchscreen response is fast for such a small wearable, but even so, it’s not something you’d want to deal with much in the middle of an intense session.

The Fit 2 also surprised me several times by accurately tracking how long I walked during my work commute. That’s something other wearables have been doing for a while, but it’s still a useful addition for Samsung fans. It’s also the sort of thing wearables will have to get smarter about moving forward, so hopefully Samsung will be able to add automatic tracking support for more than just five workout types.

While you can view some basic post-workout details on the Gear Fit 2, you’ll have to turn to Samsung’s S Health app for a more detailed view. It’s a fairly clean-looking app: The home screen highlights your most recent workouts, heart-rate readings and steps. Tapping into a workout lays out everything you’ve done that day, and you can also step backward to previous days pretty easily. Despite its minimalist look, I still had some trouble navigating around S Health. And it wasn’t always obvious how to access more detailed information about workouts. But perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by better health apps from Fitbit and Jawbone.

As a smartwatch-like device, the Gear Fit 2 fares well. It can display notifications from your phone, and even though it has a tiny screen, there’s enough room to read short text messages and tweets. It’s not a screen where you’d ever want to read long emails, but that’s true of dedicated smartwatches too. You can also have the Fit 2 open up apps on your phone from its notifications, which helped me quickly reply to Hangout messages and texts on several occasions.

Samsung claims the Gear Fit 2 gets around three to four days of battery life from its 200mAh battery. In my testing, which involved constantly wearing it throughout the day and doing a few runs, it usually lasted around two and a half days before needing a trip to the outlet. Speaking of recharging, I was pleased to find that Samsung moved towards a larger charging cradle for the Fit 2. That may sound paradoxical, but the original Fit’s cradle was so small that I ended up losing it pretty quickly. This new version is better suited to staying in one place on your desk.

The competition

The Fitbit Surge.

Since it’s a GPS-enabled fitness wearable, the Gear Fit 2 is best compared to the likes of the Fitbit Surge ($ 229) and the Microsoft Band 2 ($ 175). Aesthetically, it has a lot more in common with the Band 2, but if you can get past its looks, the Fitbit Surge is probably a better buy for fitness junkies. Fitbit has a much more robust fitness platform, as well as better integration with third-party services. As with all wearables, aesthetics play a big part in the purchasing decision, though, so it’s understandable if you’d rather have a better-looking tracker instead of a more functional one.

Wrap-up

With the Gear Fit 2, Samsung has succeeded in making a capable and stylish fitness tracker. But it also doesn’t do anything significantly better or differently than the competition. It feels like a fitness tracker meant for people who really want something to match their Samsung phones, rather than something every consumer would desire. It’s ultimately unremarkable, but that’s mainly because there are so many decent alternatives out there.

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USB-C and Lightning headphones aren’t great news for everyone

The 3.5mm port is dying — at least when it comes to smartphones. If the persistent Lightning headphone rumor wasn’t enough to persuade you, the fact that Motorola beat Apple to the punch should be. Motorola’s new Moto Z and Moto Z Force don’t have that familiar circular hole for your cans to plug into, and it now seems inevitable that almost every phone within a few years will forgo the port in favor of a single socket for both charging and using headphones.

This is a change that few people actually want. It’s driven entirely by the makers of our phones and their desire to ditch what they view as an unnecessary port.

There are literally billions of headphones out in the world with a 3.5mm jack, all of which will need an adapter to work with Motorola’s new phone. And the quality of that adapter is going to be all-important. Phones are digital devices, and headphones require analog input. To solve that, every phone has a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and an amplifier inside, which do exactly what the names suggest. The DAC converts the signal from ones and zeros to waves, and the amplifier makes those waves audible through a speaker or headphones.

The combination of these two parts (DSPs are also involved, but let’s not overcomplicate things) is what makes phones — or anything with a headphone port — sound different from one another. If you listen to the same track, with the same headphones, on an iPhone 6S and a Galaxy S7, they won’t sound identical, mainly because the two phones use different DACs and amps, which output slightly different analog signals through the devices’ 3.5mm ports.

The DAC and amp, then, are the hidden link between your music app of choice and your headphones, and their importance can’t be understated. The industry has gotten a lot better with DACs and amps in recent years, and the general standard of audio output from phones has risen, but there are still devices that are stronger and those that are weaker.

With the switch to USB-C (or Lightning) for headphones, your phone’s DAC and amp (it’ll still need one for the speaker) are being bypassed. That means this all-important component will now reside inside either the adapter (for your existing cans) or the headphones themselves (for USB-C or Lightning headsets).

In reality, those people you’d imagine to be up in arms about the change — i.e., audiophiles — probably have the least to be worried about. Premium manufacturers will be able to pick and configure the DACs in their headphones to match the analog circuitry inside. We’re already starting to see companies like Audeze provide headphones with apps that allow the listener to fine-tune the output of their built-in DACs, DSPs and amps. This can result in clearer sound at louder volumes than, say, an iPhone can provide. You’ll also have the peace of mind that whatever you plug your expensive headphones into, they will sound exactly as the manufacturer intended.

The high-end Audeze EL-8 can plug into an iPhone’s Lightning port.

For existing premium headphones, there’s already a strong market for DACS to complement high-end phones, and with the abrupt switch to USB-C and Lightning, that market is only going to grow. Audiophiles are also unlikely to be fazed by the thought of carrying around a dongle or breakout box in the name of higher-quality sound. Indeed, many already do.

Who should be worried about the change? Well, anyone who doesn’t own expensive headphones and has no intention of getting them. If you’re the type of person who spends $ 30 to $ 100 on cans, then you probably have cause for concern. You’re either going to need to grapple with what is likely to be a budget adapter for your existing headphones or choose a cheap USB-C or Lightning model.

And here’s the problem: The DAC and amp inside that $ 50 pair of digital headphones are not going to be of the same quality as those in a $ 500 pair. Nor will the sound they output be afforded the same time and effort. Instead of trusting in your phone’s DAC and amp to output decent-quality audio at decent volumes, you’ll now be contending with the choices of a company that has had to cut corners to put out headphones on a tight budget.

The argument that those spending “so little” on headphones don’t care enough about sound quality to notice is plain stupid. This isn’t 2007, and millions of people now leave those white earbuds in the box, where they belong. You can also buy some great headphones for less than $ 100, and although there are huge gains made above that price point, it’s a case of diminishing returns as you approach the high end of the headphone market.

In order to get the same quality offered by analog pairs, the price has to go up.

Of course, I don’t want to be a scaremonger. Bluetooth headphones already have the necessary components inside to convert digital to analog, so this won’t be entirely new territory for many companies. But to get good Bluetooth headphones, you need to spend more than you would to get good analog headphones. The same will be true for USB-C and Lightning: In order to get the same quality offered by analog pairs, the price has to go up. Sure, there will probably be, for example, JBL USB-C headphones at $ 50, $ 75, $ 100, etc., but they will each sound worse than their analog counterparts at the same price.

To my mind, anyone investing that kind of money deserves, at the least, to get the same kind of sound quality per dollar as they do now from their analog cans. And it’s difficult to imagine a world where JBL, or any company, will accept lower profit margins on digital headphones than analog. The price has to go up, or the quality has to go down.

Putting these components inside the headphones (or, in some cases, the cable) also has an unwelcome side effect: reduced battery life. Apple, Samsung, Motorola et al. spend a long time fine-tuning the components in their products to maximize endurance. That means limiting the output of the amplifier in order to ensure it doesn’t use too much power.

If you put the control of these variables in the hands of headphone manufacturers, they will undoubtedly choose components that make their hardware sound best rather than those that play nice with your phone’s battery. While powering in-ear headphones is unlikely to have too much impact on your battery, using a pair of cans with large drivers will. We’ve already seen this in action from some early Lightning headphones, with models like the Audeze EL-8 trimming a fair chunk from the iPhone’s already questionable battery life.

The final issue with phones ditching the 3.5mm port — and this might be the worst — is that the industry is far from finished with developing its replacement. Intel, for example, is currently working on USB-C audio in a big way. In addition to trying to standardize USB-C digital audio output, it’s also working on a system that will allow analog audio to be output through sideband use (SBU) pins. These pins are currently not being used in the USB-C spec but would allow for headphones that use the phone’s DAC and amp. That work is not yet finished, and for Apple to benefit from it would involve ditching the Lightning port, which is based on USB 2.0.

The industry is far from finished with developing the 3.5mm port’s replacement.

Given that Apple has switched to USB-C for other products and that it has no problem with killing ports in the name of progress, that’s not as impossible as it sounds. Adopting USB Type-C for headphones could even lead to a MacBook with two ports! But let’s not dream of such crazy things. Let’s get back to the Moto Z: We don’t actually know how Motorola’s system works. There’s an adapter in the box to facilitate plugging in 3.5mm headphones, but it’s not clear if it uses Intel’s in-development analog tricks or has an amp and DAC built in. Chances are it’s the latter, which is what Chinese company LeEco’s new USB-C smartphones do and what all Lightning headphones on the market today do.

This uncertainty is indicative of a real problem: By making the jump so early — before the industry has truly settled on a standard — Motorola, Apple and any other company that follows suit might have a difficult decision to make in a couple of years: Do they upset their customers with another change to audio output? Or ignore progress in the area and persist with a solution that leaves analog output in the past, even when it’s possible through a single port?

Get all the news from today’s Lenovo and Motorola event right here!

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The Moto Z and Z Force are Motorola’s new modular flagships

So long Moto X, hello Moto Z. For its next round of Android flagships, Motorola is going for a new brand, an ultra-thin design and support for “Mods” that expand their capabilities. And yes, the Moto Z is seriously thin at just 5.19 millimeters millimeters thick. How Motorola achieved will probably be controversial, though: the Moto Z and its slightly beefier sibling, the Moto Z Force, don’t have headphone jacks. Instead, you’ll have to plug in the included USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter to use headphones. But is any of this enough for Lenovo to finally have a hit phone? (Take a look at our hands-on impressions of both phones here.)

At the very least, you can’t say Motorola is being lazy. It’s embracing the idea of modular add-ons, Moto Mods, wholeheartedly. Both new phones have magnetic connectors on their rears, which a variety of accessories can connect to. So far, that includes a homegrown pico projector, a speaker upgrade from JBL and a variety of battery packs from Incipio, Tumi and Kate Spade. Moto says the Mods will work on next year’s phones, which should give potential buyers a bit of piece of mind. Yes, the whole concept is similar to what LG attempted with the G5, and it’s still unclear if mainstream consumers care about modular upgrades.

Lenovo is the first major manufacturer to dump headphone jacks in exchange for a thinner design, and it’ll likely end up taking the majority of consumer flack for doing so. But it’s not alone: Intel is also pushing USB-C over headphone jacks, and Chinese phone maker LeEco has already dumped them with its latest devices. We’ve even heard from the rumor mill that Apple might be considering the same thing for upcoming iPhones. But as someone who usually has expensive earbuds plugged into my smartphone, I’m not looking forward to relying on a dongle. (And I’m definitely not going to be upgrading to USB-C headphones anytime soon.)

While it took a few revisions for the Moto X to become truly great, the Moto Z seems like a leap ahead in many ways. It’s got the usual speed improvements, with a new quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor running at up to 2.2GHz and 4GB of RAM. Its screen is a tad smaller than last year’s, at just 5.5-inches instead of 5.7-inches, and it sports the same quad HD resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels (535 pixels per inch). Naturally, its thinness means it’s significantly lighter than before, weighing in at just 4.6 ounces (136 grams), compared to last year’s Moto X Pure (Style outside of the US) at 6.3 ounces (179 grams).

On the camera front, the Moto Z packs in a 12 megapixel rear shooter with an f/1.8 aperture lens, optical image stabilization and laser autofocus. Its front camera is a typical 5 megapixel entry. Motorola seems to have crammed in as much whiz-bang technology it could to deliver a better photo-taking than its past phones: the rear camera also features color-corrected flash with dual LEDs and a 1.12um pixel size.

Just like last year, there’s also a more powerful model with a few additional features, the US-only Moto Z Force. It’s a bit thicker (6.9mm) and heavier, but it also packs in a significantly larger battery (3,500mAh compared to the Z’s 2,600mAh) and a more capable 21 megapixel camera with phase detection autofocus and Deep Trench Isolation (a technique Apple used for the iPhone 6S camera). The Moto Z Force’s screen also uses Motorola’s Shattershield technology, which it claims is more resistant to cracks and scratches than Corning’s Gorilla Glass. While it’s not as mind-blowingly thin as the Z proper, the Z Force sounds like the ideal Android phone for power users.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to be on Verizon to nab the Moto Z phones this summer, where they’ll be available as “Droid Editions.” Motorola says it’ll also sell the Moto Z unlocked on its website this fall. The Moto Z will be available internationally in September, but Motorola says the Z Force is a US-only affair for now.

Get all the news from today’s Lenovo and Motorola event right here!

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University of Calgary hands over $16,000 in ransomware attack

The University of Calgary has become the latest victim in a recent string of ransomware attacks. According to a statement released Wednesday morning, University computer systems were affected for 10 days while the IT team worked to remedy the issue. Ultimately, the University paid around $ 16,000 ($ 20,000 Canadian) to recover its data, with no guarantee that it was even possible to restore it.

“Ransomware attacks and the payment of ransoms are becoming increasingly common around the world,” the University’s VP of Finance and Services Linda Dalgetty wrote in her statement. “The university is now in the process of assessing and evaluating the decryption keys. The actual process of decryption is time-consuming and must be performed with care. It is important to note that decryption keys do not automatically restore all systems or guarantee the recovery of all data. A great deal of work is still required by IT to ensure all affected systems are operational again, and this process will take time.”

The University also says it is working with Calgary Police to investigate the hack, although other such investigations have come up empty handed in the past. Regarding the payment, Dalgetty told the Globe and Mail, “We are conducting world class research daily and we don’t know what we don’t know in terms of who’s been impacted and the last thing we want to do is lose someone’s life’s work.” (That’s work like building neurochips out of silicon and human brain cells, or creating one-handed iPhone gestures, by the way.)

In another recent case, Kansas Heart Hospital paid “a small amount” in ransom money, only to have the hacker turn around and ask for even more cash. In May, a ransomware attack on the United States Congress was thankfully averted. And on one, slightly reassuring note and the hackers behind the original “uncrackable” TeslaCrypt ransomware virus released the keys that would allow anyone affected to retrieve their data.

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Apple’s App Store is changing, starting with subscriptions

At next week’s WWDC, Apple is set to unveil some major changes to the way developers and users interact with the App Store. According to Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Marketing (and perennial WWDC keynote presence) Phil Schiller, Apple is working to improve everything from the app review experience to the discovery process. But the most notable change is a shift in the business models to allow for subscriptions from any kind of app.

As The Verge reports today, the 70/30 revenue split between developers and Apple will stay in place, but apps that keep a user subscribed for more than a year will see that split shift in their favor to 85/15. “Now we’re going to open up to all categories,” Schiller told The Verge, “and that includes games, which is a huge category.”

According to LoopInsight, developers will be able to choose “one of over 200 subscription price points” and will be able to create region-specific pricing. If a developer chooses to raise a subscription price, users will have to re-authorize the price increase. The new system will also effect current subscription-based apps.

The shift looks enticing for developers, who will now be able to offer their apps and games for a monthly fee rather than a single price up front. And with iPhone sales finally on the decline, the arrangement also allows Apple to turn existing users into even more lucrative revenue streams.

Also per Schiller, Apple will be introducing display ads into the iOS App Store search results for the first time. Although Apple has previously stated that Featured positioning in the App Store is “not for sale,” Schiller now feels confident they’ve built a system that will work for everyone. The auction system behind the ads, Schiller said, will be “fair to developers and fair for indie developers, too.”

As for the app review process, Schiller says that the turnaround time has dropped to the point where a full half of the apps submitted to Apple are reviewed in the first 24 hours and 90 percent are reviewed within two days.

Finally, Schiller is looking to drive even more traffic to the App Store, to the point where it becomes a daily visit for most users. One of the ways Apple plans to do that is to add a “Share” button to every app’s 3D Touch menu on the home screen. As you might expect, tapping the share button allows you to shoot off a download link on your social network of choice.

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Run Android on an iPhone – with some heavy engineering and caveats

Familiar with cramming one operating system into somewhere it doesn’t belong, developers at Tendigi have just created a homemade iPhone case that lets you run Android on your iOS smartphone. (Well, kind of). Fortunately, because of the Android Open Source Project, it gave Nick Lee the freedom to clone the mobile OS and build his own local hardware. Before he went that far, Lee decided to test the concept — streaming Android across to an iPhone through a cable — with a Nexus 5. He needed tools that could communicate with iOS, as well as services that let USB cables play nice with an iPhone. Lee also crafted software that transmitted what was happening on the Android devices’ screen to the iPhone, while also send touch-input back. The next challenge: cramming it all into an iPhone “case”. See it working after the break.

He then made his own tiny Android development board (all the technical specifics are here), linking it to the soon-to-be franken-iPhone and its own power supply, prototyping and 3D-printing an enclosure to house it all and attach to the iPhone. It’s not the prettiest case, and really you’re ‘streaming’ Android to your iPhone screen, but it’s the man-hours thought that counts, right?

Source: Tendigi

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You can finally post to Instagram from other iOS apps

Ever since Apple introduced app sharing extensions in iOS 8, budding iPhone photographers have been wondering where Instagram’s extension was. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could share a photo from any app, rather than diving into Instagram and choosing from your camera roll? You’re getting that chance today: Instagram has quietly introduced a sharing extension to the latest version of its iOS app. So long as you turn on the extension, any app that supports iOS’ official sharing method can send a photo Instagram’s way. That’s a particularly big deal if you’re fond of third-party imaging apps, which don’t always automatically save pictures to your photo library.

The addition is overdue, to put it mildly. Android users have had this share-from-anywhere luxury for a while, and numerous other photo-focused apps (such as Flickr) have had iOS sharing extensions for a long time. All the same, it’s good to see Instagram fill in a missing piece of the puzzle.

Via: iMore

Source: App Store

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The Wirecutter’s best deals: Save $300 on a Moto X / Moto 360 combo

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read their continuously updated list of deals at TheWirecutter.com.

You may have already seen Engadget posting reviews from our friends at The Wirecutter. Now, from time to time, we’ll also be publishing their recommended deals on some of their top picks. Read on, and strike while the iron is hot — some of these sales could expire mighty soon.

Moto X Pure Edition 64GB + Moto 360 Sport Watch

Street price: $ 700; MSRP: $ 750; deal price: $ 400 with codes

This deal involves stacking two codes and results in a huge $ 300 savings. First, you’ll go to the Moto X Pure page and select the 64GB storage option. Once you add it to your cart, use the code CLASSOF2016. Then, you’ll add the Moto 360 Sport to your cart and use the code JUNEMOTO360. The final total should be $ 400. While the Moto 360 Sport wasn’t one of our top picks in our smartwatch guide, it’s certainly worth it in this combo deal.

The Moto X Pure Edition is our customizable phablet pick in our best Android phones guide. Ryan Whitwam said, “Motorola’s latest flagship phone offers a great Android 6.0 software experience with customization options that other phones simply can’t match. You can choose from different colors and materials for the back, pick a metallic accent color, and even customize the startup message. It’s more comfortable to hold than other phablets despite its big, 5.7-inch LCD, plus it has a slot for a microSD card. If you take a lot of selfies, we have still more good news: This phone has a front-facing flash paired with a wide-angle 5-megapixel camera.”

TomTom Spark Music GPS Watch

Street price: $ 190; MSRP: $ 200; deal price: $ 150

The best price we’ve seen on this watch, which we’ve never seen drop below $ 180 until this deal. This price is available on all sizes and colors.

The TomTom Spark Music is our music playback pick for the best GPS running watch. Jim McDannald said, “If you love listening to music on the run and want to leave your smartphone or mp3 player at home, the TomTom Spark Music could be worth the trade-off in accuracy, fit, and features. Along with gathering GPS data about your run, the Spark Music transmits your music wirelessly to Bluetooth headphones for playback.”

Apple Watch Stainless Steel

Street price: $ 450; MSRP: $ 550; deal price: $ 350

While we’ve avoided posting deals on the stainless steel model of the Apple Watch in the past due to the price, we felt this drop was low enough to post. It’s down to $ 350 for the first time, and while you’d still save a substantial amount buying the Sport, if you prefer the look and feel of the stainless steel, this is a significant savings over the street price.

The Apple Watch Sport is our favorite smartwatch for iPhone users. Dan Frakes and Kevin Purdy said, “the Sport’s fit and finish are impressive, and the watch is lightweight and comfortable. It can use any of Apple’s many watch bands, and it has the exact same features and components—including the same OLED display at the same resolutions—as the more expensive Apple Watch (stainless steel) and Apple Watch Edition (gold).”

Wren V5BT Bluetooth Speaker

Street price: $ 200; MSRP: $ 400; deal price: $ 160 with code DG16

Make sure to use the code DG16 to get this price. This is the best price we’ve seen on this particular speaker, though it’s only available on the bamboo finish.

The Wren V5BT is our alternate pick for a home Bluetooth speaker in our best gifts for audiophiles guide. We wrote this about the Airplay model, though it also applies to the Bluetooth one, “If your giftee prefers AirPlay over Bluetooth, the Wren V5AP is the AirPlay speaker that strikes the best balance between affordability and compactness, plus it sounds great for its $ 250 price. It gets our recommendation because it sounds as good as any AirPlay speaker we’ve heard under $ 400 and even better than some products in the $ 600 range.”

Deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.

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Facebook intros diverse Messenger emojis for all platforms

Facebook has created brand new emojis for Messenger, redesigned its old ones and standardized them for all operating systems. The social network will begin rolling out 1,500 newly designed emojis tomorrow, which will show up the way you see them on your device no matter the recipient’s platform. No more empty boxes taking their place if you’re chatting with someone using another OS. Even better, the new graphics embrace diversity — they include hand gestures and human faces in different skin colors, as well as images of same sex couples.

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you already have access to Apple’s diverse smileys. But Messenger’s new selection is accessible everywhere the app is available, including Android and the web. At the moment, you can only use hand gestures in FB’s original blue-and-white coloring on Android, and you barely even have choices on the web. Messenger will ask for your preferred skin tone when you get the update, though you can change it again later.

Facebook is also taking a leaf out of Google’s book and launching more emojis that represent women, showing them in professional attire (e.g. police officer) and doing various activities like swimming, running and surfing. Finally, all 1,500 options will be available through the app’s new emoji picker when they make their way to your device.

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