LG’s Watch W7 looks like the dumbest smartwatch of the year

LG’s Watch W7 looks like the dumbest smartwatch of the year

Android smartwatches may be about as dead of a form factor as Android tablets, but that isn’t stopping OEMs from continuing to pump out these little packages of wrist-mounted sadness. The latest is LG’s “hybrid” smartwatch, the Watch W7, which one-ups the usual Wear OS hardware package by slapping physical, analog watch hands on top of the display.

The watch hands look great in LG’s press renders, which only ever show the watch face, but if you try to use any of the “smart” capabilities of your smartwatch, you’ll quickly realize how bad of an idea this is. The physical watch hands constantly obscure the display, making it difficult to see the text and buttons on your smartwatch. To make matters worse, the watch hands need to connect to the requisite gearing in the body of the watch, so there’s also a sizable hole in the center of your tiny 1.2-inch display. To make matters even more worse, the layout has the display, then the watch hands, then the glass cover, so there’s a large air gap between the display and the display cover. As we learned in early smartphone designs, not bonding the display to the cover negatively affects display brightness and contrast.

Google’s Wear OS is definitely not built to work around physical watch hands, so you’ll always be fighting watch hands and the display hole as you try to see what’s actually on the screen. LG has a Band-Aid solution for the watch hands at least—you can press a side button and have the watch hands move into a horizontal mode temporarily, which obscures slightly less of the screen. The main benefit of the physical watch hands is that you can turn the smart watch portion off and run in a “watch only” mode for 100 days, but at that point you might want to just buy a regular watch. The watch hands are also available to some of LG’s apps, so they can act as a compass pointer or stopwatch.

The specs are also a disaster. The Watch W7 uses the two-year-old Qualcomm Wear 2100 SoC instead of the new Wear 3100 that was announced a month ago. Packing in a physical hand movement means there isn’t room for many of the components of a good smartwatch, so the Watch W7 can’t do decent fitness tracking or payments, thanks to the lack of NFC, GPS, and heart-rate monitor. This means the watch is only really useful as a notification machine, but, again, it’s awful at that, thanks to the hole in the center of the screen and the physical watch hands.

The real kicker is that all this costs more than a brand-new Apple Watch. The LG Watch W7 is $450 and launches October 14.

Listing image by Sascha Segan

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November’s Free PS4 PlayStation Plus Games Revealed Early

November’s Free PS4 PlayStation Plus Games Revealed Early

Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is one of November’s free PS Plus games, revealed weeks early.Credit: People Can Fly

Well, that was early.

Typically, Sony reveals the coming month’s free PlayStation Plus games a few days before the end of the month. Almost without fail Sony reveals the new batch of games on the last Wednesday of the month and then makes them available to play the following Wednesday, or first Wednesday of the new month.

Not so with November of the year of our Lord 2018. Sony has jumped the proverbial gun—at least for the free PS4 games.

For November, PS+ subscribers will have access to two PS4 titles as part of their monthly subscription. Here’s what they are, courtesy of an ad spotted on PlayStation.com.

Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is a remake of the classic bullet hell shooter and it’s a total blast. It’s just pure, run-and-gun mayhem and lots of fun. It’s the perfect PS Plus offering. With a 75/100 rating on Metacritic and it’s not the highest-rated or best-reviewed game to ever land on PS+, but it’s a solid shooter and I highly recommend it. Besides, it gets a “Very Positive” user rating on Steam.

Also, you simply will not get tired of kicking bogies off cliffs. This is the most OP kick since Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Glorious.

Yakuza Kiwami is another remake, this time of the 2005 PS2 classic Yakuza game. I’ve only played some of the game, but it got great reviews (80/100 on Metacritic) and is one of those games—and franchises, really—that’s on my ever-growing “to play” list. Good lord, but that list is long and monthly free games on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One do not help.

Yakuza KiwamiCredit: Sega

For those who don’t know, the Yakuza series is a Japanese third-person crime game series with combo-based combat, mini-games and a heavy emphasis on story, so if that sounds fun to you, it’s free in November.

We’ll see what PS3 games are added to this list later in the month. If you’re curious about October’s free PlayStation Plus games, read about those here. You can see the free Xbox Games With Gold for October here.

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Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is one of November’s free PS Plus games, revealed weeks early.Credit: People Can Fly

Well, that was early.

Typically, Sony reveals the coming month’s free PlayStation Plus games a few days before the end of the month. Almost without fail Sony reveals the new batch of games on the last Wednesday of the month and then makes them available to play the following Wednesday, or first Wednesday of the new month.

Not so with November of the year of our Lord 2018. Sony has jumped the proverbial gun—at least for the free PS4 games.

For November, PS+ subscribers will have access to two PS4 titles as part of their monthly subscription. Here’s what they are, courtesy of an ad spotted on PlayStation.com.

Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is a remake of the classic bullet hell shooter and it’s a total blast. It’s just pure, run-and-gun mayhem and lots of fun. It’s the perfect PS Plus offering. With a 75/100 rating on Metacritic and it’s not the highest-rated or best-reviewed game to ever land on PS+, but it’s a solid shooter and I highly recommend it. Besides, it gets a “Very Positive” user rating on Steam.

Also, you simply will not get tired of kicking bogies off cliffs. This is the most OP kick since Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Glorious.

Yakuza Kiwami is another remake, this time of the 2005 PS2 classic Yakuza game. I’ve only played some of the game, but it got great reviews (80/100 on Metacritic) and is one of those games—and franchises, really—that’s on my ever-growing “to play” list. Good lord, but that list is long and monthly free games on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One do not help.

Yakuza KiwamiCredit: Sega

For those who don’t know, the Yakuza series is a Japanese third-person crime game series with combo-based combat, mini-games and a heavy emphasis on story, so if that sounds fun to you, it’s free in November.

We’ll see what PS3 games are added to this list later in the month. If you’re curious about October’s free PlayStation Plus games, read about those here. You can see the free Xbox Games With Gold for October here.

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Pulled over while connected: Siri can quietly video record the police

Pulled over while connected: Siri can quietly video record the police


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The new iPhone XS and XS MAX are the highest powered and priciest iPhone to date. The XS and XS MAX hit stores on September 21st.
USA TODAY

 

Just say, “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over.” 

One of the latest apps to hit the iOS 12 mobile highway is Shortcuts. With it, users can plot out a series of actions and trigger them by signaling the voice-assistant. One savvy user created an add-on called Police that can give drivers added security during traffic stops.

The brainchild of Redditer Robert Petersen of Arizona, Police was created to covertly record law enforcement officials to “keep everyone safe and honest.”

“I have noticed in reading news articles and seeing reports on TV that in many cases you end up with police saying one thing happened and the citizen being pulled over saying another,” Petersen said to USA TODAY. “And how do you determine truth? Sometimes the police have body cams, sometimes not, and even when they do it’s not always released in a timely manner.”

How does the shortcut work? 

Once Siri is alerted about the traffic stop, the program springs into action to pause any music that may be playing, turn down your screen brightness and puts your phone in Do Not Disturb mode. Siri then sends a text message to a designated emergency contact to let them know what’s happening.

More: Apple to lawmakers: Your iPhone isn’t spying to you

More: You can’t turn off a presidential alert, but you can turn off other emergency notifications

The front camera turns on to record video of the occurrence.

“When dealing with being pulled over and interacting with law enforcement, you want as little distraction as possible, and that includes music, bright screens and notifications coming in,” Petersen said. “You want to be focused on the encounter at hand and don’t want any unnecessary distraction to yourself or to law enforcement personnel.”

Once users stop the recording, a copy of the video is sent to a specified contact, the brightness returns to normal, and Do Not Disturb is disabled, Petersen said.

While this application comes at a time when police surveillance is a hot topic, Shortcuts isn’t the first app to help document encounters with police.

In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union released an Android app called “ACLU Blue” that allows people to record law enforcement and share those recordings in a public forum. Another app in the Google Play store called “I’m Getting Arrested!”  enables anyone, with one click, to broadcast a custom alert message in the event they are arrested, and there are several others.

While he’s proud of his creation, Petersen said he would be happy if no one ever needs to use it.

“My only goal with the Police shortcut is trying to help people stay safe … and honest,” he said. “99.999 percent of the time you’ll never need it, but if you end up in a situation where it ended up being a good idea, you’ll be thankful you did.”

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/10/04/siri-shortcut-can-discreetly-record-cops-during-traffic-stops/1509065002/

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FEMA will test mobile Presidential Alerts today at 2:18PM ET

FEMA will test mobile Presidential Alerts today at 2:18PM ET

FEMA will conduct the first nationwide test of its Wireless Emergency Alert system today beginning at 2:18 PM Eastern. While you can choose to opt out of mobile weather and AMBER alerts, you won’t be able to opt out of this test. When it happens, you’ll see a notification on your phone with the header “Presidential Alert” and the message will say, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Cell towers will broadcast the test for 30 minutes and any compatible phone that’s on, within range of an active cell tower and connected to a wireless provider participating in WEA will receive the message.

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iPhone XS camera ranked #2 by DxOMark: ‘one of the best mobile cameras’

iPhone XS camera ranked #2 by DxOMark: ‘one of the best mobile cameras’

DxOMark is out with its full review of the iPhone XS camera system. Coming in with a score of 105, the latest flagship iPhone beat out the camera performance of all other smartphones except for Huawei’s P20 Pro with its triple-camera setup. Read on for all the details.

Whoosh! Screen Cleaner

DxOMark evaluates cameras based on a combined score of photo and video performance. The total score is not out of 100. With that it mind, the iPhone XS Max that DxO tested scored notably higher at 105 than the iPhone X, which earned 97 last year. The company notes that it only tested the XS Max, but more or less expects the XS to perform the same, since they have the same camera systems.

DxO notes that while the few hardware upgrades to the XS camera system are valuable, the software changes are more noticeable.

On the software and image processing side of things, the improvements are more obvious. During still image capture, the camera continuously captures a multi-frame buffer at different exposures, allowing for simultaneous zero shutter lag and HDR processing, something that is unique to the new iPhone at this point.

Still photos

For the photo portion, DxO called out that the iPhone XS Max could have better zoom performance, but it still scored an impressive scored 110.

Overall, however, still image quality is very good, and the iPhone XS Max achieves an excellent Photo score of 110 points. In addition to capturing great image quality in bright light, the iPhone XS Max camera is also very reliable, consistently capturing good results shot after shot. The autofocus system is among the best we have tested, and images recorded in Apple’s Portrait mode show very good subject isolation.

iPhone XS camera

Video performance

For the video portion of the testing, iPhone XS Max scored 96 with indoor white balance instabilities being one of its weaknesses. Great video performance in bright conditions was one of its key strengths.

The Apple iPhone XS Max achieves an excellent Video score of 96 points, thanks to an outstanding performance in bright light conditions. The overall score is derived from a number of sub-scores in the same way as the Photo score: Exposure (88), Color (88), Autofocus (91), Texture (58), Noise (75), Artifacts (84), and Stabilization (94).

While this doesn’t factor into its scoring system, DxO notes how the sensor readout is better on iPhone XS than compared to other smartphones.

thanks to improved sensor readout speed, the rolling-shutter effect that can occur when panning is much less intrusive than for some rivals — for example, the Google Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. You can see that vertical lines are much more “leaning” on the latter two devices in the sample clips below.

For a complete looks at how the XS camera system performed and more side by side comparisons with other top smartphones, read the full DxOMark review here.

Also be sure to take a look at our coverage of the iPhone XS camera system:


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