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OnePlus Watch vs. Samsung Watch 3: The better Android wearable

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OnePlus has just announced a slew of devices in its 2021 lineup. Alongside the OnePlus 9 series, the debuting OnePlus Watch is the brand’s first foray into wearables. The new smartwatch has some distinguishable features including one of the best battery backups, which positions it against the more expensive alternatives such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 or the Fitbit Sense.

Since the OnePlus Watch is compatible with only Android devices at this point in time, it is fair to pit it against the Galaxy Watch 3, buyers are lured toward when buying an Android smartwatch. Let’s see how OnePlus Watch compares against Samsung’s premium smartwatch on offer.

Design and watch face

OnePlus Watch has a very Galaxy Watch Active 2 vibe to it as far as the appearance is concerned. The minimal rounded face, rubber strap and dual buttons on the right hand side of the smartwatch look eerily similar. On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch 3 has a more premium feel to it. A noticeable improvement from the predecessor, it has a rotatable bezel to toggle between features. It has to be said, if you are going for looks, Galaxy Watch 3 is a no-brainer.

It is pretty early for OnePlus Watch to have a huge library of watch faces, the company however says it’ll kick-off with over 50 watch faces when the smartwatch releases next month. The option of third-party customization will allow developers to design fresh new faces, and the library will eventually increase with time. Galaxy Watch 3 on the other hand already has a huge library of official as well as third-party watch faces to choose from. So if you’re someone who wants to have that luxury, the decision is clear.

Hardware and performance

OnePlus Watch has curved glass, which measures 2.5-inches in diameter and houses a 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen touting 454×454 pixel resolution and 326ppi density. The steel case of the smartwatch measures 46mm which is bigger than most of the smartwatch dials out there. That’s paired to the interchangeable watch bands which can also be swapped with third-party options adding flair. Other than this, it has 4GB internal storage and 1GB of RAM.

The Galaxy Watch 3 on the other hand has a Circular Super AMOLED display featuring 360×360 pixels at 364 ppi protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass DX. The smartwatch comes in two dial variants – the 41mm and 45mm. The Galaxy Watch 3 has almost double onboard storage at 8GB but for processing, you get the same 1GB of RAM. The Samsung wearable comes with three band options – leather, Quick Change and Sport & Hybrid and there are plenty of third-party bands, the buyer can choose from.

Functionality and features

Coming on to the most important aspect of any smartwatch – the inherent features – OnePlus has plenty of them that won’t leave you with anything to complain about. It comes with 110 workout modes and 15 professional fitness modes to stay on top of your health regime.

The smartwatch comes with step tracking, real-time heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor and sleep tracking competence. It has on-board GPS for location tracking and is usable to reply to texts or answer incoming calls. The only downside at this point is the lack of compatibility with iOS devices.

Coming on to the Galaxy Watch 3, it has an automatic fitness tracking feature that kicks into action without the need to set it. This comes in handy when you’re cycling, running, swimming or indulged in workout. The smartwatch comes with SpO2 and VO2 Max monitoring capabilities as well as heart-rate monitoring. It can even record ECG for 30 seconds which could be a very useful feature for certain buyers.

The smartwatch gets a very detailed sleep tracking function that allows monitoring deep sleep, REM sleep or even wake after sleep onset. Then there is the customary function of texting or answering calls. Which wearable should you choose among the two is based on personal preference, but if you want more features, Galaxy Watch 3 is the one to go for.

Battery Life and charging

OnePlus has always been on top of its game when it comes to battery on its devices. The new smartwatch is no different, it has a 402mAh Li-Ion battery which is likely to last for almost two weeks on a single charge. Yes, that’s most in the fitness wearable territory, and this single feature is going to lure in many buyers. The battery of the watch can be fast charged with the Warp Charge feature, juicing up the wearable for all-day power in just 5 minutes and full charge in 20 minutes!

Galaxy Watch 3 is packed with a 340mAh Li-Ion battery, which lasts way lesser than the OnePlus Watch. In normal usage, it goes for around two days with the long workout and sleep tracking on at all times. The Galaxy Watch 3 should have provided better backup but it wasn’t to happen, and you’ll have to live with it. The OnePlus Watch thus bags the laurels for its excellent battery life, which is simply astounding for a smartwatch.

Price and availability

The reason we’re having this comparison is that the OnePlus Watch is right around the corner. It is going to be available for purchase starting April 14. The price of the smartwatch is quite exciting at just $159, making it the least priced smartwatch by a major brand. OnePlus Watch is also likely to arrive in premium Cobalt model but there is no price for it yet.

Compare this to the Galaxy Watch 3 – 41mm dial and the LTE model now retail for $190; the 45mm LTE variant however shoots up to $220 a piece. Initially, the LTE model was priced starting at $450. If you don’t mind the cost, Galaxy Watch 3 is a safe bet, whereas OnePlus is an overall package for a price that’s irresistible.

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Android 12L Beta 1 released: Big screen features for all

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Today Google released the latest version of Android with Android 12L Beta 1, made ready for all intrepid Android-running smart device users to see the future. This is not the first time we’ve seen this software, but it is the first time we’ve seen the software available in the Android Beta program for just about anyone who’ll give it a shot. This version of the software can be found on the Android Beta website and through Google’s developer portal.

This software is a sort of half-step between Android 12 and Android 13. This is an operating system update that’ll work on all devices, but adds functionality and features specifically tuned for large-screen devices and devices with transforming displays. Foldables and rollable display devices will not be passed over by Android!

If you’re testing this software on a device with a large screen, you’ll find a new taskbar for easy app switching. This new taskbar also allows the user to easily drag and drop apps for split-screen mode functionality. Large-screen devices have UI refinements as well, with a focus on usability for overview, lockscreen, quick settings, notifications, and home screens.

This new software is optimized for large screen devices. Developers were given APIs and tools to “help build for large screens” with Android. This included material patterns for large screens, Jetpack Compose for adaptive UI, Window Size Classes for UI management, Activity embedding APIs, a resizeable emulator, and visual linting in Android Studio (with Android Studio Chipmunk).

You do not need a large-screen device to enroll in the Beta program for Android 12L. If you head over to the Android Beta for Pixel site, you’ll see the devices that’ll be able to run this Beta software. Most any Pixel device Pixel 3a or newer should be able to run this Android 12L Beta build.

If you own a Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, you can give Android 12L Developer Preview a try right now. There’s a Lenovo P12 Pro Android 12L Developer Preview Program available for tapping right this minute. This includes Security Patch 2021-11-01 and Android 12L DP1.

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Tile tracker prospective buyer Life360 accused of selling location data

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Many people who have caught a whiff of the many privacy issues in this digital age may presume that it all revolves around social media. The rather horrifying truth is that almost anything about a person that can be transmitted in a digital manner can be used to create a profile of that person, often for targeted marketing purposes. That especially includes the places you’ve been to, which is why location tracking has been a very thorny subject as far as privacy issues go. That’s why it’s a bit worrying that the popular Bluetooth tracker Tile might be acquired by a company that is now allegedly violating its own users’ privacy, which is ironic given the nature of Life360’s business.

Image Credit: Tile

READ: After trying Apple’s AirTag I can see why Tile is furious

Life360 might not be a familiar name to many people, but it has built a reputation around helping families keep track of one another, often with the goal of ensuring their safety. The app comes in handy in making sure kids are where they should be or that family members can send SOS messages in an emergency. These features obviously require some form of location tracking as well as some expectations of privacy.

A lengthy report from The Markup, however, casts some doubt on the latter. Former Life360 employees claim that the company basically sells the location data of its users to almost anyone for the right price. It even partnered with the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track “mobility trends” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life365

Most of Life360’s customers, however, are involved in the advertising industry, providing insights for use with targeted advertising. Company founder and CEO Chris Hulls admits that they see this data as an important part of their business model but that they have privacy policies in place that prevent personally identifiable information (PII) from leaking to its clients. Life360 also credits this business model for allowing them to offer free life-saving services like driver safety.

Complicating matters, however, is Life360’s intent to acquire Tile, one of the most popular brands of Bluetooth trackers in the market today. With Apple’s AirTag and Samsung’s SmartTag, that market has seen a renewed interest as well as more intense scrutiny from privacy advocates and regulators.

The report, while not exactly damning, could put a dent in Life360’s plans. According to The Markup, Hulls said Life360 “doesn’t have plans” to sell Tile tracker data.

Regardless of those privacy policies, the mere thought that Life360, a service aimed at families with kids, deals heavily in the data-selling business is enough to raise red flags. Without many external safeguards in place, there is almost no telling how much information its partners are able to glean from the precise location data that it sells. Security and privacy experts have argued that even anonymized data can still be used to build a profile of an individual for targeted advertising, which can then be used to harvest other information from other sources (via Nature).

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Instagram parental controls about to change the way you browse

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Although Meta itself is no stranger to controversy and legal inquiries, it was Instagram that was put on the hot seat a few months back for the way it treated its younger users. From accusations of trying to profit at the expense of teens’ mental health to criticisms for lack of parental control, Instagram has been painted recently as an unsafe place for young people to be, despite its popularity with that demographic. The social network has tried to recover from that bad PR and is now announcing features to reassure parents, but some of those won’t be rolling out until next year.

Image Credit: Instagram

For Parents

Instagram isn’t new to the social networking game, and the bulk of its users come from younger generations. You’d think that, at this point, it would already have safety measures in place to let parents safeguard kids, but that was definitely not the case. To be fair, it wasn’t until recently that Instagram officially allowed minors in, but it should have had provisions ready for that situation.

Image Credit: Instagram

Better late than never, as some might say, and parental controls are finally coming to Instagram. The catch is that it won’t be until March next year before these parental controls become available. When it does, parents will finally have a say on how much time they want their kids to spend on Instagram. The company is also building an educational hub for parents that will probably try to ease their worries about the network’s impact on their children’s mental health.

For Teens

Parents won’t have to wait long for one promised feature, though. Starting today, teenage users from the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia will be nudged to take a break every now and then when they’ve been scrolling through their feeds for too long. Although it’s too easy to dismiss these notifications, Instagram hints it will be a little persistent and almost nagging in reminding young users to leave that setting enabled.

Image Credit: Instagram

Instagram is also improving on limitations specific to teens’ accounts. For example, other people won’t be able to tag them in posts if the teens don’t follow those accounts. The network’s “Limit Even More” option for controlling sensitive content might also filter out potentially harmful search results, though this feature is still in its early testing stage.

For Everyone

There are also features being tested that will benefit not just teens but all users of all ages. Instagram is testing a new tool that will let users manage their activity better, like bulk deleting content, including previous likes and comments. If all goes well, this will be available in January.

Image Credit: Instagram

The social network is also preparing a “nudge” to remind users to look at other topics if they’ve been staring or searching for a single one for far too long. It’s almost like the “Take a Break” feature but focused on certain topics that can become an unhealthy obsession, especially if the subject matter can be deemed to be potentially harmful.

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