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RHA TrueConnect earbuds review: High quality, stylish wireless earbuds for your commute or workout

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Image: RHA

After testing out the Jabra Elite Active 65t in June 2018, my AirPods have been sitting idle. RHA’s new TrueConnect earbuds compete directly with products like this Jabra headset with long battery life, water resistance, and better fit than the generic AirPods.

The AirPods let me down with no water/dust resistant rating, one-size-fits all fit (or unfit as it may be), and limited support for Android smartphones. Thankfully, there are options today and the RHA TrueConnect is a great option for iOS and Android phone and tablet users. The sound quality is great, the earbuds are sweat/splash/weather resistant, digital assistants on iOS and Android are supported, and a wide variety of tips to fit your ears are provided.

Also RHA MA390 Wireless earbuds hands-on: 8 hour battery, assistant button, and reasonable price

I’ve been commuting, running, and traveling with these earbuds for the last few weeks and am very impressed with their performance. There is one aspect I would like to see improved, but overall the RHA TrueConnect is a headset to consider.

Specifications

  • Driver: 6mm dynamic
  • Frequency range: 20-20,000 Hz
  • Water resistance: IPX5 rating
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Battery life: Up to 5 hours of play with charging case providing another 20 hours. 15 minutes of charging in the case give you 50 percent charge on the earbuds.
  • Earbud weight: 13 grams total
  • Warranty: Industry-leading three year manufacturer’s warranty

Hardware

The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with integrated battery, a USB-C cable, and an array of earbud tips. It is awesome to finally see accessory providers using USB-C to charge up devices since most phones use this cable and it is getting harder and harder to find older microUSB cables.

RHA is known for providing a massive selection of earbud tips and with the TrueConnect package you will find two sets of silicone tips for your ears in sizes small, medium, and large. You will also find one set of small, medium, and large Comply foam tips that are more effective for sound isolation if you want to block the outside world and enjoy your media content.

The RHA TrueConnect has a different form factor than we have seen from Jabra, Samsung, and others. It is similar to an AirPod with a stem that extends downwards, but not as long as the AirPods. The extension fits in nicely with the groove in your ear to help lock it securely into place.

The earbuds have a matte black finish with a soft touch covering. They are easy to grasp and stay securely in your ears.

The buttons on the earbuds do not offer much tactile feedback and is the one aspect of the TrueConnect that keep me from calling them perfect. It is hard for me to tell when I double or triple tap the earbud and I often end up pushing the earbud further into my ear canal as a result. A more pronounced button or a touch interface might be a better approach here.

Also Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Better than the AirPods and designed for active users

There are buttons on both the right and left side. A single press activates play/pause on both sides with a 1.5 second press and hold activating the voice assistant from either side. A double press on the left side skips ahead while a triple press on the left side skips back. A double press on the right side increases volume while a triple press on the right side lowers volume.

Both sides have the same functionality for calls with answer, reject, volume up, and volume down options through single, double, and triple presses.

A high quality metal and soft touch material charging/carrying case is provided. There is a small red dot to indicate the right earbud on the earbud and on the case next to the compartment the earbud is inserted into. The metal spine of the carrying case is held in an upwards position and then you flip out the soft touch compartment. It opens like a roll out drawer and then you grab each earbud to insert it into your ear. It can be a bit tough to get the earbuds out of the charging case too.

There are four white LED indicator lights on the lower left front of the charging case that gives you the charging status of the case, it gives you 20 hours of capacity (four full charges), and charging status of the earbuds when they are inserted into the case for charging.

It is great to see USB-C as the standard charging port and a USB-A to USB-C cable is provided in the retail package.

Price and competition

There is quite a bit of competition in the fully wireless earbud market today, but not all of them are designed for active exercise routines. The Apple AirPods are priced at $159, but do not have tips for the best fit of your ear and there is no level of dust/water resistance.

The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds have a MSRP of $189.99, the Samsung Gear Icon X is priced at $129.99 ($50 off MSRP), the Jaybird Run is $179.99, and the Bose SoundSport Free is $169.95.

As you can see, the $169.95 RHA TrueConnect is priced about the same as most of these other water resistant truly wireless earbuds. When you compare all of these, the TrueConnect stands our with a long warranty, excellent battery life, and great quality phone calls.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

Headphone jacks are no longer the default on smartphones so most of us are making the move to wireless headsets. While Apple may have been one of the first to offer a compelling truly wireless experience, others quickly surpassed them with better options for those who are active and for those looking for more than a very basic experience.

RHA has always impressed me with its committment to quality, demonstrated by its long three-year warranty period. The RHA TrueConnect has worked very well for me over the past few weeks, with only the limited tactile feel of its buttons my only concern.

The TrueConnect earbuds also do not support the aptX profile and at this price I would think it would support this common stack. I did notice a bit of broken audio from time-to-time when I had my phone in my pocket, but most of the time playback was flawless.

The stem design helps bring the mic down closer to your mouth and may be a major reason that callers confirmed the call quality with the headset was excellent. Many of these truly wireless headsets are good for music, but don’t perform as well for phone calls.

RHA headsets have impressed me in the past and I had high expectations for its first truly wireless headset. The design is impressive, the battery life is above average, you can control playback and volume right from the headset, and they fit well even when running in the rain. I’m not a fan of the buttons and the lack of aptX is an oversight.

The RHA TrueConnect earbuds are very comfortable for long time wear, making them perfect for commuters, people who like to workout with music, and those looking for something better than the AirPods.

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Former head of Facebook app Fidji Simo defends company following whistleblower testimony – TechCrunch

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The former head of the Facebook app, who reported directly to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Fidji Simo, defended the social network at the start of an interview at the WSJ Tech Live event this afternoon. The exec was there to discuss her new role as Instacart CEO and her vision for the future of food delivery, but was asked to comment on the recent Facebook whistleblower’s testimony and the attention it has since raised.

Simo said she understood the scrutiny given Facebook’s impact on people’s lives. But she’s also worried that Facebook will never be able to do enough to appease its critics at this point, despite the complexity of the issues Facebook is grappling with as one of the world’s largest social networks.

“They are spending billions of dollars in keeping people safe. They are doing the most in-depth research of any company I know to understand their impact,” she argued, still very much on Facebook’s side, despite her recent departure. “And I think my worry is that people want ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to this question, but really these questions require a lot of nuance,” she added.

While the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, suggested that Facebook’s decision to prioritize user engagement through its algorithms was ultimately putting profits over people, Simo cautioned the choices weren’t quite as binary as have been described to date. She explained that making changes based on the research Facebook had invested in wasn’t just a matter of turning a dial and “all of a sudden, magically problems disappear — because Facebook is fundamentally a reflection of humanity,” she said.

Image Credits: Instacart

Instead, Simo said that the real issues at Facebook were around how every change Facebook makes can have significant societal applications at this point. It has to work to determine how it can improve upon the potentially problematic areas of its business without incidentally affecting other things along the way.

“When we discuss trade-offs, it’s usually trade-offs between two types of societal impacts,” she noted.

As an example, Simo used what would seem like a fairly straightforward adjustment to make: determine which posts make Facebook users angry then show people less of those.

As Haugen had testified, Facebook’s algorithms have been designed to reward engagement. That means posts with “likes” and other interactions spread more widely and are distributed higher up in people’s News Feeds. But she also said engagement doesn’t just come from likes and positive reactions. Engagement-based algorithms will ultimately prioritize clickbait and posts that make people angry. This, in turn, can help to boost the spread of posts eliciting stronger reactions, like misinformation or even toxic and violent content.

Simo, however, said it’s not as simple as it sounds to just dial down the anger across Facebook, as doing so would lead to another type of societal impact.

“You start digging in and you realize that the biggest societal movements were created out of anger,” she said. That led the company to question how it could make a change that could impact people’s activism.

(This isn’t quite how that situation unfolded, according to a report by the WSJ. Instead, when the algorithm was tweaked to prioritize personal posts over professionally produced content, publishers and political parties adjusted their posts toward outrage and sensationalism. And Zuckerberg resisted some of the proposed fixes to this problem, the report said.)

“That’s just a random example,” Simo said of the “anger” problem. “But literally, on every issue, there is always a trade-off that is another type of societal impact. And I can tell you for having been in these rooms for many, many years, it’s really never about like, ‘oh, are we doing the right thing for society, versus the right thing for Facebook and for profits’…the debate was really between some kinds of societal impact and another kind — which is a very hard debate to have as a private company.”

This, she added, was why Facebook wanted regulations.

“It’s not surprising that Facebook has been calling for regulation in this space for a very long time because they never want to be in a position of being the ones deciding which implications, which ramifications, which trade-offs they need to make between one type of societal impact and another type of societal impact. The governments are better positioned to do that,” she said.

Given the increasing amount of evidence coming out that Facebook itself understood, through its own internal research, that there were areas of its business that negatively impact society, Simo didn’t chalk up her departure from the social network to anything that was going on with Facebook itself.

Instead, she said she just wasn’t learning as much after 10 years with the company, and Instacart presented her with a great opportunity where she could learn “a different set of things,” she said.

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Facebook scales back its crypto ambitions once again – TechCrunch

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Facebook is launching a small pilot of its cryptocurrency wallet named Novi. A limited number of people in the U.S. and Guatemala can sign up to Novi and start using it.

Facebook is a founding member of the Diem Association. Instead of taking advantage of the association’s stablecoin (Diem) on the association’s blockchain (the Diem network), the company is partnering with Paxos and Coinbase to let users send and receive USDP, with Coinbase managing crypto custody. But this is just an intermediate step as Facebook still plans to replace USDP with Diem at some point.

Facebook originally had big plans for its crypto project. The company created a consortium of companies called the Libra Association. Together, they were supposed to launch the Libra cryptocurrency, a brand new currency tied to a basket of fiat currencies and securities. Originally, it wouldn’t be based on a single real-world currency, but on a mix of multiple currencies.

But Facebook faced strong opposition from many central banks — they feared that Libra would become a quasi-sovereign currency in some countries. Last year, the association announced that it would reduce its ambitions by focusing on single-currency stablecoins.

A stablecoin is a crypto asset with a fixed value that doesn’t fluctuate over time. For instance, the Libra Association wanted to launch the LibraUSD. One LibraUSD would always be worth one USD.

A few months later, the Libra Association announced some changes once again. The project was rebranded to the Diem Association. Similarly, Facebook’s wallet project was rebranded from Calibra to Novi. But neither Diem nor Novi were ready for prime time.

And now, Facebook is going to start testing Novi with some real users. The company is focusing on remittance between the U.S. and Guatemala. Novi users who want to send money can download the Novi app, create an account and add money using a payment method, such as a debit card.

Whenever you add USD, your money is converted to USDP without any fees. USDP is a stablecoin tied to USD created by Paxos. It used to be called the Pax Dollar (PAX), but Paxos recently rebranded it to USDP.

Behind the scenes, USDP is backed by cash and cash equivalents to ensure its value. User funds are managed by Coinbase Custody, meaning that Coinbase stores USDP funds for Novi users.

Novi users can then send USDP to other Novi users. Once again, there are no fees involved with money transfers. But chances are you can’t use Novi to pay in store or pay your rent. That’s why users can withdraw their Novi balance at a cash location, or transfer their balance to a bank account.

But Novi doesn’t say if there are fees involved when you convert your USDP to Guatemalan quetzal. So we’re back to square one, as Novi has to pick an exchange rate, which involves spread, liquidity and other variables. Novi also has to create fiat-to-crypto on-ramps and off-ramps across all markets where it wants to operate.

Facebook says that this is just the beginning for Novi. First, it is only available as a pilot for some users in Guatemala and the U.S. (except Alaska, Nevada, New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Second, Facebook and the Diem Association haven’t shelved plans to launch their own cryptocurrency at some point.

“I do want to be clear that our support for Diem hasn’t changed and we intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live. We care about interoperability and we want to do it right,” Novi project lead David Marcus said on Twitter.

Facebook unveiled the Libra cryptocurrency in June 2019. The crypto ecosystem has changed drastically since then. In particular, some stablecoins have become incredibly popular — Tether and USD Coin have a combined circulating supply of more than $100 billion right now. So it’s going to be interesting to see if Diem can catch up with existing stablecoins and unlock some new use cases.

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Instagram is adding ‘Collabs,’ new music features for Reels, desktop posting and more – TechCrunch

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Instagram today announced a number of new features that will roll out this week across both the Instagram Feed and its TikTok competitor, Reels. The creator-focused additions will allow users to collaborate with one another, raise funds, and make better use of music on Reels, among other things. The company will also make its Instagram desktop website more usable, by allowing people to finally be able to post both photos and videos under one minute in length using their desktop web browser.

The latter has been a long-requested new feature, the company notes, and will become available to global audiences as of Thursday, October 21.

The company had previously tested the feature this summer, but it was not widely available.

Image Credits: Instagram

The other new features will drop throughout the week, starting today with “Collabs.”

Instagram describes this feature as a “test,” explaining that it will allow people to co-author both Feed posts and Reels. To do so, users can invite another account to be a collaborator from the tagging screen on Instagram. If the other person accepts, both accounts will appear in the post or the Reels header and content will be shared to both sets of followers. Although Instagram is only announcing the test today, many Instagram users have already spotted the feature in the app, as the company began a small-scale global test of this feature back in July.

At the time, Instagram said only a small number of people would have access to the feature, and it didn’t indicate when it would roll out more broadly.

When two creators choose to collab, the post or Reel will appear on both their Profile Grids and it will have a shared view count, like count and comment thread, Instagram says.

On Wednesday, Instagram will also begin to test a new way to create fundraisers for nonprofits, with the introduction of a feature that lets you start the fundraiser directly from the creation button (the “+” plus button at the top right of the screen.). When you tap this option, instead of selecting Post, Story, Reels, or Live, you’ll see an option to select a nonprofit and add the fundraiser to your Feed post.

Instagram has supported fundraisers for some time, even adding support for nonprofit fundraising during livestreams last year. But it hadn’t before offering a way to create a fundraiser from a standalone spot right from your Instagram profile.

This feature had been spotted ahead of this week’s launch by developer and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who found the new fundraiser button in development back in September.

Two other new additions are meant to enhance Instagram Reels, when used with music.

On Thursday, Instagram will introduce two new effects called Superbeat and Dynamic Lyrics, which will help creators who edit and perform using music on Reels. Superbeat will intelligently apply special effects to music to the beat of the user’s song while Dynamic Lyrics will display 3D lyrics that will flow with the song’s “groove,” says Instagram.

These new features follow TikTok’s rollout of a half dozen interactive music effects back in April, including several that add visual effects synced the beat of a song. Reels, meanwhile, has offered a much more limited selection of first-party creative effects until now, instead relying on its community to expand its library beyond the basics like a timer or speed adjustment tool, for instance.

The Reels features will arrive alongside posting from the desktop, which Instagram says will be limited to photos and videos under one minute in length. The company this month dropped its IGTV brand for long-form video, but still allows for videos up to 60 minutes.  That’s now just considered “Instagram Video” — a term that includes anything that’s not video in a Story or in Reels.

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