Apple announced a series of new features and updates across its 4 platforms: MacOS, iOS, WatchOS and TVOS. Here are the 5 things that I liked best:
1- Swift Playground Apple introduced Swift Playground, a free iPad app that teaches kids how to code. It is fun and intuitive using game like lessons to make learning code seem easy.
2- Calls, Messages and Emojis You can now receive voice and video calls from third party apps (i.e Whatsapp) to the home screen just like traditional calls. iMessage got a major makeover with integration support for third party apps, services and lots of interactive features as well as fun and predictive emojis.
3- Apple Watch SOS Button and Medical ID Bracelet You can now long press the side button of your watch to initiate an SOS call anywhere in the world, without even knowing the local emergency number. The watch will also turn into a medial ID bracelet showing all your emergency medical details.
4- Home App Home allows you to control all your smart devices in your house via HomeKit. It will let you control the lights, thermostats, open doors, view cams and set scenes, all from one native app.
5- iCloud Drive A more efficient and productive way to use desktop storage and iCloud. Your desktop files are now backed up and stored in the cloud while being fully accessible across all desktop and mobile devices.
Overall Apple is moving towards a more open system, it is giving the developer community more access and tools to push the limits without compromising on the aesthetics, functionality and more important the privacy of the user. The iOS 10 Developer Preview is already out now, with a public beta available in the summer and the final version coming this September with the new iPhone launch.
Even though Huawei phones have been in the market for quite some time, I’ve never had the chance to use or review any of them. A month ago, I spotted the Messi commercial with the new Mate 8 so I asked Huawei if I could try it out and they sent me a review model for a couple of weeks time, which was good enough for a quick review:
The Huawei Mate 8 is a large phone, or phablet in that case, and doesn’t comfortably fit in all hands, just like all 5.5-inch+ smartphones. The slightly curved back does make it easier to hold but it’s still a hassle. The Mate 8 is an all-metal/glass phone and it’s pretty heavy but the metal finish feels premium and solid and the phone boasts a 6-inch screen which makes it one of the smallest 6-inch smartphones on the market. For example, Google Nexus 6P is a bigger phablet with only a 5.7-inch device.
Huawei Mate 8 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4 – via PhoneArena
In terms of design, The Mate 8 is a refined version of the previous Mate 7 but I found its front side to be a bit dull. Its back side on the other hand stands out and is quite nice.
I found the screen to be dim and the screen resolution to be too low. I’m surprised it’s only 1080p LCD display and is a major drawback when compared to the competition. I don’t know if I got used to LG and Samsung’s impressive screens over the past years, but most competing smartphones are of far higher quality than this. The resolution is still sharp enough for most situations, but I personally wouldn’t switch from a Quad HD screen to this one.
The only positive aspect about the display is a better battery life, which I will discuss next.
If you are looking for a large smartphone with an impressive battery life, then Mate 8 is what you need. There’s a large 4,000 mAh battery tucked inside the large metal body and it would easily last around 36 hours if you’re a heavy user (Emails, Facebook, Instagram, Watching videos, Taking pictures etc …). The quick charge is also supported and can fully charge your dead battery in around 80 minutes.
The Huawei Mate 8 relies on a Sony IMX298 16MP front camera and a lens with a f2.0 aperture. The camera can generate up to to 4,608 x 3,456 pixels in resolution and there’s optical image stabilization too. It’s a very good camera, but not a great one but again I am very picky when it comes to phone cameras and I’ve gotten used to impressive Samsung Galaxy S cameras that are very hard to compete with. The only camera that was as impressive as the Samsung’s one is the LG G4 and I’m expecting the G5’s camera to be even better.
Going back to the Mate 8 camera, there are several cool features that are worth mentioning:
– Swiping left or right lets you switch between several modes (Light Painting, Beauty, Time-lapse, video etc ..)
– Selfie addicts will fall in love with the Beauty (Selfie) mode.
– Light-painting mode is pretty cool but you need a tripod to use it properly. Here’s a small sample with the old Huawei P8.
– Mate 8 also offers a professional mode where you can adjust ISO levels, Aperture, white balance etc.
– You can add a watermark also on the picture directly.
Speaking of Huawei cameras, I’m eager to test out the Huawei P9’s camera as it was co-engineered with the one and only Leica.
Here are a couple of pictures I took using my LG G4 and the new Huawei Mate 8.
The phone is ultra fast but the software is a little buggy and the interface is not very appealing. I only had a couple of weeks to experiment with the phone and given my experience with other brands, it’s still a matter of time before you get used to the interface. For example, it took me some time to get used to the LG G4’s rear button but now every time I hold a button, that’s the first thing I look for. Similary, Samsung and the iPhone’s home button is a must for me and the Mate 8 doesn’t have that.
I loved the fingerprint sensor, it’s super responsive and fast. The Mate 8 also accepts two SIM cards.
The Mate 8 has a lot of cool features, it’s a solid phone with an exceptional build quality, powerful specs and an outstanding battery life but the display is average, and the design and the camera are good but not great. Here’s a list of pros and cons that might help you decide if you’d consider buying the Mate 8 or not. Price-wise, it’s around $500 which is a tiny bit expensive for what you’re getting.
– 6-inch gigantic screen: perfect for browsing, messaging, watching movies or series on the plane etc.
– Impressive battery life.
– Dual SIM.
– Solid build.
– Ultra Fast processor.
– A lot of cool features (Fingerprint sensor, camera options etc…)
– Doesn’t comfortably fit in all hands or pockets.
– Low resolution and dim screen.
– Camera is not impressive.
I always said that I’ll never give my kids mobile phones before they become teenagers. I was even constantly bashing my friends for doing so, but all this changed when we got kids of our own, and I realized the pressure parents face on the topic.
If you decided to give your child a connected device, then make sure you are in total control and constantly monitoring your little one. It’s a big, dangerous virtual world out there, and you don’t want to send them all alone unprotected. Here are some tips to help you make a safer decision:
Which Devices Are Suitable For Your Child?
I am an Apple user myself. For me, Apple is always a safer choice when it comes to children. Of course, you can set parental control on Android and create users for your kids to give them limited access on apps and content. But still, the many combined features on Apple provide a full hands-on parental control experience. We’ll be covering Android in a later post.
iPad: I prefer the iPad more than the iPad Mini as it has a big interactive surface for those little clumsy fingers, larger screen which makes it easier on the eyes, and plenty of educational and entertaining apps on the store. You can also find many child-proof covers that most importantly protect the children from hurting themselves, make it easy for them to hold the device and reduce the risk of getting the device broken from the guaranteed falls to come.
iPod Touch: Many kids this age become more mobile and independent, they are on the move, they go out with family members, they want something easier to carry around, smaller and cooler. The iPod looks and feels like a smartphone but it comes without mobile cellular connection, only WI-FI. This is important because your kids can only connect to a secure and monitored network. Without a mobile number, nobody can call your child or chat (Whatsapp) with them behind your back. With Parental control, you can pre-approve your child’s address book and messaging contacts to make sure they only contact / Facetime / iMessage people you approve.
Old is Gold: (Get a GSM Mobile Handset)
Whether your child has after-school activity, is invited to spend a day-out with friends, or is sleeping over at a family member’s house, there are times when you need to make sure that your child has constant access to a phone and can call you anytime. The best solution is to give them a temporary mobile access for the duration of the trip. The trick is to avoid giving them a smartphone.
The solution is simple, invest in an “old school” GSM mobile phone equipped with a prepaid SIM card capable of voice calls and SMS only (the $20 Nokia would do). The phone is to be kept at home at all times and only provided to your kids whenever they have an outing.
If you haven’t purchased a mobile phone for your kid by now then you’ve got superpowers, I salute you 🙂 Dealing with teenagers is tricky since they are technically savvy.
Here are a few things to remember:
– Restrict adult content by enabling parental control or restrictions on the device itself and on the home WI-FI network.
– Enable Find My iPhone in order to track the whereabouts of your child.
– Limit screen time, especially at night and in their bedrooms. Make sure they use their devices in the family rooms.
– Make sure you talk to your kids about the risks of sharing confidential information about their home, family and friends.
– Make sure that your kids don’t take sensitive photos (private parts) and share them with friends.
– Always be aware of their latest password and constantly check their devices for inappropriate photos, chats and apps.
– Talk to your kids about what is appropriate and inappropriate content online, and why it’s important to steer clear of the dark areas of the web.
– Monitor your kids for any sudden change in mobile behavior, change of password, hiding the device, etc.
Set Up The Device Yourself And Create An Apple ID For Your Kids:
When you purchase a device, take it out of the box and set it up yourself. Every device requires an Apple ID for it to work properly. On the device, create an Apple ID specific for your child and save the username and password. You can prevent your kids from changing them in the parental controls. However, children under 13 are not allowed to have an Apple ID without a parental consent and without being part of a family plan.
Note: Never login with your apple ID on other devices, your pictures and messages will show up on those devices as well.
Create A Family Plan:
As the family administrator, activate the family plan on your iPhone and add all your family members, this is really helpful on several fronts:
– You don’t need to issue several credit cards to be allocated to each of the users. You can have one credit card on the main admin account and all the family members will be able to use this card to make online purchases.
– Your kids won’t be making any downloads and purchases without your approval. Every download, purchase, or in-app purchase will need parent/guardian approval before it happens. The parent receives a notification on their device asking for approval on behalf of the child, you can approve or reject.
– The family members can also benefit from apps that are already purchased on different accounts without having to purchase them once again, you can simply re-download these apps for free on the different family accounts.
Activate Parental Controls:
Make sure to activate the parental control feature or restrictions on your kids’ devices and protect it with an admin password. Doing so will give you peace of mind making sure your kids are safely using the device as they will have:
– Limited access to apps, they cannot download an app without your approval, your next phone/credit card bill won’t arrive jam-packed with surprise app purchases,
– No Access to adult-related content, it can be blocked depending on age of the child and will show age appropriate content.
– Controlled chat environment: One of the greatest threats kids face is chatting with complete strangers and pedophiles. With parental control you can prevent your kids from contacting someone who is not on the safe contact list.
– No or limited Internet access, of course depending on your internet allowance quota.
All in all, we should not fear technology, we should embrace and be on top of it. Yes, we live in a different era, we can no longer raise our kids the way we were raised and act as if these devices don’t exist. In the next 20 years, 50% of the future jobs will be ones that don’t currently exist. We need our kids to be on top of trends, technically savvy, connected with the world and most important connected with us.
I’ve been carrying The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge for almost 6 months now, and I still didn’t get bored of its unique design and curved side screens, but I missed having a bigger screen and I’ve been struggling with the memory and the battery. In fact, battery life is much better than the S5 but it’s still relatively bad especially when your memory is near full (which is the case almost always with me).
I basically needed a bigger S6 Edge with a larger battery and that’s exactly what Samsung delivered. The Samsung S6 Edge Plus was launched along with the new Note 5 and even though I loved the new Note and tested it out for a while, I opted for the S6 Edge Plus because I got used to its slick design and edged curves.
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ vs. Galaxy S6 edge: What’s the difference?
The Galaxy S6 edge+ is basically a bigger version of the S6 Edge but there are five key differences that are worth mentioning:
1- Bigger Screen: The hardware is the same, the design is almost identical but the display jumped from 5.1 to 5.7 inches which is quite significant (25% more screen).
2- Bigger Battery: The (non-removable) battery is 3000 mAh vs 2600 mAh for the Edge, which is normal since the phone is bigger.
3- Fast Wireless Charging: If you thought Fast Charging is great, Wireless Fast Charging is amazing! It’s mostly useful at the office as it keeps your battery charging and your phone unplugged. Personally speaking, fast charging is one of my favorite features in the new Galaxy series and compensates for the lousy battery life.
4- Improved Performance: The S6 Edge plus has 4GB of RAM instead of 3GB, which means a better performance and improved multi-tasking. The S6 Edge was already ultra fast so I doubt that I will notice a significant change.
5- No IR Blaster: I never used my smartphone as a remote so this feature is pretty useless for me to be honest, but I don’t understand why they removed it.
There are other features that were first introduced with the S6 Edge Plus, like the Apps Edge, Video collage and Live broadcast but they are all available on the S6 Edge now. As far as cameras are concerned, I read somewhere that the S6 Edge Plus camera was slightly improved but I didn’t notice any improvements yet.
Is It Worth The Upgrade?
To be honest, I usually wait a couple of months till the prices drop before upgrading but Samsung CTC’s swap campaign helped me speed up the process, especially that I got an extra discount as gift. At first, I wanted to swap my S6 Edge but then I decided to swap an old iPhone 5S I have for the new S6 Edge Plus because the price I got for the iPhone was better than most cellular shops and I ended up paying a difference of around $300 for the new phone (+ I got the Wireless Fast Charging for free). For those interested, you can value your phone [here] before doing the swap.
All in all, I recommend upgrading to the S6 Edge Plus if you love big screens and want a better battery life. If you are a Note fan and make use of the pen, the Note 5 is a major upgrade from the previous models and comes highly recommended.
Jake al-Mir is only 14 years old and has developed two apps already – Picture from the DailyStar
Jake al-Mir is a remarkable 14-year old Lebanese high school student that taught himself how to code at age 12. He came up with an app called “Emoji Escape” two years ago and was invited this year by Apple to attend its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco thanks to his app on speeding and driving “NoSpeed”.
Jake is one of 350 students worldwide to qualify for a paid scholarship to the conference and presumably the only Arab participant at the event but I can’t confirm that. Some are claiming he is also the youngest developer to be awarded Apple’s WWDC 2015 scholarship, which is awesome news!
How does the “NoSpeed” app work?
Jake Al-Mir developed the “NoSpeed” app to tackle the problem of speeding and try to decrease car accidents especially in his home country Lebanon. The app functions even when the mobile phone is locked by sending the driver a notification whenever he exceeds the speed limit, therefore also helping people avoid speeding tickets.
Here are the key functionalities:
• Track the speed of your car and when it surpasses the speed limit it will send you a voice notification to slow down. IT EVEN WORKS WHEN YOUR iPhone IS TURNED OFF (IN BACKGROUND)
• Customize your speedometer with your favorite color
• Track your altitude while driving
• Benefit from the included compass
• Switch between MPH or Km/h mode
It’s a smart idea to send notifications when the phone is locked but I think there are apps that do the same thing already. However Jake’s app is different as it sends a voice notification that plays without the driver’s intervention. Of course I know for a fact that new cars have smart systems that allow drivers to set thresholds and get alerts for almost anything but I don’t know if they are linked to a mobile app.
Nevertheless, Jake is only 14 and is obviously very talented. I studied Computer Science and I don’t even know how to start writing an app while he has two apps on iTunes already!
Thumbs up to Jake for this awesome achievement and I hope we will see him working for Apple one day.
Yesterday was the first time I attend a Samsung #Unpacked event and I personally enjoyed it. The event took place at the Centre de Convencions Internacional in Barcelona and it felt really good to take part in it, share the excitement and interact with the crowds. #Unpacked introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6 as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge which comes with curved screens as well as other cool accessories like the Gear VR. The two new phones were announced by Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin who claimed that no other phone can match the new S6’s, and I have to say the phones have some pretty impressive specs.
Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin announcing the two new phones
The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
I will begin with the specs that are similar to both the S6 and S6 Edge:
1- Plastic covers were dropped and replaced by a metal frame and Gorilla glass back. The metal is supposedly 50% stronger metal than competing smartphones and shouldn’t bend 🙂
2- The battery is smaller and no longer removable (so no SD card slot). It should last longer however according to Samsung due to the new processor. 10 minutes of Fast Charging will allow you to use the phone for 4 hours. Both devices charge twice as fast as the iPhone6.
3- Display is 5.1″ Quad HD super AMOLED (577pi). Better colors more pixels and a gorgeous screen.
4- The processor (Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore ) is much better and uses less battery. The phones are equipped DDR4 3GB RAM.
5- The front camera is 5MP while the rear one is 16MP OIS equipped with f1.9 aperture for better low light results. Camera launch time is 0.7 seconds only. Here are some of the camera features: Quick Launch, Tracking AF, Auto Real-time HDR(Front & Rear) , F1.9, Low Light Video(Front & Rear), High Clear Zoom, IR Detect White Balance, Virtual Shot, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Pro Mode, Selective Focus.
6- The #GalaxyS6 and #GalaxyS6edge come in five colors: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
7- Galaxy S6 comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB, Galaxy S6 Edge in 64GB and 128GB.
8- There’s also Wireless charging which is a built-in feature.
As for the #GalaxyS6edge, it will be the world’s first dual-edge display smartphone, which means two curved side screens that will allow you to quickly check and answer call, messages or emails. The Clear View option will also allow you to determine who’s calling you based on the color .
Once the event was done, we got the chance to check out the new phones and try them out for few minutes. I held both phones to see if they were comfortable to hold given their ultra-slim design and I was pleasantly surprised by their grip and feel specially the S6 Edge. The camera on both phones is fantastic, they are very quick and responsive and the side screens on the S6 Edge are very easy to use.
As a first impression, I liked the new S6 but I’m honestly in love with the S6 Edge. What I didn’t appreciate was the fact that there are no SD card slots anymore and I am curious to see if the battery life will indeed improve with the new processor as this is a crucial feature. Otherwise, S6 is a huge improvement from the S5 and the S6 Edge might be the next big thing. Of course this is a very quick first impression post and I will definitely write a longer and more detailed post once I get my hands on the phone for a proper review.
The official release date is set for April 10th and prices are not yet out but I heard the S6 will start selling at around 800$. Here are some of the pictures I took at #Unpacked
Here are a couple of pictures showing the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 side by side:
What do you think I should get? A Samsung or an iPhone? What about the LG did you try it? is the HTC any good? All these are questions I get asked most of the time by friends and family members specially when a new smartphone is expected to come out soon. While I never pretended to be a smartphone expert, I love with experimenting with phones in general and I’ve been doing that for the past 15 years or so. My first phone was an Ericsson then I switched to the Siemens SL45 which was one of the most advanced phones at the time, then I carried Nokia phones for quite some time before switching to a Sony Ericsson for a short while. My first smartphone was the iPhone and I fell in love with it back then but as soon as Android phones started coming out, I ditched my iPhone4 and got the Samsung Note2. I then switched to the Samsung S3, Galaxy Note 3 then the S4, tried to get used to the Windows Lumia phones but couldn’t, gave the Blackberry Q5 a try but it didn’t work out, then I got the S5 and I’m currently using the Samsung S5 and LG G3. I carried the iPhone 6 for a short while but then I decided to switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it comes out.
The reason why I didn’t switch to the iPhone 6 again is not because I didn’t like it or don’t appreciate Apple products, but because the Samsung Galaxy series and Android phones in general are much more convenient for me. I am neither an Android nor an Apple fanatic and I will always go for the technology that makes my life easier and that I can afford. This being said, here are the four features that I look for when choosing a smartphone and that helped me favor Android phones over the iPhone.
Operating System, Software & Performance:
I’ve always had Windows laptops and desktops at home and at work and I tried getting used to Macbooks but I couldn’t, so this whole Apple experience (iPad, Mac, iPhone) is not something I am familiar with and I hated working with iTunes just to sync few songs or images. Moreover, the internet was pretty bad before and is still not that good nowadays, so downloading all these huge updates (even for the iTunes and apps on the Apple Store) was a real pain for me. I remember it took me a week once to upgrade my iPhone because of the internet connection. Even nowadays, it’s a nightmare whenever I have to update the whole family’s iPads and iPhones and I usually end up wasting my 4G quota to do so. I don’t know if there’s an easier way to manage these updates and software upgrades specially with the lousy internet, but I thought it was much easier with Android and I love the fact that I could just plug my phone in a laptop and use it as a storage device without iTunes. Backing up to the cloud or Dropbox is also not a practical solution for me as the DSL connection is not reliable and I’d waste my 4G quota in no time specially that I am a heavy smartphone user.
In terms of performance, I think most of the top rated smartphones nowadays are good and only getting better. The LG G3 I’m currently using is super fast, the iPhone 6 is even better and the upcoming Samsung S6 will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. Sadly enough, the Windows Lumia phones were real quick but the OS was a nightmare. As for the software, the iOS still looks nicer and cleaner than the Android and doesn’t have all these useless features that only slow down your phone but I feel comfortable using both.
I’m not a photographer but I love taking pictures and I even bought an SLR at some point and learned a few things to enhance my photography skills. However, it’s not really practical to carry your SLR to all the events you’re invited to, so a phone’s camera is really important to me specially with Instagram nowadays. Before the iPhone 6 came out, my favorite camera was the Samsung S5 one and the best camera I’ve ever used was with the Windows Lumia 1020 one. I never enjoyed the Galaxy Note cameras for some reason, so I am anxiously waiting to see how good the Samsung Galaxy S6 camera will be. Rumors so far are saying it will be a 16MP (or 20MP?) Sony-made IMX240 sensor.
This is probably one of the key reasons why I’ll always opt for an Android smartphone over an iPhone. I am a heavy smartphone user and I take a lot of pictures and videos in high res so storage is crucial to me. Moreover, I refuse to pay $150 or $200 extra just to get the iPhone 64GB instead of the 16GB while I could buy a 32GB microSD for as little as 30$. Some may argue that you can backup everything to the cloud nowadays but as I said earlier, this is not an option when you have a lousy internet connection and a limited 4G plan, and it’s not an excuse for Apple not to offer an SD card slot.
The 16GB of pictures were taken during the past 5 months only.
I think everyone suffers from this problem and the only solution is to buy a decent portable charger, or a bigger phone (phablet) like the Note4, the LG G4 or the iPhone 6 Plus. I recently bought the Anker Astro E5 2-Port 1500mAH Portable Charger and it’s a life-saver specially during events, road trips or while traveling. I heard that the new Samsung Galaxy S6 will have a smaller battery but a better performing one than the S5 given its ultra-slim design but it won’t really make a difference when you are tweeting, instagraming, posting on FB, browsing and checking emails, and chatting on 4G for 2 or 3 continuous hours. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the technology associated with smartphones batteries but it’s quite surprising that they didn’t figure out a way to make better batteries.
PS: I found by mistake an article today on a new technology that will triple your battery life.
As I stated earlier, there’s no such thing as the best smartphone out there. If you are a loyal Apple user, you’ll find it easier to use the iPhone while some Windows users don’t like iOS and would rather get Android. A lot of people don’t like iPhone’s limitations while others don’t like Android’s bloatware and appreciate the minimalist and clean Apple approach. I personally wouldn’t go for the iPhone 6 for all the reasons I mentioned above and will probably switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it’s out. Since Samsung has invited me to their exclusive #Unpacked event in Barcelona, I will give you a sneak peek preview on the S6 once I get to try it out. I know the HTC M9 is coming out as well but I’ve never used an HTC before for no specific reason so I don’t know much about it.
Moreover, I will be at the MWC 2015 from March 2nd till March 5th checking out all the new smartphones and technologies being released, so stay tuned as I will keep you posted of everything happening there!
I got to try out the new iPhone 6 last week and I am really glad that Apple decided to go for bigger screens. The iPhone 6 looks huge when compared to the iPhone 5 and 5s and even though some iPhone users may disagree, I think Apple did the right thing by making the screens larger. The iPhone looks and feels great and the screen resolution is quite impressive. It’s also curvy and more comfortable to hold but it’s also easier to drop now. The camera is great as always and the phone is a bit faster than the iPhone 5s. The battery life is also slightly better.
I am not going to go into detailed reviews since there are tons of websites who have already reviewed the iPhone 6 thoroughly but I do recommend you upgrade from the iPhone 5 or 5S to the new iPhone 6 as it’s a whole new experience.
PS: I asked my friend if I could try and bend it but he say no.
Here’s how the iPhone 6 looks like next to the Samsung S5 and LG G3.
LG is organizing a really cool journey for 10 Lebanese bloggers (myself included) around Lebanon in 48 hours. The journey will include a lot of fun activities like paragliding (if the weather permits it), camping, jet ski, ATV and sightseeing and will end on Sunday night in Beirut. We were all handed the new LG G3 on Thursday to test it out during our trip, and I will be giving away a really cool gadget once I am back so stay tuned!
I will be uploading cool pictures on my instagram so you can follow me [here] to check them out.