Most smartphone companies followed Apple’s footsteps in that their flagship phones do not have headphone jacks anymore.
This has prompted a revolution where people would rely on wireless headphones if they intend to listen to music without disturbing anybody.
That being said, the Apple Airpods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are both great TWS earbuds. Which one of them should you get? Read further to find out.
Let’s first start with their aesthetics. There is a reason why the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is called ‘beans’ because their appearance is actually quite similar to, well, large beans.
They both have ear and wingtips that allow for a more secure fit and because of their IP certification, you can enjoy using them in the gym when you are pumping out your favorite songs while you exercise.
You have two color options: Black or white. Personally, I love the former because it looks more suave, though either of them looks really nice.
The Apple Airpods Pro has a more familiar look. You have a small stem and a silicone ear tip on each earbud and thankfully, this version has a more secure fit than its predecessor. It is good that Apple took customers’ feedback to heart when making these things.
The Airpods Pro is predominantly white in color with some black accents found in certain areas of the earphones.
Despite its lack of wingtips, the Airpods Pro can still be used in the gym because its more secure fit ensures that it is not going anywhere even when you are doing some intense cardio workouts or physical resistance training.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds and the Apple Airpods Pro connect via Bluetooth. They both use the new Bluetooth 5.0 standard and it is easy for them to be paired on your device.
For the Apple Airpods Pro, all you have to do to pair this with your phone is to open the earbuds and make sure that the Bluetooth functionality of your device is turned on as well. In just a couple of seconds, it should be detected and it should be registered to your iCloud account shortly after. This means that pairing this device again is going to be quick and seamless.
When connecting the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, you turn on Bluetooth on your phone, open the lid, and it should instantly be put in pairing mode. It will try to seek your mobile device and once it detects, all you have to do is to connect to it.
Alternatively, you can download the Samsung Galaxy Wearables app and you can do a lot of things inside the application (such as locating your device and connecting to it, for example).
After pairing either of the wireless headphones, they should instantly pair with your mobile device quickly and easily the next time you use them.
Now, I’ve heard some user reports about the Apple Airpods Pro not pairing up really well with Android devices. Well, this is possible considering that the product is meant for the iOS ecosystem, but updating its firmware does help (at least a little bit).
First and foremost, you need to download each of the product’s respective firmware updates before you use them extensively. This is to ensure that you get the latest stability and performance improvements that are brought about by the updates.
For the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, you need to download the aforementioned Galaxy Wearables app and it will immediately prompt you to download the latest firmware for your TWS earbuds shortly after firing up the application.
When you try to pair up your Apple Airpods Pro for the first time, you will be prompted to update the firmware almost immediately. It is also worth noting that your iPhone or iOS-enabled devices should be running at least iOS 13.2 to ensure seamless connectivity. Otherwise, you will also be prompted to update your device’s operating system as well.
Anyway, in terms of features, the Apple Airpods Pro is more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus for the simple reason that it has active-noise canceling.
Active-noise canceling is a feature that blocks out external noise so that you will have a much better listening experience.
In my testing, the ANC feature of the Airpods Pro is okay, but does it justify the 90$ premium of the Galaxy Buds Plus? I do not think so.
You see, while it does a good job of blocking out external noise, there are far better ANC TWS earbuds out there that are priced lower than the Apple Airpods Pro. But, for comparison’s sake, the Airpods Pro clearly is a victor here since the Galaxy Buds Plus does not have the same feature.
In addition, you also enable what is known as ‘Transparency mode’ which is the complete opposite of active-noise canceling. What this does is it allows external noise in, so if someone talks to you, you do not need to remove the earbuds from your ears to hear them.
Its implementation of transparency mode is actually pretty good as I am able to hear the outside environment as if I didn’t have the earphones on, which is something that is commendable for a wireless pair of headphones.
Now, what does the Samsung Galaxy Buds have that the Airpods Pro doesn’t? Well, actually a lot of things.
First of all, I highly recommend that you download the Galaxy Wearables App. Not only does it prompt you to update the earbuds’ firmware, but it also allows you to tinker with the equalizer, as well as enable the new Spotify Integration feature.
As you know, Spotify is the most popular music streaming service available in the world and what Spotify integration does is that it allows you to tap the outside of the earbuds to increase the volume, skip tracks, among many others.
You can configure what the tapping gestures can do by using the said app, so this level of customization is indeed welcome.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus also has transparency mode, but it is not called as such. It is simply known as ‘ambient sound’ and its implementation is okay, albeit not as good as the transparency mode in the Airpods Pro.
For those of you who do not know, one of the major criticisms of using wireless headphones is that they introduce some latency when playing games.
Well, in the Wearables app, there is an experimental Game Mode feature that reduces latency when you are playing some games. In my testing, it is okay, though it is far from perfect. It would be interesting to see if this feature gets polished over time.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus comes with a dual-driver design that basically allows for more neutral sound output.
One of the things that I didn’t like with the earlier TWS products is that they are usually bass-heavy and would muddy the mid and the high frequencies.
With the Galaxy Buds Plus, that is pretty much non-existent. You get consistently good sound no matter what the frequency range is. Of course, if you want more oomph, you can get that by tinkering with the EQ settings.
As for the Apple Airpods Pro, you still get a balanced sound, albeit it favors a little bit more towards the lower frequencies. Do not worry as the bass doesn’t overpower the mids and the highs.
Personally, I love the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus more in this regard simply because you have the ability to tweak the sound via the equalizer settings in the Wearables App.
If you want to get a wireless pair of earbuds that have a better microphone quality, you should get the Apple Airpods Pro.
While the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is a major improvement over its predecessor, the microphone quality gets drowned out by the bass. Furthermore, it picks up way too much external noise and this can be a problem if you are taking calls while you are outside and in a noisy environment.
The Apple Airpods Pro, on the other hand, does a pretty good job of blocking out as much external noise as possible (with or without ANC enabled). As I talk with my buddies on the other end of the line, they’ve said that I was much clearer using the Airpods Pro than the Galaxy Buds Plus.
In terms of battery life, I would have to give this to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, hands down. During my tests, they can last up to 11 hours and 28 minutes with 75% volume. This is quite impressive as you can be on a long flight and they will still have enough juice left in the tank to last longer. You get a total of 30 hours battery life with the charging case included.
The Apple Airpods Pro, even though it lasts longer than other products, only has 6.5 hours of battery life before you need to put them inside its charging case. As you can see, there is a huge difference in terms of battery life here. You get a maximum of 24 hours battery life with the charging case included.
Both of their charging cases can be charged wirelessly and you can use any Qi-enabled wireless chargers that you have.
In the battle of the TWS earbuds, which one is better: The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus or the Apple Airpods Pro?
Well, since there are more Android smartphones out on the market, getting the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus might be a better fit for you.
They cost $90 less, have plenty of features that can be enabled in the Galaxy Wearables App, and it can seamlessly pair with any Android-powered device out there.
The Apple Airpods Pro should be highly considered if you have an iOS-enabled device. This is especially true if you are using the iPhone 11 and the upcoming iPhone 12.
It can seamlessly pair with any iOS-powered device and while you can technically pair this with an Android phone, you may experience some connection issues.
The only thing that would probably convince you in getting the more expensive pair of TWS earbuds is if you want to have that active-noise canceling feature. But other than that, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus should be greatly considered.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is currently priced at $159 while the Apple Airpods Pro costs $250.
Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes
Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.
It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.
Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?
One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.
The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.
You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.
Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.
The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.
I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.
Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.
An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.
So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.
3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.
I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.
To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.
The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.
You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.
Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.
Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball.
For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.
You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.
You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.
Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.
The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.
You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.
Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?
iOS 14 is Finally Here- Everything You Need to Know
The iOS 14 beta was first introduced back in June 2020 but on September 16, Apple has released the final version of the ever-popular mobile operating system that is placed at the heart of your Apple iPhone.
Just like Android 11, iOS 14 can be construed as an incremental upgrade but there are some noteworthy improvements that you will surely love.
Today, I am going to go over everything you need to know about Apple’s new mobile operating system and find out what new features you might like using immediately.
When you swipe right on the homescreen a couple of times, you will be presented with a new feature called the App Library. Think of this as Apple’s implementation of an app drawer (that is a mainstay in Android Devices).
All of the applications that are found in the App Library are neatly categorized for your convenience. Here, you can find all of your folders and some app folder suggestions as well.
Apple understands that iPhone homescreens can get really cluttered, and so, the company has provided users with the ability to stack the same type of apps into a single folder.
Furthermore, depending on the time of day, the operating system can suggest certain apps that you might like to use at that moment.
For example, the OS might suggest that you use a music streaming app if you want to jog a couple of laps while listening to your favorite music.
Apple was heavily criticized for not giving users the freedom to add widgets to the homescreen. Well, that has changed in iOS 14.
Now, users have the ability to add any widgets that they like on the homescreen. Not only that but these widgets provide useful information right off the bat so that you can simply glance at the particular widget to find out the current weather conditions, for instance.
You can add as many widgets as you want and you can also resize them a little bit, though its implementation is not as extensive as the Android ecosystem.
People often use Siri as a means of enabling almost hands-free access to their iPhones. Well, in iOS 14, Siri is vastly improved- both in its AI technology and the things that it can do.
You can make use of Siri to craft messages for you, call specific people, translate foreign languages (more on this later), block possible incoming calls, and so much more.
In addition to what I’ve said, Siri also doesn’t take up the entire screen anymore. Instead, you can look for Siri in a small globe icon that is usually situated at the bottom of the display.
This feature was first implemented on iPads, but you can also enjoy picture-in-picture mode on your iPhone as well.
This allows you to play videos on the background while you are face timing someone which is pretty awesome.
Think of App Clips as Apple’s implementation of Android’s Instant Apps. Basically, you get a hold of some specific app features without actually having to download and install the said app.
For example, you can purchase a coffee from Starbucks just by scanning a particular code. This alleviates the need for downloading the company’s specific app just for the same job.
Not a lot of applications support this as of yet but expect that more and more of them will be supported in the future.
7.iMessage Has New Features
Apple’s Messages app has plenty of new features that you will really love using frequently. First is the ability to pin any important messages within a conversation. You can pin messages just by swiping a particular part of the conversation to the right. The pinned comment can be placed on your homescreen for convenience.
Aside from that, you now have the ability to reply to a specific message within the conversation via inline replies.
Have you ever used Facebook Messenger and you want to mute notifications from certain group chats but still want to get notified if your name is mentioned at any point in the conversation?
Well, that specific feature is also now available on the Messages app as well. This is a great feature if you want to mute notifications from your group chats but you still want to get notified if you’re ever given a special mention.
To mention any person within the chat group, all you have to do is use the ‘@’ symbol and a list of names should pop up. Just tap on the person that you want to shoutout and the app should do the rest.
Lastly, if photos are uploaded to the group chat, you can add an image overlay on top of it or you can add some cute emojis to make it more fun and lively.
Memojis are nothing new, but the iOS 14 introduces some new ones, including new headwear, hairstyles, stickers, and so much more.
Moreover, Apple has done a pretty good job of making Memojis even more expressive than ever before!
WatchOS 7 was released in the same window as iOS 14 and because of that, you can expect some integrations with Apple Smartwatches as well.
The new health app not only allows you to use your Apple Watch’s sleep tracking feature, but it also records some important data that you can use to relay to your physician to give you a general idea of your overall health.
10.Improved Weather App
The default weather app in iOS 14 also gets some major improvements, including the ability to give you notifications and more information about upcoming severe weather systems, improved forecast accuracy, precipitation readings, and so much more.
You can use your Apple Watch to help provide you with clear routes if you intend to use a bike to go to work. Although this doesn’t work in all cities all over the world, Apple intends to add support for more cities sometime in the near future.
12.Digital Car Keys
This unique feature not only unlocks your car doors but it can also be used as a means of starting your car’s engine as well.
Not all new cars are supported, however, so if you want to use this feature, make sure that you have a compatible vehicle.
In addition, when the u1 chip is released next year, you can also unlock your car doors without having the phone with you (but you will need an Apple Watch that is tethered to your phone for this to work).
You will find a new Translate app when you install the new update. The beauty of this application is that you can use its extensive features even when you are not connected to your home network.
This means that if you’re talking to your friend that doesn’t speak the local language, you can use the app to have things translated for you and you can also use its conversations feature so that the translated text can be spoken out loud for your friend to hear (and understand).
Furthermore, you can use your Apple Watch to do the same thing as well since it, too, has its own translate app.
Every time you fire up an application that sends or requires user data, that application must provide you with a heads up if they’re going to do those things. You are given the power to either provide access to that application or deny permissions.
In addition to that, you will see a colored dot that indicates whether your camera or your microphone is in use (green for the camera and orange for the microphone, respectively).
15.Set Default Apps
Apple has finally given you the freedom to choose your own default apps. At the time of writing, you can only set your default web browser and mail application, but the company is set to add support for more applications moving forward.
If you are using the Airpods Pro and you are also using other Bluetooth devices as well, now you can switch between the said devices seamlessly thanks to an automatic switching ability.
Airpods Pro users can also enjoy the improved spatial audio feature which essentially provides you with an even more immersive listening experience.
If you’ve been using the same password in almost all of your accounts using an iPhone, iOS 14 introduces a new password monitoring system that will alert you to change passwords whenever it detects any data breach that could compromise your data.
The best thing that you can do is to use a password manager like LastPass so that you will only have to remember a single master password for all of your passwords.
How to Get the New Update?
So, which devices are supported? Well, any iPhone that is above the iPhone 6 is supported. This means that from the iPhone 6s to the newest Apple iPhone SE should receive a notification to download the latest update.
Apple Watch SE Review- The Apple Watch to Get for Most People
People would always assume that if a product comes from Apple that you need to spend quite a bit of money compared to its competitors. For the most part, that is actually true, but not for the product that I am going to review today.
In this article, I will be talking about the Apple Watch SE. Find out why I think this is the Apple Watch to get for most people.
The Apple Watch SE is set to be an entry-level smartwatch by Apple, but this is by no means a ‘cheap’ product as it does come with features that are also present in the Apple Watch 6, for example.
Its design is quite similar to the Apple Watches of old which is actually a good thing. The familiar look will make people who’ve owned those watches feel quite comfortable when using the newer model.
You basically have two size options to choose from (40mm and 44mm) and the screen is big enough so that you can utilize its functions more readily than other smartwatches that you can find on the market.
When you are going to buy this thing, you get to choose which strap you want to get along with it. The default strap uses nylon fiber which is not only comfortable but can also be used as a daily watch without getting ‘too gimmicky’.
The other option would be for you to get the ‘Solo Loop’ variant which is essentially a strap that conforms to your wrist- kind of like using a rubber band.
If you are going for the Solo Loop straps, it is important that you get the right fit as its fitting options are a bit limited. You have 9 choices to choose from but you will have to measure your wrist just right in order for you to get a relaxed fit.
Don’t worry, Apple’s website provides you with some guidelines to help you get the exact measurements.
Other than that, you have the watch crown situated on the right side of the watch which feels good whenever you use it.
One of the big differences between the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch 6 is that the former doesn’t have an always-on display. This is to be expected, given that this particular model is the more affordable one.
I have the 44mm version and its display has a screen resolution of 368 x 448 which should provide you with adequate screen real estate to enjoy the watch’s features.
The display is no slouch because its brightness can be turned up automatically whenever you are outside. In other words, outside visibility is not an issue at all.
The Apple Watch SE is perfectly suited for casual use and for those that want to have an active lifestyle.
Just like its bigger brother, this watch also has new activity-tracking options for functional strength training, core exercises, dance, and cool down. The last one is great for people to have an idea of how long they should perform static stretches after working out to provide their muscles with an optimal way to start recovery.
This smartwatch also has GPS and I’ve used it to calculate the distance after taking a couple of minutes to run. It is relatively accurate and I am pleased with it.
You do have a step counter to give you a rough estimate of how many steps you’ve taken during the course of the day. It is somewhat accurate, but there are more accurate watches out there.
It is interesting that the Apple Watch SE comes with the new WatchOS 7 preloaded which means that you do not have to do some manual updates once you receive the unit.
Keep in mind that because this watch is a stripped-down version of its more premium counterpart, there are no ECG and Sp02 sensors that can be found here, but that is a fair compromise, in my opinion.
One of the biggest features that I really love about the new operating system is the sleep tracking capability.
You can set a specific time when you usually sleep and if it is that time already, the watch will not only dim its display but will also make sure that notifications that you may receive at the specified time will not disturb your sound slumber.
Although the company doesn’t encourage you to completely believe in the results that the watch gives you (because this is not marketed as a bonafide medical instrument), I find it to be quite helpful nonetheless.
If the watch detects that you haven’t had enough sleep, it will provide you with some helpful tips to improve the quality of your sleep the next night which is pretty nice.
Another unique feature here is the hand-washing reminder. Every time you wash your hands, the watch will use its sensors and microphone to tell you if you’ve washed your hands for 20 seconds or not.
If you’ve finished earlier than the said time, the watch will notify you to continue. This ensures that you kill the Covid-19 virus, as well as other pathogens that might prove to be dangerous to your overall health.
The Apple Watch SE’s battery life is probably its biggest downside. It is rated to last up to 18 hours, but if you are using the GPS or the watch’s other features quite a lot, you will get less than that number.
It is also worth noting that charging time for this particular smartwatch requires 2.5 hours to complete. That is sad considering that the Apple Watch 6 only requires 90 minutes to be fully charged.
If you need to be using the watch’s features quite a lot, I suggest that you carry a hefty power bank with you at all times.
A lot of people love using Apple products because it has better integration with its ecosystem compared to other products on the market.
That being said, the Apple Watch SE is a great introductory product for people that want a smartwatch that does a lot of things.
It is a stripped-down version of its more premium counterpart but all of the useful features such as sleep tracking, more activity tracking, GPS, and others are present here, which means that it would still be a good purchase nonetheless.
And, at just $280, the Apple Watch SE is definitely what I would recommend for people that want a relatively affordable smartwatch with plenty to offer.
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