9 hidden features of Google Drive – CNET

I use Google Drive every day. I use it for work. I wrote this blog post in Google Docs, in fact. I use it at home, whether using Sheets to map out the summer schedule for my kids, or adding to my ever-expanding folder of recipes — it makes it easy to share favorites with friends or access needed ingredients on my phone when I’m at the grocery store.

I use Google Drive every day. I use it for work. I wrote this blog post in Google Docs, in fact. I use it at home, whether using Sheets to map out the summer schedule for my kids, or adding to my ever-expanding folder of recipes — it makes it easy to share favorites with friends or access needed ingredients on my phone when I’m at the grocery store. It’s hard to imagine my digital life before Google Drive.

I’ve used Drive long enough that I’ve discovered a few hidden gems along the way that make Google’s cloud service an even better tool. Here are nine features that I use that might also help you.

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Kick photos out of Recent view

I turn to Google Drive’s Recent view to find the documents I’m working on this week or this month. Or, I did before I started using Google Photos to back up photos on my iPhone. Now, photos clog my Recent view, rendering it largely useless. I wish Google would give me an option to exclude photos from my Recent list of files, but until it does, you can use this workaround.

In the search field, enter -jpg and all of your photos will be filtered out, letting you browse the files you’ve recently created or edited. You can use this workaround in Google Drive on the web and the mobile app.

Turn on Quick Access

This new feature adds a belt of thumbnails across the top of the My Drive view that give you, well, quick access to recently modified files. (And, thankfully, it doesn’t include photos like the Recent view does.) You’ll find a line for Quick Access in Drive’s settings. Just click the box for Make relevant files handy when you need them and then refresh the page.

Filter your searches

This one’s hiding in plain sight. In the search box at the top of Google Drive, there’s a down-arrow button along the right edge. Click it and you’ll get a panel of search options to filter your search results. If you’ve used Google Drive for years and have accumulated a large library of files, then these search options are hugely useful to narrow your results. You can filter by file type, date modified and owner. For shared documents, you can filter by someone with whom you’ve shared a file. And so you don’t leave someone hanging, you can also filter by files that have an action item assigned to you or have suggestions waiting for you in a file.

Send links to files instead of attachments

There’s a little Drive icon at the bottom of Gmail’s compose window. It lets you attach files you have stored in Drive or simply send a link. For Google Drive formats — Docs, Sheets, Slides and so on — your only option is to send a link to the file. For other file types — PDFs, Word docs, images — you have the option of sending them as an attachment or a Drive link, which lets you share files larger than Gmail’s 25MB size limit for attachments.

Quickly clear formatting

You’ve got a few options for clearing the formatting for text you paste into Docs. You can highlight the text and select Normal text from the toolbar at the top. Or you can go to Format > Clear formatting. (For the latter, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-, or Command- for Mac.) You can avoid the format-removal process by holding down Shift when you paste text. Yep, Ctrl-Shift-V pastes without any formatting.

One-tap phone backup

Want to back up your phone’s important data to Drive? You can! And with a single tap. On the mobile app, go to Settings > Backup and choose what you want to back up — contacts, calendar events or photos and videos (or all three). Just tap the Start Backup button to get rolling. It’ll likely take a while, so you might want to start the process overnight. Your phone will need to be plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi.

Back up folders on PC or Mac

With Google’s Backup and Sync app, you can back up the contents of your Mac or PC — or just selected folders. And you can go the other way and sync the files you have stored on Google Drive to your computer for easy, offline access. Check out how to get started with Google’s Backup and Sync app for instructions on how to start backing up and syncing your files.

Comment directly on Microsoft Office files

Earlier this year, Google added the ability to comment on Microsoft Office files, saving you from needing to convert a Word doc, for example, to a Google Doc in order to comment or using a Chrome extension. Now, you can open a Word doc, Excel file, PowerPoint presentation and the like and add your comments directly to the file. Your comments will show up whether your collaborators open the file in Google Drive or in the applicable Microsoft app. To add your comment, click the add comment button — it looks like a square speech bubble with a plus sign inside it. Why can’t we all get along as well and Google and Microsoft when it comes to commenting on files?

Set up offline access

Need to work during your commute or other times when you are not connected to the internet? No problem. Google Drive lets you access your files when you are offline, and then it’ll sync your changes when you get back online, but you must do two things first to set up offline access:

Install the Google Docs Offline extension.
Sign into Google Drive, click the cog button to open Settings and then check the box in the Offline section for Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so you can edit offline.

One last thing: to edit files when you are offline, you must first be signed into your Google account and use Chrome.

Read more:10 features of Google Docs that you should be using

Originally published on June 16, 2017.
Update, June 14, 2018: Added new tips.

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Axalta Sells 50,000th Spectrophotometer

To commemorate this accomplishment, BYK-Gardner, a global leader in the field of measuring color and appearance, proudly created a limited-edition spectrophotometer, painted in StarLite, Axalta’s 2018 Automotive Color of the Year.

To commemorate this accomplishment, BYK-Gardner, a global leader in the field of measuring color and appearance, proudly created a limited-edition spectrophotometer, painted in StarLite, Axalta’s 2018 Automotive Color of the Year. StarLite is a modern, light and reflective hue for vehicles of today and tomorrow that uses Axalta’s tri-coat process to create an eye catching pearlescent effect.

The first commemorative device was presented to Joe McDougall, Axalta’s President of Global Refinish and EMEA, by BYK-Gardener President Frank Wagner during the 2018 IBIS Global Summit, in Munich, Germany.

“Marking the 50,000th global spectrophotometer sale highlights the importance refinishers attach to accurate and fast color matching,” commented McDougall. “This small yet technology-packed device demonstrates our commitment to providing innovative color-matching technology to customers. These devices and their patented technology are designed to achieve the perfect color match accurately, efficiently and reliably, every day in the bodyshop. When used in conjunction with our color management software, they truly support our commitment to customers to transition from traditional color retrieval to a fully digital color management process.”

Wagner said, “The importance of digital color retrieval is underscored by the fact so many bodyshops realize the benefits of these devices. They appreciate tools that help them get the job done. We are proud to offer this solution to the refinish market with a partner like Axalta, and we look forward to its continued growth.”

Beginning in 1994, Axalta was one of the first coatings companies to offer a digital color measuring device and accompanying software for refinish customers. In 2005, Axalta partnered with BYK-Gardner to develop and to manufacture a new generation of spectrophotometers – with the first portable three-angle device to use light emitting diodes. By 2011, Axalta was the first to offer the device to bodyshops to measure both color and flake appearance. Today, the devices are smaller and smarter, and offer additional functionalities such as WIFI, a touch screen, and a smart cradle.

In EMEA, the spectrophotometers are available from each of Axalta’s three premium global refinish brands. The devices are branded ChromaVision Pro Mini from Cromax®, Color Dialog Phoenix from Spies Hecker, and Genius iQ from Standox. The brands’ color management software – ChromaWeb, Phoenix and Standowin iQ – offers thousands of formulas from global automotive manufacturers. The cutting-edge spectrophotometers are also available from Cromax, Spies Hecker and Standox in North America and Asia Pacific under the name Acquire™ Quantum EFX.

For more information on Axalta, visit www.axalta.com. For more information on BYK-Gardener, visit www.byk.com.

About Axalta Coating Systems
Axalta is a leading global company focused solely on coatings and providing customers with innovative, colorful, beautiful and sustainable solutions. From light OEM vehicles, commercial vehicles and refinish applications to electric motors, buildings and pipelines, our coatings are designed to prevent corrosion, increase productivity and enable the materials we coat to last longer. With more than 150 years of experience in the coatings industry, the 13,300 people of Axalta continue to find ways to serve our more than 100,000 customers in 130 countries better every day with the finest coatings, application systems and technology. For more information visit axalta.com and follow us @Axalta on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Contact
Chantal Bachelier-Moore
DA Public Relations Ltd
D +44 207 692 4964
chantal@dapr.com

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Three CEO: 5G capacity is a ‘big opportunity’ to lead UK market

Since its inception, Three has always been the outsider in the UK mobile market. It launched in 2003 as the UK’s ‘fifth’ major operator after Ofcom reserved spectrum for a new player in the now infamous 3G auction in 2000.

Since its inception, Three has always been the outsider in the UK mobile market. It launched in 2003 as the UK’s ‘fifth’ major operator after Ofcom reserved spectrum for a new player in the now infamous 3G auction in 2000.

The astronomical licence fees paid meant capital for 3G infrastructure investment was difficult to find, and the lack of a ‘killer’ 3G use case meant it was even harder to justify. But with no 2G network to fall back on, Three had no choice to launch as the world’s first 3G-only operator in 2003.

The early years were difficult and Three struggled with coverage. But the arrival of mobile broadband (MBB) dongles and smartphones, pioneered by the iPhone in 2007, and a network infrastructure partnership with T-Mobile as well as disruptive unlimited tariffs gave Three the products and services it needed to compete.

Three now has 10 million customers who consume an average of 7GB of data a month – 3.5 times the industry average – while it has 99 per cent population coverage thanks to 14,500 sites and average speeds of 20Mbps. Yet it has always felt constrained by capacity.

A failed merger with O2 in 2016 raised questions about the future viability of the business, but it now sees 5G as the chance to lead the market for the first time.

5G in the UK

EE and O2 have spoken openly about their ambitions and the new services 5G will enable, while Vodafone has given details about how it feels the changes in network architecture are the truly revolutionary aspect. For Three, it’s capacity that is the key differentiator.

Three, which was the last operator to launch 4G and prefers to define its network in terms of service rather than technology, has finally spoken about its 5G plans because of a need to redress this “balance”.

“I genuinely think 5G will be a more interesting and transformative technology than 4G and I think that’s why everyone’s excited,” Dyson tells TechRadar Pro. “We don’t see the need to lead in 4G. We’d prefer to keep our powder dry ahead of 5G, which is the future. Our initial focus is how we leverage the capacity gains from 5G.”

In the past, Three has been loathed to define its network in terms of technology and prefers to focus on the customer experience. It argues that its 3G network is comparable to the early EE 4G service thanks to the rollout of DC-HSPA+ technology and that the main reason for upgrading to 4G was because of the efficiencies it provided. Unlike the other operators, Three didn’t charge extra for 4G, simply treating it as a simple technical upgrade.

“Even though 4G wasn’t hugely differentiated, people were prepared to pay a premium,” he says. “Possibly because there’s a natural inclination to assume it’s different.

“Our network wasn’t where it needed to be before [4G]. We were quite successful with mobile broadband and mobile so our spectrum was quite full. Therefore we didn’t want to put any barriers up for people moving to 4G.

“There’s always a small percentage of people who care but the majority don’t care [about tech]. Most connect at home and they don’t care if its fibre or mobile.”

Although Dyson is excited about 5G, he would prefer not to market it as such. However it’s almost certain the competition will do so, meaning that if Three doesn’t follow suit then consumers might assume its network is not as advanced.

“I don’t think its right to be focusing on technology when you’re looking at the overall level of service,” he explains. “If that [practice] became prevalent then we’d have to rethink how much we focus on 5G marketing. But that wouldn’t be my first choice.”

Spectrum gains

The primary reason for Three’s optimism is its 5G spectrum holdings. Thanks to the acquisition of 1400MHz L-Band spectrum from Qualcomm and the 3.4GHz airwaves it obtained in the takeover of UK Broadband, along with the additional bandwidth it won at the recent 5G auction, Three has the most 5G-ready spectrum of any operator. This amounts to 24 per cent of total 5G spectrum available.

The decision to pre-empt the auction with the two acquisitions was because Three didn’t trust Ofcom would ensure spectrum would be made available for a fourth player at the auction. Indeed, Three was a vocal campaigner for the regulator to introduce a spectrum cap in the lead-up to the process

“Even if we don’t win any spectrum in the upcoming auction, we’re in a good place,” Dyson insists. “We’ve proved we can be broadly competitive with 4G but 5G is our big opportunity.”

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our guide to everything you need to know…

Three’s spectrum holdings have increased fourfold since it arrived on the market and once it is all deployed could allow capacity to increase by 28 times. This means it could support 20 million customers with ten times the current rate data consumption or 200 million customers at ten times the rate.

By 2025, Three predicts its users will consume an average of 90GB based on its current 7GB figure.

“That’s a huge amount of growth potential,” says Dyson.

Spectrum gains

The primary reason for Three’s optimism is its 5G spectrum holdings. Thanks to the acquisition of 1400MHz L-Band spectrum from Qualcomm and the 3.4GHz airwaves it obtained in the takeover of UK Broadband, along with the additional bandwidth it won at the recent 5G auction, Three has the most 5G-ready spectrum of any operator. This amounts to 24 per cent of total 5G spectrum available.

The decision to pre-empt the auction with the two acquisitions was because Three didn’t trust Ofcom would ensure spectrum would be made available for a fourth player at the auction. Indeed, Three was a vocal campaigner for the regulator to introduce a spectrum cap in the lead-up to the process

“Even if we don’t win any spectrum in the upcoming auction, we’re in a good place,” Dyson insists. “We’ve proved we can be broadly competitive with 4G but 5G is our big opportunity.”

Three’s spectrum holdings have increased fourfold since it arrived on the market and once it is all deployed could allow capacity to increase by 28 times. This means it could support 20 million customers with ten times the current rate data consumption or 200 million customers at ten times the rate.

By 2025, Three predicts its users will consume an average of 90GB based on its current 7GB figure.

“That’s a huge amount of growth potential,” says Dyson.

Core network enhancements

The first wave of 5G services will use the same core network as 4G, albeit with different radio technologies, and the truly revolutionary applications such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and connected cars will arrive once operators reconfigure their networks to allow for ultra-low latency.

5G core networks will be software-defined, allowing operators to move functions closer to customers at the edge. At present, Three’s network is distributed through three main data centres. In the future, this will be done in regional hubs near major traffic areas.

Three says it’s working with Nokia on the “world’s first” virtualised core network. This will allow it to automate certain functions, scale quickly and allow for network slicing. Network slicing will be one of the major features of 5G and allows operators to portion off part of a network for a specific use case, such as emergency service traffic.

Here’s our roundup of the best home broadband deals of June 2018Relish and home broadband

But 5G isn’t just about mobile services. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband will be one of the main early use cases, especially in the US where carriers will use millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum to create a genuine alternative to fixed broadband.

Last year,Three bought UK Broadband, which operates FWA services in Swindon and Central London over 3.4GHz and 3.8GHz spectrum. Customers simply plug in a router, which connects to the cellular network to create its own Wi-Fi network that behaves just the same as a traditional network.

Relish currently has 210 sites, 20,000 customers who consume an average of 88GB a month and speeds of 30Mbps.

Three initially spoke to UK Broadband about a joint-venture but ended up buying the business. This was mainly to get hold of the spectrum, but Three does have plans to offer a FWA service in the future, building on its heritage in mobile broadband.

“The growth opportunity for Relish was limited because of its footprint,” explains Dyson. “They were rich in spectrum but poor in sites, while we’re rich in sites and poor in spectrum. if you can solve the coverage challenge, you can expand that on a national basis.

“We can’t get into FWA without the right spectrum holding. [UK Broadband] has some knowledge with FWA even though its small scale. But ultimately we bought it for the spectrum because we couldn’t bank on Ofcom protecting us [with spectrum].”

He acknowledges that FWA might not be suitable for power users but can make a real difference in areas with poor fixed connectivity. There are plans to push the Relish brand a lot more in 2019 and 2020 using the same 5G network as Three and should there be any capacity issues, mmWave spectrum could be deployed, subject to it being made available by the regulator.

Three 5G launch date

Dyson admits Three’s vision of 5G isn’t that “sexy”, claiming early versions won’t be a different class to 4G and that latency will be around 40ms not 1ms. However he feels the time is right to discuss its vision given the competition has been talking up their own 5G strategies.

“It’s important that our voice is heard because ours is different to what the other operators are saying,” he says.

“I think [adoption] will be a slow burn. Things like ultra-low latency won’t be available at launch and like other technologies [it will be an iterative process]. A lot of people talk about autonomous cars, but I wouldn’t build a business case around that.

“We will start 5G trials in early 2019. I’m not necessarily keen to rush a trial out to say we’re the first. For us, it needs to be a meaningful trial to get some genuine learnings so when commercial handsets and routers are available we’re in a good position to start.

“From a core network, IT perspective you’re probably looking at the end of 2020 [for a launch]. It’s an evolving beast but that’s when it should be stable.

“For the first time in our history we have the best spectrum portfolio … We see 5G as the big opportunity and we need to be best-in-class.”

Want to find out more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5Ghub!

Check out the best mobile deals for June 2018!

LG Q7, Q7+ with 5.5-inch 18:9 display, Android 8.0 Oreo launched in Korea

South Korean smartphone maker LG has announced two new mid-range devices in its LG Q series dubbed as the LG Q7 and Q7+ in its home country. At the event, the company also announced that the device will be launched in Europe and Asia in the coming weeks.

South Korean smartphone maker LG has announced two new mid-range devices in its LG Q series dubbed as the LG Q7 and Q7+ in its home country. At the event, the company also announced that the device will be launched in Europe and Asia in the coming weeks.

Despite being placed in the mid-range segment, the Q7 and Q7+ are powered by the Snapdragon 450 SoC which is a budget SoC and powers devices such as the Xiaomi Redmi 5. LG had announced the LG G7 series consisting of three devices last month. The LG Q7 is priced at 4,95,000 Korean Won (Rs. 30,930) and the Q7+ is priced at 5,70,000 Korean Won (Rs.35,620).

LG Q7, Q7+ Specifications

The LG Q7 and Q7+ are IP68 certified for water and dust resistance and have military grade MIL-STD 810G certification. Both the devices run on Android 8.0 Oreo and feature a 5.5-inch full HD+ FullVision display with a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18:9.

In terms of performance, the LG Q7 and Q7+ are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC coupled with Adreno 506 GPU. In terms of memory, the Q6 features 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage and the Q7+ features 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.

Coming to the camera department, the LG Q7 features a 16MP primary camera and the Q7+ features a 13MP primary camera, with phase detection autofocus and an LED flash. On the front, both the devices sport a 5MP selfie camera with a 100-degree wide angle lens.

The LG Q7 and Q7+ are powered by the same 3,000mAh battery as their predecessor Q6, however, LG has added Fast charge support on the devices. Connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm audio jack, GPS and a USB Type-C port.

Apple Watch Series 3 review: Still the best smartwatch, but the Fitbit Versa is a close second – CNET

Update, 2018:

Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 3 in September 2017 in a realized hope that the third time’s the charm. With improved fitness tracking and music syncing, plus the ability to connect to a cell network instead of relying on your phone, the Apple Watch is still the best smartwatch out there.

Update, 2018:

Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 3 in September 2017 in a realized hope that the third time’s the charm. With improved fitness tracking and music syncing, plus the ability to connect to a cell network instead of relying on your phone, the Apple Watch is still the best smartwatch out there.

Instead of duking it out with a smartphone manufacturer, Apple’s main source of competition is the much more affordable Fitbit Versa. Fitbit finally caught up on the design front and the Versa has better battery life, but it lacks the communication features of the Apple Watch. While the Versa has only been available since April 2018 and won’t get a refresh for a while, you can likely expect an updated Apple Watch as early as this September. We’ll see a Watch OS5 release fairly soon as well.

Check out CNET’s best wearables for more information on competitive products.

Our review of the Apple Watch Series 3 — originally published on September 20, 2017 and which otherwise is mostly unchanged — can be read below.

I spend a lot of time with a phone in my face.

That’s why I was attracted to the original Apple Watch. It sold the fantasy of a watch-as-phone: An iPhone Micro on my wrist. One less gadget.

But because the Apple Watch had to be paired to my iPhone to do anything constructive, the phone never went away. I just ended up alternating between staring at two different screens.

That’s changed now, kind of, with the Apple Watch Series 3 ($469.99 at Amazon.com). It adds built-in support for cellular connectivity. The full Dick Tracy communicator, much like Samsung, LG and others have already tried.

I’ve been testing the Apple Watch Series 3 for a week, using it as my phone, fitness tracker, Apple Pay wallet and iPod. And, yes, I’ve even been making phone calls with it. It lets you stay connected in those few places where even phone addicts may skip the phone: Going for a walk around the block. At the gym. At the pool or the beach. In the bedroom, while you’re trying to fall asleep.

The irony of having a watch that’s a phone means you’re more tethered, not less. But you’re more limited, too. For better or worse, this isn’t a full micro-iPhone. There’s no camera. It’s not easy to respond to emails and messages. I can’t really tweet, read stories or watch videos. And you still need an iPhone to set it up and get the most out of it.

Alternatively…Fitbit Versa review: This $199 answer to the Apple Watch is mostly great

Other caveats abound. Battery life limitations severely curtail phone calls and GPS-aided workouts. There’s still more Apple needs to do to maximize fitness tracking and streamline the software. And you’ll be paying monthly subscription fees (for wireless service and for Apple Music) to get the most out of it.

All that said, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the best phone watch I’ve tried. Setup is easy, and toggling from cellular to Bluetooth and back again is mostly seamless.

But I still find myself reaching for the iPhone.

Editor’s note: See the “Connection quirks” section below for information on a Wi-Fi issue on the cellular Series 3 models. More testing is still to come. Ratings are provisional until those tests are completed.

Cellular, and how it works

The big upgrade on the Apple Watch Series 3 is that it adds always-connected cellular functionality. It works works on all major cellular carriers — in the US, at least — which is nice.

Cellular supports data and voice — where there’s the proper coverage, of course — and the Watch uses the same number as your iPhone. The catch, of course, is that it costs money: $10 per month in the US, above and beyond your existing wireless fee. And despite the fact that the Watch is designed to free you up from your phone, you’ll still need your iPhone to set it up and to install apps. And no, it doesn’t work with Android phones.

The Apple Watch communicates to the outside world in three steps. It looks for your iPhone first, pairing via a Bluetooth connection if it’s nearby. If not, it tries Wi-Fi (new networks can’t be added on the Apple Watch directly, but it syncs and knows networks that your iPhone does). If neither of those options are available — say, if you’re out hiking — the Watch then enables LTE cellular, which is otherwise switched off to conserve power.

That auto-switching between Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular is managed by Apple‘s new W2 wireless chip. It saves some battery life, but it takes getting used to. In my tests, a red “X” appeared sometimes on top of the watch screen to suggest disconnecting from Wi-Fi, but vanished once LTE had kicked in. A new Apple Watch watch face, Explorer, shows signal strength as from one to four green dots. Otherwise, signal strength pops up in the swipe-up control center where Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and other quick settings live.

I could check things on Apple’s apps, but third-party apps wouldn’t always work. And also, to get notifications from third-party apps in the cloud, your iPhone needs to be powered up somewhere so the Watch can communicate with it via the cloud. So, yeah: even if you’re out running without your iPhone, it still needs to be powered up and online somewhere. Weird, but true.

Apps can’t be installed directly from the watch, either, unlike on Android Wear and Samsung Gear watches. But I could easily check my email, even on my work account (which automatically imported settings from my iPhone during setup).

Calls can be dialed directly on-watch with a keypad, or made via tapping existing contacts. Writing messages is still limited to scribbling letters, tapping emoji, or dictation. Siri talks now, too — she’s no longer limited to on-screen text responses. That said, Siri isn’t a great conversationalist, and often asked me to “check my iPhone.” Again, that’s not a great experience if the phone is five miles away.

Connecting quirks

Some reviews have noted that the LTE version of the Series 3 has problems connecting to LTE when open Wi-Fi networks are nearby, a bug that Apple has admitted to. Apple confirmed these issues to CNET, too. It’s unclear exactly when the problem will be fixed via software update, but I was told it would be soon. (In the meantime, to disconnect from a problem Wi-Fi network, you need to forget the network using your phone.)

I didn’t experience those specific issues, but I did have weird experiences with notifications. iMessages sometimes popped in all at once or not at all. And third-party notifications, like Twitter, require your phone to be on and connected to a network somewhere, even if it’s not nearby. If it’s not, you won’t get those pings on the watch. Also, many third-party apps don’t currently support LTE connection yet. We’ll keep testing this. AirPod connectivity sometimes didn’t automatically work, either.

It’s unclear how many of these will be smoothed over in software updates. Phone functions were generally fine, and so was email. Messages and notifications came in fits and spurts.

Music: iPod on your wrist, at last

The iPod is gone: long live the new iPod.

Apple Watches could always store music, but they were bad at it: syncing music from a cloud-based Apple Music account was always a time-consuming ordeal. Most other smartwatches are the same. WatchOS 4 now syncs music more automatically, and it’s a huge difference. The first time I used the watch, after an overnight charge I found a few playlists and albums waiting for me when I went walking. Others can be added and synced when the watch is charging.

But music is effectively an Apple Music-only proposition. Your iTunes library is always available to you, but for the more sophisticated playlist management — and real-time music streaming, which isn’t coming for a few more weeks — you need an Apple Music subscription. Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music subscribers need not apply. Nor, oddly, can podcasts be downloaded to the Watch.

Wireless headphones are also required. AirPods ($159.00 at Apple) are a perfect fit for the cellular watch, so much so that they feel like an essential accessory. For the most part, they pair instantly. Sometimes, however, I needed to swipe up and select them from the watch control center.

Caveats notwithstanding, the Apple Watch finally feels like that iPod Shuffle on my wrist that I used to wear years ago.

Fitness making more strides, particularly with heart

Most people use Apple Watch as a fitness tracker. The on-watch extra sensor this time is a barometric altimeter, which lists stair-climbing stats like a Fitbit. And the Series 3 still includes the big fitness improvements from 2016: GPS and “swimproofing” — it’s waterproof to 50 meters, even in seawater.

Out of the box, the Apple Watch Series 3 runs WatchOS 4, the software update that’s now available to all previous Watch owners. The new operating system amps up coaching a bit, if you let it. I’d see a ping that I could try for more activity today. Or at the end of one day, I was encouraged to take a 20 minute walk to close my red ring. I like coaching in wearables. The Apple Watch is doing it slowly, but now more on-watch than Fitbit, which relies more on a companion smartphone app.

Heart rate, previously a ping-as-needed tool, now lists more graphs for all-day averages in resting heart rate and walking heart rate. I found these really useful, and nice baselines. Other graphs and averages for workouts are listed, too. It’s more like what Samsung’s Gear watches offered in terms of fitness info on-watch.

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Learn how to break through geobarriers and choose the best VPN for your needs. Plus, we’ve tracked down 2018’s best 4K TVs (from cheapies to the super-premium), and also rounded-up a selection of affordable printers. And find out how Nintendo is creating the future… out of cardboard! Plus, we have our usual range of in-depth tutorials put together by experts. Behold!

Diagnose weird Wi-Fi problemsDiscover the best fitness appsGive Windows 10 a speed boostPrint top quality images on the cheapAnd heaps more!

Grab your copy from newsagents, selected supermarkets or digitally via the Google Play Store or Apple Newsstand from Thursday, June 14, 2018.

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Ring Alarm DIY system is $199, now available for pre-order

Ring is ready to release its latest home security solution, a system it’s calling Ring Alarm that aims to protect your home from intruders and keep you informed about what’s going on in and around your house.

Ring is ready to release its latest home security solution, a system it’s calling Ring Alarm that aims to protect your home from intruders and keep you informed about what’s going on in and around your house.

Ring Alarm officially goes on sale on July 4, with pre-orders open right now on Amazon, Best Buy, The Home Depot and Ring.com. At the time of writing, we weren’t able to find the Ring Alarm starter kit on Amazon, though it may pop up soon enough.

The Ring Alarm price is $199 and includes a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector and range extender.

All these components are fairly self-explanatory, though we’ll note that the contact sensor attaches to a door or window and will alert you if one is opened.

Ring Alarm’s contact sensor

One of Ring Alarm’s stronger points is that you can install it yourself; really the only thing you need a professional for is if you opt for the $10/month professional monitoring and unlimited video storage.

Ring Alarm is similar in many ways to the Nest Secure system, which also includes a hub in the form of Nest Guard, motion sensors and mobile app support.

Where Nest’s kit differs is in the inclusion of Nest Tag, a keychain-sized dongle that lets homeowners quickly arm or disarm their system.

Nest Secure also costs more at $399, though it includes two Nest Tags and two motion sensors.

Amazon recently bought Ring, and one of the earliest fruits of the acquisition was a lower price for the Ring Wi-Fi video doorbell. We’ll likely see many more price drops and new smart home devices as a result of the purchase, so stay tuned.

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Ring Alarm system is $199, now available for pre-order

Ring is ready to release its latest home security solution, a system it’s calling Ring Alarm that aims to protect your home from intruders and keep you informed about what’s going on in and around your house.

Ring is ready to release its latest home security solution, a system it’s calling Ring Alarm that aims to protect your home from intruders and keep you informed about what’s going on in and around your house.

Ring Alarm officially goes on sale on July 4, with pre-orders open right now on Amazon, Best Buy, The Home Depot and Ring.com. At the time of writing, we weren’t able to find the Ring Alarm starter kit on Amazon, though it may pop up soon enough.

The Ring Alarm price is $199 and includes a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector and range extender.

All these components are fairly self-explanatory, though we’ll note that the contact sensor attaches to a door or window and will alert you if one is opened.

Ring Alarm’s contact sensor

Ring Alarm is similar in many ways to the Nest Secure system, which also includes a hub in the form of Nest Guard, motion sensors and mobile app support.

Where Nest’s kit differs is in the inclusion of Nest Tag, a keychain-sized dongle that lets homeowners quickly arm or disarm their system.

Nest Secure also costs more at $399, though it includes two Nest Tags and two motion sensors.

Amazon recently bought Ring, and one of the earliest fruits of the acquisition was a lower price for the Ring Wi-Fi video doorbell. We’ll likely see many more price drops and new smart home devices as a result of the purchase, so stay tuned.

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These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart home – CNET

Smart plugs aren’t the sexiest tech in the smart home, but they pull a lot of weight when it comes to automating dumb devices. In fact, if you use a lot of lamps, fans or small appliances, smart plugs can be the secret to a smart home that feels seamless and synchronized.

Smart plugs aren’t the sexiest tech in the smart home, but they pull a lot of weight when it comes to automating dumb devices. In fact, if you use a lot of lamps, fans or small appliances, smart plugs can be the secret to a smart home that feels seamless and synchronized. Nearly any device you’d plug into a standard wall outlet can be smartened up with a Wi-Fi connected plug.

Smart plugs with power monitoring, away modes and extra charging ports expand the capabilities of your smart home even further, all at a relatively low cost.

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How it works

The majority of smart plugs work with a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection and don’t need a hub. That makes them easy to install and quick to connect. Smart plugs typically come with a companion app where you’ll create an account and set preferences, schedules and names for the devices you’re plugging into the outlet.

You’ll use that same account to connect your plug with the Google Home or Amazon Alexa app in order enable voice commands such as, “OK Google, turn on the lamp.” I’d recommend looking for a smart plug that includes features like scheduling, timers, scenes and something called “away mode” that randomly powers on and off to simulate activity inside your home. That feature works great for lamps or TVs when you’re on vacation.


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This Wi-Fi Smart Plug is a simple way to smarten your stuff

Our best bets

If you’re an Apple HomeKit user, your smart plug options are limited. I really like both the iHome ISP8 and iDevices Switch for their reliability, design and integrations, and if you’re willing to buy the additional WeMo Bridge accessory, then Belkin WeMo Mini smart plugs and other WeMo gadgets will work with HomeKit, too.

If your home is centered around Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, the Eufy Smart Plug Mini is a great option. Still, there are dozens of smart plugs out there that get the job done. Some include extras like LED light rings to indicate power usage or extra USB charging ports. Whether you’re looking for extra ports or space-saving smarts, here’s a rundown of the smartest plugs around.

Belkin Wemo Insight Switch

A smaller plastic housing and new power usage tracking on the $59 Belkin Wemo Insight Switch bring greater visual appeal and usefulness to Belkin’s entry-level smart-home power plug line. This smart plug works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest and IFTTT for advanced programming functions and voice control.

Setup is a bit of a hassle, though, and it’s still large enough to block adjacent outlets. Belkin’s app includes real-time and average data for power draw, usage time and operating cost for whatever device you’ve plugged into the Switch. Even if the WeMo Insight Switch isn’t perfect, the appeal of this product is still high for those looking to ease into home automation, and since it isn’t exactly new, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find one on sale.

Read our Belkin Wemo Insight Switch review.

Belkin Wemo Mini Smart Plug

At $35, the new WeMo Mini is competitively priced, and its smaller design won’t block adjacent outlets. Native compatibility with IFTTT, Nest, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa make it one of the better connected smart plugs you can buy.

Still, it isn’t perfect for everyone. WeMo won’t work with Apple HomeKit (or with Siri) without the WeMo Bridge accessory, which is sold separately. Worse, the WeMo app is still woefully glitchy at times.

Read our Belkin Wemo Mini Smart Plug review.

Eufy Smart Plug Mini

The $21 Eufy Smart Plug Mini is affordable, space saving and smart. It doesn’t work with HomeKit, however, and there aren’t extras like side USB charging ports. Still, Eufy’s Smart Plug Mini is a great addition to any Google or Alexa-centered home. You’ll get plenty of options for scheduling and power monitoring with the EufyHome app for iOS or Android.

Read our Eufy Smart Plug Mini review.

Fibaro Smart Plug

The $60 Fibaro Smart Plug looks good, works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant through a Z-Wave hub, and includes a color-coded LED to indicate power consumption levels. This mighty little wall plug can handle large appliances, too.

You’ll only get the most out of this smart plug if you’re already a Fibaro user, since you’ll only have access to the Fibaro app if you own a Fibaro Home Center or Home Center Lite hub. At $60, it’s a pricey but capable Z-Wave plug.

Read our Fibaro Smart Plug review.

Gosund Smart Plug

The $13 Gosund Mini Smart Plug is about as cheap as smart plugs come. It works with the Smart Life app to bring you scheduling and timer functions for powering on and off, but it doesn’t include more advanced features like power monitoring or away modes. Still, this smart plug works with Assistant and Alexa to deliver basic smarts.

Read our Gosund Smart Plug review.

HeyGo Smart Plug

Sold in a two-pack for $26, this smart plug is one of the cheapest we tested. It works with Alexa and Assistant for voice commands and includes scheduling and timer functions. It’s not the smartest plug, and its construction leaves it feeling a little cheap, but if you’re looking for a simple smart plug, HeyGo gets the job done.

Read our HeyGo Smart Plug review.

iDevices Switch

Simple setup, sleek design and an intuitive app make the iDevices Switch a solid foundation for home automation with HomeKit. With added features like remote access and energy tracking, it’s one of the better options on the market. Despite some glitches with user sharing, the Switch works well, the iDevices app is slick and it offers good scheduling options.

Read our iDevices Switch review.

iDevices Outdoor Switch

The iDevices Outdoor Switch is convenient, filling a niche not many smart plugs have attempted to fill, and the power tracking comes in handy for holiday decorators. This switch isn’t perfect. You can’t control the dual outlets individually, the $80 price tag is a little steep and HomeKit user sharing can be a pain. Still, the Outdoor Switch is great for anyone who wants to string up their holiday lights, set them on a schedule and forget about them for two months. You’ll just have to decide if it’s worth the price.

Read our iDevices Outdoor Switch review.

iHome ISP8

The iHome ISP8 SmartPlug works with a slew of leading smart-home platforms, including Amazon Echo and Apple HomeKit. Plus, its base performance is reliable. It doesn’t work with IFTTT for extended integrations, but it can connect your dumb old lamp to Siri, Alexa, Wink, SmartThings or Nest. The iHome ISP8 is a solid choice for anyone wanting a variety of integrations.

Read our iHome ISP8 review.

iHome Outdoor Switch

For $40, you’ll just get one smart outlet, and the plug itself is bulky and unattractive. Still, Home’s Outdoor SmartPlug performs well and works with a lot of smart home platforms like Alexa, Assistant, HomeKit and then some. If you’re looking for a reliable outdoor switch and don’t need multiple outlets, this iHome switch is a decent option.

Read our iHome Outdoor Switch review.

Koogeek Smart Plug P1

The Koogeek looks nice and has a midrange price tag of $32. In our testing, the integration with Alexa didn’t work. The plug did work well with HomeKit and Google Assistant for voice commands, but it takes up too much space and isn’t a good pick for Android users or Alexa fans.

Read our Koogeek Smart Plug P1 review.

PureGear PureSwitch

The PureGear PureSwitch smart plug only works with Apple HomeKit. You won’t get extra features like dimming options or energy tracking, but the switch is simple to set up and includes a USB 2.0 charging port. If your smart home is built on the HomeKit platform, this plug is a great way to automate small devices. If it isn’t, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Read our PureGear PureSwitch review.

TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini

This smart plug keeps other outlets free, works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and offers plenty of scheduling and timing options. The TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini isn’t HomeKit-compatible, but this smart plug is a great option for anyone interested in scheduling, voice commands and remote access to everyday devices up to 1,500 watts.

Read our TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini review.

TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug with Power Monitoring

This smart plug comes with an easy-to-use app, monitors your energy consumption and works with Assistant and Alexa for voice commands. The plug’s design blocks the outlets above or below it though, and it isn’t compatible with HomeKit.

It does include helpful features like customizable schedules for on and off, including a specific time and repeating days of the week. You can also turn on Away Mode, and your smart plug will power on and off randomly to make it appear as though someone is home. If you’re looking for a plug with power monitoring capability, TP-Link has you covered with this one.

Read our TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug with Power Monitoring review.

Vimvip Wi-Fi Socket

A two-pack of the Vimvip Wi-Fi Socket costs just $21. That’s pretty cheap, but the savings come at a price. You won’t get power monitoring or away modes. It doesn’t work with HomeKit, either. Its upside is its integration with Alexa and Assistant, space-saving size and the USB charging port included on the side of the plug.

Read our Vimvip Wi-Fi Socket review.


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Eufy Smart Plug Mini review: This smart plug automates with ease – CNET

Smart plugs turn ordinary objects into automated members of your smart home. The Eufy Smart Plug Mini does that and more. Aside from letting you turn whatever’s plugged into it on and off from your phone, Eufy’s plug comes with scheduling and power-monitoring options, and it works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to let you control it using voice commands.

Smart plugs turn ordinary objects into automated members of your smart home. The Eufy Smart Plug Mini does that and more. Aside from letting you turn whatever’s plugged into it on and off from your phone, Eufy’s plug comes with scheduling and power-monitoring options, and it works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to let you control it using voice commands. The space-saving design won’t obstruct adjacent outlets, and at $21, it’s about as affordable as good smart plugs get. I’d recommend anyone looking for a Google- or Alexa-friendly smart plug give the Eufy Smart Plug Mini a try.

Setting up the Eufy Smart Plug Mini works like with most other smart plugs. Connect the plug to a standard 120V wall outlet, download the EufyHome companion app, then register and link the plug to your Wi-Fi through the app. Step-by-step instructions make this process simple. Even if you’ve never used a smart plug before it shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to get everything up and running.

Linking Eufy to your Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa account is just a matter of adding the Alexa skill or signing in to your EufyHome account through the Google Home ($129.00 at Dell Home) app. You can rename your smart plug or give it a nickname like “living-room lamp” for more conversational voice interactions. When I tested, voice commands for Google and Alexa worked well to turn the lamp on or off and check its status. Eufy doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit, though, so if you’re looking for a smart plug that works with Siri, you’d be better off with the iDevices Switch or the iHome ISP8 SmartPlug.