Apple’s new ‘battery health’ feature is a great reminder that my iPhone will be a piece of trash some day

Everything dies.
Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

My iPhone isn’t even two years old, and it’s already dying.

That’s the upshot of Apple’s new “Battery Health” feature, introduced in iOS 11.3 Thursday. Though the device assures me it’s operating at “peak performance,” it also indicates that the battery can only hold 93 percent of the charge it once did.

So it goes. Every battery degrades over time, and there’s not a lot Apple can do about that. In fact, this new feature is a step in the right direction: it’s a sort of mea culpa after the tech giant was caught slowing down old devices without user consent, supposedly to combat unexpected shutdowns. The more information users have to counteract — or at least anticipate — the negative effects of iPhone aging, the better.

… Right?

Perhaps not! Though I’m certainly against secret iPhone throttling and generally in favor of information that helps consumers make good choices, this new battery indicator seems destined to result in two things: anxiety and iPhone-related purchases. That my iPhone now only operates at 93 percent of its original capacity is empty knowledge at best. It makes me extremely aware that my iPhone will eventually tick down to uselessness, and, yikes, it kind of makes me want to buy a new battery.

Conceded: This is extremely obsessive. (I am extremely obsessive.) But If you want to do something about your battery, your options are limited. Apple’s temporarily offering a great price on battery replacements for certain models, though you’ll typically shell out $79 for the company to handle this for you.

And folks, you will most likely need the company to handle this for you. iPhones are sealed shut and locked down with proprietary screws — not uncommon in the electronics industry — and they require specialized knowledge to take apart. We are an awfully long way from the Samsung Galaxy S4, which, back in 2013, allowed users to pop off a plastic back with their fingers, take the battery out, and slot another in. Apple has never allowed such a thing with its iPhones.

Replacing a battery on the Galaxy S4 was easy.

Image: ifixit.com

Which is to say, if Apple was serious about making this information useful to consumers, it would make devices that were easier to repair when things go wrong. When my battery capacity hits 50 percent, say, it would be nice to buy a battery from a third-party source (they retail for about $25) and slide that sucker in without completing a minor feat of techno-surgery.

We can applaud Apple for informing consumers, but this information will in fact be most valuable to Apple itself, which will profit when we buy new iPhones or the AppleCare+ plans that give us discounted battery replacements. 

Thanks, but no thanks.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/30/iphone-battery-health-feature/

Bill Gates throws shade at other tech giants in his Reddit AMA

Image: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Bill Gates isn’t a fan of tech’s popular buzzwords: cryptocurrency and hyperloop. The Microsoft co-founder hosted his sixth Reddit AMA on Tuesday, and didn’t hold back on his answers. 

Gates doesn’t like what most people find appealing about cryptocurrencies: anonymity.

“The Governments ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing,” he wrote, “I think the speculative wave around ICOs and crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long.” 

When u/dikkepiemel pointed out that hard cash is still used for fentanyl and “god knows what else,” Gates responded: “Yes – anonymous cash is used for these kinds of things but you have to be physically present to transfer it which makes things like kidnapping payments more difficult.”

Gates also threw some shade at a concept from fellow tech mogul Elon Musk, whose plans for a “Hyperloop” through the East Coast drew some ridicule. Musk tweeted in July, “Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.” 

In Gates’ AMA, u/123lift asked if the Gates Foundation had any plans to tackle inadequate public transportation, since “it seems overlooked.” 

“I think electric cars and autonomous vehicles will be great things … I am not sure the hyperloop concept makes sense,” Gates said, “Making it safe is hard.” 

It’s a not-so-subtle jab at the Tesla CEO, whose Boring Company just got a preliminary permit to start exploratory digging in DC. 

Gates also took a stance on one of the most divisive debates for coders: tabs or spaces? 

“When I code I use tabs because you want the columns to line up,” he responded, “For some word documents I use tabs. You want things to adjust when you go back and edit them and tabs help.”

Silicon Valley’s Richard Hendricks would agree. 

He also shared his take on beer: “I am not a big beer drinker. When I end up at something like a baseball game I drink light beer to get with the vibe of all other beer drinkers. Sorry to disappoint real beer drinkers.”

Not all of Gates’ answers were so passive aggressive, though. He talked about when he finally considered himself successful. His markers for success includes “many domains.”

“I was a success in getting good grades and test scores in high school. I was a success at writing good code by my early 20s … Now I am working on being a good father.” 

His other goals include eradicating polio and malaria, and reducing climate change.

Gates also wants to see more innovation in reducing healthcare costs, improving education, and addressing poverty. “The benefit of getting these things right would be amazing,” he said, “With all the talk about inequity it is interesting that we still work on vertical areas like health, education, housing, food, etc.. as separate things rather than having a full view of the challenges someone faces.”

He wants the same innovation seen in tech applied to humanity’s greater issues. When asked if he missed his time at Microsoft, Gates said he missed the “certain urgency to everything we were doing to stay ahead that meant the speed of activity was very high.” 

“Now I work on things like malaria where I wish there was more competition to solve the problems and things moved faster,” he said. 

Gates also answered the burning question that we’ve all thought of at least once:

“Why is this question so popular?” Gates quipped, “Hello to all the Gills out there. You probably run into someone with the same name less than I do. I don’t think my name has affected me much. My formal name is William.” 

Then he threw in a shout out to some well-known spoonerism:

If Bill Gates calls you “very cool” does it count as a marker of success?

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/27/bill-gates-reddit-ama-hyperloop-cryptocurrency/

In 2017, the Apple Watch became the most important wearable in the world

Apple is victorious in the wearable wars at least for now.
Image: bob al-greene/mashable

The Apple Watch conquered all comers and became the most important wearable in the world in 2017.  

The iPhone maker flexed its muscles to take over the young wearable space in a relatively short period. Apple only released its first smartwatch in April 2015, and its latest, the Series 3, is just the third iteration of the device. 

“Apple has shipped 34.4 million smartwatches worldwide since it entered the category in 2015,” said Canalys analyst Vincent Thielke in an email to Mashable. “In other words, Apple accounts for 51.6 percent of all smartwatches ever shipped.” 

These numbers comes from Canalys’ estimates, not an official tabulation from Apple itself, since the company doesn’t publicize total Apple Watch sales — but the estimates still point to dominance in the wearables space, where smartwatches currently reign supreme

The Apple Watch’s success is certainly a result of the company’s status as one of the most popular (and valuable) brands in the world, but it wasn’t Apple’s branding presence alone that made it the wearable king in 2017. 

Third time’s the charm

The biggest reason Apple won the wearable war this year was the realization of the Apple Watch’s potential as a standalone device. 

The addition of LTE connectivity finally showed skittish consumers that the company was willing to cut the link between the smartwatch and the iPhone. Standalone functionality has long been a point of contention for those who couldn’t justify such an expensive device that only served as an extension of the smartphone in their pocket.

That new feature appears to have paid off. Demand for the new Series 3 devices has reportedly outpaced supply, and Apple is primed to sell even more in 2018 as it brings more devices to market. 

Apple isn’t the first with smartwatch with LTE connectivity — LG and Samsung have both released their own standalone devices — but Apple’s market clout helped the feature make more of an impact. Thielke thinks the brand was helped by its strong ties with all of the major wireless carriers, which he said has been essential to showcase the new functionalities.

The Apple Watch Series 3.

Image:  LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Another of the keys to Apple’s success has been its ability to expand its focus beyond fitness and into wider health categories. 

“We’re flipping the page and looking at health,” IDC Research Manager Ramon Llamas told Mashable on a phone call. “People want to know more about themselves and how they can lead a better life.” 

Llamas said an industry-wide focus on health features is giving consumers more value and functionality than the simplistic fitness trackers that once dominated the market, and Apple is leading the charge.

The company teamed up with Stanford researchers for a heart health research study, and the FDA just cleared a mobile electrocardiogram (EKG) band accessory for the Apple Watch from AliveCor. Apple’s top-secret health facility is centered around collecting data for the smartwatch, and rumors about Tim Cook sporting a special glucose-tracking prototype could hint at even more revolutionary features.  

Thinning of the herd

But the Series 3 isn’t perfect. The device is expensive, and a monthly data plan costs extra on top of the already steep purchase price. Apple even admitted in a rare moment of fallibility there was a glitch in how the service worked at launch, although the issue has since been fixed.

The Apple Watch’s shortcomings were trivial compared to the issues faced by other wearable makers during 2017. Competitors faced bigger challenges throughout the year, and some were eliminated from the space entirely. 

Fitbit began the year with layoffs and didn’t release the smartwatch CEO James Park promised until October, while old stalwarts like Jawbone, Motorola, and TomTom totally killed off their operations at various points. Android Wear, meanwhile, is a mess that got no better with version 2.0, which was released in February.

More skirmishes on the horizon

Just because Apple won the war in 2017 doesn’t mean that other companies are totally eliminated from relevancy. Llamas isn’t fully convinced of Apple’s dominance, or if its reign will be permanent. 

“We’re still only talking about a couple million units quarter in and quarter out,” he said. The war might be over, so to speak, but there’s room for other companies to carve out their own space and take a shot at the king.

Apple wasn’t always on top this year, showing that there is space for other makers. Xiaomi topped the wearables market twice during the year with its cheap fitness trackers, and Fitbit clung on stolidly though its ups and downs.

Fitbit Ionic

Image: Raymond Wong/Mashable

Fitbit’s Ionic smartwatch didn’t drop until October, but it just received a slick new OS update that could actually give consumers a reason to check it out. The company, like Apple, is working to develop health-focused technologies for its smartwatch. 

Samsung’s Gear watches could find their own audience, and if Google can find a way to make Android Wear better, other makers like LG could still have a shot at success. The rise of AI could be a major boon here, since Assistant is becoming more ingrained in consumers’ lives through Google’s most recent round of hardware products, and it would make sense for users in the Google ecosystem to open up a spot for it on their wrists.  

For now, though, Apple is on top. 2017 was a good year for the company’s wearable efforts, and the future looks bright. 

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/12/apple-watch-won-the-wearable-war/

Amazon is quietly challenging all kinds of startups

Amazon is hiring dozens of housekeepers to challenge startups like Handy.
Image: Denver Post via Getty Images

If a consumer startup exists, there’s a good chance Amazon is trying to kill it.

Headlines about the famously aggressive online shopping giant bulldozing through retail categories are nothing new, of course; it seems like every other day brings a new breathless news cycle about the threat it poses to a new industry.

Sometimes lost in the mix, though, are the various ways in which it’s undermining even smaller niche startup markets from housecleaning services to subscription boxes to restaurant delivery

Amazon’s tendrils are growing into nearly every part of the e-commerce tech world. The company is so big that smaller efforts that may seem like an afterthought compared to its larger ambitions have the power to shake up sectors.

That’s in part because these areas tend to be money-burning enterprises that take gobs of venture capital to launch into steady businesses. Yet while startups fight to stay above water, Amazon’s resources mean it has no such concerns.

Here are some of the startups with which Amazon is competing in some form or another:

On-demand cleaning service Handy

Amazon is currently hiring dozens of housekeepers for what appears to be a new home-cleaning service in the works. Amazon says these employees “will be traveling and working in customers’ homes ensuring they return to a sparkling clean environment.”

That proposition could pose a problem for Handy, a startup that also helps people hire on-demand cleaning help. 

Handy has faced legal battles and worker disputes over its gig-economy classification of cleaners as independent contractors. The controversial designation frees the company from paying out benefits and wages that labor laws might otherwise mandate. 

Amazon’s housekeepers, on the other hand, are promised formal employment with the company along with health insurance and stock options. Such terms could not only attract workers away from Handy but also guarantee a level of service without the sort of headline-grabbing bad experiences that have hurt Handy’s reputation.

Amazon could also conceivably bolster the service with various of its other operations. Assuming that customers one day feel comfortable enough to adopt its new Amazon Key home supervision system, it could use those cameras to protect against theft. 

Smart lock startups

Amazon turned heads last month when it announced Amazon Key, a service that would let delivery-people enter customer homes without them there through an advanced lock and camera system.

But the online shopping giant wasn’t the first to offer this idea. The month before the announcement, Walmart penned a deal with smart-lock startup August Home to offer the same sort of scheme.

The difference is that Amazon is instead providing its own hardware and that of approved third parties as part of the installation kit.

Amazon’s customer base is so strong that, provided people overcome their uneasiness with strangers in their house, its services could help it own the market on smart locks in the process of rolling out Amazon Key

While tech-integrated door security is useful for a number of other reasons beyond grocery delivery, Amazon could sell people on it through the program, leaving less demand for the rest of the industry.

Grubhub

Amazon sent Grubhub’s stock plummeting earlier in the fall when it announced its own restaurant delivery business in several major cities.

Grubhub has maintained a dominant spot in the restaurant ordering and delivery market by purchasing its closest rivals in the space. While the company is still integrated into Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, Amazon’s own service could eventually get an edge through default settings in the system.

Amazon’s not running its restaurant service all by itself, however. The operation is powered by ordering tech startup Olo and benefits from that company’s long list of clients.

Subscription box services

A few of Amazon’s subscription box packages.

Image: amazon

Amazon has quietly rolled out a program called Prime Samples that offers assortment packs of everything from dog treats to toiletries to coffee and tea.

While the offering is flying under the radar for now, it could one day challenge the recent proliferation of e-commerce startups built around the idea of regular curated collections of products: Birchbox, Harry’s razors, and hundreds of others.

Unlike those companies, Prime Samples aren’t explicitly offered in regular recurring shipments, though one could easily set orders to repeat through Amazon’s purchasing options.

Blue Apron

Amazon helped spoil Blue Apron’s stock market debut this summer after its blockbuster Whole Foods deal spooked investors.

But it didn’t stop there. Not long after the DIY meal service hit the trading floor, Amazon launched its own meal kits to compete head on with the startup.

Amazon’s version of Blue Apron’s service launched with little fanfare and it’s not clear how much it’s grown in the three months since. But the mere fact that Amazon is interested in the market has been enough to damage the startup’s stock, along with the other more fundamental flaws in its business plan. 

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/14/amazon-startups-challenging/

TripAdvisor apologizes for deleting warnings of rape

Kristie Love's TripAdvisor review on her vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico was deleted.
Image: Darren Carroll/Getty ImageS

TripAdvisor has apologized to a sexual assault survivor after an investigation revealed the website had deleted posts alleging assaults at resorts in Mexico. The belated apology comes seven years after the attack.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shared the story of Kristie Love, who had posted on TripAdvisor about her rape at an Iberostar resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Love said she had her post removed several times. 

“Since 2010, when the forum post was removed, our policies and processes have evolved to better provide information like this to other travelers. As a result, when recently brought to our attention, the victim’s initial forum post was republished by our staff,” TripAdvisor wrote in a statement. 

But it wasn’t just Love. The several-month-long investigation revealed more than a dozen travelers had their posts on TripAdvisor removed for similar reasons. In fact, three people reported being sexually assaulted or raped at the same resort in Mexico and subsequently had their TripAdvisor posts deleted. 

The problem stems from TripAdvisor’s content moderation. Other crowdsourced review sites like Yelp and social networks like Facebook and Twitter face similar problems with deciding what violates their policies. Mistakes are frequently made. TripAdvisor also tries to manage any hearsay, but the policy appears to inconsistently enforced. 

“To me, it’s like censoring,” Wendy Avery-Swanson told the Journal Sentinel. She had a post about her blacking out from alcohol served at a swim-up bar removed.

TripAdvisor provided several different reasons at the time for why their reviews were removed. One instance claimed the post contained language or was about a topic that was not “family friendly.” 

According to TripAdvisor, the site does allow for negative reviews and stories like Love’s and Avery-Swanson’s. Specifically, its interpretation of the family-friendly guidelines has changed since Love’s review was removed in 2010. 

“We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far.”

“At the time, we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family friendly language. More than 7 years ago that meant all language needed to be G-rated. … We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable in an email.

“A simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault and rape,” the spokesperson continued. 

It’s worth noting that TripAdvisor’s business model in part relies on users booking through its website. TripAdvisor denied any link between how its content guidelines are applied and its commercial relationships.

TripAdvisor boasts more than 535 million reviews on hotel, airlines, restaurants, and local attractions. Unlike other companies that help with direct booking like Airbnb, airlines, and hotels, TripAdvisor doesn’t verify that reviews or forum posts are written by people who actually experienced what they wrote about.

The tech company follows its own publishing guidelines and employs about 300 people to moderate posts and ensure “content integrity,” a spokesperson told the Journal Sentinel. TripAdvisor also relies on software to detect fake reviews. 

The alleged censorship may fall outside of TripAdvisor’s offices, however. As the Journal Sentinel notes, TripAdvisor allows non-employees known as “trusted community members” to remove posts. The company declined to disclose who they are or how they are chosen but said they are “trusted, highly rated users and volunteers drawn from the global travel community.”  

TripAdvisor added that these privileges can be removed if a member is “overly promoting” their businesses. These volunteers are unable to remove reviews but do moderate forum posts. 

After the Journal Sentinel report, TripAdvisor said it is making changes. For example, Love’s post has been reinstated. The site is also creating a “badge” notification that will alert users to health, safety, and discrimination issues. This designation will be based on media reports and other credible sources, TripAdvisor said.

“We’re currently going through additional quality assurance testing, and expect it to be launched before the end of the year,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable

This post was updated with additional insight from TripAdvisor.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/02/tripadvisor-deleted-warnings-rapes-mexico-resorts-journal-sentinel/

A timeline of the rogue Twitter employee’s last day at work before deleting Trump’s account

Image: mashable composite. max knoblauch; shutterstock

This post is a part of Mashable Humor. It is not real. We drew the bird, though, and think it’s pretty good.

A Twitter customer support employee is responsible for temporarily deactivating the account of President Trump for 11 minutes on Thursday night, just before 7:00 p.m. EST. According to a statement from the company, it was said employee’s last day, and they acted without the approval of anyone else at Twitter.

What follows is a comprehensive timeline of the “rogue” employee’s infamous last day at Twitter HQ.

9:05 a.m.: Employee arrives at office on their last day. Employee sits at desk.

9:15 a.m.: Employee’s manager approaches, asks employee if they received email. “I haven’t checked my email,” employee replies. “Oh, okay. Well, when you get a chance,” manager answers. The employee will not look at the email.

9:20 a.m.: Employee tells coworker Devin that his coffee mug is on their desk, technically, and has been every day for several months.

9:25 a.m.: Employee leaves for “early lunch.”

1:15 p.m.: Employee returns from lunch.

1:19 p.m.: Employee sends email recommending lunch spot’s Moscow Mules to full New York office.

1:25 p.m.: Employee forwards Moscow Mule email to global staff list with message, “In case any of you are ever in town.”

1:30 p.m.: Using Sharpie, employee writes, “This bread taste like DOGGGG SHIT” on a loaf of bread in the employee kitchen.

1:35 p.m.: Employee reminds coworker Devin about the coffee mug’s location, asking him, “Did you know?”

1:40 p.m.: Employee leaves for “late lunch.”

4:10 p.m.: Employee returns from late lunch.

4:45 p.m.: During team meeting, employee is asked to say a few words. Employee uses full time to again recommend the Moscow Mules. The employee has worked at Twitter for 4 years.

5:00 p.m.: Employee enters back room and adjusts office thermostat to 68 degrees.

5:03 p.m.: Employee arrives at HR for exit interview.

5:10 p.m.: Employee responds to HR’s question of, “How do you feel about your time here?” with simply, “Bad.”

5:12 p.m.: Employee responds to HR’s question of, “Is there anything you feel you have not been able to do in your time here?” with, “Delete the president’s Twitter.” Employee tells HR they think they will be deleting President Trump’s account later in the day. The HR representative chuckles.

5:15 p.m.: Employee returns to desk.

5:30 p.m.: Employee watches the first 25 minutes of Netflix’s What the Health at desk without headphones.

5:55 p.m.: Employee says, “Wow.”

5:56 p.m.: Employee messages manager that the office chairs are very uncomfortable. Manager replies with, “Well, I don’t furnish the office lol.” Employee replies, “I do not like you and I have not liked you for some time now.” Manager does not reply.

6:00 p.m.: Employee stands on desk and announces that they will be drinking Moscow Mules at the lunch spot nearby if anyone wants to go.

6:48 p.m.: Employee returns to office to retrieve coat.

6:49 p.m.: Employee throws Devin’s mug in the garbage.

6:50 p.m.: Employee deactivates the president’s Twitter account.

6:55 p.m.: Employee returns to lunch spot for Moscow Mules.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/04/rogue-twitter-employee-deletes-trump-timeline-satire/

The iPhone 8 might cost up to $1,200

The iPhone 8 (or Edition or X, take your pick) could weigh down your bank account.
Image: loris ravera/mashable

Apple is finally slated to reveal the highly-anticipated deluxe anniversary iPhone on Sept. 12, and you will want to buy it immediately — but the sticker price could wind up dampening your excitement for the phone’s next-gen features. 

Rumors claim the iPhone 8 (or Edition or X, depending on who you trust) will be much more expensive than any of its predecessors, pushing the starting cost up to at least the $1,000 mark. That means the top-of-the-line model will cost a whopping $1,200, for anyone who wants more than just the basic level of storage on their deluxe device. 

Leaker Benjamin Geskin tweeted out a pricing tier for the new iPhones, citing information from a friend who has a friend at Apple. 

The sourcing sounds sketchy, but Geskin is far from the first to suggest that the next iPhone will cost more than $1,000. Apple insider John Gruber suggested the deluxe new device would debut at the price point back in July, speculating that Apple could justify the cost by showcasing next-level tech that will be common in future iPhones in a premium device today. 

A New York Times report also backed the idea of a starting price “around $999,” for the iPhone, citing anonymous sources who had been briefed on the device. That’s a much more reliable report than just the whispers of friend of a friend — but others aren’t so convinced that Apple will ask such a high price for a phone.

UBS analysts Steven Milunovich and Benjamim Wilson wrote in an investors note that they “questioned the logic” of Apple putting such a premium on an iPhone. They claim instead that the company will roll out the deluxe device at a $900 starting point for a 64GB model, with a 256GB version eclipsing the $1,000 mark. 

The analysts also noted that Apple typically takes some cues from its competitors, and with Samsung’s latest offerings starting well under $1,000 — the new Galaxy Note 8 starts at $930 unlocked — there’s little incentive for Apple to set the bar any higher.   

None of these projections questioned the features expected in the deluxe iPhone, which include a new edge-to-edge OLED display, a nearly bezel-free screen with no home button, and a new sensor system for facial recognition. 

Speculation over the price of the iPhone is nothing new for the rumor cycle, with reports flying about the extra costs for as long as there have been rumors about a new OLED screen. Now that we’re a week away from the big reveal, however, those projected costs are all the more pressing, since we’re finally closer to getting a shot to put down the cash for one of our own.  

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/05/iphone-8-price-tier-rumors-/

Why youll probably want the next Apple Watch

The next version of the Apple Watch could be a game changer.
Image: Getty Images

Apple is getting ready to launch a new version of the Apple Watch that doesn’t need to be paired with an iPhone in order to work, according to Bloomberg. The report, published earlier this month, claims the next version of the watch will include an LTE chip for internet connectivity and suggests the watch’s square casing may receive a radical new design.

If true, the next-generation Apple Watch’s features could make it the first truly must-have wearable product, finally offering people the right balance of connectivity, usefulness, and fashion credibility that they’ve been asking for.

The Watch wasn’t a breakout success initially, but over time, Apple has correctly adjusted to consumer sentiment and found a great niche for the product. The first iteration was marketed as a general smartwatch for everyone, but as excitement for the shiny new Apple product wore off, the company pivoted to emphasize health and fitness features, like a built-in GPS and water resistance. That shift led to stronger sales that appeared to put Apple atop the entire wearables market.

The third soon-to-be-released version of the Watch will likely continue this health and fitness focus that much was clear from the preview of watchOS 4 we saw at WWDC earlier this year. But it could also make the Watch even more useful for everyone in their everyday lives, making it a must-have for all of us in the iEcosystem.

Connectivity, everywhere

The most exciting rumor about the next-generation Apple Watch is, without question, standalone internet connectivity. Many market analysts believe that the addition of LTE connections will finally convince consumers that wearables are worth their time (and more importantly, money), giving them the ability to use their devices as more than a glorified extension of their smartphone. The feature could be the key for the market’s growth as it enters a “new phase,” in which sales are projected to double by 2021.

The new Apple Watch won’t be the first smartwatch to have standalone internet connectivity, however; the Samsung Gear 3 offered a mass-market 4G LTE-connected smartwatch and was launched last year.

But introducing LTE connectivity to the best-selling device on the market from the most visible company in the world will instantly bring the feature to a wider audience, letting Apple play off its image as an innovator even if Samsung was there first. This happens with the iPhone nearly every product cycle, and the gigantic base of Apple fans eat it up. There’s little reason to believe the Watch would be much different.

There are some concerns about how functional Apple’s standalone wearable could be in its first iteration. Screen size, battery life, and memory are already concerns for such a small device adding LTE chips and giving it even more processing power could make those problems even worse.

The Watch won’t ever be used for major tasks, though. It’s more likely to be used when production is secondary, like, say, when wearers’ hands are otherwise occupied. Runners and other exercisers will be relieved to ditch their phones and retain the ability to send texts, download apps, and stream music online. And a more general audience will be interested in boosting productivity, like when they first started using an iPhone.

LTE-connection will make the Watch all the more attractive to those of us who can’t spend a moment without being connected, which is one of the most important requirements of a gadget these days.

A fresh new look

The rumored new form factor for the Watch shouldn’t be taken lightly as a majorly attractive feature that could make it a must-have device. There’s even a rumor that Apple could introduce microLED screen technology with the new Watch, which could make it even brighter and better looking than the current OLED setup.

Smartwatches have previously fallen in the middle of a strange space between fashion and function, but the scales could be tipping toward looks as a potential determining factor for general consumers. Android Wear devices from major tech companies have largely struggled since the OS was updated earlier this year but fashion companies haven’t been deterred from using the platform, since their customers are worried about looks first, performance second.

If Apple, a famously design-centric company, begins to really treat its Watch like the fashion plate it has the potential to be, its general appeal could go through the roof as hypebeasts and fashionistas lust after the new form factor.

That type of sentiment doesn’t apply to most gadgets, where one generation replaces the last because it works better but in fashion, where aesthetics are the most important quality, consumers can justify buying a new model on looks alone. There’s more of an incentive to upgrade to the new redesigned Watch to go along with your Series 2 for Apple fans, too, giving them an opportunity collect them all and cycle between looks.

Some might be leery of Apple’s movement toward a fitness and fashion focused wearable (Mashable tech editor Pete Pachal chief among them), but the company will find a more receptive general audience by crafting a sexy, always-connected Watch.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/08/14/apple-watch-3-must-have/

Here are some of the weirder and more creative ad blockers on the market

Image: Shutterstock / underverse

A host of niche ad blockers are helping web surfers trade annoying ads for cats, art, and inspiration.

The tools are part of a burgeoning cottage industry of blocking software birthed by a popular frustration with disruptive digital ads in recent years.

But where most of their ilk simply scrub pop-ups and promos from your screen, a handful of developers have tried to set their services apart by taking it a step further: They want to turn the lemons of online ads into lemonade.

These ad blockers replace aggressive web advertising with a more pleasant alternative, whether that be images of goofy cats, vintage billboards, fine art, inspirational memes take your pick.

Like many one-note browser extensions, most of them are novelty gags and open-source hobbyist projects. Their gimmicks may be fun at first, but at some point the clutter of cats on every page might get old.

A small segment of startups, however, are more serious about their missions. Companies like Intently a Pinterest-like ad replacer are actually hoping to create viable rivals to industry heavyweights like Eyeo’s AdBlockPlus and AdBlock (two confusingly named, yet separate companies).

There is a potentially enticing moneymaking opportunity hidden in this deceptively simple model. The secret to ad blockers is that, despite the contradictory name and intra-industry antagonism, they aren’t much different than the ad networks they block. Ad blocking startups also make their money by selling the screen space in front of you to advertisers.

For most of the popular ad blocking services, that means charging certain high-traffic platforms like Google and Microsoft for the privilege of being whitelisted a practice trade groups have likened to extortion.

But the prospect of slipping ads in among aspirational memes or social content could make for a more sustainable and less shady model provided there’s actually an appetite among web users for content in place of ads.

Judging by the number of projects that have already stumbled on this path, that demand is by no means guaranteed. But it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy morphing ads into anything under the sun.

Vintage social ads

Image: kindai

What would your Facebook feed look like in ’80s get-up?

French ad agency Kindai answered that question this week with a new tool that papers over sponsored posts with classic ads from the decade.

The browser extension will transport you back to a world of Atari’s Pong, Sony Walkmans, and Apple II’s. There’s a tribute to a partnership between Pizza Hut and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other retro cultural signifiers galore.

The program is also a reminder of how easy it remains to block Facebook ads nearly a year after the company’s supposed crackdown on the practice.

Image: screenshot

CatBlock

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Developers at AdBlock originally intended for CatBlock to be an April Fool’s joke in 2012. But they apparently underestimated the force of feline fanaticism on the internet.

The service a temporary code tweak that rendered blocked ads as “Lolcat” memes or Flickr images got such an overwhelming reception that AdBlock decided to spin it into part of a monthly subscription package.

Two years later, however, AdBlock turned the project over to open-source developers who now maintain it as a free browser extension. Last year, it became the first ad blocker to run on Microsoft’s Edge browser.

Intently

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Image: screenshot

Intently replaces aspiration-mongering and health-shaming in service of consumerism with… aspiration-mongering and health-shaming as an end unto itself.

To be clear, the latter is definitely preferable. The service first lets you customize your interests and life goals by selecting from a few preset choices. You’ll then start to see peppy positive mantras like “start by believing that things can change” and “7 days without fruits and vegetables makes one ‘weak'” where you’d otherwise see ads.

The company’s eventual goal is to become a sort of Pinterest-like platform that operates in the space vacated by blocked ads.

Image: screenshot

Addendum

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Image: screenshot

Probably the most intriguing project on this list, Addendum lets you replace ads with one of several “essays,” or sets of similarly themed art, curated by the influential Kadist art organization.

The collections are all compiled from archives uncovered by Kadist’s various research projects, according to Addendum’s site, but you can also upload your own galleries and share them with friends.

It’s not the fastest or most reliable blocker at this point, and it’s currently only available on Firefox though Chrome and Safari versions are in the works.

The developers are also among the few to directly confront the ethical underpinnings of ad blocking.

“You downloaded the page, and you own it,” the developers write in their justification of the practice. “Its yours and you can do whatever you want to it. Just like if you get a free newspaper, you can read it, or cut it up, or burn it. Its your life and you have no legal obligation to look at every ad presented to you.”

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/08/ad-blockers-replacers/