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Apple launches AirPods Pro

The iconic wireless earphones have received a “Pro” upgrade, which implements Active Noise Cancellation and 24-hour battery life.

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Apple last night announced AirPods Pro, a new member of the AirPods family that features Active Noise Cancellation and immersive sound, with an in-ear design.

“AirPods are the best-selling headphones in the world,” says Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The one-tap setup experience, incredible sound and iconic design have made them a beloved Apple product, and with AirPods Pro, we’re taking the magic even further. The new in-ear AirPods Pro sound amazing with Adaptive EQ, fit comfortably with flexible ear tips and have innovative Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. We think customers are going to love this new addition to the AirPods family.”

The no-setup experience customers know with today’s AirPods extends to AirPods Pro. By opening the charging case near an iOS or iPadOS device and giving it a tap, AirPods Pro are paired to all the devices signed into a user’s iCloud account, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV and iPod touch.

Each earbud comes with three different sizes of soft, flexible silicone ear tips that conform to the contours of each individual ear, providing both a comfortable fit and a tight seal — a critical factor in delivering immersive sound. To further maximise comfort, AirPods Pro use an innovative vent system to equalize pressure, minimising the discomfort common in other in-ear designs. 

Active Noise Cancellation on AirPods Pro uses two microphones combined with advanced software to continuously adapt to each individual ear and headphone fit. This removes background noise to provide a customised noise-cancelling experience.
The first microphone is outward-facing and detects external sound to analyse environmental noise. It then creates an equivalent anti-noise that cancels out background noise before it reaches the listener’s ear. A second inward-facing microphone listens toward the ear, and AirPods Pro cancel remaining noise detected by the microphone. Noise cancellation continuously adapts the sound signal, 200 times per second.

Transparency mode provides users with the option to simultaneously listen to music while still hearing the environment around them, whether that’s to hear traffic while out for a run or a train announcement during the morning commute. Using the pressure-equalizing vent system and advanced software that leaves just the right amount of noise cancellation active, Transparency mode ensures that a user’s own voice sounds natural while audio continues to play.

Switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes can be done directly on the AirPod using a new force sensor on the stem. The force sensor also makes it possible to play, pause or skip tracks, and answer or hang up phone calls. Users can also press on the volume slider in Control Center on iPhone and iPad to control settings, or on Apple Watch by tapping on the AirPlay icon while music is playing.

The size and performance of the AirPods Pro are made possible by a system-in-package (SiP) design with the Apple-designed H1 chip at its core. The H1 features 10 audio cores and powers everything from sound to voice-activated Siri. The extremely low audio processing latency of H1 enables real-time noise cancellation, delivers high-quality sound using adaptive technology and responds to hands-free “Hey Siri” requests — all at once.
In Active Noise Cancellation mode, AirPods Pro delivers up to four and a half hours of listening time and up to three and a half hours of talk time on a single charge. Through additional charges from the Wireless Charging Case, AirPods Pro deliver over 24 hours of listening time or over 18 hours of talk time. Charging the AirPods case can be done wirelessly, through a Qi-certified charging mat or using the Lightning port.

The AirPods Pro will be available for $249 in the US, starting tomorrow.

Product of the Day

Huawei Watch GT 2: A premium smartwatch for fitness

The Huawei Watch GT 2 is one of the best looking smartwatches on the market, and comes with impressive fitness tracking features. BRYAN TURNER tried it out

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One of the most beautiful smartwatches yet has entered the arena: the Huawei Watch GT 2. It features a vibrant and sharp AMOLED display and some of the best battery life on the market for backlit colour screen smartwatches.

We tested the Watch GT 2 for two weeks, which happens to be just the right amount of time to review this device on one charge. Its major selling point is 2 weeks battery life, and it surpassed that mark for us – although we didn’t use every single feature every single day, as Huawei suggests, for the 2-week battery life.

Out the box, the watch is presented in a premium foam housing, while the disc-shaped charger and larger straps are neatly hidden. The charger has two metal contacts that line up with the bottom of the watch, so it’s not wireless, but is still pretty sleek. The charging-disc also features a USB Type-C port, so only one cable is needed between the latest Android handsets and this watch.

When turning it on, the first striking detail of this watch is its stunning AMOLED display, which is super bright – making it ideal for outdoor runs in full sun. 

The display is also pretty big, at 46mm at 454×454 pixels, while not feeling like a bulky display on one’s wrist. The bezel doesn’t rotate, but at least it looks good and doesn’t get in the way of operating the watch.

Two buttons on the right side of the watch work in-tandem with taps and swipes. It does take some getting used to, because the top button is supposed to be a back button but sometimes takes the user completely out of the app. The bottom button is customisable but launches workout mode by default.

The device pairs with the Huawei Health app, which is available on both Android and iOS. The setup process is far easier on Android than iOS. On a non-Huawei Android phone, one must download Huawei Health and also get Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). On iOS, only Huawei Health is required, but not without head-scratching as to why it won’t pair on the first few attempts.

Once it’s paired, it’s smooth sailing. It makes use of Bluetooth 5.1, which keeps the watch connected with virtually no power consumption. This, combined with the super-efficient Kirin A1 chip, gave us over 2 weeks of battery life with regular use – which consisted of checking the time occasionally, with a 30-minute workout a day.

The watch is packed with a bunch of sensors ideal for the fitness-minded user who wants to know as much as possible about their workout. These include an always-on heart rate sensor, gyroscope, GPS, accelerometer, and an air pressure sensor for elevation detection.

It features 16 common workout modes for tracking users, including GPS-tracked outdoor running, cycling, open water swimming, using a rowing machine and an elliptical. Although Fitbit and Apple Watch have far more workout modes built-in – like yoga or boxing – the less niche fitness user will be fine with the Watch GT 2.

One of the nicest features for runners is the music sync functionality. The watch can pair to wireless earphones, and one can go for a run without taking a smartphone along. It can also store around 500 songs. The only catch: it’s MP3s only, like it’s 2002. Huawei will likely add third-party streaming services like Deezer and Spotify to the watch, though nothing has been confirmed yet.

Answering calls on the Watch GT 2 is also now possible. While it’s useful to talk to one’s watch like James Bond when one’s phone is nowhere to be found, it’s pretty gimmicky and gets old quickly on any smartwatch.

There are some pretty limiting features for iOS users. The watch comes preloaded with 14 watch faces but, if you want more, you’ll have to pair to an Android phone – Huawei Health for iOS doesn’t do that. Pairing a headset to the device is possible, but only through an Android phone with Huawei Health. In short, iPhone users are better off sticking to Fitbit or Apple Watch.

That said, it hits the nail on the head for a beautiful fitness-style crossover.

The Huawei Watch GT 2 retails for R4,999 at Total Sports.

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Product of the Day

Infinite Power makes USB rechargeable batteries

One of the most underrated accessories to make our gadgets work – batteries – have just gotten much cooler. BRYAN TURNER reviews a battery with a micro-USB port.

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It’s 2019 and so many accessories still take batteries. In the office, we find we need AA or AAA batteries for some of the coolest tech. The only drawback is: batteries need to be thrown away after they’re flat. Not only is it a nuisance to pick up a gadget to find its batteries are flat, but it’s pretty bad for the environment if one’s feeling lazy and throws the dead batteries in the trash.

Then there’re rechargeable batteries. I’m a huge fan of rechargeable batteries because they’re far more environmentally friendly and, after a few charges, they’re more cost effective than non-rechargeable batteries. One issue with them is: finding the charger. It’s often the case, when it comes time to charge the batteries, that the proprietary charging device is missing. Thanks to batteries lasting so long, the charger gets deeper and deeper into the back of a drawer that’s not opened.

Enter Infinite Power by Charged Power. It has created a pretty nifty rechargeable battery that has a port directly on the battery. The port is also a standard micro-USB port, which many smartphones still use. Out of the box, we got four rechargeable batteries, and a single USB-A to two micro-USB charging cable, in case one wants to charge two batteries simultaneously. We can tell that the cable is a bit too specialised and will probably get lost in a cable drawer. That said, the batteries don’t take a proprietary port, which is a huge plus.

They come in AA and AAA variants, which are 1000 mAh and 450 mAh respectively per battery. The batteries also feature a soft button, which indicate charge level. From flat, they take around 5,5 hours to charge. The last depending on the device they’re put into. Remotes may last for months, while toys that draw a lot of power may last a few days. Charged Power says the batteries last for 500 charges.

Overall, these makes for practical stocking stuffers in the festive season. For more information, visit chargedpower.co.za

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