The best smart lock device you should get for your home

A smart lock is a solution to virtually any of these problems. Depending on the model, you can unlock or lock with a toggle in the smartphone app. Enable auto-unlock to unlock the door when your phone gets within a certain number of feet, use a voice command, enter a passcode, scan your fingerprint. Guests can also be sent a temporary code or timed temporary access.

What can it do besides locking and unlocking?

Think of it as two-factor authentication for your door: Just as Gmail sends you a notification when it sees a login attempt from an unfamiliar device. A smart lock sends notifications if someone tries to unlock the door or if someone is trying to guess the code or force entry.

Accessibility

Switching from the traditional lock and key to a smart lock can be freeing for folks aging in place. Smart locks are lifesavers if a key is lost. Cross one thing off the “to do” list by locking doors every night at a certain time. Voice integration allows the lock to be controlled with a simple command rather than getting out of bed after one is all comfy. Caregivers or relatives having their own code is much more practical than handing out multiple spare keys.

Which should I choose?

  • Retrofit versus deadbolt replacement: Retrofit locks add connectivity to your current deadbolt. Let you keep the keys you were already using, and operate through your phone, with auto-unlock, or with voice commands. Full deadbolt replacements are a bit more heavy-duty and open possibilities for keypads and fingerprint sensors. They require some more handiwork and require you to use new keys.
  • Keyless locks: Though the whole point is to not carry keys on your person all the time. It’s still nice to have backup if the WiFi, power, or lock’s batteries crap out. Some smart locks can be jumpstarted with a nine-volt battery instead of a key. Which might be nice if you’re worried about the lock being picked.
  • Smart home compatibility: Are you an Echo, Google, HomeKit, or SmartThings household? Some smart locks are particularly well integrated with certain smart home systems, and it’s always nice to have everything in the same loop.
  • WiFi adapter versus built-in WiFi: A WiFi connection is needed to be able to access your smart lock from your phone when you’re not home. Most purchases will come with a separate hub to connect the lock to your home’s network. Others have WiFi already built in. Without WiFi, you’ll only be able to use the app when you’re in Bluetooth range.

LG Tone Free earbuds review: The new AirPod’s rival

You’re probably more acutely aware of the germs around you now than ever before — and there’s good reason for that. It’s a kind of hygienic vigilance that LG’s new Tone Free wireless earbuds are tailor-made for, thanks to one timely, new feature.

You see, these AirPods alternatives have a UV light in the charging case that LG claims will kill bacteria and germs while the buds charge. (When I said timely, I meant timely.) That’s a neat hook, to be sure, but LG’s new earbuds also have to actually work as earbuds to make the $149.99 investment worthwhile.

So are LG Tone Free earbuds the future of wireless earbuds, a gimmicky mess, or something in between? Let’s find out together.

First, that germ-killing UV feature…

The most eye-catching thing about the new LG Tone Free earbuds is the claim that its charging case can kill up to 99.9 percent of bacteria on the speaker mesh using UV lights.

First, you need to know that this feature only activates when you put the earbuds inside the case while the case is plugged in and charging. This feature doesn’t work on the go, presumably, to maintain the advertised 12 extra hours of battery inside the charging case.

Disney has reportedly joined the Facebook ad boycott

The Walt Disney Company has reportedly joined the long list of companies that are pushing Facebook to get its platform under control. A Sunday report in the Wall Street Journal reveals that Disney has “dramatically slashed” its ad spending on Facebook Inc. (including Instagram, which Facebook owns).

This is coming from “people familiar with the matter” rather than a named source, so bear that in mind.

As the same WSJ report notes, citing data from the research firm Pathmetrics. Disney has been Facebook’s top advertiser in the U.S. during the first half of 2020. So while plenty of other major companies have already made similar moves. Including Starbucks, Verizon, and Microsoft – this still represents a major blow to the social network.

The company moved to shut down a network of hatemongers with ties to the Proud Boys hate group and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone. In a corresponding move, Stone’s Instagram account was also shut down. Facebook is also looking at a blackout on political ads in the days before November’s U.S. election.

Most recently, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg openly criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic during a Facebook Live Q&A with Anthony Fauci.

Apple iOS 13.6 update is here with Car Key

Apple has released iOS 13.6 and watchOS 6.2.8 to the public. Besides the typical stability and performance improvements. These releases bring a hotly anticipated feature that turns your iPhone or Watch into a digital key for your car.

The feature allows users to unlock their car and start it by pressing either the iPhone or Apple Watch near a specific location on the car, such as the door handle.

The feature also allows users to give temporary car keys to friends and family using iMessage. Driver-specific profiles are also available, meaning each shared key can be configured differently. Finally, the feature should work up to five hours after your iPhone runs out of battery. Check out a detailed description of this new feature over at Apple’s website.

The Car Key feature is currently only available to owners of new BMWs (manufactured after July 2020), and Apple didn’t say when other carmakers will join the party. On Apple’s side, only the Apple Watch Series 5 and iPhone 11/XR/XS/SE will work.

Apple has hired professional voice actors to produce roughly 20 audio stories per week, including audio versions of pieces by Esquire, Essence, Fast Company, GQ, New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Wired on the magazine side, as well as by newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro review

The Poco F2 Pro is the successor to the Pocophone F1 from late 2018, a popular budget phone put out by Xiaomi’s sub-brand Pocophone which, for a long time, looked like it wasn’t going to get a follow-up. Well, the newer phone is here now and it’s not got that much in common with its predecessor.

One of the most interesting parts of the Poco F2 Pro is its pop-up camera – quite a few phones packed this feature in 2019. In 2020 we’ve barely seen any. Pop-up selfie cameras can be quite a divisive feature.

In general the Poco F2 Pro seems to be a mid-range phone with some specs that top-end phones have, like its Snapdragon 865 processor and 64MP main camera – in this way it feels like the kind of phone OnePlus would have put out before it embraced premium-ness, and it’s likely going to compete with the rumored OnePlus Z when that launches.

We haven’t used Xiaomi’s Poco F2 Pro enough to write a full review yet, but until we do, here are our initial impressions of the phone after a day of using it.

Design and display

The Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro feels like a pretty bulky phone – it’s got a big display at 6.67 inches. Which may be part of the reason why, but it also seems pretty thick and heavy too.

The screen is AMOLED with a 1080 x 2400 resolution and HDR10+, and it has a 20:9 aspect ratio, so it’s rather long and thin. Thanks to the pop-up mechanism hiding the front-facing camera inside the phone. The screen takes up the entirety of the front of the handset, unbroken by notch or cut-out.

Camera and battery life

The Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro has four rear cameras – a 64MP main, 13MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, and 2MP depth-sensing snapper. We haven’t tested the phone out enough to provide conclusive verdicts on its camera capabilities. But from our brief time using it, it feels pretty good.

Specs and performance

The Poco F2 Pro has a Snapdragon 865 chipset. Making it one of the most affordable handsets with it (though beaten by a few gaming-focused phones like the Black Shark 3 and Nubia Red Magic 5G).

Apple’s 2020 iPhones Lineup

We’re a few months away from the launch of the 2020 iPhones, which are expected in September or October 2020. There are already dozens of rumors about the upcoming devices. We’re expecting the 2020 iPhones to be called the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

The 2020 iPhones will feature major updates, introducing some of the first design changes that we’ve seen since the iPhone X was released in 2017. We’re expecting four iPhones in three display sizes which could come in at 5.4, 6.7, and 6.1 inches (x2).

Rumors suggest the 6.7-inch iPhone and one 6.1-inch model will be higher-end devices with triple-lens cameras, while the 5.4 and 6.1-inch models will be lower-end iPhones with dual-lens cameras and a more affordable price tag. All iPhones in 2020 are expected to feature OLED display technology regardless of price. A 120Hz “ProMotion” refresh rate could be included in some of the higher-end models. That’s not guaranteed due to battery life constraints and Apple could wait until 2021 to add the feature.

Screen Size

At a rumored 5.4 inches, the 2020 iPhone 12 will be the smallest iPhone Apple has released since the 4.7-inch iPhone SE. At 6.7 inches, the 2020 iPhone 12 Pro will be Apple’s largest iPhone to date. The two 6.1-inch models will be similar in size to the existing iPhone 11.

Rumors suggest the new iPhones coming in 2020 will feature a metal frame that’s similar to the frame of the iPhone 4.

Rumors suggest there will be a new TrueDepth camera system that cuts down on the size of the notch on the front. A 3D triple-lens rear camera system that uses a laser to calculate depth information for objects in the room. Improving both photography and AR capabilities.

2020 will be the first year that Apple introduces 5G support in the iPhone. Allowing the new devices to connect to 5G networks that are much faster than 4G LTE networks. According to rumors, all of the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup will feature 5G connectivity. It’s not yet clear if all iPhone 12 models will have super fast mmWave support in all countries.

The first iOS 14 public beta is out

The first iOS 14 public beta is out. Yes, that means anyone reading this article who has a compatible iPhone can download an early. Unfinished version of the next big iOS update to take a peek at some of its new features. They won’t be optimized, but, hey, early access is better than no access.

We’ve already published a detailed tutorial on how to install an iOS beta onto your iPhone in anticipation of this. However, the Cliff’s Notes version starts with backing up your iPhone on a Mac or PC, and then going to the Apple beta webpage on your iPhone’s Safari browser and following the fairly straightforward on-screen instructions.

You’ll have to install a beta profile, which is likely the only part of this process that may be unfamiliar to iPhone users. Follow the instructions to download a profile from Safari and then open your Settings app to find a “Profile Downloaded” notification near the top of the menu.

Once that’s installed, head to the software update part of the Settings app under the “General” heading to download the iOS 14 beta. You should have the ability to actually download the update from there.

Good luck! Hopefully nothing about the beta breaks your phone. Like we said, you should definitely make a backup just in case.

Apple announced iOS 14 back in June at WWDC, outlining its biggest new features along the way. You’ll be able to add widgets for things like weather to the home screen alongside apps; take advantage of picture-in-picture support for videos; and even change your default browser and email apps. It’s possible and even likely that the beta won’t feature all of those features, or they won’t all work correctly. But that’s part of the fun.

Apple is selling refurbished iPhone XR up to $120 off

The company is currently selling refurbished iPhone XR models with 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of storage. They’re being sold at discounts ranging from $100 to $120 (via MacRumors).

For example, a yellow, refurbished iPhone XR with 64GB is being sold for $499 — a $100 price cut. A black, refurbished iPhone XR with 128GB costs $539 (a $110 price cut), while a black, refurbished iPhone XR with 256GB costs $629 (a $120 price cut).

The colors currently on offer include black, coral, white, and yellow.

Image: Apple

According to Apple, “all refurbished iPhone models come with a new battery, new outer shell, are backed by a one-year warranty, and have free delivery and returns.” They also include full testing, part replacements if needed, a thorough cleaning, as well as the original version of OS (or a more recent version). All the phones are unlocked, and they all come in a brand-new box with all accessories and cables.

The savings are quite good if you’re planning to buy an iPhone XR anyways. In terms of specs, it sits somewhere between the $399 iPhone SE and the $699 iPhone 11, but at its original price of $599, it’s probably the worst deal of the three (check our comparison here). But at these reduced prices, it’s actually a decent value, especially if you want the new “notched” design and don’t mind an older processor.

Add nostalgic app icons to your iPhone

If you’re itching for some nostalgia to bring you back to an era where you didn’t have to wear a mask every time you stepped outside, MSCHF — the group behind The Office Slack, the chicken bong, and other cheeky projects — is here for you.

While the outside world may be scary, your phone can at least return to a safer past with MSCHF’s Icon Rewind. Open the site on your iPhone (Safari only — sorry Chrome lovers) and follow the instructions from there.

“Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, and one of the most iconic (no pun intended) pieces of nostalgia is old app icons,” said Daniel Greenberg, head of strategy at MSCHF. “I cannot tell you how much I miss the old Instagram or Slack icon.”

While Icon Rewind doesn’t replace the updated icon, it does add a #TBT quality to your phone. Remember when the Snapchat’s ghost had a face, and when you actually traveled and had things worthy of snapping? Ah, the good old days.

Choose your favorite deep cut for yourself. Greenberg’s favorite? “We brought back the Musical.ly app icon that opens TikTok.”

New macOS update – Healthier MacBook’s battery

In April, in a developer preview version of macOS Catalina 10.15.5, Apple introduced a feature called battery health management. Now, with macOS Catalina 10.15.5 going live for everyone, MacBook users can try it out.

Batteries don’t like extremes; to conserve your laptop’s battery, you should rarely charge your laptop to maximum or discharge it fully. Battery health management operates under the assumption that you don’t always need your MacBook’s battery to be fully charged. It will monitor your usage patterns and charge the battery accordingly. For example, if you typically keep your MacBook plugged in during the entire work day. This feature may reduce the battery’s maximum charge.

A similar feature in iOS 13 is called optimised battery charging, so if you’re familiar with that one, battery health management is more or less the same thing. And, just like the iOS feature, battery health management can be turned off on MacBooks.

Apple also added some more information to the Energy Saver pane in your MacBook’s System Preferences — it now displays battery condition and recommends if the battery needs to be serviced.

Catalina 10.15.5 adds a few other features and bug fixes. Most notably, there’s a new option to control automatic prominence on Group FaceTime calls, meaning that video tiles won’t change size when a call participant is speaking.