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April 26, 2016

The big reveal for HTC’s 10 smartphone in New York

Lola Cristall/10.59


New York rolled out the red carpet for the big reveal of HTC’s newly and much awaited 2016 flagship smartphone earlier in April. Weeks before, the industry were enthusiastically anticipating the state-of-the-art HTC 10. Its sleek look, elegant structure and slightly oblique curves radiate with sophistication.
   The aluminium unibody Android stores up to 27 hours of power, thanks to the company’s PowerBotics component that enhances battery life. The up-to-date Qualcomm Snapdragon processor accelerates speed and connectivity with impressive graphics. Other innovations include their BoomSound Hi-Fi edition for stunning sound quality. Additional features include a rough textured power button, a concealed SIM card slot and volume control. A dual-tone LED flash, a laser autofocus, a back-illuminated sensor (BSI), front and back UltraPixel cameras with optical image stabilization (OIS) for pictures and selfies, permitting the photographer to evade the unwanted blur. The 12 Mpixel camera can capture moments in a flash (literally) in a speed of 0·6 seconds. Other features also include face detection and a self-timer. The scratch and damage-resistant glass covers a high-resolution 5·2-inch screen with 2,560 by 1,440 pixels, a whopping pixel density of 564 ppi. The metal body and rigorous glass front beautifully complement each other to provide a robust handset that can withstand scratches and scrapes.
   It is a delicate, elegant gadget with a fingerprint sensor, which can speedily detect the user unlocking the device in 0·2 seconds, and an easy-to-navigate touch-screen, all in the comfort of one’s hand. HTC 10 will officially be released in May and will be available in two shades, including grey and silver.—Lola Cristall, Paris editor


March 28, 2016

The Apple Iphone 7: what it could have, and what I’d like it to have

Lucire staff/12.29




Apple

Above: Apple launched its Iphone SE last week, but what could be in store for the Iphone 7 in September?

It appears that 2016 is going to be a seminal year for Iphone.
   Not only is 2016 expected to be the first year where growth in Iphone sales does not increase, we have seen the release of a smaller four-inch Iphone SE (where for the first time Apple’s Iphone line will feature three phones, not merely keeping around older models for a lower price point). Now we are expecting to see the Iphone 7 released around September, which may even result in four different phones, as there are rumours of an even larger phablet than the current Iphone Plus model, a possible Iphone Pro.
   But what would I like to see for the Iphone 7 release?
   We are expecting to see a phone that doesn’t markedly differ in outward appearance from the Iphone 6 and 6S (in much the same way as the Iphone 5, aside from a screen size increase, didn’t differ too much in design from the Iphone 4 and 4S).
   There will be some design changes, but from the rumour blogs, the appearance won’t be overly different, especially after a year that saw the change from the Iphone 5S to the Iphone 6. It does appear that Apple will be removing the analogue headphone jack, forcing us to either go Bluetooth, have a Lightning connecting headphone set, or have a converter.
   We’ll get the usual processor increase, possibly a RAM increase (which I consider important—see below as to why), and naturally improvements in camera performance.
   It is this latter item that is on the first of my wish-lists: the camera. The rumours have suggested a dual-lens system, which allows a range of different camera effects to occur—amongst them having multiple focal lengths in the same image, and better performance in low light and multi-light situations—possibly in the Iphone Plus (or Iphone Pro) models as a point of distinction. But there is one area in particular I’d like Apple to make some a profound change: zoom.
   One of the major ways smartphone cameras differ from even most point-and-click ones is the lack of an optical zoom; all the zoom function in smartphone cameras is digital. This means rather than using all the pixels to capture a narrower field-of-view, what digital zoom does is zoom in on those pixels covering that narrower field. Consequently, a digitally zoomed image will have a lower level of quality to it than an equivalent image that has been taken with an optical zoom.
   Apple does a bunch of great software improvements to compensate for this. As a general rule, it is the software that makes an image great, not merely the number of pixels. This is why Apple has maintained a lower pixel count than most smartphone manufacturers, but yet produced better photos for the most part. However, at a certain point you run up against the constraints of physics.
   For instance, Apple introduced optical image stabilization into the camera of the Iphone 6 Plus, where previously digital image stabilization had been present (and still is in the 6 model).
   The dual-lens system may allow for a zoom function somewhere between an optical zoom and a digital zoom, where the dual focal lengths can be manipulated to produce a zoom effect. But regardless of how it is done, I think this is something that Apple really could put effort into as a point of differentiation.
   There are third-party optical lens attachments that you can naturally purchase that, amongst other things, have optical zoom. But, to be honest, how many people want to fiddle with such things on a regular basis? Apple put quick access to the camera on the lock screen for a reason.
   My second wish for the Iphone 7 is something that is quite a departure from prior Iphone development, development that includes such things as progressive camera improvement to include zoom. It’s inspired by something that, believe it or not, comes from Windows Phone.
   When Windows 10 was launched, Microsoft released a number of products alongside it. These included such things as the Surface Pro 4 and the new Surface Book, both of which are excellent machines. They additionally released a couple new phones, one of which was the Microsoft Lumia 950.
   Among the features of the Lumia 950 was the ability to (via a rather ugly dock) connect the phone to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. When the phone detected the dock, it ran a version of the desktop Windows 10 (I say a version, due to the fact that not all desktop apps could run as phone versions, and you were restricted as to what you could install on the phone—primarily, it was Office you could run).
   However, this got me thinking, what if we could do this with an Iphone 7 Plus?
   But rather than running IOS expanded to the screen of the external monitor (which would be silly, as most external monitors are not touch-compatible), the Iphone would detect the dock, and turn on a copy of OS X—the operating system that runs on Macs—that is stored on the phone.
   Given the current maximum disk space on the Iphone is 128 Gbyte, there is space to have OS X stored and running (though I would say 256 Gbyte would then not be out of the question, especially since Apple this week released a 256 Gbyte option in the new 9·7-inch Ipad Pro). I would recommend that RAM be increased, too, which would be possible as a marker of difference on the premium Plus (or Pro) models.
   But, just imagine being able to arrive at your office, plug your phone into the dock, and have a fully functioning version of OS X available to you as your PC? A fully functioning computer that you can keep in your pocket, in small purse, in a jacket, transitioning from location to location without the need to bring multiple devices with you. You will be bringing your phone, so why not make it the only thing you need bring?
   Now, naturally, this machine wouldn’t be anywhere near as powerful as a MacBook Pro, or even a MacBook Air, but it could be equivalent to the 2015 MacBook, for instance, or at least in the ballpark.
   It would also allow Apple to perhaps address an identified issue in OS X.
   OS X is a “mature” operating system. It gets tweaks, appearance and feature improvements now in each release, but the days of the rock-your-world OS X release is behind us. The current iteration, El Capitán, is very and refined. The dynamism in development and boundary-pushing is in IOS, and particularly the IOS App Store. A lot of IOS apps are now arguably better than their OS X equivalents. And one of the things IOS apps can’t do is run on OS X.
   But what if they could?
   I’m not talking about an IOS emulator on OS X (though that might be an interim option certainly), but rather have the ability to run IOS apps natively on OS X, with tweaks that allow it to function better within OS X, in much the same way as different versions of IOS apps run on the Ipad and Iphone. It would really inject some needed energy into OS X.
   A phone that could do so for you, to really be your one-stop shop for your computing needs, would be a point of massive difference for the Iphone.
   Apple would certainly design a less ugly version of the dock than Microsoft did at least.
   Do I honestly expect Apple to do this with the Iphone 7? To be realistic, no, I don’t. It’s too radical a development, but it could be something they could do in the Iphone 7S. And it is something I would like, and use.
   The future of computing is portability (power users aside), as the success of smartphones, tablets, and ultra-portable laptops attest. Such a thing could certainly be in Apple’s bailiwick.
   Though Apple, could I also ask for an OLED screen on the Iphone 7? Always on live-updating widgets on the lock screen that OLED would allow for would be amazing.—Sarah Bickerton

See Sarah Bickerton’s review of the 2015 MacBook here.

Filed under: design, living, Lucire, technology
March 20, 2016

A product extravaganza: Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge shows off for Oscar celebs

Lola Cristall/12.54




Rebecca Sapp, courtesy Kari Feinstein

Above, from top: Kaykay Blaisdell, Lyndon Smith, and Danielle Nicolet.

Many remarkable brands were on display during Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge, presented by LIFX. The impeccable Oscar gifting suite welcomed a number of celebrities to admire, experiment and appreciate these latest, trendy items. Felicity Huffman, Kaykay Blaisdell, Lyndon Smith, Danielle Nicolet, Brighton Sharbino, Beverley Mitchell, Jamie Foxx, Brian d’Arcy James, J. Alexander, Lati Grobman, Emma Bell and Fred Melamed were some of the Hollywood names to enter Feinstein’s fancy universe consisting of Jamba Juice, Amanda Blakley Skincare, Neutratone, Panache, Bioderma and more.
   Scarlet and Gold unveiled their intricate art prints, delightful tops and decorative Iphone cases for a chic look depicting simple phrases, symbols and signs. Owner Megan Smalley and her team work toward fulfilling their fundamental goals: creating, giving and inspiring. Votivo comes to the rescue ( www.votivo.com) with their multitude of aromatic products. The Soziety collection, consisting of absolutely exquisite scents, are elegantly packaged with eye-catching trapezoid boxes. Gorgeous Grey, Beautiful Blue, Best Dressed Black, Posh Purple, Pucker Up Pink, Remarkable Red, Gracious Green, Outrageous Orange, Wonderful White and Youthful Yellow awaken the senses and add a dab of glamour. To maintain an aromatic environment without a flame, Votivo’s Black Box fan diffusers are compact, and a breeze of fresh essences flow through the air with the press of a simple button. A desired fragrance pod, whether Pink Mimosa, Redcurrant, Honeysuckle, Clean Crisp or Teak, easily glides into the diffuser.
   From fashion to technology, Ultimate Ears are set to transform the way people listen to music and how sound emanates from a compact and sleek gadget. The UE Boom 2 is an advanced design with a 360-degree wireless Bluetooth speaker that can be enclosed in the palm of the listener’s hands. An exciting concept comes from LIFX, a blazingly luminous light with a life span exceeding 22 years. They even do free shipping to the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.—Lola Cristall, Paris Editor









Rebecca Sapp, courtesy Kari Feinstein; Rochelle Brodin/Getty Images

March 15, 2016

News in brief: Fossil shows new smartwatches at Baselworld; Acorelle creates its extraits d’Ă©motion

Lucire staff/21.04


Fossil has announced slimmer Android Wear smartwatches (Q Marshal and Q Wander) as well as new activity trackers and smarter analogue watches at Baselworld. The new smartwatches have a silicone strap option, and cases measuring 44 mm and 46 mm. The Q Wander comes with an interchangeable leather strap, while the Q Marshal has a rugged case and vintage-inspired leather straps. The displays are always on, and allow wearers to track their commutes, flights and appointments with Google Now cards. They work through tapping or voice commands, and their faces can be customized. Prices start at US$275.
   The analogue watches alert wearers to incoming calls and notifications through the turn of the watch hands, and are capable of tracking calories, sleep, time zones, and can connect to an Android smartphone or Iphone via Bluetooth.
   Acorelle, the modern French fragrance house founded in 2005, has released its new extraits d’Ă©motion, fragrances that have been certified by Ecocert and NSF as all-natural and organic. It’s a rare honour, yet Acorelle has managed to create fragrances with no synthetic scent compounds, aartificial preservatives, parabens or phthalates.
   Bottled in Agen, France, with ingredients grown in Grasse, Acorelle takes pride in creating its scents, and this latest line uses a palette of c. 200 all-natural plant and flower extracts and oils.
   Master perfumer Philippe Collet and aromatherapist Patty Canac have created three collections in the new line, Energizing (Tea Garden, Pure Patchouli and Land of Cedar), Balancing (Silken Rose, Absolu Tiare, and Vanilla Blossom), and Soothing (Divine Orchid, Citrus Infusion and Lotus Dream). They are available as eaux de parfum, eaux fraĂ®ches, and a roll-on.



January 6, 2016

Huawei collaborates with Swarovski on two additional smart watches

Lucire staff/20.46


Huawei impressed the tech crowd with its smart watches last year, but it’s going after a more premium market with the announcement of the Jewel and Elegant versions this time, in collaboration with Swarovski.
   The two watches, shown at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show yesterday, join the Classic, Active and Élite models launched in 2015.
   The Jewel features 68 Swarovski zirconia, each measuring 1·5 mm, around its rose gold-plated case. The Elegant has a knurled pattern effect around its rose gold-plated case. Both are complemented by Italian leather watch straps in pearl white and sapphire blue, and come loaded with over 40 watch faces, including 10 exclusive designs that Huawei calls ‘feminine’.
   They are powered by Android Wear and are both Android and IOS compatible, have Bluetooth connectivity, and can accept voice commands for music and navigation. The watches also include a heart-rate sensor and a motion sensor for fitness and health.

November 11, 2015

TAG Heuer launches Connected Watch with Intel and Google, based on classic Carrera design

Lucire staff/5.30




Rob Kim

While it might not be surprising to see Apple and Huawei introduce smart watches, Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer has created its entry, revealed at the weekend at LVMH Tower in Manhattan at an event hosted by Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, and David Singleton, VP of engineering for Android at Google.
   The TAG Heuer Connected Watch with Intel Inside blends Android Wear technology with the quality and pedigree of the Swiss brand. TAG Heuer worked with Intel and Google to pack its watch with apps—including exclusive ones on lifestyle, golf, motor racing and trailing—as well as voice control, an Intel Atom Z34XX processor, 4 Gbyte of memory, all-day battery life, wifi, Bluetooth and audio streaming, all in a water-resistant 46 mm diameter grade 2 titanium case with a textured rubber strap. Of course there are also timer, alarm and stopwatch functions.
   There is a sapphire crystal touch-screen, and by default the watch retains its classic appearance, with the most pertinent information appearing inside the three chronograph counters at the 12, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. One can choose from one of three digital watch faces, inspired by the TAG Heuer Carrera range. When you want more, you touch the counter, and the app goes into full-screen mode. It will remain connected to the cloud as long as there is wifi. Its base applications remain running regardless of connectivity. The retail price is US$1,500, €1.350 or ÂŁ1,100.
   For those who fall out of love with the digital world, TAG Heuer says customers can exchange it for a mechanical watch at the end of its two-year warranty period.





Rob Kim

November 6, 2015

Huawei Watch hits UK market, with classic design, and Android and IOS pairing

Lucire staff/11.51



The Huawei Watch has now hit the UK market, available from Vmall, Selfridges and Google Store at prices ranging between ÂŁ289 and ÂŁ369. The revolutionary watch, running Android Wear, with the added ability to pair with IOS, is offered with a choice of 40 classic faces on its 400- by 400-pixel 286 ppi screen, which gives way to displays from its many apps, including fitness tracking, a phone-finding function, and other features. Buyers have a choice of stainless steel or black frames, and black leather, stainless steel mesh, stainless steel link or black-plated stainless steel link straps.
   A launch event was held on November 4 at the Mondrian Hotel in London, with a discussion on the future of wearables in UK fashion led by vlogger Jim Chapman, LS:N Global co-founder Chris Sanderson and Huawei global brand director Amy Lou, and hosted by presenter and columnist Darren Kennedy; and three catwalk shows. The Hackney Colliery Band performed live at the function.
   The watch measures 42 mm in diameter, with a circular AMOLED display coated in scratch-proof sapphire crystal.

October 20, 2015

Tommy Hilfiger unveils virtual-reality shopping experience, launching first at Fifth Avenue Store

Lucire staff/21.25


How fitting that October 20—Lucire’s anniversary—is the date of another technological landmark, with Tommy Hilfiger announcing its virtual reality shopping experience, launching today at its Fifth Avenue store in New York City.
   Wearing a Samsung Gear VR device, customers can find themselves immersed in a 360-degree presentation of Tommy Hilfiger’s fall–winter 2015–16 runway collection, as though they were sitting in the front row at the Park Avenue Armory on February 16, 2015. There is also an exclusive backstage view not traditionally open to audiences.
   Hilfiger said in a release, ‘Through virtual reality, we’re now able to bring our one-of-a-kind fashion show to the retail setting. From the incredible set and music to exclusive backstage moments, consumers will be able to watch the clothes move and see the collection in the original show environment—it’s a compelling and interesting elevation of the traditional shopping experience.’
   Tommy Hilfiger CEO Daniel Grieder added, ‘Through cutting-edge virtual reality technology, we can invite shoppers to experience the Hilfiger Collection fashion show from a front row seat. We’re using virtual reality to open the doors to a unique part of our world, directly connecting the consumers in our retail space with one of our largest brand events each season.’
   The company’s aim is to increase social engagement. The virtual reality set-up was created in collaboration with WeMakeVR, and captured with the proprietary WeMakeVR-Falcon camera.
   The virtual reality programme will roll out in London (Brompton Road and Regent Street, and at wholesale with Selfridges), Paris (Boulevard des Capucines and Champs-ÉlysĂ©es), Milano (Piazza Guglielmo Oberdan), Amsterdam (P. C. Hooftstraat), DĂĽsseldorf (SchadowstraĂźe), Firenze (Piazza degli Antinori), ZĂĽrich (BahnhofstraĂźe) and Moskva (Kuznetsky Most) afterwards.

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