At a time when many thought Huawei has given up on the wearables market, the Chinese company launched its latest smartwatch, Watch GT. Measuring at only 10.6mm thick, the Watch GT has a round 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and is available in two models – Classic and Sport.
The Classic model (version tested) features a stainless steel round case with black ceramic bezel and a brown leather band, while the Sports model is an all-black affair down from a black stainless steel case to its black silicone band.
Apart from these differences, they are basically the same smartwatch. I prefer the Classic model as I like the two-tone design and brown leather band. From far, it looks like an analog timepiece. But it is quite a big watch, and might not be ideal for slim wrists.
The inside of the brown leather band is made of silicone that is more resistant to sweat and feels very comfortable. Thus, you have the best of both worlds in terms of looks and functionality.
The Watch GT comes with a barometer, altimeter, accelerometer and a built-in heart rate monitor that provides all-day tracking of your heart rate as well as built-in GPS to track your runs. It is also able to monitor your sleep.
Given its affordable price tag, something has got to give. There is no built-in Wi-Fi or Near Field Communications (NFC). Without NFC, it does not support any form of mobile payment unlike the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
TECH SPECSPRICE: $298 (Sports), $328 (Classic, version tested)
WATER RESISTANCE: 50m
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, GPS
WEIGHT: 46g (without strap)
BATTERY LIFE: 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
It also does not use Google’s Wear OS. Instead, it uses Huawei’s Lite OS mobile operating system. This means there are few apps and watch faces available. You only get basic ones such as torch, weather, compass, stopwatch, timer, and alarms. And there are only 12 watch faces to choose from. Furthermore, Huawei is not allowing third-party support for Lite OS.
Interestingly, you have to use the Huawei Health app to pair with the Watch GT. It makes me wonder if the Watch GT is a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. Because in terms of smartwatch functions, the Watch GT is lacking. For example, you cannot see an Instagram photo on the smartwatch when the notification arrives even though it has a big display.
However, in terms of fitness tracking, the Watch GT performed superbly. For tracking steps, the Watch GT’s readings were only 3 percent off from the readings of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. Using GPS to track runs, the Watch GT was only 200m off from my usual 5km jogging route. For sleep tracking, the Watch GT is as accurate as Fitbit which – in my opinion – is the leading sleep tracker for fitness trackers. It produces sleep cycle graphs, similar to those found on Fitbit’s fitness tracker, which break your sleep patterns into a deep sleep, light sleep and rapid eye movement sleep. It also provides insights into deep sleep continuity and your breathing quality during sleep.
Furthermore, it gives your sleep an overall score – from 0 to 100 points – and provides tips on how to improve your sleep. For example, it might say your breathing quality during sleep is not good enough and how to improve it.
The Watch GT has a battery life rated at 14 days with heart rate monitoring turned on. If turned off, it can last a month. It is said to last 22 hours with continuous exercise tracking with heart rate monitoring and GPS turned on.
In this review with the Watch GT paired to an Android smartphone all the time, I found the smartwatch to have 50 percent battery life on the sixth day (with a 5km GPS-logged run) after a full charge. By then, I had already caved into battery anxiety and put it to charge.
Verdict: The Huawei Watch GT is more of a fitness tracker that looks like a smartwatch, at a very affordable price.
Chinese firms are encouraging staff to buy Huawei smartphones following Canada’s arrest of a top Huawei executive on a US extradition request, which has triggered an outpouring of nationalist support. Several companies are offering employees subsidies for Huawei phone purchases, while others have even warned staff against buying Apple products. In eastern China, Fuchun Technology said “nearly sixty” out of its 200 employees have taken advantage of 100 to 500 yuan ($15 to $29) Huawei phone subsidies as of Saturday. Another tech firm, Chengdu RYD Information Technology, has offered 15 percent subsidies, though it declined to disclose how many employees have actually taken advantage of the benefits. “We are supportive of good China-made brands,” a spokeswoman told AFP, adding that the subsidies are part of employee benefits and were not “guided by the government.” One company has even threatened to fine employees who buy iPhones, charging them 100 percent of the smartphone’s market price.
“Stop buying US brands for company equipment,” Shenzhen-based Menpad said in an internal notice, confirmed by AFP. The surge of patriotism began after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was detained in Canada on December 1 on a US extradition request linked to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran. She has since been released on bail pending her US extradition hearing and is now living under electronic surveillance in a luxury home in Vancouver. Ottawa has repeatedly said Meng’s arrest was not political but rather part of a judicial process in keeping with an extradition treaty with Washington.
But some in China see Meng’s arrest as part of a broader conspiracy to suppress China’s high-tech enterprises, with nationalist tabloid Global Times accusing Washington of “resorting to a despicable rogue’s approach” because it cannot stop Huawei’s progress in the 5G market. The internal notices announcing the Huawei subsidies started circulating on China’s Twitter-like Weibo earlier this month, and have split Chinese internet opinion. Some users were in favour of buying phones in the name of patriotism, while others questioned whether or not Chinese firms were simply leveraging Huawei’s case as a marketing strategy or branding opportunity.
“Those companies are conscientious for standing by Huawei’s side,” praised one Weibo user, using a thumb’s up emoji. “The government should also publish an official document to support domestic brands.” But another user, who said they supported Huawei, criticized the practice of punishing staff who purchase Apple products. To win respect, domestic tech brands should “keep fighting despite setbacks and adopt an attitude of not accepting defeat,” they said.
Amazon’s highly acclaimed Security System Guardzilla has recently been in news for all the wrong reasons. The E-Commerce giant’s proprietary product Guardzilla, an indoor smart security camera’s recordings have been discovered to be affected by a hardcoded credential vulnerability. According to reports, these can be accessed by third parties.
The security camera uploads the recorded videos onto Amazon’s cloud storage system. Although you may assume this remains accessible only to the concerned users, that’s not the case.
Guardzilla is an indoor vigilance camera based IoT device. Hardcoding seems to be the root cause for this vulnerability. Such archaic practices make it convenient for a hacker to break into the systems using a hardcoded password, the vulnerability has been given CVE-2018-5560. and has been rated with an 8.6 CVSS score.
Amazon fails to Respond
According to reports, Researcher Tod Beardsley claims to have attempted to get in touch with the E-Commerce giant about this issue. Unfortunately, Amazon did not address the concerns put forth by Rapid7’s research director.
Since Amazon has not taken any measures to fix the issue, the only immediate solution for Guardzilla users is to refrain from storing their videos on Amazon’s cloud storage. To do this, you need to disable that particular option.
IoT concerns have become quite common, despite Government Agencies constantly working towards ensuring cyber security in this zone. By 2020, the IoT regulations in California will begin to restrict the circulation of IoT devices that fail to provide adequate data security and protect the privacy of its users. That leaves manufacturers with no choice except to either improve their product or to withdraw it from the market.
When tech historians of the future look back at 2018, it may stand out as the year that the wheels came off Facebook or at least it’s original platform.
Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus all had their troubles but managed to escape the year without seeing their brands trashed in quite the same way as their parent.
So, it’s no surprise to see articles related to Facebook’s various scandals secured it three of the spots in BBC Tech’s most-read stories list for 2018.
Two other controversy magnets – Elon Musk and Huawei – however, narrowly missed out.
And for the first time since we started compiling this list in 2012, none of the placings went to a product launch.
Below are the most clicked on articles for each month of the year – a mix of controversy, endeavor and sparkly revenge.
Software flaws have long been a bane of computing, but when news emerged of serious vulnerabilities in popular processor chips there was a serious intake of breath from the cyber-security community.
Billions of PCs, smartphones and other devices were said to be susceptible to the Meltdown and Spectre bugs – including, as it emerged, Apple’s products. At one point there was talk of owners having to brace themselves for their machines feeling noticeably more sluggish as a result of the workarounds that would be needed or even needing to send their computers in for component swap-outs.
A year on, there doesn’t appear to have been any malware related to the flaws reported in the wild, even though further variants of the originally disclosed exploits have been discovered. And as far as personal computers are concerned, the patches released don’t appear to have caused much of a hit to performance.
Deepfakes gave the internet something else to worry about in February after it emerged that free software meant anyone could replace the face of one person with another’s in video footage so long as you had enough photos of the latter. Inevitably, the tool was used to create pornography with a range of predominantly young female celebrities’ features generated to supplant those of the original adult actresses. One after another website lined up to ban the content until Reddit, which had been home to much of it, decided to do likewise.
As the algorithms involved have improved, there has been much discussion about the danger of fake news creators adopting the face-mapping technique to create bogus videos of politicians.
But there’s another worrying trend. It appears that some Deepfakers are attempting to scrape social media for images of acquaintances that they can turn into pornography, and have been sharing details of their progress in chat forums.
Facebook also found itself in the firing line. It didn’t help itself by first trying to suppress the story and then quibbling over whether it warranted being described as a “data breach”.
When Mark Zuckerberg did finally apologize several days later, he made a promise that has been repeatedly thrown back at him since.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he said.
By early April, Facebook was estimating that up to 87 million of its members’ details had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. More than a million of them were thought to belong to UK-based users.
That wasn’t enough to save it – the political consultancy folded in May.
But it now forms part of Facebook’s defence against a fine from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which was imposed despite the watchdog acknowledging that it had found no evidence that UK citizens’ data had been passed to Cambridge Analytica.
The £500,000 amount is peanuts to the social network – it makes more in half an hour, and the reputational damage it has incurred has arguably been far more costly.
But Facebook is concerned that the penalty could set a precedent for other data regulators to follow.
The British video games critic John “TotalBiscuit” Bain had first told his fans and wider following that he had cancer in 2015.
By April 2018 the 33-year-old had announced he was retiring from journalism as the medication he was on was preventing him from thinking clearly. Even so, his death shocked and saddened many of his 2.2 million YouTube fans when it was confirmed. The obituaries that followed mostly focused on how he had championed indie games and criticized some of their bigger-budgeted rivals, which he had said sometimes prioritized profit over all else.
But on social media and in some later articles, there was criticism of the role Mr. Bain had played in the GamerGate movement.
It was claimed he had given legitimacy to a misogynistic campaign that had been responsible for the harassment of others. But this, in turn, spurred on his supporters to defend his legacy. They said his involvement had been mischaracterized and noted that Mr. Bain had called for ethics in games journalism for several years before GamerGate existed.
The phrase “the cloud” conjures up images of our data being stored in some nebulous form high above us. In reality, tech firms are investing billions of pounds in racks of computer servers housed in gigantic data centers across the globe to power the apps we use and internet services we call on. For the most part, these are built at ground-level. But in June, Microsoft sank an experimental data centre into the sea off Orkney in the north of Scotland. The idea is to reduce cooling costs by keeping the equipment in a sealed vault underwater. The tech giant intends to monitor Project Natick for five years to see if the scheme is a practical proposition for a wider rollout.
But elsewhere, Google revealed it had already made the switch to liquid-cooling to tackle the heat given off by its latest artificial intelligence-focused computer servers. But rather than dropping its equipment overboard, it is piping coolant to each chip.
PayPal was guilty of a major faux pas when it wrote to Lindsay Durdle, one of its recently deceased customers, to say her death was a breach of its rules. To make matters worse, it added that it might take legal action as a consequence. Her husband Howard Durdle was appalled, and to be fair so was PayPal’s PR team when the BBC brought the matter to its attention. Although the firm was unable to confirm exactly what had gone wrong it attempted to make good on the situation by writing off a debt his wife had owed.
“PayPal has been in touch, have apologized sincerely and have promised to change whatever they need to internally to ensure this can’t happen again,” Mr. Durdle tweeted after the BBC’s article was published. “I just hope more organizations can apply empathy and common sense to avoid hurting the recently bereaved.”
As official statements go, the US State Department’s wasn’t the most reassuring: “We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it.” The subject was a Russian satellite that had been launched 10 months earlier and was displaying abnormal behavior. One US official suggested it could be a space weapon designed to destroy other satellites – an allegation a Russian diplomat slammed as being “unfounded [and] slanderous”.
For those who track such developments, the US’s suspicions echoed those raised about another Russian launch four years earlier when what was thought to be a bit of debris started zipping about in orbit. In any case, at the end of the year, we are officially none the wiser about the objects true capabilities. But with the Trump administration pursuing its own plan to create a Space Force by 2020, off-planet militarisation looks set to remain a hot topic.
With the Cambridge Analytica scandal still rattling along, Facebook revealed that a separate problem had exposed almost 50 million accounts to being hijacked.
The cause was a vulnerability in the code of its View As privacy facility, which was designed to let users see what their profile looked like to others. At the time, Facebook said it was “temporarily turning off” the tool while it conducted a review. Three months on, it remains disabled.
The firm did, however, revise its estimate down to 30 million accounts.
While we’re on the topic, here are some of Facebook’s other controversies in 2018:
being accused by the UN of having played a “determining role” in stirring up hatred against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims
being sued by advertisers who alleged the firm took more than a year to disclose its video view figures had been over-estimated after discovering the problem. Facebook says the complaint is “without merit”
getting into a spat with the philanthropist George Soros after chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg questioned if the billionaire was shorting Facebook’s stock because he had described it as a “menace”
losing WhatsApp’s co-founders over a privacy clash, and then Instagram’s two co-founders because of other tensions
launching first a dating service and then Portal, a video chat device for the home, while still embroiled with its various privacy breaches, leading to suggestions the company was “tone deaf”
having details of its data-sharing practices with other companies revealed via a series of newspaper exposes and a House of Commons parliamentary committee
Mark Zuckerberg telling Congress that he was not familiar with the phrase “shadow profiles” – a term used to refer to information gathered about non-members – despite the fact complaints had been made against the practice since at least 2011
Many of us have experienced the sinking feeling that comes from leaving the home in the morning to discover your smartphone battery never recharged overnight. Typically, it’s a case of failing to properly plug the handset in. But a YouTuber’s tests of the latest iPhones indicated some of the new devices only topped up their power if their displays were “woken up” first. Inevitably this was dubbed “chargegate”, and when the BBC published its take on the issue Apple had yet to comment. But a week later, when it released the next version of its mobile operating system, Apple’s accompanying notes confirmed it had fixed a bug that had caused the flaw.
At the start of the year, the Time’s Up movement was founded to take a stand against sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. It was a response to the allegations against Harvey Weinstein but also marked an effort to tackle problems faced by women more widely. Eleven months later, seven of Google’s employees declared “time’s up” on the tech giant after accusations of misconduct emerged involving two past male high-fliers as well as dozens of other staff. As a result, workers at Google’s offices across the world staged a series of walkouts. Managers were delivered a set of demands, including a call to end the firm’s requirement that sexual harassment disputes be dealt with internally.
About a week later, Google’s chief Sundar Pichai confirmed that the business would indeed stop its policy of forced arbitration, opening the door to it being sued over the matter in the future.
The internet fell in love with a revenge prank staged by an ex-Nasa engineer earlier this month. After having a package stolen from his porch, Mark Rober constructed a “bomb” that married a centrifugal motor, lots of glitters, fart spray and several smartphones. He then hid the device within an Apple Homepod speaker box and left it on his porch. When thieves subsequently stole it, it recorded the moment it sprayed them with its contents. After which, Mr. Rober retrieved the package and repeated the exercise. In an ideal world, the story would have ended there, with Mr. Rober’s YouTube fame assured thanks to the compilation video he made. But a couple of days after uploading the footage, the inventor replaced the video with a shorter edit.
Some viewers had voiced suspicions about parts of the footage, and Mr. Rober acknowledged that when he had chased up their concerns he had discovered that one of his helpers had recruited acquaintances to pose as two of the five featured thieves.
“I’m especially gutted because so much thought, time, money and effort went into building the device and I hope this doesn’t just taint the entire effort as ‘fake’,” he tweeted. Most viewers seem to have been forgiving, but it’s unfortunate that what was a fun stunt might cause many to be more suspicious and cynical about what they see online in the future.
The past year was an important one for smartphone makers. With the handset market saturated with devices from manufacturers around the world, the major smartphone companies had to step up to prove their gadgets were worth the investment. That included rolling out improved designs, better cameras, and boatloads of performance. These five phones did all of that and more. These are the best smartphones of 2018.
Apple iPhone XR
All the power of the iPhone XS for less
Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone XR gives you practically everything offered in the company’s XS and XS Max without the price tag. The XR features the same processor as the XS and XS Max, the same wide-angle lens rear camera, Apple’s Face ID facial recognition technology and, to top it off, is available in an array of color options. The key differences between the XR and the XS and XS Max are the fact that the XR uses an LCD display, rather than the more vibrant OLED screens found on the XS and XS Max, and that the XR lacks a telephoto lens. That lens affords the XS and XS Max a 2X optical zoom, which ensures your photo doesn’t turn out pixelated and blurry when you zoom in on a subject. Still, with a starting price of $749, the XR significantly undercuts the base XS and XS Max, which starts at $999 and $1,099, respectively. The XR is easily the best iPhone for the money.
Google Pixel 3
Price: Pixel 3: $799; Pixel 3 XL $899
Takes incredible low-light photos
Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL is the ultimate Android smartphones. Sure, there are other Android phones on this list, but the Pixel 3 is exactly what Google believes a smartphone should be. And a whole heck of a lot of that includes the company’s Google Assistant. The AI-powered voice assistant is spread across the Pixel 3, which makes for a more convenient experience for you, and gives Google access to information about how people are using the software, ensuring it improves over time. The 5.5-inch Pixel 3 is a relatively plain-looking device with its rectangular body and display, while the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL features a more modern look complete with a notch at the top of the screen that houses the phone’s front cameras. That larger display will cost you, though. The base Pixel 3 costs $799, while the XL comes in at $899. Outside of their sizes, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL is virtually identical. And that includes their spectacular cameras. At launch, the Pixel 3’s single-lens rear camera was already on a par with the iPhone’s camera. But when Google released its Night Sight software upgrade for the Pixel 3, the camera leapfrogged every other smartphone on the market. Night Sight can take photos in low-light settings that look so good, it’s almost as if they were shot during the day. It’s an incredible feat that competitors are surely working to counter at this very moment.
Apple iPhone XS Max
The best Apple has to offer
I’m a sucker for giant phones. I hate the fact that I can’t use them with one hand, but being able to watch videos and read articles on a big-screen handset is worth dropping it on occasion. That’s why the iPhone XS Max was the iPhone I fell hardest for in 2018. With a massive 6.3-inch OLED display, the Max provided vibrant colors on a panel that made it easier to watch movies on the go, or while hiding in a conference room to avoid work. The XS Max has all of the features and functionality of the XR, but adds a second rear camera lens, the option for more storage and improved water resistance. There is one major drawback to the iPhone XS Max: the price. At $1,099, it’s an incredibly expensive smartphone. But if you can get past the sticker shock, the iPhone XS Max is sure to please.
High-end features, at a mid-range price
OnePlus is a smartphone company that built its reputation through word-of-mouth advertising. You won’t see ads on TV or billboards on the highway for the handset maker, and yet OnePlus has an incredibly fierce following. And its latest, the 6T, ups the ante for the firm in a big way, adding an in-screen fingerprint reader and plenty of horsepower. The 6T also debuted with the latest version of Google’s Android Operating System, Android Pie, and is the first OnePlus phone to launch on a major U.S. carrier: T-Mobile. Then there’s the price. OnePlus’s biggest selling point has always been that because the company doesn’t have to account for an advertising budget, it can charge less for its handsets. Over the years the firm’s phones have seen their prices creep up ever so slightly, but you can still score a base 6T with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $549. Go all-out for the just plain silly McLaren Edition and its 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and you’ll pay $699. That’s still less expensive than Apple’s iPhone XR, which is supposed to be the smartphone for everyone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
A big, beautiful screen and a built-in stylus
Samsung’s big daddy, the Galaxy Note 9 is the smartphone giant’s halo phone, and it shows. It packs an absurdly large 6.4-inch display complete with the company’s fantastic Super AMOLED screen technology, as well as the Note line’s S Pen stylus. The camera is more or less unchanged from the shooter used in the Galaxy S9 Plus, but that’s not exactly a negative since that phone’s camera captured beautiful images. Samsung also added a new kind of AI feature called Scene Optimization that automatically tunes the camera’s settings based on the type of shot you’re taking. Naturally, the Note 9 offers all-day battery life to match its enormous size and, of course, Samsung’s fast-charging technology. The Note 9 is an absolute bruiser.
Netflix users are being warned not to fall for highly-convincing phishing emails that ask them to update their payment details. The fake emails claim to be from the streaming giant but are actually from criminals trying to steal customers’ money.
The message says: “We’re having some trouble with your current billing information. We’ll try again, but in the meantime, you may want to update your payment details.”
At the end of the message, there is a red button that tells you to “update account now”. The link is to a fake website run by scammers who can use the information you enter to hack into your bank account. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US government agency that deals with consumer protection issued a warning urging Netflix users not to “take the bait”.
“Scammers use your information to steal your money, your identity or both,” it said. “They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data.”
The FTC offered the following tips to beat scams. Netflix users should:
Check it out. If you have concerns about the email, contact the company directly. Look up its phone number or website to make sure you’re getting the real company, and not a scammer.
Take a closer look. Bad grammar and spelling can tip you off to phishing. Other clues: Your name is missing or you don’t even have an account with the company. Listing only an international phone number is also suspicious.