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Accessory maker Mophie, owned by the popular Zagg brand, offers a plethora of versatile batteries for your Apple gear. Today, we’re taking a look at the company’s Powerstation PD XL, an inconspicuous 10,050 mAh cell pack that can extend the run time of your device with up to 18 watts of power output and support for the USB Power Delivery (PD) protocol which allows you to safely recharge your iPhone from zero to fifty percent in half an hour.An inconspicuous battery pack
The neat little accessory gives you a few charge cycles for your iPhone. For a smartphone with a 3,000 mAh battery, for instance, you’d get roughly three full charge cycles and still have some juice left in the cell. For what it’s worth, Mophie says that the accessory extends your iPhone’s battery up to 35 hours, your iPad for up to 6 hours and a small tablet by up to 13 hours.
Unveiled ahead of CES 2023, it doesn’t look much different from other batteries in Mophie’s lineup. You have two USB ports lined up along one end. On a slightly angled side, you’ll find a quarter of status LED lights that display the charging status and current battery life.
Just press a button to turn turn the battery pack on or off.
Akin to several other Powerstations in Mophie’s lineup, our Powerstation PD XL features a textured design finish that makes for a better grip when held. It does feel great in your hand. As for the plastic enclosure, it looks solid and doesn’t just protect the accessory against scratches or scuffs when stowed alongside other devices, but also helps improve performance versus the metal exteriors of the many, many other battery packs iDownloadBlog has tried thus far.Introducing Power Delivery
The Power Delivery protocol is what makes fast-charge support possible.
It lets the device requesting juice, like your phone or tablet, manage the power it receives so that you don’t have to worry about overcharging. You can rest assured that your Powerstation will regulate the overall input in order to stay safe. As with all Mophie batteries, this one’s been triple-test certified to ensure peak performance and safe operation.
As mentioned earlier, this battery pack has two ports on the rear, one is a regular USB-A port for charging your iOS devices via the standard Lightning to USB cable and the other is a smaller, reversible USB-C port that transfers more power than the older USB-A standard.
The USB-C port is also used to recharge the device’s internal battery, supporting up to 15 watts of input power (5V/2.4A). You can use either a regular USB-A charger to juice up your Powerstation or an 18W USB-C one (5V/3.0A) for the fastest recharging speed.
The device lets you charge two devices simultaneously, like your iPhone through its USB-C port along with an iPad through the USB-A port. When sending juice to two devices at the same time, your Powerstation reduces the USB-A port to the same five watts of power like that slow-charging wall brick which Apple still ships with iPhones.
That doesn’t happen if you’re recharging your Powerstation via USB-C while sending juice to another device via USB-A. In that case, the USB-A port will provide twelve watts of power, not five. By the way, sending juice to a device while recharging your Powerstation at the same time invokes priority charging to ensure that power is sent to any connected devices first before the Powerstation itself starts to recharge.The benefits of fast-charging
I was able to fast charge my iPhone XS Max from dead to fifty percent using the 18W USB-C charger that came with my iPad Pro in just under thirty minutes. By comparison, the standard 5W power brick that ships with iPhone took an hour and a half to get me to 50 percent.
TUTORIAL: How to fast-charge iPhone or iPad
In other words, thanks to Power Delivery support Mophie’s accessory allows me to recharge my phone more than two times faster compared to the standard 5W charger.
Most iPhone models do offer a decent battery life, but even my iPhone XS Max sometimes falls bellow 20 percent when being used a lot throughout the day, even more so during the summer as soaring temperatures negatively impact the life of lithium-ion batteries. Now having to spend a lot of time waiting around for my phone to charge was a blessing. Even if you only have ten minutes, you’ll still get up to 20 percent battery life thanks to fast-charge support.
I was even able to top up my MacBook Pro with my Powerstation, but don’t expect a 10,050 mAh capacity battery to recharge your USB-C laptop completely.Other Powerstations
Mophie has a bunch of Powerstation-branded batteries for most needs.
Power users (pun intended) that require even more stored power than the Powerstation PD line offers are wholeheartedly recommended to take a closer look at the USB-C-enabled Powerstation 3XL with its massive 26,000 mAh battery, the largest in Mophie’s lineup, which equates to roughly a 96Wh battery.
The Powerstation lineup was refreshed for 2023 with the new Mini (5,000 mAh), regular (10,000 mAh), XL (15,000 mAh) and XXL (20,000 mAh) models that all have a shared USB-C input and output port to deliver fast charging (18W) and faster recharging (15W).
There is also a USB-A port available on some models, and two USB-A ports on others.
Then there is the company’s Apple-exclusive Plus line of Powerstations targeted at folks who hate carrying extra cables thanks to their integrated Lightning / micro-USB switch tip output cables. They come in three sizes — the $60 4,000 mAh Plus Mini, the $80 6,000 mAh Plus (6,000 mAh) and the $100 10,000 mAh Plus XL, the latter sporting speeds up to 10W and micro-USB recharging input.
The high-capacity Plus XL model can also be recharged wirelessly using a Qi-compatible charger, and it’ll extend your iPhone’s battery up to 70 hours and your iPad up to 18 hours.
Those who need something even more versatile needn’t look further than Powerstation Hub, Mophie’s latest 6,100 mAh battery pack (pictured above) that can juice up four devices at once via USB-C, USB-A or wirelessly. However, if you don’t need that much on-the-go power, consider Mophie’s JuicePack battery case, released back in January [review] and pictured right below.
Lastly, the company recently unveiled some new compelling accessories like a Qi-compatible wireless charging pad, a pair of stylish car chargers and a variety of USB cables.Final thoughts
In the past year or so, I have been all-in on Power Delivery. Ever since experiencing the benefits of fast-charging, I never looked back. You will, of course, need to buy a Lightning to USB-C cable to fast-charge your iPhone because Apple hasn’t yet adopted USB-C on its smartphone nor does it bundle iPhones with these handy cables.
As a matter of fact, Lightning to USB-C cables were prohibitively expensive because only Apple used to make them. Since the start of 2023, however, Lightning to USB-C cables are available from many third-party vendors. A quality non-Apple cable can be had for as little as ten bucks, or even less.
USB is an industry standard, meaning Mophie’s portable battery can be safely used with non-Apple gear without any reliability issues. I was able to recharge Android phones and power various USB accessories like external storage with my Powerstation. Though not strictly an Apple-exclusive product, Mophie has optimized the output power and the ports on the Powerstation family of products for Apple’s devices.
Despite premium pricing, this Powerstation has a lot going for it.
With a length of 4.2 inches, a width of 2.3 inches and a thickness of 0.8 inches, it’s very compact. I also like how lightweight it is — the XL model weighs in just 7.2 ounces. These things can definitely be carried around with ease as they’re small enough to fit into a pocket. Besides, USB-C battery packs usually start at 20,000 mAh so it’s definitely refreshing to see a lower-capacity juice pack that still offers all the benefits of the Power Delivery protocol.
It’s got priority charging, which is a must. While its regular USB-A port only outputs power, the newer USB-C port does both input and output. Most importantly, you het Power Delivery support in a tiny package that will literally let you fast-charge everything without worrying about overcharging and damaging your devices.
If you need decent mobile power with fast-charge support, Powerstation PD is it, a must-have accessory for pros and a really good option for a lot of average Joes. In my personal opinion, it’s one of the best USB-C battery packs that support the Power Delivery protocol.
My only complaint deals with the lack of an integrated Lightning cable. Then again, if you’re someone who always has a USB-C to USB-C cable in your travel bag, that won’t be an issue at all. In fact, all PD-compliant Powerstations ship with a USB-C to USB-C cable.Pros and cons
Here’s what we liked and disliked about this battery pack.Pros
Power Delivery brings secure fast-charge support
The device is very compact and lightweight
Just the right amount of power for such a portable packageCons
Premium price tag
Integrated Lightning cable would be appreciated
Dual-charging brings USB-A from 12W down to 5WPricing and availability
These batteries come in two flavors: the $60 Powerstation PD and the $80 Powerstation PD XL. The regular version has a 6,700 mAh cell and its XL counterpart is packed with a 10,050 mAh battery. Both will charge your iPhone 8 or newer up to 2.5 times faster compared to a standard 5W charger, or up to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.Your two cents
Have you used these chargers from Mophie yet?
You're reading Review: Mophie’s Powerstation Pd Xl Puts A Fast
Huge size & weight capacity
Good quality upholstery
Some manufacturing tolerance issues
Up to 550 Lbs
The assembly of the EwinRacing Flash XL was a pretty smooth, standard process, nothing too tricky, and all the necessary Allen keys are provided for you. They also include a set of gloves – why do all chairs include assembly gloves these days?
The only issue we ran into during assembly was the instructions. As with other gaming chair instructions each stage is accompanied by an image with a caption describing what to do. It’s a tried and tested method but instead of running left to right, top to bottom, the stages snake back and forth down the page. Admittedly there are arrows that guide you through but it’s an unintuitive layout and we can’t see any reason for doing it this way.
Once we figured out the confusing order of the instructions, the assembly was an easy process that took less than 30 minutes. We’d recommend getting a friend to help out as holding the seatback in position as you bolt it to the base is a challenge on your own.Comfort
The Flash XL is unsurprisingly marketed towards the larger individual and the comfort reflects this, with pretty firm padding and the widest seat base we’ve seen in a gaming chair. The firmness of the padding continues from the base to the back and is supportive without being too plush. One thing is certain – it’s a behemoth of a chair, but it’s actually pretty comfortable too.
A nice side effect of the super-wide seat base is that if you have a penchant for sitting cross-legged or with one leg folded up underneath the other, you’ve got a broad platform to do it on. This is a pretty common seating preference and the almost totally flat base is far more receptive to this position than other chairs with curved bases.
If you’re of average height or anywhere below around 6ft 3in you will feel distinctly undersized in this chair, which is actually quite nice as it allows more room for different seating positions. We’ve seen far, far worse in terms of comfort than the Flash XL.Black Friday 2023 offer
Get 30% off the Flash XL Series gaming chair at EwinRacing using the code ‘WePC’
We’ve teamed up with EwinRacing to bring you a massive 30% off everything this November, which means you can bag over $160 off the price of the Flash XL Series now if you’re quick. Use the code ‘WEPC’ on the EwinRacing site.Materials
The materials used are pretty standard. The faux leather that covers the contact surfaces of the chair is fairly soft and seems to be quite hard-wearing. The lumbar support cushion and neck pillow are bound in the same material and are pleasant enough to the touch, though the foam inside the cushions is very basic. Considering the $500 price point we’d have liked to see some implementation of memory foam here.
The other materials such as the ones that make up the plastic covering of the fastenings and the various elastics and clips that hold the cushions onto the chair feel bog standard. They’re functional enough but nothing special.
The chair we were given for review is all black and has a pretty professional look to it. If you remove the pillows it wouldn’t look out of place in a corporate office setting. It is worth mentioning that the Flash XL is available in various styles with a large number of colorways to choose from, including a fancy-looking gold option and some aggressive oranges, reds, and blues. Some of the variants are actually cheaper, dipping to around $470 in price. However, the other colorways do not feature the same wide and flat seat base that we love.
The plastic shrouding that covers the moving parts and hardware is functional but has some considerable flex. The manufacturing tolerances also feel like they need some refining as there are gaps in some places and pieces fighting for space in others. The stitching of the upholstery managed to resist our best efforts to pry it out, which is an admittedly juvenile test, but one worth doing. EwinRacing has done well here.Ergonomics
Now comes the time to talk about boring things like health and posture. Boring, but vital. If you’re anything like us at WePC you probably spend a lot of time in chairs, either at work or gaming at home. Happily, the Ewin Flash XL performs well in this regard.Lumbar support
The included pillow is fastened via a pair of elasticated straps which allows you to adjust the position to match your height and preferred seating position. It’s nicely squishy and holds its position well, but does protrude a bit too much for our liking. It will soften up as time goes on of course and given the size capabilities of the chair the cushion needs to be able to support far larger people than we have available for testing. Additionally, some will find the distinctly ‘F1’ aesthetic that the straps give the chair to be a bonus.Neck support
The pillow that comes with the Flash XL is firm and supportive but unfortunately you can’t adjust it, and even people of average height will find the pillow propping up their shoulders instead of their neck when they take a seat. You can give it a quick yank to position it correctly to cradle your neck but it will fall back into a lower position as soon as you stand up. It’s not an effective solution due to this constant need to readjust and it gets rather irritating very quickly.Armrests
The adjustability is good and they feel sturdy enough to withstand quite a bit of weight. The material has a slight softness to it but it doesn’t feel nice against the skin. They do exhibit a wider range of adjustability than other comparable chairs such as the noblechairs HERO TX and the Secretlab TITAN EVO 2023, which gives it a solid mark in terms of ergonomics.Final verdict
Overall we were pleasantly surprised with the EwinRacing Flash XL. The build quality is mostly excellent and the comfort is impressive even for those who don’t weigh 500lbs. The excessive size provides ample room for different seating positions which is a rare feature in gaming chairs. Once the instructions are deciphered the chair is easily constructed and feels robust enough to last many a late-night gaming session.
Sure Microsoft has its Windows Phone 7 naysayers, but the software giant is off to a strong start with its first round of smartphones. On Monday Microsoft surprised many cynics when it took the wraps off Windows Phone 7 platform and showed devices from HTC, LG, Samsung and Dell.
With Windows Phone 7 Microsoft has thoughtfully integrate Xbox LIVE and Microsoft Office along with third-party apps such as Facebook and Twitter. Who knew monolithic Microsoft could evoke that old Windows ingenuity?
If you’re a Microsoft hater, don’t worry, you’ll always find something you won’t like. But for those that harbor some faith in Microsoft here’s 5 reasons why Windows Phone 7 has a shot at becoming a strong contender against Android, the iPhone and RIM.Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Ecosystem The Windows Phone 7 OS Army is Coming
Microsoft announced nine different Windows Phone 7 devices on Monday including phones from Dell, LG, HTC and Samsung. That’s a far cry from the 25 different Android devices available on all four major carriers, but remember that Google only launched Android with one device, the T-Mobile G1, in October 2008.
Windows Phone 7 handsets will be available on AT&T and T-Mobile at launch, and the HTC Pro 7 will hit Sprint during the first half of 2011. Microsoft also said Verizon will offer Phone 7 devices in 2011, despite speculation to the contrary.
The weakest point for Microsoft is that early Phone 7 devices have virtually identical specs with very little variation. All of the handsets have the same 400-by-800 resolution, they all have 1 GHz processors and screen size hovers around 4 inches. This is partially due to Microsoft’s mandatory hardware requirements, but device makers have yet to release Phone 7’s equivalent of the Motorola Droid X.Microsoft Listens to Customers and Delivers
What this shows is that Microsoft may be more flexible in terms of its rollout schedule and may iterate new versions of Windows Phone faster than it did with Windows Mobile. There were about 15 months between Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5, while Google and Apple release new versions of their software at least every 12 months. Three months may not seem like a big difference, but if you average that out over three years Google and Apple would release three new OS versions in that time while Microsoft would barely release two. If Microsoft can get new versions of Windows Phone out the door at least every twelve months it will have a better shot at keeping user enthusiasm high.An Android-iOS Hybrid for Windows Phone 7
In some ways, Microsoft is taking some of the biggest strengths of Android and iOS and merging them into Phone 7. Just like Android, Phone 7 is available on a wide variety of platforms, but similar to Apple Microsoft exercises more control over device design. Microsoft is also ensuring that the Phone 7 interface stays the same across different devices ensuring a common Phone 7 experience. Android devices, by comparison, have far more variation in interface design with different UI overlays such as HTC’s Sense UI and Motorola’s Motoblur and Samsung’s TouchWiz.
Device and interface consistency ensures that users will have a high quality experience with Phone 7 whether they use the LG Quantum, the Samsung Focus or the HTC HD7.
Name Recognition: Xbox, Office, and Windows
Windows may be Microsoft’s most famous brand name, but Xbox and Microsoft Office are close behind. The fact that Windows Phone 7 is tightly integrated with both services will be a strong selling point for people looking to use the same services across different platforms.
Microsoft may be a latecomer with Phone 7, but the smartphone platform appears to be off to a strong start. Starting November 8 when handsets hit store shelves it will be up to users decide how popular Windows Phone 7 will become.
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Smartphones today are no longer used just for communication. Instead, many tasks that we used to perform on our PCs have now migrated to the mobile realm. This begs the question: Are our Android phones really secure enough to handle more sensitive operations, such as banking activities and storing confidential documents? Enter Clario, a cybersecurity app that’s built for the modern age, where phishing attacks and malware have become extremely common. This review of Clario looks at what the app brings to the table.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Clario. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.Do You Really Need an Antivirus on Your Phone
According to a recent report from FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, phishing scams created the most victims in 2023 in the US, with the trend expected to continue well into 2023. As a consequence, it has become imperative that smartphone users learn how to protect themselves and their data. This is where Clario hopes to make a difference with its mobile app that makes fighting malicious attacks a real breeze.
Phishing scams today can easily infiltrate your mobile device, as cybercriminals have become increasingly adept at using undetectable methods. On top of that, the majority of people still tend to believe that phishing happens when you receive fraudulent messages sent to trick you into handing over your personal information, such as credit card data and other sensitive info such as passwords.
That’s not always the case, though. Your Android can get hacked much easier. For example, just by pressing on a link or installing an app that you got via social media, text message or email, you could land yourself in trouble.
Malware, which can take the form of spyware, adware or ransomware, is another relevant issue on Android. Like in the case of phishing attacks, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether your device was infected. This is by design, as the hackers that designed the malware don’t want you to find it and remove it.Overview of Features
Clario for Android is a minimalist cybersecurity app with a modern-looking interface that’s easy to navigate and absorb. The app is free to install and comes with a 7-day free trial, which doesn’t require you to input your card details – always a plus in our book. You’ll have to sign up with an account, though, but options for using your Google/Apple accounts are available.
Clario works by performing multiple scans to assess the health of your mobile phone. It will start by searching for spyware, but you can also configure it to scan for viruses and other types of malware.
The app comes with four protection areas, including Device, Identify, Browsing and Network. The first area is where you’ll find the antivirus and spyware detectors, while the browsing and network section hide a VPN option for browsing protection and public Wi-Fi security, respectively. Under Identity, you can turn on the data breach monitoring feature.
While this review focuses on Clario for Android, note that the service is also available on iOS, macOS and the Web. A Windows option is not yet available at this point.Using Clario
Clario puts the emphasis on simplicity, so it’s a great choice for basically anyone looking to boost their phone’s security status quickly. The app is uncomplicated and quite minimalist when it comes to features for the time being. You can learn how to confidently use it within just a few minutes.
The app will nudge you to set up your mobile protection system by walking you through its main features and suggesting that you make the necessary adjustments. First, it will scan for any spyware. Next, it will start checking for any threats targeting your social media accounts.
For instance, the app issued a warning to update my Instagram protection by adding two-factor authentication. It’s up to you whether you want to deal with this now or skip the step and take care of it later.Lightning-Fast Performance
A few weeks before installing Clario on my device, I might have been the target of a possible phishing attempt. I received a link in one of my WhatsApp groups, and because I was pretty distracted at the time, I pressed on it without giving it much thought. The link opened a shady-looking page where I was invited to answer questions for a chance to win a car. Naturally, I got out of there as fast as possible but eventually forgot the incident and continued with my daily affairs.
While I didn’t notice any suspicious activity on my phone after the event, I was quickly reminded of the possible threat hiding inside my phone once I installed Clario. Needless to say, I was quite anxious to perform the scans and assess my device’s health. Fortunately, the results showed that my phone was not harmed. Throughout this experience I appreciated how quickly the app scanned my device. All I had to do was press “Device,” then select one of the two scanning options. The results appeared a few minutes later.
On top of hunting for malware, Clario also scans your device and shows you any data breaches found in relation to the accounts you’ve used on the phone in question. For each breach it encounters, the app will offer suggestions of what you can do to remedy the situation.VPN Services Are Included
The last two tiles in the Clario app are dedicated to VPN protection, which is great. This way you don’t need to install another app to take care of your VPN needs. In “Browsing,” you can enable the VPN and select a particular country to browse from to hide your location. While in “Network,” you can turn on the VPN whenever you’re looking to connect to a possibly unsecure public Wi-Fi. When the VPN is enabled, a notification will be shown at the top of your phone’s display.
Have a question you need answered? Clario focuses a lot on user experience by putting 600 security experts at your disposal who are available 24/7 to cover the key aspects of your digital life. You can get in touch with a Clario expert by tapping the “How can we help?” bar at the bottom.Getting Clario
As already mentioned above, Clario is free to download and install on Android. Once the seven-day free trial expires, users who want to keep using the app will have to purchase a subscription. Clario currently offers a 77 percent discount on its 12-month plan. This one covers six separate devices and will cost you $69.99 per year. Alternatively, you can sign up with the monthly plan that costs $12 and covers three devices.Closing Thoughts
Clario for Android encompasses a capable antivirus as well as robust VPN features and makes them available for normal people who aren’t really experts in the field of mobile security. We loved its uncomplicated nature. But those who prefer having more options with their antivirus may be put off by the app’s seemingly limited functionality.
For instance, Clario does not offer an app privacy checker nor anti-theft options. However, keep in mind that the mobile app is very much still in development, so these options may eventually make their way to the service.
Clario does tend to focus on users’ needs rather than its antivirus technology. It offers a 24/7 live chat if you ever find yourself in need of any help. The bottom line is that after using the app for a week, we can’t really think of a good reason why you shouldn’t give Clario a try. If you’re looking for basic malware protection and a VPN, jump on board with the 7-day free trial and see how the app feels, then decide whether it’s for you or not.
Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.
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Rocket League was recently made free by Epic Games after acquiring the game back in 2023. The store has been revamped and so has the matchmaking style but the gameplay remains the same. This transition to freeware has resulted in a lot of new players taking a liking for the game.
Rocket League has been a long-standing title that has been involved in numerous e-sports events. This is mainly due to the skill involved in the game. Apart from your basic actions like drift, ebrake turn, and boost, players can use a combination of these abilities to perform unique feats in the game like air shots, air dribble, and even airborne blocks.
If you are new to Rocket League then you might have also noticed that many players can hit the goal with the first kick-off. If you too wish to perfect this skill as well as have all your kickoffs go in your favor, then we have the perfect guide for you. Let’s get started.
How to Fast Kickoff in Rocket League
You should keep in mind that this is normal, and people that can execute such maneuvers have probably put in hours of practice before trying this in the game. So we recommend that you practice your new skills thoroughly to get them absolutely perfect during a match. Let’s take a look at the tips and skills that can help you win any kickoff in Rocket League.
What you should aim for in a fast kickoff?
You probably realize that winning and scoring on every kickoff in Rocket League is impossible. So the outcome you should aim for is to get the ball to the other side of the court through any kickoff. This will increase your chances of scoring, give your team the upper hand, and most of all, give you a chance to hit a one-shot kick off the goal as well. Now let’s take a look at the tips and skills that you can use.
Communicate: If all your teammates including you are gunning for the ball then it is not going to be good. One of you might get demolished while the other might get flung to the other side of the court making it impossible to make a comeback for defending.
It is a good idea to communicate with your teammates and decide who will take the kick-off based on your spawn locations, distance to the ball, and the respective skill of each team member.
Predict: This can be hard or easy depending on your opponent but you should pay attention to the patterns and habits of the opponent team. If you spot their entire team rushing for the kick-off then maybe hold back. If you spot nobody rushing for the kick-off then maybe take a chance. If the other team’s kick-off guy jumps at every kick off then there is a high chance that he will jump on this one too.
You can either try jumping higher than him to get the first touch or try going low to launch both the ball and the player into the air. Keeping a track of such patterns will help you increase your chances of winning a kick-off significantly.
If you are keeping an eye on your opponent and they seem to be always on the ground during kickoffs then you should try jumping right before they make contact with the ball. This will rebound the ball off of your car and use their force against them.
It should send the ball flying straight towards the goal if you are coming head-on, but with a lot more height. This will give you another chance to take a shot at goal if you have mastered your flying skills.
Consider your spawn location: Considering your spawn location is very important. I know players that are very skilled at hitting directly at the goal from the side while they struggle to drive in a straight line and vice versa. Considering your spawn location can either win you the kick-off or make you lose it.
Ideally, the player positioned at the last should be defending and the player closest to the ball (diagonal position) should be taking the kick-off. But you can talk with your teammates and if someone is more skilled with kickoffs in a straight line then you should definitely let them take the chance.
Air Boost: You might be already aware of this and learning this skill is super simple if you are trying to go in a straight line but when turning or losing control of your car, things can be a lot different. We recommend you use the ‘Freeplay’ mode in the training to practice your takeoff skills.
What if you use the spin out to hit the ball? That can turn into a pretty powerful shot. To master this, you should try using excess boost while in air and using ‘LT’ to flip your car on the X-axis. This will give your car’s back end a sudden burst in the direction that you are aiming for which can be used to hit the ball.
This technique can help you when you are airborne but do not have enough boost to fly. But keep in mind that it will take at least a few days to master depending on your skill level so you shouldn’t lose hope if it seems like you aren’t getting anywhere with your practice. It will take some time.
Speed Flip: Ah speed flips, the only skill developed solely for the purpose of Kickoffs. If you have seen esports matches or have played with high ranking players then you might have witnessed the speed flip already.
It looks like a barrel roll but in the direction that your car is facing… and it does not involve you flipping the car. Instead, you speed flip using the flip cancel/ jump cancel action which can be executed using the jump button while in the air. This is a very complex maneuver that can take some time to master but is an essential tool for winning Kickoffs.
You can take a look at this extensive tutorial by Spookluke that will teach you how to speed flip from scratch. The video is very detailed and should help you identify and correct your mistakes as well.
Apple Watch has been out for over three weeks and I’ve been using mine now for most of that time, from the moment I wake up to just before bed each night. While my colleague Ben Lovejoy previously journaled his experience in his excellent “A skeptic’s Apple Watch diary” series, I’ve been sold on the appeal of Apple Watch since the first day I paired a Pebble smartwatch with my iPhone and discovered its potential…and potential pitfalls.
Apple Watch battery life was probably the biggest concern for everyone. We already have to charge our iPhones daily and sometimes throughout the day, and Apple Watch does a lot of iPhone-like stuff with a much smaller battery. The general consensus after several weeks, though, is that if you can get behind charging Apple Watch nightly, then battery life is fine. Apple probably went too conservative on some of Apple Watch’s energy saving behaviors if anything.
While battery life is surprisingly a non-issue, using Apple Watch purely as a watch to check the time has its limits.
Difficulty reading the display outdoors is easily my biggest complaint with the first version. Checking the time (or any information on the screen) in direct sunlight can be nearly impossible.
In one instance, I found it easier to check the time on my iPhone than with Apple Watch because of this issue. In another situation, I glanced at Apple Watch to check the time in the car, but found the dashboard clock easier to read. Under a cloudy sky or any amount of shade, though, the outdoor readability issue mostly goes away.
Apple Watch’s wrist detection is fine for standing or sitting positions, but it’s not ideal if you’re laying in bed and reading the watch upside down or in similar positions. Screen activation is quick enough that it’s not an issue when you want to read the time quickly, but it’s definitely a frustration when raising your wrist doesn’t wake up the display.
Tapping the display is the least obvious activation method, and it presents the least amount of friction. Personally, I’m more impressed by tapping the display to turn on the display than I am from the wrist detection. Wrist detection is the most natural, but tapping the display is a new habit I’m trying to form. (I completely missed that I could tap the display to wake it up for the first three or four days of use.)
I do wish there was a method (or even setting) that would allow the watch face to stay active for longer periods of time. Even the stop watch goes to sleep after 20 or so seconds without being engaged. Sometimes it’s handy if not necessary to be able to stare at your watch and see the time pass. To do this with Apple Watch, you need to tap the display or rotate the crown every 10 seconds or so.
As I mentioned at the top, battery life is surprisingly a non-issue and charging happens very quickly. Hopefully now that Apple Watch is out and the verdict is mostly in, Apple will loosen the constraints of on-screen time. My active usage was highest during week one when I was still checking out every corner of the features and functionality. I only hit Power Reserve once during that period at around 10 PM following a day of demoing and general tinkering. I’d willingly give the sometimes 30% battery left at the very end of the day in exchange for longer on-screen time when waking up the display.
I’ve been very impressed with Apple Watch band options, the swapping process, and the effect they have on the wearing experience. With my 42mm stainless steel Apple Watch, I bought Classic Buckle which feels like a traditional watch, black Leather Loop which feels a little more casual but still nice, and black Sport which is the most versatile option.
So far I’m frequently switching between a leather band and the fluoroelastomer band depending on the occasion. The Sport band is best for workouts or yard work and any time I’m testing the water resistance of Apple Watch; the Leather Loop band is my favorite in terms of comfort, style, and adjustability. The swapping process — holding down a button on the back and sliding the bands in and out — is simple enough that I’m changing between the two daily based on the activity.
Aside from making Apple Watch fit your personal style, which can vary widely from person to person, band swapping adds the effect of feeling like you’re actually wearing a different watch since it makes up so much of the overall hardware.
As a very casual watch wearer, Apple Watch does feel like a nice watch. The battery died a few years ago in my metal link bracelet watch, and I’d never wear my $15 digital watch to dinner. If you don’t wear a watch, you’ll be surprised at just how useful being able to check the time without using your iPhone is.
Of course Apple Watch isn’t just a watch, it’s an extension of the iPhone experience placed on the wrist with some features unique to it. While it’s hardly the first product to qualify as a smartwatch, Apple Watch is easily the best smartwatch for iPhone users, and probably the most capable watch for that matter.
I spent a year regularly using the then-$150 e-ink display Pebble smartwatch ($99) and liked a lot of what it had to offer, but it was clear from day one that Apple would need to open a lot more of iOS to developers for third-party smartwatches to go beyond a few limited functions.
I could read notifications without looking at my phone, but I couldn’t act on them. I could control currently playing audio, but I couldn’t pick the song or podcast from the watch. Apps came but were extremely limited and not memorable; current Apple Watch apps from third party developers are limited, but it’s nowhere near the same degree. iPhone features like Siri and Apple Pay would never be on a non-Apple device.
Aside from excellent visibility in direct sunlight and multi-day battery life, Apple Watch picks up where Pebble left off and goes light years ahead for me. (This is largely because Apple tightly controls iOS, only opening up pieces strategically, and the Pebble is a much cheaper product at $99 now while Apple Watch starts at $349.)
Apple Watch’s hardware is very impressive. The Digital Crown on the right side serves as a very natural scroll wheel and an effective way to navigate without obscuring the display with your finger. The display attracts fingerprints as much as the iPhone, so any chance to use the Digital Crown is appreciated.
Apple Watch’s display is phenomenal in all but extremely bright conditions. Black elements blend right into the bezel and simply disappear in dark environments; text and images pop just as you would expect from a Retina-class display. Open the Compass app on your iPhone and you can see the type of design elements that work well on Apple Watch: black backgrounds that disappear into the hardware, thin linear elements that highlight detail, and restrained use of color to your attention to activity. The shot above was taken in complete darkness. You cannot discern where the bezel begins in this environment.
The convenience of having Siri on my wrist is one of the things I most appreciate about Apple Watch. Siri is great on the iPhone for a lot of tasks, but asking Siri to do a quick task like add an item to my shopping list is lightning fast on Apple Watch. Raise your wrist and say Hey Siri, then give the command completely hands-free. Pulling out my phone to do this isn’t a major task, but it’s potential for distraction. Oh, a lock screen full of notifications. What did I want to remind myself to remember? Silly but it happens.
Siri isn’t perfect on Apple Watch though. A lot of commands seem to require a tap to complete or actually picking up your iPhone to complete. Something like sending a message requires activating Siri each time you want to go a step forward, as Siri on Apple Watch is designed not to just listen for the next step. Maybe another one of those battery conservation decisions?
Siri also doesn’t provide audio feedback on Apple Watch without using the VoiceOver accessibility feature; this would be fine as a setting, but I would prefer the option to have a more engaging Siri experience on Apple Watch. Maybe not always, but sometimes.
As for the things that Siri can’t do on Apple Watch, you quickly learn the boundaries and don’t bother repeating anything that needs Handoff. Hey Siri, play The Beatles is an okay command, but Hey Siri, play iTunes Radio prompts you to complete the job on your iPhone. Hopefully this evolves over time.
Dictation is essentially the keyboard on Apple Watch. If you’re opposed to dictating text into a gadget, don’t expect to get much text input done on Apple Watch. You can make a few pre-canned text replies to messages you receive, but any unique response is speech-to-text. The good thing is that it works well if you speak clearly.
When replying to a text in Messages, Apple Watch lets you choose between a voice recording reply or the speech-to-text dictated response. The only hitch for me here is that my dictation voice is much more robotic than my natural speaking voice. If dictation goofs up my response, I probably don’t want to send the recorded version either.
You also can’t correct your dictation without just starting over; the iPhone is good about knowing which phrases are questionable and offering tap-to-correct options so we know how this could be better.
The ability to choose between 10 different watch faces is a great plus for Apple Watch. The combination of digital and analog style faces offers variety in the same way band swapping does, and the ability to add widget-like “complications” for weather, calendar, timers, and more is a win for customization and utility. In the three weeks I’ve been using Apple Watch, I don’t believe I’ve used the same watch face for more than a day as there’s so many ways to change them. I’m certain I’ll settle on a few favorites, but they’re all very well done.
A few watch faces like Solar and Astronomy do tricks to show time movement when you scroll the Digital Crown, though, which I wish could be turned off as I like these faces but don’t enjoy accidentally engaging that activity. The Chronograph face is the most compass-like with fine details that I appreciate, but it includes a stopwatch complication that I frequently accidentally tap and start when swiping down for notifications. The Mickey Mouse face is both fun and a terrific demo; kids really get it too. Look, it’s Mickey as you pose for a photo. Useful.
I’m settling on mostly using one of two versions of Utility as my analog option while the complication-heavy Modular is my go-to digital watch face. You can create and save more versions of the same watch face so you don’t have to toggle it too much.
I like using Utility with all the hours and even seconds turned on, no complications aside from the date, and whichever color matches my mood or clothing, but I also like how Utility looks with all the numbers removed for a cleaner look. In both cases, I prefer turning off all the complications.
Modular is loaded with data from complications so I use it when I want to process in my brain less and just see the time and other information. With the analog faces, I prefer actively using Glances rather than seeing all that data when I check the time.
Glances are card-like screens activated when swiping up from any watch face. Just like my preference for toning down watch face complications, I find that using an extremely limited number of Glances adds to their utility. You can add as many as 40 I believe, and Apple turns on more out of the box than I find useful.
My current Glances setup includes the Settings glance for toggling airplane mode, Do Not Disturb, mute, and pinging your iPhone (hold this down to also engage the iPhone flash), the Now Playing glance for controlling any audio playback as well as volume level, the Activity glance for following your daily move, stand, and workout goal progress, the Battery glance for seeing total charge and optionally engaging Power Reserve mode, and finally the Heart Rate glance for manually checking your heart’s beats per minute.
I think using a lot of Glances in place of always jumping into apps is a popular thing with a lot of Apple Watch users I’ve seen so far, but I don’t love swiping through multiple cards to find the one I’m looking for at any given time; I’d much rather jump into the app honeycomb, but maybe this will change as more capable Glances become available.
Customizing these currently means opening the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, but I don’t see anything keeping the Apple Watch itself from being able to manage these.
Managing your Friends list is the same story. You have access to your full list of contacts within the Phone app, but you have to add or remove friends on Apple Watch from the iPhone app unless someone uses Digital Touch with you and you have a spare slot for them. You can have as many as 12 friends at any given time, which sounds like plenty until you treat it like a Favorites list for quickly calling or messaging your family and need to use it to manage using Digital Touch with other Apple Watch users.
Aside from the wonky Friends setup process, Digital Touch has its own imperfections for now. Sometimes taps, sketches, and heartbeats don’t send and it’s unclear how to resolve any issues aside from trying again. There’s also latency between sending something using Digital Touch and the recipient being notified or seeing it. Sometimes this latency can be seconds, sometimes several minutes.
The lack of delivered and read receipts that we’re familiar with on iMessage makes this form of communication feel shaky at times, but even sketches disappear after seconds when viewed so it’s clearly not meant for any sort of very serious use.
Notifications on Apple Watch pick up where Pebble left off. Apps can feature actions in notifications like archiving an email from the Gmail app or starting playback for a new podcast on your iPhone as soon as the alert hits the watch. If the iPhone display is on, notifications route and alert there. If the iPhone display is off and you’re wearing a connected Apple Watch, that’s where the alerts will go.
The Mac and iPad, however, are ignored for now even though you can Handoff tasks from apps like Calendar and other apps to those devices sometimes. I see most of my relevant notifications on my Mac while I’m working, but muting Apple Watch means I’ll miss stand alerts and Digital Touch notifications. This Mac+Watch space needs more attention.
You can toggle sounds on or off, but you can’t customize tones for specific alerts. On my iPhone, I have a different tone if either my girlfriend or my mom texts me so I know I should read it soon. Apple Watch has the same tone and the same tap for all messages from all contacts. This is sort of a set back functionally for me, but hopefully this changes in future software updates.
The red dot to notify you of unread notifications is very useful as is the Clear All button for knocking out lists of alerts at once. The iPhone, iPad, and Mac would all benefit from a similar button. Haptic feedback driven by the Taptic Engine is also a big part of notifications on Apple Watch, although I’m convinced I’m a little numb to most taps or my motor is weaker than it should be.
If my Apple Watch is muted, it’s likely that I’ll see the red dot for notifications without having noticed a tap on my wrist. Tightening the band or turning on the setting for prominent taps can remedy this to a degree, but I think I’d be more sensitive to taps below my wrist rather than above. I’ve only used the rubber and leather bands so far, but I also imagine the metal bands may carry the vibration around the wrist more than the other materials do.
Overall, though, I much prefer keeping notifications on my wrist rather than in my pocket or elsewhere. I feel more connected, more tuned in, and less anxious about missing the big stuff that occasionally flies by. This sense of being further connected to my family is a big appeal of Apple Watch’s long term value. Perhaps more measurably important is Apple Watch’s fitness and activity tracking…
Apple Watch as a fitness tracker is like iPhone as a camera. Devices solely dedicated to tracking specific activity may be better for die hard athletes just like expensive DSLR cameras are appropriate for professional photographers, but Apple Watch’s fitness tracking features will make health tracking more accessible just like the iPhone’s ever-improving camera makes us all better and more frequent photographers.
Apple Watch wants you to move more throughout your day and uses activity tracking and notifications to help you achieve this. Your move goal helps you burn a set amount of calories each day. Your stand goal wants you to move around for at least one minute of twelve different hours in the day. The exercise goal recommends 30 minutes of activity at or above a brisk walk. My first thought is that the bar is set low enough that these goals are achievable, but as someone who writes for a living, each goal proves more challenging in practice.
The use of progress rings to visualize these goals is a terrific design, though, and the encouragement and progress alerts you can receive throughout the day are very effective. My only real complaint here is that Apple Watch far too often reminds me to stand up at 10 minutes before the end of the hour despite me having stood and moved during that hour.
Sometimes these alerts come while I’m standing which is most frustrating because it might mean an incomplete circle. Stand detection can improve, of course, but I’d also like to be able to respond to a stand reminder by overriding it and saying that I have stood, especially if I’m standing. It would be up to the user to use the honor system, but there’s little incentive to cheating…
That is unless you’re collecting achievements. These awards are fun and competitive and make a bit of a sport about activity tracking among Apple Watch users, especially between friends.
Wearing Apple Watch can also add new data points to the Health app on your iPhone. For example, you can see heart rate data, active calories burned, and workout data that previously required manually logging or other solutions. Resting calories, while tracked and viewable in the Activity app on iPhone, curiously aren’t shared with the Health app yet. I’m much more likely to be wearing Apple Watch throughout my whole day so it’s a much more ideal device for step tracking and enables passive heart rate tracking for me that was previously unavailable.
While apps are a thing on Apple Watch with some 3,500+ ones on the App Store at launch, they’ve mostly got a bad reputation for not being very useful so far. That’s partly because developers can’t do much with Apple Watch and have to rely on a parent iPhone app for most functionality. Apple says developers will be able to do more by creating native apps using tools it will release later this year. For now, though, only Apple can create apps that run on Apple Watch without a connected iPhone.
Still, some of Apple’s best apps are essentially remotes for the iPhone. The Camera app lets you use Apple Watch as a viewfinder while you can snap a photo from your wrist. The Remote app lest you navigate your Apple TV easily and conveniently with a remote you’ll never lose. Any audio app like Music or NPR One or Instapaper lets you playback audio from your iPhone with controls from Apple Watch, and you can even change audio playback to connected AirPlay speakers wirelessly by pressing firmly within the Music app’s Now Playing screen and selecting the desired speaker.
Apple’s Photos app lets you sync an album of photos on Apple Watch. They’re small but it’s a neat way to browse your favorite photos similar to carrying wallet shots.
Apple Pay on Apple Watch is another convenience. Paying with your iPhone enjoyed the period between September and April as being the easiest way to checkout, but paying with Apple Watch is really that much cooler and a little more discrete.
Passbook is also super handy on Apple Watch. If a pass is location sensitive, you’ll get a notification when you’re near the right place so you can quickly bring it up. Otherwise you can jump into the Passbook app and tap the right pass when you need it. Using the Walgreens Rewards pass has been a fun way to gauge responses to Apple Watch, or iWatch, or iPhone Watch… reactions are wide ranging of course.
There are some gems among the thousands of Apple Watch apps available so far if you explore what’s out there. I started by installing all of the available Apple Watch apps that had iPhone apps already on my phone, then scaled way back after evaluating each app during the first week. Shazam’s app is an easy recommendation with its song recognition and lyrics presentation abilities.
Other apps have purposes that are vague or nonexistent. Fandango’s Apple Watch app, for instance, served up movie quotes for me upon investigation. I’m a big fan of Lebowski and appreciated the image and quote, but without visiting the App Store listing, it’s utility wasn’t obvious. Remove the iPhone from the equation and most apps become even more useless. Not even a quote from The Dude, for example, when the iPhone is taken away and the Instagram app is launched on Apple Watch. How Apple Watch apps improve when Apple gives developers more tools will play a large role in Apple Watch’s growth going forward now that Apple has laid the foundation.
Apple Watch can do a million more things than anything I’ve mentioned so far. It’s an excellent speaker phone in a quiet environment and you can even record video on your iPhone during a call; this was surprisingly never possible before. You can ping Siri on Apple Watch without interrupting audio playback on the iPhone. The more time I spend with Apple Watch, the more of these minor but useful improvements to the iOS experience I discover, and I’m certain there are more to uncover. While the utility of Apple Watch may not be immediately obvious or applicable to everyone, I’m as enthusiastic about Apple Watch in practice as I was in theory before it arrived and became an actual tool in my life.
Apple Watch can improve with future versions by offering better outdoor usage and picking up GPS, but many of its drawbacks are decisions made in the software that can be remedied in the current version. Give Apple Watch permission to have longer screen-on time and use more of its battery. No one benefits from charging it at night and having 30 or 40% still left as you can’t make it through the next day with that, right? The real future of Apple Watch gaining new uses will come from third party developers creating experiences with Apple Watch apps; once Apple gives developers more access to use the hardware, this space should get even more interesting.
Anyone that stays connected to the iPhone — either by necessity or choice — should certainly consider Apple Watch; while it’s still a first-gen device, it benefits from sitting on top of a mature iPhone and iOS platform. As for model recommendations, the 38mm $349/42mm $399 Apple Watch Sport is fine for anyone wanting to get into the device; the extra $200+ for the stainless steel Apple Watch may prove to have a stronger display as it uses sapphire over Ion-X glass, but the decision is otherwise simply for the aesthetics as both have the same technology inside. I do appreciate the traditional watch look that the non-Sport bands provide, and paying more for nearly the same hardware is purely a personal decision.
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