According to a report by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and (according to a 2016 estimate) can expect to pay between $60,000 and $134,000 on average for treatment and care. But, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and non-quantifiable emotional […]
According to a report by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and (according to a 2016 estimate) can expect to pay between $60,000 and $134,000 on average for treatment and care. But, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and non-quantifiable emotional stress for them and their families, the American Cancer Society still estimates 40,920 women will lose their battle to the disease this year.
Worldwide, roughly 1.7 million women will be diagnosed with the disease yearly, according to a 2012 estimate by The World Cancer Research Fund International.
While these numbers are stark, they do little to fully capture just how devastating a breast cancer diagnosis is for women and their loved ones. This is a feeling that Higia Technologies‘ co-founder and CEO Julián Ríos Cantú is unfortunately very familiar with.
“My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor,” Cantú told TechCrunch. “The first time she was diagnosed I was eight years old.”
Cantú says that his mother’s second diagnosis was originally missed through standard screenings because her high breast density obscured the tumors from the X-ray. As a result, she lost both of her breasts, but has since fully recovered.
“At that moment I realized that if that was the case for a woman with private insurance and a prevention mindset, then for most women in developing countries, like Mexico where we’re from, the outcome could’ve not been a mastectomy but death,” said Cantú.
Following his mother’s experience, Cantú resolved to develop a way to improve the value of women’s lives and support them in identifying breast abnormalities and cancers early in order to ensure the highest likelihood of survival.
To do this, at the age of 18 Cantú designed EVA — a bio-sensing bra insert that uses thermal sensing and artificial intelligence to identify abnormal temperatures in the breast that can correlate to tumor growth. Cantú says that EVA is not only an easy tool for self-screening but also fills in gaps in current screening technology.
Today, women have fairly limited options when it comes to breast cancer screening. They can opt for a breast ultrasound (which has lower specificity than other options), or a breast MRI (which has higher associated costs), but the standard option is a yearly or bi-yearly mammogram for women 45 and older. This method requires a visit to a doctor, manual manipulation of the breasts by a technologist and exposure to low-levels of radiation for an X-ray scan of the breast tissue.
While this method is relatively reliable, there are still crucial shortcomings, Higia Technologies’ medical adviser Dr. Richard Kaszynski M.D., PhD told TechCrunch.
“We need to identify a real-world solution to diagnosing breast cancer earlier,” said Dr. Kaszynski. “It’s always a trade-off when we’re talking about mammography because you have the radiation exposure, discomfort and anxiety in regards to exposing yourself to a third-party.”
Dr. Kaszynski continued to say that these yearly or bi-yearly mammograms also leave a gap in care in which interval cancers — cancers that begin to take hold between screenings — have time to grow unhindered.
Additionally, Dr. Kaszynski says mammograms are not highly sensitive when it comes to detecting tumors in dense breast tissue, like that of Cantú’s mom. Dense breast tissue, which is more common in younger women and is present in 40 percent of women globally and 80 percent of Asian women, can mask the presence of tumors in the breast from mammograms.
Through its use of non-invasive, thermal sensors EVA is able to collect thermal data from a variety of breast densities that can enable women of all ages to more easily (and more frequently) perform breast examinations.
Here’s how it works:
To start, the user inserts the thermal sensing cups (which come in three standard sizes ranging from A-D) into a sports bra, open EVA’s associated EVA Health App, follow the instructions and wait for 60 minutes while the cup collects thermal data. From there, EVA will send the data via Bluetooth to the app and an AI will analyze the results to provide the user with an evaluation. If EVA believes the user may have an abnormality that puts them at risk, the app will recommend follow-up steps for further screening with a healthcare professional.
While sacrificing your personal health data to the whims of an AI might seem like a scary (and dangerous, if the device were to be hacked) idea to some, Cantú says Higia Technologies has taken steps to protect its users’ data, including advanced encryption of its server and a HIPAA-compliant privacy infrastructure.
So far, EVA has undergone clinical trials in Mexico, and through these trials has seen 87.9 percent sensibility and 81.7 percent specificity from the device. In Mexico, the company has already sold 5,000 devices and plans to begin shipping the first several hundred by October of this year.
And the momentum for EVA is only increasing. In 2017, Cantú was awarded Mexico’s Presidential Medal for Science and Technology and so far this year Higia Technologies has won first place in the SXSW’s International Pitch Competition, been named one of “30 Most Promising Businesses of 2018” by Forbes Magazine Mexico and this summer received a $120,000 investment from Y Combinator.
Moving forward, the company is looking to enter the U.S. market and has plans to begin clinical trials with Stanford Medicine X in October 2018 that should run for about a year. Following these trials, Dr. Kaszynski says that Higia Technologies will continue the process of seeking FDA approval to sell the inserts first as a medical device, accessible at a doctor’s office, and then as a device that users can have at home.
The final pricing for the device is still being decided, but Cantú says he wants the product to be as affordable and accessible as possible so it can be the first choice for women in developing countries where preventative cancer screening is desperately needed.
The complex optics involved with putting a screen an inch away from the eye in VR headsets could make for smart glasses that correct for vision problems. These prototype “autofocals” from Stanford researchers use depth sensing and gaze tracking to bring the world into focus when someone lacks the ability to do it on their own.
The complex optics involved with putting a screen an inch away from the eye in VR headsets could make for smartglasses that correct for vision problems. These prototype “autofocals” from Stanford researchers use depth sensing and gaze tracking to bring the world into focus when someone lacks the ability to do it on their own.
I talked with lead researcher Nitish Padmanaban at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver, where he and the others on his team were showing off the latest version of the system. It’s meant, he explained, to be a better solution to the problem of presbyopia, which is basically when your eyes refuse to focus on close-up objects. It happens to millions of people as they age, even people with otherwise excellent vision.
There are, of course, bifocals and progressive lenses that bend light in such a way as to bring such objects into focus — purely optical solutions, and cheap as well, but inflexible, and they only provide a small “viewport” through which to view the world. And there are adjustable-lens glasses as well, but must be adjusted slowly and manually with a dial on the side. What if you could make the whole lens change shape automatically, depending on the user’s need, in real time?
Padmanaban previously worked in VR, and mentioned what’s called the convergence-accommodation problem. Basically, the way that we see changes in real life when we move and refocus our eyes from far to near doesn’t happen properly (if at all) in VR, and that can produce pain and nausea. Having lenses that automatically adjust based on where you’re looking would be useful there — and indeed some VR developers were showing off just that only 10 feet away. But it could also apply to people who are unable to focus on nearby objects in the real world, Padmanaban thought.
This is an old prototype, but you get the idea.
It works like this. A depth sensor on the glasses collects a basic view of the scene in front of the person: a newspaper is 14 inches away, a table three feet away, the rest of the room considerably more. Then an eye-tracking system checks where the user is currently looking and cross-references that with the depth map.
Having been equipped with the specifics of the user’s vision problem, for instance that they have trouble focusing on objects closer than 20 inches away, the apparatus can then make an intelligent decision as to whether and how to adjust the lenses of the glasses.
In the case above, if the user was looking at the table or the rest of the room, the glasses will assume whatever normal correction the person requires to see — perhaps none. But if they change their gaze to focus on the paper, the glasses immediately adjust the lenses (perhaps independently per eye) to bring that object into focus in a way that doesn’t strain the person’s eyes.
The whole process of checking the gaze, depth of the selected object and adjustment of the lenses takes a total of about 150 milliseconds. That’s long enough that the user might notice it happens, but the whole process of redirecting and refocusing one’s gaze takes perhaps three or four times that long — so the changes in the device will be complete by the time the user’s eyes would normally be at rest again.
“Even with an early prototype, the Autofocals are comparable to and sometimes better than traditional correction,” reads a short summary of the research published for SIGGRAPH. “Furthermore, the ‘natural’ operation of the Autofocals makes them usable on first wear.”
The team is currently conducting tests to measure more quantitatively the improvements derived from this system, and test for any possible ill effects, glitches or other complaints. They’re a long way from commercialization, but Padmanaban suggested that some manufacturers are already looking into this type of method and despite its early stage, it’s highly promising. We can expect to hear more from them when the full paper is published.
Apple hopes to develop a custom processor that it will use for health tracking purposes. The new chip would improve hardware efficiency, according to CNBC.
Apple hopes to develop a custom processor that it will use for health tracking purposes. In doing so, the company expects to add new features and improve the efficiency of its hardware while also protecting its intellectual property, according to CNBC.... Read the rest of this post here
Apple hopes to develop a custom processor that it will use for health tracking purposes. The new chip would improve hardware efficiency, according to CNBC.
Apple hopes to develop a custom processor that it will use for health tracking purposes. In doing so, the company expects to add new features and improve the efficiency of its hardware while also protecting its intellectual property, according to CNBC.... Read the rest of this post here
Google parent Alphabet has invested $375 million in next-gen health insurance company, Oscar Health. Google has been a longtime supporter of the six-year-old New York company, having previously invested in Oscar through its Capital G investment wing and Verily health and life sciences research wing. “Alphabet has invested in Oscar over many years and has […]
Google parent Alphabet has invested $375 million in next-gen health insurance company, Oscar Health. Google has been a longtime supporter of the six-year-old New York company, having previously invested in Oscar through its Capital G investment wing and Verily health and life sciences research wing.
“Alphabet has invested in Oscar over many years and has seen the company and its team up close. We’re thrilled to invest further to help Oscar in its next phase of growth.” an Alphabet spokesperson told TechCrunch.
That $165 million round raised back in March valued the health startup at around $3 billion. The new round maintains a similar valuation, while giving Alphabet a 10 percent share in Oscar. The deal also finds longtime Google employee and former CEO Salar Kamangar joining Oscar’s board.
Oscar co-founder and CEO Mario Schlosser announced the news in an interview with Wired, telling the site, “We can hire more engineers, we can hire more data scientists, more product designers, more smart clinicians who can think about health care a different way. It’s the acceleration of that product roadmap that fascinates us the most. The second, more tangible piece, is that we’re launching new product lines.”
Part of that product expansion includes getting into Medicare Advantage in 2020, which is a deviation from the current offerings in the individual and employer insurance markets. Oscar started out by offering insurance for individuals, growing rapidly during the launch of the Affordable Care Act and then rolling into small business offerings with its product Oscar for Business. Medicare represents a new vertical for the company, adding to its existing focus on both the individual and employer insurance markets.
“Oscar will accelerate the pursuit of its mission: to make our health care system work for consumers,” Schlosser said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We will continue to build a member experience that lowers costs and improves care, and to bring Oscar to more people — deepening our expansion into the individual and small business markets while entering a new business segment, Medicare Advantage, in 2020.”
Your fingers travel a mile when type on a keyboard every day. But, that does nothing for your health when you scarcely leave the desk. A desk job can be deadly for your health in the long term. If you’re someone (like me) whose job involves sitting in front of a computer all day, you need a solution. Fortunately, there are a few extensions for Google Chrome which can help you be more mindful of your health while working. Here are eleven of them. 1. Fresh Air: Pause For a Few Deep Breathes Fresh Air is a Chrome extension which…
Your fingers travel a mile when type on a keyboard every day. But, that does nothing for your health when you scarcely leave the desk. A desk job can be deadly for your health in the long term.
If you’re someone (like me) whose job involves sitting in front of a computer all day, you need a solution. Fortunately, there are a few extensions for Google Chrome which can help you be more mindful of your health while working. Here are eleven of them.
1. Fresh Air: Pause For a Few Deep Breathes
Fresh Air is a Chrome extension which simply reminds you to breathe everytime you open a new tab. It replaces your existing New Tab page with just an empty circle. The circle begins filling up as soon as you launch a fresh tab and guides you to gradually inhale, hold for a few seconds, and gently release it.
Fresh Air also lets you customize these individual periods but I’ve personally found the default settings to be quite calming. You can even switch the background to a different color if you’re not into the minimalistic white it comes preloaded with.
Here’s how it works: You add the services you think will make you procrastinate more such as Instagram to Calm’s blacklist. Once that’s done, whenever you’re about to launch any one of them, Calm will present you with a little breathing exercise which will make you rethink your decision and return to work.
Also, Calm also offers options for playing nature or meditative sounds instead of hitting “Continue” and be on your way to the blacklisted website.
Sitting on a chair for prolonged periods can lead to rigid tension points and muscle pain. The easy way out is to perform quick exercises at your desk itself every now and then. How? Install an extension called DeskAthelete.
DeskAthelete lets you learn 30-second exercises for several body parts like the neck, a lot of which you can do without even standing up.
Whenever you feel like stretching, just click the extension’s icon on the omnibar and it will show instructions along with a video tutorial of an exercise you can work out to.
PostureMinder is yet another free extension which will help you be a bit healthier while sitting on a chair. As the name suggests, PostureMinder will periodically nudge you to fix your posture which can take a toll when you haven’t moved in hours.
Moreover, you can also enable reminders that will ask you to get up and walk around for a few minutes. If you’re someone who constantly suffers from back pain, this is undoubtedly a must-have.
Water Reminder is a tiny Chrome extension which can have a significant impact on your wellbeing. As you’d expect, it’s essentially a basic water reminder tool. You can configure the time frame between notifications and choose whether it should have a sound in addition to a normal alert.
6. Stretch Reminder: Know When It’s Time to Stretch
Stretch Reminder, as you’d probably guess, reminds you to get up and stretch every few minutes. The extension pops up a notification based on the defined duration. Like other extensions in this list, you can personalize the time periods too including between which hours it should be active.
This extension is for users who want reminders for all those aforementioned activities and a few more. Healthy Browsing can send you notifications for four things: water, blinking, posture, and stretch. You can, of course, change the time frames for each of these and set them up as per your preferences.
8. Screen Shader: For Comfortable Browsing at Night
It’s no secret that your eyesight is one of the most adversely affected part of your body when you’re staring at a screen for hours. A Chrome extension called Screen Shader makes the impact a little less severe.
Screen Shader switches your browser’s color tones to more comfortable gradients for reducing the blue light impact which in turn decreases eye-strain and allows you to sleep better at night.
The science of blue light filters is the same as in the popular F.lux and Night Shift apps. While the extension can automatically configure the temperatures based on your whereabouts, you can go ahead and manually alter them as well. You can even select the primary color if you find the default one a little harsh.
While Screen Shader will certainly diminish the impact of blue light, it still won’t be as effective as a dark theme at night. Dark Reader, a free Chrome extension brings a dark theme to every website without messing up the graphics.
Dark Reader also allows you to edit several individual settings such as brightness, contrast and even whitelist websites where the extension shouldn’t be activated.
Tabtics, unlike others, won’t notify or nudge you to be more active while working. Instead, it shows various health tips and suggestions on new tabs in a modern and minimal interface. Moreover, the extension displays the time and weather and can even sync with your Fitbit if you have one.
Marinara is a straightforward Pomodoro extension which you can customize as you like. Pomodoro, for the uninitiated, is an approach to time management where you break down work in short sessions separated by mini and long breaks.
It’s a clever time management technique which has proved successful for many including me. Marinara, in addition to serving as timer, also produces your statistics so that you can view your performance in the past.
While these extensions may seem trivial, they can easily assist you in living a healthier desk job by simple nudges for stretching, drinking water, and more throughout the day. All of them are free too, so you should definitely give them a whirl if you haven’t already yet.
For all its many other benefits, personal technology wrecks havoc on your body. From back and neck pain to more serious issues like sciatica, you need to improve your posture before it is too late. The most common pain points of technology are: Sitting too long at your desk. Slouching when you use a computer. Using your laptop in weird positions. Bending your neck when looking at your phone. The good news is that technology itself has a few solutions to these problems. Programs, apps, and browser extensions can send you reminders to fix your posture, move around, or even…
The good news is that technology itself has a few solutions to these problems. Programs, apps, and browser extensions can send you reminders to fix your posture, move around, or even smartly figure out when you are slouching.
Sometimes, all you need is a nudge in the right direction. Slouching at the computer desk isn’t your natural position. And a regular reminder to fix your posture can be enough to get your spine in its correct shape.
Limber is a Chrome extension that has two types of notifications. It will tell you to take a break every 30 minutes or limber up every 10 minutes. You can switch on both notifications, or stick to one of the two.
The 10-minute reminder is a great time to do quick exercises at your work desk. At the 30-minute interval, get out of your seat and move around. Your body needs that break, even if your brain is on a productivity roll.
Limber is good for those who want that quick reminder with nothing more. Posture Minder adds a few more layers to those notifications, and includes some funny or snarky messages too.
The app lets you customize how many minutes pass between the separate reminders for posture check and for walks. It also tackles how you close that notification box. By default, you can have the notification disappear after 20 seconds. But if you want to really force yourself, then use the option to physically close it, and discipline yourself to close it only after you have fixed your posture. It might also help to get yourself one of the better office chairs for back problems.
We’ve already seen how apps like Carrot for weather elevate their service by adding attitude to the notification. It looks and feels nicer than the common robotic messages from apps. Posture Minder uses a similar strategy for its notifications too, making it more charming to use.
Your coworkers or friends probably point out when you slouch while using the computer. How about if your Mac did that too? Nekoze is a cute app that uses the webcam on your Mac computer or laptop to figure out when your posture is weak.
Nekoze can be a little intense at first, so I’d recommend changing the settings to make it more lenient. Every time your posture Isn’t correct, a pop-up notification of a cat will tell you to straighten up. There are different cat emojis, all of which probably mean different things, but you don’t need to guess that since a text message tells you what’s wrong. Remember, sitting up straight isn’t best either.
The only real issue with Nekoze is that it drains your battery. You are basically keeping your webcam on all the time, which means it consumes battery on laptops. But that’s not a concern if you’re on an iMac or Mac Pro.
Using phones and computers throw us into a hunchback posture quite often. There’s a simple three-minute exercise to fix this. But prevention is always better than cure, so download the Simply Align app on your iPhone nonetheless.
Made by the Canada-based Simply Align rehabilitation center, the app sends periodic reminders to fix your posture. As you probably know, it’s better to lift your arm and bring your phone at eye height, than to bend your neck and look down at your phone.
Sometimes, it feels like the app is nagging you for no reason. But you know what? It’s better that it fixes your posture even 50% of the time you see the notification, considering how your phone damages your neck.
Posture (Android): Gyroscope Sensor to Fix How You Hold a Phone
Like Nekoze, Posture actually makes use of the technology in your device to help improve your health. The app uses the gravity sensor in Android phones to figure out how the phone is being held, and shows an on-screen logo if you’re holding it wrong.
It’s pretty cool when you use it. You can choose how strict you want the app to be, and how regularly it should check. You can even customize the notifications, although some of the options need you to buy the premium version. But don’t bother with that, the free version of Posture gets the job done.
When you get an alert, hold your head up and look straight ahead, and then bring the phone up to your eye level. That’s the best way to hold it and fix your posture.
If you operate a laptop instead of a desktop, you probably use it everywhere: on the sofa, in bed, while commuting, and so on. But how you prop it up is the most important thing, especially when lying down. Don’t put your neck on the line, check out the ideal posture to use a laptop.
Don’t want to get pregnant? There’s a Food and Drug Administration approved app for that. The FDA has just given the go ahead for Swedish app Natural Cycles to market itself as a form of birth control in the U.S. Natural Cycles was already in use as a way to prevent pregnancy in certain European […]
Don’t want to get pregnant? There’s a Food and Drug Administration approved app for that. The FDA has just given the go ahead for Swedish app Natural Cycles to market itself as a form of birth control in the U.S.
Natural Cycles was already in use as a way to prevent pregnancy in certain European countries. However, this is the first time a so-called ‘digital contraceptive’ has been approved in America.
The app works using an algorithm based on data given by women using the app such as daily body temperature and monthly menstrual cycles. It then calculates the exact window of days each month a woman is most fertile and therefore likely to conceive. Women can then see which days the app recommends they should avoid having sex or use protection to avoid getting pregnant.
Tracking your cycle to determine a fertile window has long been used to either become pregnant or avoid conceiving. However, Natural Cycles put a scientific spin on the age-old method by evaluating over 15,000 women to determine its algorithm had an effectiveness rate with a margin of error of 1.8 percent for “perfect use” and a 6 percent failure rate for “typical use.”
What that means is almost two in every 100 women could likely conceive on a different date than the calculated fertile window. That’s not exactly fool-proof but it is higher than many other contraceptive methods. A condom, for instance, has an 18 percent margin of error rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
And though the app makers were able to convince the FDA of its effectiveness, at least one hospital in Stockholm has opened an investigation with Sweden’s Medical Products Agency (MPA) after it recorded 37 unwanted pregnancies among women who said they had been using the app as their contraception method.
“Consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly,” assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health Terri Cornelison said in a statement.
However, she also acknowledged there was a margin of error in the app’s algorithm and other contraceptive methods. “Women should know that no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device,” she said.
Technology and advances in science are rapidly changing the field of medicine. But no matter what we can cure or alleviate, it’s only effective if you take your dosage on time. Instead of trying to remember every pill, use apps and services to remind you. Please make sure you see a doctor to get prescriptions. While there are safe ways to research health issues online, you still shouldn’t take any medication without consulting a medical professional. In fact, the wrong medication might cause more problems than you foresee. My Therapy (Android, iOS): Simplest Pill Tracker, With History Logs Those who…
Technology and advances in science are rapidly changing the field of medicine. But no matter what we can cure or alleviate, it’s only effective if you take your dosage on time. Instead of trying to remember every pill, use apps and services to remind you.
Please make sure you see a doctor to get prescriptions. While there are safe ways to research health issues online, you still shouldn’t take any medication without consulting a medical professional. In fact, the wrong medication might cause more problems than you foresee.
My Therapy (Android, iOS): Simplest Pill Tracker, With History Logs
Those who want a clean, light and simple app should first check out My Therapy. It is the app for anyone who wants to add the name of a medication, measurement, lab value, activity, or symptom check.
You don’t get to add other information in My Therapy, such as what the pill looks like. There are other apps for that. My Therapy keeps it much simpler, with just a name and an alarm. Keep taking your medicine and doing your other health checks, and the app will record all the data.
You can see your weekly history for free, but monthly and annual history needs a premium account. You can also add friends and doctors to the app, generate email reports, and do a lot more. But honestly, if you want all those features, the premium version of MediSafe might be better for you. My Therapy is ideal as a free pill reminder.
MediSafe (Android, iOS): Track Your Pills, and Others’ Dosage Too
Veteran technology journalist David Pogue conducted the most extensive review of pill reminder apps. After checking out 47 different apps, he thinks MediSafe is the best, so who are we to disagree?
MediSafe does everything right. It’s simple to use and to set up, you can add the pill’s shape and color too, and get that reminder at the right time. You can even snooze reminders to pop up again an hour later, in case you’re not able to take your pills at the exact time of the reminder.
But MediSafe’s best part is that it allows you to add “dependents” and their dosage. So if your loved ones are bad at taking their medicine on time, create a profile for them and add their schedule. You can even install MediSafe on their phone and link both your apps, so you can set up the alerts, while the reminder notifications pop up on both phones.
Some of MediSafe’s features are only available in the premium version, and if you are taking charge of medicines for your entire family, it would be worth it. But nonetheless, try the free version first.
Gamification is the process of trying to lead your daily life as if it were a game. So you earn points for doing the right thing and lose points for messing up. Gamification can change your life for the better, so Mango Health is bringing it to the process of taking medicine on time.
Once you set up adding your medicine, it will send reminders like any other such app. Confirm and get points every time you take the medicine on time or even do other healthy habits like checking your blood pressure, drinking water, etc. You also get a neat history of every task you have or haven’t done. The points you earn can be encashed in gift cards, or donated to charitable organizations. These are just some of the features that make Mango Health one of the best medicine reminders for iPhone and Apple Watch.
For American users, Mango Health also warns you when you add two medications that can react with each other. But this works only with American drugs, mind you.
Don’t you love it when technology makes your life easier in a magical way? If you have a pill that you can’t identify, you don’t need to go to the pharmacy anymore. Just point your phone’s camera at it.
ID My Pill is exactly what you expect it to be. Put a pill on a blank surface, take a photo with the app, and it will give you possible names for what the pill could be. The smart app basically identifies the shape, color, and imprint of the pill, and matches it with a database. You won’t always get a 100% match, but you can narrow down what it is with a little common sense.
It’s one of the easiest ways to identify different types of drugs, especially since most websites make you type out the text, shape, and color of the pill. Unfortunately, none of the Android apps we tried were good enough to pass this test, so this feature is for iPhone users only, for now.
Any.Do or Todoist (All Platforms): Regular Reminder Apps Still Help
Specialized pill tracking apps are great, but they are completely dependent on your phone. I didn’t find any app that was available on a phone as well as a computer. At best, some of them offered email reminders, but can you imagine how annoying that would make your inbox?
That’s why you should still consider using a plain old to-do list or reminder app, like MakeUseOf favorites Any.Do or Todoist. When you’re at work and put your phone on silent, it would be nice to get a quick notification in Chrome or a desktop app that tells you to take your pills.
Use any app you want, but make sure it works across all the platforms you use. You want to get a notification when it’s time to take your pills, and not miss out because your phone wasn’t at hand.
Before You Buy Medicines Online
Much like everything else, you can now purchase medicines online and have them delivered to your home. You don’t need to go to your local pharmacist. But while this is convenient, it is fraught with its own risks. Before you buy medicines online, read these safety tips.
There are no secrets in consumer electronics anymore. Sometimes it’s the fault of flubs and flaws and leakers. Sometimes it’s by design. In the case of the Galaxy Note 9, it’s a little bit of both. The Galaxy S9 wasn’t the blockbuster Samsung’s shareholders were expecting, so the company understandably primed the pump through a […]
There are no secrets in consumer electronics anymore. Sometimes it’s the fault of flubs and flaws and leakers. Sometimes it’s by design. In the case of the Galaxy Note 9, it’s a little bit of both.
The Galaxy S9 wasn’t the blockbuster Samsung’s shareholders were expecting, so the company understandably primed the pump through a combination of teasers and leaks — some no doubt unintentional and others that seemed suspiciously less so.
By the time yesterday’s big event at Brooklyn’s house that Jay-Z built rolled around, we knew just about everything we needed to know about the upcoming handset, and virtually every leaked spec proved accurate. Sure, the company amazingly managed to through in a surprise or two, but the event was all about the Note.
And understandably so. The phablet, along with the Galaxy S line, forms the cornerstone of Samsung’s entire consumer approach. It’s a portfolio that expands with each event, to include wearables, productivity, the smart home, automotive, a smart assistant and now the long-awaited smart speaker. None of which would make a lick of sense without the handsets.
If the Galaxy S is Samsung’s tentpole device, the Note represents what the company has deemed its “innovation brand,” the uber-premium device that allows the company to push the limits of its mobile hardware. In past generations, that’s meant the Edge display (curving screen), S-Pen, giant screen and dual-camera. That innovation, naturally, comes at a price.
Here it’s $1,000. It’s a price that, until a year ago seemed impossibly steep for a smartphone. For the Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, that’s just where things start. Any hopes that the new model might represent a move toward the mainstream for the line in the wake of an underwhelming S9 performance can be put to rest here.
The Note is what it’s always been and will likely always continue to be: a device for the diehard. A very good device, mind, but one for those with an arm and or a leg to spare. Most of the good new features will trickle their way down the food chain to the company’s more mainstream device. At $720/$840, the S9 isn’t a budget phone by any stretch of the imagination, but at the very least, keeping it to three digits seems a little more palatable.
A good rule of thumb for a hardware review is incorporating the product into one’s own life as much as possible. It’s a pretty easy ask with a device like the Note 9, which has the advantage of great hardware and software design built upon the learnings and missteps of several generations.
It’s still not perfect by any means, and the company’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to the line means there are plenty of features that never really made their may into my routine. And while, as the largely unchanged product design suggests — the Note 9 doesn’t represent a hugely significant milestone in the product line — there are enough tweaks throughout the product to maintain its place toward the top of the Android heap.
All charged up
Let’s address the gorilla in the room here. Two years ago, Galaxy Notes started exploding. Samsung recalled the devices, started selling them, more exploded and they recalled them again, ultimately discontinuing the product.
Samsung apologized profusely and agreed to institute more rigorous safety checks. For the next few devices, the company didn’t rock the boat. Battery sizes on Galaxy products stayed mostly the same. It was a combination of pragmatism and optics. The company needed time to ensure that future products wouldn’t suffer the same fate, while demonstrating to the public and shareholders that it was doing due diligence.
“What we want to do is a tempered approach to innovation any time,” Samsung’s director of Product Strategy and Marketing told me ahead of launch, “so this was the right time to increase the battery to meet consumer needs.”
Given Samsung’s massive business as a component manufacturer, the whole fiasco ultimately didn’t dent the bottom line. In fact, in a strange way, it might ultimately be a net positive. Now it can boast about having one of the most rigorous battery testing processes in the business. Now it’s a feature, not a bug.
At 4,000mAh, the Note 9 features a 700mAh increase above its predecessor. It’s not an unprecedented number — Huawei’s already hit the 4,000 mark — but it’s the largest ever on a Note device, putting the handset in the top percentile.
As far as how that actually translates to real-world usage, Samsung’s not giving a number yet. The company simply says “all day and all night” in its release. I found that to be pretty close to the truth. I unplugged the handset at 100 percent yesterday afternoon. I texted, listened to Spotify, took photos, downloaded and just generally attempted to live my life on the damn thing.
Just under 22 hours later, it gave up the ghost and after much notification-based consternation about a critically low battery, the screen went black. Like I said, it’s not crazy battery life, but going most of a full day and night without a charge is a nice little luxury — and the sort of thing all phone makers should strive to achieve on their flagship products.
The company also, kindly, included the new Wireless Charging Duo. The charging pad is not quite as ambitious as the AirPower, but unlike that product, introduced nearly a year ago by Apple, I have this in my hands right now. So, point: Samsung. Charging the device from zero to 100 percent took three hours on the dot with the $120 “Fast Charge” pad. And it’s nice and toasty now.
Okay, about that price. Again, we’re talking $999.99 to start. There’s also a second SKU. That one will run you $1,295.99. Take a moment if you need to.
That’s a silly amount of money if you’re not the starting point guard for the Golden State Warriors. So much for the rumors that the company would be working to make its devices more economically accessible. And while the premium hardware has always meant that the Galaxy line is going to remain on the pricey side, I can’t help but point out that a few key decisions could have kept the price down, while maintaining build quality.
Storage is arguably the primary culprit. The aforementioned two SKUs give you either 6GB of RAM with 128GB or 8GB of RAM with 512GB. With cloud syncing and the rest, it’s hard to imagine I would come close to that limit in the two or so years until the time comes to upgrade my handset.
I’m sure those sorts of crazy media-hoarding power users do, in fact, exist in the world, but they’re undoubtedly a rarity. Besides, as Samsung helpfully pointed out, 512GB SD cards already exist in the world. Sure, that’s another $350 tacked onto the bottom line, but it’s there, if you need it. For most users, it’s hard to see Samsung’s claim of having “the world’s first 1TB-ready smartphone” (512GB+512GB) exists for little more reason than racking up yet another flashy claim for the 1960s Batman utility belt of smartphones.
Sure, Samsung no doubt gets a deal on Samsung-built hard drives, but the component has to be a key part in what’s driving costs up. For a company as driven by choice as Samsung, I’m honestly surprised we’re not getting more options up front here in the States.
Confession: After testing many Galaxy Note models over the course of many years, I’ve never figured out a great use for the S-Pen. I mean, I’m happy that people like it, and obviously all of the early skepticism about the return of the stylus was quickly put to rest, as the company has continued to go back to the well, year after year.
But all of the handwritten note taking and animated GIF drawing just isn’t for me, man. I also recently spoke to an artist friend who told me that the Note doesn’t really cut it for him on the drawing front, either. Again, if you like or love it, more power to you, but it’s just not for me.
As silly as the idea of using the S-Pen as a remote control might appear at first glance, however, it’s clear to me that this is the first use of the built-in accessory I could honestly see using on a daily basis. It’s handy once you get beyond the silliness of holding a stylus in your hand while running, and serves as a handy surrogate for those who don’t own a compatible smartwatch.
The S-Pen now sports Bluetooth Low Energy, allowing it to control different aspects of phone use. Low Energy or not, that tech requires power, so the stylus now contains a super conductor, which charges it when slotted inside the phone; 40 seconds of charging should get you a healthy 30 minutes of use. Even so, the phone will bug you to remind you that you really ought to dock the thing when not in use.
The compatible apps are still fairly limited at launch, but it’s enough to demonstrate how this could be a handy little addition. Of the bunch, I got the most out of music control for Spotify. One click plays/pauses a song, and a double-click extends the track. Sure, it’s limited functionality, but it saved me from having to fiddle with the phone to change songs went I went for my run this morning.
You’ll need to be a bit more creative when determining usefulness in some of the other apps. Using it as a shutter button in the camera app, for instance, could be a useful way to take a selfie without having to hold the phone at arms’ length.
The entire time, I wondered what one might be able to accomplish with additional buttons (volume/rewind/gameplay)? What about a pedometer to track steps when you’re running on the treadmill without it in the pocket? Or even a beacon to help absent-minded folks like myself find it after we invariably drop it between couch cushions.
But yeah, I understand why the company would choose to keep things simple for what remains a sort of secondary functionality. Or, heck, maybe the company just needs to hold some features for the Note 10 (Note X?).
Oh, and the Blue and Lavender versions of the phone come in striking yellow and purple S-Pens, with lock-screen ink color to match. So that’s pretty fun.
Hey man, nice shot
Nowhere is the Note’s cumulative evolution better represented than the camera. Each subsequent Galaxy S and Note release seem to offer new hardware and/or software upgrades, giving the company two distinct opportunities per year to improve imaging for the line. The S9, announced back in February, notably brought improved low-light photography to the line. The dual aperture flips between f/1.5 and f/2.4, to let in more light.
It’s a neat trick for a smartphone. Behold, a head to head between the Note 9 (left) and iPhone X (right):
Here’s what we’re dealing with on the hardware front:
Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
Wide-angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF, F1.5/F2.4, OIS
Telephoto: 12MP AF, F2.4, OIS
2X optical zoom, up to 10X digital zoom
Front: 8MP AF, F1.7
This time out, the improvements are mostly on the software side of things. Two features in particular stand out: Scene Optimizer and Flaw Detection. The first should prove familiar to those who’ve been paying attention to the smartphone game of late. LG is probably the most prominent example.
Camera hardware is pretty great across the board of most modern smartphone flagships. As such, these new features are designed to eliminate the current weakest link: human error. Scene Optimizer saves amateur photographers from having to futz with more advanced settings like white balance and saturation.
The feature uses AI to determine what the camera is seeing, and adjusts settings accordingly. There are 20 different settings, including: Food, Portraits, Flowers, Indoor scenes, Animals, Landscapes, Greenery, Trees, Sky, Mountains, Beaches, Sunrises and sunsets, Watersides, Street scenes, Night scenes, Waterfalls, Snow, Birds, Backlit and Text.
Some are pretty general, others are weirdly specific, but it’s a good mix, and I suspect Samsung will continue to add to it through OTA updates. That said, the function itself doesn’t need a cloud connection, doing all of the processing on-board. The feature worked well with most of the flowers and food I threw at it (so to speak), popping up a small icon in the bottom of the screen to let me know that it knows what it’s looking at. It also did well with book text.
The success rate of other things, like trees, were, unsurprisingly, dependent on context. Get just the top part and it identifies it as “Greenery.” Flip the phone to portrait mode and get the whole of the trunk and it pops up the “Tree” icon. I did get a few false positives along the way; the Note 9 thought my fingers were food, which is deeply disturbing for any number of reasons.
[Without Scene Optimizer – left, With Scene Optimizer – right]
Obviously, it’s not going to be perfect. I found, in the case of flowers that it has the tendency to oversaturate the colors. If you agree, you can disable the feature in settings. However, you have to do this before the shot is taken. There’s no way to manually override the feature to tell it what kind of object you’re shooting. That seems like a bit of a no-brainer addition.
[Super slow-mo matcha under the flicking lights]
Flaw Detection serves a similar role as Scene Optimizer, helping you avoid getting in your own way as an amateur photog. The feature is designed to alert you if a shot is blurry, if there’s a smudge on the screen, if the subject blinked or if backlighting is making everything look crappy. In the case of lens smudging and backlighting, it only bothers with a single alert every 24 hours.
The blink detection worked well. Blur detection, on the other hand, was a bit more of a crap shoot for subjects in motion and those that were too close to the lens to get a good focus. The feature could use a bit of work, but I still think it’s one of the more compelling additions on the whole of the device and anticipate a lot of other companies introducing their own versions in the coming year.
The more the Note changes, the more it stays the same, I suppose. As expected, the design language hasn’t changed much, which is no doubt part of what made Samsung CEO DJ Koh think he could get away with using the device in public ahead of launch. The footprint is virtually the same in spite of the ever-so-slightly larger screen (6.3 > 6.4-inches, same 2,960 x 1,440 resolution) — from 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm on the 8, to 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm on the 9.
That’s perfectly fine. Samsung’s done an impressive job cramming a lot of screen into a manageable footprint over the past several gens. The only major change (aside from the lovely new blue and purple paint jobs) is the migration of the fingerprint sensor from the side of the camera to underneath it.
This was a clear instance of Samsung responding to feedback from users frustrated by all the times they mistook the camera for the fingerprint reader. The new placement helps a bit, though it’s still fairly close to the camera, and the fact that both are similar shapes doesn’t help matters. Thank goodness for that new smudge detector.
Oh, and the headphone jack is still present, because of course it is. For Samsung, it’s an important way to distinguish the product and approach from a world gone dongle mad.
Note on Notes
Oh Bixby, you eternal bastion of unfulfilled potential. A full rundown of new features can be found here. Overall, the smart assistant promises to be more conversational, with better concierge features. That said, Samsung’s once again tweaking it until the last moment, so I can’t offer you a full review until closer to the phone’s August 24 street date.
So stay tuned for that, I guess. I will say that the setup process can be a bit of a slog for a feature designed to make everything easier. Playing with Bixby voice required me to navigate several pages in order to connect the two. Thankfully, you should only have to deal with that the one time.
Samsung’s continuing to tweak the internals to make its device more suitable for gaming. The water-carbon cooling system tweaks the liquid cooling system found on the device since the S7, to help diffuse heat more efficiently. The large, bright screen meanwhile, is well-suited to mobile gaming, and the 6GB model handled Fortnite fairly well.
A final note
The next smartphone revolution always seems to be a year away. The potential arrival of a Samsung device with a foldable display makes the notion of carrying a massive device around in one’s pocket almost quaint. For the time being, however, the Note remains one of the best methods for transporting a whole lot of screen around on your person.
A lot has changed about the Note in the past seven years, but the core of the device is mostly the same: big screen and stylus coming together to walk the line between productivity and entertainment. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s too expensive for a lot of us. But it remains the phablet to beat.