The Best Smartwatches for 2021

Think it's time to upgrade your traditional watch by adding some apps and notifications to your wrist? Here are the features to look for, along with the top-rated smartwatches we've tested.

Credits : pcmag.com

Bringing Brains to Your Wrist

The infamous calculator watch has been around since the 1970s, but smartwatches have finally reached the point that they're, well, smart. From running apps, to displaying smartphone notifications, to monitoring your heart rate, the latest crop of smartwatches do a lot more than just tell time. But which one should you buy? We've rounded up our top-rated options to help you decide. It's also important to know what to look for, so keep the following advice in mind when shopping around.

Pick a Watch That Works With Your Phone

Naturally, the first thing you'll want to consider when buying a smartwatch is compatibility. Most of the devices currently available use Wear OS, Google's operating system for wearables. Wear OS supports iOS, but make sure to find out if the features you want are available on iOS before buying in. Fitbit OS and Samsung's Tizen also support both Android and iOS. The Apple Watch, as you'd expect, connects strictly to iOS-powered devices, so it's iPhone-only. Make sure to pick a watch that's compatible with the mobile device you own.

Galaxy Watch3

Samsung Galaxy Watch3

What About Apps?

What separates a smartwatch from a dumb watch? Lots of things, but as smartphones have taught us, apps might be the most important.

Most of the watches we like feature full-fledged app stores, bringing everything from Uber and Yelp to—yes, a calculator—to your wrist. Much like smartphones, app availability is a good way to determine which product to get, so make sure to check out the app selection for each watch before buying in.

And if you're looking for apps, right now Apple is your best bet. The Apple Watch has the largest number of high-quality apps and big-name developers, by far. Wear OS also has its fair share, and Fitbit OS is catching up, but developer interest definitely seems to be in Apple first. Samsung's Tizen still doesn't seem to be on the radar for most major developers.

Apple Watch Series 6 and SE

Apple Watch Series 6 and SE

Fitness Tracker vs. Smartwatch

Unless you want a gadget on both of your wrists (not the best look, in my opinion), you'll want a smartwatch that can do double duty as a fitness tracker—or any other wearable gadget you were thinking about getting. Most smartwatches are capable of tracking basic activity, like steps, but you need to pay close attention to any additional features.

The Apple Watch Series 6, for instance, features GPS so it can track your runs without the help of a companion device. It also has a heart rate sensor. Not only that, but an ECG function allows you to generate a PDF of your heart rhythm you can share with your doctor, and an SpO2 sensor that measures your blood oxygen saturation level on demand. The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 also offers ECG and SpO2 apps. Of course, they're the two most expensive products on this list. The Fitbit Versa 3 costs less and tracks plenty of fitness and sleep metrics, but has less in the way of third-party apps, so there's some trade-off.

Look closely and choose a watch that tracks the activities and health metrics you want to monitor.

Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3

Cellular Connectivity

A cellular connection allows you to make calls, send texts, stream music, download apps, and do anything else that requires an internet connection, without actually needing to be connected to your phone. The cellular Apple Watch Series 6 carries a $100 premium over the standard version, and you also have to pay to add it to your phone plan—most carriers charge an additional $10 per month.

Whether this convenience is worth it for you depends on what you plan to use your watch for. If you want to be able to stream music while you exercise, but you want to leave your phone back in the locker room or at home, a cellular connection can certainly come in handy. If you always have your phone on you, however, you can probably save the money and skip it.

Battery Life

You don't want a smartwatch with good battery life, right? Good, because you're not going to get it. Watches with full-color, smartphone-like displays, like the Apple Watch and Wear OS watches, only last for about a day on a single charge. Features like always-on displays and GPS tracking are handy, but they drain battery life quickly.

The Series 6 only gets around 18 hours of battery life, so you’ll need to find some time to charge it during the day if you plan to use the sleep tracking feature. That could mean sacrificing some activity tracking during the day.

In general, you'll get the best battery life with one of the Fitbit watches. They typically last around four days before needing a charge. That means you can wear them to bed to track your sleep, something you can't do with a watch that needs to be charged every night.

Price

Smartwatches can be very expensive, but that doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money to get a good one. Yes, the Apple Watch Herm├Ęs is sure to draw a lot of attention, but at $1,249 (and up), you can buy six Fitbit Versas. If you're a first-time smartwatch buyer, you might want to think about going the less-expensive route, in case you wind up not wearing it all that much.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

The Best Android Watch

Now that Google has changed the name of Android Wear to Wear OS, and Wear OS supports both Android and iOS, Android watches are no longer really a thing. There are more Wear OS watches on the market than any other kind.

There are also far more styles to choose from. If you buy an Apple Watch, you're limited to a selection of proprietary bands if you want to swap out the original for a customized look (although Apple offers plenty). Many Wear OS watches support standard watch straps, making your options virtually limitless. Not only that, but the selection of watches themselves is far more diverse than the one-design-fits-all Apple Watch.

So while Wear OS still lags behind the Apple Watch in terms of simplicity and app selection, it's far more flexible when it comes to pricing and features. But pay close attention to the reviews, because not all Wear OS watches are created equal.

Buy It for Looks, Don't Buy It for Life

Let's not forget: You're also going to wear this thing. And unlike your Timex, it's probably not going to remain in style for years. Smartwatch design is rapidly changing, so hold out until you find something you actually want to wear. And keep in mind that smartwatches are still gadgets. The coming year is sure to bring new iterations of pretty much every watch on this list, not to mention plenty of completely new ones.

The battle for wrist real estate is quickly heating up. That's good news for consumers, since it's likely to result in even better—and better-looking—devices. I wouldn't be surprised if this list reads completely differently the next time you see it. But if you're looking for the best smartwatch available today, the options here are the finest we've seen so far. For the latest reviews, see our Smartwatch Product Guide.


Top smart watches (Ordered by Ratings) : 

  1. Apple Watch Series 5
  2. Fitbit Versa 2
  3. Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS, 40mm)
  4. Apple Watch Series 3
  5. Fitbit Versa 3
  6. Fitbit Ionic Fitness Tracker
  7. Fitbit Versa Lite
  8. Apple Watch SE (2020)
  9. Fossil Sport
  10. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active





How to Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots When Travelling

Free, public Wi-Fi access points are popping up in more and more places around the world. They’re extra useful when travelling, as you won’t have your home Wi-Fi network and may not want to pay for international mobile data.

These tips will help you find Wi-Fi hotspots on the go, whether you’re travelling to a foreign country or just to the other side of your home city.

Two Restaurant Chains That (Almost) Always Have Free Wi-Fi

If you want free Wi-Fi, keep an eye out for a Starbucks or a McDonald’s restaurant. These two chains have a huge number of locations all over the world, and they both consistently provide free Wi-Fi. Whatever you think of their coffee and food, their free Wi-Fi is good — and you generally don’t even have to buy anything, as you can just log right in. Of course, it’s probably polite to make a purchase if you’re going to be taking up a seat and using their Wi-Fi for a while.

These are far from the only restaurants with free Wi-Fi, but a Starbucks or McDonald’s is easy to spot from a distance and will probably have free Wi-Fi when you get there.


starbucks

More Places With Free Wi-Fi

Public libraries often offer free, open Wi-Fi access points, too. Cities may also host their own free Wi-Fi networks, which you may be able to find in public parks or just on the street in more active districts of the city. Even a shopping mall might offer free Wi-Fi across the entire mall.
Smaller coffee shops may offer their own Wi-Fi access points. Wi-Fi is becoming more and more common — everything from restaurants to grocery stores  to department stores are offering their own hotspots.

Hotels may provide free open Wi-Fi networks to their guests, so you may be able to sit in a hotel lobby or parking lot and use their Wi-Fi for a bit if they don’t require a code to log on. This is becoming rarer as hotels and motels lock down their Wi-Fi networks with access codes. Many airports also provide free Wi-Fi — but many airports still don’t provide free Wi-Fi. It depends which airports you’re traveling through.

This free Wi-Fi isn’t always “free” — for example, if it’s offered in a restaurant, you’ll have to buy something so you can sit in that restaurant and use their Wi-Fi. Some independent coffee shops and restaurants may require you purchase something before getting a login code. But, if you’re travelling, there’s a good chance you’ll want to stop for some food or a coffee anyway.

If you’re walking down a street looking for Wi-FI, keep an eye out for the “Wi-Fi” logo sign on a businesses’ window, which will tell you whether that business has free Wi-Fi.


free-wi-fi-hotspot-sign 

Locate Nearby Wi-Fi Hotspots With an App

If you want help finding free Wi-Fi hotspots, the Wi-Fi Finder app — available for both Android and iOS — can help. When you install and first run this app, it downloads a database of free and paid Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. You can then open the app when you don’t have an Internet connection and use it offline. The app will use your GPS location and show nearby free Wi-Fi hotspots on a map. Install it ahead of time and launch it if you ever need a point in the right direction when you’re looking for a Wi-Fi hotspot. You can also search for a location anywhere in the world and see where free Wi-Fi hotspots may be available, if you want to plan ahead. The app isn’t perfect and not all the listings may be up-to-date, but it’s still helpful.

wi-fi-finder-app-on-android

Your ISP Might Help

If you pay for Internet access at home, your Internet service provider might have a network of Wi-Fi hotspots you can use. For example, Comcast has been turning its home routers into public hotspots that other Comcast customers can use. If you’re an Xfinity customer, you can log into any Xfinity hotspot and use it for free. These hotspots are becoming more widespread as Comcast rolls out routers that turn people’s home networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots.

This practice is already more widespread in some European countries and other countries outside the US, so be sure to check your ISP and see if they offer a free network of hotspots for you. Of course, this only works if you’re travelling within your own country — you won’t find a network of Xfinity hotspots outside the USA.


xfinity-wifi-sign 

Get More Time on Time-Limited Hotspots

Some free Wi-Fi hotspots only provide you with a few free minutes before demanding you pay up. We’ve seen this time-limited method used at several airports. Luckily, there’s usually a way around this so you can get more free Wi-Fi time without paying.

The network generally identifies your device by its MAC address, and it will refuse to offer more free Wi-Fi time to you if it recognizes your device’s MAC address. So, to get more free Wi-Fi time, you can change your device’s MAC address and then reconnect to the Wi-Fi access point. The access point should see your device as a new device and give it more free time. If it doesn’t, you may also need to clear your browser cookies.

If you have any queries/feedback, please write it in comments section below OR mail me here : Snehal[at]Techproceed[dot]com.

Happy Surfing !!  :-)

How to Run a Full Linux Desktop in a Browser Tab on Your Chromebook

 
 
Crouton is the best way to run Linux alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. Now it’s even better — you can run that Linux desktop in a browser tab.

This isn’t official Google software, but the extension itself was created by David Schneider, Crouton developer and Google employee. It’s as close as you’re going to get!

How It Works

This method requires a full Crouton installation. The Linux system isn’t actually running in a browser tab. It’s running on your Chromebook’s system as it is with Crouton. The browser tab just provides a “window” to that Linux desktop so you don’t have to switch back and forth with keyboard shortcuts.
It’s a bit like VNC or another remote-desktop solution — but better. The browser tab runs software that connects to the desktop Linux system running in the background and makes it available to you in a typical Chrome OS window.



This still requires the usual Crouton installation process — it just means that Linux system can be used much more easily and in a more integrated way afterwards.

This method also adds a few more bonuses. Your Chrome OS clipboard will synchronize back and forth with your Linux system (known as a “chroot”) and links you click in the Linux environment can be loaded in standard Chrome OS browser tabs.

Install Crouton on Your Chromebook

First, you’ll need to have Crouton installed. This involves enabling Developer Mode on your Chromebook and then running the appropriate command to download and install the Linux desktop software you want to use.

Follow our guide to installing Linux on your Chromebook with Crouton if you need more details. Be sure to install the “xiwi” or “extension” target of Crouton. For example, run the following command to install the Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty) Linux system with the Xfce desktop and support for running in a browser tab:
sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t xfce,xiwi
Wait a while for the script to download and install the Linux software after running the command. Provide a username and password when prompted, and check the official documentation if you need help with anything else.

Install the Browser Extension

Your Crouton Linux system should now be installed. Typically, you’d launch it from the terminal and then switch between it and your Chrome OS desktop with specific keyboard shortcuts. That’s more convenient than rebooting to switch between the two environments, but the browser extension here makes it even more convenient.

Install the Crouton Integration extension from the Chrome Web Store on your Chromebook. Next, start the Linux system by opening a shell and running the appropriate command. For example, if you installed the Xfce desktop, you could press Ctrl+Alt+T, type shell and press Enter, and then type sudo startxfce4 and press Enter.


Do whatever you like with the Crouton tab or window. You can have the Linux system in a full-screen browser tab, or put it in a window and move it wherever you want on your screen. The Linux desktop can be resized on the fly — just by resizing the window

If you have a large enough screen, you could even use split-screen mode, viewing your Linux desktop on one half of the screen and Chrome OS applications and browser windows on the other half.



Full desktop Linux systems open up a lot of possibilities, from using powerful developer tools and standard UNIX commands to playing games like Minecraft and the many games available on Steam for Linux. Web developers could even use this trick to run Firefox directly on their Chromebooks in a browser tab so they can see how their websites render in a different browser. Now all of it can be done right on the Chrome OS desktop without all the switching back and forth.

If you have any queries/feedback, please write it in comments section below OR mail me here : Snehal[at]Techproceed[dot]com.

Happy Linuxing !!  :-)

Block Ads in All Your Android Apps Without Root or Extra Battery Drain

If you're in the market for a non-root ad-blocker, developer Julian Klode has an app that you'll definitely want to check out. It uses Android's VPN system in a similar manner to alternative apps like NetGuard and AdGuard, but it's got a new twist that should save lots of battery life in the process.

Unlike its competitors, Klode's ad-blocking app works at the DNS level, meaning that it only filters traffic for a brief moment when connections are first made, which is where all of the battery saving comes into play. To top that off, it's completely free and open-source, so it's an instant contender for best no-root ad-blocker.

Requirements
 
  1. Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher
  2. "Unknown sources" enabled 

Step 1 Install DNS66

The app that will block all ads on your non-rooted device without excess battery drain is called DNS66, and it's available for free on the F-Droid Repository. This site is a trusted home for free and open-source Android apps, so tap the following link from your Android phone or tablet to begin:
Download DNS66 from the F-Droid Open-Source Repository

From there, scroll down to the Packages section on the page, then tap the link that says "download apk." Next, simply tap the Download complete notification to launch the APK, then press "Install" when prompted.




Step 2 Choose Domain Filters

When you first launch the app, you'll be greeted by a set-up guide. Read through that if you'd like, but I'll cover the process below anyway.

To start, head to the Domain Filters tab at the bottom of the screen. From here, you'll have to pick at least one ad-blocking hosts file, which is basically a list of known ad servers that the DNS66 will block for you. I'd recommend selecting only the "Adaway hosts file" here, and you can do that by tapping the red dot to the left of this entry. When you've successfully enabled an ad-blocking hosts file, the adjacent dot will turn green.




Step 3Enable the VPN Service

From here, head back to the Start / Stop tab from the bottom menu, then tap the refresh icon near the top of the screen. At this point, you'll see a notification that tells you the hosts file is downloading, so wait for that to finish. When it's done, long-press the power icon in the center of your screen to enable the VPN ad-blocking service, then press "OK" on the popup.






Step 4 Enjoy Your Favorite Apps Without Ads


From now on, ads will be blocked in your browser, as well as all of your other apps, thanks to DNS66's VPN service. When the service is active, you'll see a small key icon in your status bar, which should now be present at all times:


 
 
 
(1) IMDB app before DNS66. 
(2) IMDB app after DNS66 (note the key icon in the status bar).

Unlike other VPN-based ad-blockers, DNS66 blocks ads at the DNS level. This means that only DNS traffic is redirected through DNS66 and filtered for ads, as opposed to the method employed in similar apps, which filters all data traffic for ads.

What this boils down to is that all ads will be blocked system-wide—but, because only the tiniest bit of data is being filtered, DNS66 has a very minimal battery footprint. Compared to a similar app in Adguard (which filters ads in all traffic), you can see that DNS66 doesn't even show up in my battery stats, whereas Adguard ranks at the top of battery-draining apps:


 
 
(1) Battery stats with Adguard (at the top). 
(2) Battery stats with DNS66 (not listed as a battery-draining app at all).