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Updated processors, a price drop and an excellent new keyboard only add to this fantastic traditional laptop

Apples latest MacBook Air has a new, fixed and more satisfying keyboard, improved processors and gets a price drop.

From the outside essentially nothing has changed. The new 2020 MacBook Air looks just like the revamped machine launched in 2018, except it costs 200 less than its predecessor, with the base model starting at 999.

In a world filled with convertibles, 2-in-1s and fancy tablet computers, the MacBook Air stands apart as an attractive design that is the pinnacle of the traditional laptop form. An instant classic.

The MacBook Air remains one of the sleekest premium-looking laptops available. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

If you had a pair of callipers you might be able to tell that the new MacBook Air is 0.5mm thicker and 40g heavier than the old one, but theres a good reason for that: a new keyboard thats just a smidgen thicker. More on that in a moment.

The 13.3in screen is crisp and beautiful, now supporting Apples True Tone technology, which adjusts the screens colours depending on ambient light. It was a feature restricted to the MacBook Pro in Apples laptop line until now.

The 1.29kg MacBook Air compares favourably with rivals, but is heavier than tablet PCs such as Microsofts 775g Surface Pro 7 (1.13g with keyboard attached).


  • Screen: 13.3in LCD 2560×1600 (227 ppi) True Tone

  • Processor: 10th-generation dual-core Intel Core i3, quad-core Core i5 or i7

  • RAM: 8 or 16GB

  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Plus

  • Operating system: macOS Catalina

  • Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera

  • Connectivity: Wifi ac, Bluetooth 5, 2x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, headphones

  • Dimensions: 212.4 x 304.1 x 16.1mm

  • Weight: 1.29kg

Magic Keyboard and trackpad

The new Magic Keyboard should relegate the issues of the butterfly keyboard to the past while providing more key travel. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The important new addition is the Magic Keyboard, which is the name Apple gave to the scissor switch mechanism used in its external keyboard.

It replaces the ill-fated butterfly keyboard and should render troubles with stuck keys a thing of the past. It also has double the key travel at 1mm of depth and a far more satisfying typing experience.

The keys feel solid, depress far enough and are fairly quiet as laptop keyboards go. It is very close to being best-in-class, just behind the keyboard on Microsofts Surface Laptop 3.

Apples Force Touch trackpad continues to be the very best you can buy on a laptop. It is large, precise and smooth: all-round excellent.

A Touch ID fingerprint scanner is built into the power button in the top right corner of the keyboard. It works well as an alternative to passwords, but can only recognise three fingerprints. One day I hope Apple puts its excellent Face ID system in its laptops to match Microsofts excellent Windows Hello system in its computers.

Power and battery life

Two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports in the left side handle power and input, connecting to any number of accessories, drives and displays. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The MacBook Air as tested was the base model costing 999 with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

General computing performance was surprisingly good from the Core i3 version, including when connected to a 4K display. Where it struggled was attempting to do fairly complex edits to images in Affinity Photo or perform multiple tasks at once, such as downloading app updates and using relatively complex web apps in Chrome something Ive not noticed with any Core i5-powered machines in the last few years.

If youre a light computer user the Core i3 version will be perfectly adequate. But I would recommend most pay the extra 100 to upgrade to the quad-core Core i5 processor, which is far more capable and will be able to handle demanding programs and extensive multitasking, as you would expect from a computer costing 1,099.

The MacBook Air lasts about eight to nine hours of general work, including using Chrome with about 10 or so tabs open, various chat apps, Typora text editor, Affinity Photo, Apple Mail and a few other bits enough to get a work day done without having to reach for a charger.

Worth noting in these difficult times that a 50-minute video call knocked around two hours off the usual battery life so youll need the charger more often.

Charging the MacBook Air with the included 30W charger took more than two hours 15 minutes, which is pretty slow for a modern laptop with some such as Microsofts Surface Laptop 3 hitting 80% in an hour. Using a 45W charger shaved 40 minutes off the full charge time.


The MacBook Air is one of the most sustainable laptops you can buy. Its battery is rated for 1,000 full charge cycles before diminishing to 80% capacity (most batteries are only rated for 500 charge cycles) and it can be replaced for 129 by Apple.

The computer is generally repairable too, although it was awarded only a 4 out of 10 for repairability by specialists iFixit, with downsides being the inability to upgrade the RAM or SSD.

What makes the MacBook Air stand apart is its use of recycled material, including 100% recycled aluminium in the casing, 100% recycled tin in the solder of its logic board and at least 35% recycled plastic used in multiple components. Apple is also using renewable energy for final assembly of the machine, and breaks down the computers environmental impact in its report.

Apple also offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products.

MacOS 10.15 Catalina

The classic wedge shape of the MacBook Air still looks great. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The MacBook Air ships with Apples latest macOS 10.15 Catalina, which continues to be a mature and well-thought-out operating system that makes the most of Apples laptops.

The most useful addition this time round is Sidecar, which turns an iPad into a second screen for your Mac particularly useful if youre stuck working from home and happen to have both a Mac and an iPad. As long as youre on the same wifi network it works wirelessly and effortlessly, or you can use a cable.

Catalina also brought expanded app support for those built using Mac Catalyst, which helps developers take their iPad apps and port them to the Mac. Twitters app is one example, but good ones are thin on the ground right now.

The iTunes app has also been split into three apps: Apple TV, Music and Podcasts, which are generally better and faster.


The 720p webcam is slightly disappointing, particularly compared to those fitted to the iPad Pro, smartphones and competing laptops. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

  • The stereo speakers are quite amazing in volume, sound and stereo separation for such a small laptop.

  • The webcam is not fantastic, but its only something you notice when youre suddenly forced to make lots of video calls.


The Apple MacBook Air is available in silver, space grey and gold starting at 999 with a dual-core Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Changing the processor to a quad-core Intel Core i5 costs an extra 100, while the version with the Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage costs 1,299.

Various other options are available totalling to a price of 2,249 with everything maxed out.

For comparison, Microsofts Surface Laptop 3 starts at 999, Dells XPS 13 starts at 1,399 and the MacBook Pro starts at 1,299.


The 2020 MacBook Air has so many things going for it across form, function and sustainability.

Very few machines are made with any recycled material, let alone as much as the MacBook Air. There is still some way to go to truly reduce the impact of consumer electronics on the environment, but Apple should be commended for pushing the industry forward in a similar manner to the Fairphone project.

In form and function the MacBook Air is just a few shades short of the perfect traditional laptop. If you dont want a more modern convertible, youll struggle to find a better consumer machine than this.

The keyboard is finally as great as the trackpad, the battery lasts long enough for a work day, its light but strong and the screen is beautiful, while the little things such as Touch ID work great. You also get two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a long support life.

Sure, the screen could have smaller bezels and the webcam could be better why Apple hasnt put its excellent Face ID into its laptops I have no idea. You cant upgrade the RAM or storage after purchase, theres no wifi 6 support, nor SD card slot or USB-A port, but by now most will have enough USB-C cables and accessories, and if not, now is the time to buy them.

If youre looking for an Apple laptop, this is the one to buy unless you need a beast such as the 16in MacBook Pro. Just spend the extra 100 and buy the MacBook Air with the Intel Core i5 processor, rather than the Core i3, at 1,099.

Pros: great keyboard, great trackpad, great screen, good battery life, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, thin, light, recycled materials, Touch ID, headphones socket

Cons: average webcam, no wifi 6, no SD or USB-A, expensive

The headphones socket remains, something that has long gone from phones and high-end tablets and now seems destined to go from laptops. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Other reviews

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Small, comfortable true-wireless earbuds, good sound, last ages, with a pocketable case and iPhone app

Samsungs second-generation Galaxy Buds+ correct a few mistakes and are now fully iPhone compatible, making them some of the very best standard true-wireless earbuds for just about anyone.

There is no shortage of good true-wireless earbuds in 2020, but Samsungs 159 Galaxy Buds+ look to take the crown as the best set without noise cancelling.

Launched alongside the Galaxy Z Flip and S20 line, the earbuds are practically identical to their predecessors, which is a very good thing.

They are exactly the same size and shape as the old ones, but are 0.7g heavier at 6.3g per bud, not that I could tell, even side-by-side. They slot right into the concha with a quick twist, barely protruding from my ear, staying put without the need for any wings. You have to like the silicone-tip fit, of course, but they are one of the most comfortable earbuds available making them easy to forget while wearing.

If you need more stability there are two sizes of wings and three sets of silicone tips in the box, but they stayed put even while running for me.


  • Water resistance: none

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, SBC, AAC

  • Battery life: 11 hours listening, up to 22 hours with case

  • Earbud weight: 6.3g

  • Charging case dimensions: 38.8 x 70 x 26.5mm

  • Charging case weight: 39.6g

  • Case charging: USB-C, Qi wireless charging

Case and battery

The case has both USB-C and wireless charging, meaning you can quickly top it up from the back of a phone such as the Galaxy Z Flip. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The case is one of the best. Small, with a pocketable pill-like shape. Its slightly larger than the standard AirPods case, but similar in volume to the AirPods Pro and Jabra Elite 75t cases. The lid closes with a reassuring snap, locking the buds in place. It will fit in a money pocket of a pair of jeans.

The earbuds lasted just over 11 hours of playback between trips in the case, which is far longer than most. The AirPods Pro last four hours, while the Elite 75t last 7.5 hours. The case then provides one full charge of the earbuds for a combined 22 hours between charges. The case charges via USB-C or wireless charging, while a three-minute fast charge via cable provides around one hour of playback.

Neither the battery in the case nor the earbuds is officially replaceable, which ultimately means they are disposable, but they should last several years of daily use at least. A third-party may be able to replace the battery, as was possible with the previous Galaxy Buds.

The earbud tips are standard, meaning third-party replacements are widely available should they get lost, but Samsung does not sell individual replacement buds or cases.

Connectivity and controls

The long-press touch controls can be changed between a few options in the Galaxy Wearable app. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Galaxy Buds+ support Bluetooth 5, and the ability to hot swap , which means either can be used on their own. They have support for the standard SBC and AAC audio formats, plus Samsungs proprietary Scalable Codec when used with one of the South Korean firms devices.

Theres also a dedicated low-latency gaming mode thats exclusive to Samsung devices, which helped all but eliminate the lag between something happening on screen and the sound reaching your ears thats unfortunately inherent to Bluetooth earbuds.

They performed flawlessly with a Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 Ultra, but were equally good with a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and an iPhone 11 Pro. They can only connect to one device at a time, not two like some competitors.

Pairing is super easy. Either use the Galaxy Wearable app on your phone, or press and hold the touch panel on both earbuds while in your ears for five seconds until the tone sounds, then find them in your Bluetooth menu.

Switching from one device to the next is just a case of selecting the earbuds from your device; no need to disconnect another device first, which is a very welcome feature.

The touch panels on the buds take care of controls. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Each earbud has a touch panel that handles some of the best controls in the business. Tap once for pause/play, twice to skip forward or thrice to skip back. On all devices you can also press and hold the touch panel to do one of the following: adjust volume, activate the ambient listening mode or trigger your phones default voice assistant. On Android you can also fire up Spotify, which will immediately start playing the playlist you were last listening to or another recommended one.

I selected volume controls and never looked back. There is also the option to enable a double tap of the earbuds edge to adjust the volume as an experimental feature under a section called Labs of the app. I couldnt get it to work reliably without accidentally skipping track every second or third attempt.


Theres a limited EQ for adjusting the sound through a range of presets in the app. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Galaxy Buds+ have improved audio thanks to a new dual-speaker system featuring a separate tweeter and woofer. Overall they produce detailed, balanced audio, with reasonable punch in the low end and clear mids, but need to be turned up a little to really bring out the bass. They sound great with pop music, high-energy electronica and even do a pretty full rendition of something like Miles Davis, but occasionally lack a bit of depth to really make the most out of a track such as Baba ORiley by the Who.

The Galaxy Buds+ therefore sound considerably better than most rivals costing under 160. They wont produce the sort of sparkling audio youll get out of Sonys (RRP) 220 WF-1000XM3, but theyre less than half the size and a lot more comfortable.

The one thing the Galaxy Buds+ lack compared with recent rivals from Apple and Amazon is noise cancelling, which puts them in the same boat as Jabras Elite 75t. They do, however, make a good job of passively blocking out the world thanks to the snug fit and a good set of silicone ear tips.

The case is small and easy to pocket, fitting in the money pocket of a pair of jeans, which means its easy to carry to keep your earbuds safe when not in use. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

By default there are three levels of ambient passthrough available if you do want to hear the world. The low setting was fine for listening out for announcements, while high was about the same as my normal hearing. Theres an experimental extra-high setting available, which amplified my hearing beyond normal limits but felt like something you could be easily deafened by.

You can activate ambient mode in the app, or by a long press, but I wish you could activate ambient mode automatically when you pause the music.

Call quality is much improved, too. Recipients said my voice came through clearly, but that some background noise from a coat was picked up, while road and wind noise was effectively suppressed. I could hear the other end of the call clearly, while sidetone is available as an option too.


  • The shiny black case is fairly easy to mark.

  • It takes a little bit of practice to insert the earbuds without activating the touch panel.

  • They are comfortable under a woolly hat because they dont protrude from your ears.

  • The music doesnt pause when you take an earbud out, like many others.


The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are available in white, black or blue for 159.

For comparison, Apple AirPods cost 159, the AirPods Pro cost 249, the Jabra Elite 75t cost 169.99, the Libratone Track Air+ cost 167, the Sony WF-1000XM3 cost 169, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless cost 280.


Samsungs latest Galaxy Buds+ strike the right balance of comfort, battery life, pocketability and sound to make some of the very best day-to-day wireless earbuds.

The controls are good, connectivity is rock solid, call quality is greatly improved and the case is great. Theyre a no-brainer for Samsung users, great for other Android users and, now that theres a dedicated iPhone app for them, theyre an excellent option for most people. Theyre very easy to live with in a way only Apples AirPods have managed in the past, just with the proper isolation of a silicone earbud tip.

Theyre not perfect, of course. They dont feature noise cancelling – Apples AirPods Pro or Sonys WF-1000XM3 are the ones you want if thats important for you – but they do a good job of simply blocking out noise with a solid fit. Theyre not water resistant, which is a bit disappointing too, but not a deal killer. They are not cheap, either, with an RRP of 159, but look out for deals given their predecessors were heavily discounted for long periods.

Galaxy Buds+ are an excellent set of everyday true-wireless earbuds. Samsungs AirPods-killers, now great for just about everyone.

Pros: small, comfortable, good pocketable case, wireless charging, USB-C, long battery life, good sound, good calling, rock-solid connectivity, apps for both Android and iPhone.

Cons: no water resistance, no noise cancelling, no auto-ambient on pause, no pause on removal, no aptX, cant connect to two devices at once.

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Video apps most popular users could rake in millions by collaborating with brands

Teenagers used to aspire to become astronauts, firefighters, footballers or pop stars, but times change and so do career goals. Today, more than half of millennials and Generation Z-ers those aged 13-38 in the US aspire to become social media influencers, according to recent research.

The Chinese viral video app TikTok is the platform of choice for young people seeking to monetise their talents because it seen as rewarding anyones ability to entertain, whereas Instagram or YouTube tend to reward those who already have celebrity status.

And for a very lucky few, taking to TikTok could be a seriously lucrative career option. Marketeers reckon that the most popular TikTokers could currently charge close to $200,000 (155,000) per post if they promote and collaborate with brands. Researchers at Morning Consult, a US tech research group working on behalf of the games company Online Casino, argue that TikTok is growing so fast in popularity that some influencers might even be able to charge nearly $1m per post by next year.

Loren Gray, a 17-year-old singer from Pennsylvania, is said to be the most marketable current TikToker, with researchers estimating she could charge as much as $197,000 (152,000) per post.

Gray has more than 38 million followers on TikTok which posts videos of between 15 and 60 seconds in length making her one of the most-followed accounts. Gray has used her popularity on the app to secure record deals with Virgin Records and Capitol Records. She posts daily on the platform and her posts have received over 2bn likes.

Last year, the US fast food chain Chipotle paid Gray to participate in a guac song dance-off. The hashtag challenge an official TikTok campaign in which a creator uses a specific hashtag for a sponsored video was called #GuacDance. The campaign centred on a song about guacamole from the childrens music artist Dr Jean, and went viral.

Further down the top 20 is Jiffpom, a Los Angeles-based Pomeranian dog with 20 million followers double his Instagram following who could earn $100,000 per post, the report adds.

The report predicts that in a years time, Aashika Bhatia, a 19-year-old Indian actress, will be the most popular on the platform, with 194 million followers. She currently has 14 million and is gaining tens of thousands per day. The Bollywood actress posts TikTok classic videos of her lip-syncing and joking around. The popularity of posters like Bhatia is explained by the simplicity of the format, says the report: easy video design means short video clips can be created in minutes; music, dance and slapstick humorous clips transcend language barriers, which means they can be viewed on every continent; and the videos automatically loop to the next on the Tiktok feed, making it an easy watch.

Morning Consult estimates that popular TikTok stars could be paid up to $0.005 per follower for sponsored posts, which means a star like Bhatia could charge $973,000 per post if she reached the 194 million mark.

TikTok, which is owned by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, was valued at $75bn in 2018 when Japans richest man Masayoshi Son – invested in it via his SoftBank venture fund. It claims to have about 800 million active users, which would make it more popular than Twitter and Snapchat combined, but trailing Facebook.

The company has been fined $5.7m by US authorities for illegally collecting childrens data. It has also been criticised for censoring videos that might upset the Chinese government, including mentions of Tiananmen Square or Tibetan independence.

The Snapchat founder, Evan Spiegel, said this week he was a big fan of TikTok and expected TikTok to surpass Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and said in 2018 it had passed the 1 billion active user mark.

Social media in its original construct is really about status: representing who you are, showing people that youre cool, getting likes and comments, those sorts of things, Spiegel said last month. TikTok instead celebrates talent over status, he said, describing it as a platform for people to make media to entertain other people.

Paying just under $1m to a TikTok influencer for a post may sound like an unbelievable amount of money for a company to spend on marketing, but James Whatley, strategy partner at the marketing agency Digitas UK, said it showed how brands were shifting their attention and spending away from traditional media like TV and billboard advertising to partnering with authentic influencers.


I can actually believe those numbers if you look at how much money has been thrown at Instagram, he said. [TikTok] is the hot new thing and tonnes of money is being thrown at it. The fastest way to get traction on TikTok is to get the number-one influencer to promote your stuff. Just this week TikTok and [computer game] Fortnite announced a partnership deal with a competition for a TikTok dance to be recreated on Fortnite.

Every year there is always a new platform and clients want to put 10% of their budget towards it. Last year it was Instagram stories, before that Snapchat. TikTok is the darling of 2020.

Whatley explained that influencers can spread a brand further than their already huge number of followers, which can be greater than the population of small countries. There are challenges on TikTok, for example you could pay an influencer to do a challenge but with a bottle of Diet Coke, he said. As soon as that person does it, all of their followers will see it and want to participate and recreate themselves, and then all their followers will do it also, and youve got yourself a viral sensation.

Paul Lee, the global head of technology research at consultancy firm Deloitte, said he expected only a handful of people would be able to make a lot of money out of TikTok, but he said those who did could really strike it big.

If you have 10 million followers its better than 5 million, obviously, Lee said. Its quite a benign site. Its happy, and of people doing fun videos. You go there to get uplifted, and it feels less commercial, which could actually make partnerships more valuable.

Endorsements are always valuable, but it can be shocking how one persons endorsement is worth lots more than other peoples. I dont think mine would be worth so much. To become an influencer your timing has to be right, your look has to be right and you have to be super lucky.

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A days battery, solid performance and watch-first design makes Wear OS a much more attractive option

The Fossil Gen 5 is easily the best Wear OS smartwatch you can buy at the moment, and as long as you dont expect it to be an Apple Watch-beater, it gets the job done and looks the part.

Smartwatches that run Googles Wear OS software have come in many different designs from various different manufacturers, and work with both Android and the iPhone. But they have long been plagued by sluggishness, poor battery life and a software experience that is behind the competition.

Fossil Group, which includes the signature Fossil brand and many others such as Michael Kors, Diesel, Misfit and Skagen, has been making the best of Wear OS, but often that simply hasnt been good enough.

Fossils fifth-generation smartwatch, the Gen 5, is important for the whole of Wear OS, as its internal workings will also form the basis of all of Fossil Groups various smartwatches this year.

A watch made by a watchmaker

The Gen 5 hides its 12mm thickness well, and here in the Julianna HR variant looks good on relatively slim wrists. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Gen 5 is a good-looking watch in its own right, with various different colours, finishes and straps available. It doesnt immediately scream that its a piece of technology, which is a good thing.

At 12mm thick and 44mm wide the watch isnt small, but it looks fairly slim, easily fits under a shirt cuff and doesnt look out of place on relatively small wrists.

The 1.28in AMOLED screen is crisp, clear and bright enough to see in direct sunlight with automatic adjustment. Its on all the time by default so you can see the time and notifications at a glance.

Fossil provides loads of highly customisable watch faces, most of which look really good, plus there are hundreds more on the Play Store. Theres a speaker hole in one side of the watch with two buttons that launch your choice of apps and one rotating crown on the other.

As a watch, then, it ticks most boxes.

The 44mm case size is a nice balance between big and small watches, but some may prefer something narrower. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


  • Screen: 1.28in AMOLED (328ppi)

  • Case size: 44mm

  • Case thickness: 12mm

  • Band size: standard 22mm

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100

  • RAM: 1GB

  • Storage: 8GB

  • Operating system: Wear OS

  • Water resistance: 30 metres (3ATM)

  • Sensors: altimeter, ambient light, gyroscope, heart rate, microphone, speaker NFC, GPS

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, wifi

Performance and battery life

The magnetic charging puck uses pogo pins, instead of wireless charging as used by other popular smartwatches, and charges the watch relatively fast as a result. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Gen 5 manages to banish the issues of poor performance and battery life of Wear OS to the past. Performance is good, if not quite on par with the Apple Watch Series 5, with no noticeable lag or dip in speed in general usage, helped by the 1GB of RAM and newer Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor.

Battery life is also improved, lasting at least a day with the Daily mode activated, which turns on all the functions. Put on my wrist at 7am with background heart rate monitoring, the Gen 5 ends the day at 11pm with at least 25% battery left a marked improvement over most Wear OS watches that struggle to make it through a full day.

The Extended battery mode, which turns off some of the features including the always-on screen, lasts more than two days between charges, while time-only mode lasts much longer still.

Charging takes just over an hour via the small white magnetic USB puck that attaches to a ring to the back.

Its worth noting that while the watch comes with a two-year warranty, Fossil said the battery cannot be replaced, meaning the watch is ultimately disposable.

Wear OS

Swipe over to the various Tiles for widgets such as timers and health tracking. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Wear OS has improved over the last year, but simply isnt as feature-complete or as slick as Apples watchOS or Samsungs Tizen on their respective watches.

You navigate via swipes on the screen. Left to right for Google Assistant. Right to left for various widgets for things such as timers, Google Fit and others called Tiles. Swipe up from the bottom for notifications and other bits. Swipe down from the top for quick settings, such as airplane mode, volume, battery modes and Google Pay. Long-press on the watch face to change it.

Press the crown in to access a list of apps or go back to the watch face. Swipe from left to right typically works as the back button on Android. Its fairly simple and easy to get the hang of.

The list of apps is easy to zip through to find the one you want, but you can also pin favourites to the top for quick access or set them to launch when you press one of the buttons. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Notification handling is where Wear OS shines. Notifications pop up from the bottom and can be dismissed, expanded to read the text of emails or WhatsApps, or actioned with the same options as available via the notification shade on your phone such as archiving with Gmail or similar.

You can reply to messages using smart canned responses, your voice to transcribe, or with the surprisingly good keyboard which, while fiddly, gets the job done for quick things even if youre a bit fat-fingered.

Media controls are also great. Start playing something on your phone and they pop up on the watch to skip track or change the volume using the crown. Theres a dedicated Spotify app too, but it wont allow you to store music offline for that you have to resort to Googles Play Music app.

Popular third-party apps such as Strava and Citymapper are available through the store, while Googles services are well catered for with Maps, Translate, Fit and others available.

Google Assistant works well on the watch, as long as you have a good connection to your phone for internet access. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Long-press on the crown or a swipe from left to right on the watch face to get to Google Assistant, which will set timers, alarms, reminders and answer questions via voice straight from the watch using the built-in speaker and information on the screen. It works well, as long as you have a connection to your phone.

Wear OS on the Gen 5 is the best it ever has been. But its certainly not a perfect experience. The setup process failed once on one of the watches, requiring a reset and starting again. Occasionally the watch disconnects from the phone and the only way to get it working again is to reboot it.

The rotating crown scrolls in apps and settings, except when it doesnt. Some apps such as Spotify refuse input from the crown, others such as face editing settings or Google Fit only work sometimes. Its unpredictable enough that you just resort to swiping on the screen instead by default. The list of little niggles goes on. Theyre not deal breakers, but each is annoying.

Its also worth noting that Fossil also will not commit to a set length of software support for the Gen 5.


The heart rate monitor in the back works well, but Google Fit lacks more advanced health data and analysis. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The biggest area of weakness in Wear OS is its built-in health tracking related functionality or lack thereof. Google Fit is the main app here. It can count your steps, movement minutes and heart points just fine, it monitors your heart rate in the background occasionally, and will guide you through breathing to destress.

But the Fit doesnt do much beyond the basics, not even sleep monitoring. It can track a lot of workouts, but the screens it displays for things such as running arent customisable. Using it for tracking workouts also affects battery life, particularly if youre playing music to Bluetooth headphones while running.

Third-party fitness apps such as Strava, which is simple but effective, may fill the gap for specific functions. Nike Run Club and Cardiogram also come pre-installed.

Overall, Google is miles behind both Apple and Samsung, let alone the likes of Fitbit or Garmin, in features and polish on health tracking and analysis, and Wear OS suffers as a result.


Swapping the strap is a 10-second operation. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

  • The bands are standard quick-release pin 22mm straps so you can easily swap them, although the black silicone is of high quality.

  • The pink leather strap feels nice but picks up dirt and grime almost immediately, becoming discoloured.

  • Google Pay works great on the watch and supports most UK and US banks.

  • You can take calls on your watch.

  • The Gen 5 works with iOS with most of the same functionality except a lack of Siri and iMessage support.


The Fossil Gen 5 comes in two versions: Carlyle HR and Julianna HR, both costing 279.

The Carlyle HR comes in black with a silicone or leather strap for 279, a stainless steel with metal strap for 279 or a black stainless steel with metal, leather and silicone straps for 339.

The Julianna HR comes in rose gold with blush leather strap or metal strap for 279 or a smoke stainless steel with milanese loop for 279.

For comparison, the Apple Watch Series 5 starts at 399 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 costs 259.


The Julianna HR in rose gold looks better in person than in photos: eye-catching without being gaudy. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Fossil Gen 5 is easily the best Wear OS watch available and bodes well for the rest of the brands within Fossil Groups roster.

It relegates problems with performance and sub-day battery life to the past, and looks good doing it. If you want your smartwatch to look like a more traditional timepiece the Fossil is great.

But Wear OS just isnt as polished or feature-packed as rivals from Apple and Samsung. Use the Gen 5 as a basic smartwatch with excellent notification handling and music controls and youll be happy. Try to get comprehensive health tracking and advanced features and you might struggle.

Will it beat an Apple Watch Series 5? Not a chance. But one of the Gen 5s biggest strengths is that it isnt an Apple Watch so youre not going to see every person in the room wearing the same watch as you. Its also at least 120 cheaper.

If you want a good-looking smartwatch that doesnt follow the crowd and ticks enough boxes to be a replacement for a traditional digital or analogue timepiece, then the Fossil Gen 5 in its various guises is worth considering. Particularly on a deal.

Pros: looks like a watch, not as common as an Apple Watch, works with both Android and iOS, good notification and music controls, Google Pay, speaker, 30-metre water resistance, at least one days battery, third-party app support, standard 22mm straps.

Cons: health tracking not as comprehensive as competitors, battery life not as good as competitors, software niggles persist, iMessage support lacking on iOS.

Fossil provides loads of watchfaces with most customisable in elements and colours, but there are hundreds more available in the Play Store. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Other reviews

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There are a dizzying number of apps promising to get you in shape even if you cant get to a gym. But can any of them keep our writers moving?


Price 15.49 a month.
What is it? A full-service experience from the Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth: not just workouts, but a complete meal planner with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner a daily guided meditation and a daily motivational article.
The experience I immediately regret declaring myself intermediate as the app launches into a punishing pilates workout. I am not very flexible at all, and it turns out that my baseline fitness leaves much to be desired in terms of core strength.
More frustrating is the fact that the various workouts are introduced as videos. Clearly, this is supposed to emulate a real pilates class, but when my phone tells me to lie face-down on the floor I can no longer see the screen. It is frustrating to have to repeatedly break out of the pose to check the next movement.
Worth a download? Only if you are single, enjoy cooking and are willing to hand control of your life to an app.


Price $14.99 (11.40) a month or $99.99 a year.
What is it? A cheery selection of audio workouts with curated tunes.
The experience Before I start, the app asks me my fitness level, how many times I work out a week, how many weeks a month, what days I work out on, what machines I have access to, and what equipment I have to hand. None of this stops it from absolutely destroying me with bodyweight exercises but it is the thought that counts.
The instructors are great, with the right level of enthusiasm (read: grating in any other context). I am glad to have clear verbal instructions for how to do the exercises, rather than wishing I could just read a list of workouts from my screen. Video walkthroughs, available before and after the workout, help clear up any lingering concerns about form.
Worth a download? If you want to get fit to the tune of 75 a year, this is the app to spend your money on. AH

Alex gets in the spirit. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian


Price Free; coaching from $1 a day.
What is it? A bizarre mix of a mediocre workout app and personal trainer upselling.
The experience You get what you pay for, and as a result the free version of Fitocracy is odd. The main workout app lets you set a goal, then pick workouts from a list, but the presentation of the workouts is much simpler than its competitors: just a list of exercises and reps, which you check off as you go.
The problem is that much of the app is effectively broken, with visual artefacts graphical glitches all over the place. Digging in, the cause is clear: really, the app is a gateway to a coaching business, where you can spend anything from $1 to $250 a month on a one-on-one consultation with a personal trainer.
Worth a download? If you want free, there is better; if you want a coach, head to your local gym. AH


Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price 17.49 a year.
What is it? A simple and direct approach to strength.
The experience A popular approach to learning to lift free weights, 5×5 involves doing five sets of five reps of heavy weights, with three different exercises, three times a week.
It demands precisely what it does and no more. You need a gym, a squat rack, a barbell and a bench. You dont need to memorise a list of different exercises, nor wonder which equipment you are going to need today, nor, really, think.
StrongLifts is the best introduction to this type of workout there is, providing basic coaching and tracking, as well as just enough motivation to get you to lift the next set. It is my personal favourite: in a year, I have gone from struggling with a 20kg bar to reliably squatting my own weight.
Worth a download? Yes, if you have access to a gym and dont know what to do when you are there. AH

Nike Training Club

Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price Free; 13.49 a month for the premium version.
What is it? Slick branded workouts with a generous free offering.
The experience Nike Training Club, the workout sibling to
the more popular Nike Run Club, feels less human than its competitors. While the personal trainers are front and centre, they mostly exist as silent models demonstrating the best form for each exercise.
That may suit a certain type of self-motivated student. Less helpful, for me, is the approach to equipment. I feel as if Nike expects me to have an incredibly well-stocked home with multiple dumbbells, a skipping rope and a bench or make myself hugely unpopular at the gym by seizing six things at once. That said, most of the app is available for free a price you cant beat.
Worth a download? Yes, if free is the magic number. AH

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price 14.99 a month or 88 a year.
What is it? The chance to have your workout (for the home and gym) and diet plan organised by not only one Instagram influencer, but five inspired by everything from
powerlifting and muay thai to yoga.
The experienceKayla Itsines was one of the first internet exercise influencers. She rose to fame with the Bikini Body Guides, her series of fitness ebooks (the name hasnt aged well). Itsines still offers the BBG programme, but it now includes variations for different fitness levels. This feels like an app that could stay fresh for well over a year. I like that there are modifications for various exercises, that it is easy to sync to Spotify, and that it put so much emphasis on rest and rehabilitation to enhance healing.
The meal-planning features are disappointing, though. There is no option to swap suggested recipes, but as some of the suggestions are as unimaginative as egg and salad roll, I imagine quite a few people would want to.
Worth a download? Yes for the exercise, at least.


Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
What is it? It is all about exercise on Sworkit, and there is a hell of a lot of it. You can choose from a variety of plans or one-off workouts, customisable by time or focused on body parts (Sworkit is quite invested in firming bums).
The experience This has one of the best interfaces for exercising of the apps I tried. It works in landscape, counts you in before the next exercise starts and has a preview window to mentally prepare you for the next move. You can alter music within the exercise window and set how long you want to exercise for, with sessions beginning at five minutes. It also has a great voiceover feature: think of the sort of thing a gym instructor might say, such as keep your toes pointing outward. The app sends out push notifications to encourage you to exercise, but the upkeep of a plan does not depend on exercising every day. So, beginners can set their own pace.
I cant work out if the instructor figures on Sworkit are AI or humans, but either way I liked them. Sworkit has tried to make its instructors diverse there are men and women in a variety of sizes. It is a small thing, but I appreciate not always having to follow someone with the figure of a goddess.
Worth a download? Yes, especially for beginners. None of Sworkits sessions require equipment, so if you ever work out at home or while travelling, it cant be beaten. CK

Fit Body with Anna Victoria

Price $16.99 a month.
What is it? The Instagram influencer Anna Victoria rose to fame with her downloadable workout plans known as the FBGs (or Fit Body Guides) and pictures of smoothie bowls. Here, she brings together her fitness and food advice in one app, offering 12-week exercise and nutrition programmes, including a customisable meal planner.
The experience The app provides a series of 12-week plans to last you 60 weeks (for home or gym, for weight loss or sculpting etc), a forum for users, a journal to log notes and a healthy-meal planner, which aims to spoon-feed the user into eating well (the nutrition section generates your recipes and grocery list for the week as well as reminding you when to drink water).

Coco tries out the apps. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

I couldnt get to grip with all of this, but when I tried it out there were some excellent features a nutrition guide that is not just about calorie-counting (although the variety of the dishes may bore food lovers), plus educational videos (such as breathing dos and donts) to help newcomers to regular exercise. The downsides? The app doesnt work in landscape mode, so checking the demo during workouts is difficult. Also, workouts often require equipment. I am not convinced the app would work for total novices (push-ups in week one for a woman seems ambitious, not to mention the amount of vicious burpees), while scanning future weeks leaves me wondering if it might get boring.
Worth a download? Unless you are a fan of Victoria and her style, I cant see it delivering enough. CK


Price 1.78 a week for training; 2.66 including nutrional information.
What is it? Touted as a digital personal trainer, this app has a cultish fanbase thanks to its detailed personalised fitness plans.
The experience You can join in with the short but intense fitness challenges, or a variety of running, bodyweight or gym workouts. Users can opt for workouts anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes long, and can select sessions based on parts of the body. So far, so normal. But it is the Coach programme that stands out. The personal plans are created by algorithms that pool the data of users with similar stats to chart your journey. Key to this is regular logging; you will record your details when you first start (height, weight, general fitness level) and log after each workout, telling the app how tough you found it.

Freeletics Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Freeletics promises its workouts will be hard, but not so hard that you give up. It is the feedback moments that allow it to alter your plan accordingly, based on the behaviour of other users who had similar experiences. As with a real coach, there are plenty of demo videos and tutorials to guide you through, plus helpful nudges to drink water and sleep well. The Coach can even detect if you are overtraining. Freeletics also has a fairly busy meetup community, providing some of the social elements of exercise that can be lost when training at home. Plus, the exercises dont require any equipment
Worth a download? Absolutely, if you have some experience of exercising it could be a little overwhelming for a total newbie. CK

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Price Free; from 1.99 a week for the premium version.
What is it? A 30-day programme with levels from beginner to pro.
The experience Month-long challenges have become a staple of modern fitness. This app capitalises on the idea that people can do anything if it is in short bursts, hence the idea of daily sessions for 30 days.
Most of the challenges are focused on a specific area there is the flat belly challenge and the slim arms challenge but nearly all involve a full-body workout. The video tutorials are clear and there are 400 workouts in the library if you feel like doing something completely different outside of the challenge. The end result should be that your overall fitness is improved.
Worth a download? Absolutely 30-day challenges may not be for everyone, but, unlike many other apps, there is plenty to do for free. CK

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.

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Program developed by Google Health was tested on mammograms of UK and US women

An artificial intelligence program has been developed that is better at spotting breast cancer in mammograms than expert radiologists.

The AI outperformed the specialists by detecting cancers that the radiologists missed in the images, while ignoring features they falsely flagged as possible tumours.

If the program proves its worth in clinical trials, the software, developed by Google Health, could make breast screening more effective and ease the burden on health services such as the NHS where radiologists are in short supply.

This is a great demonstration of how these technologies can enable and augment the human expert, said Dominic King, the UK lead at Google Health. The AI system is saying I think there may be an issue here, do you want to check?

About one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Screening programmes catch more than 18,000 cases each year in England alone, but tumours are still missed, giving false negative results, and some women are wrongly suspected of having cancer, in false positives that lead to unnecessary anxiety and invasive biopsies.

Googles AI program analyses mammograms in three different ways before combing the results to produce an overall risk score. The scientists trained the program on mammograms from more than 76,000 women in the UK and 15,000 women in the US. To see how well it worked, they then asked it to assess nearly 30,000 new mammograms from UK and US women who either had biopsy-confirmed cancer, or no signs of cancer during follow-up at least a year later.

In the US, women who go for breast cancer screening tend to be seen every one or two years and their mammograms are examined by a single radiologist. When compared with the US system, the AI produced 5.7% fewer false positives and 9.4% fewer false negatives.

In the UK, women are screened less often, typically once every three years, but their mammograms are reviewed by two radiologists, and sometimes a third in case of disagreement. The AI performed only marginally better than the UK system, reducing false positives by 1.2% and false negatives by 2.7%.

The results suggest the AI could boost the quality of breast cancer screening in the US and maintain the same level in the UK, with the AI assisting or replacing the second radiologist.

Breast cancer screening in the UK is under particular strain. The Royal College of Radiologists has identified a shortfall of at least 1,104 radiologists. In breast radiology specifically, 8% of hospital posts are unfilled, with much of the shortage due to older radiologists retiring from the NHS faster than new ones join.


What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence has various definitions, but in general it means a program that uses data to build a model of some aspect of the world. This model is then used to make informed decisions and predictions about future events. The technology is used widely, to provide speech and face recognition, language translation, and personal recommendations on music, film and shopping sites. In the future, it could deliver driverless cars, smart personal assistants, and intelligent energy grids. AI has the potential to make organisations more effective and efficient, but the technology raises serious issues of ethics, governance, privacy and law.

Chris Kelly, a clinician scientist at Google Health, said the next major step would be a trial to assess the AI in real-world conditions. Its performance could slip when it is fed images from different mammogram systems. In the latest study, reported in Nature, nearly all of the images came from machines provided by one manufacturer.

Like the rest of the health service, breast imaging, and UK radiology more widely, is understaffed and desperate for help, said Dr Caroline Rubin, vice-president for clinical radiology at the Royal College of Radiologists. AI programs will not solve the human staffing crisis, as radiologists and imaging teams do far more than just look at scans, but they will undoubtedly help by acting as a second pair of eyes and a safety net.

It is a competitive market for developers and these programs will need to be rigorously tested and regulated first. The next step for promising products is for them to be used in clinical trials, evaluated in practice and used on patients screened in real-time, a process that will need to be overseen by the UK public health agencies that have overall responsibility for the breast screening programmes.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UKs chief executive, said: Screening helps diagnose breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful, ensuring more people survive the disease. But it also has harms such as diagnosing cancers that would never have gone on to cause any problems and missing some cancers. This is still early stage research, but it shows how AI could improve breast cancer screening and ease pressure off the NHS.

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From Black Lives Matter to #OscarsSoWhite, the decade would not have been the same without black voices on social media

There is power in numbers. No internet subsection displayed this fact better than Black Twitter, which touched nearly every sphere of American culture and politics this decade.

In the 2010s Black Twitter become a cultural force to be reckoned with.It promoted Black Lives Matter and raised awareness around the tragic deaths of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner through hashtags such as #SayHerName and #ICantBreathe. Its anger over Kevin Harts homophobic tweets pressured him to drop out as a host for the 2018 Oscars ceremony. It pressured Pepsi to retract and apologize for a Kendall Jenner-fronted commercial accused of co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement. It created hundreds of delightfully viral moments such as eyebrows on fleek.And it helped a wild 180-tweet thread in which a stripper recounts an adventure-filled road trip to Florida become an A24-produced, feature-length film.

I would absolutely say this decade wouldnt be the same without Black Twitter, says the UVA professor Meredith D Clark, who is currently writing a book on the internet subsection. But I also think it was a continuation of our larger relationship with black American communities. Black culture has been actively mined for hundreds of years for influences on mainstream American culture.

Bizzle Osikoya (@bizzleosikoya)

Caption This

July 21, 2017

The thrill and intrigue of scrolling through Black Twitter often crossed cultural and racial lines. At the risk of getting randomly harshed on by the Internet, I cannot keep quiet about my obsession with Late Night Black People Twitter, an obsession I know some of you other white people share, because it is awesome, Choire Sicha wrote for The Awl in 2010, before Black Twitter had become the accepted moniker.

Defining Black Twitter continues to be difficult. The meaning is slightly amorphous, but it refers to a particular collective of black identities and voices on Twitter taking part in collective, culturally specific jokes and dialogues that affect the community from discussing colorism to dishing out jokes about common black mom phrases.

The Georgia Tech professor Andr Brock says Black Twitter allowed mainstream, white culture an unprecedented glimpse at how black people talk and joke among each other.It was one of the first spaces that white people could see how creative black people are with our discourse, and how we used a technology that wasnt originally designed for us.

Free Atlas (@Hampton)

When Popeyes made that Chicken Sandwich

August 20, 2019

One of the first viral Black Twitter moments of the decade came in response to the documentary Kony 2012, a 30-minute YouTube film that looked at the kidnappings of Ugandan children by a guerrilla group and efforts to find them. The video received over 120m views in only five days and redefined what virality meant, with donations towards the cause quickly surging.

However, members of Black Twitter were some of the first to criticize Invisible Children, the charity behind the film, for its sources of funding and misleading reporting. The critiques were surprisingly nuanced for a social media space, some citing the call for donations as another incident of slacktivism, a term used for low scale, feel-good displays of charity. Invisible Childrens campaign quickly faded in popularity, and the charity later struggled to survive after its viral moment.

This would be the power of Black Twitter over the course of the decade a diligent, occasionally merciless watchdog for problematic behavior.

Calling out cultural appropriation was a chief focus of the space in the early 2010s. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Kendall Jenner and Miley Cyrus were critiqued (and roasted) for adopting traditionally black hairstyles and/or dances. Its ability to prevent major business deals would also be flexed. In 2013, Black Twitters outrage was largely responsible for corporations ending their affiliations with chef Paula Deen after she admitted to using the n-word. Later, a juror from the 2013 George Zimmerman trial lost out on a major book deal when Black Twitter voiced disapproval. Users were able to directly put pressure on the jurors literary agent, Sharlene Martin. You know that the stains from blood money dont wash off, right? one user wrote at the time.

timanni (@positiviTeee)

How the world portrays Jesus vs how the Bible describes him. #MetGala

May 8, 2018

Here are just some of the celebrities and companies Black Twitter cancelled this decade: Roseanne, Pepsi, Meghan McCain, Gucci, Don Lemon, Iggy Azalea, Karamo Brown, Jeffree Star, Jussie Smollett, Kevin Hart, Kanye West, TI, Jay-Z, the NFL, Gina Rodriguez, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Brown, Matt Damon.

Brock says the litany of cancellations that occurred on Black Twitter this decade were not simply rooted in anger and outrage, as media outlets frequently depicted them. They were moments of catharsis. People who have been affronted or hurt or wounded finally had a voice to make gatekeepers take notice, he says.

Clark says the subsection is not a monolith, but actually composed of numerous, small personal communities and networks, which then band together when an incendiary event or something that triggers discussion occurs.

Clark argues the term Black Twitter often led to racial biases (ie, depictions of the group as an angry mob) during media coverage. Whenever you put black in front of anything, people think its deviant from whats mainstream. I think that led to a lot of confusion for folks who were outside of Black Twitter. The term doesnt necessarily signal the cultural richness we found within the space.

Black Twitter has its roots in the low-tech forums and blogs of the early aughts.

Black Twitter has raised awareness around the tragic deaths of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner through hashtags such as #SayHerName and #ICantBreathe. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Brock says, prior to 2010, black-centric blogs would try to pressure mainstream media into covering underreported topics, like 2006s Jena Six case (which saw activists protesting the excessive charges six black boys faced for beating a white classmate). Lipstick Alley, BlackPlanet, OkayPlayer, Crunk and Disorderly these sites were digital watering holes for early black internet users. However, their presence was nowhere near the scale or visibility of Black Twitter.

Blogs couldnt talk back to media in real time the same way Twitter can, Brock says. That ability to talk back to corporations and media, and for the talk back to be visible is what distinguishes Black Twitter from previous incidents of black communities online.

During the 2010s, Black Twitter would prevent the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and too many others from being glossed over by news outlets. It proved the power of a hashtag through well-crafted digital campaigns. One study found that the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was used over 1.7m times in the three weeks following a grand jurys decision not to indict the cop who killed Michael Brown.

However, there were downsides to the immense attention.

April Reign, who started the popular #OscarsSoWhite campaign, says media companies often surveilled the space, looking for ways to report on the black community without actually engaging with it. Its hard when you see someone who is having a profound discussion about a particular issue, and a media outlet will extract all these tweets and put a sentence at the end and call it an article, she says. That person got paid for writing the story and the media outlet got paid through advertising dollars for someone elses tweets. The person who wrote the tweets never sees a dime.

This would be a frequent problem throughout the decade, brands adopting popular phrases and jokes born in the space for advertisements. At 16, Kayla Newman had her eyebrows on fleek saying popularized through a re-circulated Vine video and became slang for flawless and perfection. Kaylas unique saying was used by brands like Dominos, Ihop and Dennys in advertising without her ever seeing a dime.

Denny’s (@DennysDiner)

hashbrowns on fleek

September 30, 2014

I gave the world a word, Kayla Newman told the writer Doreen St Felix in 2015. I cant explain the feeling. At the moment I havent gotten any endorsements or received any payment. I feel that I should be compensated. But I also feel that good things happen to those who wait.

There would be numerous occasions where Black Twitters lexicon provided new terms for popular culture: thot, bae, cuffing season, throwing shade, lit, turnt up. The exchanges were fun (even if they were often misused by white people), until companies began using the slang to sell T-shirts and other miscellaneous products online.

Of course, there were also major winners from the space. For the lucky, success on Black Twitter could be monetized. Lil Nas X who broke boundaries as an out gay, black man in rap and country mastered the arts of memes, retweets and follows to make his song Old Town Road an unexpected viral hit. Lil Nas X was allegedly able to go from running a Nicki Minaj stan account, under the handle @NasMaraj, to Grammy-nominated artist. (Lil Nas X has not confirmed running @NasMaraj, despite reporting, urls and time stamps strongly suggesting he did.)

Lil Nas X at the 47th annual American Music Awards, in Los Angeles, 24 November 2019. Photograph: Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock

Meanwhile, the social media accounts of fast-food chains like Popeyes and Wendys connected with audiences and sold product through lifting phrases and slang from black and gay communities on Twitter.

Elsewhere, the comedian Shiggy became an internet star when he danced to Drakes In My Feelings record, creating the dance challenge of 2018 and later appearing in the rappers video for the track.

As 2019 comes to an end, the power of Black Twitter is being demonstrated through the 2020 presidential campaigns. Joe Bidens story about CornPop, a racially charged pool confrontation in the 60s, provided the basis for numerous memes. Kamala Harris virality on Black Twitter was so strong that Maya Rudolph, while impersonating Harris on SNL, joked Mama needs a GIF! to boost her poll numbers. And conversations about reparations once thought of as a far-fetched, in-group topic were held by major candidates.

Ira Madison III (@ira)

Kamala Harris seems like shed suggest splitting up in a haunted house

July 29, 2019

Brock believes the outsized influence and visibility of Black Twitter will continue through the 2020s. As much as people complain about Twitter, it has a mindshare wildly out of proportion with its user base, he explains. I dont see a service that offers that same level of access, distribution, and open conversation on the horizon.

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Who had the biggest impact on the decade? Some of its top players nominate the person they most admire

Angela Merkel faces Donald Trump at last years G7 summit. Photograph: Getty Images

Tim Cook on Angela Merkel

Raised in an era of repression, stagnation and surveillance in East Germany, she has not wasted one breath of free air

Tim Cook has been the CEO of Apple since 2011. Here, he nominates German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Tim Cook

These are challenging times, and naysayers may tell you to measure this decade by its darkest moments. Angela Merkel, with her quiet strength, dignity and abiding faith in the free world, shows us every day why we should choose optimism instead. Raised in an era of repression, stagnation and surveillance in East Germany, she has not wasted one breath of free air. She has spent her career in public life keeping alive the idea that we are bigger than our differences, that shared belief in powerful values can bind us closer than skin colour, or language, or national history.

She has been an unshakable cornerstone of the European project. She has been a visionary advocate for carrying forward the fundamental right to privacy into the digital age. She has been a steady economic hand during years of crisis and rising uncertainty. And she has shown steadfast commitment to the values of freedom, inclusivity and the rule of law amid Europes migration crisis. Through every twist and turn, through every seemingly intractable challenge, she has come out looking wiser, more prudent and more durable than those who have doubted her.

Not merely a trailblazer as Germanys first female leader, she has become a great standard-bearer for what leadership ought to look like. In many instances, she could have made a much easier path for herself by banging on the podium and finding scapegoats, in trading long-term prosperity for short-term advantage. But she knows what lurks at the end of that road, and she has never been willing to take even a single step down it.

I was fortunate to meet her for the first time in 2015, and every time weve met since then she has been quick to flash that small, knowing smile, eyes crinkling with the conviction and confidence of a leader who has seen worse and who knows, even when surrounded by doubters, that we are headed somewhere better. I admire her greatly, and I wish we had more like her.

Maria Ressa faces the media in Manila after an overnight arrest on a libel case. Photograph: Bullit Marquez/AP

Amal Clooney on Maria Ressa

She is a journalist who has chosen to risk her life to do her job and we are all better off as a result

Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London, specialising in international law and human rights. Here, she nominates journalist Maria Ressa, who in 2012 cofounded Rappler, one of the first multimedia news websites in the Philippines.

Maria Ressa is 5ft 2in, but she stands taller than most in her pursuit of the truth. Like any journalist in the Philippines, she has two choices: toe the government line and be safe; or risk her life to do her job. She has chosen the latter, and we are all better off as a result.

Maria is a Filipino-American woman who became CNNs bureau chief in south-east Asia. Seven years ago, she teamed up with three female colleagues to set up the online news website Rappler. And very quickly it made waves.

Rappler is now one of the most influential sites in the Philippines, and, like any responsible journalist, Maria has been critical of the governments record. Rappler has published reports on corruption by President Dutertes administration, his weaponisation of social media to silence critics, and his support for death squads that have reportedly murdered more than 27,000 Filipinos in the name of a war on drugs. The authorities have responded with the full weight of the state. Duterte has vilified Marias reporting as fake news. He has helped amplify online attacks against her, and Rappler at one point had its operating licence revoked.

Dutertes administration is now pursuing Maria through a series of prosecutions that seek to criminalise alleged sales of her companys stocks to a foreign entity, and directly target her reporting with charges of criminal libel. She now faces a sentence of up to 63 years behind bars. According to Marias local lawyers, this is the first time in recent history that such laws have been used to target a journalist in one of Asias oldest democracies. But it is a sign of things to come.

This is why, Maria has told me, she has to defend herself against the charges. When I first met her, she was out on bail as she is today speaking at a conference in New York. When she asked me to act as her lawyer, I asked whether there was any judge in the Philippines who could be fair and independent enough to acquit her. She was not sure. I asked whether anyone other than Duterte would have the power to pardon her? They did not. Despite these odds, she went home. And I took the case. Because, as Maria explained, she is holding up the ceiling for anyone else who dares to speak.

Doing so is already dangerous. The UN has found that there has been a deterioration of the human rights situation under Duterte, including through the repeated targeting of journalists. The president has called journalists spies and warned that they are not exempted from assassination. If Maria, a US citizen, can now be locked up for doing her work, the message to other journalists and independent voices is clear: be quiet, or youll be next.

Marias struggle is one that defines our times. Data gathered in the last few years shows more journalists being imprisoned and killed than at any time since records began, threatening the very foundations of democracy and a free society. Authoritarian leaders have every advantage over those they try to intimidate, yet people like Maria are fighting back.

Maria is speaking truth to power. She is holding up the ceiling for others. If it comes crashing down, I will do all I can to get her out.

Vitalik Buterin: He is at the forefront of a new wave of globalism. Photograph: Ethan Pines/The Forbes Collection/Contour RA

Micah White on Vitalik Buterin

People told me Occupy was a bad idea. Vitaliks cryptocurrency will defy people in the same way

Micah White

Micah White founded the economic protest movement Occupy Wall Street in 2011. He published The End Of Protest: A New Playbook For Revolution in 2016. Here, he nominates programmer Vitalik Buterin, who cofounded the cryptocurrency Ethereum.

In activism, its hard to break out of the consensus to propose a new idea, and not let being shut down stop you. Vitalik Buterin has done just that. Hes only 25. He invented Ethereum when he was 19 and studying Bitcoin. He basically wanted to embed a computer inside money, via programs known as smart contracts. The idea was rejected by the Bitcoin community, but he pushed forward, and now Ethereum is one of the decades most promising technologies for social change.

Vitalik is interested in how technology can be used for good. The Bitcoin community couldnt care less about that; theyre just trying to make money. When I met Vitalik, he asked, Do you think were going to be able to tokenise natural resources? What he meant was: can we take a natural resource and represent it as a cryptocurrency, so that the value of the coin increases if the resources are protected? This is a whole different direction for environmental activism.

Ethereum is a system of smart contracts that are completely binding they are unchangeable and publicly verifiable. Key aspects of international agreements, such as the Paris agreement to combat climate change, could be more easily enforced if people could tell when promises had been broken. Youd be shifting power away from corruptible international organisations. In that sense, Vitalik is at the forefront of a new wave of globalism.

In the future well see other activists creating new forms of money that embody their economic ideals. I dream of redistributive currencies that automatically share a portion of each transaction with everyone in the economy. A lot of the ideas that have been floating around the left, like the Robin Hood tax on financial transactions, are hard to implement in the real world but easy to implement with a cryptocurrency. Imagine the reaction when governments realise global social movements are using Ethereum in ways that we never predicted.

The most impactful changes come from the places that we least expect. When we came up with Occupy Wall Street, everyone told me it was a bad idea and they werent interested. I see a similar reaction with Ethereum: people cant see its potential, and that is why it will defy them.

Marai Larasi: She is there for people who have no one and nothing. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

Emma Watson on Marai Larasi

My abiding memory of the Globes? We picked tarot cards together and she wore the best shoes

Emma Watson

Actor Emma Watson was appointed UN Women goodwill ambassador in 2014 and helped launch HeForShe, a UN campaign for the advancement of gender equality. Here, she nominates Marai Larasi MBE, who was until recently the executive director of black feminist organisation Imkaan and co-chair of the End Violence Against Women coalition. In 2018, she and Watson attended the Golden Globes together as part of the launch of Times Up.

Marai Larasi is mother to Ikamara and Jahred, but she is a mother to many. She is the person on the frontline of the issues I care about in the UK from feminism to LGBTQI+ rights. Throughout this decade, Marai has supported and championed women who have survived unimaginable abuses. She is there for people who have no one and nothing, in their hardest moments.

Who knows whats going to happen in the next decade? If the apocalypse comes, Id ride into battle in her wake. This would definitely make her laugh because she is the least violent person I know, in word, gesture and thought, even though she speaks beautifully about rage. She is all sorts of beautiful contradictions.

She is contained, having carefully learned to wield her energy. She knows when to use it and when not to, and knows that no is a complete sentence. She is passionately vegan, in the funniest, least self-aggrandising or patronising way possible. She just cocks her head sideways at people as if to say, What on earth are they doing, eating animals? Shes a neat freak. Whatever Marie Kondo is on, Marai is on, too. Again, if the apocalypse comes, Im hiding out in Marais room. She is heavy and light, old and young, an anvil thats fluid.

My abiding memory of attending the Golden Globes with Marai? Two things. We picked tarot cards before we went, and she wore the best shoes Ive ever seen. I bought her fluffy Birkenstocks as a thank you gift, which her children think are an abomination. I am told she wears them anyway.

I wish I could name the single most impactful thing she has done over the last decade, but I havent known her long enough, and she is notoriously modest, rarely speaking about all that she is juggling. Personally, though, it was probably something incredibly simple she said to me the first time we met. We were at Imkaan and she introduced herself as a black lesbian feminist. Why, I asked, did she feel the need to define herself this specifically? She answered and later sent me an Audre Lorde quote explaining that it is our differences that make us more powerful, not weaker. Knowing our experiences are different doesnt fracture us; it makes us more intimate, stronger, more connected.

I find her presence in the world profoundly comforting. Ive never met a woman I felt had more of the answers.

Yann LeCun: Image recognition wouldnt be possible without his work. Photograph: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg/via Getty Images

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger on Yann LeCun

If you see a self-driving car, or scan a cheque with your banks app thats all down to Yann

Kevin Systrom

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched the photo-sharing app Instagram in 2010, before stepping down last year. Here, they nominate Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Facebook.

Kevin Systrom When Mike and I left, we asked, Whats had the most effect on Instagram over the years? And we both agreed it was machine learning. Yann LeCun is one of the very few people to move it from being a buzzword to something that really mattered to companies and academics alike. Machine learning revolutionised Instagram, from suggesting friends to follow, to watching out for objectionable content.

Image recognition wouldnt be possible without Yanns work. It has transformed all sorts of industries. Being able to look at satellite data and understand global warming, or content on Instagram that needs to be followed up by law enforcement the things that keep people safe or transform the world in a meaningful way wouldnt be possible without him.

Mike Krieger

Mike Krieger Yann has been in the field of AI and machine learning since the late 80s, but its only in the last 10 years that the rest of the industry has caught up; his impact is now everywhere. If youre on the street and you see a self-driving car, or youre on Instagram and you feel safe because something has been removed, or if you do something as trivial as scanning a cheque using your banks app, thats all down to Yann.

The whole area of how AI can keep us safe online will continue to be important as the amount of content posted on all of these networks grows. In the next 10 years, Yann will be able to take machine learning from something that was typically done on very large computers to something that runs on peoples phones. It can help you take better photos because it knows whats in the image; it can help you solve all kinds of problems.

Adding a screen for the time transforms the Echo Dot into the best bedroom smart speaker

Amazon has a new twist on its popular cut-price Echo Dot smart speaker, now setting its sights squarely on your beleaguered bedside alarm clock with a new LED display embedded in the side.

The Echo Dot with Clock is one of those true Ronseal products – it says what it does on the tin. It is literally the same as the excellent third-generation Echo Dot, but is only available in white and has a white LED display showing the time peeking through the fabric side.

Its formally priced at 60 10 more than the regular Echo Dot but is frequently discounted to about half that.

You get the same four-way buttons on the top: volume up and down, mute for the microphones and an action button. New is the ability to tap the top of the Dot to snooze alarms but you have to press the action button or speak to Alexa to cancel them completely.

The light ring shines electric blue when Alexa is active and listening or flashes yellow when you have notifications or messages waiting. Its lit red when you have the mics muted. Its an attractive design.

Alexa can still hear you well, but due to recent updates it activates less frequently by accident. The speaker still sounds pretty good for the money: great for Alexas voice and alarms and perfectly fine for radio and simple background music. You can even pair two for stereo sound, or output to a Bluetooth speaker or via the 3.5mm socket.

Timers at-a-glance are handy too, but Echo Shows with screens are better at handling multiple timers at once. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The LED screen shines white through the mesh at the front of the Dot showing the time, your alarms, timers or the outside temperature. Two dots next to the clock show pending timers or that an alarm has been set.

You can manually adjust the brightness, via voice or the app, or set it to automatically adjust depending on ambient light. At night I found the screen was still quite bright, even at level zero, but it wasnt enough to keep me up and made seeing the time at a glance in the middle of night easy.

You can set various different tones, volumes and even ascending volumes for alarms. If you want to be woken up by the Grand Tour trio you can, or chants of Come on City if youre a Manchester City fan. Setting alarms via voice is easy, but you can do it in the Alexa app too, with recurring options for daily, weekly, by weekday or weekend.

Routines are useful too if you have smart home equipment, being able to trigger groups of lights and other bits when you wake up or go to sleep with a single command.


The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock has an RRP of 59.99 and is only available in sandstone (white).

For comparison, the Echo Dot without clock costs 49.99, Googles second-generation Nest Mini costs 49 and the Echo Show 5 costs 79.99.

But note all these products are the RRPs, and you will find lower prices without too much searching.


Simply adding a clock to the side is one of those small but mighty changes that has made Echo Dot with Clock my new favourite bedside alarm clock, displacing the Echo Show 5. Its small footprint, surprisingly good sound, lack of camera and attractive design make it a winner for the bedroom.

Whether you want a smart speaker in the bedroom is another matter and comes down to whether you trust Amazon. If you do, and want an Echo Dot with Clock, do yourself a favour and dont buy it at full price.

The regular Echo Dot is so frequently discounted that paying the full 50 RRP seems like a bit of a rip-off and its the same for the Echo Dot with Clock, which has been discounted to 45 from 60 at least once since its launch just a few weeks ago.

Pros: can always hear you, small but loud enough, great device support, clear when muted, activity can been seen from across the room, Bluetooth, 3.5mm audio socket, LED time

Cons: music distorts at max volume, no real bass, general knowledge not quite as good as Google Assistant

Press the mute button to stop Alexa hearing you. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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The favorable report drove the tech giants stocks up 2.5% on Wednesday, as the company expands its focus beyond the iPhone

Apple reported record-high quarter four earnings on Wednesday, citing strong performances in wearables and other services as the company continues to expand its focus beyond flagship products such as the iPhone.

The company reported a revenue of $64bn, beating a $63bn estimate from analysts.

In an earnings call, the chief executive, Tim Cook, said that new iPhone 11 models were off to a very, very good start as sales of AirPods, Apple Watches and streaming services continue to rise.

It was an incredible quarter for wearables, Cook said. It was a very broad range of services that set new all-time records, from our payment services to the search ad business to Apple Music, Apple Care, the App Store and cloud services almost every kind of service were in.

The favorable forecast comes as Apple said it generated $33.36bn in iPhone sales for its fourth quarter, which ended in September, compared with analyst expectations of $32.42bn.

The companys stocks were up 2.5% on Wednesday in after-hours trading.

Apples revenue is increasingly coming from accessories such as the Apple Watch and AirPods as well as new services such as its Apple Card credit card and a streaming television service set to begin on Friday.

Apple is also increasingly focused on health, stressing on the call that it had collaborated with a number of health institutions to democratize medical research by providing data from the Apple Watch.

The watch offers new health features including cycle tracking, activity trends, and electrocardiogram services, which measure heart strength.

We are giving users the ability to document and monitor the functioning of their heart and provide critical data to their doctors, Cook said.

The companys services segment generated $12.51bn in fourth-quarter revenue, topping analyst estimates of $12.15bn in revenue. Meanwhile, accessories generated a revenue of $6.52bn, topping analyst expectations of $6bn.

Apple now has 450 million subscribers to its own or third-party services on its devices, and sales of wearables were up 54% versus the previous year.

The outlook reaffirms Cooks strategy to remake a company that consistently depended on iPhone sales for well over half its revenue to one that depends on services and wearables.

Since 2017, Cook has had to implement the strategy while also shepherding Apple through a trade dispute between two of its most important markets, the United States and China.

Apples expansion into new areas has proven a solid revenue stream, said Wendy Johansson, of the digital consultancy Publicis Sapient.

Breaking away from the model of Apple-owner exclusivity, Apple introduces a new revenue stream and brings their industry weight to partnerships with Amazon and Roku to reach an expansive audience with their streaming options, she said. This sets Apple up to be the Trojan horse of the streaming wars.

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