What Is a Smart Display and Should You Get One?

Smart displays are becoming all the rage now, especially with Google’s Home Hub out on the market now. But what exactly are smart displays? And is it the type of device you need?

If you’re not familiar with smart displays, you’ve probably at least seen them around in some capacity—Amazon has the Echo Show, and Google has the Home Hub. And then you have Lenovo and JBL with their takes on the smart display. But if you’ve never used one, you might be curious as to how they work and when they’re useful.

Smart Displays Are Smart Speakers with a Screen

When it comes down to it, a smart display (like the Echo Show or the Google Home Hub) is just a traditional smart speaker with a screen tacked on for visual presentation. So think of a regular Echo or Google Home, but with a built-in screen.

I describe this like it’s not a huge deal, but depending on how you use it, a smart display can completely change how you would typically use a voice assistant in your home.

Instead of asking Alexa or Google Assistant about the weather and then just listening to the forecast, they both can show you the forecast with the built-in display, which can be much more helpful and useful. Likewise, if you ask them about a piece of trivia (like the tallest building in the world or how many movies Tom Hanks has starred in), the display not only gives you the simple answer, but it can show you more information related to your question.

RELATED: Lenovo Smart Display Review: Google Home Gets a Much Needed (But Expensive) Upgrade

Furthermore, the built-in display shines when you want to take advantage of visual-heavy voice commands, like looking up recipes or telling Google Assistant to show you videos of cute kittens on YouTube. Of course, if you have a Chromecast hooked up to a nearby television, this will accomplish sort of the same thing, but the experience is seamless when you have a built-in display.

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You’re Probably Swiping on Your iPhone X Wrong, Here’s How to Do It Right

With the introduction of the iPhone X, Apple changed the way users interact with their devices by getting rid of the home button entirely. While it’s fairly easy to use the new gestures, some users may not be using them quite right, which can cause some frustration.

RELATED: Should You Buy or Upgrade to One of the New X Series iPhones?

Mainly, it comes down to knowing how to swipe to either go back to the home screen, bring up the app switcher, and instantly switch between apps, all of which are three different gestures. We’ll show you how to conquer these gestures, as well as a couple of other swipe gestures to help you out.

Going Back to the Home Screen

Without a home button, the iPhone X, XS, and XR use a simple swipe-up gesture from the bottom of the screen to exit an app and go back to the home screen.

It’s more of a flick than a swipe, but you get the point. You also don’t have to swipe up from the very bottom of the screen. It’s a bit forgiving in that you can swipe up from a bit higher up, and you don’t necessarily even have to touch that narrow bar at the bottom of the screen, but it depends what app you’re in and whether or not there’s a button there to get in the way. And the best part about letting you swipe from a bit higher up is that it’s kind of where people are used to hitting the home button if they come from older phones.

Bringing Up the App Switcher

If you don’t want to go back to the home screen, but rather would like to bring up the app switcher, you perform the same swipe-up gesture like you normally would if going back to the home screen, but instead of flicking, you swipe up and hold for a split second.

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iClever IC-BS06 Wi-Fi Smart Plug Review: An Outdoor Plug Perfect For Christmas Lights

Most smart plugs on the market have one thing missing: they’re not designed for outdoor use. The iClever IC-BS06 smart plug, however, is built for outdoor life and nasty weather—and even has some nifty features tacked on.

Let’s get the outdoor-related specs and jargon out of the way first. The IC-BS06 is rated for temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees. So even on the coldest and hottest of days, the plug will continue to power your outdoor displays, water feature or whatever it’s controlling. Furthermore, it’s IP44 certified, which means that it can take the occasional splashing of water like rain and melting snow, but it can’t be submerged. Luckily, submersion won’t be a problem unless there’s significant flooding. By then, you’ll likely have worse things to worry about anyway.

So how is it as a regular smart plug? It works great, but there are a couple things to be aware of.

The Setup Process

The plug uses an app called Smart Life for both the setup process and remote control via your phone. It’s made by a Chinese developer, so while everything is in English, it’s roughly translated from Chinese.

For the most part, this isn’t a huge deal, and you can navigate just fine and understand most of the menus and buttons, but there may be some instances that could confuse some users, like this firmware update pop-up that says “Wi-Fi module: Increase power-off memory function” and then a button that reads “Will upgrade shortly,” but it actually updates the firmware right after you hit the button.

The setup process overall isn’t as quick as I’d like it to be (you’re stuck on a connecting screen for a solid 45 seconds or so), but it’s at least painless and easy.

The Nifty Features

Once you’re up and running, the iClever plug has some pretty nice features, including two receptacles that can be controlled individually, as well as some cool automation features that you can base on the temperature, time of day, and even the humidity.

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How to Use Group FaceTime on the iPhone and iPad

For the longest time, FaceTime has allowed no more than two users to video chat with each other, but with the release of Group FaceTime in iOS 12.1, you can video chat with up to 31 other people. Here’s how to do it.

RELATED: How to FaceTime on Your Apple TV

Anyone that you want to include in your Group FaceTime chat will need to have their device updated to at least iOS 12.1. Other than that, you’re good to go as far as requirements are concerned.

To start a Group FaceTime call, start by opening up the FaceTime app and then tapping the “+” button up in the top right corner of the screen.

Type in the contacts that you want to call and then tap “Video.” You can also select “Audio” if you just want to do a FaceTime audio call.

Wait for the recipients to pick up one at a time. You can begin chatting with anyone who has answered without having to wait for the rest of the group to join.

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How to Get Nest Hello Doorbell Notifications on Your Google Home Hub

You can easily get Nest Hello video doorbell notifications right on your phone, but if you’re at home lounging on the couch, you can also receive alerts right on your Google Home Hub.

RELATED: How to Have Google Home Notify You When Someone Rings Your Nest Hello

This is a feature that Google Home users have been able to take advantage of for a while now, but with the Google Home Hub and its built-in screen, you can now have the Nest Hello video feed automatically pop up whenever the doorbell rings, which is way better anyway.

How to Set It Up

The process for setting up Nest Hello notifications on the Google Home Hub are the same for setting it up on all other Google Home devices, and we have a guide that takes you through the process.

The gist is that you’ll need to download the Google Assistant app if you’re on iPhone (Android users are already good to go there). Next, you’ll enable “Visitor Announcements” in your Nest Hello’s settings within the Nest app.

At that point, you’ll connect your Nest app with the Google Assistant app, and you’re off to the races!

How to Show the Video Feed Manually at Anytime

Aside from the video feed automatically popping up when the doorbell rings, you can also bring up the Nest Hello’s video feed manually at any time by saying something like, “Hey Google, show me the Front Door” (or whatever you named your Nest Hello).

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