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Do You Really Need An AI-Powered Toothbrush?

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Never doubt the power of technology to make simple things complicated. As we examine trends likely to define the year 2020 in tech, a few commonalities stand out to us. One such indicator points to an upcoming boom in “AI-powered toothbrushes.” Out with your regular old electric toothbrush and in with its “machine learning” successor. Why anyone needs such a thing remains to be seen.

Multiple brands are attempting to either create or co-opt this advancement in oral hygiene technology. At CES in Las Vegas earlier this month, Oral-B made the biggest splash. Turns out Oral-B already makes an AI-powered toothbrush, called the Genius X, which hit the market in late 2019. In Vegas, Oral-B unveiled a new model, the iO, which claims to improve the mapping of the interior your mouth, so it can give you a numerical answer to the question of what areas you are skimping on. Like the Genius X before it, Oral-B’s iO has received fawning coverage by tech bloggers. Still, we can’t imagine spending upward of $200 for a toothbrush, since you can get a toothbrush at CVS for all of $4 (and even an electric one on Amazon for about $50).

Oral hygiene is important, and it is almost certainly true that most of us do not do a good enough job taking care of our teeth and gums. But if I had to venture a guess, I’d say the people most likely to pay $200 for a toothbrush are the ones who do already care about their oral health, making them the least likely to need such a product. This in turn makes the iO and other AI advancements in the industry naught more than a gimmick. You don’t need an AI toothbrush any more than you need Charmin’s new toilet paper robot.

Whether you get Oral-B’s new iO toothbrush when it is released later this year depends on if you have $200 burning a hole in your pocket. If you do, then go for it; it’s not as if it is going to make your brushing experience any worse. Just do not expect some sort of savior in toothbrush form. Like a dollar store toothbrush, an AI-powered toothbrush requires you to use it and use it right. At the end of the day, that is up to you and you alone.

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How AirPods Have Gotten Me Through Quarantine

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Quarantine has been difficult for people from all walks of life to be sure. But it has posed a particular set of challenges for families like mine, where all of a sudden five people are expected to get work done without killing one another.

All things considered, we have survived reasonably well. I’m not sure I would still be of that opinion had I not purchase a pair of Apple AirPod Pros mere months before the lockdown began. The opposite of a trend-setter, I was skeptical when AirPods appeared on the scene and became the “must-have” accessory for so-called smart set. Why did I need my earbuds to be wireless? Why do I need to talk to people without holding my phone? After all, I have not one but two working hands. Also, the first generation of AirPods were designed like Apple’s original earbuds: in other words, seemingly designed to fall out of your ear. Who would pay hundreds of dollars for that?

I became slightly more tempted when Apple came out with the AirPod Pro model, complete with silicone tips so they actually stay in. (Imagine that!) I finally bit the bullet when I found myself in possession of $200 worth of Best Buy gift cards after Christmas. I expected to be underwhelmed.

That did not happen. Instead I became overwhelmed, turning into one of the people I hate: the AirPods guy. I started wearing them everywhere, adding a soundtrack to my life. While I fell in love with the convenience and sound quality they offered, I’m sure the standoffishness it promoted in me made the purchase a net negative.

Quarantine changed all that. I was visiting my family when the lockdown started and have simply never left. The AirPods have helped me survive. Without them, I have no idea how I’d be able to take Zoom calls or even zone out the house’s background noise to get work done. (The active noise cancellation is quite good). The AirPods have also made me rather enjoy a daily constitutional, as I listen to an audiobook and relish the change to get outside and walk around the block. Turns out that AirPods have been a crucial element to surviving quarantine, akin to Netflix or a healthy stack of unread books. I highly recommend these little guys to anyone struggling to survive these difficult times.

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What Do We Know About The iPhone 12?

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In the world of smartphones, the big news today is that the iPhone 12 likely will not come with an accompanying pair of EarPods, according to a report by 9to5Mac. With that in mind, this is a great time to take a look at what we do know about Apple’s upcoming model.

Lew from Unbox Therapy has a great analysis of the rumors swirling around the iPhone 12 (watch the entire video below). In his video, Lew notes that the form factor of the iPhone 12 is something of a throwback, abandoning the curvature of recent models for a boxier feel. This makes sense given that that is also the shape of the iPhone SE, Apple’s latest release. One of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone SE is the screen to body ratio, a problem that the iPhone 12 addresses with a screen that covers almost the entire phone. Unlike the iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 has the modern camera technology Apple debuted in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

When trying to visualize the iPhone 12, Lew offers a useful heuristic: “If you were able to shrink an iPad Pro to a phone format…you would be holding on to an iPhone 12.” Though the box-shaped design may sacrifice some comfort in the hand, it offers a more minimalist design and more confidence in your grip.

Lew is known to be of two minds when it comes to Apple, at different times vilifying its lack of creativity and finding value in its unity. That certainly renders his closing comments of note: He suggests that at a $649 price point, this may be the model that finally brings iPhone holdouts into the fold.

WATCH The Entire Unbox Therapy Video:

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What Can We Expect With The (Rumored) New iPad Pro

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Will the world be introduced to a new iPad Pro this March? It sure looks like it, assuming the novel coronavirus has not thrown a wrench into Apple’s production schedules.

Rumors have started to swirl on the features set to be part of the updated 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pros. One of the surest ways to predict new features is to look at the accessory products already being released to market.

As MacRumors reveals in the video below, new iPad cases are coming with larger cutouts for the cameras:

Will the new iPad actually have the triple lenses we’ve all become accustomed to from the latest iPhones? Do people actually take photographs with their iPads? These are questions we will have to wait to find out.

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