Equifax breach shows signs of a possible state-sponsored hack

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Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Ever since word of the Equifax hack got out, there’s been one lingering question: was it a state-sponsored attack, or just criminals who took advantage of a security hole? At the moment, it looks like it might be the former. Bloomberg sources have shed light on the ongoing investigations into the breach, and they claim there are signs of a government’s involvement. The initial group of hackers weren’t particularly experienced, according to the tipsters, but they handed things over to a more “sophisticated” team. There are even hints that this might be the work of Chinese intelligence agents, although it’s not yet clear who’s responsible.

The insiders say that “many” of the tools used in the hack were Chinese in origin, and that there are similarities to China-backed breaches targeting the health insurance firm Anthem and the US government’s Office of Personnel Management. Also, none of the stolen data has surfaced online — whoever took it wasn’t in a rush to profit. This was a “‘get as much data as you can on every American’ play,” one of Bloomberg‘s contacts said.

However, sources aware of federal investigations say only that there’s evidence of a state-sponsored attack, not that it points to any one country. Equifax’s security consulting partner, Mandiant, wrote as recently as September 19th that it couldn’t identify the culprits or where they came from.

As it is, Equifax may have been its own worst enemy in the early days of the breach. The company had hired Mandiant to look into earlier security issues, but there was a he-said-she-said fight over Equifax’s security in the weeks surrounding the hack. Equifax reportedly thought Mandiant had sent rookies to look into the vulnerabilities of its systems, while Mandiant decried what it saw as unpatched systems and sloppy policies. An Equifax spokesperson told Bloomberg that it has had a “professional, highly valuable relationship” with Mandiant and isn’t commenting on its ally’s investigation, but the scoop suggests that the squabble may have hurt the chances of a timely fix for the flaw that compromised 143 million Americans.

Whatever contributed to the incident, there are significant ramifications if there’s a foreign power involved. If it’s China, it’d be a huge violation of the US-China agreement that was supposed to put an end to hacking campaigns. Many didn’t expect either side to fully honor the pact, but this would be an overt violation. And if it’s another known country with state-sponsored hacking, like North Korea or Russia? That wouldn’t be any better, as it would exacerbate already high tensions. No matter who’s behind this, things could get very thorny very quickly.

 

 

YouTube Live playthroughs are now a no-no for Nintendo Creators

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Aaron Souppouris / Engadget

Nintendo has updated its Creators Program’s rules to add a new entry: members can no longer broadcast on YouTube Live. The gaming titan has long been extra protective of its properties and regularly issues takedown notices for videos that use its games. It launched the initiative in 2015 as a sort of a compromise with YouTubers who feature its IPs. The program gives streamers a way to get part of their Nintendo videos’ ad revenue, but it looks like the company doesn’t want people earning money for livestreaming their playthroughs.

A lot of fans are obviously unhappy about the change, especially since streamers have to be part of YouTube’s Partner Program to be eligible for Nintendo’s. That means they first have to rack up at least 10,000 public views and get approved for YouTube’s partnership before they can even apply for the developer’s. To be clear, program members can still post “Let’s Play” type videos with commentaries. However, if they want to broadcast live, they can only choose between two options.

They can either livestream on a channel not affiliated with the program or pull their channel out of the initiative entirely. If they opt for the latter, they can then register any of their work that contains a Nintendo IP on a per video basis. Unfortunately, they’ll only get 60 percent of the ad revenue if they opt to register each video separately, whereas member channels get 70 percent.

 

 

Priyanka Chopra Parineeti Chopra and others shower love on new parents Kunal Kemmu and Soha Ali Khan

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Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra & others shower love on new parents, Kunal Kemmu and Soha Ali Khan

The very lovely Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu welcomed their first child yesterday and we are just so happy for this couple. The two got blessed with a baby girl and family and close friends couldn’t stop sending their love and wishes to the couple and their little one.

Thrilled Kunal took to Twitter to announce the big news as he wrote, “We are over the moon thrilled and delighted to share that we have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl on this very auspicious day.”

The new daddy also added, “Soha and our gorgeous baby are doing well. We thank you for your kind wishes, love and blessings.”
Aww, many congratulations you two! <3

Congratulating the new momma and daddy were many Bollywood stars including Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra, Singer Mika Singh and many others.

Adorable Shahid Kapoor talks about his special moment with daughter Misha

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Adorable! Shahid Kapoor talks about his special moment with daughter Misha

Shahid Kapoor is a doting family man and there’s no doubt about it. Being a busy man that he is, Sasha makes sure to spend quality time with wife Mira Kapoor and daughter Misha Kapoor from his hectic work schedules. It was yesterday when Shahid thought of delighting all his fans and came for a live chat on Facebook where he answered many of their interesting questions (some of them quite much made us go aww).

During his chat, one of the fans asked him about that one thing which brings a smile on his face after a long day cum what may happen. Answering this question, Shahid sure melt our heart! He said, “The one thing that puts a smile on my face regardless of what has happened in the day is my daughter Misha. Seeing my wife Mira and daughter after I come back makes me happy.”

He also mentioned about how he enjoys his bedtime with daughter Misha. He spoke, “I try to read bedtime stories to Misha. We sing nursery rhymes together,”

The next thing that Kapoor was asked about wife Mira’s reaction on his much awaited Padmavati look, to which, he quickly replied, “After marriage, my wife is Mira Rajput Kapoor. I thought some Kapoor’s head was transferred to Mira, but little did I knew all of her Rajput would come back to me during the making of the film. Apart from the regular pressures of an actor to satisfy his audience, I have the ultimate pressure of living up to my wife’s expectations to portraying a Rajput character,”

Hilarious indeed!

The actor was then asked about wife Mira’s plans of joining Bollywood (if any) Lol!

To this, Shahid replied, “It’s not my decision that what my wife wants to do. It’s for her to decide and I will be supportive of her if she wants to become an actor.”

Woah!

Last but not the least, Shahid also spoke about his special moment with daughter Misha. Being a cutie that he is, SK commented, “It’s difficult to choose one moment with your child. Every day is etched in my mind when I am around her. Every time she notices me and she calls me papa, it’s very special.”

Simply adorbs!! Love love!

Shruti Haasan is inspired of Priyanka Chopras Met Gala 2017 dress

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Shruti Haasan is inspired of Priyanka Chopra's Met Gala 2017 dress

Priyanka Chopra’s Met Gala 2017 appearance was one of a kind. PeeCee donned a brown Ralph & Russo number, a trench coat featuring a thigh high split and possibly the worlds largest trail. Be it the memes that followed the appearance or PeeCee’s jaw-dropping looks, it was definitely one of the most talked about red-carpet appearances of 2017.
 
Just last night, Femina hosted its Stylista West 2017 awards in the city. And we can’t help but recall PeeCee’s Met moment as soon as we saw Shurti Haasan. The actress walked the red carpted donning a blood red trench coat with a similar thigh high split, plunging neckline but a shorter trail. What’s more? The actress even did the same hairdo as PeeCee, she tied her tresses up in a top knot with minimal makeup and bold red lips.
 
While we are totally loving Shruti’s red hot appearance, we still can’t get over PeeCee’s long trail. Which one do you like better? Tell us in the comments below. 
 

Ranbir Kapoor visits Gauri Khan at her store in town

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Ranbir Kapoor visits Gauri Khan at her store in town
Ever since Gauri Khan opened her interior designer store, Gauri Khan Designs in town, B-townies have been visiting her. And every time a B-townie makes a visit, Gauri takes to her Instagram to share a memory from the day.

Similarly, Ranbir Kapoor recently made a brief visit to Gauri’s store and was all praise for the ace designer. For those unaware, it has been only 9 months that Ranbir shifted into his bachelor pad that was designed by Gauri. While the duo posed for our shutterbugs, Gauri took to share a selfie with Jr. RK. She captioned it, “Keeping the look clean & fresh with Ranbir … #NoFiltersNeeded on the terrace! #GauriKhanDesigns”

She then posted another insight from their meeting which was a video of Ranbir where the actor was seen praising Gauri. He said,  “I collaborated with Gauri on my house so I know her talent. I have been witnessed to how she designs the space and makes it to your home. It’s exquisite and at the same time the glamour quotient is really high. It’s the first time that I have visited Gauri Khan Designs. Each floor is different and you have to see it to believe it.”

Check out some pictures, their selfie and Ranbir’s video…  

Ranbir Kapoor visits Gauri Khan at her store in town
Ranbir Kapoor visits Gauri Khan at her store in town
Ranbir Kapoor visits Gauri Khan at her store in town

Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan share their joy regarding Soha Ali Khans baby girl

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Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan share their joy regarding Soha Ali Khan's baby girl

Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu have been blessed with a baby girl and the entire Khan-daan is happy and excited about it. Sharing the news, Kunal tweeted yesterday, “We are over the moon thrilled and delighted to share that we have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl on this very auspicious day. Soha and our gorgeous baby are doing well. We thank you for your kind wishes, love and blessings.”
 
As the Pataudi’s celebrate the li’l baby girl, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan along with Kunal and Sharmila Tagore were asked to react. 
 
To this, Saif said, “It is a happy time for us. I’ve never been an uncle before, so I am Uncle Saif now.”
 
Soha’s sister-in-law, Kareena expressed, “I’m thrilled & excited that Taimur has a beautiful little sister now. We are all celebrating the joyous occasion in the capital.” 
 
Soha and Saif’s mother, Sharmila Tagore revealed, “We are happy. Soha is well and Kunal is well. It’s lovely to have the little one. It’s a very special moment. Kunal is super excited as it’s his first baby. Thank god everything went well.”
 
Aww-dorable, isnt it?
 
Earlier, Kunal was quoted expressing his feeling, as he said, “It was a baby galore everywhere. Saif had a baby and a lot of my other friends were becoming parents. There was so much pressure. I am very excited and happy. A lot of people said that you will be nervous and will get sleepless nights, but I haven’t felt it. I can’t wait to be a father now.”
 
The actor also reported that their baby girl’s room in currently of a neutral shade and the preparation of a nursery has already started.

How cute is that?!

Is Ranveer Singh seeing a psychiatrist after playing Alauddin Khilji?

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Is Ranveer Singh seeing a psychiatrist after playing Alauddin Khilji?
Ranveer Singh is known for his method acting. The actor has been quite vocal about putting himself through pain and procedure to get into the feel of his character. And the same goes for his character of Alauddin Khilji who is a menacing and cruel antagonist in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus next, Padmavati.
If these recent reports are to be believed, Ranveer went so negative for his character that he is now seeing a shrink to get back to normal. A source revealed, “Ranveer has his friends and family worried. To play Alauddin Khilji, he has been researching and exploring extreme negativity. To become Khilji, he took the same route as he did to play Peshwa Bajirao. He locked himself up in his apartment, prepped and stayed in the head space for weeks. Getting out of this dark, intimidating mindset wasn’t easy for him. The film has also been shot for almost a year now, so sustaining the Khilji persona was very challenging. It affected his reactions and behavior towards people. Which is why, his friends advised him to get help in emerging beyond Khilji. He is going to a psychiatrist to get rid of the Khilji influences.”
On the sets of the film, Ranveer avoids any human contact in order to stay into the emotions and expressions of his character. The actor has reportedly been taking holidays post every schedule and has even bought himself a luxury car to cheer up his mood. And now that nothing helped him enough, Ranveer is seeing a psychiatrist to get over the negativity.

Saif Ali Khan shares his experience of shooting Sacred Games on the streets of Mumbai

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Saif Ali Khan shares his experience of shooting Sacred Games on the streets of Mumbai

Saif Ali Khan is all set to make a debut on the web with US-based on-demand streaming website Netflix’s original web series titled Sacred Games. The series is set in Mumbai as it revolves around the city’s intricate web of organised crime, corruption, politics and more. It is based on Vikram Chandra’s novel with the same name.

Recently, during an interview with a leading daily, Saif spoke at length about his web venture. He said, “It is not a web series. I want to call it streaming content. So far, it is very artistic and Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap are amazing to work with. This is the first time I am working with them. They are helping me improve my game tremendously. It’s an exciting space.”

When asked about his street shooting in Mumbai, Saif revealed, “We had to shoot in a public bathroom. It is the worst thing I have seen. I was worried about Hepatitis. So they cleaned it up because I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I will die here.”

Bhumi Pednekar is crushing big time on Priyanka Chopra

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Bhumi Pednekar is crushing big time on Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra is on global domination for sure! The actress is leaving no stone unturned in her Hollywood journey, needless to say how PeeCee has already been slaying Bollywood. The entire B-town is all praise for the diva and the recent one is Bhumi Pednekar.
Bhumi who kicked off her career in Bollywood with Ayushmann Khuranna in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, has been on a rise and rise ever since. Recent examples being Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and  Shubh Mangal Savdhaan. Bhumi is known for her dedication and aesthetic fashion sense. 
Recently during an interview with a leading daily, Bhumi revealed her fondness  for PeeCee when asked about her favourite B-townie. She said, “Priyanka Chopra. I have actually adored her since I was 10 maybe when she became Miss India. She’s just super strong and I crush on all strong women!.’’
Well Bhumi, who doesn’t adore her, everyone does!

No Tanu Weds Manu 3 happening Aanand L Rai confirms

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No Tanu Weds Manu 3 happening! Aanand L Rai confirms

Aanand L Rai has made a name for himself as a successful director in the film industry by giving us some great hits like Tanu Weds Manu franchise, Raanjhanaa and his latest Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.
 
His film Tanu Weds Manu was a turning point in Kangana Ranaut’s career and till today is considered to be her one of the finest performances. Speaking about the same in his conversation with a popular daily, Aanand earlier mentioned, “Tanu Weds Manu was my first hit. Kangana and I enjoyed working on TWM. We shared a great rapport. After I wrapped up Raanjhanaa and she finished Queen, we came together for TWM Returns.” 

He further added, “I was looking for my Kangana and she wasn’t there. Her loyalty was with the actor inside her; I wasn’t taking the film as seriously as she was.” 

Though, all this while there were rumours doing rounds of a fallout between the two which led to Tanu Weds Manu 3 being postponed. Rubbishing any such news, Aanand said, “What fallout? Once I am done with Khan saab’s (Shah Rukh Khan)  film, we will start working on the script for the third part.”

Even Kangana spoke about the same and said, “Once the pressure of Manikarnika is off me, I’ll meet and spend some time with him. The third part of Tanu Weds Manu will have to be crackling. So far, there’s no discussion, but the film might happen next year.” 

However now Aanand has dismissed his previous statement  about Tanu Weds Manu 3  and said, “Tanu Weds Manu 3 is definitely not happening. I do have something else in the pipeline with Dhanush and will start work on it only post filming my current movie.” 

Sad already?

Deepika Padukone makes a stylish appearance in the city 

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Deepika Padukone is gearing up for her much anticipated film of the year, Padmavati opposite beau Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. It goes without saying that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus is touted to be a box-office winner.

The actress was snapped in the city with mommy Ujjala Padukone. Deepika looked super stylish in an olive green maxi knotted at the end over a pair of denims and black loafers. The actress looked fresh as a daisy and she opted for a no make-up look.

Talking about the film and the buzz around it, beau Ranveer is currently seeing a psychiatrist to get back to normal from his dark character of Alauddin Khilji. On the other hand, Shahid opened about his character of Maharawal Ratan Singh and the expectations bound to it.

Padmavati is slated to release on December 1st this year. 

Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone

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Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone

Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone

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Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

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Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

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Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

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Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

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Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

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Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

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Deepika Padukone

Saif Ali Khan snaps at a journalist on being asked about Taimur on Chef promotions

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Saif Ali Khan snaps at a journalist on being asked about Taimur on Chef promotions

Ever since Kareena Kapoor Khan’s pregnancy was annouced, the entire nation waited with bated breath to see the Jr. Nawab. And as soon as li’l Taimur’s first picture went viral, the boy became the talk of the town. Taimur who is only 9months old, already has a huge fan army and paparazzi frenzy to deal with.

And while Bebo has always been elated and open to discussions regarding Taimur’s growing popularity, Saif was reportedly worried.
 
Both Saif and Kareena are currently working on their first films after Taimur, Chef and Veere Di Wedding respectively. While Kareena is shooting in the capital, Saif is gearing up the release of Chef on October 6th with endless promotions. 
 
Recently, at one such promotional event the actor was asked if he missed Taimur while he was filming for Chef, and what followed next was least expected. The actor gave a beffiting reply to the journalist saying, “You know Taimur Ali Khan is just 9 months old and the child artist with me is 13 years old. You know I don’t think about Taimur after seeing someone else’s son. I always miss him and keep a tab on him. He is my son and I am not confused about the fact that I have a kid. Why are you asking this? Do you have kids?”
 
Oh oh, daddy Nawab is definitely very protective about his li’l prince. Careful!

Ask Engadget returns (and you should send us your questions)!

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A long time ago in a far-away land called 2013, we used to run a feature called “Ask Engadget” where you — our readers, fans, followers and critics — could ask us for our advice, opinions and recommendations on everything from cheap laptops and starter cameras to routers and email clients. You would write into ask@engadget.com with all the pertinent details about your issue, and like your favorite trusted oracle, we would gather all our knowledge and experience into a reply (and let the community weigh in as well).

It was fun, it was informative and honestly, we’ve missed doing it. So, we’re bringing it back! Starting in October, we’ll be using our super powers for good and answering questions that are sent to the ask@engadget.com email address. We’ll gather advice from our staff, from experts and from the community at large to provide you with a solution. If you’ve got questions, well, you know what to do.

 

 

Apple Watch Series 3 review: A good watch, a so-so phone replacement

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With each generation, the Apple Watch’s purpose has seemed to shift. The first one demonstrated what Apple thought a wearable should be, and the second tried to be the perfect workout companion. When it came time to build the Series 3, though, Apple took everything it got right with the fitness-friendly Series 2, polished it up, and threw an LTE radio inside.

And lo, the $399 Apple Watch Series 3 became the first of a new breed of Apple devices — it straddles the line between smartwatch and phone, with a dash of iPod thrown in for good measure. For those who’d rather play it safe, Apple also built a $329 Series 3 with just GPS and no cellular connection. In fact, that safe bet will probably pay off for most people — the cellular Series 3 is a little too inconsistent for my taste.

Engadget Score

Poor

Uninspiring

Good

Excellent

Key

Pros
  • Improved performance
  • Great battery life when connected to a phone
  • Valuable new fitness features
  • Siri feels more useful
Cons
  • iPhone still needs to be on to receive texts
  • Lousy battery life on LTE
  • Call quality can vary
  • Apple Music streaming not ready yet

Summary

All told, the Apple Watch Series 3 feels like two separate devices. When it’s used as a traditional smartwatch — by which I mean it’s connected to, and in range of a phone — it’s the best wearable Apple has ever made. Performance is much improved, battery life is strong, and watch OS 4 feels notably more thoughtful than earlier builds. Some of that polish fades when using the Watch as a standalone device, though. When everything works the way it’s supposed to, the Series 3 is a capable watch-phone hybrid. Unfortunately, wireless performance can be inconsistent and the toll it takes on the battery can be tough to swallow, especially when the feature will cost you $10/month.

Hardware and design

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Despite what some redesign rumors suggested ahead of the big event, this year’s Apple Watch looks… just like an Apple Watch. Shocking, I know. As ever, the Series 3 comes in 38mm and 42mm sizes, so earlier bands will continue to fit just fine. And, as with the Series 2, all versions feature a built-in GPS radio and 50-meter water resistance. Don’t let that classification fool you, though — you can take the Watch for a swim, but you almost certainly shouldn’t take it 50 meters underwater. (Why the watch industry continues to use such counterintuitive terminology is beyond me.)

Not much has changed with the display either — we’re still working with a tiny OLED screen running at 390 x 312, covered by a plate of Ion-X glass. (The stainless-steel and ceramic models instead use tougher sapphire crystal, but this Watch’s glass face was very good at resisting nicks as I accidentally banged my hands into walls and fixtures.) Max brightness still tops out at 1,000 nits, which is more than enough to keep notifications and apps readable under bright sunlight. More interesting is the way the screen doubles as the Watch’s wireless antenna; it’s a nifty feat of engineering that seems to get the job done well.

Gallery: Apple Watch Series 3 review photos | 26 Photos

26
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In any case, I’ve been wearing a 42mm Apple Watch on and off since the first version launched in 2015, and the fit and finish of my 42mm cellular review unit is first-rate, as always. It’s impossible to tell that the Series 3 is slightly thicker than the models that came before it, and thankfully, it’s just as hard to feel the difference when it’s strapped to your wrist. That’s because the Watch’s aluminum squircle of a body hasn’t changed — the ceramic hump around back housing the heart rate sensor is, according to Apple, two sheets of paper thicker than it was before. The 42mm body’s weight hasn’t changed either, which is pretty impressive considering the extra stuff needed to turn this wearable into a tiny, functional phone. Throw in an improved, dual-core S3 chipset and a slightly bigger battery, and we’ve got a remarkably snappy little package.

Until you start talking into your wrist, there’s only one way to tell if a Watch is LTE-enabled or not: You need to spot the red dot. This red highlight serves no technical purpose; it’s purely for looks, and if you’re the type who likes visual metaphors, you’ll notice a certain symmetry with the Watch’s red notification dot. I get the need for some sort of visual signifier, but fashionistas, beware: That red flourish clashes with a lot of Apple Watch bands out there.

As a traditional smartwatch

Chris Velazco/Engadget

The original Apple Watch gave shape to the company’s vision for wearable computing, but, man, it was frustratingly slow sometimes. Fast-forward two years, and we finally have an Apple Watch that feels as fast as it should. Swiping between watch faces is smoother than before, and launching apps seems to take considerably less time, all thanks to Apple’s updated S3 chipset. Series 1 and 2 owners might not find the difference that pronounced, since both devices have dual-core processors of their own, but the fractions of a second I’m saving every time an action works more smoothly becomes time I get to spend doing something else that matters to me.

One of the best ways to see all this power in action is by talking to Siri — and, for once, the experience won’t make you want to tear your hair out. Siri can finally speak to you on the Series 3, and it uses the same natural-sounding voice you’d hear it use on an iOS device running iOS 11. I never really used Siri on the Series 2, because it required me to glance down at my wrist all the time. This year, Siri’s audible responses and generally spot-on voice transcription meant I could ask it to send a message or email for me and not worry too much about what happened next. Yes, this eventually bit me in the ass, but never too badly. Beyond handling messages and tasks, Siri has also been helpful for navigating to hole-in-the-wall restaurants and answering various random questions.

As useful as Siri is now, it still has its limits. For one, you need to be careful with how you ask for things — “open News” does what you’d expect it to, but “show me the news” kicked me out to external search results. Oh, and don’t forget that the Watch’s screen has to be on to get Siri’s attention with a voice command. A version of Siri that constantly listens for commands would be ideal, but that’d probably wreak as much havoc on battery life as, well, a cellular radio would.

The Series 3’s new watch faces sure are… interesting. Chris Velazco/Engadget

Beyond just Siri, Apple’s new watchOS 4 offers a few other new features as well. There are new customizable kaleidoscope watch faces, along with a handful of faces starring characters from Toy Story. The music app has been updated with a new look and slightly more seamless syncing — some playlists, like “New Music” and “Favorites,” are transferred over by default while the Watch charges for the first time. Individual tracks and playlists can be moved over easily enough too, but literally any support for podcasts would’ve been nice. To make the most of the Watch’s music player, though, you need to be an Apple Music subscriber; the Watch still offers media controls for whatever audio is playing on the iPhone, but you’re out of luck if you’d prefer to interact with Spotify’s superior playlists.

The Series 3 technically works as a standalone device, but let’s be real: We’re so attached to our phones that the Watch will spend most of its time connected to an iPhone anyway. I’m not complaining either, mostly because the Watch has very good battery life as a result. I usually pull my Watch off its charger at around 8AM, and I’ve routinely seen it chug along until midafternoon the next day if I didn’t make many voice calls on it. Over the weekend, when my phone was gloriously quiet, I got nearly two full days of screen-on time before needing to charge the Watch again. Apple bumped up the Series 3’s battery capacity to maximize cellular usage time, so while I’m pleased that tethered battery life has improved, I’m not surprised.

As a standalone device

Chris Velazco/Engadget

The connection between the Apple Watch and an iPhone is the core of Apple’s wearable experience, and for the first time, the company gave the Watch the tools to function independently. Seeing the Watch hop onto an LTE network and use your same phone number is undeniably neat, but honestly, it’s not something I’d want to do very often.

First off, yes, you’re going to have to pay your carrier $10 a month for the privilege, not to mention an activation fee once this first wave of promotions dies down. Setting up the Watch with my AT&T phone plan was mostly a breeze, but some reviewers have experienced issues getting everything squared away, especially when older rate plans were involved. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect most of you won’t need to worry much.

Actually using the phone is easier than expected — you can either punch in a number or select one of your contacts — and call quality was generally very good. In a majority of conversations I had, the people on the other end couldn’t even tell I was talking into a watch. That can change suddenly, though. Earlier this week, I parked myself outside the office to take a few phone calls, and the signal indicator bounced between two and four dots of coverage while I was just sitting there.

As a result, call quality got really strange — I could hear the other party just fine, but I sounded like a mess to them. This happened only one other time, in a completely different location, and I’m at a loss as to why. In any case, if you’re interested in taking calls on a Series 3, a Bluetooth headset is a must. It’ll also help in situations where the Watch’s speaker just isn’t loud enough, which is most of the time, frankly.

Messages rolled in quickly too, but here’s the thing: Not all messages are treated equally. As long as you have some kind of wireless signal, iMessages will be delivered just fine. Text messages are usually subject to a delay, since they’re routed through your iPhone, but this also means that SMSes won’t come through at all if your iPhone is dead. Emails running through Apple’s Mail app worked fine but took longer than usual to pop up on my wrist, so I wouldn’t advise going watch-only when urgent business is in the offing. And most of the Watch apps I installed worked normally, though a few — like Slack and Twitter — either did nothing or force-quit when I tried to use them.

Early review models also seemed prone to connectivity issues stemming from a Wi-Fi bug — in a bid to conserve battery life, the Series 3 tries to latch onto wireless networks your other Apple devices have flagged as being suitable for use. The problem was, not every network was flagged correctly, so captive portals (like those used at, say, Starbucks) would get the OK and the Watch would try to connect, with no way of getting past whatever interstitial screen popped up. It’s not that the Watch was going out of its way to jump onto unfamiliar networks — it’s that some of the networks it thinks are kosher actually aren’t.

This is a major goof, but I can see why it might have escaped detection — I have had precisely zero issues with my Series 3 attempting to latch onto bum networks. Then again, I’m one person, and I find it hard to believe that not a single engineer testing the Series 3 prior to launch ran into this. I’m fairly sure you won’t run into this very specific kind of trouble, but it remains a risk; Apple promised a fix after catching some well-deserved flak, but it still hadn’t materialized when we published this review.

Really, my biggest concern is much more mundane: Going completely iPhone-free means the Watch’s battery life will take a huge hit. After an early-morning run while listening to music and using the GPS, followed by a couple of test calls, the Series 3 was on its last legs by early afternoon. Apple has always been clear that the Series 3 is more of a temporary phone substitute than an actual replacement, so this probably won’t seem shocking to you. Still, if this morning routine sounds like your idea of a good time, remember to have a charger handy.

I don’t mean to make the Series 3 sound terrible at this stuff — when everything works properly, it makes for an adequate untethered companion. It’s just too bad that those moments weren’t as common as I expected.

As a fitness tracker

Chris Velazco/Engadget

With the Series 2, Apple decided the Watch should be a serious fitness wearable, and its focus on getting people out of their chairs clearly isn’t going away. Thankfully, the Series 3’s blend of capable hardware and thoughtful software make it a great choice for people who take their workouts seriously, but not that seriously.

The Series 3’s step counts were in line with other wearables I tested it against, though accuracy is a weird thing to look for in cases like these. Every fitness tracker I’ve ever worn seemed to interpret my steps a little differently, but the Series 3 was consistently within +/- 10 steps of my own counts (in my head, up to 250). Strangely, I guess I define “a flight of stairs” differently from how the Watch’s new barometer does, since it consistently underestimated me on days when I decided to avoid the office’s elevators. Meanwhile, the updated Workout app packs support for new workout types (perfect for you crazy high-intensity interval people) and easier controls for setting time or calorie burn goals for your swim, walk or run.

Speaking of running, I’ve had no issue with GPS accuracy either — I run the same route a few times a week, and the distance was basically bang-on every time. Granted, I don’t precisely know how long that makeshift course is, so hardcore runners (like Engadget marathoner-in-residence Dana Wollman) may be better served by more purpose-built wearables that can more accurately measure one’s pace. Now, once I get moving, I don’t have too much trouble powering through to the end; the real trouble comes in getting off my ass to start with. For better or worse, Apple’s three-ringed activity app now offers more proactive notifications, the most effective of which tells me roughly how much longer I’d need to walk to hit my goals at the end of the day. It’s just enough of a push to get me where I want to be, and I’m surprised Apple didn’t implement this sooner.

Your author really needs to chill out. Chris Velazco/Engadget

Even though I’m not the exercise nut I used to be, I appreciated Apple’s enhanced focus on your heart. The Watch tries to get more accurate readings of your resting heart rate by checking it when it knows you haven’t been moving, and it plots your heart rate readings on handy graphs to show you changes over time.

It’s especially helpful for tracking your recovery after intense exercises, but that’s one of the few areas where the Watch offers a little more data than casual users are probably interested in. All told, this a wearable best suited for generalists. Good thing for Apple, then, that there are a lot of them out there. Hardcore athletes may get more mileage out of a wearable that measures even more, like blood oxygenation. (Curiously, the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor works in such a way that it could also function as a pulse oximeter, but the feature has never been activated.) What’s more unfortunate is that two features that should be great for exercise buffs — Apple Music streaming over LTE and integration with gym equipment through GymKit — won’t be ready for a few more weeks.

The competition

Chris Velazco/Engadget

There haven’t been too many Android Wear 2.0 watches released this year, which leaves the LG Watch Sport at the top of the proverbial pack. Chatting with Google Assistant is mostly a pleasure, and it uses a rotating crown button for navigation, just like the Series 3. One of Android Wear’s biggest assets has always been its visual flexibility, and I’ve spent more time than I care to admit sifting through watch faces in the Play Store in hopes of finding the perfect look for my wrist. The Sport can also jump onto cellular networks, but LG’s approach is problematic: There’s an actual SIM card inside, so the watch’s body is huge, and the antennas extend into the watch’s unremovable bands. It’s a solid option if you’re a smartwatch shopper who doesn’t care for Apple, but beware of its compromises.

Samsung’s Gear S3 Frontier comes to mind too, since it also packs an eSIM and an LTE radio for truly phone-free use. It’s a bigger, more masculine-looking watch than the Series 3, and it’s a little less comfortable, but its rotating bezel remains one of the most inspired interaction methods I’ve ever used on a smartwatch. It’s effing excellent, and so is its Spotify streaming support. The Frontier can also tell when you’ve started to work out and will track your movements accordingly, an intelligent touch that (sadly) doesn’t always work as well as it should. The biggest knock against the S3 Frontier, however, is its Tizen OS. Who cares if you can install apps in the woods if they’re mostly apps no one cares about?

Wrap-up

Chris Velazco/Engadget

The Apple Watch Series 3 often feels like two devices in one. When it’s connected to a phone, it’s an improvement over its predecessors in just about every way that matters. More important, the tight integration of improved hardware and more thoughtful software give the Series 3 a very notable edge over its smartwatch competition. It’s that good. As a standalone device, though, the Series 3 can be maddeningly limited. Over time, I’m sure apps will grow to take advantage of persistent data connections, and still other kinks will be worked out entirely. For now, though, the kinks remain and the overall experience suffers as a result. Apple’s vision of a wearable that remains forever connected to the things that matter to you is an enticing one, and the Series 3 is an important first step down that path. Here’s hoping Apple’s next step is as consistently good on its own as it is when connected to a phone.