The best July 4 sales and deals this Independence Day

Technology

CNET 04 July, 2021 - 08:16am 50 views

Should I download IOS 15 public beta?

As always, we never recommend downloading a beta version of any software on your primary device due to bugs. In the case of iOS 15, you should only download this public beta if you have a second iPhone that you can use for testing -- not on your main phone. CNETApple's iOS 15 beta is here, but watch out for these bugs

We all know that you celebrate July 4 with backyard barbecues, camping, fireworks, parades -- and sales. There are lots and lots of Independence Day sales and deals out there for people who want to get in a little shopping this holiday weekend. Whether you're the outdoorsy type looking for a deal on new camping and grilling gear, or the more indoor, homebody type who wants a new mattress, to update your decor or to veg on the couch with the latest video games, there's sure to be sale items here that will catch your eye. 

Keep reading for our picks of the best sales and deals available right now and through the entire Fourth of July weekend.

If your summer plans include hiking, camping and grilling, the time is right to pick up some new gear and save during the Independence Day holiday.

This CNET-tested and approved smokeless grill and fire pit combo is a cool 20% off -- down to $225 (plus free shipping). It's the BioLite wood and charcoal burning FirePit Plus and it doubles as a hibachi grill. Or it's an easy hibachi grill that doubles as a fire pit -- it's up to you. I tested one in the spring and found that it excelled in both roles, landing it on my list of best portable grills for 2021

I'm a charcoal-grill man myself, but if you're looking for a new gas grill this summer, you can put a $300 dent in the price of this big Nexgrill stainless steel grill from BBQGuys.com. A free grill cover is also included. You can save up to 60% on other BBQ items, and orders over $49 ship free.

Maybe it's not the hot summer nights that are keeping you from a good night's sleep but your mattress. Ready for an upgrade? Mattress buying is easier than you might think and doesn't require a trip to a mattress store and awkwardly conversing with a salesperson. Skip the store and buy a mattress online. You can usually find a mattress sale no matter the time of year, but they really get good during holiday weekends, including July Fourth. 

Layla happens to make one of our favorite mattresses. For the Fourth of July, it's discounting its mattresses by up to $200, plus throwing in two free Layla memory foam pillows. Free shipping and no-contact delivery is included.

Appliance sales are nearly as widespread over the Fourth of July as fireworks. You'll find large appliances on sale at Best Buy and Samsung, and you can also save on computers and PC hardware this weekend.

Besides tracking activity and unlocking fun games upon completion, this Garmin connects to an app that enables parents to assign chores and dole out virtual rewards once they're finished, and set timers for things like homework, brushing teeth and bedtime. The Vívofit Jr. has a one-year battery life and comes in three fun kid-friendly colors at this sale price.

This deeply discounted desktop from HP serves up tons of memory, a huge solid-state drive and Radeon RX 580 graphics to handle both work and play. It's less than half its usual cost and features a ninth-gen Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB of storage and an older GPU that should still let you play casual games at a good clip. You'll also find discounts on laptops, monitors and more during HP's Fourth of July sale.

Independence Day weekend is a good time to save on cookware and the ingredients you'll cook in it, as well as the wine you'll sip while cooking with your new cookware.

This American-made, stainless-steel cook set features two pans -- a seven-quart stainless steel pot and 12-inch skillet -- and a lid that matches both. You can also use the skillet as a lid on the pot to create a Dutch oven. Clever and space-saving! And $50 off for July 4, with the discount applied when you add it to your cart.

June's E3 show gave gaming fans a lot to look forward to -- and some fresh new gaming deals. Here are some of the best we've found for the PS4 and PS5, Xbox, Switch and PC platforms.

If you have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you now have access to Xbox Cloud Gaming on a wider variety of platforms, including Android and iPhone. This streaming version of Xbox's subscription gaming library still has plenty of kinks -- you'll need a high-speed connection, and prepare yourself for some control lag -- but anyone looking to play serious games like Doom Eternal on their phone will appreciate real thumbsticks, triggers and buttons like those found on the Kishi. And now the Android version is still at its lowest price to date (a holdover from Prime Day).

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How to Install the Public Beta of iOS 15 & iPadOS 15!

AppleInsider 04 July, 2021 - 11:32am

WatchOS 8's best new features: The Apple Watch tricks we're loving already in the beta

CNET 04 July, 2021 - 11:32am

Read more: Apple Watch SE vs Series 6 vs. Series 3: How to choose?

WatchOS 8 will run on all Apple Watches starting with the Series 3 and later. We don't recommend installing any beta software on your primary device, but if you do want to preview the new features coming to iOS 15 and WatchOS 8, you can find out how to download them here.

Here are the best new Apple Watch features we've found so far.

The new Portraits watch face can use any portrait mode photo taken on the iPhone. But rather than displaying a static image, the watch uses segmentation data from the photo to separate the foreground from the background. This means the time appears just behind the head of your subject and if you raise your wrist or like to fidget with the Digital Crown, the subject pops in and out, too.

I've found it works best with photos that have a lot of distance between the foreground and background, plus ample headroom above your subject so you can really see the effect. Some complications are also supported, so you can put elements like battery level or heart rate on the watch face as well.

The Photos app itself gets some new tools like surfacing your memories and featured photos, so new content is synced with the Watch daily. Plus you can now share photos straight from the Watch via Messages or the Mail app.

Apple announced AssistiveTouch in May along with a range of accessibility features for the iPhone and iPad.

It lets people who have the use of only one arm control the Apple Watch by detecting movement in the hand and wrist, like pinching or clenching actions. So you don't need to be able to touch the screen to interact with the watch.

It's difficult to describe how intuitive this feels until you use it. Pinch your thumb and forefinger and the watch will move the focus to navigate through menu options. A double pinch moves back, while a clench is a tap action to select something on the screen. AssistiveTouch is also customizable, so you could set a double-clench action to answer a call or bring up the action menu.

When you go to send a message, you'll now be able to use the scribble tool, the emoji selector or the dictation option all from the same screen. Plus, if you go to dictate a message but find it makes an error in the transcription, you'll now be able to select the word and use the Digital Crown to make corrections. It's something I appreciate as my Australian accent often results in some pretty amusing dictation errors.

Just like on the iPhone, you can send a GIF by selecting the magnifying glass icon and either choosing from the trending list or searching for the GIF you want.

The Contacts app is finally available on your wrist so you can edit, add, browse and share without pulling out your phone. Apple has also split its Find My app into two new apps: Find Items and Find Devices. They do exactly what they say on the tin and you can ping items like the AirTag, or find devices signed in with your Apple ID from the Watch.

WatchOS 8 also works in conjunction with the Focus mode on the iPhone, so you can limit distractions coming through or customize modes so only notifications from certain contacts and apps break through. Once you apply the mode on the iPhone it automatically sets it on the Watch as well. It's also supposed to be smart about Focus suggestions, like prompting you to turn on the mode when you start a workout. I'll need to spend more time with the beta before it can pick up my usage patterns.

There are two new workout types you can track: Pilates and tai chi. They use customized heart rate and motion algorithms to better determine your effort than if you traced these workouts using the Other option in the workouts app. Apple's Fitness Plus also gets a picture-in-picture mode, plus additional workout filters.

Apple has also moved the Breathe app into a new Mindfulness app. In addition to animations to help guide your breathing, there's a Reflect app that gives prompts to help focus your thoughts. I really like the new animations in the Mindfulness app and in the short time I've used them, they do help to focus my attention. The time you spend reflecting appears in the Health app on the iPhone (along with your heart rate) after each session.

Sleep tracking also adds respiration rate to the existing sleep metrics like heart rate and time asleep. You can also view trends over time in the Health app on the iPhone.

Apple is hoping you'll ditch your physical wallet altogether and access everything from your wrist. Later in the year, iOS 15 and WatchOS 8 will be able to store a digital identity card like a driver's license in the Wallet app. Access keys for hotels and offices can also be held digitally.

You can now digitize and store your driver's license in Apple's Wallet app.

The Apple Watch Series 6 will support ultra wideband or UWB for car keys so you can unlock your vehicle or start it remotely, without needing to touch or tap anything on the Apple Watch. It does depend on the vehicle manufacturer and it will also roll out later in the year.

We'll update this story as we uncover more of the best features in the WatchOS 8 public beta.

iOS 14.6 is draining people's iPhone batteries. Here's an easy fix

CNET 04 July, 2021 - 06:00am

iOS 14.6 was released in late May, bringing new features like another way to find lost AirTag trackershigh-fidelity Apple Music support and the launch of Apple Card Family and Apple Podcast subscriptions (here's how to download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 now). But several users have been reporting a problem with their battery draining quickly since upgrading, first reported by tech blog PiunikaWeb

Read more: You can also download the iOS 15 public beta, if you don't mind the bugs. And here's what we know about iOS 14.7.

iPhone users have taken to Apple Support Community forums and Twitter to note problems with excessive battery drain. CNET sister site ZDNet suggests going to Settings > Battery and scrolling down to battery usage by app to see if any apps are the culprit. Several people on the Apple forums have noted that the Podcast app is consuming large amounts of power since updating to iOS 14.6. You can try uninstalling and reinstalling the app to see if that helps.  

Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge the issue, and didn't respond to a request for comment. 

To update to iOS 14.6, go to Settings > General > Software Update. You should see iOS 14.6. Tap Download and Install

You can also check out every new feature in iOS 14.6 and iPadOS 14.6, when to expect iOS 14.7, and everything coming to iOS 15 in the fall

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