ICYMI: We check out Android 12’s visual refresh

Also, we fly the DJI Mavic 3 drone and play around with the Animoog Z app.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

This week, in addition to covering all the Cyber Week deals we could find, we also reviewed some unique gadgets. Steve Dent and a licensed drone pilot toured the French countryside with the help of the DJI Mavic 3 drone, while Terrence O’Brien played with the Animoog Z app, a sequel ten years in the making. Also, Cherlynn Low played around with Android 12 to check out its new Material You design.

The Mavic 3 is the easiest DJI drone to fly

DJI Mavic 3
Steve Dent/Engadget

Steve Dent spent some time with the DJI Mavic 3 and a licensed drone pilot in the French countryside to see what the new device is capable of. He reports that not only is the Mavic 3 the easiest DJI drone to fly, but the large 4/3 sensor and dual camera system produce incredible footage – and the 46 minutes of range is double the time that the previous model could capture. He tested the standard model in the $3,000 Fly More combo package, which includes three batteries, a charging hub, one set of ND filters and a carrying bag. The Mavic 3 is also available in a Cine mode with a built-in 1TB SSD and Apple ProRes 422 HQ video support.

While the Mavic 3 was easier to maneuver thanks to its improved obstacle avoidance, it was also easy to fold the 899-gram drone into a more compact size for storage and travel. Steve says the camera and video specs are impressive: the primary camera was built in collaboration with Hasselblad and has a 24mm f/2.8-f/11 lens with a color profile for accurate hues. The video camera can shoot 5.1K at 50fps or 4K at 60fps; Steve says the larger sensor provides better low light performance, more detail and great dynamic range. However, there are some downsides – namely the price, but also that the additional features that DJI promised (like ActiveTrack5 and QuickShots) aren't available now but will be released in January. Overall, Steve says the Mavic 3 delivers, but is best for professions and prosumers.

Google’s Material You design gives Android 12 a much-needed visual update

Android 12

Cherlynn Low knows that the many versions of Android make a review of the core features a bit difficult, but the upgrades on the operating system’s most recent release make for a refreshing experience and provide more transparency over data and privacy. That’s largely thanks to the new Material You design that has decluttered the UI and enlarged buttons and sliders, among other things. Cherlynn particularly liked the Privacy Dashboard that informs users when their camera and mic are activated, along with which apps require them. Android 12 also has new indicators for when the camera or mic are actively being used.

Cherlynn did note some aspects that disappointed her, namely the default way to summon the Google Assistant, and the confusing charts and graphs in the battery and privacy dashboards. She was also excited to try the audio-coupled haptic feedback, but wasn’t able to find any apps that supported it. Overall, she said that the visual updates in Material You and increased privacy tools made the system feel drastically different — in a good way.

The Animoog Z app is a proper sequel that took ten years to make

Moog Animoog Z
Terrence O'Brien/Engadget

Terrence O’Brien was looking forward to testing out Animoog Z, the follow up to Moog’s original software instrument which used wavetable synthesis. This sequel to the app has largely the same core Anisotropic Synth Engine, consisting of dozens of waveforms that you can choose from, ranging from samples of analog saw waves to more digital sounds. However, the new release adds a third dimension to the X/Y axis of the original — a Z axis that notes can move along.

Terrence says this gives the new app a bit more depth and room to evolve. He found that certain presets took advantage of the additional modulation path to make more complex and unique sounds. There’s also a new effects section with a looper, delay, filter and an arpeggiator, plus MPE support. Additionally, Terrence says the redesigned look that the new app has makes it feel more modern and easier to navigate. After testing, he declared the Animoog Z a worthy successor to the groundbreaking original. A limited version is available as a free download, with the full featured version going for a flat $10.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.