Tech News

Microsoft says it's still working on that Halo TV series

Latest Tech News - 4 hours 32 min ago

Speculation around a TV spin-off for Halo, one of the most iconic gaming franchises of our time, has been swirling for years, but we've not heard much about the project lately. Now Microsoft has told AR12Gaming that a show is indeed still in the works.

"Progress on the Halo television series continues," says a Microsoft spokesperson. "We want to ensure we're doing this the right way together with a team of creative partners... that can help us build the best Halo series that fans expect and deserve."

Those "creative partners" are Showtime and Steven Spielberg, who's been attached to the series from the very beginning. We don't have any more details or anything like a release date but the project hasn't been killed off yet.

Blockbuster television

Apart from sporadic confirmations that the Halo TV project is still alive in some form, we haven't heard much about it from either Microsoft or its subsidiary, 343 Industries, which is tasked with making the show. The scope and story of Halo would seem to lend itself well to television, though of course it all depends on how it's done.

Way back in 2013, the team said the Halo television series would be inspired by the likes of Breaking Bad, Band of Brothers and Game of Thrones, and if Microsoft manages to create a show with half the heft of those blockbuster programs then it'll be very satisfied.

TV has changed since 2013 of course, with Netflix pushing its original programming and even Apple getting in on the act. Maybe the time is now right for Microsoft to ramp up production on Halo the TV series - we wouldn't advise holding your breath for news anytime soon, but the project is still alive at least.

Via Engadget

Categories: Tech News

Range Rover Velar: a perfect marriage of luxury and tech

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 19:01

Despite the onslaught of premium car manufacturers muscling in on the lucrative SUV market, Range Rover is still the brand against which all others are judged, and with the arrival of the Velar the company hopes to cement this reputation even further.

The Velar slots into the range between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport – and if you’re wondering about the name, it’s a nice nod to the brand’s heritage. You see, Velar was code-name used on the original, pre-production Range Rovers of the late 1960s (and for those whose Latin is a bit rusty, Velar is derived from the Latin word velaris, meaning ‘to cover’). 

The original Range Rover became one of the defining cars of the last century thanks to its perfect marriage of luxury and technology, and the Velar looks to continue that ethos. To find out if it's succeeded, TechRadar hit the winding roads (and a ski slope) of Norway in one.

Styling

While it would have been all too easy to shrink the proportions of the Range Rover into a slightly more compact form factor, the Velar sports its own distinctive styling – and we reckon Range Rover’s design team has got the look of the Velar pretty well spot-on.

Aided by little design cues like the flush-fitting door handles that deploy when you unlock the car, Matrix-Laser LED headlamps and copper-colored detailing, we were struck by how sleek and elegant the lines of the car looked when we caught sight of it for the first time. This will come down to taste, but we reckon it easily outshines the likes of the BMW X5 and Porsche Macan when it comes to looks.

Interior

This streamlined design ethos is carried through into the interior design of the Velar, with the dashboard looking like nothing we’ve seen before. 

Out go the plethora of buttons and switches usually found on a central console to be replaced by two imposing 10-inch high-definition touchscreens supplied by Panasonic, which along with the two ‘floating’ Magic Ring rotary controls, dictate pretty much every interaction you have with the Velar.

The top screen tilts forward when you start the car, and provides access to the likes of the sat nav, stereo and phone connectivity, while the bottom screen offers additional controls for climate control, seat settings and driving modes and more. This is complemented by capacitive controls on the steering wheel and a 12.3-inch virtual cluster with four configurable modes.

How easy is it to get to grips with? Unless you’ve been living in a technology black hole for the last five years, you’ll be working your way round the Velar’s controls in no time. It’s really that intuitive to use, while you should be using it quite happily without the need to glance away from the road too. Oh, and did we mention the cool heads-up display with key driving info (including sat nav directions) that’s projected onto the front windscreen just above the steering wheel?

Aside from the wealth of technology on tap, the Velar is a very nice place to be. As you’d expect, the materials and finish are first-class, and even after having covered almost 200 miles in our first day of driving we still felt refreshed – although that could have just been the adrenaline kicking in after the hair-raising obstacle course Land Rover made us complete at the end of our drive. 

On the road

The Velar is being offered with six engine options initially, all coming with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. There’s an entry-level 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel unit available with either 178bhp and 237bhp power outputs, and a new 2.0-litre petrol engine with 247bhp and 296bhp variants. We drove the two V6 range-toppers: a 296bhp diesel (0-60mph in 6.1 seconds) and a supercharged 375bhp petrol engine (0-60mph in 5.3 seconds). 

Both waft along effortlessly, with the automatic gearbox seamlessly shifting through the gears. As you’d expect, the petrol version delivers a more satisfying engine note and is just that bit quicker, but the diesel isn’t without its charms, and is incredibly refined too.

The Velar is Range Rover’s most road-orientated car to date, and it certainly felt very agile as we navigated the winding roads of Norway, with the steering delivering a pleasing weight and slickness. The ride was very smooth as well thanks to the Velar’s air suspension, with the car gliding over surface imperfections, while the grip from the all-wheel drive system was impressive.

For some reason, quite a few of the roads in Norway seem to be only a car-and-half wide, but what surprised us here though was that despite the Velar’s size (it’s 2.14m wide, 4.8m long and 1.66m high) it didn’t feel like a large car as we weaved through the various passing places.

Off-road

With the Velar being so good on the road, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Velar’s off-road chops had been diluted, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Velar is dripping with off-road technology and quality engineering that will make other cars in this class look a little sheepish.

To prove the point, part of our route included a few off-road trails. And when we say off-road trails, we’re not talking about a slightly muddy road. With the ability to raise the ground clearance to 251mm, we tanked up deeply rutted and slippery tracks that would normally be impassable, following that the next day with a slightly nerve-racking jaunt up the side of a 1,000-meter ski slope.

With some parts of the track offering stunning views, and others sharp drops to the side, this is where the Velar’s body-mounted cameras came in handy, allowing us to see live feeds from above the front wheels, as well as in front of us, all displayed on the Velar’s touchscreen.

Once we’d used the clever hill descent driving mode to make our way down again, the perfect way to cool down the brakes was to drive through a river – and naturally the Velar was more than up to the task with its 650mm maximum wading depth. 

Verdict

The Velar is a stunning car, and it's impossible not to be impressed by this latest Range Rover. The dual touchscreens are a thing of wonder, and make the Velar's luxurious cabin one of the most technologically advanced out there. That's just a small part of the Velar's appeal though, with the assured handling and breathtaking off-road capabilities all cloaked in what has to be the most elegant SUV body we've seen.  

Categories: Tech News

Pokémon Go Fest, Niantic’s big legendary Pokémon event, is a bust

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 17:04

Pokémon Go Fest, Niantic’s hyped milestone event that promised legendary Pokémon to players both inside Chicago and around the world, is a bust. 

Due to myriad technical issues including both connectivity and server-side issues, players will be leaving Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois empty handed. 

Niantic has already stated that it will provide some 15 to 20,000 event-goers a full refund, in addition to $100 of in-game credit to make up for the lost time and long-lasting disappointment of leaving without one of the legendary Pokémon they had their eyes set on. 

Other sites have reported that cell service in the area of Grant Park, the event’s location, was understandably shaky – but, even when players were able to get through, the game seemed buggy and in some cases completely broken. 

Players, understandably outraged at the situation, yelled remarks at the event’s emcee and in some cases threw water bottles towards the stage. 

The event was supposed to be a major milestone celebrating the game’s one-year anniversary since it launched in 2016. It was marketed as an event that would unite fans together in one place and provide them the first crack at catching one of the until-now-nonexistent legendary monsters should certain requirements have been fulfilled by the event goers.  

Unfortunately, none of that looks possible now.

Niantic hasn't yet announced what it will do about the worldwide roll-out of legendary Pokémon. Though, for the time being, it has larger Corphish to fry.

Categories: Tech News

Cliff Blezinski talks Lawbreakers and being the underdog to Overwatch

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 14:00

It’s not easy competing with the big guys, but that’s exactly the position veteran game developer Cliff Blezinski has found himself in with LawBreakers, the debut arena shooter from Boss Key Productions. 

It’s been a long time since Blezinski has been in this position. For 20 years the developer worked on some of the videogame industry’s biggest titles at Epic Games, and for the latter decade he became one of the most recognisable faces in the games industry as he helmed the Gears of War franchise to become the defining series of the Xbox 360 era. 

And yet Lawbreakers is hardly a small game. As we sit down to chat about the multiplayer shooter at its impressively sized E3 booth, Blezinski is quick to point out the numerous cosplayers idling around the convention centre. It’s hard to think of many other developers that could amass a similar cult following after having gone it alone with a brand new studio. 

"Game development is a lot of work, it’s mentally and emotionally taxing, but coming out here and meeting the press in the flesh and people who like the game and they’re wearing the brand that you and the team came up...that high carries you through the rest of the development," he says as we watch another pair of fans excitedly point out Blezinski as they walk by the booth's press area. 

It’s easy to see why Blezinski inspires this kind of fan following. Having been in the industry his entire adult life (he released his first game, The Palace of Deceit, when he was just 17), Blezinski is an impressive fount of knowledge when it comes to games, which he doles out at a machinegun pace. 

Yet even as he recounts a story about meeting a fan who has an Unreal Tournament tattoo, a Gears tattoo and a Lawbreakers tattoo (“Goddamnit! Next you’re going to pull down your pants and have a Jazz Jackrabbit on your ass,” he jokes) Blezinski appears humble, as though it’s an accident he’s surrounded by a cult of personality. 

A strong debut

LawBreakers is fast, very fast. It’s so fast in fact, that Blezinski reckons with a mouse and keyboard that it’s, “batshit insane and actually slightly hard to follow.” 

It’s Unreal Tournament on steroids, a fast and frantic arena shooter that’s as much about deftly flinging yourself through space as it is tracking your enemies through its maze-like arenas.

But as well as bringing the classic arena shooter gameplay of Unreal tournament into 2017, LawBreakers brings classes into the mix. 

At the outset of each match you have a choice of nine classes (well, technically the game calls them ‘roles’), each with their own characteristics, weapons, and special abilities. 

There’s the Assassin, for instance, a close combat fighter capable of zipping around the map at dizzying speeds, or the shotgun-toting Juggernaut capable of dropping shields at a moment’s notice. 

Making a class-based shooter in 2017 was always going to invite comparisons to Overwatch, Blizzard’s currently multiplayer behemoth. 

Overwatch is a recurring theme in my discussion with Blezinski. So dominant has it become in the online shooter space, that it’s inadvertently become the bar against which all other  upcoming releases in the genre are measured. 

The game’s comparison’s to Overwatch began internally at the studio almost as soon as the game was first announced. 

“We saw the trailer for Overwatch and my programmer, Matt, goes, ‘Fuck’,” Bezinski recalls, “[and] I’m like, ‘Matt, this is ok. Now we know what not to do. Let’s make our own versions of classes, let’s have our own art style.’”

No more rock, paper, scissors

But this distinction from Overwatch goes far beyond a superficial art style difference. 

For starter, Blezinski was keen to emphasise that the team wanted to avoid the rock, paper, scissors, dynamic that has become a staple of the class-based shooter genre. 

“Goddamnit! Next you’re going to pull down your pants and have a Jazz Jackrabbit on your ass.”

Cliff Blezinski

Overwatch is a game that relies upon you recognising your opposing team’s hero composition and picking effective characters as a result. If your enemies are playing as snipers then you want to get near to them as quickly as possible with a character that can tear them apart at close range. 

But on public servers it can be tough to coordinate these choices with a group of strangers (or as Blezinski calls them, ‘random asshats’) that each have their own characters they like to play as. 

LawBreaker’s solution is to ensure any character has a decent shot at taking out any other character. 

“Any role in this game, played right, can take out any other role,” Blezinski explains, “In our game there are health packs around and... healing stations so if you’re playing as a ‘squishier’ class and you’re trying to take down, David and Goliath style, a juggernaut, you get the drop on them then you get a few hits and they start to shoot you and take you down, zip across and get a health pack, get the drop on them again and you could actually take them down.”

Additionally, whereas other shooters rely on teams having a solid backbone of support characters that are useless at pretty much anything else, LawBreaker’s has characters that can hold their own in a fight when they’re not acting in support. 

“All of our support classes are fire and forget. You want to heal? Boom, you get a heal, boom you get a heal, and then you get back to shooting. You play as the juggernaut and you do a shield? You drop it and you get back to shooting. You want to be the Harrier [a sniper character] and you want to drop out some health and fuel? Boom, drop them out with [the] ‘E’ [key] and get back to flying around and shooting your lasers.”

Blezinski admits that there are problems with this approach that the development team is yet to address. He doesn’t yet know whether the game will allow two or more players on one team to pick the same class for instance, which is an eventuality Overwatch’s rock, paper, scissors nature makes impossible. 

In the end though, Blezinski concedes that Boss Key will have to respond to how the community likes to play their game. Citing Gears of War as an example, he says, “I wanted to create a game that was stop-and-pop and it was about the chainsaw and the community’s like, ‘Nah we’re just going to roll around like idiots and use the shotguns’ and I fought that for so long when I should have just rolled with it in hindsight.”

After all, no one ever criticised Counter Strike for its overwhelming reliance on de_dust2.

Room for two?

It feels unfair to draw constant comparisons to Overwatch, but multiplayer games are always at their best when they build a critical mass of players, and there will always be those for whom playing the more popular game is better than playing the better game. 

“We saw the trailer for Overwatch and my programmer, Matt, goes, ‘Fuck’”

Cliff Blezinski

But then again this isn’t the first time Blezinski has released a game going up against an industry juggernaut. Back when Unreal Tournament was first released Quake was the biggest multiplayer PC game around, but the team at Epic Games still managed to find an audience of their own despite sitting in the same genre. 

“It’s just like when I looked at Quake back in the day and was like, ‘Let’s not do gothic dungeons, let’s do bright, colorful sky castles. Let’s not just do a rocket launcher let’s do a rocket launcher that can load up multiple shots. Let’s find our own formula for it,’” Blezinski recalls. 

The veteran game developer has been the underdog before, and his path ended up with him being the Xbox 360’s most prominent developer alongside one of its tentpole franchises. 

LawBreakers might look like the underdog now, but we can’t wait to see what Cliff Blezinski makes of the position this time. 

Categories: Tech News

Here’s what you should be watching, playing and listening to this weekend

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:00

Ah, the weekend. It’s the perfect time to kick back on the couch with a drink in one hand and a remote and/or controller in the other. 

But what, exactly, should you be watching, playing and listening to this weekend? Welcome to Off the Radar, a weekly column where I hope I can shed some light on that very question. 

Here’s how it works: week after week, I test a TON of products – everything from fantastic-sounding headphones and Bluetooth speakers, to the latest and greatest TVs and video game consoles. While I’m writing these reviews I consume a lot of content. 

(I know, I know, it’s a hard job but someone has to do it.) 

Rather than hoard all those great shows/movies/music/games, I want to share all those recommendations with you. To that end, I’ve got a few new recommendations for you to enjoy this weekend that I experienced while testing the Q7 QLED TV and the Pioneer Rayz Plus

Have you recently watched/played/listened to something good yourself? Drop me a line on Twitter and I might just feature you in next week’s column.

Watch: Game of Thrones / Rogue One

My work week started on Sunday last week with the first episode of season seven of Game of Thrones. (A home ent editor's job is never done.) 

I could espouse specific emotional payoffs, stellar plot and interesting character dynamics in the episode, but doing so might ruin that experience for others. Instead, I’ll just leave it at – Game of Thrones is back, and it’s the show you need to be watching this weekend. 

Game of Thrones is available to stream on HBO Now/Go, Sling TV (the HBO add-on is free this weekend) and through on Amazon Video via Channels.  

OK, I realize that season seven is a bit late for most people to jump into a series for the first time. So for that reason, if you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, check out Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – the bridge between Episodes III and IV, and a film that I had literally forgotten every detail about before I re-watched it earlier this week. It's perfect as a standalone story or, if you're a huge Star Wars fan, the perfect appetizer before Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi comes out later this year.

Rogue One is streaming on Netflix in the US and Google Play Movies in the UK.

Play: Final Fantasy XII - The Zodiac Age

It was a heavy PS4 week for me – not intentionally, but just because there were two really great PS4-exclusive remasters released in the past few weeks that I couldn’t help but sink my teeth into. (Don’t worry, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC will get their due soon.) 

The game I’ve been playing is Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, a remastering of the original PS2 title and, for a long time, one of my least favorite entries in the Final Fantasy series. Thankfully, the remaster totally changed my tune. 

That’s because the Zodiac Age does a few things really well: It adds a more rigid class structure to the game, allowing your characters to reach better skills faster, and enhanced speed mode that allows you to play at up to four times the speed, make the game way more enjoyable. 

What I realized was that Final Fantasy XII was just ahead of its time when it came out in 2006 and now that we’ve played games like Final Fantasy XV, its free-roaming battle system feels natural and intuitive than it did a decade ago. 

If you’ve never played the original on PS2 or you remember it less-than-fondly like I did, there’s no time like the present to conquer the land of Ivalice. (Get the game on Amazon/Amazon.uk)

Listen to: Spider-Man Homecoming Soundtrack

While everyone in the music world was clamoring about Jay-Z’s latest not-really-Tidal-exclusive album 4:44, I was listening to the latest set of tracks by Michael Giacchino, one of the best composers this side of John Williams. 

Giacchino previously worked on the scores for Rogue One, all the Star Trek films and, believe it or not, Pixar’s Up, which I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t make me cry. 

But Giacchino? He's a supremely talented dude – his scores are always unique to the tone of the film and chock-full of minor flourishes and almost inaudible details that make them perfect for testing headphones. If you're strapped for time and can just listen to one song, check out the track "Homecoming Suite". 

The Spider-Man Homecoming Soundtrack is streaming on Spotify and Deezer

That’s it for this week! Like what I was putting down? Was it a big thumbs down? Send your feedback to Nick [dot] Pino [at] Futurenet [dot] com. 

Categories: Tech News

Drone owners in the UK will soon have to register their flying machines

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 09:00

UK authorities are planning to introduce a drone registration scheme to improve the safety of its skies, with drone owners also having to take part in a safety awareness course before they can start piloting their unmanned aerial vehicles.

The new rules are going to apply to drones weighing more than 250g, so pretty much every model except the very small mini ones are going to count. The move comes after several near misses between hobby drones and real, people-carrying aircraft.

According to research, drones weighing more than 400g can seriously damage helicopter windscreens, while those weighing 2kg or more can make a dent in passenger jets at high speeds. Of course, even if there isn't a collision, drones are still a dangerous distraction for professional pilots.

Not yet ready for take-off

The UK government says 22 incidents involving commercial airliners and drones were investigated between January and April of this year, with police unable to trace the owners of the drones - one of the reasons for the new legislation. Drones also need to be registered in the US, though the law was recently challenged in court.

"Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximizing the full potential of drones," said the UK aviation minister, Lord Callanan. "Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives."

This is still a way off though, with no specific date set - first, the government will need to explore the possible arrangements for the new rules. In the meantime, here's how to safely and legally fly a drone. Further rules are available from the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK and the Federal Aviation Administration in the US.

Via The Guardian

Categories: Tech News

7 things former Apple employees went on to create

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 07:30

iPods, iPads, iPhones and Macs… Apple’s team of engineers, designers and all-round tech geniuses have created some amazing, genre-defining products in their time.

But while we all might recognize names such as Steve Jobs, Tim Cook and Jony Ive, they’re not the only ones responsible for these creations. The wider Apple team might be less celebrated, but they deserve no less credit for their roles in the design, development and execution of these must-own gadgets.

And their creative bubble doesn’t pop as soon as people leave the confines of Apple's Cupertino campus either. Former Apple employees of all levels have gone on to found huge companies and create world-changing products after receiving their ‘Sorry you’re leaving’ cards.

From Pandora to Path and Inkling to Pearl Auto, former Apple employees have been involved in the founding of many major tech startups. Among the talent pool that is the Apple team, the following are the success stories that those looking to try something new all aspire to.

1. Android – Andy Rubin

Android may be the main rival to Apple’s iOS mobile platform, but its roots lie in the work of former Apple employee Andy Rubin. A manufacturing engineer for the Cupertino company between 1989 and 1992 (although we're not sure what he was engineering), it was over a decade after his Apple exit that Rubin co-founded Android.

Rubin joined Google’s ranks in 2005 when the search giant bought out his software startup, heading up Android’s journey from new software to the world’s biggest mobile operating system until 2014.

And while Android might be his biggest success, that’s not all Rubin’s done. He’s since founded venture fund and startup incubator Playground Global, and recently teased his return to the smartphone space with the Essential Phone.

2. Nest – Tony Fadell

The father of the iPod, Tony Fadell had a profound effect on an entire generation of music fans and the future of all portable electronics when he helped refine and release the first version of Apple's iconic music player. He was instrumental in developing the iPod line over the next several years, and his world-changing work wasn’t done when he left Apple in 2008.

Just two years later he launched Nest, the smart home company best known for its connected Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarms.

Fadell ended up selling the company to Google in January 2014 for a cool $3.2 billion (roughly £2.5 billion/AU$4.35 billion) and remained at the helm of Nest before looking after the Google Glass department. He eventually left Google in June 2016.

3. EA – Trip Hawkins

Highlighting Apple’s standing as a producer of key talent, Trip Hawkins left his role as the company’s Director of Strategy and Marketing in 1982 to found what would go on to be one of the world’s biggest game developers and publishers, Electronic Arts.

Looking at EA's line-up today, with the FIFA, Madden, Battlefield and Star Wars franchises amongst its roster of AAA gaming releases, it’s hard to fathom a games industry without Hawkins’ company.

And EA’s impact isn't limited to its own games. It’s a company that changed the entire industry, with Hawkins personally credited as the man who took the games sector from simple, individual creations to epic titles painstakingly pieced together by teams of developers.

4. Flipboard – Evan Doll

A software engineer who roamed the Cupertino corridors between 2003 and 2009, Evan Doll left Apple to co-found the news and social network aggregation service Flipboard.

As the world of online news exploded Doll helped bring order to the chaos, with Flipboard allowing users to select what type of content they want to see, and from which publications.

He didn’t stray too far from the Apple fold, though, with the elegantly-designed service quickly becoming a favorite following its 2010 release as an iPad app. It took a further two years for Doll to bring Flipboard to Android, with the service not being made Windows-friendly until 2014.

Going back to his roots, Doll has since returned to Apple, rejoining the company as its director of health software engineering in July 2016.

5. LinkedIn – Reid Hoffman

LinkedIn might not be the social network you spend most of your time on, but the business-focused social portal has done enough to transform this prolific tech entrepreneur into arguably Apple’s most successful former employee, with billions in the bank.

Having worked on Apple’s ultimately unsuccessful online service system eWorld between 1994 and 1996, Hoffman founded LinkedIn in 2002, but not before being on the board of directors during the founding of PayPal.

Acting as the platform’s founding CEO, he grew LinkedIn to more than 400 million active users and a $26.2 billion (roughly £20.2 billion/AU$35.5 billion) acquisition by Microsoft, a company whose board he is now a member of.

6. Obi Worldphone – John Sculley

Smartphone manufacturer Obi might not be the biggest company going, but it’s one with plenty of potential. 

Founded by John Sculley, the former Apple CEO and the man who ousted the company’s maverick co-founder, Steve Jobs, Obi is a budget smartphone maker that’s making phones like the Obi MV1, which pairs solid specs with a wallet-friendly price tag.

While efforts to push into markets like the US and the UK haven't been hugely successful, emerging markets have been Obi’s stomping ground of choice for recent phones.

Sculley has also roped in a number of former Apple employees to help, with the company’s past Director of Industrial Design, Robert Brunner, hired to craft the affordable phones, both inside and out, pairing a unique chassis design with a bespoke software skin.

This is probably the most 'wait and see' of all the companies on this list, and it'll be interesting to see whether the former president of Pepsi and CEO of Apple can make a decent phone.

7. Hotmail – Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith

Sabeer Bhatia might have only worked at Apple for a year, but as his first place of employment following graduation it was a hugely formative year.

It was one that set the hardware engineer on a path that would see him go on to launch one of the biggest email clients of the internet age, Hotmail.

Bhatia, along with fellow Apple alum Jack Smith, founded the free-to-use Hotmail in 1996, and headed up the service until it was acquired by Microsoft a little under two years later.

At its peak, Hotmail had more than 400 million users – not bad for a time before smartphones were an ever-present, and email was the main means of global communication.

  • There's still a lot of great talent at Apple, and it's crafting the iPhone 8.
Categories: Tech News

More truly awful movies you shouldn't be streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 07:00

It’s finally happened. Amazon and Netflix’s algorithms have caught up with my bad movie watching and now they are delivering dross to me on a daily basis. When I first started writing Not On My Watch, I had to dive deep into both services to unearth the terrors within. I saw myself as as one of those mystical freedivers who swim to the bottom of an azure ocean to find that big ol’ oyster shell that contains a majestic pearl. 

The difference being that I am no beautiful freediver but a mere failed film journalist sitting in my pants late at night, the seedy belly of streaming services my azure ocean, the crud of the movie crop my pathetic pearl.

Now these awful movies are served to me wearing a frayed bow. My Netflix and Amazon homescreens are covered in curated crap. I have to now explain to my wife quite why such classics as Milfs Vs Zombies, Strip Club Massacre and Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space are now in my ‘recommended for you’ section. Joy of joys.

I’m in too deep, folks, there’s no way out so I may as well continue offering up you lovely bunch of Not On My Watchers the very worst movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix you can view with your own eyes. 

A word of warning: this is my life now, but you can still get out while the going’s good. I cannot. I am a trader of the terrible, a hawker of the horrible, a vender of the vile. And, with that, on the menu this week are vampiric samurais, abysmal animated animal antics and the worst parody movie you will ever see - so much so I’m convinced it’s a parody of parody movies, made with the sole intention of making all other parody movies, even Meet The Spartans, look like Oscar contenders. Enjoy. Endure. Adieu.

Shira The Vampire Samurai

The Premise: Shira is part vampire, part samurai, all sass. She's meant to be the future leader/mother of day walking vampires but some idiot named Kristoff is hell-bent on making sure that never happens. 

Shira The Vampire Samurai begins at a frenetic pace. There's a lot of running, everyone is running, so much running and drumming, drumming and running. Then, once the cameraman gets everything into focus - it takes a while - it's revealed that it's ninjas and samurais that are running, chasing each other. At this point I'm hooked. Ninjas! Samurais! I've got this movie all wrong, it's not a B- movie but a portentous overview of the class system of feudal Japan in 1100AD, where the ninjas are the kick-ass lower class and the samurai are militia of a better stock. 

How wrong I was. The title sequence kicks in and lasts so long I thought the tape was stuck, then remembered we don't use tape anymore but ones and noughts, and everything falls apart. You see there are two things Shira is: a vampire and a samurai. And one thing she is not: an actress. As well as sucking blood, she sucks the life out of this entire movie. And the plot doesn't help either. Instead of staying in historic Japan, things shift to the modern world where Shira tries out as a stripper, has sex with a man with flesh-coloured balloons for arms (they maybe muscles, if they are they're weird muscles) and meets Kristoff who makes whiny noises when he fights. And that concludes how to make a movie with samurai, ninjas and vampires, well, suck.

Best watched when: you're a vampire, have been alive for centuries and watched and read everything the world has to offer. Only then should you buy a Prime subscription and take this one for a spin.

Crying Wolf

The Premise: A sleepy village in England has a terrible secret: it's filled with werewolves... and people who think they are filmmakers but are definitely not.

Crying Wolf begins with two middle-aged people dropping double entendres aplenty in an antique shop about a book. They manage to equate buying a book to sex, with classic lines such as (said in hushed sexy tones): "I love her for her prose" and "I buy second hand versions of her books because the new ones are wrapped in plastic to protect their posterity". Hubba hubba. 

We then get a homage to a James Bond credit sequences of old, where silhouettes of ladies dance to a tuneless theme. But this time the silhouettes contain piles of offal and blood. Beautiful. And just like a James Bond movie, the cast eventually say the name of the movie, or at least a version of it, with the fantastic line: "Being a serial prankster, no one listened to him. Andy had cried wolf once too often."

That is the extent of fun you will have with Crying Wolf, a horror comedy so insipid that its real frights will make you laugh and its jokes will scare you off. Wait, that means it's actually doing its job as a horror comedy... now I don't know whether to love it or hate it. 

I'm so confused. 

Best watched when: you're the director and you have to watch the rushes as you are making the film.

Stan Helsing

The Premise: A video guy gets lost delivering movies and subsequently turns into a monster hunter.

This film offends me on many levels. I grew up with all the horror characters Stan Helsing parodies. Freddy was my friend at secondary school, Jason and his machete saw me through college and Chucky was the doll I cuddled at night. So, seeing these horror icons in a movie as bad as Stan Helsing is just plain wrong. The film tries to lampoon the horror genre, seemingly forgetting Scary Movie did the same thing seven years previous, but it backfires so badly that it ends up being more of a mess than what happens to your average non-virgin teenager visiting Camp Crystal Lake. 

It's not a movie, it's a set of skits stuck together by a gunk of toilet humour and sex jokes. Stan Helsing is seemingly void of actors and a script. It's as if the camera crew turned up and just demanded random people did something in front of the camera, while someone dressed as Leatherface mucks around in the background with a leaf blower and Chucky pretends to give someone head. 

To put it into context: this movie is worse than Jason X. 

Best watched when: you have just been slaughtered by Freddy's knife glove.

Pegasus Vs Chimera

The Premise: Pegasus has a fight with a chimera, hilarity ensues. 

For the most part of Pegasus Vs Chimera,Pegasus is just a white horse. The filmmakers don't even mask the fact that they are just filming a white horse do horse things, such as canter and trot and neigh a bit. Then there is one glorious moment when Pegasus takes to the skies and develops wings, scribbled on wings. Harryhausen stop-motion this is not - it's a scene that's been animated by someone who has never seen a horse before, but had one described to them a few years ago by the medium of mime. It's mesmerising to watch. 

When Pegasus does eventually fights the CG Chimera, it's a scene packed with so much slow-mo, if they took it out the whole film would be 20 minutes long. And that's what cemented this movie for me as being the greatest telling ever of this Greek myth. 

Best watched when: you want to understand the Greek myth of Pegasus, but need it told through the medium of the scribblings of a 10-month old baby. 

Marc Chacksfield is a former film journalist (and TechRadar's global managing editor) who is already regretting agreeing to watch terrible movies for the sake of his column Not On My Watch.

Categories: Tech News

Samsung could bundle its own AirPod competitors with the Note 8

Latest Tech News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 05:00

Samsung is busy working on some Bixby-powered AirPod competitors ready to launch alongside the Galaxy Note 8, according to Korean outlet ETNews, giving Samsung fans the opportunity to show off their very own awkward-looking wireless earbuds.

ETNews doesn't have the most reliable record when it comes to Samsung and Apple leaks, but it would be a surprise if Samsung wasn't developing some kind of tech like this - it likes to keep parity with Apple at all times, and its Bixby smart assistant just launched in the US.

The report says the headphones are going to feature noise-cancelling technology to optimize your listening experience, and we're presuming they're going to be backwards compatible with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus too.

Smart assistant wars

Samsung itself is staying tight-lipped, as you would expect, but the move would give some much-needed publicity to its fledgling smart assistant. Rumors had been swirling that a Bixby-powered smart speaker was on the way too, but that idea has apparently now been shelved by Samsung.

Sources speaking to ETNews say the device isn't final yet, so it might not be ready in time for the Galaxy Note 8 launch, which we're expecting on August 23. If Samsung isn't happy with the headphones then they might not see the light of day at all.

Developing a smart, competent, versatile assistant app isn't easy, as Samsung is finding, especially considering the likes of Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple have such a big head start. The next few months could determine whether Bixby sinks or swims.

Via The Verge

Categories: Tech News

The quiet, fast world of Formula E racing

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 18:29

“MHIRMMMMMMMMMMMMMM”

That's the sound of the future produced by the all-electric race cars at the Qualcomm Formula E (short for Formula Electric) race that was held in New York City last weekend.

At a normal NASCAR or Formula E race, the sound of roaring engines and screeching tires can be deafening. Comparatively, the sound of an all-electric Formula E car is like the meekest chipmunk trying to mimic a jet engine.

Attending one of these races is a surreal experience, as massively expensive racecars whip around the track in excess of 200 miles-per-hour in lanes no bigger than 10-feet-wide. Unlike the cars that drive the Indy 500, however, these cars make less noise than your blender. In fact, the track becomes unsettlingly, dead quiet as soon as the racing pack turns the corner.

Despite how quiet a Formula E race is, it couldn’t be farther from being boring.

Formula E races are held miniature street circuits so tight they can barely fit two vehicles side-by-side. Cars fly down straights before coming to a screech halt on hairpin turns. On lanes barely wide enough to even maneuver, 20 vehicles in total crowd around the corner as they bump into each other and glance off the wall, sending carbon fiber panels flying every which way.

Formula E racing is frantic.

It’s a far cry from significantly larger Silverstone and Indianapolis race tracks that Formula One and Indy car races are held on respectively. Comparatively, one could have three freight trucks drive around the ring with ease on these fatter circuits.

The electric racing revolution

You might've seen a NASCAR or Le Mans race or two in your time, but Formula E is a different beast. Like other events, racers have to be alert, making intelligent decisions behind the wheel while using lightning-fast reflexes to prevent crashes. 

But more impressive to me at least is just how much data drivers use on a second-to-second basis: As they drive around the ring, the steering wheel has a constant readout of exactly how much they have energy. The pit crew and audience also sees this battery information in real time.

Push it and they’ll be first, but then they run the risk of puttering out on the track. And when drivers out of juice there’s no simple way of filling back up like you can with propane. No, the racer has to physically get out of their car and jump into a spare vehicle in the pits.

Formula E has one big advantage over its louder gasoline sibling in that the cars can use regenerative braking to recharge batteries on the track. But this comes with an equally large risk of frying the car’s energy cells and simply breaking down on the track – which happened to more than a few vehicles during the two day NYC ePrix. 

These elements really add to the drama because the audience can see exactly how much energy each driver has left. I spent just as much time watching the driver make it around the track as eyeing the battery lives on the cars.

The excitement hits a fever pitch as the last lap comes down to the last second and last pip of energy. Cars running on their last 5% of battery die left and right as drivers put everything into the final stretch.

Formula E racing feels and looks like something out of F-Zero, and I hope it becomes the future of racing.

Beyond the Rift is a new column where we take a look at emerging technology that's just beginning to sprout up in the world. We'll look at the newest tech like eBoards, eBikes, wireless headphones, 360 cameras and much more. 

Want to drop Kevin a tip? Reach him on Twitter @baggingspam

Categories: Tech News

Lyft launches a self-driving car division to take on Uber

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 15:27

Despite Uber's venture into autonomous cars set a negative tone after facing suspension and a major lawsuit, another ridesharing service is taking a crack at driverless driving.

The US-exclusive service Lyft announced plans today to launch its own autonomous car division to help work on its open self-driving system. The system, once completed, will allow Lyft and its partners to deploy and manage autonomous cars as they ferry customers around.

Housed in the newly titled Level 5 Engineering Center in Palo Alto, California, Lyft claims it's taking its self-driving initiative seriously, devoting 10% of its entire engineering staff to just focusing on the autonomous tech.

For those not yet trusting of a robot driver (or are simply on a route inaccessible to an autonomous car) Lyft assures customers that it will continue to offer both driverless and human-piloted options for its service in the future.

It will likely be some time before we see the fruits of Lyft's latest labor but if all goes well, advocates speculate that more self-driving cars of any company's could significantly drop traffic-related congestion, accidents and pollution — if not at least less awkward small talk with your driver.

Categories: Tech News

The Essential Phone release date is still a 'few weeks' away

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 13:53

The Essential Phone missed its initial June launch target, but the phone’s creator, Andy Rubin, says that it will arrive for those who pre-ordered “in a few weeks.”

In an email sent along to the phone’s buyers, Rubin stated that the Essential team is “going through certification and testing with multiple US and international carriers.” As The Verge notes, it’s strange that the delay stems from this issue since the Essential Phone is launching in the US exclusively with Sprint

That said, the phone will also be made available unlocked, so it’s an assuring delay for non-Sprint customers in that testing with other carriers will ensure a solid experience. Or at least, that’s the hope.

While the Essential Phone’s launch has been pushed to August, there are plenty of reasons to be excited (and a few points of concern) for the first project from one of the creators of Android itself.

Categories: Tech News

The best Sky TV packages, deals, bundles and special offers in July 2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 11:44

Every week we take a look at the latest Sky Q TV packages, deals and special offers to make sure that you're getting the very best prices when you decide to sign up! So if you're trying to decide which Sky TV offer is for you, if you can afford it or even if you should be getting one in the first place - you're in the right place!

As you scroll down the page, we'll discuss the latest Sky TV packages, offers and any special deals and walk you through the larger bundles with the optional extras like Sky Cinema and Sky Sports.

Signing up with Sky: what you need to know first

As things stand today, you'll first need to select one of the top three Sky TV packages below then add additional channel bundles via the options on Sky's website if you want sports etc. There's no bespoke Sky Sports package by default at the moment, but you can add it after selecting the initial bundle, by just scrolling down and looking for the Sky Sports offers to bolt-on.

1. The best Sky Q TV packages:

Sky TV Original bundle | 18 months | 270+ channels | £20 set up | 1TB Sky Q box | £22 per month
If you're looking for the cheapest option for a Sky TV package, prices start from £22 a month. You can always bolt on extras further down the line if you fancy some Sky Sports or extra movies. This package comes with a 1TB Sky Q Box as standard.

View deal: Sky TV Original bundle from £22pm

Sky TV Variety bundle | 18 months | 300+ channels | 4500 kids' episodes | £20 set up | 1TB Sky Q box | £32 per month
If you pay £32 a month instead, then you can upgrade to the Variety Sky package. You get an extra 30 channels and a huge 4500 episodes of kids' TVG shows compared to the basic Original bundle.

View deal: Sky TV Variety bundle from £32pm

Sky TV Box Sets bundle | 18 months | 350+ channels | 4500 kids' episodes | 350+ box sets | £20 set up | 1TB Sky Q box | £38 per month
Sky has an excellent selection of box sets and you'll never be short of new shows to watch on this £38 a month Sky package. You can currently enjoy Game of Thrones, Blacklist, Ray Donovan, Legion, Ballers, Twin Peaks, Supergirl and loads more. This is also the one to go for if you prefer watching channels in HD - see the extensive list of channels further down this page too see them all. Highlights include Sky Atlantic, Sky 1, Fox, Film 4 and many more. 3D TV owners can also get 3D options included on this tier for free.

View deal: Sky TV Box Sets bundle from £38pm

2. Sky TV packages bolt-on extras

When you click through to any of the bundles above, you'll be offered multiple extras to add to to your Sky package as you go. Everything from bigger Sky Q boxes, Sky Sports subscriptions, Sky Cinema, broadband and so on.

Sky Cinema | 18 months | £10pm
You can add Sky Cinema to your bundle for an extra £10 a month. Sky boasts that a new premiere is added everyday to the collection of over 1000 movies. There's some very modern items in there too, ones you won't find on Netflix UK at the moment either. Recent highlights include Doctor Strange, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inferno, Finding Dory and more.

Add: Sky Cinema to your Sky TV package

Sky Sports Complete Pack | £27.50pm (no contract)
Sky Sports Complete Pack | £20pm (18 month contract)

Unlike the Sky Cinema add-on above, you don't have to stick with Sky Sports over the course of your contract. So if you only need it for during the season of certain sports, you can always cancel it for a while to save some money. You do have to give 31 days' notice, so plan accordingly to avoid missing the end of the season or being stuck with it for a month after. 

With these Sky Sports bundles you get the following Sky Sports channels: Sky Sports Premier league, Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Golf, Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event (for the world's biggest sporting events). 

You can get cheaper options if you opt for fewer sports channels, or commit to an 18-month signup for the same package. Before checkout, you can also add a HD upgrade for the Sports channels for £6 a month.

To find the 'no contract' £27.50 a month offer, when presented with the two options, select 'Choose your sports channels' on the left then scroll down to the 'Complete Sports Pack.' Or, if you're happy to have all the Sky Sports channels for 18 months, just choose the £20 a month option on the right.

View: Sky TV Sky Sports bundle add-ons

Sky Fibre Broadband | 18 months | £19.95 one off set-up fee | £20-30pm
If you're also looking for a broadband deal, then you can add one to your Sky package from as little as £20 a month. It all depends on what's available in your area, you'll need to enter your postcode to check. The cheapest £20 a month package only allows for 25GB of usage, so if you're planning on streaming video content or using it for gaming (we've seen PS4 game patches bigger than 25GB) we'd go for one of the Unlimited data deals instead. 

There are two Unlimited options (again, speeds depend on your postcode). We were offered prices from £23.99 per month for the slower tier and deals for the faster speeds started at £30.99 per month. As things stand, prices are discounted for the first 12 months, with a modest bump for the remaining six.

View: Sky TV and Broadband packages

What Sky TV package is Game of Thrones on?

Game of Thrones season 7 is currently broadcast on Sky Atlantic, a channel that comes with all of the Sky TV deals mentioned on this page. You can also watch it after the original broadcast on the Sky Atlantic catch up channel that's include with all packages. You can also use the Boxsets Sky package to catch up on all the past seasons too. 

What HD Channels do I get on Sky TV?

With all packages you get at least the standard free to air HD channels. To be honest you also get a fair few of these with standard Freeview HD.

  • BBC One HD
  • BBC Two HD
  • BBC Four HD
  • BBC News HD
  • CBBC HD
  • CBeebies HD
  • ITV HD
  • 4 HD
  • 5 HD
  • NHK World HD
  • RT HD

You'll need to splash out on the £38 a month 'Box Sets bundle' in order to get the flashier HD channels. Once you do though, you'll get access to the following channels as well:

  • Sky Atlantic HD
  • Sky 1 HD
  • Sky Living HD
  • Sky Arts HD
  • Sky News HD
  • Sky Sports News HD
  • Fox HD
  • Comedy Central HD
  • Syfy HD
  • Dave HD
  • Food HD
  • MTV HD
  • ITV Encore
  • E HD
  • W HD
  • E4 HD
  • Film 4 HD
  • More 4 HD
  • ITV 2 HD
  • ITV 3 HD
  • ITV 4 HD
  • TCM HD
  • Animal Planet HD
  • History Channel HD
  • National Geographic HD
  • Nat Geo Wild HD
  • Discovery HD
  • Disney Channel HD
  • Disney Junior HD
  • Disney XD HD
  • Cartoon Network HD
  • Nickelodeon HD
  • Nick Jr. HD
  • Boomerang HD
  • Alibi HD
  • Crime and Investigation HD
  • Eden HD
  • Lifetime HD
  • Star Plus HD
  • TLC HD
  • Universal HD
  • Viceland HD
  • Sky Sports Mixc HD
  • Eurosport 1 HD
  • Eurosport 2 HD
Categories: Tech News

Moto Z2 Force release date, news and rumors

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 11:36

The Moto Z2 Force is set be Motorola’s next flagship phone, combining a tough screen with high-end specs.

It’s been all but confirmed by the company already, and a full announcement is expected just days from now, so you won’t have to wait long to get your hands on it.

But if you can’t wait even that long we’ve got you covered, because an assortment of leaks and rumors have seemingly revealed almost everything there is to know about this hardened handset. Read on below for everything we’ve heard so far about the Moto Z2 Force.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The next tough flagship from Motorola
  • When is it out? It's being announced July 25
  • What will it cost? A lot
Moto Z2 Force release date and price

Hottest leaks:

  • A July 25 announcement

Motorola is holding an event on July 25 in New York and it’s heavily hinted that we’ll see the Moto Z2 Force there, as a teaser says to “get ready to shatter your expectations”, accompanied by an image of smashed smartphone screens.

One of the key features of the Moto Z Force is its tough, shatter-resistant screen, and we fully expect that to be making a return for the Z2 Force, making that the logical phone that Motorola would be hinting at.

You won’t necessarily be able to buy it straight away, but a July 25 announcement at least is looking almost guaranteed.

Price-wise all we can do for now is look at the Moto Z Force, which launched for $720 (around £555/AU$910), so the Moto Z2 Force is likely to cost at least that much SIM-free.

Moto Z2 Force screen

Hottest leaks:

  • A 5.5-inch QHD screen
  • ShatterShield technology

A high point of the Moto Z Force was its ShatterShield screen, which is designed to prevent the screen cracking or smashing when dropped from heights of around 5 feet or less. 

We’d expect to see that again in the Moto Z2 Force, and indeed a leaked presentation slide mentions exactly that.

Credit: Evan Blass

Whether ShatterShield will have been improved for the Z2 Force remains to be seen, but in other ways the screen sounds very similar to its predecessor, with VentureBeat reporting (based on marketing material that it’s obtained) that the Moto Z2 Force will have a 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED screen with ShatterShield technology.

That same size and resolution has been listed in a benchmark, albeit one referring to the ‘Moto Z2’, rather than the Moto Z2 Force.

On paper that spec sounds exactly the same as the original Moto Z Force, but it’s still a flagship spec.

TechRadar's take: It doesn't look like there will be much change to the screen for this year's model, so expect it to be 5.5 inches, sharp and tough.

Moto Z2 Force design

Hottest leaks:

  • A slim metal shell
  • No headphone port

We have a very good idea of how the Moto Z2 Force will look, as various images have leaked and they all match up with one another.

Most recently there’s the shot below, which shows a phone that looks a lot like the previous Moto Z Force, but with some tweaks.

Credit: VentureBeat

It seems to be made of metal, with a slim build and a textured back, while a narrow band around the edge is likely there to help strengthen your signal.

There’s the Motorola dimple in the middle, a dual-lens camera jutting out near the top, a Moto Mods connector near the bottom, and a home button likely housing a fingerprint scanner below the screen. 

And notably, like its predecessor, there’s no 3.5mm headphone port.

We’ve seen the same design in the images above, shared by Android Authority and OnLeaks, and in yet another leaked shot.

In fact, it’s a design that’s even been shown off by Motorola itself in the image below, which was briefly posted to Motorola’s Chinese website.

We’ve also heard that while the phone won’t have an ingress protection rating for water resistance, it will at least be covered in a water-repellent nano-coating, which is likely to mean it can survive a splash, but not much more.

Leaks have shown the Moto Z2 Force in gold and black (likely to be called Fine Gold and Super Black according to VentureBeat), while a Lunar Grey shade will apparently be exclusive to T-Mobile in the US. The same source says it will be almost a millimeter thinner than the 7mm Moto Z Force.

TechRadar's take: A similar design to the Moto Z Force is looking likely, with the images above almost certainly being accurate, given that we've now seen so many of them.

Moto Z2 Force camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • A dual-lens 12MP camera
  • A 5MP front-facing camera
  • OIS and improved low light skills

We know from all the leaked images that the Moto Z2 Force is likely to have a dual-lens camera, which is a big change, as the Moto Z Force has just a single-lens one.

As for the specs of it, the latest leaks suggest it will have two 12MP sensors, along with a 5MP front-facing one (which we can see from pictures has an LED flash).

That lines up with earlier information from leaker @Ricciolo1, who claims the Moto Z2 will have a lower megapixel count (the original Z Force was 21MP) and that it will have larger pixels, a laser autofocus and optical image stabilization (OIS), as well as enhanced low light skills.

However, he didn’t actually refer to Force here, rather the Moto Z 2017, which could be an entirely different phone.

The battery meanwhile is going to be 2,730mAh according to VentureBeat. That would make it 22% smaller than the 3,500mAh juice pack in the Moto Z Force. A surprisingly big drop then if true.

TechRadar's take: Dual-lens cameras are the in thing and the leaked images we've seen all show one, so that's very likely. The drop in battery size is more of a surprise, but if Motorola really is slimming the phone down even more, as has been rumored, it might be necessary.

Moto Z2 Force OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • A flagship Snapdragon 835 chipset
  • 4GB or 6GB of RAM
  • 64GB of storage

The latest leaks suggest the Moto Z2 Force will have a Snapdragon 835 chipset, along with either 4GB of RAM (in the US) or 6GB of RAM (everywhere else). Apparently it will also have 64GB of storage, unless you’re in China, which gets 128GB.

However, all models are said to have a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 2TB, and the phone will supposedly run Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, with an Android O update planned when it’s available.

Those specs line up with a Geekbench benchmark labelled as the ‘Moto Z (2)’, which lists a phone with a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM and Android 7.1.1. And another benchmark (this time labelled Moto Z2) has also popped up with the same assortment of specs, along with 64GB of storage.

The Snapdragon 835 was also hinted at by a leaked presentation slide, which mentioned the Moto Z2 Force would support gigabit LTE. 

That means you can get faster mobile data speeds (if your network is up to the challenge) and the Snapdragon 835 is the only Qualcomm chip which supports that.

TechRadar's take: A Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM are the flagship standard this year, so we'd fully expect to see that on the Moto Z2 Force. Given that 4GB is the standard, 6GB of RAM outside the US seems less likely, but possible.

Moto Z2 Force other features

Hottest leaks:

  • Moto Mods are sure to feature

The Moto Z2 Force is sure to support Moto Mods, as most mid-range and above Motorola handsets do, and as leaked images we’ve seen show a connector for them.

These are accessories which attach to your phone to add or improve a feature, and there are a number of them around, such as a projector, an optical zoom lens and a battery pack (which could be especially useful here, if the Moto Z2’s battery really is as small as rumored).

TechRadar's take: We don't know what if any new features the Moto Z2 Force will have, but we're almost certain it will continue the support of Moto Mods.

Categories: Tech News

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: what we want to see

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:58

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is a genuine iPad Pro alternative, and one of the best Android tablets around. It has similar productivity potential to Apple’s slates, but with a stylus bundled in, saving you some money, and with a Super AMOLED screen.

This is impressive stuff, but the Tab S3 isn’t without faults, so we’ve come up with a list of things we’d like to see improved for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.

We’ll also use this article to collect all the news and rumors about the Galaxy Tab S4 as they come in. Samsung’s next slate is little more than a whisper so far, but we’re sure to start hearing things soon, and in the meantime we’ve got some theories of our own about when it might land and what it might offer.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Samsung's next flagship tablet
  • When is it out? Probably 2018
  • What will it cost? Likely at least $599/£599 (around AU$780)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 release date and price

Samsung hasn’t been giving its flagship slate range yearly upgrades, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 hitting stores in September 2015, but the Galaxy Tab S3 not landing until March 2017.

So there was around 18 months between them. If Samsung keeps that up then we won’t see the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 until roughly September 2018. But whether early or late in the year we’d expect to see a new model sometime in 2018.

Pricing will probably be in line with the Tab S3’s, if not higher. That slate launched for $599/£599 (around AU$780), and for that money you also got a stylus, but the keyboard costs extra.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 news and rumors

There’s nothing to see here yet, but there are a few things we can take an educated guess at. The screen is sure to be Super AMOLED again for a start, since most Samsung displays use that tech.

It will probably also support HDR content, since the Tab S3 does and it’s unlikely that Samsung would remove a major feature.

The size will probably stay at 9.7 inches, though since the range seems to be designed directly as a competitor to the iPad it might get larger, given that the iPad Pro range is offered in 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch sizes.

You can also expect a powerful but possibly not cutting-edge chipset based on past form, so perhaps the Snapdragon 835, which is found in US models of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and is top of the range right now but won’t be by the time the Tab S4 launches.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: what we want to see

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is one of the best tablets money can buy, but it’s still a long way from perfect. Here’s how the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 can get closer.

1. Better multitasking

As much as Samsung might want you to ditch your laptop and just use the Galaxy Tab S3, it’s not quite up to the task, and that’s largely down to clunky multitasking.

There’s no proper dock for easy app switching, the recent apps menu is a slow alternative, and the screen is arguably a bit cramped if you want to have two apps running side by side.

Improvements to all these things for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 would be great to see, and may be necessary if it wants to compete with the iPad Pro range, as that offers larger slates and iOS 11 is set to boost their multitasking skills well beyond what the Tab S3 can manage.

2. A cheaper keyboard

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is designed in part as a productivity device like the iPad Pro, and like Apple’s slate you need an expensive keyboard accessory to get the most out of it.

In Samsung’s case, the official keyboard launched for $129/£119 (around AU$170), which is almost as much as some Chromebooks cost. For the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 we want to see the keyboard bundled with the slate, or at the very least offered for a lot less money.

3. Keyboard tweaks

Speaking of the keyboard, there’s room for improvement in its design too. There are no function keys and no home button for example.

It could also do with stronger magnets, and the flap should be magnetic, both to keep it shut and to turn off the screen when closed. These should be easy fixes for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4’s keyboard.

4. Water resistance

Samsung’s flagship phones have offered water resistance in recent years, but its flagship tablets still don’t, and that’s a shame.

We’d bet any number of people want to use their tablet by the pool, in the bath or while cooking, and a lack of water resistance could put them off – or lead to a very expensive accident, so we want the Tab S4 to be built for all occasions and environments.

5. A 4K display

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 has a great screen. It’s a good size at 9.7 inches, it uses Super AMOLED and it supports HDR. But it's not 4K.

It’s fairly sharp at 1536 x 2048, but if the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 has a 4K resolution, while still packing in all the same tech as the S3’s and the same speaker setup, it could be the ultimate tablet for media.

6. Flagship power

While the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 isn’t exactly lacking power, its Snapdragon 820 chipset is a generation behind the Samsung Galaxy S8’s Snapdragon 835 one, despite launching around the same time.

So for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 we want a cutting-edge chipset, plenty of RAM and performance that can rival the iPad Pro 3 (or whatever Apple’s latest slate is at the time).

7. More storage

Invest in a hefty microSD card and you’ll have plenty of space to play with on the Galaxy Tab S3, but it only comes with 32GB of storage built-in, which is a paltry amount for a high-end tablet, since you’re likely to want to fill it up with games, apps and videos.

The iPad Pro 10.5 for comparison starts at 64GB and goes all the way up to 512GB. Granted, there’s no microSD card slot in Apple’s slate, but opt for the largest size and you’ll have far more room than even the biggest supported card (256GB) allows on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.

So we want more storage in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has 64GB, so that should be the minimum, but as the S4 will be newer and bigger we ideally want even more than that.

Categories: Tech News

Capture your life like never before with the Samsung Gear 360 and Gear VR

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:25

The way we are now able to capture those incredible life moments has, in just a few short years, dramatically changed. 

The leap from shooting in HD to being able to film in 4K on your smartphone was an incredible. But that was just the start, now you can capture the unmissable in the most immersive way possible, with the Samsung Gear 360.

The Samsung Gear 360 is a cutting-edge camera doesn't just film what's in front of you but all around you, creating the ultimate 360 degree experience. The Gear 360 has a portable and lightweight design, and is compatible with a wide range of Galaxy smartphones*, so you can take it with you wherever you go. It is also comfortable to hold thanks to its slim and sleek grip. 

With the Samsung Gear 360 you can capture every moment in high-quality 4K 360 degree video and share with your friends later, or you can choose to live stream what's going on around you - so your friends and family can share in those once-in-a-lifetime moments. 

You can even take detailed, high-quality 15MP 360 degree photos to make the ultimate freeze frame vista. 

Maybe it's the holiday of your dreams, an important birthday or the wedding of the year, the Gear 360 will make sure those who can't make something in person can get the closest, most realistic experience possible. 

The innovation doesn’t just stop there as you can also pair this experience with the Gear VR, Samsung’s virtual reality headset. The latest headset allows for even more immersion thanks to more precise head tracking and an impressive wide field of view that makes use of the Super AMOLED display on Samsung’s S8 and S7 range. 

The Gear VR isn't just for your own 360 degree movies, either. The comfortable headset is a portal to some fantastic VR content through the Samsung VR app, including 4,000 premium videos, with content from Warner Bros, CNN and more. 


And then there's the games. Thanks to the new-and-improved ergonomic design, you can now play for longer. Couple this with the addition of the Gear VR controller and the experience is even better. They allow you to interact more naturally with your VR surroundings, making for a more seamless experience. 

To find out more, watch the below videos and head to Curry’s. 

Save 10% off the marked price on Samsung Gear 360 (2017) and Samsung VR headset (code: GEAR360) ends 4th August. 


*Gear 360 compatible with Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, A5 (2017) running Android 5.0 or later, and iPhone 7, 7+, 6S, 6S+, SE running iOS 10.0 or later, PCs and Macs. Android and iOS devices require a mobile app and PCs & Macs require installation of software to work with Gear 360

Categories: Tech News

The best free HD YouTube downloader 2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:00

HD YouTube videos are on tap whenever you have an internet connection available, but there are plenty of occasions – such as when travelling – when you'll be forced to go offline. Thankfully, with a little forward planning and the right software, you can download any videos you are interested in so you can watch them offline.

There are all manner of tools available for downloading videos from YouTube, but here we are interested in those programs that let you download the very best quality.

As well as HD video downloaders, this roundup also includes software that can download 360-degree videos from YouTube.

Of course, it's not just the potential for offline viewing that makes these downloaders interesting. If you are battling with a slow connection, you're probably sick of either enduring video buffering or putting up with lower quality videos. These HD YouTube downloaders could be just what you need.

Before we get started, bear in mind that you should only download videos from YouTube if you have permission from the copyright holder. Unauthorized downloading is against YouTube's terms of service

1. 4K Video Downloader

The fastest, most convenient way to download HD videos from YouTube

As the name suggests, 4K Video Downloader can be used to download videos from YouTube at up to 4K quality. There are no restrictions on download speed, so you can completely max out your connection, and you can choose between saving in MKV, MP3 or 3GP formats.

Should a video have embedded subtitles, these can be downloaded as well, and there's even support for 3D and 360-degree videos. In fact, you're not even limited to just YouTube – sites such as Vimeo and Daily Motion are also supported, and there are versions of 4K Video Downloader available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

If your needs are a little greater, you might want to consider upgrading to the paid-for version of the program. This enables you to download playlist with subtitles and more than 25 videos, or download entire channels. But for most people, the free version of the software will be just fine, and the limitations are very minor in the grand scheme of things.

Download here: 4K Video Downloader

2. aTube Catcher

Make downloading HD YouTube videos effortless, with bonus file conversion

aTube Catcher isn't going to win any beauty contests, but what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in functionality and ease of use.

This is much more than just a video downloader; it also offers the option of converting videos between formats, burning video CDs and DVDs, capturing local video, resizing videos, and batch processing.

But what we're interested in here is the program's ability to download HD content from YouTube – and aTube Catcher does this very well.

Paste in a URL, then use a drop-down menu to choose the format you would like to save the video in. If you're interested in the high definition version, just leave the 'No Conversion (Only get original file)' option selected before hitting Download. You can then choose the precise quality you want.

As well as YouTube, aTube Catcher supports a wide range of other streaming video sites, making it well worth a try.

Review and where to download: aTube Catcher

3. WinX Free YouTube Downloader

An HD video downloader that supports several popular hosting sites – not just YouTube, and offers a great choice of download formats

With one of the most impressive and pleasing interface of the bunch, WinX Free YouTube Downloader is an immediate joy to use. You're not limited to just downloading from YouTube, but this is undoubtedly the primary focus of the program, and it makes light work of quickly grabbing high quality videos from a number of sites.

Videos can be saved in formats appropriate for different tasks and devices, including FLV, WebM or MP4, and the ability to queue up a series of videos to download in a batch is a boon if you want to grab a large collection overnight.

There's a built-in video player so you can watch or preview online videos, and you can even grab screenshots while you watch.

With everything being not only quick to complete, but also incredibly well-designed, WinX Free YouTube Downloader is a serious contender for the best YouTube downloader out there.

Download here: WinX Free YouTube Downloader

4. Free YouTube Download

A simple, but effective way to grab HD YouTube videos, but bear in mind that downloaded clips will be watermarked and speed limits apply

Free YouTube Download, from DVDVideoSoft, is another incredibly simple HD YouTube downloader, but it still gets the job done – this time with no unwanted extras or other messing about.

Having found a YouTube video you want to download, copy the URL, fire up the program and hit the Paste button. Click the video quality that has been automatically selected for you, and you can then choose the quality you'd prefer – all the way up to 8K UHD if you want.

There are a few things missing that you can only do if you upgrade from the free version of the program to the Premium edition. Upgrading not only eliminates the download speed limit, but also gets rid of the video watermark that appears on downloads.

There's also playlist support if you're willing to pay, but for most people – if they're happy to put up with a watermark – will be perfectly catered for by the free version of the program.

Review and where to download: Free YouTube Download

5. 5KPlayer

The HD YouTube downloader you need when 4K just isn't enough

Seemingly looking to one-up 4K Video Downloader comes 5KPlayer – and things look impressive right from the moment you launch the installer. This is a highly polished program, available for Windows and macOS, that talks the talk and walks the walk. In order to unlock a few features – such as support for more sites and the ability to use AirPlay – you'll need to register the software, but this is free and involves nothing more than handing over your email address.

The dark and slightly gloomy interface is easy to get around, and there are plenty of on-screen tips to help you get started if things are not immediately obvious. Once you've pasted the URL of a video, you can download it at maximum quality if you want, or opt for a space-saving resolution instead. The extra features – such as AirPlay streaming, a radio and video player, etc – are nice touches, but the ease of downloading videos is the real kicker.

Download here: 5KPlayer

Categories: Tech News

World of Warcraft and StarCraft II soon won’t work with Windows XP or Vista

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 09:13

Earlier this year, Blizzard said it was going to cease supporting Windows XP and Vista across its library of contemporary Battle.net games, and the company has just confirmed that this will happen on a rolling basis starting in October.

That means dropping support for World of Warcraft and StarCraft II, as well as Diablo III, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm (Overwatch never supported these outdated operating systems anyway).

So what, you might think? Well, as we saw with the recent WannaCry outbreak, there are still around one in 14 PCs out there running Windows XP (and a small amount still on Vista), despite the fact that Microsoft stopped supporting XP over three years ago now (and Vista earlier this year).

And of course, there are still some people playing some of these games on older machines with these outdated operating systems (depending on the exact spec of the old PC, they may run well enough). We certainly saw complaints earlier this year from World of Warcraft players on XP who heard this move was incoming and weren’t too chuffed.

That said, Blizzard has obviously balanced up the numbers of folks playing its games on these platforms, and the effort/cost of continuing to support XP and Vista, and decided it was time to call it game over.

As the company explains: “There have been three major Windows releases since Vista, and at this point, the vast majority of our audience has upgraded to one of the newer versions.”

Staggered switch-off

As mentioned, dropping support will be implemented on a rolling basis, in other words, a staggered schedule of one game at a time, rather than the whole lot at once. Blizzard says it will give folks a bit of advance warning of when a title is about to have support switched off.

Once that switch is flicked, the game in question will no longer run on Windows XP or Vista.

Even though this will come as a blow to some of the XP diehards out there, it’s true that given the age of this OS now, they should have been looking at a Windows upgrade some time back. Or perhaps a Linux sidestep (and emulation). If you’re connected to the net on a PC which isn’t receiving security patches, you really are taking a big risk.

Of course, this has also sparked chatter online concerning when Windows 7 might suffer the same fate, given the many stalwarts who have refused to upgrade to Windows 10 for a variety of reasons.

Microsoft’s extended support for Windows 7 will finish in 2020, so if you look at XP which has been abandoned three years after its extended date, that will put us in 2023 or thereabouts.

Via: Betanews

Categories: Tech News

Facebook foraying into Google Ara’s territory with new modular phone project

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 08:02

Google Ara was an exciting concept which introduced the idea of commercializing modular phones. Although the project never materialized, Facebook is breathing life into it as per a new patent application filed by the company. The patent is simply described as a “modular electromechanical device” which would come with a display, GPS, and a microphone module.

A large portion of the Google Ara team has seemingly joined Building 8, which is responsible for this new secretive Facebook project. The four members named on Facebook’s patent application were involved with Nascent Objects, which is a firm that the company acquired only last year. Nascent Objects specialized in producing modular hardware using 3D printing.


It’s anybody’s guess as to what the company will actually end up producing, but all hints point at a revival of the Project Ara concept under Facebook’s umbrella. Google shelved the Ara concept last year, owing to a variety of reasons, including the delay in its release. Google also had to get rid of some features that proved to be challenging, ultimately resulting in the project’s demise. 

Building 8 is currently working on several interesting projects in its labs, including the ability to comprehend languages through human skin and being able to type using just your mind. Facebook has invested heavily in these futuristic projects. Machine learning is another area where Facebook is heavily focused on, which includes improving existing camera tech. 

This new modular concept could extend beyond Google Ara’s initial approach, though. Facebook’s patent filing talks about how this could be used for modular speakers and other components. So it’s clear that the company isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket.

We hope to learn more about the new modular project from Facebook over the coming months. However, since it’s still only a patent listing, we might have to wait a while before the idea is publicly discussed by the company.

Categories: Tech News

Xiaomi to sell the Mi Max 2 via Paytm Mall starting July 27

Latest Tech News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 07:23

Xiaomi recently announced the Mi Max 2 in India with an exciting hardware specs sheet under the hood. The phone is available via the company’s official online store as part of its 3-year anniversary sale. The company has now struck a deal with Paytm to offer the handset via Paytm Mall starting July 27. It is being said that the phone will be offered with a snappy delivery service and easy EMI options.

In addition to Paytm Mall, the phone is also expected to be available on Amazon India, Flipkart, and Tata Cliq at 10 AM on the 27th of July. It seems like the online retailers will host flash sales, suggesting that the stocks will be limited. Brick-and-mortar stores like Vijay Sales, e-Zone, LOT, Poorvika, BigC, and Sangeetha will start stocking up the handset on July 27. The Mi Max 2 has already been available for purchase via Mi Home stores in Bengaluru since yesterday.

The phone will set you back by Rs 16,999, which is quite decent considering the kind of features it comes with. The Mi Max 2 is equipped with a 6.44-inch Full HD (1920x1080) display panel, accompanied by the octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor. The device comes with a 12MP Sony IMX386 rear camera sensor, with the 5MP front facing camera handling the selfies.

The phone also has 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a USB C port with Quick Charge 3.0 support, Bluetooth, and 4G LTE. The phone also packs Android 7.0 Nougat with the company’s custom MIUI 8 skin. The massive 5,300mAh battery can ensure that the phone stays running for long intervals and even comes with parallel charging on board.

Categories: Tech News

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