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The iPadOS public beta has officially launched with a host of new features that from Apple that make your iPad distinct from an iPhone running iOS 13.
We have a list of the best iPadOS features you'll be able to experience in public beta 1 and 2. Sure, there are shared a lot of changes. After all, it "builds on the same foundation as iOS," according to Apple, but expect iPadOS to grow more into its own operating system over time.
iPadOS brings a variety of critical improvements to the tablet UI. Some of these make better use of screen real estate while others introduce new gesture controls (and even mouse support) for a better tablet experience. In short, iPad users won't just run an upsized iOS any longer.iPadOS release date and public beta timing
The iPadOS public beta release date landed on June 24, and it contains a lot of the features Apple shows us at its WWDC 2019 keynote. Since then, Apple has pushed a new version out to enrolled tablets, with iPadOS public beta 2 made available from July 8.
We'll see more features when the final version of the software exits beta, likely in September.
In previous years September has been the month in which Apple rolls out its new software to the public to coincide with the launch of its new iPhones, and we expect the same activity around the iPhone 11 this year, which we now know is going to be unveiled on September 10.Which iPads will work with iPadOS?
Apple has confirmed that the "iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later" will all get the iPadOS update when it releases later this year.
So which iPads are missing out this year, after getting iOS 12 in 2018? Well it's the end of the update road for the original iPad Air, iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 3. It's unclear if older iPads will be getting iOS 13 or if they've been completely left behind.
The following iPads will get an update to iPadOS later this year.
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2015)
- iPad Pro 11 (2018)
- iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
- iPad Pro 9.7 (2016)
- iPad Air (2019)
- iPad Air 2
- iPad (2018)
- iPad (2017)
- iPad Mini (2019)
- iPad Mini 4
Today View alongside a tighter grid of apps on the new iPadOS home screen. Image credit: Apple
The first big change over you'll notice in iPadOS is on the new home screen. The grid of app icons is tighter, allowing you to fit more on the screen and reducing the amount of dead space on the display.
With a tighter grid of apps, there's now an option to show Today View alongside them, for a more useful overview screen.
It can be added to the Home screen for quick access to widgets with a simple swipe from the left side of the screen, and you can switch out the widgets pinned here to display the ones most relevant to you.Sidecar is a big new change
If you're wondering what the biggest feature of iPadOS might be, Sidecar is a real contender. It natively bakes in wired (or wireless) support for using your iPad as a Mac second screen, bringing with it a whole host of functionality.
This mode effectively turns any iPad into a portable monitor, one with a powerful internal battery, allowing apps and multiple windows to be dragged onto its screen and interacted with using a mouse, keyboard or Apple Pencil.
You can't mess around with the resolution just yet, so you can't work in super fine detail and may want to wait a little while until the final software launch appears in late September - but even at this early stage, Apple fans will find they've suddenly got a new screen for their Mac right in another pocket of their backpack.iPadOS has a new way to multitask
Slide Over in iPadOS in action, with a side view of Messages over Safari. Image credit: Apple
Multitasking also gets an upgrade on iPadOS is a few ways.
First up, you'll be able to use Split View to see two app windows at a time for the same app, or two different apps. iPadOS uses a drag-and-drop interface here, making switching between apps and windows easy.
Slide Over lets you quickly pull up an app in a side window, over the top of another app – allowing you to quickly check things such as emails, messages or reminders without having to exit the current app you're using.
Dragging up from the bottom of the screen will allow you to move between apps in the Slide Over panel.
Apple has also brought the Mac's Exposé feature to iPadOS, allowing you to get an overview of all your open apps – making it easy to jump between them, and close down any you no longer need running in the background.
USB drive and SD card support arrives in iPadOS. Image credit: Apple
External storage fans rejoice! iPadOS will allow you to plug a USB drive or SD card reader into your iPad, and the Files app will be able to read the plugin and allow you to easily manage data between the iPad's internal storage and the external drive.
Files gets a Column View to better take advantage of the iPad's wide screen, and the iCloud Drive allows folder sharing, and will show content from a USB drive or SD card if they're plugged in.
There's good news for photographers too, as support is being built into iPadOS to allow you to plug your camera into your iPad and import images directly into editing apps such as Lightroom.iPadOS performance boost
Your current iPad could get a performance boost when iPadOS arrives, with Apple claiming that its tablet-specific operating system is quicker than iOS 12.
It says Face ID unlocks are up to 30% faster, while apps launch up to twice as fast as on iOS 12 – and apps themselves should be smaller in download size (by up to 50%), taking up less of that precious storage space.Desktop-quality websites and browsing on iPadOS
The Safari web browser is also improved with iPadOS, because it's no longer purely tied to iOS and a mobile ecosystem.
That's right: you're no longer just viewing mobile sites, as iPadOS views websites in a modified desktop view that's a bit cleaner and optimized for touch.
It doesn't just work with Apple's websites either – the likes of Google Docs and Wordpress web apps will also work better with Safari on iPadOS.
Apple's browser will also get a download manager, 30 new keyboard shortcuts, and improved tab management when iPadOS lands later this year.New iPadOS gestures
One of the bigger features across the whole of iPadOS are the new gestures. The ones we've seen are pretty simple: three-finger pinch to cut, three-finger splay to paste, three-finger swipe to undo. Easy.
In some apps, you'll also be able to two-finger-pinch the keyboard to shrink it to iOS mobile size and move it around. Plunk it next to the side of the screen and boom: you can type on it with one thumb.
Add to that the new gestures for the home screen and multi-tasking, and there may be a learning curve required to get used to all the new interactions which come with iPadOS.Markup and much more on iPadOS
Markup also gets an update, and you'll be able to mark up entire web pages, documents and emails.
A simple swipe up from the corner with your Apple Pencil launches markup and brings up the newly-redesigned tool palette, which can be dragged around and repositioned anywhere on the screen.
And speaking of the Pencil, Apple has reduced the latency of its input from 20ms to 9ms, which means you'll get a more natural, pen-like experience when using it.
Plenty of new features that are coming to iOS 13 are also headed to iPadOS, like Dark Mode, custom fonts, the new Photos organized by machine learning, and the SwiftKey-like slide-and-type QuickPath keyboard feature.Mouse support for iPadOS
iPadOS does supports connecting a mouse to your iPad, though it's not something you'll find front-and-center on the official iPadOS features list.
Developer Steve Troughton-Smith initially tweeted out instructions he'd discovered to connect a mouse through new Accessibility settings, and Tom's Guide successfully activated a mouse on an iPad. While it doesn't seem to be the smoothest thing, we're excited for a serious leap in the iPad family's productivity potential and accessibility.
Waiting with bated breath for the release of Final Fantasy 7 Remake next year? Well, don't worry, Square Enix has just the itch for your Final Fantasy scratch.
Final Fantasy 8 Remastered is officially out now and, while it may not boast the same completely overhauled re-imagining that FF7 is getting, its got newly-rendered visuals, console-specific features and more boosts than you can shake a stick at.
Check out the release trailer below:What's new?
Originally released in 1999, Final Fantasy 8 focuses on the story of Squall Leonhart, a newly-graduated member of the mercenary force SeeD. Along with his no-longer-trainee friends and resistance member Rinoa Heartilly, Squall must save the world from the sorceress Ultimecia, who (spoilers?) wishes to compress time. And you thought FF7 held the record for bonkers JRPG plotting.
It's worth noting that Final fantasy 8 Remastered is a remaster and not a remake. But what exactly does that mean?
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a complete re-interpretation of its original game. While fundamental gameplay, story and title will stay the same, almost every other aspect has been redesigned for the modern era. Square Enix is essentially making an entirely new Final Fantasy 7 game.
However, a remaster just touches up technical aspects (such as sound and graphics) of the original game to bring it more in line with modern titles. In the case of Final Fantasy 8 Remastered, Square Enix has revealed the game is getting new and improved visuals alongside the addition of some quality-of-life features.
Per Square Enix, the newly rendered visuals "bring the game’s characters to life like never before." Compared to the old PS1-era graphics, the new looks are certainly improved, though some models - like the weapons - haven't gotten much love, and are still heavily polygonal. The remaster also adds console-specific features like trophies and achievements, naturally.
But the biggest addition is of boosts, which aim to "enhance the experience" - which seems like a tongue-in-cheek way to describe very minor 'cheat codes' that smooth out the grindier aspects of the original game. In short, if you're here to revisit the story (or explore it for the first time), these tweaks should make for a more pleasant playthrough. Check them out below:
- Battle Assist: The ability to always have maxed out HP and ATB, and trigger Limit Breaks at any time.
- No Encounters: An enemy encounter option that allows players to enjoy the storyline uninterrupted. While enemy encounters are turned off, players can still enjoy the story’s event battles.
- 3x Speed Boost: Play through the game with three times the speed.
If that's not enough for you, then PC players can also ultilize customizable system settings, an option for players to acquire all items, abilities, cards and specials, and the ability to max out in-game currency, character level and spell supplies.
Final Fantasy 8 Remastered is out now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
- Here's our hands on: Final Fantasy VII Remake review
We sat down with Mr Kwok Quek Sin, Senior Director (National Digital Identity), of GovTech Singapore, to discuss the roll out of the country's National Digital Identity Programme.Singapore is rolling out its National Digital Identity programme (NDI), please could you explain what this service is?
NDI is one of Singapore’s six Smart Nation strategic national projects, and a cornerstone of our digital economy. It involves issuing Singaporeans and residents a crypto-based mobile digital identity which they can use for both government and private sector transactions. This is envisioned to bring more convenience to Citizens, as they need not remember multiple usernames and passwords for access to digital services.
Another important aspect of the national digital identity programme is to create a trusted digital ecosystem, where data and services can transcend the boundaries of systems, organisations and countries. It is envisioned to catalyse industry digitalisation and the development of even more value-added digital services.
It will also increase opportunities for government-citizen co-creation. Businesses can look forward to a suite of products that can be readily integrated into their offerings to improve customer service and internal business processes.Is GovTech collaborating with other government departments to bring this service to life?
Since 2003, Singapore has been using a national-level digital identity, called Singapore Personal Access (or SingPass), which has been issued to more than 3.8 million citizens and residents.
It was originally meant to solve the problem of each government agency having their own set of credentials to verify a user’s identity, very much similar to how we have different accounts for each bank or online services. Today, it has evolved to a gateway allowing access to over 300 digital services offered by more than 60 government agencies and some private sector entities. More than 70 million transactions are conducted with SingPass annually.
The adoption of digital identity also depends on the number of commercial services on-board the ecosystem. As such, we started industry engagement early, even when we are still building up the different parts of the NDI infrastructure, to explore the various use cases and opportunities in which NDI can be designed to deliver value to the industry and to help them streamline their customer journeys.What kind of services can citizens use NDI to access?
As part of the national digital identity initiative, we have launched SingPass Mobile, which is an app that securely stores an individual’s digital identity. The individual can use this app to prove their identity and to provide authorisation, using biometrics features on the phone. The adoption of SingPass Mobile in the 6 months since it was launched has been very encouraging. It is important to drive the pervasive adoption of SingPass Mobile as the national digital identity. But our measurement of success is not based on how many people have been issued with the digital identity, but more importantly, on what this digital identity can do.
Thus, we have placed a high emphasis in driving businesses’ adoption of our national digital identity platform. The following products, in the form of APIs, are part of the national digital identity platform, which businesses can use to integrate to their digital services, to improve user journeys and streamline operations.
- MyInfo: This is a “Tell Us Once” service that eliminates the need for citizens to repeatedly provide and verify the same personal information when transacting online. Businesses can use MyInfo APIs to obtain information from individuals upon their consent. For example, banks and financial institutions used this for eKYC for online application and instant approvals for bank account opening, credit card applications and loan applications;
- Login: This is an online authentication service that businesses can integrate with, so that they can authenticate the users of their online services without implementing and operating their own infrastructure and systems. Unlike other commercial authentication services available in the market, the authentication services provided by us are based on verified data and thus offers a higher identity assurance. Businesses avoid the high costs of operating their own authentication systems, and are able to avail access to 4 million users from day 1, without the need for expensive customer acquisition;
- Verify: This is an identity verification service which businesses can integrate with for their physical shop front, as we believe one can be digital even in a physical setting. The possible use cases range from (a) verifying visitors’ identity in hospitals or in commercial buildings, (b) proving of identity at bank branches or telco shops, and (c) signing up for credit cards or opening of utilities accounts at roadshows. In fact, any situation where you find that you need to show proof of your identity in a physical setting;
- Authorise: This is a remote authorisation service, which businesses can use to notify and seek authorisation from customers. For example, an insurance company can notify a customer that his car insurance policy is expiring and seek authorisation from him/her to renew it for another year. Individuals will receive the notification on SingPass Mobile, and they can provide their authorisation by digitally signing the renewal request using the digital crypto keys within SingPass Mobile;
- Sign: This service allows businesses and their customers to digitally sign a document, be it a contract, agreement or statutory filing. A digitally signed document provides a high level of assurance of identity of the signers, integrity of the documents, non-repudiation of the transaction, and enjoy legal presumptions under the Electronics Transaction Act in Singapore;
- Face: This is an identity verification service using facial recognition, that businesses can integrate with “as-a-service”. Face verification allows businesses an additional / alternative way of verifying a person’s identity, without the need and burden to collect biometrics data. It can be used as a step-up authentication to achieve a higher level of identity assurance, or as a way to simplify customer verification process, or in some situations, as a proof-of-presence (e.g., taking a test). Face verification is done upon consent of individual and not for surveillance purposes.
With the growing number of cross-border digital transactions, it will be increasingly important for countries to collaborate in areas such as data flows and digital identity. Through the recent MOU with UK GDS, we seek to explore the following:
- Mutual exchange of knowledge and best practices in improving delivery of digital public services;
- Mutual exchange of officers to further build digital skills and capabilities of government officials;
- Adoption of open standards for government info, data and software;
- Opportunities for collaboration to strengthen digital partnership between UK GDS & GovTech.
The context and the environment in which UK Verify and the Singapore’s national digital identity programme operate in are different, so each will face its own set of challenges. Some of these challenges are similar, and can serve as lessons for each other, so having a collaboration platform will certainly be useful.How are you safeguarding the privacy of your citizens?
The fundamental premise is that user consent will be respected, be it in terms of adoption, and in the use of the service, or when their data is used to facilitate their transactions. There will also be a transaction history in which users will be able to trace when and what data they had shared with which organisations. Such transparency helps to create the trust in the service.
Mr Kwok Quek Sin is the Senior Director (National Digital Identity) of GovTech Singapore.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 was announced last month just ahead of the new Note 10 and Note 10 Plus, but even though those phones are already out you're currently unable to buy the smartwatch around the world.
Now is the first time we've heard an official word from Samsung on a release date for the UK, which is now set for September 20.
That's according to Samsung's official online store and a variety of UK retailers where you can pre-order the watch right now. The stores state it'll come out on September 20 – that's the date we're expecting the iPhone 11, and the Apple Watch 5, to be available to buy too.
- Our first look at Samsung's latest smartwatch
- The ranking of the best Samsung smartwatches
- Try our list of the very best smartwatches
Samsung has yet to release the watch in the US, where it's set to go on sale on September 27, while those in Australia currently have to wait until October 8 to be able to buy the watch.
We've yet to fully review the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, but we're hoping to get some full time with the watch in the near future.
A new rumor suggests that the ECG and fall detection features on the new watch will be activated for those in the US in the first quarter of 2020, so even if you buy the device on day one, you'll have to wait a while to be able to use that functionality.
Thanks to the TechRadar reader that spotted the watch on sale in the UK.
As children all over the world prepare to head back to school this week, security experts have warned that criminals may be taking advantage of the event to spread malware.
Researchers at Kaspersky have found that cybercriminals are disguising malware as online versions of textbooks.
The company warns that "tens of thousands of textbooks" are affected across the whole school curriculum as criminals look to take advantage of the end of summer return.
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Kaspersky says that the scam looks to take advantage of online shoppers looking to save on price and weight by purchasing online versions of textbooks.
The company found that by July 2019, 356,662 attacks were carried out using this method, with 53,531 malicious or potentially unwanted files disguised as ready-to-use essays and textbooks for schools and universities.
Of these, 17,755 threats were disguised as student books, with the most popular choices being English (2,080), maths (1,213) and literature (870) textbooks.
However the vast majority of threats hiding under these disguises were downloaders of various files: from annoying, yet not fatal adware or unrequested software, to highly dangerous money-stealing malware.
“Students attempting to avoid paying for textbooks and other educational materials is creates an opportunity for cybercriminals that they simply cannot resist," said Maria Fedorova, security researcher at Kaspersky.
"This turns into are a serious problem for educational entities, as once the infection gets on a school network computer, it can easily spread. Not all schools are prepared to carry out effective incident response, as educational organizations are considered to be an a-typical target for fraudsters, but threat actors use every opportunity they can get. This is why precautionary measures are vital for such organisations."
To stay protected from these threats, Kaspersky is recommending users not open suspicous email attachments, and only buy books or other resources from trusted online stores.
- Best free anti-malware software of 2019
The awesome Khabib Nurmagomedov is back in the Octagon this weekend on a stacked UFC 242 card coming all the way from Abu Dhabi. Saturday, September 7 is the date for your diary as some of the fiercest MMA fighters around head to The Arena on Yas Island. And to make sure you're well prepared to watch all the action, ESPN+ has already officially opened PPV sales.
Following his big-profile (and even bigger money) win against Conor McGregor almost a year ago, it's no surprise that the world of MMA can't wait to see what Khabib will do next. He remains undefeated over the course of 27 professional bouts and you can just ask McGregor how hard it will be for anybody to step up and make it through an unrelenting Khabib mauling to take the gold.
But the Eagle will have to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship against Dustin 'The Diamond' Poirier (the interim champ), who should deliver a genuine challenge to Khabib. He's not in the current top 10 pound-for-pound UFC rankings without good cause, and he overcame Max Holloway in the Fight of the Night back at UFC 236 in April. It will be an upset if Poirier can pull it off, but only a fool would completely disregard the Louisiana-born Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
In a card filled with thirteen fights in total, there's heavyweight interest with Curtis Blaydes taking on Russian veteran Shamil Abdurakhimov, while the pick of the women's division fights is Scotland's Joanne Calderwood taking on fellow flyweight up against Andrea Lee.
Tempted? You should be! And you can get ahead of the game now - read on to discover how to order the ESPN+'s UFC PPV now and get yourself a UFC 242 live stream - the only thing you'll have to remember is to tune in earlier than usual as this one get's going at 2pm ET / 11am PT.How to watch UFC online in the US exclusively on ESPN
Since January 2019, ESPN+ has held the exclusive rights to show every single UFC event in the US - and of course that includes UFC 242.
How much that costs depends on whether or not you already subscribe to the service. If you don't, then the best way to go is with a UFC Bundle, costing you $79.99. That won't just buy you the UFC 242 PPV, but you’ll get a year-long subscription to ESPN+ (that would normally cost $50 alone).
For those that already have an ESPN+ subscription, you can still buy access to UFC 242 for $59.99.
And don't worry if you want to grab the PPV but are going to be outside the US when it's on. Just scroll down the page a little to discover how to use a VPN to watch a UFC 242 live stream from abroad.
- See where ESPN+ ranks on our guide to the best sports streaming sites
Worry not if you're a huge UFC fan but aren't in the US to watch that ESPN+ coverage this weekend. If you've got your subscription sorted but then find the coverage is geo-blocked, you can try using a VPN to change your IP address to a US server and watch as if you were back at home.
I hate backing up trailers. It’s partly a learned skill I haven’t learned, but it’s also some weird deficiency in my brain. My mind turns left, the trailer turns right, the boat I’m towing runs into a dock. It’s not a good situation, but in a recent test of a 2019 Ford Raptor, two different features provided at least some guidance and assistance to help a newbie like me.
First, you should know that the Raptor is a beast of a truck, a behemoth that can plow through a foot of mud with ease or careen off the top of a sand dune and survive.I didn’t do any of those things. In fact, I rented a small trailer at Menards and loaded up a few bags of brush from my yard. We’re not talking a stress-test pulling a tree stump out of the ground or hauling an Airstream across North Dakota. More like an afternoon of stress.
My problem isn’t totally unique. I know several truck owners who rarely if ever tow anything, knowing it’s a pain because you have to connect the cables the right way, think about towing capacity, and then when you pull into the driveway at home you know you will have to maneuver around a few kids toys, back the trailer into a side stall or a concrete slab, and after you disconnect make sure you slide a couple of blocks next to the tires.
It’s certainly not rocket science, and for those of you who drive a trailer everyday for work or leisure, it becomes second nature. You know what to do and it’s not a big deal.
Ironically, I used to tow a trailer more often when I lived a few hours north of where I’m currently residing. I tested all-terrain vehicles on a regular basis and owned an ATV trailer. I also owned a Chevy Suburban at one time, and hauling a trailer was not a big deal. Even back then, I was constantly having to retrain my brain on how to steer the trailer into position. I have the same problem when I test drones – I turn left and the drone goes right.Easy does it
It’s been quite a few years since I tested all-terrain vehicles regularly or owned a pop-up camper, so once again I had to think through hauling and backups.
With the Ford Raptor, I used a feature called Dynamic Hitch Assist. It sounds more technical than it is. In the rear-view camera, you can see line markers for the side of the trailer and also for the hitch. When I needed to back up to the trailer at Menard’s, I used this guide and landed with the ball perfectly aligned right under the trailer hitch. I jumped out and connected the trailer. It was super easy, and made me think towing was no big deal.
Now, for a much more high-tech feature called Pro Trailer Backup Assist, there’s some setup required that I wasn’t able to do. You have to attach a decal to the trailer, which helps align the cameras. The basic idea is that you use a control knob in the cab that works a bit like a joystick. For people like me, it helps because if you want the trailer to go left when you back-up, you turn the knob left.
Fortunately, I have tested Pro Trailer Backup Assist before with a Ford rep at an auto show, and I know it is incredibly helpful. A massive trailer was attached to a test truck (not a Raptor, but an F-150), and I backed up the trailer perfectly with the knob.
The truck controls the steering for you, although you are still in control of the brakes and accelerator. I recall thinking people like me would love it, but the pros I mentioned earlier who drive trailers every day for sport or as part of their job might not need it.
Advances like this are exactly what we need as we move into the age of automated driving, the near future when cars and trucks are so smart and tech-enabled that we will need brand new interfaces like Pro Trailer Backup Assist to help us figure it all out. Few of us can be experts at everything, and this doesn’t even touch on the future scenarios when we might dispatch a truck autonomously to pick up a trailer or to instruct the vehicle to reposition a trailer for us.
I could see controlling a trailer and truck with our phones, similar to the summon feature on a Tesla Model S that allows you to push a button to retrieve your car from the garage. For now, the visual aids helped me a great deal, and I really like Pro Trailer Backup Assist because it doesn’t mess with my brain. I focused mostly on the thorny brush in the trailer.
On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully self-driving cars.
Intel seemingly has a clever new trick for its incoming Gen12 (Xe) graphics technology with a feature known as Display State Buffer (DSB) that will help relieve the workload on the CPU.
Phoronix (via Tom’s Hardware) spotted the new DSB feature when it was referred to in a recent Linux kernel patch, and it pertains to Intel’s Gen12 graphics that will be in Tiger Lake processors (11th-gen mobile-focused chips expected to land next year) and Xe discrete GPUs (also expected to debut next year).
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DSB is described in technical documentation as a hardware capability which “allows [the] driver to batch submit display HW programming. This helps to reduce loading time and CPU activity, thereby making the context switch faster. DSB Support added from Gen12 Intel graphics based platform.”
To put it in plain and simple terms, DSB will help take some of the strain off the CPU, and that’s a good thing for obvious reasons in terms of boosting performance in scenarios where this applies.Roaring Tiger?
Hopefully this will be another string to the bow of Intel’s 10nm Tiger Lake processors when it comes to helping them run a little faster. We’ve already heard that these mobile chips with integrated Gen12 graphics be will be able to run multiple 4K displays (or indeed drive an 8K monitor).
Intel dominates the processor market when it comes to laptops, but needs to keep innovating to stave off any challenges from AMD, with the latter already winning strongly in recent times when it comes to the enthusiast and desktop PC market.
- We’ve picked out the best laptops of 2019
Welcome to our pick of the best conference phones of 2019. If you work in a company where you need to hold meetings with people around the world, then the best conference phones in this list can help.
The best conference phones allow you to easily hold meetings with people both in the meeting room, as well as those who are dialling in remotely, and it allows you to chat, brainstorm and more as easily as if everyone was in the same room.
Keeping in contact with co-workers, employees and customers is essential, and conference phones are essential tools that should be in any modern meeting room. The best conference phones will also come with features and tools that allow you to quickly and easily set up meetings with anyone, no matter where they are in the world.
So, read on for our pick of the best conference phones of 2019, and allow our built-in price comparison tool to scour the internet to find the very best prices as well.
If you want the very best conference phone for hosting large-scale meetings with people around the world, then the Yealink CP960 Optima HD IP Conference Phone is easily the best conference phone you can buy right now. Its elegant design allows it to sit in any meeting room without standing out, and the five-inch 1280 x 720 touchscreen lets you quickly set up the call and add participants. Audio quality is fantastic, and the mics can pick up everyone in the room – even in larger venues. However, it is very expensive, and smaller businesses might not need all the features that the Yealink CP960 Optima HD IP Conference Phone provides.
If you're looking for a device that's more affordable than the Yealink CP960 above, then the Jabra Speak 710 UC is our pick for the best affordable conference phone. It can be easily set up in a meeting room, and its omnidirectional microphone does a great job of picking up everyone in the room. The built-in speaker provides excellent audio quality, and it can even be used to play music. As you might imagine, it is compatible with other Jabra headsets, though it's not a standalone unit, so it needs to be connected (either via a wire or Bluetooth) to a PC. For the price, though, this is an excellent choice.
If you've ever been in a meeting room, you're likely to see a Polycom Soundstation sitting on a table or desk. These are excellent, no-nonsense, conference phones, and the Polycom Soundstation VTX 1000 is it's best product. It's easy to set up, with a LCD screen and number pad that lets you easily dial in or view incoming calls. It looks a bit dated compared to conference phones with touchscreens built-in, but it does the job - and does it very well. If you're not bothered about modern mod-cons, you'll love the Polycom Soundstation VTX 1000.
While the Polycom Soundstation VTX 1000 is an example of a classic old-school conference phone, the Konftel 300IPx is a brilliant example of a modern conference phone. It's key selling point is the Konftel Unite app, which allows participants to join and set up meetings easily using their smartphone. Even better, the Konftel 300IPx has built-in NFC (Near Field Communication), which allows people to simply tap their compatible smartphone on the Konftel 300IPx to download the app. There's a lot of great features included with this conference phone, including the ability to record to a memory card, bridge calls and connect it to a PA system, easily making it one of the best conference phones you can buy today.
If the Konftel 300IPx above is too expensive, then the Konftel Ego is a great alternative. It has a built-in rechargeable battery, which makes it an excellent portable conference phone, and its omnidirectional microphone can handle meetings with around four people in a room. It's not the most feature-packed conference phone on this list, but it does the job well, and is a decent choice if you're on a budget.
- Best business smartphones of 2019
Mozilla has released Firefox 69, with new security features to help protect your privacy online, and stop advertisers stalking you around the web.
Firefox's Advanced Tracking Protection, which first appeared in October as an optional setting, is now enabled for all desktop and Android users by default. It works by blocking third-party tracking cookies, which monitor your activity as you move between sites.
- Check out our ultimate guide to the best browsers
- We've also rounded up the best free privacy software
- Stay even more secure with the best free VPN
Over time, this data can be used to build up a unique profile, which can then be sold or shared (often without your knowledge or consent).
According to Mozilla, over 20% of users have already chosen to activate Advanced Tracking Protection, but the feature will now be activated for everyone unless they decide to opt out. You'll know it's working when you see a small blue shield icon in the address bar.Miner inconvenience
Advanced Tracking Protection isn't the only new security technology activated by default in Firefox 69 – cryptocurrency miners are now blocked as standard as well.
Miners usurp your device's resources without your permission when you visit an infected site, and use them to mine cryptocurrency for their creators without your permission. Mozilla introduced a tool to block them in May, and has now made it part of the browser's default settings.
Mozilla also released anti-fingerprinting technology in May, which prevents advertisers using your device's unique hardware settings to follow you around the web. It hasn't chosen to enable this as standard yet, but you can switch it on by changing the browser's Privacy and Security settings to 'Strict'.
With the latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy handsets costing you more than £1,000 these days, demand for genuinely good budget phones isn't going away. And right now the Honor 10 could be the way to go, especially now that the phone is being sold with its lowest pricing ever.
A superb mid-range smartphone with quite the impressive camera, the Honor 10 still has an RRP of £399.99. But just like it was on Amazon Prime Day, selected retailers are currently selling the device for an eye-catching £209.99 giving you a second chance to get the Honor 10 at this all-low price.
At this kind of cost, you probably wouldn't expect features like face-unlock technology that much pricier phones like the iPhone XS boast - and that's almost a grand!
Not sure whether the Honor 10 is the phone for you or where to get it? Keep calm and keep reading, we’ve got you sorted...
- Prefer a contract? See our guide to the best mobile phone deals
The attractive thing about the Honor 10 is that you'll be getting an affordable 2018 mobile but won't have to miss out on a lot of modern smartphone features. Consider these 5 reasons why the Honor 10 could be the phone for you
- Store away: This Android stands strong with 128GB of storage, so you won’t be receiving any pesky notifications asking you to delete your favourite apps or pictures.
- Technology: It has the same fingerprint scanning and face-unlock technology similar to other much more expensive 2018 flagship phones like the iPhone X or the Samsung Galaxy S9.
- Camera: Honor's dual main camera with 24MP and 16MP tied along with artificial intelligence makes for excellent pictures. Plus it comes packed with a portrait mode with enhanced beautification, 4-in-1 light fusion leading to top photos in low light, and the 3D portrait lighting drastically improves the quality of your photos and their lighting effects give your photos a studio quality.
- Battery: Their 3,4000mAh battery lasted for over 24 hours in our tests. On top of that, the Honor 10's supercharge technology allows you to charge up to 50% in 25 minutes- so you can always be on the go.
- Sleek design: OK a bit more vain here but important to some - we think the phone looks super cool either in its Phantom Blue, Midnight Black, Glacier Grey or Phantom Green.
To read our in-depth review of the Honor 10, click the link and check out the full spec on this 4.5-star phone.
The Android 10 release date (or Android Q, for those who don't keep up with the changes), could be imminent, if a leak is to be believed – so imminent, in fact, that it could be on certain smartphones in a matter of hours (as of writing).
That's according to 9to5Google, who found prospective release dates according to Canadian mobile company Rogers. It's not clear where 9to5Google found the images but if true, this could mean the latest Android operating system is really close to release.
The information suggests all the Google Pixel phones will get the upgrade: that's the Pixel, Pixel XL, 2, 2 XL, 3, 3XL, 3a, and 3a XL. Other phone companies that make Android phones have been releasing roadmaps to Android 10, but the new operating system will begin on Pixel devices, presumably including the upcoming Pixel 4 range.
So if you've got one of Google's handsets, Android 10 could be available to you very soon – that is, if the leak is to be believed.Is the Android 10 leak real?
The most noteworthy thing of the leaked Android 10 confirmation image is that the operating system is referred to as Android Q, the name we presumed it would have before Google confirmed otherwise. If this image was truly from a telecoms company, they'd very likely have the correct name.
On top of that, there are no sources for the information, and it's not viewable online other than from sites that have reported on it. The only 'proof' is a 3x5 grid with the phone names, the Android Q name, and the date September 3.
We're not saying Android 10 won't launch today (we were expecting it in August, so it's high time we saw the final release of the operating system), but it's worth taking the leak with so much salt that it'd be banned from supermarket shelves.
8K resolution has arrived. While the ultra-high resolution felt unnecessary only a couple of years ago, the push for commercial 8K TVs from today's biggest manufacturers is starting to cement the technology's place among the best TVs available on the market.
The likes of Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Hisense, and LG are all ploughing ahead with 8K televisions, with this year's CES 2019 tech expo showcasing a number of dazzling new models we've seen begin to roll out this year, including the LG 8K OLED and LG SM99 LED.
Not to mention an 8K Association set up to guide the visual standard of the future – with a new 8K standard to ensure consumers know they're getting minimum specs suited to the high-resolution panel (even if LG goes by slightly different measurements).
While 8K sets are still the preserve of committed cinephiles – you'd have to be, with those prices – we're certain to see the technology keep trickling down to cheaper sets, just as 4K did.
With manufacturers, broadcasters, and production studios are starting to get behind the new technology, it's crucial to know what you can expect to see on your televisions in the coming years, and the 8K technology that's actually on offer now.
So what really is 8K resolution, and does it really make that much of a difference? We've got all the information you need right here.
Samsung QLED 8KWhat is 8K?
8K is nothing short of the clearest picture you’re ever likely to see. It’s got four times more pixels than 4K images, measuring 7680x4320 pixels, which equates to a total of 33,177,600 pixels. In a 65-inch screen they are so small you won't even be able to make out the pixel structure – though many 8K TVs are much, much larger.Why is it called 8K?
It’s called 8K because the images are roughly 8,000 pixels wide, give or take a few hundred, but the specification also comes under the umbrella term Ultra HD, so some people use the term Ultra HD 8K. Others still call it 8K Super Hi-Vision, such as NHK – Japan's largest public broadcaster – which invented it back in the year 2000 and branded it in 2012.
Sharp 8K LV-85001What is the resolution of 8K?
8K resolution is 7680x4320 pixels, so is also called 4320p – for the same reasons Full HD was called 1080p – though it’s more commonly referred to as Ultra HD 8K or just 8K. Since 8K screens have about 33 million pixels in total, that’s a 33-megapixel image.Do all those extra pixels matter?
Absolutely, yes. Full HD 1080p TVs gave you a two-megapixel image, which isn’t much compared even to what your smartphone’s camera is capable of. 4K ups that to eight megapixels, which still seems underwhelming considering the capabilities of human vision and, again, what smartphone screens can now achieve.
So the 33-megapixel image of 8K – the next mathematical step-up from 4K – could at last provide the kind of immersion we’ve been searching for. Or, at least, that’s the theory.
Samsung is going big on 8K
Yes, and you've been able to do so for a little while now already.
We've come a long way from the proof of concept 8K TVs we've been seeing at conferences for the past few years. When we first saw the 98ZHQ2R TV from Chang Hong back in 2017, the 98-inch set appeared to be held in place by something akin to scaffolding, so thick were the supports.
But that's all changed now – the latest wave of 8K TVs are every bit as thin and home-friendly as what we now expect from our existing 4K TV models.So what mainstream 8K TVs are on the market?
The Samsung Q900R 8K TV released in late 2018, and garnered a whopping five stars from the TechRadar team – albeit with a similarly whopping price tag. In the UK you'll be paying £4,999 for the 65-inch model or £6,999 for the 75-inch – while the 85-inch model is retailing for £14,999 / $14,999.
Back at CES 2019, TCL showed off an 8K QLED Roku TV, while Sony led its 2019 range with the Master Series Z9G 8K LED TV. These models will be arriving in the coming months, so keep an eye on their TechRadar pages for the latest news on pricing and availability.
Sony Master Series Z9G 8K LED TV
- Best TVs of CES 2019: the most dazzling displays we laid eyes on
Yes – and they all will have the new specification of the HDMI cable, which for the first time allows 8K resolutions to pass through. HDMI 2.1 is a major enabler of the forthcoming 8K resolution revolution, making sure TVs accept 8K resolutions at 60 frames per second (or 4K resolution at 120 frames per second).Where will 8K content come from?
There are many sources that will produce 8K content. The first is Hollywood, whose directors have begun to use the new RED Weapon 8K camera (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has already been filmed this way in 8K).
And with the advent of truly commercial 8K TVs, there's sure to be a growing market of 8K content from all sorts of traditional TV production studios (and likely Netflix).
Second is the Tokyo Olympics, which means waiting until 2020. However, 8K will only be broadcast by NHK in Japan itself.
Lastly – and perhaps most tellingly – 8K content will come from all of us. 8K capture from 360-degree video cameras is already offered by the GoPro Omni VR and Insta360 Pro, which was launched at CES 2017.VR capture devices like the Insta360Pro shoot in 8K already
"Talk to the VR guys and they're tell you that the higher the resolution and frames rates, the better," says Jeff Park, Director of Marketing at HDMI Licensing, whose new HDMI 2.1 permits 8K image transfer. "VR today looks good but it lacks fidelity … if it was affordable and practical, they would do 8K now," he says. 8K-per-eye VR headsets, anybody? They're surely in the pipeline alongside a wider field of view.
But, in the interim, it'll be advanced upscaling processors that will take full HD and 4K content and make them ready for the 8K big time, redefining the sharpness possible from existing sources.
8K TVs aren't likely to feel like necessary purchases for a while yet, but there's already enough content on the horizon for us to expect a bright future for the high-def technology.
The first Grand Theft Auto game sped onto PlayStation in 1997, and over 20 years later we're patiently waiting for official confirmation from Rockstar Games that GTA 6 is in the works.
While it doesn't look likely we'll be hearing about GTA 6 anytime soon, we now know a little more about how the iconic series came to be - thanks to an image tweeted by creator Mike Dailly (via Kotaku).
Check it out below:It started with an image...
Mike Dailly is the creator of both GTA and Lemmings. While it seems the two couldn't be further apart in terms of content – apart from the unnecessary death – Dailly explained that this image was the basis for the GTA franchise.
According to Dailly, the image – from 1994 – was for an isometric rendering engine (used in Lemmings). Over time this then became the rotating isometric engine, which eventually became the top down perspective engine used in the original Grand Theft Auto game.
It's interesting to see how far the series has come, especially when you think of the map size of more recent Rockstar titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 -–and what we expect to see in GTA 6.
- GTA 6: all the latest news and rumors for Grand Theft Auto 6
Wireless earbuds are one of the best ways to listen to your music on the go, whether your commuting, heading to the gym, or relaxing poolside on a sunny day the right pair of earphones will stay put and bring you quality sound.
You'd be forgiven for thinking wireless earbuds aren't as good as wired models – that's because a few short years ago, Bluetooth wasn't the best way listen to your favorite music.
Back in the day, Bluetooth earphones didn't sound as good as their wired counterparts, suffered connectivity issues and became known for having short battery lives.
Luckily, times have changed. Thanks to improvements in wireless transmission standards, such as aptX and innovations in battery technology, Bluetooth earbuds are quickly becoming the most popular way to listen to music, and many of the best earbuds feature wireless connectivity.
When it comes to wireless earphones the big question is: which brands have emerged as the best when it comes to big Bluetooth improvements and the future of audio innovation?
Audio companies like Jaybird, Plantronics, Nuforce, RHA and Jabra all are great options, as they've all committed a great deal deal of time and money to improving audio quality without sacrificing battery life – and there are some good options from big players like Sony, Apple and Bose, too.
- We'll be at IFA 2019, where we're expecting to see some new wireless earbuds – could a new model take the crown? Stick with TechRadar for the latest from the Berlin tech show.
Wireless earbuds – the focus of this guide – have existed for a while now, basically since Bluetooth was invented. Though battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too.
True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. While wireless allows us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, True Wireless cuts the cord between the earbuds, giving us true freedom. If you're looking to go full wireless, we also have a round-up of the best true wireless headphones.
Read on for our top wireless Bluetooth earbuds picks.
UPDATE: If you like the sound of true wireless buds, then check out the new Libratone Track Air+ earbuds. We've only had chance for a quick hands-on with them, but keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon. They combine the best of both worlds - total freedom from cords and total immersion in your music thanks to active noise-cancellation.
Image credit: TechRadar
The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earbuds are that rare find: earbuds that are good for basically all situations, whether you're looking to take them out on a run or just wear them around town. They're ideal for exercise, although any urbanite will also find their lightweight functionality and impressive sound isolation highly appealing. If you want proof that wireless headphones can now compete with the best of them, look no further.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
Image Credit: RHA
While they're not the kind of earbuds you'd want to bring with you to the gym, the RHA MA390 Wireless are the perfect companion for anyone looking for a home listening pair of wireless earbuds. The headphones are built extremely well, have a fun sound signature, and come at an affordable price.
Its main rival, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, are also excellent, however we give the nod to the RHA MA390 for its more dynamic sound and better build quality.
Read the full review: RHA MA390 Wireless
Image Credit: TechRadar
OnePlus is most known for its “flagship killer” phones like the OnePlus 6, but the company also makes headphones – the best example of which are the company’s excellent Bullets Wireless that offer an incredible value in the neck-bud headphone category. They probably shouldn't be your first choice in workout 'buds, or your first choice for better-sounding audio, but if you need cheap wireless earbuds, these are the ones to buy.
Read the full review: OnePlus Bullets Wireless
Image Credit: Jaybird
The Jaybird Tarah Pro headphones are wireless sport headphones for the endurance runners, athletes and fitness nuts out there. With a neck cable to keep the earbuds together, they aren’t quite ‘true wireless’, but will be practical for those concerned about dropping and losing a costly earbud in the heat of a race or training session.
As the first in Jaybird’s new ‘Pro’ range of earbuds and aimed at offering higher quality audio and materials, the Tarah Pro will suit anyone not willing to sacrifice audio quality in harsher outdoor conditions or indoor workouts and who don't mind spending a bit more to get a premium product.
Read the full review: Jaybird Tarah Pro
Image Credit: Beats
Beats haven't always gotten the best rap when it comes to audio performance, but the Beats X is trying to set the record straight. The Beats X hence make up for their slightly bassy, confined sound with a rock solid connection and a pairing process that, on iOS devices at least, is as painless as it's possible to be. If you’re shopping for a no-fuss pair of earbuds that charge in 5 minutes, work well with iOS and don’t mind spending a little extra money on them, the Beats X are for you.
Read the full review: Beats X
Auteursrecht op afbeelding: TechRadar
Life is full of compromises, and it's no different with the Bose QuietControl 30. On the positive side you get a level of noise cancellation that comes close to what's offered by the brand's over-ear headphones, but the concession here is on sound fidelity, which just isn’t on the same level as that of other in-ear or over-ear headphones we’ve tested.
There's also that neckband which adds an unfortunate level of bulk to what should otherwise be a slimline pair of headphones.
Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30Or, cut the cord with these true wireless models
Considering it's still rare to get noise-cancellation in wired earbuds at all, the fact that Sony has managed to pack it into a pair that are not only wireless, but true wireless is very impressive indeed.
The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – it won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is well worth it.
There may be a few minor problems with these wireless earbuds, but we think Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3; not only are these hands down the best-looking True Wireless headphones out there, but they combine serious noise cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality.
Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3
Cambridge Audio is known for its high-end audio equipment, but until now, hasn’t ventured into the world of true wireless earbuds. Enter the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s: with an outstanding 45 hours of battery life, they combine the brand’s award-winning engineering with the convenience of truly wireless listening.
For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, it rivals some of the best over-ear headphones, which is all but unheard of for buds of this size.
They may not have the noise cancelation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 (around £80) cheaper – and have a superior battery life.
They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods, in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money, too.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
With their stellar sound and build quality, long-lasting battery life and what may be one of the coolest cases we've ever seen, we'd argue that the Klipsch T5s are of the best models on the market right now..
Of course, you're buying a Klipsch product because it features the signature Klipsch sound, which is warm, detailed, and never harsh. Acoustic music is lush and detailed, and the detail extends to the highs as well, allowing the headphones to sing in the higher registers without ever being sibilant.
Battery life is rated at 8 hours per charge with the case giving an additional 24 hours – that means these true wireless in-ear headphones will last you for a long haul flight, no problem.
Read the full review: Klipsch T5 True Wireless
Image Credit: TechRadar
Although the TrueConnect is RHA's first true wireless headphone, the company showed they did their research and development by making it one of the best true wireless headphones on the market today. The combination of sound quality, battery life, and wireless reliability means these are a pair of headphones you can rely on everyday.
The Jabra Elite 65t set the standard for what true wireless headphones should be and, regardless of what RHA has done here with the TrueConnect, they’re still great headphones. Compared to the RHA TrueConnect, the Jabra has more features with its useful ambient noise mode to help with situational awareness and an app that lets you tailor sound.
The RHA doesn’t have either of those features but we didn’t miss them, thanks to better sound quality and wireless reliability. The RHA also feels more like a premium product than the all-plastic Jabra.
All said, if you’re shopping for a pair of true wireless headphones, the $170 (£150, about AU$265) RHA TrueConnect should be at the very top of your list.
Read the full review: RHA TrueConnect
Image Credit: Jabra
If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list.
After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition.
If you want an alternative for the RHA TrueConnect, go for the Elite 65t.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t
Image Credit: Beats / Apple
The new PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones aren't exactly the earbuds analysts have been predicting, sure, but they are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out.
That said, they are – in our opinion – Apple’s best true wireless earbuds to date thanks to small additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their longer battery life and their superior sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the AirPods around the house or office, these are what we’d wear.
Read the full review: Beats PowerBeats Pro
Image Credit: TechRadar
It feels as though Samsung has finally got it right with the Galaxy Buds, and they represent serious competition for the Apple AirPods in terms of design, sound, and ease of use. We loved the pearlescent effect on the buds outer housing and the sleek design of the case, and we found they felt comfortable and secure.
The sound quality offered by these true wireless buds is also very good indeed, with deep bass, and a wide open soundstage. The downside here is that other features that are available on the app like ambient noise and the equalizer presets are useful to have, but didn’t always work as effectively as we hoped. Worse, these features are also pretty much out of bounds for iOS users, as you can only download the app on devices running Android 5.0 or later.
That said, if you have a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Buds are a fantastic pair of true wireless earbuds, with a few quality-of-life features that make them stand up confidently the competition. If not, you may miss out on these additional features but the high sound quality, comfortable fit, and attractive design means that these buds could be a smart purchase, even for the iOS crowd.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Buds
The second generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods (2019), aren't quite the AirPods 2 we were hoping for - they still feature the iconic design of the original AirPods (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view), and sound quality hasn't changed at all. The bulk of the upgrade comes from the new H1 headphone chip, which improves connectivity and battery life, and allows for a new ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature.
The big difference is that the AirPods (2019) also come with an optional wireless charging case means you can use a Qi-compatible charging mat to power the case, rather than sticking a cable into the Lightning charging port in the bottom of the case. Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very much optimized for using with iPhones – and they aren't exactly cheap.
Read our full review: Apple AirPods (2019)
- Want more cord-cutting buds? Check out the best true wireless earbuds in 2019
Last week, EE confirmed that it would offer unlimited data plans with no speed restrictions for both its 4G and 5G customers. The announcement marked a significant turnaround for the operator, whose initial 5G plans promised significant data limits but no truly limitless option.
But the reversal was perhaps inevitable. EE might have been the first UK operator to launch 5G earlier this year, but Vodafone’s promise of unlimited data plans for consumers and businesses was truly surprising.
Coupled with the fact that Three has long offered unlimited data on its 3G and 4G networks, EE was starting to look a bit out of touch.
The technical credibility of EE’s 4G and 5G networks and the fact that most users don’t exceed their data allowance would get lost in the conversation if EE scored a marketing own goal of not offering unlimited data.
As operators seek to communicate the advantages of 5G to consumers, perception is everything.
Unlimited data plans were all the rage during the 3G era, but mobile applications back then were significantly less data intensive and operators needed to do everything they could to get customers to migrate.
However as smartphones grew in popularity, the UK’s mobile infrastructure started to creak under the pressure. The launch of 4G networks offered significant improvements in terms of speed and capacity.
EE was first to launch in 2012 – nearly a year before its rivals – and it seized the opportunity to abandon unlimited plans. Industry observers at the time were surprised but felt that all operators would be grateful for any move away from the “all-you-can-eat” model of consumption that had seen mobile data become a commodity.New opportunities
In the 5G era, EE’s first-mover advantage is less secure and it has been forced into action by the aggressive moves of its competitors. There is also a recognition that EE may not be able to maintain a premium on 5G for very long because of changing market conditions.
In any case, data limits are becoming increasingly anachronistic. The capacity gains afforded by 5G are significant and the cost of transmission for operators is reduced. Data limits might influence users to they consume less, but if they’re not getting anywhere near their limit then what’s the point?
5G offers mobile operators the opportunity to offer entirely new consumer services – including Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband services without data limits – and converged products. And in the long run, business will benefit from a whole host of applications.
If consumers believe they are being restricted then they are less likely to embrace 5G and lower consumption means lower revenues. The new use cases reduce the risk of data becoming commoditised and the focus for operators should be on these new possibilities.
The era of unlimited is back, and this time it’s unlikely to go away.
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The overall mobile phone shipments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries grew 8% quarter on quarter to 6.5m units in the second quarter of this year.
Nabila Popal, senior research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC), told TechRadar Middle East the smartphone market performed especially well with quarter-on-quarter growth of 8.9% and totalled 4.7 million units.
She said the growth came mainly from the expansion in the Saudi Arabian market, a 17.1% quarter-on-quarter growth in volume, as a result of stabilisation and recovery.
“There were also gains in the UAE and Qatar, which posted a 7.4% and 8% quarter-on-quarter unit growth respectively in the second quarter.”
Moreover, she said that low-end ($100-$200) and mid-range ($200-400) smartphones have been consistently growing in popularity in the first half of last year and these two price bands together hold 56.1% unit share in the first half of this year in the GCC countries compared to 42.4% unit share in the first half of last year.
Akash Balachandran, senior research analyst at IDC, said that smaller countries in the GCC like Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have seen contractions during the quarter due to a new levy, difficult job market and changing government policies impacting consumer spending.
“Huawei did experience a decline at the end of second quarter (directly as a result of the news on the US Huawei ban), high shipments earlier in the quarter ensured it didn’t face a steep contraction in share during the quarter – especially as sellout of mid-range devices which make up the bulk of shipments was less affected,” he said.Bright outlook
Samsung was the leader due to the success of its A-series, particularly the A10 & A20 models, which performed exceedingly well.
Shobhit Srivastava, research analyst for mobile devices and ecosystem at Counterpoint Research, said that some markets in the region are highly underpenetrated, pointing to a growing smartphone market trend but the lack of economic and political stability in many countries in the region still holds a concern over true growth of the Middle East and Africa market.
“Some markets in the Middle East are also highly penetrated in terms of smartphone adoption and hence are going towards decline but overall we estimate MEA market to grow by single-digit annually in 2019,” he said.
Looking ahead, Popal said the overall mobile phone market in 2019 is expected close with a 3.5% year-on-year growth in shipments in the GCC, fuelled by a 10.1% year-on-year volume growth. The feature phones market is expected to decline.
The long outlook for the market is quite positive as more 5G devices are going to enter the market.
In the long term, IDC is expecting a 2.9% five-year compound annual growth rate by 2023.
Srivastava said that 5G devices will rejuvenate the global smartphone market next year compared to a fall this year as consumers are holding on to their devices without replacing.
He said that the replacement period for iPhones is 36 months and 30 months for Android devices as the smartphone industry lacks real innovation and the innovation that came in was the full-screen display and more cameras on a phone.Major adoption of 5G devices in 2020
As in the early age for 5G smartphone, Mo Jia, analyst at Canalys, said that the operators need time to improve the 5G coverage and added that the device vendors need time to further lower the smartphone prices.
“We expect very minor adoption to 5G in 2019, however, with 5G smartphones going below $300 or even $200 in 2020, millions of 5G smartphones will be shipped in a single quarter in 2020, and China, will become the largest 5G smartphone market,” he said.
Canalys forecast 13 million 5G smartphones to be shipped in 2019 globally (1% of the global smartphone shipment), and 164 million in 2020 (12% of the global smartphone shipment), with China leading 69 million annual shipment, taking 42% of the global volume.
The software developer has not revealed a great deal about the nature of the security incident, and has been somewhat vague about when it took place. In a security advisory, the company says that it "determined that unauthorized access to its data systems took place recently".
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The notice goes on to say that a third parties managed to gain gained access to data 'My Account' data. This includes information such as email addresses, passwords, names, phone numbers, company names and IP addresses.
The company has not said whether passwords were encrypted or stored in a readable format, and has remained strangely quiet about the incident on its social media channels.Beware phishing
Foxit Software stresses that no payment information was exposed, but the news will still be concerning for anyone who has paid for software from the company. While users of its free programs do not have to save personal information to My Account, anyone who has paid for software is required to do so. Foxit warns users to be vigilant for phishing scams.
An investigation is underway to determine what happened, and Foxit is working with law enforcement agencies and data protection authorities, as well as conducting analysis via a security management firm.
Everyone affected by the data breach should have received a password reset email from Foxit Software. If you have not received such an email, or you are just concerned about the security of your account, you can change your password here.
Being a student is expensive. You've got to pay your rent, buy your text books and we all know 2-for-1 pizza deals don't pay for themselves! So with that in mind, if you want to save for the things that matter (say, a Netflix subscription) making the most of student deals is a must.
And with the academic year soon to start, we're here to bring you the first of many student offers that will be coming out of the woodwork this month - a saving of up to 20% on broadband, SIM only and mobile phone deals with Three Mobile.
Simply head over to Three's website, enter your brand new student email and voila! You're eligible for a discount. And the even better news, any '.ac.uk' email will work so academics and lecturers don't miss out either.
In this offer, you can secure a saving on Three's 4G home broadband, handsets including the iPhone XR and Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and even some impressive SIM only deals.
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Oh, the irony. Having long boasted that it respects the privacy of its users far more than tech rivals such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, Apple recently was driven to publish a privacy-focussed apology on its web site.
It came following a series of reports that the Siri voice assistant on its HomePod smart speaker was able to record conversations in the homes of some users without their knowledge, and that “a small sample” of those recordings were also passed to external contractors who were able to listen to important personal details.
Apple has now suspended that practice - and, apparently, sacked all the contractors as well - but smart speakers aren’t the only devices that can spy on us in our own homes. Security cameras are among the most popular purchases for the modern smart home, with one analyst’s report putting sales in 2018 at around 54 million cameras, worth more than $7bn, and predicting that figure to double by 2023. And Apple is looking to make sure its track record around HomeKit-compatible cameras is infallible in the wake of its Siri foibles.Security gadgets a security risk?
Who'd have guessed? It turns out that a security camera can also be something of a security risk, itself.
A security camera doesn’t just record your voice like a smart speaker - it also takes pictures and records video too, potentially revealing everything that goes on inside your home at any time of day or night. Many security cameras will send that video information to the manufacturer’s online servers, which use artificial-intelligence software to analyse the video and detect motion, or to tell a wandering cat from a sneaky cat-burglar.
Having those security cameras connected to the Internet via your home network represents a real risk to your privacy and security - as highlighted by a recent case in which a hacker actually hurled abuse at a family through their security camera.The HomeKit Secure Video approach
Apple now has an opportunity to restore its reputation on privacy, with the forthcoming release of iOS 13, the latest version of its mobile operating system, which is expected to arrive in mid-September.
There are a number of new privacy features in iOS 13, including an update to HomeKit, the software that Apple uses to control smart-home devices such as security cameras, lighting, and the HomePod speaker. The most important new feature here is called ‘HomeKit Secure Video’, which, as the name suggests, is designed to provide greater security and privacy for security cameras operating inside your home.
A camera that supports HomeKit Secure Video doesn’t need to upload video to the manufacturer’s servers for analysis, as the video data can be analysed by a ‘local’ Apple device, such as an iPad or HomePod speaker, that you already have within your home. And if the camera does detect an intruder and needs to store video clips online for evidence, then your Apple devices will first encrypt the video and then upload it to your personal iCloud account.
This means that no-one can view the encrypted video recordings without your permission - not even Apple itself, according to VP Craig Federighi, who introduced the new HomeKit features at Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer Conference. Federighi also stated that manufacturers such as Logitech, Netatmo and Eufy will support HomeKit secure video in their cameras, as well as forthcoming ‘video-doorbell’ products.The introduction of a HomeKit router?
Of course, iOS 13 isn’t due until later in September 2019, so the final details remain unclear, but it seems likely that some existing cameras, such as Logitech’s Circle 2 and the Netatmo Indoor Camera, will be able to support HomeKit Secure Video with a simple software update. However, Arlo told TechRadar this week that it “doesn’t currently plan to support HomeKit secure video”, so that’s something that you should bear in mind before choosing a camera in the future.
Security cameras and smart speakers aren’t the only devices in our homes that rely on an Internet connection either, so Apple is hoping to extend the reach of HomeKit - which, admittedly, doesn’t have a lot of support in the smart-home market at the moment - by releasing a version of the HomeKit software that is designed to work with broadband and wifi routers.
Again, the technical details here are a little vague, but a ‘HomeKit-enabled router’ will be able to surround each smart device in your home with its own personal ‘firewall’ to prevent unauthorized access from people outside your own home. At the moment, only Linksys and Eero have announced plans for HomeKit routers, although Apple has also indicated that it hopes to work with broadband suppliers, such as Spectrum in the US, so that HomeKit security becomes a useful extra feature that these suppliers can offer to their broadband customers.
“Our homes are such personal places, where we deserve to feel safe and secure,” said Federighi at the WWDC announcement. And, given the recent slip-up with Siri and the HomePod, Apple will want to make sure that it gets the new iOS 13 security features absolutely right in order to restore its reputation on privacy.