Tech News

BlackBerry Messenger is closing down for consumers at the end of May

Latest Tech News - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 05:30

Having once dominated instant messaging conversations across the planet, BlackBerry Messenger or BBM is closing down its consumer operations on May 31.

"The technology industry... is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on," explains current developer Emtek in a blog post.

If you're still using BBM, you'll need to download any your photos, videos and other files you've shared before the service shuts down for good.

After May 31, the apps will no longer work and you won't be able to access your conversation histories. If you've got questions, Emtek has put up a FAQ.

Fond memories

"We are grateful for your support and wish to thank everyone, especially our users, partners, and employees, for being part of the BBM consumer service journey," says Emtek.

"We hope you will cherish many fond memories of BBM consumer service that helped shape messenger platforms to become what they are today."

And that's no exaggeration – BBM first appeared in 2005, way before any of the modern alternatives like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger had been invented. In the end though, the competition was too great.

If you still need a BBM fix, BlackBerry Limited (which retained the rights to the business version of BBM) has said that BBM Enterprise will be made available on iOS and Android for free for a year, with a $2.49-per-year subscription fee after that.

Via Gizmodo

Categories: Tech News

Galaxy S10e deals: reduced prices on Samsung's cheapest flagship phone

Latest Tech News - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 04:59

Well the Samsung Galaxy S10e is certainly fulfilling its main purpose as the cheaper alternative to the Korean giant's flagship phone range. Forget picking up a phone that debuted a year or two ago - going for Samsung S10e deals lets you get a 2019 phone for a much more attractive price than the S10 or S10 Plus.

And this Easter weekend is looking like the perfect time to grab one thanks to a flurry of newly reduced S10e deals from two of our favourite retailers, Mobiles.co.uk and e2save. Constantly coming up with some of the best value tariffs on the UK phone market's best (and budget) handsets, they have really outdone themselves on the S10e.

There are price cuts across pretty much Mobiles.co.uk's entire tribe of S10e deals, so we've picked out three that have caught our eye the most. They range from one of the cheapest overall contract deals we've seen yet on the budget Galaxy phone, to big data alternatives. And there are treats in store for fans of EE, Vodafone and O2.

Our favourite three Samsung S10e deals for Easter:

Read more:

Categories: Tech News

Leak claims Moto Z4 will pack a Snapdragon 675 and 6.4-inch screen

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 17:13

A new leak claims that the Moto Z4 will pack a midrange Snapdragon 675 chip, the same expected to come in the Moto Z4 Play, according to GSM Arena

That would rebut a rumor floating last November that alleged the Moto Z4 – or the ‘Motorola Odin,’ a codename that may or may not refer to the next flagship Moto device – would pack a Snapdragon 8150 (now known as the Snapdragon 855), the top-tier chip that debuted in the Samsung Galaxy S10.  

Now, it’s possible that the leak is referring to the Moto Z4 Play, especially since an earlier GSM Arena report noted it would come with the lower-performance Snapdragon 675 – which fits the Play version’s typically lower-specced, lower-cost role. The only flaw in that theory? The new leak is about a phone with a 6.4-inch screen, and the Moto Z4 Play was previously reported to have a 6.22-inch screen. 

Tricky implications for 5G

This would be a bit odd for the main Moto Z line’s value. The preceding Moto Z3 might not have been a terribly impressive device, but its dated yet still powerful flagship Snapdragon 835 chip made the phone a bargain at a mid-range cost. If the Moto Z4 comes with a mid-range processor, it won’t have quite the value.

More importantly: we don’t know if the Snapdragon 675 has the performance to handle 5G. The Moto Z3 has clung to relevance by sporting the Moto Mod 5G that lets it connect to Verizon’s (still very limited, we found) 5G network and it’s likely there’s extra processing power in the mod to get the combined phone package up to speed to harness the advanced network. 

The question is – can a Snapdragon 675 keep up as well as the Snapdragon 835 in the Moto Z3 in a network test? Even Qualcomm's own numbers show the former's LTE peak download speeds (600Mbps) lower than that of the latter (1Gbps).

The leak also noted that both the Moto Z4 and the Moto Z4 Play will pack 48MP rear cameras, with the former coming with a 25MP selfie camera (no word on the Moto Z4 Play’s front-facing camera). That would be a big jump from the 12MP dual rear shooters on the Moto Z3. 

  • Here's our list of all the 5G phones coming in 2019 – and beyond
Categories: Tech News

Amazon Music playlists are now playable on Echo speakers for free

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:26

Amazon has announced that Echo owners will be able to use part of Amazon Music for free. The new, free service doesn’t require an Amazon Prime subscription and can be used to access playlists or start new stations by saying "Hey, Alexa," and then a music genre or artist name. 

The caveat here is that this new tier of Amazon Music is only available in the US at launch, and the service is fairly minimal. For instance, you don't get on-demand access to Amazon's entire library, and you’re going to hear ads in between songs.

The good news is that you’ll be able to use it on all US Alexa devices – including the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Echo Plus – right out of the box, without signing up for Prime Music through Amazon Prime ($119 per year) or Amazon Music Unlimited ($7.99 per month for Prime members, $9.99 for non-Prime members).

Not bad, but Google's offer is better

While this is certainly a step forward for Amazon – giving things away for free isn't usually its strong suit – but it comes just one day after Google announced that YouTube Music would be available for free on every Google Home speaker

The difference here is that YouTube Music allows you to play music on-demand from YouTube Music's massive catalog. Google still puts ads in-between songs, but it' s still a far more appealing offer than Amazon's fairly limited service.

Google's offer is clearly better but in today's era of subscription everything, we'll take the free things wherever we can get them.

Categories: Tech News

Apple macOS 10.15 may adapt even more iOS 12 features, like Screen Time

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:06

Apple's closed ecosystem may start to get more uniform as well, as there have been ongoing hints that iOS and macOS will start to share more and more features and applications. The latest rumor is that a few select iOS 12 features will appear in macOS 10.15, according to sources speaking with 9to5Mac.

The iOS features expected to come to macOS 10.15 include Siri Shortcuts (and potentially the Shortcuts app), Screen Time, improved Apple ID management and special iMessage effects.

While the iMessage effects may be fun, and the Apple ID management tools could help avoid issues similar to recent iOS 12 problems, the Siri Shortcuts and Screen Time integration are the biggest highlights.

What it all means

The inclusion of Siri Shortcuts in macOS 10.15 will allow users to quickly perform certain tasks automatically by giving Siri a verbal instruction. Users can create their own specific automation using the Workflows app, which is one of the best iPad apps for productivity. Users should get other basic Siri features as well, with ways to get quick information or set timers and alarms.

The addition of Screen Time will also allow users to keep track of the amount of time they're spending their Mac. It can monitor and report how much time is being spent on which applications and which types of applications. It also allows users to set time limits, which can be handy for limiting children's screen time.

All of this pushes iOS and macOS closer together, with Apple expected to debut the tool behind iPad-to-Mac app conversion at WWDC 2019. While the move makes sense, offering coders an easy way to create one program for multiple platforms and offering Mac users some extra features, it goes slightly against Apple's past stance.

On the merging of iOS and macOS, Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed the company's reasons for keeping them separate:

"We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible,” Cook said. “One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade-offs and compromises.”

While the two platforms aren't likely to become one any time soon, they certainly look like they're going to start overlapping.

  • Here's where you can get the latest on WWDC 2019
Categories: Tech News

Samsung Galaxy S10 series is getting a Night Mode for its camera

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 11:57

The Samsung Galaxy S10 series is getting a dedicated night mode in its camera app in an update that’s reportedly live in Switzerland, per SamMobile, and logically should roll out to other regions soon. 

The night mode is reportedly a dedicated version of the ‘Bright Night’ feature that S10 cameras would automatically switch to in low-light situations. Now, users will be able to switch to a dedicated mode, conceivably swiping to it in the camera app’s mode carousel alongside panorama, pro and live focus.

The new mode should seriously augment the S10 line’s camera shortcomings. While their lineup of lenses is impressive, like every other flagship, the S10’s fall short of the Google Pixel 3’s Night Mode, which renders a remarkable amount of context into low-light and night scenes, which we noted in the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review.

But how good will it be?

Truth be told, we didn’t find the Galaxy S10’s auto-activating night mode to outperform other flagship phones’ night modes. But, given its erratic activation, it was tough to judge the mode anyway – we look forward to testing it against other top camera contenders.

Of which, admittedly, there are several – and even a month after the S10 line launched, the Huawei P30 Pro looks like it may outperform even the mighty Pixel 3 in low-light situations.

The update comes with April’s security patch (again, only live in Switzerland for now), so you’ll have to wait for both.

  • Check out how the Galaxy S10 ranks on our best phones list
Categories: Tech News

The top 5 best broadband deals to grab this Easter - from UK's cheapest to fast fibre

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 11:31

You know the score - it's an Easter article. So you'll be expecting a choc-load of egg-based puns and maybe even some ill-judged allusions to things rising from the dead. Well, not here - just a quintet of fabulous broadband deals for you to choose from and get one of your holiday tasks ticked off with ease.

And coincidentally, there are a bunch of great internet deals to choose from at the moment (It's almost like the ISPs know that people will be shopping for broadband this weekend). Among them are the very best cheap broadband only deal in the UK, BT fibre with FREE Google Home and a TechRadar EXCLUSIVE on the market's best priced fibre plan.

1. £20 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card with cheap fibre 2. The UK's cheapest broadband only deal 3. FREE Google Home with BT Superfast fibre 4. Broadband with added Game of Thrones 5. Go all out with Virgin Media Best broadband deals this Easter weekend:

We'll choke on our chocolate if at least one of the above internet plans isn't going to do it for you. But if you have more time to search around, then use our broadband comparison chart below, where we can immediately tell you the best broadband prices for your postcode. 

Categories: Tech News

Get the Apple Watch on sale for only $199 at Walmart

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 11:30

If you've been waiting for the price to drop to snag yourself an Apple Watch, now is a perfect time. Walmart has the best-selling Apple Watch Series 3 on sale for $199. That's an $80 discount and the best price we've found for the Series 3 smartwatch.

The Apple Watch 3 is like having an iPhone on your wrist with additional health-focused features. The waterproof smartwatch tracks calories, activities and popular workouts such as yoga, running, and cycling. The Series 3 also offers heart rate monitoring and will even notify you when an unusually high or low heart rate is detected.  The Apple watch also includes basic smartwatch features such as the ability to send messages, make calls, and receive notifications and has a battery life of up to 18 hours.

The Apple Watch 4 currently retails for $399 which makes the $199 price tag on the Series 3 extremely attractive. This particular deal from Walmart includes the 38mm model with GPS technology and comes in a black or white sport band with an aluminum case. Keep in mind this is a limited-time sale from Walmart so make sure to take advantage of this deal before it's gone.

If you're interested in a smartwatch with LTE connectivity, Walmart has the Series 3 with GPS and Cellular on sale for $299. This allows you to get internet and phone connectivity on your watch even when your iPhone is far away. If you'd prefer a larger display, Walmart also has the 42mm Series 3 with and without LTE connectivity on sale.

Discover more Apple watch sales with the best cheap Apple Watch prices and deals that are currently available.

Interested in other smartwatches? We also have the best cheap Fitbit sale prices and deals that are happening now. 

Categories: Tech News

AMD's Zen 3 processors to be built in new way that improves efficiency

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:52

AMD is already set to make the leap into processors (CPUs) built on a 7-nanometer (nm) process with its upcoming Zen 2 family of chips. But, new information about the 7nm+ process that will be used to create its Zen 3 chips is making the future of AMD's Ryzen, Threadripper and Epyc processors all the more exciting, as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will make them using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, according to China's Commercial Times.

There are a few reasons this is exciting. While the Zen 3 chips will still be 7nm, like the Zen 2 chips, the use of EUV lithography is going to allow for an extra-dense transistor arrangement. The new chips will reportedly be able to offer a 20% increase in transistor density with a 10% reduction to power consumption compared to Zen 2.

That increase in density and decrease in power consumption are also based on only limited use of EUV lithography. According to the report, the EUV lithography will only be used for some layers of masks that serve as manufacturing templates.

What will this mean for you

We're still a little bit away from even getting an official launch of the Zen 2-based Ryzen 3rd Generation CPUs. Processors built on Zen 3's 7nm+ architecture won't be here before 2020.

But, when those new Zen 3 processors do arrive, we can expect them to offer a slight performance boost and a considerable improvement in efficiency. Powerful Zen 3-based mobile processors are likely, and the improved efficiency can lead to longer battery life, lower-profile cooling solutions, and the possibility of smaller power adapters.

The shift to EUV lithography also suggests a pathway for CPUs to continue getting smaller, faster and less power hungry in the future. With silicon computer chips reaching their limit in terms of the rules set forth in Moore's Law for transistor density to double every two years, EUV could be a solution that helps keep density increasing steadily for some time to come.

  • Check out our review of AMD's 7nm graphics card, the Radeon VII

Via Hothardware and PCGamesN

Categories: Tech News

Beats and the battle for your ears: how Apple changed the sound of Dr Dre's cans

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:00

You’ve heard of Beats – whether you’ve used its headphones or not. 

Founded by rapper Dr Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006, Beats has been a power player in the world of consumer audio since its inception, fast becoming a market leader in terms of sales alongside the likes of Sony, Sennheiser, Skullcandy, and Bose. 

Beats’ enormous market share is likely what attracted tech giant Apple to the company, which acquired Beats in 2014 for an astonishing $3 billion

So how has that acquisition changed Beats as a company, and more importantly, the quality of its headphones? We spoke to Beats President, Luke Wood about the company’s first true wireless earbud, the Powerbeats Pro, which he tells us is “the culmination of the full integration of [Beats and Apple] working together from a technological standpoint.''

“We thought we were pretty good until we got to Apple, and then we started learning what ‘good’ really was”, he admits between sips of green tea. 

What was Apple doing that Beats wasn’t? “Apple had so much incredible discipline and rigor around product quality” Wood says.

Does that mean Beats headphones were sub-par in the past? They’ve certainly been dealt their fair share of criticism for being too bass-heavy, too brash, and ultimately unsuitable for any true discerning audiophile. 

The Powerbeats Pro are set to be launched in May (Image credit: Apple)

Turning down the bass

That bass-heaviness didn’t just spring up out of thin air. Bass has been creeping up in the balance of popular music genres for decades now, infiltrating the charts through disco, funk, soul, hip-hop and R&B in the late 20th century.

Then, the 2000s saw in an explosion of dancehall and grime traditions into mainstream popularity, particularly in the UK and the US. Nowadays, chest-thumping sub-bass lines are present in even the most saccharine pop songs. 

In short, bass was everywhere, and Beats wanted in.

"Hopefully people will respect the fact that we learned and grew.”

Luke Wood, President of Beats

“No one was making headphone products to articulate the bottom end” Wood says – but he concedes that Beats’ reputation for overly bass-heavy products was “absolutely taken into consideration” when creating the new PowerBeats Pro. 

Since then, Wood says Beats has “got better and learned the tools of [its] trade” in the years after it released its first studio headphones in 2008. 

“Hopefully people will respect the fact that we learned and grew.”

The Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones (Image credit: TechRadar)

"Sonically, they're super dope"

It’s clear that Wood is extremely excited by the PowerBeat Pro true wireless headphones as he explains the inner workings of their all-new “pistonic drivers” and improved acoustic housing.

“Sonically, they’re super dope”, he says giddily, “a beautiful acoustic instrument”. Does that mean the new buds boast a better sonic balance than previous models?

Wood thinks so, describing the company's "evangelical, almost zealot approach to sound".

"We’re trying to religiously get back to articulating the album as it would have sounded in the studio”, he explains.

It's not only about the sound quality; first and foremost, the PowerBeats Pro are a pair of true wireless workout earbuds. As such, they’re waterproof, and are designed to fit snugly and comfortably in your ear, no matter how vigorous your training session gets. 

And, like the new Apple AirPods (2019), they’re powered by Apple’s new H1 chip, which offers fast connection times and hands-free Siri voice control – the Powerbeats Pro are unmistakably an Apple product through and through.

Luke Wood in the studio (Image credit: Beats)

Looking to the future

It’s been rumored that the Apple AirPods 2 will be a health and fitness device as well as a pair of true wireless earbuds, after Apple filed a patent for biometric sensors that would allow them to monitor the user’s heart rate. Is this something Beats would consider for future fitness earbuds?

Wood thinks it’s unlikely. “We never want to labor customers with a bunch of useless, borderline avant-garde tech”.

“If you have a smartwatch that’s giving you all that information, do you really need to replicate that in your headphones?” he asks. Perhaps it is necessary, if you’re claiming to have made the “number one fitness headphones in the world”.

Whether Wood’s position on biometric sensors would change should Apple start using this kind of ‘avant garde tech’ in its own headphones remains to be seen, but it’s clear that his company has benefited immensely from its acquisition by the tech giant. 

As he puts its, it has allowed Beats to “take advantage of [Apple’s] great research and development and innovation, and put it into our products”. Ultimately, to what extent Beats and Apple's partnership has been successful won't become clear until the Powerbeats are released next month – but we’re excited to find out.

Categories: Tech News

Facebook's latest blunders affected contacts and passwords for millions of users

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 09:30

Facebook has a long, long record of privacy fails and data scandals, but even by its standards the latest one is a jaw-dropper: the platform has revealed up to 1.5 million Facebook users might have had their email contacts unknowingly uploaded to the site.

The process was unintentional – according to Facebook – and happened when users were prompted for their password as part of a security verification process. It's been going on since May 2016 but Facebook says its now deleting all the scraped data.

On top of that, the shoddy password storage techniques used by Facebook that we reported on last month have in fact affected millions of Instagram users – not the "tens of thousands" that Facebook initially said.

In this case passwords were being stored in plain text, easily visible by Facebook engineers and developers. The passwords weren't leaked outside of Facebook, but the practice should still ring alarm bells – and again, Facebook has promised to fix it.

Keep up at the back

In summary, the plain text password fail of last month affected more Instagram users than we thought, and Facebook has also been uploading our contact lists without permission.

Still, Facebook promises to do better in the future, so there's that to hold on to. And a dark mode feature is rolling out in Facebook Messenger to distract you from all the ways that your data is being improperly handled.

At this point it seems Facebook is lurching from one scandal or gaffe to the next, without any real sign of permanently changing its ways. Meanwhile users are switching to other services – though admittedly many of them are also owned by Facebook.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg seems keenly aware that the social media landscape is changing, and has said the platform will move towards more private sharing in the future. Let's hope our data stays private too.

Via Ars Technica

Categories: Tech News

Newly leaked Pixel 3a renders apparently confirm a May launch date

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 05:30

It's fair to say we've seen a fairly extensive series of leaks for the upcoming mid-range Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, but we've now got a fresh set of renders showing off the phones in advance, as well as another hint about the launch date.

The pictures, obtained by Android Headlines, show the two phones inside simple cases, so they don't actually reveal too much about the handsets – from the front they look pretty much as you would expect them to. Note the lack of notch though, and the apparent inclusion of a headphone jack.

Google Pixel 3a leak (credit: Android Headlines)

Take a closer look and the date on the home screen is interesting. May 7 is when this year's Google IO gets underway, so it looks as though we've got two new phones to look forward to as well as all the latest news on Android Q.

This launch date had been previously teased by a teaser posted on the Google Store online, so it's looking just about certain that May 7 is the date when the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will be unveiled.

Leaks aplenty

That said, Google isn't going to have much left to unveil at this rate – we've seen specs leaked and colors leaked, making the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL two of the worst-kept secrets in tech at the moment.

The phones should arrive with Snapdragon 670 chipsets and 4GB of RAM under the hood, with 32GB and 64GB rumored to be the internal storage options.

These are less powerful than the main Pixel 3 phones then, but apparently they're still going to rock the same 12.2MP camera on the back. Screen sizes have been tipped to start at 5.56 inches.

We should find out everything about these phones on May 7 – after that it's a countdown to the big unveiling of the Pixel 4, which we're expecting to happen around five or six months afterwards.

Categories: Tech News

Bad bots are responsible for a fifth of all web traffic

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 05:30

Yes! You heard it right, about a fifth of all website traffic now comes from malicious bots. This makes it roughly 20.4% of web traffic daily. This automated traffic is responsible for offensive attacks on websites, APIs and mobile apps; the financial sector (especially banking) being the worst.

According to Distil Research Lab’s Bad Bot report, hundreds and billions of “Bad Bots” requests were found. Moreover, they also enable large scale malicious activity like web scraping and competitive data mining.

The research released on Wednesday 17th, 2019 mentioned 73.6 percent of bad bots as “Advanced Persistent Bots.” Although the number of bad bot traffic has shown a decline over the years; thanks to the sophisticated encryptions, the report said.

Industries hit hardest by bad bots

Financial services were targeted the most by malicious bot traffic (42%). In 2018 Akamai reported over a billion fake credential attempts on financial firms.

The report says that ticketing (39%) government sectors (30%) and education (38%) were also affected by the malicious intent of this malicious traffic. The government domain is the least likely to be affected as there is no financial gain to retrieve. However, it might be driven by election for intervening the voter’s registration and account. Airlines were not forgiven too; they were also targeted with reported (25.9%) from bad bot traffic.

Gaming and gambling also saw a quarter of bad-bot traffic with reported (25.9%). However, Ecommerce got a surprisingly low percentage with only 18% traffic coming from bad bots. Malicious activities on e-commerce activities include credit-card fraud, gift card abuse, and account takeovers.

Image Credit: Pixabay

How hackers utilize bad bots

Bad bots are usually used by hackers, fraudsters and malicious competitors. They then use these malicious bots for web scraping, hijacking, transaction fraud, spam, and distributed denial-of-service attacks.

“While bad bot activity on industries like airlines and ticketing are well-noted, no organization – large or small, public or private – is immune from such attacks,” said Kleemann. CEO of Distil Networks.

Advance persistent bots can switch user agents and cycle through random IPs. They can even enter through anonymous proxies and mimic human behavior and change their identities. APBs are slow, but they do carry out significant assaults.

In the last five years, a total of 14.7 million data breaches took place. The credentials of those data breaches are used for malicious deeds; businesses with a login page are often confused with too many requests.

In terms of geographical location over half of the bot traffic (around 53.4%) were from the United States. On the contrary, Russia and Ukraine combined contributed nearly 48% of the country-specific IP block requests. 

Bots are used by cyber-criminals to steal credentials and data. Every new data breach means increased availability of credentials which lead to a higher volume of bad bot traffic. 

In the world of cybercriminals, is your online presence secure with protocols? If not then think again and asses where you lack.

Now, you know what these malicious bots do and what are their targets, it is your time to act!

Devin Smith, Marketing Director at ReviewsDir

Categories: Tech News

Only a week left to get a free Google Home with BT fibre broadband deals

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 04:15

Sometimes a special offer hangs around for so long that you forget that at some point it has to come to an end. That's exactly what has happened with BT Broadband's current fibre deals. It started handing out free Google Home smart speakers at the start of April, but that little perk is finally coming to an end next Thursday.

BT is currently offering the pretty persuasive incentive of a FREE Google Home (worth £129) with its Superfast fibre 1 package. Upgrade to the Superfast fibre 2 package and BT will throw in a £30 pre-paid Mastercard on top. Combine this with superfast fibre speeds and some affordable pricing and BT broadband deals are looking like one of the best options out there. 

You can see both of these packages don't below so you can compare prices and speeds. Or if neither packages quite works for you, check out our guide to the best broadband deals currently on the market. 

BT's fibre broadband deals with free Google Home What to expect with a Google Home

The Google Home is one of the best smart speakers out there right now. Giving you the ability to take voice control to a whole new level, the speaker combines great sound with Google's top of the line voice activation. Play songs, ask questions and set automatic routines to simplify your daily routines.

If you like the idea of getting this smart assistant but aren't that won over by the BT plan, then be sure to check out our dedicated Google Home prices guide.

Categories: Tech News

How the all-digital Xbox One paves the way for gaming beyond PS5 and Xbox Two

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 04:00

There’s a new Xbox on the way – and it’ll be here before E3 2019. No, we’re not talking about the Xbox Two, or whatever Microsoft’s next-gen machine is going to be called. Instead, we’re on about the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.

Yep, you read that correctly – all-digital. As in, no discs. No physical media. All download. 

Scary, isn’t it?

No. Of course it isn’t – we’ve been staring down the barrel of the gun named “discless future gaming” for years now, and Microsoft has made the jump at a time when gamers are finally ready to accept it. That doesn’t mean gamers are happy about it, but the defence of physical media is one that’s been chipped away at for years, to the point where for gamers beyond those who are also collectors, it’s all but irrelevant.

Aside from the love of owning a physical item, the modern evolution of games distribution, for better and worse, has rendered physical media practically obsolete. We used to enjoy being able to pop a new game into a console and booting it up almost as soon as it was out of its cellophane wrapping. But now there will be an inevitable 3 hour, 20GB patch to download, a “day one” fix for all the bugs the developers failed to iron out before that shipping deadline was met. 

The same goes for bringing a game to a friend’s house – unless you’re ready to sit through a lengthy download screen the first time you bring it over, you’d be better off just sticking to their own libraries. 

Beware the trade-in

The disc’s one value remains in the second hand market, where you can trade or sell games to support your next purchase. But even then, with the rise of games-as-a-service, you’re likely to have lost out on one-time content codes that are packed in with new games, or will have to invest in the ongoing content drops of DLC that keep long-life games like Destiny 2 alive. 

The Division 2 has been a great success with only a fraction of the physical sales its predecessor amassed. Image Credit: Ubisoft

And remember, if you truly want to support the developers of the games you play, the second hand market is deathly to them – they receive no cut from the sales of a second hand game.

Digital distribution brings with it benefits too, of course. A pre-order can be pre-loaded onto the console ahead of release so that, unlike with physical media, you actually can play a game the moment it is released. 

You’re able to jump from one downloaded game to another without getting up to change a disc. And, for smaller developers, the digital distribution route is a more cost-effective way to get their wares onto your console, without the costs that physical media necessitates. Though digital discount events are common, it does however sadly remain that digital downloads cost the same as their physical counterparts – if not more. 

if you truly want to support the developers of the games you play, the second hand market is deathly to them

All taken into account, though you may want to defend physical gaming media’s existence, it’s really only now a defence born from nostalgia for a way of playing games that no longer exists.

The numbers increasingly back up gamers’ move from a physical to digital preferences. The Division 2 has been one of the year’s big gaming success stories. It was number one in the UK charts in the week commencing March 11 – but only managed to shift 20% of the physical copies that the first title managed. Does that mean that the UK playerbase has gone elsewhere? Of course not – they’ve just migrated to digital instead.

The key is Game Pass

There has long been talk of a discless Xbox console, with rumors stretching back as far as the launch of the Xbox One itself. But where neither Microsoft’s audience nor its services were ready for the transition back in late 2013, both are now well placed to accept, if not embrace the change.

Microsoft’s fantastic Xbox Games Pass service is key to this equation. For a reasonable monthly fee, gamers get access to over 100 Xbox One titles (it’s closer to 200 at the time of writing), ready to download to their consoles. And that also comes with the promise that any first party Microsoft games will be available through Game Pass the same day they hit store shelves. 

Together with a cheaper hardware option in the shape of Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, it lowers the barrier of entry for lapsed or new-comer gamers, with a ready-made game library ready to be enjoyed. 

Image credit: Microsoft

The new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate makes for the complete digital-only package – rolling the benefits of both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold (which unlocks online play and gifts a handful of digital download games to subscribers for keeps every month) into one monthly fee, that’s more affordable by a rate of 25% than paying for both individually.

It’s recurrent income for Microsoft, more so than banking on gamers to make a game purchase every month. And that’s especially so when you take into account the “sleeper” subscriber – the person who signs up for a service, and lets payments to it tick away in the background whether they’re engaging with the offering or not.

Does this mean the Xbox Two will do away with a disc drive too? That’s unlikely, particularly in the light of the recent PS5 specs reveal. Sony’s console will still have a disc drive, and not merely to support its backwards compatibility program. 

Blu-ray discs are still a useful way of transferring data, minimising the initial download a game needs upon opening. A disc can also be used to stream additional assets from too – it’s the reason Red Dead Redemption 2 comes with an install disc and a playing disc.

But the death of the disc is all but assured, and the final nail in its coffin will be streaming. Sony, Microsoft, and even Google with its Stadia service, are investing in a future where even downloads will be a thing of the past, let alone the box under your TV within which to house them. 

All you’ll need is an input device, a screen, and the willingness to let go of your grip on the physical world. 

Categories: Tech News

Best unlocked phone in the US: 10 smartphones to give you carrier freedom

Latest Tech News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 01:20

The best unlocked phones in the US offer total no-contract freedom if you’re willing to accept a deceptively high full price. Because unlocked phones aren't tied down to any specific carrier, you get to choose which mobile carrier you want to use and can freely switch between plans. 

As mobile carriers have moved further and further away from locked-down contracts, many more phones are available with no strings attached, including unlocked iPhones. This can make it trickier to decide which one you want. 

And, while many of the best unlocked phones will work on the networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and most MVNOs (minor carriers that operate on bigger carrier's networks), some GSM-only phones have limited support for certain networks. This makes it even trickier to be sure you're getting a phone that'll work for you.

We're here to help, though. We've reviewed all of the best phones, and have the details you'll need about which carriers you can use them on. We've taken all that information to rank the best unlocked phones for you, so you can get a phone that'll work with the carriers you want and let you save money by only getting the data plan you need, not the one stipulated by an installment agreement.

If you're ready, here are the best unlocked phone options available to you.


Image Credit: TechRadar

If you to just get the best phone out there without worry about its hefty cost, then the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is it. This powerful Android phones runs on the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset backed by 8GB to 12GB of RAM, so it can blast through productivity and gaming alike.

The 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display is incredibly sharp and features a hole-punch design for the twin front-facing cameras, allowing the screen to stretch extra high up on the front of the phone. And, the three rear cameras on the back of the Galaxy S10 Plus are among the best we've ever seen.

Will it work for me? Samsung’s phones support a wide range of carriers, including the big four here in the US. Expect full support at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (Note: Make sure you're buying the US-version with a Snapdragon chipset for full carrier support.)

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review

Image Credit: TechRadar

Apple’s iPhone XS Max offers a heaping dose of performance and screen space. With its nearly bezel-less display measuring a full 6.5 inches, it’s stunning to look at. Surgical steel around the edge and a glass front and back make it the phone itself quite the looker as well. While the price is certainly high, there is no better Apple phone.

Will it work for me? Apple says the unlocked iPhone XS Max can be activated with any carrier, which means you’ll have no issue with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon, and many smaller carriers will likely work as well. Unlike last year’s new iPhone, you won’t have to choose between Intel GSM-only and Qualcomm GSM+CDMA modems – Apple went with an Intel GSM+CDMA modem from the start. 

Read More: iPhone XS Max review

Image Credit: TechRadar

Google’s Pixel 3 once again sets the bar for what a smartphone camera can do. The Pixel 3 has the updated specs you’d expect from an Android smartphone released in 2018, even if the design hasn’t quite followed the bezel-free design others are going for. Still, the screen is a usable 5.5-inch OLED with dual front-facing speakers that are nice to have. The battery is enough to get the job done each day, and Google’s ongoing software updates make this a phone that won’t become irrelevant too quickly.

Will it work for me? Google advertises the Pixel 3 as working on all major carriers, so you’ll have no trouble activating on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. Smaller carriers should usually work unless they have their own restrictions, and the Pixel 3 also offers access to Google’s Project Fi network.

Read more: Google Pixel 3 review

Image Credit: TechRadar

As new flagship smartphone prices have started to creep up, Samsung did fans of the Galaxy family a favor by releasing the Galaxy S10e. This phone still has much of what makes its biggest siblings great, but it skips a few features, keeps down the size, and thereby keeps down the price. 

Thanks to its added affordability, the Galaxy S10e even outranks the Galaxy S10 in our opinion. It still has a stunning 5.8-inch screen that's easy to wield in one hand, though the side-mounted fingerprint scanner may favor right-handed users.  The Snapdragon 855 chipset inside is wonderfully powerful, and the phone comes with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM to keep apps snappy when switching between them.

Will it work for me? Samsung’s phones support a wide range of carriers, including the big four here in the US. Expect full support at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (Note: Make sure you're buying the US-version with a Snapdragon chipset for full carrier support.) 

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Image Credit: TechRadar

The OnePlus 6T is one of the company’s most compelling mid-cycle updates yet. While this is the first OnePlus phone to dump the 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s also the most stunning design to date. OnePlus has stretched the screen real estate and shrunk down the notch to just a tiny nib. The internals are powerful, the battery sizable, the screen massive and beautiful even if it’s not as sharp as Samsung’s, and the cameras are even highly competitive. And, let’s not forget the new phone features a fingerprint scanner built underneath the display. All that, and the OnePlus 6T launched with a price well below all the other new flagship phones.

Will it work for me? Unless you’re on Sprint or a Sprint-based MNVO like Boost Mobile, you should be able to use the OnePlus 6T just fine. It supports numerous bands on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. With a dual-SIM tray, you can even connect to multiple networks at the same time, making it extra handy for frequent international travelers.

Read more: OnePlus 6T review

Image Credit: TechRadar

The US government might not like Huawei very much, but we sure like it's new P30 Pro smartphone. This is one of the best Android phones out right now, just falling shy of the Galaxy S10 Plus, and it's a fair bit cheaper. The P30 Pro offers a snappy experience with its Kirin 980 chipset and up to 8GB of RAM. It also comes with a base storage of 128GB but that can be affordably expanded via microSD card.

The cameras are where the Huawei P30 Pro really shines. It has five of them. The front camera has a high 32MP resolution, and the rear system combines a 40MP, 20MP, 8MP, and time-of-flight sensor to some incredible results. A powerful Night Mode take seemingly impossible photos, and it features 5x optical zoom that boosts up to 50x with surprising, though not perfect, clarity. The big issue here is US availability and carrier support, which sees it drop down in the ranks a bit.

Will it work for me? This will depend on the variant you buy, so make sure to compare the supported network bands with the carriers you want to use it with. The Latin American variant has some US compatibility, with full support for T-Mobile and 3G/4G LTE support for AT&T. Don't expect support for Sprint, Verizon, or MVNOs running on their networks.

Read more: Huawei P30 Pro review

Image Credit: TechRadar

Samsung put together a truly dazzling phone with the Galaxy Note 9. It fits a huge, 6.4-inch display into a handset that manages to avoid being unwieldy. Smaller hands may struggle with it, but the upside is a great display for watching TV and movies on the go.

With a 4,000mAh battery, you can use the Note 9 all day. And, the Snapdragon 845 paired with 6 or 8 GB of RAM (depending on the storage size you choose), will offer plenty of performance. Let’s not forget this phone has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market.

Will it work for me? Samsung’s phones support a wide range of carriers, including the big four here in the US. Expect full support at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Image Credit: TechRadar

The iPhone XR is Apple’s newest iPhone, coming out shortly after the iPhone XS and XS Max. Of the three new models, this is the budget one, even if it still has a high price. While it doesn’t have the dual-rear cameras, lacks an OLED screen, and falls just short of Full HD resolution on the display, it’s not a miss. The powerful internals match the other iPhones, the main camera is still a powerful shooter, and the whole package is made all the better thanks to the best battery performance we’ve seen in an iPhone.

Will it work for me? Apple says the unlocked iPhone XR can be activated with any carrier, which means you’ll have no issue with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon, and many smaller carriers will likely work as well.

Read more: iPhone XR review

Image Credit: TechRadar

The Galaxy S10 has an odd fit among its more capable sibling, the S10 Plus, and its more affordable sibling, the S10e. It has a big, 6.1-inch display with a single hole-punch camera, and a fingerprint scanner built beneath the display glass. It also has the ability to serve as a wireless charger for other phones and electronics.

It also has a three camera system on the back that includes both ultra-wide and zoom lenses for some great versatility. It's not quite as capable as the Galaxy S10 Plus, but it's a bit cheaper. If the extra screen is something you want, and the high-tech fingerprint and wireless powershare interest you, it may be a worthwhile upgrade over the Galaxy S10e. It's definitely an excellent phone, it's just tricky to choose over one of the other two S10 models.

Will it work for me? Samsung’s phones support a wide range of carriers, including the big four here in the US. Expect full support at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (Note: Make sure you're buying the US-version with a Snapdragon chipset for full carrier support.) 

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 review

Image Credit: TechRadar

The biggest isn’t always the best if you have small hands or small pockets. In the case of the latest iPhones, a tight wallet can also make the iPhone XS a better pick than its bigger sibling. It offers the same performance, has the same cameras and software, but it comes in at a more compact size, with a smaller battery and display.

Will it work for me? Apple says the unlocked iPhone XS can be activated with any carrier, which means you’ll have no issue with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon, and many smaller carriers will likely work as well.

Read more: iPhone XS review

Categories: Tech News

NHL live stream: how to watch the 2019 playoffs and Stanley Cup online from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 16:43

The regular 2019 NHL season has come to an end but for many hockey fans, that means they can finally get excited as no other sport does does playoff season quite like the NHL - and we're here to make sure you don't miss even a moment with TechRadar's guide to getting an NHL live stream for this year's playoffs.

The best 16 teams in the league (eight each from the Western and Eastern Conference) face off in a best-of-seven series. From there the best teams in each conference will go head to head with the winners of the conference finals advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

To get you up to speed on all the action, here are the first round matchups:

In the Eastern Conference the Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins will go up against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Islanders will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames will take on the Colorado Avalanche, the San Jose Sharks will go up against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Nashville Predators will face off against the Dallas Stars and finally the Winnipeg Jets will go up against the St. Louis Blues.

Whether you’re a die-hard hockey fan who’s been following the NHL all season long or just tuning in to catch all the action at the playoffs, we’ll show you how to watch the 22019 playoffs online with an NHL live stream from anywhere in the world.

How to watch the 2019 NHL Playoffs online from outside your country

If you live in the US, Canada or UK and want to know how to catch a 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs live stream, then keep scrolling and we’ll tell you your best viewing options.

But if you can't watch because you're not in your home country and so your coverage is geo-blocked then we can suggest a clever alternative (and no, it doesn’t involve finding some dodgy feed on Reddit). Using a VPN - or Virtual Private Network - you can change the IP address to one in a different state or country which does have the stream so that you can watch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs from anywhere in the world. The process is very straightforward… 

Watch the NHL playoffs on TV in the US

If you live in the US and want to watch the NHL playoffs on television, then unfortunately you have your work cut out for you as all of the Stanley Cup games will air on NBC owned networks. That’s right, not just on NBC itself but also on a number of networks owned by the company. This means that you will need some combination of NBC, NBCSN (NBC Sports Net), CNBC, USA Network and NHL Network. To complicate things even further, NBC will also air some games on the Golf Channel when there are scheduling conflicts.

The channels showing the games will also change depending on which round of the playoffs we’re in. The first round will be shown across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA and the NHL Network while the second and third rounds will be on NBC and NBCSN. Finally, the Stanley Cup Finals will be shown on NBC.

For cable subscribers this shouldn’t be too difficult but if you’d prefer to watch the games online or on your mobile devices, NBCSports will have livestreams of the games on its website or on the NBC Sports app. You will need to provide your cable credentials to gain access to these streams but you could always setup a digital antenna to watch NBC over-the-air for free.

If you’d rather not sign up for a premium cable subscription just to watch the Stanley Cup and playoffs, we recommend going with one of the many TV streaming services available as they give you access to the channels you need to watch hockey without the high cost. 

For your convenience, we’ve listed all of the streaming services with the channels you need to watch the NHL playoffs below.

  • Hulu with Live TV $44.99 per month - Hulu with Live TV gives you access to NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA but not the NHL Network. The service supports a wide variety of streaming devices and even includes its own Hulu Originals in case you want a break from watching hockey.
  • Playstation Vue starting at $44.99 per month - Playstation Vue’s Access plan gives you access to NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA but once again not NHL Network. However, there is a 5-day free trial available.
  • DirecTV Now $50 per month - DirecTV Now’s Plus package comes with NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA but doesn’t include the NHL Network. You can stream on up to three screens simultaneously and with the DirecTV Now app you can watch live TV on the go. New customers can take advantage of a 7-day trial but you'll have to purchase one of DirecTV Now's packages first.
  • Sling TV starting at $15 per month - Sling TV's Blue package gives you access to NBC, NBCSN and USA though you’ll have to add the $5 News Extra and $5 Sports Extra packages to your subscription to watch games on CNBC and the NHL Network. 
  • fuboTV $44.99 for the first month - fuboTV gives you access to NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA but not the NHL Network. The service also includes Cloud DVR so you can record games to watch them later and if you forget to record a game, the company's 3-day replay allows you to replay nearly any game, show or movie that aired in the last three days. FuboTV even offers a free 7-day trial so you can test out the service.
  • YouTube TV $49.99 per month - YouTube TV gives you access to NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA but not the NHL Network. With YouTube TV you get free unlimited DVR storage space to record games for later and you can stream the service on three devices simultaneously. A free 14-day trial is also available so you can test it out for yourself.

- Discover our pick of all the US's best sports streaming sites

Watch and live stream NHL playoffs in Canada

If you live in Canada and want to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV, then Sportsnet has you covered. The network’s TV coverage will be available on Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet ONE and CBC. However, if you’d prefer to live stream the games on your computer or mobile devices you can do so by logging in using your cable credentials on the CBCSports website or on the CBC Sports app on Android and iOS.

If you’re not a cable subscriber, we recommend choosing one of the streaming services above if you just want to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

However, if you’re also a big Canadian Hockey League fan, Sportsnet has its own streaming service available called SNNow for just $20 a month that shows over 300 NHL games as well as NHL, NBA, MLB, CHL, WWE and more that might be worth checking out. 

Watch the NHL playoffs in the UK

Unfortunately for hockey fans in the UK, Premier Sports is the only way to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs on TV. 

To get access to the Premier Sports 1 & 2 you’ll either have to sign up through Sky for £9.99 a month or £99 a year, Virgin Media at £9.99 a month or with the network’s own Premier Player at £9.99 a month. Premier Sports does have an offer where you can get the first month free using the promo code FIRSTMONTHFREE but even then you only get access to 15 NHL games each week.

On the other hand you could try one of the streaming services listed above and if all else fails you can always connect with a VPN and change your IP address to one in the US. 

Categories: Tech News

YouTube will return to Fire TV after Amazon and Google make amends

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 15:46

After a year of feuding, Amazon and Google have finally broken the virtual trade embargo between the two companies, Amazon has announced. Starting later this year, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Cube will have access to YouTube via the native YouTube app, and you’ll be able to watch Amazon Prime Video on Google Chromecast.

In broad terms, that means you’ll be able to watch everything available on Amazon’s video service on Android TV, Chromecast and Google Home Hub devices (as well as any other device that supports Chromecast Built-in), plus watch YouTube on Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs, with support for the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps coming later this year.

While this will be a big change for Amazon Prime Video watchers who haven’t been able to cast Amazon content to their screens since, well, ever, it might be less of a boon for Amazon device owners who have been able to watch YouTube through the Amazon Silk browser, despite Google pulling the native YouTube app last year. 

The native YouTube app not might have been missed, but YouTube TV and YouTube Kids certainly have, so there's something to be gained by both sides.

There is one caveat, however: the only device that seems to be left out of the agreement is the Amazon Echo Show, which likely won’t have YouTube returned to it at all – a strange move everything considered.

A war with no winners

While the war between the two tech giants has been brewing for what seems like forever, the battle came to a head when Google pulled YouTube from the Amazon Fire TV – likely in response to Amazon's refusal to sell Chromecast, Nest and Google Home Devices on the Amazon store. 

Amazon resumed sales of those products after the YouTube app was pulled, but neither company allowed their services to be used by the other with customers feeling the brunt of the software embargo.

The easing of tensions today represents a period of Detente for the companies  and could be the foundation of a long-lasting peace ... as long as Amazon keeps selling Google products.

Categories: Tech News

Sea Turtle hacking group goes after government domains

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 14:50

Researchers at Cisco's Talos cybersecurity unit have discovered a new hacker group that has targeted 40 government and intelligence agencies, telecoms and internet giants in 13 countries for more than two years.

While the new campaign bears some similarities to DNSpionage, which rerouted users from legitimate websites to a malicious server to steal their passwords, the researchers have assessed with high confidence that the campaign they've dubbed “Sea Turtle” is a new, separate operation.

Sea Turtle targets companies by hijacking their DNS by pointing a target's domain name to malicious server instead of to its intended target.

The site-spoofing technique used by the hackers behind the campaign exploits long-known flaws in DNS that can be used to trick unsuspecting victims into imputing their credentials on fake login pages.

Sea Turtle

The attacks launched by Sea Turtle work by first compromising a target using spear phishing to establish a foothold on their network. Known exploits are then used to target servers and routers to move laterally inside a company's network to obtain network-specific passwords. These credentials are then used to target an organization's DNS registrar by updating its records so that its domain name points away from its IP address and instead to a server controlled by the hackers.

The hackers then employ a man-in-the-middle operation to impersonate login pages and obtain additional credentials to move even further into a company's network. By using their own HTTPS certificate for the target's domain, the attackers can make a malicious server appear genuine.

According to Talos, the hackers used this technique to compromise the Swedish DNS provider Netnod as well as one of the 13 root servers that powers the global DNS infrastructure.

The hackers also were able to gain access to the registrar that manages Armenia's top-level domains using similar tactics.

While Talos has not revealed which state is behind the group, its researchers say that Sea Turtle is “highly capable” and have provided mitigation instructions in a blog post, saying:

“Talos suggests using a registry lock service, which will require an out-of-band message before any changes can occur to an organization's DNS record. If your registrar does not offer a registry lock service, we recommend implementing multi-factor authentication, such as DUO, to access your organization's DNS records. If you suspect you were targeted by this type of activity intrusion, we recommend instituting a network-wide password reset, preferably from a computer on a trusted network. Lastly, we recommend applying patches, especially on internet-facing machines. Network administrators can monitor passive DNS record on their domains, to check for abnormalities.”

Via TechCrunch

  • Protect your online privacy with the best VPN
Categories: Tech News

Google lets Android users choose browsers to ease EU antitrust concerns

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 13:23

In an effort to address EU antitrust concerns, Google has announced that Android users in Europe will now be able to choose between five different web browsers and search engines on their devices.

Last year the EU hit the search giant with a record €4.34bn fine over how it used the market power of its mobile software to block competing services in search and web browsing

By pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android smartphones, Google gained an unfair advantage on its rivals according to the European Commission.

Now the company is trying to rectify the situation by giving European users more choices when it comes to which browsers are installed on their devices and which search engine they choose to use.

More search and browser options

In a blog post, Product Management Director at Google, Paul Gennai explained that Android users in Europe will now see new screens with an option to download different search apps and browsers when they open Google Play, saying:

“These new screens will be displayed the first time a user opens Google Play after receiving an upcoming update. Two screens will surface: one for search apps and another for browsers, each containing a total of five apps, including any that are already installed. Apps that are not already installed on the device will be included based on their popularity and shown in a random order.”

The new options will appear on both new Android phones sold in Europe as well as on existing devices in the region.

While these changes may be enough to persuade the European Commission that Google has realized the error of its ways, the lobbyist group FairSearch whose complaint against Android triggered the EU investigation in the first place is still not satisfied and things the European regulators should do more, saying:

“Fairsearch rejects as insufficient Google’s launch today of a choice screen for Android because it does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices.”

If Google is unable to show European regulators that it has put a stop to its anti-competitive practices, it faces a fine of up to five percent of Alphabet's average daily worldwide turnover.

Via Reuters

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