Tech News

Electric scooters: your complete guide

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:41

Electric scooters are springing up in cities around the world, often without warning or explanation. They're a fun, convenient way to get around, but there are a few facts you should be aware of before hiring one (or taking the plunge and buying one yourself), so read on and enjoy safer scooting.

Electric scooter legality

Whether electric scooters are legal depends where you live. Some cities have decided to welcome electric scooters, some insist that companies register before scattering scooters around the streets, and some have banned them outright. The law is complicated and changing all the time, so check out our complete guide for the full picture: are electric scooters legal?

Electric scooter sharing companies

The biggest names in electric scooter sharing are Bird, Lime, Lyft, Uber (under the name Jump), Scoot (now owned by Bird), Skip and Spin.

Those aren't the only players, though, and more are popping up all the time as new markets open up. Germany and Italy, for example, will soon legalize electric scooters, and startups in both countries are champing at the bit to make a name for themselves.

Image credit: Shutterstock

How to ride an electric scooter

Most electric scooter sharing services work in a similar way. Start by downloading and installing the app on your phone, creating an account and setting up a payment method. You can then use the app to find scooters near you (and often their battery level too), and unlock one. You'll typically be charged a fee for unlocking the scooter, with an extra charge for each hour or minute you spend riding.

To ride an electric scooter, start by releasing the steering column by flipping the latch near the base and extending the column. Once you're happy, lock the column.

Some electric scooters have a power button, while others are activated when you begin moving. To get going, stand with one foot on the platform and kick off with the other, as though you were riding a conventional scooter. After that, you can accelerate using a throttle controlled using your thumb, and stop using a bicycle-style brake lever on the handlebars.

When you're done, you'll need to park the scooter and use the app to end your ride. Depending on which scooter sharing service you're using, you might need to leave it in an assigned service area or a dock, or you might be free to park anywhere it won't be a nuisance. 

It's best to take the scooter for a few slow test runs somewhere quiet until you've got a good feel for how it handles, and are confident that you can steer around obstacles, and stop safely.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Electric scooter speed

The top speed of an electric scooter varies from a sedate 11mph to a frankly silly 40mph. Some cities only permit electric scooters that travel below a certain speed, and others classify speedier scooters as road vehicles that need to be registered, taxed, insured, and fitted with brake lights and indicato, so make sure you check the top speed if you're thinking of buying one.

If you're using a scooter from a sharing scheme, its top speed will probably be approved by local authorities, but it's a good idea to check before scooting. Here are the top speeds for all the big scooter sharing companies:

  • Scoot – 30mph
  • Skip – 18mph
  • Bird – 16mph
  • Lime – 15.5mph
  • Lyft – 15mph
  • Spin – 15mph
  • Uber Jump – 15mph
Electric scooter range

Range anxiety is a common complaint for electric car owners, but it's not quite so bad with electric scooters; it might be heavy, but if you run out of juice, you can always carry it.

To avoid a flat battery spoiling your fun when using a scooter share scheme, check the charge level using the app before checking one out. Here are the ranges of all the big players' scooters when they're fully charged:

  • Uber Jump – 40 miles
  • Lime – 37 miles
  • Skip – 30 miles
  • Scoot – 20 miles
  • Bird – 18 miles
  • Lyft – 15 miles
  • Spin – 15 miles
Electric scooters and helmets

It's always a good idea to wear a helmet when riding an electric scooter, and in some cities it's illegal not to. It won't save you in a head-on crash with a car, but most scooter and bike accidents are low speed, and it could save you a nasty smack on the head if you lose your balance or snag a wheel in a pothole. It's also illegal to scoot bare-headed in some cities.

Lime is handing out 250,000 free helmets to users who complete its Respect the Ride pledge, and Skip riders can request a free helmet by filling out an online form.

Scoot riders can ask for a free helmet too by submitting an email address, but only if they live in the San Francisco Bay area.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Spin doesn't provide freebies, but does give a discount on folding helmets, which are easy to carry around. Uber offers 20% off Closca helmets using the code CLOSCALOVESJUMP.  

Bird doesn't provide helmets for their scooters, free or otherwise, but advise that you wear one.

Categories: Tech News

Your sweat is no sweat for the AfterShokz Aeropex bone-conduction headphones

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:35

When you're running, it can be tricky to strike the right balance between immersing yourself in your workout music and remaining safely aware of your surroundings.

Aftershokz' latest bone conduction headphones, the Aftershokz Aeropex might just solve that problem.

That's because bone conduction headphones leave your ear canals totally open, allowing you to hear your workout buddy, oncoming traffic, and passers by. 

Place this nifty headset on your cheekbones, and they'll transmit sound through your bones without stopping your hearing.

The IP67 water resistance rating means they can withstand sweaty workout sessions, as well as a spot of rain. Theoretically this could work in shallow water for 30 minutes, but we'd be averse from trying them swimming - there are the Aftershokz XTrainerz for that.

They also support eight hours of playback from a single charge, which should be enough for even the most hardcore marathon runner – unless you like to run at a very leisurely pace of course. 

Image credit: AfterShokz

Trekz, take a hike

Following on from the AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones, the new Aeropex headphones feature a titanium frame and wraparound band, which is impressively 30% smaller and even 13% lighter than the already-unweighty Air headset.

The running headphones also sit at a 30-degree tilt against your face to reduce unwanted vibrations on your skin.

It may sound good on paper, but how do bone conduction headphones sound in real life? AfterShokz is all too aware of the bad reputation the technology has when it comes to audio quality, and we noticed in our reviews that the bass and leaking sound was poor. That's something that's, apparently, been addressed with the new Aeropex, with deeper bass and far less sound escaping.

AfterShoks says that sound leakage has actually been reduced by 50% compared to the Trekz Air headphones – no mean feat considering the open design of the headphones. 

Coming in grey, black, blue, and red, the Aeropex are available to buy in the UK for £149.95, the same price as the AfterShokz Trekz Airs were at launch. We don't currently know whether the headphones will be coming to the US or Australia, or how much they will cost.

Categories: Tech News

Best Amazon Prime TV shows (June 2019): the best series to watch this month

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:34

It's official: Amazon Prime Video is going from strength to strength. The streaming platform has been adding exclusive TV shows and fresh news episodes to its already impressive catalogue of content every week. 

UPDATE: This month it's all about Good Omens, the long-awaited TV adaptation of the fantastical book from the magical minds of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet with a truly stellar cast.

Although that means you've always got plenty of new series and old favourites to binge on, it also means it can be tricky to choose which one to watch next. But this list is here to help make that choice a little bit easier. 

For those not in the know, Amazon Prime Video is part of the Amazon Prime membership, which means a lot more than just super fast deliveries these days. 

For starters, there’s Prime Music, Audible freebies, the Kindle Lending Library, lots of photos storage and the chance to stream great movies and TV shows through Prime Video, which is Amazon’s answer to an on-demand streaming service. 

Although Amazon has a huge back catalogue on its Prime Video service, there are lots of mediocre TV options too, which might fool you into thinking they’d be worthy of a watch, as well as lots of truly terrible ones, which we'd prefer you didn't waste your time on at all.

We've collected together a huge selection of TV shows for you to choose from, including shiny new series through to Amazon's own original shows. 

In our guide you'll discover our pick of the best Amazon Prime TV shows that are currently on offer. We have options for fans of thrillers, jaw-dropping sci-fi, comedy lovers and those who enjoy nothing more than a fantasy police drama.

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Amazon has been developing and creating titles itself over the past few years, which are called Amazon Originals or Amazon Original Series.

These homegrown TV shows are arguably some of the best that the Amazon Prime Video service has to offer (think The Tick and Transparent), which you can watch instantly when you have Amazon Prime access. There are many more shows you can watch through Amazon too of course, but some of these have to be purchased in order for you to start streaming. 

We'll be keeping this list constantly updated – if any paid shows become free that we feel need to be included, they'll be added too. Scroll through to see our picks that we've divided up into the following categories: drama, comedy and thriller.

If you can only watch one...

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Good Omens

Before he passed away in 2015, Terry Pratchett allegedly made Neil Gaiman promise he'd adapt Good Omens into a TV series, which is what Gaiman has been working on for the past four years. 

The result is an addictive, bonkers yet heart-warming tale about good and evil, friendship, demons, angels and a future-gazing witch. 

It's brilliantly British, has one of the most stellar casts imaginable and can be binged in one weekend - or one sitting if you can't face waiting a whole night for the final few episodes. 

It brings a few fresh characters and twists to the story, but is also faithful enough to the book to give those who have been fans for nearly thirty years a real treat. 

Amazon Prime or Netflix? Check out our comparison video below!

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Absentia 

If you've had a Stana Katic shaped hole in your life since Castle ended in 2016, you'll be glad to know she's starring in a brand new series on Amazon Prime. Katic takes up the role of FBI agent Emily Byrne who, six years after being declared dead, returns to the world and has to try and piece her life and memory back together. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 1

Image Credit: Amazon Prime

New Season Added: The Expanse

Arguably the best sci-fi show since Battlestar Galatica, The Expanse is based on the series of novels by James S. A. Corey, the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. It's set in a future where humans have colonised most of the solar system, but there are big divisions between the occupants of Earth, Mars and 'Belters', who reside on space stations beyond the asteroid belt. It's full of politics, heart-wrenching emotional stories and some of the most breath-taking scenes of outer space we've ever seen. If you're a fan of sci-fi, you'll love this.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

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Alias

US action series Alias ran for five seasons between 2001 and 2006 and fans will be happy to hear every single episode is available to stream on Amazon Prime Instant Video right this instant! Created by J. J. Abrams, the TV show stars Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a double agent who is working for the CIA, but also posing as an operative for an organisation called SD-6, which is a big criminal and espionage network.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 5

Update: Alias is still available via Amazon Prime Video, but it's no longer free. You'll have to pay £2.49 per episode, or buy a whole season for £13.99.

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Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan

The long-awaited latest re-imagining of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is now available on Amazon Prime, with the fantastic John Krasinski (best known for his role in the US version of The Office) playing CIA analyst Ryan. The show has received mostly positive reviews and it's definitely worth giving the first few episodes a watch, particularly if you're a fan of political dramas, the Jack Ryan stories or Krasinski. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

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Ray Donovan

Set in LA, Ray Donovan is a drama about a guy called, you guessed it, Ray Donovan, who is a fixer for a top law firm in the city. That means he gets caught up in all kinds of drama, like threats, bribes and every other kind of shady activity you can imagine. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 6

Update: Ray Donovan is still available via Amazon Prime Video, but it's no longer free. You'll have to pay £2.49 per episode, or buy a whole season for £13.99.

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New Season Added: American Gods

Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and brought to the screen by the ever-excellent Bryan Fuller, American Gods is an existential look at what would happen if gods were to walk the earth. 

Starring Ricky Whittle (who has made the transition from Hollyoaks to Hollywood with ease) and Ian McShane, the show is both bizarre and brazen, cultish and controversial. It may take a while to figure out just what the hell is going on, but this is one smart, celestial slice of entertainment that's already got us hooked. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 2

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Animal Kingdom

Looking for a new crime drama to get stuck into? Animal Kingdom could be what you're looking for. The show follows teenager J Cody who moves in with extended relatives in Southern California after the death of his mother. Far from being boring, Cody finds his relatives live a wild life of excess and it's all funded by crime.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3 

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Black Sails

Johnny Depp may have spent the latter half of his career convincing the world that pirates all look, smell and talk like a Rolling Stone but we prefer Black Sails' interpretation. Exclusive to Amazon Prime, Black Sails treats the pirate legend with a touch more reality and this is pretty much all down to Shakespearean thesp Toby Stephens.

Number of seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

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New Season Added: Bosch

With 20-something novels to mine for source material, Bosch is a character that was always destined for the small screen. Created by Michael Connelly but brilliantly brought to life by actor Titus Welliver, the series follows the exploits of LA Homicide detective Harry Bosch and features enough grit to pave the longest of driveways.

This is no surprise - the series has been created by Eric Overmyer, who was part of the alumni that created The Wire. Bosch is another show that has been put together by Amazon Studios - proving that streaming services are becoming just as powerful as the HBOs of the world when it comes to producing compelling drama.

Bosch Season 5 has now landed on Amazon Prime, continuing the saga of Harry Bosch and it comes with a nice uplift in quality too, building season upon season to become one of our favourite shows on Prime at the moment. 

Number of seasons on Amazon Prime: 5

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Goliath

Billy Bob Thornton stars as a washed-up lawyer looking for a big break who stumbles on to a big case that may well give him the solace he needs. Made by David E Kelly who loves a bit of courtroom drama, having already created Boston Legal, The Practice and Ally McBeal, the show works well as a standalone series but there's talk that it may get a second season. Goliath is part of Amazon's Original series of TV shows.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 2

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The Good Fight

If you were a fan of US legal and political drama The Good Wife, then you're going to love The Good Fight. It's set one year after the events of the final episode of the The Good Wife and this time shifts the focus of the story to Diane Lockhart.

Season one has been a success and now the second season is available to stream via Amazon, but unfortunately it's not free. But while you either wait for it to become free (it may take a while) or wait to decide whether it's worth it, catch up on the first season now to help you make your mind up.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3 (The 3rd season is available, but you'll have to pay for it.)

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Hand of God

Last seen in Sons of Anarchy, Ron Perlman has moved from the mad world of biker gangs into the stranger world of law. Perlman plays a vice-riddled barrister who, after suffering a breakdown, starts to believe he is a messenger from god.

The full first season for Hand of God arrived on Amazon Prime, after a successful pilot. A second season is also available, which will sadly be the last as Amazon has decided to not renew the show. This is a shame as it may not be a light-hearted ride - but it is one drama that takes dark turn after dark turn and is all the better for it.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 2

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Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels sounds like it should be a Sons of Anarchy rival, about motorcycle gangs or the like. But it’s actually centred on the construction of the US’s First Transcontinental Railroad. The first season begins soon after the assassination of President Lincoln and from there the show plays out like a western, showing myriad sides of the railway being built - from slaves to their owners, to the money me behind the scheme. It’s a show that’s been a massive hit for AMC - falling just behind The Walking Dead in their ratings for original shows.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 5

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The Last Tycoon

F Scott Fitzgerald may be known for The Great Gatsby and Tender Is The Night but The Last Tycoon - his last and unfinished novel - is perhaps his most ambitious piece of work. It peels away the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in the '30s to show a time when backstabbing was the norm, fascism was on the rise and everyone had an unbelievable amount of money. Kelsey Grammer is superb as movie mogul Pat Brady, while Matt Bomer is also great as Monroe Stahr, the up and coming film exec who wants to make it big. The Last Tycoon is occasionally flawed but it's a sumptuous watch.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

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The Looming Tower

The 8th episode of The Looming Tower are now available on Amazon Prime Video, but despite the fact there still aren't many compared to most TV shows, it hasn't stopped this tale of threat and politics from proving to be a hit. Based on the book by the same name, it's about the unease around Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s, as well as the rivalry between the CIA and FBI.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 1

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Downton Abbey

Like watching fictional posh people live their lives in early-twentieth century opulence? You're not alone – millions of people tuned in to Downton Abbey during its TV run, and it's now available to stream in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video.

Following the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family on the titular Downton Abbey estate, it's a kitchen sink drama of sorts – except all the cutlery is made of silver, and it's an army of servants doing the washing up. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 7

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Masters Of Sex

Yes, Masters Of Sex could have ended up being a Mad Men rip-off when it first arrived in 2013 but thanks to the brilliance of Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan the show soon elevated above being a copycat.

Sheen is Dr William Masters, a fertility expert who turns his hand to researching the world of sex. Turns out researching sex means having a lot of it, which would all be rather gratuitous if it wasn't wrapped in some of the most intelligent script work around.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 2

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Outlander

Game of Thrones with kilts and time travel, Outlander was a solid show in its first season - by the second it was a great one. Based on the eight-book series by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is about Claire Randall, a nurse who is transported from 1945 to 1743, where she meets a Scottish outlaw and a simmering romance ensues. Given it’s shot in the Scottish highlands, the show looks fantastic, is well acted and should be your next binge watch.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 4

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The Path

Aaron Paul is back on TV, thanks to The Path. And while his role might not be as enticing as Jesse in Breaking Bad, The Path is decent enough. Revolving around the Meyerist movement, and its ‘not a cult / definitely a cult' cult, the show is a gripping and beautifully shot look at what happens when people truly believe.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

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Rogue

Now in its fourth season, Rogue has matured into a great crime drama. While it may not be the Sopranos in its scope, it has a realness to it that makes the violence that's shown on the screen hit home hard. Thandie Newton stars a Grace Travis, an undercover detective who is trying to balance being a wife and mother with the illicit affair of a crime boss. Gritty stuff.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 4

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New Season Added: Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete's plot maybe a little cliche - a con man assumes the identity of someone else to try and make a new break in the world - but Giovanni Ribisi is superb as Marius, the titular character and there's plenty of intrigue to keep you glued to this new Amazon Original. 

Interestingly, the show is co-created by Bryan Cranston which makes him the streaming king, given he's done so well with Breaking Bad on Netflix. Don't expect Sneaky Pete to be as intense as Breaking Bad - it's a crime caper, yes, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

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Startup

Not content with becoming a Hobbit, starring in the Marvel universe or playing Dr Watson, Martin Freeman goes back to his TV roots for Startup - a great look at what happens when a bunch of tech entrepreneurs create something that is much bigger than they ever thought it would be. It may occasionally be too gritty for its own good, but it's great to see Freeman hamming it up as the big bad. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

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UnREAL

UnREAL focuses on the fictional goings-on behind the scenes of a fictional reality show. It's a show that holds a broken mirror up to the vacuous and plentiful reality shows that litter TV channels at the moment and actually goes into some rather dark territory. Yes, it's melodramatic and will wave numerous moral flags at you while you are watching it, but it's nonetheless engrossing television.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

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Transparent

Anything Netflix can do, Amazon Prime can do better it seems, especially when it comes to winning a Golden Globe. Netflix may have made history by being the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe, courtesy of the acting talents of Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, but Amazon went and topped this by winning the Best TV Show prize in 2014 for Transparent.

It was much deserved. Transparent is everything you want in a TV show. It's heartwarming, funny and packs a real punch about a subject that doesn't get enough attention: transgenderism. Jeffrey Tambor's Maura Pfefferman is a television character we hope will be around for a long time.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

Comedy

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Fresh Off the Boat

The critically acclaimed series based on the memoirs of chef and food personality Eddie Huang is back for a fourth series. The show follows the hip-hop obsessed Eddie and his family as they reconcile their Taiwanese roots with their new life in Florida, where they have moved to open a cowboy-themed restaurant. 

Funny and heartwarming, Fresh Off the Boat is not only totally binge-able, but it also represents an important milestone in the portrayal of Asian-American families on the small screen. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

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Black-ish

Black-ish is brilliant. Not brilliant-ish, but brilliant. It's made by two Nightly Show writers and is about adman Andre, who thinks his kids aren't, er, black enough because they've lived in the very white suburbs all their life. This means a (car)crash course in black culture ensues. Two seasons of the show are on Amazon Prime and it's well worth a watch, filled with the warm humour ABC has brought to the world with the likes of Modern Family and The Goldbergs.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

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Casual

The final eight episode season of Casual is now available on Amazon Prime. It's about a newly divorced single mother who lives with her brother and daughter. The comedy drama is about dating, romance, families and all kinds of other modern dramas with a funny, and sometimes dark, twist. It's received a fair bit of critical acclaim over the years, but won't be returning for a fifth season. So enjoy it while you can!

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

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Catastrophe

From the minds of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney comes one of the funniest, most well-written sitcom in years. The plot is slight: a one-night stand turns into a relationship once Sharon announces she is pregnant. But the series contains some of the most cut-to-the-bone humour seen on TV. Combine this with a nice slab of pathos - nestled among many a sex joke - and what you have is a modern classic.

The third series, which recently aired on Channel 4, is now available on Amazon Prime Video - it features the last ever performance from the imitable Carrie Fisher.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

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Comrade Detective

Comrade Detective is a weird gem on Amazon. Starring Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the show is a parody of gritty American buddy cop shows and Communist Propaganda from the Cold War.

It's an unusual combination, but it works. Each episode is presented as though it's a remastered real episode of a lost Romanian Communist Propaganda series from the 80s which was used to entertain and promote Communist ideals. The entire show was filmed in Romania with Romanian actors and then dubbed over by Tatum and Gordon-Levitt.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

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New Season Added: The Tick

We like a dark twist on the superhero genre as much as the next person, and The Tick delivers it: it's about an accountant with mental health issues, who may or may not be a superhero - it could all be in his head. Peter Serafinowicz is the eponymous Tick, and despite that rather sombre-sounding plot outline, this is a black and surreal comedy worth seeking out.

Unfortunately, Season 2 of The Tick will be its last - at least on Amazon Prime. However, we're confident that this darkly funny and smart take on the superhero genre will find a home somewhere else. Its cast, creators and huge fanbase are certainly behind it with the #SaveTheTick push on Twitter.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 2

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The Grand Tour

Clarkson, Hammond and the other one are back for Grand Tour: Season 2. Well, we kind of knew that they would be as they all have massive contracts that mean we will be seeing quite a few seasons of the Definitely Not Top Gear But Quite A Bit Like Top Gear show. This season sees Clarkson drive a fast car, Hammond drive a faster car and nearly die, and the other one drive a fast car considerably slower than the rest. If you enjoy watching middle aged men burn rubber in the middle of the desert, like a scene out of Mad Max: Fury Road, then this is for you. And if we haven't quite convinced you yet - Gizmodo offered up this quote about the show: "Some men doing stuff for no clearly defined reason." Lovely stuff. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3 (new episodes weekly)

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I Love Dick

Graduating from Amazon Originals pilot to fully fledged TV show, I Love Dick is a great subversive watch. The show stars Kevin Bacon and is based on the celebrated book that looks at a married couple who are having marriage issues and their relationship with college professor, Dick. Bacon is on top form as the charismatic Dick and the show's multiple POV storytelling (Rashomon style) works well.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video TV: 1

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New Season Added: The Last Man On Earth

Not many people can find the funny in the post-apocalypse, but Will Forte has managed it with The Last Man On Earth. He writes and stars in this comedy where he is the only survivor on earth after a virus kills everyone else. The cast is brilliant, with the likes of January Jones and Kristen Wiig join him on his adventures and there’s a smattering of decent cameos too - including Will Ferrell and Jon Hamm in season 3. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 4

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The League

Created by Jeff and Jackie Schaffer and starring Mark Duplass, The League is very much a US focused comedy - based around a group of friends in an American Fantasy Football league - but don’t let that put you off as it’s nearly always hilarious. The lengths the group go to to win The Shiva - the league trophy - is great to watch, as is there balancing of trying to win week in week out with their normal lives. All seven seasons of the show are available on Prime Video. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 7

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

A new series from Gilmore Girls creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel tells the story of 1950s Jewish housewife Miriam Maisel. After her husband confesses he's been having an affair, Midge drunkenly gets on stage at a comedy club and discovers that she's utterly hilarious. In a time when women aren't encouraged to be publicly funny, Midge pursues her new-found comedic talent in the male-dominated stand up comedy world. 

Seasons to watch on Amazon Prime: 2

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Mad Dogs

The UK version of Mad Dogs was a breath of fresh air when it first aired. Well, the first season was then it all went a little too strange. This remake - green-lit from Amazon's burgeoning Originals series - takes the best from the UK version and mixes it with a plot that's a little easier to follow and humour that's more laugh out loud than pitch black.

The premise is the same: a bunch of mates go and visit one friend at his luxury villa to celebrate his early retirement, only for murder, mayhem and mind-boggling plot developments to ensue. A touch of genius is the recasting of Ben Chaplin. While he played the rich, retiring Alvo in the UK version here he gets to try his luck in a bigger and better role.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

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Mozart in the Jungle

Now into its fourth series, Mozart in the Jungle was this surprise winner at the 2015 Golden Globes, where it won Best Comedy Series. The show is a comedy set in the strange world of classical music. Gael García Bernal plays young conductor Rodrigo who replaces a retiring conductor played by Malcolm McDowell. Based loosely on a true story and created by the likes of Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, it's well worth a watch.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 4

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Parks and Recreation

Parks and Rec is a joy of a show. Originally seen as a quasi spin-off of the Office - using the same documentary style camerawork, awkward pauses, asides to camera - it soon grew from an amusing first season, about the goings on in the parks department of Pawnee, to a comedy phenomenon that spanned a fantastic seven seasons. It's not just the script that makes it great, it's also the characters - headed up by the ever-brilliant Amy Poehler.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 7

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Seinfeld

Seinfeld is comedy gold. It’s the sitcom that was self reflexive and knowing. It was about Jerry Seinfeld who was played by Jerry Seinfeld but was playing a version of himself. It’s a similar trick Larry David used when spinning off his character for the show Curb Your Enthusiasm. He even took it a step further to make a whole season of Curb dedicated to bringing back Seinfeld. Over nine seasons this show, which is essentially about nothing, will captivate you, make you laugh and think. It’s fantastic.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 9

Thrillers

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New Season Added: The Americans

The Americans was cruelly mishandled when it originally came to UK TV, so we are glad it has finally found a decent place to reside. The show is a cracking crime period thriller that follows the exploits of a couple of KGB agents posing as US citizens around the time Ronald Reagan became US president.

It may occasionally flit between the ridiculous and the sublime but you would expect nothing more from a show that's main conceit comprises characters duelling with duality. The '80s setting is fantastic, too, though there aren't enough shell suits for our liking.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 6

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The Crossing

This sci-fi thriller has a really interesting premise. A group of refugees trying to escape a war arrive in an American town looking for somewhere to live. The sci-fi twist? They seem to be from 180 years in the future. Gasp! The story centres around a local sheriff, a federal agent and a mum looking for her missing daughter. It's full of conspiracy, mystery and there might be a superpower or two thrown in for good measure. But shh, we don't want to spoil anything.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The Exorcist

There has been an influx of TV adaptations of movies recently, with many of them actually hitting the mark. The ones that succeed the most are those that take the theme/feeling of the films they are adapting and go in their own direction - Fargo is a perfect example of this. Another example is The Exorcist. Although it takes a couple of episodes to get going, the TV series is a decent spin-off of the movie, with just a slither of a thread attaching the two. 

Don't expect full-on scares, as this is definitely a slow burner. But when the exorcisms come (and there are a few) they will send a chill down your spine. The show is now into its second season, too, so you can watch the first season with the knowledge that the tale of terror is set to continue.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 2

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The Fall

Before he was whipping up a storm as Mr Grey, Jamie Dornan played an effortlessly charming and equally chilling serial killer in The Fall, a fantastic Irish drama that deserves all the acclaim it gets.

Dornan is Paul Spector, a care worker who has a sideline in killing woman. To help track him down, hard-nosed detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) heads to Belfast to try and capture the murderer. The Fall is a perfect blend of intelligent scripting, nuanced acting and a fantastic premise. Knowing who the killer is from scene one amps up, rather than releases, the show's tension.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Fear The Walking Dead

Fear The Walking Dead is a show that tries its hardest to be more than a spin-off. Set in Los Angeles, the show follows high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (a brilliant Kim Dickens fresh from Treme) and English teacher Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) as they adapt to a life after the 'zombie' outbreak. The show is slow paced, each episode is an hour and there's a 90-minute pilot, but it manages to approach the Walking Dead world in a wholly different way.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Halt And Catch Fire

Now in its fourth season, Halt And Catch Fire is another surefire hit by AMC - the folks that brought us Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Set around a fictionalised version of the computer revolution of the 1980s and the rise of the web in the '90s, Catch Fire is a fantastic look at how technology has improved all our lives, while nearly tearing apart the innovators at the same time. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 4

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Hap and Leonard

Filmed in Baton Rouge and based on the stories of Joe Lansdale, Hap and Leonard is a great swampy noir thriller of a show that’s based on the relationship of two friends and the sometimes violent scrapes they get into. James Purefoy and Michael K Williams are superb as the pair, one a Vietnam vet, the other a draft dodger. Set in the 80s, the show is similar to Cold In July, the movie from the same writer and is only six episodes long, so perfect for a binge watch.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 3

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Haven

Stephen King has had a rocky journey to the big and small screen. For every adaptation that works (Misery, Shawshank Redemption), there’s a dozen that don’t (The Langoliers, Under The Dome TV show). Haven is a strange one - it’s a show that started as an adaptation of a Stephen King short story, The Colorado Kid, and has mutated into a love letter to King and his stories. Over the course of five seasons, the show has becomes a great watch - especially if you are a King fan and can spot the many references. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 4

Update: Haven is still available via Amazon Prime Video, but it's no longer free. You'll have to pay £2.49 per episode, or buy a whole season for £13.99.

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Into The Badlands

Into The Badlands is a heady mix of brilliant martial arts and high drama as trained fighter Sunny (Daniel Wu) takes a group of people on a twisted road trip through the mystical badlands, a post-apocalyptic landscape some 500 years after a devastating war. There's plenty of bite in each episode, and it also contains some of the best fighting seen on television.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Mr Robot

It was an agonising wait for Mr Robot in the UK - the first season had all-but ended in the US before we even got a sniff of it. But its popularity meant that there was something of a bidding war to see who would show it in the UK. Amazon, Netflix and other more traditional broadcasters fought for it, proving that even bean counters can see the worth in counter culture.

Amazon won in the end and is the perfect place for a show that focuses on the exploits of hacker Elliot (a superb Rami Malek). Mr Robot is Fight Club for the Tor generation, lifting a lid on a world where what Linux kernel you use is not just a badge of honour but a way of life.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 3

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The Man In The High Castle

There have been a number of successful Amazon pilots that have made it to a full series but none have the epic potential that Man In The High Castle has. This Philip K Dick adaptation is finally available to stream - with all episodes ready for your consumption. High Castle imagines what the world would be like if Germany had won World War II and the Nazis had taken global control. Turns out it's a bit worse than us all driving around in VW Beetles and wearing Hugo Boss coats.

Season 2 is now available and expands on the mythos. Given this is a cautionary tale about what could happen when the hard right takes over America, things suddenly don't feel too far fetched.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 3

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Preacher

Amazon of a Preacher, man! Preacher is the next big comic-book adaptation and my god it's good. It takes the deranged feel of the graphic novels and translates it well to the small screen. Dominic Cooper is great as small-town preacher Jesse Custer who, inhabited by a strange spirit, starts to do God's work in a small America town with his ex girlfriend (a brilliant Ruth Negga) and an Irish vampire, played by Misfits' Joe Gilgun as his cohorts.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 3

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Ripper Street

For a show that’s steeped in murder, it’s pleasing to note that we all have Amazon to thank for breathing new life into Ripper Street. After two series of the show, which focuses on the lives of the East End of London in the 19th Century where there is a copycat Jack the Ripper on the loose, it was cancelled by the BBC. Amazon decided there was enough fan love out there, thankfully, and revived the show for three more series. Great acting masks some of the hokier moments of the script but this is all good, grizzly fun.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 5

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Sons Of Anarchy

Seemingly always vying for the top spot of Best Recently Finished Drama (we may have made up that award) with Breaking Bad, Sons Of Anarchy is a long brooding menace of a show that deserves your attention. Centred on a motorcycle gang that live by their own rules (you can probably guess what their name is from the title) the show is positively Shakespearean in its storytelling and will have you gripped from episode one.

While Ron Perlman steals the show as Clay, Charlie Hunnam's Jax is one of the best tortured souls you will see on any television show. All seven seasons of the show are now streaming on the service.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 7

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Vikings

If you have any interest in Norse mythology then the name Ragnar Lothbrok will mean a whole lot to you. Basically he was a king and powerful ruler that was a right git to the English and the French.

Vikings is a series that traces his Norse-based goings on with enough charm and scope to take on Game of Thrones in the sword and sandals stakes. Yes it takes a number of liberties with its source material but the acting is top class, as is the cinematography in a historical romp that's now deservedly in its fourth season - the second half of which is now available.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 5

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead has been reanimated more times than the zombies that harruange the group of survivors we have all come to know and love. Initially created with Frank Darabont at the helm, he left after the first season then his replacement was eventually replaced and their replacement replaced.

With this in mind, it's amazing that not only has the show consistently managed to improve season after season it has become one of the most successful series ever. Yes it sometimes slumps along slower than a zombie with its legs hacked off but give it time and it will reward you with more drama than you can shake a bloody stump at.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 9

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The X-Files

The X-Files was one of the first shows that embraced event TV. Yes, it had many 'monster of the week' storylines but creator Chris Carter managed to produce a nine-season long mythology arc that kept viewers coming back for more. That and the brilliant casting of David Duchovny as Fox Mulder and the ever-excellent Gillian Anderson and Dana Scully. With a new 10th season on the horizon, Amazon has put all nine previous seasons on to Prime - all remastered in widescreen. Lovely stuff.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 9

The best of the rest, and coming soon

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Good Omens

Before he passed away in 2015, Terry Pratchett allegedly made Neil Gaiman promise he'd adapt Good Omens into a TV series, which is what Gaiman has been working on for the past four years. The result is an addictive, bonkers yet heart-warming tale about good and evil, friendship, demons, angels and a future-gazing witch. It's brilliantly British, has one of the most stellar casts imaginable and can be binged in one weekend - or one sitting if you can't face waiting a whole night for the final few episodes. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

All or Nothing

We definitely recommend you get stuck into All or Nothing, a football documentary that follows Manchester City behind-the-scenes during the Premier League winning and record-breaking 2017/2018 season. It's an 8-part series that features all kinds of exclusive footage, from locker room pep talks with coach Pep Guardiola, and a look at the players' lives off and on the pitch. It's a must-watch for everyone from die-hard Man City fans to even those with a vague interested in footy.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 1

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Batman: The Animated Series

You've seen all the Nolan and Burton Bat flicks, and you're wisely avoiding the new Batfleck films. If you're still hankering for a Batman fix, you could do far, far worse than jumping into Batman: The Animated Series. Kicking off back in 1992, it bridges the gap of the Burton aesthetic and the comic book series, and is regarded by Batman fans as having perhaps the definitive onscreen take on the Dark Knight.

It's ostensibly a kids cartoon, but the ongoing storylines are captivating and stylishly noir-like in delivery. And to cap things off, the voice cast is superb – Kevin Conroy is an assuredly-good Batman (reprising the role for the recent Batman: Arkham games), while Star Wars' own Mark Hamill is a fantastically unhinged Joker.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 4

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Grand Prix Driver

This new Amazon Original documentary takes viewers underneath the glitz and glamour that is the surface of Formula 1, to explore the inner-workings of the 2017 McLaren team. Narrated by Michael Douglas, this documentary follows  rookie driver Stoffel Vandoorne over four episodes, as he and his team prepare for the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship. 

Season on Amazon Prime Video: 1

Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Grimm

Merge a fairy tale fantasy with a police drama and you get Grimm. It's all about Nick Burkhardt, a detective based in Portland in the US who discovers he's a Grimm. Which basically means he's a kind of mystical guardian who must keep the peace between humans and creatures called Wesen. As you might expect, a lot of the characters are inspired by Grimms' Fairy Tales, but the show draws from many other sources too to create a story that's a little like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but with fairy tale creatures.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Video: 6

Categories: Tech News

See how switching broadband could save you up to £192 a year

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:44

Broadband users that stay with their provider after their minimum term contract has ended could suffer price hikes of up to £192 a year, according to the latest research from consumer champion Which?.

The study of entry-level broadband and phone deals across the 12 biggest UK providers, some of the prices go up by a whopping 60% after the contract end - a cost that can be easily avoided if you hunt down the latest best broadband deals when your term ends.

It says that the biggest price jump Virgin Media's 50Mb contract which, after the 12-month contract ends, jumps by an extra £16 per month for a total of £192 in the year. TalkTalk also charges more after the contract ends with a 60% rise on its Faster Fibre Broadband package from £22.45 to £36 per month which is a hefty £162 over the year.

The Post Office's £24 per month contract jumps 54 percent to £37, so £156 over the year. John Lewis' Broadband Fibre hikes up by 38 percent from £27.50 to £38 aka £126 per year. Price jumps also appear on EE, BT, Sky, SSE, Vodafone and Plusnet deals.

From February, new rules mean that providers will have to notify customers that their contracts are ending and inform them of better tariffs - but only from that provider. So it pays to have a list of all the greatest broadband deals across suppliers. 

Categories: Tech News

How to watch Queen's Club tennis: live stream the 2019 championship from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:00

It's Queen's Club tennis tournament time for 2019 and this year is particularly special as it sees the return of Andy Murray who had claimed he would retire due to injury. This is looking like the former World Number 1's comeback – at a tournament he's won a record five times – which could set him up nicely for doubles at Wimbledon right after. See how Andy and the rest get on with a Queen's Club tennis live stream.

Founded back in 1890, this 129-year-old tournament is held in West Kensington and is part of the ATP World Tour 500 series – it's also one of the oldest tennis tournaments on the planet. It's also where a world's fastest serve record was set by Andy Roddick in 2004 with a smashing 153 mph mega swing.

The 2018 winner Marin Cilic defeated Novak Djokovic, both of whom will be returning this year as will 2017 winner Feliciano Lopez. All that should make for great viewing and Murray says of his return: "Once you get back on a match court, that’s when you can really test yourself. I’d imagine after here I’d get a better idea of where I’m at."

While centre court can only hold 9,000 people, you don't need to miss out. So if you want to catch all the action live, read on to find out the best way you can live stream Queen's Club tennis from wherever you are. The ace news (sorry) is that it's absolutely free to watch if you're in the UK.

How to watch Queen's Club tennis 2019 for free: UK stream

This year Queen's Club tennis 2019 will be aired on the BBC Two live, meaning it's free for anyone to watch via TV, the BBC iPlayer app or a TV player online.

Alternatively, if you're watching online, we'd heartily recommend TVPlayer.com, which offers a host of channels with a high quality stream.

Generally speaking, Queen's coverage will start at around 1pm daily.

Get a Queen's Club tennis live stream from outside your country

If you try to watch this calssic British tennis tournament from abroad while on holiday or away on business, you'll discover that iPlayer will block your progress. It isn't licensed to show the action outside the UK.

To get around that block, you can use a VPN - or Virtual Private Network - to pretend that your laptop or mobile's IP address is back in the UK. It's much simpler than it sounds, and can be done in three very easy steps:

Categories: Tech News

Rahul Sharma's new venture Revolt is set to launch 'AI-enabled' electric motorcycle in India next week

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:59

Moving from mobiles to automobiles, Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma is set to unveil "India's first AI-enabled (Artificial Intelligence) electric motorcycle" on 18th June in New Delhi.

With the launch, Rahul Sharma will also be debuting into the automobile market with the first product from his new venture called Revolt Intellicorp. Sharma had first revealed his plans of foraying into the mobility industry in April 2019. He also told that the firm is wholly owned by him with a view "to make personal mobility practical, affordable, and sustainable." While it's announced this year, the company is reportedly working on the motorcycle from nearly two years. 

About his new venture, Sharma says, "As a mechanical engineer by qualification, I always found mobility and the expanse of opportunities it offers, very intriguing. There is a colossal need for using technology to disrupt urban commute and make it cleaner and sustainable. I'm doing my bit, and I feel this is the right time for every player operating in this space to come together for the greater good of our environment. My vision is to see every household in India have access to sustainable mobility."

Everything we know about the first Revolt motorcycle

Sharma claims that the bike will ensure sustainable mobility without compromising on the power and looks of a conventional two-wheeler vehicle. Since there's a mix of AI, we expect some IoT based smart features built into the bike. 

Since the company is teasing it as the 'AI-enabled' motorcycle, it's safe to expect features like cloud connectivity, real-time location data, theft protection, in-built GPS, and smartphone connectivity. 

A few glimpses of the bike are visible in the posters and the invite, but none of the images are apparent. The most we can understand is that it resembles a lot like the street bikes from KTM and the headlights represent the company's logo. Additionally, Rahul Sharma has told BW Businessworld that Revolt Motors' first motorcycle will rely on a 250-watt lithium-ion battery. 

That's all we know about the Revolt Motorcycle as of yet, but we'll be surely reporting from the launch event to get more details.

Image credits: TechRadar

Categories: Tech News

Japan vs Scotland live stream: how to watch today's Women's World Cup 2019 match from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:53

Another day, another match to get excited about. After running England close in their opening match defeat, things don't get any easier for Scotland as they face 2011 winners Japan - an opponent up for making amends following their 0-0 draw with Argentina. How will the two teams fair, in this, their second Women's World Cup 2019 Group D match? Read on to find out how you can catch an Japan vs Scotland live stream from anywhere around the world with our instructions below.

Japan are aiming aim to reach their third straight World Cup final, having won the competition in 2011 and finished runners-up to the USA in 2015 and are strong favourites to win today's match with the bookies.

Japan have come into the tournament with a youthful side. To a certain extent that showed in the way they failed to break down their resolute opponents during their disappointing to draw to the unfancied Argentinians. 

Scotland showed plenty of determination against England, but while they may feel hard done by a borderline VAR penalty decision that led to their rival's opening goal, on the balance of play the result was a fair one. To stand any chance against Japan's attacking threat they'll need to up their defensive game.

It's all shaping up to be a fascinating World Cup encounter. Don't miss any of the action by following the instructions below and grabbing a live stream of Japan vs Scotland wherever you are in the world.

Watch a FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 live stream from outside your country

If you're in UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, we've got your viewing options listed below. If you're out of the country for today's match, you may find that geo-blocking will prevent you from watching your regular domestic coverage from abroad. You don't have to risk watching the match on a dodgy stream, however.

With the option of using a VPN service, you can tune into the match no matter where you are in the world, and its super easy to set up.

How to stream Japan vs Scotland live in the UK 

Live stream Japan vs Scotland in the US

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

As well as opening up your viewing options for the Women's World Cup, using a VPN allows you to watch all your domestic sports coverage from abroad.

How to watch Japan vs Scotland: live stream in Australia

How to watch FIFA Women's World Cup: Canada live stream 

How to watch an Japan vs Scotland live stream in New Zealand 

Categories: Tech News

The best free Android apps of 2019

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:09

It has been over ten years since Android was first outed by Google, and back then it was hard to imagine the sheer number of apps we'd have today.

There are apps for everything, and many of them are completely free, meaning you're just a few downloads away from supercharging your smartphone at no extra cost.

Admittedly, the huge quantity of apps doesn't mean they're all quality - far from it in fact, and finding the good ones can be tough.

There are tools and techniques to help, with various lists in the Play Store providing you with Editor's Picks across a range of categories, new releases and even apps that are specifically recommended for you based on your previous installs.

You can also hunt out apps that are similar to your favorites by searching for an app you have and seeing what else comes up.

And checking out user reviews and ratings can save you from downloading a dud of an app.

But even with all that, the sheer number of apps on Google Play means many of the best can often get lost, while weaker ones sometimes rise to the top.

So to make sure you never install a duff app here's our selection of the best you should install right now - each one carefully chosen to ensure you'll have a whole suite of fun, engaging and, dammit, useful apps on your phone or tablet.

We've sorted them into categories so you can more easily find what you're looking for. But make sure to check back weekly for our free Android apps of the week, which you'll find below.

Best free Android apps of the week

Each week we add two apps to this list and you'll find these two latest additions below.

Tree ID – British Trees

Tree ID – British Trees is mostly one for UK users, but if you have any interest in trees then it could be worth a download wherever you are.

The main purpose of the app is to help you identify trees. It covers trees that are either native to the UK and common non-native ones, and you can work out which one you’re looking at by answering a series of questions.

Start by picking a feature, such as the leaf, bark or flower, and the app will ask you to describe it, showing you images and descriptions of different possibilities so you can drill down. For example, if you choose to focus on the leaf, you can then pick between ‘needles’, ‘scales’ and several other kinds of leaf, then select the color. After that, the app should be able to tell what tree you’re looking at.

Once it finds the tree, it will show you photos and all sorts of details, such as where it’s typically found, how to identify it, what it’s used for, what threats it faces and even any associated mythology or symbolism.

There’s also a map of where specific trees are found in the UK, to which you can add your finds. And if you just want to browse British trees, you can do that too, with an A-Z of them built into the app.

Abstruct – Wallpapers in 4K

There are loads of wallpaper apps on Google Play, but Abstruct is one of very few that we’ve felt compelled to spend money on – and much of the app is free too.

It’s crafted by the person responsible for the official OnePlus wallpapers, and you’ll find those in this app, but there are also many, many more that he’s made that aren’t used by OnePlus.

They’re all somewhat abstract, but some are altered paintings or landscapes, while others are completely digital creations across a number of themes. There’s quite a lot of variety and many of them look absolutely stunning, especially as they’re delivered in up to 4K quality.

There are over 300 wallpapers in all, and you can get around half of them for free, while the rest are unlocked for just $1.99/£1.99.

Our favorite free Android apps for painting, drawing, sketching, design and animation.

Tattoodo

If you’re looking for tattoo inspiration then Tattoodo is a great place to start. The app has an enormous number of tattoo images, which you can browse, or you can follow tattooists to see their designs, or search for a specific style or image.

Tattoos that you like can be saved so you can easily find the image again, and Tattoodo also lets you find nearby tattoo shops, upload images of your own tattoos, book appointments and request consultations.

That’s just half the app though – albeit the half that most people will probably be interested in. But Tattoodo also lets you set up an artist account, which allows tattooists to add their tattoo studio and portfolio to the app and makes them visible to numerous potential customers.

Google Arts & Culture

We’ve written about Google Arts & Culture before, but it’s worth highlighting again, as the app has been steadily updated with new content and features.

In fact, there’s an almost overwhelming amount of content tucked away inside this free app. You can, for example, view high-quality versions of famous artworks and zoom in close for a better look at them. You can also see 360-degree videos and – with the help of a VR headset – virtual reality tours of museums and other attractions.

You can also tour many of these sites using Street View, with both exteriors and interiors covered. There are also articles, information on local events and exhibits, the ability to save favorite artworks to easily return to later, and lots more.

And if you make it to an exhibit in the real world, you can also use Google Arts & Culture to learn more about artworks, simply by pointing your phone’s camera at them. If you have even a passing interest in art or culture, this is an essential download.

Over

Over could be the app to take your social media game to the next level, as it has all the tools you need to create stylish designs full of photos, images and text, fit for Instagram, Facebook and most other social sites or even for use on posters and flyers.

The app lets you select from a range of canvas sizes, many of which exactly line up with the sizes used by popular social sites, then lets you add images and text to them, with various options available, including a range of fonts, the ability to adjust colors and positioning, and more.

Over also includes plenty of pre-made graphics to spice up your projects, and when you’re done creating you can easily share your design to other apps or save it as a JPG or PNG.

The basic tools are mostly free, but power users might want to pay for the Pro subscription, as this gives you access to more of everything: more fonts, more graphics, plus a database of templates, so you don’t have to build up your designs from scratch.

Houzz

Redecorating or improving your home can be a daunting prospect, but Houzz could make it a little bit more manageable.

It could do that by inspiring you through its library of millions of photos, showing exteriors and interiors of various styles.

It could also do that by giving you a single storefront to find and buy all the furniture and other items you need, even going so far as to let you see products in your home, using augmented reality.

And it can do that by helping you find experts – such as architects and builders – to do the hard work for you.

If you’re planning to take on the task yourself then there are also plenty of articles on hand to help, as well as the ability to ask the Houzz community for advice.

Sticker Maker

If you use WhatsApp, you’re probably aware that the service has finally added support for stickers, so as well as emojis and GIFs you can now send larger emoji-like images. But while there are plenty of sticker packs to choose from there’s also – thanks to Sticker Maker – the option to make your own.

The app first has you create a new ‘sticker pack’ which you can name, then simply load up an image on your phone and cut out the part of the image that you want to use as a sticker. You can do this freehand or use tools in the app to cut a perfect square or circle.

You can also rotate the image if you want and then save it to your pack when you’re happy. Packs can contain up to 30 stickers, but need at least three. Once you’ve made at least three you’ll be able to send the pack to WhatsApp, where you can use your custom stickers just like any others.

If you later want to add or remove stickers from the pack, you can do that. You can also make additional packs if you have more than 30 sticker ideas or just want to keep the packs themed.

Sticker Maker is a slick app, and a useful one for anyone who likes WhatsApp stickers but just wishes they were more personalized.

Pexels

Pexels is a database of photos that you can use for free for any purpose, including commercial uses, with no attribution needed (though it notes that attributions are still appreciated).

You can search using keywords or browse trending images, while tapping the photographer behind a photo will show you their other work on Pexels and let you follow them, so you never miss anything new that they upload.

You can also ‘like’ and collect photos within Pexels and if you want to take them outside the app you can easily share them with Instagram or other apps, save them as your wallpaper, or simply download them.

But Pexels also lets you become one of the photographers, as you can upload any of your own photos to the app for other people to use. However you choose to use Pexels though, it’s a slick, beautiful app.

SketchBook

SketchBook isn’t a new app, but while many of the features used to cost money, it’s now completely free, making it worth revisiting.

The features that are now free include more than 130 brush presets, customizable canvas sizes, various rulers, high quality image imports and more.

And that’s on top of all the basic tools that were already free, such as a layer editor and pen mode, all of which combine to make this one of the most generous free sketching apps available on Android.

Coming from Autodesk, the power of SketchBook should come as no surprise, but it’s an app that seemed worth the money previously and is now utterly essential if you’ve even toyed with the idea of digital sketching.

Bitmoji

Ever wanted your own custom emoji and stickers that star you, rather than a generic face? Then you should definitely download Bitmoji.

This lets you recreate your likeness in cartoon form, with loads of tools available to make the look as perfect as possible. Then you can choose an outfit and get access to dozens if not hundreds of stickers, each of which feature you.

These can be shared to various chat and social apps, but Bitmoji has deeper integration with Gboard, letting you share its stickers direct from the keyboard. It can also be linked to your Snapchat account, making your Bitmoji your Snapchat avatar.

You can alter the look of your Bitmoji at any time, so if you change your own hairstyle you can change theirs to match, or just give them a new outfit, and new stickers and customization options are being added over time, so you shouldn’t get bored.

Canva

Canva was a hit on iOS and now it’s arrived on Android, giving you a simple yet powerful way to create posters, collages, flyers, cards, Instagram posts, banners and headers for blogs or other social media, and more.

It’s a graphic design app, and one that’s intuitive from the moment you launch it. Start by choosing the type of content you want to design, then take your pick from a wide selection of ready-made templates (or search for something specific). Once that’s done, you’re ready to get editing.

You can tap on any part of a template to change it with context-sensitive tools. Tap on text, for example, and you can write something new, or change the font, size, color and spacing.

Select an image to change the color, add a filter, adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, or switch it for a different picture altogether – either one of the many in Canva or one from your gallery.

You can also drag and rotate things, and there’s unlimited undo, so you can go back as many steps as you want if you make a mess of the whole thing.

When you’re done, you can save your creation to your phone or share it online. It’s also saved in the ‘Your designs’ section of the app, which you can access from the web and other devices, so you’ll never lose a design you’ve made.

Our favorite free Android apps for shooting, sorting and editing photos and videos.

Curator

Curator claims to be the first gallery app that organizes your photos using AI entirely offline, giving you the search power of something like Google Photos, without compromising on your privacy.

It works well too. The first time you launch the app it will analyze and assign tags to all of your photos (which can take a long time), then if you search using a keyword, such as ‘beach’ or ‘cat’, it will show you every image containing that.

Curator has a nice interface too, with two themes and the ability to view albums, all images, or all of the tags that have been assigned.

Albums can be renamed and favorited, photos can be moved between albums and there are gesture controls, to help you navigate the interface faster. There are also new features on the way, such as private folders and shared albums.

If you don’t care about the added privacy offered by Curator, then Google Photos is still the better app. Not least because it backs up your images and gives you access to them from other devices, but Curator is a strong alternative for those who prefer to keep their online presence to a minimum.

Photo Map

Photo Map is simply a world map that displays your photos over the parts of the world that you took them in.

Zoom out and you’ll likely just see a single thumbnail of one of your images over each country that you’ve snapped shots in, but zoom further in and you will see photos grouped into much smaller areas too.

The thumbnails also have a number on them, telling you how many photos are in that gallery. You can easily see them all and enlarge them with a tap.

There are a few options, such as the ability to change the look of the map or add terrain or satellite imagery to it, but mostly it’s just a great and simple idea – a visual way of separating your photos based on where they were taken. This is definitely one for those who like to travel!

Photo Map is free to use, but a one-off $1.49/£1.29 IAP will get rid of adverts.

Picai

If you love slathering filters all over your photos then there’s a good chance you’ll love Picai, as it makes the process a lot smarter than most apps.

But this isn’t just a tool for sticking filters on photos you’ve already taken (though you can do that too). Rather, it’s a camera app. Simply point it at something you want to photograph and it will use AI to detect what you’re looking at, even going so far as to provide a text pop-up telling you what it sees.

From there it will automatically choose filters that it thinks would be a good fit and overlay two of them on the viewfinder – one on the left half, the other on the right. That means you can see what a filter will look like before you even take a photo.

If you’re happy with one, you can swipe horizontally across it to select it, or you can swipe up or down to cycle through filters. It’s a clever idea, well implemented and completely free.

Google Lens

Your phone might already have Google Lens built in, but if not you can now download it from the Play Store, and that’s worth doing.

Once you’ve launched the app you can point your camera at almost anything and get information on it. Point it at a book and it will give you links to reviews of the book and places to buy it. Other products also produce store links, or if Google Lens can’t definitively identify something it will suggest similar products.

You can also point it at a landmark to get information on it, at foreign text to translate it or at an event to add it to your calendar. You can even point it at plants or animals to identify them.

The results aren’t perfect. In our experience Google Lens will regularly incorrectly identify something or fail to come up with any suggestions for what something might be, especially with more unusual items, but it works often enough to be genuinely useful, especially once you get used to the kinds of things it’s likely to work with – so you know whether to even bother booting it up.

PhotoDirector

PhotoDirector is one of the more powerful and polished photo editing apps available on Android. It’s got you covered for fun filters, frames and effects, but it gives you more control than some of its peers. For example, you can adjust the strength of effects and choose to apply them globally or selectively.

You get a lot of control over the core image too, as you can adjust the white balance, saturation, hue, sharpness, tone and more.

You can also rotate, crop or mirror the image, cut out sections, adjust the perspective, and if you’ve taken a portrait remove red-eye. There’s more here, too much to list, but suffice it to say, PhotoDirector is a comprehensive app.

You’re not limited to just editing photos you’ve already taken either; there’s also a camera component, allowing you to take new shots and see how effects and filters will look before you’ve even taken a picture.

PhotoDirector is free to download and use. There’s an optional subscription for £2.59 (around US$3.70) per month if you want to unlock additional tools, remove adverts and improve the output quality, but the core app is already far more generous than most free offerings.

Just a Line

Just a Line is a simple example of the creative potential offered by AR (augmented reality). It lets you view the world through your phone camera and draw on scenes by touching the screen.

You can see your drawings from multiple angles as you move the phone around, and you can film your creations to save them or share them with others.

There’s not a whole lot more to it than that, and Google (which built the app) describes Just a Line as an experiment, so you should go in expecting a curiosity rather than a full-featured app, but it’s a fun introduction to AR that can be enjoyed by all ages.

LightX Photo Editor

There are loads of filter apps and photo fixers on Android, but LightX Photo Editor is one of a much smaller number of comprehensive editing apps.

It has plenty of filters, as well as tools for sharpening images and removing blemishes, and much more besides.

You can tweak the hue, saturation and tone, adjust the focus, add a frame, sticker or text, merge images, create collages, flip, crop and rotate, draw on pictures and change the perspective.

All of that is free, though there’s an optional IAP to remove adverts and add a few extra features.

Whether you opt for the free or paid version, LightX is a powerful, feature-packed app that should suit most mobile photo-editing needs.

Motion Stills

It’s not often that Google’s apps come to iOS before Android, but Motion Stills did, as it was designed to stabilize Live Photos, so they’d come out smoother. Now though it’s out on Android too, letting you shoot a short video clip which the app stabilizes.

Clips that you shoot can be saved as a video or a looping GIF and then shared on social media, and Motion Stills also lets you use a ‘Fast Forward’ mode, which will condense up to a minute of footage into a shorter clip. This too is stabilized, to keep it smooth, and you can pick the playback speed.

Motion Stills only works for new footage – so you can’t import and stabilize anything you’ve already shot (though if you just want to turn old footage into a GIF there are plenty of other apps that will do that).

But for anything new you shoot Motion Stills is a great way to make a GIF or short video and ensure footage remains smooth. It’s fast too, as footage is stabilized in real time, so you don’t need to wait for it to process your clip, and it’s completely free.

Google Photos

There are probably hundreds of photo apps around, but Google Photos stands out as it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos, all for free.

That's reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on Android but on iOS and computers too.

But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it's well on its way.

Our favorite free Android apps for learning new things, from history to music to coding and beyond.

SmartPlant

SmartPlant is a database of plants, including care information for most of them, such as how much and often to water them and where to place them.

You can search for a plant by name, browse by category, or scan a barcode or snap a picture for the app to identify, then you’re presented with images and details.

You can save plants to a wish list or tell the app that you have the plant already, and if you do the latter then it will add entries to an in-app calendar, telling you the optimal times of the year to do specific things with it, such as when to move it into direct sunlight.

With an optional $3.99/£3.99 monthly subscription you can also message experts to get more specific advice and answers to any plant-related questions you might have, but even the free version of the app is worth having to build up a database of your plants and get basic care instructions.

Big Bang AR

You might have read about the birth of the universe, but with Big Bang AR, you can see it. The app takes you on a journey starting 13.8 billion years ago, covering the Big Bang through to the development of Earth.

It does this with the help of augmented reality, letting you view the universe through your phone and look around by moving your handset. At points you can even do things like hold out your hand and see the Big Bang happen in your palm.

There will also be points where you can tap on things for additional information, and the journey is narrated by Tilda Swinton, so it’s engagingly delivered and it’s well worth experiencing at least once.

St John Ambulance First Aid

The St John Ambulance First Aid app isn’t new, but it is worth highlighting as it could save a life. It includes a selection of situations that you can choose from, such as ‘chest pain’ and ‘choking’, then talks you step by step through what you should do to help a person with these issues.

There are also guides to useful techniques that you might need, such as CPR, and the app – while functional rather than stylish – is easy to navigate.

Whether you ultimately choose St John Ambulance First Aid or not, we’d strongly recommend having at least one first aid app on your device - and this is one of the best.

StudySmarter

StudySmarter aims to help you do just that. When you first launch the app, you can pick your area of study from numerous categories, such as law and mathematics, then you get access to various flashcards aimed at teaching you the subject.

But better yet, you can create your own flashcards and optionally share them with the rest of the StudySmarter community. Speaking of the community, there’s also an area where they can ask and answer questions related to subjects.

StudySmarter users can also upload documents related to a subject, ensuring they have access to all their study materials within the app and also giving access to other users, and users can even add their own subjects to the app.

The result is an app with a whole lot of potential, because as the user base grows, so will the number of study aids. Right now, the content is somewhat limited, meaning it’s most useful just as a way to create and use flashcards, but as a free download that’s enough to recommend it and if enough people take to it then StudySmarter could one day be a very smart way to study.

StorySign

StorySign is designed to help deaf children learn to read, by translating children’s books into sign language.

To do this you need not just the app but supported books too, which at the time of writing in the UK is limited to just Where’s Spot?, but more are expected to be added.

With book in hand, just point your phone’s camera at the page and an animated character in StorySign will read the page in sign language. And children will know which words are being signed as the word will be highlighted. As such they’ll both be able to enjoy the books unsupervised and learn to read in the process.

While the content of StorySign is somewhat limited so far, there’s a lot of talent involved, with Aardman Animations (the company behind Wallace and Gromit) designing it and Huawei AI powering it, while Penguin Random House has partnered with it to supply classic children’s books to the app.

Even in its limited form, StorySign is well worth trying if you have a deaf child young enough to appreciate it, but we expect that this is one app that will just keep getting better as its library grows.

Scripts

Scripts is a language-learning app focused specifically on learning to write and read in Chinese, Japanese or Korean. These languages are among the trickiest to learn as each one has a unique alphabet, but Scripts gives you a fighting chance.

It does this by showing you letters from the language you choose to learn, and then taking you through short exercises which see you swipe across your screen to draw the letter yourself. Initially you’ll be swiping across an outline of the letter, but it quickly moves on to just showing the letter at the top of the screen or not showing it at all, so you really have to learn to progress.

You’ll repeat the same letter a lot, but the exercises are all bite-sized, and so is your study, as you can only practice for five minutes each day unless you pay.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as everyone should be able to fit in five minutes of learning, but if you do want more you can pay $10.99/£10.49 per month, with discounts if you commit to a year.

That gives you unlimited time, removes adverts, lets you access Scripts offline and gives you full access to Drops. We’ve covered Drops previously but it too is a language learning app, but it’s broader, rather than just being focused on the alphabet. 

Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy Kids is packed full of games and activities designed to entertain and educate young children.

From sorting objects based on their color, to selecting the right letter to complete a word, to drawing and a whole lot more, there are apparently thousands of activities in here, and while we haven’t tested that many, the ones we have tested are varied and well put together, with colorful drawings, songs and sound effects.

Most of the interactions use simple tap and swipe gestures, so most children should be able to navigate the app comfortably. A colorful character sits in the corner, and can be tapped whenever help is needed.

There’s a lot here, and Khan Academy Kids should be suitable whether you want something your kid can do on their own, or something they can play through together with you.

LingoDeer

There are a lot of language learning apps on Android, but when it comes to languages such as Japanese, Mandarin and Korean, which have different alphabet systems, most apps fall a bit flat in teaching you to read and write in the language.

But that’s where LingoDeer excels, with various exercises designed to teach you the alphabet and grammar, as well as more conventional lessons focused on speaking and hearing the language.

LingoDeer can feel a bit intimidating at times, especially if you’re a complete beginner, as these alphabets can look completely alien, but we’re not sure there’s any way around that. Learning one of these Asian languages is going to be hard, and LingoDeer is a good way to get started.

Orphic

There are so many words in the English language, including all sorts of weird and wonderful ones that you might never have come across. But how do you come across them? Browsing a dictionary is inefficient, so instead you could try Orphic, an app dedicated to the more unusual and interesting parts of English.

The app contains hundreds of words and will highlight a new one for you every day, even sending you a push notification for it if you want, so you can constantly learn new words.

You can also head into the app and explore its library of language at your own pace. For every word you can see definitions, example sentences and even hear an audio clip, so you can be sure you’re saying it right.

You can also add words to a list of favorites, so you can easily return to them later, and Orphic promises to add new words regularly, so the app should get better over time.

Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is an oddity. Part game, part learning tool, part fitness app – the only thing uniting it all is a focus on space.

There are various ‘missions’ including mini games, such as memorizing codes to repair a spacecraft, quizzes, and even physical exercises designed get you ready for an outer space adventure.

There are also videos and articles that teach you more about space and the people exploring it, while leaderboards give you extra incentive to carry out the various activities.

There’s the slightly annoying need to buy ‘coins’ or watch adverts if you want to replay missions, but otherwise Space Nation Navigator is an interesting app for anyone with even a passing interest in space. A bit more focus might help, but there’s a lot of content here.

Today in History

Today in History is exactly what it says on the tin, telling you what happened today in history, and as it turns out there’s usually a lot that happened.

The Today in History app will tell you about events, births, deaths, holidays and just about everything else significant that ever happened on the current day, and it includes pictures, text and links to Wikipedia articles (which is where it pulls its data from).

It’s an attractive app and even better if you use the widget, which shows you events from this day in history on your home screen.

Today in History also lets you download content for offline use, get notifications and – for anyone who’s not a native English speaker – switch to one of 50 different languages, a switch which cleverly will also affect the events you see, with those relevant to the culture associated with that language being prioritized.

Duolingo: Learn Languages Free

If you fancy learning a foreign language then make sure you download Duolingo: Learn Languages Free, as it's one of those rare apps that manages to be both educational and fun, ensuring that you'll keep coming back for more to brush up on your language skills, with bite-sized, genuinely useful lessons and tests.

Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Hebrew, Welsh, English, Swahili and Romanian can all be learned, it's mostly free and it's one of the best ways you can learn a new language with your Android device.

Our favorite free Android apps for having fun on your phone or tablet, through watching videos, reading, socializing and more.

AP News

AP News is an official app from the Associated Press, serving up a constant stream of news stories from around the world.

If you trust the AP for your news – and as news sources go, it’s arguably one of the most reliable – then the app is well worth having.

Beyond giving you a slick way to access its stories on your phone or tablet, the app doesn’t do much that’s overly exciting, but you can see a feed of the top stories or filter by category, and also choose which categories you do and don’t want to see, for a more customized experience.

You can also watch news videos and access AP Radio through the app, in case you prefer watching or listening to your news to reading it.

Disqus

There’s no official Disqus app on Android, but this option from Try&Catch does pretty much everything you might expect an official app for the comment hosting service to do.

You get notifications when people reply to you, and can view your comments and their replies in the app. You can also post replies from the app, and follow channels and people. And there are several themes, so you can customize the appearance.

Some things can’t be done in-app – changing your profile for example – but there are links from the app to the Disqus website to do this.

Aside from a few limitations like that, our only issue with this Disqus app is that it seemed slightly unstable in our experience, and crashed while we were using it. It seems to be regularly updated though, so we’d expect it will get more stable over time.

Novel Effect: Read Aloud Books

Novel Effect brings books to life by adding music and sound effects. The app – which is aimed at young children – listens to you reading the book aloud, so that the right sounds are played at the right time.

There’s a small selection of free ebooks included in Novel Effect, including some classics such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but to get the most out of the app you’ll need to buy or supply other books.

Over 200 books and poems are supported with more regularly added, and there are links to buy many of the supported books from Google Play Books. But if you’ve got a physical copy or an ebook in a different format that works too, you just have to tell the app what book you’re going to read and then start reading.

Curated

Curated lets you curate a list of the movies, songs, articles, podcasts, books and other content that you come into contact with.

Simply search for the content on the app or add a link, then add a short review and any relevant tags, and other users of the app will be able to read what you think. In turn, you can also see the content other people post and follow people with similar tastes to you, so it’s a way to share and find interesting new content of all kinds.

You can comment on other people’s posts, browse specific tags to find related content, and ‘save’ content that you want to remember to check out another time.

For most things in Curated’s database there will also be relevant information. For example, for a podcasts there will be links to listen to it, and for a film there will be a trailer, cast list and synopsis, so you’re not reliant purely on the comments posted by other users. It’s a good app, and with more people using it Curated could be great.

VLC for Android

VLC isn’t new; in fact, in both Android and PC form, it’s been around a long, long time. It’s also been included on this list before, but continual updates mean it’s worth highlighting again.

The app, in short, is one of the best and most powerful video players for Android. It supports just about every audio and video file format, as well as network streams, DVD ISOs and pretty much anything else you might reasonably want to play.

Subtitles and closed captions are supported, and there are various tools when playing content, including an equalizer, Google Cast support, and numerous aspect ratios. There are also gesture controls for things like volume and brightness, making them easy to adjust without digging into menus.

It’s also completely free, so while VLC isn’t the only video player app for Android, it’s probably the only one you’ll ever need.

Telegram X

Telegram is a popular, powerful messaging app, and Telegram X is that but faster, with better animations and experimental features.

That last point is both a pro and a con, since some of those features won’t be as polished or useful as you might want, but most of them are minor (such as a night mode and some customization options) and can be ignored if you want.

For the most part, Telegram X is just like Telegram, which itself is a lot like WhatsApp, but with some features that help it stand out. You can, for example, create group chats with up to 100,000 participants, and share files with no limits on the size or type.

Telegram claims to be the fastest chat app on the market (other than Telegram X). That’s a tough claim to test, but it certainly seems slick. It also uses encryption, so your chats are secure, and it works on tablets and PCs as well as phones.

The real issue with both Telegram and Telegram X is that they’re only useful if you know other people who use them. If you do, or can get people to start, then they’re well worth exploring, but that could be a tough ask.

Soon

Soon describes itself as a social bucket list app. What that means in this case is an app that lets you create lists of books you want to read, movies you want to watch, restaurants you want to try and more.

You can select from a number of categories, including games, shops, bars, museums and TV shows, then make a list of the ones that interest you. To make a list, just type the name of the thing or place and Soon will usually be able to find it in its database, complete with information like the address if it’s a place or the cast if it’s a movie.

Once you’ve read, watched, visited or otherwise interacted with a thing on a list you can tap ‘Done’, then rate and share your experience.

Soon also has a trip planner, where you can select a destination and make a list of all the things you want to see and do. You can also share this list with anyone else you’re traveling with, so you can collaborate on it.

All in all, Soon is a great app for anyone who struggles to remember the things they want to watch, visit, read, play and listen to, or just for anyone who likes making lists.

LIKEtoKNOW.it

Ever seen a picture of someone in an outfit and wondered what they were wearing or where to buy it? With LIKEtoKNOW.it you won’t have to wonder any more.

The app lets you take screenshots of photographs and can then tell you what’s being worn, as well as providing links to buy the clothes online. Or at least, it can sometimes. For any guarantee that it’s going to work, you should look out for captions containing ‘#liketkit’, the LiketoKNOW.it website link, or the LIKEtoKNOW.it logo in the bottom right-hand corner.

Those things won’t exist on most images, but a growing number of fashion influencers will make posts compatible with the service.

And that’s just one part of the app. LIKEtoKNOW.it also lets you browse images and follow influencers from within the app, and all the images of course also have links to buy the products contained within them.

By following people, you can create a feed full of content that you like, but you can also browse other feeds for specific categories, such as ‘fitness’ or ‘weddings’.

Most of the content is aimed at women, but there is a men’s category too. There’s also some kids clothes and some décor – it’s not all just outfits. If you’re female and into fashion, it’s definitely worth a look.

Amazon Alexa

The Amazon Alexa app is essential if you have an Echo device, but previously it was an app you probably wouldn’t spend much time in. That’s all changed now though, thanks to an update that aims to make it the only app you need  to control your smart home.

It’s a similar overhaul to the one Google Home got, allowing you to turn lights on and off, control your thermostat and more.

You can also control and set up aspects of Alexa from the app, of course, such as adding skills to it, managing timers and alarms and setting up Routines.

The last of those is perhaps the most interesting, as these allow you to set a custom command that will cause Alexa to carry out a custom set of actions. For example, you could set the command “Alexa, time for bed” to turn off all your lights and turn down the thermostat.

Pocket

For years Pocket has been helping people find the time to read all the articles they find online that would otherwise go ignored.

You know the situation: you’re idly browsing but don’t have much time or should be doing something else, when you happen across an article that looks interesting. Maybe you plan to read it later and then forget, maybe you just resign yourself to the knowledge that it will go unread.

But with Pocket, you can save it to a reading list so it won’t be forgotten, and make it available both offline and on just about any device with an internet connection, so you can read it wherever and whenever.

It’s a great app, but as of recently Pocket has got even better, as now you can also listen to articles you’ve saved, so you don’t even need to read them. Pocket’s look has also been updated in an attempt to make it more pleasant to read from for long periods. So if you’re not already using it there has never been a better time to start.

Letterboxd

If you’re a movie lover then you might already know about Letterboxd, and if you don’t you should. It lets you keep track of movies you’ve watched, add them to your list with a single tap, review them, give them a star rating, and say when you watched them.

It also lets you keep track of what you want to watch, thanks to a comprehensive film database and the ability to add films to a watch list – again with a single tap.

Letterboxd helps you discover films by highlighting what’s currently popular, and offering thousands of lists created by users of the app. These lists all have a theme, and while that’s sometimes as simple as someone’s favorite movies, usually it’s a lot more interesting than that, for example one list is titled “They aren’t films, they’re experiences”.

Of course, you can also make lists of your own, and Letterboxd is a bit of a social network too, letting you follow other users and comment on their lists.

Our favorite free Android apps for working out, reducing stress and crafting meals.

My Possible Self

My Possible Self aims to improve your mental health and reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety and low moods in as little as eight weeks. We haven’t yet used it for that long, but based on around a week of use it seems like it could make a real difference.

It includes 10 modules dedicated to improving different aspects of mental health. Each module has a number of fairly substantial ‘sessions’, made up of tips, examples and exercises to help you, say, manage stress or build happiness and wellbeing.

On top of that, My Possible Self also includes a mood tracker, letting you fill in how you feel every day and see a graph of your moods over time. Plus you can add ‘moments’, which are a snapshot of how you feel at any given moment, made up of text and optionally a photo.

There are other apps like My Possible Self, but this seems richer in resources than most. Having said that, it’s only currently available in the UK, and many of the modules are hidden behind a paywall of £5.99 (about $8) per month or £59.99 (about $80) per year. It’s not cheap, then, but also no more expensive than many meditation apps that are similarly focused on your wellbeing.

myCrew

myCrew is a social running app designed to help you find new runs and people to run with. Once you’ve selected your city (with options currently limited to a handful of major locations across the world, but more set to be added over time), you can browse runs that are happening in the area.

These are a mix of big, professionally organized runs and smaller scale ones organized by users of the app. Each run has a description, a distance, a map and more, and you can select to join it with a tap. Then you just need to show up and get running.

You can also host your own runs, which could be anything from a short regular route where you’d like some company, to something long and challenging. There’s a tab highlighting other people on the app too, so you can chat to people before you go running with them. 

Ultimately, myCrew is a social network and event calendar for runners, and its social approach makes it a bit different to most running apps. The only real issue at the moment is the lack of cities available, but a number of big ones such as London and New York are covered.

Workout Alerts

If you work in an office, then chances are you’re not moving around enough during the day. There are tools to help with that, such as the movement reminders that are built into some fitness trackers, but Workout Alerts goes a step further. Rather than just reminding you to move regularly, it sets you a random exercise to complete.

These exercises aren’t too taxing or time-consuming, usually just consisting of around 10-20 reps of something and taking no more than a couple of minutes, but they’re a lot better than just walking around for a minute or two, and far, far better than staying sat.

The exercises don’t require any equipment, so you can do them almost anywhere, and there are both animations and descriptions explaining how to do them. There’s even an optional modified version of each exercise which you can tackle if you’d prefer.

You can also set the days, time range and frequency that you get the Workout Alerts and for the most part it’s totally free. The only time fees appear is if you want to swap an exercise for another one or clear ‘Missed’ or ‘Skipped’ exercise stamps.

None of that is likely to be very necessary, and if you do want it you can buy credits or just pay $4.99/£4.69 to be able to do those things an unlimited amount.

Easy Pedometer

Easy Pedometer joins the many existing pedometer apps on Android, but this new option stands out in a couple of ways.

For one thing, it’s packed full of achievements you can unlock for both daily goals and more long-term objectives, such as walking the same distance as it would take to circle the Earth.

That should help keep you motivated, as should leaderboards comparing you to friends and strangers, the ability to level up when you take a certain number of steps, and a custom daily step goal.

Easy Pedometer also tells you the distance you’ve walked, your active time and takes a guess at the calories you’ve burnt from walking each day, and keeps a log of this for a year, so you can see a lasting record.

There’s a lot here and it’s all wrapped up in an attractive package. It’s an app that seems to have arrived fully-formed, with the type of feature-set and level of polish on day one that many apps take years to reach.

The only real issue we have with Easy Pedometer is that sometimes it makes you view an advert for a few seconds when moving between screens. We’d love an option to get rid of adverts with a one-off IAP, but at the moment that’s just not possible.

Woebot

Woebot was selected by Google as one of the best apps of 2018 and with good reason, as it could make a real difference to your life, especially if you’re struggling with mental health issues.

The app is basically a chatbot, but one which checks in with you daily to assess your mood and helps you work through any problems you might have, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy principles.

It tells stories with a message behind them, and provides tools and exercises to help you change your thinking, so you’ll hopefully end up feeling more positive in yourself, even if you can’t change what’s going on around you.

As well as daily check ins you can also message Woebot any time you want to chat or feel down, and while it won’t replace actual therapy it’s a handy, always available tool that you’ll likely be thankful for when you need it.

Endomondo

Endomondo is one of the oldest Android fitness apps and it’s still one of the best, thanks in part to regular updates.

It’s packed full of features, letting you track not just running, cycling and walking but also more than 60 other activities -, so if there’s a sport you do, chances are Endomondo has some tools to help you monitor it.

GPS monitoring lets you track statistics such as distance and pace, but you can also manually log indoor workouts or anything else where GPS won’t be much use.

Additionally, Endomondo can be paired with other accounts and wearables, such as the Fitbit app and heart rate monitors, allowing it to sync data with them.

With custom goals, challenges (that in some cases even have prizes) and the ability to compete with friends, there’s a lot to keep you motivated and the app itself is slick and easy to use.

All of these features are free, but you can unlock various extra tools such as personal training plans and advanced statistics if you subscribe to Endomondo Premium, which costs £9.99 (around $13) per month, though it’s only around a third of that price if you commit to a year.

Google Fit

Google’s official health and fitness app, Google Fit has been around for a while, but it’s now been overhauled and is better than ever as a result.

At the heart of the overhaul there’s ‘Move Minutes’ and ‘Heart Points’. The former records your general movement throughout the day and aims to encourage you to make small changes, such as walking up stairs rather than taking the elevator.

Heart Points reward you not just for the amount of time you’re active but for how much you raise your heart rate - a feature which really helps the app stand out.

In line with most fitness apps, the core features are still available; you can track various workouts, monitor and adjust your goals, and even get some basic customized tips and coaching, based on the activity that you do.

Seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge

Seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge promises to get you fit in just seven minutes a day, and while a longer workout might do you more good, we can’t deny that this got our hearts racing.

There’s a wide variety of exercises and workouts, with an animated man or woman showing you how to do each one, along with an optional text explanation.

So far, so standard, but Seven also doles out achievements, lets you add friends for some friendly competition and has specific training plans for different goals. For example, if you tell the app you want to lose weight, it will give you different workouts to if you want to increase your mobility.

The exercises in Seven don’t require any equipment, so you can do them from home or even your office if you have a bit of space, and you can create your own workouts too if there are specific exercises that you like.

Seven is partially free, but there’s an optional US$9.99/£9.99 monthly subscription which unlocks additional workouts, exercises and personalized workout plans. If you like the free version, it could be worth considering.

Our favorite free Android apps for making music, listening to music, finding podcasts and everything else to do with audio.


Swoot

Swoot aims to make podcasts social, by sharing what you’re listening to with any friends who also use the app.

This is primarily useful to help you find new podcasts to listen to, especially as there’s also a recommendation feature, which lets you actively recommend a podcast to friends in the app (optionally adding text to explain why you recommend it).

Swoot also has a ‘Trending’ tab, so you can see what’s popular with people who aren’t on your friends list, and beyond all that it’s a basic but competent podcast player, letting you subscribe to podcasts, download episodes so you can listen offline, and change the playback speed.

The interface could use some work – it’s fine but a bit bland in appearance, but otherwise this is a great app if you have friends who are as into podcasts as you.

Endel

Endel creates soundscapes to help you relax, help you focus, help you sleep or for when you’re on the go.

Unlike some apps such as TaoMix 2 you can’t customize the sounds, but what Endel can do is access time, location and weather data, and even your heart rate if you have a monitor and give it access to your health data, and it uses this information to tailor the soundscapes to your current situation.

Beyond picking a mode you can also set a timer if you want it to shut off after a certain amount of time, but that’s about all. This is a simple, stripped back app on the surface, that’s doing lots behind the scenes to ensure it’s properly personalized.

It’s also an attractive, easy to navigate app, so whether you want something to drown out the background noise, bring on sleep or motivate you to keep moving, Endel could be a good choice.

Louder.me

Louder.me aims to both help listeners discover new independent music, and musicians get their music out there – and maybe even win cash prizes in the process.

As a listener, you can hear samples of independent songs in the arcade section of the app. If you like what you hear you can heart it and there’s also the option to listen to the full track or add it to a playlist.

But the tournament section is perhaps the most interesting part of Louder.me. This pits the 64 songs with the highest rating in arcade mode against each other.

It pairs them up – so there are 32 pairs of songs - and lets you listen to samples (or the whole song if you’d prefer) and then say which of each pair you preferred. Over a number of rounds and eliminations a winner is ultimately declared, winning $1,000. Of course, even the losers get extra exposure this way.

As a musician you have to use the website to upload your tracks to Louder.me – that functionality isn’t offered in the app, but as a listener the app somewhat gamifies the listening experience, making for a fun twist on music discovery.

Aroundsound Audio Recorder

Aroundsound Audio Recorder is a seemingly simple audio recording app with a surprising amount to it.

It’s designed to allow you to quickly and easily record any sound with a single tap - be it a conversation, the wind in the trees, or anything else.

Recordings are saved automatically, named based on the time of day, and given a location tag. Tapping on a recording then plays it back. Simple.

You can also adjust the recording quality, pause a recording and continue the same recording later, trim a recording or edit out unimportant parts, and share recordings with people or apps as a web link, so there’s no need for others to have the Aroundsound app or to download a file in order to listen to your recordings.

You can also change the names of your recordings and add bookmarks to important points in them, so you can easily find the key parts later. These bookmarks can even have a note attached. Plus, you can back up your recordings to the cloud, so they’ll never get lost.

There’s a lot here, but most of its stays out of the way, so if you want to stick to the basics you won’t find endless buttons and toggles intruding on the experience.

Sound Amplifier

Sound Amplifier is an app from Google designed to enhance audio when using headphones. Well, we say an app, but it won’t appear in your app drawer and you can’t launch it as such. Instead, you’ll find it in the Accessibility section of your phone’s main settings screen, and only when wired headphones are connected.

Once there, you can reduce unwanted sounds, adjust the mic volume and boost or fine tune the audio from one or both sides of your headphones.

The primary purposes of the app are to make sound clearer by increasing quiet sounds without over-boosting loud sounds, and to reduce background noise so you can better focus on the audio.

It did a fairly good job in our tests, but there’s one major issue, namely the need for wired headphones. This of course is a problem for anyone who prefers to go wireless, and even more of a problem on the ever-growing number of phones that lack a 3.5mm headphone port.

The app also seems as though it could really benefit those with hearing issues, yet many such people use wireless hearing aids, which won’t be compatible with it. Hopefully Google will drop the need for wires before too long.

Radio by Deezer

Radio by Deezer is a slick if slightly basic radio player app, and although it comes from Deezer (a company known primarily for its Spotify-like subscription service) it’s free to use.

The app has around 30,000 FM and online radio stations sorted into various categories, such as ‘pop’ and ‘rock’. So you can browse them that way, or search for a specific station.

Stations that you recently played or play the most often will be added to lists on the ‘My Stations’ tab, though in a weird omission there’s no way to manually add stations to your favorites.

You can however favorite songs that are being played, but unless you have a Deezer subscription this will just show you a list of them, rather than actually letting you listen to them again.

It’s an app that needs work, but it looks good, is easy to navigate and makes for a great companion to the main Deezer service.

BBC Sounds

BBC Sounds brings all of the BBC’s live radio content and podcasts to one app, so you can listen live on your phone, and subscribe to and stream podcasts.

BBC Sounds also lets you pick up where you left off on another device, so if you get halfway through a podcast on your phone, you’ll be able to start from that point on your tablet automatically. It can also recommend content based on what you’ve been listening to, so it’s a good way to discover new things.

It’s basically iPlayer for radio (in fact the plan is for it to ultimately replace BBC iPlayer Radio) and if you listen to a lot of BBC content it’s arguably a smarter, better choice than listening on a radio or using another podcast app.

At the moment the BBC Sounds app is UK-only, but given that the iPlayer Radio app is available globally we wouldn’t be surprised if BBC Sounds is one day too.

SW True-Fi Beta

SW True-Fi Beta aims to maximize the potential of your headphones by tuning sound settings specific to the headphones you have plugged in. You do this by selecting yours from a long list of supported headphones, then True-Fi does the rest.

But you can also adjust the sound according your age and make manual tweaks to aspects of it, such as the bass.

The adjustments only work when playing music through the SW True-Fi Beta app, but that needn’t be a problem, as not only can it play local music files, it can also connect to Spotify and play music from there.

Not all headphones are currently supported, which is the main limitation of the app, but if yours aren’t then you can contact the company to ask them to be added.

1lyrics

1lyrics is designed to show the lyrics to songs as you listen to them, but handily you don’t need to play the songs in 1lyrics itself, instead it supports numerous music players, including ones that use locally stored songs, and streaming players, such as Spotify.

Just start listening to a track on your player of choice then open 1lyrics and it should show the lyrics to the current song. In some but not all cases it will even scroll them in time with the music.

Lyrics that you’ve viewed in the past are saved, so you can access them at any time, even if you’re not currently listening to the song in question, and it’s quite an attractive app, pulling in artwork for the songs it provides the lyrics to.

There are some caveats here. For one thing, it doesn’t currently work with all music players, though more are set to be supported over time. It also doesn’t have lyrics for every song, though we tried some semi-obscure stuff and it found lyrics without any issue, so you should be able to get lyrics for most things.

Anchor

Anchor is both an app for both listening to podcasts, and creating and sharing your own. It’s that second part that’s the most interesting.

You can record audio straight from the Anchor app, or import recordings. You can also add friends to a recording, even if they’re elsewhere in the world, allowing you to have a recorded conversation that you can use as a podcast.

You can add various sound effects, and rearrange and edit parts of the podcast, so you’re not limited to a single audio file.

Once you’re done you can share your podcast, not just on Anchor itself, but also on the likes of Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts. When it’s out in the world, you can use Anchor to track how many listeners it has, and which parts of the podcast are most played.

If all you want to do is listen to podcasts then there are other apps that do the job just as well or better (Pocket Casts is always a favorite), but Anchor is a slick, simple way to get into podcasting yourself.

Drum Pads – Beat Maker Go

Drum Pads – Beat Maker Go is a drum machine which lets you easily make beats on the go. There are numerous sound packs split across various genres, such as dubstep, EDM and hip-hop, and once you select one you can get tapping on the drum pad.

There are various effects that you can apply to your track, such as distortion and delay, you can create loops and save your finished pieces, then share them with friends.

Drum Pads is accessible enough that beginners should be able to have fun with it (though some trial and error will be required), but there’s enough here to appeal to more advanced users too.

Phonograph Music Player

While many of us have moved to streaming music, there is still a place for locally stored music on Android, and Phonograph is one of the better players.

Phonograph puts aesthetics and ease of use first, so it’s always pleasant to operate. The app has a Material Design look that fits with Google’s vision of Android, but it’s also packed full of album art and color, so there’s never a dull screen.

You can also customize the colors and overall theme and look of the app, while the color of the main ‘now playing’ screen will change based on the album artwork of the current track.

The layout is simple too, with your music library sorted by song, album, artist or playlist, and you can switch between views with a swipe, while most other options are no more than a tap away.

Although not as feature-packed as some players, Phonograph has a number of handy extras and toggles, like gapless playback, information and images pulled automatically from Last.fm, a sleep timer, widgets and lock screen controls.

Timbre

Timbre’s full name is ‘Timbre: Cut, Join, Convert mp3’, and that tells you almost everything you need to know about it: this is an app for cutting, joining and converting files.

But the MP3 bit in the name rather undersells it, because Timbre can also work its magic on WAV, FLAC, M4A, AAC, PCM, AIFF, Ogg, WMA, ALAC, MP4, AVI, FLV, MOV, WebM, MKV and MPEG files.

You can convert from one file type to another, which is handy if, for example, your music or video player doesn’t like a specific file type.

You can also trim down audio and video files, or combine several files into one, which you might want to do if you’re editing together a video with multiple scenes, or making a mixtape.

Those are the headline features of Timbre, but there are also tools to remove audio from a video file, split a single audio file into two parts, and change the bitrate of an audio file.

All of these things are simple to do, with Timbre sporting a clear interface, and it’s completely free as well.

Our favorite free Android apps for taking notes, writing and editing documents and generally working on the move.

Email - mail with TypeApp

In the wake of Google killing Inbox there will probably be lots of people looking for a new home for their email. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options. We’ve recently highlighted Spark as one strong alternative and Email - mail with TypeApp is another.

This has been around for a long time, has strong user reviews and is regularly updated, which is reassuring.

Features include quiet hours, read receipts, support for multiple email accounts, a unified inbox, Android Wear support, multiple themes, widgets, an integrated calendar, configurable menus and more.

Email - mail with TypeApp also has a ‘People Switch’ which puts emails from actual people at the top of your inbox, ahead of marketing emails and the like.

We’re not the biggest fans of some parts of the design – while your inboxes look good the settings screens don’t – but for features, this one’s hard to beat.

Spark

Google might have discontinued Inbox, but Spark has arrived to fill the gap. Already a hit on iOS, Spark aims to stand out from the email app crowd with handy features like a smart inbox, which puts important emails at the top.

There are lots of features aimed at helping you reach Inbox Zero too, with tools like snooze, send later, quick replies, a smart search, collaboration tools and more.

Despite offering lots of features, Spark is also easy to navigate, with a clean, simple interface that makes interacting with your email as pain-free as possible. Oh, and it’s totally free.

HiHello Contact Exchange

Business cards are a somewhat dated concept but they still serve a purpose, so in an attempt to bring them into the 21st century, HiHello Contact Exchange makes them digital and even easier to share than the physical kind.

The app lets you create multiple different cards containing different information. You might for example have a work card that contains your work email and job title, while a personal card could have your personal email and Facebook link.

Lots of different things can be added to each card though, including your phone number, website, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and more.

To share a card you just launch the HiHello app, tap on the card you want to share, tap the share button to display a QR code and then the person receiving it simply points their phone camera at the QR code to get it.

Alternatively you can email or text the card to someone, so unlike a conventional business card they don’t need to be physically present to receive it. And the card can be saved to their phone’s address book, meaning they don’t need the HiHello app themselves.

Notes by Firefox

Notes by Firefox is a very simple note-taking app, ideal if you just want to jot down basic notes without wrestling overbearing interfaces and unwanted options.

The look is minimalist, with a mostly white screen housing all your current notes. You can tap on one to open and edit it, tap the plus button to make a new note, or tap the minus next to a note to delete it. There are a few formatting options – you can create bullet points or numbered lists, add headings and use bold and italics, but that’s about it.

However, Notes by Firefox does have a few tricks up its sleeve, as it syncs between your Android device and the Firefox browser on your desktop, so you can access your notes from multiple devices, and they’re secured with end-to-end encryption.

Other than that, this is a basic app, but if you’re not a power user it should be all you need, and it’s completely free.

Quip

Quip is an office suite built for teams, as not only can you create documents and spreadsheets, you can also share them with others and work on them collaboratively.

It supports real-time messaging too and while this app will mostly be of use for teams of people who work together it could also be used for other things, such as shared grocery lists and to-do lists.

You can access it all from your phone, tablet or computer, so you’ll never be far from the work and information you need, and Quip is quite full-featured when it comes to actually creating documents and spreadsheets, as for example it supports over 400 spreadsheet functions.

You probably won’t want to make much use of them from a phone, but if you’re on a tablet then Quip is a great way to work on the move, and even on a phone it can be good for reading, editing and commenting on work.

Otter Voice Notes

Otter Voice Notes is a voice recorder, but that’s just the beginning. It also uses AI to automatically turn the recordings into written text so you can read them back rather than having to listen to them.

The app also lets you search for keywords, so you can find exactly the piece of information you’re looking for in seconds, even in long recordings. This all makes it a great tool for recording meetings, lectures and the like, especially since Otter can be trained to recognize voices and you can tag who’s talking, so that even in text form you can see the true flow of a conversation.

You can also create groups with other Otter users if you want to share recordings, and all of your recordings are saved in the cloud so you can access them anywhere and don’t have to store them on your Android device.

The text transcription isn’t perfect (though Otter claims it will get better over time if it’s you talking, as it gets to know your voice better), but it’s reasonably accurate in our experience and you can always go in and make changes to the text manually.

Files by Google

Chances are you already have some kind of file manager on your phone, but Files by Google is still worthy of attention, as it’s made by Google and has many rivals beat.

There’s two parts to it. First, the ‘Storage’ section which highlights all the ways you might be able to clear space on your device, such as by deleting duplicate or large files, moving files to your SD card and deleting rarely used apps.

Then there’s the ‘Files’ section, which is a file explorer, letting you dive into the folders on your phone so you can find, open, rename, delete or share specific files.

The whole app is colorful and easy to navigate as well, with an interface seemingly inspired by Google Now’s cards.

Our favorite free Android apps for improving productivity, whether through to-do lists, focus timers or other tools.

Firefox Send

Firefox Send is a simple but potentially very useful app for sharing files. You can upload files of up to 2.5GB in size and get a link to share them with others. The link opens a webpage that you can download the file from, so the people you’re sharing it with don’t need the Firefox Send app.

So far, so basic, but where Firefox Send goes a bit further than some file sharing apps is in the ability to set how long a file is available for – you can choose to keep the link active for 5 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day or 7 days.

You can also choose how many times it can be downloaded before expiring, with a range of options between 1 and 100 downloads. And if you want you can also set a password, so no one can download it if they happen to stumble across the link.

All of which makes Firefox Send a great option for security and privacy while file sharing, especially as it also uses end-to-end encryption. If there’s a downside it’s that there’s no option to have a file stay up indefinitely, but then we can’t think of many situations where we’d want it to anyway.

AnyList

AnyList wants to replace Wunderlist and the like as your list-making app of choice and it puts forward a good argument for why it should.

It doesn’t look like much, with a bland, functional rather than stylish design, but what it lacks in looks it more than makes up for in features.

These include categories that your list entries can be filed under automatically (with ‘apples’ appearing in the ‘produce’ section of a grocery list, for example). You can also make your own categories and move entries to different ones, or not bother with categories at all.

You can save regularly recurring items to your favorites, so they’re easy to find and add back on to a list whenever you want, hide or display crossed off items, sort items alphabetically or manually, share lists with other people and plenty more besides.

The bulk of the app is free, but for a $9.99/£8.99 yearly subscription you can unlock all sorts of extras, such as passcode protection, cloud backups, the ability to add photos and prices, and a whole lot more. It’s good value for money but even if you stick with the free version of AnyList you’ll find that it’s more feature-packed than most rival apps.

Calendar Notify

Calendar Notify is designed to make your upcoming calendar entries more visible, so that rather than having to open your calendar you can see them on your status bar, as well as optionally on the lock screen and as a widget on your home screen.

You can customize the look and size of these calendar displays and the app works with your existing Android calendar, so you don’t have to start using something else.

The core Calendar Notify app is free, but for a one-off purchase of £3.39 (around $4.50) you can unlock the Premium Edition, which is packed full of extra features, most notably a range of advanced customization options, giving you near total control over the design and layout.

Wishlist

If you ever have trouble remembering people’s birthdays then Wishlist is for you, as it lets you create a list of important dates for the people you care about. Other apps do this too, but with Wishlist you can set a notification to go off in advance of the date, so you have warning that it’s coming up.

That too can be handled by some other apps, but Wishlist does it automatically. Just set how many days before a date you want a notification and that setting will be applied to all dates in the app. Ideally, we’d like to be able to set multiple notifications – one in advance and one on the date, for example, but this is a good start.

Wishlist isn’t just for dates, either. As the name suggests, it can also be used to build up lists - in this case of present ideas for people - so each contact saved to Wishlist can have their own list of potential presents. That means if you ever see something that you think someone might like, you won’t have to buy it months in advance of their birthday or hope you remember it, you can just add it to a list.

There are fields for not just the name of a gift idea, but also website links, the price, any notes, an image, and a priority rating out of 10.

Beyond all that you can also add a phone number to any contact you add to Wishlist and can then message or call them from the app. The idea is presumably for Wishlist to become your main dialer app, though we’re not convinced you’ll want to make that change right now as the interface is quite bare bones. But for its date and list features it could make a good companion to your existing apps.

InboxIt

InboxIt doesn’t try to do everything. Rather, the app does one thing, but does it very well. That one thing is emailing things to yourself, be it photos, videos, URLs or text.

You might not think that you need a separate app to send yourself an email, but InboxIt speeds up the process. Once you’ve set the app up you simply tap the ‘Share’ icon on the content you want to send, then select InboxIt and the content will automatically be emailed to you. No need to select an email address, type out a subject or anything else.

And if you’re in the habit of emailing yourself reminders, you can do that from InboxIt too. Just launch the app, select ‘New reminder’, type one out and hit ‘Save’.

You can set the free version of InboxIt to send things to a Gmail address, which will probably suit most people just fine. But if you want to use a different email you can pay $0.99/£0.99 to unlock premium features, which also include the ability to use Gmail labels and a custom email subject prefix.

Hold

If you’re anything like us then you probably open Facebook or Twitter about 600 times a day on your phone, even when you know nothing has changed and that you should be doing something far more important.

But if you’re anything like us then you’re also motivated by rewards, and Hold gives you them for not using your phone.

Simply activate it and put your phone down, and you’ll receive 10 points for every 20 minutes that you resist the lure of your apps and messages.

These points can then be exchanged for rewards. These change over time and depend on what country you’re in, but examples include free popcorn at the cinema and free contact lenses. You don’t have to bank very many points for some of the rewards either, with many being available for as little as 20 points.

And if free and discounted stuff isn’t enough incentive to stay off your phone, how about a little friendly competition? You can link up with your pals in the app and compete to get the most points.

Your Phone Companion

Your Phone Companion is a companion app for a PC app called – you guessed it – Your Phone. The companion app itself doesn’t do much, other than allowing the main desktop app to do its job of showing your phone’s photos and SMS messages on your Windows 10 PC.

Both can be browsed, photos can be downloaded, and messages can even be sent and received on your desktop, so you don’t have to keep turning back to your phone.

While that’s ‘all’ the app does, those two features could be very useful for anyone who spends a lot of time at their computer, or who tends to email themselves photos to get them onto their PC.

It’s worth noting that Google Photos does the photo part too, and is better at it, since it’s a full-featured gallery app, but this is a good alternative for anyone not already using that.

Onedox

Onedox describes itself as a digital P.A. for your household bills, and that’s fairly accurate. The app lets you link accounts for your household bills, such as gas, electricity, internet, Netflix, Spotify and more, then shows you details of each billing, all on one screen.

The app also shows you renewal dates – so you’ll know when prices might be changing and when you can shop around for a new deal. Tapping on any account will show additional details, such as previous bills, price changes, and any notes you’ve added to the account.

It makes staying on top of your bills a lot easier and ensures you can always have a clear idea of exactly how much you’re spending.

The only downside – other than the fact that this is UK-only right now – is that not all accounts are supported. For example, some gas companies can’t currently be added.

However, Onedox is adding new companies and categories of bill all the time, so one day you really will be able to manage all your bills from one screen. Right now you’ll have to make do with managing most of them, which is still pretty handy.

Datally

Datally is probably not one of Google’s best-known apps, but it deserves to be, especially if you have any interest in monitoring or conserving your data.

The app lets you see how much data you’ve used in the last day, week or month, as well as telling you which apps are using the most data. It also has some clever extra features, two of which were added recently – so even if you’ve used Datally before it could be worth revisiting.

There’s ‘Bedtime mode’, which disables data on your phone between two times that you set, which means that apps won’t be using data in the background while you sleep.

Futhermore, ‘Emergency bank’ lets you set aside a portion of your monthly data allowance for emergencies. You decide how much and Datally will make sure you don’t use it accidentally.

These join existing features such as the data saver mode, which blocks apps of your choice from using data when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, plus you can view a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks, including information on whether you need a password for them. If you ever find yourself running low on data, then Datally is the app for you.

Inware

Inware does one thing and does it well: it tells you about the device you’re running the app on. More specifically, it tells you just about every hardware detail, from the screen size and resolution, chipset, RAM amount and battery size, to far more in depth information, like the current speed each core is running at and the serial number.

Inware can also tell you how much RAM is currently in use, how healthy the battery is, how hot the battery is, how much storage there is in total and in use, the build number, what security patch your device has, what GPU it has, the aspect ratio of the screen and plenty more besides.

It goes way more in depth than your phone’s settings screen likely will, so if you’re ever curious about an aspect of your handset’s hardware or software, this is the app for you.

Envision AI

Visual impairments are one of many things that technology has made slightly easier to live with, and Envision AI is a prime example of how tech can help.

Point your phone’s camera at whatever’s in front of you, press a button, and the AI will examine it and say out loud what it thinks it’s seeing.

Descriptions can be moderately detailed, taking in multiple objects in a scene (for example a computer monitor and the desk it’s sat on).

With common objects it all seems quite accurate, though testing it on more unusual things, such as a wooden sculpture of an elephant, led to more mixed results.

As well as scenes, Envision AI can also read out text, even if it’s handwritten (though unclear handwriting will again lead to mixed results).

So it’s not perfect, but Envision AI could make a big difference to anyone who struggles to see or read on their own.

Emma

Emma helps you keep a close eye on your money. Link all your bank accounts (including credit cards) and you’ll be able to see all their balances in one place.

But that’s just the beginning. Emma also tells you how much money you have in total across all your accounts, as well as how much debt you have, and how much money you gain or lose in total each month.

It also lists all transactions and has a good stab at putting them into categories, such as shopping, transport or bills. This also means you can see at a glance how much you’re spending in each category, which is a good way to make you more aware of your spending and potentially reduce it.

You can change any miscategorized spends, see a list of recurring payments, get a weekly breakdown of spending and income, and more.

Of course, Emma is secure too. It uses SSL 256-bit encryption, supports fingerprint locking and doesn’t store your banking credentials.

Emma is an essential app if you have accounts with more than one bank, but even if you don’t, chances are that it gives you a lot more insight into your money than your bank does. The only real downside is that it’s UK-only.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank is more than just an app. In fact, it’s a bank account, but it’s a modern one that’s entirely app-based. That means there are no branches and there’s no web access.

That could sound daunting, if the prospect of changing bank account isn’t already off-putting enough, but in fact having everything in an app keeps things simple, and there are some powerful tools here not offered by most conventional banks.

For example, it has zero ATM withdrawal fees or transaction fees when using your card abroad, it lets you temporarily or permanently lock your card in-app, and you can enable or disable contactless payments, ATM withdrawals and online payments, for extra security.

You can also send in-app requests to friends and family who owe you money (and who don’t need Starling themselves to pay you back), receive instant notifications for income and outgoings, and a whole lot more.

As for changing your bank to take advantage of all this, well, you don’t necessarily have to. After all, there’s no real downside to having two bank accounts, but if you do decide you want to go all-in with Starling Bank that’s simple too, as there’s an account switching service that does all the hard work for you.

This one’s for UK users only, but there are similar app-based banks elsewhere, such as Simple in the US.

Pet Care Diary

Pet Care Diary is a fairly simple but potentially very useful app for keeping track of when your pet needs feeding, cleaning, walking or whatever else.

Essentially, it’s like a calendar or to-do list, where you can set up events and reminders, but they’re all focused on your pet, and if you have more than one pet you can set up individual profiles for each, where you can see every upcoming event and reminder, as well as previous ones.

You can also add comments to each reminder, as well as assigning a category, such as ‘food’ or ‘veterinary care’.

Pet Care Diary is probably most useful if you have a high-maintenance pet or multiple pets with their own schedules and needs, but if you ever find yourself putting pet-related things in your calendar, or forgetting to do them, then it’s definitely worth having.

The core app is free, but for $2.99/£3.99 you can unlock the pro version, which removes adverts and lets you create an unlimited number of pet profiles, among other things.

Our favorite free Android apps for customizing and improving the security of your device.

LockBox

LockBox is a simple, secure way to store information that you want to keep handy but don’t want to risk anyone unauthorized getting access to.

The app has a simple interface letting you type out basic text notes and put them in named folders. But these notes are automatically encrypted (using AES-256 bit encryption with PBKDF2 SHA-256 and salted hashes), so they’re more secure than your average note app, and as LockBox stores data in the cloud you can access it anywhere.

The sorts of things the app imagines you storing include passport numbers, social security numbers, credit card information and the like, but you can use it for anything.

The app also requires a password or fingerprint to login to of course, so if someone gets access to your device, they won’t get access to your notes.

Hide Camera Hole

Some phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 now have punch-hole cameras cut into the screen. These eliminate the need for a bezel or notch, but it means there’s a potentially distracting circle in the corner of your phone’s display instead.

Hide Camera Hole is one of several apps that tries to address this by supplying a selection of wallpapers designed to, well, hide the camera hole. In many cases that just means a dark area where the camera is, while others will have a similar circle in the image, positioned to line up with the camera.

You can adjust colors and positioning, ensuring the wallpaper fits perfectly, and the app has wallpapers that account for both single and dual-lens cameras on either the right or left of the display. Indeed, that’s one of the main advantages to this app over some others, which are focused just on the Galaxy S10 range and don’t work with other handsets.

App Tiles

Your Android device likely has all sorts of shortcuts on its notifications screen and you can probably customize which ones are displayed, but what you probably can’t do is add shortcuts to apps.

App Tiles adds that option, letting you create up to six shortcuts to apps of your choice, meaning whatever screen you’re on you’ll always be able to swipe down to display your shortcuts, tap on the relevant app and be taken straight to it. For apps that you use a lot, this could be a real time-saver.

App Tiles is easy to set up – it doesn’t require you to change any settings on your phone, just launch it and assign apps. App Tiles does have adverts, but you’ll only have to put up with them when you’re setting it up. Once the shortcuts are in place you never have to launch the App Tiles app itself again.

Hiya

Scam callers and other unwanted calls seem to be getting ever more frequent but fortunately there are ways to tackle them, such as Hiya.

This app has a database of numbers, so it’s often able to identify who’s calling, as well as flagging spam calls. There are also tools in the app that let you automatically block ‘scam and fraud calls’, ‘suspected spam calls’ and calls from private numbers.

Hiya can also identify the sender of text messages, and there’s a Call Screener tool, which blocks calls from unidentified numbers and sends them a text message asking them to identify themselves and call back. You can also manually block and look up numbers from within the app.

It’s a handy, easy to use service, and while it’s not the only option (Truecaller which we’ve recommended before does a similar job), it’s a great choice. 

RedPapers

There are loads of wallpaper apps, but surprisingly few that will automatically cycle through designs so you can get new wallpapers on your phone without having to lift a finger. And those which do offer that service are often quite limited in terms of content.

Not so with RedPapers. This app lets you pull images from any subreddit and have them set as the wallpaper for your home or lock screen. You simply type the subreddit name, pick how often you want the wallpaper to change (with a range of options from every 10 minutes to every 1 week), pick whether to sort the wallpapers by what’s hot or what’s new, and away you go.

RedPapers itself is just a single screen where you select those options, so there’s not much to the app, and it’s not much of a looker in itself, but it’s really useful if you get bored of staring at the same wallpaper every day.

SAFE

SAFE (which stands for Security Assessment Framework for Everyone) shows you at a glance how secure your Android device is, giving it several scores out of five – one for its configuration settings, one for connectivity, one for applications and one for the operating system.

Higher is better and it factors in all kinds of things, including whether your SIM card is locked, to whether you allow installation from unknown sources, and whether you allow notifications to show their content on your lock screen.

As well as the overall score for each category you can see a list of all these factors, with ones in red being ones that aren’t secure (in the app developer’s opinion). You can tap on each of these things for more details as well as a guide to making them secure.

You probably won’t be aiming for a perfect score, especially as some things that SAFE puts in red will be intentional things that you want or need. For example, it considers location services and Bluetooth to be insecure.

Still, it’s a good way to quickly and easily assess the security of your device and tighten it up if you feel the need. SAFE might even end up highlighting some vulnerabilities that you didn’t know about or hadn’t considered, which should be enough to make it worth a download.

1.1.1.1: Faster & Safer Internet

If you ever use public Wi-Fi networks, then 1.1.1.1: Faster & Safer Internet is for you. That’s because public Wi-Fi is notoriously lacking in privacy and security. There’s a chance the provider will sell your browsing data and it also allows other people – if they have the skills – to snoop on your browsing data.

But 1.1.1.1 helps stop either of those things from happening by changing your DNS resolver to one managed by Cloudflare (the company that makes this app). It promises never to sell your data or use it to target adverts, and by browsing through Cloudflare you’re also hiding your data from any other potential snoopers.

As an added bonus, you might even get a speed boost, as Cloudflare’s DNS resolver is the fastest public one. The app is also completely free and easy to use – there’s just a single toggle to turn 1.1.1.1 on or off. That’s it.

RememBear

RememBear is a simple, surprisingly cute password manager full of bears. Simply add all your passwords to it, lock them behind a master password or fingerprint, and RememBear can auto-fill login forms with them so you never have to remember them or type them again.

RememBear can also generate new secure passwords, so you won’t have to think them up, and the data is synced across devices, so if you don’t have your phone to hand you can access your logins from a computer or other device.

You can also store credit card details, there’s end-to-end encryption and there’s a built-in browser for secure web browsing.

RememBear lacks some features offered by rivals like LastPass, such as favorites, but more features are likely to be added over time. It’s also free to use on a single device, though there’s a paid version that you’ll have to upgrade to for $35.99/£32.49 per year if you want to access your account on multiple devices.

ProtonVPN

Two of the main reasons for using a free VPN are accessing geo-restricted content and maintaining your privacy and security online.

ProtonVPN can help with both of those, and costs a lot less than most rivals. In fact, the core service is totally free, and there are no bandwidth restrictions, so you can use it as much as you want.

There are no ads either, because it’s fully funded by optional paid subscriptions (starting at around $5/£3.50 per month). These unlock higher speeds, VPN servers in more countries and the ability to use ProtonVPN on more than one device.

But for free you still get access to VPNs in three countries, and a whole lot more security than you’ll have without a VPN, as your activity will be encrypted and protected by Swiss privacy laws, and it won’t be logged.

Our favorite free Android apps for planning a holiday, checking the weather and getting around without getting lost.

Polarsteps

There are all sorts of apps designed for journaling your travels, but Polarsteps can do much of the work automatically.

The app will track where you’ve been and add photos from your travels, giving you a map and gallery of all your trips, simply by having the app running in the background on your phone.

You can make trips manually and add any photos it missed, but creating trips automatically means you’ll have at least a partial record of your adventures without doing anything.

This might sound like it would hammer your phone’s battery, but in fact Polarsteps is designed to only use around 4% each day and it doesn’t even need to be connected to the internet, which is ideal if you’re traveling somewhere where data costs extra.

You can keep your trips private or share them with friends and family, and by following people in the app you can see their journeys as they happen. Polarsteps is also nice to look at, easy to use and completely free, making it near essential for anyone who wants a visual record of their trips.

Overdrop

Overdrop is yet another weather app, but it stands out more for its widgets than its forecasting skills.

It has quite a lot of them, and many are beautifully designed, showing some combination of the weather, time, day, date and battery level. We’d be surprised if you can’t find one you like, and while some are reserved for the paid Overdrop Pro app, many are free.

Beyond that, Overdrop is a perfectly accomplished weather app, with seven-day forecasts, nice animated illustrations, and information on things like cloud cover and humidity.

Ventusky: Weather Maps

There’s a lot more to the weather than you’ll generally see in a typical forecast, and it can be a lot more interesting – and beautiful – than a simple temperature reading.

Ventusky knows this, as it makes forecasts more engaging by including an attractive weather map and wind animation, complete with the current temperature shown on the map, so you can see exactly which areas are what temperature at a glance.

Hourly forecasts let you see how the weather will change over the day and tapping on any hour or day will adjust the weather map accordingly.

You can also view weekly charts of the temperature, precipitation and wind, so you can see how much it varies over time.

Sunrise and sunset times are also available, so there’s a lot to sink your teeth into, but really Ventusky is all about that weather map and wind animation, which shows the motion and direction of the wind in a mesmerizing way.

Facebook Local

Facebook Local is all about finding events and attractions nearby. It links to your Facebook account then shows a bunch of events listed on Facebook that are near your current or home location, or another place of your choice.

Some of these will be from friends and pages that you follow, but it will also dig up other local public events, so you’re likely to discover things that you wouldn’t have found on your main Facebook feed.

You can filter events and attraction by type, date, location or time, view them on a map and add them to your Facebook calendar, so it’s simple to control what you see and keep track of what you’re interested in. You can also add your phone calendar to the app, so you can see and manage everything in one place.

More or less all of this stuff can be found on Facebook itself, but Facebook Local is a much more focused way to find out what’s going on around you, without all of Facebook’s many distractions, so it’s worth having on your phone even if you already have the main Facebook app.

Moovit

Moovit is the only app you need to navigate public transport wherever you might be in the world.

Simply enter a destination and it will tell you how to get there from your current location (or you can set a different start point).

Moovit will give you various route options using different forms of transport by default, but you can tell it to only include certain kinds of public transport, or to minimize walking or transfers.

Select a route to see full step by step instructions or get live navigation. The app will tell you exactly where to go and even alert you when you’re nearing your stop so you don’t need to stare at your phone screen the entire journey.

There are also timetables for buses and trains and you can save your favorite destinations or transit lines to quickly get directions and timetables in future.

Moovit also has widgets, offline maps, and transport information for thousands of cities in over 80 countries. We weren’t kidding when we said it’s the only public transport app you’ll need.

Trips by Lonely Planet

Trips by Lonely Planet is a visually beautiful way to share your travel experiences or view those shared by others.

It’s essentially a journaling app designed for globetrotters. Create a new trip in the app, give it a title, subtitle and cover photo, then add your choice of photos, text and maps.

Your trips can be kept private or shared publicly, you can edit them after posting, and of course you can view and favorite other people’s.

There’s a slight social element in that you can follow other users, so you’ll always see any new trips they post, but mostly this is just about seeing the world from your phone and sharing your own trips with the world.

Citymapper

Arriving in a brand new city is always exciting but it can also be a little daunting, especially if you need to get around using public transport. Citymapper is a brilliant app that brings you real-time information on public transport for cities around the world.

You can easily plan your route using all kinds of transport, from buses to ferries, and you can be kept up to date with real-time data, including any disruptions or cancellations. An essential app for any city-bound traveler.

Categories: Tech News

Google's listing reveals key specs of the Vivo Z1 Pro

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:00

Some of the key specifications of the upcoming Vivo Z1 Pro have been revealed by a Google ad listing. This was first reported by Smartprix along with a screenshot of the Flipkart ad listing. The Vivo Z1 Pro was already teased by Flipkart as they went live with a page on their platform, indicating an impending launch.

The listing doesn't reveal the date and only states that the phone is coming soon. It goes on to reveal that the Z1 Pro will have a 32MP in-display camera housed in a punch-hole cutout. The phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 chipset, making it only a second of its kind. 

Image Source: Smartprix

Vivo Z1 Pro will have a big 5,000mAh battery at its disposal and supports fast charging. Furthermore, it has a triple camera setup on the back but we don't know the kind of sensor they are fitted with. We'll know more as we near the launch date. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Categories: Tech News

These PS4, Xbox and Switch deals could be better than Prime Day's deals

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:00

You know how it is in the build up to Amazon Prime Day. You get your wish list of the best tech and gaming deals, save up some cash to splash and then Amazon goes and forgets about gamers for its biggest sale event of the year.

Last year was incredibly disappointing for console deals on Prime Day and while we've got our fingers crossed for better offers next month we'd certainly advise not skipping out on any great-looking offers that appear beforehand. 

Today we're seeing a bunch of reliable high-street merchants getting involved with the current eBay promotion that sees a voucher code knock 10% off everything on the site. Many of these brand new consoles are already discounted and now you can knock another 10% off at checkout by entering the PRICEWIN voucher code. Full details for the code are as follows: 

  • Discount: 10% off everything
  • At: eBay.co.uk
  • Voucher code: PRICEWIN
  • Expires: 23:59 Saturday June 15th
  • Minimum spend: £50
  • Maximum discount: £100

You don't have to use today's eBay voucher code on gaming though if those deals don't take your fancy. You can use it on anything on the site. Here are some category links to give you a handy head start.

Want to see what upcoming titles and tech we can look forward to in the world of gaming? Then take a look at our extensive coverage of the E3 2019 expo live from LA.

Categories: Tech News

5 things about 5G more important than the speed

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:00

5G is here, but if you think it’s all about ultra-quick downloads and web pages that are faster to load, you’re only half-right. New 5G cells will be able to transfer not just more data, more quickly, but they’ll also communicate instantly.

A real-time internet is coming, which means a real-time cloud, and the creation of a new class of electronics that can exchange data and information fast enough to make near-instant decisions. 

Cue driverless cars, drones, trains and much more besides. A tactile internet where touch becomes as important as what you see or hear. A new era of electronics where wearables, smart fabrics, and connected-everything is possible. The Internet of Things (IoT) in full bloom, but also a new, real-time economy based on an industrial-scale IoT.

None of these things will happen overnight. 5G will take years and years to significantly spread beyond 5G hotspots in urban areas. 5G won’t be egalitarian either; select urbanites (and businesses) will have it first, while everyone else will only experience it occasionally. It will be years until we all use it regularly.

However, we do know that 5G, when it happens, and if it sticks (i.e. it if makes telecoms companies significant profits), is going to be about a great deal more than just 1Gbps speed for smartphones. Here are 5 things about 5G more important than the speed: 

Clearer speech will be essential for AR, VR and telepresence on 5g, as well as for voice calls. (Image credit: WhatsApp)

1. Better quality voice calls

WhatsApp is convenient, and it’s free, but there’s another reason that more and more of us are using the messaging app to make voice calls. 

Voice calls made over WhatsApp – and any voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) service like Skype or Zoom – are much, much clearer than on the phone network. High definition voice wasn’t a priority for the designers of 3G and 4G networks, but with 5G, you can expect all voice calls and video calls to contain speech that’s clearer, sharper and altogether more realistic.

It’s about time. And it’s set to go further than simply HD with so-called Voice over 5G (Vo5G), which looks set to be an integral part of other 5G services, such as video calling, telepresence, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Sports stadiums and busy locations will get much more capacity. (Image credit: EE)

2. More capacity

5G is just as much about capacity, as it is about speed.

An important part of the 5G spec if what’s known as mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications). The result of this kind of communication is something incredible; up to a million connected devices per square kilometer. 

Why does that matter? Take a sports stadium. Put yourself in a crowd of 50,000 and, right now, you cannot get a phone signal. Want to find out other scores at half-time? Or send a text during a match? Forget it. 

However, with 5G, not only will anyone at a major event be able to get online, livestream video, and make calls, but a lot more tech will be enabled in the stadium itself. 

Why bother with those big screens, and even scoreboards, at either end of the stadium when the organizers could just make it available for anyone in the stadium to stream on their phone or tablet? It’s even possible that spectators could don a camera and livestream what they can see, in HD, to anyone at home… perhaps even in 360 degrees to anyone with a VR headset.

Away from stadiums, t 5G could be beneficial in busy places where live updates are be useful, such as in airports and train stations – bringing us better connectivity on the move.

Scania, Volvo and DB Schenker have been working on truck platooning: (Image credit: Scania)

3. Platooning

A key part of the 5G specification is URLLC (Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications), which allows for reliable, instant communications between the network and devices. 

This is what makes the era of driverless cars a very real possibility, by allowing vehicles to communicate their exact speed and position with each other in real-time. 

Known as Cellular-V2X (C-V2X), it could eventually lead to something called platooning, which will get traffic moving faster. Groups of vehicles in a connected platoon will be able to drive with a one-second gap between each vehicle, automatically matching each other’s speed and braking. The reaction time for braking could be reduced to zero.

Platooning will basically mean the vehicle at the front of the group will dictate the speed. Although it could affect all driving, the tech’s main use is for now being talked-up for trucks and haulage, not only to make goods transport more efficient, but also to reduce carbon emissions. 

“Platooning has the potential to improve traffic flows on highways and to decrease the environmental impact of transport,” says Gunnar Tornmalm, head of Predevelopment, Systems Development at Scania, who adds that drag accounts for 25% of a truck’s fuel consumption. 

“However, the technology will only reach markets broadly if vehicles from more than one brand can find each other,” he adds. A format war is never far away, is it? 

Mobile video production is set to change with 5G. (Image credit: LiveU)

4. Mobile broadcasting

You can already broadcast VR 360-degree video on Facebook, but the quality is pretty poor. It's the same story for breaking news footage, which is presently done in low resolution. 

News-gathering, live sports, and events need to catch up to the 4K era, then go way beyond to 8K, AR and VR. Could 5G transform broadcasting? 

AT&T and LiveU have just begun working to bring 5G to LiveU's HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) portable broadcast units. They’re going to test the real-world impact and performance enhancements 5G technology can have on live broadcast video production using LiveU HEVC portable broadcast units. 

This is about broadcasters taking advantage of 5G’s higher speeds and lower latency in the field. “We see 5G as a critical advancement for the broadcast industry disrupting the way breaking news, live sports, and other live events are produced,” says Avi Cohen, chief operations officer and co-founder, LiveU.

“We anticipate the technology will bring more capabilities to our customers such as multiple channels of audio, multi-camera productions from a single portable transmission solution, 4K streaming, and high-quality video return.”

The potential threat to health of 5G mobile masts will be a hot topic. (Image credit: Ericsson)

5. Human health

While 5G is always talked-up by positive changes, there will always be some negatives. 

Perhaps the biggest worry is a potential problem with health – cancer, to be precise – from the installation of many more antennas in urban areas to create 5G networks. 

In November 2018, over 180 scientists called for an independent task force to pause the rollout of 5G networks amid concerns about “potential hazards for human health”. 

The big worry is an increase in exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields, which we’re already subjected to with existing mobile phone networks and Wi-Fi routers. 

“The telecoms industry is trying to rollout technology that might have very real, unintended harmful consequences... the consequences for the health of humans, plants and animals are not discussed at all,” said Dr L Harrell, Professor of Oncology at Örebro University in Sweden. There is some evidence fueling their concerns, so expect this debate to drag on and on. 

5G Uncovered, in association with Samsung, brings you everything you need to know about the next wave of connectivity - not just how fast it's going to be, but in just how many ways it's going to change your life. Our 5G Uncovered hub is carefully curated to show everything there is to know about the next generation of connection.   

Categories: Tech News

Canada won't stop Huawei CFO extradition to US

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 07:10

The Canadian government says it has no intention of suspending the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to the US.

Meng was arrested in Canada on December 1 and is facing extradition to the US to answer charges of fraud. It is alleged that Wanzhou aided Huawei to avoid sanctions on doing business in Iran, which if proven, could have put multinational banking organisations at risk of breaking those sanctions too.

In 2018, ZTE was banned from working with US suppliers for seven years for failing to adhere to the terms of a punishment for breaching sanctions of trading with Iran. That ruling placed ZTE’s very existence at risk until a settlement was reached.

Huawei Meng Wanzhou

Meng has been granted bail and plans to challenge the extradition request at a court date set for next January, but the incident has exacerbated Huawei’s issues, heightened tensions between the US and China, while also causing a deterioration between Canada and Beijing.

US President Donald Trump has previously suggested he could intervene in the case, likely as part of a trade deal, but the idea of Canada stopping the extradition case had been mooted by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

However Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has dismissed such a proposal.

“When it comes to Ms Meng there has been no political interference ... and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed,” Freeland reportedly said in Washington.

“It would be a very dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behaviour when it comes to honouring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure.”

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, who has suggested the arrest was politically motivated. Huawei has long been excluded form the US market on national security grounds and last month the US Commerce Department prohibited American firms from doing business with the company.

This means the company’s handsets will no longer receive updates for the Android operating system from Google or access to its popular applications. The consequences of the ruling are far-reaching, with British-based chip designer ARM reportedly telling its employees to suspend all activities with Huawei.

Despite the impact on its smartphone business, the concerns about Huawei are largely based on its networking gear. Huawei has frequently denied all allegations, while the US has never produced any evidence to support its claims.

 

Via Reuters

Categories: Tech News

Never mind Prime Day, save 10% off everything at eBay today

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:36

Missed your chance last month? Don't worry, eBay is brightening up our weekend again with a fantastic voucher code smashing 10% off everything on the site until midnight on Saturday. So if you thought you'd have to hang on for those Prime Day deals next month, you might find a better deal today.

You just need to enter the eBay voucher code PRICEWIN at checkout to save 10% off anything that takes your fancy.

There are a few caveats, to consider before you head on out. There's a minimum spend of £50 and a maximum discount of £100. Usually, these eBay code only require a minimum spend of around £20, but the maximum discount is then around £60, so we prefer today's offer of course so we can make an even bigger dent in prices of more expensive tech like laptops, game consoles and TVs.

  • Discount: 10% off everything
  • At: eBay.co.uk
  • Voucher code: PRICEWIN
  • Expires: 23:59 Saturday June 15th
  • Minimum spend: £50
  • Maximum discount: £100

Let's take a look at some of the best offers we've found so far to use the eBay voucher code with. These are from big-name electronics stores on eBay. Currys, AO.com, ShopTo all have major eBay presences nowadays, usually with unique prices on new items not found on their regular websites. We've linked directly to categories below if you'd like to browse them, but take a quick look at our highlights too before you go. 

The PRICEWIN eBay voucher code goes live today at noon.

Looking for a bit of inspiration? We've rounded up the latest tech offers for a long list of products and a huge range of retailers over in our cheap deal guides

Or maybe this is the weekend your going to get that overpriced internet bill sorted via one of our best broadband deals. If you're looking to treat yourself to a new phone, be sure to peruse our roundup of the cheapest contracts and SIM-free handsets in our best mobile phone deals guide- it's definitely better than going into a phone shop on the high street. 

And if you're looking to shure up your device's privacy and access region-locked content you'd be surprised just how cheap VPN deals are this week. 

Categories: Tech News

YouTube is hiring someone to make peace with its disaffected stars

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:34

YouTube needs a heart, and is on the lookout for someone to "develop empathy" with creators – many of whom find that the pressure of planning, recording, editing and uploading videos several times a week leaves them feeling burned out and miserable.

According to a job ad spotted on LinkedIn, the new member of the YouTube crew needs experience talking about controversial and complex topics, and will ideally have a good handle on crisis management too.

As part of their hefty list of responsibilities, they'll need to "enhance the level of trust between creators and YouTube", and help boost "creator success and happiness".

That's no mean feat when creators, who are often young, with little experience of balancing work and life, are pushing themselves to breaking point to stand out amid the 400 hours of video that are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

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YouTube has already made some changes this year to take some of the pressure off popular YouTubers to spend every waking moment creating.

Earlier this year, the site tweaked its algorithm so that a creator's number of views, number of subscribers and watch time are no longer so important in deciding how often their videos pop to the top of search results.

Instead, suggested videos and search results depend more on accurate tagging of videos, and what the viewer has watched and enjoyed before. 

If you think you've got what it takes to help smooth things over even more (including a bachelor's degree and at least eight years' experience in marketing or communications), you can apply for the job on LinkedIn. At the time of writing, fewer than 25 people have put themselves forward, so it's worth a shot.

 Via PR Week 

Categories: Tech News

Huawei is putting ads on its smartphone lock screens with no warning

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:28

Huawei has had a rough few months, and things appear to be getting worse as multiple reports across the web claim the Chinese manufacturer has now pushed ads to the lock screens of its phones without alerting users, or asking for permission.

A number of disgruntled Huawei owners have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure at being greeted with a 'Booking.com' logo on their lock screen wallpaper.

It's not appearing on every handset, and it appears it's only the pre-installed background wallpapers which have the logo. If you opt for your own lock screen wallpaper, you shouldn't get the ad.

So far, Huawei P30 Pro, P20 Pro, P20, P20 Lite and Honor 10 handset owners have reported seeing the ad, but the two Huawei P30 Pros in the TechRadar office are currently Booking.com-free - so it's certainly a sporadic issue.

Why?

So far, Huawei hasn't commented on the reports, so we don't know the exact reason for its actions - but money (unsurprisingly) could well be a key driver as it looks to generate new revenue in the wake of international uncertainty about its future in the smartphone market - at least in terms of using Android.

We have contacted Huawei for a comment, and we'll update this article once we get a response. For now, you may want to change your lock screen wallpaper on your Huawei handset if you don't want to see an ad.

Categories: Tech News

Broadcom forecasts lower revenues after Huawei ban

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:07

Chipmaker Broadcom has reported a decline in Q2 revenues and has lowered its expectations for the year, blaming the ongoing difficulties at Huawei.

The beleaguered Chinese smartphone manufacturer is a major customer for Broadcom, which specialises in wireless communication chips for smartphones and other devices.

Last month, the US Commerce Department prohibited American firms from doing business with Huawei, a move which limits the company’s access to the Android operating system and key mobile components.

Broadcom Huawei

Although owned by Singapore’s Avago since 2016, Broadcom repatriated its headquarters back to the US in 2018. Unless there is a resolution to the situation, Huawei will be prohibited from procuring components from Broadcom for the foreseeable future.

The company will hope that the arrival of 5G smartphones and other new devices will stimulate the market, helping to offset any decline in revenue caused by Huawei. However, this will take time to have an impact.

"We currently see a broad-based slowdown in the demand environment, which we believe is driven by continued geopolitical uncertainties, as well as the effects of export restrictions on one of our largest customers,” said Hock Tan, Broadcom CEO. “As a result, our customers are actively reducing their inventory levels, and we are taking a conservative stance for the rest of the year.”

Broadcom’s guidance for the year now stands at $22.5 billion - $2 billion less than previously stated. Shares in the company fell as a result, as did the stock prices of several other chip firms still waiting to see what the impact of the Huawei ruling will be.

Huawei has persistently denied any accusations of wrongdoing, while the US has never produced any evidence to support its claims the company’s networking equipment represents a threat to national security.

Categories: Tech News

Samsung Galaxy Fit is now on sale in the US

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 04:07

The Samsung Galaxy Fit is now on sale for those who live in the US. You can order it from Samsung's official website where it costs $99.99 (about £90, AU$145) and it comes in either silver or black.

We don't yet have a release date for other markets around the world, but we've asked Samsung for an update on when it'll be on sale in the UK and Australia.

Samsung took its time bringing the Galaxy Fit to (virtual) shop shelves as the new fitness tracker was unveiled alongside the Galaxy S10 range back in March this year.

It was also introduced alongside a budget fitness tracker called the Galaxy Fit E, but according to Android Authority the manufacturer has confirmed it won't be bringing the cheapest version to the US. It's sure to be introduced to other markets in the coming months.

As for the Galaxy Fit, it comes with a 0.95-inch AMOLED display that sports a resolution of 120 x 240. That's 282 pixels per inch. It's water resistant too, so it can be taken in a pool. 

As for exercise, the Galaxy Fit features a heart rate monitor as well as automatic tracking for walking, running, cycling, rowing and dynamic workouts.

Battery life is estimated to be a week from a single charge, and that's something we'd like to push to the limit at the time of our review.

You can reply to smartphone notifications on the tracker, but overall you shouldn't expect a top-end level of functionality as it seems to be competing with the likes of the Fitbit Inspire HR or even the newly announced Xiaomi Mi Band 4.

Categories: Tech News

The best TV shows to stream on Stan

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 02:40

UPDATE: The first episode of the highly-anticipated Boston-set crime drama City on a Hill, starring Kevin Bacon, is now available to stream on Stan – read more about it on Page 2!

Anyone who's used the streaming service Stan knows that there's a veritable smorgasbord of great content available to stream at any given moment, which can make the decision of what to watch an overwhelming prospect.

That's why we've created the TechRadar guide to the greatest TV shows on Stan right now (in no particular order). We'll keep this best TV show list constantly updated with the latest television series that you should be watching – and also explain why they're worth your time.

City on a Hill

Image credit: Showtime

Playing like a small-screen version of Ben Affleck's bank robber drama The Town (Affleck also produces here alongside long-time partner Matt Damon), City on a Hill also deals with Boston's criminal underworld (specifically the suburb of Charlestown). Set in the early '90s, the show tells a fictionalised account of true story – namely the events surrounding Operation Ceasefire (aka the 'Boston Miracle'), which implemented a 'problem-oriented policing approach' that saw a huge decrease in youth-related gun crimes in the city. In City on a Hill, this operation is spearheaded by District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge), an African American outsider who teams up with corrupt FBI agent Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) to take on a family of armoured truck robbers (Jonathan Tucker, Mark O'Brien and James Michael Cummings) only to eventually bust open Boston's corrupt legal system. If you like movies like The Town and shows like The Wire, chances are you're going to love this. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

All American

Image credit: The CW

From the makers of Riverdale and Arrow comes the new sports drama All American, which is inspired by the real life story of retired NFL player Spencer Paysinger. The show follows an African American football star who transfers from his high school in  South L.A. to the swanky Beverly Hills High. Before long, he begins to experience how different the two worlds are despite being in the same city. Fans of Friday Night Lights are bound to enjoy All American. Stars Daniel Erza and Taye Diggs.

Seasons on Stan: 1

I Am The Night

Image credit: Stan/TNT

From Patty Jenkins, director of Monster and Wonder Woman, comes I Am The Night – a true crime thriller which explores the famously unsolved Black Dahlia murder that sent shockwaves through Los Angeles (and the world) in the 1940s. The series sees Jenkins reunite with her Wonder Woman star Chris Pine, who plays Jay Singletary, a reporter who's still haunted by the case several years later. Jay teams up with Fauna (India Eisley), a young woman who hopes to find answers about her mysterious past. Unfortunately, this leads them right into the orbit of an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist, Dr. George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), who may or may not be connected to the Black Dahlia case. Like many other Stan exclusives, new episodes of I Am The Night are fast-tracked direct from the US. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Get Shorty

Somewhat different to the John Travolta-starring movie and Elmore Leonard-penned book the show is based on, Get Shorty still sticks to the same beats while bringing its own unique take to the source material, with a new cast of characters and a grittier Breaking Bad-inspired style and black sense of humour. Instead of Chilli Palmer, we get Miles Daly (Chris O'Dowd) a discontent criminal who wants out of his murderous lifestyle. Through work, he meets Rick Moreweather (Ray Romano), a washed-up producer who owes money to Daly's boss. Sensing the movie business might just be his ticket out, Daly teams up with Moreweather to devise a plan that will (hopefully) solve all their problems. Darkly funny and stylish, Get Shorty is a terrific show (once you get over your original idea of what Get Shorty is meant to be). 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Better Call Saul

Due to the immense success of his previous show, Breaking Bad, creator Vince Gilligan was given the opportunity to create this prequel spin-off series set six years prior. The show follows the fan favourite character Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and the events of his life which led him to become the delightfully crooked lawyer we know as Saul Goodman. Similar in style and tone to Breaking Bad (though not quite as grim), Better Call Saul is a welcome continuation of a beloved franchise. Now in its fourth sesson, Better Call Saul is getting very close to the events of Breaking Bad, with characters like Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) appearing much more regularly. After the shock ending of the show's third season, it's clear that things are about to get very dark moving forward, and we personally can't wait to see Jimmy go off the rails. 

Seasons on Stan: 4

Condor

Based on the classic Robert Redford-starring political thriller Three Days of the Condor (or alternatively, the original novel Six Days of the Condor), this TV reimagining brings the action to a modern day setting and sees CIA analyst Joe Turner (Max Irons) who stumbles into a secret plan that could threaten the lives of millions of people in the name of national security. Before long. everyone in his office is assassinated, and now Joe must keep hits wits about him if he has any chance at survival. Featuring William Hurt, Mira Sorvino and Brendan Fraser in supporting roles, Condor is a thrilling show that's not to be missed.  

Seasons on Stan: 1

Billions

Exploring the high-stakes world of high finance and hedge-fund managers, Billions follows an epic battle between two New York City titans. U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) is on a mission to take down hedge-fund king Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), though the line between right and wrong is not as clearly defined as their roles would have you think. With terrific performances and exceptional writing, Billions is must-see prestige television at its finest. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

Friday Night Lights

Every once in a while, a television show will transcend the film or book it's based on to become something truly special. The TV adaptation of Friday Night Lights does both of these things. The series follows the lives of football players and coaching staff in a small Texas town. Kyle Chandler does the best work of his career as Coach Taylor, and he's ably supported by a rotating cast of young actors who will eventually go on to become big stars, such as Michael B. Jordan, Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons. Even if you don't know a thing about American football, it's easy to get swept up in the lives of these characters, which is the sign of a truly great sports film or TV show, in our opinion. Friday Night Lights is now available to stream on Stan in its entirety. 

Seasons on Stan: 5

Romper Stomper

Based on the incendiary 1992 Australian movie of the same name, Romper Stomper brings the discussion around racism in Australia back to the forefront in this confronting and provocative Stan Original series. Turning its attention on white nationalism instead of neo-Nazis this time around, this slickly-produced series stars Lachy Hulme as the heinous leader of Patriot Blue, a racist anti-Muslim group. Hard-hitting and (unfortunately) ripped from the headlines, Romper Stomper is the kind of high-quality Australian drama that we don't get very often anymore.

Seasons on Stan: 1

Breaking Bad

One of the most successful and critically-acclaimed shows of all time, Breaking Bad follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high-school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer. With death on the horizon, Walter assumes the alter-ego Heisenberg and puts his chemistry knowledge to use in the production of crystal meth, with help from his drug dealing ex-student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). How far will Walter go to provide for his family, and will they even be around when all is said and done? Truly, one of the most riveting television shows to ever hit the small screen, Breaking Bad is essential viewing.

Seasons on Stan: 5

Justified

A western series set in the modern day, Justified sees tough-as-nails U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) return to his hometown of Kentucky to dole out some seriously old-school justice. He'll also have to deal with his old acquaintance Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), a petty criminal posing as a white supremacist who may or may not get a chance to turn his life around. Seriously good stuff.

Seasons on Stan: 6

Sherlock

A fantastic reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, the series Sherlock brings world's most famous detective (played magnificently by Benedict Cumberbatch) to modern-day London where he solves crimes with his friend, Watson (Martin Freeman). Cumberbatch plays Sherlock with a borderline personality disorder, maybe even reaching into the realm of Asperger’s Syndrome. When combined with Watson's more grounded influence, the pair become an inseparable crime-solving duo. Exclusive to Stan, Sherlock is now in its fourth and final season, each consisting of three movie-length episodes. If you love these characters or British mystery shows in general, Sherlock is required viewing.

Seasons on Stan: 4

Flesh and Bone

Those who've seen the Oscar-winning film Black Swan know just how cutthroat the world of professional ballet can be, with the immense pressure placed on dancers and the constant backstabbing that takes place. Flesh and Bone explores similar territory, following an incredibly talented ballerina named Claire (Sarah Hay) who at first seems uptight and sexually repressed, but is actually hiding some seriously dark secrets some deep emotional problems. Created by Moira Walley-Beckett (producer of Breaking Bad) and with direction from David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), Flesh and Bone is a beautiful, tragic and shocking show that is worth your time.

Seasons on Stan: 1

The Shield

A cop show with a difference, The Shield follows a tactical strike team headed by Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) that is as violent and corrupt as the street gangs it faces on a daily basis. Set in the fictional Los Angeles district of Farmington, Mackey and his crew (which includes Justified's Walton Goggins) must cover their tracks so that their ghastly exploits aren't discovered by detectives Claudette (CCH Pounder) and Dutch (Jay Karnes). Somewhat of a precursor to the show Sons of Anarchy, which also deals with gangs in a fictional Californian town, stars many of the same people and is also written by Kurt Sutter, The Shield is hard-hitting drama at its finest.

Seasons on Stan: 7

Dawson's Creek

If you're in your early thirties, chances are that Dawson's Creek played a significant part in your high school years. Whether you identified with these impossibly good-looking and verbose supposed teenagers, or you just had the hots for Dawson (James Van Der Beek), Joey (Katie Holmes), Jen (Michelle Williams) or Pacey (Joshua Jackson), Dawson's Creek was surprisingly compelling viewing for a teenage melodrama. Relive your youth by watching Dawson's Creek in its entirety on Stan.

Seasons on Stan: 6

This is England '86 and '88

Following on from director Shane Meadows' semi-autobiographical masterpiece This is England (also available to stream on Stan), This is England '86 and '88 see all of the film's cast members return to continue their characters' stories in the longer format of television. With the whole skinhead scene left behind them, Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), Woody (Joseph Gilgun) and Lol (Vicky McLure) each try to find their place in the world, all to the backdrop of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Fans of the film will love these two follow-up shows, and if you haven't seen the movie they're based on, we highly recommend that, too. So far, only This is England '86 and '88 are available on Stan, though we expect that the third and final series, This is England '90, will eventually make its way to the service. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

Black Monday

If you love The Wolf of Wall Street, you're bound to love Black Monday, a new Showtime comedy series from creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Preacher). Set one year before Wall Street's catastrophic Black Monday event in 1987 (the worst fall since The Great Depression), this hilarious series recounts the events that led up to that fateful day. Starring Don Cheadle (Avengers: Infinity War) and Andrew Rannells (Girls), the show is a blisteringly funny takedown of 1980s excess and greed. Exclusive to Stan in Australia, each new episode will be fast-tracked to the service as it airs.

Seasons on Stan: 1

Who is America?

You would think that comedian Sacha Baron Cohen would be too famous at this point to dupe people into giving him ridiculous interview material, but somehow, the Borat / Ali G / Bruno creator has devised a new batch of characters that will cause his subjects to play directly into his hilariously devious hands. Who is America? aims its sights squarely on US politics, with Cohen interviewing the likes of Sarah Palin, Bernie Sanders and Dick Cheney, as well as a number of everyday Americans. His goal is the same as it's always been: to systematically reveal hypocrisy.  Whether Cohen's new characters will be as successful as his previous creations is anyone's guess, but it's great to have him back and doing what he does best. As this is a Showtime production, Stan has the exclusive rights to it in Australia — that means you can expect new episodes to be fast-tracked as soon as they air overseas. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Parks and Recreation

An Amy Poehler-led comedy series that made stars out of Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Aziz Ansari, Parks and Recreation follows Leslie Knope (Poehler), an ambitious Parks Department worker who consistently tries to make her small town a better place. Unfortunately for her, she is usually impeded by her disinterested boss, Ron Swanson (Offerman), as well the usual governmental bureaucracy that stands in the way of change. Fans of shows like The Office and 30 Rock will love Parks and Recreation.

Seasons on Stan: 7

Will & Grace

A trailblazing series that fostered equality during its initial run, Will & Grace has returned in 2017 with the reunion that fans of the sitcom have been wanting for years. The show follows a gay lawyer named Will (Eric McCormack) and his straight interior decorator roommate Grace (Debra Messing) as they struggle to find love in New York. Along for the ride are Will's flamboyant friend, Jack (Sean Hayes), and Grace's well-off assistant, Karen (Megan Mullally). The new series beings the foursome directly into today's turbulent political climate with expectedly zany results. On top of being the exclusive Australian home of the new Will & Grace series, Stan also hosts all eight seasons of the original series, so fans will be able to binge their hearts out. Now, if we could only get a Friends reunion...

Seasons on Stan: 9

The Other Guy

A refreshing Australian comedy/drama series, The Other Guy has more in common with the likes of Netflix's US series Master of None than just about any Australian show in recent memory. Starring comedian Matt Okine, The Other Guy tells dramatised versions of real relationship stories from Okine's own life – sometimes funny, other times heartbreaking, With terrific writing that focuses on character over punchlines, you should definitely give the Stan Original series The Other Guy a shot. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

I'm Dying Up Here

From Executive Producer Jim Carrey comes I'm Dying Up Here, a new dramedy series that follows a group of sardonic Los Angeles comedians in the '70s, all of which are hoping to get their big break, maybe even landing a couch spot on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Funny and quick-witted, yet sad and thoughtful, the show offers a glimpse into the struggle and dedication that goes into pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. As you'd expect from a Showtime series, the show does not shy away from the sex, drugs and hard-living lifestyles of its characters. Get on board this one early, because these kinds of shows have a tendency of not sticking around too long. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Community

Following the exploits of a particularly low-rent community college, Community is a geeky, pop-culture obsessed delight. Community's homaging of all things movies, television and video games is spot on and incredibly realised, due to top notch direction, writing and performances. Best of all, the entire series is available on Stan, with new episodes appearing on the service as soon as they air in the United States.

Seasons on Stan: 6

Friends

We all fell in love with Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe during the '90s, and now we can revisit every single one of their hilarious antics exclusively on Stan! Completely remastered in HD and presented in widescreen, this is the definitive way to watch all 10 seasons of Friends – quite frankly, the fact that we're able to watch a '90s sitcom in this kind of quality is astounding. We wish all our favourite shows from yesteryear were treated with this kind of loving attention.

Seasons on Stan: 10

Seinfeld

Perhaps the greatest sitcom ever made, Seinfeld has finally made its way onto Stan in its entirety. Not only that, the "show about nothing" has been completely remastered, presented here in both widescreen and high definition – not bad for a sitcom from the early '90s! A revolutionary series that took a few seasons to initially catch on with audiences, Seinfeld follows a group eccentric and self-absorbed friends from New York who relentlessly pick apart the people they meet and the situations they happen to find themselves in – all in the observational style of comedy that made comedian and star Jerry Seinfeld famous in the first place . Featuring enough classic characters to give The Simpsons a run for its money, Seinfeld is required viewing for comedy fans. 

Seasons on Stan: 9

Angie Tribeca

From creators Steve and Nancy Carell comes Angie Tribeca, a hilarious spoof comedy series that parodies modern cop procedural shows like CSI, Law and Order and NCIS with a nodding wink to Police Squad, The Naked Gun and Loaded Weapon 1. Rashida Jones is particularly fantastic as the titular detective, though the show is also filled with celebrity cameos, including Bill Murray and James Franco. Some may find the constant stream of goofy (and somewhat predictable) jokes a little overbearing, but if you long for the return of this kind of thing, you'll have an absolute blast with Angie Tribeca.

Seasons on Stan: 3

The IT Crowd

It's safe to assume that if you're reading this website, you're quite tech-savvy, so you'd probably have an intimate knowledge of what it's like to deal with computer illiterate people. The IT Crowd understands this frustration in a way that only those who've actually lived it can – and it's absolutely bloody hilarious. The show follows the misadventures of tech support officers Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade), both in the office and out in the real world – spurred on in part by their eccentric boss, Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry). It's like a geeky, British version of Seinfeld.

Seasons on Stan: 4

Key and Peele

With a hilarious partnership that began on the old sketch comedy series Mad TV, bi-racial comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele shot to superstardom with their own Comedy Central series, Key and Peele. Tackling a range of issues including relationships, race and celebrity, Key and Peele will leave no stone unturned in their quest to make you laugh uncontrollably. Featuring brilliant impersonations, observations and characterisations, Key and Peele is essential viewing for fans of sketch comedy.

Seasons on Stan: 5

Party Down

Another show that was taken from us far too soon, Party Down is a comedy about group of out-of-work actors (and one hard science fiction writer) who are forced to take on jobs at a catering service. Each episode takes place at a different party, furthering the characters' relationships in the process. Featuring hilarious turns from Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Ken Marino and Jane Lynch, Party Down is most certainly the kind of show that deserves to be rediscovered on Stan.

Seasons on Stan: 2

No Activity

Taking a page out of Netflix's successful playbook, Stan opted to produce its own original series this year in No Activity, a hilarious improvisational cop show in which almost nothing at all happens. Patrick Brammall and Darren Gilshenan play two detectives on stakeout who pass the time with oddball observations and banter. That's pretty much the entire gist of the series, though there is an overarching story in there, too. Highly recommended, Stan's first original series is a wonderfully inventive and funny show.

Seasons on Stan: 2

Spaced

Before they hit the big time with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright made a splash with Spaced, a hilarious comedy series about a man (Pegg) and woman (Jessica Hynes) who pretend to be a professional couple in order to get a good deal on a flat. Not only would they have to keep up the facade, but they'd also have to deal with their crazy new neighbours. Filled with geeky references and the kind of quick-fire humour that made Pegg, Frost and Wright famous, Spaced is a delightful series that many people of a certain age will immediately empathise with. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

Penny Dreadful

Cancelled as it may be, Penny Dreadful still provides us with three magnificent seasons of Victorian-era horror, fantasy and mystery. Seamlessly interweaving with classic literary horror characters, like Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Grey, Penny Dreadful is not afraid to go extremely dark and gruesome. The plot sees explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) and the powerful medium Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) recruit an American gunslinger (Josh Hartnett) in their quest to save Murray's daughter, who may have been taken by creatures of the night. A must-watch for horror fans. 

Seasons on Stan: 3

Wolf Creek

A few years ago, it would've been unthinkable to imagine that one of Australia's highest quality television shows would be small screen version of Wolf Creek, complete with the legendary John Jarratt returning to the character that made him an international star. But thanks to Stan, that's exactly what's happened, and now we've got a second season to sink our teeth into. The first season followed a woman whose family was murdered by the Outback serial killer Mick Taylor (Jarratt), leading to an epic game of cat and mouse between the two. Now, Mick is back, and this time he's set his deadly gaze on a bus full of tourists. Who will survive and what will be left of them? You'll have to watch to find out!

Seasons on Stan: 2

Supernatural

It's hard to argue with 12 seasons (and counting) and an enormously devoted fanbase – Supernatural is sometimes dark, sometimes fun and sometimes spooky fantasy show that follows the Winchester brothers as they travel around hunting demons, ghosts and creatures of all kinds. What's not to like? With its leading actors sharing an incredible chemistry that makes them come across as real brothers, Supernatural is the kind of show that fans of Buffy and Angel would totally get a kick out of. With so many episodes already available, Supernatural is the perfect binge-worthy show for fans of all things creepy and mysterious. 

Seasons on Stan: 12

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams

An ambitious sci-fi anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams adapts ten of the famous author's short stories for the small screen. Even if his name is unfamiliar to you, chances are you've watched one of the many films adapted from Dick's classic works, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly. Available exclusively through Stan in Australia, Electric Dreams tells a different story each episode, and has an incredible cast including Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, Anna Paquin and Bryan Cranston, who also acts as executive producer. A thought-provoking series that tackles a number of important ethical and political issues, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams has all the makings of a new science fiction classic. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Dexter

A show with an absolutely killer premise, Dexter is a police procedural with a twist – what if the Miami P.D.'s most talented forensics expert was also the most notorious serial killer in the city's history? Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) can't help but indulge in his murderous urges, which involve chopping people up and collecting their blood for his microscope slide collection. However, thanks to the tutelage of his cop adoptive father (James Remar), Dexter is able to focus his bloodlust on people who deserve it, in this case, murderers of innocent people. But how long can Dexter remain undetected within his department? And will his detective sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) find out about his horrendous hobby? The first four seasons of Dexter are absolutely magnificent, and while the show takes a bit of a dive after that, it remains required viewing at all times. Bloody good.

Seasons on Stan: 8

Preacher

From the surprising creative team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, more famous for writing comedies such as Pineapple Express and Superbad, comes Preacher, a violent adaption of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's classic comic series of the same name. Jesse (Dominic Cooper), a troubled Texas preacher with a criminal past, discovers that he has the power to speak as if channeling the voice of God, which in turn causes people to do whatever he says. Problem is, sometimes they take his words all too literally, often with gruesome consequences. To make matters worse, the arrival of an ex-girlfriend named Tulip (Ruth Negga) and a wise-cracking Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joe Gilgun) threaten to push Jesse back over the edge into darkness. A slow burn horror show with a dark sense of humour, Preacher is now in its second season, with new episodes fast-tracked from the US. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

Twin Peaks

One of the most classic and mind-blowing television shows of all time, Twin Peaks redefined the general public's perception of what a television drama was supposed to be like. Creator David Lynch presented the world with a standard murder mystery scenario, which would go on to become more bizarre and out there with every episode. When popular high school student Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is found murdered, FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives in the town of Twin Peaks with two agendas – to find out who killed her, and to eat some damn fine cherry pie. Peppered with a range of eccentric characters, Twin Peaks is one-of-a-kind. Also, with the new Twin Peaks reboot currently streaming on Stan, now's as good a time as any to get yourself caught up.

Seasons on Stan: 2

Twin Peaks: The Return

Sure, the original Twin Peaks series has been on this list for quite some time, so you may be asking yourself why the much-hyped series return would warrant its own entry. Those who have seen the 2017 version however, can certainly attest to this being an entirely different animal indeed. Darker and more twisted than before, the new Twin Peaks eschews the soap opera stylings of the '90s version in favour of something more akin to co-creator David Lynch's cinematic accomplishments. Prone to long stretches without dialogue and numerous trip-out sequences, this Twin Peaks recalls Lynch's own films Lost Highway, Inland Empire and even his feature-length debut, Eraserhead. Of course, Lynch has also stated that his polarising Twin Peaks follow-up, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, is the key to understanding this new series, so that may offer some insight into what this new show is attempting to do. Both the original TV series and its cinematic sequel are available to stream on Stan, so you may want to catch up on those before jumping straight into this mind-bending revival. The new Twin Peaks is bound to divide audiences once again, but the only way you'll only know which side you fall on is to take the plunge into this tenebrous abyss. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

iZombie

This wild series from Rob Thomas, the man behind Veronica Mars, has an absolutely unique premise – after having been turned into a zombie, Olivia "Liv" Moore (get it? Live more?) takes on a job at a morgue. With no control over her hunger, Liv takes starts eating the brains of murder victims, only to discover that this gives her a look into the final moments of the victims' lives. Now, her boss is encouraging her to eat brains, so that she can use her new-found powers to solve crimes (see? I told you this crazy show was unique). Based on a Vertigo comic, iZombie is one of the coolest new shows of year. Best of all, each new episode of the show is fast-tracked on Stan, with Season 3 having just kicked off in all its ghoulish glory.

Seasons on Stan: 4

Hannibal

Possibly the most gorgeously grotesque show on television (American Horror Story doesn't even come close), Hannibal follows the world's most famous cannibal psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), as he attempts to evade discovery by his friends, FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and FBI director Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). Fans of serial killer thrillers owe it to themselves to check out Hannibal, as the show manages to be even more horrifying than the Thomas Harris novels and films it's based on. It also happens to be the best-looking show currently on the air, with an operatic flair that puts most films to shame.

Seasons on Stan: 3

11.22.63

Based on the terrific Stephen King novel of the same name, 11.22.63 is the story of Jake (James Franco), a high school teacher who is tasked with travelling back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK, thus preventing the Vietnam War from ever happening. Jake arrives 3 years before that fateful day and he'll need all that time to unravel the mystery and make sure he takes out the right target. Produced by JJ Abrams and with heavy involvement from King, 11.22.63 is a riveting thriller that will have you counting the days between each fast-tracked episode.

Seasons on Stan: 1

Ash vs Evil Dead

If you're a devoted fan of the Evil Dead series of films, then Ash vs Evil Dead is enough to warrant a Stan subscription all on its own. Bruce Campbell returns as Ash, the heroic jackass who keeps letting 'Deadite' demons into the world, only to have to violently dispatch them with his trusty boomstick and chainsaw hand. Director Sam Raimi also returns, directing the visually spectacular pilot and producing with his partner since the beginning, Robert Tapert. Just as hilarious and gory as the movies that preceded it, Ash vs Evil Dead does not disappoint in the slightest.

Series on Stan: 3

The Flash

The CW has done a terrific job with its DC Comics properties, kicking off its own small screen DC Universe with the popular series Arrow. In the five years since that series came to be, the North American network has brought a number of interconnected DC shows into its stable, including Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. However, we'd argue that the strongest show in its impressive lineup is The Flash – it absolutely nails the Scarlet Speedster in a way that even the upcoming big screen version of the character looks unable to top. We put this down to Grant Gustin's incredibly charming and likeable performance as the fastest man alive, as well as the terrific ensemble cast that joins him on his adventures every week. Funny, dramatic, action-packed and filled with terrific visual effects work, The Flash is the best DC Comics show currently on television. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

The Tudors

Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Match Point), Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), The Tudors is a lavishly-produced drama that tells of the reign and marriages of King Henry VIII. You might be thinking "oh great, another costume drama", but The Tudors is far from your average period piece. Expect a story filled with sex, obsession, betrayal and political intrigue. 

Seasons on Stan: 4

The White Queen

Set during one of the most turbulent times in England's history, The White Queen follows three relentless women as they vie for the throne. To do this, they will scheme, manipulate and seduce anyone who will help them get to the top. With exquisite period detail and terrific performances (Rebecca Ferguson of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is exceptional as Queen Elizabeth), The White Queen is a must-watch for those interested in 15th Century England. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Spartacus

Before he was the showrunner for Marvel's Daredevil, Steven DeKnight worked on the gratuitously violent and sexual series Spartacus. At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's nothing more to the show than meat-headed beefcakes fighting and screwing in a 300-aping manner, but there's so much more going on – we follow Spartacus (the late Andy Whitfield and his replacement, Liam McIntyre) as he is taken into slavery and forced to do cruel and unimaginable things in the gladiatorial arena, just waiting for the day that he can finally get his revenge on slave-owners Batiatus (John Hannah) and Lucretia (Lucy Lawless). All of this culminates in one of the most satisfying season finales in recent memory. Be warned – this show is filled with grotesque violence and an immense amount of sex and nudity. It's like Game of Thrones times ten.

Series on Stan: 4

Deadwood

HBO's western series Deadwood was devastatingly cancelled before its time, but thankfully we can relive the show's harsh and brutal world on Stan in its entirety. Ex-lawman Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant, clearly loving his status as a modern day western hero) arrives in the lawless town of Deadwood to start a hardware business and provide for his dead brother's family. Before long, the crime and corruption of this town, headed by bar owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), forces Bullock back into the life he tried so desperately to leave behind. Deadwood is an utterly fantastic show.

Seasons on Stan: 3

Categories: Tech News

The Outer Worlds doesn't shy away from its Fallout roots - and that's great

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 01:23

When Obsidian Entertainment revealed The Outer Worlds at E3 2018 it was hard to ignore the radioactive elephant in the room. A dystopian sci-fi RPG with dark humor and madcap characters? Bethesda's Fallout series immediately spring to mind. 

And that comparison wouldn't necessarily be wrong. After all, Obsidian Entertainment is the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas, arguably the series' most popular title. And, following the disappointment that was Fallout 76, there's most definitely a space in our library for a whacky new RPG. 

But has The Outer Worlds got what it takes to fill void left by Fallout?

Following a hands off demo of The Outer Worlds at E3 2019, we sat down with senior narrative designer, Megan Starks, to discuss balancing dark themes, underlying politics and living in the shadow of Fallout.

 Corporations and capitalism

Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment

We've been extremely excited for The Outer Worlds but recent history has dictated that often AAA titles don't end up containing what was labelled on the can. So, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Obsidian Entertainment seems to have gone above and beyond our expectations, creating a title that masterfully walks the line between cynical commentary on capitalism and humor. 

The overarching theme of The Outer Worlds is inherently bleak. Your character awakes from hibernation amidst a conspiracy to destroy Halycon – a colony residing at the edge of the galaxy driven by big-brand corporations. In The Outer Worlds, corporations are king and Obsidian take advantage of this to deliver comedy with a bite.

A perfect example of this was showcased in the hands off demo: The mission you're given is to find a gentleman called Clive who runs the Boarstwurst canning factory. Boarstwurst, for those wondering, is a meat that's gathered from Cystypigs. As we discover on sneaking into Clive's factory, Cystypigs are oversized boars that grow disgusting pustules on their body. When those pustules are 'ripe' they are harvested for Boarwurst which is then canned. Yummy. 

Obsidian Entertainment seems to have gone above and beyond our expectations, creating a title that masterfully walks the line between cynical commentary on capitalism and humor.

There's no denying the entire 'Slaughterhouse Clive' mission is offering some sort of
commentary on animal farming practices, but it never feels like you're being force-fed a moral lesson. It's  a comparable experience to Abe's Odyssey in that the tone of humor balances out these darker themes and never makes it feel like you're getting a lecture from the developers, rather it feels like Obsidian are poking fun at our capitalist culture.

"I think it’s really interesting because the two game directors, Tim [Cain] and Leonard [Boyarsky], represent each side of the humor," Starks tells us. "Tim has a lighter, quirky funny, Futurama style of humor and Leonard is very dark and almost philosophical in it. When the two come together it strikes a really good balance."

Radioactive elephants

Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment 

However, Obsidian claims its not intentionally trying to deliver a political message and instead openly admit primary inspiration was drawn from the Fallout series. 

"Tim and Leonard wanted to create this new IP similar to Fallout - in the sense that it’s a dark apocalyptic world," Stark explains. "Here we wanted to create a future that is a slightly dystopian society. We thought 'what would be an interesting take on that but also funny?' and we just ran with that."

It's refreshing that Obsidian doesn't hide the influence Fallout has had on The Outer Worlds, especially given that studios typically will go out of their way to argue against such things.

But having Fallout as inspiration doesn't mean The Outer Worlds is a mere rehash - it stands as a game in its own right. While features such as perks, companions and combat feel particularly similar, it appears that Obsidian has taken the genre and ramped it up to 10 adding character flaws, more impactful choices and more in-depth characters. 

"I think what people are excited about with the game is - if you’re familiar with Obsidian games - we try to take it to the max."

Megan Starks - Senior Narrative Designer

"A lot of it is the setting and the humor for sure, it’s just that personality that you get with the game," Starks explains when we question what will set The Outer Worlds apart from Fallout. "I think what people are excited about with the game is - if you’re familiar with Obsidian games - we try to take it to the max.

"The things you love about the games that we make, we want to provide to you in The Outer Worlds. It is very player-choice driven, we want a really rich story but everything you do has reactivity to it and you can play the way that you want to play whether that’s good, evil, psychopath, whether you want to side with the scientists and try to save the system or whether you want to join the board and reinforce their agenda or if you want to double-cross both of them and do a lone-wolf thing. 

"I think that’s part of it. The games people already like from the studio, you are going to get that same experience here. "

Choice matters

Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment 

In the demo we watched, Obsidian's branching narrative was definitely prominent. We'll come back to Clive's Slaughterhouse, as it's the perfect example. 

In this mission alone, several choices were presented. Firstly, do you choose to take the mission which involves usurping Clive for a ballsy lady called Catherine? The next option is how you approach getting into the slaughterhouse. Do you sneak? Go guns-blazing? Or maybe smart-talk your way in? 

But the biggest decision comes when you actually find Clive, a raccoon-eyed man who makes Hannibal Lecter look like a reasonable guy. Clive offers you a lifetime supply of Boarstwurst (remember, pustules) in return for bringing him Catherine's head. The choice you make will affect the entire game- and be ready for these choices a lot. 

"We do in every way try to have the game react to what you’re doing in the world."

Megan Starks - Senior Narrative Designer

"There are a lot of examples of choice from the highest level, like do you want to be the board or a scientist or neither?" Starks explains. "Even on a small level, say if I’m playing a dumb scientist character and I make certain choices in dialogue, other people will react to that and the dialogue will play out in different ways."

Starks presented the example of Marauder-infested areas, which can be cleared out. If you choose to do so then you may find wildlife take over the area later in the game. Similarly other choices affect character reactions (including whether companions choose to abandon you), narrative and environment. "We do in every way try to have the game react to what you’re doing in the world," Starks explains.

From what we've seen, The Outer Worlds looks like Obsidian Entertainment at peak form offering an tongue-in-cheek RPG that doesn't shy away from the grimmer aspects of our potential dystopian future. And we can't wait to get our hands on it.

  • E3 2019 is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor. 
Categories: Tech News

Forget Rocket League, Roller Champions is the new best PVP sports game

Latest Tech News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 01:09

You have to give Rocket League a lot of credit – it pioneered a new wave of action sports games. Riding that wave is Roller Champions, a new free-to-play game from Ubisoft that blends the best of Rocket League with roller derby and it’s outstanding.

The basic premise of the game is that two teams of three players work together to bring a ball around an arena one, two or three times before shooting into a hoop that’s hanging on the wall. The number of times you go around the track impacts how many points each goal is worth (either one, three or five points, respectively) and the first to five points wins. Preventing you from scoring, of course, is the other team of players, who'll try to tackle you and take the ball away. 

What makes this game special – and my new favorite PVP sports game – is that, besides being free-to-play, it’s easier to pick up and play than Rocket League.

Beginners welcome, pros wanted

While Rocket League really plays like a motorized soccer game where you use cars to push a ball from one end of the field to the other, Roller Champions is a bit like playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and basketball simultaneously. It's a wild combination that works surprisingly well – and, difficult as it may sound, it's actually much easier than Rocket League to pick up and play for new players.

That's not to say Rocket League is hard per se, or impossible to master, but it's a game that starts off easy and very, very quickly becomes more difficult as you try to outmaneuver your opponents. Rocket League’s issue, and one I’ve always thought was holding it back, is that basic skills required to play the game – namely, passing and shooting – require extraordinary timing to pull off. 

Roller Champions eschews all that for a control scheme that you can largely pick up within the first minute. There’s pass, shoot and tackle, all of which are mapped to a single button. There are more complicated control mechanics here that will separate the novices from the pros like pumping (i.e. picking up speed when going down an incline) and dodging (which can be done when you're holding the ball) but the bare bones mechanics don’t require an extraordinarily high level of skill.

It’s mechanics like those that will help Roller Champions foster a dedicated online community and, perhaps one day, a small eSports scene in the same vein as Rocket League. Until then, I’m totally fine for Roller Champions to be the English Football League to Rocket League’s Premier League.

Image Credit: Ubisoft

The battle of the ball

And look, on a very basic level, Roller Champions and Rocket League share a lot in common: they’re both three-on-three competitive games that have a similar aesthetic. They both task your team to work together to move the ball from Point A to Point B. And, most importantly, they let one person on your team (sometimes more) just be a total troll. 

That last part is an important aspect in both games. 

In Rocket League, having someone guard the goal is a pretty effective strategy – same as it is in Roller Champions. But Champions ramps the troll-meter up a bit by allowing you to tackle anyone on the other team at any point – whether they’re carrying the ball or not. 

Not only is tackling a lot easier to pull off in Roller Champions but it offers the same joyful feeling you got from playing NFL Blitz or NHL Hitz. The result can only be described as euphoria as you watch your opponent who, very likely didn’t see you coming, pick themselves up from the ground as you skate away.

Image Credit: Ubisoft

Better with friends, but not bad by yourself

OK, admittedly that last bit might make me sound like a horrible troll who goes around griefing his opponents. I promise I don’t do that… often. Most of the time I’m focused on being a good teammate by setting up a block, passing a long ball down the track or taking a hit for the team. 

All of that coordination is obviously more fun (and more cohesive) when you’re playing with a friend. But the best part about Roller Champions being so easy to pick up and play is that it doesn’t matter as much who you get partnered with – it’s fairly easy to get back into a groove no matter who your teammates are. 

Rocket League, because of its high skill cap can be really intimidating for new players and frustrating for folks who want the best teammates – which, really isn't a lot of fun for either player.

You'll still be able to out-maneuver and out-play your opponents once you get good at Roller Champions, but your teammates won’t be as bad, or rather, can’t be as bad as they are in Rocket League because of how easy the game is to control. For that reason, it’s the game we’ll switch over to when it comes to PC in 2020. 

  • E3 2019 is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor. 
Categories: Tech News

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