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At this year's Discover event in Las Vegas, HPE announced a new storage platform called HPE Primera designed to deliver superior simplicity, availability and performance for mission critical applications.
HPE Primera leverages the company's AI platform, InfoSight, to deliver several breakthroughs including 93 percent less time spent managing storage, the ability to predict and prevent issues and accelerate application performance.
Businesses are currently in the process of bringing new mission-critical applications to market while supporting their existing applications with the aim of accelerating the speed of business, agility and innovation. However, IT departments struggle to keep up with these demands because they are too busy administering, tuning and supporting infrastructure which results in IT sacrificing agility for reliability.
- HPE to acquire supercomputer maker Cray in $1.3bn deal
- Dropbox launches cold storage
- HPE: Why edge computing is the key to power your future
HPE Primera was designed to eliminate these compromises by blending advances from across HPE's storage portfolio.HPE Primera
HPE designed its new storage platform with the intention of deliver a simple, consumer-grade user experience for mission-critical storage and HPE Primera can be self-installed in less than 20 minutes. The platform even makes it easy to manage storage which can be provisioned within seconds and data reduction is built-in and always-on, though users have the flexibility to turn it off.
Customers will also have the choice to deploy HPE Primera as a service with a fully managed experience where they only pay for what they use through HPE GreenLake.
However, the most interesting news from the company's announcement is the fact that HPE Primera will come standard with HPE Proactive Care and 100 percent data availability guarantee without requiring any special contracts or onerous terms.
SVP and general manager at HPE Storage, Milan Shetti explained how leveraging AI will make it easier for companies to harness their data, saying:
“Intelligence changes everything. Today’s organizations need a fundamentally new approach to infrastructure operations with an intelligent data strategy. HPE Primera leverages HPE’s unique Intelligent Data Platform to deliver unmatched simplicity, availability, and performance for mission-critical applications, so businesses can focus on harnessing data to drive their business forward.”
HPE Primera will be available in August and the new storage line will come in three different models: HPE Primera 630, HPE Primera 650 and HPE Primera 670.
- We've also highlighted the best cloud storage
If you're looking for a killer deal on the Apple Watch, then you're in luck. For a limited time, you can get the Apple Watch Series 3 on sale for $199 at Walmart. That's an $80 discount and lowest price we've found for the smartwatch. Walmart also has the Apple Watch 3 with Cellular on sale for $299.
The Apple Watch 3 is like having an iPhone on your wrist with bonus health features. You can track popular workouts, measure calories burned, and set goals to keep you moving throughout the day. The smartwatch also offers heart rate monitoring and will even notify you when an unusually high or low heart rate is detected. You'll also stay connected with the Apple watch with the ability to receive notifications, make calls, send messages and more. The waterproof smartwatch includes GPS technology and offers an impressive battery life of 18 hours.
This is not only a great deal but also a fantastic price for a feature-rich smartwatch. Amazon also has the Apple Watch Series 4 on sale but will still set you back $349. That makes the $199 price tag on the Series 3 extremely appealing.
If you want your smartwatch to include LTE connectivity, Walmart also has the Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular on sale for $299.
Discover more Apple watch sales with the best cheap Apple Watch prices and deals that are currently available.
You can learn more about series 3 smartwatch with our Apple Watch 3 review.
Shop more deals with our guide on Amazon Prime Day: everything you need to know for the July deals event.
The rise of the web has allowed countless businesses to reach a wider market. Not only that, it has given rise to countless new online-only businesses, fueled by the exponential rise of mobile connections.
It's not surprising, then, that one analyst claims that the SMB e-commerce platform market will break the billion dollar barrier.
There's no doubt that the web provides a huge opportunity for companies, but it’s important for organizations to make the most of that opportunity. In order to sell your products or services online, your website has to be appropriately equipped.
Building an online store from scratch is a mammoth task, and fortunately, an unnecessary one. Today, there is a huge variety of e-commerce platform packages from which to choose.
Most e-commerce platforms will provide businesses with standard functionality such as the ability to showcase products in an online catalog, take payments online, manage customers and provide with after-sales.
Others will provide more sophisticated functionality, such as online marketing features, the ability to manage or integrate with in-store systems and the provision of APIs.
Which e-commerce software is best for your business depends entirely on your specific requirements. If you're an online-only outfit, then POS integration won't be necessary, but you may get a lot of business from overseas, in which case foreign currency support would be a requirement.
In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the best e-commerce platforms available right now, before moving on to consider other options you might want to explore in terms of creating your own e-commerce solution.The best e-commerce platform packages
Shopify is perhaps the most well known e-commerce platform available. It was set up in 2006 by founders Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake who, as the story goes, felt that there wasn't a simple-to-use e-commerce platform available and so built their own. The company claims that: "You don't need to have any technical or design experience to easily create a beautiful online store."
According to Shopify, it's possible to get one of its online stores up-and-running within minutes. Users can choose from a wide range of templates, or they can design the look and feel of their store themselves. It accepts a comprehensive range of credit cards, has Level 1 PCI compliance and 256-bit SSL encryption for security, and it offers 24/7 support via phone, instant messaging or email.
The platform provides a full CMS with which users can manage the functionality and layout of their online store. Users can manage their store on-the-go using Shopify's mobile apps, and the platform itself is fully responsive, meaning the store will be optimized for visitors regardless of whether they access it from a desktop computer or a mobile device.
Shopify also offers users unlimited hosting for their stores, in-depth analytics of how visitors are using the store, and functionality for marketing such as SEO optimization, a discount and coupon engine, gift cards and email marketing tools. You can test out Shopify with a 14-day free trial.
Bigcommerce was established in 2009 and promises to "support your business, not just your store." In addition to offering support via phone, instant chat and email, it also offers articles and videos to help with e-commerce, and access to a team of e-commerce experts who can provide advice and guidance about online selling. Their experts are qualified in both Google Analytics and Adwords.
Like Shopify, Bigcommerce provides a variety of templates and themes to help stores look their best and get up-and-running quickly. Alternatively, users can design their own store or use Bigcommerce designers to do so. The platform incorporates a full-featured CMS that allows users to run an entire website, rather than just a store.
Users can benefit from detailed and flexible product management, optimized search engine rankings, along with a variety of integrated marketing tools and analytics. Payments can be accepted via 40+ pre-integrated gateways and shipping details can be customized as per the business's requirements. As of late, some new features have been added like support for Amazon Import and Link and Shopping in Instagram Stories. The platform offers automated order processing, flexible tax rules depending on where orders are made and shipped, and support for multiple currencies. You can test out Bigcommerce with a 15-day free trial.
Volusion has been around for almost two decades, having been set up in Texas over in the US in 1999. The company touts its platform as being an "all-in-one e-commerce solution", and offers a free 14-day trial (no credit card required).
As with other e-commerce platforms, users are offered a variety of templates from which to choose, and can also customize templates if they so wish. Should a more complex design be required, Volusion offers a custom design service that can incorporate branding and a firm's social media presence.
The platform provides the site and product management tools you'd expect, marketing functionality for SEO, social media, and affiliate outlets, along with emails and order management functionality for fast order processing, accepting payments, tax calculations and POS integration.
In addition to its platform and associated services, Volusion offers apps from its partners, support for users and a knowledge-base for help with e-commerce. Users can draw upon blog posts, guides and webinars. As of October 8th 2018, there are no more transaction fees.
CoreCommerce was set up in 2001 and focuses on providing e-commerce services to small and medium-sized businesses. The company places an emphasis on simplicity and transparency, promising that its platform is easy-to-use and that customers will not fall foul of any hidden charges.
Perhaps CoreCommerce's most unique aspect is that all of its features are offered to all customers regardless of what plan they are on. Price plans are determined by the number of products, the number of email addresses, the amount of bandwidth and the amount of storage required by the user (and higher-end plans also benefit from additional support).
As with other e-commerce providers, CoreCommerce offers functionality for store design, product management, order processing and marketing. Of its headline features, the platform offers unlimited product customization options, a built-in blogging engine, and secure hosting that is provided by Rackspace and comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. You can try CoreCommerce out with a 15-day free trial.
Having been founded in 1997, 3dcart is the oldest of our featured providers here. It was set up with a view to incorporating as many of the most requested e-commerce features into one platform as possible.
The company says it has six core values by which it operates: ongoing innovation, good service, simple solutions, fostering trust, keeping employees and customers happy, and stimulating prosperity amongst employees and customers.
Some of the platform's innovative features include a module that users can install to offer gift-wrapping, a purchase order system, the option of running a loyalty program and the ability to offer recurring orders. Many of these features are very specific, meaning that stores can be highly tailored to the needs of each business.
Stores can be designed using one of the many templates offered by 3dcart, or users can design their own store. A quick edit bar means that making changes to the design of a store is simple. Product images are fore-fronted with 3dcart's auto-zoom feature and products can be sold via Facebook with its store integration. As with some other platforms, users can blog directly from 3dcart and tools are provided for setting up coupons, sending newsletters and affiliate marketing. Users can also make use out of "make an offer" feature, which basically lets you and your customers to negotiate on a price.
In addition to its platform, 3dcart offers a number of professional services. Users can request help with SEO, PPC, shopping feed management, social media, Facebook ads and conversion consulting. Help can also be provided to ensure that a user's store is set up to the highest standard. Services such as site cloning, setting up custom tracking, data migration and training are offered.
In addition, 3dcart can provide SSL certification. Hosting is guaranteed at 99.9% uptime and 24/7 support is provided via phone, email or online chat. You can test out the service with a 15-day free trial.
If you don’t want to go the route of using an off-the-shelf package, what other options are available for you to explore? That’s what we’re going to look at in the second half of this piece…
Is eBay right for your business?
Opening its doors in 1999, eBay UK now has over 14 million users, with over 10,000 people using the site for a business that is their primary means of income. It's not just about people selling unwanted goods - businesses have used the simplicity that eBay offers to set up lucrative operations. Even the larger brands such as Argos, Debenhams and House of Fraser are using eBay to sell online.
With sophisticated tools now available you can be up and running with your store in just a few hours. The eBay Seller Centre has all the information you need. Each store is managed via eBay's familiar user interface, and there are a number of eBay-provided tools to help manage, track and promote your shop once it's established.
Using eBay as the platform for your business could be ideal if your business wants to sell goods on a fixed price basis. The complete integration of the PayPal e-payments system into eBay takes care of this essential component of your store.
The key with eBay is to look closely at the costs involved and also the transaction fees that PayPal charge before moving forward and setting up your own store.How to create your own e-commerce solution
Of course if you want complete control over every aspect of your new online store, building each page yourself will be the best course of action. Hiring someone to code your website is one option. If you decide to do this follow these steps:
- Ask the company for live examples of their work to look at
- Write a detailed brief of the site you want created. The more detail the better to avoid confusion
- Ensure you understand the price you are being charged and how many revisions this price includes
- Always have a signed agreement or contract before work commences
- Ask whether the designers will host your site and if you will be able to make updates yourself or if all updates must go through the design agency at an additional cost
- Ask for the copyright of your design to be assigned to your company, as your website is an important part of your business' intellectual property
- Put into your contract, details of how the agreement can be amicably dissolved if things go wrong
You also don't have to build your site completely from scratch. Buying a template can give you all the basic pages your site needs. You can then either modify them yourself using an application like Dreamweaver, or hire a coding expert to make the changes. Website templates are available from a number of vendors including Template Monster.
If you already have a website and want to add e-commerce functionality, this can be easily achieved with a number of applications including:
Whichever route you decide to take when building your website always remember:
- You need to ensure your store can be easily updated and managed.
- Good professional web hosting is vital to ensure your site is always available.
- Look for payment and shopping carts that are intuitive and efficient to use.
- Customer service is king these days. Businesses shouldn't just efficiently take customers' money, but should also properly support them.
- Make sure that your store is fully integrated with all the leading social media sites.
- Put security first – shoppers are now more comfortable buying online, but always ensure your site uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) which is now the industry standard for online payments.
- Above every other consideration should be your site's visitor experience. Don't forget your competitors are just a mouse click away in the world of e-commerce.
Setting up your online store should be approached carefully and diligently to ensure you put a professional and efficient site live. Internet shopping continues to expand. Make sure your business doesn't miss out on a sales channel that shows no signs of slowing down.
It looks like Motorola has a quad-lens phone in the works, but while this is likely to be high-end it’s apparently not an entry in the Moto Z range. Rather, it’s said to be called the Motorola One Pro.
That’s according to CashKaro, which has leaked renders and details about the handset. The images – which match a leak from back in April – show a phone with a single-lens front camera housed in a teardrop notch, with a slim bezel below the display.
On the back there’s those aforementioned four rear cameras on a raised panel alongside the Motorola logo, while on the bottom edge there’s a 3.5mm headphone port and a USB-C port. The screen is said to be 6.2 inches, while the dimensions are apparently approximately 158.7 x 75 x 9.8mm (including the camera bump).
- Read our hands-on Moto Z4 review
- See what we think of the Motorola One Vision
- Lots of 5G phones are arriving
Based on the images, it looks like the Motorola One Pro will come in black, gold and purple shades. It’s also worth noting that there’s no sign of a fingerprint scanner, so this might be built into the screen.
There’s no word yet on what chipset this phone might use, so it’s not clear exactly how high-end it will actually be, but it certainly looks more premium than most recent Motorola handsets.
It’s also not clear when the Motorola One Pro will actually land – and as ever we’d take these leaks with a pinch of salt. But we’ll be sure to update you as soon as we learn anything more about it.
- Check out the best Motorola phones
Via Android Police
Even if you own the full LTE version of the Apple Watch 3 or Apple Watch 4, neither of these devices work entirely without an iPhone, but a new hint in the watchOS 6 beta suggests we may be getting close to that reality.
According to VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz, the latest watchOS 6 developer beta - which was released earlier this week - will download over-the-air updates directly to the Apple Watch for the first time.
Previously, Apple has used your iPhone to download the software within the Apple Watch app and then pushed it to your wearable over Bluetooth. Now watchOS 6 will seemingly download it directly, if you have a smartwatch that is connected to Wi-Fi.
- Our ranking of the very best smartwatches
- How much do you know about the Apple Watch?
- What you need to know about the Apple Watch 5
If you're after an untethered Apple Watch experience, don't rejoice yet. In this process, you'll still have to use your iPhone to accept the terms and conditions of the update.
That's weirdly backwards, but remember this is just the beta for developers, so this may change by the time watchOS 6 rolls out.
This cord cutting between your Apple Watch and iPhone is another step toward a fully useful device away from your handset, which will also be helped by the addition of a dedicated Apple Watch App Store coming in the next update.
Via Phone Arena
World of Warcraft Classic has been in closed beta since the middle of May, but ahead of the launch on August 27, the game is running a series of stress tests, and there’s one happening later today, which means anyone can log in and give it a shot to get a taste of old school MMO action.
Well, we say anyone, but you have to be a current World of Warcraft subscriber, and the other caveat is that this is only available to players in the Americas and Oceania regions – so those in the UK (and Europe) are out of luck this time around.
However, this isn’t the first stress test, and almost certainly won’t be the last, so hopefully the next opportunity will include subscribers from the EU.
- World of Warcraft Classic: is it worth revisiting Azeroth?
- Red Dead Online: latest news and multiplayer features
- These are the best MMO games of 2019
The idea with a stress test is to get a ton of players on board, to emulate launch conditions and to see what kind of problems might manifest. With that in mind, Blizzard advises that it wants folks to get on and play as much as possible during the first three hours of the test. So, you have your orders…
The test run begins at 2pm PT (so has already begun in Australia), but you can download the Classic game ahead of kick-off (if you’re not sure how, simply follow the instructions posted here). The stress test realm will be up and running for 48 hours.Dead difficult
During that two-day period, you’ll be able to create a character of any class or race, but you won’t be able to level up beyond 15. Blizzard notes that there will be level-appropriate instances available including Warsong Gulch (for PvP) as well as Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns, and Deadmines.
The company adds that: “Of course, Deadmines will be a challenge for players to complete at this level.”
Mind you, the broad idea of World of Warcraft Classic is to present a tougher challenge to encourage players to band together to cope with the difficulties, and therefore promote a greater focus on social aspects and interactions.
That means you can expect rough edges to the game’s systems and UI – as it was back in the day – to the point where we recently witnessed a scenario in which testers were reporting what they believed were bugs, but these were actually school features working as intended. So you have been warned!
- Maybe you’ll play WoW Classic on one of our best gaming PCs
The rollout of 5G networks and the next generation of wireless technology could lead to a shift in focus from software and apps back to infrastructure as organizations look to take advantage of the latest technologies. Couple this with the fact that AI and machine learning are making their way into the networking space and feels as though we are about to see a real shakeup in enterprise networking.
To better understand the current trends dominating the networking space and what the future holds for enterprise networking, TechRadar Pro spoke with Extreme Network's Vice President of Sales and Services EMEA John Morrison.
- How close are we to the self-operating network?
- Reaping the benefits of AI for enhanced network security
- Digital transformation and the role of network visibility
Image credit: Shutterstock
Image credit: Shutterstock
- We've also highlighted the best network monitoring tools
Concrete 3D printing is moving to an industrial scale in the United Arab Emirates with the birth of AED 6m Concreative Middle East - a partnership between Freyssinet, e-construct and Draw Link Group.
Speaking to TechRadar Middle East, Khalil Goghri, general manager of Concreative Middle East, said the whole idea came from the message sent by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2016 which is to turn 25% of all buildings in Dubai to be 3D printed by 2030 and to become a hub.
The Office of the Future in Dubai, the first 3D-printed office in the world, was designed by e-construct and printed in China. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global 3D concrete printing market is estimated to grow from $1.2 million in 2018 to $1.48 billion by 2023, at an annual growth rate of 317.3 per cent.
Goghri believes that this is the first large-scale concrete 3D printer in the Middle East and by making this tool available to the industry; architects and designers now have the means to design and produce complex concrete architectural and structural elements. “This new technology consumes less raw materials, are more reactive, cleaner, quieter, less gruelling and much safer,” he said.
“Our focus will be where the conventional method of construction is not possible such as complex architectural designs and we will see more and more complex buildings such as Museum of the Future,” he said.
Moreover, he said the cement-based 3D printing disposes the need for conventional moulds and mass production of customised product, and at the same time, saves cement between 30% and 70% and reduces building lead times.
Daousser Chennoufi, co-founder at Concreative, said that the 3D technology will create new value for designers. “It will create new possibilities, to think out of the box, create new space and shapes where no one has travelled before. Inevitable house and homes will no longer be shaped by the limitation of the old ways, but they will be occupying different volumes and spaces,” he said.
Goghri said the printer at Concreative was supplied by French-start-up XtreeE which has a six-axis robotised arm capable of manufacturing elements 5 metres long and 3 metres high in successive layers. He sees a bright future for the construction industry owing to the increase in demand for complex structures amid generating less waste and the rise in the number of construction projects at affordable rates.
It is not only the UAE which plays a key role in concrete 3D printing, but even Saudi Arabia is also planning to print one and a half million houses in 3D concrete within 10 years in a rapidly expanding building market. The Kingdom is developing educational zones that group together innovating technology such as 3D printing as well as printed concrete buildings.
OnePlus is known to listen and act on the feedback it receives from its customers. This is one of the major reasons as to why the company thrives on a backbone of its versatile community. OnePlus 7 Pro, their latest smartphone has already received a couple of updates that improve its performance and enhances imaging capabilities.
In a new post on the Forums, OnePlus has revealed the features that are under development; a few of them already in Open Beta, that will further improve the OxygenOS experience.
A bunch of these features are product exclusive, such as the ability to customize the horizon light on the OnePlus 7 Pro, while others are OS-wide tweaks like the addition of step counter in the Shelf area.
Most of the feature requests are already approved or are already being tested in the various open beta programs. OnePlus says that it is looking into offering users the ability to customize the horizon light which lights up the edges of the OnePlus 7 Pro when a notification arrives. The developers have also given a go-ahead to the highly requested feature of recording a video from the ultra-wide camera on the flagship phone. Currently, OnePlus only allows video recording from the primary camera on the OnePlus 7 Pro.
OxygenOS devs are also working on support for adaptive icons for OnePlus launcher, custom duration for Zen Mode, displaying more apps in the Recent menu and even a sound effect when the phone is charging.OnePlus 7 Pro and OxygenOS detailed upcoming features
- Q: Will OnePlus 7 Pro support horizon light customization?
A: We understand users' pain point of not having a notification light on their devices. We are looking into this, as well other alternatives to implement AOD in a battery-friendly way.
- Q: Is it possible to implement folders in the app drawer?
A: We know that this is a way to find apps fast and efficiently. We are looking into this.
- Q: Will the OnePlus 7 Pro support video recording using the ultra-wide camera?
A: This feature request has already been approved and is currently under development. We know how anxious you are for this feature and we hear you.
- Q: Will Oxygen OS support adaptive icons using the OnePlus launcher?
A: We are working on it.
- Q: Will OnePlus add a step counter in a future update?
A: We will merge this feature into the routine of OnePlus Shelf development to bring this functionality to you without adding any bloatware to the system.
- Q: Will it be possible to see more apps when accessing the recent apps menu?
A: This feature request is approved and under development.
- Q: Why does the background application pause while using quick reply in the landscape?
A: We are working on a new way to improve users' experience.
- Q: Will you add a charging sound effect?
A: This feature request is approved and under development.
- Q: Will it be possible to customize the duration of zen mode?
A: Yes, we are working on it.
- Q: Will it be possible to block messages by specific keyword?
A: Currently the function is under closed beta testing. We will release it soon if there are no major issues.
- Q: Will it support blocking calls in phone settings?
A: This function is already being tested in the open beta program. Please be patient.
- Q: Will digital wellbeing be supported on OnePlus devices?
A: Currently this function is in OnePlus 5/5T/6/6T's open beta program.
- Also Read: Revolt Motors RV 400: All you need to know
Having scored their first win of the 2019 Cricket World Cup 2019 by defeating Afghanistan by nine wickets on Saturday, South Africa face another crucial test as they try to cling on to their hopes of remaining in the tournament. No matter where you are in the world you can watch this crucial match by using our guide below to getting a New Zealand vs South Africa live stream.
The South Africans will be facing a much sterner test on Wednesday as they prepare to face New Zealand - one of the tournament's most impressive sides so far, and also arguably one of the luckiest. Having dispatched unfancied Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as expected, the rain prevented them from facing a much tougher test against in-form India, allowing them to take a point that they may not have otherwise managed.
On paper (and at the bookies) the odds for South Africa getting any joy out of today's game look bleak. The win over Afghanistan was more laboured than it perhaps should have been, and there's the other minor detail that the Kiwis have knocked them out of the last two World Cups.
For the Proteas to have any chance they'll need to work out a way of preventing Kane Williamson from doing the sort of damage he's done to other teams in the tournament so far - the New Zealand skipper has been in scintillating form, scoring 40 and 79 in his last two innings.
It's another crucial Cricket World Cup 2019 match and one you’ll be able to watch with ease from anywhere in the world if you follow our New Zealand vs South Africa live stream guide below.
If you're in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, US or India and looking to find out how to watch the match, we've got all the details about the broadcaster in your region below.
If you're away from home country and looking to tune in you'll likely to find you won't be able to thanks to geo-blocking. Thankfully there's a way to alleviate that frustration. By using a VPN you'll be able to watch the game safely without having to take a chance on an illegal feed from a website that's likely infested with malware.How to watch the game in New Zealand live stream How to watch New Zealand vs South Africa: live stream in Australia How to stream New Zealand vs South Africa live in the UK How to stream 2019 Cricket World Cup online in India How to watch the cricket in Pakistan How to watch New Zealand vs South Africa: US live stream
Following the discovery of a zero-day vulnerability in its browser, Mozilla is urging Firefox users to immediately update to the latest version of its desktop app − that includes Firefox ESR, which is intended for use by system administrators who control desktop environments in schools, offices, governments and other organizations.
The bug, which is described as a 'type confusion vulnerability', has been given an impact level of 'critical', as it allows outside users to remotely execute code on your machine without your permission.
- Mozilla launches new desktop password manager, Firefox Lockwise
- Mozilla could be about to change the VPN and privacy market foreve
- The best Mozilla Firefox VPN 2019
Worryingly, the corporation also notes that there have already been instances of "targeted attacks in the wild abusing this flaw," which means you really should update to the fixed versions (Firefox 67.0.3 and Firefox ESR 60.7.1) as soon as possible.
Thankfully, Mozilla has the ability to deploy patches and security updates automatically, meaning that in theory you should only have to restart Firefox in order to receive the fixed version.
Recently, Mozilla also rolled out new security tools for its Firefox browser which are intended to prevent two other pernicious security and privacy issues − fingerprinting and cryptojacking.
[Source: The Register]
Although Telstra might be known for some of the more, ah, "premium priced" phone plans available in Australia, that high cost is typically paired with a wide range of included extras and frankly excellent coverage.
So when the country's biggest telco decides to offer up some of its magic at a discount, it's probably a good time to start paying attention.
Telstra's new range of just-released SIM-only mobile plans pack some serious punch for new customers signing up to the network, with two of its 'Mobile BYO' plans proving particularly attractive thanks to an extra 30GB of data and a price reduction of $20 per month.
This puts them squarely up against Optus' offerings, which has held the SIM-only crown quite comfortably in the past, but now seemingly has a bit more competition.
Both these Telstra plans come with Peace of Mind data, which means that if you (somehow manage) to go over your data limit, then instead of being charged for excess usage, your download speed will simply be capped to 1.5Mbps. And if you need additional data at full speeds, you can optionally pay the regular $10 per GB if you wish.
On top of this, customers on these SIM-only plans will be able to stream audio via Apple Music without it counting towards your plan's total data cap, and be able to watch AFL, AFLW, NRL, Netball and Hyundai A-League matches on their devices both live and data-free.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 needs to up its game to get the smartphone series back in the spotlight, and we're starting to hear plenty of Galaxy Note 10 leaks and rumors suggesting it might just pull it off.
We've also put together a list of what we'd like to see from Samsung and its next flagship phablet to help propel the handset to the top of every phone fan's wish list.
Update: We have a potential launch date: August 7, per a report, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This is the same venue and just a few weeks earlier than last year, which makes it all the more probable that this date is real. We'll wait for Samsung to confirm...
So while we're looking forward to the next version of Samsung's notable phone, we’re hoping for more from the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. We want sizeable, impactful changes and upgrades that help justify its inevitably enormous price tag.
We’ve listed some of our specific hopes below, but before that you’ll find rumors and educated guesses at the release date, specs and features of the Galaxy Note 10.Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next stylus-toting flagship from Samsung
- When is it out? Potentially August 7, 2019
- What will it cost? More than most other phones
It’s likely that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 launch date will be some point in August 2019, as in recent years Samsung has announced new Galaxy Note handsets in August.
We even have some possible dates. A recent report suggests it might launch on August 7. August 10 has also been rumored, but we'd take the latter with a pinch of salt, not least because it's a Saturday, which is an unusual day to launch a phone.
That said, that date comes from a South Korean source, so due to time differences it's possible that the date would be August 10 in South Korea but August 9 for much of the world. That's very possible as the Galaxy Note 9 was announced on August 9 last year.
In any case, even once the Galaxy Note 10 is announced it will likely be at least a couple of weeks before you can buy it, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t hit stores until late August or September 2019.
As for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 price, the Note 9 starts at $1,000 (£899, AU$1,499) and it gets even more expensive if you want more storage and more RAM.
Given that smartphone prices generally seem to be rising we’d expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will cost at least this much.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is sure to cost a lotSamsung Galaxy Note 10 news and rumors
Our closest look at the possible design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 can be seen in the video below.
You can see that it has a curved screen, a single-lens punch-hole camera on the front, a triple-lens camera on the back, a metal frame, and no Bixby button or headphone jack. The phone also apparently has up to 12GB of RAM and either a Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 chipset, depending on region.
The source adds that the screen is apparently 6.3 inches, likely with a 1440 x 3040 resolution, and that the dimensions may be 162.6 x 77.4 x 7.9mm - though we'd take all that with a pinch of salt, as it would mean a smaller screen yet a larger body than the Note 9.
That's up from 6.4 inches on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and while we'd take this with a pinch of salt it's believable, given that phone screens keep getting bigger, and given that the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is 6.4 inches and we'd expect the next Note to be bigger than anything in the S range.
However it's possible there will be two different Samsung Galaxy Note 10 models, as we've heard rumors that as well as a 6.75-inch phone Samsung will release a smaller Note 10 only in Europe.
The larger of the two (or more) models might be called the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Pro, as that's a name that we've heard rumored now.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Pro could also have a quad-lens camera according to one report.
That's a claim we've now heard multiple times. In fact, we've even seen leaked renders showing four lenses, along with a design that's otherwise similar to leaks of the standard Note 10.
The source of these renders says that the extra lens is a Time of Flight (ToF) depth-sensing one, with the other lenses apparently being a 12MP main one, a 12MP telephoto one, and a 16MP ultra-wide one.
The screen meanwhile is apparently 6.75 inches, 1440 x 3040 and said to support HDR10+, while the rest of the specs apparently include up to 12GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 chipset, depending on region.
It's worth noting that leaked case renders for both models match the designs above, so they could well be accurate.
Elsewhere, a report says that the Note 10 has the model number SM-N975F. However Note handsets usually have a '0' as the last number, so there's speculation that this could denote a 5G variant.
We've also heard rumors that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 (or at least the Pro version) could have a 4,500mAh battery - up from 4,000mAh on the Note 9. And it might charge fast, with multiple sources suggesting it will exceed 25W (the Galaxy S10 is only 15W). One claim points to it reaching as much as 45W.
Then again, another source disputes that, saying that actually it will just be 25W, so we're really not sure at the moment.
There's also some dispute about the battery size, with a source saying that both the Note 10 and Note 10 Pro will have a 4,170mAh battery.
They also say that the Note 10 will have a 6.4-inch screen while the Note 10 Pro will have a 6.8-inch one - which is slightly larger than we'd heard before. Finally, they add that the Note 10 will start in a 128GB size, while the Note 10 Pro will start at 256GB, rising to 1TB.
Elsewhere, a source has said that the camera position for both the front and rear lenses will be different on the Note 10, with the rear moving from a horizontal to a vertical arrangement, which would match most leaks.
The camera hardware meanwhile is apparently the same as the Note 9 (though that doesn't necessarily rule out extra lenses).
According to the source, these camera changes are the main design changes to the phone, so the Galaxy Note 10 might look a lot like the Note 9.
The source of these claims has since followed them up with sketches of what seems to be the Note 10's camera block (below), showing the vertical arrangement with three lenses. They also claim that the front-facing camera will just be a single-lens one, as we've seen elsewhere.
Another report has a far more radical prediction: the Note 10 won't have physical buttons. Instead, the phone will use touch sensors, like the capacitive pads we've seen on the Nubia Red Magic Mars and elsewhere, for users to fiddle with volume and power. Presumably, it would also replace the notorious Bixby button with a touchpad.
Having said that, another source has disputed this claim, saying there will in fact be physical buttons. Plus, the leaked renders we've seen all show buttons.
A few different rumors have given us a clearer idea of the color choices Samsung might offer for the Note 10. It seems the company will be offering a red version as well as a gradient finish, which we expect to be the silver version of the phone.
Other color rumors include Black, White, Silver and Pink, which suggests we won't get a Lavender Purple version like we did on the Galaxy Note 9.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in Blue and Lavender Purple. Image Credit: TechRadar
In more vague news, the Galaxy Note 10 is apparently codenamed 'Da Vinci'.
Given that Leonardo da Vinci was a famous painter that could hint at upgrades to the S Pen, though exactly what those upgrades would be is unclear. Leonardo da Vinci was also very talented in lots of other ways though, so this could equally be a suggestion that the Note 10 will be a very versatile phone.
Beyond that we can take some educated guesses as to what the Note 10 might offer. For one thing, based on past form it will probably use the same chipset as the Samsung Galaxy S10.
That means either a Snapdragon 855 or an Exynos 9820, depending on where you are in the world. They're both top-end though.
The Galaxy S10 also has an in-screen fingerprint scanner and a camera cut-out in the screen, rather than a notch or big bezels, so those are likely features of the Note 10. Indeed, both of those things have been rumored.
The Note 10 is also almost certainly going to have a curved Super AMOLED screen. You can probably expect water resistance too, given that all recent Samsung flagships have that.
And of course, the S Pen will make a return, though quite possibly with some new features and refinements.What we want to see
While there’s no Samsung Galaxy Note 10 news just yet, we have a good idea of what we want from it. You’ll find our seven main suggestions below.1. A customizable Bixby button
As much as Samsung might want us to use Bixby in favor of Google Assistant the reality is that for the most part it’s just not as good, and Google has so much of a head start that we doubt it ever will be.
That wouldn’t be an issue except that Samsung insists on putting a physical Bixby button on its Note phones, so for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 we either want this to be removed or to be customizable, so you can set it to launch something other than Bixby.
The good news is this should happen, because it's a feature that since writing this wish Samsung has started bringing to its phones - maybe the South Korean company really is listening to us.2. HDR video recording
For the Note 10 we hope the camera is capable of HDR video
Many high-end handsets can now record HDR video, but the Galaxy Note 9 can’t. It’s a shame, because it’s a noticeably weak point in a camera that’s otherwise great.
So we really want to see HDR recording offered by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. And not just any HDR, but 4K HDR (which is also offered by some rivals), so it can shoot videos that look as good as its photos surely will.3. An in-screen fingerprint scanner
The Note 9 has a fingerprint scanner on the back, which allows for slim bezels on the front (though still more of a bottom bezel than we’d have hoped to see) but arguably makes it slightly trickier to reach than a front-facing scanner.
We also noted in our review that it’s too small and too close to the camera, making it easy to accidentally hit that instead and smudge the lens.
So for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 we want the scanner on the front, but rather than being under the screen we want it built into the screen, like the Galaxy S10 and some other phones are now doing.4. A completely new look
The Galaxy Note 9 looks good, but we've seen it all before
So we’d like to see a design overhaul for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. It can keep the water resistance and the curvy screen, but hopefully the rest of the design will change to something fresher and more modern.5. A lower price
There’s no getting around the fact that the Note 9 is a very, very expensive phone and we’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will be at least as pricey.
But we’re hoping it won’t be. If Samsung can shave a couple of hundred dollars/pounds off the price then it could have far wider appeal.6. Improved facial recognition
We'd like to see Samsung match Apple for facial recognition
The Galaxy Note 9 has both an iris scanner and facial recognition, but - as we note in our review - even combined these sensors are no match for Apple’s Face ID, so we’d like to see real improvements here for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
That will probably mean packing in more and better cameras and sensors on the front so it can build up an accurate 3D picture of our face.
That could be expensive and make removing the bezel trickier, but if it leads to a fast, secure scanner that works in almost all lighting then it might be worth it.7. An even longer-lasting battery
For the Galaxy Note 9 Samsung upped the range’s battery size to 4,000mAh, delivering over a day of life in the process.
That’s good work, but we want to see further improvements for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, especially given that batteries wear out over time, so if you plan to hold on to the phone for two years or more you might notice significantly reduced life by the end.
On that note, if Samsung can make the battery degrade slower that would be appreciated too.
- The flexible Samsung Galaxy Fold has finally been announced
Image Credit: TechRadar
The much-awaited Samsung Note 10 will launch on August 7, sources told CNET.
The flagship phone will be unveiled at Samsung’s yearly Unpacked event, which will be held in Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn - the same venue it occupied last year, the sources continued.
The Note series iterates on company's main S-series of flagship phones, and we can expect some of the developments - like the punch-hole 'Infinity Display' - in the Samsung Galaxy S10 line to make an appearance.
- Via CNET
After PUBG introduced the world to the concept of ‘battle royale’ games, a number of games in the genre starting cropping up overnight including Fortnite, Apex Legends and Tetris 99. Now, there’s a new battle royale game in the house that tests your Super Mario Bros. skills, appropriately called Mario Royale.
Mario Royale that pits you against 74 other identical Marios in a race to clear the game starting at either stage 1-1 or 2-1. Should you die, you're taken back to the waiting room lobby before the next match starts up.
The hook of the game isn’t just that you can see the other players as they race through the courses alongside you - although that’s part of it - it’s that they can impact your game by grabbing coins and power-ups first and, in the event they get a star, they can use it to wipe out other players. The last player standing - or the first three players who make it to the end of Bowser's Castle - wins.
The amazing part is that this game isn’t produced or affiliated with Nintendo - it’s created by a Youtuber-turned-developer who posted a video about the game’s creation over the weekend:Just watch out for Bowser... Doug Bowser
For a one-man operation, you have to respect what the game's developer, InfernoPlus, has accomplished - Mario Royale is a surprisingly fun game, and one that Nintendo should consider itself.
Hopefully the company considers Mario Royale a successful proof-of-concept rather than a breach of copyright and lets the game stay up for a few more days. If not, InfernoPlus will have to deal with Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser and the Nintendo legal team. Talk about a tough boss battle.
That said, the game is still available to play as of right now on InfernoPlus's website, but that could change soon.
If you're looking for a killer deal on a Fitbit activity tracker, then today is your lucky day. Amazon has the feature-rich Charge 3 on sale for $110. That's a $40 discount and the best price we've seen for the popular activity tracker.
The Fitbit Charge 3 is packed full of health-focused features that can help you meet your fitness goals while also keeping you connected. The waterproof Charge 3 tracks calories burned, active steps and popular workouts and offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring. The activity tracker also offers personalized guided breathing based on your heart rate and tracks sleep so you can gain helpful insights to get a better nights rest.
The Charge 3 offers GPS technology when connected to your smartphone to help track your pace and distance. The activity tracker also receives notifications, takes calls and messages, and provides an impressive seven-day battery life.
For this particular deal, you must apply the additional $10 coupon to see the full discount at checkout. We don't know how long Amazon will have the Fitbit Charge 3 on sale so you should take advantage of this stellar sale while you can.
If you're interested in a slimmer design, you can get the Fitbit Alta HR on sale at Walmart for $74.98. While the Alta HR isn't as feature-rich as the Versa, it does offer continuous heart rate monitoring, and tracks activity, exercises, and calories burned.
You can find more Fitbit Charge 2 offers with the best Fitbit Charge 3 prices and deals that are currently available.
You can also learn more about the above activity trackers by checking out our Fitbit Alta HR review, and Fitbit Charge 3 review.
Shop more deals with our guide on Amazon Prime Day: everything you need to know for the July deals event.
Held every two years, the CONCACAF Gold Cup pits the best international soccer teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean against each other. But regardless of where you are on the planet, our guide below for getting a 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup live stream will ensure you don’t miss a kick - it's even free to watch in certain regions.
This year's tournament has been expanded to involve 16 countries, up from the previous 14 with all participating teams this year coming from the three CONCACAF regions (previous editions have seen 'guest' countries from other continents help make up the numbers).
As ever, Mexico and primary hosts the USA are viewed as favorites (the two teams have alternated as champions in the previous four Gold Cup tournaments), but recent times have seen an improvement in some of the smaller CONCACAF nations meaning the big guns are likely to find things a great deal more difficult this time out.
They may be among the favorites with Betfair, but USA's form going in to the tournament is far from convincing. The USMT suffered morale-sapping defeats against Jamaica and Venezuela in their two pre-tournament friendlies, and have been dealt a blow with the news that an injury to RB Leipzig defender Tyler Adams will keep him out of the competition.
Rivals Mexico have even bigger issues when it comes to missing personnel, with recognisable names such as Javier Hernández, Carlos Vela and Héctor Herrera all unavailable for the tournament. Luckily they still have talent in abundance, with in-form Wolverhampton Wanderers star Raúl Jiménez a likely contender for the tournament's golden boot.
The team most likely to capitalise on the USA and Mexico's problems are Costa Rica. The Ticos have seen continued improvement in recent times and have been placed in a favorable group that should see their experienced squad led by Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges and Kendall Waston sail through to the later stages.
Jamaica also look to be a good outside bet, but they'll have to get over the psychological burden of having been beaten finalists in the last two tournaments.
If you want to know where you'll be able to watch every single soccer match, we'll tell you exactly where you can catch them online with our CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019 live stream guide.This week's CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019 fixtures
Tuesday June 19
Panama vs Trinidad and Tobago (7.30pm ET, 4.30pm PT)
USA vs Guyana (10pm ET, 7pm PT)
Wednesday June 20
Cuba vs Martinique (8pm ET, 5pm PT)
Mexico vs Canada (10.30pm ET, 7.30pm PT)
Thursday June 21
Nicaragua vs Haiti (7pm ET, 4pm PT)
Costa Rica vs Bermuda (9.30pm ET, 6.30pm ET)
Friday June 22
El Salvador vs Jamaica (7pm ET, 4pm PT)
Honduras vs Curacao (9.30pm ET, 6.30pm PT)
Guyana vs Panama (5.30pm ET, 2.30pm PT)
Saturday June 23
Canada vs Cuba (6pm ET, 3pm PT)
USA vs Trinidad and Tobago (8pm ET, 5pm PT)
We've put together a full rundown of your watching options in different countries - check out how to watch the action from the likes of the US (where FuboTV's worth a look if you want to watch in 4K), UK (where it's FREE thanks to the little-known FreeSports network) and Canada.
The problems start when you try to watch your domestic coverage online while out of the country. Give it a go...you'll quickly find your stream is geo-blocked.
That's super annoying, but not unavoidable. We've found that using a Virtual Private Network - or VPN - to be a handy solution. You select a server in your home country and then watch as if you were sat back at home on your couch.How to watch the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: US live stream
- FuboTV $44.99 for the first month
- Hulu with Live TV $44.99 per month
- Playstation Vue starting at $44.99 per month
- DirecTV Now $50 per month
- Sling TV starting at $15 per month
- YouTube TV $49.99 per month
Logging in to a US broadcast from overseas is also a great option using a VPN following the instructions above. So if you love the commentary and coverage in the UK, for example, you can catch up with that instead.
- Discover our pick of all the US's best sports streaming sitesHow to watch CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: Canada live stream How to stream the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019 live in the UK CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019 fixtures
Martinique vs Mexico (1.30am)
Bermuda vs Nicaragua (11.30pm)
Haiti vs Costa Rica (2am)
Jamaica vs Curacao (1am)
Honduras vs El Salvador (3.30am)
Trinidad and Tobago vs Guyana (11.30pm)
Panama vs USA (2am)
Winner Group B vs Runner-up Group A (12am)
Winner Group A vs Runner-up Group B (3am)
Winner Group C vs Runner-up Group D (10.30pm)
Winner Group D vs Runner-up Group C (1.30am)
Winner Quarter final 1 vs Winner Quarter final 2 (3.30am)
Winner Quarter final 3 vs Winner Quarter final 4 (2.30am)
Winner Semi final 1 vs Winner Semi final 2 (2.15am)
The new platform services will allow companies to unify disparate customer data throughout their entire organization and then personalize every engagement based on a single view of the customer.
Customer 360 will also go beyond traditional CDP capabilities and extend the power of CRM with consumer-scale data management and activation.
- Salesforce snaps up Tableau in biggest acquisition yet
- Salesforce launches blockchain channel
- Zendesk boosts CRM capabilities with Smooch deal
President and chief product officer at Salesforce, Bret Taylor explained how companies can boost loyalty by creating a single view of the customer, saying:
"Customers today will not settle for fragmented experiences, and companies recognize that creating a single view of the customer is imperative to earning their loyalty. With Customer 360, we continue to extend our platform in new ways, empowering brands to unify data and personalize customer engagement at scale."Customer 360
Salesforce introduced Customer 360 at last year's Dreamforce conference to help companies connect Salesforce apps and create a unified customer ID to build a single view of the customer. Now the company is expanding the service with new advancements that will make it easier to bridge fragmented customer data cross the entire organization.
The next generation of Customer 365 will also include new data unification and consent management features that will enable brands to unify all of their customer data to create rich customer profiles. Additionally, with Salesforce's consent management framework companies will have the ability to easily gain customer consent wherever they engage users from email marketing to digital advertising.
New segmentation capabilities will allow companies to identify specific groups of people to engage with in real-time based on demographics, engagement history and all other customer data available. Brands will also be able to activate customer data across marketing, commerce, service and beyond to deliver personalized engagement everywhere.
Finally, Customer 365 will allow brands to leverage Einstein's AI capabilities to analyze and understand how and when to engage with customers to drive customer loyalty and improve business performance.
- We've also highlighted the best CRM
Even though mobile gaming has a ways to go before it's just like playing on a desktop or console, it's inching closer every year - and it might grow in leaps and bounds in 2020.
Why? AAA publishers are getting good at translating their AAA franchises to mobile, but the onset of 5G and cloud gaming could elevate mobile gaming across the board.
At E3 2019, we talked to publishers, game developers and phonemakers about their products and projects to get a hint at what's coming for mobile gaming in 2020.
The top-level observations aren’t too surprising: the dependable recipe for success is to make new titles from old but well-known IPs or craft mobile versions of already-popular desktop/console franchises. With so many games out there, new titles have to be platform-savvy and a bit tailored to their audience's regional tastes.
Overall, mobile gaming in the next year will slowly iterate on lessons learned - but the industry is also looking ahead to a sea change from 5G and cloud streaming, both technologies that could change how, and what, we play. Read on for the five trends we see coming in the next year.Trend 1: big franchises, small screens
By far the biggest new title for mobile gaming shown off at E3 2019 was Call of Duty: Mobile, a version of the hit franchise shrunken down to be playable on smartphones. We found the game to be a remarkably similar experience to its fully-fledged siblings, featuring levels ripped straight from the older games, including a bunch stitched together to form the game’s huge battle royale map (which should give seasoned Call of Duty fans an advantage).
Otherwise, the game plays a lot like other more serious mobile shooters: move with your thumb on the left side of the screen, perform actions like shooting, crouching or switching loadouts by hitting the appropriate button on the right side of the screen. It works...once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
But attempting to replicate a console experience on smartphones makes for a cluttered interface, something that plagues every game that uses on-screen controls rather than a dedicated external gamepad (which aren’t common).
To its credit, Call of Duty: Mobile introduces a few control innovations - like auto-shooting once a player hovers their crosshair over an opponent - but these are intended for newer players to get the hang of the game until they transition to the precision of manually moving/aiming/shooting.
In essence, mobile titles inheriting IP from consoles and desktop gaming have good reason to try to import that experience as wholly as possible, but - at least right now - compromise is essential. But there can be elegance in that adjustment.
The other big example on the show floor was The Elder Scrolls: Blades, a game that’s been out in the US in early access for some months before a general release (everywhere but China) in time for E3 2019.
The control scheme is a simplified version of traditional Elder Scrolls combat: once engaged with an enemy, players swipe the screen to attack. It’s missing the free movement that’s defined fighting in the main games, but it enables one-handed play.
Or two-handed, if players prefer: the game’s big innovation is supporting both portrait and landscape modes, with seamless transitions between either, even in the middle of a fight.
The result is “a classic dungeon crawler designed for the modern day,” Lafferty said.Craig Lafferty, Senior Producer
“It took a lot of dev time” to pull off, Veronique (Vero) Bruneau, Producer at Bethesda Game Studios for TES: Blades told TechRadar in an interview at E3. That was surely an understatement: he and Craig Lafferty, Senior Producer and Project Lead at Bethesda Game Studios explained they had to program that swapping mechanism for many phone types and tablets.
The result is “a classic dungeon crawler designed for the modern day,” Lafferty said.
Of course, the game has a lot of accoutrements from the Elder Scrolls franchise, though Blades is deliberately set in a different time period than the other ongoing TES game, Elder Scrolls Online, to avoid content overlap. The wild success of the 2016 game Fallout Shelter convinced Bethesda that its IP could be suitable for mobile titles, provided they found satisfying gameplay mechanics appropriate for the franchise.
Which, in its own way, explains Commander Keen.Trend 2: novelty stands apart in a crowded market
During Bethesda’s E3 2019 showcase, Kira Schlitt, Creative Director at ZeniMax Online Studios, came on stage to introduce a new mobile title she’s helming: Commander Keen. Based on the beloved PC platformer pioneer that was first released in 1990, the game looks to revive the classic side-scrolling gameplay on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
The announcement was a surprise: while Commander Keen certainly has cultural cachet with older gamers, and a place in the history books as the title that enabled the foundation of id Software, it’s not a franchise players have clamored to revive.
But the Bethesda keynote didn’t fully explain the game. Commander Keen will be a platformer with a similar goofy, light-hearted cartoony style as the original...and a card game, too. Each of the title character’s signature gadgets (like pogo sticks and sci-fi traps) is activated via a card, which is shuffled back into their mini-deck once used.
The resulting game sounds like a novel combination of tried-and-true genres: a real-time platformer that requires less twitchy reactivity and more thoughtfulness to proceed. Players can bring eight cards with them into a level, which they can cleverly combine: create a hazard with your vortex gun and then bounce enemies into it with a trampoline. Voila!
It’s hard to imagine how a real-time card-platformer will work out - Bethesda rescinded their offer of a hands-on demo just before E3 2019 - but it sounds different, and more delightful than the usual AAA mobile game (outside of Nintendo’s chipper games, anyway). The Commander Keen team began developing it in early 2018 and were inspired by Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and Clash Royale, but unlike those, the game ended up being more physics-based (and real-time), Schlitt told TechRadar.
Whether the game is a hit, the bigger lesson is that it will (unsurprisingly) be free-to-play with in-game purchases. Schlitt assured that those won't be pay-to-win - they’ll just be cosmetics and time-savers, which should preserve the balance of the 1v1 PVP battle mode coming alongside the single-player story mode. New gadgets will only be unlocked via randomized packs awarded from playing battle mode, which hopefully won’t lock out unlucky players from drawing a complete arsenal.
If established franchises (or ‘intellectual properties’ as the lingo goes) draw more interest than new ones, Commander Keen is a sort of test balloon for dormant franchise palatability: as a F2P title on mobile, there’s conceivably less risk with reviving an old and unlooked-for series than re-introducing a full AAA title on console and desktop. And companies could certainly do worse than Commander Keen’s whimsical pop sci-fi action.
Image credit: NetmarbleTrend 3: Established franchises could be the key to popularizing new genres
South Korea’s biggest mobile game company, Netmarble, didn’t debut new titles to the public at E3 2019, aside from one showed off behind closed doors that’s set to launch in the US before year’s end. But the company’s biggest titles have been ongoing for awhile: Marvel Future Fight, and until last December, Star Wars Heroes and Disney Magical Dice. The company even has an officially-licensed game about the globally popular K-pop boy band BTS.
In other words, Netmarble has plenty of experience securing globally popular IP - but to stand out in a saturated game landscape, the company can’t just dash out a quick title to cash in on very recognizable names. Instead, Netmarble’s current strategy is to build themes and gameplay mechanics that match the IP, Netmarble US CEO Simon Sim explained to TechRadar.
He came to E3 2019 with Netmarble to promote a mobile game coming to the US later in 2019: King of Fighters All-Stars. Just like previous games in the main King of Fighters series, the free-to-play title will feature characters from many SNK games - but the mobile game is a side-scrolling beat-em-up instead of a traditional fighting game.
Image credit: King of Fighters
The genre switch seems like a shrewd move to preserve the fun of hand-to-hand combat without forcing players to use clumsy mobile game controls for fighting games, which require precise inputs to compete. Indeed, KoF: All Stars abbreviates those inputs with a small cluster of buttons on the right side: a big one for basic strikes surrounded by three for signature moves, while buttons at the top of the screen switch out teammates.
The game proved popular in Japan, where Netmarble first released KoF: All Stars back in 2017, and has been a success in South Korea after launching there in May 2019. When asked whether KoF: All Stars will catch on in the US - a market where side-scrolling beat-em-up mobile games aren’t super popular - Sim explained that the genre didn’t need to be a top-seller for Netmarble’s title to be successful.
That’s what we believe: if you change the game you will change the trend,” Sim said.Simon Sim, Netmarble US CEO
The company has experience pioneering mobile game genres, Sim continued. Netmarble beta launched Lineage 2 Revolution in South Korea in late 2016 at a time when mobile MMORPGs weren’t popular. Back in January, the game crossed $1.5 billion in player spend, according to Sensor Tower.
It’s possible that KoF: All Stars could kick off its own trend in the US. “That’s what we believe: if you change the game you will change the trend,” Sim said.
That doesn’t mean every game will work everywhere - the company tweaks its games slightly for each market for legal compliance and for playerbase taste. Asian markets don’t mind the randomness of true ‘gacha’ systems, while Western and US players prefer a more expected reward system that grants, say, a guaranteed five-star character or one from a certain game. As a result, KoF: All Stars has three distinct versions for Japan, South Korea, and the upcoming US/Western release.
But Netmarble isn’t just trying to hit big with already-popular IPs - the company aims to release a popular game featuring its own intellectual property, for obvious financial reasons (licensing fees, etc). Sim used Stone Age as an example (Stone Age Begins first came out in 2016), but when asked if they had new games to announce from its IPs, he only had one thing to say: stay tuned.
Image credit: TechRadarTrend 4: Phonemakers are still committed to local gaming, not streaming
In the last few years, phonemakers have released handsets aimed at gamers that pack high specs and special modes that optimize phone gaming. One of these, the Chinese OEM Black Shark, just released its second phone (the Black Shark 2) in April - but it’s already looking toward the future.
The company didn’t show off its anticipated Black Shark 5G, which some reports say could come out before 2020, but Black Shark VP of Yang Sun, VP Marketing of Black Shark Global, had serious thoughts about how the next year of gaming might change - specifically, with hardware.
Currently, the best phones for gaming are high-specced flagships, but specialized handsets that pack in more features specifically for playing games. The Black Shark 2 is one of these, and its additions range from the obvious (a liquid cooling system to lower internal temperatures during intense gaming sessions) to the subtle (large antennas so players can won’t impede signal wrapping their fingers around the phone).
Others, like the Red Magic 3, have ‘shoulder’ touch buttons. If you’re playing locally, these handsets provide the best gaming experience.
But 5G and cloud gaming could alter how we think of mobile gaming devices. 5G will have obvious benefits, like faster internet speeds and lower latency, which will likely help across the board. It could take awhile for these changes to affect consumers, with all the network and server infrastructure that still needs to be built.
And 5G-compatible devices will probably be expensive for the next three years until the tech trickles down to more affordable handsets. Even the Black Shark 3 coming in 2020, which will pack Qualcomm’s next 5G-capable chipset, will almost surely be as pricey as the last.
Image credit: TechRadar
Instead of relying on your local hardware, cloud gaming shifts the processing to massive server farms; upcoming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud promise to deliver console/PC-level performance to any device that can stream media. We simply won’t need local hardware anymore - not to the extreme degree it’s at right now, anyway.
Mobile devices would need failproof connectivity, of course, but the other major priority to reach parity with PC and console gaming lies in improving displays. Smartphones and tablets lag behind in screen clarity and quality; eventually, cloud gaming would reduce the choice between mobile, tablet and PC to which size screen you’d like to game on.
There are other obstacles limiting mobile gaming, like inferior screen controls vs. gamepads - and even hardware limitations. There are tricks Black Shark is ready to build into its phones that they claim will bring mobile gaming closer to parity with PC and console, like interpolating game framerates of 30 frames per second to imitate 60fps - but it’s the hardware that restricts them. If Qualcomm opened up their chip tech to Black Shark, the company claims it could improve the mobile gaming experience.
Which would help the chicken-and-egg situation that has kept mobile gaming stagnant for years: why build a better experience if there aren’t games that need it? And why would developers raise the production level of their games if they’re only playable on less-accessible higher-spec phones? Something needs to come along to break this quagmire.
Perhaps it is 5G, or cloud gaming, or even next year’s Black Shark 3, which the representative told me is “just completely other stuff.” Sea changes are most likely coming...but slowly.
Image credit: TechRadarTrend 5: 5G is coming - and how will it change mobile gaming?
Tucked between IndieCade, Sega/Atlus and Nintendo’s massive floorspace at E3 2019, Verizon had a simple presence: one screen on each side of a square booth, each showing off a different mobile game developed during a game jam the carrier held in December 2018. All were made to show off the potential of 5G.
Like many games made during a jam, these had easily-grasped concepts: Knights on a Rocket, for instance, featured two knights battering each other while trying to steer themselves through an asteroid field. The point, one of the game’s developers Kevin Harper told TechRadar, was to showcase 5G technology.
If you could stream in far more data - at the game jam, Harper and his team saw 1Gbps download from Verizon’s temporary 5G setup - then you could make a game that relied on assets downloaded very very quickly. You could see the result as asteroids came hurtling quickly but seamlessly at his game’s knights, without any visible network slowdown.
“Techwise [5G is] there, but the infrastructure needed is huge."Kevin Harper, game developer
Another game in the Verizon booth featured a simple dagger shooting up the side of a pillar and veering from side to side dodging obstacles - simple enough gameplay, but the mesmerizing, shimmering lighting effects were console-level quality.
Current mobile games can’t pull this off, even those adapted from console/desktop titles. Fortnite, for example, is “very much a mobile build,” Harper said.
5G could enable much more dynamic gameplay...eventually. “Techwise it’s there, but the infrastructure needed is huge,” Harper said. By his estimation, we won’t see that 5G-enabled next-generation of mobile gaming arrive in 2020. Next year will be about validating the technology first, then seeing if and where it can be useful to consumers.
When it arrives, Harper sees a mobile gaming future much like Black Shark’s representative: devices will require much less hardware, essentially narrowing their development priorities down to handsets that process video streamed in over the air and send inputs back to servers.
That’s a potentially scary proposition for OEMs that have justified ever-higher flagship phone prices by including higher and higher-specced hardware. “But there’s definitely an opportunity for someone to take advantage of,” Harper noted.
Even with less complex devices that just stream video, one roadblock to 5G mobile gaming looms large: carrier data caps, which seem prohibitively limiting compared to the massive data speeds 5G is capable of. These, Harper noted, are ‘artificially imposed’ and hopefully ripe for change before a single night of gaming wipes out your data allocation for the month - but we’ll have to wait and see how carriers meet customer needs when the next-gen networks expand beyond the handful of coverage pockets that exist today.
- 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.
The operators behind the GandCrab ransomware have announced that they are closing up shop after almost a year and a half in which they claimed to have earned $2bn from ransom payments.
GandCrab rose in popularity among cybercriminals after the operators began to market their services on underground criminal sites in January of 2018. Since then, its creators have become some of the most dominant actors in the ransomware space.
News that GandCrab is shutting down came from security researchers Damian and David Montenegro who have closely followed the exploits of the ransomware on the underground hacking and malware forum Exploit.in. It was there that they discovered a post from the GandCrab operators in which they said they are shutting down their operation.
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In the post, the operators said that the ransomware has earned over $2bn with average weekly payments of $2.5m while they personally earned over 150m. The GandCrab operators went on to explain their future plans, saying:
“We are leaving for a well-deserved retirement. We have proven that by doing evil deeds, retribution does not come. We proved in a year you can earn money for a lifetime. We have proved that it is possible to become number one not in our own words, but in recognition of other people.”GandCrab
In the announcement, the operators also said that they have stopped promoting the ransomware while requesting that affiliates stop distributing it within 20 days. Additionally, their forum post is scheduled to be deleted at the end of the month.
The operators even encouraged victims to pay for decryption now as their keys will be deleted at the end of the month. Hopefully though, they release the keys once they shut down as other large ransomware operations have done in the past.
GandCrab's operators have always operated a bit differently than their counterparts though, using taunts, jokes and references to organizations and researchers in their code. Another such example is the fact that the operators decided to use domain names for their Command & Control servers which were based on organizations and websites known for ransomware research.
While it is good news that GandCrab is finally shutting down, cybercriminals are likely working right now to fill the gap it will leave in the ransomware space.
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