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Updated: 6 min 54 sec ago

Best 32-inch TVs 2019: the best small TVs for any budget

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 08:30

If you're after a small TV, and can't bear the scale – or the price tag – of the massive screens being touted by today's TV makers, there's still an impressive collection of the best 32-inch TVs that more than compensate for their size.

It's the bigger screens that tend to get the most attention, as well as the latest and greatest features, and you may feel the pressure to opt for a television that simply won't fit that comfortably into your home. 

Thankfully, today's crop of 32-inch TVs are still able to pack in modern smart platforms and picture resolutions, or simplify their offering to help drive down end prices – making these small televisions every bit as worth considering as their larger counterparts.

It's worth pointing out that you’re unlikely to find the best of the best TV features in a 32-inch model. For example, OLED panels are off the table, and there's little point in 4K resolutions at such a small display size. 

  • Empty list

But that doesn’t mean you can’t grab yourself a bargain with an excellent 32-inch TV set with a Full HD 1080p resolution, crystal-clear image quality and connected smart platform catch-up features. In fact, some 32-inch sets even offer newer features, like HDR.

The biggest difficulty for those in the market for a 32-inch set if that there are still so many available at that size, which means it can be hard to know exactly which one is worth your money. 

Luckily, our TV experts have tested and researched the best options, whether you're in the US or UK. The best bit is they cost just a fraction of the price of a giant OLED TV like the LG C8 OLED

Read on for our pick of the best 32-inch TV bunch of 2019 – and be sure to check back to see what newer sets are added throughout the year.

Image Credit: Vizio

VIZIO pretty much rules the roost when it comes to high-quality value TVs in the United States, with the 2018 D32-F1 being the best of them all. 

While the name might not exactly jump out at you, VIZIO's small screen has a lot going for it – including a full 1080p resolution and an app tray full of the most popular streaming services (including Netflix, YouTube and Hulu). We'd recommend plugging in some speakers if you can, as the integrated ones aren't great. 

That being said, if you're looking for something smart, small and affordable at a 32-inch size, you can't beat VIZIO's small screen wonder in our opinion.

Image Credit: Samsung

Samsung has been a leader in the 32-inch TV space for years, and at the moment its top of the line model is is the UN32M5300. 

Why? It offers full 1080p images and its Tizen operating system for a price that most folks can afford. This grants access to loads of apps, and the TV's built-in Wi-Fi stops you from having to plug it into your router. 

Sure, the UN32M5300 doesn't have the most connection ports in the world, with just two HDMI slots to pick from. But hey, the small compromises are absolutely worth it.

Image Credit: TCL

Back in 2017, the TCL 32S305 was one of the best-selling 32-inch TVs. It was affordable, offered built-in Roku TV and decent picture quality considering the fact that it was limited to 720p. 

Since then, a number of better-looking TV have come along (cough Samsung M5300) but, if price is your main criteria, then you can't go wrong with 2017's best.

Image Credit: Toshiba

If you have shelves full of DVDs or a habit of popping the latest bargain bucket DVD title in with your weekly shopping, this new Toshiba 32-inch model is one to consider, with its built-in DVD drive. 

It's not going to rival some of the other models here on all-round picture quality, and it isn't Full HD either. But it still looks attractive despite its combi design, and supports the Freeview Play smart system in the UK, which adds up to a lot of features for its £229 price.

You also get three HDMI ports, one more than several other 32-inch TV sets in this round-up.

  • This product is only available in the UK as of this writing. US and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung UN32M5300.

Image Credit: Sony

The Sony KDL32WE613 is proof a 32-inch TV doesn't have to miss out on newer tech. It supports HDR, usually only seen in much larger, more expensive TVs. 

HDR isn't equal across sets as it relies on a screen's contrast and brightness, but it will let you squeeze more out of a top-end Netflix or Amazon Video subscription, or your favorite console games. The TV also offers recording over USB, Wi-Fi and access to BBC iPlayer, YouTube and a fistful of other apps. 

The stinger is this 32-inch TV set is only 720p, not Full HD. If you're going to watch close-up, the benefits of higher resolution may outweigh HDR. 

Image Credit: Sunbrite

If you came here looking for an outdoor TV in the 32-inch bracket, we wouldn't feel right sending you off without mentioning SunBrite's series of full-outdoor TVs.

The SunBrite SB3211 in particular offers a super-bright screen that can compete with the sun in any setting. Not only does it pack in 1,000 nits of brightness, but it carries a 1080p resolution and a weatherproof speaker bar.

The only drawback is that it's crazy expensive – around $3,300 if you buy directly from SunBrite. That said, if you want the best 32-inch TV set you can keep outdoors to make your rental home (or real home) even better, this is it.

 Which TVs does TechRadar recommend? 

We know that shopping for a new TV can be a massive hassle, more so when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. But, don't worry, the experts here at TechRadar are veterans at compiling lists that help you find out what features to check for when you're looking for the best 32-inch TV for you.

With 32-inch TVs, one of the most important features to look for is 'smart TV' capabilities. When it comes to a TV for a second or third room, smart features can drastically improve the value and utility of TVs for the simple reason that it prevents you from having to purchase another set-top box or streaming stick.

Instead, all of the functionality of those devices is built right in, saving you time and money. If you’re looking for a TV to fill a bedroom or study, a set with Wi-Fi capability that supports video streaming and file sharing should be at the top of your list.

If you can, we recommend avoiding TVs with resolutions lower than 1080p. Sure, a 720p image will look fine on a smaller screen, but if you want all the details in the images, a 1080p TV is the way to go. Keep in mind that some retailers and manufacturers will try to mislead customers by labeling most 32-inch TVs as 'HD Ready', signifying that it features an HD resolution; however, even though the lower 1,366 x 768 resolution technically qualifies as 'HD Ready', it's going to deliver an image that is muddier and less clear than TVs with a full HD 1,920 x 1,080 display.

One last thing to consider before you decide which 32-inch TV you want, is whether or not it has all the ports you need. Devices like the PS4, the Nintendo Switch and DVD/Blu-ray players will need HDMI inputs; the Nintendo Wii or other legacy game consoles will need a component or even composite video input; PCs, if they don’t use HDMI, will likely use a DVI or VGA input; and Sky or cable set top boxes will need an additional HDMI.

When you have a lot of different devices to connect, it will really make your life easier getting a 32-inch TV that has enough ports to support everything you want to do with it. Keep these tips in mind, and you should have no problem finding the small screen of your dreams.

  • Head on over to page two to read more about 32-inch TVs!

Hopefully by now you've realized that you shouldn’t take buying a 32-inch TV lightly, even if it's intended for a second room. An 'impulse' second room TV purchase – especially one based on just trying to get the cheapest model you can find – can often easily end in tears and a sense of money wasted, if a set doesn’t give you the features and performance traits your set up needs.

But what, exactly, should you be searching for beyond a 1080p resolution, a bevy of ports and smart functionality? Here are five more things to look out for. 

Get connected

While not often considered for TVs, Bluetooth support might also be handy – especially if you want to quickly stream music from your smart devices to the TV's speakers. However, such support isn’t common in the 32-inch TV market, and so a TV not having it likely shouldn't be seen as a deal breaker.

When it comes to built-in video streaming services, your 32-inch TV will ideally carry apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the catch up services of the UK's four main broadcasters: BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub, All4 and My5. Now TV may be a handy extra bonus too, if you can find it.

Best 32-inch TV sets

Finding all of these services – or even a good percentage of them – on a single 32-inch TV can be quite a challenge, though, if you try to save money and look beyond the main LG/Samsung/Sony/Panasonic brands (these all combine relatively strong app support with far more advanced and friendly interfaces than you tend to get with 'b-list' brands).

As the icing on the cake, you could also consider a 32-inch TV that carries either Freeview Play or YouView. These apps present the UK's catch-up TV services in a convenient 'wrapper' that includes an electronic program guide you can scroll back through time as well as forwards, making it easier to hunt down shows you've missed. At the time of writing, though, we believe only Panasonic offers this sort of functionality (in the form of Freeview Play) on its 32-inch TVs.

Go beyond resolution

Like we mentioned earlier, resolution is important. However, resolution is only one part of a TV's overall picture performance, so it is possible for a 720p TV with superior motion processing, color management and backlighting to produce better pictures than a low quality 1080p set. Try and consider a screen's picture claims and features as a whole, rather than focussing on a single specification.

Best 32-inch TV sets

IPS vs VA panels

There are essentially two types of LCD panel technology out there for 32-inch TVs: IPS and VA. IPS panels offer slightly wider viewing angles, while VA panels support much better contrast.

With big screen 'main' TVs likely to be used for watching films, sometimes with the lights dimmed, the lack of contrast with IPS screens can become a big issue, causing dark scenes to look washed out. So if you're looking for a 32-inch TV to go into a relatively dark environment, a VA panel is a must.

IPS panel contrast issues are less problematic in bright rooms such as conservatories and kitchens, though, and the (slight) IPS viewing angle advantage can also be handy in such large environments where viewers may be using the TV while walking around the room.

It can be hard to find out for sure what sort of panel a particular 32-inch TV uses, but it’s definitely worth pursuing if you're a movie fan or gamer looking to use a TV in a dark room. To get you started, all LG TVs use IPS panels, and pretty much all Samsung TVs use VA panels. Other brands tend to use a mixture of IPS and VA panels across different parts of their ranges.

Gaming mode

The 32-inch screen size is understandably popular with gamers, but some 32-inch TV sets handle gaming much better than others. Motion issues are particularly critical to gaming, so if you’re able to see a few sets running, look out for the motion-related issues mentioned in the previous section.

How quickly a 32-inch TV renders image data received at its inputs – something known as input lag – is also a critical issue for gaming. Unfortunately, though, this is seldom a specification that's quoted by manufacturers, and while it's something we cover in our TV tests, getting 32-inch TVs to test is proving next to impossible  these days.

At the very least, though, any 32-inch TV a gamer buys ought to at least carry a Game picture preset. This shows that a brand has at least thought about gaming by providing a mode optimized for it – and usually one of the key features of such game modes is keeping input lag to a minimum.

Best 32-inch TV sets

Don't get hung up on design

One strange thing about the second-room TV market dominated by 32-inch models is that people seem much more likely to get obsessed by specific design requirements than they do with the main living room TV – and that's especially true when it comes to the set's color (white, for instance, is in especially high demand for kitchens and conservatories).

Presumably some consumers think that with second-room TVs the usual picture quality concerns become relatively unimportant, as the TV will only be used casually.

Our advice would be, though, that you try not to let design conditions limit your TV choice since experience shows that actually, smart features and some aspects of picture quality – especially brightness and (with gamers) motion clarity – are even more important to the effectiveness of second room TVs than they are to main living room TVs.

Sound quality

Far too many 32-inch TVs treat sound as an afterthought, even though it's a key part of any viewing experience. It can be tricky to judge a TV's likely audio performance, though, without hearing it for yourself.

All you can do is look for rated speaker output specifications (even though these are notoriously unreliable) and clues in a TV's design: forward firing speakers, built-in bass woofers, enough space on the rear to allow air to move around, and so on.

To DVD, or not to DVD

Finally, if you want to limit secondary kit clutter around a 32-inch TV in a second room, there are still a small number of 32-inch TVs out there that carry built-in DVD players. The 32-inch Toshiba 32D3753DB, the Bush DLED32265HDDVDW and the Cello C32227FT2, for instance.

However, none of the 'big four' TV brands support this feature any more, leaving you having to consider second tier manufacturers – with potential negative impact on picture quality and smart features – if you're still a DVD user.

32-inch TV sets with built-in Blu-ray players are not available at the time of writing, by the way, so don't forget that when you're using a built-in DVD player you're having to watch a standard definition picture being upscaled – often by rather average processing – to the TV screen's HD resolution.

Categories: Tech News

Is AI superficial when it comes to using it for cybersecurity purposes?

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 08:30

Data is central to today’s digital economy and it has intrinsic value to businesses and consumers. However, organisations worldwide are facing severe challenges when it comes to protecting data from cybercrime and data leakage. 

Technology can of course provide many solutions to help protect data from leakage. Yet, some technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can also arm cybercriminals with new ways to expand upon malicious attacks.

To better understand whether AI is a help or a hindrance to cybersecurity, TechRadar Pro sat down with Ensighten’s Chief Revenue Officer, Ian Woolley.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

Categories: Tech News

The best iPhone apps we've used in 2019

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 08:09

Apps are the cornerstone of the iPhone – what really set it apart from Android. The best iPhone apps are typically best in class.

However, finding the greatest apps among the millions available isn’t easy, and so we’ve done the hard work for you. 

Our lists compile the very best the iPhone has to offer, whether using your iPhone for photos, video, drawing, music, office tasks, reading, maps, weather forecasts or keeping kids entertained.

This round-up compiles our favourites, from top-quality creative tools and video editors to the finest productivity kit and social networking clients.

In addition to our ongoing list of the absolute best, every week we're adding our picks for the latest and greatest new or updated apps, so check back often.

Even if you don't have an iPhone right now, it's worth reading up on what's available if you're considering investing in the iPhone XS or even one of the older models (if you need more info, check out our list of the best iPhones) - but note that some of these titles will only work with models from iPhone 5S and later.

Read on below for our free app pick of the week then click through to the following pages for the best iPhone apps across a range of categories.

iPhone app of the week: Sago Mini Village

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Sago Mini Village is a building blocks game for small children. It takes place in a vibrant, fantastical realm apparently entirely populated by grinning gnomes. Shops and houses are constructed by drag-and-drop, like a cross between prefab housing and Duplo. As your village grows, more gnomes will move in, and then start milling about the place, visiting new friends.

In the hands of a kid, Sago Mini Village becomes a thing of wonder. It’s reportedly inspired by Minecraft, but clearly knows how to engage and cater for very young children. The interface is elegant and usable,there are no ads, it’s possible to play offline, and all of the surprises within the game are of a delightful kind. And as an added bonus, after a major building session, there’s nothing to tidy away!

Best iPhone photo editing and camera apps

These are our favorite iPhone apps for editing snaps, capturing photos and video and applying the filters that actually make things look good.

Glitch Art Studio
  • Free + $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 IAP

Glitch Art Studio is an impressive and arresting photo effects app that brings texture and character to even the most mundane snap. This is achieved by way of slathering on all kinds of distortion effects, up to the point where you’re left with something that’s barely recognizable as a photograph.

We’re not kidding. The first few presets (available in the free app) give you an indication of what’s in store, making videos and stills alike look as if they’re being displayed on an ancient, very broken television. But further filters come across like you’re stuck inside a kaleidoscope or are having a full-on hallucinogenic episode.

If the presets don’t do it for you, you can make custom ones by working with a slew of settings; and when done, you can output your eye-popping miniature masterpieces as stills or videos. 

Visionist
  • Free + $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Visionist uses neural networks to ape various types of artwork. Load a photo and it’s instantly reworked as a virtual painting that resembles something expensive you’d find hanging on a gallery wall.

Pay for the IAP and you get 70 styles (10 come for free). They could do with being grouped and labeled, but you do at least get control over how they’re applied: each style offers three levels of abstraction; and there are settings for how it interacts with the original imagery.

Additionally, modern iPhone owners can play with depth – Portrait shots get further options for refinement, and depth data is preserved for the likes of Facebook 3D photos. Canvas prints and high-res exports cement Visionist as more than just another arty filters app.

Camera+
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Camera+ is a combined camera and editor. Despite the wealth of available options, the interface is initially quite minimal, with a modes strip across the top of the screen, a zoom slider, and the shutter. But tap the + button and you reveal further modes, including a timer, a stabilizer and smile detection.

Similarly, tap the viewfinder area and Camera+ enters a ‘pro’ mode, with manual controls, and scene options for shooting under specific lighting conditions. The interface is finicky compared to Obscura 2, but Camera+ is undoubtedly powerful.

Post-shooting, you can edit with adjustment tools, filters, and frames in the Lightbox. This all comes across as impressively friendly and straightforward, and although the range of tools doesn’t compare to Snapseed’s, it’s enough to keep you within the one app for the most part.

Oilist
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Oilist is a generational art app. You feed it something from Photos, choose a style, and it gets to work, continually repainting your image. It’s like someone’s trapped a tiny van Gogh in your iPhone.

In fact, it’s like a slew of artists are stuck in your device, because Oilist has a massive range of styles to choose from, taking in everything from classic oil painters through to modern art. Although the app can be left alone in a dock, you can capture stills for posterity, or fiddle with settings (including brush strokes, mood, ‘chaos’ and gravity) to redirect the virtual artist.

Whether you interact or just sit back and watch, Oilist is mesmerizing – kind of like a painterly lava lamp, only what you see is based on one of your own cherished photographs.

Snapseed
  • Free

Snapseed is a free photo editor with a feature set that rivals the very best premium apps. It’s geared towards users of any level, from those who fancy applying quick filters to anyone who wants to dig deep into adjustments and powerful editing tools.

The range of options is dazzling, and the interface is smartly conceived. You can crop, make adjustments, and edit curves, all with a few swipes and taps. Often, vertical drags select parameters, and horizontal drags define an effect’s strength – tactile and intuitive. Even better, edits are non-destructive, and can be removed or changed at any point by accessing them in the edits stack.

As a final sign off, the app enables you to save any combination of adjustments as a custom preset, which you can then apply to any image in the future with a single tap. Superb stuff.

Obscura 2
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Obscura 2 is the best manual camera app for iPhone. It achieves this not with a slew of features, but by providing an interaction model that’s so brilliantly conceived that you simply won’t want to use another iPhone camera.

Echoing manual cameras of old, everything is based around a contextual wheel that sits above the shutter. Initially, you use it to select a tool. When setting focus or exposure, the wheel enables you to make fine adjustments with your thumb. You get a real feel of precision control, with optional haptic feedback confirming your choices.

The app makes the odd concession to modern photography trends with a range of filters, but mostly Obscura 2 wants you to think a little more about what you’re snapping, all while breathing in its minimal yet approachable and deeply pleasing design.

Filmborn
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Filmborn is an app for camera obsessives – for those who revel in the joys of film, but come away unimpressed with apps that present an over-saturated, overblown take on old-school photography.

The interface is icon-heavy, but gives you fast access to tools that will improve your photography. There’s manual focusing, a range of grid overlays, and a blown highlights preview that outlines problematic areas of a potential snap.

The film filters will appeal to fans of real-world stock, subtly transforming images in a manner that’s pleasingly realistic. Filmborn even educates you regarding when’s best to use each one. The app also includes basic editing functionality, although a key tool – curves – frustratingly sits behind IAP.

Despite that niggle, Filmborn is well worth checking out if you fancy fusing photography’s past with its present.

Retrospecs
  • Free + $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Retrospecs is a camera app that wants you to see the world as if it was being rendered by ancient computing and gaming hardware. Load a photo – or take one using the app – and you can select from a wide range of systems, such as the Game Boy, Commodore 64, and original Mac.

But this isn’t just a single-tap filter app for aficionados of pixel art. You can adjust dither, image corruption, and virtual CRT distortion. You get animation effects and video support. And should you get fed up with the included emulated systems, you can even make your own.

So whether you believe all your photos should look like an eight-bit video game or want to add a crazy glitch sequence to your next YouTube video, Retrospecs fits the bill perfectly.

Halide
  • $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99

Halide wants you to focus on deliberate, thoughtful photography. Its creator has remarked that many camera apps now have interfaces like airplane cockpits, and Halide was stripped back accordingly.

That’s not to say Halide is bereft of features, but those it has are all about taking better photos. You can adjust focus and exposure manually, and use ‘focus peaking’ to highlight areas of sharp contrast within the frame, and the grid overlay’s central rectangle turns yellow when your phone is held straight.

If you have a modern iPhone, Halide offers a groundbreaking depth mode with ‘depth peaking’ and a depth map preview. You can also view portrait photos in augmented reality.

The net result of all this is a premium camera app that feels like a professional tool – money well spent if your idea of photography isn’t based around filters and stickers.

Pic Collage
  • Free + $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 IAP

Pic Collage offers ways to quickly turn some photos into something special, and the best mode is Grids. You select some images, which Pic Collage automatically drops into a grid layout. If you’re not keen on what you get, you can choose something different, add a background, or manually fiddle with the dividers.

Double-tap an individual image and you get further tools, including an ‘effects’ area that’s not far off a fully-fledged photo editor. You can add stickers and text to your masterpiece, and even doodle over the top of everything. If you fancy something more structured, the Cards mode offers predefined card layouts, and Freestyle lets you go entirely freeform.

Everything can be tried entirely for free, but exports have watermarks. Be rid of those for a one-off IAP that’s very much value for money.

ProCam 5
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

ProCam 5 is an iPhone camera app with a lot of options. Not one for minimalists, then, but the app’s design is such that while it could have drowned you in a bewildering array of options, it actually ends up being very usable.

The main camera shoots to RAW, TIFF or JPEG, and optionally shoots HDR. There are several modes (burst, night, slow shutter, and so on), and you can manually tweak ISO, exposure, shutter speed, and focus.

Usefully, you can also opt to shoot only when your iPhone is perfectly still; and there are handy visual guides, too, including a focus peak meter, a grid of thirds, and a tilt meter.

When you’re finished shooting, you can delve into a capable editor for trimming, perspective correction, frame-by-frame video clip review, and the application of lenses and filters. It’s very comprehensive, making for a high-value package.

MaxCurve
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

MaxCurve is a photo editor aimed at people who want more control over adjustments. The app includes the basics – cropping; vignettes; sharpness; grain – but its real power is in the curve tools that afford a huge amount of control over color, lightness, saturation, and other aspects of your photo.

The approach is very different from most of MaxCurve’s contemporaries, and, notably, the curves take up a lot of room, sitting in front of the image you’re editing. But they do provide a very tactile means of making everything from subtle tweaks to dramatic changes.

These effects are all non-destructive, too, applied as layers, to which you can also add colors (with blend modes) and textures. Bar its slightly cluttered interface, the only real problem with MaxCurve is it can be a bit too clever – there are no quick-fix buttons for things like exposure. But perhaps that’s the point.

Mextures
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Modern iPhones have some seriously impressive camera hardware, and are capable of taking clean, vibrant shots. So it’s perhaps no surprise that iPhone users are often hell-bent on slathering said images in filters and messing them up.

Mextures is a decidedly extreme example, providing a theoretically unlimited number of layers to play with, each of which can have some kind of effect applied. These include grit, grain, light leaks, gradients, and more.

Because each layer can be fine-tuned in terms of opacity and blend mode, you can get anything from subtle film textures to seriously eye-popping grunge effects.

Hit upon something particularly amazing and you can share your ‘formulas’ with other people. Or if you’re in need of a quick fix, you can grab something that’s already online to overhaul your snaps.

Hipstamatic
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

There are two sides to Hipstamatic. In its ‘native’ form, the app apes old-school point-and-click cameras. You get a tiny viewport inside a virtual plastic camera body, and can swap out lenses, film, and flashes, along with messing about with multiple exposures and manual shutters. It’s pleasingly tactile and twangs your nostalgia gland, but feels a bit cramped.

If you’d rather use your entire iPhone display to show what you’re snapping, you can switch to a ‘pro’ camera mode. That’s closer in nature to Apple’s own Camera, but with Hipstamatic’s huge range of rather lovely filters bolted on – a great mash-up of old and new.

And if you’re wedded to Apple’s camera, Hipstamatic’s still worth a download, given that you can load a photo, slather it in filters, add loads of effects and bask in your creative genius. 

SoSoCamera
  • $0.99/99p/AU$1.49

Apple offers a burst mode when you hold down the shutter in its camera app, but this is for very rapidly taking many shots in quick succession, in order to select the best one.

By contrast, SoSoCamera is about documenting a lengthier slice of time, taking a series of photos over several seconds and then stitching them together in a grid.

The grid's size maxes out at 48 items and can be fashioned however you like. It's then just a question of selecting a filter, prodding the camera button, and letting SoSoCamera perform its magic.

The resulting images, while low-res in nature, nicely capture the feel of time passing, in many cases better than video; although do experiment first with the filters, because some are a bit too eye-searing.

The best animation apps and video editors for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for editing and creating videos, GIFs, Live Photos and cinemagraphs.

VideoGrade
  • $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99

VideoGrade is a color editor for videos. Its toolset gives you something akin to the color grading effects you find in modern TV shows and movies, along with the means to repair problematic footage.

Although primarily aimed at professionals, VideoGrade is easy to use – essentially selecting tools and dragging sliders. Adjustments are non-destructive, and green indicators denote tools you’ve already used, so you can go back and make changes.

There are a couple of issues. Effects are applied to a still frame, which is awkward to change. Also, full previews require rendering. But there’s an original/edit split view, favorite setups can be saved, and VideoGrade’s entire feature set can be accessed from within Photos. Given that this all happens on a phone, it’s hugely impressive. Just go easy on the ‘teal and orange’, eh?

8mm Vintage Camera
  • US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

8mm Vintage Camera is an app dedicated to shooting authentic retro films. In other words, it transforms your otherwise pristine iPhone videos into something that could have been shot anywhere from the 1970s back to the 1920s.

This is more than a basic filters app, though. When shooting live, you get to see the effect, can swap out lenses to add spotlights, color fringing and other effects, and can even add jitter to imitate frame shakes.

Polishing off a superb app are features for working with existing video (which you ‘record’ into 8mm, in a manner similar to Apple’s Clips), and stitching together multiple shots, complete with titles and music. You get a couple of themes included in the purchase price, and several more are available via IAP.

nception
  • US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

nception is a photo/video reality-bender of the opinion that everything looks interesting when you start mucking about with mirrors. It provides over 20 symmetric reflection presets, some carving the screen in half, and others being a mite more complicated.

You can shoot live stills or footage, and import existing content. When working with either, there are color filters to overlay; and with video, it’s possible to adjust the frame rate and speed. So if you want some slo-mo (rather than just standard speed) weirdness, that’s just a couple of taps away.

Naturally, nception isn’t the kind of filter app that you’ll wheel out for every occasion, but it’s great for experimenting with, and getting some weirdness into photos, especially when exploring cities and wanting to capture a unique take on local architecture.

Stop Motion Studio Pro
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$8.99

Stop Motion Studio Pro is designed for people patient enough to craft stop-motion masterpieces. It’s a friendly app, but flexible too. You can shoot in-app to add new frames, add existing images from your iPhone, or import video, which is converted to a string of stills.

The editor is powerful: you can copy and paste frames; a Painter mode offers text, shapes and backgrounds; you can create custom titles; and it’s possible to import audio. Playback of audio is intelligent, continuing until completion (rather than just the end of the frame), allowing multiple effects to be overlaid.

The app overreaches with talk of rotoscoping – drawing over frames in the stype of A Scanner Darkly – but for everything else, this is ideal fodder for taking your first steps towards becoming the next Aardman or Ray Harryhausen.

Cinegraph
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Cinegraph is about using existing videos (or Live Photos) to create images that move. Areas selected by the user animate in an endless loop while the rest of the image remains static – a beguiling effect.

The selection of tools is small, but focused on the task at hand: basic adjustment options for your image, brush/overlay settings for outlining the part(s) of your image that will move, and the means to fine-tune the video output, for example to crossfade the end of the loop.

There’s no automated stabilization, which is a pity – you’re effectively restricted to videos or stills shot using a tripod with no wobble whatsoever. But with the right starting point, Cinegraph is capable of fashioning little slices of magic. And unlike much of the competition, there’s no messing about with subscriptions or IAP for ongoing use or removing watermarks.

ImgPlay
  • Free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP

A playground for GIFs, ImgPlay aims to bring life to whatever you capture with your iPhone – or to fine-tune the motion within those things that already move.

You start off by loading pretty much anything from your Camera Roll: photos, videos, Burst mode images, Live Photos, or GIFs. With stills, you can select a number of them to stitch together, essentially making ImgPlay a kind of low-end stop-motion tool.

But it’s with Live Photos and Burst shots that ImgPlay really becomes interesting. You can take the video or sequence of images your iPhone shoots, trim the result (including removing individual frames), add a filter and text, and then export the lot as a GIF or video.

For free, the app’s full-featured, but buy the small IAP and you get more filters, no ads, and no watermark on export.

Burstio
  • $0.99/99p/AU$1.49

The burst mode in Apple's camera app is designed to get you the perfect photo in tricky situations. If you've a fast-moving subject – or are snapping someone who blinks a lot – you hold the shutter, very rapidly take loads of photos, and later select the best.

But in capturing anything up to dozens of photos, there's potential to do something with those you'd usually discard. Burstio is all about turning such images into animations.

Launch the app and you see your burst photos as little film strips, each detailing the number of images within. Select a burst and you can trim the series, adjust playback speed, and alter playback direction.

Your edit can then be exported to video or GIF. The process is elegant and simple, and brings new life to images you'd otherwise never use.

The best art and design apps for iPhone

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

Imaengine Vector
  • Free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99

Imaengine Vector is a camera app/photo editor. Take a shot – a selfie, your lunch, or an amazing landscape – or load an image, and it’s turned into a vector drawing. That in itself perhaps isn’t anything special, but what else the app does very much is.

First and foremost, some of the predefined filters are spectacular. Even the dullest of pics when fed through this app can end up looking like art. The settings can be tweaked, too, including detail levels, colors, and line thickness. If that’s not enough, tap the Editor button and you end up in a full-fledged vector graphics editor.

The interface is a bit messy on iPhone, and the editing section might baffle. But even for the filters, it’s worth the outlay, and for illustrators happy to tweak the app’s output, it’s a bargain.

Linea Go
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Linea Go is designed to make sketching on iPhone effortless. It does this by way of a friendly, stripped-back interface – although one that doesn’t lack for features.

The base of your image can be a paper texture or a grid. Atop that you get five layers, offering great scope for complex compositions – or to isolate one component while drawing another.

When sketching, there’s a pencil and a few pens, a flood fill that can also be used for creating arbitrary blocked-in areas, and Zip Shapes. That last feature recognizes rough shapes you draw, and tidies them if you keep your finger pressed down. They can then be rotated, moved, and scaled.

Although the end results look a bit digital, Linea Go is elegant and efficient, and iCloud cross-device sync makes it a smart choice for iOS-based sketching.

Comic Life 3
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$8.99

Comic Life 3 is for creating comics from photos and other images on your iPhone. Although it works best on the bigger screen of an iPad, it’s surprisingly usable on an iPhone, not least due to the sheer speed at which you can put together a great page (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, a full multi-page book).

Much of this is down to the app’s varied templates, which get you up and running in no time. You can quickly import pictures into frames, add speech bubbles and sound effects, and then export the lot to a variety of different formats.

Oddly, the one thing the app does badly is comic-style filters – you’re better off using Prisma for that. But for making custom comics from doodles or photos of amazing days out, Comic Life 3 can’t be beaten.

Procreate Pocket
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Procreate Pocket is a great bet if you fancy dabbling in digital finger-painting. Whether you’re a novice scribbler or a jobbing artist, this app’s sleek interface wants to get out of your way and let you paint.

The toolbar that runs along the top of the display provides fast access to brushes. At the left of the screen are two sliders, for adjusting brush size and opacity. If you find them distracting, a four-finger tap puts you in full-screen mode, leaving you alone with your miniature masterpiece.

It all feels fluid and sleek, but there’s depth here too. A fantastic brush editor (including custom grain sources) unleashes all kinds of creativity, and the layers system provides scope for more advanced compositions. And when you get really good, you can share time-lapse recordings created automatically by Procreate Pocket, and await glory when a TV network comes calling.

Moji Maker
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Moji Maker is a construction kit for emoji. Because, as everyone knows, there can never be enough emoji in the world. On opening the app, you can tap Random to see what it comes up with, or begin with a clean slate. Loads of shapes are available, to which you add facial features, hats, and hands – everything from bushy beards to bizarre sci-fi shades.

As each element is added, you can pinch and drag to adjust its size and orientation. There’s also a deeper – if slightly fiddly – Adjust screen for flipping elements and changing their position in the stack.

When you’re done, you can save your creation for later use, either through Moji Maker’s Messages app or keyboard extension, or by sharing oversized portraits that should certainly get a friend’s attention. Or make them think giant emoji have invaded and finally taken over.

Graphic
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

On the iPad, Graphic resembles a touchscreen take on desktop vector powerhouse Adobe Illustrator. You might think you’d need to be mad to try and squeeze that into an iPhone, but Indeeo has succeeded in fine style.

The app, equally happy in portrait and landscape, is initially set up for vector-based sketching, with you scribbling freehand lines that can subsequently be tweaked and edited. Smartly, the app always lets you know what’s going on under your finger, because Graphic shows that area elsewhere on the screen while you draw.

Delve deeper and you’ll find a shape library, Bézier curves, a layers system and everything else you need to craft illustrations and logos on your iPhone. It can be a touch fiddly at times, but the powerful zoom and general friendliness, of what’s a hugely powerful mobile app, help immeasurably.

Pixelmator
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Photoshop is so ingrained in people's minds when it comes to image editing that it's become a verb. Oddly, though, Adobe's largely abandoned high-end mobile apps, choosing instead to create simpler 'accessories' for the iPhone and iPad, augmenting rather than aping its desktop products. Valiantly filling the void is Pixelmator, a feature-rich and truly astonishing mobile Photoshop.

It's packed full of tools and adjustment options, and works well whether you're into digital painting or creating multi-layered photographic masterpieces. On iPhone, Pixelmator's naturally a bit cramped compared to using the app on iPad, but at the price it remains an insanely great bargain.

The best entertainment apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for having fun with your iPhone, whether stargazing, reading, watching TV or checking out Twitter.

Infuse Pro 6
  • $24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99

Infuse Pro 6 is a premium video player. Rather than having you transfer files to your iPhone (although that is an option), it streams from pretty much anywhere, including local PCs, network drives and cloud storage. It can connect with Plex, too, but doesn’t require a server to be running for general use.

From a usability and interface standpoint, the app’s a winner. Assuming your files are sensibly named, Infuse will helpfully organize them and download cover art. When watching, you can grab subtitles with a tap. Halfway through a movie after a commute? Infuse will sync progress to your Apple TV, so you can see the conclusion.

This isn’t a cheap app, and if your demands are simpler, perhaps start with the free version, but if you want the best video player for iPhone, Infuse Pro 6 is it. 

Reeder 4
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Reeder 4 is a sleek RSS reader. Through RSS, you can subscribe to your favorite websites, safe in the knowledge you’ll never miss an article. Reeder then lets you browse headlines by individual feed, or a combined one that displays all articles in chronological order.

When reading an article, you get plenty of options. There are light and dark modes, and you can adjust the typography and contrast – the latter being a good thing, given that the default setting isn’t terribly readable. 

Further handy features are a button that loads entire articles for feeds that initially just supply synopses, and Bionic Reading. The latter aims to encourage in-depth rather than skim-reading, through guiding the eyes via artificial fixation points. Surprisingly, it works. And overall, it adds to what – in its fourth incarnation – remains the best RSS reader on iPhone.

David Bowie is…
  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

David Bowie is… reimagines a famous touring exhibition about a music industry icon as an augmented reality experience. You work your way through Bowie’s life story, exploring videos, costumes, handwritten lyrics, and other objects, which sit before you in a pseudo-3D desk-bound view.

Although less directly immersive than Shepard Fairey – Damaged, it’s arguably more accessible, simply due to Bowie’s infusion into popular culture. And although there are limitations on the smaller screen – the slight awkwardness of a letterbox view; costumes looking a bit like videogame character clothing – this is a fascinating glimpse into one of pop music’s most famous and influential artists.

Given the content lurking within, and its price tag being far less than a ticket to the original exhibition, it’s a must-buy for fans and the merely curious alike. 

Bloom: 10 Worlds
  • $7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99

Bloom: 10 Worlds is the follow-up to 2008’s Bloom, in which you tapped the screen to play notes while dots of color emanated from your fingers like ripples in a pond. A decade later, 10 Worlds takes that app’s premise and expands out what was effectively a single into a full album.

You get 10 distinct playgrounds to experiment with. Their sounds are varied, as are their visual effects. Some slash lines horizontally and vertically across the screen, while others soak the canvas in watercolor curtains.

Whether you want to interact or just let 10 Worlds play itself (which it starts doing when left alone for a short while), this is an enchanting ambient audio experience that breathes new life into what was already an iOS classic. 

Tweetbot 5
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Tweetbot 5 is a premium Twitter client, and in an era when Twitter seems to be doing its level best to grind third-party clients into dust, it might seem an odd recommendation. However, hampered though it may be in some areas, Tweetbot remains highly recommended for people who want to free themselves from Twitter noise.

This is especially apparent when exploring timelines: everything’s in blissful reverse-chronological order; the Mentions tab isn’t cluttered with like and retweet notifications; and you can swap out a toolbar tab for fast access to user-defined lists.

In other words, despite not having access to all of Twitter’s toys, Tweetbot continues to offer the best iPhone Twitter experience for heavy users of the service – and anyone who prefers order over chaos. 

Shepard Fairey AR - Damaged
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Shepard Fairey AR - Damaged is essentially an art exhibit crammed into your iPhone – and in a rather more literal sense than you might expect. If the name Shepard Fairey doesn’t ring a bell, you’ll likely recognize his most famous work – the iconic ‘Hope’ image of Barack Obama. In Damaged, he tackles the current political climate in a similarly arresting manner.

As a viewer, the AR bit of the app’s name is important. This is no slideshow with written notes. Instead, the entire warehouse-sized show has been transformed into a virtual space you can explore with swipes and taps, or even by walking around yourself.

All the while, you can optionally take in Fairey’s narration, giving you extra context behind the work in what’s easily the best virtual art exhibit on the iPhone.

Pimp Your Screen
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Pimp Your Screen is an app for customizing your iPhone. At its most basic, this means wallpaper. You select a category, swipe until you find something you like, tap to bring up a Home screen mock-up, and save the image to Photos when you’re done.

However, Pimp Your Screen goes further than its contemporaries in key ways. There’s a Themes section, which pairs matching lock and Home screen wallpapers. There are also ‘makers’ for both screen types, which enable you to combine components in a creative manner.

In the Lock Screen Maker, you can define a background, and add text. Swiping the status bar or clock adds a background for that area alone; swipe below the clock and a (static) calendar appears.

The Home Screen Maker adds a slew of virtual shelves and icon ‘skins’ to the status bar and page backgrounds. The results can vary from beautiful to eye-punchingly taste-free. Probably best if you try to veer toward the former.

The best health, diet and exercise apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for keeping fit, workouts, reducing stress and relaxing.

ChillScape
  • $0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49

ChillScape is an interesting curiosity. In a sense, it’s reminiscent of Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers’ Bloom, in that it involves meditative, ambient audio and a screen full of circles. The main difference here is that instead of creating discs that disappear into the background, you’re popping them like bubbles.

The idea is to relax into the audio and visuals. Rather than frantically popping discs, you should approach them thoughtfully and mindfully. Over time, more bubbles appear, and the audio shifts to add frequencies that claim to aid calm and stimulate euphoria, as a background beat gradually slows to reduce your heart rate.

Naturally, audio is subjective, and so the sounds used may not work for you; but if they do, Chillscape should prove a pleasurable yet absorbing way to unwind.

Paprika Recipe Manager
  • US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Paprika wants your main companion in the kitchen to be your iPhone. With the app, you can store clippings from foodie websites. Recipes are intelligently saved offline, and can be edited. You can even add photos of your successes, thereby giving you something to aim for next time!

The app also supports everything else about mealtimes. You can create grocery lists, track what’s in your cupboards and when ingredients expire, plan meals that are synced with Calendar, and create reusable menus.

The app’s not the most vibrant in its class, and lacks the handy step-by-step imagery and videos found in the likes of Kitchen Stories and Tasty, but for getting on with the business of planning and making meals, on an ongoing basis it deserves the app equivalent of a Michelin star.

Streaks
  • US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Streaks is a to-do manager all about helping you form good habits – and ridding yourself of bad ones. You begin by selecting a task and defining how often you want to do it. Tasks are subsequently checked off, and you can track your progress by way of the app’s various graphs and statistics.

Where Streaks succeeds is in the flexibility of the tasks you can add, and the razor-sharp focus on getting habits infused into your routine. The bold interface is ideally suited to six tasks, forcing you to prioritize. You can set reminders, and mark items as done using the Today widget or an Apple Watch.

Task types are varied. There are those that integrate with Health, negative tasks (like smoking) to avoid completing, and timed tasks for things like meditation sessions. In all, it’s an excellent app for coaxing out a better you.

White Noise+
  • Free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP

White Noise+ is an ambient noise machine, which aims to drown out distractions by filling your ears with something pleasant instead.

Rather than just offering you sounds to play, or sliders to adjust volume levels, it takes the form of a mini mixing desk akin to the smart drums grid in GarageBand. You drag sounds into the 16 available slots, with those towards the top playing at a louder volume, and those towards the right offering more complexity. It’s intuitive, effective and looks really great as well.

Neatly, should you happen upon a particularly pleasing combination, it can be saved for later playback, and the app itself includes a few examples to get you going. There’s also an alarm built-in, for using the app for meditation sessions – or to help you not oversleep when having a quick afternoon nap.

Zombies, Run!
  • Free + IAP

Zombies, Run! is a fitness app that urges you on not just with stats and data, but with the threat you’re about to be torn limb from limb by the undead.

Fortunately, it doesn’t just randomly blare BRAINZZZZ into your ears – it’s a full-fledged adventure experience, co-created with an award-winning novelist. So as you huff and puff, you gain insight into a dystopian future, head out on supply runs, and try not to become lunch for a zombie horde.

For free, you get a few missions, one of which unlocks every week, and interval training workouts. But the subscription packs in hundreds of missions – enough to keep you going for many months. If you’re a fan of horror or just fancy an exercise app that isn’t all about numbers and music, it’s an excellent buy.

MyFitnessPal
  • Free

MyFitnessPal aims to get you fitter by helping you track what you eat. Given that such tracking often involves logging meals, the app speeds things along by way of a barcode scanner, a colossal food database and a recipe importer. If you tend to eat the same meals often, you can save favorites.

All the while, your calories are tracked, and you can check how you’re doing against any goals you’ve set. The ability to connect exercise apps also means MyFitnessPal can become a kind of hub for your general wellbeing.

As ever, there’s a pro version. This seriously ramps up data, analysis and support, with the likes of nutrient insights, tips articles and fine-grained goals. In either incarnation, MyFitnessPal works well to help you more easily understand how food intake affects you.

Runkeeper
  • Free

Runkeeper is a training aid and run tracker, which has been around for more than a decade. Since its debut, it’s evolved from mapping out your runs by utilizing your iPhone’s GPS to become a kind of digital personal trainer.

If all you’re looking for is a way to track exercise, Runkeeper remains a winning app. Whether you’re running, walking or cycling, Runkeeper provides real-time data in massive glanceable numbers, and plenty of data to delve into when you’re done.

Runkeeper Go takes things further than logging and stats. For $9.99/£7.99/AU$14.99 per month, you gain access to premium training plans, and custom workouts designed to fit your schedule and ability. The price is obviously a jump up from the free app, but it’s cheaper than a human trainer, and effective when you want more than the basics.

Streaks Workout
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Streaks Workout dispenses with the complexity and problems associated with mobile exercise apps. Don’t want to trudge about in the rain? Streaks Workout has you exercise inside. Lacking kit – or even a chair to lean on? This app only demands you have access to a floor.

It’s also a cinch to focus on exercises you prefer. If you fancy doing push-ups but hate planks, tap the relevant buttons accordingly. You can then jump into a semi-randomized routine that’s between six and 30 minutes long (labelled, respectively, ‘quick’ and ‘pain’).

As of version 3.0, there’s a custom workout option, too – great for people who need to know what’s coming next and how many reps to do. We suspect some exercise nuts might still consider the app limiting, but for mere mortals wanting to get fit, Streaks Workout is among the best there is on iPhone.

The best kids apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps, learning tools, musical toys and games for toddlers and children.

Women Who Changed the World
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Women Who Changed the World is an animated picture book for children, exploring the achievements of influential and iconic women, including Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, and Marie Curie.

The stories are approachable, providing useful facts, but not deluging children with too much content. The illustrations are bright and adorable, and many scenes in each story have interactive elements, such as being able to drag Earhart’s plane around.

There are a few niggles, most notably that it isn’t always obvious what should be done to move the story on. However, this low-cost, advertising-free introduction to such important subject matter is a must-download app for any kids (small or large) who’d like a grounding in the achievements of some of history’s most brilliant and brave women.

Zen Studio
  • Free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99 IAP

Zen Studio‘s developer describes it as a meditation app for kids, but really it’s an engaging and entertaining combination of coloring and musical toy. It’s ideal for anyone who needs to relax for a while – regardless of age.

The app’s canvases are triangles that you color in with a tap and emit a note whenever you do so. Drag out a line or tap a few triangles in quick succession and you’re treated to a little melody. It’s all very ‘zen’.

You get the bulk of the app for free, but pay the one-off IAP and it opens up in useful ways: white paint for ‘deleting’ colored triangles; a range of template-based tutorials; and unlimited save slots. You might feel ‘zen’ about not splashing out, but this is an app that’s well worth paying a few bucks for.

Foldify
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Foldify is a rarity – an app that’s not entirely devoted to the digital realm. Instead, it invites you to create little characters on your iPhone, which you can then print on to card or paper, and construct by way of deft folding and a dab of glue.

The interface is first-rate. You kick things off with a template – anything from basic cubes to little blocky people, cars and arcade machines. You then scribble all over that with a pen tool, slap on stickers, and import your own images. All the while, you can admire your handiwork as a little 3D model that’s updated in real-time and can be spun with a flick.

There’s also a social aspect for sharing your creations and downloading other people’s works – including amusingly cuboid takes on Steve Jobs and the original Mac.

Bandimal
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Bandimal is probably the world’s cutest music-making app. And although it was designed for children, we’ll wager anyone with a soul will be grinning from ear to ear shortly after starting to play.

It involves loading animals into one of three available slots, and tapping out notes on a dotted grid. When the playhead moves over the dots, a sound plays, and the animal bops along accordingly – such as a whale blowing colored water while emitting suitably deep bass noises.

It’s relentlessly jolly, sounds superb, and automatically stores every song you make. And as if to cement how perfect the app is, load one of your songs and the animals count in before it starts playing.

Toca Life: Office
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Toca Life: Office is an app designed for children, ostensibly giving them insight into what their parents do all day at work. Only this office is probably a lot more exciting than the one you get to spend many hours in every week.

Here, tiny fingers can dot 35 distinct characters about the place, and role-play in an office, bank, rooftop, courthouse, and apartment. There’s a virtual daycare, a swanky glass elevator, and a bank vault with an alarm.

You can draw on a whiteboard, print from the computers, discover a helicopter, and even make superheroes. Chances are you’ll want to try this out yourself when your kid’s done, too, if only to imagine how exciting your own office life could be.

DNA Play
  • $2.99/£2.99/$4.49

DNA Play is an educational app for children that serves as an introduction to the basic science behind DNA. At least in theory. Really, most tiny people will be more excited about the prospect of fashioning all kinds of bizarre, colorful creatures by way of dragging and tapping.

The app begins with you completing simple ‘gene’ puzzles, which see you dramatically adjusting a monster’s characteristics, and this can be done by simply hammering away at a body part to switch it for something new - ideal for less dextrous younglings. Each monster can then be saved and its photo shared.

Occasionally, objects show up, giving you the chance to propel your monster along on a skateboard, feed it a pile of fruit, or have it totally freak out when faced by a spider significantly less terrifying than the monster. But best of all, if you get caught playing with the app yourself, you can argue you’re in the midst of an important scientific breakthrough. Probably.

Endless Alphabet
  • $8.99/£8.99/AU$13.99

If you’ve got yourself a resident tiny human, your house probably has a few of those wooden puzzles where letter shapes are shoved into their respective slots. Endless Alphabet isn’t quite, well, endless, but contains dozens of such puzzles, which work brilliantly on the touchscreen.

On your child selecting a word, monsters sprint along the bottom of the screen, scattering its letters. They then need to be dragged back into place, coming to life as they’re moved. When a word’s complete, monsters act out what it means in a charming animated cut scene.

There are some minor grumbles here and there – the app’s resolutely US-English in nature, and the sounds letters make when dragged might confuse, since they’re not full letters nor the phonics often used in education. Otherwise, this is a first-rate, charming, enjoyable educational app for youngsters getting to grips with words.

Metamorphabet
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

If you've seen tiny humans around iOS devices, you'll have noticed that even those that can't speak beyond bababababa and dadadadada nonetheless merrily swipe and poke at screens.

Metamorphabet capitalises on this ingrained infatuation with shiny touchscreens, and cunningly attempts to teach the alphabet via the medium of surreal interactive animations.

It starts off with A, which when poked grows antlers, transforms into an arch and goes for an amble. Although a few words are a stretch too far (wafting clouds representing a daydream, for example), this is a charming, imaginative and beautifully designed app.

My Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

If you've been around young children for any length of time, there's no escaping The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

That greedy larva seems to hypnotise tiny people, gluing them to whatever format it appears in, be it book or TV animation. There have been apps, too, but those we've seen before have disappointed. My Very Hungry Caterpillar, though, is a new take on the character, turning it into a kind of virtual pet.

Children familiar with the source material will watch happily as fruit they pluck from trees is quickly munched by the wriggly protagonist, but this app has far more to offer.

Gradually, it opens up all kinds of activities, such as growing a garden, playing with a ball, making art by getting messy with paints, and having fun on a pond. The app changes with the seasons, and so in winter the caterpillar gets to gleefully slide across frozen water, but in warmer months goes sailing.

It's all very charming and adorable, along with being entirely without risk — there's no way to off the little blighter. It's also finite: the little caterpillar grows fat and eventually becomes a butterfly, at which point a new egg appears to start the cycle again.

And if we're being honest, there's something quite cathartic in seeing the little chap through this journey, to the point we imagine quite a few adults will sneakily launch the app for a while when their child's asleep.

Loopimal
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

For most kids, plastic keyboards and annoyingly loud toy drums are a typical starting point in music, but Loopimal ambitiously attempts to introduce children to the concept of computer sequencing. Fortunately, it does so by way of highly animated dancing cartoon animals, bright shapes, and plenty of flair.

Hit play and you're immediately shown an animal bobbing its head to a backing track. You then drag coloured pieces (from a selection of five) into eight empty slots. When the playhead moves over the shapes, the animal adds its own sounds and melodies, often while performing impressive gymnastic feats.

It's Loopimal's character that initially wins you over. Unless you're dead inside, you won't fail to crack a smile when an octopus starts playing funky basslines with its tentacles, or the percussive Yeti gets all stompy. Smartly, once the player clocks how Loopimal works, the screen can be split into two or four, to combine animals and their unique sounds.

The one big miss is the inability to save your compositions, but every Loopimal riff is in C-major; this means you can use just the white notes on nearby keyboards to play along with whatever madness is happening inside the app.

The best music and audio apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for making music, listening to podcasts and being a DJ.

Songbirds
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Songbirds is a set of three artistic vignettes that are part meditative aid, part musical instrument. Each of them finds you crafting melodies by directing digital birds across vibrant, minimal scenes.

The best of them is called The Sky. It has you draw pathways akin to constellations, each ‘star’ playing a note when a bird moves over it. With support for up to four simultaneous melodies, you can craft surprisingly intricate sounds, and if you make something you love, tap record to output a video.

The other two options are The Lake, where you control the timing of birds diving into water, and The Flock, in which you use square ‘moons’ to record compositions played out on abstract keyboards. Neither quite matches the intoxicating joy of The Sky, but together, this collection is calming, engaging, and beautiful.

Fugue Machine
  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

Fugue Machine is a tool for making music based on compositional techniques used by Bach. That perhaps sounds dry, but stick with us, because Fugue Machine makes it astonishingly easy to create beautiful audio.

You tap out notes on a piano roll, much like in GarageBand. The twist is that in this app, there’s only ever a single loop, but with up to four playheads moving over it. Each playhead is controlled independently, and this means you can play your loop at different speeds and pitches simultaneously, and in different directions.

The interplay of several variations of a melody quickly becomes hypnotic. For beginners, it’s a great way to start making music. For professionals, it’s also a must – not least given that Fugue Machine ships with comprehensive MIDI, AUv3, Ableton Link, IAA, and Audiobus support.

djay
  • Free + $4.99/£4.49/AU$7.49 monthly

djay is a hugely powerful DJ app for iOS. Formerly released in various flavors, it’s now universal and a free download. On install, you get a basic two-deck system with crossfader, looping, and some effects. Go pro, though, and a world of high-end DJ power opens up.

At that point, you can run up to four decks, and dabble in video mixing. You get over 1GB of samples, loops, and visuals to trigger. There’s a ton of integration with a range of hardware solutions. Automix is available too, for when you can’t be bothered doing the DJ work yourself.

On iPhone, it’s naturally a bit fiddly compared to the iPad’s relative acres – but it’s also a very portable way to always have the app on you for experimenting with – and useful for hooking up to physical controllers.

SquareSynth 2
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

SquareSynth 2 seems to have two reasons to exist. The first is to make you grin on selecting a preset, tapping a key, and having some retro audio blaze forth from your iPhone. The built-in sounds are reminiscent of noise you’d once have heard blasting from a Commodore 64 or NES; this in itself is all rather good fun.

But for musicians, this is a full-fledged synth. You can delve into each sound and muck about with its parameters – the results of which can be ear-thumpingly terrific. AudioUnit support also means this isn’t an isolated box – the entire thing can essentially be squirted into GarageBand. Only the slightly awkward interface on iPhone when editing lets it down a touch – but the great sounds more than make up for that.

Capo touch
  • $9.99/£9.49/AU$13.99 per year

Capo touch helps musicians learn songs without resorting to sheet music. Instead, you load an audio file and the app detects guitar or piano chords – however obscure the artist or song happens to be.

To help you master tricky bits, there’s a variable speed slider, and you can loop user-defined regions. There are isolation tools as well, to bring specific instruments to the fore. Chords can be edited, regions named, and entire songs transposed to different keys.

There are snags in that the app requires local music files to work with (so no bringing across a song from Spotify or Apple Music). Also, you need annual IAP to get more than 60 seconds of playback per session. But as a learning aid when you absolutely must nail a song, it’s an essential install.

Samplebot
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Samplebot is a colorful grid of buttons that you use to capture sounds. Press a pad, make a noise, and it’s then played by tapping the pad again. Fun stuff – but it turns out Samplebot has more layers than an onion.

Recorded sounds can be trimmed, and arranged in a sequencer. Pre-defined drum patterns are included, but you can also tap out your own. Beyond that, you can import audio from cloud services, Music, Files, or the clipboard, and manage sounds in-app. Tracks can be exported, and Samplebot can even be synced to other music apps.

In short, then, Samplebot is ideal for anyone wanting to make some noise, whether you fancy recording and playing back pots and pans being whacked, or creating entire songs.

GarageBand
  • Free

GarageBand is a music creation app and recording studio. Ambitiously, it aims to suit newcomers and pro musicians alike – and it succeeds.

For newcomers, there are smart instruments that automate chords and riffs, and a grid pad for triggering samples and loops. Gain in confidence and you can plug in a guitar and use GarageBand’s excellent range of amps, experiment with the timeline, and create drum patterns in the Beat Sequencer.

For pros, though, this app connects to other apps via Inter-App Audio and Audiobus, can ‘import’ entire third-party apps as Audio Units, and enables you to record, arrange and mix up to 32 tracks.

The app’s a stunning achievement, and we suspect many long-time musicians can’t believe such a thing exists on a phone.

Brian Eno: Reflection
  • $30.99/£29.99/AU$47.99

In a sense, featuring Brian Eno : Reflection in this round-up is a bit weird. Unlike other collaborations between musician Eno and software designer/musician Peter Chilvers, Reflection is broadly devoid of interaction. Instead, it effectively just plays Eno’s ambient Reflection album, but with some clever twists.

Unlike the standard album, which is the same every time you listen, the audio here has phrases and patterns within that continually interact in different ways, and subtly change as the day progresses, creating an endlessly changing version of the music. Likewise, the painterly visual on the screen slowly morphs before your eyes.

It’s pricey, but ultimately gives you endless Eno and is an intoxicating experience for anyone that likes their ambient fare. The man himself describes the app like sitting by a river: it’s the same river, but always changing. By contrast, the standard Reflections album initially sounds similar, but it’s a recording frozen in time, never changing.

Ferrite Recording Studio
  • Free + $29.99/£28.99/AU$46.99 

Ferrite Recording Studio in its initial form appears similar to Apple’s Voice Memos, but under the surface, this is a powerful multi-track editor. Pay the IAP and you get a full-fledged podcast creation studio right on your iPhone.

Of course, you don’t have to delve into such complex fare. For free, you can work with a few tracks, make basic edits, and export your reworked audio. But pay money and you get eight-band EQ, a slew of effects, auto-leveling, and noise reduction. Project templates help you quickly create new podcast episodes, and presets can be created for chapters; said presets can be stored in templates or shared via iCloud.

This is top-notch stuff for creating podcasts on the go; and even if you usually edit on a PC or Mac, Ferrite works wonders as a sketchpad to bash out ideas on a commute.

Korg Gadget
  • $39.99/£38.99/AU$62.99

Let's immediately get one thing out of the way: Korg Gadget isn't cheap. It's not the sort of app you're going to download for some larks, use for a few minutes, and then casually toss aside. However, if you've any interest in making music — whether as a relative newcomer or jobbing musician — it is quite simply the best app available for iPhone.

Purely as a tool for live performance, Korg's app is first-rate. You get a bunch of miniature synths, referred to as 'gadgets'; they're geared towards electronic music, but still have plenty of range.

There are drum machines, a gorgeous bell synth, some ear-smashing bass instruments, and plenty of other options, whether you want to be the Human League for a bit or go all clubby.

Each synth comes with a slew of presets, but you can fiddle with dials and levers to make your own, which can be saved for later use.

When it comes to writing music, you can record live, tapping out notes on a tiny on-screen keyboard or by using a connected piece of hardware. Alternatively, there's a piano roll for tapping out notes on a grid as you do in GarageBand, creating loops to then combine into a song in the mixing-desk view.

Korg Gadget is one of the most flexible and intuitive music-making apps we've seen on any platform, and the deepest on iOS. It was superb on the iPad, but that it actually works — and is very usable — on iPhone is nothing short of astonishing.

The best office and writing apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for file management, video memos, writing, email, spreadsheets, notes, presentations and calculations.

FE File Explorer Pro
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

FE File Explorer Pro deals with one of the major shortcomings of Apple’s Files app – the inability to get at documents and folders that aren’t stored on your iPad or in iCloud. To that end, it lets you quickly connect to Windows or Mac computers, network servers, and a range of online storage solutions, including FTP, Dropbox, and OneDrive.

The interface is clean and simple, making it a breeze to navigate anything you connect to. Documents that are readily supported can be previewed; anything can be downloaded and then sent to another installed app.

What propels this app into must-have territory is its seamless integration with Files itself. This means that once you’ve set up your sources, FE File Explorer Pro supercharges Apple’s app, plugging a major hole in your iPhone’s connectivity – and for a bargain price.

Memento: Modern Reminders
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99

Memento: Modern Reminders is a modern take on reminders, and feels a lot like the app Apple should have made itself. The interface is clean, with bold headings, and is peppered with tools to speed up creating and editing reminders.

A smart keyboard row makes it a cinch to add a time or location alert. The former have friendly options like ‘tomorrow morning’, and these presets can be edited and added to. Notifications are similarly powerful, with snooze and move options.

Browsing is superior to Apple’s app, too. There are views to zoom through all your reminders (grouped by list), or just ones with time alerts attached. Add in dark mode and Apple Watch support, and you’ve got a superb replacement for a tired stock app.

Cardhop
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Cardhop is designed to effectively replace Contacts on your iPhone. It uses the same iCloud information (so you can switch back to Apple’s app at any point), but presents it in a far more usable manner.

Individual contact cards are more clearly laid out. Tapping on a phone number or email doesn’t trigger a call or open Mail – instead, you get options regarding what you want to do with that data. The notes field usefully remains anchored to the foot of the screen, so it’s always available.

Back in the main view, there’s a dynamic search field that uses natural language, so you can input phrases to get at information, or to add new contacts. In all, this is an essential app for anyone who regularly dips into Contacts, but wants something better.

Timeview
  • Free + $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Timeview gives you alternate interpretations of and insight into your calendar data. Instead of events plastered across a day, week, or month view, this app is all about statistics, and presenting them as easy-to-scan cards.

The app delves into your existing iOS Calendar data, and the cards are based around user-defined rule-sets. That might sound complex, but it really isn’t. You can, for example, quickly create cards to outline calendar events that include the word ‘meeting’, those from specific calendars, recurring events, and so on.

For light users of Apple’s Calendar, this won’t be especially thrilling. But we imagine if your calendar is a mess of entries, all fighting for attention, the means to make sense of the chaos with Timeview’s straightforward, very readable interface will be very appealing.

1Password
  • $3.99/£3.49/AU$5.99 per month

1Password, like iCloud Keychain, is used to store website logins and payment information. But this app then goes further, being able to house details for servers, app license details, notes and identities.

The other big advantage is 1Password being a standalone app. Launch it and use Face ID or Touch ID and you’ll quickly be browsing your logins and data, which can be further refined through the use of favorites and tags. A first-rate password creator is bundled, too, for when you need a new or replacement website password.

The core app is free to try for 30 days, after which point a subscription is required. However, this unlocks the app across a range of supported platforms, including macOS, Android and Windows – something iCloud Keychain cannot compete with.

Noted
  • Free or $0.99/79p/AU$1.49 per month

Noted is a rich-text notepad and voice memos app combined. This isn’t a new concept on the iPhone – other apps do much the same. But Noted differentiates itself by enabling you to mark important moments within the recording.

This is achieved using #TimeTags. As you type up notes while recording, tapping a button places a tag inline. When you subsequently tap a tag, your recording instantly starts playing from the relevant moment. This means you can take basic notes during a meeting or lecture, and then flesh everything out later, without having to constantly scrub through a recording to find the relevant parts.

You’ll need a subscription to make the most of the app – not least to record more than a handful of notes – but for many people, #TimeTags alone will be worth the outlay.

PCalc
  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

PCalc is a traditional calculator – like the super-powered equivalent of something you might find sitting on a desk. If you want something more conventional than the calculator meets sort-of spreadsheet Soulver, PCalc is simply the best there is on iPhone.

For a start, the app’s almost absurdly feature-packed. There’s multiline and RPN, a paper tape, and multiple undo. Need conversions and constants? Done. Engineering and scientific notation? Sure. You can even edit the individual buttons, if you for some reason want the 6 key to be massive.

The app has a slightly odd sense of humor, too. Head into the Help section in its Settings and fire up the ARKit About PCalc screen, and lob anti-gravity bananas about the place. This is a calculator with leaderboards and achievements, and – we say again – anti-gravity bananas. Buy it.

Just Press Record
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Just Press Record is a highly usable audio recorder and transcription tool. It’s also an excellent example of how to take an app that’s extremely simple and add new features without drowning it in complexity.

To start, you still tap a big, red button, and then record whatever you want to say. Saved recordings head to iCloud, meaning they can be accessed on any device. On your iPhone, they’re found in the Recents and Browse tabs, the latter listing them by date.

There’s also a Search tool – which might seem redundant until you realize every recording is automatically transcribed. Naturally, this doesn’t always nail context – during testing, it mixed up ‘synced’ and ‘sinked’ – and you have to manually say punctuation (such as ‘comma’).

Still, this means that you can share text rather than just audio files, and that every utterance you make can potentially be found by keyword, instead of you scrabbling through a huge list of recordings. It’s really smart stuff.

Pennies
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Pennies is all about managing your money. But whereas finance trackers have a tendency to be dry and complicated, Pennies goes for a much friendlier approach. Using the app’s colorful, straightforward interface, you can quickly and easily define new budgets around any kind of topic, and add or remove money from them.

Much of the app’s effectiveness lies in the way it encourages you to categorize your spending. Want to cut down on coffee? Create a ‘coffee’ category and get a monthly and daily budget, along with a visible reminder of when you can next spend.

Your entire history always remains available in an ongoing scrolling list, and because Pennies syncs across devices, your figures are readily available on iPad and Apple Watch too. In short, it’s the budget tracker for the rest of us.

Untitled
  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

Untitled rethinks screenwriting. Rather than you having to remember how to format your next Hollywood blockbuster, Untitled prioritizes you getting ideas down, through providing a helping hand regarding how your script should look.

This works by way of simple-to-remember shorthand, such as placing dialogue underneath a character’s name, or ‘>’ before a transition. The app’s also intelligent enough to reformat scene headers (intro/location/time) from plain English into the correct style.

On iPad, Untitled is a friendly screenwriting tool, but its relaxed, note-taking approach really feels at home on iPhone. It’s not a tool you’d likely use to fine-tune a fully polished screenplay, but it’s excellent for starting one – wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.

Carbo
  • $7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99

You can of course use a wide range of apps for storing real-world scribbles – photograph a journal page and you can fling it at the likes of Evernote, say. But Carbo tries something more ambitious. Your sketches and notes are cleaned up, and converted to vectors, while preserving your original stroke.

What this means is that images within Carbo retain the character of your penmanship, but are also editable in a manner standard photographs are not – you can select and move specific elements that Carbo intelligently groups, adjust line thicknesses throughout the entire image, add annotations and tags, and export the result to various formats.

It's a friendly, intuitive app to work with, and efficient, too – a typical Carbo note requires only a tenth of the storage as the same image saved as a standard JPEG photo.

Scrivener
  • $19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99

On the desktop, Scrivener is popular with writers crafting long-form text. On iPad, the app is - amazingly - barely altered from the PC and Mac release; but Scrivener on iPhone is a slightly different prospect.

That's not to say this isn't a feature-rich and highly capable product. You still get a solid rich-text editing environment and a 'binder' to house and arrange documents and research, before compiling a manuscript for export.

What you lose on the smaller screen is those features that require more space: a two-up research/writing view; the corkboard for virtual index cards.

But Scrivener is still worth buying - although you're unlikely to write an entire screenplay or novel on an iPhone, you can use the app to take notes, make edits, and peruse your existing work, wherever you happen to be.

Soulver
  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Traditional calculator apps are fine, but even if they come with digital tape, you don't get figures in context. By contrast, a spreadsheet is overkill for most adding-up tasks. Soulver is a neatly conceived half-way house — like scribbling sums on the back of an envelope, but a magic envelope that tots everything up.

You get two columns. On the left, you type everything out, integrating words as you see fit. On the right, totals are smartly extracted. So if you type 'Hotel: 3 nights at $125', Soulver will automatically display $375 in the totals column.

Line totals can be integrated into subsequent sums, ensuring your entire multi-line calculation remains dynamic — handy should you later need to make adjustments to any part.

Given the relative complexity of what Soulver's doing, it all feels surprisingly intuitive from the get-go. There are multiple keyboards (including advanced functions and currency conversion), you can save calculations and sync them via iCloud or Dropbox, and it's even possible to output HTML formatted emails of your work.

Scanbot
  • Free + $7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99 IAP

There are two flavors of Scanbot, each of which is impressive in its own right. For free, you get a superb iPhone scanner with cloud storage integration, QR code support, and the means to detect edges for any paper document you want to digitise. Upgrade to Scanbot Pro and things get more interesting. You can add pages to existing scans, quickly name files using a clever smart-naming system, and search/extract text from previous scans.

There's also an automated actions feature, where the app finds the likes of phone numbers and email addresses within your scans, turning them into single-tap buttons within each item's actions menu. It's not quite accurate enough to be witchcraft, but we nonetheless happily leave important scans within Scanbot these days, rather than immediately deleting after export.

The best productivity apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for being productive with launchers, focus timers and to-do lists.

Bin Day Alert
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Bin Day Alert does what you’d expect from its name – alerts you when it’s bin day. But although this is every inch a focused app, it also has the flexibility to cater for any refuse system, wherever you happen to live (and however complex the collection cycles are).

So rather than limiting you to a basic schedule, Bin Day Alert invites you to define each type of trash you deal with, give it a color and an icon, and outline when collections occur. For example, if your recycling is picked up every three weeks on a Wednesday, the app has you covered.

Beyond that, you set alerts. Handily, you’re not limited to one – so if you casually dismiss one the evening before, you can get a further reminder on the day itself to put a bin out.

NordVPN
  • Various subscriptions

NordVPN is a VPN app for iPhone. It encrypts your internet traffic, making it effectively impossible for anyone else to decipher. The company doesn’t keep logs of activity, and because you can use servers in any country, the app lets you circumvent many geographic blockers.

That might all sound a bit nefarious, but there are many reasons why a VPN can be handy, including enhancing safety when using public Wi-Fi, and getting at media subscriptions when on holiday.

What sets NordVPN apart from much of the competition is a combination of reliability, performance, and usability. Setting things up is a cinch, and although speeds are slower than on vanilla Wi-Fi, you won’t feel the hit. 

Once you’ve downloaded the app, do, though, subscribe via the NordVPN website, because the regular offers are significantly cheaper than signing up in-app. 

MindNode 6
  • Free + $14.99/£14.99/AU$22.99

MindNode 6 is a desktop-grade mind-mapping tool for iPhone. 

Creating complex diagrams perhaps isn’t best suited to a small handheld device, but MindNode speeds things along with Quick Entry. With this feature, you create a bullet-point list, tap a button, and the app instantly transforms your thoughts into a mind map.

After that, the sky’s the limit. You can snap nodes and branches into position or go free-form, and add labels, stickers, and images for more context. If everything gets a bit complicated, you can hide connections, and/or focus on one part of your map. 

Full iCloud support lets you start on your iPhone and pick up elsewhere; but from any device, you can export to a range of formats. Top stuff, then, when you need to get ideas out of your head, and explore them in a logical, visual, useful manner.

1Blocker X
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

1Blocker X is a robust, powerful, and user-friendly app for improving the web browsing experience on your phone – mostly by blocking things. Once 1Blocker X is approved in Settings > Safari > Content Blockers, it’s a cinch to block ads, trackers, and other annoyances, such as comments and social media widgets. 

There’s nuance in the app’s settings, too. You can whitelist favorite sites, stating specifically what things (if any) should be blocked on them, and even write your own rules to hide specific CSS elements.

If that all sounds complex, don’t be concerned. At its core, 1Blocker X is simply a case of flicking some switches. Importantly, this paid indie app cares about privacy, too, and so you can be assured it’s doing nothing nefarious while making the internet on your iPhone a better and safer place.

Yoink
  • US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Yoink can be thought of as a super-charged version of the clipboard. It’s used to stash all kinds of things for later – text snippets, URLs, images, and even documents and emails. Items added to Yoink can be renamed, formed into groups called ‘stacks’, and previewed.

Files integration means you can get at everything you’ve stored in the app without actually going into Yoink itself. Siri Shortcuts support also means you can stash your clipboard’s contents without first activating the app.

Cross-device capabilities round out a great app – iCloud sync allows you to get at Yoink content saved on any of your devices. And so although this is probably not an app you’ll use every day, it’s a massive time-saver when you need to collate files from disparate sources on mobile.

Fantastical 2
  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Fantastical 2 acts as a replacement for the iOS Calendar app. You might question the logic in buying something like this, but Fantastical 2 quickly pays for itself by making you more efficient.

This is apparent the second you check out the main view. Rather than having to laboriously tap each day to see its events, Fantastical 2 provides a scrollable feed, making it a cinch to see how your schedule looks into the future – and to quickly browse the past.

Reminders are integrated, too, and event input includes a powerful natural-language parser. As you tap in the likes of ‘TechRadar lunch at 3pm on Friday’, a live preview builds. And none of the data you add is locked in – Fantastical 2 works with your existing iCloud account, Google Calendar, or Exchange.

BFT - Bear Focus Timer
  • $0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49

BFT - Bear Focus Timer is yet another app designed to make you use your iPhone less and concentrate more, but if you need a sense of focus and are easily distracted by your iPhone, it’s one of the best of its kind.

First, it features a friendly bear, and who doesn’t like bears? Secondly, the app’s Pomodoro-style timers are adjustable, so you can fine-tune lengths for work, short breaks, session counts, and long breaks (recommended after several work/short break sessions).

The app’s interface is the real star though, inviting you to turn your device upside-down to get the timer going. Pick up your phone and the timer stops, while the previously friendly bear scowls. It’s amusing and chastising in equal measure, making you smile, flip your phone back, and listen to the app’s helpful hubbub-drowning noise loops.

Things 3
  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

Things 3 is a task manager that wants to help you get more done. The interface is sleek and the workflow is smart, helping you collect thoughts and plan your time efficiently.

The app’s core is to-dos, but it allows you to add context, such as the time, date or location that you plan to carry the task out. Things 3 then populates a Today view with the day’s tasks (cleverly grouping things you do at home under a This Evening heading), and puts later tasks in an Upcoming list.

The finer points of the app’s design and interactions make it a joy to use. Animations are subtle, but colors are bold. Clever details are dotted about, like the ability to position a new entry by dragging the to-do button to a list.

Things 3 isn’t cheap – especially if you also buy it on iPad and Mac – but the potential time savings make it good value.

Forest
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

The idea behind Forest is to get you to leave your iPhone alone. It does this by having you plant a tiny sapling and set a timer. If you succeed in not using your iPhone until the timer’s done, you get to plant what’s now a little tree in a virtual forest. If you succumb to temptation, Forest mercilessly kills your tree, leaving a barren little twig.

Amusingly, if you try to trick the app by switching away, it’ll immediately send a terse reminder to have you switch right back. But despite this somewhat gruff element, Forest ranks among the best gamified focus aids.

Over time, it’s rewarding to see your forest grow, unlock new trees, and delve into detailed statistics. Also, using coins earned in-app, you can buy real trees for communities that need them. And all because you avoided Facebook for a few hours.

Focus Keeper
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Focus and burnout are two commonplace issues for people in work. Too often, you can become distracted from tasks; but also there’s the risk of working long hours without a break, leading to fatigue. Focus Keeper aims to deal with both.

The timer is loosely based around the Pomodoro Technique (a time management method), and recommends splitting your time between 25-minute work sprints and five-minute breaks. After four sessions, you take a longer break of about half an hour.

The app is clutter-free, and easy to use. The timer combines a minimal iOS-like design aesthetic with hints of a real-world timer’s dial. You can delve into statistics, adjust work/break lengths, and choose alternate alarm and ‘ticking’ noises. Most importantly, however  much this is all about psychology, it does work. Need convincing? Try the free version first.

The best travel and weather apps for iPhone

Our favorite iPhone apps for planning a holiday, currency conversion, weather forecasts and mapping.

Dark Sky Weather
  • US$3.99/£3.99

Dark Sky Weather started out primarily as a rainfall tracker, with luminous clouds billowing over a dark background map. Now, the app is much more conventional – but arguably massively more useful.

The main forecast page shows current conditions and a local map. Usefully, little arrows denote the direction a storm’s heading, so you can always spot that at a glance, rather than having to check the full animated rainfall view. Below that you get rainfall predictions for the hour, the daily forecast, and a weekly outlook. It’s all very sleek, efficient and usable.

The app’s accuracy may vary by location, but during testing in various countries we’ve found its rainfall predictions to be spot-on. It’s also a nicely flexible app regarding warnings – several notifications are built in, and you can add your own based on a range of weather conditions.

V for Wikipedia
  • $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99

V for Wikipedia is a Wikipedia reader. That in itself might sound like an odd recommendation for a premium app, but bear with us.

Although V can be used to search Wikipedia in the normal way, it starts off in its Nearby tab, flagging articles of interest in your vicinity. This looks great, tabs snaking their way from map locations to large thumbnails. It’s practical, too, for finding out more about the local area, without resorting to review-oriented web services.

This sense of polish extends to the article views. Typography and layout are first class, and a slide-in contents list is only a tap away. So while you might narrow your eyes at the prospect of paying for a Wikipedia reader, Viki will have said eyes busily and regularly reading the world’s most dynamic encyclopedia.

WeatherPro
  • $0.99/79p/AU$0.99

WeatherPro is a weather app designed for people who favor information density over aesthetics. That’s not to say WeatherPro looks bad – its white-on-blue stylings are perfectly nice. But where it excels is in providing fast access to a wealth of weather data.

For any selected location, a single screen shows the current conditions, a local radar, upcoming predictions and then a forecast for the coming week. The latter packs temperatures, sun hours, precipitation forecasts and wind speeds into a tiny space.

In pretty much all cases, tapping on something lets you delve into even more information, and additional taps provide layered mapping and radar services. Accessing some layers requires an IAP subscription, but just the bare-bones WeatherPro is a great buy if you want at-a-glance forecasts packed with detail.

Citymapper
  • Free

Citymapper is a navigation aid for finding your way around big cities. It doesn’t cover the entire globe, but is instead focused on a handful of major destinations, such as New York, Chicago, Tokyo, London, Paris and Sydney. Locations are periodically added by way of user votes.

If you live in or visit a supported city, Citymapper is superb for helping you find your way around more efficiently. The app quickly finds where you are and offers options – in real-time – of how to reach your intended target.

And small details really help it stand out, such as you being able to track the location of a bus you’re waiting for, alerts that blare when your stop’s coming up, and even recommendations of the best carriage to get on – and the fastest station exit to use.

Google Maps
  • Free

Google Maps is the best mapping app on iPhone.

It’s extremely good at locating places you want to visit, be that a distant town or a point of interest like a restaurant or store. When it comes to turn-by-turn driving directions, the voiceovers lack the nuance of Apple’s Maps, but the actual directions tend to be more helpful when it comes to dealing with incidents like congestion.

Google Maps is great for planning and non-car use, too. There are reviews and recommendations for places to go, public transport routing, and Street View – a navigable 3D street-level map for scoping out landmarks that proves handy when traveling somewhere or visiting a new place.

Importantly, you can also download chunks of map for offline use, turning Google Maps into a turn-by-turn navigator even when you lack a data connection.

CARROT Weather
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

CARROT Weather rethinks weather apps, mostly in being helmed by an angry AI that seemingly won the ‘most likely to kill people in their sleep’ award over HAL. Sure, you get the usual rainfall warnings, hourly forecasts, and weekly outlooks, but they’re all delivered with a layer of snark.

Venture into the excellent Today view widget and CARROT will ‘LOL’ if it’s going to rain. If it’s sunny, she’ll hope you get tan lines, call you a meatbag, and suggest you make the most of the nice weather – “or else”.

It’s uniquely entertaining in its App Store category, but also usable, colorful, and configurable. The maps are extremely variable by country, and some layers require IAP – as do a number of useful settings. But otherwise this is one of the best – and certainly the most fun – weather apps for iPhone.

Elk
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

We’ve lost count of how many currency converters exist on the App Store, but it’s vanishingly rare to see anyone try something properly different.

Elk bucks the trend, with a unique interface and approach that might not appeal to traders, but feels very much like currency conversion for the rest of us.

On firing up the app, you select your two currencies and it offers a list of current rate conversions. For USD to EUR, for example, you get a list of the rates for one through ten dollars. Swiping from the right increases these values by ten. To access rates between two values, tap an entry.

Smartly, you can also input a fixed rate, for example to track your spending on a holiday when you’ve already got your cash. Most of the features are behind a paywall, but a 14-day trial lets you try them for free.

Poison Maps
  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

This one’s all about ‘points of interest’, hence the name – Poison Maps (‘POIs on maps’). Essentially, it’s a wealth of information from OpenStreetMap shoved into an app and twinned with an interface that makes it a cinch to drill down into categories.

So, mooching about London and fancy a bite to eat? Tap on the food and drink icon. Something quick? Tap Fast Food. Pizza? Sounds good.

Each tap filters the POIs and navigation buttons displayed, and arrows point at nearby locations when you’re zoomed in. Everything’s extremely responsive, and the maps and icons are clear and easy to read. Other nice bits include a full-screen mode, a search function, and public transport overlays.

The only snag is Poison Maps is a gargantuan install – well over 1GB. If that’s a bit rich, smaller regional alternatives by the same developer exist, each being a free download with a small IAP to unlock all categories.

Living Earth
  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

From a functionality standpoint, Living Earth is a combination clock/weather app. You define a bunch of cities to track, and switch between them to see current time, weather conditions, and when the sun's going to make an appearance and vanish for the day.

Tapping the forecast quickly loads an outlook for the entire week; prod the clock and you'll get the weather and time in each of your defined locations.

What sets Living Earth apart, though, is the globe at the screen's centre. This provides a live view of the planet's weather - clouds, by default, which can be swapped for temperature, wind and humidity.

We like the clouds most, along with the way the virtual planet can be slowly spun with the slightest swipe. It'll then lazily rotate between zones in daylight and those lit up after night has fallen.

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft is selling Huawei laptops again – but that might not be good news

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:48

You may recall that Huawei laptops were removed from Microsoft’s online store in May, following the US government’s blacklisting of the Chinese manufacturer’s devices, but these notebooks have now reappeared on the Microsoft Store.

However, this isn’t a positive development for Huawei, and will only be a temporary situation. As The Verge reports, Microsoft has been mulling over the Trump administration’s ban on Huawei devices, and has decided that it’s okay to sell-off existing stock; but only that.

Microsoft said in a statement: “We have been evaluating, and will continue to respond to, the many business, technical and regulatory complexities stemming from the recent addition of Huawei to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations Entity List.

“As a result, we are resuming the sale of existing inventory of Huawei devices at Microsoft Store.”

Three Huawei notebooks are now listed on the US Microsoft Store, with the Huawei MateBook 13, MateBook D and Matebook X Pro all being available to purchase (although the latter is out-of-stock with the Core i5 model at the time of writing).

Beyond that, though, new Huawei notebooks will not be offered to the general public in the US. Once these models are gone, that’s your lot.

Sold, but surely supported?

Tempted to buy one of these laptops? You wouldn’t be alone. The MateBook 13 is number two on our best laptops list, and in our review, we found the Huawei MateBook D delivered strong performance levels for an impressive asking price.

But if you are seriously considering pulling the trigger on one of these Huawei machines, you may have to consider another potential major caveat – it still isn’t clear if Microsoft will support these devices going forward in terms of Windows updates.

Back in May, when we questioned Microsoft on the topic of whether it would block Windows 10 updates for Huawei notebooks due to Trump’s new policy, the company simply replied that it had nothing to share. And it’s rather worrying that Microsoft wouldn’t commit either way as to whether updates would be prevented from landing on Huawei hardware.

Obviously if that does turn out to be the case, then these devices are going to be left woefully short on the security front, because they won’t receive patches against the latest vulnerabilities and whatnot (or feature updates for that matter).

Remember, though, that it isn’t confirmed that Microsoft will prevent updates from reaching Huawei machines – nothing is confirmed either way – so we’ll just have to hope that common sense prevails in this case.

It would certainly be ironic to put Huawei on the ban list due to national security concerns, and then block updates for a load of laptops that have been previously sold across the US before this controversy erupted, causing, er, security concerns…

When Huawei laptops were sold before the ‘entity list’ came into play, Microsoft had no knowledge of what was coming. However, with this remaining stock being sold off, it’s fully aware of the situation with these devices, and if the firm is selling them without any idea of whether it will be able support them for customers down the line – well, that would be unthinkable, surely?

It seems to us that Microsoft should really have clarified this support issue before these machines went back up on its online store.

Categories: Tech News

Future smartphones could have anti-pickpocket technology

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:41

If you've spent a huge sum of money on a phone, you don't want a cheeky thief to swipe it right out of your pocket, and phones in the future might have a handy feature that stops them doing just that – or, at least, makes it a lot harder for them to pick your pocket.

A patent filed by Swedish telecom company Ericsson (which you might know from the Sony Ericsson phones), shows new tech that phones could use to become much, much harder to steal – in theory.

The technology would recognize who was holding a phone from their heartbeat – and if someone unauthorized was holding the phone, it would enter 'low-friction' mode.

In 'low-friction' mode the phone would vibrate quickly, making it a lot harder for potential thieves to pick up – in effect, it becomes too slippery to easily pick up. The tech also includes a 'hi-friction' mode, so when you're holding your phone, it's a lot less likely to slip out of your hands and fall to the ground.

In theory, 'low-friction' mode would help stop pesky pickpockets pinching your phone right out of your pocket, giving you that extra level of security when you're in a busy crowd – of course it won't help if your phone is stolen in any other way, but it still could be a useful feature.

Although the patent was only recently discovered, it was filed in February, so phone makers have had a few months to consider adding it to their handsets, however with the long production cycles of phones, even if handsets do end up using the tech it might be a few months before we see phones with this anti-robber technology.

Categories: Tech News

Future farming: solving industry issues with AI and robotics

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:30

It may not be the first industry that comes to mind when you think of AI, but artificial intelligence is showing great promise in solving some of agriculture’s most pressing challenges: from the need to increase productivity and profits, to overcoming personnel shortages and protecting the environment.

Of all the industries AI is impacting, it’s safe to say farming has the greatest human impact. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the global population is expected to rise from 7 to 9.2 billion by 2050, requiring a 60 per cent increase in food production. Consider that more than a third of current UK farmers are over the age of 50, and you have an industry stretched beyond its means and unfortunately ill-equipped for future demands. 

Revenues from crop yields have remained flat for 25 years, while production costs keep going up. In short, farmers must find new and innovative ways to do more with less. And under the spectre of climate change - consuming less energy and water while producing less emissions and protecting the soil.

Smarter farm equals happier farmers

AI-driven technology - built on algorithms and models that analyse data to learn, adjust and improve over time, all without human intervention - are starting to have a dramatic effect on the farming industry. And an industry that has seen only incremental improvements over the last century, especially in the case of smaller sized farms.

For example, AI can help smaller farms be more profitable by scrutinising plant data to create a ‘profit map’ that advises farmers the most efficient ways to use a field to maximise yields. Each step - from knowing when to plant and harvest, to ongoing crop care and maintenance  - can now be automated.

The precision enabled by AI is an enormous boost to sustainable and ecological farming. Farmers can know exactly what is the best crop for each area of the field, and what areas unplanted so that fertility may be restored or planted smartly for pest control. Different crops can now be planted alongside each other in the same field, and harvested at different times providing maximum crop yield and field utilisation.

An ecosystem of startups is cropping up around the world to offer AI-powered tools to farms, including Small Robot Company (SRC), which believes robots can be more precise and environmentally friendly than traditional tractor-based farming; Bowery Farming, which uses robotics to cultivate crops indoors and has raised $90 million from investors; and CiBO Technologies, which leverages data analytics, statistical modeling and AI to simulate agricultural conditions under different variables.

SRC’s robots - Tom, Dick and Harry - are able to care for crops autonomously, taking care of every individual plant. They feed and spray only the plants that need it, providing the perfect levels nutrients and support, with no waste or environmental impact. The robots are a low-carbon alternative to large tractors. And by punch-planting rather than ploughing, the robots can radically reduce soil runoff and water pollution.

Image credit: Pixabay

Tech and the environment in harmony

Most farmers want to protect the environment, and many have worked hard to reduce their impact to date. But traditional arable methods, in particular ploughing and blanket chemical spraying, have too often left little choice but to pollute the environment. 

SRC’s robots use 90% less chemicals and 95% less energy than traditional methods used in the past. They are also part of a growing trend called farming-as-a-service (FaaS).

Humans have restricted working days. Our bodies determine it. But these small machines can work 24/7/365. That means they can help pick up the slack when labour is short and also take on more menial, time-consuming tasks, freeing up time for farmers to develop other areas of expertise for their farming business like branding and marketing.

These new farm management solutions emphasise data-driven decisions to boost productivity and efficiency. FaaS converts fixed upfront costs into variable ongoing costs for farmers, thus making operations more affordable for most small farmers.

In light of the mega-trends that farming faces - with ever more mouths to feed as the population grows, the need to safeguard farming as a viable business and the necessary sensitivity to the planet’s plight - agriculture is in need of a technological revolution. Thanks to a bumper crop of AI innovation, that revolution is under way.

Categories: Tech News

Nubia Red Magic 3 debuts in India, starting at Rs 35,999

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:26

Nubia Red Magic 3 has been launched in India and joins the gaming phones market which already has players like Asus, Black Shark to name a few. The Red Magic 3 was unveiled last month in China and features top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 chipset with a 90Hz display refresh rate and a massive battery to power this setup.

Nubia Red Magic 3 price and availability

The Red Magic 3 starts at Rs 35,999 for the variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage. The second model has 12GB of RAM and 256GB storage and is priced at Rs 46,999.

It will be available in three colours- Red, Black and Camo when it goes for sale in India starting June 27 on Flipkart.


Nubia Red Magic 3 specifications

The phone features a 6.65-inch screen with a Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) resolution topped with a layer of Gorilla Glass. The screen is capable of producing 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and has a 90Hz refresh rate.

The chassis is made from aluminum, and the back is also home to an RGB light panel. 

Nubia Red Magic 3 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset with an octa-core processor and Adreno 640 as the GPU. It comes with 8GB/12GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB of onboard storage. 

Being a gaming phone, it has a bunch of tricks up its sleeve. The phone has an internal cooling fan which, according to the company, makes it the first of its kind. It will help the phone to survive more graphics intensive gaming on the phone for a more extended period. DTS tunes the stereo speakers on the front and supports Xu1tra audio profiles.

Nubia Red Magic 3 has a 48MP primary with an f/1.7 aperture and a 16MP selfie camera on the front.

The Red Magic 3 runs on a massive 5,000mAh battery and supports 27W fast charging. The phone runs on Android 9.0 Pie based Red Magic 2.0 interface. 

Categories: Tech News

Nintendo's next mobile game is Dr Mario World, and it's launching next month

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:05

You may think of Mario as a professional plumber-turned-adventurer, but did you know he also spent around 10 years working toward his medical doctorate? That's why he's allowed to complete medical exams and prescribe medication in the upcoming Dr Mario World.

Announced back in January this year, we now have a release date for the iOS and Android game, with it set to be available on both platforms from July 10. 

In a similar fashion to previous Dr Mario games, this mobile iteration will see you playing a puzzle title where you pull capsules up against viruses to match three in a row. The aim is to clear the entire stage, but you'll have a limit to how many capsules you can use, meaning you'll have to plan ahead.

Dr Mario's gameplay has always been remarkably different to other Nintendo titles, but this is arguably a better fit than most for a mobile game.

Considering the success of other puzzle games on mobile, Dr Mario World's combination of challenging conundrums and familiar Mario faces, such as Princess Peach and Bowser, may make for a success.

You can pre-register for the game already on both Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. That will give you a reminder when it's available, and it's a free game so there's no harm in setting this up.

We'd expect various in-app payments, although we don't currently know exactly how they will work. Want to see the game in action? You can watch a full gameplay trailer below:

Via Engadget

Categories: Tech News

England vs Afghanistan live stream: how to watch today's Cricket World Cup 2019 from anywhere

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 02:57

Having notched up three wins from their four Cricket World Cup 2019 so far, Eoin Morgan's England side have largely lived up to their pre-tournament billing as favourites. Will they maintain their momentum against a struggling Afghanistan side? No matter where you are in the world you can watch this crucial match by using our guide below to getting an England vs Afghanistan live stream.

Afghanistan went into the competition with expectations of providing a surprise or two, but have so far underwhelmed, losing all four of their matches in fairly routine fashion.

While England will go into the match with confidence, they do have a number of injuries ahead of the match. Opening batsman Jason Roy has been ruled out for the next two matches with a hamstring tear while skipper Eoin Morgan is a doubt after suffering back spasms during Friday's win over the West Indies.

Another potential boost for Afghanistan is that the Old Trafford pitch may offer some help to Afghanistan's three potent spinners Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi.

It could all add up to much closer game than recent form suggest and it's a match you’ll be able to watch with ease from anywhere in the world if you follow our England vs Afghanistan live stream guide below.  

Watch a Cricket World Cup 2019 live stream from outside your country

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 stream the England World Cup game live in the UK 

How to stream 2019 Cricket World Cup online in India

How to watch the cricket in Pakistan

How to watch England vs Afghanistan: live stream in Australia

How to watch the game in New Zealand live stream 

How to watch England vs Afghanistan: US live stream 

Categories: Tech News

Apple's 2020 iPhone XS Max equivalent set to have an even larger display

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 22:14

According to the latest research note published by trustworthy Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we can expect the Cupertino company to deliver its largest iPhone display to date in 2020, as reported by Antutu and picked up by iPhone Hacks.

Koi believes that Apple is planning to release an iPhone XS Max equivalent in 2020 that will boast a 6.7-inch OLED display – that's 0.2 inches larger than the current model. 

Interestingly, Koi also states that the standard iPhone that's set to be released in 2020 will go in the opposite direction, reducing its display size from 5.8 inches to 5.45 inches, which would be a first for Apple's premium iPhone line. 

Both phones will reportedly act as Apple's 5G debut, lending further credence to the rumor that we might see iPhone 5G in 2020 after all – a previous report had suggested that there might not be a 5G iPhone until 2021.

Additionally, Koi also expects the 2020 iPhone XR equivalent to receive an OLED upgrade to its 6.1-inch display, as per a previously-reported rumor, though Apple's most affordable iPhone option is unlikely to support 5G networks.

Of course, we recommend taking all of this information with a grain of salt, though its worth noting that Koi's predictions tend to prove accurate more often than not – the analyst accurately anticipated 2019's AirPods revision and the return of the iPad Mini.

Categories: Tech News

Free Games with Prime: the free PC games on Twitch Prime in June 2019

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 18:49

Amazon Prime has a number of services you might already know and love. There's the free two-day delivery, a music streaming service and a video streaming service that all come with your subscription. But there's also free games. Yes, that’s right. Free games. 

If you're an Amazon Prime member you've probably heard about this, but if you set up an account on the company’s game streaming service, Twitch, you can link it to your Amazon Prime account to become a Twitch Prime member (or you can sign up for Twitch Prime on its own). 

There are a few benefits to being a Twitch Prime member, including free in-game items and no ads, but the most recent and best benefit is the free PC games each and every month, plus discounts and in-game items.

This is a great way to try out some games you’ve maybe seen streamed but haven’t had the chance to buy for yourself, totally free. Even if you’re not planning to play them straight away, it’s worth claiming them in the timeframe they’re available because even when you no longer have your Prime account they’ll be yours to play. Oh, and you'll need the Twitch desktop app too.

Twitch has offered free games before to Prime members but it can be tricky sussing out the latest and greatest downloads. That said, we’ve decided to put together this one-stop shop where you’ll be able to see the games you can get your hands on right now, as well as see the titles that have been featured in previous months. That way you’ll know whether to hold out for it to appear.

So, without any further ado, here are the free games with Prime for June 2019. And make sure you check back - we'll be updating every month.

Aegis Defenders Stikbold! 10 Second Ninja X The Metronomicon

These four games will be available until July 1, when they'll be swapped out for four new titles. Any games you download are yours to keep, however, so it's worth downloading them now even if you don't have time to play through them.

Categories: Tech News

The best cheap 4K TV deals and sale prices in the US - June 2019

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 16:41

While Amazon Prime Day is just around the corner, that doesn't mean you can't find fantastic deals on cheap TV right now. We've gone through top retailers such as Amazon and Walmart to find the best TV sales and deals that are currently going on (we've also got a roundup of UK retailers). You can find Black Friday like prices on a variety of best-selling 4K TVs from brands such as Samsung, Sony, LG and more. You'll find discounts on 4K TVs, smart TVs, different model sizes, and a variety of prices that will fit all TV viewing needs.

You will find all of our curated deals below. We've divided them into three different size categories as well as our pick for the best cheap TV deal of the week. These days you really don't have to pay much more to get a Ultra HD 4K set instead of an older-style HD one. If you're after the hottest tech in TV though, you may want to take a look at the cheapest OLED TV prices.

Whether you want a small TV with a price tag to match or something to show all the colors of the rainbow (and a few million more) with HDR, we've found plenty of options. Read on to find the TV you want at a great price!

TechRadar's cheap TV deal of the week Cheap TV deals (40-49 inch) Cheap TV deals (50-59 inch): Cheap TV deals (60-85 inch): More cheap TV sales:

Not found the right cheap TV for you today? Or maybe you'd prefer to directly browse the TVs at your favourite retailers instead of our highlights of the best cheap TV deals? We're updating this page on a regular basis, so you may have better look another day. If you want to take a look for yourself now though, here are the direct links to a the full collection of TV deals at multiple stores. 

Learn more about Prime Day with our guide on Amazon Prime Day 2019: everything you need to know for the July deals event.

Categories: Tech News

Best iOS office apps for your iPhone or iPad

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 15:55

Apple iPhones and iPads have become an integral part of many modern businesses. 

With native apps and web apps for mobile devices available across the range of productivity and creativity applications, as well as easy accessibility for Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile Apple devices have established their place in the office.

However, despite the number of integrated apps, there are still a wide range of individual apps that can be valuable to have for general office duties. 

For example, productivity suites for dealing with documents and spreadsheets still form the core of office work, plus there are a variety of related services available as apps to support that role, not least for document scanning and printing. 

There is such a huge volume of different apps for similar purposes available in the Apple AppStore, however, that it can be difficult to sift through which ones may be the most important.

We aim to make that decision easier for you, by listing the best in iOS office apps for the iPhone and iPad.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to desire.athow@futurenet.com with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line. 

Image Credit: Apple

Polaris Office is a free office suite that runs across all platforms. It also has a handy iPhone and iPad app that lets you access your documents from anywhere. Everything you need is in one handy application.

Polaris Office is fully compatible with MS Office and supports most file types such as ODT, PDF, PPT, DOC and XLS. Within the app you can open all file formats including PowerPoint and Excel. All of these formats can be opened, edited and saved through the application.

The app is light on storage space, weighing in at 163.3MB compared to Microsoft Word's at 362MB. 

The app also supports writing with pen and the use of pointer features meaning you can draw and edit as if you were writing on actual sheets of paper.

You can view PDF's directly from your iPhone or iPad and can easily convert them into another format to edit them. There is no need to extract files with Polaris Office, you can view them through the app.

It comes with 1GB of Cloud storage of its own but you can connect your own cloud storage provider with it in order to gain more storage. Polaris also supports over 18 languages.

One of the main criticisms of the free app is the ads that can interrupt the service. However, this can easily be resolved by purchasing the remove ads option for $3.99.

There are also several different price tiers starting at $5.49 per month that will give you access to more cloud storage and annotation on PDF. All payments are based on a recurring subscription and will automatically renew.

Image Credit: Apple

While PrintCentral is primarily a printing app it's capable of much more. The app also works as a full office suite which offers print support.

PrintCentral has its own browser that allows the user to print to any wireless printer that is in range. As well as this you can print PDF and any iWork files as well as any MS Office files.

The app contains its own mailbox utility that lets you view multiple inboxes on the same page. It also supports signatures with images and in varied formats.

Within the app users are able to Zip ad Unzip files to print or to view them. While working online you can copy and print webpages while retaining their original format.

PrintCentral is fully integrated with Evernote and also allows users to connect to their own Cloud storage providers such as Dropbox and iCloud.

Some users have noted that at times it can be tricky to get the app to locate your chosen printer but this does not seem to occur very often.

The app is $4.99 to buy, but also offers an in-app Advanced Upgrade which costs $2.99.

Image Credit: Apple

GoodReader was developed by GoodiWare Ltd which was started by Yuri Selukoff. It was first released in 2010. The iPhone and iPad app costs $5.99.

The app can read and view documents in different formats such as DOC, PDF and XLS. It is mainly a PDF reader and within it you can make changes to PDF documents.

GoodReader enables users to read, edit and sign PDF files. From here you can also make annotations within your PDF document such as highlighting and drawing. Signing PDF documents only takes three taps. The app makes everything very simple.

You can store your data simply and efficiently though cloud providers such as Dropbox and OneDrive. GoodReader also supports copy and paste along with the ability to Zip/Unzip and unRAR files and folders. 

Any users of the old version can use a migration assistant that will help to move files to the new app seamlessly. Users new to GoodReader will enjoy the text-to-speech feature which supports a large number of languages.

Image Credit: Apple

Documents for iOS is developed by Savy Soda who are located in Melbourne, Australia. The app is a fully functional office suite that costs $4.49 to install and weighs in at 42.6MB.

Documents works with Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive to give users optimal storage. Editing can be done both online and offline.

The app includes a Text Editor, a spreadsheet app and a file manager. With the use of all three this gives users the ability to open all MS Office files along with full compatibility with iWorks. It fully supports all TXT and CSV files but there is limited support for DOC and XLS files through Google Docs.

Included within Documents is a Photo Album tool which helps users to manage their photos easily.

Spreadsheets are fully functional and supports all formulae, formats and basic features associated with Excel. Files that you create within the app can be opened by Notepad, OpenOffice, and Word amongst others.

This appears to be a popular app with users having very little to criticize about it. However, one of the few complaints is that there is no ability to search within a document and that it always requests you save a document whether you have made changes or not.

Image Credit: Apple

Microsoft Word or just simply Word first entered the fold in 1983 as a multi-word tool for the now defunct Xenix system. Since then it's held the dominant market share when it comes to office tools and is the most well-known amongst users.

The Word app is free to download but offers in-app purchase for any extras you may need. This is not a lightweight app: it weighs in at 292.1 MB upon installation.

Within Word you can create, edit, view and share files with other users quickly and easily. You can read through PDF's but need to convert them into a Word document before being able to edit them.

Word has many trusted features that let you edit and create documents with ease. While you may not always need them, it is good to know you have the choice. The app has several templates that make writing resumes or cover letters much more convenient.

While this is a very popular app there are some issues with stability, with some users noting that Word documents freeze up during use with work sometimes being unrecoverable.

Other users have criticized the size of the application stating that it is too resource heavy.

Image Credit: Apple

Pages is part of the iWork productivity suite and is developed by Apple. However, the suite can not be installed in one handy app but is divided up into three separate apps: Pages (word processor), Numbers (Spreadsheet software) and Keynote (presentation software). Each app is free to download and Pages itself weighs in at a mighty 515.4 MB.

Pages can open DOCX, DOC, RTF and TXT files. It can export files through PDF, DOCX, RTF and EPUB. If collaborating with users of Microsoft Office, you will need to convert the file into either a PDF or DOCX file before sending as it is not fully compatible with MS Office and can cause readability issues.

You can annotate and draw within documents using the Apple Pen. This is an easy to use tool that allows you to add drawings in several different ways besides the Apple Pen e.g. 'fill tools'.

Pages also has its own Apple designed templates for letters, resumes and posters which are easy to use.

With the collaboration tool users can see exactly who is working on the document at the same time as them, can share the document publicly and can easily follow other users edits. It is also available on documents that are stored in iCloud.

The general consensus amongst users is that the app should be more compatible with MS Office. Even though you can convert documents into DOCX files, they can still appear different in MS Office.

Image Credit: Apple

Google Drive is a file storage service developed by Google. Users can store and share files in their drive as well as synchronize files across devices. It is free to download and offers in-app purchases.

The app incorporates Google's office suite (G Suite) which includes Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. This means that documents stored on the drive can be viewed, edited and created. Any changes will be saved to Google Drive.

You are given 15GB of free storage which can be upgraded through paid plans which start at $1.99 (£1.52) per month.

Users can edit the privacy settings for each file as they see fit. This is especially handy if you want to collaborate with other people. 

All files that you have saved to your drive, such as documents, spreadsheets and photos, will be backed up safely so you won't have to worry about losing them.

There is a handy search feature where you can either search for files by content or name. Users are also able to see any recent activity on a file and can set sharing permissions to comments, edit or read-only.

Users have criticized the layout of Google Drive stating that organizing files/folders can be confusing as the documents all look the same and are categorized by most recent activity and not alphabetically.

Image Credit: Apple

SmartOffice claim to offer the most accurate representation of Microsoft Office products that can be seen on a mobile app. The app is $9.99 to buy and install and weighs in at 52 MB. For this you are getting a full office suite unlike Microsoft Word which, at 361.1MB, is just the word processing tool.

The app offers password protection so that you have extra security when saving any documents you have been working on. Users can edit and share Microsoft documents easily and efficiently. All files can be converted to a PDF if needed. Documents can be opened and saved online with access to the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive.

SmartOffice supports several image formats such as PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF and BMP. Wireless printing is also supported. It is compatible with all versions of Word since 1997 and supports over 35 different languages. It is easy to use with a well-designed, attractive interface.

SmartOffice has an excellent spreadsheet and presentations tool that is comparable to MS Office.

Users have criticized the iPhone and iPad app for being slow to log in and hard to navigate through.

Image Credit: Apple

Microsoft's Office Lens is a companion app to OneNote which allows users to scan whiteboards and documents with the intention of saving and making them readable. It is free to install and weighs in at 40 MB. This may not be a full productivity suite but it can be a very handy office tool.

It is a great app for those constantly on the go as it can read whiteboards, blackboards and business cards. It then digitizes them automatically. This means that users never have to worry about losing receipts, just scan and save them in the app.

OCR will recognize both printed and handwritten text and you can search for words within your images if you need to edit them.

Office Lens will tidy up and do its best to eliminate glare when using the 'Whiteboard' mode. While the 'Document' mode ensures that colors match perfectly and also tidies up the image to fit the file.

After taking a scan of a business card, the app can extract certain information such as contact details and save them to your address book.

Images can be converted to DOCX, PPTX or PDF files and are saved to OneDrive automatically.

It seems that the 'Flash' option has to be turned off each time you use Office Lens, which some users have said can be inconvenient especially if using in a classroom or office meeting.

Image Credit: Apple

WPS Office (Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets) is an office suite developed by Chinese software developer Kingsoft. The suite is available on both iPhone and iPad. The app is free but ad-supported, though you can remove these by paying either $3.99 a month or $29.99 a year. The suite's comprised of WPS Writer, WPS Presentation and WPS Spreadsheet.

The WPS PDF reader has the ability to convert PDF to WPS and is able to read Adobe PDF files.  The app supports a number of file types such as DOC, RTF, DOT, PPTX, TXT and HTML amongst others. All documents are fully compatible with Microsoft Office and Google Docs.

The app allows you to securely encrypt your files with passkeys and you can edit your documents without the fear of losing your work with the auto-save option. Features include the ability to track changes, comments and run spell checks.

The app can present documents straight from your iPhone/iPad to a compatible TV or projector. WPS for iOS also supports 47 different languages.

It seems that if do not purchase the premium subscription within the app then you will be plagued by intrusive ads while using the service.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Other iOS office apps to consider

There are a number of other office apps available in the Apple iTunes App Store, but there are some which try to do everything Microsoft Office does, and others that feature only in one area. We'll therefore expand the list a little to look at additional alternatives to consider.

Google Docs: Sync, Edit, Share is another obvious office app for iOS, which works within Google's G Suite app platform. You can write, edit, and share documents in Google Docs, and additionally work on them collaboratively. Documents are also saved in the cloud, and there are integrations available with the rest of Google's G Suite, not least spreadsheets and G Drive. While it's not as feature-packed as Microsoft Office, it has enough features to get most jobs done, and as it's free to download it's a useful free option to consider.

OfficeSuite & PDF editor  works by allowing you to create, edit, and save Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files. As ever, everything is saved in the cloud so you won't lose your files easily. There are also additional PDF editing options which is handy to have, and with a file size of 153.7 MB it's a lot smaller to download and install than Microsoft Office for Apple.

Zoho Docs is another free document editor available in the iTunes App Store, and aside from offering the standard create/edit/save document options, also allows for collaborative working on them. You can also tag files to make them easier to find, as well as sync to save using multiple storage providers. It's free to download, and easily integrates with other Zoho productivity apps.

Categories: Tech News

Best CPU cooler 2019: top CPU coolers for your PC

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 15:47

What’s cooler than being cool? That’s right, keeping your PC components ice cold. Before you go out to find more exciting components like the best graphics cards to soup up your rig, you have to seriously consider picking out the best CPU cooler first, as you’ll need it to build the best gaming PC you can. After all, keeping your CPU at a low temperature will increase your computer’s performance, not to mention, longevity.

The best CPU coolers will come in every shape, size and even price point in 2019, but finding the perfect cooler for your build depends on your processor, your budget and your overclocking demands. Luckily, even if you’re trying to save some cash, you can still pick up one of the best CPU coolers, as many air coolers are extremely cheap these days. If you’ve got the cash, on the other hand, you also have the option to splurge on a high-end liquid cooler, taking your cooling performance to the next level.

Regardless of what kind of CPU cooler you need, we’ll help you find the most ideal one. We gathered some of the best CPU coolers on the market, using our PC component expertise. And, because we’ve tested these coolers ourselves, you know these heat dissipators will be worth your money. Plus, with our price comparison tool, you’ll know you’re getting a killer deal every time.

Image Credit: Noctua

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2019 simply because it performs just as well as – if not better – than some liquid coolers, while costing a fraction of the price. You might not be too familiar with Noctua’s name, as they’re relatively small in the CPU cooler world, but its business is revolves around designing coolers, so you know that when you buy one of their products, you’re getting a product by people who really know their craft. On top of delivering a fantastic cooling performance, the NH-D15 is nearly silent as well. 

Image Credit: Cooler Master

There are some products out there that never really age out of relevance, like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, which is still one of the best CPU coolers on the market. Even though it only features four heat pipes and an aluminum fin structure, this legendary CPU cooler has proven again and again to be just as effective as any liquid cooling system. This air cooler is designed to make heat dissipation a breeze – literally – whether you’re playing Metro Exodus at max settings or browsing Twitter. 

Image Credit: Noctua

Noctua is an Austrian manufacturer that does one thing, and one thing only: make the best CPU coolers and fans. What this means is that even though the Noctua NH-L9 is tiny, it is still more than capable of insane cooling with no compromises. This is a fantastic cooler for anyone with a smaller build, or even if you’re using a ton of large components, and you’re not comfortable with liquid cooling.

Image Credit: Corsair

Corsair has enjoyed a position at the top of the liquid cooling game for a while now, and the H100i Pro continues the trend. Not only is this thing obviously strapped in RGB lighting, but it also boasts impressive cooling performance, thanks to Corsair’s unique and powerful fans, which you can control through the iCue software. All these combined, and you’ve got among the few best CPU coolers that not only performs well, but that is also completely customizable.

Image Credit: Deepcool

If you’re looking for a powerful liquid cooler that’ll help contribute to your epic RGB setup, the Deepcool Gamerstorm Castle 240 RGB is the best CPU cooler for you. Beyond the ridiculous name, it’s an efficient AIO cooler that can push your overclocks higher and higher with addressable RGB that’s compatible with a wide range of controllers – so you can easily sync your lighting. The CPU Block stands a little high, but when it looks this good, does it really matter?

Image Credit: NZXT

If you’re running one of the best processors, and you want to push it to the limit, you’ll need one of the best CPU coolers for overclocking, like the NZXT Kraken X72. Not only does it pack a gigantic radiator, but its high fan speeds ensure that cooling performance is top-notch all the time. And, because it’s 2019, it features addressable RGB and an infinite mirror design that looks amazing in any case. To top it all off, the NZXT Kraken X72 is backed by a 6-year warranty.

Image Credit: Cooler Master

There isn’t a single component that can’t be improved through RGB, and Cooler Master is well aware – jumping on the RGB bandwagon with the MasterLIquid ML 120R RGB. What’s more, it integrates some of the first addressable LEDs seen on a liquid cooler. This all-in-one liquid cooling solution isn’t just about aesthetics – it features an oxidation free pump and an efficient radiator. This means that not only will it last longer – but it’ll keep your CPU cooler, and all without giving up too much case real estate, which is why it’s made our best CPU coolers list.

Image Credit: Arctic

For less than 70 big ones in both US dollars and British sterling, the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is a deal you can’t pass up if you’re on the prowl for a liquid cooler that won’t break the bank. While it lacks the bells and whistles of pricier, more extravagant liquid coolers, like the NZXT Kraken, the Arctic Liquid cooler is enough to get you by, not to mention it’s still a massive step up from the classic fan and heatsink pairing. So, while you can’t expect RGB lighting or software – or even hardware-based fan control, the 120mm variant of the Arctic Liquid Freezer makes our best CPU coolers list as it will keep your system refrigerated at a (mostly) quiet volume. 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF 

Image Credit: Corsair

Even if your budget will allow you to really go all-out on a serious liquid cooling solutions, if you have a smaller PC case, you’ll likely not have enough space. That’s where something like the Corsair Hydro H5 SF comes into play. Even on the smallest PC cases, you’re able to use this CPU cooler to keep your CPU chilled, even if you have some beastly overclocks happening. Plus, because it’s a closed loop, you don’t even need to worry about maintenance. Set it up, and let it do its thing – you won’t be disappointed. 

Image Credit: NoFan

Rounding out our best CPU coolers list is the NoFan CR-95C. You’ve probably never heard of NoFan – unless you’re already neck deep into the rabbit hole that is silent PC assembly. The South Korean component company specializes in helping enthusiasts reach that 0dBA silent sweet spot. In doing so, of course, will severely limit your set-up in terms of power, with its CR-95C fanless solution being limited in compatibility to processors whose TDP fall below 95W. Still, the NoFan CR-95C is worth a shot if you want to build a low-power computer that completely blends into the background.


  •  This Product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Noctua NH-L9 
Categories: Tech News

Nvidia and Arm team up on supercomputers

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 14:53

During the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany this week, Nvidia announced that it will support processors from the British semiconductor design company Arm as it looks to gain a greater foothold in the supercomputer market.

Nvidia has long been known as a supplier for graphics chips for the PC industry but in the past few years, researchers have also started to use its chips inside data centers to boost AI workloads. The company's accelerator chips work alongside central processors from Intel and IBM and will also soon do so with Arm chips.

According to Nvidia, its accelerator chips will work with Arm chips by the end of this year. Founder and CEO of Nvidia Jensen Huang explained in a press release how the combination of its chips and Arm's will help supercomputers come closer to reaching the exascale level, saying:

“Supercomputers are the essential instruments of scientific discovery, and achieving exascale supercomputing will dramatically expand the frontier of human knowledge. As traditional compute scaling ends, power will limit all supercomputers. The combination of NVIDIA’s CUDA-accelerated computing and Arm’s energy-efficient CPU architecture will give the HPC community a boost to exascale.” 

Nvidia and Arm

Arm, which is owned by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, has gained notoriety in recent years as its chips are used in most smartphones. However, companies such as Ampere Computing have been working to use the British firm's chips in data centers where Intel's chips are the most widely used.

Unlike its competitors, Arm doesn't produce its own chips but rather licenses the underlying technology so that others can use it to make processors.

Nvidia decided to make its chips work together with Arm's chips after European and Japanese researchers said they wanted to develop super computing chips using Arm's technology so that they could have a third option in addition to IBM and Intel, which currently control the market.

The announcement follows Nvidia's recent $6.8bn deal to buy the Israeli firm Mellanox Technologies whose high-speed networking chips already appear in some of the world's most powerful supercomputers.

Via Reuters

Categories: Tech News

What is an IP address?

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 14:00

Getting online is generally very easy these days. There's no real need for any technical expertise, just turn on your device and you're typically connected right away.

If you're not a networking geek, this simplicity will probably appeal, as it means you're not forced to get involved with low-level details like protocols, packets and ports.

But it does pay to learn more about a few networking concepts, and the IP address comes top of the list. Although it involves exploring a few technical ideas, there's nothing that even the greenest of network novices won't be able to figure out. And once you do have that basic understanding, you'll find new ways to improve your privacy and security, as well as being better able to troubleshoot any connection problems you might have in future.

Definitions

The internet is a huge network of devices, ranging from the routers, PCs, mobiles and tablets you might have in your home, to the web servers and top-of-the-range computing powerhouses used by big business.

Whenever any device goes online, it's allocated a public IP address. The standard type (also known as an IPv4 address) of public address is four numbers separated by periods, where the first number is usually between 1 and 191, and the remaining three are between 0 and 255, like:

81.151.203.58

A second type of address format, called IPv6, might look something like:

2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1

The IP address is vital because it tells everything else on the internet where you are, and allows you to communicate.

When you enter Google.com in your browser, for instance, your system uses a Domain Name Server to translate that domain to a public IP address like 216.58.213.100. Your browser then sends a request for the Google search page, with your own IP address attached, and Google uses your address to send the page back. None of this would be possible without sharing addresses.

IP addresses aren't just for the internet. If you connect your device to a router at home, it’s assigned a private IP address, usually starting with 192.168. This allows you to communicate with other devices on your network, perhaps sending information through the router, or sharing resources like files, folders or a printer.

Finding your public IP address is easy (Image credit: Google)

Finding your public IP address

There are many ways to find out your public IP address.

Type 'what is my ip' into Google, for instance, and the site displays your public IP.

Point your browser at the website whatismyip.com and you'll find both your public and (probably) private IP addresses.

Developers use special geolocation services to discover the IP address of a device and find out more about it. Regular users don't need to understand that kind of complexity, or even know it exists, but one or two of these services can make everyone’s life a little easier.

Enter api.ipify.org in your browser, for instance, and you'll see a plain text display of your IP address, and nothing else at all. This is intended to make it easier for an app to extract that data, but there's nothing stopping anyone else using it, and the site is probably the simplest and quickest way to find your public IP address.

Keep in mind that your public IP address might change depending on how you're getting online (via a mobile network, public Wi-Fi, a home broadband connection, something else), and it could change again when you reconnect to a network.

To test this with home broadband, use whatismyip.com to check your current public address, then turn your router on and off, wait for it to reconnect to the internet, and try whatismyip.com again.

IP Fingerprints displays a map showing your location (Image credit: IP Fingerprints)

IP address lookup services

Here’s a handy list of 10 of the best websites you can use to find out your IP address (starting with the option we’ve just mentioned):

What Is My IP: This clear and simple site displays your IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, your location and ISP. Nothing too technical and no ads at all.

What Is My IP Address: An easy way to find your IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. It displays what it thinks is your location on a map, too, but this isn't always accurate.

IP Address Guide: View your IP address and run other technical tools (ping, traceroute, IP address conversions) with a click. Handy for experienced users.

IP2Location: Launch the site and click 'Try Demo' to see your IP address, location, ISP, and a stack of other low-level details (net speed, proxies, and more).

IP Address Locator: Point your browser here and you'll not only see your current IP address and location, but the distance to nearby cities, too.

IPLocation: No hassles, no complications, just a simple display of your IP and location, and a Search box where you can locate other IPs in seconds.

IP Address Info: This site displays your IPv4 address on the front page, and has links to a host of other web tools where you can find out more.

IP Fingerprints: Your IP address and a map showing your location are displayed on the front page, and other technical tests are available from website menus.

Info Sniper: This service is aimed at developers, but anyone can use Info Sniper to check their own IP, and it makes the best use of a map to display your location.

Find IP Address: A quick way to view your IP address, location, and other details your browser might be giving away (browser version, operating system, language).

This is one of several ways of finding out your private IP under Windows (Image credit: Microsoft)

Finding your private IP address

Your private IP address identifies your device on the local network only, which makes it a little less interesting than the public address. But if you're trying to figure out a network issue, or having problems sharing resources, it can be useful to track it down. And, fortunately, Windows now has several ways to help you do this. Here are three.

1. Press the Ctrl + Esc + Left Shift keys together to launch Task Manager. Click More Details if you see it, then click the Performance tab and choose the active network adapter in the left-hand pane (it'll probably have a graph showing recent data transfers). Your private IP address is displayed on the right.

2. Click the network icon in your system tray, then the network you're connected to. Click the network name again in the window that appears, and Windows should display its private IPv4 address.

3. Click Start, type cmd and click Command Prompt to open a command line, then type ipconfig in there and press Enter. The command will list all your network adapters, probably only one of which is connected, and the IPv4 address you see is the one you need.

Potential dangers of your IP

The IP address system is great for helping you communicate online, but it also has some issues, particularly in terms of your privacy.

That's because whenever you access a website, send a message, or use any other web resource, you must provide your IP in order to get a reply, and that service can then use your address to find out more about you.

A public IP address like 81.151.203.137 isn't just some random number, for example. A website can look that up and perhaps see your ISP, your company if you're connecting from work, your country, maybe even your nearest city.

Your IP address could remain the same for a very long time, too, and in some cases it may never change. That allows websites to record your IP when you first visit, recognize it when you return, and build up a record of what you're doing over time, even if you don't register or sign in.

This isn't just about privacy; there are practical issues, too. Ever visited YouTube or some other streaming site and been told that content isn't available in your region, for instance? The website has probably used your IP address to find out where you are, and then locked you out if you're not in an approved country.

To discover what a website can find out from your IP address, visit iplocation.net. The site tries four different geolocation services to discover your country, ISP and nearest city. Geolocation isn't an exact science, and we found these four services each displayed different cities for our IP address. But one service did get it right, and if that website also had our name, that could allow it to identify our real-world address.

A VPN can let you choose to appear to be located elsewhere, even in another country far away (Image credit: NordVPN)

Changing your IP address

Although your public IP address will always give away some information about you, there's an easy way to reduce the chance of any issues: you can change it for another.

One option is to access the internet via a different network. If you're on your phone and connecting via home Wi-Fi, for instance, switch to your mobile provider's network and you'll have a different IP.

Depending on your setup, you might get a new public IP address if you restart your device, close your connection and reopen it, or when you're at home, turn your router off and on again. (There are no guarantees, though, so use a site like What Is My IP – or one of the others we highlighted above – to check your address before and after restarting).

But the most effective way to change your digital identity is to sign up for a VPN (Virtual Private Network), a service which allows you to replace your old IP with a shiny new one, whenever you like.

Most VPNs give you a choice of IPs from 20 or more countries around the world, allowing you to appear as though you're in the US, UK, Asia, or wherever else you need to be. If you can't access US-only web content because you're somewhere else in the world, getting a US IP address from a VPN might be enough to get you in.

There's another massive benefit in that the VPN securely encrypts your connection to protect it from snoopers. If you're accessing the internet via public Wi-Fi, this makes it very difficult for hackers to monitor your traffic, steal usernames, passwords and other personal details.

If that sounds appealing, sign up for a free VPN or two and check out how they work. It's generally very easy – install an app, choose your IP address country and click Connect – and we've got a list of the best free VPNs to help you choose a good one.

However, bear in mind that free VPNs can be slow, and often have limits on the amount of data you can use every month. There are plenty of top-quality commercial services around, though, some priced at under $3 a month: check out our favorites in terms of paid offerings in our best VPN roundup.

Categories: Tech News

Netflix users hit by phishing scam

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 13:48

Netflix has issued a warning to its customers in Ireland after a number of users reported receiving an email from the company regarding their accounts.

The cybercriminals behind phishing attacks are always looking for new targets and it appears that Netflix users are their latest mark. A number of customers received an email that they thought was from the company, which read:

"Dear customer, during the regular maintenance and verification processes, we have detected an error in your account. If your account information is not updated within 24 hours, your ability to access your account will be restricted."

However, Netflix and other companies rarely ask users to provide personal information by email. 

Phishing scams

If a company asks you to provide personal information by email, this is usually a clear sign that the email was not sent through official channels but by cybercriminals attempting to gain access to your account.

Senior Director of Solutions Marketing at Cofense, David Mount provided further insight on the phishing scam that targeted Irish Netflix users, saying:

“The news that customers of Netflix Ireland are being targeted by an email phishing scam is concerning, but not surprising. In fact, our recent research found the scale of the phishing threat is still high - with 90% of malicious emails having been found in business environments running one or more enterprise-grade secure email gateways. If businesses are still being successfully phished to this extent, consumers are clearly at risk from such attackers.

“With over 250,000 customers in Ireland, attackers have cast the net far and wide on this occasion, and there no doubt will be recipients that click on the email and may even fall for the scam. Awareness is the key to avoiding such dangers.

“While this phish purely seems aimed at consumers, it’s important to note that attacks of this kind are also commonly used to target enterprise individuals, particularly when corporate email addresses are also used for personal purposes. Both businesses and consumers need to remain vigilant.

“Whether in a business or personal context, it is critical we educate users about these convincing tactics and train them to spot, and report where relevant, suspicious emails – safeguarding them from data breaches and financial losses. For example, users should be suspicious of emails containing links in which the URL does not go to the official company site when hovered over, as well as shortened URLs including bitly or goo.gl links, all of which are potential evidence of a phishing attack."

Via The Irish Sun

Categories: Tech News

tvOS 13: All the news and features of Apple's next TV operating system

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 13:18

After unveiling being unveiled at this year's WWDC 2019 conference, tvOS 13 is ready for developers to download - the second beta is ready to test on Apple TV and Apple TV 4K and all developers need to do is go to the software update section. 

The big differences for tvOS 13 are that it will finally offer multi-user support with personalized recommendations, as well as be compatible with both the Xbox One and PS4 DualShock 4 controller for Apple Arcade play. 

Here's everything we know about Apple's next TV smart platform after the official announcement: 

tvOS 13 release date

Disappointingly, the one thing we didn't hear at WWDC was Apple tvOS 13's release date - so it's still TBD. That said, however, developer previews have already started rolling out, with the second wave of code hitting on June 17.

When can you get your hands on it? Well, based on previous years, global availability on Apple TV and Apple TV 4K should roll out sometime in September or October - around the time Apple could launch its Apple TV Plus streaming service.

tvOS 13 will have personalized recommendations for everyone in your home - here's what Blue Planet looks like. Image Credit: Apple

tvOS 13 news and features

New home screen and multi-user support

The most important update coming to tvOS 13 is the new home screen, which will offer better recommendations for everyone in the family. For this to work, each user in the home will need their own profile, including your kids, but when it's setup you'll see TV shows, movies and music recommendations personalized to you.

What's unclear at this point is if those profiles will need to be tied to an Apple account or if there will be one master account that has the payment info for everyone - attaching a credit card to a kid's account sounds like a potentially awful idea, but it seems likely that Apple will adopt Parental Controls for these accounts.

So how will you switch between accounts? Apparently, you'll be using Control Center.

Shown briefly on-stage during the keynote, Control Center on tvOS will be the brains behind the operation - allowing you to switch accounts, access settings and sync devices. That last bit is important because...

Apple tvOS will support Xbox One and PS4 controllers 

It was apparent that Apple Arcade would require controllers ever since it was announced last year - how else could you play 3D platformers like Oceanhorn 2? 

Now we know exactly which controllers we'll be using: the Xbox One and PS4 DualShock 4 gamepads.

Apple announced that Microsoft and Sony's first-party controllers would be compatible with tvOS in the next update, whenever it arrives.

There are still a few question marks here - like what functionality, if any, will the DualShock 4's touchpad have on the Apple TV - but it's the first time Apple has ever announced compatibility with Sony and Microsoft's gaming hardware on-stage at a WWDC, so that's big news in and of itself.

Here's what OceanHorn looks like on tvOS13. Image Credit: Apple.

Apple Music lyrics and a new screensaver 

We knew Apple Music would play a key role at WWDC this year, just not on Apple TV. That said, however, we're happy it made an appearance.

New on tvOS 13 will be the ability to see lyrics on Apple Music in time with the song - a minor feature, but one that's nice to see all the same. To go alongside the new lyrics, you'll also see personalized song recommendations on the new home screen based on your listening habits to help you find that next hit.

The last new feature Cook mentioned was a new screen saver that Apple shot in 4K HDR. It's of a coral reef and it should turn a few heads when it arrives on tvOS 13.

  • Catch all the announcements from the event in our WWDC 2019 news hub
Categories: Tech News

Gaming sites hit with billions of cyberattacks

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:50

Cybercriminals have set their sights on the gaming industry and a new report has revealed that 12bn credential stuffing attacks were carried out against gaming websites over the course of 17 months leading up to March 2019.

Akamai's 2019 State of the Internet / Security Web Attacks and Gaming Abuse Report highlights how the online gaming community is one of the fastest rising targets for credential stuffing attacks as well as one of the most lucrative targets for attackers.

During the same time period in which gaming websites saw heightened attacks, Akamai observed a total of 55bn credential stuffing attacks across all industries.

The firm's report also revealed that SQL Injection (SQLi) attacks now represent 65.1 percent of all web application attacks with Local File Inclusion (LFI) attacks accounting for 24.7 percent. Akamai's data shows that SQLi attacks have continued to grow in popularity among cybercriminals after experiencing a spike in activity during 2018's holiday shopping season and the attacks have continued at an elevated rate since that time.

SQLi and credential stuffing attacks

SQLI and credential stuffing attacks almost share a direct link as the majority of the credential stuffing lists on the dark web and on various internet forums use data that originated from some of the world's largest data breaches, many of which have SQLi as a root cause.

Security researcher at Akamai and editorial director of its latest report Martin McKeay explained why the gaming industry has become such a valuable target for cybercriminals, saying:

“One reason that we believe the gaming industry is an attractive target for hackers is because criminals can easily exchange in-game items for profit. Furthermore, gamers are a niche demographic known for spending money, so their financial status is also a tempting target. While gaming companies continue to innovate and improve their defenses, these organizations must also continue to help educate their consumers on how to protect and defend themselves. Many gamers are young, and if they are taught best practices to safeguard their accounts, they will incorporate those best practices for the rest of their lives.” 

Akamai's report also found that the US is the top source country for credential stuffing attacks while Russia and Canada take the top two spots targeting the gaming sector.

Via Venture Beat

Categories: Tech News

Best MP3 Player 2019: TechRadar's guide to the best portable music players

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:29

MP3 players might not be as popular as they were a decade ago, but that doesn't mean they're outdated technology. In fact, modern MP3 players do a significantly better job at storing your entire music library at a higher bitrate than your 2009 iPod Shuffle ever could.

To that end, if you're on the look-out for the best MP3 player that money can buy in 2019, you've come to the perfect place: Here we'll run down all the top choices, and tell you everything you need to know to make a sensible buying decision.

While most folks are more than happy to use their phones as portable music players, you're here because you're looking for a separate music player – one that not only stores your music, but makes it sound its best.

The best MP3 players, due to their sound fidelity and durability, are the ultimate devices if you love listening to music – and new innovations in sound are making them even better with each passing year.

That said, remember that the device (in this case an MP3 player) is only one link in a long audio chain. You’ll also need to think about what audio codec your library is in, and you will obviously also need an great pair of headphones, (high-fidelity DACs are meaningless if you’re using a cheap pair of earbuds).

If you need a little help, check out the best headphones for 2019

Best MP3 player: Onkyo DP-X1A

Onkyo has been a well-known and esteemed name in audio for years, and for good reason. The Onkyo DP-X1A may not be the most compact player on this list, but it is the best all-around, offering huge customizability, an intuitive interface, and fantastic sound quality.

Let’s start with the design, which is pretty nice. In general, the DP-X1A looks a little bit like a phone, but much thicker, and is completely optimized for audio use. How so? Well, for starters, it has two audio ports – one headphone jack and one balanced output for those interested in a cleaner and overall better quality sound. Additionally, the device has an easy-to-use volume wheel, as well as physical playback buttons and two microSD card slots for those with a sizable collection of music. 

The player is built with a full version of Android 5.1, complete with features like Wi-Fi connectivity and the Google Play Store. Which results in an MP3 Player that is to Android what the iPod Touch is to iOS. Unlike the iPod, however, the Onkyo DP-X1A is built for super-high-quality audio.

Speaking of the sound quality, it's an absolute dream. It supports a range of music formats, including FLAC, OGG, WAV, MP3, ALAC, and more. In terms of hardware, the device has two chipsets, one to power the overall device, and one to handle the DAC and amplifier – resulting in a noise-free experience. 

We tested the player with multiple pairs of headphones across multiple price ranges, and were stunned with the clarity and exceptional quality of the audio. There’s a reason the Onkyo DP-X1A sits atop this list – it’s a beast in the portable audio world. 

Read our full review: Onkyo DP-X1A Digital Audio Player

 Best MP3 player: iPod Touch (7th Generation)

Apple took us all by surprise when it announced the iPod touch 7, the first upgrade to its portable music and video player since 2015. 

With “enhancements to power, capability, and communication”, the updated iPod touch is fully geared towards gaming, with the release coming just in time for the launch of Apple's new gaming service, Apple Arcade

The bigger upgrade, at least for audio enthusiasts, is the support for the Hi-Res Audio codec FLAC, as well as Apple Lossless, giving you more options than ever when it comes to accessing audiophile-quality music.

Using a Hi-Res Audio playback app for iOS called Vox, we listened to Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. The strings had a warm and natural quality, while soprano vocal duets soared sweetly above the mix without ever sounding harsh. 

In our review we also tested out the inbuilt speaker at the bottom of the iPod touch, and it packs quite a punch despite its size. It won’t do for listening to your Hi-Res music, but if just want a little background music for your gaming sessions and can’t be bothered to dig your headphones out, it works just fine. 

If you need a new MP3 player, and you don't mind using iTunes, the iPod Touch will do just fine.

Read the full review: iPod Touch (7th Generation)

Best MP3 player: HiFiMan SuperMini

HiFiMan is perhaps best known for its headphones, but it makes some pretty great MP3 players, too. For an example, look no further than the SuperMini. 

The SuperMini, as the name suggests, is a little smaller than most of the other players on this list, but that doesn’t seem to come at a huge cost – it’ll still deliver excellent audio quality and it’s pretty easy to use, too.

The device, which has a price tag of $399 (£400, AU$399), doesn’t have any onboard storage – you’ll have to buy a microSD card separately. It does, however, support a pretty huge range of audio formats, including FLAC, DSD, WAV, MP3, and AIFF, and audio with a sample rate of up to 192kHz.

The user interface may not be as flashy as some others on this list, but it’s still pretty easy to use. It’s a monochrome display, and is controlled via three buttons located under the screen. The tradeoff to using a monochrome display, however, is that the battery life is decent, sitting in at a hefty 22 hours. 

In terms of sound, the high-end on this player is nice and crisp, without being too aggressive by any means. On top of that, there are plenty of mids to go around, without the player at all straying into inaccurate territory. We were a little skeptical of the idea of a player from a company that offers players well into the multi-thousands of dollars range, but the SuperMini holds its own, and at a decent price.

Read the full review: HiFiMan SuperMini

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Onkyo DP-X1A 

Best MP3 player: Astell & Kern AK Jr

Astell & Kern is known for building top-notch audio devices at reasonable prices, and for that reason we think the Astell & Kern AK Jr is the best mid-range MP3 player out of the ones we've seen (and heard). In fact, after spending some time using it, we would argue that it’s a pretty serious contender against even much more expensive players.

Before diving into the player’s capabilities, you’ll notice how well-designed it is. The sleek, metallic look is very classy, and using it gives you a similar “status symbol” feel as you’ll get with the iPhone.

The AK Jr comes in at $259 (£250, AU$399), which is a very reasonable price for a device of this calibre. For that price, you’ll get 64GB of onboard storage, though there is a microSD card slot in case you want to expand upon that storage. On top of that, it supports all major audio formats, including FLAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, AIFF, and more – and it’s able to play at sample rates of up to 192kHz.

The interface of the device is relatively easy to control, too. The home screen simply gives you options for songs, albums, artists, and so on. 

Tap through using the touchscreen, and you’ll be able to select the music you want to listen to. It would be nice if that touchscreen was a little more responsive, but you get used to it. Battery life sits in at around nine hours, which isn't amazing, but not terrible either. 

So how does it sound? In one word: beautiful. 

Music is dynamic and crisp, with a nice and powerful sound in every aspect. The soundstage on these, when paired with a great pair of headphones, is huge – that’s to say the left and right are clearly defined, while instruments placed at the center of a mix are given plenty of room to breathe. We particularly enjoyed the guitar solo on AC/DC’s Back in Black, while Eminem’s rap on Lose Yourself cut straight through the mix – exactly the way it was supposed to.

Best MP3 player: SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Looking for an MP3 player to take running with you? If so, you probably want something small and light – it probably doesn’t need to hold day’s worth of music, and it probably doesn’t need to offer the highest audio quality out there. Most of all, you probably don’t want to fork out a ton of cash for it.

If that’s you, in our view, the SanDisk Clip Sport Plus is the best option. 

For starters, the device offers 16GB of storage, and while that may not be much for your phone, 16GB can hold a ton of songs. On top of that, despite being built for sport, it actually supports a pretty wide range of audio formats – including MP3, AAC, FLAC, WAV, and WMA.

Perhaps most important for a device like this is the battery life, and it’ll last you a good 20 hours. You’ll even get Bluetooth, which is a huge deal for many who will be using this while running or performing other activities and don’t want cables to get in the way.

The interface is relatively easy to use too. Sure, it’s a little dated, and isn’t as powerful as what you’ll find on your smartphone, but it’s still capable as a music player. It’s not touch-sensitive, though: instead, you navigate through hardware buttons that also serve as playback controls when music is playing, but we didn’t have any issues.

As for the sound, as long as you don’t expect full audiophile-level quality here (you won’t get it), we think you'll find the sound very capable. Overall it's slightly muddy with a small dip in clarity, but for most that won’t matter – especially when you're out on a run or hitting the weights at the gym.

Best MP3 player: Sony NW-A45 Walkman

If the idea of using iTunes freaks you out and spending more than $200 on an MP3 player just isn't plausible, then your best MP3 player is probably the Sony NW-A45 Walkman.

Packed with 16GB of built-in storage and a slick touchscreen UI, the NW-A45 starts at around  $149 and comes in multiple colors that will suit any taste. For audiophiles, the NW-A45 supports Hi-Res playback, plus DSEE H can help restore lossy files back to a near lossless state. Unlike your phone, Sony's Walkman comes with an S-Master HX digital amp that's powerful enough to drive some relatively high-impedance headphones while still accommodating low-impedance cans, too.

Versatile and easy to use, the Sony NW-A45 gets the nod as our MP3 player pick for the first-time buyer.

What MP3 players does TechRadar recommend? 

So, what do you need to look for in an MP3 player? Well, the most important thing you need to think about is the audio codec your music library is in.

Anyone who uses iTunes will probably have a music library completely filled with Apple’s proprietary AAC codec, and luckily most MP3 players will support that codec. However, if you consider yourself an audiophile, you’ll need support for lossless codecs like FLAC, WAV and ALAC, as these codecs don’t use the compression methods used on lossy codecs like AAC or MP3. However, they will take up more space.

You’ll also need to consider how much music is in your, well, music collection and then how much storage you’ll need. This is especially the case when you’re using codecs like FLAC, which just devour space. Often MP3 players also have an included microSD card slot, which allows you to expand upon the included storage as your library expands – but normally only up to a certain size, normally around 512GB.

Here's the best part though: unlike smartphones, MP3 players are built to last, so there’s no need to go on an endless two-year upgrade-cycle like you might with a smartphone. This means it’s probably in your best interests to take some time and find the one that’s right for you, as you will probably be using it for a few years to come.

  • Looking for a something to listen to on your new MP3 player? Check out our list of the best podcasts around.
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